Wednesday, July 31, 2013

Proving Ground

**** (4 stars out of 5)
Plot threads begin to weave together. Hoshi and T'Pol are struggling to reassemble the computer maps from the shambles the crazed zealots left of the database. Victimized and floundering yet again, how will they ever stop the Xindi in time?

Glory be! Shran rides to the rescue. Partly to prove that the blue people can be a better friend to the pink people than those green people ever were. Meanwhile, flirting archly with Reed, Lieutenant Talas sets out to prove that blue people are hawwwt.

Fortunately for all, despite six months of our "heroes" making very little headway, the Xindi have made very little either. The Sloth Xindi secretly sabotaged the doomsday device, and, more importantly, Xindi seem to love TESTING the weapons on things more than actually using them already. 'It worked 8 out of 10 times, sir, and we're running out of moons.' 'Well, test it again! And bring me more kemacite and Tylenol!  I swear on my cheek pouches, if we don't get this right the humans will get suspicious one of these months and come after us!'

Andorians, boastful but very competent, have superior sensors to humans, and lead them to the "Proving Ground". It's the Xindi version of Bikini Atoll, which unfortunately has me imagining Xindi in bikinis. Their weapon can destroy moons, but the psychological scarring of an Insectoid in skimpies lasts forever.

Say... who knew Shran was so altruistic? Could he be after a WMD for some reason? Could he have an ulterior motive concealed in his black pleather sleeve? Or is that just another bottle of Andorian ale?

Tuesday, July 30, 2013

Chosen Realm

*** (3 stars out of 5)
The Triannon are pretty much Bajorans with Kazon tactics. Such as the organic explosives built into the blood of anyone willing to immolate themselves for their higher power.

These people consider anomaly disfigurement to be evidence of the touch of god, and are locked in a holy war with unholy heretics from their own race who have a slightly different face tattoo and a slightly different doctrine. Namely that the builders of the Death-Spheres created the Expanse in 9 days instead of 10.

For talking science out of turn, Captain Archer loses all his internet privileges and is forced to choose a hostage to die. He chooses himself. The Captain volunteers to have his molecules painlessly disassembled... he just fails to mention that his Vulcan "executioner" is going to assemble them again afterward.

It is perhaps appropriate that Phlox defeats an armed guard by releasing his bat. Because, as you know, religious zealots are a superstitious and cowardly lot.

So Let That Be Your Last Battlefield! Heh. BAT-tlefield.

Because I got out of the house for once and spent Winter 2003 & 2004 rehearsing for a stage production of A Funny Thing Happened On The Way To The Forum,  I missed "Chosen Realm" in first run... and re-run... and it ended up as the very last 'Ep of Ent' I ever saw. Also, I met my astonishing wife. So... there are compensations.

Monday, July 29, 2013

Carpenter Street

**** (4 stars out of 5)

Welcome to Burgerland. Sorry, America. Detroit, 2004. Twitchy, paranoid America. Reptilian Xindi on an unsanctioned side project went back in time 150 years and 90 light years. They hired a sketchy Blood Bank worker called Loomis to kidnap eight people (one of each blood type) for their bioweapon research. Archer and T'Pol must put a stop to it. With robbery, stealing, and Grand Theft Auto. Yes, the video game.

So, worryingly, the Xindi's mysterious Earth-hating backer has time travel ability, which is fine as long as Archer has a mysterious time-travelling backer, too. The ubiquitous Daniels tells Archer that his timeline never included conflict between humanity and Xindi. Which is kind of what the audience had been saying. Except they were saying "Why does a prequel want to introduce a plot cul de sac like the Xindi in the first place?" Or words to that effect.

Something changed about fossil fuel scarcity in 2061. Probably that it went from "scarce" to "run out completely forever".

It's not about having the moral high ground. As T'Pol puts it: "You've been abducting people for money and you're questioning our honesty?" No, this season it's about tactical high ground. Argue about who's right when your foes are dead. Heroism!

"Carpenter Street" is better than they say. First, because of Leland Orser. This guy's great. He's not playing a laudable character. He's playing a disgusting ghoul as a matter of fact. But he's a riveting performer. And I'm in total agreement with the words of one of Loomis' kidnap victims, just as true in 2004 as it it today: "I don't wanna miss Conan."

Sunday, July 28, 2013

Similitude

***** (5 stars out of 5)
When Tucker is critically wounded, only a neural tissue transplant from himself could cure him. Can't be done, right? Wrong! It turns out Phlox can give us another Trip. It's a One Time Only magic space fantasy, but easy as peasy. Livin' greasy.

Lyssarrian Larvae are mimetic simbiots. If you give a taste of DNA to this little jellfish, it will become a copy, only with a mere 15 day lifespan. A being created solely to save the life of his donor. Right or wrong, (and since it's illegal and immoral, mostly wrong) morality is tossed aside by Archer to save his friend's life and thus, the mission, and thus, all life on Earth.

The replicant is named Sim and raised by Phlox, with an astonishing mind and a strong sense of Trip's memories.  He grows to love his fellow crew, (with a particular emphasis on one non-fellow), and he saves the ship from a magnetic rust storm with flair. But when it comes down to it, he'd rather live out his last week than die for the original. But will he force the others to murder him, or will he step up?

"Similitude" was the first written contribution Manny Coto made to Star Trek, and he's kind of my hero. Mr. Coto took the best approach I can imagine to writing for a show: he watched every previous Enterprise episode. Twice. Both his respect for the source material and an ability to raise the stakes brings one of the series' finest hours.

Saturday, July 27, 2013

North Star

**** (4 stars out of 5)
"North Star" is Cowboys and Aliens, only unlike the movie, it's good. It's no Firefly, but then, what is?

The Delphic Expanse-dwelling Skagarans took a page from the Briori of the Delta Quadrant, travelling vast distances to capture primitive pre-spaceflight Americans for (what cannot possibly be cheap) slave labour. Building an Old West replica town, for example! Well, probably that was after brave, butchering Cooper Smith overthrew their cruel Skag overlords and set humans up in their rightful place as... cruel overlords!

Actually, firm but fair Sheriff "Morshower" MacReady is just doing his job, maintaining the laws against altering fashion, architecture, and lingo even one solitary smidgen over the centuries... but still somehow ripe for someone to mosey on by and tell him he can totally ease off on the racism while still maintaining the peace. His choice in deputies, however...

Well, a classic gunfight with scum-suckin' Skag-lynchin' Deputy Benning and his boys goes to show... lasers beat lead every time!

Archer's orbital field trip for schoolmarm Bethany (along with her brief encounter with Phlox's Medicinal Tube-Top... for medicinal purposes, of course) encourages her efforts to raise the tone for both the humans and the Skagaran kids she teaches illegally (and is slightly related to). The good captain dangles the promise of egalitarian, high-minded Starfleet coming back for them all one day, and hoping that when they do they've learned how to get along. Or else.

Actually, I don't think there was an "or else". We gotta save our ammo for killin' Xindi.

Friday, July 26, 2013

Twilight

**** (4 stars out of 5)
Captain Archer comes down with a case of 'Memento' Disorder.  He can't form new long-term memories and 12 years have gone by with nothing he can recall to show for it. Like Star Trek itself? Oh, too soon?

T'Pol has been explaining a longer and longer version of his history every few hours. Patience, thy name is Vulcan Nurse! And the telling gets more tragic all the time, too. First, the Xindi mission under her command was a complete failure. The entire Earth was destroyed, then any place humans might have ever sat on. Mars. Alpha Centauri. Vega Colony. She doesn't mention Terra Nova but frankly who would care either way?

There are 6000 humans left and counting down. They live, eggs-in-one-basket style, on Ceti Alpha V. Yeah, the one with horrible brain-eating earwigs. Humans can't catch a break! We are treated to superb action sequences including the Earth's big kaboom, the little kabooms of humanity's rag-tag fugitive fleet, and a lone Reptilian Xindi stabbed by a Zefram Cochrane statue. Eat it, kaiju!

In the future, Trip commands Enterprise, Reed commands Intrepid, and Hoshi commands one new rank pin and one new haircut! And, speaking of new haircuts, Phlox devoted a decade to the cure... but on the bright side it's RETROACTIVE. Once eradicated, Archer's brain bugs actually disappear out of old photographs as per the McFly Corollary.

"Twilight" is inevitably a hundred times better than its vampire namesake. I can run you the list of Trek Temporal Reset Buttons, but what the hell. I love this genre and I love these characters! Although T'Pol lives with Archer, and presumably cuts his hair, it is left rather ambiguous whether they have... slathered each other with decontamination gel! So to speak. I certainly hope she got SOME perks out of the decade that never was.

Thursday, July 25, 2013

The Shipment

*** (3 stars out of 5)
"The Shipment" is a story about a shipment. Surprised? Of course not.

Xindi Sloth-Men are making kemacite for the super-weapon. Yes, Sloth-Men. One of the Seven Deadly Tree-Bears. As one might imagine, it's slow going. You'd think you'd want the industrious Xindi insects on these high-rush manufacturing jobs! But maybe that's racist. Maybe Xindi insectoids fart their days away eating pizza and playing video games. Maybe the Sloth-Men are fast, fast, fast and never eat bamboo while dangling upside down in a tree. Although they DO call themselves Arboreals. (Mmm... bamboo.)

Captain Archer's life has turned into grabbing tired, portly, peripherally involved blue-collar workers in their homes and berating them about the seven million dead and why are they always building Death Stars?!

Xindi Reptile guns have slugs for batteries. You might say TURBO charged. Heh. (Because of the snail movie.) And when one of the slug-guns overloads whie Trip is poking it with a stick, he has to race to get it into a transporter for disposal. In his mad dash, he knocks an extra over so hard it looks like that guy's not getting up ever again. Is it ironic if the friendly-fire casualties of the Season of Blind Rage include "Body-Checked To Death"?

I was fascinated to learn more Xindi history. There were SIX Xindi races once, before the century-long war that the Bugs and Lizards brought to an end by cracking their whole planet like an egg. That's why there aren't any Avians anymore. Here's an artist's rendering of what they'd look like if there were. And if they had a tricorder.

Wednesday, July 24, 2013

Exile

** (2 stars out of 5)
Tonight, we'll be watching Disney's, uh, UPN's Hoshi and the Beast.

With a strong molester vibe, and an acknowledgement from everyone that it's a very unreasonable request, Creepy Stalker with a face made of lobsters asks for Hoshi Sato to remain behind with him in his creepy empty mansion on his creepy empty planet. Please ignore the graves of my last duchess!

I'm left wondering why Gung-Ho Tough-As-Nails Step-On-Their-Necks-And-Ask-Questions-Later-at-Gunpoint-if-There's-Time Season Three Captain Archer doesn't FORCE the ancient telepathic "Exile" to travel with them. Tarquin can leer at Hoshi's mind just as well with 90 other people around to make sure it doesn't turn any uglier, and they don't have to come back later. Granted, they would have found out in the first few minutes that he outclasses them. And, further, why does he want to live alone when Enterprise could presumably take him anywhere else? Off the top of my head, Betazoid singles bar?No, no, by all means, stay inside alone forever and listen to the rats chewing the insulation in your brain.

I have very little patience for gothic mansions and brooding, but over in the B-Story I've got a bit of an SFX hard-on for the scene where Archer and Tucker desperately shoot down their own malfunctioning shuttle and it does not QUITE fall on them. Does gravity work like that? I have my doubts. Still, very cool to look at!

The previously encountered world-sized sphere that screws with space is not unique. There are over 50 of them. Take that, Palpatine! For a species that has no home and can't co-operate, the Xindi seem to have little in the way of BUDGET restrictions. Where DO they get these wonderful toys?

Tuesday, July 23, 2013

Impulse

**** (4 stars out of 5)
Trellium-D is great for insulating a starship against the spatial anomalies of the Expanse, but the stuff is bad for Vulcans in every way. I'm not suggesting humans could use it as a sandwich spread, but it's murder on the space elves. Along the road to an ugly, ugly death is emotional collapse, neurological damage, slight zombism, irreversible neurological damage, moderate to severe zombism, and death. It's exactly like lead paint... only blue.

The crew of the Vulcan ship Seleya, caught between a lot of rocks and a lot of hard places, started slopping trellium around and soon got all rotting and bite-y. Synchronized dance numbers by the king of pop were not forthcoming. The tables are turned from "Extinction"... as Archer must contend with a feral T'Pol, and also 147 incurable super-strong Romulan-like monsters. And so I ask again: why wasn't this season the start of the long-anticipated and canonical Romulan War? Very effective horror story provided you're not prone to seizures from strobing lights and fog machines. And, because the genre has flipped totally on its head since last week, Phlox can't simply drop an instant cure in anyone's lap. He can't even ameliorate anyone's suffering. The kindest thing to do, somehow, is beat the victims to death and blow up their ship. Like heroes.

I remember scratching my head during "Impulse" and wondering what prompted them to create an action-packed epilepsy-inducing Vulcan zombie thriller video before I realized I answered my own question. This is what we get now. It's the decade of the living dead!

Monday, July 22, 2013

Rajiin

*** (3 stars out of 5)
The Xindi Conspirators bicker on, with their pet Oppenheimer Degra expressing some mild doubts about the implications of his planet-destroying kill-a-majig. The Repto-Xindi go to plan 'B'... for "boobs".

Still itchy and flaky from Salamander Day, Archer the Grouch turns down delicious Xanthan marmot to find slimy chemist B'Rat Ud and learn to synthesize insulating trellium-D in exchange for an array of exotic condiments from the far east... side of the cargo bay. Did you follow any of that? Boils down to an excuse to browse a sleazy market and ogle harem girls.

Utani serpent women? Bored-looking Nuvian concubines? No sex, please, we're Earthers. Rajiin of Oran'taku is rescued from a hideous pimp with lungs for brains. Not a euphemism, I think the man breathes through his forehead. You could probably kill him with the gift of a beer hat.

Yay, Free Hooker! Pretty Woman sashays her way Mata Hari-style through the command structure on a vital mission to feel up Archer, Hoshi, T'Pol... basically anyone who might improve the ratings... uh, scan. "Rajiin" is some sort of living scanner- who turns all her findings over to the Snake-Men cooking up viruses. Bored with sapphic displays, she goes on an unmotivated shooting spree, as you do when you work for Xindi.

Speak of the devils and they shall appear, in their insect skin armour borrowed from the Remans of Nemesis, and wielding guns that fire acid snot and little darts of light. Pray you get hit by the snot! Reptile Xindi can't be captured alive: they are surgically enhanced with "suicide glands". Why didn't they offer the use of those glands to the audience during Star Trek Nemesis? And, continuing in my single biggest complaint of the season, probably- if you're going to use catspaws and hired goons and intermediaries ANYWAY why not have the Big Bad be the Romulans? You know you want to.

Sunday, July 21, 2013

Extinction

** (2 stars out of 5)

Captain Archer, Malcolm, and Hoshi are mutated into savage cave-creatures with blue teeth. I don't mean they have Bluetooth capability, I mean their dental work matches their uniforms. When they chow down on maggot-filled eggs with those azure chompers, it's none too appealing. They take T'Pol as their (hostage? bride? brunch?) and roam the jungle looking for Urquat. Not a euphemism.

The Loque'eque (pronounced Lo-KEK with extra hork) devised a virus to save themselves from extinction by turning everyone who catches it into Loque'eque. How they managed this before inventing utensils or breath mints is quite a puzzle. The local aliens (I didn't get their name because the writers are less interested than you or I) are so desperate for a cure that they have taken to burning alive anyone who starts to grow cheek bladders.

Perhaps this was an over-reaction, since the cure turns out to be something Phlox can bang out on his lunch break! Finally, despite this mad ordeal, Captain Archer actually SAVES some of the virus on moral grounds! In the words of Hank Hill: "I'm tryin' to stop an Outbreak and you're driving the Monkey to the Airport!"

"Extinction" offers little to elevate it above the last time everyone turned into horny salamanders. Director LeVar Burton was reportedly ashamed of it. The thing is, everybody appears to be trying really, REALLY hard. I can't give one star to great make-up and great performances.

Saturday, July 20, 2013

Anomaly

*** (3 stars out of 5)
In keeping with the theme where our heroes are actually the villains, anomalies are turning go into stop, up into down, and cats into dogs. The part of beagle Porthos will now be played by a capybara.

In the co-ed locker room, Archer addresses his tactical instructions to the MACOs boobs, which nod along diligently. Boarded by pirates, Enterprise racks up its first casualty when they lose one of their Crewman Fullers. Crew lady Fuller is probably fine. Boobs and all.

Orgoth the Osaarian is a killer jerk thief with a face twisted by spatial anomalies. He entered the Expanse as a simple trader, couldn't get back out, and turned to crime after being attacked by all the other trapped, tormented victims. So Archer throws him into an airlock and gives him 40 seconds WOO (with out oxygen) to tell him where to find some Xindi. Space water boarding is now acceptable! Just as long as you're sure you're the good guys.

Pitched battle and frenzied keyboarding nets them 90% of a stolen Xindi database. 88% of it is probably religious gibberish, porn, or pictures of kittehs, but if there's a page or two on Death Stars that might be good. Having based your war on terror entirely on anonymous hearsay, if might be nice to get some facts eventually.

"Anomaly" was written initially to feature Orion pirates, which would have been WAY better! From my point of view, they used entirely too many foreheads of the week and entirely too few familiar faces in a series set BY DESIGN in what will one day be the Federation's back yard. Provided you can even make a Federation out of this morally grey, jingoistic mess.

Friday, July 19, 2013

The Xindi

*** (3 stars out of 5)
A Board of Shadowy Figures, each weirder than the last, is gunning for Enterprise. There's the obligatory guys with forehead appliances, the Sloths, the Shrieking Eels, the Geonosians from Star Wars Episode II: Attack of the Clones, and the Jem'Hadar dressed in Reman cast-offs. All of them are named the Xindi. This will not be at all confusing.

Though our plucky human band of wannabe killers have made no progress finding the bad guys in a month and a half, they have had time to not get cozy with their new MACOs: a crack squadron of Starship Troopers trained to make Malcolm Reed and his security team look like big, whiny, redundant, baby wussies.

Speaking of the Redshirts in Grey, civilian life appeals to T'Pol's burgeoning sense of the sartorial. As we'll see, she has a different coloured catsuit for every day of the week! They should come in handy as she works tirelessly to seduce Trip Tucker out of his depression. Nothing says "Sorry your sister exploded" like naked massages!

Stomping on the first guy who will admit to being Xindi, Archer and his people wade through sewage, sickness, space madness and sniping. The sickly monster who runs the Trellium-D Slave Mine should have opened a SALVE mine. I just think he looks like he could use some salve.

"The Xindi", for good or ill, has a rocking new guitar line in the theme song, and very rightly restored the Star Trek name to the titles, but the series continued to hemorrhage viewers. They gave the formula a hard shake by ramping up the sex and violence. And this being American television, mainly the violence. "Topless" T'Pol notwithstanding. Not eating cheeseburgers, either.

Thursday, July 18, 2013

The Expanse

**** (4 stars out of 5)
And everything was getting so boring, too! Thankfully, here comes the worst, most exciting thing our heroes have ever seen. A suicide bomber aboard an economy-sized Death Star blasts an awesome mile-wide trench from the bottom tip of Florida to the sunny shores of Venezuela. Cuba now comes in two convenient sections. Nobody is thanking the cowardly attacker for livening up the Caribbean... what with the seven million senseless deaths. At least he only wrote "I". In Fantastic Four comics, the invader Terminus once signed his entire name across the USA. Or, as you'll recall, Chairface Chippendale got partway into signing the moon with a laser, and for a year or so the lunar surface read "CHA".

Anyway, the mainly American crew of Enterprise are exceedingly pissed off and they don't much care whose necks they have to step on to get revenge. Archer brushes that pesky vengeance-seeking Klingon Duras aside on the way back home to pick up a thousand guns and bombs, and kills him for good measure on the way back to war. Screw 'em! You're either with us, or against us!

Based on the dodgy word of the Evil Shadowy Figure From the Future, the culprit was a Xindi: mysterious aliens who believe Earth will destroy them if they don't shoot first. The Xindi might be from the Delphic Expanse, but they block their Spacebook pages and screen their calls, so another two months are spent going there. "The Expanse" is avoided by anyone with any sense. It's full of violent lunatics and weird goings-on. The TV programs are pretty terrible there, the food has too much cholesterol, and every day is more likely to be Event Horizon than Silent Running.

There are those, my BFF included, for whom Season 3 AKA "All Xindi, All The Time" was really the last straw. And I can't say I blame them, except every day and every night when I want to be watching new Star Trek episodes. Still, even in my seething, impotent rage I can totally see their point of view. Emmy nominated effects and music can't win back an intelligent family audience when the addled, desperate showrunners double down on 18 year old boys and sad old die-hards.

Wednesday, July 17, 2013

Bounty

*** (3 stars out of 5)
Because Archer is an innocent man who doesn't get imprisoned enough, here's Archer imprisoned yet again! Today's captor is Skalaar, and he is a welcome sight to this original series fan! Somehow, even though Archer's escape was rather easily achieved with bribes, Skalaar claims the human is the only one who's ever escaped from Rura Penthe. That's probably just the sort of sweeping, highly unlikely statement you make all the time if you're from a species that loves arguing. Arguing and wallowing in mud and your own crapulence.

Skalaar used to be a simple merchant. He's disGRUNTled because the Klingons impounded his spaceship. So Gruntle Piggle turned to the only sensible growth industry: Bounty Hunting. Pig the Bounty Hunter! Rooting out scum from dawn to tusk. Nobody knows the truffles he's seen!

Speaking of hams, T'Pol gets a virus that mimics pon farr. Symptoms include rubbing up on embarrassed Dr. Phlox and racing about in her underpants screaming in Vulcan and begging for a bacon double cheeseburger. I know, I know, I'm the guy who loves nudity, but A) there isn't any and B) this is pretty stupid. And just when I was getting into the A story, they have Captain Archer escape a Klingon ship in an escape pod, which we were just told (in 'Sleeping Dogs') Klingon ships of this era DON'T HAVE. Discontinuity makes me itchy- pass me the oinkment.

"Bounty": the quicker pigger upper! I hadn't realized how much I was looking forward to seeing the Tellarites again, or ANYTHING from the familiar Star Trek canon. The novels had always made effective use of the 'Journey To Babel' race of Hog-Men with the big chip on their hooves. I'm just a little baffled by the five digits on his hands instead of three, and that none of them have the stunning red nail polish so in vogue in the 2260's. And, no, I don't find him a BOAR.

Tuesday, July 16, 2013

First Flight

*** (3 stars out of 5)
How do I never remember that Trip is short for "Triple"... as in the third Charles Tucker?

This and other astounding secrets are revealed in a flashback story from 2143. Ten years ago, Jon Archer was the second man to break the Warp 2 barrier. The first was his frenemy A.G. Robinson.
(The Reggie to his Archie, where Trip equals Jughead.)

Jon and A.G. and the rest of the NX space program are men. Manly men. Rough and tumble, hard drinking, hard farting men. Men who watch sports in bars and express their feelings with punching and are exclusively pink-skinned and did I mention they all have penises?

Anyway, they do. Commodore Forrest came along to shout "Pyle!!!" whenever his troupe of chortling man-boys screw up and send him more paperwork, speeding tickets, and disapproving Vulcan glowers.

Thief, cowboy, duelist, kung fu master, and pretty baby, A.G. blasted his red-white-and-blue behind across subspace from Earth to Jupiter and then back again (somehow just as quickly?) without the expensive prototype he rode hard until it exploded a lot. That's one amazing warp-speed capable escape pod never seen before or since! Hot diggety daffodil!

But the rocket jockey will not live to miss the Earth so much or miss his wife. It may be lonely out in space but he won't have to worry about that. Someone else will need to take NX-02 out and do some donuts on the Vulcan's lawns or smash Klingon mailboxes and junk. It all goes to show... something. The Right Stuff, I guess.

"First Flight" is linked thematically and by the time of its release with the real-world deaths of the crew of shuttle Columbia, and the death of Matt Jefferies. Mr. Jefferies was production crew on the original Star Trek, which named its maintenance shafts "Jefferies Tubes" for him. Most significantly, he designed the starships and phasers of the 2260's and of particular note: the classic starship Enterprise.

Monday, July 15, 2013

Regeneration

**** (4 stars out of 5)
Well, everybody's heard about the Berg. The Berg, Berg, Berg, well, the Berg is the Werg. Don't you know about the Berg? Everybody's talking about the Berg!

Taking a page from 'The Thing From Another World', be-overalled human archeologists dig up some frozen mechanical men in the Arctic. They've been chilling there since 2063 or, if you prefer, the movie First Contact. They turn out to be less dead than anyone who hasn't seen a horror film might think. Bullets happen too late to stop the snowball of bad that snatches up anything it finds.

Malcolm Reed offers an opinion I heartily share: "I don't have a problem with [technology]... so long as it stays outside of my skin."

Phlox has met Bynars in the Beta Magellan system, and seen the birth ritual where the babies receive their parietal lobe synaptic processor. He sees nothing INNATELY evil in implanted technology. He doesn't even feel the need to isolate the Borgified. That approach, sadly, was too optimistic. Phlox gets it in the neck.

Archer reviews Cochrane's tall tales. Zefram tried to warn a Princeton graduating class about the possible dangers of cybernetic technology, namely the enslavement of the hive mind. Everyone assumed he was drunk, and he took it all back years later, but it's come back to bite them. Unless Phlox can keep his wits and Reed can deploy his boom-sticks.

"Regeneration" restores much of the creep factor to the Borg without ever naming them. It's a splendid final outing and first outing and it means I keep Enterprise in my collection even when we fight. Keep your eyephones outside your eyes.

Sunday, July 14, 2013

Cogenitor

**** (4 stars out of 5)
At last- a friendly face! The technologically advanced and genial Vissians welcome Captain Archer. Their Captain Drennik exudes none of the menace of his identical cousin Tomalak, though he shares certain similarities with former Narn arms dealer G'Kar. It seems this first contact was essential in gaining Enterprise some shiny new photonic torpedoes! Pa-chew!

But words can be weapons as well. While Reed is putting his patented moves (like Jagger's: old and tired) on the Vissian lady with the nice torpedoes, Trip sees a wrong that needs righting and ruins some poor bastard's life.

Well, a poor soul, neither male nor female. Vissians are like the Tenctonese in that regard: it takes three to tango. Unlike the good folks on Alien Nation, however, we see the affluent male and female couple trying to conceive, and the third gender cogenitor who makes it all possible. A tiny minority, essential to the very fabric of life, but kept nameless, uneducated, and in the back of a closet. Treated with no more respect or dignity than a dildo in a drab jumpsuit.

Much as the primarily human audience does, Trip finds this state of affairs deeply uncool. And yet his efforts to set things right could not have failed more tragically if this were a teen drama on the WB.

"Cogenitor", like Trek classics of yore, got me passionately WONDERING things! In the words of Q: "Shall we discuss your rapid progress?" The Vissians were a thousand years between breaking warp and diving into suns. We know humans will achieve this in only 200. Is there a reason humans are doing better, faster, or are they simply en route to Professor Galen's "dull and bloated empire"?
Is it informative that Archer casually compares Vissia to Singapore?
Trip seems to be pushing for reasonable, just, and equal treatment. But it's the pushing itself that costs the cogenitor's life.  I'd rather blame the Vissians than Trip, myself. If a DAY of someone being NICE to them is enough to send one over the edge, I'm surprised they have any left at all.
But then again, the Cogenitor didn't ask for a new belief system. The Prime Directive seems very, VERY necessary today, not just that arbitrary suggestion Captain Kirk always stepped over whenever he knew best. The scene between remorseful Tucker and enraged Archer is always painful viewing. It's a sobering story, surprisingly effective.

Saturday, July 13, 2013

The Breach

*** (3 stars out of 5)
Visit scenic Xantoras, planet of Spelunking and Racism!

A still-in-progress government coup forces all off-worlders to flee. Three Denobulans need to be found quickly and bundled into duffle bags or their optimism and love of collecting doozer sticks down in Fraggle Rock is going to earn them the same fate as Phlox's tribbles. See, Dr. Phlox has a batch of the illicit puffballs, saved from the maws of their natural predator lizards... and tossed into the maws of Phlox's medical goblins.

When Trip claims the last cave he was in had handrails and a gift shop, does he mean the cave in "Strange New World"? He WAS hallucinating badly. Maybe that's how he remembers it. He might be disappointed to discover his souvenir Archer IV snow globe is actually just a handful of bark.

Denobulans and Antarans had bitter wars, none more recently than 300 years ago, but Antaran Hudak (of the Etherian Hordaks?) is still unwilling to be treated by a guy like Phlox. And despite Archer's orders, Phlox is not Starfleet and he never took the Hippocratic Oath. "The will of the patient is the cornerstone of Denobulan Medical Ethics."

The cornerstone of a Denobulan's bigoted Grandma was that she was THERE three centuries ago, and passed her hates and terrors, legitimate and otherwise, to one of Phlox's sons. Despite his efforts to promote tolerance, Phlox knows all about bad blood.

Denobulans may be able to shimmy up sheer cliffs like Spider-Man, but overcoming "The Breach" is even easier than "Jetrel" made it look! Inspired performances, tolerable writing, that's Enterprise for you.

Friday, July 12, 2013

Horizon

**** (4 stars out of 5)
Trip invites reluctant T'Pol to see the entire Frankenstein film canon. Not including (for some crazy reason) Young Frankenstein. She would rather hear a dramatic reading of Mary Shelley's book, but Mr. Tucker isn't one for paper DVDs. Captain Archer makes movie night mandatory, then he makes it "a date", and finally a bet. If she doesn't like it she doesn't have to go anymore. I have the same deal with my wife, but then again, we both LIKE Young Frankenstein.

Pressed for her opinion, T'Pol overlooks the many medical inaccuracies, declares Frankenstein's creation "interesting", and says she's looking forward to Bride of Frankenstein. Hard to believe, I know, but making T'Pol a film critic finally made it possible for me to start to like her. She's even eating popcorn with her hands, something she previously claimed Vulcans do not do. Either this is a symptom of her meld-gone-wrong, or she's degenerating into some sort of slovenly human.

Meanwhile, Travis gets the worst news of his life. His dad has died. His brother Paul inherited the captaincy of the Horizon. The creaking old ship was built back in 2103, autographed by Zefram Cochrane himself, and it hauls 30,000 tonnes at a top speed of warp 2. Hauls what? Cube-shaped genetically engineered pigs, if the movie Space Truckers is any indication. So at least Mr. Mayweather Sr. went to heaven with a mouthful of bacon!

Enterprise has travelled 150 light years, seen 22 inhabited worlds, and done its best to fulfill all of Travis' childhood dreams... but he had to leave his family behind.

Every starship has a gravity-free "Sweet Spot" and even the slumpy-est of TV seasons has one, too. We're floating towards the sweet spot now, I think. Those few, lonely stories that keep me from giving up on this troubled series. I like the way the crew hangs out together, growing closer in little ways, but mainly getting on each other's nerves. Like a family! The fatherly support Archer offers Travis is actually rather touching. Travis is still a blank slate, but maybe that sometimes makes it easier to put yourself in his shoes. Sometimes.

"Horizon" even has a cameo appearance by the book on Chicago Gangs that mangled the culture on Sigma Iota II. And, hey, I don't often comment on music, but this score was pretty great.  I also enjoyed Mark McKenzie's tunes in Star Trek Generations, Lilo and Stitch, and Spider-Man 2, among other things.

Thursday, July 11, 2013

Judgement

*** (3 stars out of 5)
Klingon Tribunals turn out to be a lot like Cardassian ones, just with more spears. On Narendra III (the world Captain Garett and the Enterprise-C will perish to protect) Captain Archer is on trial. Archer, an innocent man, arrested for a crime he didn't commit? Say it isn't so! What is this, FIVE TIMES in two years?

Archer's advocate Kolos is clearly General Martok's ancestor. In fact, a lot of things are familiar here. There's a judge Palpatine banging a sparking gavel-ball. There's even a Duras lying like a rug. Archer's about to go up the river for a group of "treasonous dogs" he saved from the wrath of the turtle-heads. They're not literally dogs.
(Though that would be cool.)

Kolos bemoans how his crumbling society is overwhelmed with babies growing up to be cowboys instead of teachers and biologists. Well, the pay is probably better.

Archer has a lot more luck with his day in court than O'Brien did... he gets a life sentence at Rura Penthe Death Mine and Casino. Surprise! Well, if he lives out the year it will be a surprise. For saying "honour, integrity, and conviction" too often, Kolos also gets 12 months on ice.

I guess I wouldn't be too flabbergasted if Warden W. Morgan Klingon was already employed, but the sadistic guards are somebody else. What an ice place to visit!

T'Pol's shady contacts and Reed's heroic bribery free Jon before you can say "interstellar incident and centuries of animosity". Nobody even got kicked in their big blue beans! But Kolos plans to serve his time. Which is to say die. Perhaps his heirs and Worf's predecessors can be legal partners on the syndicated version of Law and Honor. Or the light-hearted sitcom Fight Court!

"Judgement" was once chosen by Scott Bakula as his favourite episode. And why not? He's great in it as always. Mr. Hertzler is in fine fettle. It's an amazingly faithful re-creation of the middle third of Star Trek VI. Which is the good and the bad of it.

Wednesday, July 10, 2013

The Crossing

** (2 stars out of 5)
Ever wanted to get away from it all? Well, sign up now for the student body exchange program.  A haunted house spaceship is home to a non-corporeal.. (say, can you call them an army if they don't have arms?) swarm of will-o-the-wisps eager to resume the full squishiness of mortal life.

Are they Ux-mal? Calamarain? Free-roaming full-torso vaporous apparitions? They claim to be from subspace but they're not making any friends or asking for volunteers. They just want you for your bodies!

Once more retreating to the Catwalk seems like the thing to do. Why have built it, otherwise? And Phlox turns out to be immune, so he can set up the mechanical traps. If he knew anything about mechanisms. And as long as he doesn't cross the streams.

The bodiless creatures find the right host to hit on women awkwardly like some total creepy spazchow: Malcolm Reed, everybody! He gloms onto a lady in the turbolift, and accosts T'Pol in her under-roos.

I finally figured out who they are: Ghoulies. They'll get you in the end.

"The Crossing" is slightly superior to "The Lights of Zetar" and worse than "Power Play" on the Ghost Trope spectrum. Not even a token effort to help the ghosts? O.K., so they're probably all bad, but today it's just hook 'em, book 'em, cook 'em. Snore, bore, tomorrow there's more.

Tuesday, July 9, 2013

Canamar

** (2 stars out of 5)
When Star Trek does Con Air, does that make it... KHAN Air?

Previously, Archer and Mayweather were arrested by Grat. Then Archer and Reed were arrested by Gosis. Now Archer and Tucker are arrested by Enolians. Firstly, they seem to get arrested a LOT for innocent people! Second, if I was this crew, I don't know if I'd get into a shuttle with Archer anymore.

Trip's moss-jowled seat-mate in the slave galley won't shut up. Perhaps (since the writer would go on to greater things with popular crime drama Breaking Bad) he's here for cooking space-meth? He likes Cardassian food, so he must be out of his mind. And speaking of food, the usually genial Tucker doesn't bother to swap his famous catfish recipes... the guy would probably take it personally.

Kuroda Lor-ehn, identical cousin to the Enterprise-D's empathic murder-suicide Walter Pierce, hijacks the rocket just as our heroes are about to be released. As a former Colonial Marine, Lor-ehn plans to escape, but kill everyone else in a horrible fiery crash on planet Tamaal, so Archer must find a way to out-think the brutal maniac. Well, out-PUNCH. There's not a lot of thinking here.

It was on, then it wasn't. I was watching it, then I wasn't. And yet I own every single hour of this drab, uninspiring season! We never learn what makes the "Canamar" prison so bad that Lor-ehn would rather burn alive than go back there. It must be as awful as Kandahar and Canada put together.

Monday, July 8, 2013

Future Tense

*** (3 stars out of 5)
One hundred light years from Earth, a strange vessel is found with a lonely human mummy inside, and I don't mean a single mother. The wreck is very worn out, with no visible means of propulsion, and, no, I STILL don't mean a single mother. Could it be the missing man himself, Zefram Cochrane? Only a Star Trek fan can rule that out. And only a Doctor Who fan can answer Trip Tucker's next question: "How can a ship be bigger on the inside than the outside?"

Has Enterprise found a derelict TARDIS?!? Is someone actually reading my fan fiction? How will they afford the rights to Inspector Gadget AND Darkwing Duck? O.K., not exactly, but since the Suliban Cabal are lurking around, it probably does have something to do with time travel. Phlox confirms the dead pilot had Vulcan, Rigellian, and Terrellian lineage, far enough back that he shouldn't exist yet. So it's off for another peek inside runaway bestseller Daniel's Big Secret Book of Future Secrets. The ship is from the 31st Century, where humans and aliens doink one another without fear of government reprisal, wiretaps, and photoblogs.

You know who else loves things from the future? (Apart from me.) The Tholians! Remember them? No? Well, it makes no difference, you won't be seeing them, anyway.

Reed and Trip pop the trunk on the timeship and give themselves some hellacious deja vu with a repeating time loop. (Or what my favourite Gallivanting Gallifreyan used to call a chronic hysteresis.)

"I believe in embracing surprises," says Dr. Phlox, but there really aren't any to hug today. Enterprise gets into a fire-fight with the other circling vultures. The timeship disappears from whence it came without yielding any secrets at all and nobody goes home happy. The pickled pilot could have been anyone... from Matt Frewer to Lindsay Lohan.

"Future Tense" is shiny and effects-driven, but offered no real insight into the future. I still had no idea that in only two short years I could be watching BRAND SPANKING NEW episodes of Doctor Who. Was it worth losing Star Trek for? Only time will tell.

Sunday, July 7, 2013

Cease Fire

 **** (4 stars out of 5)
Paan Mokar, the Vulcan equivalent of Pluto, was settled by Andorians in the 2050's. The Andorians had barely named the place Weytahn and started Andor-forming with brave settlers like Shahn E. Appleseed when the Vulcans claimed it "first".

It's Class-D, nearly uninhabitable, fit only for ice bears and Canadians. Deserted by both sides- until the Andorians snuck back in a couple of weeks ago and re-ignited the war. For kicks!

Well, not just any Andorians. Our old blue buddy Shran and the Andorian Amazon Tarah. Suzie Plakson back in black. Well, blue. And a tall drink of water! (Don't drink the water.)

I'm not sure I like the sound of Phlox bombarding me with analeptic radiation. Mainly because it has the word 'anal' in it. As ever, your experience may vary.

Shran calls for a "Cease Fire", as he has come to regard "Pinkskin" Archer as impartial. It's tough for Andorians to compromise with Vulcans. "Camps" were mentioned, and not the holiday kind. Tarah argues that the Vulcans are a people without conscience, and it's easy to see her perspective. Not from her height, but still. The Vulcans we've seen lately seem like ass-hats of the first order, and Stodgy Soval will have to come down off his high horse to stop the green and blue bloodshed. And I'd have to stand on a high horse to kiss Suzie Plakson. (I meant to say my wife! ;)

And if you'd like to see the best wife in the world on stage, brave the sold-out crowds to the Walterdale Playhouse in Edmonton all this week for "Anything Goes". I saw it last night and it's De-Lovely!

Saturday, July 6, 2013

Stigma

**** (4 stars out of 5)
Vulcan society is very closed minded about telepathic "melders", a shunned minority who dare to share their feelings. A small minority of this small minority catch the gay disease... Pa'Nar Syndrome... and the doctors "logically" don't bother to save them.

T'Pol caught sick from her coerced meld last year, and Phlox tries to get her some damn medical attention without betraying her confidence.

Dr. Oratt (ancestor of DS9's Ambassador Lojal, though I can't imagine a woman of any species who would mate with such an odious person) and his puppets on the Council of Physicians are going to punish T'Pol. Punish her in the worst possible way the writers can imagine. The one they've threatened us with several times before. Brace yourself: they're threatening to remove her from the show. (Pause for terrified wails.)

Meanwhile, Feezal, the second of three Mrs. Phlox's, comes aboard to adjust the knob on Trip's microscope. So to speak. She's sniffing around... but that's how Denobulans greet each other. Sniffing each other's faces. And the females have the same wide, WIDE smiles as the males. Probably from all the Knobs they get to Adjust.

If Phlox is to be believed, even their polygamous marriages are not exclusive. Which certainly explains why Feezal took no pains whatsoever not to hit on Trip right in front of her husband. And why Phlox is eager to share if need be. Trip does NOT need be, if it's all the same.

"Stigma" has the great Captain Archer retort: "Where I come from, everything's open for debate."
Archer claims human bigotry died a century ago, which is quite a feat for the war-ravaged 2050's to have achieved, but that IS part of this utopia I accepted. Humans got better. And Vulcans will get better too, clearly. Still, for a message story about sexual hang-ups, I didn't see any gays around, but I still have high hopes that they didn't all die in World War III. Or, as sometimes seems just as likely, from people not giving a damn.

Friday, July 5, 2013

Dawn

** (2 stars out of 5)
A bizarre lizard-man and a good old Southern boy are shot down on a desert world. Unless they learn to stop hitting each other and use their words they'll never get rescued! Seem familiar at all?

"Dawn" probably owes Barry B. Longyear some royalties, doesn't it? I mean, this is the movie Enemy Mine from top to bottom, minus all the most interesting bits. Zho'Kaan's gestures and head-bobs recall Louis Gossett Jr.'s. Trip's not a far cry from Willis Davidge. Even the Arkonian make-up looks an awful lot like a Drac. It's all a lot cheaper, of course, but unmistakable. You think if they wanted to do an homage so badly they could still disguise it a little! Maybe make the deserted world a different colour?

Then again, maybe they're ripping themselves off with Kirk and the Gorn. There IS a laughable drawn-out slow-motion fight scene. Or is it aping 'Darmok'? Even 'Gravity' already did deserts and gibberish-talking Lori Petty. All this adds to the canon is the trivia that Arkonian sputum heals wounds, and the latest encounters of Shirtless Tucker.

With the sun coming up and his buddy basting in the sun like a turkey, unwilling to beam up without heatstroke Rango, why doesn't Archer beam DOWN a freezer unit? Or even a beach umbrella?

Another symptom of creator fatigue and coasting on fumes, it's not very appealing.
Still, any time I start thinking like this I remember the sage words of The Refreshments: "Whoever said there's nothing new under the sun never thought much about individuals, but he is dead anyway."

Thursday, July 4, 2013

The Catwalk

*** (3 stars out of 5)
Storm's a brewin', Jonnie. Storm's a brewin'. Batten down the hatches, there's a high-warp cloud front barreling in! And only one place big enough to hide from the radiolytics or whatever: the crawlspace alongside the engine tube. Stuffing in 80 people and Phlox's tiny zoo won't be too bad; Elliott Gould did it in The Last Flight of Noah's Ark!

We learn that Phlox doesn't find this scenario crowded: the 12 billion people of Denobula are packed onto one continent. (They had to move all the sardines to the moon.) Also we learn that Travis grew up on a spaceship and likes ghost stories. Well, we learn it again.

I hope no alien jerks immune to radiolytic neutron storms happen by and jack your ride! A minimal action sequence should take care of THEM, though. Man versus Nature should get a lick in now and again, although after eight days it will probably be Man versus Reek.

Our crew show pluck and fortitude while stinking up the joint with no showers or laundry. How DOES Chef Maris the Faceless One keep his whites so white? In fact, I just pictured why that guy's so quiet: he's a mutant. A jaunty Boyardee, all beard and no mouth. Terrible condition, only to be expected so soon after an atomic war...

Not to worry, he takes vicarious pleasure from all the meals he cooks and seethes with thoughts of vengeance on humanity very, very rarely!

"The Catwalk" is the 666th televised Star Trek story, despite the fact that it was Nemesis which was the devil's handiwork. I like this one. A slight upswing from the season in a holding pattern.

Wednesday, July 3, 2013

Star Trek Nemesis

* (1 star out of 5)
Uh, the "R" in your title is backwards, guys. So is your "E". What gives? Poor literacy is KEWL!

That martial theme and pan down on Romulus was brilliant. But does Quark do the tailoring for the Romulan military now? Good-bye, dowdy grey... hello, gaudy spangles!

Somebody called Senator Tal'aura unleashes the Green Poop Rain from the climactic final scene of the cinematic classic Spaced Invaders and it has the desired effect of "dissolving the Senate permanently". What was her motive? Don't bother looking, it's not in here!

Picard marries Riker! To Troi! Oh, I couldn't resist. "Ladies and Gentlemen and Invited Transgendered Species"- the wedding reception is the best part of the entire film. And... then ten minutes in, the good times fade away. Guinan's 23 marriages and divorces. Worf's hangover. Blink-and-You'll-Miss-Him Wesley. Is Wesley still a Traveller? Writer John Logan seemingly told Wil Wheaton he "hadn't decided" and "it didn't matter". Who cares about these characters?  Not director Stuart Baird, either! He thought Geordi was an alien! So, let's get to the story... such as it is.

Kolarus III is near the Romulan Neutral Zone and it's got a bunch of positrons, I hear! Picard is itching to try out the Argo, which turns out to be a run-of-the-mill shuttle. It drops them into a run-of-the-gin-mill action sequence where Picard tools around in a dune buggy. Why, there's chunks of Zombie Lore everywhere! No, sorry for almost being interesting, it's not Lore. It's the B-4, named by Dr. Soong, age 8, while hopped up on a Lost in Space marathon.

Picard is ordered on a diplomatic mission to Romulus by Admiral Janeway. Easy to get a promotion when you deliver 48 (terrorists/beloved friends) to (jail/freedom) and a spanking new Borg girlfriend to the Federation President!

Out of nowhere, a Romulan underclass of jacked-up telepathic Wizard Werewolves called the Remans of Remus are in charge. Never heard of 'em? Wonder why they deserve their own movie? Me too! We never got a proper Romulan finale with Sela or Spock's underground, so let's ignore all that and invent some other junk. Reman Viceroy Hellboy gives scalp massages to Praetor Shinzon, a clone of Captain Picard who thankfully doesn't garble-talk through a respirator the whole time. He's a sickly bug from some abandoned wacky scheme to replace Jean-Luc. The new government's chosen method of execution for the unwanted boy was ten years of starvation and brutality in a mine. After which he became strong enough to kill the government! Exactly like Bane, come to think of it...

Thalaron radiation consumes organic material at the sub-atomic level. Isn't that interesting? Let's talk about it some more! Shinzon packed his ship, Scimitar, with the stuff. It's a lovely "Spaced Invaders" excrement green! But first, a little bit of telepathic rape. Viceroy and Shinbone assault Troi over long distance. This somehow allows her to rape them back later on. Only with torpedoes!

"Remember him?" Picard asks Crusher, holding up a picture of Shinzon, retconned in the wrong era uniform and anachronistically bald. I always expect Bev to say "No. Some cosplayer?"

Because the B-4 has no "aspirations", Data copies his own mind into his brother. To make the guy smarter? Maybe? Anyway, this doesn't work (why would it?), and despite B-4 having committed no crime except for being a dummy and a dupe, Data deactivates him. Boy, if they'd shut Data down every time he got everyone in trouble, he'd never have made it out of season 2. Fratricide gets easier and less necessary every time, huh, Data?

(Thankfully that leaves us a back-up for Data should he, god forbid, suddenly get the urge to die heroically. Raise your hand if you're not disgusted at the mere idea of the noble Data we love usurping Brother Gump's identity like some kind of twisted creep. Like, well, Lore.)
Heroism! Today's "heroes" are Romulan hottie Donatra (the Starship Trooper turncoat who trades sex faces at Shinzy so we know their space battle is serious), Riker kicking his wife's rapist to death (in a scene clearly imitating Captain Kirk from Treks VII and III), and Picard viciously impaling his genocidal "son" after a tepid rehash of the countdown ultimate weapon scuffle from Insurrection.

Sooo... lessons learned? Another ship wrecked, the enemy are coming to dinner again, and the band's breaking up forever until next time. Nothing to do now but drink! Because Riker can't remember the song anymore.

When do we get to the Naked Wedding, already? Will Kate Pulaski be there? What do you mean, past their prime?

"Star Trek Nemesis" is, in Shinzon's words: "The victory of the echo over the voice." If the voice was Roddenberry, then this is the faint, final echo. All the colours faded. All the heart crushed. Technology-fetishist exploding bunkum. Bleak, unfunny, and devoid of meaning beyond a momentary "Hey, look over here! Stuff you used to like!". In the words of another Romulan character with no motivation whose name I couldn't bother to look up. "You promised action, and yet you delay." Sorry, writer of Rango. Sorry, editor of Demolition Man. You guys Troi'd that saucer right into Veridian III at last. TNG is dead. Star Trek itself... comatose. You'll find any leftover scraps of your beloved characters being kind or having feelings in the deleted scene bin. Time to take up reading.

Tuesday, July 2, 2013

Precious Cargo

* (1 star out of 5)
Skeevy, unwashed Retellians (Really? Retellians? Re-telling much?) with their mysterious frozen cargo pull Enterprise over for help. In the most improbable juxtaposition, Archer (who knows every panel on his ship's hull) offers to take them aboard. This is a kind offer, but it would be a little hard to pull off. We've just seen their ship's longer than his! Fortunately, they don't try to ram their way into the itty bitty landing bay, although they are only hiding the fact that they just stole a princess, Ice King Style.

The kidnapped Popsicle Princess from Krios Prime is Kaitaama. Trip rescues her and they have a whirlwind "adventure". She is very annoying. No offence. Just awful. This attempted Swamp Bumpkin/High Class "Romance" makes Indiana Jones and Willie Scott look like Tracy and Hepburn. Really, very deeply unconvincing. And I've often felt moved by the romance between Lea Thompson and an anthropomorphic duck.

"Elaan of Troyius" and "The Perfect Mate" are not the stories I would have chosen to mash together to create a new taste sensation. And they don't! This "Precious Cargo" is stale and aggravating. Some might say a turdburger. And I might be one of them! Tropey, mechanical, unappealing, and generally barf-tacular.

Now, I'd like to say for the record that writer David A. Goodman ALSO wrote one of the finest episodes of Futurama: "Where No Fan Has Gone Before". I therefore absolve him forever of any wrongdoing. I also find it nearly impossible to find fault with Conner Trinneer when he has his shirt off, because I am apparently a twelve-year-old girl.

Thanks be to the merciful Great Bird of the Galaxy that the next item on the agenda is a movie!

Unfortunately, it's the movie Star Trek Nemesis.

Monday, July 1, 2013

Vanishing Point

*** (3 stars out of 5)
Trip and Hoshi are forced to use the transporter everyone fears rather than be killed by a diamagnetic storm. I was surprised to discover while typing the word and not being corrected that it is a real thing. It's probably the only real thing in this episode.

Feeling deeply unsettled by her transport, Hoshi feels increasingly ignored and invisible. The boys around her tell the ghost story of Cyrus Ramsey of Madison, Wisconsin. In May 2146, he was the test subject for the first long range transport of 100 meters and never rematerialized. He became a subject of spooky stories like Seth and Martin Brundle. But the only true thing there MIGHT be the year 2146.

I love how the closed captioning fails to handle Tucker's accent. He invites Travis along by saying he's gonna needa "pallet" for the other shuttlepod. Travis' performance may occasionally be a little wooden, but he's a pilot, not a pallet!

The villains are, (I shit you not) Albino Tosks in Belly Shirts. The WORST! The costuming department  went insane, clearly, while cropping Hoshi's tops and decided to go all the way. Klingons will now wear off-the-shoulder jogging sweats. Andorians will need head bands and leg warmers!

"Vanishing Point" in the words of DC Comics, is "Not A Dream! Not A Hoax! Not An Imaginary Story!" You only have to remove the word "not". NOT that I mind a good imaginary story, and Hoshi's dream does tell us a little about Hoshi. There's continuity to be had, since Sato previously mentioned her loathing for colourless lizards. And, on an unrelated note, a shower scene with Sato is fine by my personal colourless lizard.