Archive for August, 2012

Trekathon 483: Day Of Honor (VOY)

August 31st, 2012

B’Elanna has a pretty bad day, what with the being marooned in space and all.

This is the kind of thing that Voyager has done badly in previous seasons. We’ve got the alien race of the week being annoying, one of the crew learning a Very Special Lesson ™ about the value of being in the team, and the B’Elanna/Paris relationship show. This should have been awful.

But somehow, it actually turns out to be pretty darn good. The aliens are believably pushy and angry, and in a way that makes you feel sorry for them at the same time as wishing they’d stop bugging the crew. Seven is creepily effective as an ex-Borg learning how to be human again – against her own wishes. And Tom and B’Elanna actually make sense, and have a real conversation.

483 down, 254 to go.


Trekathon 482: The Gift (VOY)

August 30th, 2012

Kes’s psychic talents accelerate, and Seven of Nine comes to terms with being apart from the Collective.

This is the most ‘continuity heavy’ episode that isn’t a 2-parter in just about all of Voyager. The episode opens with the Borg-modified Voyager, and Seven’s modified cargo bay. Things pick up just moments after the last episode, really. For a show that is so strongly episodic as Voyager it’s quite a change.

The real purpose here is changeover – get rid of Kes, replace her with Seven of Nine. Kes hasn’t really worked out – there have been some flickers of interest, but for the most part she’s served as the exposition backdrop for the Doctor. Seven of Nine is more in the conventional ‘exploration of what it means to be Human’ mould of Spock and Data, and so is a far more promising model. We’ll see.

482 down, 255 to go.


Trekathon 481: Scorpion, Part II (VOY)

August 29th, 2012

Voyager’s fragile alliance with the Borg goes to war.

A bit too much exposition, not quite enough action. But it’s a better resolution to the two-parter than the average in Trek. And there are some nice Janeway/Chakotay character moments, although they’re probably on the ‘confusingly brief’ end of the spectrum – a lot goes unsaid in those scenes.

Seven of Nine is creepily effective as a Borg drone. It’ll be interesting to see how a one-note character can grow and develop, but there’s more to build on than a lot of new characters. The ‘Chakotay uses the link’ stuff was a fairly cheesy resolution to the story, which undermined things for me.

481 down, 256 to go. And Voyager has more seasons than TOS. Sigh.


Trekathon Season Review: Deep Space Nine, Season 5

August 28th, 2012

With the exception of the one departure into the very very bad (Ferengi Love Songs) and a couple of other bad eggs (Let He Who is Without Sin and Empok Nor) it’s been a very good year. My ratings have actually put 13 of the episodes as very good or better, half the season.

A lot of the broader ‘arc’ plot this season has been spent ditching the old Klingon plot, and transitioning gracefully into the Dominion/Cardassia plot. We’ve seen a lot of changes in direction for this show – but the setup now is pretty good, perhaps (starting with the resolution of the cliffhanger) they can just stick with it now?

The big plot stuff has come at the cost of character stuff this year. Odo and Kira have both had a fair amount of development, but beyond that we’ve just had a ‘very special’ episode or two that have had unfortunately little repercussion beyond the immediate episode. Worf has done a little better than before, but this has come at the cost of development for Dax, as she ends up only being used to advance the Worf plot.

So, just how good was this year? It’s actually pretty darn close to DS9 Season 2 and TNG Season 6. But it’s really more ‘great’ than ‘superb’ at the top end, so I think I’ll just put it at the top of the second bracket. So that gives us:

The very best of Trek:

  • TNG Season 6

  • DS9 Season 2

Strong performers:

  • DS9 Season 5

  • TNG Season 3

  • TNG Season 5

  • TOS Season 2

  • TNG Season 4

Mixed bag:

  • TOS Season 1

  • DS9 Season 2

  • DS9 Season 1

  • VOY Season 1

  • TNG Season 7

Not good:

  • DS9 Season 3

  • VOY Season 3

  • TNG Season 2

  • TAS Season 1

  • VOY Season 2

  • TOS Season 3

  • TAS Season 2

  • TNG Season 1

That’s 480 watched, 21,471 minutes, and 65.85% complete. 74,536 words written. 257 to go. Now let’s see how they do resolving that cliffhanger.


Trekathon 480: Call to Arms (1) (DS9)

August 28th, 2012

That Federation-Dominion War finally kicks off.

It’s the end of the season, so we’re going to get a cliffhanger. But abandoning the station to the Dominion and Cardassians is a pretty good one. As always with the cliffhanger, it’ll come down to the resolution of course – but as setups go you’d have to look back to Best of Both Worlds as a setup.

One change is that the special effects must be getting a lot cheaper, as we’re finally escaping from the ‘tell don’t show’ bias of the show historically. This is also about the fifth change in setup for this show – maybe this time the writers will finally find consistently good stories to tell.

480 down, 257 to go.


Trekathon 479: In the Cards (DS9)

August 27th, 2012

A station on the edge of war needs a morale boost, and Jake and Nog are going to provide it.

A bit over 200 episodes ago there was a nice subplot with Jake and Nog trading around the station to make some profit. The main plot here is a subtle callback to that, with them chasing around the station to try and get the things they need.

(An aside: Klingon opera sounds pretty good, actually. I’d like some more. And the water reclamation joke was pretty good).

The most impressive element of the episode was the tone. The background of coming war has never felt more real than here. And the nice little tag at the end does more to make DS9 feel like a community than anything we’ve seen before.

479 down, 258 to go.


Trekathon Season Review: Voyager, Season 3

August 26th, 2012

The good news for year 3 was that Voyager finally managed a great episode. Before and After is up there with the very best of Star Trek. Unfortunately, it took almost 60 episodes, and is matched this year by two of the worst: Alter Ego and Favorite Son. Sadly both Harry Kim episodes – the writers can’t find anything interesting to do with him except slap him around. At least the writers are going for range – the worst Voyager so far within an episode or two of the best so far.

But there is more promise than in Season 2. The show has tried for the fences a few more times, with episodes that take brave risks. These risks aren’t paying off as often as I’d like, but at least they’re being tried. We’ve ditched the boring Kazon, and now have a much more interesting foe in terms of the Borg. I’m more optimistic than I was.

Overall it’s still a bad series of TV, but sneaks ahead of TNG Season 2 (which the previous season couldn’t manage).

That takes the rankings to:

The very best of Trek:

  • TNG Season 6

  • DS9 Season 2

Strong performers:

  • TNG Season 3

  • TNG Season 5

  • TOS Season 2

  • TNG Season 4

Mixed bag:

  • TOS Season 1

  • DS9 Season 2

  • DS9 Season 1

  • VOY Season 1

  • TNG Season 7

Not good:

  • DS9 Season 3

  • VOY Season 3

  • TNG Season 2

  • TAS Season 1

  • VOY Season 2

  • TOS Season 3

  • TAS Season 2

  • TNG Season 1

Two more episodes of DS9 for Season 5.


Trekathon 478: Scorpion (1) (VOY)

August 26th, 2012

Voyager finds the Borg territory, as well as the alien race that is crushing them.

To quote George Lucas’s masterwork – ‘there’s always a bigger fish’. In this case, the unstoppable ‘Species 8472’, whose motto is ‘the weak will perish’. That’s the setup for a pretty good action episode that still takes the time for developing the complexity of the Janeway/Chakotay relationship.

There are a few weaknesses – for a start, no one thinks about the implications this new species would have for the Federation. Sure it’s a while off, but there’s a good argument for worrying about that now. And the new aliens are a bit too powerful. It’ll be hard to write around that one later.

478 down, 259 to go.


Trekathon 477: Empok Nor (DS9)

August 25th, 2012

A mission to salvage parts from DS9’s twin goes awry when they seem to end up in a bad horror movie by mistake.

Not good. I suppose it’s a reasonably competent attempt to create a more oppressive atmosphere. But it’s really pretty silly stuff. They stretch a long way to set up the situation in the first part, and so as a result we only get a couple of minutes as ‘Garak the bad guy’. And the idea of a drug that makes you more xenophobic? Yuck.

I think the real problem is that ‘horror’ is just too far from the usual Trek tone. There’s normally good lighting, sensible character actions, all that jazz. So the standard horror movie tricks stand out pretty badly.

477 down, 260 to go.


Trekathon 476: Worst Case Scenario (VOY)

August 24th, 2012

Chakotay leads a mutiny against Janeway.

Another missed opportunity. While the story here (Seska’s booby trapped the holodeck program), it would have been much more interesting to try and maintain the pretence that this is a real mutiny a lot longer – the whole episode, even. There was a really good idea, but it gets turned into another ‘holodeck malfunction’ episode.

Say, make it that this is Janeway running through the scenario. And have the reveal saved for the very last scene. Make it about something current – make it concerns about relationships now, the tensions that still exist. By setting it ‘way back when’ it takes any of the character interest out of it, beyond ‘see how they’ve changed’.

476 down, 261 to go.