Discussion in 'Star Trek - The Original & Animated Series' started by TheGodBen, Jan 18, 2016.
Sigh, GLW was born to be gangster's moll. Another missed opportunity!
I got to admit, I never really cared for "A Piece of the Action" all that much. It's not all that funny, it's yet another example of a parallel Earth (just without it actually being a fully duplicate planet) and the way Kirk just laughs off the possible further contamination at the end just rubs me wrong.
With all of these different duplicate Earths in TOS, I for one am immensely happy TNG came up with the holodeck. For all the moaning people do about the holodeck malfunction episodes, they make much more sense than having the galaxy filled with copy after copy of Earth. Space gangsters, space Nazis, space Romans, a full-on copy of the planet itself in "Miri" - it's crazy. ENT even gave us space cowboys at one point. Sure, the idea of a malfunctioning holodeck may have become a cliche, but I'll take over this.... whatever it is.
Yes, the modern equivalent of the TV set trying to kill you is much better.
I noticed once that in the second half of the second season, every third episode was an alternate Earth story! Note that after this, it was so overused that they never did it again, unless you count Spectre of the Gun... or suspiciously familiar period costumes in All Our Yesterdays...
Someone really needed to invent some sort of trip-switch that cut power to the holodeck in the event of a malfunction anywhere on the ship. If a lightblub goes out in sickbay, the holodeck should shut down. just in case. You can't be too careful, evidentially.
By Any Other Name (****)
Galactic warming in Andromeda is slowly making that galaxy uninhabitable for the Kelvan people, encouraging some brave, or perhaps foolish, refugees to endure the long and perilous journey across dark space to reach the peaceful and prosperous shores of our Milky Way. But like all refugees, their motives are sinister. The Kelvans wish to impose their cultural values onto the people of this galaxy, and they present a threat to our women-folk. They even turned a woman into a dodecahedron of salt and crushed her. If the Kelvans aren’t stopped and their ships turned back, we’ll be facing the genocide of the humanoid races.
Kirk believes that the best way to deal with the refugees is to provide them with homes and integrate them into humanoid society. They’ve already adopted our liberal attitude towards women’s clothing, so that’s half the battle right there. The next stages of integration are teaching them how to drink until they pass out, getting them hooked on unnecessary prescription medication, and making out with them. Once the Kelvans learn to accept and cherish these aspects of humanoid society, they’re free to settle down and make new lives for themselves in our galaxy of opportunity. That is until President Stump gets elected in 2292 and bans the Kelvans from entering our galaxy.
The episode is kinda cheesy and falls victim to some of TOS’s biggest clichés, such as Kirk teaching the beautiful woman what love is by kissing her. But this episode also does something that this show rarely ever does, and that is a display sense of continuity with past events. This episode sees a return of the galactic barrier previously shown in Where No Man Has Gone Before, and Kirk references the events of A Taste of Armageddon when Spock mind-melded with a security guard through a wall. It’s enough for the episode to gain a few bonus points even if the story itself isn’t particularly memorable.
James T Flirt: 11½
Inform the Men: 0
It seems like s3 to me. Even though there's an explanation for their looking totally human, all the generically human aliens, in the simplest pastel get-ups in later ep's, bother me. So the visuals make it look like they're not trying, which is too bad, because it has good SF ideas in it, the reuse of the Barrier, a generational ship, dealing with what and where and how far the Andromeda galaxy is.... I like that they expect the viewer to have a "You are here" map in her/his head, telling us we're in one great big thing called a galaxy, and there's this other great, big galaxy, that's Andromeda, and other galaxies are so far the Enterprise would take generations to reach them. It could sort of make a kid feel a bit cool for knowing what they're talking about...
Meh, a rather bland and boring episode. Aside from the references to past events it really doesn't have that much going for it. And Scotty getting shit-faced drunk and drinking the one alien under the table reminds me way to much of Londo getting drunk and passing out on a table in B5: "The Parliament of Dreams" - not a good thing.
This one scores points for killing the woman and letting the black dude live.
I remember the first airing, where my sister was laying odds that the black guy would be the one. She was surprised.
I was surprised too. We have an astonishing amount of subconscious bias because of decades of sexism and racism in TV and cinema. Because women and black characters are far less likely to be in leading roles (and the latter far more likely to be in criminal roles), they are far more likely to get bumped off. In the seventies, we had Tarzan, where the black African characters were constantly being offed to place the white American characters in more perceived peril.
It's one of the reasons that Alien is highly regarded. It also played with the audience's bias to great effect by bumping off the 'hero' half way through. Unfortunately, it then elevated Ripley to the hero role in subsequent movies and became a bit more formulaic in that respect, although Aliens and Alien 3 did have a large generic supporting cast so it was hard to tell who, beneath the lead, was next.
I find it a tad frustrating that all of these "law of parallel world" episodes really only existed so they could use pre-existing available props that the studio had lying around, usually built upon a rather flimsy foundation. I try to come up with some greater Trekkie justification for it, like maybe the "The Chase" aliens that seeded the galaxy with the blueprint for humanoid life were doing further experiments in manipulating cultural evolution, but that's somehow just as flimsy as Space Nazi Planet and Space Roman Planet and Space 1960's Planet that just evolved out of thin air.
(Also, I hope TheGodBen is still a functioning carbon unit, it's been over a month. TheGodBen's reviews were basically what I came to TrekBBS for during my lurking years. Looking forward to TNG reviews as well. Here's hoping the icy cold stare of Diana Muldaur in "Return to Tomorrow" didn't break him.)
My pet theory is that the early colonisation ships from early had highly unreliable warp drives - unreliable in as much as they would frequently warp time as well as space. As a result, many humans arrived centuries or more BEFORE the year they left!
However, in those days of limited subspace communication the colonists simply landed and prospered on their target worlds, building civilisations that Kirk on the Enterprise would encounter, all those years later.
The starting point for this theory? Spocks casual, almost matter-of-fact statements in Naked Time and Tomorrow Is Yesterday. In neither episode is such a possibility presented as unusual or impossible, just one of those things than can happen under the proper circumstances.
I love that Star Trek can inspire so much imagination and discussion, otherwise, why would we all even be here talking about a show that was cancelled after 3 seasons almost 50 years ago.
It wasn't the stare that broke me, it was the fact that I was admiring a sexy woman in a short skirt but then she opened her mouth and it was Dr Pulaski. I had to burn my clothes and take a long tear-filled shower. (Now there's a somewhat dodgy reference.)
Sorry about the gap in reviews, but it wouldn't be one of my threads if I didn't take a completely unannounced break in the middle of it. That's part of the charm of these things, right? Hopefully I'll get back into the swing of things next week.
(Bonus good news, Netflix here just added the remastered version of TNG, so I have that to look forward to. Eventually.)
Kind of ties in how in "The Cage" they talk about breaking the time barrier. Except then we have to pretend Enterprise never happened. The is the point where I simply go, "Oh, that wacky TOS, with its wacky ideas," and then go rewatch DS9.
Oh dear, this place is full of dust. My bad, I didn't think I'd be away so long.
So, before I return to, you know, reviewing Star Trek and all that, I thought I'd post my thoughts on Star Trek Beyond in case anyone still cares about that movie. Yeah, I know, it has been a few months and the fanbase has moved on to bitching about Discovery now, but in a thread where I review a 50 year-old TV show, is it so outlandish that I should review a movie that's slightly past its sell by date? Before I begin, however, I guess a little backstory is warranted so that everyone knows where I come from when it comes to this newly named Kelvin timeline. The short version is that I wasn't a fan.
I posted a review for Star Trek 2009 in my Voyager review thread, and I awarded it two stars. My opinion at the time is that it was a poor movie elevated by some good performances and standout moments. I haven't seen the movie since then. I'm not sure if my opinion would change if I watched it today, but that movie simply didn't draw me in for whatever reason, and I spent most of my time in the theatre criticising its plot in my head. I didn't go to see Into Darkness at the cinema as all the reviews said it was more or less the same as the first one, just not quite as good, and with no emotional connection to that cast or their stories I simply couldn't be arsed to go and see the sequel. I eventually watched it when it showed up on Netflix last year and... yeah, it was the same but worse. I didn't write up a review or anything, but I'd probably score it at 1 or 1½ half stars.
Being a member of this site means that I absorb information about these movies even though I don't actively follow production news. I knew about Beyond's troubled production history, the fact that the original script was abandoned and that Orci was dumped as director, and that Pegg and Jung and Lin were drafted in to rush out a movie in a short timescale. I wasn't expecting this movie to be much different than the last two given the circumstances. But that first trailer piqued my interest. Yes, it was a terrible trailer in a lot of ways, but underneath the surface of its Beastie Boys track and motorcycle stunts I saw the shape of a story that interested me. There was a strange new world, new aliens, and even a tease of some boldly going. It looked like a big budget TOS episode, and since I was feeling a little nostalgic for TOS at the time, I decided to keep an eye on it. I still wasn't actually planning to go see it, but once the reviews came in I noticed quite a few comments by people who didn't like the last two movies yet enjoyed this one. So I decided to go see it. Once it started screening for half-price. Because I still wasn't convinced that I'd actually like it.
Spoiler: Star Trek Beyond
Star Trek Beyond (***)
"I ripped my shirt again."
That was the line won me over, somewhat. I'm not entirely sure why, but that reference worked in a way that none of the references in the previous two movies did. Scotty disappearing Admiral Archer's beagle makes him appear incompetent as an engineer. Spock shouting "KHAAAAAAAN!!!" is simply terrible on so many levels. But Kirk being annoyed at the fact that he keeps on ripping his shirt makes sense. He doesn't like having his shirt ripped, but he keeps on finding himself in situations where that happens. It's funny, but it doesn't cheapen the character.
That feeds in to what I think is the biggest difference between this movie and the previous two. The crew, and Starfleet as a whole, feel more professional this time. Nobody gets promoted directly from disgraced cadet to captain of the flagship. Nobody squabbles about their romantic relationship while on a highly dangerous mission to the Klingon homeworld. The crew, Kirk in particular, don't come across as reckless teenagers, they act more like trained officers who are doing their best under difficult circumstances. Okay, so Starfleet is still kind of incompetent for building their most advanced new starbase right next to a nebula that they didn't bother exploring. But they did build a listening post next to the nebula so they would have a few minutes warning of an attack by an advanced alien fleet. That's progress.
On the other hand, I'm not such a fan of Kirk's character arc in this story. He realises that he joined Starfleet for all the wrong reasons in the first movie and finds his exploration and diplomatic duties kind of dull and unrewarding. He requests a promotion to Vice Admiral, because a desk job is sure to be exciting. But before his request can be approved, Kirk's ship is destroyed, a bunch of his crew are killed, and Kirk gets to ride an awesome motorbike, all of which reinvigorates him and makes him decide to stick with being a captain. You know, once Starfleet builds him a new ship.
No, no, no. Kirk comes across as a bit of a maniac here. The exploration and diplomatic stuff are the job. That's supposed to be rewarding part, not the adrenaline rush Kirk gets when things go off the rails. The movie just reinforces that this Kirk is in Starfleet for the wrong reasons, he doesn't really learn anything in the movie about the value of the repetitive and "boring" job of a captain. If you want to be generous, you could argue that Kirk contrasts himself with Captain Balthazar Edison and realises the value of the Federation and his important role in representing such as organisaiton. But that whole aspect of the story is so rushed that it doesn't come across that way.
I guess that's a good segue to Krall. One of the reasons why I was interested in seeing this movie was the line in the first trailer where Krall says "This is where the frontier fights back". I liked the idea that the villain was motivated by an ideological opposition to the Federation and that he wasn't just some crazy man out for revenge. Unfortunately, that's kind of what Krall ended up being. I really like the idea of an Earth captain who experienced the tumultuous foundation of the Federation but who opposed the decision of the politicians to sacrifice Earth's sovereignty that he had fought to protect. I wish there had been more focus on his character and that the movie hadn't included the fact that he was angry at the Federation for not rescuing him. In fact, I wish there hadn't been a twist at all, there was absolutely no need to hide Krall's true identity until the end of the movie.
But what did I like about Beyond? Well, I liked that McCoy got some decent screentime, and pairing him up with Spock was the right call. The first two movies focused on the relationship between Kirk and Spock, which is certainly the most famous dynamic from the original series, but I always preferred the relationship between Spock and McCoy. I find their quasi-rivalry to be a lot of fun, and always interesting. This movie delivered on that dynamic, not only by providing the humour, but by acknowledging that these two men respect one another despite their constant squabbling.
I thought that the Kirk-Chekov pairing worked quite well. I especially liked how Chekov seemed to know that Kirk was entrapping the alien woman without the need for Kirk to explain it, that indicates a level of familiarity and understanding among the crew. It's a shame that Chekov can't be around for the next movie, if there is to be one. Jaylah would be a fine replacement for him if they decide to go that route. She worked well with the rest of the crew and managed to avoid being filmed in her underwear, which is unusual for women in this timeline. Scotty was okay. I'm not a big fan of that way that these movies use him so much for comic relief, but I guess that's to be expected when it's Simon Pegg in the role. Uhura didn't get up to much, she was mostly used for exposition with Krall, but that's still a step up from her role in the last movie. Sulu was just sort of there and barely had anything to do, which is amusing considering all the controversy surrounding the gay issue before the movie came out. That was excellent marketing in retrospect, which isn't something I thought I'd ever say about Star Trek Beyond.
I thought the destruction of the Enteprise was handled very well. We've seen Enterprises destroyed before, most famously in The Search for Spock and Generations. But we've never witnessed a ship destroyed in this way before, seeing it meticulously ripped apart section by section. Fans have have been commenting for 50 years on how the connecting pylons on Starfleet ships represent weak points that could be split with one or two good shots, but this is the first time we've ever actually seen that happen. Personally, I always disliked the look of the JJprise, I thought it looked bloated and imbalanced, but even I felt a little bad seeing the ship torn apart the way it was.
Then there's the Beatie Boys scene. I didn't hate it. I should have hated it. Every fibre of my being wanted me to hate it. I don't like the Beastie Boys, I don't like that song, I don't like excessive explosions. I hated the Beastie Boys scene in the first movie. But as I sat in the theatre, watching the scene, I thought to myself "I'm okay with this". Maybe it's because it was taking the piss out of Trek's usual technobable solutions by pushing the concept to such an extreme that I couldn't help but admire it. I very much do not want to see another scene like that in Star Trek, but this one time... it kinda worked.
Okay, I'm back from an emergency shower now to wrap this review up.
After leaving the cinema, I was asked a simple question: Would I watch this movie again? My immediate and unthinking response was that, yes, I probably would. I can't say that about the last two. Do I think it was a good movie? Not really, but it was entertaining enough. It's the best Star Trek movie in 20 years, which is more an indictment of the franchise than high praise for his particular entry. But it works for the most part, I don't feel like complaining about it too much, and I look forward to watching it again whenever it shows up on Netflix. I'd probably go and see a fourth movie if they kept the same creative team as this one, but that seems unlikely from what I've read. I'd even go so far as to recommend it to the small number of fans who, like me, didn't like the first two. Just don't blame me if you think it sucks. Place that blame where it belongs, with JJ Abrams. Everything is his fault, even the movies he didn't direct.
I'm just burnt out on Star Trek films in general.
They really need to base a film off of an existing series, I feel like, to really make the narrative shine, and the films have more or less been winging it running on the fumes of nostalgia. I'm over it. Give me a TV show now please.
I have enjoyed the three new Star Trek films quite a bit, but I am looking forward to Discovery a lot more.
Nice to have you back, TheGodBen. I am a big fan of your writing.
*yawn* That was a long nap.
Return to Tomorrow (**½)
A race of super advanced aliens, knowing that they are doomed to die out, concoct a brilliant plan to ensure their survival. With the knowledge of how to build robot bodies that they can transfer their consciousnesses into, Sargon and a few dozen survivors decide to transfer their consciousness into immobile glowing balls and sit around twiddling their incorporeal thumbs for 600,000 years while waiting for a more primitive race to show up and build the robot bodies for them. Why not build the robot bodies themselves 600,000 years ago? Because they ran out of 3D printer filament, and Amazon.mw was limiting deliveries of non-essential items during the emergency. Nope, glowing balls was the only solution, as is usually the case.
Once again Star Trek returns to the idea of advanced, god-like aliens, and once again they are dicks. Well, one of them’s a dick. One of them is mostly good, but still kinda a dick. One of them is a woman, thus is weak willed and succumbs to the temptation of the flesh. It’s an episode that goes over well-worn territory is a relatively competent way. There’s the god-like aliens, androids, Kirk kissing a chick, etc. It’s a good episode if you’re playing Star Trek bingo, otherwise it’s kinda eh. Honestly the thing that prevented it from getting a lower score is the fun of watching Leonard Nimoy playing a character that isn’t Spock. The thing that prevents it from getting a higher score is William Shatner hamming it up at points.
Which brings me to Kirk’s “risk is our business” speech, which would be a fine speech for a better episode. It always feels so out of place in this episode to me, like the speech was written separately from the rest of the episode and just jammed into it to try and give it some kick. It’s a speech that I could see Nick Locarno giving to Nova Squad to convince them into doing something foolish.
I’m kinda proud that that’s my TNG reference for this episode and not something about Dr Pulaski.
I suppose that sounds kinda like Earth if Earth’s defining feature is that it’s a ball of magma with a very thin tectonic crust. But that’s generally not the defining feature of Earth-like worlds in science fiction.
Anyway, Henoch dies, Kirk and Mulhall’s bodies kiss, and Sargon departs to start a Youtube channel where he espouses right-wing views. The end.
The God Things: 10
James T Flirt: 11¾
Inform the Men: 0
I awarded Kirk a quarter kiss since it was only his body that kissed Mulhall’s body.
So how has everyone been?
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