Archive for September, 2012

Trekathon 513: Change of Heart (DS9)

September 30th, 2012

Worf and Dax go on a mission together.

A long buildup to an interesting scene, but we’d have been far better served with less build up, and a bit more time establishing the dilemma. The ‘Worf and Dax have a bumpy, but fundamentally good, relationship’ stuff is way too long. Once we get there it’s interesting, and the consequences for Worf are serious. That is, they’d be serious if I thought the show had any intention of ever following up on it.

And as for the ‘Bashir and O’Brien play Tongo’ b-plot – again, overly dull. But one good scene, the actual Tongo scene between Quark and Bashir, that was worth the setup.

513 down, 224 to go.

Trekathon 512: Retrospect (VOY)

September 29th, 2012

Seven recovers a memory of an assault.

Yikes, what an uncomfortable hour of television. It’s not bad, by any means, it’s just really difficult to watch. It’s especially awkward given the recent (in Australia) stories in the news from Melbourne. The question of recovered memories is a very very difficult one. The show doesn’t stray away from the difficult questions.

But – it’s ultimately a bad tonal mismatch. It feels more like CSI: Special Victims Unit than Star Trek. There are a lot of preachy monologues in the show, and the actors feel a bit ‘after school special’ when dealing with the material.

512 down, 225 to go.

Trekathon 511: Honor Among Thieves (DS9)

September 28th, 2012

O’Brien goes undercover with the Orion syndicate.

This episode rests on a knife point. On the one hand, it’s ridiculous that O’Brien would be chosen for this mission – he doesn’t really have the skills or background, there must be a hundred more qualified people than him, and even within the DS9 crew Bashir would be a better fit. But on the other hand, he’s the only character who could make the story of befriending the gangster real and emotive.

It worked for me, but I can easily see the suspension of disbelief being a big problem for others on the other side. It’s a simple story, but well told. There’s absolutely nothing about science fiction in here, it’s just an age old undercover story.

511 down, 226 to go.

Trekathon 510: Prey (VOY)

September 27th, 2012

Voyager runs into two old friends at once – the Hirogen and Species 8472.

You know that thing I said a couple of episodes ago, about how the Hirogen wouldn’t support any interesting stories? Wrong, as it turns out. While the Hirogen themselves are still disappointingly one note, the conflict between Seven and Janeway is nicely played out. But a lot depends on the follow through – remember when the Doctor lost his memories? Because the show doesn’t.

Species 8472 is also used a bit more interestingly than last time – making them a physical presence, rather than just ships, increased their threat quite nicely. I thought going so quickly to accommodation with them, as Janeway does, was a mistake – but an interesting, in character one.

510 down, 227 to go.

Trekathon 509: One Little Ship (DS9)

September 26th, 2012

A runabout gets shrunk down to a tiny tiny size, and then they rescue the Defiant.

I did not have high hopes for this episode from the opening sequence – the ‘shrunk down’ story is so old, and usually played for (bad) laughs. But with the exception of one silly sequence, everything works out very well. It’s helped along by some of the better special effects Trek has done, integrating the tiny runabout into the various scenes.

But there’s a terrible scene with O’Brien and Bashir rewiring the ship – once out of the runabout it stopped being cool and became silly. And there are some terrible inconsistencies from shot to shot about the size of the ship – they seem to go with ‘what’s coolest’.

509 down, 228 to go.

Trekathon 508: Hunters (VOY)

September 25th, 2012

Voyager gets some letters home. Oh, and some vicious alien hunters.

A strange, meandering episode with no clear tone, and that serves little purpose that couldn’t have been achieved using 30 seconds of the previous episode. We’ve already set up the new alien menace, and the ‘communicate home’ Macguffin could have been blown up last time. So all we really get here is messages from home, and a bad technobabble action sequence.

The Hirogen are not shaping up as interesting enemies either. Kazon Mk II, they seem to be a ‘we kill and that’s it’ race. And a pretty blatant ripoff of Predator as well. I don’t see them supporting many interesting stories.

508 down, 229 to go.

Trekathon 507: Far Beyond the Stars (DS9)

September 24th, 2012

Sisko has a vision where he’s a 1950s pulp SF writer.

I am really torn about this episode. On the one hand, it’s an interesting conceit, and is pretty well delivered (apart from the ‘breakdown’ scene at the end, which is a bit too scenery-chewing). It deals with real issues, without resorting to crude analogy. And it’s fun to see the alien cast without their makeup on.

But it doesn’t feel a lot like Deep Space 9. It’s a bit too ‘meta’, and the connection to Sisko’s ‘inner conflict’ is pretty sparse. And it sets things up for an ‘it was all a dream’ ending, which I hate. And while the racism issues of the 1950s are all very real, the inciting incident of ‘they won’t publish my story’ isn’t significant enough without a much better understanding of Sisko’s 1950s doppelganger.

507 down, 230 to go.

Trekathon 506: Who Mourns for Morn? (DS9)

September 23rd, 2012

Morn dies and leaves his estate to Quark.

This entire episode is based on an in-joke – Morn, the bar rat (an anagram of ‘Norm’ from Cheers), who we’re told talks a lot but never talks on screen. He’s been a background character since episode one, but he’s never been given any interesting character, except at a remove. A lot of the first act of this episode revolves around a single joke – ‘hey, isn’t it funny how much they know about this guy we never see do anything’. It’s not a particularly good joke.

Things pick up marginally in the second half when Quark gets caught in the ‘criminals fall out’ scene of the average heist movie. It’s OK, but over complicated, and the resolution is a bit weak – falling back into those ‘tell, don’t show’ habits of TNG and early DS9.

506 down, 231 to go.

Trekathon 505: Message in a Bottle (VOY)

September 22nd, 2012

Voyager finds a way to phone home.

It’s very nearly halfway through Voyager as a series, so I suppose it’s time to contact home. The network they use is a bit implausible (it just happens to start near their location, and finish near the Federation), but it was good to finally force the Doctor to do something all on his own, with no support.

While I suspect the tone of the EMH Mark 1/EMH Mark 2 bickering wouldn’t work for a lot of people, personally I found it quite funny. Some of the better comedic writing in a while. It was also good that the emphasis was on them winning the day despite their ineptness, rather than on any implausible piece of luck along the way.

505 down, 232 to go.

Trekathon 504: Waking Moments (VOY)

September 21st, 2012

Voyager has a bad case of the nightmares.

Or, alternatively, the Voyager travelling players present Inception (12 years before the film, of course). The dream-within-a-dream stuff seems pretty predictable now, but for the time it’s very well done.

I was a bit worried that this was going to be another ‘horror’ episode, something that has never worked well in Star Trek. But instead again we get the imaginative SF approach to an alien race who lives in dreams. Good, but under explored.

(Tuvok’s nightmare at the top didn’t seem right. Why would a Vulcan have a classic anxiety dream?)

504 down, 233 to go.