Wednesday, May 31, 2017

Episode Review - One (Voyager, Season 4)

For those who are new to my episode reviews, you can find the post where I establish my point criteria here

Overview – Encountering a nebula that has deadly effects on the crew, Janeway is forced to make a difficult decision. She can add a whole year onto their journey home by traveling around the nebula, or put the crew in stasis for a month with only Seven of Nine and the Doctor left to care for the ship and crew as they travel through it. Taking the shorter route, Seven finds her sudden solitude quite disturbing and more challenging that she had anticipated. As the nebula starts to have a debilitating effect on both her and the ship, Seven must make a difficult decision of her own.

Score: 7/10 – This episode is very similar to a future episode of Enterprise, “Doctor’s Orders”. Swap out Seven of Nine for Doctor Phlox, change the setting a bit, and it is essentially the same story. I would have to say that I liked the Enterprise version better, but this is an OK episode in and of itself. I really only have one issue with it, and that has to do with how some of the hallucinations were executed. I find that often, when a character is hallucinating their crewmembers, the way it is presented seems a bit cheesy. I am not sure if it is the writing/dialogue, or the acting, but it just did not seem to work for me. Some of the “whispers” were a bit over the top. When I compare it to “Doctor’s Orders”, nothing that happens in “One” was surprising to me. I was able to figure out that there were several things that were supposed to be a surprise or twist, such as the alien captain that Seven imagines up, that were too easily telegraphed. Regardless, it is a heavy Seven of Nine episode that shows a lot of growth for her. There is some great banter between her and the Doctor, and we get some nice moments. We have some fun, mostly at the expense of Tom Paris. There are some notable plot holes, which I will touch on shortly, but overall the episode is good.

Relevance - 0 points. Try as I could, I just could not find anything that connected this episode to anything else in Star Trek. We had allusions to things like Torres’s reasons for joining the Maquis and Seven having been separated from the Collective before, but there is not a whole lot that makes it relevant to the overall Star Trek story.

Continuity - 2 points. Character continuity checks off here. Chakotay expresses concerns to Janeway (in private, of course) as to having Seven in charge of the ship for a month. Janeway returns with a feeling of trust and faith in Seven. Seven herself responds to the situation in a way that shows the great turning moment for her character. Universe continuity seems to check out as well. I am going to dock the story continuity a point for a couple of things. First, how could a nebula so large not be detected by the ship sooner, and the fact that Tom Paris had escaped from his stasis chamber on several occasions should have caused some significant damage as they were in the thick of a nebula that on the outskirts of it killed a crew member after being exposed for a mere couple of minutes. Both are plot holes that can be easily overlooked for the sake of the story, but not for the scoring of points in continuity.

Character Development – 3 points. Definitely a turning point for Seven of Nine. For the majority of the season leading up to this episode, she had been very much at odds with various members of the crew. Each time, she grew a little. Here, she grows up a lot. The Doctor also shows how much he has grown since the beginning of the series and the relationship between him and Seven are greatly developed. I think that this is an essential episode for Seven’s progression, and for that alone it makes it a must see episode for fans of the character.

Social Commentary – 2 points. The weight of solitude for someone who is so accustomed to being connected to others is a heavy one to bear. Seven went from being one in a collective to one among a crew of individuals to simply one (hey, that’s where the episode’s title came from!). Seven must deal with the intense loneliness and isolation for a month. Many of us may experience a day or so, but I think we all would struggle with such isolation.

Cool Stuff – 1 point. I scored a point for the cool alien pilot that we see in Seven’s hallucination. We never learn if he is based off of an actual species or if he is purely the product of Seven’s imagination.

Rank – Lieutenant (15 points). There are definitely some great moments in this episode, and fans of Seven of Nine should definitely watch this episode as it provides a great turning point for her character. However, I think that “Doctor’s Orders” from Enterprise is a far better telling of the isolated crew member dealing with hallucinations. So, you may skip this one and not miss on much that is important, but you would miss out on a fairly solid story.

If you would like to read other reviews from Star Trek: Voyager, click on the link here.

If you would like to read an episode review from any of the Trek series, click the following link to get to the series catalog. If the episode you want reviewed has not been done yet, then feel free to request it in the comments and I will see what I can do.

Monday, May 29, 2017

Episode Review - Sons and Daughters (Deep Space Nine, Season 6)

For those who are new to my episode reviews, you can find the post where I establish my point criteria here.

Overview – Worf must learn to work with his estranged son, Alexander, who has joined the crew of the Rotarran on the eve of a vital and dangerous mission, Meanwhile, on Deep Space Nine (Terrok Nor), Ziyal has returned to the station, putting Kira at odds with Dukat.

Score: 7/10 – This episode was a bit slower than what we have come to expect in the opening season arc. This episode seems to have been done to move character development along more than overall story plot, and because of that the pace seems a bit slower. We do see more of Worf and Martok than in the previous episodes, and hardly anything from Sisko’s crew. We see the return of Alexander Rozhenko, Worf’s estranged son. He’s all grown up now and has enlisted in the Klingon Empire’s forces, which leads to some tension between him and his father. Alexander has difficulty fitting in with the crew, at first, and his desire to prove himself costs him. Aside from what the wedding episode that will follow the multiple episode arc, this is the only time we will see Alexander. On the station, things for Kira become more complex as Ziyal arrives on the station, and Dukat uses it to his advantage to get to Kira.

Relevance - 3 points. A point is scored for showing us how Sisko’s crew was rescued from the planet they were marooned on in “Rocks and Shoals”. A point is scored for the barrel of bloodwine bet that will be settled in the final episode of this arc. A point is scored for addition of Ziyal into the mix, as her fate will factor into how stories and characters develop in a huge way. Additional points could have been scored for many other aspects of this episode, but we hit the limit here, and that is sufficient for me.

Continuity - 2 points. To score this section, I would have to say that a point had to be deducted for the sudden accelerated growth of Alexander. He was born eight years before this episode aired, and he is a young man. Now, this does not come from the character continuity, as the way that the story is told it makes sense that Alexander would take this path, even if it goes against all the issues he had with Klingon culture in the past. I deduct the point from the Universe section, as they have shown teenaged Klingons before. The reason for this was given as a combination of two factors. One, to cast a younger actor would have been difficult for filming, as there are laws as to how long a youth actor can be in front of the camera. This would have placed huge constraints as to the filming sequence. Second, the writers and producers felt that if Alexander was younger, Worf would have come across as being border-line abusive towards his son. So, while the change works for the story, I still had to take a point off. Oh, and story wise, everything seems to fit.

Character Development – 3 points. Two main characters get quite the extensive treatment. Kira almost gets pulled into Dukat’s web as she tries to be supportive of Ziyal. She eventually sees through his ploys and puts her foot down. She shows some great wisdom and fairness in telling Ziyal that she will not force her to choose between Kira and her father. Meanwhile, Worf gets a solid, though not original, story as the negligent father forced to confront the results of not being there for his son. They argue, they make mistakes, and get into trouble, and eventually they reconcile. Some of the recurring characters also get some good development. Dukat, Damar, and Ziyal on the station all see some notable development. Meanwhile, we also see Martok show some wisdom as he confronts Alexander in the training hall. Martok tries to get Alexander to admit the reason he joined the military, and Alexander only gives a slogan-type answer. I like the line that Martok uses after Alexander pleads for a chance to prove himself, to which Martok responds “I just gave you one! And you failed!”. A great Martok moment.

Social Commentary – 3 points. Two different lessons on parenting in this episode. First, from Dukat, there is the tale of using your child as a part of your game of manipulation. Second, Worf learns the consequences of not being there for your son. Neither man is likely to win the “Father of the Year” award with this episode. We also see with Kira how to not hold the sins of the parent on the head of their child without driving a wedge between them.

Cool Stuff – 0 points. Sadly, one of the prices of trading in action and intrigue for character focus is that there is not a lot of cool stuff to experience. While this episode is a decent enough episode, there is nothing that stands out as being a “wow” moment. The speech that Martok gives Alexander comes close, but beyond that, not much. This is not necessarily a bad thing. With everything that happened in the last episode, it was good to slow things down a bit. We just have to accept that cost that often comes along with this direction.

Rank – Captain (18 points). I would say that this episode is likely the weakest of the six that we open this season, but it is still a worthy episode. It’s always nice to see how things progress on the Klingon ship, and we get some good and important character development. Obviously, you should not miss this episode, but you would almost be able to get away with skipping it if not for the key element of adding Ziyal into the Kira-Dukat angle.

If you would like to read other reviews from Star Trek: Deep Space Nine, please click the following link.

If you would like to read an episode review from any of the Trek series, click the following link to get to the series catalog. If the episode you want reviewed has not been done yet, then feel free to request it in the comments and I will see what I can do.

Thursday, May 25, 2017

Episode Review - Who Watches the Watchers

For those who are new to my episode reviews, you can find the post where I establish my point criteria here

Overview – The Enterprise is sent to Mintakan III to assist a three-man anthropological mission that are studying a primitive culture. When a mechanical malfunction disrupts the mission and it is observed by some Mintakans, the crew must try to set things right. In doing so, one of the Mintakans mistakes Captain Picard as a god, and now Picard must rectify the situation.

Liko discovers he is not alone

Score: 8/10 – This is a solid episode of storytelling. We see a little bit as to what it would be like for a less technologically advanced species to be introduced to the superior Federation. We are given a taste as to why the Prime Directive is so vital for space exploration. There is a good amount of action and intrigue, and the acting is great. This is one episode I would point to when I say that the third season of TNG is where the show really starts to shake off its training wheels from a rocky first couple seasons and gives us what Trek does best: tell good stories. Picard walks a difficult balancing act here, and it is a strong defining episode for his character.

Nuria meets "the Picard"

Relevance - 3 points. Lots that are tied into this episode. First, the procedure of memory wiping that was used by Doctor Pulaski in the previous season’s “Pen Pals” is used again here, only this time it is not effective. The events of this episode are referred to in a later episode “Allegiance”. We see Riker in his first of several undercover operations in a pre-warp civilization (although this one seems to go the best for him). Finally, the tapestry that the Mintakans give Picard at the end of the episode is seen in his ready room for the remainder of the series and most of the Next Generation movies.

This tapestry will be Picard's ready room for years to come

Continuity - 2 points. The characters all act as they should. There was one moment for Picard, when he shows Nuria her home planet from orbit, which is especially consistent with Picard’s character. He does this a few other times. In the movie “Insurrection”, Picard mentions that the first time he saw Earth from orbit was a significant experience for him, and he seems to enjoy giving others a similar experience. Universe continuity also score here. Where we see a problem with continuity is in the story part. When the duck blind is restored, a holographic projection of a rock face is created. Oji approaches where she saw the opening and touches the rock. Since this is not occurring on the holodeck, she should not have been able to touch the rock, and her hand should have passed through it.

Showing Nuria her home world

Character Development – 2 points. Definitely a strong Picard episode, and while other characters have things to do in the story, none go through the growth that the captain does. He works relentlessly to set things right again, knowing that the inadvertent interference of the observation team could be disastrous to the Mintakan culture. He even goes as far as risking his own life and being shot with an arrow to prove his point that he is not a god. This is where Picard shows his true strength of character, and thankfully his injury is only minor.

Arriving at the scene of the accident

Social Commentary – 2 points. So what commentary is being made in this episode? There is no doubt in my mind that this is a good episode with a great story, but I had to think long and hard about what the message was that we could take away from it. Likely the biggest message is the importance of not allowing yourself to be seen as a “god” in the eyes of those who may be in more humble circumstances. I think we can also appreciate a message of being responsible for your actions, even if the negative consequences were never your intention. Picard could have, justifiably, left Mintaka III with the away team and survey team members, not bothering to fix the confusion that he had caused. Too often we think that because we had good intentions, we should be absolved of responsibility when things take an unexpected turn. Not so with Picard.

The Mintakans have found Palmer

Cool Stuff – 1 point. I will give a point to the scene where Picard is willing to show how far he will go to prove his mortality. The scene where Liko, played brilliantly by Ray Wise, is tense, and we at home watching this for the first time all gasped when Picard flew backwards after being hit by the arrow. Lots about this episode is nice, but we are not given much else that would be considered “cool”.

Picard takes the arrow so the Mintakans can get the point.

Rank – Captain (18 points). I really believe that the third season of TNG is where the show really starts to find its stride. Yes, there are better seasons, but Season 3 really became a ground breaking time for Picard and company. “Who Watches the Watchers” is the first really strong episode that showcases this. Definitely in the Top Ten for this season, and highly recommended.

Troi and Riker as Mintakan traders

If you would like to read other reviews from the Next Generation, click this link.

If you would like to read an episode review from any of the Trek series, click the following link to get to the series catalog. If the episode you want reviewed has not been done yet, then feel free to request it in the comments and I will see what I can do. 

Tuesday, May 23, 2017

The Discovery Canon Problem

For months now we have been waiting for news on Star Trek: Discovery. Last week, the first trailer was released, and Trekkies have been debating it incessantly on the World Wide Web ever since. One issue that had come up again and again is Discovery and its treatment of canon.Some have been very critical over the established canon that has come from five decades of television episodes and motion pictures. Some will claim, without having seen a single episode, that canon was being ignored and thrown aside by uncaring, non-Trek fan producers who are only looking at Star Trek:Discovery as a quick payday. The uniforms are too different, the Klingons don't look right, and the technology does not measure up to snuff. The shouts are deafening at times.

Now, I will be the first person to defend a fan's right to criticize Star Trek. We all have our "Shades of Grey" and "Spock's Brain" episodes, our "Wesley Crusher" characters that we love to hate, and the little inconsistencies that have found their way into Star Trek. We chuckle at oversights that make us do the face palm, and then go onto making as many memes that we can to mock Trek's beloved imperfections. I have also known fans who, on various principles, will not watch various incarnations of the show as a protest to things they did not like. Yet, with Discovery, some fans are surprised with the venom that is being used in dissecting this new show before a single episode has been shown. Well, I have news for everyone, old fans and new alike, about this reaction.

There's nothing new here.

Standard Picard face palm photo

Indeed, when the Next Generation was in pre-production, critics and fans alike were tearing apart the new series before anything was put to script, let alone film. Among the fan circles (no internet in homes in those days), some familiar complaints were being made. An android and a Klingon on the bridge? Never! A  bald captain? Haven't they treated baldness in the future? No Vulcans in the main cast? The outrage! Have you seen those uniforms? They got the colors wrong! You can't have the captain wear red! The ship looks wrong! Blah blah blah blah blah. And then, the show aired. Many of us were happy to have Trek back on TV, so we watched and allowed things to progress. Yes, the first season was rough. "Code of Honor" was the second episode, and it stunk up the airwaves. It even turned fans off of the show. Wesley became despised by some fans to the point where his character was booed at every convention. Yet it would be hard to argue that TNG not only continued the franchise, but surpassed the Original Series in terms of popularity and recognition. It became a ratings juggernaut and gave us two spin-off series and a prequel series. With each of those series there was serious doubts and fears from the fans, and each time the show found a core fan base of varying scopes. 

This photo brought about many complaints as well.

So now we have Discovery, and the complaints resurface. Again, I find it humorous that so many have declared this to not be Trek without having seen a single episode. Loudest of the complaints are with respect to canon and how it is being ignored. Well, again, nothing new here. This is not the first time that canon has been ignored, and to be fair, we do not know that canon is ignored in this new series yet. Let me address a few of the "canon" infringements and let you decide from there.

First, the Klingons. Yes, Star Trek has had a storied history with this race of warriors. In the Original Series, we had distinctly human-looking Klingons. Then the movies were made, and the number one enemy to the UFP had forehead ridges. Some fans were outraged. The ridges were carried forward in the subsequent series, and we fans turned the outrage into a bit of an in-joke. You see, we got the fact that Star Trek in the 60s had a limited budget, to the point where Klingons, who would appear in several episodes. were just darker skinned than many humans. With improvements in budgets and technology, the 70s and 80s allowed the powers that be to give a more alien appearance to the Klingons. The thoeries, albeit not too serious, as to why Klingons looked different between the two eras would be a hot topic at conventions and later in chat rooms. Again, we didn't take it too seriously. The arguments were mostly out of fun. Deep Space Nine took a stab at explaining it in a way that was humorous and acknowledged the debate for decades. Later, Enterprise provided a very good explanation, involving Augments and genetic manipulation. Let us not forget that even specific Klingons have changed over time. How many different heads did Worf have? Now, the Klingons look different again, and people are once again up in arms. This time, the discourse has an angrier tone, and I get it. If canon was being followed with precision, the Klingons would look like the ones from the Original Series. They don't. They look more like modern Klingons. The explanation given by Enterprise appears to have been ignored. So in this situation, I would say that the arguments towards ignoring canon have been validated. Other examples, however, have not.

Klingon or not? Who cares.

There is a smaller argument being made that at the time of Kirk there were no female Starfleet captains, and it looks like Discovery will be going against that. This piece of canon comes from the final Original Series episode "Turnabout Intruder", in which Dr. Janice Lester says to Kirk: "Your world of starship captains doesn't admit women!". Lester had wanted to be a captain, and some felt that her use of that line mirrored the society of the 1960s where women were not seen as being capable of being leaders of the military and corporations. I would argue that interpreting that one line of dialogue (given by a character whose mental instability was the core of the plot) as to show that the gender gap still existed in the 23rd century is one of the weakest arguments in this debate. For a show who continually stood for breaking social barriers, Star Trek would not be so shallow as to keep a woman out of the Captain's chair. Was not the first officer in "The Cage" a woman? If we examine the line of dialogue in question closely, there are far more plausible interpretations. For instance, since she said this to Kirk, a man whom she was in love with, could she not have been saying this to Kirk himself, and not to Starfleet? It is Kirk's world of being a starship captain that does not admit women, which would explain the large number of romantic flings Kirk has had over his three years as the captain. Dr. Lester was upset that Kirk chose career over her, not that Starfleet would only promote men to the rank of Captain. Canon has not been ignored here.

Captain on the bridge

Another complaint I hear is that the technology looks too advanced when compared to the Original Series. Well, that is because the two shows were made a half-century apart. Technology grew, allowing us to give more realistic props and sets. Why would we expect the show to give us the 1960s Enterprise bridge? I mean, from a nostalgia point of view it would be cool (look at the TNG episode of "Relics"), but that is not something to base an entire new series on. Face it, but if after the show is on and the only thing that is keeping you from enjoying Discovery is that the consoles look too new, then the problem is with you, not Discovery.

Hey, look! Buttons on the consoles!

When it comes to canon, Star Trek fans need to remember something: Trek has a history of ignoring canon in light of good story telling. History is rewritten to make the story work. The entire Trill species, as an example, contradicted itself. Trills were introduced to us as an alien species with bumpy foreheads that didn't want people to know about their being a joined species. When DS9 came around, the bumps were replaced with spots, and it looks as if either Sisko was the only Starfleet officer to know about the worm in Dax's abdomen, or it was just the crew of the flagship that hadn't gotten the Trill memo. Regardless of it, canon and history changed to allow a better story to be told. I think that many of these fans that are complaining about the disrespect to canon need to ask themselves is this: would you rather have canon overlooked in favour of good story telling, or would you rather get garbage and/or recycled stories just to stay true to your interpretation of canon? If you want the show to look like the 1960s, then watch the various fan films that do that. Do you want good Trek? Then learn to let some things go.

The real Star Trek canon

Ultimately, I think everyone should give it a chance first. I get the desire to voice your concerns. I have had them myself. I also understand when something that I grew up with and loved is not presented in a way that I thought was contrary to the reasons that I loved it. I also learned from those experiences that if I let it go, then my life is happier. We need to stop judging the people that are working hard to bring back Star Trek to the small screen (and the big screen, for that matter, but let's not go there just yet). One of my pet peeves is hearing that the people that work on Star Trek: Discovery have no real love for Star Trek. When I look at some of the names attached to it, like Bryan Fuller, Nicholas Meyer, and Eugene Roddenberry himself, I find it hard to believe that these individuals are just trying to destroy Star Trek. Seriously, you think that Eugene is trying to destroy his father's legacy? Nonsense. 

They've worked hard, let them have a chance

As fans, we need to stop thinking that we are the sole owners of Star Trek. Are we important partners? Yes. Are we a reason that Star Trek has remained relevant for half a century and more? Of course we are, but that does not mean that we are the only ones. We have to acknowledge that not everyone has the same idea for Gene's vision. Heck, if we had stuck with Gene's vision, we likely would have seen TNG end in a few seasons with nothing else to follow. Star Trek evolves because that is what good franchises must do. Those that become so rigorously married to canon are doomed to failure and disappointment. We need to stop acting like this belongs to us. It doesn't, at least not solely. There are other partners in this relationship that have a stake here. For any good relationship to work, there needs to be some give and take, and right now there is a small contingent of us that are just taking and giving nothing but negativity in return. We need to let Discovery happen, for better or for worse. Yes, it's a bit scary. Yes, it means that not everything will be the way we like it. I have my list of concerns, and if they are not met, I will be disappointed and likely not follow Discovery like the others. I may tune it out all together. Some have already made that choice. But to drag the rest of the fans down with you is illogical and goes against IDIC. We need to stop this idea that our own individual interpretation of Gene's vision about Star Trek is the only valid one. We need to stop forcing our belief as to what is Star Trek onto everyone around us. 

How I feel when people complain about Discovery

So let's wait and see. Stop the bitterness, open your minds and hearts to new possibilities. I think the truest essence of Star Trek is to not just seek out new worlds and new civilizations, but to open ourselves to new ideas and imaginations. Nobody is asking you to accept everything. You can enjoy what you enjoy and allow others to do the same. In the end, if all you can do is rage over and over that Star Trek is dead to you, and that your sole purpose in life is now dead and gone, then may I, in the words of William Shatner, humbly and sincerely advise you to "get a life".

Words of wisdom.

Thursday, May 18, 2017

Star Trek: Discovery Has a Trailer! My Thoughts

I have avoided doing news reports on my blog for a while now. Partly was because I found focus on the episode reviews, but largely because news on Discovery was mostly rumors, setbacks, and nothing very reliable. I did not want to be another voice repeating a lot of what has been said over and over, and to be honest the constant delays was frustrating. I decided to wait until we actually had something concrete to sink my teeth into, and yesterday, it finally happened. A trailer for Star Trek: Discovery was launched, and to quote George Takei: "Oh my!"

If you missed it, you can watch the video here:

OK, time for my thoughts.

First off, let me say that I thought I was watching a trailer for a new movie, not a new television series. The quality of the sets and effects are absolutely stunning! I have heard that CBS is pulling out all the stops for Discovery (something about it being the main goal for their on-demand service), and this trailer seems to back it up. It looks like top quality production, so I am really excited for that aspect of it. While reports have said that the new show will be grittier, and we definitely see some of that in the trailer, we also see that the show is going to look really good.

Next, the uniforms. I was a little surprised by the new uniform style. I can already hear a number of the doubters and haters sharpening up their knives and taking a whack at the new look, but I kind of like them. Yes, they are not anything like we have seen the Original series. Well, that's just fine by me. I think if Roddenberry had the budget, he would have spruced up the bright colors a bit himself. I like that the new uniforms remind me of Enterprise, showing some attention to continuity. And while the uniform is indeed different, it still looks like a Starfleet uniform to me. Jacob Issacs, who will play one of the captains in the new series, has said that Discovery will look both new and familiar. The uniforms fit that bill.

Character wise, we get an introduction to Sonequa Martin-Green (of Walking Dead fame) as Michael Burnham, the main character, and her captain, played by Michelle Yeoh (who I loved in Crouching Tiger, Hidden Dragon). I like the dynamics of these two already, showing us that they have been together for seven years. It almost felt like Picard and Riker after the movies had gotten started, with one mentoring the other about command. With the focus being on a character other than the captain, this too felt both new and familiar. We see who I can only assume is Lt. Saru, played by Doug Jones. Saru is a new species of alien that has yet to be mentioned or named. Apparently, his species has a special ability to detect the approach of death. I am not sure how that works, but it is an interesting idea. I am curious to see how this develops. There are other new characters that are shown, but we do not know much more about them.

One character that is familiar is Sarek, played by James Frain. It appears that Sarek will have a special connection to Martin-Green's character. Right now it seems like he will only be in one episode, but his part seems to be significant. He seems to have the essence of Sarek, for the most part. I think it will be very akin to how Ben Cross portrayed the character in the 2009 movie, but not quite as dignified as Mark Leonard did as the original Sarek (and let's be honest, Mark Leonard will be and should be the standard for this character). While I cannot expect every incarnation of the characters I have grown to love to be carbon copies of the originals, I do hope they keep his essence as close to the real thing as possible. 

We also get to see the ship. Discovery looks to be different than any Starfleet vessel we have yet to see. Its design is vaguely familiar, and yet it seems to fit the time frame. Remember, this is before the Original series occurs, but I find it hard to imagine that this class of ship will evolve into more familiar Constitution class in only a decade, but this is the way of franchises these days. As new minds develop the stories, new imaginings are presented. I will say that I like the look of the bridge. I am one that is just fine with a bridge design that looks less like Shatner's bridge in 1966 and more like it was designed with a respectable budget. Some hate the new ship, but I think it will grow on me.

Finally, they show the Klingons. I must admit that this is one that has me a bit on the fence. First, they look different than anything before. Definitely not the Klingons that we would have expected based on the Enterprise and Original Series depictions. I find that a little disappointing, as I thought that the Enterprise explanation for why Klingons looked so different between the Original series and the Next Generation was wonderfully developed, and it looks like Discovery will just ignore that. Too bad. This will definitely get some fans upset, as those of us that are more purists at heart will be wanting, if nothing else, the Klingons to look more like Worf and less like Reptilian Xindi. Having said that, we also must admit that Klingons have always undergone transformations. The Original series had them more like Mongolian warriors, while Star Trek: the Motion Picture started the forehead ridges. Over time, the makeup changed. heck, even Worf went through different headpieces during the seven seasons that TNG was on the air. As nice as it would be to have the look of the Klingons remain consistent, I would rather they keep the spirit of the Klingons alive and well. This is one that I will have to wait and see if it works or not.

That is about all I have been able to gather from the new trailer. While I have often voiced my frustration with the delays, it is nice to know that our patience and waiting is about to pay off. While no exact date has been set, it is almost certain that sometime this fall we will finally have new Trek on television. It cannot come fast enough. While I am cautiously optimistic, this trailer has finally given me more hope than worry. Yes, some are going to hate it. Some are going to love it. I hope all of us give it an honest chance and watch a few episodes before we put ourselves into one of those two camps. Until then, live long and prosper.

Wednesday, May 17, 2017

Episode Review – The Immunity Syndrome (Original Series, Season 2)

For those who are new to my episode reviews, you can find the post where I establish my point criteria here

Overview – As the Enterprise heads towards a shore leave destination, they are contacted by Starbase 6 with respect to the starship Intrepid, manned by an all-Vulcan crew. Soon after receiving the distress call, Spock experiences a telepathic communication with the Intrepid’s crew, indicating that they were all suddenly killed. As they approach the last known location of the Intrepid, Kirk and the crew begin to experience various symptoms if illness and fatigue. As they discover the source of their problems, a large, cell-like space creature that feeds on energy, Kirk must decide which of his two closest friends, Spock or McCoy, he must sacrifice to save the ship.

Score: 8/10 – While the pacing in this episode is often a bit slow, there is a great story to be told in this episode. While on the surface it looks like an adventure to save the galaxy from an entity that seems to feed off of all energy, it is actually a fairly well done study of the relationship between the original series trifecta of Kirk, Spock, and McCoy. As the crew try to stave off this “destroyer of worlds” (the latest in a long string of such adversaries), we examine this friendship in much greater depth. Not only does Kirk play the balance to Spock’s cool logic and McCoy’s fiery emotions, he must choose between them to save the ship, likely at the cost of his friend’s life. It is a decision that Kirk does not enjoy, but in his typical fashion he makes the tough call. The science behind the solution to the problem may be a little farfetched (hey, it is called science fiction for a reason), but the dramatic buildup mostly works.

Relevance - 0 points. Sadly, there is nothing in this episode that connects it with other episodes in Star Trek. Having a recurring theme of threats to the galaxy notwithstanding, it would have been humorous to hear someone, such as McCoy, mention that the crew have been facing off against a lot of galaxy-level threats recently. If you miss this episode, it is no big deal (except for the fact that this is a great episode).

Continuity - 3 points. Everything checks out here. All-Vulcan crew starships should not be a big surprise (we see them in DS9 as well), and nothing contradicts any storylines. Most importantly is the Character continuity. With the focus being on Kirk, Spock, and McCoy, these three act exactly the way we expect and love them to. There has always been great chemistry between the three, and this is the showcase.

Character Development – 3 points. Again, showcasing the great on-screen chemistry between not only the three central characters but the three actors as well, this episode does a fine job in pushing all three along their development. Kirk has to deal with the choice of which of his closest friends he should send on what is most likely going to be a suicide mission. Both Spock and McCoy are willing to go to keep the other one safe. The genuine care that each has for the others is strongly shown in this episode. Yes, McCoy and Spock argue. A lot. For two individuals that are so fundamentally different, that is to be expected. Yet when push comes to shove, they are there for each other. There is no greater example of this than when they are attempting to rescue Spock, who suggests that they conserve their energy. McCoy shouts out “Shut up Spock, we’re rescuing you!” to which Spock replies with his ever cool quip “Why thank you…Captain McCoy”. Great writing helps flesh out the great friendship these characters had.

Social Commentary – 2 points. Making the tough call. Which friend do you sacrifice? For a guy that does not like the no-win scenario, Kirk has a doozy of one here. Still, he makes the best call that he can, and then does everything he can to cheat the system and emerge the winner. While we may not have decide between friends in life-or-death situations on a regular basis, we often have to make tough choices that we would rather not make at all. All we can do is make the best choice we can and hope it all works out for the best.

Cool Stuff – 1 point. One point scored for the space amoeba. Cool creature, both in the 60s and with the re-mastered edition. While realistically I doubt such a creature could exist, I did appreciate the imagination that was put into its development.

Rank – Captain (17 points). This is an enjoyable episode that highlights one of the Original Series best qualities, the dynamic of Kirk, Spock, and Bones. It is an adventure story that does a lot to build this dynamic. While missing it might not take away from the overall picture, it is a great story that you should not miss.

If you would like to read other reviews from the Original Series, click on the link here.

If you would like to read an episode review from any of the Trek series, click the following link to get to the series catalog. If the episode you want reviewed has not been done yet, then feel free to request it in the comments and I will see what I can do.