Saga of the Jasonite

The continuing adventures of that eternal man of mystery…


Leave a comment

Season five overview is here!

slide-gene-roddenberry-1

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!

Advertisements


1 Comment

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.


Leave a comment

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!


Leave a comment

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

the-host-hd-019

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.

the-minds-eye-hd-054

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.


Leave a comment

Star Trek episode reviews: The Drumhead and Half a Life

the-drumhead-hd-070

The Drumhead

I’ve completed two more reviews, this time it’s episodes 21 and 22 of season four, The Drumhead and Half a Life. The second half of season four is turning out to be stronger than the first half, as I consider both of these to be good episodes.

The Drumhead involves an investigation into probable sabotage with a famous retired admiral. They find a traitor, but what starts with sabotage turns into a witch-hunt and before you know it Picard himself ends up being on trial. It’s a very well-written episode, with some wonderful social commentary, though some might find it slow-going at first.

Two cast members, Michael Dorn and Jonathan Frakes named Jean Simmons as their favorite guest star. It’s not hard to imagine why, she’s one of the more acclaimed actresses in the last century, and I personally own the 1948 Hamlet with her and Laurence Olivier (my favorite actor of all time). Her character, Admiral Satie, accuses of Picard of violating the Prime Directive nine times while in command of the Enterprise. Check out my full review as I try to break down which times these might be, along with other behind-the-scenes info.

half-a-life-hd-149

Half a Life

The following episode, Half a Life, is in my estimation just about as good. This episode too, can act as social commentary. A scientist is trying to revitalize the dying sun of his world, and hopes are high until they accidentally make it supernova. Whoops! Having failed the scientist and his new girlfriend, Lwaxana Troi(!), can’t settle down together because on his planet people commit ritual euthanasia when they turn 60. There is a great discussion about the right to die with dignity versus living because the elderly can still contribute much to society.

For those M*A*S*H fans out there, this is your episode to see Major Charles Emerson Winchester III as an alien! If you’re not a Majel Barrett fan, she’s actually pretty good in this episode. Peter Allan Fields wrote this episode, and he’d go on to write my single favorite Star Trek episode ever, as well as probably the great DS9 episode ever. Blink and you’ll miss Beverly Crusher in this episode. She was visibly pregnant by this point and she literally has one line. Check out some snafus as well as other stuff you might not know in my full review.

Until next time! I also wanted to point out, if anyone has any requests for information or anything else, please let me know and I’ll do my best to oblige.


1 Comment

Star Trek episode reviews: The Nth Degree and Qpid

The Nth Degree

After a gap in my reviews, owing to engaging in the biggest move of my life, I’m back to my TNG reviews! This post is to announce I’ve completed two more reviews, episodes 19 and 20 of Season Four, The Nth Degree and Qpid. In contrast to my last post, which consisted of reviews of two of the weakest episodes of season four, I’m happy to have reviewer two of the better episodes.

The Nth Degree is about Barclay essential becoming a super genius after investigating an alien probe in space. He helps the crew out of danger, repairs a huge Federation telescope single-handed, becomes a best of an actor, argues theoretical physics with Einstein, and happens to take over the Enterprise in the process. He ends up being brought back down to earth in the end, but it’s a great ride.

Did you catch the 2001: A Space Odyssey reference in this episode? Or the in-joke hidden in the equations on the blackboard that Einstein was writing on? Check out my full review to learn what they are.

Qpid

Qpid is a big fan favorite, where we have Q–and the captain’s old girlfriend Vash–subjected Picard and Company to engage in a Robin Hood fantasy. The kicker is Q is doing it as a favor to Picard, who feels he owes him his life back when he lost his powers. Why? He’s trying to teach him how stupid and deadly love can be. Almost the entire episode is great, and is a refreshingly light and fun 45 minutes.

Did you know that Patrick was dating the actress who plays Vash when they were filming this episode? I’ll bet his wife didn’t approve! Jonathan Frakes got injured while they were filming the rescue, so much so that he had to be taken to the ER. There’s other stories and anecdotes from the actors of what happened behind the scenes in my full review, and leave some comments if you like.


Leave a comment

Star Trek episode reviews: Night Terrors and Identity Crisis

night-terrors-hd-074

Night Terrors. And Deanna’s butt.

Sorry for the long break between posts, life has gotten pretty crazy the past month or so. It’s actually going to continue for another month at least, so I’ll keep up with this as best I can. Today I’m announcing the completed reviews for episodes 17 and 18 of season four, Night Terrors and Identity Crisis. Neither one are particularly good or memorable episodes, thought Night Terrors at least had an interesting premise.

Night Terrors is about the Enterprise getting caught in a Tyken’s Rift in a binary star system while investigating a science vessel that stopped reporting back. They’re not only unable to leave, they are for some reason unable to dream, and this is slowly driving everyone mad. The only one unaffected by this (other than Data) is Troi, who has strange nightmares, which might be the key to the whole mystery.

A blooper here is the spelling of Brattain. Some genius spelled it wrong while putting the decals on the model of the ship, and we get an up close look at it several times during the episode. Also, there’s an in-joke for the dedication plaque on board the bridge of the Brattain referencing Gilligan’s Island! Check out my full review to learn more.

identity-crisis-hd-414

Identity Crisis

Identity Crisis is the next episode. Galaxy’s Child, Night Terrors and this are probably the low-point of season four. Geordi’s old Lieutenant from an away team mission he was on five years ago is back to say that the other members of their team have all abandoned their posts and disappeared. D’oh! Guess who’s next?

The makeup from this episode is pretty great, though LeVar Burton probably isn’t a fan: it took 21 hours from the time they started putting it on him until it was finally all off. Keep an eye out for a hot new ensign in this episode, she was the 1990 Miss Universe winner! Take a look at my review to see my full analysis, and feel free to write your own comments.