Archive for December 2010

Starhunter–Cell Game (2001)   2 comments

Dante and Rex


The universe of Starhunter is gritty, corrupt, and amoral.  Cell Game, in which we take a brief break from the Divinity Cluster arc, makes this point plainly.  This is a disturbing episode, for many of its characters are desperate prisoners living in hellholes.  Fortunately, there is a rewarding payoff in the end, as we, the viewers, see poetic justice dispensed.

The episode opens as Dante and Luc pick up a prisoner from the Oberon Police Station, located in orbit of Oberon, a natural satellite of Neptune.   Unusually, Percy is with them, as Dante has decided to let her off the Tulip.  This is very bad timing, for Rex, who runs the Oberon Police Station, detains Percy on a trumped-up technicality.  She is blackmailing Dante into breaking her brother Goran, who is serving a life sentence for murdering an ambassador and his family, from the Nereid prison, where Dante has to take the prisoner he has just collected.

Dante, Regretting Taking Percy to the Oberon Police Station

The legal system at Oberon is notoriously corrupt, for there are not even courts; they are allegedly too expensive.  So police officers function as judges.  And bribery is an accepted practice.

Percy in the Oberon Prison

The Oberon prison is a well-maintained and high-tech facility, a fact which makes it no less of a hellhole.  Cell Game, without stooping to overly graphic scenes, makes clear that guards rape female prisoners.  And Rex plans to sell Percy to the highest bidder, for Rex figures that Dante will never return from the Nereid Prison.  Percy’s two cellmates are desperate women, who beat her from time to time and one of whom has suffered a severe burn on one wrist and hand.

Dante in the Nereid Prison

Dante plans to break Rex’s brother, Goran, out of Nereid, where no one has escaped, by posing as a prisoner.  Luc, meanwhile, monitors Dante’s movements from her perch on the Tulip.


Percy uses her technological skills to escape from her cell.  But security guards kill one of the cellmates and return the two survivors to their cell.


Dante meets Goran, who is king of his corner of hell in the Nereid prison.  Dante tells him that he (Dante) plans to break them out.  Goran is skeptical.

The Nereid Prison Guard

Luc devises a plan to convince the main prison guard at the Nereid Prison to let Dante and Goran out.  She says that she has just analyzed blood work and discovered that Dante has tuberculosis and is contagious.  So she is supposed to take him to a medical facility at Triton.  The guard insists on a bribe, which Luc promises him but never delivers.  Meanwhile, the prisoners, who have heard the word “tuberculosis,” insist upon Dante’s removal.  The guard, fearful of a riot, permits this.  And Luc uses the health excuse to take Goran away, too.

Back on the Tulip, Dante and Luc set course for the Oberon Police Station and investigate Goran’s crimes.

Dante and Percy, Reunited

Back at the Oberon Police Station, Rex returns Percy to Dante, and Luc brings in Goran.  Then Rex tries to have Dante arrested for assisting in the escape of a prisoner.  But the police offers point their guns at Rex and say that her sentence will be fifteen years.


Apparently, Goran did more than kill an ambassador and his family.  The criminal also stole three million credits worth of art and jewelry, and he knows where he has hidden it.  Dante has bribed the police officers with the promise of this wealth.

So Rex and Goran stay on the Oberon Police Station–as prisoners–and Dante, Luc, and Percy leave on board the Tulip.  They are one happy family.  This relationship will break down very shortly, as Luc’s two roles as crew member of the Tulip and intelligence collector for the Orchard become increasingly difficult to balance.  And when, as Rudolpho puts it, the “droppings hit the radiation unit,” the drama is spectacular.



I used the Power DVD program to capture images from a legally purchased DVD.

Posted December 31, 2010 by neatnik2009 in Starhunter (2000-2001)

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Starhunter–Order (2000)   2 comments

Followers of Brother #13, About to Die


The nature of the Divinity Cluster–whether it is good, bad, or neutral–becomes clear beyond a shadow of a doubt in episode #22, Resurrection.  I will not divulge that answer here.  Yet I do say this:  the Divinity Cluster is dangerous in the hands of the wrong person.  Order establishes this with creepy and effective clarity.

Too Close to the Sun

The Church of Omega is a cult–in the full sense of that term.  Its leader, who calls himself Brother #13, professes to be the last prophet of Vahooti, or God.  His organization owns a pyramid-shaped spacecraft flying into the Sun so that the people on board can reunite with Vahooti in the afterlife in the very near future.


There is little sympathy for the Church of Omega followers on board the Tulip, which is in the area.  Dante and Percy mock them for, among other reasons, calling their god Vahooti.  Luc objects to this tone, affirming the value of believing in something greater than oneself, but even she has to admit very shortly later that belong to a suicidal cult is irrational.

Into the Sun

The pyramid ship flies into the Sun, where Vahooti is alleged to live.


The crew members of the Tulip watch with horror.  Even Dante, who had a mocking tone a few moments ago, refers to the cult members as “poor bastards.”  Coming from Dante, that is a lament.

The Tulip Seizing the Escape Shuttle

At the last moment, however, a shuttle carrying Brother #13 and two followers–his bodyguard, Jacob, and his concubine, Marina–departs for safety.  Brother #13 says that he has given his followers an afterlife with Vahooti and that he must recruit more people to the faith.  And the real sacrifice is his, for being with Vahooti is better than living in this evil universe.

But Brother #13, although charismatic, is not a nice man.  He snaps at people easily, heaping verbal abuse on them, especially Jacob, who suffers frequent crises of faith.  And when Marina laments that she did not die with the others and reunite with Vahooti, Brother #13 tells her to stop her “damn whining.”

Above all, Brother #13 is a control freak.  He preys on the spiritually needy, claiming to help them become something greater than what they are.  But a healthy spiritual journey contains room for questioning, something Brother #13 discourages.  And mass suicide is not spiritually healthy, either.

The shuttle suffers damage because it is so close to the Sun, so Brother #13 becomes shaken up physically and suffers a superficial wound on his head.  This is his state when the Tulip captures the shuttle craft.

Jacob, Brother #13, and Marina Board the Tulip

The three survivors board the Tulip, where Dante and Luc, armed, meet them at the airlock.  Luc takes Jacob to the brig while Dante escorts Brother #13 and Marina to guest quarters.  A little later, Percy takes Marina elsewhere on the ship.

A “Rejuvenation of Faith”

Brother #13 tricks Luc into getting sufficiently close to him that he can touch her head and “rejuvenate” her faith with a blue glow while he says, “Know the power of your true path.  Feel the faith that flows through me.”  Luc becomes a disciple.

Brother #13 is a military veteran and a former P.O.W. of the Callisto campaign referenced in The Man Who Sold the World.  He gained the powers of reading and washing minds while a P.O.W., when his path crossed that of Dr. Novak.  So Brother #13 is a very dangerous man with real powers.  It is a shame that he does not use these powers for good ends.

Dante Confronts Brother #13

Dante discovers that Brother #13 has brainwashed Luc.  So, while Luc wanders around the ship, speaking of Vahooti, Dante takes the cult leader to the brig.

Meanwhile, Percy and Marina speak.  We learn that Marina is terrified that Brother #13 will take Luc as a bride.  If he does, she (Marina) will think herself a failure.

Luc, brainwashed, frees Brother #13 and Jacob from their cells.  Yet the brainwashing is wearing off, so she disobeys the cult leader’s command to give Jacob her gun.  Jacob takes her prisoner, and …

Percy, with Marina in tow, shoots Jacob.  The image above shows Percy immediately afterward.

Luc then locks herself into a cell to prevent herself from interfering with the detention of the prisoners.

The Tulip reaches its destination, Mercury Base, and a shuttle craft carrying security officers docks with the ship.

They take the prisoners away, and Rudolpho sends a congratulatory message.  Shortly thereafter, Dante and Percy free Luc, whose brainwashing was worn off.  Back in her quarters, the double agent sends a message to Darius:  Brother #13 had probably come into contact Novak, and certainly is an example of a person with a partially-activated Divinity Cluster.  “Consider him dangerous, father,” she says.


Aboard the security shuttle, a guard kneels before Brother #13, who says, “Know the power of your true faith.  Feel the faith that flows through me.”

So ends Order.  There are no pat, easy answers in the universe of Starhunter.  This is one reason I like the series so much.  This is a show that does not talk down to its audience or deal in unsatisfactory deus ex machina endings.  Starhunter ran for one season.  (Starhunter 2300 is a separate series, not the second season.)  In contrast, Star Trek:  Voyager, with scant internal consistency and paper-thin characters, lasted for seven years.  Dreck thrives too often and quality programming survives too rarely.  Alas!



I captured images from a legal DVD via the Power DVD program.

Posted December 29, 2010 by neatnik2009 in Starhunter (2000-2001)

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Starhunter–Past Lives (2000)   2 comments

Rudolpho, Taking a Break from a Party


The ability to balance drama and comedy is a valuable skill, one Peter Campbell, the author of this episode, possesses.  In Past Lives we learn more about how amoral the Orchard is while we discover more about the backgrounds of Lucretia “Luc” Scott and Penny Montana, Dante’s late wife.  What begins as a comedy takes a quick serious turn and ends on a poignant note, leaving this viewer with the sense of 48 minutes well-spent.

Every episode opens with a transmission from Rudolpho.  Sometimes the recipient is clear, but not this time.  Rudolpho alternates between saying loudly offscreen, “I’ll be right there!” and wondering if he has missed out on anything by never marrying.


Eric, a veteran of the Mars Special Forces, is a janitor employed at Biodesigns, a leader in the biochemical research field.  He is also an inveterate gambler.  Two guards take him to a small room, where a blonde scientist, Dr. Gardiner, injects him with a substance and tells him that most of her subjects have died within 48 hours of being injected.  She is interested in what happens during those two days, for these tests are designed to find a way to speed up human evolution.  Not taking this well, Eric assaults a guard, takes his weapon, kills both guards, and escapes the Biodesigns facility at Saturn Outpost 359 via a stolen shuttle, the Carpathia.

Another Transmission from Rudolpho

Next we see Rudolpho’s message to the crew of the Tulip.  He provides too much information about the party from the first transmission.  Let us just say that although Rudolpho has never married, he enjoys the company of women.  Then the owner of the Tulip tells Dante, who is in the vicinity of Saturn, to apprehend Eric and deliver him within 48 hours.


Luc realizes that Eric is her former husband.  Getting married was the “last impulsive thing” she had ever done, she says.


Dante and Percy are surprised to learn that Luc was ever married.  Luc does not take sarcasm well, however.

The Tulip

The crew of the Tulip tracks down the Carpathia and brings it aboard then places Eric in custody.


Dante, for reasons I do not understand, uses the virtual reality device from Family Values.

The Image of Penny Montana

It seems that Dante just wanted to talk, despite how painful it is emotionally for him to speak to the image of his dead wife.  The image of Penny suggests not doing it anymore.

As far as I can tell, this scene exists to set up a later one, in which we learn how the image of Penny came to exist.  Back in November 2264, when Penny, a scientist lay dying after the Raider attack in which the Raiders kidnapped Travis, Dante used a device to capture here electric essence.

Percy, Trying to Repair the Main Reactor

Eric and Luc bond again, and Dante learns through medical scans that Eric will die in less than two days because of whatever was in that injection.  The closest medical facility where anybody can do anything is two or three days away at the Hyperion Outpost, depending on the state of the decrepit main reactor.  So Percy goes to work on the main reactor.  Meanwhile, Caravaggio, the A.I., develops an antidote, which loses all effectiveness after a few hours.  The contents of the original injection was that powerful.  And Percy cannot fix the main reactor in time, so Eric will be dead soon.

Members of the Orchard

Dante learns via Caravaggio that Eric’s employer, Biodesigns, has an extremely high turnover rate in its janitorial staff–over 4,000 janitors in all.  And Dr. Gardiner injected Eric less than 24 hours after he joined that staff.

With the Tulip headed for Hyperion at best possible speed (which is not saying much), members of the Orchard contact Rudolpho to express their displeasure.  So Rudolpho sends a message to Dante.  The difference between Rudolpho and Dante, both of whom need money badly, is that Dante cares more about doing the right thing than does Rudolpho.  This does not mean, however, that Rudolpho is purely mercenary, because he is not. The owner of the Tulip does demonstrate great patience in dealing with Dante throughout the series.

Luc and Eric

Luc comforts her dying ex-husband in her quarters, thereby demonstrating her soft side.

Percy and Luc

Luc, on the Bridge, reviews the names of the members of the Board of Directors of Biodesigns.  She finds the name “Pacquette” and realizes that this a powerful member of the Orchard.

Kudos to the writer and series runner for story arc consistency.  The Divinity Cluster establishes that Pacquette leads an Orchard faction opposed to that of Darius, Luc’s father.  In that episode Pacquette sends MacDuff to hunt down Eccleston.

Luc sends a curt message to her father saying that she will never forgive him if he is involved in what has happened to Eric.

Eric asks Dante to help him get to the Carpathia.  Dante agrees.  The doomed man has very little time left, and he does not want to be part of the Orchard’s experiment anymore.

The Carpathia Explodes

Eric’s time runs out while he is alone on the Carpathia.  He seems to explode, but there is no doubt that the shuttle does.


Luc weeps on board the Tulip.

Dante and Percy

Percy is the only person on board who seems unmoved emotionally.  Dante asks her, “Does anything get to you?”  Percy replies that the death of her family (in November 2264, when Penny died and the Raiders abducted Travis) did.  And we viewers remember Percy’s grief over Ajit’s death in Peer Pressure.  Other than these examples, nothing gets to Percy, who is brilliant yet emotionally stunted.


Luc places Eric’s Special Forces uniform in airlock and says, “This is yours, wherever you are.”


The episode ends with this monologue from Luc:

People come into your life and make you happy, they cause you grief, and then they’re gone.  All that’ s left are ripples where they once were–ripples, stretching out forever.

Past Lives reveals a crucial part of the backstory of Luc, who is usually a no-nonsense character.  She is vulnerable here, and the events of this episode will come up again.  The loss of her ex-husband to an Orchard experiment deepens Luc’s disgust for the Orchard and her discomfort at being a double-agent.  Without giving too much away, I reveal that Luc will have more reason to despise the Orchard before the end of the series.



I used the Power DVD program to obtain the screen captures in this post.  Please view this series in a manner consistent with United States and international copyright law.

Posted December 27, 2010 by neatnik2009 in Starhunter (2000-2001)

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Starhunter–Frozen (2000)   2 comments



The plot thickens, with a little comic relief, in this excellent episode about two fathers seeking to protect their sons.  Certain aspects of Frozen make more sense after viewing the entire 22-episode series.  This fact points to a laudable quality of Starhunter–that the series improves with repeated viewings.

Etienne in the Brig

Etienne (from Family Values) returns.  This time, Dante and Luc place him in the brig.  Etienne is a flamboyant, over-the-top character, one who enjoys almost everything he does.  (I perceive that the actor, Phillipe Simon, enjoyed this role.)  We met Etienne a few episodes ago, when his expression of grief over the corpse of Brad, his partner in crime, indicated that the two were lovers.  Yet Etienne is back, boasting about a sexual conquest with an “insatiable wife” and claiming to find Lucretia (Luc) attractive.  This confuses Luc, who does not find Etienne attractive.

There is far more to Etienne than switch-hitting and petty crime, however.  He removes a false tooth containing a device that unlocks the cage in which he sits.  Dante and Luc would place top priority on finding Etienne, who is roaming the Tulip, but they have greater concerns.

Dr. Devon

The Tulip intercepts a distress signal from a small vessel.  On board are Dr. Devon and his son, Ryan, whom he has rescued from a research facility.

Ryan and His Father

Raider vessels are pursuing the spacecraft, but the Tulip gets there first.  So the Raider ships surround the Tulip.

Meanwhile, people on the Tulip see and hear individuals who are not there.  Ryan was born with a rare brain disorder.  His father, a pediatric research doctor, injected Ryan with a cocktail of modified genes in hopes of reversing this condition.  The new genes had an unexpected effect; they gave Ryan the ability to project illusions from one’s memory without Ryan’s awareness of what he is doing.  So Dr. Devon sees his dead wife, Luc sees her dead mother, Dante sees his son, Etienne sees Luc, and Percy sees herself.

Percy Speaks to a Projection of Herself

Dr. Devon acted out of concern for his son.  But his financial backers in the Orchard stole Ryan.  And a Raider double agent at the research facility alerted the Raiders to Ryan’s condition.  So the Raiders and the Orchard have a common interest in the boy.  This is the first example of such common interests between the outcast, piratical Raiders and the elite Orchard.

The Raiders ships surround the Tulip.  The Raider commander hails Dante and demands the boy.  But Dante uses the opportunity to try to bargain for information about Travis, whom Raiders abducted from Titan on November 3, 2264.

The Raider commander gets back to Dante, saying,

Captain, a word of advice:  You should forget about your son.  He certainly has forgotten about you.

Percy, Contemplating Needed Repairs

The Raiders grow tired of waiting, so they fire on the Tulip, causing damage to the ship.  Etienne uses this opportunity to escape again, after a previous reapprehension.  While free, he sends a transmission in which he refers to “the cluster.”  Some Raiders board the Tulip, but Dante and Luc kill most members of that boarding party and injure one.

Ryan saves the day by making the remaining Raiders on their ships see a shuttlecraft depart the Tulip, so they pursue that illusion.

Luc, Bemused

Etienne tells Luc that he does not really like women, but that if anyone woman could change his mind, she would be one.  He reveals furthermore that he is a courier for the Orchard.  Luc agrees to drop him off at Ganymede, and says that the Orchard will “lose this one” in exchange for which she will not blow Etienne’s cover.  He agrees.

Dr. Devon and Ryan are safe, and Ryan has begun to call him “father,” a fact that thrills the scientist.

Down in the brig, the captured Raider tells Dante that he (the Raider) remembers his mother after all those years.  So there is hope that Travis remembers his father.

Payoffs from Frozen are plentiful; we have fifteen episodes left.  Stay tuned.



Thanks to Power DVD for making screen captures possible.

Posted December 17, 2010 by neatnik2009 in Starhunter (2000-2001)

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Starhunter–Peer Pressure (2000)   2 comments

Percy, Boy-Crazy


I own the four-DVD set of the 2000-2001 Starhunter series.  I walked into a store and purchased in in 2007.  (I do not own Starhunter 2300, which I have watched at Hulu.  Starhunter 2300 is set in a universe parallel to the original Starhunter.)  So I notice that the series set arranges the episodes in production number, not air number.  Hence The Divinity Cluster, first episode aired, is the fourth episode on Disc One.  And Peer Pressure, sixth episode aired, is the first episode on Disc One, while The Man Who Sold the World, fifth episode aired and sixth one produced, is the first episode on Disc Two.  (Thanks,!)  I note these facts because much of the exposition in Peer Pressure is needless and annoying when one views it in air order, not production sequence.  The observant viewer already knows much of what of what characters state in expository dialogue because the previous five aired episodes.  Evidence seems to indicate that this was supposed to be the pilot episode, however, and it feels like one.

Dr. Nasreen in the Tulip‘s Brig

Dante goes to Mimas, a moon of Saturn, to apprehend Dr. Nasreen, an expert in psychological traumatic stress and a suspect in a murder case.  He also brings along her adolescent son, Ajit, because the young man would be alone at the research station otherwise.  Luc insists that, per Rudolpho’s regulations, Ajit go the brig with his mother.

Nevertheless, Dante does take pity on Ajit shortly thereafter, and release him.

Dr. Nasreen carries a mind control device on one wrist.

She points it toward Dante’s face and into his eyes.  Now Dante is in trouble.  He must obey Dr. Nasreen, a murderer with an unhealthy relationship with her son, or die of a self-destructing cerebral cortex.  So she has the run of the Tulip for a while.


While Ajit enjoys staring at outer space, Percy stares into a mirror and practices saying, “Hi, there.”


Percy and Ajit meet and experience puppy love.  Both are isolated and emotionally underdeveloped characters, pitiable in different ways.  The puppy love is sweet, but can never become anything more.

Luc discovers what Dr. Nasreen has done to Dante.  The Tulip‘s security officer compels the criminal to reverse the process, which Dr Nazreen says she must do at the Mimas research station, where the equipment is located.  So the Tulip returns to Mimas and Dr. Nazreen reverses the mind control process, thereby saving Dante’s life.

But the criminal renders Luc unconscious and means to leave Dante and Luc to die at the research station, where the air system is failing, and to take the Tulip to Iapetus, another moon of Saturn.  Ajit knows that he must stop his mother.  He refuses to use the mind control device on Percy, in defiance of his mother’s wishes.  Instead he tells Percy, “My mother is insane.  She has to be stopped once and for all….Goodbye.”  Then he blows himself out an airlock.

In horror, Dr. Nasreen watches her son die.

Then she uses the mind control device on herself.

Back on the Tulip, she rocks back and forth in the brig, repeating, “Tell me what to do.”

And Percy, holed up in her quarters, mourns Ajit.

The end is heartbreaking for Percy and Ajit, emotionally stunted young people who find each other.  Dr. Nasreen, however, gets what she deserves–a taste of her own medicine.  That is indeed poetic justice.

Courtesy of, here are the first six episodes arranged according to air and production order:

  • The Divinity Cluster–4th produced; 1st aired
  • Trust–2nd produced and aired
  • Family Values–3rd produced and aired
  • Siren’s Song–5th produced and 4th aired
  • The Man Who Sold the World–6th produced and 5th aired
  • Peer Pressure–1st produced and 6th aired

So, following the production number, Percy has two consecutive crushes (Peer Pressure and Trust), we learn much about the abduction of Travis (Family Values), we learn about the Divinity Cluster in the fourth episode produced, and that story arc continues  with The Man Who Sold the World, with a break for a story about a walking virus.  This is a different way to experience the first six episodes of Starhunter.  Whether it is superior to that of the broadcast order is a matter of opinion.

For your information, the broadcast and production orders are identical beginning with episode #7.



I used the Power DVD program to capture images from the episode.



Last night I noticed a continuity issue when watching Trust again for the first time in over half a year.  Percy had never been to Earth in Trust yet she goes there in The Divinity Cluster.  So viewing the episodes in production order avoids a continuity error.





Series Producer Philip Jackson has stated in a recent Facebook post in the Fans of Tanya Allen group that The Divinity Cluster was supposed to be the first episode aired, even though it was not the first episode filmed.  Thus the order in which I have numbered episodes at the top of each blog post is the order which Jackson has declared correct.




Posted December 16, 2010 by neatnik2009 in Starhunter (2000-2001)

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Starhunter–The Man Who Sold the World (2000)   5 comments

Rudolpho During the Opening Transmission


Starhunter explores the very dark side of human nature while resuming the Divinity Cluster story arc in this excellent episode.

I begin with the text of Rudolpho’s opening transmission:

This one’s a corker. I found you a piece of work called Novak. Crimes against humanity. They don’t get bigger than that.Civil war on Callisto. They’re still killing each other over differences. I guess we’re still the same old species even out amongst the stars. Hatred still the tie that binds.
But today that human bond, love, has reared its lovely bottom, and I am off to “The Love Derby.” Of course, I might actually only taking about lust. Nope. No. No. No. No. I am actually talking about the messy stuff. Well, actually really what I’m talking about is deceit. Whoever really knows what lurks in the human heart? Well, I know, now that you ask. Along with all that sunshine and puppies and kittens and pretty coloured balloons, crap. There’s also the dark nasty bits of creepy crawly things, that scatter away when you flip that rock over. Your heart carries it all. It’s the only sure thing I know. And anyone who doesn’t believe that our hearts are filled with eternally warring angels and devils is leading with their glass jaw just waiting for a round house right.
Another great truth from my tower of wisdom is you get your heart broken then you gotta pick yourself up and make sure the next time you get them before they get you. I mean, who out there thinks that it’s better to be on the sharp end of the love stake as it plunges into your heart?
Gotta nasty piece of work coming your way. So quick step, stay sharp, ’cause this evil, evil bastard Novak hasn’t a shred of love in his black, black heart.


On board the Tulip, Percy contemplates really bad food.  It is the same “slop” she has had to eat for a week because there are no other options on the ship.  She spends much of the episode repeating this complaint.


As Percy complains about “slop,” Rudolpho sends the Tulip to Pluto, the new home of Dr. Novak, a notorious war criminal.  In the 2250s he had lived on Callisto, a moon of Jupiter, and, during a civil war, had authorized grotesque medical-genetic experiments that victimized over 20,000 people.  He was part of a research team called the Hand of God, which intended to speed up the rate of human evolution.  Eventually, combined Lunar and Martian forces ended the war and sent Dr. Novak packing.  And now, in 2275, he calls himself Mr. Kavon and mines and sells ores on Pluto, living in safety under electromagnetic domes.  The warrant says that Novak is wanted dead or alive.

Dr. Novak

Dr. Novak, a.k.a. Mr. Kavon, receives a steady stream of visitors other than people interested in purchasing ores.  Bounty hunters keep calling on Novak and dying.  Another bounty hunter, Chorsky, attempts to arrest Novak early in the episode.


Belle is Novak’s companion on Pluto.  He has a security guard, too, but Belle loves Novak/Kavon.  When Belle offers Chorsky a drink, he rebuffs her, calling her a “stupid bitch.”  Then she puts down the drinks tray and shoots him.  She asks next, “Who’s the stupid bitch now?”

Note:  Do not insult Belle when she holds a gun.

The Tulip Above Pluto

The Tulip arrives at Pluto, and Dante and Luc pose as people interested in purchasing some ores.  Novak invites them down but knows that they are really bounty hunters.

Dante and Luc need to work quickly because the outer edge an electromagnetic anomaly will intersect with Pluto in less than a day.  This is a rare event, one that occurs once every 28,693 years.


Percy is enjoying her work on the Tulip when Novak sends a holographic computer virus up to the ship.

The Billy Ray Virus

The computer virus is Billy Ray, which speaks in the style of Elvis Presley.  Billy Ray interferes with Caravaggio, the A.I., and disrupts ship’s operations until Percy finds a way to purge it.  This subplot is the only annoying aspect of the episode.

Dante and Luc Confront Novak

Dante and Luc overpower Novak’s security guard and Belle and make their way to Novak’s office.  Novak denies being a war criminal, but does reveal that he used to have another vocation, “something divine.”  With this, Luc realizes that Novak was working on the Divinity Cluster at Callisto.

Dante and Luc arrest Novak and head for their shuttle craft, but Belle and the security guard attack Dante and Luc on the surface.  Novak convinces Luc to take him back to his office, where he will reveal what he knows about the Divinity Cluster.  Luc, the double agent for the Orchard, must learn what Novak knows; it is part of her job as a “collector.”  Yet she despises Novak, whom she keeps calling a “bastard,” especially to his face.  (The label is accurate.)


On the way back to his office, Novak tells Belle to go away, for he does not want to see her anymore.  Distraught, she fires her weapon at Dante, who hides behind a structure that takes the bullets.

The Anomaly

Meanwhile, in orbit, the anomaly approaches Pluto.

On the surface of Pluto, Dante convinces Belle of the blindingly obvious fact she has refused to believe previously; Novak is a monster and a war criminal.

Novak, Unrepentant

In his office, Novak tells Luc,

You have to know the Cluster won’t give up its secret for free.  I was so close….I was able to isolate two genes–telepathy and consciousness.

He also complains about having to live at the edge of the solar system and in Belle’s company.


Then Dante and Belle enter Novak’s office.  Belle leaves briefly and returns with a tray full of drinks.  She asks, “Did I really fall in love with a monster.”  Novak says that she did.  Then she shoots and kills him.

Novak and Belle Dead in His Office

Luc then shoots and kills Belle.  Dante and Luc head for their shuttle quickly and return to the Tulip just in time, but not without damage to the shuttle.  And Dante learns shortly thereafter that he has received double payment for Novak.  Now the crew of the Tulip will be able to eat something other than the same old slop for a while.

The episode ends with the thoughts of our major characters.



I hate the world.  Every history lesson condemns what happened on Callisto.  Bull!  That ugly, dark thing that happened on Callisto is inside everyone.  I’ve met enough people to know.  I see it every time Dante collars some jerk.  I hate people.  I believe they’re all stupid.



Lots of garbage out there.  Sometimes I wonder if I make a difference.  I don’t know.  I’m just looking for Travis.  Maybe there’s progress, maybe not.  But maybe if I make a difference the Travises and Percys of the world will have a better place–just a little better.  I worry about her, isolated from the worlds on this ship.  I see what’s happening to her.  I see Percy growing up cynical, too smart for her own good.  Then I think of the worlds out there, the noise and chaos of the universe, the bloody foolishness of my fellow humans.  It’s almost too much.  I’ve just got to believe there’s something better, something redeeming at the end of the day.  I don’t know.  God, I hope so.



Sometimes there are no clear answers.  Sometimes all we have are questions.  So our past creates our present while our lives forge the future.  Will the ends justify the means, no matter what?

Star Trek was my first science fiction experience.  Among my earliest clear memories are original series episodes.  Gene Roddenberry created something of great and lasting value, but his vision was naive.  The 23rd-Century humans of Gene Roddenberry’s Star Trek were more evolved in that they were better and less prone to vengeance, murder, and conflict than we are.  But human nature is constant in both its positive and negative aspects.  The writers of Deep Space Nine understood this, which is why it was the best of the Star Trek series.

I admit it; I like dark science fiction.  Babylon 5 gets pitch black, especially early in the fourth season.  The Dominion War arc in Star Trek:  Deep Space Nine is well-executed, and Ronald D. Moore’s reimagined Battlestar Galactica improves with each viewing.  Each of these series is more famous than Starhunter, so I write these summaries and reviews to spread the word about this excellent series.



I used the Power DVD program to obtain the screen captures in this post.

Posted December 15, 2010 by neatnik2009 in Starhunter (2000-2001)

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Starhunter–Siren’s Song (2000)   3 comments

Rudolpho During a Transmission


Siren’s Song makes for interesting viewing, although it is far from the best episode of Starhunter.  Quality is relative though; I would rather watch this than almost any episode of Star Trek:  Voyager or any episode from the first three seasons of Star Trek:  Enterprise.  (Berman and Braga almost killed the Star Trek franchise.)  At least Siren’s Song is watchable.

Pretrakist and His Fellow Escapees Board a Space Yacht

There has been an explosion at a prison on Ganymede, a moon of Jupiter.  Some of the escaped prisoners board an elegant space yacht filled with handsome and well-dressed passengers and crew members, whom they proceed to kill.  Rudolpho sends Dante Montana to retrieve convicts while reminding him that he (Dante) owes him (Rudolpho) five years back rent on the Tulip.  It was four years back rent in The Divinity Cluster, episode #1.  So Dante has not been doing well during the previous two episodes, has he?

Dante, Luc, and Percy

Luc states that Rudolpho has placed her on board the Tulip to ensure that Dante would not mess up his assignments.  This is a reasonable concern on Rudolpho’s part, given that Dante flubs the capture of the six escaped convicts on the space yacht and retrieves only Pretrakist, who kills the others.  To his credit, Dante realizes that he messed up, and that the criticism of him is well-founded.

Major Wayne Bartlett and His Commandos Board the Tulip

Then Special Forces black ops commandos and their commanding officer, Major Wayne Bartlett, board the Tulip and assume command of it.  Law gives them the right to do this.  They are transporting their prisoner, a harmless looking young woman, to a secure detention facility.


Ire, who reveals her name later in the episode, looks innocent enough.  What could she have done?  Percy wonders about this.

A Shock Wave Hits the Tulip

A shock wave from an explosion (of what I do not know) hits the Tulip, enabling Ire to escape from her guards and bonds.  Then she proceeds to wander around the vessel, speaking of anger and love while killing the brusque commandos and freeing Pretrakist from the brig, thereby enabling him to wander around the Tulip armed.  Through it all, she says, “I’m sorry.”  She seems to regret everything she does.

Meanwhile, Major Bartlett becomes even more obnoxious than he was in the beginning.  Percy, irritated, calls the Major and his commandos “goons” and asks if they can count as high as four.  Even Luc, a military veteran, finds Major Bartlett and the commandos intolerable.  There is a dangerous murderer walking around armed on the Tulip, and Bartlett seems not to care about anything other than capturing young Ire.

Percy and Ire

Ire, who can disappear into thin air (a nice trick) adjusts the course of the Tulip so that the vessel will travel to Phoenix Station, in orbit of Miranda, a moon of Uranus.  Then she allows Percy to capture her.  Ire says that her task is the tell the story of what happened.  She says that she does not want to hurt anyone.

Phoenix Station

This is why Bartlett is so insistent about detaining Ire:  Phoenix Station has been under quarantine for two years due to the outbreak of the Omega 47 virus, which is deadly.  The containment of the virus has prevented the extinction of the human race.  And Ire came from Phoenix Station.

Pretrakist Aboard Phoenix Station

Everyone (not all at once) boards Phoenix Station, where Ire reveals her true nature.  She is the result of the combination of the Omega 47 virus and human DNA.  In fact, she resembles the dead daughter of one of the scientists who used to work on board the station.  As she transforms into a beam of light, Major Bartlett points his weapon at her.  Pretrakist then kills the Major and merges with Ire.

Miranda About to Explode

For a reasons beyond comprehension this act causes Miranda to convulse with light until it explodes.  The Tulip and her crew escape in time, and Caravaggio comments that it was odd to meet a virus that expressed regret.  (Let that last statement sink in for a moment.  It is odd.)  Rudolpho is livid that Dante lost Pretrakist, but accepts the Special Forces shuttle as payment of the back rent.

Dante lives to bounty hunt again.

The best parts of Siren’s Song are the moodiness aboard the Tulip, with its dark corridors, and the sarcastic comments Percy makes.  Actually, Percy is wonderful in this episode, as she is in the entire series.  I adore the acting of Tanya Allen in Starhunter.  She is cute, too.



All images are screen captures via the Power DVD program.  I recommend viewing the Starhunter series in a way consistent with U.S. copyright laws.

Posted December 14, 2010 by neatnik2009 in Starhunter (2000-2001)

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Starhunter–Family Values (2000)   2 comments

The Tulip, Headed for Mars


Here we have another episode that establishes the universe of Starhunter. In this case, we learn more about the Raiders and the motivations of Dante Montana.  And we get a meaty story with real pathos in the process.  Family Values does far more than merely mark time and deliver exposition.

The Simulation of Penny Montana

For the last ten years Dante has used a virtual reality device to speak to a simulation of his late wife, Penny.  During this episode he uses the device on his wedding anniversary when Percy walks in on him.  She uses this device later in the episode, when Dante and Luc are on Mars.

Dante and Luc on Mars

The Tulip travels to Mars, where Dante and Luc go to collect two confidence men, Etienne and Brad.  On their way down to the planet’s surface, Dante tells Luc that he knows she does not merely work for Rudolpho.  She denies this true allegation, but Dante does not pursue the matter any further during the episode.

Etienne and Brad

Dante and Luc corner the two confidence men easily, but then the hard part starts.

Percy Montana Monitoring Dante and Luc’s Situation on Mars

On board the Tulip, Percy reminds Dante and Luc to launch their Bird’s Eye, a flying monitoring device, so she can see what is happening.  The Bird’s Eye enables Percy to see that a Ranger ship is in the immediate vicinity of Dante and Luc.  The intrepid Percy orders the Bird’s Eye to collide with the Raider ship, causing it to crash.

The Tulip orbiting Mars

The Raiders are former elite soldiers on whom the military leaders have experimented.  As a result, they are sterile.  So the Raiders have become space pirates who replenish their ranks by kidnapping children.  Dante’s real mission is to find his son, Travis, whom Raiders abducted ten years ago, when they killed Penny.

“Jeb” with Dante

The crash of the Raider’s ship injures the raider aboard it, but not the boy with him.  Said crash also kills Brad the confidence man, thereby distressing Etienne.  Meanwhile, three other Raider vessels arrive in the area, and Dante decides to leave with the boy, whom the dying Raider calls Jeb, but whom Dante thinks is Travis.  So Dante must leave Etienne behind.  The other Raiders arrive just in time for Etienne to use a device to confuse them into shooting each other while he escapes safely.

The Tulip Above Mars

Dante and Luc return to the Tulip with Jeb in tow, and Caravaggio analyzes the boy’s DNA sample.  Jeb is not Travis; he is actually one Vincent Taylor.  Dante sets course to reunite Vincent with the family he has not seen in nine years.

Dante Comforts Vincent

Vincent approaches Dante on the observation deck.  The boy is nervous about meeting his real family.  Dante says that when he was young, he sat next to his father when he was nervous.  Then, Dante says, he did not feel nervous anymore.  Vincent sits down next to Travis.

The writers of Starhunter understood the importance of story continuity.  So they reused the virtual reality device, Etienne featured into a subsequent story, and the Travis plot line ran through the series.  And the Orchard story thread, along with Luc’s status as one of their agents, came to a spectacular head in episodes #13-15.

This series, with the exception of a few episodes, only gets better as it builds on itself.  It is quite a ride.



All images are screen captures I have obtained via Power DVD and a legally purchased disc.  My purpose is to inspire people to view this series in a method consistent with U.S. copyright laws.

Posted December 14, 2010 by neatnik2009 in Starhunter (2000-2001)

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Starhunter–Trust (2000)   2 comments

Percy Montana


Early episodes of series tend to develop characters.  When the character in question is Percy Montana, the episode is a delight to watch again and again.  Did I mention that I like Percy?

Lucretia “Luc” Scott and Percy Montana

Trust opens with Luc and Percy sparring.  Percy incurs a minor arm injury in the process, a fact that angers the very protective uncle Dante.  He becomes more upset when he learns that Percy, whom he considers a girl, has entered a sparring tournament at the Mars orbital station, the Tulip‘s next destination.  Dante asks how he can trust Percy, who keeps disobeying orders and acting behind his back.

Three Views of the Tulip

Rudolpho has assigned Dante and Luc to collect two dangerous criminals, Jeremy and Alistair McNaughton, and to transport them to the automated prison on the sunny side of Mercury, where each will serve a life sentence for repeated acts of armed robbery and attempted murder.  Mars Federation officials, apparently in a mood to be difficult, force Dante and Luc to collect the felons one at a time instead in one trip.  So they collect Jeremy first and return for Alistair.

Jeremy McNaughton in the Tulip‘s Brig

Dante prevents Percy from leaving the ship and orders her not to speak to Jeremy while he and Luc retrieve Alistair.  But Percy speaks to the convict anyway and programs Caravaggio, the A.I., not to report this or to remember that she has spoken to Jeremy.  She becomes infatuated with Jeremy, who is calm and charismatic.  He insists that he is innocent and that the justice system is corrupt.  He also tells Percy that she is beautiful and intelligent, which, of course, she is.

Of the two criminal cousins, Alistair is the overtly sociopathic one.  But Jeremy is no innocent, either, for he has tricked Percy into accidentally handing over her access codes.

Luc and Dante on the Surface of Mercury

The procedure for transporting anyone to the automated prison on Mercury is simple.  An automated land vehicle arrives at a designated place on the side of Mercury that faces away from the Sun and takes the people to the facility, which is on the side that faces the Sun.  While Dante and Luc transport the two McNaughtons this way, Jeremy uses Percy’s access codes to override the automation.  They leave Dante and Luc on the surface of Mercury and return to the Tulip, where Percy, against Caravaggio’s advice, lets them on board.  The McNaughtons begin to override Caravaggio’s computer functions manually, so Percy starts pulling wires, thereby shutting down systems.  Meanwhile, Dante and Luc, whom another automated land vehicle has rescued, have returned to the Tulip.  Together, the three crew members capture the two criminals, who go to their living hell on Mercury.

Percy Montana

Percy knows that her naivete almost got Dante and Luc killed.  Both Dante and Luc are in a forgiving mood, and Percy has learned a valuable lesson the hard way.  She had, in a moment of weakness, fallen for a dangerous man who paid her some attention, and the consequences could have been worse.  Percy knows now that she needs to trust her uncle, who now thinks of her a young woman.  Dante will not force her to remain on the Tulip, but wants her there.  But Percy must make her own way in life, and he will not stand in her way.

Percy, Again (Why Not?)

Percy is an interesting character, and Trust begins the process of deepening and revealing the scope of her personality.  She is a late adolescent young woman, and this is only the first time she will connect with a young man who comes aboard the Tulip.  And the results are always sad for her.

By the way, reading these posts is a poor way to appreciate Percy Montana fully.  In fact, reading any words is an ineffectual method for accomplishing that goal.  I recommend watching the episodes, and I hope that this series of blog posts leads many readers thereof to do just that–in a legal way, of course.

I close with one more screen capture of Percy Montana.



I used the Power DVD program on my computer to obtain screen captures from the Starhunter series set I purchased at my local Best Buy store in 2007.

Posted December 10, 2010 by neatnik2009 in Starhunter (2000-2001)

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Starhunter–The Divinity Cluster (2000)   5 comments

Title Card for Starhunter


There are two main types of science fiction:  good and bad.  The latter consists of glorified shoot’em up scenarios and/or cardboard cutout characters.  The former, however, is intelligent.  Starhunter, an excellent Canadian series, fits into this category.

Let us begin with the main characters.

Rudolpho De Luna

Rudolph De Luna owns the ship Trans Utopian, called the Tulip for short.  He appears via transmissions, always at the beginning of each episode, as well as other times during episodes.  Rudolpho is generally mercenary, interested in profits, although he does not lack any human sensitivity.  He needs the money for various reasons, including expenses associated with parties and women.

Above:  The Trans Utopian (The Tulip)

The Trans Utopian is a ship far past its prime.  A large vessel, it is a former luxury cruise liner, but almost all of it is shut down because its three-person crew cannot maintain such a huge ship.  The interior is a bizarre combination of technology and faded Victorian grace, and the Tulip, as its crew prefers to call it, is often in need of replacement parts.

The Tulip is a character in its own right, as its A.I., Caravaggio, pictured below.


Given the small crew compliment, the role of the A.I. is crucial.  He does everything from play cards to maintain basic ship operations and handle communications.

Michael Pare as Dante Montana

Dante Montana, a bounty hunter, is a former farmer.  He has been a bounty hunter for ten years.  As he says in the voiceover during the opening montage, he is really looking for his kidnapped son, Travis.  A decade ago, Raiders (former special operations soldiers rendered sterile and in rebellion against civil authorities) killed Dante’s wife and kidnapped their son.  (The raiders, being unable to reproduce, add to their numbers kidnapping, which they call “liberation.”)  Dante is a dour and single-minded man.

Claudette Roche as Lucretia “Luc” Scott

Lucretia “Luc” Scott is the security officer Rudolpho has placed on board the Tulip.  She is quite capable of defending herself, given her military background.  Luc does have a vulnerable side, though.  She craves a simple dinner with her emotionally distant father, Darius.

Tanya Allen as Percy Montana

Percy Montana, Dante Montana’s niece, is a survivor of the attack that led to the death of Dante’s wife, Penny, and the abduction of Travis.  Dante is quite protective of her, rarely permitting her to leave the Tulip, of which she is the engineer.  Quirky, lonely, intelligent, and emotionally stunted, Percy sleeps with a teddy bear, changes the color highlights (often red and green) in her hair often, and can switch quickly from her tomboyish ways to girly-girlishness.  Nobody says, “Damn, I’m good!” so endearingly.  And she is about to become an adult, a fact of which Dante is aware.

Tanya Allen brings Percy Montana to vivacious life, and I like posting screen captures of her in the role.

Now, on with the story within the first episode, The Divinity Cluster.

Three million years ago, members of an alien species visited Earth and inserted four genes into the human genome.  These remain dormant and undiscovered until the Twenty-Third Century.

A vessel of this design appears later in the series.

The year is 2275.  Earth is barely habitable, although millions of people still live there.  Most humans live elsewhere in the solar system, in places ranging from Mars to terraformed moons of gas giant planets.  The solar system is divided politically into entities such as the Mars Federation, the Saturn Federation, and the Jupiter Federation.  Law enforcement in the stars can be as spotty as it was on Earth in the old days, so there is much demand for bounty hunters.


Dr. Eccleston is a geneticist unlike any other.  He can move from one side of a large room to another so fast that nobody can see him move, and he can levitate.  He also needs to inject himself with a mysterious substance frequently, when he experiences tremors.  Eccleston is a pioneer.  He is the man who discovered those four alien genes, which he calls the Divinity Cluster.  When humans have unlocked the secrets of the Cluster, he says, people will become as gods.  He can move so quickly and levitate because he has been activating his Divinity Cluster genes.

Early in the episode, Eccleston sends a very attractive female agent to kill a balding, middle-aged geneticist, who works for the Orchard.  What is the Orchard?  I am glad you have asked.

Darius Scott

The Orchard is an elite organization determined to control the Divinity Cluster.  Immediately, this means suppressing knowledge of its existence.  Eccleston, late of the Orchard, is a problem for them, for he intends to reveal the existence of the Divinity Cluster to the general public.

Darius Scott is in frequent contact with his daughter, Lucretia, whose real job on board the Tulip is to search for evidence of the Divinity Cluster.  He is one of the most sympathetic members of the Orchard, on organization of well-groomed people, most of whom are creeps not above assassination if they think that action justified.


MacDuff is an old friend of Dante, as well as Percy’s godfather.  A bounty hunter, MacDuff gave Dante his first bounty hunting assignment ten years ago.  In 2275, however, MacDuff has an inoperable cancerous tumor in his brain.  So he seeks money wherever he can get it, including the Orchard, which has hired him to track down Eccleston, who is on the Moonport at Earth’s natural satellite.

Dante needs the money, too.  Darius, via Luc, has offered the same job to Dante, who owes Rudolpho four years back rent.  Dante and Luc are about to track down Eccleston at the Moonport when the geneticist walks on board the Tulip with MacDuff and Percy.  Eccleston is in control, and even injects MacDuff with a substance that cures his cancer and removes the brain tumor.  Eccleston also takes the Tulip to Earth.

Debris Blown Off the Trans Utopian

Earth interceptors attack the Trans Utopian, causing more external damage, but Dante manages to get the ship to the homeworld intact.

New Los Angeles

Eccleston and Luc arrive at New Los Angeles, with Dante, Percy, and MacDuff close behind in the Trans Utopian.  The Tulip has just one functional shuttle, and Eccleston and absconded with it, so how else is Dante supposed to pursue Eccleston?

(By the way, the city is New Los Angeles because the “killer earthquake” of 2156 devastated the old city, which never recovered.)

Eccleston arrives at a New Los Angeles facility from which he can broadcast the existence of the Divinity Cluster to the general public.  Orchard paramilitary forces attack, but they cannot kill the mutated geneticist.  They can and do, however, destroy the transmitter, to terminate the broadcast.

Eccleston Entering Another Dimension

Eccleston enters another dimension.  He seems to die, as far as observers are concerned, but he reappears in episode #22 with a report from where he has been.  Most importantly, he is forever beyond the control of the Orchard.

Back on the Tulip, MacDuff departs and Dante resumes his quest for his kidnapped son.

This episode establishes the universe of Starhunter, a series that improves with repeated viewings.  Seemingly isolated episodes actually tie into each other and a conspiracy, the full scope of which becomes evident only in episode #22.  Many facts become plain during the season, and some of the pertain to Dante’s quest for his son.  Starhunter reflects rather tight plotting.

The series also has an edge.  As much as I like Star Trek in most of its incarnations, I recognize that Gene Roddenberry’s most famous franchise is rather “safe,” often to the detriment of good storytelling.  Our heroic characters have flaws, swear on occasion, are not always heroic, and find themselves trapped in circumstances beyond their comprehension.  Starhunter contains an atmosphere of paranoia borne of a vague awareness of skulduggery.  There is real peril for the human race, and the Orchard is not trustworthy.  The series has a realistic perspective on human nature.

The music of the series has become a regular part of the figurative stereo system between my ears.  The end credits cue is an especially memorable work of art.

If you, O reader, have not experienced Starhunter, I invite you to delve into it.



I used the Power DVD program to capture images from a legal and purchased DVD.

Posted December 9, 2010 by neatnik2009 in Starhunter (2000-2001)

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