Archive for the ‘Starhunter (2000-2001)’ Category

Starhunter–Dark and Stormy Night (2001)   8 comments

Dante Asking for the Truth

EPISODE #15

Dark and Stormy Night picks up where episode #14 leaves off.  This is a combination of three-person drama (Dante, Luc, and Darius) and clip show.  The clips come from all but three of the previous episodes, the exceptions being Trust, Siren’s Song, and Peer Pressure.  This is, however, an effective clip show, for it connects the dots and reveals the conspiracy, including one aspect which shocks both Dante and Luc.

The clip show nature of this episode is a mixed blessing.  On one hand, it does make Dark and Stormy Night an essential reference piece for most of the previous fourteen hours.  In fact, I watched it more than once in preparation for previous summaries and reviews.  Yet the repeated use of clips between original scenes can prove irritating to one with an encyclopedic (or nearly so) knowledge of the series.  I am among these individuals, and the clip show element is the sole factor restraining me from declaring Dark and Stormy Night the finest episode of Starhunter.

One definition of irony in drama is that the audience knows facts some characters do not.  By that standard, Dark and Stormy Night erodes the irony greatly.  We, the viewers, know already that Luc really works for the Orchard, which she distrusts, that she has a strained relationship with Darius, her father, and that some of the bounty hunting assignments have originated with the Orchard.  We know also that the Orchard, which is dangerous, is trying to control the Divinity Cluster, and that the Orchard is divided into at least two factions:  those of Pacquette and those of Darius, both of whom are ruthless.

Pacquette, from The Divinity Cluster

Pacquette, however, is more ruthless.  She wanted to kill Eccleston in The Divinity Cluster; Darius wanted to capture and question him.

Dante

Dante learns most of this from Luc and the rest from Darius, when the latter boards the Tulip.  The captain is angry to learn of the conspiracy that has been playing out under his nose while he was oblivious to it.  He feels manipulated (justifiably) and objects to the fact that Luc has lied to him repeatedly.  She has even placed the Tulip, Percy, and himself in danger.

Darius

Luc apologizes.  She says that she did not think or know that her work for the Orchard, done at the behest of her father, would lead to such consequences.  “I made a mistake,” she says.

She tells Dante what she knows about the Divinity Cluster.  We, the observant viewers, knew all these details already.  But only now is Dante beginning to understand the big picture, at least partially.

“But,” as Ron Popeil says, “there’s more.”

A shuttle arrives from the nearby Orchard ship.  The airlock doors open to reveal Darius.

Darius

Darius says he is there to apologize and to ask for help.  He claims not to be Luc’s assassin, despite the events of the previous episode.  And he denies involvement in the death of Eric, Luc’s ex-husband.  Darius also explains that the Divinity Cluster entails the ability to move backward and forward in time, thereby bestowing immortality.  And, he states, the seeming deaths of Eccleston and others were really disappearances into other dimensions.  So Eccleston is really moving across dimensions, and Darius seeks help from Dante and Luc in locating Eccleston before Pacquette and her people do.  Darius, you see, O reader, wants to suppress knowledge of the Divinity Cluster.  But Darius wants to share this knowledge with humanity in time.

There is just one problem:  The Orchard needs Eccleston’s injection device, and does not know where it is.

And Darius drops a bombshell:  Penny, Dante’s late wife, was an Orchard scientist involved in the earliest stages of research on the Divinity Cluster.  She might have discovered the Cluster had she lived.  Eccleston built on her research to discover said Cluster.  Then Darius asks a telling question:  “Did Penny ever experiment on you, Captain, Montana?”  She did not, but did she experiment on Travis?  At this point the Travis and Divinity Cluster story arcs merge.

Darius offers to help Dante find Travis in exchange for assistance in foiling the plots of Pacquette and members of her faction.  Can Dante trust Darius, the man who was willing to kill him just a few hours ago?

As Darius departs it is obvious that the relationship between father and daughter is quite cold.

Eccleston’s Injection Device

Back on the Bridge, Dante tells Luc that he does not believe much of what Darius has said.  Then Luc shows Dante Eccleston’s injection device.  She has concealed this from Darius all along.  She can trust Dante, but not her father.  Luc will play along with the Orchard, obtain information from them, and maintain her cover as a bounty hunter.  But she will work for Dante from now on.  The two of them establish a mutual understanding and peace.

Darius

Back in his shuttle, Darius speaks to a computerized voice.  He has placed a tracer program on board the Tulip.  “They will lead us to the child,” he says.  The Orchard wants Travis Montana because they suspect that Penny experimented on him.

The Death of Darius

The shuttle explodes.  It is not an accident.

Luc

Luc, on the Bridge of the Tulip, says to herself, “They murdered him.  Cold-blooded murder.”

Thus we have one of the most devastating episode finales.  Luc has lost her estranged father.  She grieves for him, yet she could not trust him in life.  Which emotions is one supposed to feel at such a time?

Certain plot threads, other than the nature of the Divinity Cluster and the struggle to try to control it, remain for exploration at this point in the series.  One is the purpose of those genetically-enhanced seeds from Goodbye, So Long.  And there is the continuing search for Travis, of course.  Those two threads become one, by the way.  Starhunter is a nicely integrated series in terms of plot threads.

Next, however, we have a standalone dramedy called Super Max, which is more comedy than drama.  It is time to lighten the tone for one episode.

KENNETH RANDOLPH TAYLOR

JANUARY 10, 2011 COMMON ERA

I used the Power DVD program to obtain screen captures.

Posted January 10, 2011 by neatnik2009 in Starhunter (2000-2001)

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Starhunter–Half Dense Players (2001)   3 comments

“All will be known to you; you will be as gods.”

EPISODE #14

The opening credits to Starhunter feature the following voice over by actor Michael Pare, in character as Dante Montana:

I’m a bounty hunter, but that’s just something that I do.  I’m really looking for something that was stolen from me.  Ten years ago they took my son.  As I search, there are signs that something is happening, that humanity is about to change.  But I wont’ be distracted.  How do you find one small boy in a lawless universe?  I’m not sure, but I have to keep trying.

This is the episode in which Dante realizes that he cannot ignore the signs that humanity is about to change, for those indications will find him.  Or, as Howard Zinn said, “You can’t be neutral on a moving train.”  In Starhunter, the train has not been in the station for a long time.

Darius

Half Dense Players opens with Darius boarding an Orchard research station located on a moon of Jupiter.  Two scientists await him.  There has been a death, resulting in a severely disfigured body, of which we only hear.  Darius explains that this death “suggests a catastrophic intersection of multi-dimensional space and time” and that the dead man “might have crossed the intersection by accident.”  He is surprised to learn that the only other DNA at the scene of death belongs to “THE Andrea Arquette.”

Rudolpho Calling

Rudolpho calls the Tulip and orders Dante to head to Clarke Station, pick up Andrea Arquette, and transport her to Ganymede for questioning in a suspected murder case.

Clarke Station

Andrea Arquette, as Percy knows very well, is a media figure.  Percy describes her as “the Renaissance woman of our time,” a person who has excelled in art, music, and dance. Percy is especially impressed that Andrea used to be the lover of pop star Billy Tsunami, whom Percy idolizes.

Percy

Percy is excited about the opportunity to meet such a famous and impressive person.  Yet she knows that Andrea Arquette is innocent because “she’s Andrea.”  Percy also insists that “Rudolpho is probably just being paid” in this matter.  She is correct.

Rudolpho also denies Dante the right to fire Luc.  Neither Dante nor Percy are happy with this.  Dante says that Rudolpho’s decision is consistent with the Golden Rule:  He who has the gold makes the rules.  Despite his lack of mirth with reality, Dante takes it relatively well, telling Luc to cease her packing and saying that they need to learn to continue to work together.

Darius contacts Luc in her quarters.  He says that he will send further instructions when the Tulip arrives in Ganymede orbit.

The Tulip arrives at Clarke Station, and Dante and Luc leave to collect Andrea.

The Ion Trail of the Mystery Ship

Percy, on the Bridge, notices something odd on the scanner in diagnostic mode.  Only there does an ion trail for a invisible ship appear.  She decides to investigate this matter.

The Mystery Ship

The mystery ship appears to be orbiting Clarke Station.

The Same Vessel from The Divinity Cluster

Eagle-eyed viewers with excellent recall recognize this profile.  It belongs to the alien ship seen briefly at the beginning of The Divinity Cluster.

Andrea Arquette is the last person one would suspect in a murder case.  She is extremely polite, non-aggressive, and very sweet.  So she agrees to go with Dante and Luc without an argument; all she requests is a little time to pack a few items.

Andrea Arquette

Percy greets Andrea at the airlock and takes her to locked guest quarters.

That Ion Trail, Again

The Tulip heads for Ganymede, the mystery ship in pursuit.

Luc receives instructions from Darius.  When the Tulip arrives in Ganymede orbit, Luc will receive a transmission providing instructions to deliver Andrea Arquette to Ganymede Correctional.  This signal will really come from agents of the Orchard, and the alleged Ganymede Correctional vessel will be an orchard ship.

Andrea’s Obsession

Meanwhile, Andrea draws the Great Red Spot of Jupiter while locked in guest quarters.

Percy

Percy launches a probe toward the hidden ship.

The Probe and the Ship

The probe does a one kilometer pass near the alien ship…

…and sends back the above scan.  This is a ship of unknown configuration.  Furthermore, the telemetry indicates an age of three million years (the same age as the alien artifact from the previous episode) and hull alloys unknown to humankind.

Andrea Arquette

Dante visits Andrea in guest quarters.  She explains that she cannot explain recent events in any way that makes sense to anyone.  Not even she grasps them.  For years she has lived in an apartment with a view of the Great Red Spot.  Only recently, though, has she become obsessed with that storm.  Strange events have begun to occur.  She has begun to experience skewed perspective, for her surroundings appear to be different sometimes.  And she loses time, ranging from minutes to days.

The dead man was Harvey, a friend.  The two of them were about to eat out, and Andrea was standing in his living room, admiring his view of the Great Red Spot while waiting.  Then she seemed to be somewhere else and “everything stopped.”  Next, she found Harvey on the floor, with his legs and one arm missing.  There was no blood.  She could feel yet not see the missing limbs.

Luc

Luc informs Darius of the three-million-year-old ship.  Immediately her father understands the significance of this information.

The Mystery Ship

The alien mystery ship destroys the Tulip‘s probe.

Then events become really interesting.

Swirling lights leave the alien mystery ship,…

…pursue the Tulip,…

…and enter it.  Percy uses evasive maneuvers, to no avail.  The swirling lights disable the navigation system,…

…sending the Tulip tumbling toward Europa.

Percy gets to work rebooting the computer and getting the back-up systems back online while Dante goes in search of Andrea, in case everyone has to evacuate the ship.  Luc returns to her quarters, where Darius tells her to evacuate just herself and Andrea, who has manifested multi-dimensional sight and might be a conduit.  But Luc refuses to sacrifice Dante and Percy.

The swirling lights unlock Andrea’s guest quarters and lead her down a corridor, where Dante finds them.

Dante, Experiencing the Unexplainable

Dante is at a loss for words to describe what he sees and experiences.

Andrea Arquette, Possessed

Dante takes Andrea to the Bridge, where he and Luc witness the swirling lights possess the famous prisoner.  She speaks with a different voice, saying,

We see all dimensions.  We travel among them.  We bring you this gift that you might escape the bonds of time and space.  When the cycle is complete, you will be as we were.  All will be known to you; you will be as gods.

Then Andrea disappears into the swirling lights,…

…which leave the Tulip and return to the alien mystery ship.

The Orchard Ship

The Orchard sends a ship to destroy the Tulip, out of concern that the crew knows too much.  Dante, however, thinks that he understands nothing.

Dante

Dante is quite angry.  He does not care what Rudolpho cares; he wants Luc off his ship.  Luc replies that the Orchard will destroy the Tulip if she leaves, and that she wants to save the lives of Dante and Percy.  She hands Dante a disk and leaves.  The computer is rebooting–just in time–and, when this process finishes, in a few minutes, they should install the program on the disk.

Back in her quarters, Luc and her father, Darius, have a shouting match via technology.  She knows that Darius is willing to destroy the Tulip regardless of whether she is on board.  He says, “I don’t see that you leave me much choice.”  Luc informs her father that there is now installed on the Tulip a program set according to a dead man’s switch.  If the Orchard vessel fires on the Tulip, the bounty hunter ship will transmit on all frequencies the secrets of the Divinity Cluster.  Darius, protective of that secret, orders the Orchard ship to turn around.

Luc and Dante

Dante visits Luc in her quarters.  She is crying.  He says, “Your friends have decided to leave.”  She replies, “Thank God!”

Dante

Dante sits down.  “And now I want to know what the hell is going on.”  Luc nods in the affirmative.  Dante continues, “And I want to know the truth.”

Roll to end credits.

Half Dense Players is the most tense episode of Starhunter.  All the stakes are high, and every choice has major consequences.  So this is my favorite episode of the series.

The truth is more complicated than even Luc knows, as we learn in episode #15, Dark and Stormy Night.  Until later….

KENNETH RANDOLPH TAYLOR

JANUARY 9, 2011 COMMON ERA

I used the Power DVD program to obtain screen captures.

Posted January 9, 2011 by neatnik2009 in Starhunter (2000-2001)

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Starhunter–The Most Wanted Man (2001)   2 comments

The Tulip, Surrounded by Vessels of the Mars Federation, the Orchard, and a Repo Man with a Grudge

EPISODE #13

The Orchard’s dark conspiracy focused on the Divinity Cluster occupies the heart of Starhunter.  The previous two episodes did not feature the Cluster, but now that story arc is back with this, a suspenseful first part of a three-episode story in which Dante, Percy, Luc, and viewers learn almost every relevant detail of the vast conspiracy.  Conflict makes drama work well.  By that standard, episodes #13-15 are replete with excellent drama.

What a Dive!

The Most Wanted Man begins in a really dirty and nearly empty bar.  But cleaning up the place would not make it look much better, would it?

Charles, of the Orchard

The well-groomed and dressed Charles, of the Orchard, enters the bar in the company of four guards.  They sit around briefly, bored, and the one remaining customer leaves.

Harman and Charles

Martin Harman enters the bar.  He moves very rapidly, the way Eccleston did in The Divinity Cluster.  Harman was expecting to meet with Darius, so he is surprised to see Charles instead.  Charles explains that Darius is presiding over the outer worlds peace conference, so is not available at the moment.  But Charles is authorized to speak on behalf of Darius in this matter, which concerns an artifact, an alien Rosetta Stone.  Harman replies that he is the artifact.  Charles says, “I am the artifact.”  Harman replies, “That’s the first interesting thing you’ve said.”  Harman insists on meeting Darius, and Charles says that the meeting is over.  Harman agrees, knocks out all the Orchard men without leaving his chair, and departs the bar in the same manner he entered it.

Luc and Dante

Meanwhile, on the Tulip, Dante and Luc complain about another false lead in their search for Harman.  Rudolpho has assigned them to apprehend the wanted man, and the owner of the Tulip needs the bounty money yesterday.  He owes three loan payments today, and he has no funds, so is at risk of going to debtor’s prison.  Rudolpho reminds Dante of this fact frequently.

Simultaneously, Harman passes by the Tulip in a shuttle craft and a second vessel approaches the bounty hunting ship.

A Message from Arielo

Arielo is a repo man with a grudge.  His brother is in prison, and Dante put him there.  So Arielo, who has a large ship with powerful weapons, is ready to repossess the Tulip and drop off its crew anywhere he pleases.

A Message from Commander Cline

The Mars Federation has a valid arrest warrant for Harman, and Commander Cline, of a warship, thinks that Dante has Harman in custody.  Dante says he does not have Harman on board, but Cline impounds the Tulip and says he will board her.

There is also a third vessel, an Orchard ship, cornering the Tulip.  Luc is in her quarters, communicating with this vessel.  In fact, she spends much of this episode flitting back and forth from her quarters and another part of the Tulip (often the Bridge) without authorization, arousing suspicion in Dante and more suspicion in Percy.  (Recall that Percy has been suspicious of Luc since the previous episode.)

Arielo and Cline Having an Argument

Arielo and Cline argue about who has the stronger, more legal claim to the Tulip while…

Percy

…Percy gets the main engines back on line.  She succeeds, providing perhaps too much “juice,” so she has to stop the engines manually before she burns them out.  On the other hand, the Tulip has left the other ships far behind.

Percy has done far more than get the Tulip out of a pickle.  She has also found a way for the Tulip to trace Harman’s ship’s ion trail and programmed the Tulip to follow it.  That trail leads to the Asteroid Belt, where Harman plays cat and mouse with the bounty hunting crew.

Next, the crew (and the viewers) learn more about Harman’s past.  Almost everybody wants him.  Harman is a former Mars Federation Special Forces intelligence agent.  During the last few years, he has been involved with a drug cartel, gun runners, and Raiders, all of which he has double-crossed.

Luc, in her quarters, learns more from Charles.  Harman has had contact with the Orchard over the years, and they want him more than anyone else.  Charles states that Harman was part of an archaeological expedition on Earth that uncovered evidence of an ancient alien presence on the planet.  After that, Harman changed from a disciplined man with a brilliant career to a reckless criminal.  The Orchard wants to control him.

Arielo, Again

The Tulip collides with an asteroid during its pursuit of Harman.  This results in more superficial damage to the ship (Who will notice?), some hull breaches in already sealed-off decks (So what?), and power to the new particle cannon (Yeah!).  All this is just in time for Arielo to catch up with Dante, scan the Tulip, discover the powered-up particle cannon, and flee the scene, never to be seen again.

Dante uses the particle cannon to destroy the asteroid behind which Harman’s ship is hiding.  Then Dante brings Harman’s shuttle aboard the Tulip.  This is the one use of that particle beam, for its use burns it out.

Harman

Harman boards the Tulip, darts around, and takes Percy hostage.  He shouts to Luc and Dante, demanding help contacting Darius, “the only one who can help me.”  Dante does not know who Darius is, but Luc does, of course.  She replies, “I can get you Darius.”

Harman releases Percy and goes to the observation deck, where Luc and Dante find him.  He does not fear them, and why should he?  Harman knocks out Dante without leaving his seat, as he did to the guards in the bar.

Luc and Harman

Luc and Harman go toward Luc’s quarters.  Percy, who knows that another vessel (the Orchard ship from earlier in the episode, as it turns out) is on an intercept course), intercepts the two in a corridor, but they continue toward Luc’s quarters, where they contact the Orchard.

Percy proceeds to the observation deck, where she find Dante, who is becoming conscious again.  The two return to the Bridge.

Luc, in her quarters, speaks to Charles, who says that Darius is busy at the moment.  She demands that Charles get Harman safely to Darius, and Charles agrees.  Harman wonders how Luc knows Darius, and she reveals to him that she is the daughter of the man he wants to whom he wants to speak.

Luc and Harman

Luc and Harman take a shuttle craft toward the Orchard vessel.  They have a conversation along the way.  Harman explains that he has always liked Darius.  And the wanted man reveals that the Divinity Cluster’s “significance is off the scale….Let’s just say that whoever you hold near and dear, hold them very near.”

Uh-oh!  That does not sound comforting.

Dante and Percy

On the Bridge, Dante and Percy agree that they no longer trust Luc.  Percy resolves, “I don’t know what she’s doing, but I am going to find out.”

Meanwhile, the Mars Federation warship and the Orchard vessel are in the shuttle craft’s path.

On the shuttle, Harman explains the nature of the artifact in question.  A few years ago, Darius was in charge of an archaeological dig “in the sector that used to be called Africa.”  The artifact is a disk about the size of a large coin.  It is charred, etched with barely-visible symbols from no Earth language.  Harman became fascinated with the artifact.  It opened one night, revealing a liquid inside.  Harman says that it sang “Touch, touch” to him.  He touched it with one finger tip, and felt a surge.

He continues:

Then, in a blink” he says, “I knew.  I knew everything.  All I could think was to run away…from the ones who put the Divinity Cluster into our DNA.  It’s in me, it’s in you, it’s in all of us.  But I’m the only one who knows the secret.  I am the key to the accelerating process.  I am the blueprint to the final stage of evolution.  The Cluster about to explode in us, the Orchard is dreaming if they think they can control it….It’s the end of everything as we know it.  I am the destroyer of worlds.

Luc docks with the Orchard ship.  The Mars Federation vessel leaves suddenly, and Luc returns immediately to the Tulip.

Luc

Dante confronts the returning Luc, telling her that he no longer trusts her.  She replies that all he really cares about is the bounty, which the Orchard has paid Rudolpho.  In fact, they have paid double the bounty.

Luc and Dante return to the Bridge.  The Orchard ship explodes, and Luc leaves for her quarters again, without permission.

Percy and Dante

Disgusted, Percy and Dante spy on Luc, who communicates with the Orchard.

Luc

Luc speaks to Charles.  He says, “Thank you for bringing Harman to us.  I am sure Darius will be pleased.”  (Somehow Harman got off the ship before it exploded.  His Divinity Cluster being activated, maybe he can teleport.)  Then, during the transmission, Harman kills Charles.  He explains to Luc that all members of the Orchard are “willfully blind” to what he has to say and that he will “buy some time for the rest of you.”  His parting words are “Remember what I said about what is near and dear to you.”

A View of Luc’s Quarters

Luc returns to the Bridge and discovers that Percy and Dante have been eavesdropping on her.

Dante:  “Who is Darius?”

Luc:  “He is my father.”

Dante

Dante:  “I want you off my ship.”

Luc

Fade to end credits.

Luc’s double life has caught up with her.

The drama only gets better in the next two episodes.  I invite you, O reader to follow them with me.

KENNETH RANDOLPH TAYLOR

JANUARY 8, 2011 COMMON ERA

I used Power DVD to obtain screen captures.

Posted January 8, 2011 by neatnik2009 in Starhunter (2000-2001)

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Starhunter–Goodbye, So Long (2001)   3 comments

A Purely Gratuitous Image of Percy Montana

EPISODE #12

I admit it:  I adore Percy Montana, and, by extension, Tanya Allen, the actress who portrayed her.  Percy features prominently in Goodbye, So Long, and I have taken the opportunity to load this post with many pictures of her.

This is a dark episode containing comedic moments, most of which involve Percy saying something witty and/or looking cute.  The comedy prevents the drama, filled with backstabbing characters, from becoming too grim to handle for long.  Percy emerges as a pure soul in a dangerous solar system, a space waif who is also an angel.

Yet she is also substantive and perceptive.  Her exuberance masks pain and makes sadness easier to cope with, and her technical abilities preserve the lives Luc and Dante.  Percy Montana is a valuable person on the Tulip.

Thug #1

Goodbye, So Long, opens on Mimas Station, near the moon of Saturn.  Mimas is a grim place, all gray and industrial-looking on the inside.  Yet the computer voice that greets visitors seems to reflect a sense of humor.  It says that Mimas Station is a weapons-free zone, which means that no weapons are allowed and nothing is free.

A rough character, billed only as “Thug #1” in the end credits, is perusing the objects Marco, a small-time merchant, is selling in his stall.  Thug #1 finds a kaleidoscope, an object he does not understand.  But he is just marking time until another thug shows up so they can beat up Ike, who works out of the next stall.

Ike and Marco

The knuckle-dragging thugs, lacking any poetry in their language, ask, “Where’s the stuff?”  Ike replies that he does not know, and Marco, Ike’s business partner, jumps into the fight.  Thug #1 says that Ike had better know the next time he returns, or else Ike will die.

Percy, Looking Cute and Adorable

Meanwhile, on board the Tulip, Percy examines equipment in Dante’s quarters.  The life support system in that room is on the fritz, for it is not providing enough oxygen.  Since there are no spare parts on board the Tulip that Percy can use to fix the problem, she needs to visit the nearby Mimas Station to look for one, and a few other spare parts, too.

Percy

Percy and Dante board Mimas Station, where Percy says she will look for the whatchamacallit, which will be inexpensive, and a thingamajig, which will not.  Dante becomes concerned.

Ike and Dante

There Ike recognizes Dante, his former best friend.  They knew each other on Titan, where both were in love with Penny, who chose to marry Dante.  The two men walk a short distance to a cafe, where they catch up with each other in visual range of Percy’s shopping trip at Marco’s booth.

Luc and Caravaggio

On board the Tulip, Luc speaks to Caravaggio, the A.I., in which Percy has recently installed human behavior subroutines.  Luc is irritated to learn that this programming includes referring to her in such terms as “sweetheart” and “darling.”  Later in the episode Luc makes her displeasure known by calling Percy “sweet cheeks.”

Percy Before (Above) and After (Below) Her Shopping Trip

In the cafe, Ike reveals that his life went downhill after Penny left him, and Dante reveals that Penny is dead and Travis is missing.  Ike says that he is stuck on Mimas Station, as the reactor core on his ship is missing.  He asks if Dante can take him to Dione, a request Dante turns down.

Percy returns from her shopping trip, which has yielded the whatchamacallit needed to repair the life support system, some thingamajigs, and the kaleidoscope–and only for 2000 credits, she boasts.  Dante says that she should be able to install a jacuzzi in his quarters for that much money.

Ike says that he needs to get something off his ship, and he disappears through some doors.  Shortly thereafter, the vessel explodes.  Concerned for their safety, Dante and Percy leave for the Tulip.  They take Marco, who says he fears for his life, with them.

Marco and Percy

Percy repairs the life support system in Dante’s quarters, which is good.  But Marco disables Caravaggio and conks out Percy, which is bad.  He also conks out Luc and drags her to the brig, to join Percy.  This is really bad.  Next Marco points a gun at Dante and takes him to the brig, too.  Bad Marco!  Even worse, Marco lets three Raiders on board.  They take Dante to the Bridge, where they use what the George W. Bush Administration called euphemistically “enhanced interrogation techniques” to question Dante about seeds, the location of which they think Ike revealed to Dante in the cafe.  Dante tells the truth, which is that Ike said nothing about that matter.

Marco, who professes to work only for himself, kills the Raiders when they threaten to torture Percy.  About that time, Luc and Percy, who have broken out of the brig, arrive on the brig.  Luc takes Marco to the brig and Percy gets Caravaggio back online.  She learns that the Tulip is on course for Dione, and that the course is unalterable.

Dante and Marco

Dante questions Marco while Luc holds a weapon.  Marco reveals that the Raiders are interested in genetically-enhanced seeds.  They make expensive terraforming unnecessary because they adjust the balance of oxygen in the atmosphere to make a biosphere inhabitable for humans.  Pay attention; these seeds will figure into upcoming episodes.

Marco reveals that he and Ike were brokering the sale of these seeds to the highest bidder, but that Ike tried to cut him out of the deal.  So now Marco is free to broker the deal himself, not that he killed Ike or had him murdered.  Dante punches Marco, but Luc encourages restraint, saying, “Even parasites have a use.”

On the Bridge, Dante reviews criminal records on Dione, a densely-populated world in orbit of Saturn.  He notices the name of Kouyomdjian, one of Ike’s former business partners.   But Kouyomdjian is quite difficult to locate via standard methods.  And Dante wants to find the seeds and exchange them in exchange for Travis.

So Luc returns to her quarters and opens a communication link to the Orchard.  A few minutes later, she returns to the Bridge with the information Dante needs.

Percy, Suspicious

Percy wonders how Luc obtained that information so quickly.  Luc replies that she was just being resourceful.

Luc and Percy

Dante departs for Dione.  Back on the Tulip, Percy questions Luc about her sources of information.  Luc answers with half-truths.  In reply to why she obtained the information, Luc states honestly that she wanted to give Dante hope.  Percy thanks Luc for that.

Kouyomdjian

Dante, armed, finds Kouyomdjian alone in a bar after business hours.  Then Ike enters the bar and the two shady characters bicker about who the real broker is.  Ike reveals that he faked his death to evade the Raiders while he seeks the location of the seeds, information he can obtain from Kouyomdjian.  Dante asks Ike’s assistance in exchanging the seeds for Travis, but Ike replies that he is through doing favors for Dante.  “Penny was the last one you’ll get from me,” he retorts.

Ike

Next, Luc arrives with Marco in tow.  So now there five people, four of them armed in the bar.  Most of them are arguing, so, not surprisingly, some of them shoot each other.  All the bad guys die.

Percy warns Dante and Luc that Raider ships will intercept the Tulip in about ten minutes.  So they return to the Tulip, which departs Dione hastily.

Dante

Dante laments that he has lost the best chance so far to find Travis, for anyone who knows the location of the seeds is dead.

Percy

Percy plays with the kaleidoscope while singing “Row, Row, Row Your Boat” in a funny voice.

Percy’s suspicions of Luc will prove prophetic in the next episode.  Both Dante and Percy have known that Luc has “secret friends,” but have been oblivious to the conspiracy enveloping the crew of the Tulip.  The extent of this reality becomes clear to all in episodes #13-15.  It is quite a ride, and I invite you, O reader, to follow it with me.

KENNETH RANDOLPH TAYLOR

JANUARY 4, 2011 COMMON ERA

I used Power DVD to obtain screen caps.

Posted January 4, 2011 by neatnik2009 in Starhunter (2000-2001)

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Starhunter–Black Light (2001)   7 comments

Percy, Winning at Poker

EPISODE #11

I am an apostle for Starhunter.  Unfortunately, the most common question I field concerns how similar this series is to Firefly, the 2002 series the idiots at FOX killed prematurely.  I own both series on DVD and like both, but they exist independently of each other.  Furthermore, Starhunter, a 2000-2001 Canadian series, predates Firefly.  So, if one wants to make comparisons, one ought to compare Firefly to Starhunter.

So, as long as we are comparing apples to oranges, let us go for it.

  1. Starhunter ran for a complete season.  Firefly did not.
  2. The Tulip is a huge ship, with at least 48 decks.  The Serenity is tiny.
  3. Both ships are old and falling apart.
  4. The Raiders began as aggrieved and sterilized soldiers.  Their cause has transcended the generations, although they continue to increase their numbers by kidnapping children, mostly boys.  The Raiders are also quite articulate.  The Reavers, in contrast began as an unintentional effect of chemical alteration of a planetary population.  They are incoherent, so how can they repair and maintain their ships?  This is a major plot hole for Firefly.
  5. Both Percy and Kaylee are engineers, but each is her own character.  Percy is very much a tomboy, wearing a dress briefly in only one episode.  (She has worn a skirt, but usually sports pants.)  She is a sarcastic tomboy with a quick wit and deep emotional vulnerability.  And Percy almost never leaves the Tulip.  And Tanya Allen is much cuter than Jewel Staite, whose character makes eyes at Simon.
  6. The shadow of the Divinity Cluster, which hangs over Starhunter, makes this a darker series in which more is at stake than in Firefly.
  7. The Tulip is a more advanced ship than the Serenity.  Does the Serenity have an A.I.?  Starhunter is set about three centuries prior to Firefly.

So, why the frequent questions about how similar Starhunter is to Firefly?  We Americans do not watch much Canadian programming.  Also, when U.S. stations aired Starhunter, they often did so in late night hours.  And we use the familiar as points of reference, even when they are inexact.

Perhaps I seem to kvetch, but I am a purist about some matters.  Starhunter is simply better.  That is just my subjective reality in relation to this issue.  Here I stand; I will say or write nothing to the contrary.

Now, for our regular programming….

In the year 2276….

Black Light begins with Percy, Dante, and Luc playing poker.  Since Luc objects to gambling, days of kitchen duty constitute the ante.  Percy wins, for she has four queens in her hand.  Fortunately for the viewers, however, this becomes clear only after Luc has done her best John Wayne impression:  “Read ’em and weep, pilgrim.”  (Actress Claudette Roche is a dialect coach.)

Electra

The Tulip is headed for Ganymede, where it will deliver its prisoner, Electra.  She is a 25-year-old Raider who has run guns, and who is destined to spend years behind bars for this.  Rudolpho is thrilled about Electra’s capture, for the bounty on a Raider woman is very high.  Anyhow, Electra’s biological family cares nothing about her, so she does not miss them.  The Raiders are her family.

Colonel Bramwell, Thawing Out

Meanwhile, on Deck 48, down in the bowels of the ship, a cryogenic unit containing Colonel E. W. Bramwell revives him due to a power surge.  There are two other other cryogenic units in the same room, but they malfunctioned years ago.  So Majors Taylor and Fuji are dead.

Bramwell Receiving the Bad News

Fifty years previously, in 2226, during the First Martian War, the Tulip served as a troop transport vessel.  Between that conflict and the time Rudolph bought the ship, the Tulip was in a ship junkyard.  Workers stripping out military hardware from the ship never got to Deck 48.  And since the ship is mostly deserted, with only three crew members, nobody who was not in suspended animation has been on Deck 48 in many years.

A computer interface tells Bramwell that he has been sleeping for “49-12-7-8-4,” which is say, almost fifty years.  The Colonel says, “That’s not possible,” then picks up a loaded weapon and heads for the Bridge, where he finds Dante and Luc, much to his surprise.

Bramwell Points a Weapon at Dante and Luc While Caravaggio Looks On

Dante and Luc tell Bramwell that the Tulip is a bounty-hunting vessel headed for Ganymede.  The Colonel, who does not believe this, identifies himself as the commanding officer of the 104th Space Cavalry and the person responsible for Operation Black Light, targeted against Raiders on Mars.  Then Dante states that Black Light, “a botched operation,” happened “over fifty years ago.”  Bramwell insists that Black Light was not a botched operation, but that somebody betrayed him.  The assault did prove disastrous, but there was supposed to be a second one, he says.  Then he takes Dante and Luc to the brig and leaves them there, where he meets Electra, who recognizes the name “Colonel Bramwell.”

Meanwhile, Caravaggio awakens Percy and informs about what has happened to Dante and Luc.  Percy dresses and heads for the Bridge, where Bramwell finds her.  Then he realizes that a half-century has passed.  Caravaggio brings up a military record indicating that Bramwell is Missing in Action, presumed dead and awarded a medal posthumously.  But at least Bramwell’s side won the war; there are no more Raider bases on Mars.  They are restricted to the outer system.  Saddened, Bramwell mopes off the Bridge and tries to commit suicide.

Bramwell, Sucidal

Here is the scene in which Bramwell’s character crystalizes.  He is a man with only his mission left.  He is presumed dead, his wife is dead, and his only child, Joe, died in the disastrous Black Light assault.  If Colonel Bramwell is to live, it will be to complete his mission as a memorial for his son and Majors Taylor and Fuji.  Bramwell is a pitiable man, a person who fell through the bureaucratic cracks in 2226.  One’s heart goes out to him.

Dante and Luc, who have released themselves from the brig, stop Bramwell from killing himself.  Luc takes Bramwell to the brig for temporary holding.  There he speaks to Electra, who states that he is a hero among the Raiders, who have based their battle simulations on the Black Light assault.  It seems that Raider forces outnumbered those under Bramwell’s command, but that his men put up a good fight.  Electra wants to discuss battlefield strategy with Bramwell, but he is not in the mood.

Percy On Deck 48

Dante and Percy find Deck 48 and the chamber from which Colonel Bramwell emerged.  They find the two dead men, still frozen, and Percy confirms that a power surge awoke the Colonel.

The Tulip

Dante has been tracking Raider ships, all of which are headed for one destination.  Seeking Travis, he changes course so that the Tulip will go there.

Dante decides to remove Bramwell from the brig, so that Electra will stop tormenting him.

Electra

Electra reveals that the Raider ships are traveling to the Gathering, a mandatory meeting held once every ten years.  She can get the Tulip through security, an offer Dante accepts.  He wants his son back, and she wants her freedom.  Colonel Bramwell offers to help Dante, too.  Dante can wear the uniform of the one of the dead soldiers and pose as one of Bramwell’s subordinates.  So, while Bramwell entertains excited Raiders with old war stories, Dante might be able to find Travis.

First things first, however.  Electra, on the Bridge, opens communications with Raider security and says that she and Bramwell have commandeered the Tulip.  The Raiders send an escort vessel.

Percy and Dante

Upon seeing the assembly of Raider vessels, Luc describes the scene as evil.  Electra, being a committed Raider, says she has never seen anything more beautiful.  And Bramwell quotes Revelation 1:7-8:  “For behold, he is coming with the clouds, and every eye shall see him….For I am Alpha and Omega.”  This is a hint; Bramwell is the Alpha and Omega in this episode.

Dante is no fool; he knows that the mission is dangerous.  Luc and Percy are nervous, too.  Dante tells them to take the Tulip to Callisto, where he will rendezvous with them.  The Raiders must never board the ship.

Dante and Percy

Shortly later, on the Observation Deck, Dante and Percy have a heart-to-heart.  He says,

Over the years you’ve become the most important person in my life, and I have received so much joy and pride watching you grow into this wonderful young woman you’ve become….I wouldn’t have made it this far without you, Percy.  Thank you…for being exactly the way you are.

Bramwell’s End

Dante’s perilous mission never happens, however, for Colonel Bramwell has other plans.  Without telling anyone, he takes a secret military shuttle/weapon, located on Deck 48, and flies into the superstructure at which many Raider vessels are docked.  (How careless were those workers stripping out military hardware?) He completes his mission and disrupts the Gathering.

As Raider vessels leave, some target their weapons on the Tulip, which escapes the vicinity.  Electra goes to Ganymede, and prison.

Better luck finding Travis next time, which will be in the next episode, after which we will return to the Divinity Cluster arc.

Starhunter has 22 episodes.  (Starhunter 2300 is a separate series.)  So we are half-way through the journey.  This is a good time to pause and preview the rest of the series in general terms.

  1. A crucial plot point in episode #12 will recur in the three-part finale.
  2. Dante’s quest for his son will continue and will merge with the Divinity Cluster arc.
  3. Lucretia “Luc” Scott comes to a turning point in her character development in episodes #13-15.
  4. We will learn more about the consequences of the activation of the Divinity Cluster.
  5. Eccleston will return in episode #22.
  6. The Orchard will become even creepier.

As always, I encourage my readers to view Starhunter in a method consistent with U.S. and international copyright laws.

Until next time….

KENNETH RANDOLPH TAYLOR

JANUARY 4, 2011 COMMON ERA

I used Power DVD to capture images from Disc #3 of the Starhunter series set.  Why not purchase your own set or rent one?

Posted January 4, 2011 by neatnik2009 in Starhunter (2000-2001)

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Starhunter–Cell Game (2001)   2 comments

Dante and Rex

EPISODE #10

The universe of Starhunter is gritty, corrupt, and amoral.  Cell Game, in which we take a brief break from the Divinity Cluster arc, makes this point plainly.  This is a disturbing episode, for many of its characters are desperate prisoners living in hellholes.  Fortunately, there is a rewarding payoff in the end, as we, the viewers, see poetic justice dispensed.

The episode opens as Dante and Luc pick up a prisoner from the Oberon Police Station, located in orbit of Oberon, a natural satellite of Neptune.   Unusually, Percy is with them, as Dante has decided to let her off the Tulip.  This is very bad timing, for Rex, who runs the Oberon Police Station, detains Percy on a trumped-up technicality.  She is blackmailing Dante into breaking her brother Goran, who is serving a life sentence for murdering an ambassador and his family, from the Nereid prison, where Dante has to take the prisoner he has just collected.

Dante, Regretting Taking Percy to the Oberon Police Station

The legal system at Oberon is notoriously corrupt, for there are not even courts; they are allegedly too expensive.  So police officers function as judges.  And bribery is an accepted practice.

Percy in the Oberon Prison

The Oberon prison is a well-maintained and high-tech facility, a fact which makes it no less of a hellhole.  Cell Game, without stooping to overly graphic scenes, makes clear that guards rape female prisoners.  And Rex plans to sell Percy to the highest bidder, for Rex figures that Dante will never return from the Nereid Prison.  Percy’s two cellmates are desperate women, who beat her from time to time and one of whom has suffered a severe burn on one wrist and hand.

Dante in the Nereid Prison

Dante plans to break Rex’s brother, Goran, out of Nereid, where no one has escaped, by posing as a prisoner.  Luc, meanwhile, monitors Dante’s movements from her perch on the Tulip.

Percy

Percy uses her technological skills to escape from her cell.  But security guards kill one of the cellmates and return the two survivors to their cell.

Goran

Dante meets Goran, who is king of his corner of hell in the Nereid prison.  Dante tells him that he (Dante) plans to break them out.  Goran is skeptical.

The Nereid Prison Guard

Luc devises a plan to convince the main prison guard at the Nereid Prison to let Dante and Goran out.  She says that she has just analyzed blood work and discovered that Dante has tuberculosis and is contagious.  So she is supposed to take him to a medical facility at Triton.  The guard insists on a bribe, which Luc promises him but never delivers.  Meanwhile, the prisoners, who have heard the word “tuberculosis,” insist upon Dante’s removal.  The guard, fearful of a riot, permits this.  And Luc uses the health excuse to take Goran away, too.

Back on the Tulip, Dante and Luc set course for the Oberon Police Station and investigate Goran’s crimes.

Dante and Percy, Reunited

Back at the Oberon Police Station, Rex returns Percy to Dante, and Luc brings in Goran.  Then Rex tries to have Dante arrested for assisting in the escape of a prisoner.  But the police offers point their guns at Rex and say that her sentence will be fifteen years.

Rex

Apparently, Goran did more than kill an ambassador and his family.  The criminal also stole three million credits worth of art and jewelry, and he knows where he has hidden it.  Dante has bribed the police officers with the promise of this wealth.

So Rex and Goran stay on the Oberon Police Station–as prisoners–and Dante, Luc, and Percy leave on board the Tulip.  They are one happy family.  This relationship will break down very shortly, as Luc’s two roles as crew member of the Tulip and intelligence collector for the Orchard become increasingly difficult to balance.  And when, as Rudolpho puts it, the “droppings hit the radiation unit,” the drama is spectacular.

KENNETH RANDOLPH TAYLOR

DECEMBER 31, 2010 COMMON ERA

I used the Power DVD program to capture images from a legally purchased DVD.

Posted December 31, 2010 by neatnik2009 in Starhunter (2000-2001)

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Starhunter–Order (2000)   2 comments

Followers of Brother #13, About to Die

EPISODE #9

The nature of the Divinity Cluster–whether it is good, bad, or neutral–becomes clear beyond a shadow of a doubt in episode #22, Resurrection.  I will not divulge that answer here.  Yet I do say this:  the Divinity Cluster is dangerous in the hands of the wrong person.  Order establishes this with creepy and effective clarity.

Too Close to the Sun

The Church of Omega is a cult–in the full sense of that term.  Its leader, who calls himself Brother #13, professes to be the last prophet of Vahooti, or God.  His organization owns a pyramid-shaped spacecraft flying into the Sun so that the people on board can reunite with Vahooti in the afterlife in the very near future.

Percy

There is little sympathy for the Church of Omega followers on board the Tulip, which is in the area.  Dante and Percy mock them for, among other reasons, calling their god Vahooti.  Luc objects to this tone, affirming the value of believing in something greater than oneself, but even she has to admit very shortly later that belong to a suicidal cult is irrational.

Into the Sun

The pyramid ship flies into the Sun, where Vahooti is alleged to live.

Percy

The crew members of the Tulip watch with horror.  Even Dante, who had a mocking tone a few moments ago, refers to the cult members as “poor bastards.”  Coming from Dante, that is a lament.

The Tulip Seizing the Escape Shuttle

At the last moment, however, a shuttle carrying Brother #13 and two followers–his bodyguard, Jacob, and his concubine, Marina–departs for safety.  Brother #13 says that he has given his followers an afterlife with Vahooti and that he must recruit more people to the faith.  And the real sacrifice is his, for being with Vahooti is better than living in this evil universe.

But Brother #13, although charismatic, is not a nice man.  He snaps at people easily, heaping verbal abuse on them, especially Jacob, who suffers frequent crises of faith.  And when Marina laments that she did not die with the others and reunite with Vahooti, Brother #13 tells her to stop her “damn whining.”

Above all, Brother #13 is a control freak.  He preys on the spiritually needy, claiming to help them become something greater than what they are.  But a healthy spiritual journey contains room for questioning, something Brother #13 discourages.  And mass suicide is not spiritually healthy, either.

The shuttle suffers damage because it is so close to the Sun, so Brother #13 becomes shaken up physically and suffers a superficial wound on his head.  This is his state when the Tulip captures the shuttle craft.

Jacob, Brother #13, and Marina Board the Tulip

The three survivors board the Tulip, where Dante and Luc, armed, meet them at the airlock.  Luc takes Jacob to the brig while Dante escorts Brother #13 and Marina to guest quarters.  A little later, Percy takes Marina elsewhere on the ship.

A “Rejuvenation of Faith”

Brother #13 tricks Luc into getting sufficiently close to him that he can touch her head and “rejuvenate” her faith with a blue glow while he says, “Know the power of your true path.  Feel the faith that flows through me.”  Luc becomes a disciple.

Brother #13 is a military veteran and a former P.O.W. of the Callisto campaign referenced in The Man Who Sold the World.  He gained the powers of reading and washing minds while a P.O.W., when his path crossed that of Dr. Novak.  So Brother #13 is a very dangerous man with real powers.  It is a shame that he does not use these powers for good ends.

Dante Confronts Brother #13

Dante discovers that Brother #13 has brainwashed Luc.  So, while Luc wanders around the ship, speaking of Vahooti, Dante takes the cult leader to the brig.

Meanwhile, Percy and Marina speak.  We learn that Marina is terrified that Brother #13 will take Luc as a bride.  If he does, she (Marina) will think herself a failure.

Luc, brainwashed, frees Brother #13 and Jacob from their cells.  Yet the brainwashing is wearing off, so she disobeys the cult leader’s command to give Jacob her gun.  Jacob takes her prisoner, and …

Percy, with Marina in tow, shoots Jacob.  The image above shows Percy immediately afterward.

Luc then locks herself into a cell to prevent herself from interfering with the detention of the prisoners.

The Tulip reaches its destination, Mercury Base, and a shuttle craft carrying security officers docks with the ship.

They take the prisoners away, and Rudolpho sends a congratulatory message.  Shortly thereafter, Dante and Percy free Luc, whose brainwashing was worn off.  Back in her quarters, the double agent sends a message to Darius:  Brother #13 had probably come into contact Novak, and certainly is an example of a person with a partially-activated Divinity Cluster.  “Consider him dangerous, father,” she says.

Uh-Oh.

Aboard the security shuttle, a guard kneels before Brother #13, who says, “Know the power of your true faith.  Feel the faith that flows through me.”

So ends Order.  There are no pat, easy answers in the universe of Starhunter.  This is one reason I like the series so much.  This is a show that does not talk down to its audience or deal in unsatisfactory deus ex machina endings.  Starhunter ran for one season.  (Starhunter 2300 is a separate series, not the second season.)  In contrast, Star Trek:  Voyager, with scant internal consistency and paper-thin characters, lasted for seven years.  Dreck thrives too often and quality programming survives too rarely.  Alas!

KENNETH RANDOLPH TAYLOR

DECEMBER 29, 2010 COMMON ERA

I captured images from a legal DVD via the Power DVD program.

Posted December 29, 2010 by neatnik2009 in Starhunter (2000-2001)

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