Archive for December, 2012

Trekathon 599: Memorial (VOY)

December 25th, 2012

Returning from an away mission, some of the crew have memories of a massacre they participated in.

Voyager is a very frustrating show. Sometimes it picks up the easiest plots, and puts barely any effort into turning them into shows. And then sometimes it decides to try and dig in to incredibly difficult and touchy terrain. There are some vague similarities to Remember, but that’s more about a long suppressed event being discovered. Here it’s about how we recognise and continue to mark difficult parts of history. It’s not really very far fetched – the idea of any good memorial is to make you relive in some way the events of the time. And they can be incredibly confronting (see the US Holocaust Memorial, for instance, or one of my favourites, the Paris Holocaust Memorial on the Seine).

It would have been better perhaps to spend a bit more time in the final act dilemma, dealing with the issue of repairing the memorial or not, because we spend so much time seeing the ‘memories’ of the different away team members that we never really have a chance to see their full reaction to what’s happened.

599 down, 138 to go.

Trekathon 598: Virtuoso (VOY)

December 24th, 2012

The Doctor becomes a star. Sadly, not the type involving flaming gas and fusion reactions.

Ouch. What a stinker. Not convinced? A few selections from the dialog:

  • “We want to learn more about the algorithmic expressions you call music” (which is pretty much ‘what is this thing you Humans call love” with a funny hat on).

  • “This isn’t sabotage, Seven, this is fan mail.”

  • “What about the simplest equation of them all, one plus one”

Then there were the groupies. With Swedish accents.

One bit I did like: the Doctor’s farewell with Seven, who is just angry about what the Doctor is doing. I know how she feels.

598 down, 139 to go.

Trekathon 597: Blink of an Eye (VOY)

December 23rd, 2012

Voyager orbits a planet where life moves a lot quicker.

Almost pure science fiction, of the Asimov and Clarke type, in a way that works well within the structure of Voyager. While I didn’t check everything with a stopwatch, the time passing on the planet always seemed to make sense, never slowing conveniently for the plot. There’s actually a lot going on here – it’s a story about the development of religion versus science, it’s a story about first contact and fighting against aliens you don’t know, and they even slip in a quick story about one of the crew living a life separate to the ship. (It would’ve been nice if the Doctor had actually had 80 years on the planet, but then the parallels to Inner Light would have been blatant, not subtle).

The one tweak I’d suggest, as a reader of too many James A. Michener novels, would have been to try and create some connection between the different time periods. Michener’s trick is usually to have the same families appearing time and again, and that could have worked here. But given the time constraints (see what I did there) that might have made things a bit too complex to work on screen in one hour.

(I particularly enjoyed the ‘research theologian’ in the first sequence for the natives, who establishes who the new ‘god’ is, and the appropriate sacrifice, in only minutes. You just don’t see that kind of efficiency often in theology).

597 down, 140 to go.

Trekathon 596: Fair Haven (VOY)

December 22nd, 2012

Janeway has her first holo-crush.

I spent most of this episode dreading the inevitable ‘holodeck malfunction’, where the storm makes the character self aware, or they leave the Holodeck, or something like that. But it didn’t happen. Instead this is an adult science fiction show about the implications of holo-technology, and the ethics of having a relationship with someone who isn’t ‘real’. I was surprised, to say the least.

It took a lot of courage to write an episode where, basically, not much happens. There’s a little bit of false jeopardy at the end as they exit the storm, but it’s secondary to what’s really going on in the episode. The core of it is letting us have a glimpse of Janeway in a way that, as the Doctor points out, she’s not allowed to by the rules of command. Good stuff.

596 down, 141 to go.

Trekathon 595: Pathfinder (VOY)

December 21st, 2012

Reg Barclay is obsessed with communicating with Voyager.

I loved Troi’s reaction to ‘it all started in the Holodeck. Exactly right, And Reg’s return to his old bad habits after leaving Enterprise also makes sense – he has trouble making human connections, and in a world where you can create friends in a holodeck the temptation to avoid reality. In fact, the story here wouldn’t have worked with a new character, the behaviour would have seemed too extreme.

The end worked well for me – Voyager finally being in two-way contact with home should be a big moment, and it’s played well. Of course, as always it’s a question as to how much follow up there is – but something this fundamental surely can’t be ignored.

595 down, 142 to go.

Trekathon 594: The Voyager Conspiracy (VOY)

December 20th, 2012

Seven of Nine downloads too many X-Files episodes and goes on a conspiracy spree.

It appears that the Borg in the 24th century haven’t fully worked out the dangers of data mining. Too much data means you can prove almost any pattern, so long as you’re willing to accept a special enough case. Seven proves that nicely with conspiracy theories that implicate Janeway, and then Chakotay. I don’t think you’re supposed to buy into them as a viewer, but you do expect there to be something behind them – I was glad that there wasn’t.

The major flaw is that Janeway and Chakotay are a little bit too quick to distrust each other. But Seven has proved her data mining ‘works’, and more to the point they address it at the end of the episode – character inconsistencies happen in real life too, I just prefer them to be acknowledged rather than ignored.

(PS to the writers: you do remember that Naomi Wildman has a mother? Who is still alive? And who isn’t Seven of Nine or Neelix? Because I’m not sure that you do).

594 down, 143 to go.