Saga of the Jasonite

The continuing adventures of that eternal man of mystery…


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Star Trek episode reviews: The Perfect Mate and Imaginary Friend

Luckily for me I was able to write two reviews in as many weeks! I hardly ever have the time to do that, so I’m getting this post out as quickly as I can. I’ve just completed reviews of episodes 21 and 22 of season five, The Perfect Mate and Imaginary Friend.

the-perfect-mate-hd-317 The Perfect Mate

The Perfect Mate is a solid episode that features practically the first appearance of Famke Janssen ever, alongside her co-star Professor X–I mean Captain Picard. The premise of this episode is simple:  Kamala (Famke) is a metamorph, an empath able to become the exact sort of woman any man wants simply by being around them, and has been raised to be the mate of a neighboring world, with whom they have been at war for a long time. Is it ok for her to be given as a gift to a man she’s never met, or should the Enterprise intervene?

You may not know that Kamala’s makeup was the primary inspiration for the Trill makeup on DS9, not the actual Trill from The Host. Check out the story behind this, as well as Famke’s story about Patrick Stewart giving her the best acting advice she’s ever received in my full review.

imaginary-friend-hd-280 Imaginary Friend

Imaginary Friend is a definite step down, and is one of the worst episodes of season five. The Enterprise is investigating a unique kind of nebula, but who cares about that, this story is all about a young girl who has an imaginary friend. An energy alien comes on board and poses as the friend, and we all have to follow the alien in disguise manipulate a young girl and plan to destroy the ship.

There’s not a lot of behind-the-scenes info to be had here, other than listing all the previous episodes where we have energy aliens invading the ship. At this point it’s an over-used trope that leads to maybe the most forgettable and boring episode of the season. This is the first time we learn about Geordi’s parents, who will come into play later on, and did you know a certain writer chose this script instead of doing a Q episode this season? Learn who the culprit was, as well as spotting a scene where Patrick’s goofing off in this episode was captured on camera by reading my full review.

That’s it for this time. Next time I’ll be reviewing I Borg and The Next Phase, two very enjoyable episodes to watch. Hope to post them soon!

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Star Trek episode reviews: The First Duty and Cost of Living

Last time I was back on track, this time I’m behind again. I guess having a second child and keeping a practice up and running takes more time than I thought. Throw the holidays into the mix and I suppose it was inevitable I get behind. Still, there’s no better way to start off a new year than with a new post about two episode reviews I’ve completed! This time I’ve reviewed episodes 19 and 20 of season five, The First Duty and Cost of Living.

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The First Duty

The First Duty is an exceptional episode that features another guest appearance by Wil Wheaton as Wesley Crusher. The setting this time is Starfleet Academy, and there’s been a fatal accident. Wesley is covering something up, Picard discovers what it is, and Wesley is forced to make a difficult choice between the truth or his friends and fellow cadets.

The First Duty features Ray Walston, Wil Wheaton, and Robert Duncan McNeill who would go on to play Tom Paris on Voyager. Robert compares the character he played in this episode and the one he plays on Voyager, and I reveal the secret reason he wasn’t allowed to reprise Locarno. Check out both in my full review.

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Cost of Living

Cost of Living is a huge step down from the previous episode. The Enterprise picks up some metal parasites, and Lwaxana comes on board and announces she is getting married! Unfortunately it’s to a prudish, Victorian-age dude who is probably the worst fit in the galaxy for her. She bonds with Alexander, and he and Worf are having some friction. Everything turns out for the best, and it’s not that interesting.

This is the fourth of a total of eight episodes that the character of Alexander Rozhenko is used, and after the fifth season he’s hardly ever seen at all in TNG. This episode won two Emmys: Costume Design and Makeup, and was nominated for a third, Hair styling. I’d also forgotten there’s a dancer in this episode who does a good impression of the Orion Slave Girl dance from way back in The Cage. Get full details of my thoughts, and share yours, in my full review.

 


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Star Trek episode reviews: The Outcast and Cause and Effect

I feel like I’m back on track now. I’m getting more sleep now that our baby sleeps through the night (mostly). I did want to make an apology though. I routinely encourage those who visit my site to leave comments if they like, whether on these overviews or on the full episode review pages. However, starting in the fourth season I have not enabled comments on any of those pages! Rest assured this has been resolved, and every review page now has the ability to leave a comment. Please let me know if I have missed any! Alright, here come reviews for episodes 17 and 18 of season five, The Outcast and Cause and Effect.

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The Outcast

The Outcast isn’t the most exciting, or even the most interesting of episodes. The androgynous J’naii race feature here, and the Enterprise is ostensibly helping them find and rescue a missing shuttlecraft with two crew members inside. Really though, it’s about Riker and a J’naii having a forbidden love *yawn*.

The Outcast, is of course, about homosexuality, or I suppose, any sexuality other than heterosexuality. There isn’t much behind the scenes info here, except for LeVar Burton. He really wanted to grow a beard. The producers said fine, we’ll try it once, and let him have it in this episode. Then they said no, it isn’t working. He does get a little bit of stubble on two subsequent episodes, but he won’t see a full beard again until Insurrection. Click here, or the photo above to access my full review.

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Cause and Effect

Cause and Effect is about seven orders of magnitude more awesome. The teaser is probably the best ever: within a minute the Enterprise blows up and everyone dies! Other than Mass Effect 2 I’ve never seen such a thing, and I love it. The crew are caught in a time loop–okay a “temporal causality loop”–for the entire episode, and each time the ship is destroyed. How do they learn about it? Poker!

Poker features more prominently in this episode than any other, and it’s amazing. It’s also amazing that they are able to keep the audience’s attention in filming essentially the same event over and over again. You may not know that instead of just filming the ship and overlaying it with an explosion, they actually blew up a model of the Enterprise. According to the writer, network affiliates were flooded with calls that something was wrong with the broadcast because they kept getting the same footage over and over again! Check out more trivia and behind the scenes info by reading my full review.

That’s it for this time. Next post will be covering the excellent The First Duty, followed by the questionable Cost of Living.


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Star Trek episode reviews: Power Play and Ethics

Thanks for bearing with me over the delay between my last post and this one. I’ve been distracted a bit by my wife and I having an addition to our family:  a new baby girl! Don’t worry, ultimately this has not stopped me from reviewing episodes 15 and 16 from season five, Power Play and Ethics.

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Power Play

The doldrums of the last three average-ish episodes is delightfully disrupted by a genuinely good episode in Power Play! Responding to a distress call brings the Enterprise to a turbulent moon which Riker, Data, and Deanna shuttle down to, only to barely escape with their lives with help from O’Brien. But they’re not alone! It’s not long before Data, Deanna and O’Brien try to take over the ship! The ghost of Christm–I mean an old shipwrecked vessel inhabit their bodies, and we end up with a hostage situation for most of the episode, and it’s great fun to watch.

Babylon 5 aficionados should recognize the redhead in this episode as Patricia Tallman, who portrayed Lyta Alexander on that show! Marina Sirtis tells a well-known story of performing her own stunt on this episode, and practically breaking her coccyx as a result. It was all for nothing, as the shot of her lying on her back is so distant it could’ve been anybody! Check out this as well as  other cool stuff on my full review.

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Ethics

The next episode, Ethics, is a definite step down. In fact we’re right back to average and below-average episodes again for a bit. The plot of Ethics is pretty straightforward: Worf gets hit hard in the back by a heavy container and is paralyzed from the waist down. To Worf, this means he needs to kill himself, and he asks Riker to help him. A “neurological specialist” beams on board to see if there’s anything that can help Worf, but she’s a bit of a loose cannon ethically.

There’s not a ton of behind-the-scenes tidbits here, which suits this somewhat unenjoyable episode just fine. There are multiple references to other episodes, and even a parallel on a DS9 episode that you can learn more about, as well as what I did enjoy about this episode in my full review.

That’s it for now. I’m not really looking forward to reviewing the next episode, The Outcast, but Cause and Effect is spectacular, so stay tuned!


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Star Trek episode reviews: The Masterpiece Society and Conundrum

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The Masterpiece Society

I’ve completed my reviews from episodes 13 and 14 from season five. I continue at the rate of two episodes a month, and unfortunately it will probably get slower in September. My wife is due with our second child in the first week of September, so I’m pretty sure my ability to get reviews done will decrease. Both of these episodes are rather lackluster, and they make up the middle of season five. It’s a shame.

The Masterpiece Society is an average to below average episode to watch. In TMS the Enterprise is trailing a stellar core fragment (a totally made up phenomenon) and discover the planet populated by a colony of genetically engineered humans made to form a collective utopia. The problem occurs when the xenophobic society finally accepts help to save their planet, when many of them catch a glimpse how far advanced the Federation has come and they want to leave. It’s an okay philosophical episode, but it comes across as a light-weight do over of the First Contact from last season, which is far better.

There aren’t a lot of behind-the-scenes bits here, but you can catch some of my thoughts on being either for or against a society and how it might play itself out in my full review. Also, several of the actors in this episode would show up later on DS9 and Enterprise episodes. Want to know which ones?

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Conundrum

I wish I could say that Conundrum is better, but it’s really not. Within the first five minutes the Enterprise crew meet a strange new ship, gets their memories wiped and the computer crashes. The ensuing 20 minutes as they try to figure out who they are and what’s going on are pretty interesting, as well as getting used to this MacDuff guy who’s now the first officer? After learning the Federation is at war with a race called the Lysians and they’ve been given a top-secret mission to destroy their command center, the crew go ahead even though they still don’t know much about who they are. Doubts about the mission grow over the following 24 minutes, and it plays out in a somewhat less-interesting second half. The premise is pretty provocative, but ultimately I just don’t buy how things could have happened, the ending itself doesn’t seem interesting after the first viewing.

One thing that does give me a chuckle is Geordi saying the ship they see in the teaser is completely new, totally unknown. Except the model they used we’ve seen in almost half a dozen previous episodes! I talk more about this, and share some of the improvements and mistakes CBS-all access made in remastering episode in my full review. Take a look and feel free to share your thoughts.

The next two episodes up for my review are Power Play and Ethics, one of which is awesome, the other OK. I can’t make guarantees as to when given my expected lack of sleep, a baby girl, job and a wife to take care of! Not necessarily in that order.


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And now, this!

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This won’t be a long post. Following President Trump’s meeting with Vladimir Putin, and some lines of his that will live in infamy, I saw this meme that James Gunn–the dude who directed Guardians of the Galaxy, among others–put out and thought it was great. Trump has said the following things after his meeting/summit in Helsinki, after he had called the entire EU a “foe” of the US:

When asked, “Do you hold Russia at all accountable for anything in particular,” responded: “I hold both countries responsible. I think that the United States has been foolish. I think we’ve all been foolish. … And I think we’re all to blame.” Instead of saying something straightforward like yes, I believe our intelligence community that Russia did meddle in the election to help my chances and hurt Hilary Clinton’s. By the way, he did say words to that effect not long after he was elected and got to meet with his intelligence officers for the first time. Not with Putin though! Then he contradicts himself completely a minute later in the next quote.

After rambling for really no reason about beating Hilary Clinton in his race (while still losing the popular vote) and reiterating that there was “no collusion” he then said, “So I have great confidence in my intelligence people, but I will tell you that President Putin was extremely strong and powerful in his denial today.” This is an equally ridiculous statement. Not only because his believing Putin over his own ‘intelligence people’ means that he does not, in fact, have much confidence in them, but because this is Vladimir Putin! An evil dictator who is going to deny it, because then he can continue to manipulate Trump. In effect Trump is saying, “I asked him about it, he said he didn’t do it, that’s good enough for me.” It’s also this quote that is the source of the meme above, which I think is great.

That’s all I wanted to say, just had to get that out. I could say a lot more about this meeting, the backlash from it, the Trump administration in general, but I don’t feel the need to. I think the meme sums up the ridiculousness in the long stream of ridiculousness the past couple of years.

Picard out.


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Star Trek episode reviews: Hero Worship and Violations

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Hero Worship

I’ve finished my reviews for episodes 11 and 12 of season five: Hero Worship and Violations. Despite my best efforts, I can’t seem to do more than two episodes a month these days.

Hero Worship is a good episode to watch. The Enterprise encounters a mostly-destroyed ship in the middle of a black cluster and Data saves a 12-yr old boy. Like any 12-yr old boy who’s survived the deaths of everyone on a ship, not to mention his parents, he emulates Data. A being with no emotions at all. Meanwhile the Enterprise unsurprisingly finds itself in trouble yet again! It’s a layered telling of a sensitive subject, and is one of those Star Trek episodes that ages exceptionally well.

This is the second episode that Patrick Stewart directed, and is another hit. You may not know that it was during the shooting of this episode that the cast were informed of Gene Roddenberry’s death. Check out this and lots of other stuff in my full review.

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Violations

In contrast to the above episode, Violations sucks to watch. This episode goes from moderately uninteresting to downright uncomfortable with rapidity! The Enterprise is doing a bunch of napping–I mean mapping–and they are transporting some Ullians, which refer to themselves as ‘telepathic historians.’ While they say they want to build a library of memories for every civilization in the galaxy, what we actually end up seeing is the psychic rape of several crew members: Deanna Troi (literally), as well as Will Riker and Beverly Crusher. It’s one of those episodes you wish you could forget, but I have to review it.

For those remotely interested in behind-the-scenes tidbits of this episode, we get to see Gates McFadden’s real hair in this episode during her flashback scene. Recall that for most of the series she had to wear a wig that was pretty much the same color. Evidently the writers wrote a flashback scenario for every cast member, and I wish they’d used the one they wrote for Ensign Ro! Find out more details about this and some others things in my full review, if you’d like.

Next up to review are The Masterpiece Society and Conundrum. Hopefully they’ll be sooner rather than later!