Archive for March 2011

Starhunter 2300–Spaceman (2003)   1 comment

Tanya Allen as Percy Montana

EPISODE #5

The first three times I watched Spaceman I did not like it.  Parts of the story did not mesh in my mind.  Yet my opinion has become favorable with subsequent screenings. Spaceman is a well-written and acted mix of comedy and drama.  The levity offsets the darkness of the story, preventing it from becoming pitch black.

The Escape Pod

The Tulip, near Saturn, encounters a debris field, the remains of a ship, spread across 12,000 kilometers.  The identity of the vessel remains mysterious throughout the episode, but Spaceman, in its opening minutes, establishes a foreboding tone.  Why are there no records about which ship this might have been?  Furthermore, the pattern of destruction is consistent with an internal explosion, not an attack.  What happened?

Within the debris field is an escape pod inside which are lifesigns.  Percy suggest bringing the escape pod aboard.  But Rudolpho is cautious.  This is certainly dangerous, he says.  That escape pod is floating in space for a good reason, he cautions.  (He is correct.)

Beetles Retrieving the Escape Pod

But Rudolpho loses the argument.  Percy sends out robots (called beetles) to retrieve the escape pod, which goes into quarantine.

Mishkin

The escape pod opens, revealing a man inside.  He reaches out and grasps Percy’s arm before becoming unconscious again.

Percy

Percy greets the newly-conscious Mishkin in the infirmary.  He has amnesia.  She wants to help him, though, and he is eager to help her in return.  Percy takes him to the Bridge to speak to Travis.  On their way out, Percy and Mishkin bump into Marcus and Rudolpho, whom Mishkin touches.

At this point in the episode nobody is sure of Miskhin’s identity.  “Mishkin” is a name Caravaggio has found in records, but there are no details.  So the A.I. broadcasts a message asking for confirmation of the man’s identity.

Marcus and Rudolpho

Now odd events start to occur and people begin to act in ways inconsistent with their pasts.  Rudolpho plots a mutiny against Travis and recruits Marcus to join it.

Mishkin and Percy

There is a very different effect on Percy.

Travis picks up a signal (a child’s voice) from the debris field.  He and Callie take a shuttle to investigate it, but the shuttle’s power fails, leaving the small vessel to float inside the debris field.  They have followed a faked signal Marcus sent.

Marcus and Rudolpho

Travis and Callie call the Tulip, but Marcus and Rudolpho answer mockingly, breathing helium and saying “Help me!”

Travis and Callie

Travis and Callie demonstrate good chemistry during their time in the shuttle.  This is true throughout the episode.  Writing these words conveys the point, but watching the germane scenes is even better.

Callie, using her technical expertise, uses the emergency frequency to send a message to Caravaggio, who sends a mayday signal.

Meanwhile, back on the Tulip, Marcus turns on Rudolpho, making accusations against him and plotting against him.

Colonel Orlando

One Colonel Orlando contacts Travis and Callie.  He tells them that they and those who have been in physical contact with Mishkin are in great danger.  Orlando’s mission is classified, he tells them, but they should “sit tight,” for will be there soon.

Percy

Meanwhile, Percy awakens from her one-night stand, alone.  Where is Mishkin?  She enters the Bridge, where Marcus has declared himself the captain and set a new course for a Raider base on Io.  He threatens her and tells her that she needs to find Mishkin.

Percy

Off the Bridge, Percy learns from Caravaggio where Travis and Callie are.  The A.I. also informs her that Rudolpho is recovering from a brain pattern-altering infection in his quarters.

Travis and Callie

Percy contacts Travis and Callie, who pass along Colonel Orlando’s warning.  Percy, however, does not believe that Mishkin is dangerous.

Rudolpho

Rudolpho returns to normal in his quarters, just in time for Caravaggio, aware of the cause of the recent events on board, to return the Tulip to the vicinity of the debris field.

Mishkin and Percy

Percy finds Mishkin, who remembers everything.  He is dangerous, he tells her.  He is an escaped prototype of a military project called Trojan Horse.  If he does not leave the ship soon, Percy will die.  She believes him.

Travis and Callie

Colonel Orlando, at the debris field, sends another message to Travis and Callie.  He wants to know if they can hold out a little longer, for his top priority is to retrieve Mishkin, and the shuttle is deep inside the dangerous debris field.  Towing them out would cost valuable mission time.

Colonel Orlando Boards the Tulip

Marcus returns to normal–just one day after contact with Mishkin–immediately before Colonel Orlando and his soldiers board the Tulip.  Orlando comments that the fact that the effect is so short means that Mishkin is dying.  Orlando knows what he must do–isolate then destroy the man.

Colonel Orlando, Guilt-Ridden Father

Rudolpho wonders aloud why Orlando has this responsibility to kill Mishkin.  The colonel reveals that he is Mishkin’s father, that he permitted the military establishment to turn his brilliant offspring into a disease.  This is why Orlando has this responsibility and duty.

It seems that Mishkin is altered to disrupt a group from within.  But he cannot choose who he affects, friend or foe.  So he has left a trail of corpses in his wake.  This is why he must die–for the common good.

Percy, Who Can Never Find a Good Boyfriend

Orlando, however, must leave the Tulip, for Percy puts Mishkin back into the escape pod, which she launches.

Colonel Orlando

Orlando and his men follow the escape pod into the debris field, but their ship explodes during a collision.  The escape pod, however, survives.

And, on the Tulip, Percy and Rudolpho finally remember to haul the shuttle with Travis and Callie on board back in.

Roll the end credits, complete with the Peter Gabriel soundtrack.

The most compelling character in Spaceman is Colonel Orlando, whose duty to nation is to hunt and kill the son he sacrificed to said nation.  But what else can he do?  Actor Frank Moore, whom I recall primarily as Hubble Urich, from seasons 3-5 of Earth: Final Conflict (1999-2002), does some of his best work in this episode.  For a moment I believe that he is Colonel Orlando, not someone playing that character on television.

There are also some nice humorous moments between Travis and Callie on the shuttle.  And the fight between Rudolpho and Marcus at the end of the episode is amusing in its own way.

Percy, alas, is unlucky in love, again.  She is not really a people person.  This, however, is understandable, for she has been stuck on an old ship for all but a few years of her life.  She is, however, darker in mood than in the original Starhunter.  In that first series she showed more humor.  That, of course, was a different Percy, in a separate reality.  Nevertheless, Tanya Allen is always delightful to watch in a movie or a television episode.

Next:  Episode #6, Becoming Shiva.  Eco-terrorists, angered by chronic mistreatment of the Earth’s biosphere, lash out.  This episode marks a screen reunion of actresses Tanya Allen and Elisa Moolecherry, who appeared together in five episodes of The Newsroom (1996-1997).

Speaking of which, I propose a new game:  Six Degrees of Separation from Tanya Allen.  No offense to Kevin Bacon, but I prefer Tanya Allen.

KENNETH RANDOLPH TAYLOR

MARCH 31, 2011 COMMON ERA

All images are screen captures I obtained via the Power DVD program and my personal computer.  As always, I write these recaps and reviews to encourage people to watch the episodes, and to do so only in a manner consistent with U.S. copyright laws.

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Starhunter 2300–Chasing Janus (2003)   3 comments

Tanya Allen as Percy Montana

EPISODE #4

The Encyclopedia of Gods, by Michael Jordan (Facts on File, 1993) says that Janus was the Roman deity of past, present, and future, and that adherents considered him “specifically a benign intercessor in times of war.”  Furthermore, Janus was “responsible for gates, doorways, and of all beginnings.”  This information is especially germane when considering that Callista (Callie) Larkadia’s father’s name is Janus.

Strasser and Travis (with Callie in the Red Dress)

Chasing Janus opens with Travis and Callie on a job to arrest Strasser, a smuggler, on Clarke Station, near Jupiter.  Strasser, however, recognizes Callie and shoots her.

Percy Montana

Travis rushes Callie, who is injured severely, back to the Tulip, where the other crew members prepare an antiquated Twenty-First- Century cyronics tube.  But it leaks, and Strasser’s attacks on the Tulip complicate matters in the short term.  Callie being a Larkadia, Travis suspects that she has a blank (a brainless clone kept for purposes of spare parts) on Mars.  So he takes the Tulip to Callie’s home planet.

Janus Larkadia

Travis visits Janus Larkadia at the family residence at Olympus Mons City.  Janus tells Travis that there is no blank.  (This is a lie.)

Vesta Larkadia

Travis leaves.  Then Vesta Larkadia, Callie’s mother named after the Roman deity of fire and the hearth, argues with her husband.  We viewers learn of the estrangement between mother and daughter over Callie’s decision to become a bounty hunter.  The two women have not spoken in two years, we learn later in the episode.  In this scene we learn also that the Larkadias, despite their reputation for great wealth, have fallen on relative hard time.  But Janus vows to find a way to save his daughter’s life.

Callie’s Blank

Callie does have a blank.  Janus has one, too, as does Vesta.  But Janus has had to pawn them at great expense.

Vesta Larkadia and Strasser

Meanwhile, Strasser invades the grounds of the Larkadia estate and makes unveiled threats regarding Janus and Callie.

Nivinsky

Elsewhere, Janus tries to convince Nivinsky, who holds the lien on the family blanks, to help him save Callie’s life.  Nivinsky, being a cold-hearted man, announces his plans to foreclose on the blanks and to sell them for parts.  But he does offer a legally “murky” way of saving Callie, whose life is at risk in an unreliable cryonic tube aboard the Tulip.

Travis crosses paths with Strasser on Mars and a firefight ensues.

Travis Montana

But Mars security forces apprehend Travis and let Strasser get away.

They take him to see an unsympathetic detective, but Janus intervenes.  Callie’s father convinces the detective to let them consult criminal files via computer.

Strasser’s Real Identity Revealed

Travis knows that Janus lied about Callie not having a blank.  But Janus evades the questions.   Travis discovers, however, that Strasser is really Devak, an officially dead man who was part of Citadel Squad, whose corruption Callie exposed a few years ago.  Janus realizes that this was the man who spoke to his wife earlier in the day.  Callie’s enemies are his foes, too.

Percy Montana

Back on the Tulip, Percy and Marcus hear someone claiming to be from Mars customs inspections demanding to board the ship.  But Percy does not believe this claim is legitimate.  (She is correct.)  So she drives the false customs agent away by venting very cold carbon dioxide.

Travis and Rudolpho

Back on Mars, Janus has left Travis in the detective’s office.  Rudolpho arrives, and the detective says that the two of them can leave.  The two men split up temporarily.

Rudolpho pursues Janus, who is at an organ chop shop.  Casca, the unsavory man who runs the operation, insists on taking even Janus’ heart.  The man agrees, for this is the only way to raise the funds to buy back Callie’s blank and save her life.  Fortunately, Rudolpho comes to the rescue.

Then Strasser reappears and opens fire on Rudolpho.  Travis approaches from another angle and takes up the fight, which Rudolpho rejoins.  Finally, Travis subdues the officially dead man, whom Rudolpho takes into custody.

Travis and Nivinsky

Travis and Janus return to Nivinsky’s office, where Travis threatens Nivinsky with blunt force.  So Nivinsky agrees to release Callie’s blank for free immediately.  This happens just in time to save her life.

Callista “Callie” Larkadia

Janus visits the Tulip to see his daughter.  He is really proud of her and glad that she has found her place in life.  Travis suggests that he tell Callie this, for she knows none of it.  In private, Janus tries, but Callie rebuffs him.

Chasing Janus ends on a sad emotional note.  Yes, Callie will live, but she is not whole.  And neither are her parents, of whose actual financial state she is ignorant.  She has no idea how much her father was willing to sacrifice to save her from death.  True to his name, he has given her a future, but parent and child remain estranged.

We still haven’t worked out relationships in 2300.  Human nature is a constant, is it not?

KENNETH RANDOLPH TAYLOR

MARCH 28, 2011 COMMON ERA

All images are screen captures I took using the Power DVD program.  I encourage the viewing of Starhunter 2300 episodes only by means consistent with United States copyright laws.

Starhunter 2300–Biocrime (2003)   3 comments

Percy Montana

EPISODE #3

The solar system is a dark and gritty place filled with amoral and dangerous people in 2300.  Biocrime makes this point clear while revealing aspects of the characters of Marcus and Callie (mostly Marcus).  The early episodes of Starhunter 2300 establish who the new bounty hunters aboard the Tulip are with information that becomes important in subsequent episodes.  Thus, although Starhunter 2300, without the season-wide Divinity Cluster arc that ties Starhunter together, lacks the creepy conspiracy element of its predecessor, its stories do possess a continuity.

Biocrime opens with Marcus and Callie waiting for Travis at Syn City, Io, Jupiter Federation.  He is late.  They are convinced that this a purposeful personnel management technique, that he wants them to bond and tell each other that they are not so bad after all.  The two agree that they will not do this.

Taryn Orford and Marcus Fagen

Then Marcus and Callie rescue a young woman, Taryn Orford, an old friend Marcus knows from his days on the streets of Syn City.  Taryn, wrapped in a sheet, has been screaming for help and claiming that Father wants her and that Father is coming.  Callie, using her martial arts skills from Mars Special Forces, fends off the two men pursuing Taryn, who is terrified to a hospital, where, she says, Father will find her.

Taryn Raises an Arm to Travis Montana

Aboard the Tulip, Callie explains the situation to Travis.  Caravaggio says that Taryn is the victim of genetic modification.  About half of the unfortunate young woman’s body is turning into “something not human.”  There is also evidence that Taryn is a drug addict, and that she is the daughter of the influential Senator Orford, of the Mars Federation.

Taryn does not want anyone to notify her father, who disowned her years ago.  But Travis sees no alternative.

We learn from Callie that she also has a troubled relationship with her father.  She says that, if she were in Taryn’s place, her (Callie’s) father would lock her up in an asylum to prevent the embarrassment.

And Marcus is not eager to cross paths with Senator Orford again.  Marcus was able to escape the streets of Syn City with the help of Travis.  But Marcus, afraid of falling back into old ways, never returned to take his friend Taryn away.  While they were on the streets they looked after each other and abused drugs together.

So Senator Orford blames Marcus for much, including hooking Taryn on drugs–not that the Senator has done much prior to this episode to help his daughter.

Anyhow, the intrepid crew of the Tulip, with the help of Caravaggio the A.I., uncovers the sketchy information that is available on Father Abode, of whom Taryn is terrified.  Abode, of whom no image is on file, was an acolyte of Dr. Novak during the civil war on Callisto.  For more on Dr. Novak, follow this link:  https://neatnik2009.wordpress.com/2010/12/15/starhunter-the-man-who-sold-the-world-2000/.  Father Abode specializes in modifying people genetically for “sex and degradation.”  Abode’s victims are unwanted people, such as homeless drug addicts.

I said that the solar system in 2300 is full of amoral and dangerous people.

Senator Orford’s Transmission

Senator Orford contacts Travis and hires the crew to bring Father Abode in.  He also asks them to do what they can to help Taryn.  The Senator’s daughter, as it turns out, has maybe two days left unless someone can reverse the genetic modifications.  But Father Abode has the records of the genetic modifications.

Marcus blames himself for Taryn’s plight and spends much of the episode confessing and apologizing for his sins.  This emotional self-flagellation reaches new heights after Taryn slips into a coma.

Detectives Gus and Arnot

Senator Orford, recently arrived in the Jupiter system, meets with Travis and Callie at Syn City.  He thanks them for what they have done so far.  But he is not pleased to see Marcus again.  Travis stands up for Marcus, but Orford insists that Marcus not be involved in this case.  Then Orford introduces the bounty hunters to Detectives Gus and Arnot, whom he criticizes for not having found Taryn for the last two years.  The policemen deny incompetence or lack on industry on their part, but the Travis, Callie, and the Senator remain unconvinced.

Lumpy Goodwin

Marcus, although not on the case, as far as Senator Orford is concerned, decides to follow his own lead.  He contacts Lumpy Goodwin, the man from whom he and Taryn bought drugs, and goes undercover.  Marcus suspects that Lumpy sold Taryn to Father Abode, so he might be able to get to Father Abode via Lumpy.

Meanwhile, on the Tulip, Percy has the unenviable task of draining blood from parts of Taryn’s rapidly changing body.  Fortunately, camera angles and a sheet obscure this job.  During this process Percy asks Taryn where Marcus went.  (He did tell Taryn that he was going to find Lumpy.)  Somehow Taryn is able to blurt out “Lumpy,” just in time for Percy to inform Travis and Callie.  Travis recognizes that name and sets out to find Marcus.

Their timing is excellent, for one of the detectives informs Lumpy that a bounty hunter is on the way.  So Lumpy and his men imperil Marcus just as Travis and Callie burst into the room.  Travis points a gun at Lumpy and demands to know where Father Abode.  Lumpy denies knowing Father Abode, claiming, “I’m not a religious man.”  Travis answers, “Now would be a good time to start.”  And Callie, with her usual Mars Special Forces techniques, convinces Lumpy to contact Abode.

Travis, Callie, and Marcus take Lumpy to the brig aboard the Tulip.  Meanwhile, Taryn is dying.  And Detectives Gus and Arnot become nervous when they learn of Lumpy’s arrest.  They fear Father Abode’s wrath, so they plot to capture Travis and Callie, and to exchange them for Lumpy–then to kill the bounty hunters.

So time is running out.  Fortunately, before Callie had to leave Mars Federation Special Forces she “borrowed” some high-tech devices, including a tracking device the scanner for which Father Abode’s people do not possess.  She implants one into Travis, who tells them to follow him “with guns blazing” in one hour.

Travis, posing as Mr. Farrell, an associate of Lumpy, goes to meet Father Abode.  Abode’s men scan Travis and do not find the tracking device.  Then they render him unconscious.

“What’s in a name?”

Travis awakens to see a woman standing over him.  She identifies herself as Father Abode.  Enthusiastically she explains that she and her people can clone a person and even modify some genetically to be transgender and/or transspecies.  But “Mr. Farrell” says that all he wants is a clone–in this case of Callie.

Rudolpho and Callie leave to follow Travis, right on schedule.  But Detectives Gus and Arnot detain them.  They claim eventually that Rudolpho and Callie are interfering with a police investigation, at which point Rudolpho observes that finally they came up with a charge.  Gus and Arnot, dirty cops that they are, force Rudolpho and Callie to reveal where Travis is.  So now Travis is in danger.

Abode, aware of who “Mr. Farrell” really is, renders Travis unconscious and begins to modify him genetically.  Travis is horrified to learn of this when he wakes up.

Meanwhile, Rudolpho offers the promise of a bribe to Gus and Arnot, who let the bounty hunters go.  So the cavalry is off to the rescue.  The cavalry finds Father Abode, Travis, and the Callie clone, who is more solicitous than the actual Callie.  But the Callie clone does attack Abode, who threatens to harm Travis further.

The Callie Clone, Dead

The Callie clone dies, for she is a quickie clone incapable of surviving even the slightest injury.

The bounty hunters take Abode and the records of genetic modifications back to the Tulip.  There they are able to reverse the work done on Taryn and Travis.  Senator Orford seeks to reunite with his daughter, and Travis encourages her to give her father a second chance.  She agrees.

But, in the brig, Travis makes an unfortunate discovery.  He arrested a Father Abode clone, which dies in his custody.  The real Father Abode is still free and far away from Io.

So the ending is not entirely happy.

One of the reasons I like the Starhunter and Starhunter 2300 series is that they avoid artificial happy endings.  Despite their science fiction trappings, which may or may not foreshadow future reality, the series reflect an understanding of the darkness at the core of many people and the staying power of many problems.

At least Lumpy Goodwin will face justice.  Yet Detectives Gus and Arnot are still on the job.  And Father Abode is on the loose.  It is an imperfect society.

KENNETH RANDOLPH TAYLOR

MARCH 23, 2011 COMMON ERA

All images are screen captures I took using the Power DVD program.  If this post has caused you to want to view this or any episode, I encourage you to do so via method consistent with United States copyright laws.

Starhunter 2300–Star Crossed (2003)   2 comments

Percy Montana

EPISODE #2

With this post I return to Starhunter 2300 after taking a detour into Star Trek.  The two franchises are quite different, and each is wonderful in its own way.  Among the major differences is this: Starhunter is grim in comparison.

The music of Starhunter and Starhunter 2300 is also superior to that of most Star Trek episodes from the Berman-Braga (Bermaga) era.  Most post-Star Trek IV series (excluding Enterprise) had wonderful opening and closing themes, but usually the rest of the music was aural wallpaper remarkable only for how unremarkable it was.  Jay Chattaway, who wrote some wonderful episode scores (notably for the  Tin Man episode of The Next Generation), got fired because his music was so good.  In contrast, the music of Starhunter and Starhunter 2300 is almost always appropriate.  In this case, that means, grim. But I can still play the end credits music from both series in my head.  Each theme is wonderful.

Star Crossed is the second episode of Starhunter 2300.  One of the definitions of dramatic irony is that the audience knows something a character does not.  By that standard this episode is replete with irony, for characters aboard the Tulip are still learning about each other facts that observant observant audience members learned during episode #1, Rebirth.  But as the characters learn about each other we, the audience members, discover who they are.

Cira

The episode opens with a weapons deal that turns into a Raider clan (read:  gang) hit.  The lovely Cira and her lover, Dakkota 79, head of the Dakkota Clan, purchase Thorium 238 that members of the rival Varren Clan have stolen from the Prometheus Consortium.  Then the members of the two clans shoot at each other, and the Dakkotas kill the Varrens.  All of this occurs in an empty alley in Syn City, Io, Jupiter Federation.

Marcus Fagen and Percy Montana

The next day, aboard the Tulip, Percy gives Marcus a maintenance tour of the ship.  The tour concludes when Percy and Marcus arrive at a closed door, beyond which one might explore multiple decks, quarters, kitchens, ballrooms, and a baseball field.  But Percy does not have to maintain what she does not use.

Also, Rudolpho DeLuna spends much of the episode skulking around the ship and sending and receiving transmissions covertly.  He is communicating with Lou Tove, who functions as a middle man between Raider clans and bounty hunters who pursue former Raiders.  Is Rudolpho trying to sell out Travis?

Rhendal Ving

Rhendal Ving, of the Jupiter Federation, calls Marcus and offers him work pursuing the Dakkota clan members who killed the Varrens on Io the previous day.  Jupiter Federation could send its own agents to prevent a possible Raider clan war that threatens to destabilize the peace, but bureaucracy stands in the way of that plan.  So the government hires bounty hunters instead.

Travis Montana

Travis accepts the work–f0r 200,000 credits.  He needs the work, for nodody has paid the bounty on Jimmi Zavras (from the previous episode) yet.

Callista “Callie” Larkadia

Ving, who is hardly Mister Congeniality, recognizes Callie from her time in Mars Federation Special Forces.  She exposed the fact that members of Citadel Squad planted falsified evidence on people.  So even the notoriously corrupt Mars Federation government had to drum members of the Citadel Squad out of the force.  Callie insisted that nobody had to right to falsify evidence.  But Ving resented Callie’s actions, saying the people framed were guilty anyway.

Pay attention to the Citadel Squad plot thread, which will become later in the series.

Percy Montana

Marcus becomes the second mechanic on the ship.  (Percy cannot do everything.)  Percy, without much interpersonal skill (but still much more than Rhendal Ving can muster on a good day) assigns Marcus a periodic maintenance task.  Then the following exchange ensues:

MARCUS:  Do you mean to piss people off, or is it just second nature to you?

PERCY:  Second nature.

Percy lightens up slightly by the end of the series, but not quite yet.

Marcus discovers the existence of Rudolpho’s transmissions and informs Percy.  Shortly thereafter, Percy confronts Rudolpho and vows to expel him via airlock if his messages place the ship or anyone on board at risk.

Percy had to obey Rudolpho in Starhunter, when he owned the Tulip.  Now that she owns it, another side of her emerges.  Of course, each series exists in a universe parallel to the other, so this is really another Percy confronting a different Rudolpho.

Redus Fledder-John and Lou Tove

Marcus lets Lou Tove board the Tulip.  But Tove brings Redus Fledder-John, a bounty hunter specializing in former Raiders, with him.

Percy Montana

A shoot ensues.  Fortunately, Marcus and Percy know how to defend themselves.  Tove falls, but Fledder-John gets away momentarily.

Dakkota 79 and Cira

Meanwhile, back on Io, Travis and Callie go undercover to infiltrate the Dakkota Clan.  There Travis recognizes Cira, whom he knew from his time as leader of the Varren Clan.  They were attracted to each other in those days, but he refused to become involved with her, citing the fact that they came from different clans.  Cira is still interested in Travis, but now there is another wrinkle:  She is really a bounty hunter pursuing both the stolen Thorium 238 and Dakkota 79.  The Prometheus Consortium hired her.

Dakkota 79 records Cira reveal that she is a bounty hunter.  So he threatens to kill her slowly and painfully.  Fortunately, Travis and Callie rescue her and take Dakkota 79 into custody.

Redus and Percy

Back on the Tulip, Redus Fledder-John takes Percy hostage, with the other crew members in pursuit of him.  Travis and Callie return to the ship and join the pursuit.

Redus and Percy

But Percy employs her self-defense techniques.  Then Rudolpho shoots Redus dead.

Travis lets Cira claim the bounty on the Thorium 238, but he insists on collecting the 200,000 credits for Dakkota 79.  Cira is unhappy, but not entirely disappointed.  The two of them part, with her promising that they will meet again.

Rudolpho DeLuna

Rudolpho speaks to Travis, explaining that he did not betray the former Raider.  Actually, Rudolpho drew Tove (and Redus, as it turns out) into the open.  The former owner of the Tulip explains that he had to kill Redus, who knew who Travis was.

Rudolpho, although far from perfect, tries more often than not to do the right thing.  Percy seems less than convinced, however.  But as she said to Marcus earlier in the episode, she trusts nobody.  At least she has not spaced him, though.

Speaking of Percy…

At the beginning of Rebirth she washed the color highlights out of her hair.  So she spends Starhunter 2300 with entirely dark hair.  Her hair is not the only thing darker about her than in Starhunter, when she was more whimsical.  Then again, that was parallel-universe Percy.

Among my goals with these posts is to write a useful episode guide for the Starhunter and Starhunter 2300 series.  This furthers another purpose, which is to interest others in viewing these episodes via methods consistent with U.S. copyright laws.  So, if these posts interest you, O reader, watch the episodes, share the posts, and spread the word.

KENNETH RANDOLPH TAYLOR

MARCH 14, 2011 COMMON ERA

All images are screen captures I took from a legal DVD via the Power DVD program.

Star Trek: Deep Space Nine–Trials and Tribble-ations (1996)   3 comments

Commander Dax and Captain Sisko, Back in 2268

EPISODE #503 (COUNTING BEGAN WITH #401)

STARDATE UNKNOWN; FRAMING STORY SET IN 2373

1996 was the thirtieth anniversary of the debut of the original series.  It was a big year for Star Trek.  First Contact did well at the box office.  Who can forget Worf’s terse declaration, “Assimilate this!” followed by weapon fire?  That Fall Deep Space Nine entered its fifth season and Voyager its third.  Each series had a special thirtieth-anniversary episode.  Flashback, the Voyager episode with Captain Sulu, was lackluster, to state the case generously.  The fault for this lay entirely with the concept and the script.  But Trials and Tribble-ations was a fun and triumphant romp through The Trouble with Tribbles.

Starfleet Temporal Investigations Agents Dulmer and Lucsly

The episode opens with Starfleet Temporal Investigations agents Dulmer and Lucsly (their names based of Mulder and Scully) arriving on Deep Space Nine to question Captain Benjamin Sisko.  These agents have no sense humor.  They claim to hate jokes, and they give every impression of telling the truth about that.  They even dislike Commander Jadzia Dax’s quip that they are always on time.

Dulmer and Lucsly ask Sisko why he took the Defiant back in time two weeks previous.  Sisko explains that he did not.  The story goes like this:

Barry Waddle, a.k.a. Arne Darvin

Sisko took the Defiant to Cardassia Prime, for the Cardassian government wanted to return a Bajoran orb–in this case, the Orb of Time.  While there, Sisko took on a guest, one Barry Waddle, a merchant trapped on the planet during the Klingon invasion at the beginning of the fourth season.  Waddle says he is glad to be around humans again.  He even insults Klingons, saying that they smell foul.  Commander Worf finds this annoying, but Dr. Julian Bashir and Chief Miles O’Brien tell Worf that he smells very pleasant–even like lilac.

Waddle used the Orb of Time to take the Defiant through time–105 years, one month, and twelve days, to be precise–and space to Space Station K-7, where Captain Kirk is 18 hours away from exposing Waddle’s younger self, then known as Arne Darvin, as a Klingon spy.  Waddle/Darvin plots to assassinate Kirk with an exploding tribble.

The Starship Enterprise, Constitution Class, NCC-1701

These facts become clear during the episode.  First, however, Sisko and crew see Kirk’s Enterprise on their screen.

Sisko, Bashir, and O’Brien

Having begun to discover Waddle/Darvin’s plot, our heroes travel incognito in teams to the Enterprise and Space Station K-7.  They change clothing, Worf wears a hat that conceals his brow ridges, and they seek to locate Waddle/Darvin and to foil his sinister plot.

Our Heroes

So they begin to pass through the background of the familiar events of The Trouble with Tribbles.  Here the real fun begins.  Dax, O’Brien, and Bashir get 1960s hairstyles.  Bashir gets to say, “I’m a doctor, not a historian.”  O’Brien and Bashir become caught up in the bar fight, and O’Brien gets to lie to Captain Kirk.  He is thrilled, and wishes that his wife could have seen that.  Dax gushes nostalgically about “classic twenty-third century design” and notices that Spock is more attractive in person than in pictures.  And, in the K-7 bar, Odo, O’Brien, and Bashir quiz Worf about why Klingons of 2268 look different than those of 2373.  “We do not talk about it with outsiders,” Worf replies.

Odo, Uhura, and Chekov

Kirk and Spock with Sisko and Dax in the Background

The technical wizardry of Trials and Tribble-ations is evident in the integration of 1996 cast members into 196os footage.  Examine the two images above for evidence of this.

Tribbles on the Enterprise

And examine the image above carefully.  The man wearing a red shirt and playing with a tribble is David Gerrold, author of The Trouble with Tribbles.

Sisko and Dax

Odo and Worf return Waddle/Darvin to the Defiant, where he reveals his exploding tribble plot.  Sisko and Dax decide that staying close to Kirk is the best way to find said tribble.  This is an effective strategy, for they realize that the tribble bomb is probably in the grain storage bin at K-7.

Kirk is Safe

They find the tribble bomb, which Major Kira, aboard the cloaked Defiant, beams into outer space.

Kirk and Sisko

Before using the Orb of Time to return to 2373, Captain Sisko indulges himself.  As Lieutenant Sisko in 2268, he presents Captain Kirk with the next day’s duty roster and says what an honor it has been to serve with Kirk on special assignment.

(The original footage for this scene comes from Mirror, Mirror, another wonderful and legendary episode.)

Dulmer and Lucsly, satisfied, give Sisko and crew a pass.

Tribbles on Deep Space Nine

But they do not know that tribbles now infest Deep Space Nine.

Trials and Tribble-ations is an episode best enjoyed by viewing it, not reading a summary of it.  So, if I inspire you seek it out (in a way consistent with U.S. copyright laws, of course), I have accomplished my goal.

KENNETH RANDOLPH TAYLOR

MARCH 12, 2011 COMMON ERA

All images are screen captures I took via the Power DVD program.  Star Trek is property of CBS and Paramount Pictures.

Posted March 12, 2011 by neatnik2009 in Star Trek

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Star Trek–More Tribbles, More Troubles (1973)   2 comments

EPISODE #1A (PRODUCTION ORDER)

STARDATE 5392.4

The original Star Trek series ran for three years (1966-1969) on NBC.  The network cancelled the series the first time at the end of the second season, but a letter-writing campaign led to the third season.  Then NBC cancelled the series and never brought it back in live action.  The producer during the final season was Fred Freiberger, not Gene Roddenberry.  Freiberger, by the way, went on to kill Space: 1999 and The Six Million Dollar Man in the 1970s.  Roddenberry had planned to have a tribble episode in the third season, but Freiberger forbade such a comedy concept on his watch.  This is odd, given that he permitted Spock’s Brain, arguably the worst episode of the original series.

The Enterprise, Animated

Then the original series entered syndication and found new audiences after the 1969 Moon landing.  Demand for more programming grew, and NBC decided that a Saturday morning cartoon was in order.  So the animated Star Trek series ran from 1973 to 1975.  The first episode produced and fifth aired was More Tribbles, More Troubles, based on an episode planned for the third season of the original series.

Robot Ships Containing Grain for Sherman’s Planet

The Enterprise is escorting two robot ships full of containers of grain–quintotritocale, to be precise–to Sherman’s Planet, where there is a severe famine.  Quadrotriticale used to be the only Earth grain capable of growing on Sherman’s Planet (The Trouble with Tribbles), but that fact seems to have changed.

Klingons Fire on a Scout Vessel

The Enterprise breaks away from its escort duties to investigate a Klingon battle cruiser’s pursuit of a small scout vessel.  Kirk orders Scotty, who is manning the main Transporter Room, to beam the small vessel’s pilot aboard.  This is a good plan, for the Klingons destroy the scout vessel.  The Klingons also fire their new, mysterious weapon, a disruptor, at the Enterprise, interfering with the transporter, the engines, and all weapons temporarily.

Captain Koloth

Captain Koloth, last seen in The Trouble with Tribbles, demands that Kirk hand over the scout ship’s pilot, whom he claims is guilty of “ecological sabotage.”  Kirk refuses.  Besides, we the viewers know the pilot has not materialized yet.

A Damaged Robot Ship

Kirk, his weapons disabled momentarily, decides to use the robot ships to ram the Klingon battle cruiser from different sides.  The battle cruiser uses its new weapon until the ship’s power proves insufficient, so the Klingons fire conventional weapons at one robot ship, disabling it.  Then the battle cruiser veers off for a few hours, until its power builds up again.

Cyrano Jones and Tribbles

Scotty is finally able to materialize the pilot, who turns out to be Cyrano Jones.  And Jones has tribbles with him.  These tribbles, as McCoy confirms later, do not reproduce.  Jones has genetically engineered them so that they merely become fat when they eat too much.

Unfortunately, these tribbles are also pink.  Many items were pink in the animated series.  This fact made for unintentional comedy.  In a subsequent episode, for example, there were fierce alien warriors–in pink uniforms, flying around in a pink ship.  There is a simple explanation for these mishaps; the person in charge of assigning colors was colorblind.

The Glommer

Cyrano Jones was able to rid Space Station K-7 of its tribbles in far less than 17.9 years because he used the glommer, a predator.  (The glommer did its predation offscreen, for this was a Saturday morning cartoon.)  But Jones was still in violation of multiple Federation laws, so Kirk confined him to quarters until the end of the mission, at which point Kirk promised to turn Jones over to the appropriate authorities.

Containers of Quintotriticale in the Corridors

With one robot ship disabled, its cargo is now aboard the Enterprise.  There is so much grain involved that there are containers in corridors.  This is bad news when tribbles are on board.

Tribbles in the Quintotriticale

The Klingons attack again, disabling the other robot ship before targeting the Enterprise and knocking over containers of grain.  So tribbles begin feasting–and growing.

That is a Very Large Tribble.

The Klingons plan to board the Enterprise, but Kirk thwarts them.

That is Still a Very Large Tribble.

Tribbles in the Klingon Engine Room

Kirk orders Scotty to beam tribbles into the Klingon engine room, thereby filling it up.

Koloth contacts Kirk and reveals that the glommer is a genetically engineered tribble predator, the only one of its kind.  The Klingons want the glommer back; Jones is unimportant.  So Kirk orders Scotty to beam the glommer over to the Klingon battle cruiser.

The Glommer, Fleeing a Giant Tribble

But the glommer flees upon the sight of a giant tribble.

McCoy has learned that these new, sterile tribbles are actually colonies of tribbles.  He can inject a giant tribble with a chemical and reduce the colony to its component parts, truly harmless tribbles.  But the Klingons do not know this.  So Koloth fires at a giant tribble and…

…this results.

And, back on the Enterprise, a tribble colony buries Kirk.  But, as Scotty says, it is good if all your tribbles are little ones.

More Tribbles, More Troubles is a fun episode, one of the best of the twenty-two installments of the animated series.  Tribbles are always entertaining, as are the puns of the word “tribble.”  Yet some of the dialogue rehashes The Trouble with Tribbles awkwardly.  Why are Kirk and Jones repeating what both of them know, except to fill in young viewers who had not seen the live action episode?

The greater sequel to The Trouble with Tribbles is the subject of the last installment of this series of posts.  Trials and Tribble-ations (1996), from Deep Space Nine, is a note-perfect visit to the events of the original episode, as well as a technological wonder.  And its writers did not have work within the confines of a seven-year-old’s mentality.

KENNETH RANDOLPH TAYLOR

MARCH 10, 2011 COMMON ERA

The images are screen captures.  Star Trek is property of Paramount Pictures and CBS.  The animated series is available in its entirety via DVD and other means consistent with U.S. copyright laws.

Star Trek–The Trouble with Tribbles (1967)   2 comments

The Tribbles are Everywhere

EPISODE #42 (PRODUCTION ORDER)

STARDATE 4523.3

Let your geek flag fly high and proudly!  You know who you are, fellow classic Star Trek fan.  You can recite this episode line-by-line, can you not?  So can I.  Consequently, this post will contain fewer details than any given Starhunter summary and review, for example.  The Trouble with Tribbles occupies an iconic place in science fiction television, and I choose to focus more on impressions than content this time.  The Tribbles did reappear in an episode of the 1973-1975 animated series and one episode of Deep Space Nine.  I will devote substantial content to the plot summaries of those episodes when I come to them, in subsequent posts.

Here is the short version of the plot, with pictures:

Captain Kirk, after receiving a high priority, emergency-only distress signal from space station K-7, takes the Enterprise to the space station, located near the Federation-Klingon border.  K-7 is near Sherman’s Planet, ownership of which is under dispute between the Klingon Empire and the United Federation of Planets.  The Organian Peace Treaty dictates that the side capable of developing the planet more efficiently will win.

Nilz Barris

Kirk and company arrive, only to find no emergency.  Nilz Barris, Undersecretary of Agricultural Affairs, ordered the emergency signal.  Quadrotriticale, a wheat-rye hybrid, is the only Earth grain capable of growing on Sherman’s Planet, and K-7 has much of the grain on board.  Barris wants Kirk to place guards around the storage bins.

One very funny recurring joke in the episode is that Kirk is the only person who seems never to have heard of Quadrotriticale.  He keeps calling it “wheat.”

Arne Darvin

Barris is obnoxious.  He spends the episode threatening Kirk, who insults him repeatedly  in return.  But even more annoying than Barris is his aide, Arne Darvin.

Cyrano Jones Shows Lt. Uhura a Tribble

In a bar aboard K-7, traveling merchant Cyrano Jones gives a tribble to Lt. Uhura.  A tribble, of course, is a furball that coos for everyone except a Klingon.  Remember that fact.

Captain Koloth

Captain Koloth and his Klingon crew visit K-7 for shore leave.  They have this right under the Organian Peace Treaty.  (That is what you get when non-corporeal beings impose a treaty on the Federation and the Empire.)

Prelude to a Bar Fight

Enterprise and Klingon officers enjoy shore leave on K-7.  What could possibly go wrong?  Kirk orders Scotty to keep the peace.  So, when Korax, the Klingon ship’s Executive Officer, insults Kirk to Scotty’s face, the Chief Engineer refuses to start a bar fight.  But Korax’s comment that the Enterprise should be hauled away as garbage is too much.  Scotty throws the first punch.  As he tells Captain Kirk, later, it was a matter of pride.

Tribbles are Everywhere

About this time Kirk and crew discover how prolific tribbles are.  They reproduce ten-fold upon the act of eating more than the smallest morsel of food.  So tribbles overwhelm the Enterprise and its systems.

Kirk, Buried in Tribbles

And they have consumed the Quadrotriticale at K-7.

But the K-7 tribbles are mostly either dead or dying.  Someone has poisoned the grain.

Spock, a Tribble, and Kirk

Tribbles like Vulcans.  Spock says that tribbles must be perceptive animals.

Barris, a Tribble, and Kirk

Tribbles even like Nilz Barris.  Kirk concludes that there must be no accounting for taste.

But a tribble reacts to Arne Darvin as if he were a Klingon.  He is a Klingon altered surgically to appear Human.  But really, given the appearance of Klingons in the original series, that is not saying much.  A two-part episode of Star Trek: Enterprise offers an explanation for changing Klingon appearances over time, but that is beside the point here and now.

Oh, Darvin poisoned the grain.  But never fear, the Federation has other supplies of it.

Kirk and Spock force the smarmy Cyrano Jones, the man responsible for bringing tribbles to K-7 (and hence to the Enterprise) to agree to pick up every tribble aboard the space station.  Spock says this will take 17.9 years.  Kirk calls this “job security.”

The Happy Ending

Back on the Enterprise, Kirk realizes that there are no tribbles aboard the ship.  McCoy, Spock, and Scotty reveal that they collaborated to beam all of them into the Klingons’ engine room, where “they’ll be no tribble at all.”  Gotta love the pun.

That is not the only excellent pun in the episode.  In one scene, Spock says, “He heard you; he simply could not believe his ears.”

The best way to enjoy this, David Gerrold’s debut as a Star Trek writer, is to watch it.  Glances become important, as does tone of voice.  And, of course, timing is crucial in comedy.  The actors mastered comic timing.

This is light-hearted fun of the highest order.  It deserves its status as an extremely popular episode.  (It is my favorite.)  And it inspired two follow-ups–one animated and the other live action.  So, if it will not tribble you, I will write summaries and reviews of those, too.

KENNETH RANDOLPH TAYLOR

MARCH 6, 2011 COMMON ERA

The pictures are screen captures.  Star Trek is property of CBS and Paramount Pictures.

Posted March 6, 2011 by neatnik2009 in Star Trek

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