Archive for December 2010

Starhunter–Family Values (2000)   2 comments

The Tulip, Headed for Mars

EPISODE #3

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.

KENNETH RANDOLPH TAYLOR

DECEMBER 14, 2010 COMMON ERA

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

EPISODE #2

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.

KENNETH RANDOLPH TAYLOR

DECEMBER 10, 2010 COMMON ERA

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

EPISODE #1

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.

Caravaggio

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.

Eccleston

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

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.

KENNETH RANDOLPH TAYLOR

DECEMBER 9, 2010 COMMON ERA

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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