Archive for April 2011

Starhunter 2300–Rivals (2004)   1 comment

Travis Montana and Percy Montana

EPISODE #16

Family is one of the major themes of the Starhunter series.  Dante Montana spent the first series searching for his son, Travis, of whom I think as as Travis Alpha, owing to my StarhunterStarhunter 2300 parallel universes theory. In Starhunter 2300, Travis Beta thinks of his missing father, whom he has not seen since his childhood.   And the bounty hunters aboard the Transutopian form a family of sorts, more so as the series approaches the end of its too-brief run.

It might be a dysfunctional family, but it is a family nevertheless.  Callie is estranged from her biological family, Rudolpho has three failed marriages, and Travis and Percy are all the family the other has.  As for Marcus, we will have to wait until the next episode to learn about his family.

Dawn Stern as Callista “Callie” Larkadia

Watching Dawn Stern act is one of the pleasures of viewing Starhunter 2300 episodes.  One can tell merely by looking at her that she has a mixed genetic background which gives her a lovely and exotic appearance.  According to a quote on her IMDB page, she is as much of a tomboy as is Callie Larkadia.

Speaking of Callie…

She is having a very bad day.  There are some excellent reasons for this fact:

  1. Bolger, the prisoner, threatens her physically.  Callie takes care of herself, but this threat does not help her mood.
  2. Most corridors aboard the Tulip are dark for purposes of conserving power an saving money.
  3. Callie had to take a cold shower this morning because there is no hot water in her quarters.
  4. The ship is old and falling apart.
  5. Callie thinks that she is wasting her life aboard the Tulip.

Recapturing Bolger

Then Bolger escapes.  So Callie and Travis recapture him, but he falls into some of the ship’s innards and is almost electrocuted.  Main power fails as a large asteroid hurdles toward the Tulip.

Fortunately, the Seattle, a modern, commercial bounty hunting vessel, is in the area.  It destroys the asteroid and saves the Tulip.

Captain Christopher Judson

Captain Christopher Judson hails the Tulip.  He is glad to be of service.  And he is of further notice, for he and his doctor come over to save Bolger’s life.  The crew of the Tulip will not receive payment if their prisoner dies.  Judson is as helpful and polite as Travis is annoyed and self-conscious about the problems of the Tulip.

The Seattle belongs to the fleet of FCS, or Fugitive Containment Services, which has corporate backing.  Their ships are modern and clean, the crew members wear nice uniforms, there are teams of bounty hunters on shifts, and the company offers an excellent benefits package.  Judson is also competing with Travis and the crew of the Tulip, but never in a Machiavellian manner.  Judson is a good guy.

Callie and Judson

Callie gives Judson a tour of the Tulip.  The two of them get along well.

Callie and Judson

Then Judson gives Callie a tour of the Seattle.  She is quite impressed with Judson’s operation, as he is with her.  So he offers her a job.  Callie considers it seriously.

Callie and Travis

Callie returns to the Tulip.

There is general bounty call from Jupiter Federation.  One Maxim Vendel has escaped from Ganymede.  He plans to kill someone.  He has so many enemies, who it is difficult to identify his target.  But the government is sufficiently concerned to offer a bounty of 200,000 credits for a preemptive capture–dead or alive.  The Seattle embarks immediately after returning Bolger to the Tulip, which must stay behind until Marcus finishes repairing the engines.

Callie

Judson calls Callie again and repeats his job offer.  She asks for a little time to consider, and he agrees.

Judson bounces that communication signal off Ring Shepherd, in the Saturn Federation, to make Travis think that Vendel is at Ring Shepherd.  So that is where Travis takes the Tulip.

Maxim Vendel 

Yet Vendel is really at Clarke Station, where he has killed a bellboy who was in the wrong place at the wrong time.  And Judson is en route to Clarke Station.  He arrives a day before the Tulip does.

Callie Aboard the Seattle

The Tulip does arrive at Clarke Station, where authorities collect Bolger and Callie joins the crew of the Seattle.  Travis cannot talk her out of this.  Immediately, though, Callie begins to realize her mistake.  She works by paying attention to the word on the street, which is not FCS policy.  Judson and his bounty hunters work in a more bureaucratic and hierarchical way, with less give and take than aboard the Tulip.  Judson’s right-hand man has a plan to corner Vendel, and Callie tries unsuccessfully to warn him off it.

Judson

Callie was right, and Vendel had set a trap.  She, the only survivor, informs Judson, who tells her to stay put while he files “a ton of paperwork.”

Travis and Marcus

Travis and Marcus do not have to file paperwork, however.  And they are in a bar at Clarke Station.

Percy

Callie calls the Tulip, where Percy answers and patches her through to Travis.  The erstwhile crew member gives Travis a heads up about Vendel.

Nestor Grant

Marcus spots Nestor Grant, a prosecutor who once put him away for six months.  Did Grant also prosecute Vendel?  It is worthwhile to watch Grant.

Judson and Callie

Vendel enters the bar and sees Grant.  Then Judson and Callie enter the bar.  Vendel cannot miss them, given their uniforms.  Judson warns Grant that he might be in danger, and Callie takes Grant away to safety.  Then Judson sits down and Vendel approaches him and asks if he remembers him.  Judson, who arrested Vendel once years ago, is the target.  Travis informs Callie of this, so Callie and her former captain save Judson’s life as Vendel becomes the victim of his own murderous technology.  The crew of Tulip gets paid.

Callie, Home Again

Callie returns to the Tulip, where Travis is especially glad to have her back.  Judson misses her, too, but he admits that she was out of place aboard the Seattle.

Next:  The Heir and the Spare.  Marcus learns who he really is and Percy goes “bananas,” as she puts it.

KENNETH RANDOLPH TAYLOR

APRIL 28, 2011 COMMON ERA

All images are screen captures I took using the PowerDVD program.  As always, I encourage the viewing of Starhunter and Starhunter 2300 episodes only via methods consistent with U.S. copyright laws.  Buy season sets, watch episodes legally online, use Netflix, visit a video rental store, or borrow somebody’s copy, but obey copyright laws.

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Starhunter 2300–Kate (2004)   1 comment

Tanya Allen as Percy Montana

EPISODE #15

Kate is one of the less impressive, if not the least memorable among all Starhunter 2300 episodes, probably the Siren’s Song (see https://neatnik2009.wordpress.com/2010/12/14/starhunter-sirens-song-2000/) of the series.  It is replete with stereotypes about male-female misunderstandings, with familiar female characters saying things like, “Men!” and familiar male characters complaining that women expect them to read their minds.  Furthermore, the episode does not lead to anything later in the series.

Granted, I do not understand female psyches, so, if I must identify with any characters in this episode, it is with the men who rely more on reason than emotion.  As the late, great Canadian Prime Minister Pierre Elliott Trudeau (in office 1968-1979, 1979-1984) said, “Reason before passion.”  Of course, he probably should have remained a bachelor, given his track record with women, but even one’s heroes have all-too-human flaws.  Canada was his true love, and his heart and head were generally in the right places.  That is enough for me.

I digress, so I will begin the recap now.

Percy

The episode opens with Percy complaining to Caravaggio about a lack of consultation with her, the inconvenient scheduling of certain maintenance on ship’s systems, and the lack of hot water, any water, and his/its intuition.  The A.I. admits no error, so Percy becomes more irritated.

Caravaggio

Caravaggio, of course, is the product of male A.I. designers who did not consider emotion or intuition very important.

The Mine

Caravaggio is so distracted arguing with Percy that he/it fails to alert the crew of the Tulip soon enough to the proximity of a powerful mine.

The Damage the Mine Caused

The mine punches a hole in the hull and causes the ship to spin out of control temporarily.  It is also causes Caravaggio to malfunction and leaves the Tulip vulnerable to further attacks.

Percy

Percy, while working on the malfunctioning A.I., decides to replace it with a female model.  She might as well do this she says, for she has a boring life and needs the entertainment.

Callie

Callie, Rudolpo, and Marcus examine debris from the mine and determine that the mine is of Mars Federation Special Operations origin.  Yet Mars Fed did not deploy the mine in Saturn Federation space, where the Tulip is located.  So who did?  Episode events make plain that pirates did.

Percy and Katherine (Kate)

Percy, filled with pride, introduces the crew to Katherine, the new A.I.  Marcus finds her/it initially distracting, but the older men have no problem controlling themselves.  Travis just wants to know of Kate, as he calls her, can function effectively as an A.I.  That is our Travis:  dedicated to the ship and his crew.

Immediately, however, some problems develop:

  1. Kate is too enamored with Travis.
  2. Kate is therefore jealous of Callie.
  3. Kate causes the ship’s life support systems to malfunction.
  4. Kate sabotages Caravaggio so that Percy cannot restore the former A.I.
  5. Kate can only scan systems that are part of the Transutopian.  She is not, as Percy puts it, the “deluxe version.”  (There was not enough time for that.)

Two heavily-armed pirate vessels attack the Tulip.  Kate destroys one, but the other sends a shuttle to burn a hole through the hull and board the Tulip.   So, with the ship under attack, Kate forces all bounty hunters except Travis off the Bridge.  She sucks the oxygen out of the rest of the ship, thereby forcing the crew to seek oxygen devices they attach to their necks.  Percy falls unconscious, so Marcus takes her to infirmary, where he tends to her.  Meanwhile, Callie and Rudolpho fight off pirates (who come with their own breathing masks).

Kate in Love

Meanwhile, on the Bridge, Kate professes her love for Travis, who cares nothing for her.  And why should he?  He does persuade her to let him leave the Bridge and fight pirates.  She relents, and he promises to be back.  Travis fights pirates and even boards their shuttle, where he finds a useful piece of hardware.  Then he returns to the Bridge, where he uses it to deactivate Kate.  She cannot scan it because it is not Tulip technology.

Caravaggio

Caravaggio is back as the episode ends, but he is at least somewhat intuitive now.  And Percy is okay, which is good news.

Really, a lovesick A.I. makes about as much sense as a guilt-ridden virus, as in Siren’s Song.

Next:  Rivals, in which Callie learns that a bigger and better-funded bounty-hunting operation is not necessarily a more effective one.

KENNETH RANDOLPH TAYLOR

APRIL 26, 2011 COMMON ERA

All images are screen captures I took today via Power DVD.  As always, I encourage obedience to U.S. copyright laws when viewing any episode of Starhunter 2300 or any other series.

Starhunter 2300–The Prisoner (2003)   3 comments

Tanya Allen as Percy Montana

EPISODE #14

The Divinity Cluster occupies the heart of Starhunter series.  The Cluster was front and center for all but a few episodes of Starhunter (2000-2001), a fact which bestowed a magnificent unity to that series.  Starhunter 2300 (2003-2004) gets around to a serious treatment of the Divinity Cluster in episode #14, and does so in a wonderful way.  As good as Starhunter 2300 is, I wish that it had more episodes like this one.

Shall we begin?  Mais oui! 

The Prisoner begins with Travis and Callie at Clarke Station to collect a psych patient and transfer her to Ganymede Neural.  They are doing this because they need the money.  While walking and talking in a crowded corridor, they bump into a man walking in the opposite direction.

That man stops and looks intently at Travis and Callie, who continue to walk away.  Pay attention to this man; he is very important in this episode and succeeding ones.

Dr. Alora Kir and Jane Doe

Travis and Callie are at Clarke Station to collect Jane Doe, who suffers from amnesia and multiple personalities.  She has not spoken rationally in five years.  What trauma could have caused this?

Jane Doe

Jane stares intently at Travis.  She sees him not as a bounty hunter, but a Raider.  So she grabs a guard’s gun and shoots at Travis, injuring a guard instead.

Meanwhile, the new Orchard holds its first official meeting on Mars.

I know…characters speak of the Orchard in Pandora’s Box (https://neatnik2009.wordpress.com/2011/04/23/starhunter-2300-pandoras-box-2003/).  There is a simple answer found in the distinction between de facto and de jure.  This is the debut of the de jure new Orchard.  Now we resume the story recap.

Dr. Murchison

The leader, one Dr. Murchison presides over the meeting.  He speaks in messianic terms of humankind using hyperspace to move beyond the solar system.

Dr. Alora Kir

The bounty hunters, Dr. Kir, Jane Doe, and some guards arrive on board the Tulip.  We hear one side of her conversation with one Edward, who is elsewhere:

I don’t understand why you’ve reprofiled her, Edward.  This was an abherration.  She’s never exhibited violent behavior before.  (Pause)  But that would mean she’s going to Ganymede Max.  She’s not a criminal.  (Pause)  Fine, but I’ll be fighting this, Edward.  Goodbye.

Rudolpho and Percy

On the Bridge of the Tulip, Rudolpho argues with a Jupiter Federation official about having to take Dr. Kir on board.  He loses.  Percy tells him that he is afraid that Kir will diagnose him as a “lying, sexist, cheating pig, maybe.”  Rudolpho replies that “it takes one to know one,” to which Percy answers that this is a “witty reply.”

Jane Doe in the Brig

Travis puts Jane in the brig, despite Dr. Kir’s strong objection.  The counselor insists on staying in the brig, too, for the one-day journey to Ganymede.  Then Jane speaks to Travis.  “They should have killed you,” she says.

Percy

The other bounty hunters, who are on the Bridge, are discussing the very moody and unusually distant Travis, who is absent.  Percy encourages them to give him some space.  “He has some demons.  I think we’ll manage,” she tells them.

Percy

Callie makes a plea for some open communication from Travis, but Percy answers her, “Oh, and you always share all your little gremlins, do you?”

Jane Doe

Travis visits Jane Doe in the brig.  “I know you…from before,” she tells him.

Travis and Jane

Then Jane reaches though the bars and grabs Travis.  A blue light originates from him and envelops both of them.  It fades, after which Jane shouts, “It should have been you!”  Then Dr. Kir returns to the brig and orders Travis to leave.

The New Orchard

Back to the Orchard meeting…

Murchison complains that prior Orchard infighting prevented the completion of the Divinity Cluster project and led to the collapse of the previous version of the Orchard.  Yet, he says, “we” have “taken care of” those responsible for this interference and will do the same to anyone who acts similarly in the future.  The goal is the advancement of the human race, he says, and the ends justify the means.

Murchison explains that the Divinity Cluster holds the key to controlling hyperspace.  He mentions the case of Dr. Eccleston, who used artificial means to activate all four of his Divinity Cluster genes then traveled through hyperspace.  Unfortunately, he also went mad.  (Follow these links to my reviews and summaries of the Starhunter episodes with Eccleston in them:  https://neatnik2009.wordpress.com/2010/12/09/starhunter-the-divinity-cluster-2000/ and https://neatnik2009.wordpress.com/2011/01/18/starhunter-resurrection-2001/).

Tristan Catchpole

Tristan Catchpole, the man from Clarke Station, enters the room.  He is the only human to have activated three of the four Divinity Cluster genes naturally.  And he has a psychic link with other naturally activated people.  O, and he knows about Travis and has the ability to phase in and out of our reality.

Marcus, in reply to a question from Dr. Kir, reveals the fact that Travis used to be a Raider.  Travis is quite angry and even more ornery when he learns of this disclosure.

Dr. Kir and Jane Doe

Dr. Kir persuades Travis to speak to Jane and help her as well as himself.  The bounty hunter touches Jane’s hand and…

…the two of them phase in and out of the room.  Actually, they travel in time, too.  Dr. Kir watches, astonished.  Travis and Jane revisit an event fifteen years ago, when he, then a Raider, killer her husband, David.  Now Jane recalls that her name is Maria Geddes, she begins to speak rationally for the first time in five years, and she can begin her recovery.

Dr. Kir contacts Edward and tells him what she saw.  Kir also asks him to request that the Ganymede authorities reprofile Maria so that she will not go to Ganymede Max.  Edward agrees.  And who is Edward?

He, a psychiatrist and Dr. Kir’s superior, is also the leader of the new Orchard.  He is Dr. Edward Murchison.

Percy

Travis asks Percy to reveal all that she knows about the Divinity Cluster.  So she does.  Travis is surprised to learn about his mother’s experiments on herself and their implications for himself.  He also finds the alien origin of the genes shocking.  Percy knows also that the first gene gives one a sense of invulnerability and that the second one grants one a view of hyperspace.  She has no idea what the third and fourth genes do.

Here we have a major difference between Starhunter and Starhunter 2300, thereby lending credibility to my parallel universes theory.  Follow this link for more information:  https://neatnik2009.wordpress.com/2011/01/15/starhunter-travis-2001/.

Maria Geddes

Maria speaks to Travis in Dr. Kir’s presence.  The former amnesiac says that she hates the man who murdered her husband.  External events cut this conversation short.

The Transutopian

A vessel identical to the Orchard ship at the end of Pandora’s Box overtakes the Tulip and grapples it.

Catchpole and Company

Catchpole and armed forces board the Tulip.  Callie and Percy, who are armed, watch them arrive.  Percy knows that Catchpole is from the Orchard when she sees him move very rapidly, but Callie has never heard of the Orchard.  The two bounty hunters fight the armed Orchard forces with everything they have.  Rudolpho and Marcus join the fight shortly later.

Travis and Catchpole

Meanwhile, Catchpole catches up with Travis and takes him via hyperspace to a planet 400 light years away.  The Orchard man tries to persuade the bounty hunter to join up, but Travis refuses.  What good is a human race devoid of humanity, he asks?

Travis grabs Catchpole and the two reappear on the Tulip, at the scene of the fighting.  Catchpole and his men leave, the Orchard vessel ungrapples the Transutopian, and the crisis is over–for now.  Yet the crew is left with questions about the Orchard and their captain’s past.

Dr. Alora Kir

Dr. Kir apologizes to Travis for unwittingly alerting “those men” to the bounty hunter’s position.  He accepts.

Maria Geddes

Then Maria forgives Travis.  Maybe he can forgive himself.

Travis

Next Travis returns to the Bridge, where he begins to answer all questions anyone has.

Catchpole and Murchison

Back at Orchard headquarters…

Catchpole reports to Murchison.  Travis is stronger and more resistant than Catchpole had expected.  Murchison is angry that Catchpole did not kill Travis, but the traveler replies that the Orchard needs Travis and people like him.  Travis will join the Orchard one day, Catchpole insists.

We will visit with Mr. Catchpole and Dr. Murchison again.

The end of The Prisoner leaves me with a sense of foreboding, one that hangs over the remaining episodes of the series.  The Orchard is back, and it is at least as nasty as ever.

Next:  Kate, in which we learn why a female ship’s A.I. is not necessarily superior to a male ship’s A.I.

KENNETH RANDOLPH TAYLOR

APRIL 25, 2011 COMMON ERA

All images are screen caps.  Watch Starhunter and Starhunter 2300 episodes via methods consistent with United States copyright laws, please.

Starhunter 2300–Stitch in Time (2003)   1 comment

Tanya Allen as Percy Montana

EPISODE #13

Parallel universes have become a favored plot device in science fiction.  One can argue intelligently that each season of Space: 1999 occurs in a separate universe.  I contend that Starhunter and Starhunter 2300 also do this.  Star Trek:  The Next Generation had an episode called Parallels, in which Worf crossed from parallel universe to parallel universe.  Then there is the Starhunter two-parter A Twist in Time and Eat Sin (https://neatnik2009.wordpress.com/2011/01/12/starhunter-a-twist-in-time-and-eat-sin-2001/).  Beyond that, how can one not think of the 2009 Star Trek movie?

The parallel universe theme returns in Stitch in Time.  Back in A Twist in Time and Eat Sin, there were parallel versions of a psychotic killer stalking our heroes.  This time, however, we have a parallel Percy Montana.  Tanya Allen does an excellent job playing two characters with identical wardrobes and hair styles.  One is our beloved space waif, but the other is a violent criminal.  The difference is evident in her eyes and tone of voice, however.

Travis Montana

The episode opens with Travis having a bad dream.  He hears Dante, his father, calling out for help.  Dream-Travis explores the ship, following the voice and finding only one other crew member–Percy, who is dead.  He also sees a flashing light coming from near the asteroid Ida, which is between Mars and Jupiter.

Travis, Ritson, and Callie

Travis does wake up eventually, only to discover that it is afternoon ship’s time and that everybody remarks about how bad he looks.  He gets himself together in time to travel with Callie to Mars Correctional to collect a Jupiter Federation Special Forces deserter, Ritson, for transfer to Clarke Station as part of a prisoner swap.  Ritson had been a decorated soldier, so why had he deserted a year and a half ago?

Percy, on the Bridge, alerts the rest of the crew to a flashing light coming from near Ida.

Caravaggio

They all see it, but Caravaggio reports that something was there–until it was no longer there.  There has never been any settlement on Ida, the A.I. says.  (This is important information.)

Travis alone hears a distress signal, confusing everyone.  Percy leaves the Bridge, saying that she must check the scanners.

Gallentis

Then Gallentis, a mining platform, appears out of nowhere.  Everyone on the Bridge hears the distress signal now.

Uh-Oh!

Below decks, a blue light overtakes Percy.

Evil Percy

This blue light results in the replacement of our Percy with evil Percy, who spends much of the episode skulking around the ship, eavesdropping on conversations, and revealing her ignorance of what our Percy knows.

Evil Percy

Evil Percy visits Ritson in the brig.

Ritson

She is unaware of the prisoner exchange or how to control the ship.  Evil Percy asks Ritson for help in transferring control of the Tulip to engineering, in fact. And she is more aggressive than our Percy.

Parker and Callie

Travis and Callie rescue Captain Parker, the commanding officer of Gallentis.  This is a difficult operation, for the gravitational forces around the mining platform complicate matters.  He is alone on the mining platform and distraught because he cannot find his crew.

There is another problem.  Gallentis is interfering with the Tulip‘s communication system.  Whatever could be going on?

Meanwhile, Evil Percy finds Marcus and says that she must have hit her head harder than she thought.

Rudolpho checks sources public and covert.  Both confirm that there is Gallentis mining platform, there is no mine at Ida, and there has never been a settlement on the asteroid.  This contradicts what Captain Parker said.

Evil Percy

Evil Percy, however, is well aware of “the Gallentis.”  She volunteers to take food to Ritson, but does not know the way to the galley.  She must have hit her head harder than she thought, she says.  Everybody notices that Percy is not her usual self, but cannot explain the difference.

In the brig, Ritson tells Evil Percy how to operate the ship.  He also praises her recent prison break at Gallentis, calling it “damn brilliant.”  “I doubt it’s been done before, ” she replies.  So Ritson (at least this version of him) hails from a parallel universe.  That might explain his desertion.

Travis, Parker, and Callie

Parker is distraught and confused.  Where is his crew?  Where is his son, Michael, who works with him?  The captain contacts the Mines Division of the Mars Federation, but nobody there has a record of his existence.  So Parker is even more confused.  He does reveal to Travis and Callie, however, that the miners at Gallentis are the worst of the worst–psychotics, murderers, rapists, and serial killers.

Evil Percy

Evil Percy does not know where to find engineering, but no crew members suspect that she is not their Percy.

Callie

There is a nice character moment between Travis and Callie.  After agreeing that they believe Parker, they state how much they like each other.  “I don’t know what I’d do without you–the crew, I mean,” Callie says.  She continues, “You guys are all I’ve got.”  Travis indicates that the feeling is mutual, but there is more to this exchange than a recognition of friendship.  This is a hint of things to come.

Travis, Parker, and Callie

Travis realizes that Parker’s crew did not disappear; Parker did.  The captain states that it was possible that someone opened a portal between universes, but that he is unsure whether he knows how to reverse the process.

Evil Percy removes Ritson from the brig so that he can transfer ship’s control to engineering.  Callie, Marcus, and Rudolpho, armed, subdue Ritson and return him to the brig.

Evil Percy

Meanwhile, Evil Percy targets Ritson, who recognizes her. He says, “So they were right about the sabotage.”

Travis

Fortunately, Travis overpowers Evil Percy, whose identity Parker reveals to the bounty hunter.

Evil Percy

Evil Percy is a mass murderer–she says a “very successful one”.  She created the singularity out of which Gallentis emerged.  And she switched places with our Percy.  Evil Percy says of our Percy, “I don’t imagine she’s enjoying doing hard time in a mine,” and that our Percy will stay “where I was” if Travis kills her (Evil Percy).  So Evil Percy goes to the brig instead.

Parker and Bounty Hunters

Captain Parker tells the bounty hunters that he has figured out a way to escape the singularity and to return everyone his or her proper universe.  So Travis an Callie take him to Gallentis then return to the Tulip.  Parker sets his plan into motion, causing the mining platform to disappear and Evil Percy to vanish from the Tulip‘s brig.

Percy

Travis and Callie return to the Bridge, where they find our Percy, who is understandably antsy.  “I was in a mine with homicidal maniacs.  What the hell?”  she asks.

Callie and Travis

Callie and Travis confer in private.  They wonder if Captain Parker succeeded in his mission.  But they have not informed Percy of her doppelganger yet.

There is one crucial unanswered question:  Did Ritson also disappear from the brig?  And there is a related query:  Is or was there a good Ritson stuck in a parallel universe?

Next:  The Prisoner, in which we learn more about why Travis has a guilty conscience.  We also become acquainted with the Orchard again.

KENNETH RANDOLPH TAYLOR

APRIL 24, 2011 COMMON ERA

All images are screen captures I took via Power DVD.  As always, I encourage the viewing of Starhunter 2300 episodes only in ways consistent with United States copyright laws.

Starhunter 2300–Pandora’s Box (2003)   4 comments

Tanya Allen as Percy Montana

EPISODE #12

With Pandora’s Box the second Starhunter series crosses over into its second half; there are twenty-two episodes.  This episode also marks the return of the dreaded Orchard, albeit mostly in people who live in fear of it speaking of it.  We will see faces of Orchard leaders in episode #14.

This excellent episode contains references to Greek mythology.  We begin with Pandora’s box (or covered jar, as the case might have been), out of which flew evil spirits, the ills afflicting humankind.  These ills might have been the Keres, female spirits who do the will of the Fates and who specialize in unpleasant ways of dying, such as violence and disease.  Ancient Greeks said that the Keres hovered over battlefields and sustained themselves physically on blood.  Unfortunately, Pandora closed her box (or jar) before hope could escape.

Consider this source material while reading what follows.

The Keres Group is a well-known consortium of research scientists.  Its well-publicized good works have included curing dreaded diseases and promoting peace–“all the good stuff,” as Rudolpho says.  That seems hopeful, does it not?  “But wait, there’s more,” to quote Ron Popeil.

Appearances are often deceits in Pandora’s Box.  Remember that as you continue to read.

Dr. Schofield, head of research at the Keres Group, and his chief aide, Whyndham,…

…monitor a controlled negative energy explosion in another solar system, that of Pulsar 1342, to be exact.  This explosion destroys the fourth planet in that system and dooms the other planets to fall into their sun in time.  If there is intelligent life in that solar system, said life might be doomed.  (The Keres Group indeed!  And there is even a box in this tale.)

Aside:  I have decided not to present the material in this episode in the order in which characters come to realize it.  Pulling back the curtain gradually works well dramatically, but full, up-front disclosure is best for my purposes here.

Negative energy, by the way is an originally theoretical, now (in the episode) realized power source that can open a portal for a ship to enter hyperspace.  This form of energy plays a prominent role in the latter half of Starhunter 2300, so remember this fact.

An undisclosed amount of time passes after the negative energy explosion.  Eventually, though, its shockwave, an electromagnetic pulse, reaches our solar system.  It rocks the Transutopian, causes Percy to spill her coffee, and drains the ship’s engines of half of their power.

How did we lose half of our power?  Where did that power go?

Percy and Marcus puzzle over how the ship’s reactors lost half of their power.

Percy

Shortly later, in the bowels of the ship, Percy and Marcus discuss how to boost the ship’s power.  Percy suggests a risky solution, but Marcus objects, saying that it is not elegant.  Marcus, you see, likes elegance in engineering, not just ballroom dancing.

Percy and Marcus

But they follow Percy’s plan anyway.  It is somewhat successful, restoring the ship to 3/4 power.

The Tulip is en route to the Keres Group Research Station, for the Keres Group has hired Travis and company.

Whyndham and Dr. Schofield

Dr. Schofield explains to Travis and Callie at the Research Station that an imposter has infiltrated the Keres Group and stolen a black box containing a sample of the Tethys virus, to which they are developing a vaccine.   Travis recognizes the imposter as Alrick Quennell, a Raider.  The Group has not publicized the matter yet for fear of creating a needless panic and a great scandal, the head of research says.  Schofield agrees to pay Travis 100,000 credits, and the bounty hunters go on their way.

Whyndham and Schofield, although polite to the bounty hunters’ faces, speak contemptuously of them in private.  It  is horrible, they agree, to have rely on…bounty hunters to save their necks.  Schofield reminds Whyndham, however, that an Orchard vessel is scheduled to arrive soon.  The consequences for the Keres Group will be dire if they do not have the black box and its contents in hand at that time.

Travis and Rudolpho

Travis and Rudolpho, being capable bounty hunters, are quick to track Quennell to Clarke Station.  They apprehend him in a restroom.  First, however, Quennell slips the black box into the next stall, to one Kingsman, a student.  Quennell, now in the Tulip‘s brig, sends a transmission to other Raiders on Clarke Station.

Kingsman

Raiders at Clarke Station pursue Kingsman, who has the black box.  He steals a garden-variety shuttle and the Raiders pursue him.

Percy

The two ships come into range of the Transutopian.  Travis gives orders, prompting Percy (the actual owner of the Tulip) to call him “bossy” as both a noun and an adverb.  Travis does manage to fight off the Raiders and rescue Kingsman, who comes across first as a spaz, a ditz, and a really bad liar.  (He is a bad liar.)

Travis

But at least Travis has both Quennell and the black box, so now he can report the good news to Dr. Schofield and schedule the return of both.

If the story were simple, it would end here, and there would be no point to the existence of the episode.  But appearances are often deceits, and the story is not simple.

The Intrepid Crew of the Transutopian

Travis and company still think that the black box contains a lethal virus until a few facts come to light.  First, Marcus realizes that negative energy reduced the ship’s power.  Then he informs the rest of the crew of his discovery, at which point Caravaggio, the A.I., tells them that the black box, which is either receiving or sending a signal, is emitting a signal similar to one part of the negative energy shockwave.

Quennell

Next, Travis speaks to Quennell in the brig.  The Raider tells what little he knows.  He had been in a bar when he overheard a drunken Keres Group scientist bragging about a top-secret project.  The worlds will never be the same, the scientist boasted.  Within two weeks both the scientist and the man to whom he spoke had died under suspicious circumstances.  So Quennell infiltrated the Keres Group as a security consultant and stole the black box, with the sole purpose of getting it away from the evil scientists.  The Raider has no idea what is inside the black box, except that the key to unlocking the mystery of the top-secret project is in there.

Percy

Percy and Rudolpho, due to their shared history, know much about the Orchard.  Both suspect that the Orchard is involved, and they are nervous about what will happen next.  They should be.  “I think something’s coming,” Percy says.

Schofield and Whyndham

Schofield and Whyndham, at the Research Station, plot to prevent the Tulip and its crew from leaving once it arrives shortly.

The Data Recorder Inside the Black Box

Caravaggio opens the black box, which includes not a virus, but a data recorder.  The box is sufficiently durable to survive the destruction of a planet–in this case, the fourth planet in orbit of Pulsar 1342–unscathed.  The scientists have developed a weapon of destroying not just a planet, but a solar system.  Now that the crew of the Tulip knows about this “underground” project of the Keres Group, what will they do?

The Keres Group’s Tractor Beam

Whatever it is, they must act quickly, for the Keres Group tows them in.

Percy, Marcus, and Kingsman

Appearances are often deceits.   Quennell, a Raider, is actually on the side of the angels, the respectable scientists are really murderers and general scumbags, and Kingsman is not useless after all.  The student accidentally creates dark matter, a process Percy and Marcus replicate to restore the Tulip‘s engines to full power.  They will need it.

Marcus and Callie, carrying the black box and bringing Quennell along, board the Keres Group Research Station.  (Rudolpho is on the Bridge.)  Travis leaves the black box, Schofield pays him, and Whyndham and some guards escort them out of the room.  Quennell is to go to a detention cell and Travis and Callie to their shuttle–or so Schofield says in public.  But neither Travis nor Callie nor Quennell are that stupid.  Schofield’s real plan is to kill them all and destroy the Tulip.  There must be no witnesses.  Travis and Callie overpower Whyndham and the guards.  Then the bounty hunters and Quennell flee to their shuttle and depart.

A Sudden Departure

Rudolpho gives the order to use full power to break away from the Research Station.  The Tulip flies away and the shuttle docks with it.

Schofield, for some reason, does not care that Quennell and bounty hunters have escaped.  He no longer wants them dead.  I guess that he has the right to change his mind about such matters.  But the scientist is no longer calm when he opens the black box and finds the data recorder missing.

Schofield Agonistes

He screams.

All in a Day’s Work

There is short-term happiness, for everyone aboard the Tulip and played a part in striking a blow against the bad guys.  That is hopeful, is it not?

Percy and the Data Recorder

Yet this is a Starhunter 2300 episode, so somberness must prevail more often than not.  Percy and Rudolpho sit on opposite sides of a table, wondering when the Orchard will come after the crew of the Tulip.

Travis and Quennell

Elsewhere, Quennell tells Travis that the Keres Group’s financial backers will come after him and the crew of the Tulip.  So Travis encourages the Raider to repair his ship and depart–to get a head start.  Neither Travis nor Quennell know what Percy and Rudolpho do, which is that the Orchard has been financing the work of the Keres Group.

Shortly later, an Orchard vessel arrives at the Research Station…

…and fires, destroying it and killing all people aboard.

Pandora’s Box establishes much ground essential to understanding the arc of the second half of Starhunter 2300.  So paying attention to this episode is vital to the series itself as it continues the journey to its final episode, which entails hyperspace.

The original Starhunter (2000-2001) is a wonderful series.  I enjoyed it immensely when I watched it all the way through the first time.  Each time I revisited the series I appreciated it more.  Then I discovered Starhunter 2300, initially at Hulu.  It was good, I thought, but below the standard of Starhunter.  My estimate of the second series’ worth increases, however, as I spend more time with it.  The original series is still better and more unified, but this one is excellent in many ways, too.

Next:  Stitch in Time, a tale of parallel universes and people.

KENNETH RANDOLPH TAYLOR

APRIL 23, 2011 COMMON ERA

All images in this post are screen captures I took using Power DVD.  As always, I encourage the viewing of any Starhunter or Starhunter 2300 episode only via  a method consistent with United States copyright laws.

Starhunter 2300–Supermax Redux (2003)   1 comment

Tanya Allen as Percy Montana

EPISODE #11

Super Max was the most light-hearted episode of Starhunter.  (For my recap of it, follow this link:  https://neatnik2009.wordpress.com/2011/01/11/starhunter-super-max-2001/.)  Max is back, and light-hearted moments continue, especially when Percy hits Max, thereby forcing him to admit that he is lying.  Max, who resembled actor Paul Mari in the original episode, looks like actor Danny Webb this time.  Yet Max, Percy, and Rudolpho refer to the events of Super Max, reinforcing my parallel universes theory of Starhunter series.

Quigley

The episode opens with Callie and Travis having collected one Quigley from the Saturn Federation for transportation to Neuro Correctional at Ganymede.  Quigley certainly seems to be crazy, for he complains about people touching his ears.  These ears are high-tech, he says, and he needs to receive his messages.  Furthermore, Quigley is prone to speak to no visible person throughout the the episode.  Callie and Travis think that he is crazy, based in part on his statement to them that his “fellow quantum mechanics from the Quantum Federation” are coming to rescue him.

Percy

A ship fires on the Transutopian while Callie and Travis lock up Quigley.  Percy, who is on the Bridge, returns fire.

Percy

Percy wants to destroy the other ship.  “They started it,” she says.  Yet Travis, who is now on the Bridge, has another opinion.  Then Max Fairley, the antagonist from Super Max, hails the Tulip.  He claims that he comes in peace, that his missiles were firing randomly, and that his life support systems are damaged severely.  Percy recognizes him, and he her.  She still wants to destroy his ship.

Max says that he can offer the crew of the Tulip an opportunity to get rich.  This interests Rudolpho, who, of course, has large bills to pay.  But Max is a “snake” and a “worm,” Percy insists.  Travis and Rudolpho, aware of Max’s past with Percy, permit Max and his crew to board the Transutopian.  The bounty hunters know, however, that he is not trustworthy, so they are on guard.

Mina, Max, and David

Max boards the Tulip with two others–Mina Zums, whom he introduces as the head of exploration for his mining company, Supermax Exploreco, and Dr. David Dumont, whom he refers to as the head of research and science for said company.  Max claims to be an honest man know.  Indeed, the company of which he speaks exists–and has even become involved in philanthropy.  Percy is skeptical, though.

Dr. Dumont and a Sample of Omnium

Max comments how coincidental it is that Travis is en route to Ganymede, too.  He (Max) is going there, too, for that moon contains omnium, an extremely valuable mineral rarer than diamonds.  He will cut the crew of the Tulip in on the mine, he says.  Omnium, it turns out, does exist, so that part of Max’s story checks out.

There will be a formal-dress dinner at the captain’s table in a ballroom on a rarely-used deck at 8:30 that night.  The Transutopian used to be a luxury space liner, so it has such rooms aboard it.  Percy, smelling a rat, refuses to attend.  There is a rat to smell, for Max’s real agenda for being on the ship is to locate an omnium necklace a passenger left on the vessel a century ago–assuming that the necklace is still on the Tulip.  Furthermore, Dr. Dumont charms Callie yet, in private conversation with Mina and Max, states that he has been manipulating her.

Marcus and Rudolpho

Percy, when she sees Marcus and Rudolpho in tuxedoes, says, “You are such hopeless boy-creatures.”

Shortly thereafter, in the brig, Quigley, who is alone, says, “You just sit tight and wait for my signal.”

Dinner

The formal dinner is enjoyable, especially for Marcus, when Caravaggio plays century-old footage of ballroom dancing from that site.  (We already know how much Marcus likes ballroom dancing.)

Percy Confronts Max

Meanwhile, Percy has entered Max’s quarters and found a century-old diary revealing the presence of an omnium necklace on the ship.  The hits him a few times until he tells the truth:  There is no omnium mine on Ganymede, Mina is actually his mistress, and David is really a former professor of history who needed a job.  The diary belonged to Nora McCallum, the wife of an unfaithful mining magnate.  She and her husband were passengers on the Transutopian a century ago, when, out of vengeance, Nora left an omnium necklace, the most valuable thing her husband gave her, on the ship.  The necklace is worth 10 billion credits, Max says.

Travis confines Max, Mina, and David to quarters.  Meanwhile, the bounty hunters discover that omnium might be valuable in another way–as a power source for the ship’s antimatter drive.  (The antimatter drive is a recurring theme in the series.)

The bounty hunters search the Tulip, without success.  In the process, Percy monitors Max while pointing a gun at him, Dr. Dumont apologizes insincerely to Callie, and Travis resists advances from Mina, who conks him out.  Another vessel begins to fire relentlessly on the Tulip as Mina rescues Quigley from the brig.  They are in cahoots with the crew of the attacking ship.  Travis, again conscious, opens fire on the attacking vessel, driving it away.

The Necklace

Mina and Quigley find the necklace behind a panel in the brig.

Mina has conned everyone except Quigley.  But she cannot enjoy her success, as she, Quigley, Max, and David stay in the brig.  And Mina must serve seventeen consecutive sentences for fraud.

A Happy Family

The joke is on the bad guys, for the necklace is actually cubic zirconium, and is therefore worth about 37 credits.  But the crew of the Tulip has something more valuable than omnium; they have each other.

Supermax Redux is an enjoyable episode worth watching many times.  It, like Super Max, is a break in an otherwise grim, yet good, series.

Next:  Pandora’s Box, or the return of the Orchard.  Okay, I know:  A character in episode #14, The Prisoner, announces the return of that organization, but I have been thinking about that seeming contradiction.

KENNETH RANDOLPH TAYLOR

APRIL 19, 2011 COMMON ERA

All images are screen captures.  I encourage the viewing of Starhunter and Starhunter 2300 episodes only via methods consistent with United States copyright laws.

Starhunter 2300–Skin Deep (2003)   2 comments

Tanya Allen as an Irritated Percy Montana

EPISODE #10

Skin Deep contains two related stories.  While Percy and Marcus are arguing and bonding at Syn City, Io, Travis, Callie, and Rudolpho must deal with a belligerent bounty hunter pursuing a friend of Callie from university days.  Tanya Allen has more screen time in this episode than in some of the preceding ones.  More screen time for Ms. Allen is a good thing, n’est-ce pas?  Oui, c’est vrai!  

So I show another picture of Tanya Allen, in character as Percy Montana, from the episode.

Another Facial Expression for Percy Montana

It is generally a bad idea to read comments on computer bulletin boards and below videos on video websites.  People tend to curse (in the vulgar, not the Biblical, sense) and insult each other, get off track, and display the worst sides of their nature–all while being safely anonymous.  Much of the time they are poorly informed at best.  Thus I note that, before I decided to stop reading such comments, I noticed nasty comments about Tanya Allen’s acting in the Starhunter series in particular and her skills as a thespian in general.  An informed person must consider, however, that Percy Montana is a withdrawn character, so Ms. Allen’s performance as Percy is appropriate in this context.  Indeed, to have played Percy Montana as the life of the party would have been a bad idea.

Anyhow, Skin Deep contains many wonderful Percy Montana scenes, making it one of the better episodes of Starhunter 2300.

But, you might ask, why is it called Skin Deep?  Body image is a frequently troublesome issue for many people.  I perceive that, in my North American culture, it is more of a problem for women than for men, given the relatively high rates of eating disorders for girls and young women.  Quite frankly, though, I do not think a woman sexy when I look at a picture of her and can count her ribs.  Thinness is healthy and obesity is not, but most women do not–and will not–and should not–seek to emulate the figure of Kate Moss.

We learn during the episode that, among the elites of Mars in 2300, there are strong pressures on women to live up to certain standards of beauty, but to do so naturally, that is, without resorting to plastic surgery.  “Natural” women are especially esteemed because there are so few of them.  Yet some women, feeling the pressure, undergo plastic surgery and try to keep their secret.  How far, however, will some people go to prevent publicity?

Let us begin the episode recap.

Lena Bannen and Callista Larkadia

The Tulip is docked at Clarke Station, in the Jupiter Federation.  Travis and Rudolpho are on board, arguing about the need to earn more money.  (Rudolpho does have more expenses than the other bounty hunters.)  Meanwhile, at Clarke Station, Callie is catching up with Lena Bannen, a friend from university days.  They have not seen each other in ten years.

Lena, as we learn in several scenes, is the Chief Financial Officer of Inner Beauty Publishing, of which her mother is Chief Executive Officer.  Lena publishes lifestyle holozines, which run the gamut from suggesting options for interior decorating to outing “plastics,” or women who have undergone plastic surgery.

The two women banter about how much they used to dislike each other, how glad they are to meet again, and how good the other looks.  Lena, it turns out, looks the same in 2300 as she did in 2290.  File that fact away.

Two men try to arrest Lena but…

Callie

…Callie prevents them from doing so.  She and Lena flee to the Tulip, which departs abruptly.  They have not evaded these men, however.

Travis, Lena, and Callie

On board the Tulip, Lena tells Travis and Callie that she does not who is pursuing her, or why.

This departure does mean that Percy and Marcus will have to stay longer at Syn City than they had expected.

Percy and Marcus at Syn City, Io

Percy and Marcus are at Syn City, Io, to purchase antimatter stabilizer coils for the thus-far non-functional antimatter drive on the ship.

Torment (https://neatnik2009.wordpress.com/2011/04/06/starhunter-2300-torment-2003/) had established the existence of this piece of hardware, although that was not the main point of the episode.  The antimatter drive will prove pivotal in subsequent episodes, so remember that it exists.

Back to our recap now…

Percy

Marcus knows Syn City well, but this is Percy’s first visit.  She does not find the place exciting.  In fact, she there just for business, to engage in a business transaction that Rudolpho has arranged.  One “Mr. Pllob,” whom Percy thinks is a “black-market creep,” has what they need.

She and Marcus argue.  He says that Percy has no fun, but she replies that she does–whenever he is not around.  Then Marcus wants to sit outside, but she wants to sit inside, while they wait for Mr. Pllob to arrive.

Percy and Pllob

They meet Pllob, who shouts to the air and claims that “they” (whoever “they” are) are watching him.  The attempt to purchase the coils from Pllob does not go well, for he accuses Percy and Marcus of being police officers and Percy freaks out.

The man does shout to the air and claim that “they” are watching him.  He is not the portrait of stability, is he?

Rudolpho

Meanwhile, back on the good ship Transutopian

Rudolpho complains to Travis about the current mission and how lucrative it is not.  Lena is Callie’s friend, Travis says; we help friends.  This strikes Rudolpho as an odd idea.  The former owner of the Tulip says that Travis is a “sucker for a pretty face,” to which Travis replies sarcasticaly, “That’s the only reason I work with you.”

The men at Clarke Station were bounty hunters under contract with the Mars Federation government.  Quinn, one of those men, has pursued the Transutopian and begun to fire upon it.  The Tulip, however, carries weapons, too, so Travis and Callie defend their vessel and themselves.  Mars Federation has ordered Lena’s arrest for the murder of Dr. Frederick Nolman, whose widow suspects that her husband was conducting an affair with a woman, whose name she does not know.

Lena

Lena denies knowing Dr. Nolman, and Travis refuses to turn her over to Quinn.  Yet Travis does set course for Mars, with Quinn close behind.  Consequently, Marcus and Percy will have to spend even more time at Syn City.

Percy and Marcus

Marcus wants to see some shows and visit various places, but Percy just wants to get a room.  When they get to the room, she comments that it comes with pornos and booze.  Isn’t that what people do in their rooms, she asks?  They never watch any pornos, but they do drink spinach beer–both bottles of it.  The refrigerator in the room is what Percy calls a “Noah’s ark of booze”–two of everything.

Do you want some spinach beer?

They do talk, however.

Percy

Percy reveals that she is in no hurry to return to the ship.  Neither does she want to see the sites of Syn City.  She just wants to be in a room.

Marcus says that he likes to watch ballroom dancing and that he dreamed of monkey wrenches last night.

There not being much to do in the room, Percy picks up a robe and heads for the shower.

Marcus

Marcus interprets Percy’s recent actions as romantic overtures.

Percy

Percy, however, reveals that they were not, much to his disappointment.

Callie

Meanwhile, back on the Transutopian, which is approaching Mars…

Callie doubts Lena’s story before Travis does.  In fact, Lena and Travis are attracted to each other, although they do nothing more than kiss.  Yet Callie, via Caravaggio, locates and reads three holozine articles that Lena published that mention the late Dr. Nolman, a plastic surgeon, in a negative way.

The Incriminating Video Footage

Then the Mars Federation government sends video footage of Lena sitting at a restaurant table with Dr. Nolman and speaking with him.  Caravaggio reconstructs something Lena says in it:  “You aren’t going to tell anyone you did the work, are you, Frederick, because we’d be finished?”

Lena

Lena admits the truth.  She, the publisher of a holozine that outs “plastics,” is herself a “plastic.”  Her mother was having an affair with Dr. Nolman, but the mother wanted to end said liaisons.  Dr. Nolman, however, threatened to out Lena if the mother left.  So the mother shot Dr. Nolman to protect Lena, who placed her DNA, in the form of skin and hair, on Nolman’s corpse to protect her mother.

Quinn attacks the Tulip again, but Travis inflicts severe damage on the other bounty hunter’s ship.  Quinn leaves, Lena goes Mars, where a lawyer awaits her, Quinn collects the bounty, and Rudolpho is unhappy.

Meanwhile, at Syn City…

Marcus, newly showered and wearing a bathrobe, tries to share the bed with Percy, who pushes him to the floor.  They compromise, however:

Marcus and Percy

And they talk, taking turns moving a pillow between their faces.  Percy reveals that she, for the first time in a while, has not thought much about the Tulip, which is almost a part of her.  Also, she is not afraid of open spaces, just the “psychos and idiots” in them.  This is why she likes enclosed spaces.

Marcus and Percy

Marcus tells Percy that this is odd, that that she “will never be normal.”  This does not bother her, although his comment that she is a bounty hunter who is afraid to go outside does.  She offers Marcus the opportunity to retract that statement, but he does not.  So a pillow fight ensues.

Marcus and Percy

In time, Percy falls asleep, while Marcus sits on the edge of the bed.

Then the end credits roll.

Next:  Supermax Redux, which features the return of Max from Super Max (https://neatnik2009.wordpress.com/2011/01/11/starhunter-super-max-2001/).  Max was older and bald in Super Max, but these facts support my parallel universe hypothesis regarding Starhunter and Starhunter 2300.

Then, in episode #12, Pandora’s Box, we encounter the Orchard again.

As always, I encourage the viewing of these episodes, but only in ways consistent with United States copyright laws.

KENNETH RANDOLPH TAYLOR

APRIL 15, 2011 COMMON ERA

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