Archive for October, 2012

Trekathon 544: Once Upon a Time (VOY)

October 31st, 2012

Voyager’s only child is kept in the dark as her mother is missing on an away mission.

A Holodeck episode and a small child? What can possibly go wrong? Well, to be honest, nothing particularly goes wrong here. It’s just a bad idea, and nothing is added to make it interesting. The children’s story is dull and boring – I hope the children of the future have better fiction available than that. Neelix wanders around like a complete idiot. And there’s an implausible lack of supervision given to a child who is around 4 years old.

What little suspense there might be about whether the mother will survive or not is completely undermined by not one, but two of the main cast being on the ship with her. Given the situation she’s pretty much safe. So there’s no suspense, and the main plot has such a simple moral (‘be honest’) that nothing in the episode recommends itself.

544 down, 193 to go.

Trekathon 543: Once More Unto the Breach (DS9)

October 30th, 2012

Old Klingon warriors never die, they just fade away.

Another strong Klingon story. It’s strange – these used to be pretty dreadful episodes in the main, but now there’s a war to fight there’s a lot more to like about them. It doesn’t hurt that the model is pretty explicitly ‘submarine movie’.

The basis of the story here is a bit difficult, as it introduces a new element of Klingon culture (a kind of warrior class snobbery) that we’ve never heard about before. Once past that it was a good look at what happens when your time has past. And it nicely underlines the changes to Klingon culture that have been happening.

543 down, 194 to go.

Trekathon 542: In the Flesh (VOY)

October 29th, 2012

Voyager finds an alien replica of Starfleet in San Francisco.

OK, but not great. The setup is good – the mysterious start, trying to work out what’s going on, Chakotay’s ‘date’. It all contributes to a sense of not knowing very well what’s going on, and being a bit worried by it. And it was good to see some elementary security precautions being taken for once on the ship.

But the back half just didn’t work as well. Janeway starts off in her cranky mode, heading towards blowing them up with (barely) a second glance. The diplomacy scenes don’t come off very well, as the conflicts aren’t clear enough, and too much time is spent recapitulating plot from episodes past. And the ending feels forced, rather than earned.

542 down, 195 to go.

Trekathon 541: Treachery, Faith and the Great River (DS9)

October 28th, 2012

Weyoun defects to the Federation.

Strangely uninteresting for an episode with a strong premise (and title). We haven’t done very much with the complicated relationship between the Vorta and the Founders, or Odo’s place in all of that. There’s also the serial clones that allow familiar faces to stick around. But with all of that material, we don’t get much in the way of an interesting conversation, and spend way too much time on a dull chase sequence.

The B-Plot was easier – it was just a bad, bad idea. Nog basically engages on a crime spree involving identity theft, actual theft, and more. All simply because everyone is uncharacteristically unwilling to tell Sisko about the problems his request for a part for the Defiant.

The only positive to come out of it was the ‘Changeling disease’, clearly a setup for the rest of the season.

541 down, 196 to go.

Trekathon 540: Extreme Risk (VOY)

October 27th, 2012

Tom builds a shuttle, B’Elanna finds a black dog.

The crew of Voyager have a lot to learn about dealing with depression. The Doctor has absolutely no idea about how to treat it, even with his massive medical database. Janeway thinks the answer is to elevate the stakes and take her off duty. And Chakotay seems to be a student of TV Freudian psychoanalysis, because the ‘once you’ve talked about it everything will be OK’ trope I complained about five episodes ago pops up again. Depression just isn’t like that. It’s not a logical or rational approach to anything. Oh, and then it’s entirely cured at the end of the episode.

Still, apart from the cure it’s pretty good. B’Elanna is basically engaging in a sophisticated form of cutting, which is quite consistent with her mental state. I’m not entirely sure why the holodeck even has an option to allow turning the safety protocols off, though. Seems like a risky thing to allow for no good reason.

(I did like the Macgyver-esque sequence in the shuttle at the end though).

540 down, 197 to go.

Trekathon 539: Chrysalis (DS9)

October 26th, 2012

Doctor Bashir’s rag-tag group of genetically enhanced misfits returns.

Flowers for Algernon with a bit of a creepy vibe. It makes sense for Bashir’s character that he falls so head over heels in love with this girl. But what doesn’t make sense is that he can’t consider how difficult it might be for someone who has suffered a lifetime of her condition to adjust to a new world, and new attentions. Put simply, he’s a jerk and should feel bad.

Once again there’s far too much packaging. It takes half the episode to get to the ‘cure’ reveal, with a whole bunch of technobabble on the way. This leaves little time for the real story of the episode. And then we spend too little of the second half of the episode worrying about Serena, and too much with Bashir trying to work out what’s going on.

539 down, 198 to go.

Trekathon 538: Drone (VOY)

October 25th, 2012

A transporter accident creates a Borg drone with advanced technology.

One of the problems with there being 537 stories before the episode you’re writing is that it’s very tricky to come up with a story that hasn’t been told before. This episode is basically I, Borg, with a bit of The Offspring mixed in, with even a hint of Tuvix as well. That would be OK if the writer had had something new to say, but they don’t.

Nothing is particularly done badly, though. The new Drone never comes alive as a character (as Hugh did in I, Borg), but we do see some interesting development from Seven as she convinces him to follow her path. The Doctor is unusually annoying this week, but fortunately this is mainly limited to the opening sequence. And there’s a nice moment between Chakotay and Kim early in the episode.

538 down, 199 to go.

Trekathon 537: Take Me Out to the Holosuite (DS9)

October 24th, 2012

Sisko is challenged to a game of baseball by an old rival.

This is an awful episode. It’s based on understanding and enjoying baseball (witness the around ten percent of the episode spent simply reading the rules at different points). The premise involves a racist Vulcan, which seems inconsistent with everything we’ve seen about Vulcans (unless the writers are saying racism is logical. They wouldn’t be saying that would they?). And the plot is largely a rote sitcom ‘father takes everything too seriously, but ultimately learns how to chill out’ plot so standard that I wouldn’t be surprised if I could find an ‘I Love Lucy’ episode that’s the same.

There are a small handful of grace notes – the Federation anthem is a nice touch, Worf’s version of smack talk, Odo as the umpire. But they’re offset by a number of stupid small moments – Ezri talking about the Olympics (pretty sure the Trill don’t do that as well), the ‘all Vulcans look the same’ bit, everyone signs their name in English, not their native language.

537 down, 200 to go. Not quite the home stretch, but getting there.

Trekathon 536: Night (VOY)

October 23rd, 2012

Voyager goes through a region of space with no stars, and everyone goes a bit wiggy.

The scientific contortions aside, the ‘becalmed patch’ thing they were trying for here was potentially interesting. It doesn’t work, because they give up and head into the action story far too soon, and Janeway appears to strangely overreact.

I’m not saying all the reactions don’t make sense – I think it makes sense that no stars would drive a few people mad. It just seems quite odd for Janeway to be one of them.

(Captain Proton is one of the few times I’ve ever liked the stupid Holodeck cutaway stories. Fun, and it makes sense as something that would exist on the Holodeck).

536 down, 201 to go.

Trekathon 535: Afterimage (DS9)

October 22nd, 2012

Ezri Dax comes to terms with herself.

This story fell quite flat with me, and I’m not really sure why. The performance is pretty good, although I would’ve liked to see a bit more ‘Jadzia’ in Ezri (as there was in the previous episode). The real problem might be that the story is simply too soon – we don’t know her yet, so the inner conflict doesn’t resonate enough.

The rest was a good attempt to make an interesting story out of a ships counsellor, but that generally makes for poor TV. Garak’s inner conflict was interesting but was given short shrift. And I don’t like the ‘you know what’s bothering you and now everythings OK’ motif that seems to come from a limited view of what psychoanalysis is about.

535 down, 202 to go.