Archive for March, 2013

Trekathon 695: Impulse (ENT)

March 31st, 2013

T’Pol turns out to be allergic to MacGuffin-D.

An interesting development – I was expecting that this trellium-D plot was going to eliminate the silly anomalies, and we could just move on. So on the one hand it’s a bit disappointing that we’re still going to have the weird anomalies. But on the other we got a plausible explanation for the Vulcan ships that went missing, and Archer has finally made a decision more about the crew than his mission.

(We also get the clearest exposition dump on Vulcans and emotions ever. Now if we can just stick with this story now).

Callbacks: “You can’t allow your concern for a single crewmen…” – the needs of the many outweighing the needs of the few, or the one, even?

(BTW: ‘One Day Earlier’? Bad writer, no cookie)

695 down, 42 to go.

Trekathon 694: Rajiin (ENT)

March 30th, 2013

Archer brings a spy on board.

It’s pretty hard to do this plot without some people coming across as morons. There’s a little bit of stupidity (not locking Rajiin in her quarters), but it’s at a reasonable level. Really, this Rajiin is just a very effective spy, quite good at her job. Still, I’m sure that Reed would find a few elements to critique.

It was nice that the inevitable boarding party defeated Enterprise by superior weapons and tactics, not from stupidity on the part of the crew. But sadly for Archer in his quest to collect the full set of Xindi, he gets a species he’s collected before.

Callbacks: Slave girls! Sure, not Orion, but still slave girls. Also the idea of the ‘seductive alien spy’ is, the way its done here, something that feels a lot more like TOS. And if I’m not mistaken, there was a Jeffreies tube set there as well (the old school TOS ’45 degree angle’ one).

After five episodes, how am I feeling about this Xindi arc? I haven’t stopped to mention, but this is now full-up modern serial story telling – this episode makes almost no sense to a casual viewer without knowing what’s gone on before. We’re starting from the end of the previous episode, with only a few time skips. We have clear plots to pursue (T’Pol/Trip, this Macguffin-D metal, finding the Xindi, Xindi building their weapons). So far we’re in the build up stage, but there are some promising elements being developed. But it’s not feeling enough like Trek to me. Today was a little better, but I want to see more ‘wonder of exploration’ – if I just want a gaggle of alien species, I can go watch Star Wars.

694 down, 43 to go.

Trekathon 693: Extinction (ENT)

March 29th, 2013

Archer, Hoshi and Reed get mutated by an alien virus.

Unlike previous attempts at similar stories (Genesis most notoriously) there’s no attempt to try and relate what happens to any kind of underlying nature of the characters. This episode is more reminiscent of Masks actually, but unlike that episode the regular cast don’t take any opportunity to do anything interesting. Instead they’re doing a bad caveperson impression for the entire episode. Can I emphasise the ‘bad’ in that last sentence…

I do really dislike the ‘centuries old problem solved by the crews brilliance’ solution. The crew aren’t superheros, and it just undermines the intelligence of the other races involved. And Archer’s decision to keep the virus is just nuts – it’s an incredibly dangerous virus, it doesn’t really matter if it’s the last remnant of an alien race.

Archer is doing his very best Ahab impression. I hope they’re going somewhere with that.

693 down, 44 to go.

Trekathon 692: Anomaly (ENT)

March 28th, 2013

Enterprise gets robbed.

Not a terrible story, but it’s starting to not feel very much like Trek to me. Archer has become so angry that we have a mysterious ancient alien space station, and no one on the crew bats an eyelid. There’s no sense of exploration or wonder. There’s just violence and action. Archer in particular is becoming very angry.

Enough with the boogie-expanse though. Let’s just have a nice technobabble speech and be done with it. The floating coffee mugs are silly. But hey, the special effects are pretty. OK, we get it, it’s a rough neighbourhood. But this smacks of the old environmental excuses for criminals.

Callbacks: DS9’s infamous stem bolts get a mention.

692 down, 45 to go.

Trekathon 691: The Xindi (ENT)

March 27th, 2013

Enterprise tries to find the Xindi homeworld.

Not a goods start to the season. That opening scene felt like a scene of the Trade Federation in Star Wars. And the sequence on the mining facility was pretty tedious. Archer gets betrayed by the obviously horrible alien, and absolutely no one is prepared for it. Just to spice things up, we get a nice ‘walking through the sewers’ scene too. The new opening credit music has a very annoying ‘beat’ to it. And Archer seems to have taken cranky pills.

There were some nice bits. The new marines were pleasingly competent when they rescued Archer and Trip. And while the presentation so far has been a bit broad, the idea of a five species alliance ‘race’ is a potentially interesting one.

But the T’Pol/Trip stuff towards the end of the episode was completely unnecessary – there was no reason at all for her to take her top off completely in that scene. Pure exploitation.

691 down, 46 to go.

Trekathon Season Review: Enterprise, Season 2

March 26th, 2013

For the most part this is a show without clear direction There’s a general flailing around from theme to theme, never quite sure what kind of story will work. And very little is landing. It’s generally a pleasant way to spend an hour, but it’s not rising to the heights established by the other series. Yes, even Voyager once or twice. Enterprise is giving Voyager a run for its money in the ‘time to classic episode’ stakes – Voyager took 63 episodes, so Enterprise had better get there before the middle of next season if it wants to avoid the dubious distinction of ‘most mediocre series’.

There are two excursions into the truly dreadful – Precious Cargo and Bounty. But the vast majority of the rest of the episodes just weren’t that memorable.

There are some pretty interesting stories that don’t quite gel – Cease Fire, The Communicator and Minefield in particular. But in each case there’s too much action thrown in, not enough time spent with the interesting bits of the stories. The things I liked the most were Regeneration, where the action was at the right dose, and The Crossing, which I thought was a good classic SF tale told pretty well.

Where does this one fit? It’s a disappointment of a season, and we’re certainly talking ‘bad Voyager’ territory. Ahead of Seasons 1, 2 and 7, but behind Season 3 in fact. So that takes us to:

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

  • VOY Season 4

Mixed bag:

  • TOS Season 1

  • DS9 Season 4

  • DS9 Season 1

  • VOY Season 5

  • ENT Season 1

  • VOY Season 1

  • TNG Season 7

Not good:

  • DS9 Season 3

  • DS9 Season 6

  • VOY Season 6

  • VOY Season 3

  • TNG Season 2

  • ENT Season 2

  • TAS Season 1

Really just awful:

  • VOY Season 7

  • VOY Season 2

  • DS9 Season 7

  • TOS Season 3

  • TAS Season 2

  • TNG Season 1

That’s 690 watched, 30,644 minutes, and 93.83% complete. 107,111 words written. 47 to go. Now for the second last season of TV Trek – in one sense, the last season that was good enough that they thought another one was worth it.

Trekathon 690: The Expanse (ENT)

March 26th, 2013

Earth gets attacked for no known reason, and Enterprise has to go find out who’s responsible.

There’s a pretty bald attempt to draw everything together here – the mysterious future guy, the Klingon bounty on Archer’s head, the Suliban. It makes for an over packed episode that doesn’t really hold together as a coherent story. It all happens so fast that I have plot whiplash. In addition, now Trip is angry about the death of his sister, T’Pol has resigned from the Vulcan High Command. At least Phlox is stlll the same.

The ‘Expanse’ is set up as a big scary boogie man (boogie space region? That doesn’t sound right), in a way that is quite frankly over the top. And there’s generally some significant repositioning: the Enterprise is now on a long-term military mission, and has combat troops aboard. In other words, a soft reboot in terms of focus, if not characters.

Callbacks: The first photonic torpedoes get installed.

690 down, 47 to go.

Trekathon 689: Bounty (ENT)

March 25th, 2013

Reed is proved very correct about Archer’s lax attitude to security, as Archer gets captured by a bounty hunter.

Dull and uninteresting stupidity. Archer gets himself taken prisoner by being stupid, tries a couple of stupid things that don’t help him get out of the situation, then tries a stupid thing that does help him. The episode would work if the Tellarite captain was a more sympathetic character, but it’s hard to relate to a character obsessed with a ship that we never see.

But the worst of the episode is in the B-plot: after a couple of seasons of restraint, there’s a pretty bad ‘decontamination room’ sequence. It’s a completely unnecessary addition to the show, and the direction here serves only to highlight the unpleasant elements as it’s combined with T’Pol’s Ponn Far.

Callbacks: The first Tellarite we’ve seen in a while.

689 down, 48 to go.

Trekathon 688: First Flight (ENT)

March 24th, 2013

Archer has a flashback to the days of the NX Warp Project testing.

Not great, but not terrible either. It’s nice to see the ‘what they were like back then’ type stories, but this one is limited in scope (just Archer and Trip), and it seems that basically everyone is just the same. There was a glimmer of an idea in ‘this is how Archer became who he was’, but the episode doesn’t clearly establish anything in the way of difference from his character today. Perhaps some of the framing story’s time could have been used for that instead?

The other problem I had was that the story just didn’t seem to fit. They’re trying to tell a ‘dawn of warp flight’ story that just doesn’t fit into the chronology at this point. There are hand-waving explanations about this being the new engine/etc, but at the time of these tests there were plenty of Earth ships doing Warp 2 – it shouldn’t have been as big deal as it was made.

Callbacks: Not so much to previous Trek, but to the many images of NASA missions, and to The Right Stuff.

688 down, 49 to go.

Trekathon 687: Regeneration (ENT)

March 23rd, 2013

The Borg show up, jumping up and down lightly on continuity.

There’s a great episode of the Doctor Who reboot, Dalek, that manages to take back a villain that had become so overused we’d forgotten the menace. This episode is not as good, but it still reminds us of just how significant the Borg threat is. Two Borg can start an invasion, take over a ship, generally ruin your whole day.

The back half turns into an action sequence with a few plot holes (why exactly were the invading Borg beamed back to the soon-to-be-destroyed ship?) that’s fun without being tremendously deep.

(On the continuity thing: there’s a bit of contortion to avoid saying ‘Borg’, but they do make it plausible. To be honest, it was First Contact that created the real continuity problem).

Callbacks: The Borg. Duh. But most especially, the start of the Borg invasion is here, with the transmission to the Delta quadrant.

687 down, 50 to go.