Saga of the Jasonite

The continuing adventures of that eternal man of mystery…


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Star Trek episode reviews: Disaster and The Game

Disaster

Wish I could say I’ve accelerated the rate at which I write reviews, but life has been a bit tumultuous lately. Not to fear, I will finish! In the meantime I’ve at least written two more, the fifth and sixth episodes of season five.

Disaster kicks us off with a disaster, as the Enterprise runs into a quantum filament. Quantum filament, really? This is a fish out of water episode for most of the crew: Picard is trapped in a turbolift with children, Troi is put in command on the bridge, Worf is stuck in Ten Forward with the injured and the pregnant, and has to deliver a baby. There are other vignettes too, and virtually all of them work.

Any Dr. Quinn, Medicine Woman fans out there may recognize Marissa as Erika Flores, who portrayed Colleen Cooper for the first three seasons. What you may not know is this episode was a bit of a test run, to see the kind of chemistry O’Brien and Ro had, since they were wanting to get her on DS9. She later turned them down. Check out my full review for a lot more content.

The Game

Following this is The Game, where prodigal son Wesley Crusher returns for a guest spot. He’s back briefly from Starfleet Academy. Yep, he’s back home with his family…who are out to get him! This episode is full of sentiment at Wil Wheaton’s brief return, which is nice. What’s not so nice is the plot, which involves an addictive, mind-controlling video game that the entire crew of the ship (even Ashley Judd, in her last appearance) gets infected with, before everyone gets saved by Data and a strobe light.

Ashley Judd has her first on-screen kiss, and everyone’s favorite ensign does the honors. Marina Sirtis has her infamous “chocolate scene” in this episode, which is almost pornographic. *heh* You may not know that Marina had to spit out the chocolate after every take, because she was afraid she’d gain weight. Check out my full review for some other tidbits and nitpicks on this episode.

Thanks for visiting! Next up for review are Unification I and II, which involves possibly the most anticipated guest star of all: Spock!

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Star Trek episode reviews: Ensign Ro and Silicon Avatar

Ensign Ro

Slow but steady, I’ve completed two more reviews for season five. The episodes I’ve done are Ensign Ro and Silicon Avatar. Not exactly outstanding episodes like the previous two. One is definitely worth watching, the other is definitely optional.

Ensign Ro introduces us to…*drumroll* Ensign Ro! She’s a member of a new race in the Star Trek canon: a Bajoran. A troubled ensign that an admiral had to get out of prison so she could go on a mission to help the Enterprise hunt down terrorists, Ensign Ro has got attitude to spare; but we learn she is also in over her head, and not everything is at it seems.

Between The Wounded and Ensign Ro, the Cardassians and Bajorans were set for a show that would be debuting the following year, Deep Space 9. The producers liked Michelle Forbes’s performance in Half a Life so much they offered her a recurring role on TNG, and eventually the part that she turned down on DS9, which went to Nana Visitor. Check out my review for a lot more content.

Silicon Avatar

Silicon Avatar is about the return of the Crystalline Entity, the deadly but beautiful life form that annihilated the colony on Omicron Theta, where Data and Lore were created. Riker, Data and Beverly are on a planet along with a Starfleet team preparing a planet for colonization when it attacks! Barely surviving, once the Enterprise arrives they get an expert and begin tracking it down. Unfortunately the expert, Dr. Marr, has an agenda of her own. The episode starts out great but slides into mediocrity.

This episode title doesn’t help anyone understand what the episode is actually about. Star Trek: The Next Generation (and maybe Star Trek in general) is sort of famous for having inaccurate, vague titles but this one is flat-out nonsensical. The producers finally said it actually was meant to convey “a repository of knowledge”, referring to Data! Does anyone think that?? Click here for my review, where I give a breakdown of how things start out and where they went wrong with this episode, as well as more trivia that no one else has.

Thanks for taking a look at my blog! Next I’ll review Disaster and The Game, a bit of a mixed bag in both cases.


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Star Trek episode reviews: Redemption II and Darmok

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Redemption II

After something of a long wait, the first two episodes of season five are complete! This time around it’s Redemption II and Darmok, two standout episodes of the entire series. Redemption II is a worthy denouement and Darmok is simply an episode for the ages.

Redemption II is the 100th episode and is all about the Klingon Civil War, which we jump in to right from the first. There is so much plot in this episode it’s bursting at the seams. Frankly they could have made this a three-parter with all the plot threads they needed to tie up, but it’s a great ride.

Denise Crosby tells the story of how she came up with the idea for Sela, and Dan Curry talks in depth about how he made the effect for the surface of sun, and they’re both pretty interesting. Multiple characters from this episode appear in later DS9 episodes as well. Check out my review for all the details.

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Darmok

Darmok is an episode that had been percolating for years. Initially hated by Rick Berman, Michael Piller saw its real value and gave it to Joe Menosky to adapt, and he turned it into one of the best Star Trek episodes ever made. It’s all about an incomprehensible species that kidnaps Picard down to a planet to an apparent duel with their captain, but turns into something entirely different. It’s one of those episodes that’s hard to write a synopsis for, but every Star Trek fan should see.

This episode debuts Picard’s new captain’s jacket, the two-piece with a gray undershirt that I ended up liking. We also see the first appearance of Ashley Judd as Ensign Lefler. She’s really cute, but evidently as the actress got older she got weirder too, oh well. Check out these and other behind-the-scenes curiosities in my review.

That wraps up the long-overdue blog entry. Next I’ll review Ensign Ro and Silicon Avatar, a decent episode and a weird one. Hopefully I’ll get to them soon!


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Season five overview is here!

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We’ll miss you Gene. Click to read my season five overview

As promised, my season five overview of Star Trek: The Next Generation is here. By this time a big chunk of America was watching Star Trek, and its popularity overseas continued to grow as well as TNG continued to capture the world’s imagination. In fact for this year’s sweeps week Star Trek was rated higher than almost every other show on television, even leaving Monday Night Football in the dust! Rightly so, as season five will get some of the best episodes in the entire series, as well as my personal favorite.

This season boasted some of the best guest stars ever in the series (Kelsey Grammer, Ray Walston, Ashley Judd, Famke Janssen and the legendary Leonard Nimoy to name a few), as well as the return of cast members such as Denise Crosby and Wil Wheaton. A recurring character, Ensign Ro Laren, will be introduced this season and I’ll have a character I care about at Conn again.

This season also marked the death of Star Trek’s creator, Gene Roddenberry. He lived to see it’s 25th anniversary but died on October 24th, 1991, while the cast was filming Hero Worship. In my opinion Star Trek was never the same after he died. In my season overview I devote some space to the man that created and defined what Star Trek was, and hopefully will continue to be.

I want to include a quote from Seth Macfarlane, a huge TNG fan who is currently launching his own sci-fi show, The Orville. I think he captures a bit of the appeal of TOS and TNG in particular: “Dystopia is good for drama because you’re starting with conflict: your villain is the world. Writers on [ST:TNG] found it very difficult to work within the confines of a world where everything was going right. They objected to it. But I think that audiences loved it. They liked to see people who got along, and who lived in a world that was a blueprint for what we might achieve, rather than a warning of what might happen to us.” His full quote is in my season overview.

This is also the last year that TNG will have all to itself, as Deep Space 9 will be introduced during its sixth season. This is a great season, and I hope you enjoy reading my season five overview while I get down to reviewing the episodes!


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My musings on Star Trek Discovery

Discovery

As a Star Trek fan, how could I not watch the pilot episode of the first new Star Trek series in 12 years? I’m still working on my season 5 overview of TNG, in the meantime I thought it’d be an apropos diversion to give my thoughts on Star Trek Discovery. I’ve only seen the first episode, so this will be my response to only that one episode.

This post will be different than any other I’ve published. I’m not going to give an organized (or even coherent) review, instead I will just write down the thoughts that occurred to me over the two viewings of the episode. I did look up a few things afterwards that I’ll include too. As I did with my review of Star Trek: Into Darkness, I will issue the following warning:

*WARNING* MASSIVE SPOILERS CONTAINED IN THIS REVIEW. DO NOT READ UNLESS YOU’VE SEEN THE EPISODE OR DO NOT CARE ABOUT KNOWING KEY PLOT POINTS

The Klingons makeup change. Why? To set itself apart from every other series, and the films? The goal seems to be to make them seem genuinely “alien” instead of just humans with makeup. Whatever. Not a fan of the armor. I had the thought if this was a Disney animated film we’d be hearing about how offensive the portrayal is to African Americans: super-broad noses, portrayed as the villains, preferring only aggression, etc.

The cinematography and special effects are gorgeous, far higher than I’ve seen in just about any other TV show. They are really using up their budget to achieve an effect here. I like that!

The bridge seems very dark, in great contrast to the bridge of every ship in Star Trek history. Even DS9, arguably the darkest Star Trek, is lit brighter than this. This makes me worry this will be a darker show, which is exactly what it should not be. The screen shot I’ve seen of the Discovery with captain Lorca is on a more brightly lit bridge, which I’m going to take as a good sign. But this isn’t a review of future episodes, this is a review of this one.

Not sure what I think of the new uniforms. They are at least solid colors, much like TOS, but I dunno. They don’t look bad enough for me to complain too much.

This is the year 2256. The Original Series took place from 2265-2269. That’s far enough removed to guarantee no crossover with Kirk & Company I suppose. Then again, never say never.

Michael in that space suit heading out toward the “object of unknown origin” reminds me of Spock in Star Trek the Motion Picture doing something similar.

Sending in the first officer into a situation where she will likely die doesn’t seem like a good idea. In fact, shouldn’t she be dead? There is “15 seconds to lethal radiation exposure” and twice that time occurs before we cut back to the Klingon ship after her encounter. She’s dead. No amount of treatment will help her, according to what the episode itself tells us–she’s dead. Yet 10 minutes later she has completely recovered. And what kind of idiot captain lets their first officer go on a relatively unimportant mission that will kill them in 20 minutes and says they will be back in 19?

Michael is a guy’s name. I’ve since learned that this is a recurring theme for Bryan Fuller, who is the show runner. Ellen Muth played George on Dead Like Me, Anna Friel played Chuck in Pushing Daisies, and Caroline Dhavernas played Jaye on Wonderfalls. It’s still a dude’s name, though, not sure how I feel about that. It’s not really for a purpose.

In terms of chronology, did TOS have the capacity for hologram representation? If not, why do these guys have it? Seems like a needless mistake. Then again, this show doesn’t seem particularly interested in Star Trek fans.

Michael seems to have a strange way of trying to present her arguments. “Captain, we have to fire on them. Hit that ship with everything we’ve got.” When the captain doesn’t immediately go along she says in effect, look at my history of success and stop challenging me, attack the Klingons before we’re dragged into war. Then this experienced Starfleet officer yells at her on the bridge. So she’s definitely off the reservation. It’s made all the more ironic a few minutes later when her science officer questions her the same way she challenged her captain, and she threatens to remove him right there on the bridge.

Michael committing mutiny against her captain. What are we supposed to make of this? It seems to me the writers are wanting the audience to believe she’s in the right and simultaneously that she’s letting her emotions rule her decision-making. She feels driven to this because her captain won’t fire on the Klingons. We learn just a few minutes later that a whole fleet of Klingon warships have arrived, and if they had started a fight with a ship who they are “wildly outgunned” by, the other ships would immediately open fire and pulverize the Shenzhou. This doesn’t seem like a good play for a character I have just met and am still deciding if I like.

Why is the first officer the only one with any good ideas? The captain and science officer contribute almost nothing to the episode that’s helpful to the plot. In fact these are the only characters on the ship who seem to have any significant lines. The pilot of just about every other Star Trek series does a better job of introducing the ensemble.

It seems it is being implied that Starfleet training is not adequately preparing the captain to deal with Klingons, as exemplified by Captain Georgiou (had to look up the name).  While I haven’t seen the second episode, my guess is she gets killed because CBS has revealed Michael will be serving under another captain (Captain Lorca).  Jason Isaacs, who plays him, described his character as “probably more f-ed up” than any of the previous Star Trek captains.

While previous Star Trek incarnations at least began in a time of peace, it seems this one will begin in a state of war. I just hope Discovery isn’t about war, because that’s not what Star Trek is about. It’s not even what the title of this series is about!

The ending. A cliff-hanger? Certainly an obvious ploy to get the ‘free week of CBS All Access’ to watch the next episode, and if you like it you’ll just keep it. I’m not a fan of this and I did not like how the episode ended, but I understand it’s purpose.

I’m not angry at this episode but neither am I convinced it’s Star Trek, either. Then again it may take a season for this show to hit its stride. The first season of TNG, DS9 and Voyager weren’t exactly great either. But I’m not loving this enough to pay for the rest of the episodes of the season.

Addendum: I just realized the initials for this series will be STD. I find this hilarious.


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Star Trek episode reviews: In Theory and Redemption

In Theory

I’m happy to declare that with this post I’ve finally finished reviewing the fourth season of Star Trek: The Next Generation! Consider that I published the season four overview page on July 11, 2016 and the first episode review of season four on July 22nd of the same year. This has been a labor of love for me for over a year. At least it happened quicker than season 3, which I started in 2013 but didn’t finish until 2016!

The two reviews I’ve just completed are In Theory and Redemption, episodes 25 and 26 of season four. One is a good episode, the other is a great one. In Theory is enjoyable but often overlooked, while Redemption is one of the most celebrated episodes in TNG.

In Theory is all about Data’s love life. He gets a girlfriend who’s frankly on the rebound and ultimately gets the shaft like we sort of assumed he would, but it’s a really enjoyable ride getting there. This is one of the funniest episodes in the series, as we watch Data do his level best to be a good boyfriend, with about as much success as you’d expect. There is a plot B, but nobody cares about it.

Speaking of plot B and the “dark matter deformations,” not even the writers wanted to do it but they were required to do something with the ship. Ronald Moore said that on TNG, they could do quite a bit with the characters on the show, but they always had to include something about what the ship was doing, which wasn’t the case on DS9. Check out my full review for more.

Redemption

Redemption is an episode that’s been a long time coming. Starting back in season 3 with Sins of the Father, and later with Reunion, we were hoping there would come a day when Worf would get back his family’s honor. For my money this is the second best cliffhanger in Star Trek, and just an outstanding episode. Picard is asked to finish arbitrating Gowron’s succession as leader of the High Council, only to discover that Duras’s sisters have plotted to challenge him by advancing Duras’ son to the same position. All heck breaks loose because the house of Duras has so much power that if Picard doesn’t acknowledge his legitimacy there will be a Klingon civil war. Worf gets caught up in all of it, and his brother Kurn, and…let’s just say it’s a great episode that has something for everybody, culminating with the final camera shot on a Romulan that looks a lot like Tasha Yar!

Redemption was originally intended to be the season three finale, but it got pushed back because everyone was excited about the Borg. Justifiably so! Ronald Reagan visited the set while they were shooting this episode,  and the cast and crew celebrated this being the 100th episode–even though it’s actually the 99th. How do I reconcile this? Check out my full review for this and other behind the scenes info.

No one is more ready than me to move into season five and review not only Redemption part II but also the whole rest of the series. I’ll get started soon on the season five overview–always a lot of work–so follow my blog to read it the day I post it!


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Star Trek episode reviews: The Host and The Mind’s Eye

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The Host

Okay episodes 23 and 24 of season four are here, we’re almost finished the season! I’ve reviewed The Host and The Mind’s Eye, two decent but somewhat forgettable episodes, and probably a step down from the previous two I reviewed.

The Host introduces us to the Trill, a race Star Trek fans would see in every single episode of Deep Space 9 in the character of Jadzia Dax, played by the slightly loopy Terry Farrell. Odan, the Trill in our episode, is the son of a distinguished ambassador sent to mediate between two moons of a planet, one of which has discovered a new power source that will harm the other one. While taking a shuttle to the planet Odan is shot at and fatally injured, and only then do we learn his secret: there’s a parasite inside Odan which is the actual guy, the physical body is just a host! How will Beverly Crusher, who’s been having all kinds of sex with him, adjust when Riker volunteers to temporarily host Odan during the mediation?

One of the first things you’ll notice is the make up is very different for a Trill in this episode than we’ll ever see again. His face is lumpier and there are no dots. This is a Beverly-centric episode, and the director had to hide the fact that Gates was pregnant at the time. This is why she’s in her medical frock in virtually every scene. It’s a pretty decent episode, but not one TNG fans will say is a highlight of season four. Check out other behind the scenes info as well as an interview with Gates about this episode in my full review.

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The Mind’s Eye

The Mind’s Eye is more watchable IMO. This is a Geordi episode, and he’s in a shuttle pod heading to the well-known pleasure planet Risa for a conference. He’s unwinding for the 3-hour trip when a Romulan warbird de-cloaks and captures him. He’s then brain washed for the purpose of assassinating a Klingon governor, in the hopes of ending the Federation-Klingon alliance.

Anyone who enjoys classic movies knows this is an ode to The Manchurian Candidate, a terrific film from the 60’s. I highly recommend it for those who don’t mind watching things in black and white. This is also the third time we get to see through Geordi’s VISOR, from his POV. Do you recall what the other two are? Check out my full review and you’ll learn that and a few other things.

That wraps up this blog entry. We really are near the end of season four–finally! There are only two episodes left. My next entry will cover In Theory and Redemption, two excellent episodes, before leaving this season and moving on.