Archive for the ‘Star Trek: The Next Generation (1987-1994)’ Category

The Starlost: Space Precinct (1973)   2 comments

Above:  “A sun, a real star”

A Screen Capture

++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++

EPISODE 16

Aired January 5, 1974

0:49:24

The episode is available here.

STARRING

Keir Dullea as Devon

Gay Rowan as Rachel

Robin Ward as Garth

GUEST STARRING

Ivor Barry as Rathe Mathers, Chief of the Intra-Ark Police

Nuala Fitzgerald as Reena, Chief of Planetary Police, Federation of United Planets

Richard Alden as Mike, the Pilot of I.A.P. Module Number One

Diane Dewey as “Tech,” Police Technician, Class A, Intra-Ark Police

William Osler as Computer Host and Voice

BEHIND THE CAMERAS

Series created by Cordwainer Bird (Harlan Ellison)

Episode written by Martin Lager

Story Consultant = Norman Klenman

Director = Joseph L. Scanlan

Producer = William Davidson

Executive Producers = Douglas Trumbull and Jerry Zeitman

Above:  Garth, “Tech,” and Rathe

A Screen Capture

THE INTRA-ARK POLICE (I.A.P.)

Where have the Intra-Ark Police (I.A.P.) been for the previous fifteen episodes?  They would have been helpful as early as the second episode, Lazarus from the Mist.

Diane Dewey’s character has no name.  The end credits list the character as “Technician.”  The character herself and all other characters who encounter her call her “Tech.”

Why do the Intra-Ark Police, who have long known about the impending doom of the Ark, tried to do nothing to save it?

Above:  I.A.P. Module Number One

A Screen Capture

The I.A.P. modules allow for mobility on the Ark, a large vessel.

Most members of the I.A.P. are “textbook-trained graduates of the Ark Academy,” as Chief Rathe Masters refers to them dismissively.

Where is the Ark Academy?

Who controls the Ark Academy?

Does Rathe answer to the Director of Security, mentioned in Farthing’s Comet?

The I.A.P. violate the already-broken concept of The Starlost.

Members of the I.A.P., except for mini-skirted women, wear uniforms identical to those of the Astro-Medics.  “Tech” dresses identically to Lethe, from And Only Man is Vile.

The I.A.P. knows much about the residents of the Ark.

The I.A.P. has been tracking Devon, Rachel, and Garth for seven months, since Voyage of Discovery.  This timeframe contradicts The Alien Oro.

Chief Rathe Masters’s base of operations is I.A.P. Module Number One.

The I.A.P. has at least twelve divisions.  We hear about yet never see Division 12.

Rathe has grand plans for the I.A.P.-F.U.P. police force.  The result will be a force that “will be able to handle everything from a burglary to a space shootout.”

The Solar System of the Federation of United Planets

A Screen Capture

THE FEDERATION OF UNITED PLANETS (F.U.P.)

The name “Federation of United Planets” is terribly derivative of the United Federation of Planets, from Star Trek (1966-1969) and its successors.

The F.U.P., contained in one solar system of ten planets, consists of nine inhabited worlds.  The habitable zone in that solar system is extremely unlikely, to understate the case.  But recall, O reader, that The Starlost is the series that mentions a “solar star,” “radiation virus,” and “space senility.”  Are you expecting science?

The worlds of the F.U.P. orbit what Rathe describes as “a sun, a real star.”  I hope they do not orbit a “solar star”!

The F.U.P. is about to go to war over the mining rights on the uninhabited world of Apor.  The two main planets, leaders of competing alliances, are Arak and Accombra.  Arak passed on the opportunity to mine on Apor until Accombra staked its claim.  Now Arak threatens to wage war and Accombra threatens to secede.  The hijacking of Accombran ore freighters is increasing tensions.

Above:  Federation Headquarters

A Screen Capture

The headquarters of the F.U.P. is an orbiting space station.

The F.U.P. and the I.A.P. have been in contact for five years.  Now that the Ark is close to the solar system, a launch window is about to open.  The next launch window will open in about a year.

Above:  Reena

A Screen Capture

Reena, the Chief of Planetary Police, F.U.P., seeks Rathe’s help in preventing an interplanetary war.  She says she needs his advanced police techniques in the F.U.P.

Reena’s uniform reminds me of clothes in Gallery of Fear and The Beehive.

Above:  Chief Rathe Masters, I.A.P.

A Screen Capture

SUMMARY OF THE EPISODE

As Space Precinct opens, Rachel is consulting a sphere projector while Devon and Garth look on.  The members of the trio are wearing their usual clothing from Cypress Corners, also known as M124.  Rachel is gathering information about biosphere M71, a scientific, experimental, agrarian station.  The last reported contact with M71 was in 2386, in the year after the Ark‘s accident.  M71 was high-tech in 2386.  The regular access routes are sealed, but access may be possible via service channels.  The sphere projector provides directions.

Devon and Rachel are enthusiastic about going to M71, but Garth is not.  He says goodbye and heads back toward Cypress Corners.  Garth does not get far before Rathe Masters, Chief of the Intra-Ark Police (I.A.P.), detains him for questioning and takes him to I.A.P. Module Number One, docked in its assigned place.

Meanwhile, Rachel and Devon don spacesuits before entering a freight elevator with little air in it.  They are en route to M71.  The elevator gets stuck, and the supply of air in the space suits is limited.

At Module One, Rathe learns more about Garth than Garth may have known about himself.  Rathe offers Garth a job as a detective in the I.A.P.  Garth accepts the offer.  Rathe is convinced that Garth can help him prevent a war in the Federation of United Planets (F.U.P.).

Rathe calls Reena, the Chief of Planetary Police in the F.U.P.  He tells her that Module One will leave in a few minutes, when the launch window will open.  Yet Module One can never leave because someone is jamming the system.  “Tech,” Rathe’s trusted aide, tells him that the jamming signal comes from the F.U.P.  He believes her.  Yet she is lying; she keeps jamming the system.  “Tech” spends most of the episode casting blame onto innocent people, mainly Reena and Garth.

Garth suspects that Reena may have a traitor on her staff.  This turns out to be correct; he is Ragar, whom we never see.  Ragar and “Tech” are working together.  Ragar, responsible for protecting the ore ships, is orchestrating the hijacking of them and getting rich.  He, planning to win the F.U.P. war and have Reena killed, has offered “Tech” Reena’s job in one year.

Poor Garth!  Mike suspects him of being a traitor.  Rathe suspects.  Even Reena suspects him.  Then she reveals that “Tech” is a traitor.

Back in the freight elevator, Devon removes his helmet then the helmet of the unconscious Rachel.  The air in the elevator is all the air they have left.  Reena calls in Division 12 to rescue Devon and Rachel.  Then, when alone, she calls off Division 12.  Next, she tells Garth that Devon and Rachel have died.

Soon, however, Garth overhears “Tech” speaking with Ragar.  He knows that she is a liar and a traitor.  She tries to kill him by stunning him and leaving him in an airless elevator.  But one of his boots prevents the elevator door from closing completely.  “Tech” tells Rathe that Garth is dead.  He is alive, though.

Rathe sends Division 12 to rescue Devon and Rachel.  Division 12 rescues them, off-screen, of course.

Until nearly the end of the episode, Reena suspects Garth of being a traitor.  Then she tells Rathe that “Tech” is a traitor.  “Tech” goes to the Ark jail.  The plot ended, tensions in the F.U.P. begin to cool.

Reena says,

Garth, we’ll make a detective out of you yet.

Garth replies,

Well, I’ll let you know.

Le fin.

Above:  Mike, Pilot of Intra-Ark Police Module Number One

A Screen Capture

OTHER UNANSWERED QUESTIONS

Where is the laundry in the tubes and corridors of the Earth Ship Ark?

Where are the bathrooms and showers in tubes and corridors of the Earth Ship Ark?

How does Garth maintain that early 1970s haircut while on the run in the tubes and corridors of the Earth Ship Ark?

Given that Devon, Rachel, and Garth have been to the Bridge, why do they need to find the backup Bridge?

Why are so many people on the Ark fatalistic?

Why does Devon not invoke his authority as the Ark commander?  (The Return of Oro)

Why does Devon’s level of interest in saving the Ark vary from episode to episode, and sometimes within an episode?

How many zoological laboratories are on the Earth Ship Ark?

What is M71 like in 2790?

Will Devon and Rachel go to M71 after all?

Will Garth rejoin Devon and Rachel?

Is the Ark doomed to collide with the “Class-G solar star”?

Above:  “Tech”

A Screen Capture

OTHER COMMENTS

For the record, Garth, Identification Number 774833-BXL-871, was born to Rebecca and Old Garth on May 22, 2767.

Space Precinct was the final episode of The Starlost filmed.  However, there were scripts for episodes #17 and 18:  God That Died and People in the Dark.

The full season run would have been twenty-four episodes.  However, NBC chose not to order the final eight episodes.  Good riddance to bad rubbish!

KENNETH RANDOLPH TAYLOR

SEPTEMBER 17, 2021 COMMON ERA

++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++

All images in this post are screen captures from a series that is freely available at archive.org and YouTube.

++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++

The Starlost: The Alien Oro (1973)   6 comments

Above:  Oro

A Screen Capture

++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++

EPISODE 7

Aired November 3, 1973

0:49:21

The episode is available here.

STARRING

Keir Dullea as Devon

Gay Rowan as Rachel

Robin Ward as Garth

GUEST STARRING

Walter Koenig as Oro

Alexandra Bastedo as Idona (Y-419-B2)

William Osler as Computer Voice and Host

BEHIND THE CAMERAS

Series created by Cordwainer Bird (Harlan Ellison)

Episode written by Mort Forer and Marian Waldman

Story Consultant = Norman Klenman

Director = Joseph L. Scanlan

Science Consultant = Ben Bova

Producer = William Davidson

Executive Producers = Douglas Trumbull and Jerry Zeitman

Above:  Oro’s Ship, Explorer Ship 531

A Screen Capture

BACKGROUND

Harlan Ellison wrote many introductions.  He told the following story in the introduction to Edward Bryant’s novelization of Phoenix Without Ashes (1975):  As ratings for The Starlost fell from week to week, the people in charge of producing the series called Gener Roddenberry.  The offered him fifty percent of the show if he would rescue the series.  The Great Bird of the Galaxy refused.  Then those Canadians asked Roddenberry to recommend someone.  He offered one name:  Harlan Ellison.  As Ellison told the story, Roddenberry said:

If you hadn’t screwed him so badly, he could have done a good job for you.

Then Roddenberry hung up.

Roddenberry had other irons in the fire.  He was working on a proposed series, for which he made two pilots for two networks.  Those pilots were Genesis II (1973) and Planet Earth (1974).  Somewhere in there, he also worked on another project, The Questor Tapes (1974).  That did not lead to a series either.  The Questor Tapes did influence Lieutenant Commander Data in Star Trek:  The Next Generation (1987-1994) and related movies (1994, 1996, 1998, and 2002), though.  Furthermore, the name “Dylan Hunt” and some plot elements from Genesis II and Planet Earth influenced Andromeda (2000-2005).

The casting of Walter Koenig as Oro (dressed in a gold-colored uniform, appropriately) was an effort to breathe new life into the series by bringing in an actor from Star Trek (1966-1969).  Unfortunately, the script was bad.  Yet Koenig returned for episode #13, The Return of Oro.  Oro was the only recurring antagonist in The Starlost.

One of the practices in television in the 1980s was to create television movies out of short-lived series by combining two episodes.  Once upon a time, this was the only way to see some episodes and series.  In 1980, ten of the sixteen episodes of The Starlost became five television movies, entitled:

  1. The Starlost:  The Beginning (Voyage of Discovery and The Goddess Calabra),
  2. The Starlost:  Deception (Mr. Smith of Manchester and Gallery of Fear),
  3. The Starlost:  The Alien Oro (The Alien Oro and The Return of Oro),
  4. The Starlost:  The Return (Astro-Medics and The Implant People), and
  5. The Starlost:  The Invasion (The Pisces and Farthing’s Comet).

The cover of each VHS tape proclaimed:

BEYOND 1984.  BEYOND 2001:  A SPACE ODYSSEY.

BEYOND STAR TREK.

THE STARLOST.

AN ADVENTURE FROM THE

RUNAWAY HIT TELEVISION SERIES.

Given that The Starlost ended prematurely, after only sixteen episodes, and that the ratings were low, I must laugh at “runaway hit.”

Above:  The Hull Breach

A Screen Capture

MATTERS CHRONOLOGICAL

The technology of the planet Exar, in the Xenophon Nebula, enabled detection of the accident aboard the Earth Ship Ark in 2385.  However, The Ark came within visual range of long-range sensors only in 2790.

This episode and Space Precinct (#16) contradict each other regarding chronology.  The Alien Oro provides a date for Oro’s arrival aboard the Ark:  April 3, 2790.  Dialogue establishes this event as having occurred not quite one year prior to the rest of the episode.  Yet Space Precinct establishes that the time elapsed from the first episode to the sixteenth episode is only about seven months.

Recall that Children of Methuseleh (#5) starts on May 2, 2790.

Above:  Idona

A Screen Capture

SUMMARY OF THE EPISODE

This episode has too little material for the run time.  The summary, therefore, is mercifully short.

Oro, from the planet Exar, pilots Explorer Craft 531 toward the Earth Ship Ark.  His mission is to identify the Ark then to return to orbital station K7.  (How is that for an Easter egg?)  However, Oro loses control of his ship and crashes into the Ark, breaching its hull.

Not quite a year later, Oro is nearly done repairing and rebuilding Explorer Craft 531, with the help of Idona, whom he rescued.  Idona, having escaped from her biosphere, had been wandering in tubes and corridors.  She is proficient with technology, fortunately for Oro.  Oro’s space window back to Exar is about to reopen, and he wants to leave on time.

Devon, Garth, and Rachel, whom the annoying computer has summoned to the location of the hull breach, don space suits and explore the germane area of the ship, apparently close to the main Bridge.  (That fact raises some questions about Voyage of Discovery and Lazarus from the Mist.)  Devon, Garth, and Rachel meet Idona and Oro.  Garth, who has never met a woman proficient in “men’s work,” becomes infatuated with her.  Devon tries to persuade Oro to help save the Ark, but Oro insists that is a hopeless cause, and besides, he has no time to do try.  Rachel enter’s Oro’s ship and becomes stuck in there for a little while, until Devon insists that Oro release her.  But Rachel is never in any danger.

Oro knows that Idona will die in a few days or weeks unless he takes her to Exar with him.  Garth understands.  He will miss Idona, but he wants her to live.  Oro and Idona depart.

Le fin.

I skipped a few details, but so be it.

Above:  Idona and Garth in Oro’s Ship

A Screen Capture

UNANSWERED QUESTIONS

Where is the laundry in the tubes and corridors of the Earth Ship Ark?

Where are the bathrooms and showers in tubes and corridors of the Earth Ship Ark?

How does Garth maintain that early 1970s haircut while on the run in the tubes and corridors of the Earth Ship Ark?

Given that Devon, Rachel, and Garth have been to the Bridge, why do they need to find the backup Bridge?

How many people have been exiting bisopheres and exploring the tubes and corridors of the Earth Ship Ark?

Where were the Ark police when they should have been tending to the Oro situation?

Could not the Astro-Medics (#11) have treated Idona?

How convoluted can the interior chronology of the Earth Ship Ark become?

Above:  Exar

A Screen Capture

OTHER COMMENTS

As anyone who paid attention in French class should know, “ee-grek” is the pronunciation of “Y.”  Idona refers to her home biosphere accordingly.  (I paid attention in French class.)

Biosphere Y seems to be good place to be from, as an old saying goes.  Idona (Y-419-B2) thinks so, anyway.

Screenwriters Mort Forer and Marian Waldman were husband and wife.

The onscreen credit lists Marian Waldman as “Marion Waldman.”

The Ark’s computer disapproves of yelling at it.  To quote Saturday Night Live, “Do not taunt Happy Fun Ball.”

Next Episode:  Gallery of Fear

KENNETH RANDOLPH TAYLOR

SEPTEMBER 7, 2021 COMMON ERA

++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++

All images in this post are screen captures from a series that is freely available at archive.org and YouTube.

++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++

The Chronicle: News from the Edge–Episode 3: Here There Be Dragons (2001)   4 comments

Above:  George Takei as Mr. Shen

All images in this post are screen captures.

++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++

Here There Be Dragons

Canadian Television Rating = PG

Hyperlink to Episode

Aired July 21, 2001

Production Number = 5009-01-107

Starring

Chad Willett as Tucker Burns

Jon Polito as Donald Stern

Reno Wilson as Wes Freewald

Rena Sofer as Grace Hall

Main Guest Cast

George Takei as Mr. Shen

Yuki Kudo as Mina Shen

James Hong as David Lo Pan

Brian Tee as Neo

Dax Griffin as Sam

Behind the Camera

Writer and Consulting Producer = Naren Shankar

Director = Sanford Bookstaver

Above:  Grace Hall and Mina Shen

Brief Summary

Donald Stern assigns Tucker Burns to investigate rumors of a fire-breathing dragon in the sewers of Chinatown.  Something is down there, emitting flames; drug dealer Neo has a scarred face to prove that much.  Tucker, having adjusted to having his mind blown after working at the World Chronicle for two months, accepts that a fire-breathing dragon may be loose in Chinatown, but he insists on proof.  Many residents of Chinatown accept the existence of the dragon, but Don Corleone-like restauranteur (and boss of Neo, not at the restaurant) David Lo Pan remains skeptical.  Lo Pan threatens Tucker and Wes with violence and a lawsuit as easily as he gives them egg rolls.

Tucker comes to believe then doubt then believe again that the story is really about destructive cultural taboos, not a fire-breathing dragon.  He is correct.  Mina Shen, daughter of widower Mr. Shen, is pregnant and unmarried.  Mr. Shen believes that she has dishonored the family.  He asks Lo Pan to arrange an honor killing of the dragon, the alleged father of the new grandson, who has a skin disease.  Lo Pan insists that Mr. Shen do it himself, and sends Neo with him into the sewer to commit the deed.

Wes, Tucker, and Grace, having learned the truth, stage the “slaying” of the dragon (actually mechanical) and the death of Mina.  Mr. Shen, thinking his daughter is dead, weeps.  The father is Sam, a homeless Caucasian man with a skin disease living in the sewer.  He is as kind as Neo, who has designs on Mina also, is not.  Our three heroes send Mina, Sam, and the newborn son upstate, to Mina’s aunt, who has not spoken to Mr. Shen in years.  (Why not?  Mr. Shen, having met his grandson, insists that he has no grandson.)  The two reporters and the photographer permit Donald to think that there was actually a dragon in Chinatown, and to print that story.  The new family gets a fresh start, after all.  And it will be safe from Mr. Shen, who uses morality to justify his immorality.

Character Beats

Donald Stern keeps his promises.

Mina uses the story of the dragon to protect Sam’s identity.

Great Lines

Grace, to Tucker:  “Well, if a sewer is your idea of a romantic getaway, that might explain your success with women.”

Wes, to Tucker:  “I’m sorry about that, man.  After all those Jet Li movies, I should have seen that coming.”

Above:  The Mechanical Dragon

In-Universe

This episode is a sequel to Big Trouble in Little China (1986), in which James Hong originated the character of David Lo Pan.  Lo Pan, no longer a ghost, has moved from Chinatown in San Francisco to Chinatown in New York City.

About two months have passed since the end of the previous episode.  During that time, Tucker has encountered “a Whitman sampler of demons.”

The medical insurance policy for employees of the World Chronicle does not cover “immolation by reptiles.”

Donald Stern is objectively wrong about the causes of many of the incidents about which the World Chronicle reports.

The internal chronology of this series in inconsistent yet mostly consistent.  The date on the issue of the World Chronicle at the end of the episode (the eighth one produced and third one aired) is August 20, 2001.  Yet, Baby Got Back, the third episode produced and fourth one aired, is set in August 2000.  When did Tucker start working for the World Chronicle?  And when had he been working for there for two months?  The March 2001 dates referenced in Bring Me the Head of Tucker Burns (the twelfth episode produced and the eighth one aired) and Let Sleeping Dogs Fry (the second episode produced and the ninth one aired) point toward Tucker going to work for the World Chronicle in the summer of 2000.

Comments

This episode, with a heart, is easily rewatchable.

Naren Shankar is a veteran of Star Trek:  The Next Generation, Star Trek:  Deep Space Nine, and Star Trek:  Voyager.  One of his better episodes is The First Duty (1992), in which Captain Jean-Luc Picard tells Cadet Wesley Crusher that the first duty is to the truth.  Tucker Burns begins Here There Be Dragons with that attitude then decides that the first duty is act compassionately.

KENNETH RANDOLPH TAYLOR

MAY 18, 2020 COMMON ERA

++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++

The Chronicle: News From the Edge–Episode 1: Pilot (2001)   5 comments

Above:  Angry Siamese Triplets

All images in this post are screen captures.

++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++

The Chronicle:  News from the Edge

Series Creator = Silvio Horta

Executive Producers = Robert Greenblatt, David Janollari, Gina Matthews, and Silvio Horta

Composers = Tom Harriman and Donny Markowitz

Starring

Chad Willett as Tucker Burns

Jon Polito as Donald Stern

Reno Wilson as Wes Freewald

Rena Sofer as Grace Hall

Curtis Armstrong as Sal the Pig-Boy

Sharon Sachs as Vera

Octavia L. Spencer as Ruby Rydell

Above:  Wes Freewald Photographs the Brooklyn Bloodsucker

This Episode

Canadian Television Rating = PG

Hyperlink to Episode

Aired July 14, 2001

Production Number = 5009-01-179

Main Guest Actress

Lori Rom as Shawna Fuchs

Behind the Camera

Writer = Silvio Horta

Director = Marc Buckland

Above:  Chad Willett as Tucker Burns

Brief Summary

A creature known as the Brooklyn Bloodsucker comes out only after dark.  It claims a victim, Chuck, a reporter for the World Chronicle, a tabloid, before the opening credits.

Tucker Burns, who graduated from the Columbia University School of Journalism five months prior, applies for and gets the job to replace the departed Chuck almost immediately.  This is the only job he can get in his field.  He as received 47 rejection notices.  There is a good reason for this.  The previous year, Tucker temporarily became a hero and won a Student Pulitzer Prize for a story about a professor who allegedly harassed female students sexually.  The university, bowing to protests, fired the professor.  The allegations, however, were false; the students making the allegations wanted to ruin the professor.  Tucker lost the Student Pulitzer Prize and sabotaged his career.

Tucker’s girlfriend, Shawna Fuchs, expresses concern that he is making a terrible mistake.  His new job ends their relationship.

Tucker learns quickly that the stories in the World Chronicle are true.  He also learns that, in the archives in the basement, Sal the Pig-Boy conducts research and uses the “Rosetta Stone,” an alien computer, to translate extraterrestrial languages.  Furthermore, Tucker works with photographer Wes Freewald on the story of the Brooklyn Bloodsucker, who kills a cat and a boy off-screen, but is actually a galactic spiritual leader.  The creature’s “people,” thinking humans have kidnapped him, nearly destroy Manhattan, Tucker, Wes, and reporter Grace Hall take the alien to Central Park in time for the galactic spiritual leader to catch a ride home instead.

As the episode ends, Wes and Tucker head out to an Arby’s, to report on an angry ghost.  This scene sets up the beginning of the next episode, What Gobbles Beneath.

Above:  Rena Sofer as Grace Hall

Character Beats

Grace Hall, a reporter for the World Chronicle, objects when anyone questions her accounts of at least six alien abductions.

Sal the Pig-Boy justifies his inappropriate behavior with, “What do you expect?  I’m a pig!”

Donald Stern, publisher and editor of the World Chronicle, hires only reporters with bad reputations.  This is the only way he prevents the loss of journalists to other publications.  He also considers his work a high calling.

Donald Stern is a kind, patient, and understanding employer.

Sal the Pig-Boy, who is short, resents the “height-centered establishment.”

Great Lines

Vera:  “I’m sorry.  The alien autopsy contest has ended.”

Vera:  “Reincarnation of Mother Teresa, Line One.”

Above:  Curtis Armstrong as Sal the Pig-Boy

In-Universe

Somewhere in New Jersey, a girlie poster of Madonna Ciccone in a boy’s bedroom has been bleeding since Britney Spears entered the top-ten charts.

The Polka Massacre of 1978 happened.

Space aliens invented the internet.

Donald Stern prefers that Ruby the psychic predict only events that will happen after the next issue goes to newsstands.  Sal, Tucker, Wes, and Grace prevent Ruby’s prediction of alien devastation of Manhattan from coming true, so Ruby’s powers of prediction are not infallible.

The elevator moves both horizontally and vertically.

Above:  Jon Polito as Donald Stern

Comments

The cast is excellent.  For example, the way Jon Polito, portraying Donald Stern, refers nonchalantly to Britney Spears as a sign of the end times is hilarious.

The Chronicle:  News from the Edge plays like a mish-mash of Kolchak:  The Night Stalker, The X Files, and Northern Exposure.  The series’s mixed tone plays better in some episodes than in others.  I know, for I watched all 22 episodes before writing one note.  I write this post about the pilot episode with all episodes in mind.  In this episode, I notice the abrupt tonal shift with regard to the Brooklyn Bloodsucker, who, despite being a stranded galactic spiritual leader, has still killed at least two humans and one cat.  I do not accept the episode’s explanation that the Bloodsucker is mainly misunderstood.

The cover stories at the beginning of the episode are funny.  “THERE’S A DEMON IN MY TOILET AND HE WON’T LET ME FLUSH!” is hilarious.

Perhaps I am overthinking the reference to 47 rejection letters, but I cannot help but think about the many instances of that number in Star Trek:  The Next Generation (1987-1994).

KENNETH RANDOLPH TAYLOR

MAY 16, 2020 COMMON ERA

++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++

Meh.   Leave a comment

I despise all new Star Trek programming since the first episode of Star Trek:  Discovery.  The story-telling is awful, designers have no idea how vessels, sets, and uniforms should work, and show runners have no idea what the level of technology should be.  Star Trek:  Picard is another disappointment that, visually, continues from Discovery and not from The Next Generation.  Recent news of the third series, Star Trek:  Strange New Worlds, leaves me unimpressed.  I know how the uniforms and the interiors and exterior of the Enterprise should look, for I have watched The Cage (1964).    I have that pilot on blu-ray.  These recent series occur in a universe parallel to that of the original series (1966-1969), the animated series (1973-1975), The Next Generation (1987-1994), Deep Space Nine (1993-1999), and Voyager (1995-2001).  These recent series also occur in a universe parallel to Star Trek:  Enterprise (2001-2005), itself parallel to the original series-Voyager.  (How many of the writers of Star Trek:  Enterprise watched Star Trek:  The Motion Picture?)

Enterprises

Above:  The Previous Enterprises in Star Trek:  The Motion Picture (1979)

A Cropped Screen Capture

I do not see the NX-01.

I have actual, proper Star Trek on physical media.  I choose to watch that and refrain from watching this new content, a big ball of no.

KENNETH RANDOLPH TAYLOR

MAY 15, 2020 COMMON ERA

Bigotry, Social Media, and Psychological Self-Defense Mechanisms   2 comments

Above:  The DVD Cover for Series Eleven of Doctor Who

Scan by Kenneth Randolph Taylor

++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++

Never underestimate the human capability to ignore one’s faults yet recognize them in others.  All of us need to be vigilant in efforts to be honest with ourselves about ourselves.

Recently I spent much of a Saturday participating in Dismantling Racism Training at church.  The Episcopal Diocese of Atlanta offered the training, required for those who lead in their congregations.  The training was valuable and has remained thought-provoking.

My society influences me, of course.  It influences me for better and for worse.  One cannot grow up without learning preferences and biases.  In my case, the better angels of my nature affirm that any human being who has both a pulse and brain waves also has unalienable rights.  Nevertheless, I admit that I learned certain sinful biases from my culture.  I thank my parents for raising me not to be a racist and acknowledge gratefully that their lessons dominate my thinking.  However, I am not immune to other influences, which I resist in my mind.  I, as a heterosexual Caucasian male, have a different set of experiences than many other people do.  I, as a decent human being, can learn from the experiences of others and question many of my seemingly innocent assumptions, rooted in ignorance.  I do so and seek to continue to do so.

Social media have done much to unleash the ids of many people, unfortunately.  Entertainment franchises have become targets for many online expressions of bigotry.  For example, before Jodie Whittaker filmed her first scene as the Doctor, many people on social media complained about her because she was a she.  Later, many of these individuals complained about socially progressive messages in the new episodes.  How many of these people watched serials (Yes, I understand the difference between serials and episodes.  A serial consists of episodes.  Inferno, from 1970, is a serial consisting of seven episodes.  Please do not refer to Inferno as an episode.) from the classic series (1963-1989)?  (I covered some of that ground in a recent post.)

Sometimes I listen to people discuss a series I have watched then wonder if they have watched the same series I did.  Consider Star Trek (1966-1969), for example.  I hear people contrast it with the contemporary substandard shows, such as Discovery and Picard.  Some points of criticism of Discovery and Picard are legitimate.  I even agree with many of them.  Dropping F-bombs in Star Trek makes me want not to watch a Star Trek series guilty of that.  Nevertheless, the condemnations of socially and politically progressive messages, as if they are unusually preachy for Star Trek, contradict objective reality.  As I consult my copy of The Star Trek Compendium (1986), part of my library since 1988, I notice many “bonk, bonk, over the head” episodes.  I know that Gene Roddenberry designed the series to consist of morality plays.  Cold War allegories pervade the series, as in Errand of Mercy (1967).  The name “Vietnam” is absent from A Private Little War (1968), but the allegory is obvious, and dialogue hints at Vietnam.  Let That Be Your Last Battlefield (1969), with the black-and-white inhabitants of Cheron fighting each other until all are dead, is hardly subtle.  The Mark of Gideon (1969) addresses overpopulation, one of the major concerns of the time.  The Cloudminders (1969) has to do with social stratification.  Patterns of Force (1968) is a story about a recreation of the Third Reich, down to the uniforms, on another planet.  I could continue, but why belabor the point?  Who can legitimately claim that the original Star Trek series was not preachy?

The space Nazis in Star Trek:  The Next Generation and Star Trek:  Deep Space Nine are the Cardassians.

My theory, not original to me, is that many of these vocal critics of socially progressive messages in media feel threatened.  Why else would they be so vocal?  A basic grasp of human psychology points toward this conclusion.  I also factor in an unfortunate social reality that is either worse that it used to be or seems to be worse that it used to be; offending people across the spectrum of opinions is easier to do these days.  Too much is needlessly partisan.  Objective reality is objective reality.  The preponderance of scientific evidence points to certain conclusions.  Not liking objective reality does not negate it.  Finding scientific evidence offensive does not change it.

Other “offending” series full of socially progressive messages include The Twilight Zone (1959-1964) and The Outer Limits (1963-1965), two of my favorite classic series.  They are full of “bonk, bonk, over the head” moments.

We should be less defensive and more self-critical, individually and collectively.

KENNETH RANDOLPH TAYLOR

MARCH 13, 2020 COMMON ERA

++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++

The Return of Jean-Luc Picard   Leave a comment

Above:  Captain Jean-Luc Picard and Q in True Q (1992)

A Screen Capture

++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++

Mustering excitement about recent developments in Star Trek has been difficult for me.  Stories of an upcoming movie with Quentin Tarentino directing have not inspired me to want to watch that film.  The parallel universe of Star Trek (2009), Star Trek Into Darkness (2013), and Star Trek Beyond (2016) has proven less interesting than the Prime Universe.  And Star Trek:  Discovery (STD, for short, appropriately) has proven to be a shameful mess devoid of continuity in every respect, an unforgivable sin in what is officially a prequel yet really not one.

One piece of news does excite me, though.  Patrick Stewart is on track to return to the role of Jean-Luc Picard in a new series, a continuation of Star Trek:  The Next Generation (1987-1994).  We will apparently see Picard about 20 years after the events of Star Trek:  Nemesis (2002).  If I can believe the early news, the new series will actually respect canon–a miracle, considering the fiasco of STD.

For years I have thought that Star Trek on screen should move forward in time from Star Trek:  The Next Generation, Star Trek:  Deep Space Nine (1993-1999), and even the woeful Star Trek:  Voyager (1995-2001), where continuity and character development went to die by neglect.  Star Trek:  Enterprise (2001-2005), a prequel series, was, like STD, a major error replete with discontinuity.  It was the series that proved to be a bridge too far for me; after suffering through the first two seasons, I stopped watching early in the third season.  This recent announcement from Patrick Stewart has restored a degree of my enthusiasm for some of new Star Trek.  I have decided to reserve judgment for later, when the series will be available for viewing, though.  CBS/Paramount has disappointed me too many times.

KENNETH RANDOLPH TAYLOR

AUGUST 7, 2018 COMMON ERA

++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++

The Multiverse of Star Trek   1 comment

Above:  The Parallel Terok Nor in Through the Looking Glass (1995), an Episode of Star Trek:  Deep Space Nine

A Screen Capture

+++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++

With Kvetching about Star Trek:  Discovery

The multiverse internal to Star Trek has been an established fact since the original series (1966-1969).  Aside from the Prime Timeline, in which the series and movies (except perhaps Star Trek V:  The Final Frontier, 1989) existed through Star Trek:  Voyager (1995-2001) and Star Trek:  Nemesis (2002), visual Star Trek has offered parallel universes also.  In the original series viewers saw an antimatter universe in The Alternative Factor (1967) and an evil universe in Mirror, Mirror (1967).  Star Trek:  Deep Space Nine (1993-1999) included occasional sequels to Mirror, Mirror.  The multiverse was essential to the plot of Parallels (1993), an episode of Star Trek:  The Next Generation (1987-1994).  Star Trek:  Enterprise (2001-2005) must have played out in a parallel universe, given the problems of reckless discontinuity with all the Star Trek series produced prior to it.  And all the Star Trek movies since 2009 have occurred in a parallel universe, probably the same one that includes Star Trek:  Enterprise.  Beyond that, there is no way the opening minute or so of Star Trek (2009) played out in the Prime Timeline.

Star Trek:  Discovery (2017-) allegedly occurs in the Prime Timeline–to be precise, between The Cage (1964) and Where No Man Has Gone Before (1965), the two pilot episodes of the original series.  That official claim is malarkey.  The starships in Star Trek:  Discovery (STD is an appropriate abbreviation.) are too large.  The technology is inconsistent with the original series.  The uniforms are wrong.  The U.S.S. Enterprise in STD is much too big, as well as visually inconsistent with the original series.

As Doug Drexler argues, Star Trek is a period piece.  One can respect the look of the original series, as Star Trek:  The Next Generation, Star Trek:  Deep Space Nine, and Star Trek:  Enterprise did.  One need not reinvent the wheel, as STD does.

There is a simple way to avoid pretending that discontinuity between STD and the rest of Star Trek does not exist:  acknowledge the obvious, which is that STD occurs in a parallel universe, perhaps its own.

I despise STD for its own demerits.  I would despise STD for its own demerits, even if pretending to be in the Prime Timeline were not one of them.  The sturn und drang behind the scenes creates an identity crisis for the series.  The political progressiveness is fine; I am a liberal, and toleration is an inherent element of Star Trek.  Nevertheless, is STD about exploration or war?  I ponder the trailer for the second season and wonder if STD is trying to ape The Orville while becoming about exploration and continuing to make a mockery of the Prime Timeline.  STD reminds me of SeaQuest, a series NBC aired under two titles for three seasons in the 1990s.  I remember the identity crisis of that series, each season of which might as well as have been a separate series.

At least The Orville respects Star Trek.

KENNETH RANDOLPH TAYLOR

JULY 26, 2018 COMMON ERA

+++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++

Star Trek: Discovery Does Not Occur in the Prime Timeline.   2 comments

As the great Doug Drexler has argued, Star Trek, in all its manifestations, is a period piece; each era has its look.  Technology is at a certain level.  The uniforms are what they are, for better and worse.  For all the inconsistencies in Star Trek series and movies since the 1960s, visual continuity within a particular period in a certain universe is essential.

Star Trek:  Discovery (2017-), supposedly set in the prime timeline, contemporary with The Cage (1964), the first Star Trek pilot, is so visually different from the Star Trek of the 1960s as to play out in what is obviously one of many parallel universes, which have been recognized parts of the Star Trek franchise since The Alternative Factor (1967).  That is fine with me; truth in advertising is not too much to ask.  Star Trek:  Discovery no more takes place in the prime timeline than does the first minute (before Nero breaks through into the past) of Star Trek (2009)–for the same reason.  The appearance of Captain Christopher Pike’s Enterprise  in the season finale of Discovery confirms my theory.  That incarnation of the NCC-1701 is, in some ways, more advanced than the refitted NCC-1701 in Star Trek:  The Motion Picture (1979), Star Trek II:  The Wrath of Khan (1982), and Star Trek III:  The Search for Spock (1984), as well as the outwardly identical NCC-1701-A we saw for the first time at the end of Star Trek IV:  The Voyage Home (1986).

Perhaps my age, which shapes my experiences, defines my perspective.  I recall life before Star Trek:  The Next Generation (1987-1994) and subsequent series and TNG movies.  I remember watching the original series in reruns on local television stations before and after the debut of The Next Generation, which debuted when I was in high school and ended when I was an undergraduate.  Older-style (relative to 2017 and 2018) visual styles do not bother me, not that I object to watching digitally remastered versions of episodes on blu-ray.  Yet, in those remastered episodes, technology and uniforms remain unchanged.  After all, each period has its own aesthetic.  Honoring that is vital within the franchise.

Creators of new canonical Star Trek material should thusly honor the franchise.  Talk of visual reboots is ridiculous.  Creators of new material should reserve visual reboots for parallel universes–and say so.

KENNETH RANDOLPH TAYLOR

MARCH 17, 2018 COMMON ERA

+++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++

Ranking Star Trek Movies I-X   2 comments

Above:  A Scene from Star Trek VI:  The Undiscovered Country (1991)

A screen capture

+++++++++++++++++++++++

Preliminary Statements

  1. This post flows from my brief reviews of movies I-VI and VII-X.  I refer you, O reader, to those posts, in which I have ranked I-VI in context of each other and VII-X in context of each other.
  2. As I have written in those posts, my most basic standard regarding any of the Star Trek movies is whether I want to place the disc in my Blu-ray player, press the “play” button on the remote control, and watch the movie from beginning to end without skipping any scenes.

Rankings

  1. Star Trek II:  The Wrath of Khan (1982)
  2. Star Trek VI:  The Undiscovered Country (1991)
  3. Star Trek IV:  The Voyage Home (1986)
  4. Star Trek III:  The Search for Spock (1984)
  5. Star Trek:  Insurrection (1998)
  6. Star Trek:  First Contact (1996)
  7. Star Trek:  Generations (1994)
  8. Star Trek:  The Motion Picture (1979)
  9. Star Trek V:  The Final Frontier (1989)
  10. Star Trek:  Nemesis (2002)

Analysis

  1. My five favorite Star Trek movies are those I want to watch without skipping any scenes.
  2. The top three films are those with which Nicholas Meyer was involved.
  3. My least favorite Star Trek movies are those that were nearly franchise killers.
  4. Original series movies are generally better than Next Generation movies.

KENNETH RANDOLPH TAYLOR

JUNE 20, 2017 COMMON ERA