Comic pulls for a week of 3-15
Let’s kick things off with Batgirls. It’s a nice little one-shot which is a good change of pace after the somewhat have your story arc we just finished. There’s some familiar Batman villains in it… in fact there’s a lot of Batman imagery here. It’s almost as if the writer was reveling in the fact that they get to write a Batman book. Maybe not the Batman book, but at least a Batman book! The enthusiasm is fun. That’s really what has carried this series from the word go. Just how fun it is.
Over at Marvel, the Amazing Spider-Man declares itself to be the issue you’ve been waiting for. Well, that’s not entirely true. It’s about half the issue that I’ve been waiting for. We’re starting to get into the flashbacks on what happened between Peter and Mary Jane, how we arrived at our current status quo. It’s taken long enough, but even then, you left me on another cliff hangar! Like seriously, just explain to me what’s going on and let me decide whether or not I like it. I know I praised this sort of reverse character development in World’s Finest, but to be fair, in that book…. the character development was for the supporting characters, not fundamental to the central continuity that you’re building. When you’re doing this with the main characters (which affects the entire story), then just dropping us into the middle of it….. it’s frustrating. I’m still gonna ride this out for at least one more issue… simply because I have to know what happened. So in that respect, I suppose it makes sense. You’re getting the sales… but you’re frustrating the fan.
Also a little frustrating is the fact that the best stuff Marvel’s putting out are these infinity comics like Alligator Loki! It’s still adorable, even this week with him looking at Venom and Carnage and thinking about how cool it would be to bond with a symbiote!
For the most part though, it was Star Trek week. Up the mainline Star Trek book, which is getting better by inches, they found their way into the dimension that the Klingon gods used to dwell in, and there’s some intrigue going on here. However, this brings Worf into conflict with Sisko, and Worf leaves… which brings us to Star Trek Defiant issue 1. This is a spin off of the main series, and I’m not sure how I feel about that. With the way that they are doing these jumbled patchwork crews, I almost feel like we would have been better off just running the series as a bunch of Minis, and picked up this Defiant book after the current run of Star Trek is over. The crew here is going to be B’elanna Torres from Voyager, Ambassador Spock, and for some inexplicable reason, Lore. The timing couldn’t be better though. Releasing this book at the same time that Picard is running is either really good timing, or really good luck. Worf is featured heavily on Picard in a covert role, much like what we’re seeing in the Defiant series, and a lot of that goodwill is going to spill over. We also saw previews with Brent Spiner in this final season of Picard and everybody assumed that Lore was coming back. Now that we know that the series is all about changelings, I’m reconsidering that suspicion, but it still got him back in the public consciousness, just in time to appear in this comic book. Well done.
The jewel of this stack though, is still Star Trek Resurgence. It concludes its story with issue 5 in a very moving way. It’s been a nice little self contained side adventure in one of my favorite eras. It didn’t go too far with fan service, but kept enough just keep me roped in and interested. I’m sad this series is over and I genuinely hope they’ll do another one. There doesn’t seem to be plans for it, But the game seems to be continuing on. Since I’m not attending Concoction this weekend, maybe I’ll scour YouTube to see if I can find a play-through to watch. I’ve really come to enjoy these characters. And isn’t that really the entire point of expanded universe, whether it’s for a television series or a game?
It’s been a good week for comics. It’s been a good week for Star Trek for that matter too! And what’s that? Superman and Lois is back? Well, I think I’d better head back to the living room and catch upon my television!
TV catchup, end of February
I think it’s fair to say that the Flash bounced back after that a miserable second episode. The red death has her team of rogues going after a special super secret macguffin And the Flash needs to get there first. However, he can’t be seen as the Flash, breaking into a Secret military facility, so hes gonna need to assemble a team – and not the usual suspects from team Flash, but perhaps.. villains?
I’ve got to say, this is a really smart way of bringing back old faces and still prolonging the whole farewell tour. We got a lot of this last season when they thought it was the end, and We got to say goodbye to a lot of the regulars. A lot of heroes…. whereas this time around, the familiar faces tend to be the bad guys. They’re fun bad guys as well, and it’s just enormous fun to watch these two groups of rogues battle out. Boomerang and the fiddler Versus the piper and goldface and Volcano dude…it’s just fun. And really, that’s what the Flash has always been when it’s at its best.
So what’s my reaction to discovering we’ve got Ryan Wilder, Batwoman herself under the mask of the red death? My knee jerk reaction is always going to be annoyance that they’re changing the comic character.. but in this context, I find myself less frustrated than usual. It actually kind of makes sense, with us tying up loose ends… and basically putting the arrowverse to bed. The thing about the arrowverse , while Arrow may have started the series, the Flash has always been the heart of that universe. He’s where we go to cross over. Barry was the firstst character to cross over to Supergirl, and that was the same year that we had our first cross over between Green Arrow and The Flash. It also makes sense with them being one of the last men standing. We’ve already had references to Kara and CatCo from the long cancelled Supergirl series, so Reminding us of those connections to Batwoman and Gotham city makes a lot of sense. Enough to mitigate my annoyance over the “sticking the girl in the man’s costume” trope, and kind of going rogue with the character again. It’s not just a capricious change either. As we see in the next episode, there’s been a lot of thought put into this. Alternate universes, and giving Wilder a real mad-on for Barry… and maybe a justified one. Indeed, I feel like Javicia Leslie actually has more characterization and a better chance to really chew the scenery and stretch her acting chops out here then she was ever given on Batwoman. I like this. I like her as a villain. I’m I’m still looking forward to each episode.
As we delve deeper into the red deaths origins, We get some real universe shaking stakes… and we’re getting it pretty early in the season. Then again, with only a 1/2 Season order this year, I suppose 5 issues in and we better start ramping things up. We’re a 3rd of the way through our final year!
And that’s the thing, I’m gonna stand by my statement that the Flash all of a sudden got pretty good. Perhaps it’s because we’ve been racing towards the end of the series now for the last 2 years, and that’s the sort of thing that makes you bring your A game. It makes me happy to think that the Flash is actually going to go out on top.
I checked out a new series this week. My wife watches the Curse of Oak Island every week, and it’s been followed by a series called History’s Greatest Heists. I’m a sucker for Pierce Brosnan in the first place, but throw him in with some true crime? This looks tailor made for me. Nevertheless, I’ve been slow getting to it. However it’s, this week they were recapping the Lufthansa heist. It’s a good solid retelling of the story, with way more detail than you’d get if all you’re familiar with is Goodfellas. I’m liking this so far. It’s not appointment viewing. It’s absolutely DVR fodder, much like The Food that Built America (which I’m also hopelessly behind on!) But still, I’m enjoying it, and eager to dig through the back catalog.
The Mandalorian came back this week, and all I’ve heard from anyone is that it was slow. I suppose I understand that, because they do spend a great deal of time getting themselves back to speed. That hiatus for a couple of years was just far too long. between The long break, as well as the meddling we saw Kathleen Kennedy eject into Book of Boba Fett, not to mention the firing of Gina Carano and the drastic change in Baby Yoda story… Just 1 or 2 of those things could absolutely sink a show. The fact that The Mandalorian manages to rise above all of them and restart is a Testament to how strong a concept this series is (And this is coming from some of those not really even a Star Wars fan…. and certainly was never as Is fascinated by Boba Fett as the rest of the fandom is).
The Mandalorian works on its return because it evokes a nice, comfortable feeling of being reunited with old friends. The familiar faces let you sink right back in and engage. It feels like picking up where we left off as if no time had passed…. making it all the more baffling that they didn’t lean into this approach with the sequel trilogy! It is very much a setup episode. A restablishment of the worlds and reintroducing the characters. Finally, it sets up this season’s quest. In some ways, it is still by the numbers… but it’s television, and that kind of predictability is actually exactly what I want here.
One of the standouts for this season already though, is the music. In television, the music tends to be light background and flat and boring. The goal is to enhance the mood without being noticed. This year, that music is absolutely getting noticed… with strong themes and lines announcing itself and the scene. I think I want a soundtrack.
And then, there’s Picard.
Look, I was done with Star Trek, period. I was not giving these guys another chance. The current regime running the series had spat in the faces of the fans too many times. Nothing coming out of Secret Hideout was remotely recognizable as Star Trek. The closest they were coming was Prodigy, and still… no.
It took well over a dozen people to convince me to give this a chance. Voices that I respected, more than a few people who were every bit as disenfranchised as I’ve become. Even then, I turned the TV on and sat with clenched teeth, crossed arms, and a scowl on my face. I warned my family, “I’m probably gonna be in a bad mood in an hour or so”.
At first glance, it just looks like more of the same. Same dim lighting, same PEW! PEW! Same S and F bombs. But then you star listening. You start watching…and you start…noticing things. You star to notice that Patrick Stweart is acting like…..well, he’s actually acting like Jean-Luc Picard. So are the others. Jeri Ryan is acting more like Seven of Nine that we’ve seen in ages. Johnathan Frakes isn’t just being a gloomy gus, he’s acting like Will Riker with all the bluster and bravado we’ve come to expect (and if anyone has cause to act grumpy it’s him. his back must surely hurt from carrying this series) but haven’t actually seen except for a brief moment at the end of Picard Season one. You know EXACTLY what moment I’m talking about. When Riker shows up with a fleet of ugly Kurtzman-ships to rescue Picard and company (In a scene that was actually a reshoot- and originally featured Lady Admiral Hubris). Yeah. It’s that Riker we’re seeing, and every bit of chemestry that he had with Stewart is still there.
Oh and ugly Kurtzman-trek ships? Gone. Star Trek is once again the rightful repository of the most beautiful ships in science fiction. And about zarking time.Ship design was always Star Trek’s great strength, but the last ten years have been filled with flat boats with all the personality of a paper airplane. No, the titan and the unnamed Crusher vessel are gorgeous. Starfleet clean with recognizable design. I can literally feel my body relaxing as I see them – it’s a similar feeling that I had back when the TIE Fighters and Millennium Falcon first showed up in The Force Awakens after decades of prequel era ships that just felt like an unrecognizable mess of jumbled pixels.
I got through the first episode without shouting obsenities at the screen once. I don’t understand this. I’m not used to this. In fact, I was actually caught by the cliffhanger and found myself
kind of looking forward to the next episode.
Wait a minuet! Did I just say that??? What the fluff is wrong with me! That’s not…I…. That’s can’t be the right sentence. You know what? Let’s just move on.
A sort of roaming Doctor on the frontier, Beverly Crusher has found herself and her son (no, not, him. She’s squeezed out a new and improved version who isn’t nearly as irritating as Wil Wheaton). She sends out a distress call to Picard, who enlists the help of Will Riker and off they come to the rescue. Of course it’s not that simple. Riker is a Captain, but one without a ship. His plan is to scam the new Captain of the Titan to take them out to the edge of Federation space and “borrow” a shuttle.Of course once they rescue Doctor Crusher – the people chasing Her and now chasing them and the Titan. It’s a monster of a ship populated with thugs and bounty hunters who aren’t impressed with Picard, The Titan or Starfleet. The face off is another one of those cliffhangers that
makes me wish I could just instantly go on to the next one….
Okay seriously. Can we figure out where those strange sentences are coming from? Because now it’s starting to freak me out.
With episode 3, we start to get deep into the characters and storyline. A conspiracy is afoot and not everyone on the ship is what they may seem. There’s a reason why The bounty ship keeps managing to follow the Titan, evenin the nebula where sensors don’t work. Back on Earth, Raffie is getting acquainted with Worf…. her handler. This is where things actually start to get interesting. Raffie was never particularly a fan favorite…. she’s always been written dower and accuseatory. It seemed like her main purpose in the first season was to be an addict, and to constantly criticize Picard… To put him in his place. Her interactions with Worf were far different. Worf dosen’t have time forany of that. He is firm and decisive. He’s still respectful, but hes not taking any of her crap. Interestingly enough, this has a positive effect on her character. It uplifts her in a way that Picard’s wishy washy approach never did. All of a sudden, their mission to unravel the conspiracy on this end of space gets interesting. It’s all due to Michael Dorn’s performance as Worf, and the way that it makes everyone around him really bring their A game.
But then there’s this moment… Picard is finally face-to-face with Beverly Crusher. They’re alone, and he needs answers about this lost son of his that hes never met. He’s upset, angry even… and justifiably so. Crusher points out that they had just broken up for the 5th time, it wasn’t going to work. She wanted to tell him she was pregnant, but right at that moment he gotten kidnapped by romance. By the time they’ve retrieved him five days later….
“And is that all I had?” he asks.”A five day window?”
Crusher then points out and attempts on his life by a Reman sect, and then he was off to negotiate a peace treaty…
“I lost my Husband and my son to those same stars,” Beverly protests. (I suppose. Westly isn’t dead, but he’s not quite human anymore either, but rather a travler) and she suggests, she knew she could protect HER son from those kind of things, but not PICARD’S son…
The explanation isn’t quite good enough for Picard, He still points out that she took away his choice about whether or not he wanted to be a father said this young man. She responds that he never wanted kids, at least that’s what he told her. After all, he was afraid he’d be abusive like his father. Picard erupts in a rage.
“How dare you do something that was told to you in confidence to rationalize your own choice here!”
He asks why she couldn’t have had faith in him… he suggested that he could have gotten out of active duty, taken a less dangerous job so he could be that father to Jack. Crusher isn’t sure she agrees.
Here’s the thing. This is exactly when the show proves that it’s actually classical Star Trek. You see, in this argument, they’re both right. They’re also both wrong. There’s two sides to this question, two sides of the same coin, and the show explores them equally. It wants to have the conversation. Much like classic star trek, it wants to MAKE you think. Unlike current star trek which tells you WHAT to think. I will flat out say that in previous seasons of Picard, and all Discovery for that matter… the same conversation would gone very differently. Picard would have shrunk away, apologizing, and admitting that he doesn’t have any argument or justification. That he was wrong, and his entire perspective is wrong. He would immediately defer to the nearest female in higher authority.
To watch this instead, to see this man and this woman, both hash it out as equals , It’s something that’s long been missing from Star Trek.
Thats the thing. Picard is actually good. I mean it’s really stinkin’ good and I’m not sure how to process that. I didn’t go in with any hope. I didn’t even go in wanting to like it (and I’d like to think that most of the time I’m more fair than that, but I’ll admit I wasn’t this time). Picard had a high bar to clear just to get my attention..and it did it. I don’t know if this is a turning point. I’m not optimistic enough for that. But I don’t want to throw the baby out with the bathwater. For now….for RIGHT now. I’ll sit back and be content for this brief moment I can actually enjoy Star Trek for a change….because who knows? This time may never come again.
At least, not until Prodigy returns!
Catching up with Jeff and Alligator Loki
I think it has more to do with these being infinity comics rather than off the shelf books from Comic Are Go. But still, I love Alligator Loki and It’s Jeff! And I hadn’t even realized they had come back so I’m WAY behind. That’s a real mistake because I even missed the CROSSOVER! Go find these and read them now. Seriously.
While You’re at it, pick up Joe Fixit. I was assuming this was goign to just be a reprint, but not so! It’s a throwback to Peter David’s run and features Joe vs. The Kingpin while Spidey just kind of looks on. It’s the best thing to come out this week, possibly all month! I know, there’s another issue of Star Trek out, but really, this one almost feels like a filler issue. What a waste of Q. As for Spider-Man, well, I’m still waiting for it to give me a reason to keep reading beyond sheer momentum.
Week before Thanksgiving 2022!
It’s mostly comics this week, but I wanted to mention a couple of TV picks first as well!
After a highly accessible episode of Star Trek : Prodigy last week, we’re going into full on continuity mode. In fact, it’s really the one we’ve been waiting for… Where Dall meets the real Captain Janeway… And of course messes it all up. The scallywag from the doomed star base they visited a couple episodes ago is still slandering them in an attempt to make himself look good, the crew of the Protostar he’s having a hard time connecting with Starfleet. It’s only made harder by the fact that they are ship has a weapon inside it just waiting to infect any other ship or Starfleet entity they come in to contact with. As much as I enjoy the standalone episodes, I have to admit, the payoff we’re getting here has been really good. This episode feels a little bit more Star Wars than Star Trek though, taking place at a remote outpost that feels like a frozen Mos Eisley. Still, they make it work, and leave us on a cliffhanger that just has me squirming in my seat waiting for more.
Stargirl too. Stargirl has at this point, gone full on soap opera continuity. Basically, the show is going to be in accessible to anyone newly discovering it, but then again, I supposed they can afford to be, considering they’re not getting a fourth season.
That’s what makes it so unusual to me that DC would pick this time to launch a new Stargirl miniseries. Stargirl : The Lost Children teams her up with Red Arrow, in a relationship that feels very much like her friendship with Yolanda on the Stargirl TV show. Together they’re out to investigate the disappearance of all of the kids sidekicks from the DCU. Not the current ones, but rather the classic ones… Truth be told I don’t recognize a lot of these guys. Airwave, definitely. But a lot of these are more obscure ones that I’ve only ever heard whispered of long ago in legends. Still, the amount of goodwill that the television series has built with me, it’s got me jumping into this to see where they go. Legacy characters have always been a thing for me, and mixing it with a hero that I’ve recently come to know and love is a great way of doing this.
Really, it feels like it’s teen sidekicks all around. this month.
I somehow missed issue eight of Worlds Finest, so I grabbed that and issue nine together. We still have that kind of kryptonian refugee from another world or dimension and their integrating him into the teen titans. I have to admit, I’ve never been a fan of the Titans, so this is a bit of a low point for me… On the other hand, it’s just nice to spend time here in a DC universe that I know and recognize, as opposed to what the DCU has become in the last five or six years. That’s probably worlds finest greatest strength. Pure superhero stories in a setting in style and at legacy readers. It’s why I’m still gonna be reading this thing even when they’re featuring characters like the Titans that I just don’t care about.
Speaking of characters I don’t care about, you can pretty much skip She-Hulk this month. It’s featuring a side quest… Setting up supporting characters or villains or something along those lines… But Jen really doesn’t show up, and this issue isn’t actually about her. I have to be honest. I didn’t buy this one. I was going to, but it’s just not worth it to me this month.
On the other hand, Nightwing just continues to be stellar. I was an issue behind on that one as well, so it’s a back to back read. That’s not necessarily a bad thing. Issue 97 is kind of some loose ends with a good straightforward adventure, and one of the great bits of banter that I’ve really been enjoying between dick and Barbara regarding this month’s villainous psycho whos carving out vital organs from his victims.
You may or may not know that I am a fan of bat mite. I mean, The characters in general always appeal to me. Spider ham is another one on that list (no curiously enough, Mr. missile pic isn’t. I always found him frustrating and annoying rather than fun) well it seems like Batman’s not the only one out there in the DC universe who can attract a fifth dimensional imp… And issue 98 introduces us to Nite-Mite.
It’s not all over the top goofiness, but just enough of it, and Nite-Mite is illustrated with just enough cartoonish joy to make him fun but not to push him over the top into irritating. It’s well balanced and well handled, and I love it. I don’t want to see it every issue, but this was a wonderful surprise, and one of the reasons why I still feel like Nightwing has got his groove back. We’re back to the heights of the Chuck Dixon run back in the 90s. It’s just that good. Honestly, they should just bite the bullet and rebrand this as Nightwing and Batgirl… Because it’s just the perfect team the way it’s being written right now.
I Hate Fairyland is back and I have mixed feelings about it. See, the thing is I really enjoyed I Hate Fairyland during its original run. There’s something about that juxtaposition of the hyper violent angry a little girl hacking and slashing her way through a fairy tale universe. It was great fun. But if you want a return to I Hate Fairyland it has to get us back to basics. It has to reestablish the character… And as such we we see what happened to poor Gert after she returned to the real world. It’s not just that she can’t adjust, I don’t think she ever was meant for this world in the first place. She’s a drunken slacker loser. That kind of breaks my heart. Somebody once said that if you really love the characters and survivors of a horror movie, the last thing you want is for a sequel to come out… Because much worse is coming their way if they have to return. I almost feel like That applies to I Hate Fairyland. I liked seeing the psycho little girl, but it feels different watching that grown-up version of her stumble through adult life. Maybe it’ll be better once we get into the thick of the series. I hope so, because this first issue re-introduction was just a downer.
New Star Trek this month too. I guess Star Trek Resurgence is based on a game? I know nothing about this. But it’s taking place in the TNG movie time period, and that’s a definite plus for me. It’s life on a starship outside of the Enterprise… And that’s actually also something I enjoy. An unknown unique ship, a peek into the workings of a crew that we don’t normally see, I’ve always dug that. It’s nicely illustrated and it’s actually got me feeling a lot more goodwill to it than I did with the new Star Trek ongoing featuring Sisko and Paris and Scotty and what not. I almost feel like this may be the Star Trek series to follow… Will definitely find out. But I’m glad that IDW comics are leaning into the license. I’m especially glad that we’re getting stuff outside of the Bad Robot “prime” timeline, the Abrams “Kelvin” timeline, and instead getting back in that separate original Paramount universe. More of that please
I’m still behind on Iron Man and ghost rider I think. By the time I can get into that part of the stack, they’ll probably be a new Spider-Man out too… All stuff I can talk about next week. But before I go I’d be remiss if I didn’t point out the Gambit miniseries that’s already in its fifth issue. How did I not know about this? I suppose probably because most of the X books are dreck, and a shadow of their former glory. But this is good. This is really fun. The premise is that after a recent encounter with the villians Nanny and Orphan Maker, storm was de-aged back to childhood. That messes with both her power… and her memory. Remy rescues her from the Shadow King and they head off on their own adventures. See the thing is, the storm was a thief when she was a kid, back in Cairo. It’s something that she has in common with Gambit, making him an ideal mentor for her. Marvel is describing this as an untold chapter in Gambits life, which means I have NO idea when this is set and that’s cool with me. Because what we get is a really rollicking adventure with gambit and little storm… And the chemistry between the two is just amazing. I’m a little late to this game, so I’m hoping to get this collected in trade, but either way, it’s definitely worth your time and attention. Go check this out.
Last Week’s Pulls
A new Star Trek book hit the shelves! The line is just being referred to as “Star Trek”. Not “Star Trek : This new series”, or “Star Trek :That new ship name” and I’m of two minds about that. Usually a title that’s just ‘ol Star Trek refers to TOS or ’09. You know, Kirk and company. This on the other hand is an ensemble book. It’s a team made up of characters from various series and incarnations, including Captian Sisko, Commander Data, Dr. Crusher, Lt. Tom Paris and Mr. Scott. I can see why it might defy catagorization, yet, I almost feel like I’d like some specific identifier for this series.
Sisko is back from the Prophets, and off on a new mission. He’s assembeled a special team aboard an experimental starship and off we go in search of dead gods.
Week of 10-25-22
Stargirl is totally gearing up for a spin off. I swear it is. This weeks episode of infinity Inc. part two, resolves the whole story about Jade searching for her brother obsidian. I’m not sure if I’m completely on board with the look they’ve given him sit in here, it’s really just black and smoky… And they’re really leaning in to the idea that he is shadow and that she is light. I literally said to myself “they’re really trying to go for their own version of Marvel’s Cloak and Dagger aren’t they?“. Still, there’s worse directions they could go. The other thing that really amuses me is how the episode kept the shade and stripes he trapped in the Shadowlands for most of the hour. The thing about the Shadowlands… You know how the CW kinda has this thing where you’re constantly seeing “attractive people standing in dark hallways talking about their feelings“? Well that’s basically what the Shadowlands is. It’s the ultimate dark hallway for people to sit and talk about their feelings as their deepest fears and regrets are probed. It amuses me to see The CW double down on this… They’ve practically gone meta with It.
But all around, it was a nice little side quest. This two episode story doesn’t really feed into the whole rest of the seasons whodunnit theme, but rather, as I said, seems to be setting up a spin off series. As Jenny and Todd leaves The asylum – the helix house, Mr. Bones ponder as whether or not he should put together a team of his own, just like Stargirl has. Jade and Obsidian on the other hand, are heading out to find the son of the Sandman. He’s having dreams that for tell the future, and may need help. It’s a heck of a loose end that they’re just dangling there. Series biz. Watch and see if they don’t throw together an infinity Inc. series to be announced next summer or fall (especially since Stargirl has now been cancelled), once the CW And Warner Bros. have shaken out their transition. It may not be on the CW, but I bet it’ll still show up SOMEWHERE (And feature bits of the Stargirl crew too).
I was delighted to see that Star Trek Prodigy was back. I knew it was coming out sometime in late fall or winter, but never had any real indication of when. I’m grateful that there’s actually Star Trek out there that I can watch, and this continues to be the best of all the modern Star Trek series. We see the kids pulling up the Protostar to the nearest star base… Basically a relay station on the edge of the known galaxy. I’m actually kind of delighted to see that the uniforms look pretty correct. They’ve added black to the shoulders, but otherwise it’s the future uniform from all good things, including thesame. com badge. I always liked this look, and the black gives it a bit more of a transitionary look… Like they’re eventually going to be a solid color rather than the TNG style they are evoking. And also confirms that strange and ugly pajama like uniforms the kids are wearing were specific to the protostar. How do we know? Because we get flashbacks to the Protostar’s launch and Janeway sending off Captain Chakotay. It’s good stuff, and I don’t think I’ve ever enjoyed these characters as much as I do in this show. it’s not just nostalgia, Chakotay is given an actual role here, and Janeway just feels right in both her admiral role and in the mentor role that we get on the ship.
It’s also great to see the crew back. We get a little bit more information on their races. Even with Dall, we get clues to his identity… Some thing that’s been a minor subplot throughout the whole thing. Of course, it can’t go smoothly… Drednok, the robot bad guy from last season has been hiding his consciousness in the ships computer, and is now ready to emerge. He downloads himself into the star base and wreaks some havoc there, giving us a nice little adventure on the front end. In the b story on the other hand, we have Admiral Janeway on an expedition to figure out what happened to the protostar and find Kote. Well, she doesn’t find him… But she does find The Diviner (our head bad guy) floating in suspended animation. We’ll see what kind of answer if she gets from him in the next episode!
You know, with all of the talk about the television that I watched… There is a show I have neglected to talk about. It’s because I generally catch it late, and because it’s obviously just a bit of a Temporary fill in for Halloween. You may have noticed occasionally that I happen to be an old fan of horror hosts. In Cleveland we had big chuck and little John, but back in the 60s 70s and 80s almost every market had something. Elvira was probably the most well-known, managing to go national for a bit, and in Chicago, there was Svengoolie. Recently our cable package shuffled again, and I discovered that added METV to the lineup. I have been overjoyed to be able to watch Sven again, even thoguh I don’t usually talk abotu it in the blog since it’s mostly a movie show (Though from time to time, I do review the movies he screens!). This year, during spooky season, they’ve expanded his presence, giving him extra blocks of shows like the twilight zone to host, and tagging on a special exploring the hosts history. But the other thing that they’ve done, is added An after show… Sven Tooney. Like the old-fashioned local UHF stations, METV also has kids programming in the morning. It’s a block of cartoons, Tom and Jerry, Looney Tunes, that sort of thing. It’s hosted by Bill Leff and Toony. Toony is a puppet of a red tuna… And every now and then he’ll pop over to Sven’s show, to harass Svengoolie’s rubber chicken Kerwin. Well apparently last year, when I couldn’t watch the show, they spun Tooney off into his own spoof of Svengoolie show. Sventoonie! Apparently he’s returned this year, with his own parody of Sven’s show where he, his DJ blobby (A blob fish with an electric charge like an eel), and Trevor, a dead video store clerk, do some comedy bits and talk about old public domain movies. They cut the film up so that they can fast forward and summarize it, while still throwing in their own bits. I actually almost enjoy this more than Svengoolie! The thing is, with a horror host, in that two hour block, you get about 15 minutes of the host. The rest is the movie and commercials. That’s still fairly true here, but it’s a half hour show, so 50% or better is dedicated to the hosts and quite frankly that’s what we’re here to watch! It’s a great little thing to sit down and watch at lunchtime on Sundays, and a really nice companion to Sven’s show. Looks like it’s only going to be the six episodes this year, and that’s fine. It would probably grow old fast if it were overexposed all year, but I’ve really been having fun with this, and it’s been the highlight of my week this October.
With that said, Happy Halloween to everyone, and will be back next week, hopefully with some more thoughts on Netflix CGI he-man and the masters of the universe!
Week of 6-15-22
The Flash kicks things off right this week, jumping right in showing a race between the flash and another speedster dressed like a ninja. It’s a funny coincidence, considering I spent the weekend watching a bunch of ninja movies…
The black suited speedster in question is Dr Mina, a scientist who seems to have developed a machine that can grant a person artificial super speed. Or is it really artificial speed force? Barry’s taking it upon himself to help train her, but things go sideways when he meets her partner… Ebon Thawn, the Reverse Flash. This is the blonde hair blue eyed version of Thawn, and he’s lost his memory. It’s suspicious enough to send Barry running to check on Tom Kavanaugh‘s reverse flash, still stripped of his power, and cooling his heels in iron heights prison. Together they realize that what Mina has created is a machine that Thawn designed 200 years from now in his own quest for super speed… But it’s not creating artificial speed force. It’s tapping in to the negative speed force. Much like an atom can have a negative charge and a positive charge, Barry is the avatar of the speed force and carries the positive charge. What Mina has discovered is the negative charge of the speed force, and a lightning bolt from her hand can cancel out Barry’s powers.
It’s just a great solid superhero adventure. Mina actually stopped just short of kind of becoming a female reverse flash… And indeed, Barry even says “Central City can always use more heroes“. No it can’t! What it needs is more villains! and I’d love to see her go full Reverse Flash here. When you’re at the eighth season like this, it wouldn’t really be just a gender swap replacement of an existing character, but rather a variant that moves right along in the continuity, not taking away from the already established character. let her be a reverse flash for an episode or two, and maybe even climax it with three reverse flashes after Barry. Either way, you can tell that I’m digging on this episode, because of all the speculation…
Moreover we get not one, but three stingers at the end, it seems that there wasn’t really enough time to dedicate to the b storylines, so they’ve got a cliffhanger us at the end here with glimpses of Cecile and her powers going off the scale, A potential resurrection for killer frost, and new devious plans hatching with the reverse flash. It gets me very excited for what the back end of the season has to offer. You also can never go wrong with a cameo from Ray Palmer. Even if it is just Brandon Routh skypeing in, I’ve said it before and I’ll say it again. Everything that Brandon Routh brought to the table with Clark Kent… All the charm and gawkiness without being… Well, stupid… (The way Christopher Reeve played him) it’s all dialed up to 11 when Routh plays the atom, and it just works so well.
But then we get to Ms Marvel. And see, I don’t understand Disney. They bought Marvel… A company mostly built on superhero adventure franchises. Colorful characters in colorful costumes punching people. Then they proceed to make these Disney+ shows with very few costumes, muted colors, and nearly no action, adventure or punching. I understood there wouldn’t be tons of action in the first episode because we’re basically getting an origin, but the second episode seemed even flatter. It’s Kamala’s got a crush, and somebody’s stealing shoes at the mosque. That’s basically what happens. There’s about 10 minutes of a superhero rescue towards the very end and quite the cliffhanger, but the 40 minutes or so that proceeded… It’s all just people talking. You know, I feel like I’ve said this before… Oh wait, I have. I said it for six weeks with Loki.
Part of me wonders if Marvel just hasn’t gotten The formula right… I mean, the Disney+ shows sure seem to be following a specific structure, but it’s not the right one. In a film, the first act is world building. You get 30 or 40 minutes of that before you move into the second act which is conflict, usually resulting in a big problem or falling out that has to be resolved shortly into the third act just before the climax. It’s a reliable structure, and when you deviate from that, you start feeling like the film is dragging. On a traditional 22 episode network television series, you probably get about 20%-25% of each episode divided world building, maybe a little bit more or less depending on the story, as well as character development all throughout, while never neglecting the action and adventure itself. For all of my talk about how the CW shows really do love their scenes of attractive people talking about their feelings in dimly lit hallways… They still understand that balance, And don’t deprive us of the important punching moments.
And yet every week I hear my friends gushing about “Marvel has done it again!“ And have the newest Disney Marvel show is the best thing ever! And I just don’t get it. I almost wonder if they’re reacting more to that shocking cliffhanger that they do seem to like leaving us with rather than the contents of the absolute self. That would make sense to me, but honestly, it’s not enough to run a series on that alone.
Fortunately, they haven’t forgotten about the action when it comes to making Obi-Wan. The imperial forces are bearing down on the underground railroad base, and it’s basically up to Obi-Wan to buy them time to evacuate… and get Princess Leia to safety.
We finally get some of Reva’s backstory… But it’s no exaggeration when I say literally everybody I knew, whether they were Star Wars fans or not, whether they like the show or not, EVERYONE ABSOLUTELY KNEW she was going to end up being one of the kids in the Jedi temple and that somehow she would’ve survived the massacre from Revenge of the Sith. Obi-Wan suggests that the reason she’s doing all this is really to able to get close to Vader to kill him… Which is weird, because she’s been serving Vader for a decade or two now, but it’s only now that Obi-Wan’s dreamy eyes are enough to convincing her to try and kill him? No, I still insist that this character feels very clumsily inserted into the story for purposes of padding out the length to get it to six hours, and to make sure that there’s some sort of diversity first. It’s not even that she’s awful, it’s just that she’s unnecessary. The imperial turncoat that’s been helping Obi-Wan and Leia escape…? The one that will occasionally don her old imperial officer uniform? You could have given Reva’s entire backstory to her and not missed a beat. She could have still headed up to confront Vader this episode and had a far more interesting death. And all the tracking and torture and villainous stuff Reva’s been doing? It’d all be WAY more interesting if that were Vader. I’ve said it before, but it bears reapeating. you have one of the greatest cinematic villians of all time at your disposal. Not just of sci-fi, not just of star wars….ONE OF THE GREATEST VILLIANS IN THE HISTORY OF ALL MOVIES….but you’d rather use Reva.
I can kind of see how Obi-Wan really did start off life as a film script. You can feel the pacing, especially now that we’re fully immersed into the third act, and this thing absolutely would’ve blown our socks off as a three hour film, rather than a six hour miniseries. In fact, I could go for a couple of two-hour Obi-Wan films with these kind of production values. Still, while this probably wasn’t the series best destiny, it’s still been the best of any of the Disney Star Wars that I’ve seen.
With no Superman and Lois this week, we’re rounding things out with the Orville. The thing is, I’ve never been a fan of imaginary stories. I don’t enjoy the stuff like Shore Leave, or the holodeck hijinx of Casino Royale or the Big Goodbye. Still, I’ve gotta admit, Seth MacFarlane is not gonna be able to fully realize his dream of doing a Star Trek series without at least one of these type of stories. He provides us with a sufficient McGuffin, and to his credit, the story actually gives us more of a twilight zone feel to them than a fantasy diversion. It’s an interesting aesthetic, but for me these still always feel like a waste of time.
McFarland also manages to tack on what Harlan Ellison used to refer to as “that dopey utopian bull$#@% that Gene Roddenberry loved” tm. McFarlane puts it in the mouth of the MacGuffin, a highly evolved creature, that’s at least 50,000 years beyond us… more really, since they learned how to manipulate and control their evolution. She suggests that humanity is on the right track, having left behind it’s gods and it’s myths and it’s nations, but when you become as involved as they are, you even move beyond any other identities… Explorer, captain, husband, even man or woman. Now, before people start pointing fingers and triumphantly exclaiming “See! Star Trek was always woke!“ Not only can I just kind of brush it off as one line of dialogue… (And being a student of history, I’ve noticed that every generation seems to think that they’ve evolved past a lot of those traditional concepts and identities… past ideas of God and nation and identity (and then history or reality reassert themselves and we find ourselves drawn back to those traditions). Sure I CAN address that myself, but I don’t actually have to, because in true Star Trek fashion, the show plunges forward to explore the statement further. McFarlane points out that while humans may not be as involved as our McGuffin, we’re old enough that we don’t run experiments on lower life forms the way the McGuffin has just done on us. It’s an interesting statement. It doesn’t necessarily contradict her, but it certainly gives you something to think about… and makes you wonder whether or not the McGuffin’s evolution is truly progressive and positive or not. The crew discusses it over dinner in the mess hall that night at the ship…
McFarland is pushing an atheist view here, that when you die there’s nothing, but that’s something to wrestle with. It’s an idea that we can’t truly wrap our heads around. Even the idea of it just being a formless black void after we die… We still have to be conscious in some way to perceive that… How do you perceive nonexistence? Bortus on the other hand suggests that death is noble. It’s a part of life and it has it hazards on virtue. McFarlane dismisses it as the traditional philosophical idea, but even in the dismissal, we get to listen to the point. Despite all of this, the first officer seems shocked that McFarlane would wish to live forever. He gives a marvelous justification though…
“I want to see what happens.”
I love this. I disagree with the primary tenant that McFarlane really wants to espouse, but he does it smartly – it’s classical liberalism which wants to debate the comcept, talk about it and chew it over and eventually come to a conclusion. It’s a difference between this and any of the modern Star Trek we see on Paramount plus which merely wishes to push it’s message, unquestioned. The Orville maybe stating its own opinion, but more importantly, they want to start the discussion. That’s why a single line can spark so much explanation from me here in this blog. That’s what Star Trek used to do.
Of course, you could justifiably say that I’m over thinking things here. But then again, hasn’t that always been the point of science fiction in general and Star Trek in particular?
See you next week.
Star Trek : Prodigy
Star Trek Prodigy is back after its brief holiday hiatus. I kind of lost some momentum with the show during the break, so I keep forgetting that it’s on. However, I managed to catch up this weekend, and I’m still a fan.
Star Trek Prodigy is surprisingly episodic, though there is an overarching story with the bad guy who’s mining colony they escaped from. He’s still searching for them and more importantly, for the ship.
But that’s really not the big news. That’s not the thing that makes this work. It’s far from Star Trek Discovery or Picard, both of which traded optimistic humanism for nihilism and have mistaken cynicism for wisdom and original thought. It’s also not Star Trek Lower Decks which feels like it was somebody learning as much as they could about Star Trek just so they can trash the fans. They’re not laughing with us, they’re laughing at us. Really. They said it out loud.
No, Prodigy feels different… Almost like… Star Trek?
One of the big differences that I’m noticing in the series is that it’s an ensemble. It’s a diverse group of misfits. And in this case, it’s truly diverse. Whereas on Star Trek Discovery, diversity just means no straight white men… (In fact as few men as possible, thanks) In Star Trek Prodigy, we have male and female, each a different race with their own personalities and quirks. Much of the current crop of Star Trek doesn’t bother developing personalities, rather their entire characterization is the superficial… “I’m the black one”, “This is the gay one”, “That’s the black gay one!”… And the only characters getting any real development are their leads. Star Trek Picard is entirely focused on deconstructing Jean-Luc Picard, whereas Star Trek Discovery is all about the almost Christlike perfection of Michael Burnham. They’re definitely the stars of their shows.
Star Trek Prodigy doesn’t have a star. It has an ensemble.
Thing is, this is really were Star Trek shines. It’s the thing that always worked about Star Trek. Even back to the original series, where the idea was to have a star in William Shatner, the show very quickly shifted into team mode… No longer just being about Captain Kirk, but being about Kirk Spock and McCoy as one unit… And even the second string characters each got their moments (especially Chekov and Scotty who really got development in the later seasons). Likewise, Prodigy is very much an ensemble. It’s not just about Dal, the purple captain. It’s not just about Gwyn, the albino white girl with the AWSOME thought metal sword-armlet-thing, or big rock girl ( Rok-Tahk is consistently my favorite character on this show, although gelatinous Murph comes in as a close second). It’s not even about hologram Janeway, arguably the most recognizable element of the series. She’s not the lead, but she’s also not just a supporting character. Everyone has equal weight, everyone gets equal development, everyone has equal importance. They work together to make something really special.
I mentioned in a previous post, because it’s set and the far-flung reaches the universe, and I don’t even know what time period it is, it’s not quite so burdened by the continuity. It allows it to restart. That’s a smart thing. This is very much intro to Star Trek, a good way to ease new viewers into the series. The characters act as our avatars, as they discover things like the holodeck, the transporter, the replicators, and more importantly… they’re discovering the heart that always drove Star Trek. The character, and the engaging storytelling. Unburdened by continuity, or the preachiness of current year politics, We go on adventure after adventure, experiencing first contact for the first time. We’re dipping our toe in the Kobyashi Maru, and experimenting with phasers and communicators and tricoders and discovering a few secrets that this long lost ship just might have its own.
Also because they’re experiencing all these things for the first time, because it’s all new to them, it doesn’t quite feel like just gratuitous ‘member berries when we see a hologram of Spock show up, or a picture of one of the old ships, or note that phaser designs, while streamlined, or awfully familiar (and, man…what IS it with the fetishization of the arrowhead/delta insigina in all these new series?).
In shows like Star Trek Picard and Star Trek Lower Decks, it feels like they’re just throwing as much of this stuff at the screen as possible to try and remind you “Remember how you used to like Star Trek? Remember the Klingons? You love the Klingons! Remember 10 forward? You love 10 forward!“ It’s all very shoehorned in there. Here, it feels more natural. They are discovering these things with the audience, and it feels new. The fact that there’s Klingon writing on the side of that cloaking device in the junk pile? That’s for the old viewers. Something for us to spot (but with no attention drawn to it) while the new viewers get to discover what a cloaking device is in the first place. It’s organic and natural.
I’m surprised at how much I’m enjoying this. Along with a lot of the traditional Star Trek designs and tropes, we get some stunning alien designs, and some real innovation. One of the bigger shortfalls of Star Trek in the late 90s, was everything started to look the same. You had the same people working on the show for 20 years, and the alien computer started to really resemble the federation ones. The lines of the ship were kinda distinct, but still felt a little too similar to everything we’ve seen before. Prodigy goes out and creates wild creatures and landscapes, trying very hard to go where no one has gone before… While still trying to maintain a reasonably familiar, comfortable look inside the Federation ship. Everything around it though, it’s so new and fresh, that the protostar ship almost feels out of place, The Federation vessel becoming the alien itself.
We’re better than halfway through the season, and we’ve had some good episodes and some filler episodes. We’ve had some things that were shocking, like watching the bad guy sneak onto the ship in the most innovative way possible, and these bad guys are genuinely frightening. We’ve had some real character development in just about everybody, and watching this team start to gel, and really become a crew.
Look, if you’re not watching Star Trek Prodigy, this is the one to really give a try. So far I’ve enjoyed everything about it. I gave both Star Trek Picard and Star Trek Discovery a good long chance (and I’m disappointed that my faith wasn’t justified – though you can actually see the cracks even as far back as my earliest Discovery blog posts https://argocitycomics.wordpress.com/2019/01/21/star-trek-discovery/ ). And it didn’t take long for me to realize these are not good shows. That they’re just not Star Trek. Honestly, I’ve been burned so much at this point, I keep waiting for the other shoe to drop, but it never does. Star Trek Prodigy is solid Star Trek, and the absolute best thing to come out of Paramount+ and Secret Hideout.
Tracy Vs Star Trek!
Despite being a realitvely simple costume (that is, no armor), my reinterpretation of the original and filmation Ghostbusters Ape as a modern Columbia Ghostbuster quickly became one of my favorite suits and ended up showing up a LOT.
Discovery – the first quarter
Is it just me or is Discovery in full damage control mode now?
I suppose I shouldn’t be criticizing this. I’m actually watching Discovery fix a lot of my problems with the show, but these are a lot of things that shouldn’t have been issues in the first place.
I’m genuinely surprised at how much I like Captain Pike in this series. I never particularly cared for him in TOS and I haven’t exactly been dying for a Pike series, nevertheless Anson Mount seems to pull the role off well. It’s big shoes he has to fill. I really dug Jason Isaacs. Mount’s compassionate yet firm performance is an interesting contrast to Isaacs’ duplicitous, edgy Captian Lorca. I still miss him, but Pike is a good replacement. His command to replace all the holographic communicators on the ship with analog on-screen ones (because they are supposedly more secure) is however, a sloppy fix to my (and other’s) complaints about the use of technology that shouldn’t exist at this point in the timeline yet. We’re seeing a lot of this kind of quick patch-and-fix method.
Pike’s not the only classic Trek character being brought in though. In addition to Spock (Who, four episodes in, we still haven’t seen – and that’s probably a good thing. It builds suspense), episode four also brings in Majel Barett’s first officer character from “The Cage”, this time pleasantly played by an unrecognizable Rebecca Romijn (actually, I like her version better than Majel’s. She’s more likable – and cool that she vanishes into the role. I can’t believe I didn’t know that was her!) for a quick pop-in cameo at the beginning of the episode. It’s another example of nostalgia overkill. I swear, the Star Trek Writer’s have been trying to make something of this character for at least the last thirty years. There’s something of an obsession here. I’m not convinced that fandom is really dying for a “Number One” story, but Discovery is still trying to pull in that pre-trek crew and any familiar face they can (Please don’t bring back Harry Mudd btw. Rainn Wilson was wholly unlikable – which completely misses the point of Harry)
Speaking of familiar faces, the Klingons look a hundred percent better in this series. They are transitioning them over to what is more recognizable by growing their hair out and dressing them in more leather, less bone and resin. I see a lot of forehead ridges being sculpted differently to. They’ve explained it as a story point, that the empire shifted once L’Rell took it over at the end of the last season. The Klingons are growing their hair out now. It’s a nice try. A little late – those drastic changes to the Klingons were a major sore point to a lot of Trekkers. Had they gone with this mix, a sort of evolved Klingon makeup, I think people would have accepted it a lot more readily – even been excited about it. You’ll never convince me that this evolution however, was the intent from the beginning though.
It’s actually the NEW faces that seems to really work for me. I’ve never been a real fan of Tig Notaro’s comedy, but man does she fit right in here as a recently rescued engineer from the shipwreck on a wayward astroid. I’d actually really like to see her replace Anthony Rapp as chief engineer. It’s not that Rapp has done anything wrong, it’s just that Notaro is that much better. I love watching her and Rapp verbally spar and would really dig seeing that kind of chemistry with a Captian. She absolutely feels like the McCoy of the group, and that’s something we’ve needed in this series. It brings into sharp focus just how sterile the interpersonal relationships have been on Discovery.
One of the things that impressed me about watching Tig and Rapp fight was the subject matter, a discussion of old reliable methods – Dilithium Crystals and Duck Tape, versus new tech – that is, the Spore Drive. This is the kind of social commentary that Star Trek has usually done well. It’s metaphor for Liberal vs. Conservative thinking and it hits both sides of an issue. It’s not the in-your-face SJW rhetoric that has taken over Doctor Who. I know Discovery has occasionally come under criticize for that same “Woke” attitude, but I don’t see it here nearly as much as I do in say, the abysmal last few seasons of Supergirl. I think we’re more sensitive to it in this day and age where it oversaturates too much of genre TV. Discovery actually could be commended for dialing it back to traditional levels.
So the real question for me is whether this season is better than last. It feels very similar, but with a lot of Tig’s duck tape trying to patch over the leaks in the series. It’s not like the real jump in quality we saw between the first season of TNG and the third. Then again, I don’t think Discovery is really as weak a show as TNG was during those first two seasons. However it also doesn’t have the goodwill That TNG derived frm being a return to weekly television after eighteen years (the animated series notwithstanding) off the air. TNG also didn’t have the responsibility of being the flagship for both a new network AND platform hanging around it’s neck like an albatross. Discovery’s mandate to launch CBS All Access has created an uncomfortable relationship between series and studio. The subscriber base for All Access has plateaued, and that puts Discovery in jeopardy. Had it been on a traditional network – even a premium cable one, that might not have been the case. Shows like Doctor Who and Game of Thrones thrive on their networks, largely because the infrastructure has been build and the general public have already accepted the platform. Discovery lacks that, and to put the burden on it’s shoulders is somewhat unfair. Star Trek is durable, but history shows us this is a losing bet. Star Trek II (the aborted TV series) failed to launch a paramount network. Voyager was moderately more sucessful, but wasn’t enough to create a sustainable network and UPN is now no more than a memory. I fear we’re watching that same scenario lay out now. CBS’s attitude is somewhere around “Wait and see” though insiders are saying CBS is abandoning Discovery and focusing on their Picard series (Not sure what that means for the black ops spin off that was suosed to feature Michelle Yeoh’s Georgiou). I think that’s a shame, because there’s plenty good here. I’d like to see more…but I’m not convinced we’re going to.
Star Trek : Discovery
So Discovery came back last week, though it took me until the weekend to actually see it. It hasn’t been that long a wait for me actually. With the exception of the first two episodes, I only finally got around to watching the bulk of the first season this past December.
Let’s get straight to the heart of this, because I see a lot of Trek fans constantly trashing this series out of hand. Discovery is not bad. It’s better than Voyager and Enterprise. It’s closer to Star Trek in spirit than the J.J. Abrams movies (hereon out referred to as the Kelvan timeline) ever came. It’s not as good as TNG, but might tie with DS9 as far as quality and originality goes.
There. We’ve established a pecking order. We’ve also established that I like it, more or less. Indeed, when CBS premiered the show last year with their two episode sneek peak, I actually told friends I was surprised that I liked it as much as I did. The effects are up to par. I love the uniforms (I ALWAYS wanted blue uniforms, back as far as 8th grade. Asymmetrical even. I couldn’t have done a better job myself.) and I’m totally in love with that spunky plump redhead on the show (Seriously, Tilly pushes all of my buttons). Sonequa Martin-Green does a fine job here, and actually is a far more interesting character than she ever was on The Walking Dead. Also, I’m pretty much on board with anything Jason Issacs is in. I also love the redesign of the Enterprise (brief glimpses as we get). It’s actually EXACTLY what I wanted to see done to the ship when TOS went through all it’s remastering and redone FX all those years ago. I also have to give them credit for finding flattering angles to shoot the U.S.S. Discovery from – ones that help it look dynamic and cool. No small feat to pretty up what is possibly the ugliest ship in Trek history. They definitely deserve some praise for that.
But there are problems.
- I’m so sick to death of prequels. Not only is making this a prequel unnecessary, it’s CONFUSING. Exactly what is this a prequel to? Is it taking place in the Kelvan timeline? Because that might make sense. Tech and fashion and stuff in general developed differently there. If however, this is supposed to be in the prime timeline with the original series, it’s creating some continuity holes big enough to drive a Klingon warship through. Not one of the little ones either like a bird of prey, no I’m talking one of those ginormous Neghvar cruisers that dwarfed the Vor’Cha class.The Holographic communicators really bother me since we actually SAW the introduction of this tech in the fifth season DS9 episode “For the Uniform”. Yeah, it’s funny that that’s the one t hat irks me more than the jump drive thing….I suppose I can believe that the Jump tech was classified and never used again. Maybe. If I start thinking about it, the whole thing unravels pretty quick.
So for fifty years we’ve just forgotten that the Jump tech exists. We’ve also forgotten about the brief use of the Discovery uniforms and the rank designations being on the arrowhead insgina (which is different from any we’ve ever seen before). This stuff is the peril of doing a prequel. What’s frustrating is that this didn’t HAVE to be a prequel. It’s not about forging the frontier or any significant events that were history in TOS. This could have just as easily been set fifty years after the end of Voyager and been the next, NEXT generation. It means you don’t get to use Sarek or Mudd, but those could easily be swapped out with other characters.
- We’re going back to the well. The last THIRD of Discovery’s first season was all about the mirror universe. This has quickly become the go-to stock story for these series. It’s the single thing most people remember and rave about Enterprise. It’s a trope so often used in TV and print that I’m actually shocked that Discovery got to it before the Kelvan timeline films did (To be fair though, they were busy with regurgitating Star Trek 2 – another trip to a different well). This is another one of those things that plays havoc with the timeline by the way. In the TOS story “Mirror Mirror”, both the Enterprise crew and the mirror universe blokes all seem blissfully unaware of the whole thing, despite incursion by both Archer’s Enterprise and the Discovery crew. This does not compute.
Mirror Universe aside, the fact that season 2 is bringing in both Captain Pike and Spock as major players signals a certain degree of uncertainty on CBS’s part. It’s a mandate to bring in familiar faces. The problem is even though this Spock actually looks better than Zachery Quento, I’m not actually jonseing for more Spock and I certainly don’t dig the importance they are putting on this long-lost sister thing that Michael Burnham represents.Where did Sybok go anyhow?
- TV-MA. Seriously, I understand that Star Trek has always been Adult Sci-Fi, but it’s never been ADULT (Bam-chika-wow-wow) fare. I wasn’t a particular fan of Data’s expletive as the Enterprise-D crashed in Generations but it felt organic and wasn’t excessive. Honestly though, I don’t really feel the need F-Bombs or Klingon breasts in my Star Trek. It doesn’t make it any more mature subject matter nor does it push the narrative. It’s a classic case of “We’re doing it because we CAN” rather than doing it because they should. I had the EXACT same criticisms of the film Logan, which did precisely the same thing. The only thing this accomplishes is to guarantee that my kids won’t be watching it. That’s kind of a shame isn’t it?
- You can’t talk about Discovery without talking about the paywall. Quite frankly, no matter how good the series is, the paywall was always going to turn a lot of people off. We’re still in the middle of figuring out the business model for streaming services. CBS is operating on an old model, releasing one episode a week, while applying the netflix pay model (and ironically, for foreign markets CBS decided to forego the streaming platform and just go on Netflix). That hybrid is turning a lot of souls off, as evidenced by Discovery consistently being in the to 20 most pirated shows on TV, with the pilot actually hitting #12 (and that was one of the ones CBS made free to everyone to watch!), rivaling shows like Game of Thrones. Plenty who don’t pirate, just waited for DVD. I didn’t have cable growing up and I still never missed an episode of any Trek series – as evidenced by snowy VHS recordings with the Channel 43 logo in the bottom right corner. One more service on top of cable and netflix and maybe Prime or Hulu….it’s to much. The guy to finally make sense of this ala carte system is going to be a millionaire. But untill then, the various individual streaming platforms is only going to generate a bunch of ill will, especially for millenials, who already despise paying for cable. CBS hoped that Trek would help their streaming brand. While it probably has, I’d say it’s had a greater effect to the opposite – it’s damaged the Star Trek brand too, and hung a particular taint around the neck of Discovery. There’s a good article about this over here – https://www.fudzilla.com/news/44594-star-trek-discovery-shows-that-big-content-still-has-not-got-the-message.
I don’t think Discovery is a bad show. If you haven’t given it a chance, I think you should (and I wish there was an alternative to dropping the cash on the streaming service or the DVD set. Come over to my house. We’ll crack a couple Dews and watch a couple, the same as I used to do with my buddy Johnny Em.)But I think it has some serious baggage. Voyager and Enterprise limped along despite fatigue and softening ratings. But they didn’t have the baggage Discovery does. Now with the announcement that fourth Kelvan timeline film has been shelved, combined with the sort of playing-it-safe move that bringing in Spock is do make me wonder for the future of the series.
It’s hard to pick a favorite role for Ron Howard’s brother….I was tempted to try and get him to sign an Ice Cream Man poster, but really, Star Trek is one of my first loves, and the fact that he was on it is just amazing to me.
My personal definitive way of drawing iconic characters
I don’t necessarily want to present Kirk and company here. I think that would be a different post. I’m talking more about the general LOOK of Star Trek, and the TNG era in particular.
The uniform changed to something better accepted in the third season and I really liked the addition of the belt, but felt it didn’t quite go far enough – I always wanted to see those uniforms resemble the red tunics more and always drew them untucked under the belt.
The black uniforms were always too much black for me, especially on Voyager. I understood them more on DS9, work uniforms that you wore to get dirty. I Like the idea in Generations that both uniforms were in service and imagined you’d see more of the black ones in engineering. Still, adding a stripe around the cuff of the sleeve added just enough more color to me and I always drew them like that. Apparently the producers agree with me as that showed up in the first contact uniforms.
Finally, I always wanted to see a vest underneath. We got those in the TOS films, and the red undershirt is hinted at in TNG. Again, we’d see these kind of vests full on in the TNG films, but I created this stripped down version for the traditional uniforms – a version that worked better with the purple undershirts of DS9.
These are my characters from my Star Trek series, based on the RPG we’d play which eventually spawned comics and videos.
Enterprise almost seems like one of the series that should be in the the case against category. It’s well-known that I’m not a fan. But it does have its admirers and rightly so. Enterprise came at a time when Star Trek was on it’s last legs. The horse was almost dead by the time Enterprise arrived and there was no way it was going to breathe life back into it. But it might have stopped the bleeding if it had been handled differently. I was there the beginning, for the Premier. We made a party out of it, and when everything was said and done it was an adequate. What it really was however, was a good two hour television movie. This is something that might have worked fine, but this is where it was hamstrung by the television model of the day, and the formula that the producers of Star Trek refused to deviate from. Everything interesting about Star Trek enterprise was pretty much wrapped up in the first month or two, leaving them with at least 10-16 episodes to pad out the rest of the season. Today it would be done a bit differently perhaps the way agent Carter was, in a eight episode miniseries. But back in 2001 it was demanded that it be a full 26 episode season period and quite frankly even watching that pilot I knew it couldn’t sustain that much time. By the time we had finished the first month or two, all the interesting part of the premises had been hammered out period the crew was getting along we mastered the tech and we had settled into the groove and exploring new world every week. It had evolved into just another Star Trek series that sounded the same as every other Star Trek series because the same writers were involved. It looked like every other Star Trek series because the same production people were involved and it felt like every other Star Trek series because the same producers were still at the helm. Back in 2001 my opinion was still the same as it is today; Enterprise could’ve worked, but it should’ve been done as a series of two hour television movies. Two, maybe three year. It could have keep Star Trek going while not being on every week, makeing it an event. In this way we could still hit key events, important stories and keep the fire burning. Just as importantly, it was time for a change. Doctor Who seems to understand this, that you need to change the producers once in awhile every several years to keep things fresh, to keep things going. Rick Berman had been at the helm of Star Trek for over a decade at this point and his style and sensibilities permeated every version of Star Trek at this juncture . Enterprise desperately needed an infusion of fresh eyes and didn’t get it. If I were doing this again I would have radically change production team and tried to hit some truly important stories that would set up the events we would see in the original series without being a slave to them. Indeed it might have saved us from the lens flare heavy reboot that we would get in 2009.
Star Trek 4 :the voyage home
There been times when Star Trek four has actually been considered the best of the series. I mean superior even to Star Trek 2 : The Wrath of Kahn. I never understood that, in my mind is actually one of the least successful of the series.
I think its biggest sin is that it is so dated. This is a quintessential 80s film. It’s not just the setting either, not just the product placement of things like Winchells or Michelob or specific places, it’s the save the whales conceit. It’s the fish out of water conceit. It’s the brand of comedy is being used here, the RUSSIAN looking for nuclear wessels. It’s all just so very 80s. So very hanging out in San Francisco in 1984. Star Trek should ever be dated like this. Sure you can look at Star Trek Next Generation and tell that the hairstyles began in 1987 and ended in 1994, but the series doesn’t feel like a product of its time (with the possible exception of counselor Troi, then again really she’s just doing a job that Dr McCoy qualified to do but still took on in the original series).
One of the great arguments here for this film is that everybody has something special to do. The only other little bits whether it Sulu in the helicopter or Scotty figuring out how to house the Whales and giving over the formula for transparent aluminum. Little bits – I’m not sure how good that small focus is as an argument.
I kind of get that and it’s something that William Shatner tried very hard to do with Star Trek five. It’s also something he failed to do there, but that’s neither here or there. Still it’s not about them having something to do, rather it’s how goofy and stupid those things they have to do are. Goofy antics? This is not what I watch Star Trek for. I want to see the beautiful starship and the red uniforms and charcters in peril and intrigue and this is none of that. It just fails in so many ways for me.
I think time has helped my argument on this by the way. Wrath of Khan is nowgenerally considered the best of all the Star Trek films and Star Trek 4, while still enjoyed doesn’t enjoy quite the notoriety that used to. Still for me, this is an even weaker entry then Star Trek 5.
Four conventions in four weeks is a little excessive, even for me – however, you have to admit that every show I’ve been to lately has been a different kind: Zipcon was an Anime Convention – very focused on Japanese animation and manga. You might see a Spiderman or Deadpool there, but really it’s all about the cartoons. Great Lakes on the other hand was a comic con. They had a more straightforward focus on mainstream comics, with only a couple of media guests, and all of them comic related. The 80s theme made a great deal of fun as well. Horror Relm is strictly a horror convention, with a heavy media and film focus. To their credit they do in fact have a literary component, but it’s overshadowed by the media guests.
That leaves us with this weekend, my first time out to the Cleveland ConCoction. ConCoction is a sci-fi convention – there’s a few more elements in there, a little bit of anime and comics, but it’s far more about speculative fiction. There is a heavy literary influence here, with very few media guests and more authors doing panels then actors. There’s a lot of Star Wars here predictably, but there is also an enormous amount of Star Trek here as well, hearkening back a little bit to the old days of Star Trek conventions. Seriously, I have not seen this many Star Trek costumes in one place in probably 20 years? That was fun and refreshing to be around again. It made it the perfect place to debut my new Borg outfit (truthfully created with ConCotion at least partially in mind) and I spent Saturday going around attempting to add biological and technological distinctiveness to my own. Sadly, all I managed to assimilate was girl scout cookies.
Concoction has been around for three years now, and they been on my radar the entire time – my main barrier to entry has been the cost – concoction is a little bit more expensive than other shows its size and on top of that, their location is the Sheraton hotel at the Cleveland Hopkins airport – this is a problem because it means you are going to pay to park, and if the hotel lot fills up (which it did, long before I made it there) you’re going to pay a LOT to park. Just a Saturday ticket is $40 at the door, although if you register early enough you can get the entire weekend for about $45 or so, and if you can get into the hotel parking lot it’ll only cost a fiver for a place to put your car. But if you get stuck having to park at the airport lot, you’re dropping an extra $12. All that cost up front, with very few media guests has kept me away first few years, but when I won a admission last September during a costume contest, it definitely got me excited about coming and far more willing to brave the extra costs of going.
Yes, ConCoction costs more, but they try harder too. There is programming from early in the morning all the way up until midnight here, and that’s not even getting into after parties and stuff like that. There is a ConSuite on site as well, where are you can find food and beverage. I’ve seen Motor City Nightmares do a similar hospitality suite, but wit far less of a spread and you had to get a special VIP admission for it. At ConCoction, the Consuite is open to anyone attending the show. I had all of my meals there, and this is really a great thing… Not having to run away from the hotel to grab food, not having to strategically plan your meals. They kept me hydrated (kind of important in some of my costumes) and fed. They also held several the panels in this cozy dining room.
The panels at ConCoction are very interesting, not just the content but also in the way that they are run. A lot of them are far more of a forum than a strict panel – there is a lot of audience participation and conversation going on. As soon as I arrived, I ran into some friends who were on their way to a panel in the Consuite being hosted by Pete Mako (of Pete Mako in the Boogiemen, remember them from a few weeks ago?). I was still getting my bearings and found myself in the Consuite and noticed that they were there. I asked “I thought you guys were going to a panel!” Pete walked past me smiling and clapped my shoulder then said “This IS the panel!” The group, about have a dozen of them relaxed around a table and began discussing the topic of “Geek Dating”. It wasn’t the first time I’d see this, in fact later on I would sit down to a panel charmingly titled “Why You Are Here: Two Old Broads and Why They Ran (and stopped running) cons in Cleveland “. It was a discussion of behind-the-scenes at conventions, and what it was like to host the old Earth Cons back in the 80s. I like to consider myself a convention Veteran. I’ve been on the scene since I was a kid back in ’87, but these ladies were doing it back in the late 70s and started hosting their own show in’81… In fact Earth Con’s last show was held just before the first Star Trek Convention I ever went to! They discussed the difference between the Literary cons and media cons, something I’ve never even really been aware of – things were leaning a little bit more towards media and Star Trek conventions during my time. They reminisced about gathering diffrent groups together to gaming, sci-fi, comics and the how the cooperation from different groups help Make Earth Con a reality. The gamers would bring in Steve Jackson. The Comic people would bring in Stan Lee, while Earth Con would get someone like Anne McCaffrey or James Doohan. But then, the unity between the orginizations began to fragment, each wanting to hold their own conventions. It was fascinating to hear about how that cooperation transformed into competition.
I was riveted, so were a couple of the tweeners hanging out – a couple of junior high girls who were fascinated by the idea, and so excited about the convention experience that all they wanted to do was just find more shows to go to, and more time to spend at these events.
I sat back, trying to decide if thier giggling, gasping hyperactivity was annoying or inspiring.
The thing is, I was that age once. I remember… I remember what this felt like, I remember what it was like to break into the world of fandom, and I can’t help but smile – seeing it happen all over again, it really does makes me happy.
There are several comedy shows going on at ConCoction, and I was dead set on making sure I hit “doctor whose line is it anyway? ”
It really set the tone for a lot of the comedy show cases that we saw over this weekend There were two different improv troupes going on, and that made up a great deal of the sketch comedy happening, but also, later in the evening there was a group of stand-ups who came out to perform. This was really fun to see, with the subject matter tailored to fit the convention – sci-fi and fantasy genre jokes. Monster Bash is the only other show that immediately comes to mind that I know that has stand up as part of its routine. It’s a great late night filler and I had a lot of fun with it.
One of the highlights of Saturday for me was “Looking for Love in Alderaan Places”. It’s still improv, but with an outline. They know where they are going, and what the story is, but still keep in off the cuff. It has the feel and style of a classical farce – if it were written by George Lucas.
I managed to hit the “State of the Star Trek panel “with Larry Nemecek. Larry is an American Star Trek author, actor, editor, archivist, consultant, interviewer and producer. He has portrayed Dr. McCoy in the Star Trek Continues web series episodes “Pilgrim of Eternity” and “Lolani.” and has been around the franchise for a good long time – the buzz of course, is not so much Star Trek beyond, but the new Star Trek series that CBS all access is producing There is a certain degree of trepidation and pessimism that comes along with any of it, and he reminded us of that same kind of feeling back in the days of Star Trek : The Next Generation. You know what, I remember those days and I remember that negativity, but I don’t remember if that was me or not. I’d like to think that it wasn’t, I’m pretty sure I was excited just because there is new Star Trek been produced in my lifetime and that was unthinkable.
One of my favorite slides he showed was this bullseye from the writers room, basically all the possible responses you could expect from a pitch – and everyone was always aiming for the center.
There is something surreal about the fact that I attended this panel dressed as a Borg. I’m sure I wasn’t the only one in the room who found that funny, several pictures of the back of my head appeared online later on in the evening…
Litarary panels are fun, and really come from a different place than I’m used to. You get a diffrent kind of discussion, usually with far better referances and sources to back up opinions and ideas. “Growing up sci-fi” emphasised a lot of the isolation that you kind of felt as a sci-fi fan in the pre-Internet days. I’d kind of forgotten, and perhaps it wasn’t really true in my time, how sci-fi used to have a sort of “renegade “or “rebellious “reputation to it. I’m Pre-Internet as well, and I empathize with the writer who mentioned she didn’t know what it would’ve been like, how she would’ve handled it if she hadn’t had access to the online community when she was growing up as a sci-fi fan. It’s a fascinating perspective. I was blessed to have found friends in both school and Church who shared my passions and gave me an outlet for them. Equally fascinating was the writer who described reading the Star Trek novels long before they were ever able to see an episode of the TV series. This is fundamentally my story on how I experienced Captain Video and I totally get what you’re saying. I love seeing that idea overlayed on another series.
The comic book collecting panel, hosted by Ed Gosney, was little bit more familiar territory, though still very much more a discussion then a lecture. people talked about characters and earth that they loved. One of the Writers from the previous panel was there discussing how there are a number of comics in his collection where it was the art, the imagery itself rather than the story that captivated him. To the point where he eventually scanned those images into his computer, so he’d have the art without having to carry around the baggage of the books themselves. We talked about great finds, and the one that got away… One of the attendees told a story about a day out garaged saleing. He was with his mother but only had about three dollars to his name at the moment. In the back of this person’s garage he saw boxes, and boxes of comics. Longboxes full of rare stuff, seminal stories, important comics. The owner told him he could have the whole lot for $50. His mother of course, wasn’t loaning him the money no way no-how, so he grabbed a handfull of choice issues and ran out to the flea market. On the way there he called one of his buddies to let him know about the stash that was at this grudge sale – “if I don’t get out there, you need to “. He managed to raise the necessary $50 on those special issus he had snagged, and arrived back at the garage sale just in time to see his buddy loading that collection into his truck. Still from then on, every con that friend put on, he had his admission comped and a $15 credit at his booth.
“A borg is walking away with a signed copy of my book ‘Prometheus Stumbles’. There’s something you don’t see every day….”
I’m going on and on about the programming. I know. While I usually say that programming is the lifeblood of a con, it’s really true here. The vendors area is divided into three sections, an artist room, an authors alley and a proper dealers room. All three are about the size of my living room. Maybe a touch bigger. This is not Wizard World where you walk into a room the size of an airplane hanger packed full of vendors and scalper selling the latest things that Hot Topic has sold out of. The dealers here are artists and craftsmen, gamers and cosplayers.
You’ll find jewelry and puppets and dice and leather here. I saw custom fan neckties and mopey robots and strange flowers (I bought the girls wooden roses). It’s interesting stuff, more like the sort of thing you’d see at a Renaissance fair, not so much like what you may be used to seeing at a comic con. You can pretty much get through the dealers room in ten to fifteen minuets, so honestly, that better not be what you’re coming for.
There are a few more tables upstairs along the mezzanine. It’s a stunning view and a really cool space. It’s also out of the way and easy to neglect. The cosplayers are up there, and I made sure to get into a quick scuffle with Knightmage’s Darth Maul as we overlooked the balcony.
In addition to the cosplayers, there were a couple other concoction groups set up there as well as the Federation booth and the band.
Oh yes. The band.
Five Year Mission is the collaboration of five Star Trek fans who endeavor to write and record a song for each of the episodes of the original Star Trek series from the 1960s. One of my friends is certain the bass player is going to drop dead after each show and have to be replaced because of the red shirt. It’s a remarkably good band with clever songs and good hooks. The band switches up instruments after almost every song which makes for an interesting dynamic – we get to hear just about every sing at one point and the songs honestly do get stuck in your head.
Five Year Mission did two sets on Saturday, one full electric set as well as a smaller acoustic set – “storytellers” style, where they laid out the idea behind each song they played.
They weren’t the only musical act though. As I mentioned earlier, Pete Mako was here as well to do his set (which they scheduled during the costume contest! Come on! What’s up with that???). I caught his act at ZipCon and was really excited that he was going to be playing ConCoction. Pete was around all weekend helping out with bits here and there.
Cosplay is interesting at ConCotion. You don’t have the throngs of cosplayers swarming all around the joint like you do at an Anime convention, but a you have way more than the few dribs and drabs that filter into a Horror con. It’s a fascinating mix as well. There are a few superheros around, I saw a ninja Deadpool to die for. But there’s also fantasy, anime characters, steampunk folks, monsters and film characters.
There’s more puppets walking around than you’d expect.
It’s this fantastic variety that makes cosplay at ConCoction really something to see. There’s some innovation in a lot of these outfits I couldn;t have begun to imagine and I was always delighted to discover what new character was right around each corner.
They run the costume contest a little diffrently here. You sign up in the 10:00 hour, and are assigned a slot for pre-judging (mine was 1:45-2:00). You then sit down with the judges and talk out you costume. What it is, what it’s made of, how you did it, anything you really want to say. The masquerade is around 6. This is the stage show, MCed by Moxie Magnus, the chief cosmetologist on the USS Enterprise under Captain under James T Kirk, and the comedy (drag) queen of outer space. I had fun bantering with Moxie pointing out that my designation was 7 of 5 – none of the other Borg want to hang out with me and then sent me to ConCoction alone to assimilate the show.
“And you WILL be assimilated! Resistance is useless!”
“Oh, I’m not resisting…”
“You COULD resist a little you know….”
The winner of the contest was this beautifully made Kaylee from Firefly, and I love this. It shows just how well they understand it. This wasn’t the flashiest costume, it’s not the trendiest. But it’s the most impressive because of the massive amount of work here. This dress is handmade, she did it all and it’s perfect. I’ve seen commissioned ones before and this is dead-on, a masterpiece of stitching. A great, well-earned win.
It’s pretty well known that I’m not a Star Wars fanatic (casual fan at best) so Dak wasn’t a big deal for me, but I was really interested in meeting Santiago Cirilo.
Santiago has been on hit TV Shows and Films on TNT, Lifetime, Investigation Discovery, Oxygen, USA Network, Fox, and of course on AMC as Julio in Season 4 of The Walking Dead.He’s the first person from the Walking Dead in fact, that I’ve met or gotten an autograph on that poster of mine in person from.
Santiago is a native of Lorain, which is a neighboring suburb to my own Elyria. We discussed the Lorain Palace and growing up in the area. The thing on his resume that I was honestly the most fascinated by was how he had done episodes of America’s Most Wanted. You never think about where they get the actors for the reenactments on those shows and I was surprised at how straightforward it is, casting calls the agent and an audition. For some reason I always imagined those shows casting differently. I only caught the tail end of his panel, but Santiago was around for after parties as well, in his Superman leather jacket and shirts. You can see he’s a fan at heart and fits well into this show.
After 11, the barfleet party happens. Drinks and dancing and socializing. The dance floor there is a smaller more intimate setting that the No Strings Attached Ball that happens around 8 in one of the main programming rooms, but still pumping the music with lights in the air and drinks in hand.
Honestly, there’s far more going on at ConCoction than I can cover. There’s always a couple things happening at the same time and I didn’t even begin to hit them all. I barely spent any time in the game room. There were always things going especially for kids in one room. There were music acts that I just couldn’t catch. I’m already registered for next year and if you can stash away a few extra pennies it’s definitely worth checking out.
I’m trying to remember if I’ve ever gotten anyone from Star Trek the Next Generation through the mail before. I’ve gotten original series cast that way…they are getting harder to find on the convention circuit, but the TNG cast used to always be accessible.
I was really pleased to get this one though the mail, I especially wanted a Night Court pic here because one of my favorite things was discovering Data on my favorite sitcom. Thanks so much Brent!
Turist Ömer Uzay Yolunda : Turkish Star Trek
This used to be rare, but thanks to the Internet, I noticed it made it up to YouTube a while back.
It’s interesting, you can tell someone making this really loves Star trek and was trying to create something good. They’ve even changed Spock into command gold!
I’ve seen worse bridge sets, though this still looks like cardboard and Christmas lights in someone’s basement. They’ve stolen some ship shots from the original series so we aren’t hampered with home made effects.
It seems like there’s an attempt to do the man Trap on the planet from “City on the Edge of Forever”, but that’s my best guess as to what’s going on with the plot. This is a curiosity. Nothing more.
It’s been a long time coming really. Uhura is the last of my Star Trek collection. At least, the last of the main cast (I don’t think I will ever get a DeForest Kelly autograph, and really, I wouldn’t want it secondhand).
Nichelle is one I kept putting off, I’m not sure why, but a combination of getting Grace Lee Whitney last year and seeing Nichelle using a wheelchair to get to conventions last year kind of lit a fire under me.
It’s a cast photo because I don’t have one of those, and it kind of makes up for my Walter Koning picture being of his B5 character and My Shatner being in his gold uniform. It’s also my way of getting De up on the wall.
In Defense of Star Trek Five
There’s no doubt that this is one of the weakest films in the franchise. In fact, there’s really not a lot of defense for it, but then again, the movie isn’t exactly the one who needs defending. What this really is, it’s a defense of William Shatner.
I’m not a fan actually, but I think he gets unfairly savaged when it comes to Star Trek five. It ended any feature directorial career he might have had and at the end of the day, there’s so much of what went wrong in this film that just wasn’t his fault.
Let’s start with the one real thing that WAS his fault, because it affects a lot of the rest of the film, but didn’t necessarily have to. Shatner’s greatest sin was begin an inexperienced director. Sure he’d done some TV work, but that’s just not the same thing. Having directed a couple of features myself as well as episodes of my own series, I can tell you that logistically those two tasks are very different. the vision has to be different. There’s a ton more “moving pieces” you have to coordinate. But most of all…you have a very different relationship with the studio. And that’s where everything began to go wrong.
Shatner invoked the favored nation clause in his contract (basically an agreement that anything they give Nimoy, they have to give Shatner as well.) generally used in salary negotiations, but more than one source has mentioned that this was Shatner’s way of leveraging his directorial debut on to Paramount. The studio wasn’t thrilled about this, but did still have dollar signs in their eyes after Star Trek 4, possibly the most successful of all the Trek films (ironically, my least favorite). They backed Shatner into a corner and got a fourteen to sixteen month scheduled. They’d tried to do this with Nimoy, who had flatly refused, stating he needed at least two years to do things properly, and more likely three (I actually remember him mentioning this in an interview after Star Trek 3). Shatner’s inexperience allowed him to be bullied into an impossibly tight schedule. Still, that wasn’t necessarily the end of the world as long as you have a good crew working with you – particularly in per-production.
Well, that presents a little problem we like to call “The Writer’s Strike”. Hitting ST5 at the worst possible time, we ended up with a less than polished script. In fact, we have a flawed premise from the word go. It’s one thing for the Enterprise to search for and encounter a small-gee god. It’s another for them to try and find God, Elohim, Yahweh, Jehovah. The problem is, anyone with the clout to be able to explain this to Shatner and company was out in front of the Paramount building holding a picket sign.
You don’t just need good people in pre-production though, you also need good people in production. Star Trek in particular NEEDS good special effects. This was 1989 – the year we learned the true meaning of the word “Blockbuster”. Sure we’d had them before, but this is one of the first summers where we had constant back to back blockbusters packing out the box office. Indiana Jones and The Final Crusade, Batman, Ghostbusters 2 and that’s just for starters. What this translated into was a shortage of effects houses, and you could just forget booking Lucasfilm for another year at least (There’s that rushed production schedule again!).
ST5 went with a smaller house that was known for it’s smoky, wispy effects. It’s a decision that kind of makes sense as they were thinking about what to do with the Great Barrier section of the film. The problem was that this effects house had NEVER worked with models like this before. They had to learn the process from the ground up and the end results were….less than spectacular. The green screen is obvious, the tone and lighting is frequently wrong and the ship movements are jerky, unnatural. It brings the whole film down, and strips away a great deal of the suspension of disbelief.
Then there’s the villain chase at the end where Kirk is pursued by a giant floating head.
Well, that wasn’t actually the intention.You can find this in both the novel and comic adaptation. The original idea was to have the rocks burst from the ground and assemble themselves int man-like forms that breathed fire and chase Captain Kirk through the desert and up the cliff. Almost sounds similar to what we saw in Galaxy Quest. Of course today, this would be all done in CGI, just like it was in Galaxy Quest, but in 1989, it would either have to be suits or puppets. IMDB reports the budget for ST5 at 27,800,000, higher than four. So I don’t understand what happened when they bargained Shatner down. He wanted an army. The studio said too much. We don’t have the budget. Shatner was willing to play ball. Five. He said. They agreed. Month’s later, word came down that five was being reduced to three. On the day of shooting, only one rockman costume appeared on set….and it looked awful. It looked like a rubber suit, not even up to the standard of the monsters that we saw on the TV show in 1966. The floating head was a post production fix…and one Shatner should actually get some credit for. It was a good bit of quick thinking that ended up being surprisingly effective.
Post production was rushed due to the firm start date in summer 1989 and there was no time for test screenings or tweakings. The film was going out as it was, for better or worse. So much of the story of Star Trek 5 is a tragedy of studio interference. A more seasoned director might have been able to turn out a superior film under these conditions. A more experienced director might have been able to stand up to the execs and fight for what was best for the film, perhaps snatched victory from the jaws of defeat. Shatner just didn’t have that kind of juice and even worse, he didn’t have the kind of support a first time director really needs to thrive.
A lot of times I’ll use this space to recommend you go revisit a movie and try to see it through different eyes. This time around I have a different suggestion. Head to the library or the used bookstore or even Amazon and get yourself a copy of the novelization. Back in the days before DVD, there was no such thing as “Special features”. You know how we got to see deleted scenes? We read the novel. You want to see how truly scary Kahn is ? How brutal and violent? Check out the novelization for Star Trek 2 – you’ll see Kahn murdering the space station crew in scenes that were only hinted at in the film. The same is true of this film. The novelization helps show how good a film this really could have been if it had a bit more time, a bit more polish and better visuals. Shatner’s flair and touches are still there, but a lot of the gaps are filled. It’s not a short book. It’s as long as any of the Star Trek novels, actually longer than most. Pick up the book and see if that changes your opinion about Star Trek 5.
In Defense of Star Trek : Insurrection
Today we’re talking about what is actually my favorite of the Next Generation movies. I’ve never understood the hat this movie gets. I have heard more than ne person tell me this is a worse movie than Star Trek Five.
This is frequently used as positive proof that Jonathan Frakes can’t direct. Funny, considering he also directed what is arguably considered the best film of the series too; First Contact. I do see his flair in it. The zooming shots, a lot of camera movement. Many of the set-ups are simple, but certainly not bad.
This film gets lambasted for it’s humor – as if humor was never a part of Star Trek. Why do I never hear that criticism leveled at “The Trouble With Tribbles”? It’s really more than just humor in this film, it’s familiarity. We should be comfortable enough with the characters that it’s a reunion. If you’re expecting 2001 from a Star Trek movie then I don’t know what you’re thinking. They tried that with the first film. It didn’t work. To be fair, by this time Trek movies had devolved into simple sci-fi action flicks…and that includes Generations. and yeah, most of them have EXACTLY the same ending. This is still one of the better versions of it though…
The ships in this film are gorgeous – and it’s one of the first times we really some serious new design work in TNG in ages. A pity that the interiors look like any other Okuda hell, but those ships hulls are beautiful and a nice departure from First Contact.
Speaking of First Contact- I like the movie, but it really doesn’t have a story. No, think about it. The characters drift from one engagement to the next – it’s a video game. A fun ride but no real plot. This movie has a narrative, growth in the characters (which we sadly abandon at the end because everything has to return to the status qoe) and some good plot twists. It has great actors like F. Murry Abraham and Anthony Zerke.
If the gags bug you, ignore them. Try watching this for the romp that it is and visit with these characters we really grew to care about. There’s not to many movies in the TNG film period and it’s a shame to have to throw this one out.
Star Trek into Darkness
Finally took a break from Violent Blue to get out to the Lorain Palace to see the new Star Trek movie. My reaction was simple. It was good. It wasn’t Star Trek, but it was good.
I think that’s the only way I can look at these movies and be okay. The whole time travel conceit helps, but I’m just far too aware that these are not the characters I know. That’s Chris Pine playing Kirk. It’s not Kirk himself on screen. I never had those kind of feelings with the original cast…not even with Nimoy’s cameos in the new movies….when Nimoy shows up – that’s Spock. I believe it. When Zachery Quinto is on screen, it’s Zachery Quinto in pointy ears.
It’s not just the cast though, J.J. Abrahams seems to be missing some of the soul of Star Trek, and certainly the familiarity. When the Klingon ships show up – I had no idea what I was looking at. If they hadn’t told me those were Klingon ships, I never would have figured it out. That wasn’t the case when the bird of prey showed up in Star Trek 3. It LOOKED Klingon. There was a design language that told us what we needed to know immediately. Those new ships….they’re just a bunch of polygons flexing up and down. It’s a shame, I like Abram’s direction, and his style, but I wish he’d been given the reins ten years ago and done this stuff in continuity, rather than in a tangent universe. I think that would have been a beautiful and bold change. This….this is just…not Star Trek.
I’m not going to try and make snarky remarks about this being a remake of Wrath of Kahn, because it isn’t. It’s a completely different kind of Kahn story and a good one at that. It’s also a great thing they set Kahn up to be able to come back, and really using him is logical. Over the years he’s been set up (correctly or incorrectly) as Kirk’s arch-enemy. It makes sense for him to show up here. The touches like the Spock shouting “Kahn” as Kirk lies dying in a radiation chamber are obvious homages (and I think, a little unnecessary) but this is not even remotely the same story. I do believe it can stand alone and really is a great story.
I did like all the alternate uniforms we saw. The diving suits were really cool and I even marginally like the gray suits for headquarters, though the hats I think took the military look to far – anyone who complained about Harve Bennetts red uniforms looking to militaristic ain’t seen nothin’ yet! Still the I liked the variety. I’ve always thought that was a nice part of the films- we had the base red uniform, and different coats for away missions, and different uniforms for engineering and medical.
They take the alternate uniforms a little far this time though don’t they?
Seriously. It’s the same complaint I had with IM3. We don’t actually see Tony in the suit enough. It’s still a problem here. We waited all last movie to see Kirk in the gold shirt, and we got it for five seconds at the end. This movie, we’re still spending the majority of the film with him in different uniforms.
Perhaps they were able to get away with this better when Shatner and Nimoy and Kelly were in the roles (although I’m not even sure about that. On of the things that irritates me about 3&4 is the lack of screen time for my favorite of all Starfleet uniforms) but with these characters, we haven’t had enough time to emotionally invest in these actors as the characters. We haven’t had enough exposure to this ensemble and it only heightens the feeling that these are just actors playing the characters… not the characters themselves.
And that’s what it keeps coming down to. This isn’t Star Trek to me. I don’t recognize it, and that’s a shame. I think people like me would have been more ready to embrace it if we’d had more, not having to wait for three years. The only continuity we’ve had is a comic book series from IDW and perhaps a few kids novels. A sister series on TV would have helped. A set of monthly novels and more magazines would have helped. Most of all, an eighteen month turn around schedule would have helped.
But there’s none of this, and whatever bloom there might have been, is off the rose.
These are fun sci-fi- action flicks (something that Trek films devolved into during the TNG movies- and they really should be blamed for that), but they aren’t Star Trek, and that’s fine. But don’t expect my devotion. Don’t expect my respect.
When does Doctor Who start up again?
Galactus vs Star Trek
Comics are Go! decided to do something different this time around. Mike was wanting to play the Star Trek Tactics game, and he decided to pair it with Galactus.
Now, I’m a fan of Star Trek – or at least of good star trek (I feel it really got watered down towards the end of the century) built I haven’t been buying this game. I really hadn’t seen to many people playing it and honestly, I don’t need more Trek toys. I have a pretty full set of the Micro Machines ships and what few ship the Tactics set makes that Micro Machines didn’t are WAY expensive. Far more expensive than standard Heroclix. Too much for toys that I didn’t expect to play with and don’t have room to display.
Still, when this opportunity came up, it was too good to resist. Galactus in general is a really good idea for this kind of game and it really got my imagination going. So much so that I created this prolog for the game. (They would definitely carry this comic at Taylors shop in Violent Blue)
Mike ended up playing a Romulin team. Jim and I played Federation teams – I was borrowing pieces from Mike’s collection and tried not to duplicate anything that Jim was playing (except the cloaked Defiant. that was just too cool).
I did find a use for my old Micro machines toys. I used the little figures as counters. It ended up looking a little creepy though….like they were just people who had been sucked out of the ship, dead bodies floating is space.
Jim brought along his custom Borg cube as well. I’d seen this while it was still a work in progress, but cool to see it complete with the custom dial mounted and in place.
It’s didn’t get played, but it brings up the question – what would The Borg vs. Galactus look like? I speculated that he’d just slam his hand down on the cube and rip off a chunk with his fingers. Kind of like this.
A really fun scenario. I’m hoping to see more tactics played up at the shop. Definitely something I’d be up for if it turned into a monthly thing.
I think I may be about to get angry.
A couple days ago I was finishing up some Violent Blue and decided to catch up on the prequel comics for the upcoming Star Trek movie. After seeing this panel, I begin to think the new Star Trek movie is about to make me very, very upset.
In this scene, they have discovered that April has been arming primitive species, violating the Prime Directive and generally setting up a whole big mess….and I really don’t like that.
You have to understand, April is my favorite captain. Not Kirk, not Picard, April. Moreover, he’s been my favorite captain for twenty years. When I was a child I used to fold pieces of paper in half and draw comic books featuring Robert April (yeah, if you think I’m kidding about that, just scroll down). I proposed to my wife the same way April proposed to his. In my opinion, Diane Carey’s Final Frontier is the finest Star Trek novel ever.
I keep reminding myself that this isn’t MY Robert. Who knows what’s changed about the tangent universe April. Still, this just doesn’t seem like him. he doesn’t act like this. It’s one thing to take Garth of Izar, a character with No backstory, and tell us he was once a great Starfleet captain, and now he’s gone bad. It’s another thing to take a character that already exists and use him in such a foul way. I had the same reaction to the uses of D.A. Scanallon as a villain in the Green Hornet.
I always assumed April just stayed in the diplomatic corps in this universe. Perhaps he was so disturbed by the death of his friend George Kirk that he resigned Starfleet entirely. I was okay not knowing.
I’ve been surprisingly on board with the tangent universe since the first movie came out. I can accept a lot of changes because of the way it was handled, but I don’t like this and I hope Into Darkness doesn’t takes us somewhere that really defiles one of my heroes.
And by the way – that whole thing about making Robert April comics as a kid? Here’s the proof: