Saturday, July 22, 2017

Good Trek/ Bad Trek #29 City on the Edge of Forever

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 Star Trek, I’ve never watched The Original Series. So, I’m watching and reviewing them as a fan of Star Trek, but one who's 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. 

John McCain has brain cancer, which is either a cause to celebrate or not. I don’t think it should be. I understand that there are reasons to take politics very seriously. The health care debate is very serious. John McCain was against government healthcare. A lot of folks hate any kind of government healthcare because they’re pieces of shit. I’d put a good portion of the Democratic Party and a larger part of the Republican party in those camps. They don’t really give a shit who’s affected by what. Those people are out there. There’s probably a lot of them. Some people are against it because they’re of the belief that the more government that is in healthcare the more people will die. I think they’re wrong, but that’s what they believe. I thought that the majority of the right behaved like a bunch of little bitches during the Obama years. I don't think that the answer to that is to act in equal or greater bitchiness now. Don't get me wrong, I’m all for mocking people. I’m all for making fun of people who suffer awful circumstances. I don’t have a blanket policy about not celebrating when certain sacks of shit have awful things happen to them, but celebrating when a political opponent gets cancer rubs me the wrong way and it says a lot about the political climate where not celebrating a political opponent’s brain cancer diagnosis makes you a centrist. Chances are, you won’t have the same opinions on everything for the rest of your life. If you do, you’re probably a big asshole with shitty opinions. 

And speaking of cancers, Ann Coulter bitched more about losing a seat on a  stupid Delta flight than John McCain ever did about being tortured for years in Vietnam. I loved this story because Coulter immediately thought that she was being targeted due to her politics. What she doesn’t understand is just how fun treating a shitty person shitty feels when you work in retail or customer service. I worked retail for a few years. I hated it. The hours are awful and the pay is worse. The one saving grace to interacting with all these sacks of shit is that you get to wield tiny amounts of power. Not a lot. We can't’ determine who lives and dies, but you sure as shit can ruin someone’s day and make it look it look like that’s not what you wanted to do. The ability to dole out small amounts of justice to assholes is the only saving grace to working a shitty job. Telling customers that we’re out of something we have hundreds of, telling folks to wait while I check in the back and then leaving for lunch. All great things. Maybe Ann Coulter should worry less about a vast left-wing conspiracy that targets its thinkers by giving them three fewer inches of legroom and realize that people in customer service don't go out of their way to be nice to mean people. 

Speaking of things that shouldn't be treated with kid gloves, this episode of Trek. This is supposed to be one of the best Treks of all time, and it is not. Not even close. 

Recap

The gang is investigating a time disruption. Sulu gets hurt and Bones comes to the rescue with a drug that we’re told is very dangerous. The fact that we’ve never heard of this drug before this moment and are immediately assured of how it's dangerous means that it’s going to be a plot point. And lo and behold it immediately becomes one. There’s turbulence and McCoy accidentally gets himself with the drug. He goes bananas and gets all paranoid. He finds his way to the transporter room where he gives a transporter tech two quick karate chops which knock him out for some reason and McCoy beams down. 
Cordrazine's a helluva drug

Kirk, Spock, Sulu, Uhura, and a couple bags of shit go down and there’s a time portal I guess. A voice who’s in charge of a time portal. He tries to explain it, but it’s silly. Bones jumps in. In doing so he changes history. Now there’s no Enterprise. The ship and everyone on it never existed so they just disappeared. Except for everyone on the planet. They haven’t not existed yet. I guess because they’re close to the portal. I don’t know. It doesn't really make sense. Just go with it. 

Just another portal that controls all of time and space...YAWN!

Kirk and Spock go into the portal to stop Bones from doing whatever it is he does that blinks everyone out of existence. So they go back to Great Depression era America. While hanging out Kirk meets a nice young lady. He falls in love and learns that what Bones does is save her from dying in a car accident. She lives and the country gets taken over by Nazis. 

They figure it out and watch her die. It’s very sad, but when they go back through the portal the Enterprise and all of them exist. So it worked. 

Good Trek?

I don’t know. It was fine. It’s not even close to my favorite TOS episode so far and nowhere near the best Trek. I can think of a number of other time travel episodes that are better. I know this is one of the first ones, but still. It just wasn’t that great. Again, fine Trek. It was fine Trek, but definitely not deserving of the mantle of the greatest episodes of all time. 
Starts off with some solid remastered effects

I have some little nerd problems with this episode, but let's address the big one here, and that’s that Kirk sucks and should not be captain. I’ve warmed to Shatner’s Kirk a little bit, but this episode makes him look like the biggest sack of shit to ever wear a Starfleet uniform. Most of this episode should be used as evidence for his court martial. The fact that Spock doesn’t give him the old nerve pinch and throw him in the brig makes his judgment suspect as well. There’s a lot of blame to go around. 

Even though his smugness is almost immediately punished, I'm still counting this as Bones knocking it out of the park

Offense #1 Let’s start with the part where they’re on the planet’s surface. As soon as they realize that they’re staring at a magical time portal, Kirk’s first instinct is to use it to change time. Dude, do you seriously not think that the Prime Directive would also apply to time? For god’s sake. At that point, he doesn’t even know what IF ANY long term effects Bones will suffer. He might just need to sleep it off. This is not a reason to go back in time. In fact, you should never purposefully go back in time. Unless maybe you’re fixing one of your other fuck ups, which I’m sure there are plenty. 
Edith Keeler: Lynchpin for the fate of the universe, not bad-looking broad 


Offense #2 Okay, so now Bones jumps through the portal because Kirk was dicking around. Time is only threatened in the first place because of Kirk's dithering. Now they have to go back in time and fix this mess. Who does Kirk choose to bring with him back in time to Earth? The only person on the away team that is not from Earth. What the fuck? I know Spock isn’t the most conspicuous alien in the galaxy, but he does look different. Different enough where it’s immediately an issue. As soon as they get back to Earth. Kirk lies and tells a cop that Spock looks like that because he’s Chinese. Seriously. Know who would’ve been easier to pass off as Asian? The Asian person who you could have easily brought to the planet’s surface with you. The one who is part of your bridge crew. I know it would’ve ruined the whole fish out of water thing, but it’s terrible judgment. 
Obviously 

Offense #3 He’s been in 1930’s America for like fifteen minutes before he’s decided that he’s fallen in love. Dude, you’re on a mission. A mission to the past where anything you do could alter the future. You shouldn’t even be talking to her let alone trying to get your dick wet. That cannot be the priority. The more you interact with people, the higher the risk that you, the person who went back in time to fix the timeline, will muck up the timeline even further. In the scene where she gets hit by a car, Kirk is about to take her to a movie. Dude, you can’t do that. Everything you do could affect your future. No movies. No falling in love. 

Offense #4 Once he realizes that her continued existence may corrupt the timeline he doesn’t have to watch her die. This may be counter to what I’ve already said, but at that point just take her with you when you return through the time portal. You’ve effectively removed her from the timeline so Hitler won't’ take over America, you don’t have to prevent your chief medical officer from saving a woman’s life. How did they not figure this out? He falls in love and then decides he is just going to watch her die. It’s horse shit. 

This isn’t an issue with the episode, but I did notice that the only reason she was there to die was that she was meeting Bones and Kirk. So was this an effect preceding cause time travel thing? What’s sometimes called the “shut up, you stupid nerd paradox.”

The whole guardian of time and space thing was annoying as shit. I know they needed a device to get them all back in time, but why is everybody so goddamn nonchalant about these beings that control the whole of time and space. This is a big fucking deal and you all are explorers. Treat it as such, you idiots. 

Other than Kirk’s abhorrent behavior I thought it was okay. The whole love story angle was really rushed. It wasn’t bad, but I’d be surprised if then ends up as a top ten TOS of mine. It was fine, but Kirk’s behavior was so shitty, and the rest of the episode was so just okay that I wasn’t really all that impressed by this one. 

Better Trek?

I think I’ve put these episodes on the better Trek lists before, but they’re all great. So I can’t recommend them enough. First one would be TNG’s Lessons. If you want to see how a real captain behaves when his love life and his duties collide then watch this. There’s no time travel, but goddamnit will it pull on your heartstrings. Picard falls for the fetching Lt. Commander Nella Daren. It’s sweet. Picard can captain circles around Kirk. This episode is a great example. 

If you like your Trek with some Nazis then I’d go with VOY The Killing Game. This is a two-parter that takes place mostly on the holodeck. Generally not a fan of holodeck episodes but I’ve always liked this one. VOY had a lot of lackluster villains. The Hirogen were pretty solid. In it, they’ve taken over the ship and are making the crew fight ancient wars on the holodeck. 

Finally, one of my favorite episodes dealing with time is VOY’s Year of Hell. There’s no real time travel in it, but the episode deals a lot with time and nonexistence. It’s great. TV’s Red Foreman gives a great performance and it’s one of my favorite Janeway episodes. Kate Mulgrew’s Janeway sometimes gets short shrift when it comes to great captains. She shouldn’t. She’s awesome, and if you don’t think so watch this episode and if you still disagree then you can go fuck yourself. She rules. 


That’s it for this one. This was very long. 

Friday, July 14, 2017

Why Your Opinion Is Probably Wrong & Good Trek/ Bad Trek #28 The Alternative Factor

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 Star Trek, I’ve never watched The Original Series. So, I’m watching and reviewing them as a fan of Star Trek, but one who's 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. 

The single season On Base Percentage (OBP) leader is Barry Bonds. In 2004 he had an OBP of .6094. Which would be insane at the time even if he wasn’t 39 at the time. Second place is also Bonds for the 2002 season. You have to go back to Ted Williams in 1941 for third place. His was .5528.

Ted Williams was the last person to hit above .400. That was in 1941. It’s been over seventy years since anyone has done that. Ted Williams wouldn’t read at night or chew gum because he worried that would damage his eyes. He wanted to be the best hitter so he did all that just on the off-chance that constant up and down of gum chewing would negatively affect his hand eye coordination.

Nobody has a career OBP over .5000. Not Bonds. Not Williams. It’s kind of nuts that even the greatest players of all time failed to get on base more often than they did. That’s crazy. Ted Williams was the best at getting hits and he didn’t six times out of ten. Barry Bonds was the best at getting on base and didn’t almost 40% of the time. 

What I’m trying to say is that your opinion is probably wrong. A thing about the internet that I hate is that everyone is so married to their stupid opinions. It’s easy to get your opinion out there. It’s also easy to shit on other people’s opinions. Both are fun. But every opinion people have seems to be ones that they’re willing to die on that hill for. I don’t get that. People are willing to end friendships over every shitty opinion they have, and chances are they wrong anyhow. Whenever you think anything you ask yourself if you honestly think you’re as smart as Barry Bonds was at getting on base. You probably aren’t, but I could be wrong. 

I change my opinions all the time. Something I haven’t changed my opinion on is this week's episode of Trek. It’s called The Alternative Factor and it sucked. 

Recap

The gang is doing a routine survey of a seemingly barren planet. All of a sudden the ship is rocked and the ship and also the rest of the galaxy is “blinked out of existence. The planet is not barren anymore. There' a crazy dude named Lazarus. He tells him he’s trying to find the devil. He’s nuts though. 
Solid looking opening shot. Goes down hill from here

Then a rift opens on the planet and the whole existence is in peril. He’s not a traveler but a time traveler he says. Then it turns out he’s not that but he’s able to go to negative space. I don’t really know. 
I guess this is supposed to be another dimension

He needs the Enterprise’s dilithium crystals to go back and fight the devil. He steals them and it turns out he’s actually two people unable to deal with the fact that he’s two people. And if he’s allowed to fight his other self in the normal universe the multiverse will be destroyed. It doesn’t. The two Lazaruses (Lazari) go to an alternate dimension and strangle each other for all time. Fin. 

Good Trek?

Good god, NO! I don’t know. Honestly, I watched this episode twice. I’ve been really digging these lately so I fully expected that I was over the TOS hump and was gonna like this one. But I just fucking hated it. It was so bad. Lazarus was a garbage villain/Deus ex machina. 

Kill, kill, kill, kill, kill an hour watching TNG's Parallels instead

Also, Kirk is both a straight up dick and a really bad captain. I don’t know anything about the backstory of this one, but it has the feel of an episode written by, or at the behest of, William Shatner. He was a stupid smug jackass in this one. He's an asshole the whole time. He's practically the only one who gets any lines. The lines Spock does get don’t seem to jive with what we know about him so far. He sees Lazarus appear out of nowhere and then straight up accuses him of lying when he can’t explain where he’s coming from. That’s not Spock. 
Fuck you, Kirk
This is a very valid question that Kirk just answers with a dumb smirk. There's a lot going on. Yes, destroy the dimension hopping ship but also, what the hell is going on, Captain? Spock asks this, very appropriate question, given the circumstances. Instead of answering him Kirk just gives a stupid douchey smile and asks him the same question back. So Kirk is an ass, Spock is useless, but at least we get a solid Bones scene. He barely gets any screen time, but what he does what he can with what he gets. 

Bones treating this beefed up red shirt like a straight up bitch is the only reason to watch this episode


The ending was as dumb as it was kind of predicted. I’m not saying as soon as I saw Lazarus I knew he was going to be an interdimensional being who was going to be trapped forever fighting his duplicate in negative space, but at the same time when the ending happened, I just yawned. I don’t know. Maybe I was just in a bad mood, but I don’t think there’s too much to say about this one. It stunk. 

Better Trek?

Any of them. You could watch almost any episode and come away with a better one. I’d point to a few that came to mind when I was watching this one. For starters, I’d say TNG’s Where No One Has Gone Before. Not my favorite episode. Not by a long shot. It’s among the better season one TNG, but that’s not saying all that much. Starfleet sends out a dude to tinker with the Enterprise’s engines. But turns out he’s not really doing anything and what’s causing them to perform better is a mysterious alien named The Traveler. Something goes wrong and they get lost in between space. I don’t know if they run into the Lazari while out there. The ending involves them all holding hands and believing. It’s not great, but it’s better than that description makes it sound. There’s too much Wesley. The Traveler sucks as a character. A lot of the effects look really dated. But you get to see a glimpse of the character Riker can become. Also, a really solid performance by Patric Stewart. It’s better than this episode, but just about anything would be. 

You want a Trek about parallel dimensions though you gotta go with the 7th season TNG episode, Parallels. One of my all-time favorite episodes. It’s just great. Worf is either going bonkers OR is he shifting through parallel dimensions? It’s, of course, the latter. Or else that would mean that not only did Starfleet let a bonkers Worf stay in, but repeatedly promoted him. Michael Dorn is such a great actor. TNG sometimes had trouble writing episodes good enough for him. It wasn’t really until he was DS9 that Trek writers were able to get their money’s worth out of Dorn’s Worf. It’s a cool episode both in terms of plot, acting, and the climaxes visuals when the inter dimensional rift really opens up. They hint at a relationship between Worf and Troi that they never fully develop, which is fine because it leaves him able to pursue and get pursued by Dax in DS9. If you want to watch a Trek and have a hankerin’ for some inter-dimensional shenanigans that don’t really suck, then Parallels is the episode for you. 


That’s it for this week. This episode really did suck, but next week’s is City on the Edge of Forever. Supposedly the best episode of TOS’s run. One I haven’ seen, but am looking forward to. 

Saturday, July 8, 2017

I Fix Healthcare and also GTBT #27 Errand of Mercy



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. 

Been trying to start every one of these with some other bullshit having nothing to do with Trek. Having trouble thinking of anything this week. I guess healthcare is a pretty big deal last couple weeks. Folks are trying to save Obamacare. Other folks are trying to get rid of it. I’m no healthcare expert and don’t claim to be, but the one thing that always gets to me during these healthcare debates are the folks who are just so adamant that absolutely nothing ever changes because then they won’t be able to see their doctor again. I refuse to believe that anyone on earth actually likes their doctor that much. The overwhelming majority of doctors suck. They’re the worst. You wait six weeks to see the jerks and then they push you out there in five minutes. I broke my ankle a couple years. I asked my doctor when I’d get my cast off and he shrugged and said: “don’t you work from home anyhow?” Come on, Doc. I work from home, I’m not Howard Hughes. I like to go to the occasional place from time to time, and when I do I like to do it without a dumb old pair of crutches digging into my armpits. I only ever paid my copay, which was still way too much. I don't even know what my that doctor was bilking from the insurance company. All to look at an X-ray a much friendlier person took the day before and confirm what any fucking idiot with eyes could tell you: There was a significant crack in the bone and it hurt very much to walk on. 

I think if you want to fix healthcare then what you need to do is only go to doctors with what you have. You have a broken ankle, then you go to a doctor with one. He’ll know how much crutches suck and how important it is to get you back on your feet as soon as possible. So there you are. That's the solution. From here on out that's how you get a doctor. You need treatment for HIV? You go to a doctor with HIV. You have cancer? So does your doctor. You have a bad cold? Come on, what kind of asshole goes to the doctor for a cold? Just drink some tea and get some sleep and quit being a drain on the system you asshole. 

I think the field of childhood leukemia is really going to take a nosedive, but you know what they say about making omelets. 

Know what didn’t take a nosedive? This week’s Trek. Here we are, folks. We have engaged Klingons. I just assumed that we’d have arrived here earlier than 26 episodes in. For all the talk Klingons get in Trek lore and how famous they are as villains I really assumed we’d have done this a long time ago. Almost at the end of season one. The introduction of the Romulans has been one of my favorites. This one isn’t quite that good, but still. Solid. Real goddamn solid. Here we are.

Recap:

The relationship between the Federation and the Klingon Empire have fallen apart. Looks like war. Which is no good. Kirk and the gang head to Organia, because they think the Klingons are going to try to annex it and they’d like to avoid that. The Organians don’t seem too interested in being annexed by the Klingons or taking Federation help. They really just seem pretty squirrelly and aloof. 
Here are the Organians not giving nearly enough fucks about their impending doom for Kirk's 

The Klingons show up and the Organians hid Kirk and Spock among their own to prevent the Klingons from murdering them. Kirk takes the opportunity to sneak behind enemy lines and blow shit up which pisses off the Organians to no end. These folks do not care for violence. 


Gene Roddenberry's idea of war is two giant things sitting directly in front of each other just blasting away. Also, here’s your first look at a Klingon Bird of Prey

Kirk and Spock try to get a resistance going, but it doesn’t take. It just results in them getting captured. The Organians refuse to have any violence whatsoever. They get really pissed off and there’s the big reveal. Turns out the Organia are actually energy beings. Not only that, they’re energy beings who get really pissed off when folks are violent. So they force the Klingons and Federation into a truce using their mind powers. I’m sure the truce won’t last, but still. 

Good Trek?

Yes. This Trek is good. I didn’t know anything about this episode and even though I knew there was gonna be something up with the Organians the ending was unique and fun. They’re relying on godlike folks again, which is annoying. But all in all, I thought it was a really solid reveal at the end. You kind of know something is afoot when nobody is taking this seriously. However, it’s a little weird that nobody knew anything about these people before this. The Federation or anyone else has accidentally stepped on the toes of yet another godlike race of people that live right smack-dab between them and the Klingons? Nobody has spent any time with these folks before the Klingons were supposed to be coming through? Seems like someone should have known that these people were more than they seemed. But still, it leads to the fun moral relevancy message at the end. This seems like another one that was aimed squarely at the Vietnam crowd. This is a great thing about sci-fi where you can so easily say fuck you to a government without actually ever saying it. It’s another just great episode that I wish I would’ve been able to see at the time. Or at least read a review from when it first aired. Makes me even more excited about Star Trek: Discovery. I know they plan on taking a more serialized approach like DS9, which is great, but I hope they’re also able to balance great stuff like this.
"Today is a good day to have a think piece written about you"

This is what the Klingons look like. It’s weird, but I knew that this was coming. But still. It's weird. It's not even that it's black face. It's dark faced though and it’s fucked up to look at it nonetheless. It’s dark enough face makeup to where it’s a really good thing that they’re not still doing it this way. A lot of what went on to become latter-day Klingons is found here. But it's so different. I like that about Trek. As someone who's been watching Trek forever it can be frustrating to watch them fuck with continuity, but at the same time, I like how Trek doesn’t mind tossing it out the window to make something better. Like the Klingon makeup or everything about the Borg every time they're ever in an episode. Looking forward to more Klingons next season. 

Better Trek?

I’m having trouble thinking of any that fit in thematically that I would call better. I can think of a few TNG ones. There’s Journey’s End which is the last Wesley Crusher episode. The Traveller is back. There are Native Americans for some reason. There are Cardassians. The Federation needs to move the Native Americans even though they had a treaty. It’s heavy handed and it sucks. If you want to watch a real piece of garbage that’d be the one. 

Star Trek: Insurrection also deals with similar themes. A violent people displacing a peaceful group of folks who seem to never age. A lot of people criticized this movie for just looking and feeling like a long episode. I don’t understand that as a reason not to like it. I like episodes of Star Trek. That’s why I watch them. This is longer and has better effects. Cool. I think it’s a solid movie. I don’t know if I’d say better than Errand of Mercy. But Insurrection is solid and I like it. 
Kirk talking about innocents. One of the best Trek quotes of all time. 

Last but not least would be TNG’s The Ensigns of Command. A lot to love about this one. Solid Data performance. Solid story. And Picard knocks it out of the goddamned park. The Enterprise is trying to convince the stubborn leader of a community who crash-landed on a planet years prior. He’s proud of the community him and his followers have built and he doesn’t want to abandon it without a fight. Data has to convince him otherwise. At the same time, Picard is trying to buy some time with the aliens who plan on taking that planet over. They’re the Sheliak and they’re a bunch of assholes. 

That's it for this week. A lot of good episodes in a row. It's a good thing that I already watched the next one and it sucks. So, I'll be able to get some vitriol out. 

Saturday, July 1, 2017

I Take On Online Reviewers & GTBT #26 The Devil In The Dark

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. 

I was reading the user reviews on Rotten Tomatoes and was filled with an immense sadness for everyone involved. Can you think of anything sadder than being a Rotten Tomatoes “super reviewer?” I certainly cannot. One of these super reviewers was just savaging the new Transformers movie. Really, he was kind of being a jerk about it. This guy was not a fan of the first four Transformers. He saw the fifth Transformers movie. Was not a fan of that one either, and he was angry about it. A lot of all caps posts about how shitty the whole franchise was, and how angry he was for having his time wasted. It is the fifth one. How is not his fault? You’ve got nobody but yourself to blame after the second. I saw the first Transformers. I thought it was garbage. They made a lot of money so they kept on making them. I stopped seeing them after the first because I’m not a goddamn masochist.

I assume that’s all that super reviewer has. He has to realize that even as a “super reviewer” he’s under no obligation to actually watch all this trash. Nobody is actually waiting for his opinion. He goes to a job he hates. He doesn’t talk to a woman that he’s found he no longer loves. He feels sad and empty most the day. Then he goes to see Transformers 5 and really gives Michael Bay the business and for a few minutes, he feels the closest to happy that he will in months. Years maybe. The most power he’ll feel until the next Ninja Turtles comes out. Then he savages that and feels power again. Here’s a super review of amateur super reviewers and that’s a big, fuck them. They’re dumb. 

I’ve never understood the folks who base their entire opinion on not liking stuff. That’s weird to me. Until recently that was reserved for the most miserable comic book and sports fans. You ask someone what movies they like and they’d go into a 45-minute screed about how Spiderman 2 could’ve been better. Go up to a guy in Mets hat and jersey and ask him if he’s been out to Citi Field this year and he yells at you about what a bum Curtis Granderson is. These people have always existed. The internet just gives them the illusion that they and their miserable opinions matter. I guess what I’m saying is that the internet is dumb. We need to get off it. It’s a great tool for countless folks to get their opinion out to everyone. The problem is that the vast majority of opinions are worthless and don’t need to get out there. Most opinions are wrong. The ones that aren’t wrong are boring. 


I don't know if what I’m doing here is really that different. I’d like to hope so, because I watched another episode of TOS this week. It was okay. 

Recap:

We open with a bunch of people, none of whom are folks from the Enterprise. We get to meet a scared fellow named Schmitter. Please don’t get too attached to him, because he’s not making it to credits time as he’s killed by a closeup. There are murders happening at this mining community. Murders most foul. 
Closed captioner really phoning it in
Goodbye Schmitter, we hardly knew ya


McCoy, Spock, and Kirk go down to investigate. Folks aren’t just being murdered they are being burned to death. Seems very unpleasant. In addition to a bunch of dead bodies, there’s also a shit load of these completely spherical silicon balls. Could the silence balls and the murders be connected? Yes, they can be and 100% are. Spock is wondering if maybe the murderer is a new kind of lifeform. A silicone based kind. 

The creature attacks Kirk and he wounds it with his stronger phaser. He and Spock eventually corner it and Spock communicates with it by overacting. 


Sili-KHAAAAAAAAAAN based lifeform

Turns out it’s not a monster. Just a little tunnel creature. Mining on this planet is pretty tough. If the miners had actually tried communicating with this thing, then maybe they could’ve worked together. The creature was lashing out because its eggs were being threatened. They decide that they can all work together and only 51 people had to die. The miners will respect the creature and its babies and the creatures will help the miners get to all this planet’s sweet sweet resources. 

Good Trek?

I’d say yes. Not amazing, but solid. This a real meat n’ potatoes Trek. It was one of those that seemed familiar because I’d seen it done so many times. At the same time, I had to remind myself that this wasn’t the copy all the other episodes that followed this formula were the copies. It was still solid. 

Good luck, fellas

Boy, the guy who played Schmitter really fucking sucked. Just an awful line reader. Kind of an ugly guy. I get the feeling that he was working on set and the real actor didn’t show up. So they got this barely literate dude to read his lines. 

I don’t want to get to into the weeds here, but isn’t this a HUGE violating of the Prime Directive? This isn’t just a bunch of lava worms. These are highly intelligent beings. Spock talked with them for a while. It’s an intelligent pre-warp civilization. Which a Federation mining colony is now using for an unpaid labor force. This seems super duper fucked. The theme of whether or not staying on this planet would actually be moral is visited in a couple different episodes. 
Bones is the best

TNG’s The Quality of Life. There are a lot of similarities. Both are played largely like murder mysteries on mining colonies. In the TNG one, it’s small autonomous robots that have become sentient. Upon discovering that they are not just drones, but actual thinking lifeforms Data has to weigh this new life vs. his duty as a Starfleet officer. It’s a real solid entry in Data’s struggle with his humanity or lack thereof. It’s also nice to see them struggling whether or not to continue exploiting this new life. Something they give absolutely no thought to in the TOS one. 

Also, I really like VOY’s The Cloud. Certainly not the best VOY episode, but one of my favorite Janeway episodes. It’s a lot different in terms of plot. Voyager goes into a nebula to replenish their energy supplies until they realize that it wasn’t a nebula, but a giant living thing and that by being there they’ve gravely wounded it. It shows to just what length Janeway will go to maintain her Federation ideals despite how much that can piss off other crew members. You get to hear her say “there’s coffee in that nebula.” Which is one of my favorite Trek quotes of all time. You have to put up with some spirit guide horse shit, but what are you going to do. 

Well, that’s it. I’m almost done with season 1. I think maybe there’s too many of these. 

Saturday, June 24, 2017

I Bravely Take A Stand Re: Racism (I'm Con) & Good Trek/Bad Trek #25 This Side Of Paradise

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. 

I almost forgot to write about Trek this week. Just getting this one in just in the nick of time. I don’t know why. There’s no real time constraint. I don’t owe you shit. So get off my back. I’ll write my Trek when I good and goddamn well please.

Aside from Trek, there was that awful Philando Castile outcome. As a guy who reads internet comments for a living, I’m usually pretty able to turn off my brain and take this shit in. I try not to let it bother me. This week it bothered me. People are just so fucking dumb. I don’t know why folks can’t be upfront and begin their stupid comments with the truth. If you look at the video of that cop shooting Castile a whole bunch of times for absolutely no reason then there’s a good chance you’re racist. So all your comments should start “as a racist, I believe…” There. Then we all know where you’re coming from. It will save everyone some time. Maybe there should be some kind of autocorrect feature whenever you write something so fucking dumb about a police shooting it corrects to “as a racist I believe…” I actually read someone say that he heard that there was video evidence that Castillo had been smoking pot. For starters, I can think of nobody more on Earth who could stand to smoke some pot than someone who thinks that a couple puffs both ready to kill and deserving to be executed without judge or jury. Any person who thinks that is, in all likelihood a racist and should have their posts auto corrected to reflect their racism going forward. And also, please smoke some pot. 

Every time there’s a police shooting there’s always cops and apologists who come out talking about how hard a job being a cop is. It might be. I don’t know. It might be very tough. The parts about being able to murder, drive drunk, park on the sidewalk, and commit domestic violence with impunity seem like a pretty nice perk, but I’m sure there are downsides too. The having to stop crime part seems unpleasant. So unpleasant that a lot of cops want to snap and shoot people who don’t deserve it. If that’s your default reaction then maybe you shouldn’t be a cop. If it’s such a hard job that you know will break people and cause a certain segment to go all Judge Dredd on dudes with busted taillights then maybe quit hiring those folks. If it’s a hard job then maybe try to find people who are good at it. Though, finding this new breed of cops also sounds hard. So rest assured I will be doing neither. 

What I will be doing is watching Star Trek, which can be hard in its own way. Because sometimes they kinda suck. Like this week’s entry, This Side Of Paradise. See what I did there?

Recap:

The gang is headed to a planet where a group of settlers went to. There’s too much radiation and pretty sure everyone should be dead. Don’t know why the settlers went there, to begin with. Who knows. 



This week in Bones knocking it out of the park

Turns out everyone is still very much alive. Including a woman from Spock’s past. They should be dead. Nobody knows whey they’re alive. It’s all very curious. 

Fun fact: 80% of this episode’s production budget went to Vaseline rub on the lens to make the focus this soft. 

Turns out they’re under the influence of a mind controlling spore. They need it to stay alive and when they get it in their system it takes over and makes them all happy and wanting to stay on the planet. Eventually, everyone is affected save Kirk who figures out that he needs to piss people off in order to shake the influence of the spores. Kirk gets Spock angry. They fight. Spock breaks free of the spores’ influence. Then Kirk and Spock rig the communicators to make everyone angry. Everyone breaks free the influence and they go on their merry way. 

Good Trek/Bad Trek?

I’d say this falls in the meh Trek category.  I see what they were trying to do here, but it didn’t do it for me. Maybe it was just because the last few episodes have been so solid, but this one just felt like a half completed episode. I get all the garden of Eden stuff, but good gravy it felt forced. Yeah, I get it. Humans were never meant to be any place where they’re not challenged. That’s what makes us human. Blah blah blah. 
This seems like a line that Kirk ad-libbed, and nobody wanted to tell him how dumb it sounded

McCoy continues being the best part of the show. I’ve been reading about how Leonard Nimoy and Shatner used to have a bitter rivalry because Nimoy’s Spock was more popular and that pissed off Shatner because he was (is) such a stupid goon. The real solution is that they were both wrong. McCoy is the star of this show. 

The other stars of this episode are Kirk and Spock’s very visible stunt doubles. It’s even crazier this week because they’re not even doing stunts really. He kind of jumps across the room. That’s it. Was William Shatner that lazy where he couldn’t dodge a haymaker and then jump across the room? Give me a break, fellas. 
100% not Spock taking a swing at 100% not Kirk. 

If you’re looking for something better, I’d go with TNG’s The Game. This is far from a perfect episode, but it holds a special place in my heart on account of it’s the first episode of Star Trek I saw. It doesn’t feature a ship’s crew that’s fallen under the influence of mind control and using some odd measures to free folks. Plus, as a person who really likes Wil Wheaton as a person, but hated his character of Wesley Crusher, this is one of Wesley's best episodes. That’s not saying too much, but still. 

I’m sure there are a bunch of others that’d apply, but that’s the only one I can think of at the moment. I thought about including the movie Serenity in my recommendation, but I don’t think that counts as good Trek. Don’t get me wrong it’s fucking great. But then I’d have to change the name to Good Trek and/or Whatever/Bad Trek and/or whatever.


That’s it. Watch TNG’s The Game it’s solid, and if you’re a cop who feels like you might shoot an innocent person please quit your job and do something else. Maybe be a painter? I don’t think many cops would make good painters, and I think there’s probably too many painters as it is. But there’s also too many cops killing folks. 

Saturday, June 17, 2017

Shooting People You Disagree With, Father's Day, & Good Trek/Bad Trek #24 A Taste of Armageddon

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. 

When debating health care people often complain because Congress doesn’t have any skin in the game. These folks can say and do whatever they want about health care because it doesn’t matter to them. They’ll be fine. They have their precious government health care so they can afford to be libertarian about because they know their shitty libertarianism will never bite them in the ass. Maybe it's the same thing with the gun debate. They don't ever have to worry about guns because they don’t have to worry about it. Members of Congress rarely get shot at. Not only do they rarely get shot at, but when politicians do get shot it's usually by a drooling Mark Levin fan. That’s why folks on the right fell they can say stupid fucking shit like this:
"No, I meant please shoot the OTHER shitbag politicians in THEIR dumb faces." - Paul Ryan



You realize that’s you, right? You have to realize that includes you. You can't be that fucking stupid to where you think that you're some beloved politician and that nobody could ever find a reason to think your politics tyrannical. People think that of you. Again, I'm not a fan of shooting people because you disagree with them or because they vote differently than you. But if folks are going to get shot for their politics then the crazy has to be bipartisan. If we're going to have crazy mother fuckers targeting folks, then we need crazy mother fuckers on both sides of the isle. Seems if we’re going to be this divided of a country then both sides should suffer the consequences of a system that seems to celebrate and reward brain dead dumb dumbs who take in only inflammatory propaganda from dubious sources. What can I say, I guess I've always been a centrist at heart. 

The footage of the shooting was pretty boring, mostly consisting of empty platitudes about toning down the rhetoric. The empty platitudes on toning down rhetoric lasted all of three minutes before devolving into hyperbolic cries for the other side to be tried for incitement and charged with treason. Other than that, there was a lot of shaky-cam footage of a baseball field. Know what wasn’t boring though, and that’s the TOS episode A Taste Of Armageddon. It was pretty solid. Let’s go. 
A few good episodes in a row. Now we're cooking with Dilithium. (Or now we're cooking with anti-matter and it goes through Dilithium? I have to say I don't actually know how the tech actually works) 


Recap:

The Enterprise is on a diplomatic mission. When they get to the planet they’re told to stay the hell away. That’s weird. The diplomat in charge tells them to ignore the warning and proceed to orbit. Kirk goes down to check it out. Turns out at, despite being highly advanced, the planet wanted them away because they’ve been engaged in a war for over five hundred years. 

Turns out they use computers to simulate war. They’ve come to an agreement where they only have to theorize an attack. When they do both they and their enemy vaporize the real people who were theoretically killed. This includes the Enterprise which Kirk does not like and most the episode is him trying to stop this practice. 

He of course does. He destroys the computer and this makes the folks think that if they don’t reach out with some real world diplomacy then the theoretical attacks are going to start becoming very real. 

Good Trek / Bad Trek?

An emphatic good Trek! This is everything great about Star Trek. I was watching this and it wasn’t until half way through that I remembered when this first aired. 1967. Even though that was the “Summer of Love,” 1967 was also when America was in the middle of draft fever. This wasn’t an episode about how awful reporting to a disintegration chamber was because a computer told you to, it was an episode about the draft. It was a good episode. Looked at in historical context, it’s just awesome. 

I’ll admit sometimes the analogy is a little too on the nose and a lot heavy handed, but still, it works. I’d be curious the cultural impact of it at the time. I don’t think a lot of folks were watching Star Trek then, but those that were must've been blown the fuck away by this episode. I know there was a lot of shit going on where people were protesting and whatnot. Rock music had only been political for like six months. And then a low-rated primetime TV show up said “fuck you” to the US government.

"Hey hey, First Councilman Anan 7, how many kids did you order to the disintegration chambers today!"

Couple qualms, but nothing major. Boy does this episode ever make diplomats look like pieces of shit. Scotty has a weird hatred of them. It’s justified in the episode because this particular one is a real jackass. Still, it’s weird that in an episode about making peace they make the folks who are tasked with making peace to be these dumb villains. 
This person looks a little blasé about the whole "about to enter the eternal void thing"

You can also tell that this was in a different era for war. Where even a civilized war involved just dropping bomb after bomb in the middle of a city. No smart bombs here. Carpet-bombing was still in the gentlemen’s war quiver. That’s how shit was done in the sixties. 
Disintegration chamber, getting a taste of its own medicine

The plot gets in the way of the metaphor a bit by the end. But it doesn’t really matter that Kirk risks two planets to save his ship, everything that happens towards the end is overshadowed by the first half. I mean that in a good way. Especially since the diplomat tries to redeem himself at the end. Staying on the planet in the hopes of helping the two sides come to an agreement. Though it should be said that he was so dumb throughout most the episode that I think there’s a good chance both sides completely destroy each other within a couple of days. 

Better Trek?

I was going to recommend Star Trek 6. It’s my favorite Trek movie and it’s also about diplomacy and it mirrors a real conflict. That one a stand in for the Cold War. Watch that one if you want. It’s great, but I think I’d be better off recommending a completely unrelated episode and that’s DS9’s The Visitor. 
FYI Avery Brooks, if anything ever happens to my dad, you're on deck

It’s common in movies and on TV to give a relationship meaning because it’s strained. That’s particularly common when showing fathers and sons. The only way you can get an audience invested in their relationship is if they start out hating each other, or the father is absent and looking for redemption, or has wronged the son in some way and has now changed. Sometimes it’s done well. Sometimes it’s cheap and emotionally manipulative. What’s harder though is making a real relationship between a good dad and a teenage son who both love each other, but have issues from time to time, because that happens. The relationship between Jake and Ben Sisko is one of the best showings of a good father and son that I can think of. So, in celebration of Father’s Day, tomorrow watch Avery Brooks and Cirroc Lofton in this perfect hour of TV. I don’t want to give too much away if you haven’t seen it, but in it, Jake is forced to learn what his dad means to him growing up. Again, it’s absolutely perfect. I’ve seen it dozens of times and have never made it through without tearing up. 


So to both the amazing Avery Brooks, and to the amazing David Sokol, I say happy Father’s Day. And to Paul Ryan, I want to reiterate I don’t want you to get shot. I will probably laugh if/when you do though. 

Monday, June 12, 2017

Ready To Feel Old? Here's What The Cast Of 'Cocoon' Looks Like Now!

It’s hard to believe that cultural phenomenon Cocoon came out in 1985. Over thirty years ago! Whether you were old enough (and lucky enough) to see in the theaters or it was the only VHS that was lying around your grandparents house while your parents stashed you there for the weekend so they could “get some goddamn peace and quiet for once in their goddamn lives,” I think we can all remember the massive cultural impact that the movie Cocoon had. As us Cocooniacs get ready to celebrate the Cocoonaversary, let’s take a look at what the cast is up to now!

Brian Dennehy 



One of America’s most beloved character actors still working today. Dennehy is the kind of actor, who every time he shows up has you saying “oh shit, it’s that guy.” You can currently see Dennehy in TV’s The Blacklist in addition to a number of other upcoming roles on the big and small screens. 

Maureen Stapleton



The scene in which Maureen Stapleton’s Mary shows her newfound Cocoon youth and climbs a tree with her grandson is as iconic as the movie itself. Unfortunately, Stapleton is no longer climbing trees as she passed away in 2006!

Gwen Verdon



I don’t think I was alone as cherishing the life Gwen Verdon brought to the role of Bess McCarthy. Unfortunately, there are no magic alien “cocoons” in real life and she is now dead.

Herta Ware



I hope you didn’t use up all your heartbreak watching Herta Ware’s dementia suffering Rose Lefkowitz because Ware passed away in real life in August 2005. 

Jack Gilford 



One of the most touching relationships in Cocoon was between Jack Gilford’s Bernie Lefkowitz and his wife Rose. Bernie refused to use the healing power of the cocoon, instead of trying to help his ailing wife. It was beautiful and touching and heart-wrenching and Gilford passed away way back in 1990. 

Clint Howard



Clint Howard, younger brother of Ron Howard has been steadily working his entire life. Chances are you’ve seen him in any number of roles throughout the years. Though finding steady work as an actor now at some point between now and Stardate 1512.2 Howard will take the form of a space baby and travel the cosmos as Balok. He will then spend his days testing and exchanging ideas with folks he meets along the way in his starship. Safe travels, Mr. Howard/Balok!

Jessica Tandy



Her relationship with her husband gave the film some real emotional depth. Unfortunately, both her and her onscreen husband, played by longtime onscreen partner Hume Cronyn have since passed. Which brings us to…

Hume Cronyn



See above…

Wilford Brimley


Wilford Brimley was in Cocoon, and he’s still around. I know! I was surprised too. But I guess he was in something called “Timber the Treasure Dog” just last year. I’ll be damned. I triple checked but check back for updated version soon. 


Steve Guttenberg





Who could forget Steve Guttenberg’s iconic take as ship captain Jack Bonner. Don’t let the casket worry you, Steve “The Gute” Guttenberg is still very much alive, but prefers to sleep in a casket surrounded by dirt on account of a weird “sex thing.”