Archive for July, 2012

Trekathon 452: Fair Trade (VOY)

July 31st, 2012

Neelix runs into an acquaintance from his criminal days.

For once a Neelix story that’s almost pretty good. He’s mainly there as a comic relief character, and so the stories about him also tend to the comic – not a strength of Star Trek usually. But by making the story about Neelix’s concerns about ceasing to be of use to Voyager it’s given a strong emotional core, making his actions almost seem reasonable.

Almost.

It just doesn’t make enough sense that he never goes to talk to the crew about what’s going on. And that makes it all pretty silly.

452 down, 285 to go.


Trekathon 451: The Darkness and the Light (DS9)

July 30th, 2012

Kira faces her past actions as her resistance cell is killed off one by one.

OK, it’s a bit of a return to earlier themes in terms of the consequences of the war. But I don’t mind so much when it’s done so well, and when we feel it has real consequences. It’s the first time that we’ve really seen that Kira was a terrorist, not just a freedom fighter. She did bad things, and has never really faced up to their consequences, until this.

But it’s all undermined a little by choosing to have the Cardassian assassin go all Se7en. It makes sense, but it’s a bit like trying to have two plots for the price of one. I’d have liked a little less mad, and a bit more angry. But it is justified within the story, and does allow for some nice closing scenes.

451 down, 286 to go.


Trekathon 450: Rapture (DS9)

July 29th, 2012

Sisko receives visions from the prophets following an accident.

This is an episode that deals with some very complex political and religious themes. Sisko’s role as the Emissary finally comes into conflict with his role as a Star Fleet captain. And my main complaint is that he switches from one to the other without any real struggle. I would have preferred to see, as we have before, some more resistance about the next step on his journey. Instead he jumps in without hesitation – it’s not a complete departure from what’s gone before, but I think that it’s not the best story they could have told.

All the parts are good, such as another appearance from the usually interesting Kai Winn. But because Sisko’s motivations go to a new place so quickly, it’s hard to follow along freely.

450 down, 287 to go.


Trekathon 449: Macrocosm (VOY)

July 28th, 2012

Janeway single-handedly saves the Enterprise from giant bugs.

There is one of the boldest sequences I’ve seen in Trek at the end of the first half of the episode, when Janeway is alone on screen for almost ten minutes, with hardly any spoken dialogue at all. It’s a long way outside the norm for TV, but it works really well. It gives a good sense of the situation. And then they ruin it with a flashback.

Urk, flashbacks. I hate flashbacks. I understand the desire to start with an exciting part of the story, and then go back to the setup. But it’s lazy writing, especially here where it would be about five minutes work to recut the episode into chronological order. (The one exception to this? I love a good Rashomon story).

Oh, and the science is incredibly stupid.

449 down, 288 to go.


Trekathon 448: The Q and the Grey (VOY)

July 27th, 2012

Q wants to end a civil war by having a baby with Janeway.

The idea of a civil war in the Q continuum is an interesting one. The idea of introducing a change such as reproduction as the solution works. But the execution just doesn’t bring things together. We’re told that what we see in the Continuum is only an imperfect projection of a more complex world. But we never get any sense at all that this is any different from a Holodeck adventure. It simply makes no sense at all that the Voyager crew could fight effectively. The previous Voyager visit at least made things feel a bit more ‘odd’.

Q is fun as always, and Suzie Plakson is always fun. But the overall structure just didn’t work very well.

448 down, 289 to go.


Solidoodle Day 0: Software setup

July 26th, 2012

My Solidoodle printer is nearly here, just waiting at the post office. So tonight is setting up the software and getting everything ready.

I followed the instructions provided for the Windows PC I’m installing this on. I’m putting the software onto my ‘big iron’ box, an i5 2600K with 8 gigs of memory and Windows 7.

A few notes from the Solidoodle instructions:

  • I had to skip straight to the Arduino guide to install the drivers (which I did using an Arduino Uno I already have).

  • When they say ‘use the 32 bit Python’ – LISTEN. Not seeing that cost me about half an hour of hassle getting the additional libraries installed.

  • The Solidoodle package is trivial to install. It took me a few minutes to work out how to run the main parts, as I was looking for an EXE. What you want are the pronterface.py and skeinforge.py files, though.

Finally, I installed a couple of other tools: ReplicatorG and Slic3r, to give me a few more options to play with.

Once the printer is here I’ll be going through the rest of the first setup and runs in painful, painful detail.


Trekathon 447: The Ascent (DS9)

July 26th, 2012

Quark and Odo crash land on a remote planet.

‘Tonal whiplash’ is the easiest way to describe this episode. We have a lighter story about Jake and Nog learning to be roommates, contrasted with Quark and Odo facing death on a remote planet. Every time they switched from one to the other, I was disoriented. B-plots need at least some relationship to the main story.

As a result of this, and also some weaknesses in clearly setting the peril they were in due to poor location choice, it’s hard to get too invested in the story. Some of this is also that Quark in this situation just doesn’t work very well.

447 down, 290 to go.


Trekathon 446: Star Trek: First Contact (MOV)

July 25th, 2012

The TNG crew return to save the Earth from the Borg.

This is a very solid movie. It has some great moments, a plot that moves along at a fair clip, some interesting action scenes, and some good performances from the non-core cast. There are even some very nice directing choices, like the shot early on of Picard and Riker using the reflection in the glass.

But all the action distracts from the core of the story, which ought to be the Data and Picard arcs. Instead the Picard emotion journey is largely compressed into a single (admittedly strong) scene, and Datas arc is compromised in order to create some false suspense in the final sequence. If those stories had just been given a bit more room, rather than spending 10 minutes unlocking a deflector dish, this movie could have been great.

There’s a bit of redesign of the Borg here – I’m not sure quite what to make of the Borg Queen – is she symbolic of the hive consciousness, or is she a specific individual. But I’m happy to forgive most of this, as it serves to make the story move along more smoothly.

It’s easily the best of the TNG movies (both of them), but it misses out on the emotional content of The Wrath of Khan, or the fun of The Voyage Home.

446 down, 291 to go.


Trekathon 445: Warlord (VOY)

July 24th, 2012

Kes’s mind is taken over by an alien Warlord.

I’ve found Kes to be an intermittently interesting character. Sometimes she’s the exposition backup in the medbay. Sometimes she’s just Neelix’s love interest. And then, every now and then, we get a glimpse of a more complex character, such as in Cold Fire, and here in the scenes where we see the internal struggle between Kes and the Warlord.

But the rest of Kes being possessed wasn’t that interesting. It’s normally a chance for an actor to do something outside their normal range. But when that’s combined with the character of Kes it doesn’t work, as we’re never very sure if it’s Kes (but the angry Kes) or the Warlord we’re seeing.

445 down, 292 to go.


Trekathon 444: Things Past (DS9)

July 23rd, 2012

Everyone takes a trip back into Odo’s memories of Terek Nor.

I dislike episodes that change important elements of a character in order to tell the story. Here Garak suddenly becomes quite racist (speciesist?) towards Bajorans, and an apologist for the occupation. It’s new, and out of character for him – he’s been sold as a good observer, not someone who believes the propaganda line.

The rest of the impact of this one was a bit muted by the fact that I’d basically always assumed Odo had been doing this sort of thing with the Cardassians. Can’t lay down with dogs without getting fleas, and so on. So the reveal of what was going on was nice, but didn’t really hit me strongly.

444 down, 293 to go.