Utterly Star Trek Review

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Star Trek: The Next Generation 1.17 (Home Soil)

Cast:
Walter Gotell(Kurt Mandl)
Elizabeth Lindsey (Louisa Kim)
Gerard Prendergast (Bjorn Benson)
Carolyne Barry (Female Engineer)
Mario Roccuzzo(Arthur Malencon)

Writers: Karl Geurs, Ralph Sanchez, Robert Sabaroff

This is the other episode from Season One that was never released as part of the original UK Rental VHS set – they released 24 out of 26 episodes.  As with the other, you can see why they didn’t bother.  Good it ain’t.

The Enterprise crew visit a planet where some Terraformers are converting what is basically a rock into a biosphere capable of sustaining human life.  In the first ten minutes or so we are given a quite detailed account of how this process is supposed to work (I would almost argue too much detail).  Then as soon as we know what these guys are up to, one of the scientists is killed by what appears to be a faulty laser drill.  It then attacks Data.  The race is on to find out what is going on.

Of course, naturally the crew assume that one of the remaining terraformers must be the saboteur who reprogrammed the drill.  They quickly find some kind of life form that lives in the salt water that is being killed by the terraforming process.  They beam a sample up to the Enterprise, and it gets bigger, resists analysis, starts communicating via the computer and breaks through the quarantine seal and takes control of the ship. 

The story is very dull indeed.  The life form refers to humans as “ugly bags of mostly water.”  The voice is embarrassing.  They start referring to the life form as a “micro brain”.  They find out that it uses energy from the lights to reproduce.  So they defeat it by turning the lights off, talk it down and beam it back down to the planet.  The terraformers have to find another planet to mess about with.

I am trying to find something positive about this mess of an episode.  It takes them ages to try and beam it back down to the planet – one of the first things I would have tried as soon as it looked as though they might not be able to control it.  The episode only lasts for forty five minutes. If feels like hours!

Crew Deaths: 0
Total Crew Deaths So Far: 1
Score: 3/10

July 28, 2008 Posted by | inorganic life form, ship/station taken over | | 2 Comments

Star Trek: The Next Generation 1.14 (11001001)

Cast:
Katy Boyer (Zero One)
Jack Sheldon (Piano Player)
Gene Dynarski(Cmdr. Quinteros)
Carolyn McCormick (Minuet)
Alexandra Johnson (One Zero)
Iva Lane (Zero Zero)
Kelli Ann McNally (One One)
Ron Brown (Drummer)
Abdul Salaam El Razzac (Bass Player)

Writer: Robert Lewin, Maurice Hurley

This episode is so simple, in fact almost nothing happens in it, yet somehow it is great.  Riker in particular does well out of this episode – there aren’t all that many episodes that give him a lot to do, but this one does.

The premise is simple: the Enterprise is in a starbase having it’s first upgrade, including an upgrade on the holodeck.  Many of the crew leave for some shore leave (as much of the ship has to be shut down to facilitate the upgrades) – for example Worf and Tasha go and play a game called Parisee Squares (a game we hear about a lot but don’t see) and Riker spends the first fifteen minutes getting the brush off from everyone as they all have other things to do, and he is pretty much the only person left on the ship apart from Picard, Wesley and the upgrade team (four Binars).  There is a really nice scene in the upgraded holodeck where Riker creates a fantasy woman in a Jazz bar in the 1950’s, and plays a bit of trombone.  Picard joins him.

Suddenly, the antimatter containment field starts to collapse and so they evacuate the Enterprise.  The sequence where the ship is abandoned and sent out into space so the explosion is away from the starbase is bloody excellent, you get a real sense of how big the crew is.  Riker and Picard are on the holodeck, but nobody can contact them.  As soon as the ship gets away from the starbase the magnetic field repairs itself.  It turns out that the Binars have stolen the Enterprise because something is going to wipe the computer on their planet.  The Binars copy their computer onto the Enterprise computer, and then when it is wiped they restore it using the Enterprise backup.  When asked why they didn’t ask for help, their answer was simple and perfectly logical for a binary race: “you might have said no.”

It’s simple, it’s great.  Minuet (Rikers fantasy woman on the holodeck) is such a complex computer character that Riker kind of falls for her, and is upset when she is wiped from the holodeck memory.  As we get to find out in a few years time, he liked her so much he pretty much thought of her as a real person!

Crew Deaths: 0
Total Crew Deaths So Far: 1
Score: 8/10

July 22, 2008 Posted by | live music, minuet, painting, parisee squares, self destruct, ship/station taken over, stolen ship or shuttlecraft | | 5 Comments

Star Trek: The Next Generation 1.2 (The Naked Now)

Cast:
Skip Stellrecht (Engineering Crewman)
Lorine Mendell(Diana Giddings)
Kenny Koch (Kissing Crewman)
David Renan (Conn)
Michael Rider (Transporter Chief)
Benjamin W.S. Lum(Jim Shimoda)
Brooke Bundy(Sarah McDougal)

Writers: . Michael Bingham, John D.F. Black, D.C. Fontana

The Enterprise discover the USS Tsiolkovsky just as the last of her crew die when the open the bridge emergency hatch into space.  When they beam an away team aboard, everyone is dead – many frozen, inlcuding one in the shower.

It soon becomes apparent that whatever killed the crew (a disease that gives similar symptoms to intoxication) of the other ship is loose on the Enterprise.  Under the influence, Wesley Crusher takes over engineering and removes all the control chips from the engines.  Then, the star they are in orbit explodes (that was what the Tsiolkovsky was there to witness) and a hunk of rock is heading for the Enterprise!  Data repairs the system in the nick of time and they all escape.

Okay, this episode is a total remake of The Naked Time – even down to the rustling sound that indicates that the disease has been passed on.  And the series makes no pretence of it – they refer to the specific incident and even reference Kirk by name (the first character from the old show to be named on this one – we saw McCoy in episode one but he is never named!)  The characters all lose their inhibitions – including Data – and we get to find out some additional thinks about the crew.  For example, we learn that there is a definite attraction between Picard and Beverly Crusher.  We also get to find out that Tasha, although a bit of a tomboy, does have a feminine side, (in terms of wanting to look pretty) but she also has a fairly agressive sexual nature, and as well as throwing herself at men in the corridor she actually seduces Data.  In fact, everyone gets rather amorous – once Wesley seals himself into engineering with a force field, the other six crew on the other side are all over each other! 

The funny moments in this are genuinely funny, especially Picard – once intoxicated, whenever he walks through a door he does a little jump, which is just hilarious, as are all his scenes with Beverly.  (When they wave at each other on the bridge!)  And when Data walks into the bridge for the first time after he has contracted the intoxication that is the precise moment where everyone fell in love with that character.  Brent Spiner is hilarious – in a scene that could have been rubbish delivered by another actor, he makes that character his own.  His pratfall is second only to David Jason’s in an episode of Only Fools and Horses

We get to meet the first of several Chief Engineers this season – Sarah McDougal.  She’s okay, but it does get much better when Geordi gets it next season.

It’s not a bad episode, and is does show how capable some of the actors are.  Data, Picard and Crusher do especially well out of it.  It still feels like an episode from the original series though.

Crew Deaths: 0

Total Crew Deaths So Far: 0

Score: 7.5/10

June 6, 2008 Posted by | destruction of a starfleet ship, disease/sickness, inside another stafleet ship, ship/station taken over | | 1 Comment

Star Trek V: The Final Frontier

Cast:
William Shatner (Kirk)
Leonard Nimoy (Spock)
DeForest Kelley (McCoy)
James Doohan(Scotty)
Walter Koenig(Checkov)
Nichelle Nichols(Uhura)
George Takei(Sulu)
David Warner (St. John Talbot)
Laurence Luckinbill(Sybok)
Charles Cooper(Korrd)
Cynthia Gouw(Caithlin Dar)
Todd Bryant(Klaa)
Spice Williams(Vixis)
George Murdock (God)

Writers: William Shatner, Harve Bennett, David Loughery

Sybok – a man who turns out to also be a son of Sarek – takes over Nimbus III, a planet that was intended to be the planet of galactic peace, but has kind of been forgotten.  By holding the Klingon, human and Romulan ambassadors (yes, we finally see a Romulan in a movie and a female one at that) he judges that someone will respond by sending a starship.  Both the Klingons and the Federation do – they send the new Enterprise, which is still having it’s faults ironed out bu Scotty.  However, when the Enterprise arrives, and they try to rescue the hostages, it turns out they are on Syboks side.  Sybok takes over the Enterprise, and they fly off to kind God, who is at the centre of the Galaxy.  The Klingons follow.  God turns out not to be God just some creature that has been trapped in this place (presumably by an advanced race who saw it as a threat).  Sybok buys them time to escape with his life.  Then the Klingons arrive, and are talked down by the Klingon ambassador.  Everyone survives.

I really don’t want to come across as the stereotypical Trek enthusiast and slag this movie off.  My memory of it before I watched it today was that it was a lot of nice moments that just did not add up to being a great film.  Sadly, when I watched it today, I have realised that it isn’t even that.

I think the idea behind this film was to go back to the original idea that the story is about these three men – Kirk, Spock and McCoy, and their relationship.  I noticed that all of the other regulars were listed as co-stars, for the first time in the movies.  And they are marginalised in this film – even made to look a little foolish (Sulu and Checkov getting lost on Earth, for example).  The ease with which Sybok influences them all is also a little frustrating, although he fails to convince Scotty (although the story had another way to make Scotty look foolish – “I know this ship like the back of my hand”).

It’s got some good guests – David Warner, a really good actor, is given very little to do (although they more than make up for this in the next film when he plays a Klingon, and later in The Next Generationwhere he plays an awesome Cardassian).  Charles Cooper is good as Klingon Ambassador Koord – they obviously liked him, as he came back as another Klingon on The Next Generation.

This film possibly suffered because it was the first Trek movie to come out during the run of The Next Generation.  It was filmed between the breaks between seasons 2 and 3 and came out during 3.  This cannot have helped – season 3 was when The Next Generationreally found it’s feet and became a distinctive show of it’s own.  The fact that many of the sets were just Next Generation sets redressed didn’t help – there are a couple of corridor shots that are blatant Enterprise-D corridors, not a redress in sight.  It is a real shame.

So, all in all, the first bad film in the series.  I genuinely think that this would have killed the movie franchise if The Next Generation has not been doing so well on TV at the time.  Luckily, the original crew have one final outing to make it up so us…

Crew Deaths: 0
Total Crew Deaths So Far: 58
Score: 5/10

June 3, 2008 Posted by | family members, klingons, mind control, romulans, sarek, set on earth, set on vulcan, ship/station taken over, songs, super beings, transporter problems, vulcans | | 1 Comment

Star Trek 3.20 (The Way to Eden)

Cast:
Phyllis Douglas (Girl Hippie)
Deborah Downey(Mavig)
Victor Brandt(Tongo Rad)
Mary Linda Rapelye(Irina Galliulin)
Elizabeth Rogers (Lt. Palmer)
Charles Napier (Adam)
Skip Homeier(Dr. Thomas Sevrin)

Writer: D.C. Fontana, Arthur Heinemann

Oh for Gods sake.  Just when I though this series couldn’t plunge any more depths, we get the hippy episode.  Some hippies have stolen a ship, the Enterprise rescues them from it just before it explodes.  The hippies are trying to find Eden, which Spock claims does not exist.  Because one of them is the son of an ambassador, they are not thrown immediately into the brig.  Also, their leader, Doctor Sevrin, is the carrier of a virulent disease that he neglected to mention.  Luckily all Enterprise crewmen have been inoculated at some point, but McCoy is sure that very few of them have has boosters recently.

There are some extremely crap bits in this episode.  One of the hippies has a crappy guitar thing and keeps breaking into tedious song.  The word “herbert” is a term of abuse, and on many occasions the hippies just sit there chanting herbert.  It is meant to piss Kirk off, which it doesn’t.  However, it pissed me off.  If you ever wanted to prove a non fan someone that this show is as rubbish as they think it is, this is the episode to show them.  They will never watch another episode again.

The hippies are allowed to wonder about everywhere – one even walks into auxiliary control, which you would have though next to the bridge, engineering and the armoury would be one of the most secure places on the ship.  Oh, and Checkov knew one of the hippies at StarFleet Academy.  She tries to talk him out of leaving StarFleet. Spock decides to help them find Eden by doing some research.  But before they find anything, the hippies set about converting Enterprise crew members to their brotherhood.  They do this by singing utterly crap hippy songs at them.  Presumably the tactic was “stop singing and we’ll join”.  The hippies take over auxiliary control and change the course of the ship, and lock the bridge controls out.  It would appear that Eden is in Romulan space, as that is where the ship goes.  When they get to Eden they use ultrasonics to disable the entire ship and escape by stealing a shuttle.  When the Enterprise crew beam down hey!  Guess what!  Eden isn’t a paradise, it’s highly toxic.  The first to die is the cretinous hippy who did all the singing.  Good.  Sevrin eats a piece of fruit and dies.  The others are rescued and they get out of Romulan space before any Romulans turn up.

This is the nadir of this show.  In fact, of all of the other series, I can only think of one episode that I dislike as much as this one (the awful clip show at the end of Season 2 of The Next Generation).  Avoid.

Crew Deaths: 0
Total Crew Deaths So Far: 52
Score: 0/10

May 21, 2008 Posted by | disease/sickness, ship/station taken over | | Leave a comment

Star Trek 3.15 (Let that be your last battlefield)

Cast:
Frank Gorshin(Bele)
Lou Antonio(Lokai)

Writers: Oliver Crawford, Gene L. Coon

On the way to decontaminate a planet, the Enterprise crew see a shuttlecraft that was reported stolen a couple of weeks ago at Starbase Four.  (Despite the fact that the footage of the shuttle clearly shows that is is Enterprise shuttle seven.  Oh well).  On board is a fellow called Lokai, who has a unique skin tone – he is white on one side and black on the other.

Not long after, another person from Lokai’s world arrives and claims that Lokai is a mass murderer and that he should be taken back to their home planet.  In fact, he briefly takes over the Enterprise (he has the power to control these things with his mind.  He also makes out that both himself and Lokai are thousands of years old).

This episode is about racism, pure and simple.  It isn’t even subtle – but it is very clever.  The only difference between Bele and Lokai is that their colours are opposite – one is white on the right hand side and one is white on the left.  This really points out the futility of racism – it’s not even that these people have different skin tones, they simply have them on the opposite sides of their bodies.  For this and this alone thsi episode stands out among others.

Sadly, the plot isn’t great.  After Kirk sets the self destruct (he won’t let Bele take over the ship, but as he cannot regain control this is his only option).  Kirk has threatened to use the self destuct before, but what makes this different is the way it is done – they use the same destruct codes when the Enterprise is finally destroyed for real in the third film.  So eventually Bele agrees to let them finish their mission to decontaminmate the planet (the first mission of this type we see, although there are others in later series) then takes over the ship again (having disabled the self destruct) and then takes over again.

When they arrive at their home planet, everybody is dead.  The war between the two opposing skin tones has killed literally everyone on the planet and the whole thing is pointless.  However, Bele and Lokai beam down and try to kill each other.  The Enterprise leaves and lets them get on with it.

Although not great, this episode is a lot better than some I have watched recently.  I really do genuinely admire the way they did the racism storyline, it makes the point brilliantly.  The rest of the episode really is a character piece.

Crew Deaths: 0
Total Crew Deaths So Far: 46
Score: 7/10

May 14, 2008 Posted by | saving a planet, self destruct, ship/station taken over, stolen ship or shuttlecraft | | 1 Comment

Star Trek 3.11 (Wink of an Eye)

Cast:
Kathie Browne(Deela)
Jason Evers(Rael)
Erik Holland(Ekor)
Geoffrey Binney (Crewman Compton)

Writer: Gene L. Coon, Arthur Heinemann

On the surface of an alien world (Scalos), Kirk and company beam down to the exact point where they are recieving a video transmission from a group of five people.  Trouble is, they aren’t there, and a few moments later, red clad ensign expendable (well, Crewman Compton) vanishes.  On the Enterprise, there is a machine on the life support systems that cannot be touched, shot or anything – in fact their phasers vanish when they try to shoot it.

What has happened is they have been slowed down in time – and soon Kirk is as well (when he drinks an agent that causes this to happen).  The idea is a bit odd – you would have thought that if someone stood in the same place for long enough, you would see them, but that doesn’t seem to happen.

The Scalosians refer to them as having been accelerated, when actually it seems like the opposite is true.  The only hint of the existence of Kirk and the Scalosians that the rest of the crew have is an insect like noise when one of the “accelerated” people is about.

One unfortunate effect of “acceleration” is that if they get hurt whilst newly accelerated, (meaning cell damage like a cut) they rapidly age and die, which is what happens to Crewman Compton (eleven episodes in and the first Enterprise crew member to die!) 

I remember really liking this tale a while back, yet somehow it does not live up to my memory.  The Scalosian unit that is on the life support system is going to freeze the whole Enterprise crew.  There is no real reason given as to why – if it is just a way of getting rid of the crew, the Scalosians are in an easy position to kill the crew, why they don’t do that I have no idea at all.

In some scenes, actors have to stand still as the Scalosians act around them.  This is sometimes done very well, and other times it is not.  Scotty did seem to be swaying somewhat as he stood still in the entrance to the transporter room!

The episode slows down an awful lot, and the last ten minutes or so are pretty painful.  The bit where the Scalosians fall for Kirk pretending to be finally accepting what is going on around him is just nonsense, I cannot believe they fell for it (although apparently it is normal for people to succumb automatically to their way of thinking a while after their acceleration!)

The episode ends with Spock deliberately accelerating himself once McCoy has come up with an antidote to the situation.  They then destroy the freezer, take the antidote and everything is hunky dory.  I actually think it would have been better not to show Spock taking the water, then have him pretend to be at normal speed by standing still in the background of a scene, then have him suddenly enter the scene at an opportune moment.  A real missed opportunity, that!

So all in all, not bad but not great.  Understanding why the Scalosians were doing what they were doing would have made a difference.  And also, at the start, Deela (the Scalosian woman) says that the transport process was very slow (which makes sense) but when Kirk beams her back down (before he takes the decelerant) it takes the usual amount of time.  Oh well!

Crew Deaths: 1
Total Crew Deaths So Far: 46
Score: 6/10

May 8, 2008 Posted by | accelerated ageing, ship/station taken over | | 1 Comment

Star Trek 3.4 (And the children shall lead)

Cast:
Craig Hundley (Tommy Starnes)
James Wellman (Prof. Starnes)
Melvin Belli (Gorgan)
Pamelyn Ferdin (Mary Janowski)
Caesar Belli (Steve O’Connel)
Mark Robert Brown (Don Linden)
Brian Tochi (Ray Tsing Tao)
Lou Elias (Technician #1)

Writer: Edward J. Lakso

This is reputedly one of the very worst episodes ever made.  I am unable to agree.  It’s not very good, but I have seen far worse since this project began.  The Enterprise visits a planet where the adults all seem to have killed themselves, leaving only the kids.  Only they are not bothered.

The main problem is that the child actors are the stars of this episode, and they are not all that good.  And once the kids start playing with people’s perceptions of what is going on it just is embarassing.  The scene where Kirk breaks down at the realisation that he has lost the Enterprise is pathetic.  Uhura seeing an older version of her self is dreadful, and I just don’t get why Sulu sees a knife kaleidascope!

It’s not all bad.  The kids cause the Enterprise to be taken out of orbit of the planet, but they trick everyones perception so that the crew think they are still in orbit rather than space.  So when they beam the security people into space, that is quite creepy.

The ritual thing that the kids use to summon the angel is embarassing – in fairness to the kids, they always look pretty embarassed when they are doing it.  And the stabbing motion the kids do when altering perceptions looks pretty silly.  (In fact, it rather looks like they are miming something else, but you’ll have to have seen the Buffy episode The Hush to get that one!)  And the fact that Spock just plays a recording of the chant the kids do in order to summon the angel for himself – just plain silly.  And they break the hold this thing has on the kids by playing some home movies of the kids before the parents died.

The final end of the angel is just silly, and we end up with a bridge full of crying kids.  Nice.

Crew Deaths: 2
Total Crew Deaths So Far: 45
Score: 4/10

April 29, 2008 Posted by | mind control, ship/station taken over, super beings | | Leave a comment

Star Trek 2.24 (The Ultimate Computer)

Cast:
William Marshall (Dr. Richard Daystrom)
Barry Russo (Commodore Robert Wesley)

Writer: D.C. Fontana

On paper, this sounds like another rubbish episode.  Doctor Richard Daystrom is the person who invented the computer systems that starships are based on now.  His latest invention is the M5 computer – a machine that is capable if running a Starship with a minimum crew.  It eventually goes slightly insane and attacks an ore freighter and ultimately other ships.

Why do I like this?  Well, there is quite a nice and intelligent conversation at the start.  Kirks initial reaction is that he thinks it’s a bad idea and doesn’t trust it, but after that he has a chat with McCoy about why he doesn’t like it, and asks his friend if it could simply be that a machine that leaves a Starship Captain redundant gives him a lack of prestige.  It is a nice moment, and makes the whole set up seem less hokey.

The computer thinks like a person because it has been programmed to mimick the human mind – sadly, Daystrom has used his own mind and this is the fatal flaw.  He made a breakthough that changed the face of computing in his mid twenties (ah, got it, he’s a nerd!) and had nowhere to go after that.  Now in his mid forties he wants something that is a revolutionary, and this is supposed to be it.

There is just enough of a glimpse into Daystrom’s background (he felt like he was laughed at behind his back when he was a young genius, he also believes in God, which is a rare admission in Trek) to make his breakdown and fall from grace realistic.  The M5 kills lots of people aboard the four ships sent to take him out, eventually Daystrom gets through to the machine and convinces it that it is guilty of murder, a sin.  So it shuts down, and everyone survives.

The action is tense, and this one is a lot of fun.

Crew Deaths: 1
Total Crew Deaths So Far: 43
Score: 7/10

April 21, 2008 Posted by | inside another stafleet ship, ship/station taken over, super computers | | 1 Comment

Star Trek 2.22 (By Any Other Name)

Cast:
Warren Stevens(Rojan)
Barbara Bouchet(Kelinda)
Stewart Moss(Hanar)
Robert Fortier(Tomar)
Lezlie Dalton(Drea)
Carl Byrd (Lt. Shea)
Julie Cobb (Yeoman Leslie Thompson)

Writer: Jerome Bixby, D.C. Fontana

Yay, I remember this one when I was a kid!  Actually, I don’t remember the whole episode but the sequence where two members of the crew are turned into little cubes that contain their essence, which can be restored if undamaged, then one is crushed in front of Kirk.  This death really upset me as a kid, and atypically it is the pretty young Yeoman that dies, not the redshirt.

A group of aliens, lead by Rojan, want to get back to the Andromeda galaxy, to give them the message that this galaxy is fit for takeover.  They posses weapons that can paralyse people, and they take over the Enterprise in a matter of moments.  They then start to modify it to get it ready for travel between galaxies – in fact, it is modified so much that it can do Warp Eleven!  Later episodes suggest that the maximum possible speed is Warp 10, but perhaps they have re calibrated the Warp Scale by then.

So off they go and head for the Andromeda galaxy, but first they have got to get through the energy barrier at the edge of the galaxy – somewhere they have visited before.  Scott rigs the ship to self destruct when it goes through, so that the aliens won’t get home and bring more of their kind, but they don’t do it.  Once the Enterprise is through the barrier, all non essential personnel are turned into cubes.  Including Uhura and Checkov.  In fact everyone apart from Kirk, Spock, McCoy and Scotty.

Once on their way, the Kelvans (the aliens) start to show an interest in some of the things humans do – they respond to stimulation of the senses.  So Scotty gets one of them horrendously drunk – they start on the Saurian Brandy, and progess through Scottys drink collection to something that is green.  (A joke done again with Data in The Next Generation.)

Kirk meanwhile tries to interest the female Kelvan in sex, by sticking his tongue down her throat (it expresses warth and love, apparently).  This makes Rojan very jealous.  Also, McCoy injects one of the others with what he tells him is vitamins, but actually it is stimulants.

Anyhow, these things together enable the few remaining crew to get the paralysers off the Kelvans and talk them around.

I quite like this episode.  It’s a bit silly in places (especially the second half, after such a serious start) but somehow it works and I like it.

Crew Deaths: 1
Total Crew Deaths So Far: 41
Score: 7/10

April 18, 2008 Posted by | drunk, self destruct, ship/station taken over | | Leave a comment