Utterly Star Trek Review

Just another WordPress.com weblog

Star Trek: The Next Generation 1.18 (Coming of Age)

Cast:
Ward Costello(Admiral Gregroy Quinn)
Robert Schenkkan(Lt. Cmdr. Dexter Remmick)
John Putch(Mordock)
Robert Ito(Tac. Officer Chang)
Stephen Gregory(Jake Kurland)
Tasia Valenza(T’Shanik)
Estee Chandler(Oliana Mirren)
Brendan McKane (Technician #1)
Wyatt Knight (Technician #2)
Daniel Riordan(Rondon)

Writer: Sandy Fries

This is one of those episodes where there are two distinct plot strands that do not relate to each other at all (suggesting that neither is strong enough to carry the episode on their own).  The first is Wesley taking the StarFleet Academy entrance exam.  Whilst interesting, it really could not carry the episode.  Wesley goes through various tests, including the psyche test, which tests his greatest fear.  Whilst he does rather well, he does not get in on this occasion.  It is the first of a number of episodes where the carrot of Wesley leaving is dangled tantalisingly in front of the audience only to be cruelly snatched away. 

This plot has one of the worst effects on this series – there is a corridor where Wesley has an altercation with a chap with webbed fingers.  The continuation of the corridor is a blatant photograph, and it looks utterly shit, not worthy of this series.  (As I recall, the happens once more, much later, perhaps even season seven, and it is worse!)

I also don’t like the fact that only one person from this test can get into StarFleet.  Surely they wouldn’t turn someone away who did really well just because they didn’t come top?  It’s silly.

The other plot strand is the arrival of two people aboard the Enterprise – Picard’s old friend Admiral Gregory Quinn and his assistant Dexter Remmick.  Quinn tells Remmick that there is something wrong on the Enterprise and Remmick is to find it.  Remmick sets about this task with glee, bossing people around both above his level and below him.  We get to see a lot of questions that seem to be aimed at tearing Picard apart – the questions are loaded and also make reference to several episodes that we have already seen.  It is done very very well and unlike the previous strand it would certainly have carried the show had it only been part of the story.  And for most of the episode we really don’t know what the hell is going on – why is Quinn seemingly out to discredit Picard?

The only point where the stories meet is when a friend of Wesley’s (who is upset because he has not made it to the StarFleet entrance exam) steals a shuttle to run away, the whole operation to rescue him when the shuttle breaks down and is about to lose its orbit is witnessed by Remmick (Picard even tells him to stop interjecting or he will be removed from the bridge).  Picard saves the day in a moment that genuinely makes you punch the air (not because you care whether Wesleys irritating friends dies or not, but because Picard has one over on Remmick).

Remmick questions everyone, and even goes below the belt when he tries to upset Beverly by referring to the fact that her husband died under Picards command.  Naturally, she blows him out.  Picard eventually loses his rag and demands to know from the Admiral what the hell is going on.  Remmick reveals that he can find nothing at all wrong aboard the ship.  Quinn finally reveals that there is some form of conspiracy within StarFleet and wants to recruit Picard into keeping an eye out for signs.  Actually, he wants to promote Picard and put him in the Academy, which Picard says no to.  (He also says he doesn’t do politics, which is rubbish, as we get to see in some superb Klingon episodes down the line!)

This is the first time we have had a dangling plot thread on any Star Trek apart from the movies, and whilst it is resolved fairly quickly (this season in fact) we do get to see a lot more later.  Although a lot of the time The Next Generation, like the original series, is standalone episodes it is the ability to successfully create plot strands that feature in multiple (if not consecutive) episodes that makes, for me anyway, this show superior to the original.

This is the first time we have seen the real potential of this show.  If only the whole episode had concentrated on the investigation/conspiracy plot, it would have been utterly superb.

Crew Deaths: 0
Total Crew Deaths So Far: 1
Score: 7.5/10

July 31, 2008 Posted by | admiral quinn, benzite, lt. cmdr. dexter remmick, starfleet academy, stolen ship or shuttlecraft, vulcans | | 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 III: The Search for Spock

Cast:
William Shatner (Kirk)
Leonard Nimoy (Spock)
James Doohan(Scotty)
George Takei(Sulu)
Walter Koenig(Checkov)
Nichelle Nichols(Uhura)
Merritt Butrick (Dr. David Marcus)
Robin Curtis(Saavik)
Christopher Lloyd(Kruge)
Mark Lenard(Sarek)
Judith Anderson (Vulcan High Priestess)
Grace Lee Whitney (Janice Rand)

Writer: Harve Bennett

You know, my memories of this particular story of the film series were not that great.  There is a theory among the fans that the odd numbered films are not that good.  I have to say both the first film and indeed this one prove that wrong.

The story is relatively simple.  The Enterprise arrives on Earth having returned directly from the events of the previous film.  McCoy is behaving oddly, and when they arrive, they are told that the Enterprise is so badly knackered that she will not be repaired – she is to be scrapped.  Spocks’ father, Sarek (played by the fantastic Mark Lenard) visits Kirk to find out where Spock placed his memories before he died.  It turned out to be McCoy.

Meanwhile, on the Genesis planet, David and Saavik find Spocks coffin but it is empty.  Their ship (the Grissom) is destroyed by a Klingon ship that wants the secrets of the Genesis device.  They find a young Spock with no memories who is rapidly aging, like the planet.

Kirk asks if he can take McCoy to the Genesis planet, but is told he cannot, so he steals the Enterprise and all but Uhura go to Genesis.  There they are attacked by the Klingons, David is killed because Kirk will not surrender and eventually they have to self destruct the Enterprise.  Just before it explodes they beam down to the Genesis planet, which is breaking up, Kirk fights the Klingon commander and wins, and pretends to b him and they get beamed up to the Klingon ship, capture it, and eventually take Spock back to Vulcan (he is now about the right age) and reunited with his body.

The story is not anything like as good as the previous film, but it does have some benefits.  Firstly, this is the first appearance by Klingons as we know them – bumpy foreheads, costumes, knives and everything.  We saw something that was a bit like this in the first film, but the Klingons here are the template used from this point on, and they are great.  Chrisopher Lloyd is especially good as their vicious Captain, who kills crewmembers just for making a mistake (he killed his gunner when the Grissom is destroyed, he only wanted it disabled) and he also orders the death of David (well, any death, it was up to the Klingon on the ground who actually died).  So Yay to the Klingons, they are finally here!

The next two bits I adore are the obvious bits: I love the sequence where Kirk and company steal the Enterprise – they are persued by the experimental TransWarp ship the USS Excelsior, but luckily Scotty has sabotaged their new engines, so the persuit does not go very far.

Also, the destruction of the Enterprise is a really big deal moment.  This is the ship we have seen in every TV episode, and every movie up until this point.  Okay, it was going to be scrapped, but the fact that Kirk destroys her is a poignant moment.  And the effects are pretty good as well – the saucer explodes, but the rest burns up in the atmosphere of the planet.

I also love the fact that Sarek is back – we see Mark Lenard in two more films, and even in a couple of episodes of The Next Generation.

So what if the plot isn’t the strongest, so what if the sequence on Vulcan where Spocks’ mind is taken from McCoy and put back into Spock go on for a bit.  It’s nice to see him again, even though he only gets a few words at the end.

As I said before, this is kind of the middle story in a trilogy, and whilst the two that surround it are much stronger (perhaps the best the series has to offer) I think this one is good too – the quality of two and four tend to push this third film into the shadow a tad.

Crew Deaths: 0 (David doesn’t count, he isn’t Enterprise crew)
Total Crew Deaths So Far: 58
Score: 7.5/10

May 30, 2008 Posted by | accelerated ageing, cloaking devices, david marcus, death of a recurring character, destruction of a starfleet ship, family members, inside another stafleet ship, klingons, mind meld, pon farr, saavik, sarek, self destruct, set on earth, set on vulcan, stolen ship or shuttlecraft, vulcans | | 2 Comments

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