Archive for April 2011

Starhunter 2300–Painless (2003)   3 comments

Tanya Allen as Percy Montana

EPISODE #9

In April 1988, in the twilight of the dreadful first season of Star Trek:  The Next Generation, there aired Symbiosis, the anti-drugs episode of that series.  The government of the planet Brekka had long ago addicted the inhabitants of the planet Ornara to an alleged medicine for a plague.  Two centuries later, the Brekkans profited from the addictions of the Ornarans.  It was a very bad episode (even by the low standards of First Season TNG) notable primarily for the Nancy Reagan “Just Say No” speech that Lieutenant Tasha Yar gives to young and annoying Wesley Crusher.  Whether “Just Say No” functioned well as a brief public service announcement is a matter for discussion elsewhere.  I state categorically, however, that it worked poorly as an element of drama in Symbiosis.

If the first rule of comedy is to be funny, then the first rule of entertainment is to be entertaining.  Entertainment can convey a serious message well, as Painless demonstrates.  There are no clunky anti-drugs speeches here, just the visible effects of the abuse of said substances.  Seeing is far more effective than hearing.

Painless opens in a dark portion of Titan City, Titan, Saturn Federation.  Two young men inhale drugs and proceed to beat each other to death while laughing.

Meanwhile, boredom reigns on the Bridge of the Tulip.  Travis is playing with a rubber band, Callie is turning around and around in her chair, and Rudolpho is sleeping in his.  Finally, possibly for the heck of it, Travis shoots the rubber band at Rudolpho, who wakes up.

Roan Gerick’s Transmission

Then something happens.  Roan Gerick, an old friend of Dante, calls the Tulip, expecting Dante.  He is surprised to speak to Travis instead.  Gerick, you see, recalls holding the one-day-old Travis in his arms, and has a photograph of that event.  Gerick’s son, Sasha, was one of the two men who died in the opening scene.  So the father wants Travis to find the people responsible for the son’s death.  Gerick can offer only a paltry sum as payment, but Travis accepts the case.

There is a bit of exposition in this scene, for Caravaggio tells Travis that the message is for “Dante, your father.”  Certainly Travis knows the first name of his father, but some viewers might not.

Travis Montana

Travis and Callie take a shuttle to Titan City to meet with Gerick.  She makes conversation about Titan City, where Travis was born, but he evades her questions.  Something troubles his conscience, and Callie drops the subject.

Nigel Bennett as Roan Gerick

Actor Nigel Bennett, who is convincing as the grieving father, spent three years (1992-1993, 1994-1996) playing the vampire LaCroix in Forever Knight, a fascinating series about a guilt-ridden vampire, Nick Knight, who works as a police detective in Toronto, trying to atone for his sins.  Incidentally, Lisa Ryder portrayed Detective Tracy Vetter in that series during its final season.  She also appeared opposite Tanya Allen in some 1996 episodes of The Newsroom.

We keep returning to Tanya Allen.  And why not?

Back to our story….

We learn in various scenes that the drug in question is anesta.  It overrides one’s pain centers and stimulates the release of dopamine, so that one derives pleasure from pain while feeling invincible.  It has been a plague in Titan City for the last year and a half, and an average of seventeen people die of it every day in the city alone.  Sasha become addicted two months ago, which was when he changed and headed down the path to his premature death.  And the Anesta drug lord of Titan City is someone known only as Bliss.  This Bliss stays one step ahead of of police investigations, so attempts to infiltrate the drug dealing operation have resulted in the deaths of the officers.

Percy and Marcus

Back on the Tulip, Percy and Marcus are doing more unpleasant but necessary mechanical work while Marcus complains.  When he left the Raiders he expected a better future than this, he says.  He is wasting his life on this old ship, he continues.  He asks Percy if she is also disappointed with her life, but she remains silent.  We know from the previous episode, of course, that she does live in disappointment with her life.

Captain Dalyat

Gerick introduces Callie and Travis to Captain Dalyat, the officer handling Sasha’s case and many other drug-related deaths.  Alone, Dalyat tells Travis that she thinks he is “preying” on Gerick’s grief.  She is doing the best she can, she says, seeming to interpret the bounty hunter’s presence as a criticism of her efforts. Marcus, however, asks how he can help her.  He thinks that he can infiltrate the drug dealing organization, for, as we learn in subsequent scenes, Travis dealt in drugs when he was a Raider.

Travis returns to the Tulip with a sample of the drug.  Rudolpho, who cannot find a separate job for himself (to earn money; the man has three ex-wives and an adolescent daughter to support), argues with the captain about the low rate of pay.  Travis is unmoved.

Meanwhile, in Titan City, Dalyat reveals the full background of Travis Montana to Gerick.  She tells the grieving father that she knows how he feels, for she has lost a daughter to the same drug.  But, she says, “Travis Montana is one of the bad guys.”

Travis and Callie have a conversation crucial to the episode.  He asks if she knows Frankel, the very effective and controversial head of the war on drugs in the Mars Federation.  She does, for they served together in Special Forces prior to Frankel’s promotion.  Travis asks her to send him a message.

Mars, it seems, is far from idyllic politically, for the government is notoriously corrupt.  But at least there is not much of a drug problem there.  Frankel’s tactics, which run afoul of civil libertarians, seem to account for this fact.  He gives every appearance of being a straight shooter and an effective official.  Anyhow, as we learn in subsequent scenes, Callie asks Frankel to meet her at Titan City very soon.  He is supposed to function as bait to draw out Bliss.

Percy

Travis hands Percy a sample of anesta and asks her to analyze it.   Then he informs Callie and Rudolpho of his plan:  He will go undercover in Titan City and meet Xerc, a drug dealer whose image is in police records that Dalyat sent to the Tulip.  Xerc, presumably, will take him to Bliss.  Rudolpho states correctly that Travis is “trying to please a couple of dead people.”

Percy

Percy, meanwhile, is working in the lab when Marcus walks in.  He comments that pain is important because it “tells you when you’ve gone too far.”  But Percy, very quietly, replies, “Maybe no pain tells you when you haven’t gone far enough.”  Marcus answes, “Don’t be stupid, Percy,” and leaves.  Then Percy takes the drug.

Travis and Xerc

Travis and Xerc, it seems, go way back together.  They used to sell drugs in the Jupiter Federation.  Then Travis left the Raiders and became a bounty hunter.  Xerc has been in Titan City for eight months, working for Bliss.   Travis tells Xerc that he is selling drugs again and wants to see Bliss, to discuss options in expanding the market to Mars.  Frankel is corrupt, Travis tells Xerc, and Travis owns him.

Roan Gerick

Xerc believes the tale, which is good for our hero’s plan.  Unfortunately, Gerick overhears the conversation and believes it, too.  He confronts Travis and Xerc, who wants to kill him.  But Travis talks him out of it, and Gerick leaves unharmed.

Dalyat begins to confer with Rudolpho and Callie on board the Tulip.  The captain learns from Gerick’s most recent transmission that there is no more case.  And Dalyat plants seeds of doubt regarding Frankel in the minds of the bounty hunters.  Why has Frankel traveled back and forth from Mars to the Saturn sector under aliases multiple times recently?  Might he and Bliss be same person? Callie gives Dalyat the details of the next day’s scheduled rendezvous with Frankel before setting out with Rudolpho to rescue Travis from what they think is a trap.

Percy

Also on the ship…

Percy is under the influence of anesta.  This becomes obvious to Marcus when he observes her injuring herself and not feeling pain.  Then she attacks him before recovering enough sense to ask him to lock her up in the brig.

Percy

He does as she wishes.

Percy on drugs is a disturbing sight.  The normally quiet young woman becomes manic, with a wild look in her eyes.  And she keeps bloodying herself.

Roan Gerick

Travis and Gerick have a heart-to-heart conversation.  Each man has lost someone–Travis, his father, and Gerick, his son.  Gerick is grieving Sasha, whom, Travis says, the father needs to forgive.

Marcus Finds Xerc’s Corpse

Bliss has ordered the murder of Xerc.  The drug lord has also sent two thugs to kill Travis, who suffers a minor injury.  One thug does get away, however.

Dalyat/Bliss and a Thug

The thug finds Captain Dalyat, who is at another crime scene.  “Is it done?” she asks.  “He got away,” the thug replies.  Dalyat is upset.  She reveals where Travis, Callie, Rudolpho, and Frankel are supposed to meet.  “I want them all eliminated,” she says.  She has plans to expand her drug empire greatly after the Mars drug czar is dead.  The captain also vows that, if the thug fails her, she will kill him and everybody he knows.

Travis returns to the Tulip and finds Percy in the brig and Marcus minding her.  He and Marcus take the sedated Percy to the infirmary, where Caravaggio updates Travis on recent events.  So Travis departs for Titan City again, leaving Marcus to care for Percy.

Frankel

Frankel and Travis arrive at the scene of a gunfight between Callie and Rudolpho (on the side of the good guys) and some thugs (on the side of Bliss, the evil drug lord).  Frankel tells Travis that he (Frankel) “agreed to be the bait, not the star attraction in a turkey shoot.”  Travis hands the drug czar a gun and the two of them join the gunfight, winning it, of course.  Then the thug from the various scene reveals that Dalyat is Bliss.

Dalyat’s Arrest

Our heroes arrest Dalyat, who says, “Well it took you long enough.”  She also reveals that she never had a daughter.  That was also part of her cover.  Dalyat also says that her conscience is clear.  This means, of course, that she has no conscience; she is amoral.  She asks Travis if his conscience is clear.  It is not, he replies.  But Travis is a hero because, despite his criminal past, he has a conscience and acts accordingly.

Travis and Gerick

Travis and Gerick part on positive terms.  The older man loans Travis a photograph of his one-day-old self.  Make a copy and return the original the next time you have a chance, Gerick says.

We may presume, of course, that Percy is in either the infirmary or her quarters, recovering from her drug episode.

Pay close attention to the trajectory of Percy’s character arc in Starhunter 2300.  She is headed for a meltdown–and a much needed vacation.  But I get ahead of myself.

Next:  Skin Deep, or why covering up plastic surgery is worse than having it.

KENNETH RANDOLPH TAYLOR

APRIL 9, 2011 COMMON ERA

All images are screen captures.  If you choose to watch Starhunter 2300, please do so in a method consistent with United States copyright laws.

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Starhunter 2300–Torment (2003)   2 comments

Tanya Allen as Percy Montana

EPISODE #8

The crew members of the Tulip spent the first few episodes learning about each other.  They were on the same vessel, but were essentially strangers who did not always trust each other.  By the time of Torment, however, they constitute a family of sorts, helping each other while sometimes disagreeing.  Banter serves as evidence of these relationships.  Consider this exchange:

RUDOLPHO:  I bet you made out like a bandit.

TRAVIS:  I was a bandit.

There is another wonderful exchange, in which Travis speculates that Callie was “hell on wheels” as a teenager.  Callie answers that she was–then.  But, the way the says it, we viewers understand that she is half-serious, for she is still hell on wheels–but in a good way.

Indeed, family is the heart of this episode.  How far will one go for the sake one’s family members, even if one has not seen them for a long time, or ever?

According to Relativity, if one travels close to the speed of light, time slows down for the traveler yet not for the rest of us going about our daily lives.  So almost no time passes for the traveler but a great deal of time passes for others.  This is time dilation.

I explain this because it figures prominently in the story for this episode.

Arthur Santiago

At Syn City, Io, Jupiter Federation, Arthur Santiago receives a transmission from one Darnell, who has abducted his (Santiago’s) parents.  Darnell demands a large ransom in twenty hours, or else….

Von Flores as Darnell

Santiago, desperate, says that he will do what he can.  Then he asks to see his parents.  Darnell consents to this.

Santiago’s Parents

They are quite young.

Von Flores as Agent Ronald Sandoval in Earth:  Final Conflict–Sandoval’s Run (1998)

An observant viewer might recognize Canadian actor Von Flores, who plays Darnell in this episode, from Earth:  Final Conflict (1997-2002).  In that series, the first season of which is the best of the five, aliens walked openly among us.  For the first four seasons the aliens were the Taelons, beings of pure energy who could solidify when they chose.  They had cured many diseases, united Ireland, and performed many other great works, but what did they want from us?  Flores played Agent Ronald Sandoval, who served the Taelons while looking as if he had just stepped out of the pages of Gentleman’s Quarterly.

Back to our story…

Santiago explains the situation to Travis and Callie.  His parents are environmental engineers who went to Earth, to help rehabilitate the planet, when he was a baby.  Before they left they left him with an aunt.  But Santiago’s parents disappeared in the North American jungle.  The presumption was that they were dead, but Darnell had abducted them.  This was fifty years ago, according to Santiago’s time, but a mere eight months from the perspective of Darnell and Santiago’s parents, due to the fact that Darnell has been using an antimatter engine and traveling at sublight speeds.

Travis agrees to take the case, pending the consent of his crew mates, despite the relatively small amount of money Santiago can afford to pay.  Travis, a former bandit, is really a nice and compassionate person these days.  Besides, his father is missing.   (He does get majority support for taking this case.)

An Angry Message from Gina DeLuna

On the Bridge of the Tulip, Rudolpho is enjoying a private porno when a message from Gina, one of his three former wives, interrupts his pleasurable experience.  Gina, his “favorite ex-ball and chain,” demands an immediate payment, which is more money than he has.  This explains why is late with that money.  She needs the money to pay for correctional camp for Serena, their daughter with discipline problems.  In lieu of payment, however, Gina demands that Rudolpho spend some quality time with his daughter.  “I’ll take the little hellcat,” he says.

This exchange does help explain why Rudolpho carps about money throughout the series.  He has three ex-wives and a child.

Rudolpho DeLuna

Ah, paternal affection.  Isn’t it grand?

Poor Serena, flung between an angry mother and an absent father.

The Intrepid Crew of the Transutopian

Rudolpho talks his crewmates into consenting to Serena’s visit.  She is a “sweet, kind girl,” he tells the incredulous bounty hunters.  But Travis does not want to keep a parent and a child apart, and neither does anyone else.

Serena and Rudolpho

Yet Serena is already on board.  The others take this well when Rudolpho reveals this fact.

Serena is not “sweet sixteen.”  She says, “Shut up, Rudy,” to her father.  She also comments on his girth, saying, “They saved the biggest chair for the biggest ass.”  Furthermore, the daughter calls her father a “two-timing bastard.”  This is a dysfunctional relationship.

Side comment:  Actress Lindy Booth, who played Serena, aged 16 years, was 24 at the time.  A certain age differential is obvious just by looking at her.  But this was not the only case of hiring a mid-20s actress to play a late adolescent.  Tanya Allen was 25 during Starhunter (2000-2001).  Her pig tails and hair highlights disguised this fact somewhat.  That said, these were still cases of good casting.  Besides, maybe adolescent females will mature at an accelerated pace in a few hundred years.

Percy

Rudolpho needs to talk, and Percy is nearby.  He explains that Gina was a stripper when the two met and fell in love.  But he filed for divorce when Serena was two years old.  The former owner of the Tulip asks Percy, the current owner, to speak to Serena.  Percy will be a good role model, he says.  She has a ship, a purpose, and a future, he says.

But Percy does not want to speak to Serena.  Why?

My ship’s a hole, my purpose is to waste my life on it, and my future is more of the same.

Let us take a little time to consider the character of Percy Montana.  She has long had a dark, cynical side.  This was evident in The Man Who Sold the World (https://neatnik2009.wordpress.com/2010/12/15/starhunter-the-man-who-sold-the-world-2000/).  Yet she has also balanced it with a sense of humor, as in Goodbye, So Long (https://neatnik2009.wordpress.com/2011/01/04/starhunter-goodbye-so-long-2001/).  And her light side was on full display in Super Max (https://neatnik2009.wordpress.com/2011/01/11/starhunter-super-max-2001/).  Yet she has become more sullen over time, even allowing for each series being set in a different reality.  More than one Starhunter 2300 episode contains a scene in which Percy refers to an event from a Starhunter episode.  Percy Beta (in Starhunter 2300) had many of the same experiences as Percy Alpha (in Starhunter).

Percy’s life looks the way it does because the Raiders attacked Titan one day years ago, abducted Travis, and killed her parents and her aunt Penny.  So uncle Dante became Percy’s guardian and took her on board the Tulip when he commenced a new career as a bounty hunter and started searching for Travis.  So Percy’s range of possible decisions has been limited.

And actress Tanya Allen did an excellent job of bringing this character to life.  She has an impressive range as a thespian, a fact I have come to realize while viewing various Tanya Allen movies, from comedies to dramas, some of which I intend to review on this weblog after I complete the Starhunter 2300 posts.  Until then, I pass along this hint:  watch Fancy Dancing, whatever you do.  Tanya Allen, as Karen, the photoshop person at the advertising agency, is fun to watch.

Marcus and Serena

Back to our regularly scheduled program…

Serena has eyes for Marcus, so she comes on to him.  Marcus, however, rebuffs her advances.  He has work to do, for maintaining the Tulip requires his full attention.  Besides, she more or less attacks him.

Callie and Percy

A few scenes previous, Travis asked Callie to speak to Serena.  But Callie was unwilling to do so.  That was then.

So it happens that Callie approaches Percy in a corridor and suggests speaking to Serena.  Percy is still reluctant, so Callie drags Percy to Serena’s quarters.

Callie and Percy

Callie and Percy, wearing artificial smiles, visit Serena, who retorts, “Here come the social workers.”  The conference ends badly, with Percy telling Callie that Serena is “an idiot.”

Callie

Shortly thereafter, on the Bridge, Callie informs Rudolpho of the meeting.  She says, “Let me spin this in the most positive light I can; I didn’t strangle her.”

Now, back to the Arthur Santiago subplot.  (I had not forgotten about it.)  Travis and Rudolpho (mainly Rudolpho) devise a plan for securing the return of Santiago’s parents.  After an unplanned shootout at the ransom drop-off point, Travis identifies Darnell’s ship, which has an antimatter pod tethered to it.  Fortunately, Rudolpho has read many technical specifications and retained them in his memory.  So he advises disabling Darnell’s ship by severing the antimatter pod.  (A collision with it does not lead to disaster.)  The pod collides with Darnell’s ship, damaging it further, and then scrapes one side of the Tulip, which suffers merely superficial damage.  Then Darnell agrees to release
Santiago’s parents.

Serena, who has observed all this from the Bridge, is impressed with her father.  Yet her mood shifts immediately when he tells her that she cannot stay on the Tulip indefinitely; she must return to school.  Nobody wants her, she complains.

She sends a message to Darnell after Rudolpho leaves her quarters.

A Family Reunion

A grateful Santiago waves to Callie and Travis as he stands between his parents.  But there is bad news, for Rudolpho discovers that Serena has left the Tulip for Syn City.  Where could she be?

Serena

Serena is sitting in a strip club.  Vayla, a waitress, walks toward her and speaks to her.  Serena is too young to be there, Vayla says.  But Serena lies, saying she is 18.  “Tell me another lie,” Vayla replies.  Then Serena admits her actual age and says that she has “danced” in clubs before.

Darnell

Darnell enters the strip club and sits beside Serena.  He offers to take her to the outer planets.  Vayla, concerned, watches from a distance.

Darnell really plans to adduct Serena and demand ransom.

The bounty hunters find Serena’s message to Darnell.  So they follow her trail to the strip club, where they speak to Vayla, who turns out to be an old friend of Marcus.  She tells them what she knows.

Darnell, Serena, and Rudolpho

Travis and Callie confront Darnell from his front while Rudolpho approaches from the rear.  Rudolpho subdues his daughter’s abductor while Travis and Callie take the criminal into custody and the father comforts his daughter.

Rudolpho and Serena

Father and daughter speak in her quarters.  Their relationship is not ideal, but now it is at least positive.  Serena reveals that yes, she has stripped, and that her mother put her up to it.  This was the life that Gina knew, and Rudolpho did not always make child support payments on time.  So Gina and Serena needed the money.

But, for now, matters are better.  So father and daughter begin to look at family pictures.  It is a moment of grace.

Next:  Painless, a story about drugs, death, and an old Montana family friend.  Sometimes, to catch a drug dealer, one needs a former drug dealer, that is, Travis.

KENNETH RANDOLPH TAYLOR

APRIL 6, 2011 COMMON ERA

All images are screen captures I obtained using the Power DVD program.  I encourage viewing of Starhunter 2300 and Earth:  Final Conflict (especially Season One) only by means consistent with United States copyright laws.

Starhunter 2300–The Third Thing (2003)   3 comments

Tanya Allen as Percy Montana

EPISODE #7

Once the crew members of the Transutopian (the Tulip) get to know each other, they function well as a family, supporting each other often and even finishing each other’s sentences from time to time.  This familiarity and closeness is on display in this, the seventh episode of the series.

Yet this episode, for all its comedic moments, is quite serious.  It is the tale of a scripted reality program with a body count.  While watching the episode again, pausing it, capturing images, and taking notes, I thought of Network, the classic 1976 movie about a television network with executives willing to do anything for ratings.  They give a domestic terrorist group its own program, ignore their news anchor’s mental illness because it is good for ratings, and pay someone to kill him on air when his ratings plummet.  But hey, it’s entertainment, right?

The episode opens with the close of another weekly holocast of The Third Thing, a reality program.  The host, Mathylda, erases her fake smile immediately after the broadcast ends.  She scolds Julian Sanders and Nasdeen, segment producers, for the weak content.  Mathylda demands a good idea for next week’s show.  In a subsequent meeting, she gets it; Nasdeen suggests bounty hunters.  Mathylda is enthusiastic.

Little Colorful Balls, Everywhere

On the Tulip, Percy and Marcus are doing grunt work.  Percy owns the ship, so she could get out of such duty if she chose to do so.  Maybe Percy enjoys welding, for she does so much of it.  But Marcus is unhappy.  He demands to know why he and Percy get stuck with these dirty jobs.  The laconic Percy observes that maybe it is because they are “cute and funny.”  Marcus picks up a plastic box loaded recently from Clarke Station.  Small and colorful balls spill out of it.

Percy

Percy thinks that they are “pretty cool.”

Percy and Marcus

Marcus says that he and Percy should work the next bounty hunting case.  Percy agrees, and Marcus prepares to present this to Travis.

Travis is reluctant, but Callie persuades him to grant the request.

Nasdeen with Julian Sanders

Rudolpho brings Julian Sanders and Nasdeen to the Bridge, to meet the other bounty hunters.  Julian, Rudolpho says, is a “dedicated maker of small but important works of integrity and relevance and intelligence.”  And the series producers will pay the crew six months’ money for a few days’ activities.  Given the dearth of good bounties, this seems like a good idea.

Callie and Travis

Julian butters up the crew.  He says that he wants to make THE documentary about bounty hunters.  He also calls them the “premiere bounty hunters of all time.”  Travis, noting the hyperbole, says that most of their cases are not dramatic.  They usually entail pursuing people who have not made child-support payments or who have committed docking violations, he says.  Callie chimes in and comments that sometimes they have to hunt people who have bitten off the heads of documentary makers.

There is also the question of prudence.  Should our heroes holocast their faces throughout the solar system?  Travis wants nothing of it, but Julian records him covertly anyway.  Callie is initially reluctant, but she comes around shortly.

Callie and Julian

First, however, she shows her contempt.

Julian and Nasdeen use cortical implant cameras, so their eyes become cameras.  Marcus gets one, but Percy refuses, and neither Julian nor Nasdeen press the issue.

A case does come up.  A source says that Tremayne, a petty criminal, is on the loose.  This seems like an easy bounty for Percy and Marcus, but appearances can be deceiving.  Julian, desperate for an actual story two days before air, is creating a dramatic storyline, with Mathylda’s approval.

Mathylda

Mathylda broadcasts from a bare studio.  The studio audience is elsewhere, and a few technicians are her only company on set.  Yet one might not know that to watch the program.

Travis is away during the broadcast, earning 10,000 credits on a job to deliver twins to Ring Shepherd, in the Saturn Federation.  So Rudolpho minds the ship while Percy, Marcus, and Callie work the case and Nasdeen and Julian observe.

Marcus, a former Raider, recognizes a Raider at a bar.  Then Tremayne, who turns out to be a former Raider, meets the Raider.  A shootout ensues, leaving an innocent woman, a bystander, dead.

Mathylda, in the studio, depicts the bounty hunters as incompetents.

Rudolpho

Rudolpho, watching the holocast on the Tulip, says, “I don’t believe it” and “bloody hell” before dashing off.

Callie and Julian

Julian, lying, tells Callie that he feels guilty for the innocent bystander’s death.  He does not think he can continue in his job, he says.  Callie, being nice, tries to comfort him.

Mathylda

Mathylda portrays the crew of the Tulip in the worst possible light.  She says they are a dysfunctional family, and that Callie is a fixer.  Callie, Mathylda insists, must be the child of alcoholics.  And, according to the host, Callie, by trying to fix the problems of others, ignores her own deepest needs, including love.

How is that for dime-store pop psychology BS?

Marcus and Percy

Marcus and Percy have a series of shootouts with Tremayne and the Raider.  What they do not know is that Julian has equipped Tremayne with a cortical implant camera, too, and is working with him.  Furthermore, Julian and Tremayne have arranged for Callie’s abduction.  And Mathylda lends active assistance to Tremayne.  But it is a good story for an hour, is it not?

So this is not a reality program; it is a criminal enterprise.

Nasdeen tells Julian that she cannot “do this” anymore.  But Julian threatens her with unemployment; she and her child need her job.  Nasdeen will not “do this” much longer anyhow, for she suffers a severe injury during a shootout.  Percy comes to Nasdeen’s aid as Marcus, joined by Rudolpho, continue the shootout with with Tremayne and the Raider.

Rudolpho

Rudolpho’s arrival is timely, for Marcus removes his cortical implant camera.  This means that he suffers momentary side effects while Tremayne is pursuing him.

Nasdeen

Nasdeen dies.  So the body count is two.

Percy returns to find Marcus, but finds Rudolpho,  as well.  The older man explains all that has been happening, to the best of knowledge.  Marcus, as you might imagine, is rather irritated.  He beats up Tremayne and punches Julian.

Meanwhile, Rudolpho has subdued and detained the Raider.

The “reality” show is called The Third Thing.  In this episode Marcus, the protagonist, is the first thing and Tremayne, the antagonist, is the second thing.

The Third Thing

And Callie is the third thing.

Marcus coerces Tremayne into revealing Callie’s location.  The criminal was expecting snipers to shoot Marcus, but Julian reveals that viewers voted to eliminate that plot element.  Tremayne is disappointed.  This makes Callie’s rescue easier.

Callie and Percy

Callie and Percy enter the studio, and Percy ends the holocast with her weapon.

Percy, Callie, and Marcus

Back on the Bridge, the crew members learn that they have received payment from the show producers, who will not press criminal charges if the bounty hunters will not press charges, either.  They accept the compromise.  Travis returns and asks for an update.  “You didn’t miss much,” Marcus says.

But two women are dead and child has lost a mother–all for the sake of alleged entertainment.

Next:  Torment, or Rudolpho’s sixteen-year-old daughter, who is not “sweet sixteen.”

KENNETH RANDOLPH TAYLOR

APRIL 4, 2011 COMMON ERA

All images are screen captures.  Thanks to Power DVD and a legal DVD for making them possible.  As always, I encourage the viewing of Starhunter 2300 episodes only in a method consistent with U.S. copyright laws.

Starhunter 2300–Becoming Shiva (2003)   1 comment

Tanya Allen as Percy Montana

EPISODE #6

In 1996-1997 Tanya Allen was part of the main cast of The Newsroom, a legendary Canadian comedy series set in the newsroom of a Toronto television station.  She played Audrey, the laconic intern who said things like, “That’s not my job.”

Tanya Allen as Audrey the Intern in Dis & Dat, a 1997 Episode of The Newsroom

The Newsroom presented a dark picture of television news.  The news director chose to lead each broadcast with sensationalism, not substance, and some of the employees seemed mostly to hang out in the news director’s office.  And how did some people get their positions?

Elisa Moolecherry as Gillian Soros in Dis & Dat

Consider the case of Gillian Soros.  She and Audrey were classmates in the television program at Ryerson University.  But Gillian dropped out and, in time, became regional executive in charge of broadcasting at the unnamed network, based on the Canadian Broadcasting Corporation (CBC).  Yet Audrey, who continued in the program, was just an intern.  Audrey resented all this in Dis & Dat.  When a coworker said that Audrey had a choice between being a “successful bitch” and a “decent human being,” she said that she wanted to be the former.

A Shared Joke in Parking

However, this resentment has melted away by the next episode, Parking, as the image above demonstrates.  Dating baseball player Alex Gonzales certainly helped improve Audrey’s mood.

Six years later Tanya Allen and Elisa Moolecherry reunited on the small screen in Starhunter 2300.

Becoming Shiva, although a dark episode, does contain some humor.  It comes from the banter between characters.  Our heroes are getting to know each other and are kidding each other.  This tale of eco-terrrorism takes its name from J. Robert Oppenheimer’s comment about the Trinity atomic bomb test in 1945:  He had become death, the destroyer of worlds.

Earth is barely habitable in 2300, so almost all humans live elsewhere in the solar system.  Rudolpho describes the planet as a “bloody sewer.”  A relative few people try to rehabilitate the homeworld, but life on other worlds is more profitable than that effort.  This information is essential to understanding the events of the episode.

Becoming Shiva opens at Ring Saturn.  Two terrorists, Nailson and Salvatore, plant a bomb in an empty part of the space station.  They arm the bomb, set the timer, and say to each other, “For Terra.”  Then they depart the station in their spacecraft.  Yet two maintenance men enter the vicinity of the bomb very shortly before the bomb detonates.

Elisa Moolecherry as Nailson

Nailson detects the men via her ship’s scanner.

This disturbs her, but not Salvatore.

Blast Impacts at Ring Shepherd

Two days later…

Travis is at Syn City, Io, Jupiter Federation, when a police officer hires him.  The authorities have received warning that the same terrorists who struck at Ring Shepherd will hit Syn City in one day.  The bounty hunter’s job is to prevent this from happening.

The terrorist organization, which is seven years old, calls itself Terra’s Children.  They have targeted structures, not people.  Aside from property damage, the worst they have done, prior to two days ago, has been to cause some minor injuries.

Nailson and Salvatore at Syn City

Nailson and Salvatore, carrying a bomb in a bag, arrive at Syn City.  The two argue about what happened at Syn City.  Nailson says, “We don’t kill.”  “Yes,” Salvatore replies, “but they do.”  Salvatore heads off to arm and plant the bomb, but Nailson observes him.  Then, when the coast is clear, she disarms and moves the bomb.

Percy and Marcus

Percy and Marcus monitor the video feeds from their perch on the Bridge of the Tulip while Travis, Callie, and Rudolpho are in Syn City.

Percy

Percy tells Marcus that her uncle Dante “saved the Earth once.”  So Dante did succeed in at least one reality.  (For more details, follow this link:  https://neatnik2009.wordpress.com/2011/01/18/starhunter-resurrection-2001/.

Percy and Marcus identify Nailson on the video feed.  They inform Rudolpho, is most approximate to her position.  He pursues her, so she runs and drops the bag with the bomb inside.  Nevertheless, Callie and Travis apprehend Nailson, who gives a short speech about the “indifferent children of the Earth.”

Nailson in the Brig

Percy brings Nailson food.  The prisoner perceives that Percy has grown up on the ship.  This is sad, Nailson comments.

Travis arrives next, and Percy leaves.  He asks Nailson where Salvatore is, but the prisoner denies knowing Salvatore.  She works alone, she says.  Nailson does, however, reveal her motivation for her terrorist activities:  Jeremy, her seven-year-old son, died of cancer.  Only Terrans worry about cancer in 2300.

Salvatore, meanwhile, returns to his underground base on Adrastea, the smallest moon of Jupiter.  He has a job for one of his followers.

Marcus

Marcus tells Travis what he has learned:  Nailson had disarmed the bomb at Syn City.  This confirms that the prisoner has just lied to Travis; Salvatore must have set the bomb to go off in a public place.

Nevertheless, Nailson is not an innocent party.  So Travis is on schedule to turn her over to authorities at Ring Saturn.  He, Callie, and Rudolpho take accompany Nailson aboard a shuttle and head for Ring Shepherd, but have to turn around because station control, citing new security procedures, orders them not to dock.  So Travis turns around and returns to the Tulip.

Marcus and Two Fake Inspection Agents

Those security procedures need revision, for two of Salvatore’s men have killed and taken the places of two inspection agents.  (This was the job of which Salvatore spoke at Adrastea.)  They reveal their identities on the Bridge of the Tulip and attempt to access navigational controls from there.  They shoot at Marcus, who flees for his life.  Caravaggio informs Percy, who says, “It’s always something!”

Callie and Rudolpho return Nailson to the brig while Travis confronts the two fake inspection agents.  They kill themselves with a small, hand-held bomb, which does not harm Travis because he gets far enough away.

Percy succeeds where Travis failed; she persuades Nailson to reveal Salvatore’s location.  She does this by increasing the gravity in the prisoner’s cell 8.6 times Earth standard.

Adrastea, the smallest moon of Jupiter, will collide with Jupiter in time.  Salvatore plots to commandeer the Tulip, use the ship to push the moon into the planet, and thereby create a radiation burst and shockwave that will kill the three billion people of the Jupiter Federation.

Travis,  Callie, and Rudolpho find Salvatore and his men on Adrastea.  The terrorists surrender immediately.  (This is too easy.)  Travis takes Salvatore and two terrorists back to the Tulip, where they break loose.  A shootout ensues, during which Salvatore liberates Nailson from the brig.  Percy confronts them, but Nailson punches her in the face.  “You were right, ” Nailson tells Salvatore, “they don’t deserve our compassion.”

Back on Adrastea, Callie and Rudolpho are watching the other terrorists when Callie detects an armed bomb with a timer.  She and Rudolpho flee, taking the terrorists’ own vessel.  There is not a spacecraft Callie can’t fly, at least according to her.  I believe her.

Back on the Tulip, Nailson goes to the Bridge and engages navigational controls.  The plan to use the ship to push Adrastea into Jupiter is in underway.  Fortunately, Marcus shuts down the engines in time.

Salvatore, meanwhile, is in a shuttle.  Callie pursues him and disables his engines.  “Whatever happens now, it happens to you, too,” she tells him.

Nailson

Salvatore calls Nailson and orders her to abort the mission.  But Nailson refuses, saying, “Too late for that.  They will not ignore Earth again.”

Percy

Percy, however, gun in hand, confronts Nailson.  The terrorist dares Percy to shoot her.  Yet Percy would prefer to punch her in the face.  Then Travis, having won his gunfight, enters the Bridge.  Nailson aims her weapon at him, and he shoots her dead.

The Tulip

Marcus restores the engines, and the Tulip gets underway for Ring Shepherd, where Travis insists on turning Salvatore over to the authorities.

Percy

Travis visits Percy, who is alone in her quarters.  He asks, “Are you okay?”  She replies, “No.”

Thus ends Becoming Shiva.

Percy has been through quite a bit, and there is more to come.  How she deals with it is part of her character arc in Starhunter 2300.

Viewing as much as possible of Tanya Allen’s filmed work reveals how good an actress she is, how she can do both comedy and drama very convincingly.  Her work in The Newsroom, the Starhunter series, and various movies spans a variety of genres, and she is excellent in all of them.

Next, in Episode #7, The Third Thing, the crew of the Tulip faces another potentially lethal challenge–a scripted reality show.

KENNETH RANDOLPH TAYLOR

APRIL 1, 2011 COMMON ERA

All images are screen captures from either Starhunter 2300 or The Newsroom.  These series are available in their entirety via means consistent with U.S. copyright laws.