Saturday, January 7, 2017

Good Trek / Bad Trek #11 Dagger of the Mind

Intro: I’ve loved Star Trek since I was a kid. I started by watching TNG in 6th grade. I’ve been a fan since then and though I’ve spent a lot of time watching Stat Trek, I’ve never watched The Original Series. So, I’m watching and reviewing them as a fan of Star Trek, but one whose never seen any of them. So I’m watching all the TOS episodes for the first time and saying whether or not they suck. At the end, I give examples of better Star Trek to watch that remind me of this episode. That’s it. 

Big week across America. The world too I guess, but mostly America. We had the calendar turn over. Lots of folks were pretty happy to see 2016 go. It was a weird year to be sure, but some people seem to think that now that it's 2017 Americans are going to get better at voting and celebrities are going to stop dying.  Seems a simplistic. Yes, a lot of icons passed away. It was very sad. But the ones who didn't are still marching towards the end. It’s not like just because Billy Bragg managed to stay alive last year that means he’s home free.  Celebrity deaths work like one of those quarter pusher games at casinos. Every year is a push. Most years a couple fall down. Every year quarters are added and subtracted. I guess that analogy implies when celebrities die we win which isn't the case. I think what I’m trying to say is that every year brings a quarter you really care about closer to falling off the edge. It’s always sad. So get ready. A bunch of icons died last year. A bunch more are getting closer to death. So be ready. Also, I watched the Dagger of the Mind this week. It features a lot of people who managed to stay alive last year. And Leonard Nimoy who died in 2015 before it was cool. 
The money represents you and everyone you care about. The edge is the abyss that awaits us all. 


Recap:

The gang is at a prison colony. They beam something up. You don’t have to wonder if this is going to kick off the plot for long because almost immediately it’s revealed that there’s a prisoner hiding in one of the crates they’ve just beamed up from the surface. 


The actor who plays Adams' buddy said this was the hardest he's ever acted. It does not show. 

There’s a showdown, and the prisoner is not a prisoner, but a doctor who used to work closely with Dr. Adams, the man in charge of the prison planet. McCoy is suspicion. Kirk and Dr. “Please don’t call me doctor” Noel. Go down to the surface to see what’s what. Things seem a little fishy, but Kirk does not seem too bothered by it. 

He should be because this bad shit is going on. Dr. Adams has gone crazy and has been using this bright light thing, called a neural neutralizer, to control people’s minds. It started as just a thing for the patients, but then he went all in and decided to mind control everyone who crossed him. Adams tries wiping Kirk, but (don’t call me Dr.) Noel manages to shut off power to the neutralizer. Dr. Adams’ mind gets wiped when the power comes back on. So now he’s dead and the Enterprise leaves the prison planet, hopefully after notifying someone that a bunch of prisoners needs to be fed and looked after at this prison colony. 

Bad Trek?

Mixed. It’s not great. I’m starting to think that it’s just me. It’s a relatively well-regarded episode of Trek. I thought I was going to like it better than I did. I was able to sum up the plot in three paragraphs which was a nice surprise. There wasn’t a whole lot of batshit divergences that don’t go anywhere. 

Kirk is not at all bothered by the fact Dr. Adams is using something called a neural neutralizer. That's a scary sounding device. I don't like how accepting Kirk is with mind wiping and control. That's a pretty dangerous piece of technology. 

It’s not that women wear short dresses on the Enterprise, it’s that they’re just not wearing any pants. Dr. Noel, who does not like being called Doctor. It’s very evident with her. 
No pants transporter ride.

This is the first time I remember getting to see a mind meld. They’ve been used as a shitty plot contrivance on more than one occasion. It leads to the mess of Star Trek 3. But it does add the psychic abilities to Vulcans which plays in a lot in the future. 


We get mind control, we got ladies without pants, we have heavy-handed lessons on prisons. This episode has a lot going for it. I still don’t think it was great, though. It tried. And among all the bad Treks, this one is the closest to being good. It had everything going for it, but still these are just not easy to watch. Maybe TOS is something I’m just not supposed to get into. It was mostly Kirk. That's part of the problem. I started writing these hating Shatner and thinking that he was just a garbage actor. A couple episodes in and I started to like him. I was right the first time. He just sucks. 

I will say this in support of this episode, and that’s that I’ve complained about how most of these episodes take forever to get the plot going. Not this one. About 15 seconds in and we’ve already got a crazed maniac running around the Enterprise. So, kudos to the writers on their lack of dicking around this go round. Hopefully, this is something they keep on doing because there’s a lot of essentially dead air in these early episodes. 
There are one lights!

I like what they were trying to do. So I’ll give them credit for that. But I wouldn't recommend. What I would recommend is...

Good Trek. 


This two-part episode features a Starfleet captain being held prisoner by a madman who tortures and tries to control his mind by shining a light (or four) in his eye. You want to see that done better then the list begins and ends with the TNG episode Chain of Command. Jesus H. Christ is that ever a good episode. Two of the best TNG episodes ever which easily puts it in the running for some of the best Trek to ever see the light of day. This episode has everything. A naked Patrick Stewart acts the shit out of it. He just kills it. Both when he’s standing up to his tormentor and when he’s on the verge of breaking. You actually get to some unsavory aspects of The Federation which is a TNG rarity. Also, someone finally tells Troi to get into a standard fucking uniform. I mean, for Christ’s sake lady. You’re a goddamn officer on the goddamn Federation flagship, get out of those silly pajamas and get into standard issue Starfleet pajamas. 

That's it for this week. Next week we got The Corbomite Maneuver. Also, I was kidding earlier. Billy Bragg isn't going anywhere ever. He's too fucking awesome. 
Billy Bragg: 1957 - ∞

Saturday, December 31, 2016

2016 End of Year Media Power Rankings

 A lot of good media this year. Some of it buzzworthy. Some of it decades old that I just got around to. Regardless this is what made me happy this year. 

Here's it is. The media I most enjoyed taking in this year. 

TV. 




5. Stranger Things
You saw it. If you didn’t then you heard everybody shitting their pants about it. It's good. Let's all calm down a bit, but it is good. 


4. Orange Is The New Black
If you’re like me, then you probably thought that 2015 Orange is the New Black really sucked. This year’s was much better. They raised the stakes. More important, they let non-Piper characters carry the load it ends up better because Piper is really not that interesting.

You keep feeding that chicken American Dad!
3. American Dad
If you haven’t seen it then you’re missing out. It’s great. It was on this list last year and it is again. If you don’t think you like it because you don’t like Seth McFarlane but have never seen it then you should. The first few seasons were pretty meh, but if you stick with it you’ll be rewarded with one of the funniest, unique, and completely bizarre shows around. 

2. Mad Men & Game of Thrones (tied)
Mad Men was on this list last year when I watched the lion’s share of it. I watched the last season this year. Most of the big shows that ended had everyone talking endlessly about the finale making it hard to avoid spoilers. That didn’t seem to be the case with Mad Men. I wonder why. I thought it was a perfect sendoff. Game of Thrones was fucking nuts this year. That's it. Just nuts. I can't wait until the next season. 

1. Luke Cage
Marvel is just knocking these out of the park and good for them. All of them are good shows. I like them all in different ways even though they’re pretty similar thematically, but I think Luke Cage was the most fun to watch. The badass music helped. 



Honorable mention Star Trek: Voyager
Dishonorable mention: I'm sure I watched something that sucked, but can't remember. 

Music. 



5. Run The Jewels; RTJ3 

Run The Jewels were able to get this one in under the wire. It wasn’t supposed to be released until mid-January but then did a surprise release on Christmas day. If you like either of the other two outings, then you’ll like this one too. 


4. Stanley Brinks and The Wave Pictures: Orange Juice
I don’t really know anything about these guys. Orange Juice popped up in my Spotify Discover playlist and I loved it. I bought the album which is only a 2 song single. The other song is good too, but not nearly as good as this one. I usually like to put full albums on here, but I listened to this 2 song single enough to warrant a spot. 


3. The Hold Steady: Stay Positive and Boys and Girls In America
I know these guys aren’t new to music, but they were new to me this year. I found out about via my Spotify Discover playlists. I like that they rock. Way too much of indie rock is heavy on the indie and cheap out when it comes to the rock. These guys are fun and unique and I like them a lot. I’ll probably do a lot of listening to them this year. It was a tough call over whether to put this one or Boys and Girls In America on here. So it's a tie. They’re both great. Listen to both of them. 

2. Adele 25 This one came out late last year. You’ve probably heard Hello a billion tiems. And with good reason, Adele is a very good singer and it’s a great song. YOu should be lucky that a song that’s so pervasive is also really damn good. All I Ask is my favorite song on the album. I can listen to it on repeat forever and never get sick of it. It’s amazing. 


1. My Spotify Discover Playlists
I don’t know if this counts as an album, but this is what I spent the most time listening to. My friend Jay Welch told me about this midway through the year, and now I don’t know how I took in songs without it. I look forward to them every Monday. 

Honorable mention: (1/2 of) Life of Pablo by Kanye West. There's some sweet songs on here. Not enough to put it in the top five, but still. 
Dishonorable mention: (The other 1/2 of) LIfe of Pablo by Kanye West. There's a lot of fucking garbage on this album. You know it's true.

Movies 





Star Wars: The Force Awakens
5. I finally got around to seeing this one. It was pretty good. Wasn’t great. Wasn’t terrible. It was an exceedingly competent movie. I mean that as both a compliment and an insult. I heard that it was pretty much just a Newer Hope. It was. It was fine. It actually probably doesn't’ belong on this list, but I watched it very recently so it’s fresh in my head. 

4. Star Trek Beyond
The Kelvin timeline Treks are tough for me. I  loved the first one. I LOVED the first one. I very much did not love Into Darkness. As a Trek guy, there are parts of these new ones I love and parts that bother me. But also as a Trek guy to watch the Enterprise on the big screen still gives me goose bumps. I look at the new universe almost like I do the movie Galaxy Quest. Don’t get too pissy about retcons and cannon and just try to enjoy yourself.

3. Eternal Sunshine Of The Spotless Mind
I’ve seen this movie a bunch of times. It’s one of my favorites. It came to Netflix so I watched it a couple more times this year. There’s not a whole lot to say about it that hasn’t already been said. Jim Carrey is good without being too Jim Carreyey. Kate Winslet is awesome in everything she’s ever in. The effects are haunting and dreamy. It’s just beautiful. 

2. 10 Cloverfield Lane
Everyone I know pretty much loved this movie. The only negative reviews I heard were from critics who thought the name of the movie gave away the ending. If you're telling me that at the end of that movie you can tell me you were able to call that because of the name then I say “fuck you” because you're a damned liar. 

1. Mission Impossible 3
This is hands down my favorite movie that I saw this year. Tom Cruise is a goon. He’s part of a creepy religion and gives weird interviews, and was shitty to Brooke Shields a while because he doesn’t understand how brains work. All that aside, the dude makes a good movie sometimes. I don’t even like the Mission Impossible franchise all that much. I thought Ghost Protocol was one of the most overrated movies ever. Yeah, there were a couple neat stunts, but it ended there. Mission Impossible 3 though is just awesome. Phillip Seymour Hoffman makes a terrifying villain. Keri Russel is great. I can’t say enough good things about this movie. 

Honorable mention: Sausage Party
Dishonorable mentions: Sin City: A Dame To Kill For (or the 25 minutes I watched before shutting it off). And also Batman v. Superman. Good gravy was that ever bad. 

Books


5. The Bill From My Father: Bernard Cooper
I bought this book because I heard a chapter read on This American Life. I was expecting a book of humorous essays, but I got a sweet, funny, touching, sad memoir about a man's relationship with his father. I didn't get the book I was expecting, and I'm glad. 


4. This Boy’s Life
Tobias Wolff is my absolute favorite. (watch your ass, Wolff, King is driving hard to the hoop). I usually read something by him every year. I went with his memoir about his early life. They made a movie based on it with Leonardo Dicaprio. I've never seen it. 

3. Wizard and Glass: Stephen King
This is the 4th book in The Dark Tower Series. It's my favorite so far, but they're all just awesome. The Dark Tower book are daunting because very few people sit down and want to kick back and read 8 books. But then you start and you don't ever want to leave Mid-world. I'm on the second to last one now and I don't know whether to jump into the last one or wait so I can stay in this world a little bit longer. 


2. The Autobiography of Malcolm X as told to Alex Haley. 
This book should be required reading to live in America. Malcolm X is probably the most interesting person ever. They should make you read it in high school, and then make you reread it 10-20 years later. Maybe I'm just saying that because that's what I did. 



1. 11/22/63: Stephen King
Holy shit is this a great read. I read a lot of Stephen King. I don’t think it was too much but that’s what my wife said. He deserves it. I’ve read 8 and I’m working my way through my 9th book by him. Maybe that’s too much I don’t know. I’m enjoying them all. So I guess not. As much I've enjoyed all the Dark Tower books and The Stand I think this is my favorite King book so far. 


Honorable Mentions: Stephen King's The Gunslinger, The Drawing of the Three, The Waste Lands, Wind Through the Keyhole, and Wolves of Calla

Dishonorable Mention: The news. Started out okay. Went to shit half way through the year. Do not recommend.  



Friday, December 30, 2016

Good Trek / Bad Trek #10 Miri

Intro: I’ve loved Star Trek since I was a kid. I started by watching TNG in 6th grade. I’ve been a fan since then and though I’ve spent a lot of time watching Stat Trek, I’ve never watched The Original Series. So, I’m watching and reviewing them as a fan of Star Trek, but one whose never seen any of them. So I’m watching all the TOS episodes for the first time and saying whether or not they suck. At the end, I give examples of better Star Trek to watch that remind me of this episode. That’s it. 

This week I watched Miri. As I was typing this I just learned that Carrie Fisher passed away. I generally hate when people fill social media with a bunch of vapid horse shit when a celebrity passes away, but I liked Carrie Fisher and it’s a shame to see her die as young as she was. It's hard to talk about Fisher without using the word badass. Almost everything about Star Wars is overrated. Not Fisher. She was awesome. Honestly, I think I had more fun looking at the promotional picture her and Hammil made for The Force Awakens than I did watching the movie itself.



This isn't about Wars. This is about Trek. And I watched some. I watched Miri this week. And it is a bizarre hour of TV. Oddities on TV aren’t uncommon these days. Weird TV isn't that weird anymore, but this wasn't made for today. It was made for the late 60s. Star Trek had trouble finding an audience when it was on originally and that makes perfect sense. It's bizarre. I wouldn’t say it’s a bad hour of TV. I wouldn’t say it’s a particularly good hour. It’s weird and has some problems.

Recap:


The gang is cruising around and they pick up some old Earth radio waves. That’s bizarre on account of that they’re very far away from Earth. They go to investigate, and BOOM, it’s Earth! But of course, it’s not Earth. It’s just an exact duplicate of Earth. You might think this is nuts and will be the central mystery of the episode, but really they don’t bring it up too much after this. 

No but seriously, what the fuck?
McCoy, Yeoman Rand, Kirk, Spock, and a couple shit bag red shirts beam down to look at Earth 2. It’s exactly like Earth used to be in the 1960's, but all dilapidated and run down. So I guess they’re in 1960’s Cleveland. They get attacked by a monster and they find a little girl that Kirk ends up being way too flirty with.


Not okay

Turns out the Earth2lings found a way to almost completely halt the aging process. They thought that they’d figured out a way to live forever, but it didn’t go as planned. The adults who took ended up aging hundreds of years in a very short amount of time. It does work on the kids though. So all the children are hundreds of years old, but as soon as they hit puberty they age hundreds of years in a matter of days and then they die. So you get to be a kid for a few centuries and then you die.
Fly lord
Worse part is, now all the Enterprise crew has contracted it. So it’s a race against the clock to figure it out in time. It would be hard enough, but there are roaming bands of unruly children who are running around causing havoc. So the crew has to outsmart the kids and also stop the weird aging virus from killing them. Luckily, the crew is stronger and smarter than a bunch of dumb kids. So they are able to do it. At the end, they all share a good laugh about how the Federation is sending some babysitters to help deal with these children now that they’ve figured out a way for them not to die right after puberty.

Bad Trek?

It’s bizarre. It’s close to being good, but Jesus Christ Kirk and Miri’s relationship is not okay, and it's really hard to ignore. She is a child. He is very much not a child.

Yo, what the fuck is up with the lighting on the Enterprise? They have the energy to go to distant planets, but for some reason they only ever seem to use track lighting that focuses all the lights on small sections of people’s faces.
???
I don’t want to keep harping on this shit, but Kirk is straight up weird with this little girl. And that is what she is. She’s a little girl and Kirk is hitting on her. I know according to McCoy she’ a little girl, but she’s becoming a woman. That's a fucked up enough thing for an old man to say. I don’t know what’s worse Kirk flirting with a child or McCoy repeatedly bring up her burgeoning womanhood. Don’t describe her that way, because it’s creepy. You keep on saying she’s becoming a woman, but she is no way one yet. She is a child. Everyone quit excusing Kirk's behavior just because she'll be an adult one day. Kirk, keep your goddamn paws to yourself. I”m not trying to review sexual politics from fifty years ago, but yikes. It’s jarring. 
Miri: Either a young woman or a small child depending on whether or not you're a fucking creep
Have you seen this? It’s weird. SHe’s a child. SHe’s not even a teenager I don’t think. She’s supposed to be like 12, and Kirk immediately just turns on the sex appeal to get her to help them. He’s not exploiting her crush on him at first. He just sees a small child and his instinct is to start pawing at her. This part is just too fucked up.

Why are we not trying to figure out why this planet is exactly like Earth? That’s pretty nuts. There way off in deep space and they stumble on a planet that is exactly like earth from the 1960's. The continents are all the exact same shape and in position. They use similar radio waves as Earth did at that time. The inhabitants look exactly like humans. Nobody seems all that curious about it. This is insane and nobody seems all that bothered by this.
Kirk, scouting another love interest

Yeah, the kids are messed up. It’s very Lord of Flies. I assume. I’ve never read the book, but I’ve seen The Simpsons episode that was modeled after it so I got it. I know that kids have less developed brains than adults do so that would explain some of their behavior, but they’re still in the hundreds of years old. You’d think even people with child brains would stop being animals at one point. They just don’t ever learn.

This also has one of the problems that Star Trek Into Darkness had. So they discover a procedure that makes humans pretty much immortal. Are they're just going to abandon this altogether? Living to be thousands of years old is still a pretty insane technology that you’d think they might remain interested in even after they’ve left. Yeah, the first tests weren’t great, but at the same time maybe this is worth a second look.

The whole thing, I see what they’re going for, but I think the whole concept is a swing and a miss.

Push Trek:

VOY: In The Flesh

This isn’t really equal as I like the Voyager Episode a whole hell of a lot better, but it’s not the best of episodes. It des feature an alternate Earth that isn’t really what it seems. The Voyager crew, tens of thousands of light years away from the real Earth is surprised to find Earth. They don’t know what’s going on. It seems pretty right even down to the Starfleet Academy groundskeeper being there. But that’s no the real Boothby, and that’s also not the real Earth. This episode is definitely better, but at least the Voyager crew is a little bit curious as to why there’s an exact replica of Earth where it shouldn’t be. Unlike the Enterprise crew who stumbles upon a scientific impossibility and just says “neat” and forgets all about it.

DS9: The Quickening

This is a much darker episode than Miri. I chose this one because it also features a race of people who get sick and die sometime after puberty that one lone doctor has to try to cure. Doesn’t happen immediately like in Miri. Some of the people are able to live with it for a little while, but the whole of the planet’s population is soon to be extinct because of what the disease has done to them. Bashir is a polarizing character. I think they misused him the first couple seasons and this is an episode that really lets Alexander some nuance to the character. Bashir’s arrogance can be grating. For reasons that are revealed later in the series, he has reasons to be pretty confident of his abilities. He has superhuman smarts. Watching him try and fail to find a cure and grow increasingly frustrated is hard to watch. It seems for the first time he’s failing at something that he’s really trying to do. Even when things start to go his way it’s bittersweet.

That's it for this week. Happy New Year everyone. Next week is Dagger of the Mind. Also, I'll review my favorite of the year tomorrow. I'll give you a hint in that Star Trek TOS is not on it. 

Friday, December 23, 2016

Good Trek / Bad Trek #9 What Are Little Girls Made Of?

I completely forgot to write about Star Trek last week. If you’re one of the thirty-some-odd people who read this, then my sincerest apologies. If I was going to skip over an episode, this would’ve been a good one because it was really something. That was selfish of me, and I’m sorry. The holidays are stressful and I imagine a lot of folks would’ve liked to kick back with a glass of eggnog and read a sick Trek recap.

It was extra easy to forget about Star Trek this week because this is also the premier of Star Wars: Rogue One. I’m sure it’ll be fine, but Star Wars is kinda dumb. I like some of the movies, but the way everyone loses their shit over Star Wars when there’s a lot of other much better sci-fi out there irks me sometimes. This is not one of those episodes that’s better though. It’s episodes like this that make me completely understand why people don’t like the Trek. This one in particular, is bizarre. Particularly considering that this is a fifty-year-old show, this is one bizarre hour of television. I can’t even imagine what folks thought back then when they were switching back and forth between this and The Waltons or whatever else was on. It’s bizarre, but they’re all so poorly paced and written so clumsily that these episodes are really pretty boring too. This episode features both killer robots and sex robots and couldn’t help but keep looking at my watch the whole time.

This one is very Nurse Chapel heavy which I like. Anyone who is at all familiar with any kind of Star Trek will have a soft spot in their heart for Majel Barrett. The wife of Gene Roddenberry. She was originally cast to play the second in command who was just called number one. CBS didn’t like the idea of a woman being that close to the captain’s chair so they made Roddenberry get rid of the lady commander. She did get to play Nurse Chapel, which was a much smaller role. This is my first time through the TOS episodes, so I don’t know how much smaller but since her other character’s name was number 1, and Nurse Chapel doesn’t have a number at all then I’ll assume that her role is diminished. She also was the voice of the computer on pretty much the rest of all the Star Treks. She also played Lwaxana Troi in (probably too many episodes than necessary. but who gives a shit, she’s great. She’s the only person to appear in all incarnations of Trek, and that’s super badass. People shit on Lwaxana a lot, but I liked her. She wasn’t my favorite reoccurring character, but she’s got some solid episodes that people overlook because they like shitting on any Deanna Troi episode. 

Recap:

The gang is headed to a planet to look for a character who has done gone missing. He found some tunnels and then went off the grid. Kirk has a hunch that he’s still alive down on the planet. Chapel gets to go with him because the missing dude is her fiancé. They find him and the episode is a fucking mess. They find Chapel’s fiance who is living with his longtime associate, a giant, and a lady whose nipples deserve top billing for the episode. 
Andrea: Hubble Hubble!

They’re all underground because Chapel’s fiancé has been studying the folks who used to live on the planet. The reason they’re worth studying is that when their sun went dark the whole planet went underground and started relying on robots. Korby (Chapel’s fiance) thinks all he’s learned about all these robots is going to revolutionize the way the whole galaxy operates. 

Boy that Kirk really gets around

Fine. The rest of the episode is just nuts though. I’m trying to keep the recap portions brief so here goes the rest. The folks who used to inhabit this planet are dead because they built robots that got paranoid and took over. Turns out that most everyone we’ve met so far is a robot. Chapel doesn’t like that her fiancé has been hanging out with a sex robot, but Korby assures her that it’s just a sexy robot, not a sex robot so he has not fucked it. But also he’s a robot and everybody dies at the end because these robots got the same paranoia bug that wiped out the original planet dwellers. 

Chapel and Andrea having a nip-ff!

It’s all pretty nuts. We also get a Kirk robot at one point who has a battle of the wits with the real Kirk. Again, it’s nuts. But at the end all the robots are dead and the Enterprise takes off. 

Is This Bad Trek?

Honestly, I have no idea. There were times that were entertaining that I liked. It was bizarre, and I have to give them credit for reaching for the stars. This show was on at 8:30 at night. That’s when families gather around and watch TV together. Knowing that some poor father had to explain the ins and outs of sex robots to his children makes me like it a little better. If Kirk hates the sex robot so much then why does he keep on kissing it. Other than that though this episode is a real mess. 

I almost forgot that Kirk spent a lot of time running around with, what is clearly, a giant sex toy

We do get our first red shirt death. So that’s pretty cool RIP crewman Matthews (I think). You’re the first, but I’m sure not the last. 

The best exchange in the episode is one I’m not even sure they meant to be funny. When Chapel first meets the sex robot she angrily asks her husband if he’s been having sex with the sex robot, and he responds by telling her that robots aren’t for falling in love with. Nobody said anything about falling in love, we’re talking about sexing the sex robots. The fact that you gave that non-answer is a big fat yes. 

Korby keeps on bragging about how realistic these robots are and that they'll be able to take over without anyone noticing, but the Kirk robot sucks. It's a jerk, and it can't eat. How long before people notice that their captain is physically not able to eat food. That might come up at some point. You Dr. Korby are no Noonien Soong. 
Kirk and robo-Kirk breaking bread

While we’re on the subject of the sex robot, not saying I agree with the practice but if you’re building them you could do a hell of a lot worse than modeling them after Sherry Jackson’s Andrea. A hearty space-wowza to her. But what does this mean for the rest of Trek canon? If they’re able to build these robots so lifelike and advanced why is Data look like 1G model compared to these? Did Kirk not tell anyone else about these robots? Did he forget to file his logs, and so Starfleet just never got around to taking a look at this technology. If that’s the case then he really messed up I’d say. 

All in all, I’d say that this was an example of bad Trek. It’s bizarre enough to warrant a watch if you’re interested in though. 

Strike that, I'm changing my mind as I write this. This episode was so nuts it was great. 

Push Trek

TNG: Up The Long Ladder

I haven’t seen this episode in a long time. Usually, when I rewatch TNG I skip over most of seasons one and two. This one isn’t great, plus it’s the return of another race of space-Irish. I don’t want to sound like a broken record, but when it comes to being a good episode of the Trek then space-Irish need not apply. 

This one’s not about robots, but about clones. People whose people weren’t going to live on decided to turn to clones instead of robots. It’s okay. It’s got Dr. Pulaski who sucks, but in terms of early seasons of TNG it has it’s moments despite the space Irish. I’d probably watch the What Are Little Girls Made Of just because it wins hands down in terms of pure bonkers TV. 



Good Trek

TNG: Measure Of A Man

This is the exception to the early TNG sucked rule. Kirk is not very nice to the robots (except for Andrea) because they’re just machines so fuck them. This season 2 TNG episode addresses the grey area of whether or not a sentient machine is considered a new life or not. In it, Data asks Starfleet not to disassemble him and Starfleet has the balls to say no. So they have a trial about whether that’s a decision Data can make on his own. Whether or not Data is a person or property is settled in a court of law. It’s a solid episode featuring a great performance by Jonathan Frakes’ William Riker, a character, and actor not necessarily known for depth. 


That’s it for this week. Sorry about last week. I’ll get back on schedule next week with,  either Dagger Of The Mind or Miri. I don’t know which one was officially next. Merry Christmas everyone!

Thursday, December 22, 2016

Something I Wrote For Somewhere Else

I wrote this for The Whiskey Journal.

http://www.thewhiskeyjournal.com/10-gift-ideas-someone-doesnt-mission-impossible-3-blu-ray/

Friday, December 9, 2016

Good Trek / Bad Trek #8 Mudd's Women

It’s been another week. I watched some more Trek. One that I had never seen before, and it was a real stinker. It’s called Mudd’s Women if you’re watching along at home. I think I’ve been going a little nuts with the recaps. So from now on that portion is going to be a lot shorter. Unless I feel like writing more, then it’ll probably be longer. Who knows. 

This is one of those episodes where I think there was supposed to be a moral lesson in it, but I’ll be damned if I could figure it out. It was muddled as shit. Maybe that’s where they got the name, Mudd’s Women.  

Recap:

The gang is chasing a ship, but for no reason. The guy doesn’t want to talk to the Enterprise, but the Enterprise wants to talk to them a lot. So they chase them into an asteroid belt and kidnap them via transporter before the ship explodes. Kinda fucked. 

It’s a fat Irish guy and three pretty ladies. Every male member of the ship loses their shit around the women because they have some kind of super powers that enamor men. 

His name is Mudd

Kirk is angry because they lost a few of their very essential lithium crystals chasing and then subsequently saving this ship. They don’t trust the Irish guy, the women are seducing everyone, and they need crystals. So they head to a mining colony that harvests lithium crystals and they get to the bottom of the Irish captain, who is acting like the Notre Dame mascot. 

Vavavoom! Straight from Planet Wheel of Fortune
He, of course, was a liar. Turns out he gave them a fake name. His name is Mudd and he’s committed a bunch of crimes and is on the lamb. The women are hiding something too because they’re really worried about being able to get to their husbands they were promised to. Which seems a little weird. It’s not even like these were awesome guys they were promised to because they end up striking a deal with the miners so they can have them as husbands. So they'll marry just anyone. 

The women it turns out are taking PEDs to be this sexy. It’s not just those sick sequined dresses. They’re taking drugs that turn them from homely to hella sexy. So that’s what’s bringing all the boys to the space-yard. When they don’t take the pills they end up old and ugly, but still wearing sequined evening wear. 
This is what self-doubt looks like I guess?

Kirk figures this out (of course) and gives one of the ladies a placebo. She ends up sexy again after taking the sugar pill. So the pills didn’t do anything it just gave them confidence. She goes off to live with the miner, Kirk gets his crystals, and Mudd gets hauled off to space jail. They all have a laugh at the end. 

Bad Trek?

YES! With the exception of The Naked Time most of these have been really bad. I’m not the wokest guy on earth, but Jesus Christ we have another episode wherein a woman who is an object of revulsion because there’s a physical flaw. Most these physical flaws are just being too long in the stardates. 

This whole episode gets kicked off because the Enterprise is chasing people. That’s bizarre. I know Mudd ended up being a criminal, but they didn’t know that. I don’t think the Enterprise has jurisdiction out in the middle of nowhere. They just see a ship and decide to chase it and it gets destroyed in the process. Not cool.

The scene where they use the computer as a lie detector and it calls out the crew for being too horny was also something else. The computer wasn’t even there to monitor the crew, it was there to see if Mudd was lying. Then it says oh and by the way, all the guys on this ship are horny AF. Not cool broputer. 

Can we talk about what a shitty doctor Bones is? He is not great. One of the Mudd women appear to be radioactive and he just goes “hmmm. Weird.” Then just ignores it. He doesn’t seem remotely concerned. If not concerned, he should at least be curious. Maybe whip out a tricorder and see what’s what. Bashir would be champing at the bit to get to the bottom of whatever it was. And Crusher would have done all the while looking better than any of Mudd’s women.

Bones told the Mudd woman that he didn’t trust himself to examine her. Jesus. Do your fucking job Bones. You sir, are doing harm. At one point in the episode, he asks “are they actually more beautiful pound for pound, measurement for measurement or is it that they just act sexy?” Dude what the hell are you talking about you dumb shit. You are a doctor. Get to the bottom of this. 

This seems like the episode was trying to make a point, but I’ll be damned if I know what it was. I guess it’s if you believe in yourself then you take a bunch of years off your face? I honestly can’t tell you what I was supposed to learn with this one. It was a garbage episode. 

Also, Mudd just stops being Irish at one point. Nobody dies and that’s a good thing I suppose. I would not recommend this one. I’d give it roughly zero stars.

Worse Trek: TNG' The Outrageous Okona 

I don’t know if I’d say it’s worse, but it’s also bad. The Enterprise stumbles on a space pirate named Okona. He also has powers of seduction manages to bed just about the entire female portion of the Enterprise. 

Better Trek: DS9's The Abandoned


I think I’ve recommended this one before, but it’s really good and you should watch it again. I don’t really know if they’re that connected. But Odo does find a baby Jem’Hdar. Who does rely on drugs to get through his day, and also he was going to be delivered into the servitude of The Founders. It’s thin, but it’s all I got. I’m sure there was an episode that is more connected to this one, but I can’t really think of one now. Regardless, I’d say you should watch just about any other episode of any other Trek before you venture into this one. It’s bad. 

Next week is What Little Girls Are Made Of, which sounds like a trouble episode. 

Thursday, December 1, 2016

Good Trek / Bad Trek #7 The Enemy Within

Looks like I was wrong again. I saw the title for the show and just assumed it was one about the mirror universe, but that will come later I suppose. Instead, we get a different mess of an episode. Captain Kirk gets split into two shitty versions of himself. I’ll be honest, I was starting to get into this show. I was even starting to like Kirk. Leonard Nimoy is settling into Spock. The plotting of the show is still pretty awful, but still fun to watch for the most part. I was thinking that maybe I was just wrong all along. I had just seen a couple bad episodes and the TOS really is awesome and I was just wrong for avoiding it for so long. I was just coming off The Naked Time, which was a great episode so I was looking forward to keeping that going. 

I’m not going to say I was right initially, but this was just a fucking mess of an episode. Just a goddamn mess. It’s called The Enemy Within AKA The One Where Yeoman Rand Really Gets Put Through The Wringer. Here it is. 

Recap. 

They’re on a planet just kinda hanging out. Sulu found a dog wearing a costume so I guess that means that there were either smart humans or really smart dogs. Nobody knows. We get some real clunky exposition to start the show. Don’t even know why. We’re on the planet and Sulu and Kirk have a conversation about how it gets to be -120 degrees at night. Okay. They bring it up like five other times throughout the show. I guess a writer just learned that other planets might get pretty cold and this just blew his mind. 
Highlight of the episode

A crewman trips and falls and scuffs up his hand and has to beam back to the ship. The transport doesn’t go all that well, but they beam up Kirk right after and he’s feeling woozy. Right after he and Scotty leave the transporter room the transporter engages again and another Kirk beams up. The orchestra and squirrelly lighting let us know that this is a bad Kirk. 

Evil. Sweaty and Evil. 

Bad Kirk runs around and generally causes ruckus after ruckus. He heads to sickbay to get some booze. Why they keep the booze in sickbay I don’t really know. Heads over to Yeoman Rand’s quarters and tries to rape her. Then beats up a crewman who tries to stop the raping. Really a lot of uncaptain-like behaviour. 
Kirk: Making space great again

Turns out the either the yellow ore they beamed up or the dog in the Halloween costume overloaded the transporters so now every time they use the transporters not only does whatever they beam up come up but also an evil version too. Or whatever it is that’s being beamed up gets split in two and one becomes weak and passive and one becomes evil and aggressive.
What these littel guys are all about would've made such a better episode


So mean Kirk is running around and being a real jerk. They put out an APB for a guy who looks exactly like Jim Kirk, but you know…evil. They find him, give him the ol’ Vulcan nerve pinch, and boom evil Kirk is done captured. They still can’t beam up the away team on account of the transporter is still making duplicates. Plus now bad yang Kirk shoots a hole in the side of the transporter, but it wasn’t really working anyhow. So whatever. The planet is getting cold which they keep on telling us. Sulu is getting pretty chilly so Scotty better hurry his ass up and get that stupid thing fixed, because they keep on reminding us every three minutes that Sulu is going to freeze to death, which nobody wants. 
Kirk: Making space great again. 

I’m skipping a bit, but they think they’ve found a fix. They try running the two pups through, but it kills it. Kirk says fuck it, let’s roll, but evil Kirk gets out. But of course they capture him and go through and boom, two become one. I assume they get Sulu before he freezes to death. Kirk teases the lady his evil part tried to rape, they take the parking brake off, get out of dodge. 


Fin. 
This week in slash fiction inspiration: Spock swings by to fix the space cable of a fresh out of the shower Kirk.


Does this episode suck?

This episode could easily have been about twenty minutes shorter. There are multiple scenes that don’t need to be here at all. The first twenty minutes couldn’t and should’ve been pared down to roughly three minutes. That’s how clumsy the plotting and pacing is. I’m watching it now and really think that folks watching back then would have been happier watching commercials. Had the concept B plots not been invented yet?

Holy fucking shit does this episode ever shit on physics. I mean this transporter is just creating people out of thin air and nobody really seems all that surprised by that. That’s a pretty big deal when you think about it. That’s one of the laws of the universe and the Enterprise treats it like a minor inconvenience standing in the way of beaming up their away team. People are being duplicated out of thin air. Matter is just becoming MORE MATTER! The universe is going to explode. That’s a big fucking deal. 

Fuck all the Kirks in this episode. All three are douches. His evil twin nearly rapes Yeoman Rand and at the end of the episode and he makes a joke about it. Jesus Christ. That’d be shitty enough to begin with, but he’s also her boss. It wasn’t an evil imposter. The bad Kirk was part of him that got separated from himself. I’m not saying that both of them should be held equally accountable for everything bad Kirk does, but joking about how your transporter separated physics defying duplicate damn near raped your yeoman, that’s not cool bro. The fixed Kirk at the end is just as bad as Evil kirk. 

This isn’t a foreign concept to Star Trek. Most of the other series have had episode where something happens to their body and they get duplicated or they become evil or they get an emotion chip implanted that allows them to behave all crazy like. Most of these episodes suck. I don’t know why they writers are so eager to do it either. Every one of these “I’m my own opposite now!” episodes seem like they were written at the behest of the actor just so they can really hit the ham hard. Kirk does not dissapoint in that regard. 


Lot of weird stuff about how Starfleet works. Spock yells at Kirk about telling the crew the full truth about what’s going on. Spock thinks that if the crew knows what’s what then Kirk will lose their respect and then he’ll inevitably lose the ship as well. Then later when Kirk yin and Kirk yang are about to head through the transporters to become one he makes Spock promise he’ll take command of the ship if it doesn’t work. Yeah. That’s how the chain of command works. The captain can’t command the ship then the second in command takes over. That’s why they’re called the second in command. This isn't a Klingon Bird of Prey, there are rules. 

I mean they have shuttles don’t they? If they mentioned why they couldn’t just take the trusty old Galileo down and fetch the away team I didn’t catch it. I’d rewatch it and see if I might’ve missed it, but it’s a bad episode and I don’t feel like watching it again. Is that too wrong of me? Maybe, but I don’t give a shit. If you want to know so bad then you can watch it.

Was This Good Trek?

There are a lot of problems with the transporters throughout the Trek universe. It’s a really error prone piece of technology. Maybe that’s why the folks on the Enterprise treat this particular accident so nonchalantly. Maybe folks periodically just get duplicated and have their personalities duplicated. It’s right up there with the holodeck, which should not be allowed. That should really just be put on the shelf for a while. I know it’s already the future but it needs to be saved for the future's future. At least the transporter in necessary for getting around. The holodeck is just for shits and giggles. 

VOY: Tuvix

In terms of other Trek to watch, if you’re looking for a slightly better episode about a crazy transporter malfunction I’d go with VOY’s Tuvix. This one features a bananas transporter malfunction that accidentally fuses two crew members making them become one person. I wouldn’t say it’s a great episode, but at least when the transporter makes the impossible happen, everyone reacts how’d you’d expect. It’s nuts and everyone recognises it as such. It also raises some ethical questions that The Enemy Within doesn’t even pretend to. Okay, now that the transporter has created a new person, even if it is by fusing two other people or by separating another, does that new person have any rights? Can you ethically just fix the transporter issue and destroy the new person? Plus Tim Russ’s Tuvok is one the most underrated characters on any Trek incarnation. 

TNG: Rascals 

Another crazy ass transporter malfunction leads to a crazy ass problem. Picard, Keiko O'Brien, Guinan, and Ensign Ro accidentally become children again. They have all the memories of their adult selves, but now look like they're children. In Picard’s case, he also gets a sweet adolescent boy voice. The episode is mostly comedy because the Ferengi show up and try to take over the ship, failing because of the meddling by those pesky kids and their darn targ.

TNG: Second Chances

The transporter splits someone in two again. This time it’s Commander Riker. Turns out eight years prior during a rough beam up he accidentally got split into two people. So for the better part of a space decade, his clone has been sitting on a planet’s surface just hanging out. The Enterprise stumbles on him and he has to come to terms with his lost eight years and living with a duplicate who’s gotten to live those lost years. 

TNG: Sarek

This one doesn’t have any crazy transporter malfunctions, but it’s still a damn good episode. Spock’s father Ambassador Sarek is hitching a ride on the Enterprise to carry out his final diplomatic mission for the Federation. The reason I’d throw that one in threes that Sarek is an old Vulcan who, due to his age and illness can no longer control his emotions the way Vulcans usually do. In order to complete his mission he transfers his volatile emotions to Picard. Both Patrick Stewart’s Picard and Mark Lenard’s Sarek spend time not in control of their emotions. They both treat their roles seriously and really make you feel for the characters. Shatner’s evil Kirk is just fucking dumb. I was just starting to like him, but goddamn does Shatner ever suck in this episode. 

That’s it for this week. Next week is Mudd’s Women. Which I’m sure is to be a very respectful look at sex work in the future.