Posts Tagged ‘Star Trek’

Star Trek Discovery, Mid-Season

Back in October, we talked a bit about Star Trek Discovery, which was fairly new at that point. And I think I spent most of the post complaining about CBS Access, actually.

(We have managed to get several free months out of CBS Access now, so I’m a little less grumpy about the whole situation, though it is still stupid and we had to buy my MIL a Roku for Christmas so she could watch the show.)

Discovery had 9 episodes in the fall, then went on a mid-season break, and started back up this past Sunday with the second half of the season.

(I have Feelings about Sunday’s episode. Most of them fall into the “sdfhkesfhsfhddf amazing” category but I am also REALLY MAD about one little part so I haven’t been the best conversationalist on the topic.)

So, now that we’re further into the series and the show is more established, how do I feel about it?

I love it. I unabashedly love it. Have there been some less than stellar episodes? Yes. Are there some characters that I don’t like that much? Yes. But that’s television.

(Stamets is no longer a no-go for me, but I still don’t like him as much as I want to like him.)

(Tilly, however, I ♥.)

The acting is great, the writing is good, the throwbacks to the original series and even Enterprise make me happy, and for whatever flaws you want to point out (mileage on that seems to vary person to person), the story is interesting and engaging. It is good television. And it is good Star Trek.

(Though I am sad that it is too adult in content to be able to watch with my kids. Most episodes are rated TV-MA, and it does get dark and scary in some places. But I can still watch TOS and TNG with my kids when they are willing to sit down and watch Trek with me, which, to be honest, is not often.)

(Though we did watch this very interesting Next Gen ep the other day that I don’t remember, about a Romulan who comes to the Enterprise with information, fully intending to betray the Empire to help avert a war, but the Empire has fed him false information so he basically just proved he was a traitor and the Federation got nothing useful.)

(I ♥ Romulans.)

The new plotline that started up on Sunday is amazing and I wish I could gush about it more without revealing major spoilers. I’m super excited about this week’s episode.

So if you’ve been holding out on watching Discovery for any reason, I’d say go for it. As I said last time, it takes a few episodes to get the shakes out, but man, it is so worth it. You should catch up now, so we can flail about the next few episodes together, because they promise to be doozies.

Watching Discovery already, Squiders? Thoughts? Captain Killy, amirite?


Let’s Talk About Star Trek Discovery

Okay, Squiders, fair warning: SPOILERS THROUGH EPISODE 3 (which, for those of you who might read this in the future, is all there is as of today.) Though I am going to complain about CBS for a minute, so you can read that if you want.

First of all–what is CBS thinking with their Access service? Do they really think that the other content they’re offering is going to be enough to hook anyone that comes in just for Trek? Cuz let me tell you how motivated I am to poke around and see what else they have: not at all. I am here for Trek and Trek alone, and if that Trek fails me, then I’m out of here. Likewise, if the Trek does not fail me, then I’m still out of there as soon as the season’s over.

(Actually, we’re thinking after our free trial is over, we’ll bugger off for a few months, then subscribe for a month and binge watch the episodes we missed.)

The Access service is not a good value anyway. Not only is it $7 or $8 or whatever a month, but there are commercials. A lot of them. Probably 4 or 5 breaks an episode, and 3 to 4 commercials per break. If I am paying for my TV, it should at least be commercial-free.

And it feels like they don’t really know their target market. Yes, a lot of people my age and younger don’t watch traditional television and an Internet-based service might be a good fit for us (but still, $7 a month PLUS COMMERCIALS), but what about the older generations? The ones that watched the Original Series, the ones that made Trek popular enough to do the movies and Next Generation? Like my parents. Like my mother. These are not people who are terribly familiar with Internet television. These are not people who are going to watch TV on their computers. These are not people who are going to have streaming devices like Rokus or video game consoles. My mother-in-law has already given up on the series because she can’t figure out how to watch it.


Anyway, let’s talk about the actual series now, shall we?

I will admit to being really wary about the whole thing. First of all, time period–why do we keep sticking things before the Original Series? Is there some reason we feel like we can’t explore what happens post-Voyager? The 25th century is too scary somehow? And then there were the issues with the showrunners and production and so forth, and the general worry from promotional stuff that they were simply trying too hard. (Uniforms whhhhyyyy. No one is going to be able to easily make that from scratch, and I say that having made an Original Series minidress from the pattern in the original technical manual.)

Also, I feel like some of the promotional stuff was misleading. “Look, we have a female first officer AND a female captain and neither is white!” without telling you that said captain dies and said first officer is stripped of rank and court martialed by the time you get to the end of the second episode. And the captain of the Discovery? Your standard white man, so if you signed up for some ladies in power, well.

That being said, the series goes in a completely unexpected direction, and one that I am digging thus far. There are things I have issues with, but I am here for the storytelling. This is not your standard episodic Trek, and I will be very interested to see where we end up at the end of the season. The acting and characters are very good (though Anthony Rapp’s character Lt. Stamets is a no-go for me), and they’re playing around with making the aliens more alien since technology has improved. 

So! If we ignore the CBS Access stupidity, I’d recommend Discovery. It’s early days, but I’m intrigued, and that’s high praise for a show that normally takes at least a season to get their groove (or three, if you’re Next Gen). 

Have you been watching, Squiders? What do you think?

Tie-in Fiction Friday: Star Trek #3 The Klingon Gambit

My mother recently moved out of my childhood home to move in with my grandmother, which means I had to go through the stuff I accumulated throughout the first portion of my life and then abandoned when I went out on my own after college.

There was a lot of it.

A good majority was Star Trek-related–action figures, ship models, tons of roleplaying stuff, and books. LOTS of books. Nonfiction books about how the series were made, nonfiction books like The Physics of Star Trek (and Biology, and Metaphysics…), and most of my collection of the fiction books. Most of mine are Original Series, which was always my favorite series to read from, with the odd one or two from Next Gen or DS9 or Voyager (I did have a lot of the New Frontier books, which is Next Gen era but on a different ship with different characters, though some of them had appeared one off on various episodes).

Actually, until I was an adult, I’d only ever seen one or two Original Series episodes. My appreciation for the series came from the movies and the books. And I did love those books.

But the Original Series books are a mixed bag. Not a lot of quality control. Some are amazing. Some are godawful. Most fall somewhere in the middle.

So this brings us to The Klingon Gambit, Star Trek #3, by Robert E. Vardeman, published in 1981. I admit I picked this one out because it was one of the thinnest of the bunch, but it turns out the font is really small and so it’s somewhat hard to read. I am unfamiliar with Vardeman’s other works (except I’ve probably read his other Star Trek novel) but he’s apparently written quite a few fantasy series (usually writing with other people) and was nominated for a Hugo for best fan writer. If his other stuff is worth reading, let me know–I’m not sure this particular novel was a good display of his potential storytelling.

(I tried to write a Star Trek novel once, when I was 16 or 17 or somewhere in there. Despite my great love of the series, I couldn’t seem to get anyone in character and gave up after the first chapter.)

The premise of this novel is that the Enterprise is sent to Alnath II to investigate the death of a shipful of Vulcans. All the Vulcans are dead in their beds, with no sign of any issues–there should be no reason for them to be dead, but they are. A Klingon dreadnought is in orbit, and the fear is that they’ve developed some new weapon. There is also an archoelogical team on Alnath II, investigating a large, complex pyramid that seems to be the only remains of what was once a technologically-advanced civilization.

This is not one of the better Original Series novels. Several characters feel out of character (there is a subplot where people are acting out of character, but this is apparent even when that subplot is not in effect), and I feel like perhaps the author was a little bit amused about Star Trek in general. I noted, for example, that every time someone uses the transporter, we had to focus on the fact that their atoms were scattered and then reformed back on the planet. In general, some of the terminology just feels slightly off.

Now, this is probably just from me looking back from the future. The Original Series is not the best on continuity, and it wasn’t until Next Gen and later that a lot of the worldbuilding for the universe was solidified. Next Gen didn’t start until 1987, so this significantly predates that. It was probably hard to figure out what exactly was going on back then.

I also found the plot pretty predictable, and also somewhat close to at least one, if not two, Original Series episodes (as a kid, having not seen those episodes, maybe I liked this plot better). Also Kirk seemed to not be suffering from one of the major plot issues despite the rest of the crew doing so, and if he had been, maybe the stakes would have been a little more interesting.

So, would I recommend this particular book? Not really. It’s not great in Star Trek terms, though it does at least use Star Trek plot elements, such as the Klingons and Andorians. It got better as it went on, but it still wasn’t strong in either plot or character. There’s definitely better books out there.

Read this particular Trek novel, Squiders? Thoughts?

Happy 50th, Star Trek! (and a tour update)

Yesterday was Star Trek’s 50th anniversary, Squiders! I find the date easy to remember, not only because I’ve been a lifelong Trekkie, but also because September 8th also happens to be my wedding anniversary.

That was not on purpose.

You’d think I could get my act together to actually post on the anniversary, but hey! This way I stand out from the crowd! A rebel, that’s me. Totally. A rebel.

Anyway, Trek has been a major part of my life since it was little and has, in many ways, shaped me as an adult. Some of my earliest memories are watching original series reruns with my parents, and I went into engineering as a major in college in a large part because Geordi Laforge was my favorite character on Next Generation. I spent my teenaged years roleplaying Star Trek on AOL, testing out new characters and new situations, which I think helped my writing and creativity immensely (especially because I got my Mary Sue tendencies out there as opposed to the first novel I ever wrote).

My mother recently moved out of my childhood home, so I had to confront the many belongings I’d left behind, which, to no one’s surprise, included ~50 Star Trek books, probably as many action figures, a model of the original Enterprise, an Enterprise-D engineering playset, a tricorder, a phaser….

You get the idea.

I like science fiction but I adore Trek, and I think a lot of that is the generally optimistic mindset of the franchise. Even darker series like DS9 still hold the core belief that we are ultimately good and trying our best to do what’s right. (If you haven’t watched DS9, do.) I read a lot of original series books as a kid/teenager, and the strong friendship between Kirk, Spock and McCoy has always been very inspirational to me as well.

So here’s to 50 years, the good, the bad, the ugly, and the silly. Keep on boldly going.

(Also, I read this article on Upworthy and thought it was silly, so here you go.)

For those of you who are following Siri’s and my long tour for City of Hope and Ruin (we’re giving away away a $50 Amazon giftcard), here are the stops since the last time I posted about it. We have three more stops, on the 15th, 22nd, and 29th, and then freedom! We’ve been getting lots of good response on the tour, but it doesn’t seem to be directly contributing to sales.

Each tour stop has the blurb, one of a variety of excerpts, and giveaway info.

Anyway, I hope your September is off to a good start, Squiders. Do anything fun to celebrate Star Trek’s 50th? Thoughts on Trek in general?

Thoughts on Star Trek Beyond

I’m sorry, Squiders, I know I promised you The Ancient One discussion today, but the fact of the matter is that all the electronics on my stove exploded on Saturday night and then caught fire, and it’s completely thrown me off my groove.

(Luckily, the fire burned out pretty quickly once power was disconnected, so the worst of the damage is that the wall is charred and a bit melty in a couple of places. Oh, and that I have no logical way to cook dinner. On the other hand, I did finally get my toaster oven out of the box. But you cannot cook a whole pizza at once, even. It’s like a tiny, useless oven that you only use to…I don’t even know. Probably why it’s been sitting in its box for two years.)

I’m finally starting to get back into things, though, so Thursday we should, hopefully, finally get on with our discussion. I would say definitively, but a tree will probably fall on my house if I make any promises.

So, instead, let’s talk about the newest Star Trek movie, which the husband and I managed to see on opening day (like, actual opening day, not midnight the day before). We went at, like, 5 pm and the theater was half empty, which was a bit odd, but hey, I got prime seats so I’m not complaining.

My overall thoughts are: I liked it? I think?

It’s weird. In terms of general Trek-ness, it’s no doubt the best of the three reboots. There were a lot of aspects that I liked a lot. Yorktown is super cool, as is the Swarm. There’s Spock/Bones time! Crewmembers that are not Kirk and/or Spock get to do things! Kirk and Spock do things with people who are not each other! Also, Jaylah is awesome and I liked her a lot. Also, I thought the way they handled Leonard Nimoy’s passing in the film was very well done. Intellectually, I like it quite a bit.

But I left the theater feeling somewhat underwhelmed, and I can’t quite figure out why. Something about my mood? I feel like maybe I kept getting distracted by other concerns. I also feel like every now and then people were out of character, and Uhura, for the most part, is still being sidelined as girlfriend/damsel. (Though, to be fair, I didn’t mind their relationship in this movie as much as I have in the previous ones.) Plus it’s hard to watch a film when one of the actors has just died. Anton Yelchin finally got to do things that weren’t just yelling and running around like a hyper puppy in this film, and we won’t get to see anything more from him.

I seem to be the odd one out on this lukewarm-ness. I have at least one friend who has declared it the best movie of all time. Beyond that, everyone seems to agree that it was a good movie and a decent Trek film (ranking it somewhere in the middle). And I feel like I should like it. As I said above, I liked a lot of it. There was just something missing overall. Some sort of…spark. I dunno.

Maybe I’ll like it better the next time.

I do want to say, though, that I totally dig the re-design on the dress uniforms. And the away team uniforms or whatever they’re supposed to be are also really neat. A+ to the costumer designer, you rock, except the neckline on the men’s on-ship uniforms go up the neck a little too far and it looks a bit wonky.

(I want to be clear that I mean “dress” uniform as in “uniforms that are dresses” and not “formal uniforms.”)

(Also, I went and saw Ghostbusters again yesterday and it’s still excellent.)

Seen Star Trek Beyond, Squiders? (Kind of a silly title, actually, and doesn’t have anything to do with the actual content of the story.) Thoughts? Want to talk about Ghostbusters? Because I will talk about that all day long.

An Unholy Alliance

Sorry, squiders, but I’m going to talk about Star Wars again. And Star Trek. We’ll get back to real content again on Thursday, when we will either talk about the fluidity of fantasy into scifi or antagonists, depending on how I’m feeling at the time.

But for now–Star Wars. Star Trek. AND THE UNHOLY UNION OF BOTH.

Sorry, overly dramatic. I’m going stircrazy. We’ve got at least a foot of snow outside and I’m going to have to try and drive in it soon.

Now, I’m sure you guys know by now that I am a Trekkie, and have been as long as I can remember. As such I occasionally dabble in the fandom community, usually in a “lurk and consume” manner, though I have been known to participate actively when time allows.

So it was from there that I learned that they were releasing the first trailer for the new Trek movie (due some time next year) in front of the new Star Wars movie this weekend.

While many Trekkies also like Star Wars, it might be the first time in history that the entire community raised its head with interest.

On one hand, it makes perfect sense. Star Wars is (arguably) science fiction. Star Trek is also science fiction! (And, in the current iteration, a lot closer to Star Wars than previous iterations have been.) On the other hand–is this allowed? Star Wars and Star Trek in such close proximity? (You can see my feelings on that whole debacle here.)

But then they went and released the Star Trek trailer online yesterday, so now some of the excitement has dissipated. (Trailer is here if you want it.) Unless it is a different (and hopefully better) trailer? Hm. Maybe! Doubtful, but maybe.

Anyway, two days til Star Wars, four days for me. Thoughts on the Trek trailer? Or showing it with Star Wars? Let me know, Squiders.

Star Trek Deep Space Nine and Relationships

So, I believe it was last week when I mentioned I’d gone back to watching DS9. I’m a few episodes into Season 5 (watched two this morning, both of which I think I’ve somehow never seen before) and I was again struck by something that has been very noticeable this time around, and that’s the relationship between Captain Sisko and his son, Jake.

I think, as a kid and then later a college student, that I just lumped this in with the rest of the (admittedly, usually excellent) relationships which are, I would argue, really what makes DS9 work. But as a parent myself, rewatching these episodes (especially the tear-jerking season 4 episode “The Visitor”, which you should watch whether you’ve watched any other DS9 or not) have really resonated this time through. And they do a great job–any episode that has focused on Sisko and Jake has tended to be very strong. Kudos to everyone who wrote or acted or was related to them, because I do think it’s one of the best parent/child relationships I’ve seen portrayed on television.

DS9 tends to be people’s favorite or least favorite of the Trek series, probably because it’s so different. But because they have a “home base,” so to speak, it allowed them to do things differently, including a lot more focus on characters and relationships. I love the original series and Next Generation, but they’re more adventure of the week stories. Data and Spock are really the only characters whose background/feelings/growth are explored, and that’s because they’re the Other. DS9 does that to some extent with Odo, but almost every character–even side ones, like Rom or Nog–gets a character arc at some point.

And it explores family more too. There’s actually a lot of single father examples. Besides Sisko and Jake, there’s Rom and Nog and also Worf and Alexander at points. The O’Briens are a complete family unit with small children. They go into sibling relationships with Quark and Rom. And unlike Next Gen, where at times it’s not really clear where the children go during emergencies (or how they deal with the aftermath), these family relationships can be central in an emergency instead of being glossed over.

And I think, as an adult, I can appreciate this all more, both as good television and good writing skills. I stopped watching as a kid (I must have been 12 or 13) because of something silly which, in retrospect, was an opportunity for them to explore what happened when someone was isolated from their own type, even if they’d never really been home in the first place. To adapt to change. To live as something different but common, instead of being what you were and alone.

Anyway, if you want excellent ensemble television, with the occasional explosion or time travel romp, I highly recommend DS9. You do kind of have to watch it in order, though, to understand the multiseason Dominion War arc (and its predecessor wars with the Cardassians and the Klingons).

Fan of DS9, Squiders? Like Trek in general? Why or why not? Which series is your favorite?