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On Why Star Trek is Great
May 15, 2013 11:31 AM   Subscribe

Slate's Matthew Yglesias 'Boldly Went Where Every Star Trek Movie and TV Show Has Gone Before,' by watching every Star Trek movie and television series,* and offers his position on why Star Trek is great.

* No mention of the animated show.

In addition, Mr. Yglesias threw his gauntlets on the table and ranked from best to worst the movies, the series, episodes, and crew members.

And by the way, the next installment of J.J. Abrams' Star Trek universe, Star Trek Into Darkness, opens in the United States tomorrow. Reviews are coming out:
posted by Atreides (603 comments total) 59 users marked this as a favorite

 
The real reason of course is the mileage we can get from laughing at how Riker mounts a chair.
posted by GallonOfAlan at 11:36 AM on May 15, 2013 [13 favorites]


He ranks TOS below Voyager? I question his views on this subject entirely.
posted by grubi at 11:38 AM on May 15, 2013 [42 favorites]


Wow. He rates Voyager ahead of ST:TOS. That's a bit surprising. Voyager is certainly more polished and corporate, but TOS is, well, T fucking O.
posted by Thorzdad at 11:39 AM on May 15, 2013 [7 favorites]


Is this where I lodge my official complain that Worf is on the "best characters" list and Sisko is not, when Captain Benjamin Sisko is OBVIOUSLY the best of the Star Trek captains while also managing to be one of the top five badass dads of modern television?

Because I would like to cast my internet vote in the most effective possible manner.
posted by Narrative Priorities at 11:40 AM on May 15, 2013 [21 favorites]


This guy has ranked TNG as the best Star Trek series and TOS as the second to worst. I liked TNG when I was 13 or 14 and it was on TV, but when I watched it again recently on Netflix, IMO it has simply not aged well. A fair number of episodes are outright bad. TOS is campy, but pretty much always entertains.

I haven't seen much of the other series, though.
posted by Hoopo at 11:40 AM on May 15, 2013 [4 favorites]


Also, while I'd swap TNG and DS9 as a matter of personal taste, I actually love the series rankings he gave. TOS is important for cultural reasons, and of course none of the other series would even exist without the foundation it laid. But it is not a very good show. I didn't watch it during my formative years, and as an adult I just can't force myself to sit through it. The movies are a lot of fun, and a handful of TOS episode are individually excellent, but I'd rather endure all the Neelix episodes of Voyager than a season of TOS, and that's saying something.
posted by Narrative Priorities at 11:42 AM on May 15, 2013 [8 favorites]


simply bizarre (Sisko fights racism in the sci-fi industry of the 1950s).

That was hands-down one of the best episodes, you crazy crank.

Captain Benjamin Sisko is OBVIOUSLY the best of the Star Trek captains

I was just watching DS9 with my ladyfriend, who hadn't seen much of it, and she noted about Sisko during one scene: "He's overacting." To which I responded, "NO, he is acting JUST ENOUGH. ALL THE ACTING IS JUST RIGHT IF YOU ARE SISKO" and she raised her eyebrows at me
posted by Greg Nog at 11:43 AM on May 15, 2013 [49 favorites]


It's amazing how I can agree with so much of his original article and then find out looking at his rankings how absolutely wrong he is. Like I had to check to make sure they were attributed to the same person.
posted by MCMikeNamara at 11:43 AM on May 15, 2013 [1 favorite]


I just finished rewatching all of DS9 on Netflix. DS9 is by far the best! Everyone else is clearly wrong.
posted by Arbac at 11:44 AM on May 15, 2013 [8 favorites]


Correction, May 15, 2013: This article originally referred to proton torpedoes rather than photon torpedoes.

(╯°□°)╯︵ ┻━┻
posted by The Tensor at 11:45 AM on May 15, 2013 [71 favorites]


I want to get in like seven different fights right now.
posted by cortex at 11:45 AM on May 15, 2013 [84 favorites]


I'd swap DS9 with TNG, too. The first and last seasons of TNG were terrible. DS9 found its footing much faster than TNG did, and once it did, it stayed consistently good through the rest of its run.
posted by 1970s Antihero at 11:46 AM on May 15, 2013


Arbac: I just finished rewatching all of DS9 on Netflix. DS9 is by far the best! Everyone else is clearly wrong.

"DS9 is a better TV show, TNG is better Star Trek."

(That's like a thing that people say, right? Because I can't have been the first person to say that.)
posted by MCMikeNamara at 11:47 AM on May 15, 2013 [5 favorites]


I wish Metafilter still allowed IMG tags, so I could draw hearts and sparkles all over photos of Major Kira and Garak and Sisko and Dax and spam the thread with them.

Probably for the best.

Time to go fire up Tumblr....
posted by Narrative Priorities at 11:47 AM on May 15, 2013 [8 favorites]


Star Trek is great.

This is not news. This is olds.
posted by shothotbot at 11:47 AM on May 15, 2013 [6 favorites]


Slate's Matthew Yglesias 'Boldly Went Where Every Star Trek Movie and TV Show Has Gone Before,' by watching every Star Trek movie and television series,

Nerd.
Check and mate.
posted by dgaicun at 11:47 AM on May 15, 2013


I liked TNG when I was 13 or 14 and it was on TV, but when I watched it again recently on Netflix, IMO it has simply not aged well.

I had to momentarily abandon my straight-through Netflix TNG rewatch on the fourth episode: "Code of Honor", otherwise known as "Tasha Yar vs. The Planet of Angry Black People." I decided at that point to cherry-pick only the "good" episodes of the first two seasons so I could get to the better stuff that came later. But there were still some outright howlers, especially once we got into the later seasons and all the good writers went over to DS9
posted by Strange Interlude at 11:49 AM on May 15, 2013


OH HELL NO. I disagree with his rankings. The article was first rate (and thanks for posting it!!,) but no way in hell TOS was topped by anything Voyager ever did, and that includes the incredible Year of Hell reset button two-parter.
posted by zarq at 11:49 AM on May 15, 2013 [1 favorite]


Now an entire universe—all the adventures of Kirk and Picard and Sisko and Janeway and the rest—was wiped out for the convenience of a director who, by his own account, is not a dedicated fan of the franchise.

Ah, Yglesias! You idiot! The original universe still exists! The movie universe is merely an alternate reality! You dope, you dopey dope!
posted by Greg Nog at 11:49 AM on May 15, 2013 [16 favorites]


I want to get in like seven different fights right now.

Talking smack about TNG: double secret probation.

DS9 I tried, but it just never drew me in. Voyager, same. I think I was simply burned out on Star Trek after the full run of TNG.
posted by Hoopo at 11:49 AM on May 15, 2013


True nerd confessions: When we were engaged we bought the entire run of TNG and watched a few episodes every night. Reader we are still married!
posted by shothotbot at 11:50 AM on May 15, 2013 [3 favorites]


I've always disliked DS9 and thought Voyager was much better than most people give it credit for. TOS is difficult to watch.

But on the best episodes list he left off the two best ST episodes ever: "Darmok" and "The Inner Light".

Also, best captains in order:
1) Picard
2) Kirk
3) Archer
4) Janeway
5) Sisko

Truth.
posted by bfootdav at 11:50 AM on May 15, 2013 [10 favorites]


Also:

Slate's Matthew Yglesias 'Boldly Went Where Every Star Trek Movie and TV Show Has Gone Before,' by watching every Star Trek movie and television series, got paid to do what every nerd friend I have with Instant Streaming Netflix has recently done for free.
posted by MCMikeNamara at 11:51 AM on May 15, 2013 [17 favorites]


There is literally no other show where saying, "I watched every episode and all the related films" is less impressive. If I were his editor I'd have laughed at this idea. Couldn't I just hire, I dunno, pretty much any Trekkie ever—with the bonus that if I had, we wouldn't have needed to append a correction?
posted by cribcage at 11:51 AM on May 15, 2013 [10 favorites]


Oh yeah, Abrams has completely destroyed the franchise. In fact it's not even Star Trek is it? Just some superficial similarities. I hate Abrams.
posted by bfootdav at 11:51 AM on May 15, 2013 [7 favorites]


Enterprise started out pretty interesting, but once they got the Temporal Cold War bullshit started, it all went down hill. The final episode sucked so hard, it created a new void to explore.
posted by Old'n'Busted at 11:52 AM on May 15, 2013 [2 favorites]


Nerds
posted by corpse at 11:52 AM on May 15, 2013


It's too bad that neither Enterprise nor the current reboot turn out to be in the Mirror, Mirror timeline rather than the primary (to us) timeline…
posted by jepler at 11:55 AM on May 15, 2013 [4 favorites]


The 10 Best Star Trek Crew Members
Spock
Data
Worf
Kira Nerys
Leonard McCoy
William Riker
The Doctor
Hoshi Sato
Geordi LaForge
Dax


I will GRUDGINGLY accept that TECHNICALLY Quark is not part of the "crew" which is the ONLY reason I am not kicking down the door to Yglesias's office to hit him furiously about the neck and face with a cheap plastic stapler
posted by Greg Nog at 11:55 AM on May 15, 2013 [12 favorites]


Dude also called out It’s Only a Paper Moon as a holodeck-episode-done-right, and specifically slandered Take Me Out to the Holodeck as an example of a terrible holodeck episode. He also contended that Insurrection was not the worst movie in franchise history.

Maybe we're not at "pistols at dawn," here, but I'm going to guess Mr. Yglesias has not made many friends today.
posted by Mayor West at 11:56 AM on May 15, 2013 [2 favorites]


I could never get into Enterprise. I tried the first two seasons and just gave up. TNG is classic and has some great episodes. TOS is, as said before, the friggin original! I really enjoyed Voyager when I watched the original airings, I haven't seen it recently enough to know how it held up, maybe that'll be my next Netflix project.

But come on - DS9 is pure gold! Garak is amazing! Dr. Basher is a total creepy sleezebag but you have to love him. SISKO IS THE SISKO HE IS CORPORAL HE IS LINEAR! Everyone on DS9 is just fantastic.
posted by Arbac at 11:56 AM on May 15, 2013 [5 favorites]


I loved Enterprise more than any other series. Voyager and DS9 tie for second place, with TNG being pretty much unwatchable. I actually tried to have a TNG marathon the other week and got about 2 episodes in before giving up.
posted by Solomon at 11:56 AM on May 15, 2013 [2 favorites]


But on the best episodes list he left off the two best ST episodes ever: "Darmok" and "The Inner Light".

You've just listed my most and possibly least favorite episodes - I hated Darmok, but The Inner Light is in the running for best episode of any TV show ever for me. So, leaving the former off the list is fine by me, but omitting the latter is a heinous crime.
posted by LionIndex at 11:56 AM on May 15, 2013


This thread....this thread is going to be out of control.

Love. It.
posted by Sophie1 at 11:56 AM on May 15, 2013 [6 favorites]


This thing:
(╯°□°)╯︵ ┻━┻
It is the visual equivalent of that cella ringtone that we olds can't hear, isn't it?
posted by notyou at 11:56 AM on May 15, 2013 [5 favorites]


This seems like as good a place as any to ask this question, since I have you all assembled here. I have never seen an episode of ST:Enterprise so I went and looked it up on Wikipedia and found this:

"The title of Series V was revealed to be Enterprise, with Scott Bakula, of Quantum Leap fame, playing Captain Jeffery Archer, a name that was quickly changed to Jonathan Archer due to fan feedback."

Anyone care to explain why the fans hated the first name and why the studio listened and changed it? Seems awfully arbitrary to me.
posted by komara at 11:57 AM on May 15, 2013


TNG... So much deadweight...
posted by Artw at 11:57 AM on May 15, 2013


Quark

The Ferengi-ear-rubbing thing always creeped me out, to the point where that's the only thing I can think of when I think of Quark. It gives me the squiggs.
posted by uncleozzy at 11:57 AM on May 15, 2013


They didn't want him taking credit for the tubes, presumably.
posted by cortex at 11:58 AM on May 15, 2013 [3 favorites]


Anyone care to explain why the fans hated the first name and why the studio listened and changed it?

"Jeffrey" sounds too much like "Star Trek: Family Circle", obviously.
posted by backseatpilot at 11:58 AM on May 15, 2013 [1 favorite]


As much as I adore DS9 and want to marry it in a lavish vinyard ceremony, I totally understand why it's not for everyone. PARTICULARLY people who really loved (and continue to love) TNG. DS9 spent a lot of energy and screentime deliberately distancing itself from TNG's tone and themes, and while it's still very much a Star Trek show you can feel it straining against the confines of Roddenberry's vision of the future. If TNG represents the height of the Star Trek canon for you, then a show that goes out of its way to NOT do the things that defined TNG as a series will probably not be something you enjoy.

DS9 is also a terrible show for your average teenager. I loved a lot of things about it when it first aired, but I cared much more about Odo's unrequited love for Kira than about Cardassian politics or the power struggles within Bajor's religious community.
posted by Narrative Priorities at 11:58 AM on May 15, 2013 [5 favorites]


He also contended that Insurrection was not the worst movie in franchise history.

That's because Nemesis was the worst. Even if Abrams totally tanks it with Into Darkness, I reserve a special place in Bad Screenplay Hell for Nemesis.
posted by Strange Interlude at 11:59 AM on May 15, 2013 [4 favorites]


By the by, I've linked to this comment of mine before, but if we're talking TNG and rankings, here's my take on a condensed version of Next Generation that I just now found by searching the site for "data penis spoiler"
posted by Greg Nog at 11:59 AM on May 15, 2013 [4 favorites]


komara: ""The title of Series V was revealed to be Enterprise, with Scott Bakula, of Quantum Leap fame, playing Captain Jeffery Archer, a name that was quickly changed to Jonathan Archer due to fan feedback."

Anyone care to explain why the fans hated the first name and why the studio listened and changed it? Seems awfully arbitrary to me.
"

I think it was because of the other Jeffery Archer. But that's just a guess.
posted by MCMikeNamara at 12:00 PM on May 15, 2013


"Star Trek: Family Circle"

I want to lie and say I'd watch that.
posted by komara at 12:00 PM on May 15, 2013 [4 favorites]


I like the part in the movies where they blow up Darth's Star. That's what it's called, right? Cuz Darth Raider lives there. And those robot people in the giant cube who are all EXTERMINATE EXTERMINATE.

Man, I love Star Tracks!
posted by BitterOldPunk at 12:00 PM on May 15, 2013 [22 favorites]


My favorite episode from the original series is still the one with The Beatles cameo.
posted by dgaicun at 12:00 PM on May 15, 2013 [1 favorite]


komara: ""Star Trek: Family Circle"

I want to lie and say I'd watch that.
"

I want to lie to say I wouldn't.
posted by MCMikeNamara at 12:01 PM on May 15, 2013


DS9 I tried, but it just never drew me in.

I really enjoyed the oddball one-off episodes of DS9, but I couldn't take its longer story arcs seriously because of Babylon 5. When B5 was in it's prime during Seasons 2 and 3, there wasn't any comparison with DS9. Things got a bit better later on, but I thought the last episode of DS9 had this "look! we were planning this all along! seriously!" feeling to it, and I never quite bought it.
posted by RonButNotStupid at 12:01 PM on May 15, 2013


Oh jesus now I want to go rewatch "Take Me Out to the Holosuite" IMMEDIATELY.

DEATH TO THE OPPOSITION

I mean of course it's silly, but it's so damned CHARMING....
posted by Narrative Priorities at 12:02 PM on May 15, 2013 [2 favorites]


"Star Trek: Family Circle"

Captain Picard: "Who drew on the wall?"
Riker: "Not Me!"
Troi: "Ida Know!"
Data: "I do not understand the human motivation to create visual art."
posted by cortex at 12:02 PM on May 15, 2013 [42 favorites]


But on the best episodes list he left off the two best ST episodes ever: "Darmok"

This seems like as good a place as any to mention that lately I've been wondering how the hell the Darmok people helmed their ships with that language, or conducted any business.
posted by COBRA! at 12:03 PM on May 15, 2013 [9 favorites]


Voyager always came across as the Brady Bunch of Star Treks. Mother Janeway. Here's a story about a Captain named Janeway....Captain named Chakotay who had a ship his very own...the song writes it'self.
DS9 had way more potential than it lived up to.
TNG is the Loveboat (if you like that sort of thing)
Enterprise should have only had 3 actors-T'Pal, the Dr., and Tucker, as Archer was Beckett from Quantum Leap-with all that damn pacing. (someday I want someone to edit Enterprise and make it seem as though Beckett is Archer, and Al the hologram is running around that ship, but only Archer and see and hear him.

The Orginal is the only one that Rocks!
posted by QueerAngel28 at 12:03 PM on May 15, 2013 [2 favorites]


Favourite characters from any of the shows: tied between Garak and Kira Nerys, especially as The Intendent.
posted by Solomon at 12:03 PM on May 15, 2013


The 10 Best Star Trek Crew Members

No Uhura? Die, scum.
posted by George_Spiggott at 12:03 PM on May 15, 2013 [11 favorites]


While we're bitching about rankings I'm not entirely sure how Star Trek: Nemesis ranks above anything, ever, no matter how much you fail to dig several hours worth of model shots of V'ger.
posted by Artw at 12:03 PM on May 15, 2013 [3 favorites]


No, no, the two Abrams' movies are the worst in franchise history. And that's saying a lot since all the movies are the worst in franchise history.

(I really don't like the movies).
posted by bfootdav at 12:04 PM on May 15, 2013 [1 favorite]


Enterprise started out pretty interesting, but once they got the Temporal Cold War bullshit started, it all went down hill.

Honestly, I didn't mind the TCW. But, I think it went on for too...fucking...long. It became he only reason for the show. I thought the premise of the show, the early days of Star Fleet, was pretty appealing.
posted by Thorzdad at 12:05 PM on May 15, 2013


I don't really consider the Abrams movies the same thing as Star Trek, they merely share a name and some basic ideas.
posted by Artw at 12:06 PM on May 15, 2013 [4 favorites]


This seems like as good a place as any to mention that lately I've been wondering how the hell the Darmok people helmed their ships with that language, or conducted any business.

Exactly! That was part of the beauty of the episode, an alien race that was so completely fundamentally different, linguistically, from us, which is probably closer to how it would really be to meet an alien race. It was one of the few episodes to really tackle deep philosophical sci-fi issues.

The Solaris of ST.
posted by bfootdav at 12:07 PM on May 15, 2013 [4 favorites]


I don't really consider the Abrams movies the same thing as Star Trek, they merely share a name and some basic ideas.

They're fanfic.
posted by Thorzdad at 12:07 PM on May 15, 2013 [5 favorites]


Mayor West: "Dude also called out It’s Only a Paper Moon as a holodeck-episode-done-right, and specifically slandered Take Me Out to the Holodeck as an example of a terrible holodeck episode."

He's obviously lost his mind.

Odo. Umpire. Best casting ever.
posted by zarq at 12:09 PM on May 15, 2013 [6 favorites]


Also, "DEATH TO THE OPPOSITION!"

The Mets need some damned Klingons.
posted by zarq at 12:11 PM on May 15, 2013 [2 favorites]


Odo. Umpire . Best casting ever.

Odo is truly the greatest of the Space Assholes.

and my laughter is alarming the cats
posted by Narrative Priorities at 12:12 PM on May 15, 2013 [2 favorites]


Couldn't I just hire, I dunno, pretty much any Trekkie ever—with the bonus that if I had, we wouldn't have needed to append a correction?

And this is why Yglesias is > Klein. I mean, The Washington Post won't pay Ezra Klein to sit around all day and watch old Star Trek episodes.
posted by octobersurprise at 12:12 PM on May 15, 2013


And, so, but seriously, here's my best attempt to rationalize a defense of ranking Voyager high and DS9 low on a Best Star Trek Series list: you just have to parse the title right. It's not "Best TV Series Named Star Trek", it's "Best TV Series At Being Star Trek".

Because DS9 is a far, far better series than Voyager, but many of the things it has going for it are things that aren't all that Trekky by TOS/TNG models. Much of the strength of the show and its characters comes from the fact that it was a reaction to TNG, and to TNG's own at-times-awkward resynthesis of TOS. DS9 has intra-staff conflict, darker character themes, plot continuity that is not superficial, and lots of muddled morality compared to what came before and in large part to what followed. These things work well but they also stand apart a bit.

Whereas Voyager disappoints in a lot of ways as a series run in the process of hewing on those fronts closer to the TOS/TNG mold. Conceptually the show is TOS without an escape clause for the crew—they're boldly going, they're really exploring, because they have no choice. It's a nice idea, get back to the fundamental notion of a spirit of exploration.

But they neglect continuity. They take cheap outs. They leave character arcs dangling, leave the crew undeveloped. They take a wonderfully ripe scifi premise—what do you do when you're stranded so far from home that everyone on the ship right now will probably be dead by the time the crew of your ad hoc generation ship arrives back at Earth—and just squanders it.

But it is, all else aside, very Trekky. It's like TOS with a modern budget and modern television sensibilities; it's like TNG in a world where everybody has already seen TNG. It does a more polished job of being Star Trek than the earlier ones did, because it has the advantage of time and experience. And it does a better job of it than DS9 did because DS9 went and did something else, something more compelling as a total work.
posted by cortex at 12:13 PM on May 15, 2013 [27 favorites]


This seems like as good a place as any to mention that lately I've been wondering how the hell the Darmok people helmed their ships with that language, or conducted any business

What always got me was that if their language was totally based on their ancient stories or whatever, how the hell did they tell those stories in the first place? It seems like they were kind of going for some kind of Berkeleyism and might as well have just gone whole hog into the kinds of linguistic stuff described in Tlon, Uqbar, Orbis Tertius. Which would still be hell for Picard to decipher.

Note the now dead external link at the bottom of the Tlon page.
posted by LionIndex at 12:13 PM on May 15, 2013 [4 favorites]


by watching every Star Trek movie and television series

Wait, didn't we all do this????
posted by MoxieProxy at 12:14 PM on May 15, 2013 [1 favorite]


Goddamit, it's Family Circus, not Family Circle. I'll show myself out.
posted by backseatpilot at 12:14 PM on May 15, 2013 [1 favorite]


I saw Yglesias's name and I knew it would be wrong, wrong, wrong.
posted by the man of twists and turns at 12:15 PM on May 15, 2013 [4 favorites]


I just finished watching DS9 on Netflix with Mrs Effect, and couldn't believe how good that show was. I was a huge TNG fan growing up, and my 12 year-old self thought DS9 was really boring, which just added a sense of guilt to the surprising sense of loss I felt when we hit the end of the show. I mean, damn.

I rewatched The Motion Picture relatively recently, too, figuring that I now enjoy slow (ok, boring) movies a lot more than I used to. I came away with the sense that they aimed for 2001 but missed. Pretty badass ending, though: a black screen with the words, "THE HUMAN ADVENTURE IS ONLY BEGINNING"
posted by intendedeffect at 12:16 PM on May 15, 2013 [3 favorites]


"In total, to watch every minute of canon Star Trek (series and movies) would require 22 days, 16 hours and 21 minutes of your time, and that doesn't include 8 hours and 4 minutes of the Animated Series. Of Science Fiction franchises, only Doctor Who and its various canon spinoffs are even within a week, and the Super Sentai franchise, which started later than Star Trek or Doctor Who, but has been running continuously since 1979."

I have Netflix. I bet I could plow through them all in just a few months....
posted by zarq at 12:16 PM on May 15, 2013


cortex: " It does a more polished job of being Star Trek than the earlier ones did, because it has the advantage of time and experience."

Yes. Sorta.

Brilliance from The Doctor, such as "I seem to have found myself on the Voyage of the Damned." was matched with lowbrow idiocy like, "Mr. Kim? Get that cheese to sickbay!"
posted by zarq at 12:19 PM on May 15, 2013


I'd say:
  1. Deep Space Nine
    Great writing, character development, and balance between epic events and personal events. Superb acting to go along with the great characters. I'd say it's the most Trek universe of all of them. The vision is one of bonding, reconciliation, and triumph. Worf is far more interesting in this series, as are the Ferengi, Chief O'Brien, etc.

  2. The Next Generation
    Took awhile to find it's feet but when it did it had some great one off episodes and was very entertaining. Did not care for the way it was shot, too bright, too cheery. Well acted in time.

  3. Enterprise
    The last season was what the show should have been. Well acted and shot though. Would have been nice if it was given more time. The Xindi thing was absurd and probably an attempt at the more Who like model of storytelling where the stakes must be very, very, incredibly high.

  4. The Original Series
    I'd actually say this and Enterprise are interchangeable in terms of rank for me. When it was well directed it was superb, such as Balance of Terror. But the hippies and Spock's brain are hard to get over.

  5. Voyager
    To in your face for me in terms of the way it's directed and the way the characters are developed. Not as bad as the modern Doctor Who in letting the audience they don't respect that the point we're making here is THIS! Do you get it? It's THIS! Ok, let's make sure. It's THIS!! Ok, one more time. It's THIS! This really destroyed the potential of the show for me, though there were a few good episodes and a lot of potential.
posted by juiceCake at 12:20 PM on May 15, 2013 [4 favorites]


Maybe we're not at "pistols at dawn," here, but I'm going to guess Mr. Yglesias has not made many friends today.

Matty "no biggie if Bangladeshi workers die if I can get my jeans cheaper" Yglesias is wrong about inconsequential stuff as well? Colour me surprised.
posted by MartinWisse at 12:20 PM on May 15, 2013 [5 favorites]


Because DS9 is a far, far better series than Voyager, but many of the things it has going for it are things that aren't all that Trekky by TOS/TNG models.

I favorited you because of your accurate and spirited defense of Voyager. And you are correct that DS9 was the least Trekky but beyond that I just did not think it was very good. OK, the religious crap sank the show from the beginning. If there's anything I hate in sci-fi it's bringing in ancient religions and psychic stuff (I know, shouldn't that affect my love for Troi? Well, it doesn't!).

But then after that what are supposed to be well-thought out and complex storylines always felt very forced and amateurish. Compared to what we usually get with television I guess it's on par (I say that and I really, really love television) but to abandon its Trekiness for melodramatic crap plus religion plus other crap just sank the show entirely for me. It was a chore to watch it through to the end and one I'm never going to do again.
posted by bfootdav at 12:21 PM on May 15, 2013 [1 favorite]


I will side with the minority that liked Enterprise. It had great potential and might have developed more of it, given enough time. And it ended before answering one of the great mysteries of space travel: where does the puppy poop?
posted by charlie don't surf at 12:24 PM on May 15, 2013 [6 favorites]


MoxieProxy: "by watching every Star Trek movie and television series

Wait, didn't we all do this????
"

I watched them as they came out (well, I was a few years late on TOS) but finally gave up after the first season of Voyager. I've never seen Insurrection or Nemesis and have only seen a couple episodes of Enterprise. TOS is still the only series that I really go back to, I've tried to re-watch episodes of TNG and DS9 and they just don't grab me.
posted by octothorpe at 12:24 PM on May 15, 2013 [1 favorite]


bfootdav:
Also, best captains in order:
1) Picard
2) Kirk
3) Archer
4) Janeway
5) Sisko
I will fight you.
posted by charred husk at 12:25 PM on May 15, 2013 [15 favorites]


notyou: "we olds "

I'm just so happy this caught on.
posted by boo_radley at 12:25 PM on May 15, 2013 [1 favorite]


Exactly! That was part of the beauty of the episode, an alien race that was so completely fundamentally different, linguistically, from us, which is probably closer to how it would really be to meet an alien race. It was one of the few episodes to really tackle deep philosophical sci-fi issues.

Darmok is a wonderful TV space fable about crossing cultural gaps and a terrible episode about language. The idea of fundamental alienness is great, and the impenetrability, and eventual decoding, of the metaphors made for fun and very quotable scenes, but seriously nothing about that fucking episode stands up to scrutiny. It ignores the question of how that race would survive a generation without developing a functional pidgin; it shines an unusually bright light on how broken the idea of the Universal Translator as presented in the shows is.

It's a perfect case study in how difficult it can be to write an episode that both works as television and makes any goddam sense as science. Which, yes, they're making a TV show, not science. But for an episode that is routinely referenced as being The Really Interesting One About Language, it fails on basically every single front to actually do anything interesting with the problem of language, alien or otherwise.
posted by cortex at 12:26 PM on May 15, 2013 [11 favorites]


Narrative Priorities: " Odo is truly the greatest of the Space Assholes."

HE IS. And it is AWESOME.

The TV Tropes section on Odo lists the following entry:

Rules Lawyer: Allow Odo to get his hands on a baseball rulebook, and weep.
Odo: "No player shall at any time make contact with the umpire in any manner. The prescribed penalty for the violation is immediate ejection from the game. Rule Number 4.06, Sub-Section A, paragraph four. Look it up, but do it in the stands. You're GONE!"
As part of his objectivity, he did it to both teams. Though he clearly enjoyed doing it to Solok.

posted by zarq at 12:26 PM on May 15, 2013 [4 favorites]


TOS - 1960s optimism, sense of vastness and being tiny in a huge universe
TNG - Optimism sustained mainly by deference to Roddenberry, but with a mundane, suburbanized-galaxy, Marriott Conference Center interiors feel
DS9 - Optimism going out the window, bordertown setting rather than exploration
VOY - Attempt to recreate the second part of above TOS description
ENT - Optimism basically gone

And of course the fundamental difference between TOS and all that followed -- TOS was almost entirely free-standing short stories with almost zero continuity.
posted by George_Spiggott at 12:26 PM on May 15, 2013 [4 favorites]


Also, I liked that he placed ST:IV higher. People make fun of it all the time but if you watch the movies in order it just feels SO GOOD after all the drama llama from the previous two movies.
posted by charred husk at 12:27 PM on May 15, 2013 [3 favorites]


The best thing about the article is that Yglesias makes the case for a new Star Trek series, one that takes full advantage of the serial turn in television that the franchise, in part, inspired. Put it on SyFy, maybe have an unconventional setting like Starfleet Academy, even do something like Agents of S.H.I.E.L.D. and have it be a counterpart to the movies. The time would be ripe to develop it.
posted by Cash4Lead at 12:29 PM on May 15, 2013 [1 favorite]


My perfect Star Trek movie would be Sisko, Picard and Janeway in a runabout, forced to work as a team in order the save the universe from peril. The nature of the peril doesn't much matter, but I'd grant bonus points if Cardassians were involved.

(Janeway is my favorite thing about Voyager -- the show does AWFUL things with her character sometimes, jerking her around to fit whatever insane plot they'd cooked up that week, but Janeway herself made a huge impact on me as a teenager and young twenty-something. I wish she'd had a better show that let he shine more brightly.)
posted by Narrative Priorities at 12:29 PM on May 15, 2013 [1 favorite]


My all time favorite line from any of the Star Trek variants: "Brain and brain! What is brain?"

TOS all the way, forever and ever, amen.
posted by fikri at 12:30 PM on May 15, 2013 [4 favorites]


Also also if we're talking about superlatives and Star Trek, I would very much like to call attention to The Worst Entrance Of All Time:

It's in the TNG episode Haven, in the scene that starts in the holodeck at like 27:30. Riker and Troi are on the holodeck, having a conversation. As in almost every scene in the holodeck, we're signalled that someone enters the room by the WHOOSH door noise and a little establishing shot of the door.

And then at like 28:40, this dude just walks in randomly, all "HEY Y'ALL", presumably having entered from just ten feet away, with no door-opening noise or anything. I can't really express how TOTALLY ODD this feels; I encourage you to go watch it for yourselves.

It's maybe the weirdest thing that Star Trek has ever done, and I'm including in that assessment the now-agreed-to-be-non-canon episode of Voyager where they go so fast they turn into space lizards and make space lizard babies and one of the babies looked at me
posted by Greg Nog at 12:30 PM on May 15, 2013 [15 favorites]


Poor safety conditions in the Andorian dilithium mines are good for Andorians...and for us.
posted by justsomebodythatyouusedtoknow at 12:31 PM on May 15, 2013 [3 favorites]


Darmok is a wonderful TV space fable about crossing cultural gaps and a terrible episode about language.

I actually agree with that. But how in the world would you represent a language that is so foreign to us that we cannot even understand it at a fundamental level? If you make it understandable then it loses its foreignness. If you make it completely non-understandable then you can't have the story. Yes, their language is flawed conceptually, but as a poetic attempt to get across the inherent foreignness of alien minds I think it succeeds very well. In other words don't focus so much on the nature of the language itself but the foreignness it represents. That's where the genius of the episode lies.
posted by bfootdav at 12:34 PM on May 15, 2013 [2 favorites]


It's maybe the weirdest thing that Star Trek has ever done, and I'm including in that assessment the now-agreed-to-be-non-canon episode of Voyager where they go so fast they turn into space lizards and make space lizard babies and one of the babies looked at me

The most horrifying thing about that Memory Alpha article is this bit:

Despite its lack of popularity, this episode of Star Trek: Voyager was one of only a few that were commemorated by Playmates Toys, with the launch of an episode-specific Voyager action figure release. In this case, the release was an action figure of the episode's hyper-evolved Tom Paris, complete with a phaser and his three mutant offspring.

On the other hand, I have no doubt those action figures are worth millions, like the stamps with the upside-down airplanes.
posted by Cash4Lead at 12:35 PM on May 15, 2013 [1 favorite]


WANT
posted by MCMikeNamara at 12:38 PM on May 15, 2013 [1 favorite]


Cash4Lead: " On the other hand, I have no doubt those action figures are worth millions, like the stamps with the upside-down airplanes."

$3.99
posted by zarq at 12:39 PM on May 15, 2013 [4 favorites]


cortex: "Because DS9 is a far, far better series than Voyager, but many of the things it has going for it are things that aren't all that Trekky by TOS/TNG models."

I subscribe to the theory of Trek (which someone else developed, I forget who but I read it here) that TNG is an aberration in its own universe. Like, all the values we believe are Federation values-peaceful exploration, evolved sensibilities, ethical obligations, etc.--were only ever true on Picard's ship. The entire rest of the Federation were rotten hypocrites, and the episodes read that way convincingly.

Think of every conflict Picard & crew has with other humans: remember the time when the Federation put Data on trial to prove he was property? I've lost count of how many times an admiral was secretly supplying rebels somewhere with arms. Everyone else is violating the prime directive like it's going out of style, and Picard is the only one wringing his hands. I seem to recall an episode of Voyager where they encounter another Federation vessel trying to get home, and they were like, "oh yeah we committed a bunch of genocide on some aliens because it made our engine faster, nbd."

DS9 is less "Trek" but in my reading more true to the actual Federation. The Enterprise is the USS Lollipop. Meanwhile everyone else in the universe gets their hands dirty.
posted by danny the boy at 12:39 PM on May 15, 2013 [44 favorites]


IN CART
posted by MCMikeNamara at 12:39 PM on May 15, 2013 [2 favorites]


You've just listed my most and possibly least favorite episodes - I hated Darmok, but The Inner Light is in the running for best episode of any TV show ever for me. So, leaving the former off the list is fine by me, but omitting the latter is a heinous crime.

Taste is so subjective. I loved "Darmok", and it's probably been one of the episodes I've thought about most in the years since I saw it. Whereas, while I liked "The Inner Light" when I first saw it, on reflection it feels thin and more like a stunt than a really good story.

But it is not a subjective opinion that TOS is among the best Star Trek, if not THE best. Anyone who says otherwise is CRAZY. TOS was revolutionary, and powerful, and not afraid to take risks even if it meant falling flat on its face. And, yes, we all like to pretend that "Turnabout Intruder" never happened, and we adore "Spock's Brain" with heavy, heavy doses of irony -- but "The Menagerie" and "City on the Edge of Forever" and "The Devil in the Dark" and all those other, thoughtful episodes that created the whole universe totally make up for them.

People today talk about the "bad effects" or "over-acting" - of course, there were technical limitations, but the effects were often more imagination than TNG was -- aliens didn't just have bumpy foreheads. And the acting was really quite good - especially William Shatner - though it's in a different style than most modern viewers are used to. But no one goes around complaining that characters in Shakespeare plays don't "speak realistically". Yeah, I just compared TOS to Shakespeare - they quoted him often enough.

The best Star Trek novel ever - How Much for Just the Planet? - and by far the best science-fiction/Gilbert & Sullivan mash-up ever - is a TOS novel, and would never have worked with any other generation.
posted by jb at 12:39 PM on May 15, 2013 [11 favorites]


My all time favorite line from any of the Star Trek variants: "Brain and brain! What is brain?"

Indeed. Runners up:

"No bla bla bla!"
"The women!"

Also, Kirk hamming up the preamble to the Constitution should be required viewing in middle school civics classes. It's not as catchy as the Schoolhouse Rock version but it makes it up in sheer passion.
posted by George_Spiggott at 12:40 PM on May 15, 2013 [7 favorites]


I was just watching DS9 with my ladyfriend, who hadn't seen much of it, and she noted about Sisko during one scene: "He's overacting."

Yeah, I always assumed they paid Avery Brooks with all the scenery he could eat.
posted by The Underpants Monster at 12:41 PM on May 15, 2013 [4 favorites]


I will fight you.

Bring it on, and while Sisko is crying about how sad he is all the time about something and his wife, Janeway will kick both y'all's asses all over the place.
posted by bfootdav at 12:44 PM on May 15, 2013 [2 favorites]


Cash4Lead: " On the other hand, I have no doubt those action figures are worth millions, like the stamps with the upside-down airplanes."

$3.99


It'll appreciate in value. Just like my O.J. Simpson football and my Mark McGwire baseball card.
posted by Cash4Lead at 12:44 PM on May 15, 2013 [1 favorite]


guys TNG is awesome because of all of this

aaaaand Fashion it so

but also I don't think anyone has mentioned one of the funnier/nerdier scenes in DS9, when Quark is literally winning against the Klingons with Excel? It's just Klingons, head banging over little finance tablets. That universe is SO CRAZY GOOD. It really is so alien from the new Star Trek, in which everyone is attractive and no one wears terrible sweaters and there's no diplomacy, whatsoever.
posted by jetlagaddict at 12:44 PM on May 15, 2013 [8 favorites]


I am in the process of doing this myself. I'm about halfway through TNG. I had never sat down and watched through TAS before -- that was a trip!
posted by The Great Big Mulp at 12:47 PM on May 15, 2013


There's a podcast that aims to watch all the episodes and then comment on them. I haven't listened, but they are up to the 40th episode of TOS. Rod Roddenberry, Gene's son, is involved.
posted by mbd1mbd1 at 12:47 PM on May 15, 2013 [5 favorites]


makes the case for a new Star Trek series, one that takes full advantage of the serial turn in television that the franchise, in part, inspired. Put it on SyFy, maybe have an unconventional setting like Starfleet Academy,

The Whelk has a suggestion I endorse: Space Doctors Without Space Borders!
posted by the man of twists and turns at 12:47 PM on May 15, 2013 [6 favorites]


I recently rewatched TOS, TAS, and all of the movies months ago. I headed into TNG full-bore...

until I found how fully boring TNG was. I haven't finished the first season yet. My GOD.

I will say that, after two decades of holding the position that Picard was better than Kirk, I have to revise that entirely. Kirk truly is the greatest starship captain ever.
posted by grubi at 12:49 PM on May 15, 2013 [2 favorites]


1) Picard
2) Kirk
3) Pike
4) Archer
5) Janeway
6) Sisko
posted by plinth at 12:49 PM on May 15, 2013 [2 favorites]


I adored TNG as a child, and I really liked DS9 as a teen. But the adult in me likes TOS best.
posted by jb at 12:51 PM on May 15, 2013 [1 favorite]


Kirk truly is the greatest starship captain ever.

Kirk really should have been court-martialed for not putting his goddamned shields up when communications couldn't be established with Reliant on approach. It's right there in the regs, and he knew it.
posted by COBRA! at 12:51 PM on May 15, 2013 [10 favorites]


3) Pike

Ouch.
posted by bfootdav at 12:51 PM on May 15, 2013


Oh shit, I think I'm some kind of Khan Truther
posted by COBRA! at 12:51 PM on May 15, 2013 [19 favorites]


1) Picard
2) Kirk
3) Sisko
4) Janeway
5) April
6) Archer
7) Pike
posted by The Great Big Mulp at 12:54 PM on May 15, 2013 [3 favorites]


And to all who think of Shatner as Kirk being hammy or overacting... watch any other TV show of that era: overacting WAS acting. Shatner was actually one of the best of his era. Plus, he deserves more credit as an actor -- considering what the character was written to be, he managed to make him entertaining as all get-out.
posted by grubi at 12:55 PM on May 15, 2013 [14 favorites]


Plus, he was one helluva singer.
posted by entropicamericana at 12:59 PM on May 15, 2013 [1 favorite]


His "Rocket Man" was intended to be a dramatic monologue. As a monologue, it's great.
posted by jb at 1:00 PM on May 15, 2013


1)Sulu
2) Picard
3) Kirk
4) Sisko
5) Janeway
6) April
7) Archer
8) Pike
posted by charred husk at 1:01 PM on May 15, 2013 [10 favorites]


All of them are great and even the rebooted movie was amazing. I can't wait for the next one. I get to enjoy these updated movies with my 11 year old son much the same way I enjoyed TNG with my father. Gosh we are a family of nerds :)
posted by no1nose at 1:01 PM on May 15, 2013 [1 favorite]


The best episode of TNG is Skin of Evil. It has terrible effects and kills Tasha Yar, so people don't like it, but it is the best. Reasons:

1) Troi is really fucking useful in a way she should have been in every episode.

2) The protagonists are clearly better people than us--they fit Roddenberry's utopian vision for people, but not in a way that deflates tension. The episode asks how they would react to an intractable situation with the stance that being better people is something valuable. While later writers abandoned that premise to good effect, I wonder how they could have explored it--and honestly, I feel guilty for liking the DS9 episodes that mock it, because it feels like taking the easy way out.

3) Tasha Yar dies, and for the only time in a series, we care about what happens to a security officer. I would have liked her character to stick around longer too, but this was a good way to go, even if late-80s audiences weren't ready for it.

4) It's a sign of cosmic weirdness in the galaxy, with species ascending to godhood and leaving *things* behind.

Anyway, imagine this episode filmed with modern CGI and a more naturalistic set and directions, and it would be better accepted than it was.

The second best episode is The Most Toys. Reasons:

1) This was before the emotion chip, so we were thinking Data would develop emotions. God damn that emotion chip.

2) Data tries to straight up fucking kill a man, and LIES about it. We can understand why he would as a purely rational act, but lying to O'Brien makes his motives ambiguous.

3) At the end, after he maybe gloats, and maybe doesn't, we're left wondering if Data does feel, and if this is necessarily a good thing. There's something about that final exchange between Rubinek and Spiner that works so well.
posted by mobunited at 1:02 PM on May 15, 2013 [17 favorites]


I do love ST:TNG Season 8.
posted by jb at 1:03 PM on May 15, 2013 [4 favorites]


His "Rocket Man" was intended to be a dramatic monologue. As a monologue, it's great.

I was referring to his cover of "I Want to Sex You Up," I'll have you know.
posted by entropicamericana at 1:03 PM on May 15, 2013


kills Tasha Yar, so people don't like it

Does not compute
posted by George_Spiggott at 1:04 PM on May 15, 2013 [1 favorite]


Shatner's version of "Common People" is the ONLY version.
posted by Chrysostom at 1:04 PM on May 15, 2013 [20 favorites]


I had to momentarily abandon my straight-through Netflix TNG rewatch on the fourth episode: "Code of Honor", otherwise known as "Tasha Yar vs. The Planet of Angry Black People."

Coming late to this thread, apparently:

Code of Honor was the most "Original Series" of the TNG episodes, before they decided that they shouldn't try to remake TOS. TOS, after all, gave us space-Mongolian-commies vs. Space-Minutemen. It really encapsulates for me why I don't think TOS aged well at all, not even as camp.
posted by muddgirl at 1:05 PM on May 15, 2013


"The Most Toys" was a great episode, for three reasons: 1) Saul Rubinek, 2) Saul Rubinek and 3) the performance by Saul Rubinek.

Rubinek is just a gem of an actor - he's 60% of the reason to watch Warehouse 13 (the other 40% being divided between that computer girl and the warehouse itself).
posted by jb at 1:07 PM on May 15, 2013 [5 favorites]


Or maybe Space Patriots. I don't really know what a Minuteman is apparently.
posted by muddgirl at 1:07 PM on May 15, 2013


grubi: "And to all who think of Shatner as Kirk being hammy or overacting... watch any other TV show of that era: overacting WAS acting. Shatner was actually one of the best of his era. Plus, he deserves more credit as an actor -- considering what the character was written to be, he managed to make him entertaining as all get-out."

They were making the show to be understandable by people who were watching on 13" B&W sets getting standard broadcast on rabbit ears with tin foil wrapped on them. It's not really fair to watch them on our high-def 1080p, 5.1 stereo sets and then complain that they're over done.
posted by octothorpe at 1:08 PM on May 15, 2013 [12 favorites]


Also, the one where Data demonstrates that he can destroy your space colony with his TV remote, so STFU plucky colonists. Unfortunately, they had to backtrack on this by DS9, because battles where people with TV remotes create hellscapes of ash and lava are hard to do. This left us with Trek's inverse phaser rule, where tv remote phasers can melt aqueducts, but phaser rifles can't bore through rocks.
posted by mobunited at 1:09 PM on May 15, 2013 [3 favorites]


1) Garrett
posted by charlie don't surf at 1:09 PM on May 15, 2013 [8 favorites]


Shatner's version of "Common People" is the ONLY version.
posted by Chrysostom at 1:04 PM on May 15


Agreed. In fact the entire album is much better than it has any right to be, and I cannot fathom why Shatner decided to do another album wthout Ben Folds in the mix.

Also, ST:TOS is the only real Trek, everything else is just a weak attempt at re-creating the magic that was Kirk-Bones-Spock.
posted by Vindaloo at 1:11 PM on May 15, 2013 [1 favorite]


I tried watching IV recently and it has aged very badly. '80s effects, clueless '80s stereotypes. Maybe one day it will have the kind of retro charm that Assignment: Earth has (Roberta Lincoln is a clueless '60s stereotype but on Terry Garr and at this distance it's fun) but for now it just hurts. If I want to see campy '80s SF I'll watch the great Buckaroo Banzai.
posted by George_Spiggott at 1:11 PM on May 15, 2013 [1 favorite]


It's also a different style of acting. Acting styles have changed over time: you don't preform a Greek Tragedy like a Mamet play, and the acting in a 1950s MGM musical will be different than a deadpan 2000s comedy.

I really like Shatner's acting in TOS because so many of the leading-men-types in action shows of the time really were wooden in their performances (like the guy who played Pike), whereas Shatner had such energy and theatricality, but also could be delicate even within the heightened style.
posted by jb at 1:12 PM on May 15, 2013 [10 favorites]


This left us with Trek's inverse phaser rule, where tv remote phasers can melt aqueducts, but phaser rifles can't bore through rocks.

It's a consequence of the prime directive of Star Trek storytelling:

Starships move at the speed of plot.

From that, it's trivial to derive the consequences: The power of any device is limited by the scope of plot, and the range of sensors limited by the scale of plot.
posted by CBrachyrhynchos at 1:13 PM on May 15, 2013 [5 favorites]


My problem with TOS, by the way, isn't the overacting or the effects. It's the really, really, really silly plot lines. I'm not saying every episode is terrible - some are actually quite good. But how many "Alternate earth" episodes can you do in a show that's not supposed to be about alternate universes?

Also, Bones is really uncomfortably racist, and everyone is just like, "Oh, Bones! What a difference of opinion we have!" Maybe I just love Spock as a character too much to endure all the abuse he gets for no real reason at all.
posted by muddgirl at 1:14 PM on May 15, 2013 [2 favorites]


The inverse phaser rule reached its logical conclusion when DS9 established that a rifle with 24th century gizmos was just better, and when Picard traded his useless phaser for a holo-Tommy gun.
posted by mobunited at 1:16 PM on May 15, 2013


everything else is just a weak attempt at re-creating the magic that was Kirk-Bones-Spock.

now with links

Warning: TVTropes may suck you into a never-ending vortex of pop culture.
posted by jb at 1:16 PM on May 15, 2013 [2 favorites]


There's a podcast that aims to watch all the episodes and then comment on them.

Make It So is a podcast that started doing this with first season TNG. Watching it with a little commentary makes re-watching the first season episodes a little more fun.
posted by Avelwood at 1:17 PM on May 15, 2013 [3 favorites]


muddgirl: the alt-earth episodes aren't as tiring as the OVERCOMING THE GOD-LIKE ENTITY episodes are in TOS. Heavens to mothafuckin' betsy, how many godlings are there in this galaxy?
posted by grubi at 1:17 PM on May 15, 2013 [2 favorites]


you don't preform a Greek Tragedy like a Mamet play

BLAKE: Look, you hack, you motherfucker, you make sales or you hit the tracks, Jack.
OEDIPUS: You're calling me a motherfucker?
BLAKE: I'm calling you a motherfucker.
OEDIPUS: I don't have to listen to this—
BLAKE: And put that toga down. Togas are for closers.
posted by cortex at 1:17 PM on May 15, 2013 [3 favorites]


Also, Bones is really uncomfortably racist, and everyone is just like, "Oh, Bones! What a difference of opinion we have!" Maybe I just love Spock as a character too much to endure all the abuse he gets for no real reason at all.

Gawd, Pulaski too. All the "You're just a fucking toaster, amirite?" subtext lines were grating.
posted by mobunited at 1:18 PM on May 15, 2013 [3 favorites]


Heavens to mothafuckin' betsy, how many godlings are there in this galaxy?

I don't know, but I love the ones with harpsichords.
posted by jb at 1:18 PM on May 15, 2013 [3 favorites]


My buddy had an idea to run a Trek tabletop RPG with the premise that TNG was actually a holo-series in the Federation that existed to downplay the fact that deep space exploration ships who encountered godlike beings were basically bumping into Cthulhu Mythos-like terror/awe.

You got to take your family with you because Earth would rather not get you back, just in case Nyarlathot--er, "Q" did something horrible to you that could endanger Federation civilization.
posted by mobunited at 1:22 PM on May 15, 2013 [2 favorites]


Kirk-Bones-Spock

Phrasing!
posted by backseatpilot at 1:22 PM on May 15, 2013 [33 favorites]


holy shitsnacks
posted by grubi at 1:23 PM on May 15, 2013 [4 favorites]


Gawd, Pulaski too.

Yeah, I think she was pretty directly supposed to reference Bones, both in her approach to her job and her approach towards Data, but it made people more uncomfortable than Bones ever did, even though IMO Bones was much more openly hateful to Spock (I'm thinking of an early episode where Spock and Bones and crew are stranded on a dangerous planet and Bones undermines Spock's authority at every turn). Pulaski was in a way a more modern bigot.
posted by muddgirl at 1:24 PM on May 15, 2013


Gawd, Pulaski too. All the "You're just a fucking toaster, amirite?" subtext lines were grating.

I cheered when she fell to her death in an empty turbolift shaft.
posted by 1970s Antihero at 1:25 PM on May 15, 2013 [12 favorites]


"There's a podcast that aims to watch all the episodes and then comment on them."

They're not the only one in that game.
posted by komara at 1:25 PM on May 15, 2013 [1 favorite]


I just like the mental image suggested in the article of solving the problem of Troi's mom coming to visit with photon torpedoes or a commando squad.
posted by ckape at 1:25 PM on May 15, 2013


Pulaski was in a way a more modern bigot.

I don't know. I mean, you eventually got the sense that Bones was being a stupid bro but basically liked Spock, whereas you never doubted that Pulaski would shoot Data in the face if he generated Wifi interference.
posted by mobunited at 1:27 PM on May 15, 2013 [14 favorites]


I disagree with half or more of everything being said here, and yet I love you all.
posted by vanar sena at 1:41 PM on May 15, 2013 [4 favorites]


Also, best captains in order:

1) Riley
posted by George_Spiggott at 1:51 PM on May 15, 2013 [1 favorite]


Well, the rumor (that I can't find the link to) was that McFadden got canned because she tried to stage-workshop around the paradox that the Crushers were family but rarely were seen in the same scene together. Hence Pulaski. Season three apparently got some new blood and McFadden back in better scenes. It also managed to take a mulligan over some of the weaker prior episodes, giving Picard a caper off the holodeck and improving on The Child that peaked early with one of the better Worf-denied moments but couldn't do anything with starchild or Pulaski.
posted by CBrachyrhynchos at 1:52 PM on May 15, 2013


Most Beige Series: TNG x 1000000000
posted by Artw at 2:01 PM on May 15, 2013 [11 favorites]


It's the really, really, really silly plot lines....
...Heavens to mothafuckin' betsy, how many godlings are there in this galaxy?


In TOS, I enjoyed the silly plots and space-god episodes. But I don't think TNG changed course much on either of these. So many TNG plots are silly, particularly holodeck episodes, and there's no shortage of wacky-new-alien-race episodes either. Or Troi and her Mom episodes. Then you got Q, a godlike returning character, and one of the first characters killed off is done in by a magic cranky puddle of black stuff that feeds off bad feelings. I mean, that's straight out of Care Bears FFS.
posted by Hoopo at 2:07 PM on May 15, 2013 [1 favorite]


60's TOS watcher, bored by TNG, missed DS9, liked some Voyager, liked the amiability in Enterprise but not all the stories, TOMs 2 and 4.

150 comments and no-one has mentioned Seven of Nine? Tough crowd. I would not have wished to meet her or Janeway in an other-dimensional back alley.
posted by issue #1 at 2:08 PM on May 15, 2013 [2 favorites]


Much of the strength of the show [DS9] and its characters comes from the fact that it was a reaction to TNG, and to TNG's own at-times-awkward resynthesis of TOS. DS9 has intra-staff conflict, darker character themes, plot continuity that is not superficial, and lots of muddled morality compared to what came before and in large part to what followed. These things work well but they also stand apart a bit.

It's worth noting that DS9 was so different because it was ripping off Babylon 5.
posted by cosmic.osmo at 2:10 PM on May 15, 2013 [3 favorites]


Also, ST:TOS is the only real Trek, everything else is just a weak attempt at re-creating the magic

It's true, but hard to understand if you weren't there for that original ride.
posted by Rash at 2:10 PM on May 15, 2013


It's worth noting that DS9 was so different because it was ripping off Babylon 5.

JMS has famously railed on the fact that DS9 was a clear and utter theft of the content of his B5 bible by a scheming Paramount, but I'm not sure there's ultimately any way to settle that particular theory short of a written confession. I love B5 and I love DS9 and they are both certainly Shows Which Take Place On A Space Station, but the "it's a ripoff" argument doesn't stand up super well to scrutiny considering how different the shows actually were from each other.
posted by cortex at 2:14 PM on May 15, 2013 [12 favorites]


cosmic.osmo: "It's worth noting that DS9 was so different because it was ripping off Babylon 5."

I've heard this argument, but having recently watched both shows end to end, I don't really buy it. Other than "strategically important space station, with heroic commander blessed by the Gods", the shows have nothing in common.
posted by vanar sena at 2:16 PM on May 15, 2013 [4 favorites]


man, what does cortex know anyway
posted by vanar sena at 2:17 PM on May 15, 2013 [1 favorite]


I started with the movies as a wee 'un, so they hold a special place. And as I described earlier, there are actually no more movies after First Contact (I watched something involving some hippies and some magic regenerative rings, but that may have been a hallucination).

I never gave Enterprise a chance and rewatched it lately -- it's not horrible. That theme song needs to go. More non-humanoid decon gel scenes. And at the end of the second episode, they should have turned Archer into a puddle of inside-out transporter goo and got a new captain. Not dissing on Bakula, but you know... just to be more gritty.
posted by RobotVoodooPower at 2:19 PM on May 15, 2013


It's worth noting that DS9 was so different because it was ripping off Babylon 5.

That's debatable unless unproven statements count as evidence, or the show creators are Harlan Ellison like and think they own certain concepts. But that is not the reason it's different.

everything else is just a weak attempt at re-creating the magic

Thankfully DS9 never made such an attempt.
posted by juiceCake at 2:20 PM on May 15, 2013 [1 favorite]


The thing that kept me from loving DS9 more fully was too many dang Kardashians.
posted by Mister_A at 2:27 PM on May 15, 2013 [3 favorites]


Babylon 5 is another of my favorite shows, but DS9 is different and equally enjoyable. Look, Babylon 5 was our last best chance for peace (or victory depending on the season), but DS9 was the key to the alpha quadrant! It's totally different.

Oh man - Garak vs. G'kar - Discuss.
posted by Arbac at 2:30 PM on May 15, 2013 [3 favorites]


The thing that kept me from loving DS9 more fully was too many dang Kardashians.

Thanks to my DS9 rewatch happening within earshot of my wife I get to hear that joke at least once a week.
posted by Artw at 2:30 PM on May 15, 2013 [4 favorites]


The hypothesis that seems to fit all the facts is that JMS pitched B5, they said no thanks, and then decided to adapt it to the Star Trek continuity, changing a lot of details in the process. So while not technically a ripoff, basically kinda shitty behavior of a rather commonplace sort in the industry.
posted by George_Spiggott at 2:31 PM on May 15, 2013


So many TNG plots are silly, particularly holodeck episodes, and there's no shortage of wacky-new-alien-race episodes either. Or Troi and her Mom episodes. Then you got Q, a godlike returning character, and one of the first characters killed off is done in by a magic cranky puddle of black stuff that feeds off bad feelings. I mean, that's straight out of Care Bears FFS.

I don't think TNG can win this contest.

Nazis in space.

I don't mind silly episodes in television shows, but it seemed to me like with TOS, there was no there there. I fully admit that maybe I had to be watching it in the 60s, when anthology shows were more popular, or plots were less well-considered as a whole, or Roddenberry's brand of can't-we-all-just-get-along (as long as you aren't a feminist) idealism was more palatable.

One episode I do like (which is often derided for "bad acting") is The Enemy Within. It's a silly concept, but it also has something to say about the human condition, and it takes it's own concept very seriously.
posted by muddgirl at 2:33 PM on May 15, 2013 [1 favorite]


I guess 1993 was a great year if you liked space stations with a side order of mystical bollocks.
posted by Artw at 2:35 PM on May 15, 2013 [6 favorites]


*High-fives Mrs. Artw*
posted by Mister_A at 2:37 PM on May 15, 2013 [1 favorite]


You're all overlooking the fact that Voyager was a rip off of Lexx... at least it is in the fan fiction I've been writing.
posted by drezdn at 2:37 PM on May 15, 2013 [1 favorite]


Oh man - Garak vs. G'kar - Discuss.

I think Garak and G'kar on Space Adventures! would be an awesome show/book/comic.
posted by Zalzidrax at 2:38 PM on May 15, 2013


That's because Lexx is a ripoff of all fanfiction.
posted by jb at 2:38 PM on May 15, 2013 [1 favorite]


never gave Enterprise a chance and rewatched it lately -- it's not horrible

It's actually unwatchable -- unlike the Star Wars prequels, they seemed to make zero effort to make their Enterprise conform to the true original from The Cage pilot, which is in fact very best Star Trek.

Teletypes on the bridge! And lasers!
posted by Rash at 2:38 PM on May 15, 2013 [1 favorite]


That's because Lexx is a ripoff of all fanfiction.

Mostly the slash.
posted by Artw at 2:39 PM on May 15, 2013 [3 favorites]


When I was young I thought the Cardassians/Bajorians was supposed to be Serbians/Bosnians. Is there a more accurate comparison?
posted by drezdn at 2:39 PM on May 15, 2013 [1 favorite]


*High-fives Mrs. Artw*

I get my own back when she watches Grey's Anatomy by outlining my parallel show, Sex Hospital, which is set in a hospital on top of the space needle. It's like a regular medical drama, but all the doctors have sex - a lot!
posted by Artw at 2:41 PM on May 15, 2013 [7 favorites]


Nazis in space.

Don't forget the Planet of the 1920s Gangsters

To me these are strengths. The show was campy and fun, with these corny effects, over-the-top acting, and B-movie-level plot and storytelling. TNG tried to be serious and heavy a bit too much for my taste, which was fine when I was 14 but in retrospect just doesn't work for me.
posted by Hoopo at 2:43 PM on May 15, 2013 [1 favorite]


My pet theory is that the reason they're keeping the villain's name under wraps for the new Star Trek is because they're doing a feature-length adaptation of the Nazi planet episode.
posted by ckape at 2:45 PM on May 15, 2013 [1 favorite]


I've been rewatching ST:TNG, and I've slowed down dramatically in season 5. There are some great episodes in that season (including one of my favorites), but it's been a slog in parts. I can't wait until season 6 so I can start watching DS:9.
posted by drezdn at 2:45 PM on May 15, 2013



Roman Planet
posted by Artw at 2:45 PM on May 15, 2013 [1 favorite]


Space Irish
posted by drezdn at 2:46 PM on May 15, 2013 [1 favorite]


The best Star Trek novel ever - How Much for Just the Planet?

My god yes! That one was pure brilliance!
posted by TwoWordReview at 2:47 PM on May 15, 2013 [1 favorite]


Uh, every time Trek does Nazis in Space, I delight a little. VOY's holodeck two parter (The Killing Game) was awesome for both being a holodeck episode AND having real stakes.

Also, ENT's alternate universe opener for season 4 with Alien Nazis invading New York, culminating in a mafioso vs. nazi gun battle and biplanes vs. shuttles (Stormfront Parts 1 & 2)

Spoilers: aliens+nazis = always awesome.
posted by destronomics at 2:49 PM on May 15, 2013 [2 favorites]


Lexx. Could never watch it but it was the perfect show for my father, who my sisters and I agreed would watch anything with boobs and spaceships, or if you like Boobs in space. With the new wave of excellent television his tastes have become far more selective.

As for the whole rip off thing, see Shakespeare taking source material and writing great works and see, well, a ton of writers doing that and coming up with similar ideas. I once heard B5 dismissed as Mos Eisley in space. BSG's human Cylons as "rip offs" of DS9's Founders even though a human Cylon was in BSG 1980 which then would no doubt bring a response that the Founders were rip offs of them, who then in terms were rip offs of any shape shifters in any fiction prior to that until we got down to the very first shapeshifter, appearances can be deceiving story and say that every other story that has that is a "rip off" of that, etc. and so forth.
posted by juiceCake at 2:49 PM on May 15, 2013


and one of the first characters killed off is done in by a magic cranky puddle of black stuff that feeds off bad feelings. I mean, that's straight out of Care Bears FFS.

Like I said, it's the best episode, because it's baiting you to take the Republican, swinging dick-somebody's-gotta-make-hard-choices-what'cha-gonna-do-libruls-when-real-evil-shows-up stance, and then goes "Fuck you, being idealistic and compassionate is better."

This position has the virtue of being right.
posted by mobunited at 2:49 PM on May 15, 2013 [4 favorites]


When I was young I thought the Cardassians/Bajorians was supposed to be Serbians/Bosnians. Is there a more accurate comparison?

We were in college when TNG finished and DS9 was just getting its legs. There were weekly debates about the analogy: Which is what makes good scifi and great Trek: disconnect your natural rooting tendencies from a difficult situation and try looking at said situation on its own. What side will you choose?

Ron Moore, who cut his chops on TNG and came into his own on DS9 codified this concept in his rebooted Battlestar Galactica. What happens if the home team uses suicide bombers?
posted by aureliobuendia at 2:49 PM on May 15, 2013 [7 favorites]


I did like that even though they portrayed the actual cultures in a hamhanded fashion, TNG, DS9 and Voyager all presented First Nations as part of the future--and a part that didn't need a moral license from the Federation, successor of the old colonial powers. It wasn't perfect, but that's a pretty big deal.
posted by mobunited at 2:53 PM on May 15, 2013 [3 favorites]


George_Spiggott:

"Also, Kirk hamming up the preamble to the Constitution should be required viewing in middle school civics classes. It's not as catchy as the Schoolhouse Rock version but it makes it up in sheer passion."

I should be embarrassed by this admission but I'm not, and I'm not a knee-jerk patriot either, but hearing just the beginning of this brought goose-pimples up and stirred up a major amount dust in my office, if you take my meaning.

When my ex would react this way watching her silly tv dramas, I accused her of being a sap; well even badly-written, over-acted allegory about the greatness of man really does turn the SAP in me all the way up to 11.

I think it has something to do with a writer trying to explain our 1960s selves to the rest of the world.

or maybe not
posted by arkham_inmate_0801 at 2:56 PM on May 15, 2013 [1 favorite]


and then goes "Fuck you, being idealistic and compassionate is better."

Wait, that's not what happened. They tried that, it failed, then they just tricked him and ran off, leaving the evil magic black puddle all on its own for eternity.
posted by Hoopo at 2:59 PM on May 15, 2013


Also, best captains in order:

1) RileyPorthos

Nothing, I repeat, nothing compares to his bravura performance in The Bones of Time except possibly his van Vogt-approved Voyage of the Space Beagle.
posted by Sparx at 3:00 PM on May 15, 2013


Lexx reminds me of Andromeda and its maddening ability to show you how it could have been a better show with more money and no Kevin Sorbo but more Kieth Hamilton Cobb. And maybe with its original premise as a post-Federation Trek.
posted by mobunited at 3:00 PM on May 15, 2013 [1 favorite]


TNG tried to be serious and heavy a bit too much for my taste

That's fine, to each his own. What I have a problem with is the idea that it's wrong or heretical to prefer TNG - an opinion expressed in this very thread, but less and less often, I'd guess, as the old fan-base dies off. I don't hate TOS. I just prefer TNG. And yes, I've watched both as an adult.

I couldn't get into DS9, I think, for the opposite reason that TOS never gelled with me - DS9 writers never seemed to really embrace their silly concepts the way TOS and TNG did, which leads to lots of winking-behind-the-hand fanservice and plotlines that didn't seem to have any weight to them.
posted by muddgirl at 3:01 PM on May 15, 2013


One thing I love about TNG is that it brought us the borg. Who are unspeakably awesome, and as they were originally presented, so antithetical to human nature as conceived of by individualist western thinking. But then they had to go and ruin it by introducing the borg queen.

The genius of the borg was that of a truly collective, distributed, non-hierarchical structure; there's no head to cut off, no hope of finding the one vulnerability that brings down the entire collective. Even if you vaporize a whole cube -- or, hell, an armada of cubes -- no sooner have you done that, than the rest of the collective have already collected and analyzed the data and adapted.

For purposes of dramatization, the absence of any individual personality for the 'villain' can be limiting; and perhaps it is the very awesomeness of the original idea of the borg that led to the need to change it: what hope would we humans have against a truly implacable collective foe? But I am still disappointed that the writers backed down from the challenge of that precipice.

One last quibble: I always thought that instead of 'resistance is futile' it should have been 'resistance is irrelevant'. Somehow more chilling. To my mind, anyway.
posted by fikri at 3:08 PM on May 15, 2013 [23 favorites]


It's exactly what happened. Wait, that's not what happened. They tried that, it failed, then they just tricked him and ran off, leaving the evil magic black puddle all on its own for eternity.

They tricked him because he was their moral inferior, and being immoral sucks. Idealism *was* the trick. Armus keeps offering them the kind of bullshit outs that could be used for cheap pathos, to sacrifice one of themselves for his amusement. But not only doesn't that play, they know it would never work (in fact, it's a brave scripting decision for it *not* to work, because these shows permit these kinds of dumb, theatrical contracts cemented by sentiment all the time), and Troi--Troi, doing her goddamn job!--spearheads manipulating him.
posted by mobunited at 3:11 PM on May 15, 2013 [1 favorite]


TOS: So far the most strongly plotted of the series. It really hits that classic "end each act on a cliffhanger so they won't change the channel" TV structure. Which I think is great. Lots of DRAMA.

Though there have been one or two boring episodes that felt boring in the same way TNG would sometimes feel boring. I think it's hard to make us care about a planet-of-the-week scenario unless the situation is uniquely compelling or it brings about character development in some way. Kirk and Spock trapped on a pacifist planet where there's about to be a Klingon invasion? Great! Kirk and Spock beam down to a planet because there's some guy and he has a problem because whatever? Don't care.

TNG: My personal favorite because I cut my teeth on it, but it had a lot of writing problems in the first couple years*. And, yes, a bad habit of letting there be random boring episodes where nothing much happens. Also, Season 7 is far worse than I remember it being from watching it as a preteen.

DS9: Probably ages the best, but that's because it's patterned on a much more modern style of TV storytelling.

Voyager: Never really watched. Am afraid of what will happen when I get to Voyager after my long slog through all the Star Trek series on Netflix.

Enterprise: Have never seen.

I largely have no opinion on the movies, but that's about to change as I wrap up TOS and move through a watch/re-watch the movies. I enjoyed the Khan episode of TOS enough that I'm excited to see Wrath Of Khan for sure.

One thing I love about TNG is that it brought us the borg. Who are unspeakably awesome

I was really upset re-watching Insurrection recently (at least I think it was Insurrection, I get the latter TNG movies mixed up) where they mention that the Federation is losing ground to the Borg, but then we spend the whole movie trying to help some sad immortal people protect their planet from plastic surgery addicts. Uhhhhh, if Starfleet is losing to the Borg, WHY THE FUCK ISN'T THE ENTERPRISE FIXING THAT????

*Do Not get me started on the writers' habit of a teaser that doesn't tease anything, then spending the first fifteen minutes noodling around on nothing much, before deciding to get the story started in the last half hour. WHY would you structure a narrative that way?
posted by Sara C. at 3:16 PM on May 15, 2013 [2 favorites]


I always liked Voyager's Bride of Chaotica for no other reason than the Holodeck's safety features actually worked.

Speaking of the Holodeck, there was an odd shift in Holodeck mores. Nobody cared if Riker had a thing for a holo-chatbot, but eventually you were supposed to feel bad about Geordi and Barclay getting wrapped up in Holo-romance/sex.

Then again, maybe it was just a "Well, you know *Riker*" kind of thing.
posted by mobunited at 3:20 PM on May 15, 2013 [4 favorites]


I'm halfway through DS9, and I've watched all of TOS and TNG and a few of the movies. I'm totally a idealistic progressive nerd (i.e. ST was made for me) but I grew up without TV and I got to Star Trek late. I'm actually really excited that there's so much more left for me to enjoy!

But yeah, I can't believe Sisko was left out. Sisko is totally badass and a great character.
posted by Cygnet at 3:21 PM on May 15, 2013 [1 favorite]


List of best hologram characters
1) Vic Fontaine
2) The EMH Mark I
3) Moriarty
4) Does it even matter? I already listed Vic!

The Voyager episode where the EMH Mark I and the EMH Mark II save the the day is a personal favorite of mine.

Holosuite/holodeck episodes are always fantastic! The DS9 Vegas robbery caper might be my favorite episode ever.
posted by Arbac at 3:21 PM on May 15, 2013 [1 favorite]


Do Not get me started on the writers' habit of a teaser that doesn't tease anything, then spending the first fifteen minutes noodling around on nothing much, before deciding to get the story started in the last half hour. WHY would you structure a narrative that way?

I say this with a deep and abiding love of much of Trek: if you had to write 26 episodes of a series every 52 weeks, you might, ah, stretch a concept a little from time to time (ok, every other week) to make it a full episode.

Of course, you would never, ever, stretch a concept so much that you'd call it a two-parter. I'm totally not looking at Chain of Command or Time's Arrow here.
posted by aureliobuendia at 3:21 PM on May 15, 2013 [3 favorites]


Do Not get me started on the writers' habit of a teaser that doesn't tease anything, then spending the first fifteen minutes noodling around on nothing much, before deciding to get the story started in the last half hour. WHY would you structure a narrative that way?

That first act of noodling around actually became my favorite part of ST:NG. These little daily-life moments set in the future were far more interesting and creative than whatever plot they could come up with to save the universe. Saying that, though, they weren't all gems and anything involving Riker and Poker (other than that one episode) was horrible.

Still, I really dug the noodling.
posted by bfootdav at 3:22 PM on May 15, 2013 [3 favorites]


The quality of TNG episodes for me seems to depend on the Spiner/Frakes ratio. Which is one of the reasons why I like The Offspring as one of my favorite episodes. Frakes, as director, gives himself a singular bit of comedy, but the bulk of the episode is Spiner and Stewart tackling the classic sci-fi problems of personhood and family.

Picard initially takes the skeptical position against Data's purely logical "But why not?" It's the source of the famous double-facepalm after all. But when Picard's superior tries to bully in on Data's parental relationship, Picard rises to defend his officer. The real magic happens when Picard rhetorically argues Data's position, then he stops mid-sentence in an "oh shit, I was wrong and Data was right" moment, then repeats the point with conviction.

Enterprise: I'm working my way through it for the first time. I imagine the theme song as Ferengi Karaoke. It's amazing how much of the show seems to revolve around food, and getting trip stripped down to his underwear, and the principle that Trip and Malcolm shouldn't be left alone without adult supervision.
posted by CBrachyrhynchos at 3:26 PM on May 15, 2013 [7 favorites]


I liked the noodling when it was layered into the show so as to create an interesting pace and give us plenty of character moments.

But in the first and second seasons there are all these episodes where they front-load the noodling, and it's just like OMG STOP MESSING AROUND AND GET TO THE POINT!

I definitely get the need to stretch a weak concept into a whole episode*, but for me the problem is the pace and structure. So many episodes where I was tempted to just turn it off because we were in Act II and nothing had even happened yet.

I think there was one early TNG episode where I decided to do the dinner dishes while the episode started up, and I was able to wash all the dishes in my sink before the plot even started.

*Though, uhhhh, why not just come up with more episodes?
posted by Sara C. at 3:28 PM on May 15, 2013


11
8
2
6
1
12
4
7
10
9
5
3

12 is a disappointment, its a study in increasing laziness. I hope there is going to be some more discussion once it opens in the US.

My perfect Star Trek movie would be Sisko, Picard and Janeway in a runabout, forced to work as a team in order the save the universe from peril.

So it would basically be a test of whether Picard and Sisko could maintain their principles in the face of working with someone who needs to be pushed out of the airlock?
posted by biffa at 3:28 PM on May 15, 2013 [1 favorite]


I will also say that Brent Spiner's performance as anything other than Data being normal usual typical Data does not age well. I don't want to cast aspersions on Brent Spiner, because I don't think it's entirely his fault. But at some point the show became so in love with Spiner that they'd let him do just about anything. And, guys, Brent Spiner is good, but he's not that good.

I think "A Fistful Of Datas" was where I lost my patience with him.
posted by Sara C. at 3:30 PM on May 15, 2013 [5 favorites]


Now I kind of want to see Brent Spiner and Ben Browder (I am watching Farscape for the first time) in some kind of rap-battle-style acting competition. Browder is also often called on to punch above his weight class.
posted by muddgirl at 3:34 PM on May 15, 2013 [1 favorite]


They tricked him because he was their moral inferior, and being immoral sucks. Idealism *was* the trick.

Troi tried the ol' Care Bear Stare.

They tricked him by making him really mad, which made magic evil black puddle's magic not work anymore, then they take their friends and fly away and make sure no one ever goes there again. I'm not really seeing idealism or compassion as themes there. That's not even getting into whether it is truly a brave writing decision to not have your characters compromise with a character you created to be quite literally the embodiment of evil, in magic black puddle form.

The episode's bad. Real bad. Just sayin.
posted by Hoopo at 3:44 PM on May 15, 2013


Mr. Stardust and I are watching DS9 now. I've seen every other ST series several times (yes, even Voyager), but somehow I never caught on to DS9. Anyway, we're finding ourselves skipping a lot of filler episodes. The Dominion war plot is interesting, but takes so long to get really going, and it's frustrating to have to take time off from the war plot to watch O'Brien get stuck in time or Quark deal with his employee strike.

Having come from Farscape, we're also amused at how neutered and bland so many of the characters are. We had a good laugh at the idea that everyone spends all their free time learning skills to make themselves better little worker bees (Dr. Bashir taking an engineering course in his off hours, etc) instead of indulging any vices (or personality disorders) at all. Even the action at Quark's is pretty tame. Odo and Worf are both the same variety of square, humorless workaholics; Sisko's one personality quirk is that he's into the universe's most boring sport (baseball); even Kira's post-terrorist angst is dull.

Maybe I just got too used to kinky fetish-outfit action from Farscape.
posted by Kitty Stardust at 3:56 PM on May 15, 2013 [3 favorites]


CONFESSION: My love of Deep Space Nine is matched only by my intense, fiery hatred of Vic Fontain.

I always wanted to punch him in his smug photonic face.
posted by Narrative Priorities at 4:06 PM on May 15, 2013 [8 favorites]


That's not even getting into whether it is truly a brave writing decision to not have your characters compromise with a character you created to be quite literally the embodiment of evil, in magic black puddle form.

We live in a world where an evil main character anchored several seasons of 24 and tortured people because of Hard Choices and got to release his moral burden with token scenes of perfunctory guilt, and that was OK, because of course we had the attitude that being moral was Care Bare stuff for babies.
posted by mobunited at 4:08 PM on May 15, 2013 [4 favorites]


CONFESSION: My love of Deep Space Nine is matched only by my intense, fiery hatred of Vic Fontain.

I've never had a reason to say this on MeFi before, but here goes ...

I will fight you.
posted by Arbac at 4:19 PM on May 15, 2013 [5 favorites]


I will have to say that the first ten minutes of Star Trek 11 (i.e. NuTrek 1) are not only far and away the best part of the film, they're among the best things ever done in the ST universe. I get chills from it, and I would watch the shit out of the adventures of the USS Kelvin, Capt. Robau and First Officer George Kirk.

The rest of the film was good-to-excellent eye candy -- apart from all the USS Anhauser-Busch non-sets, blecch -- but was otherwise WTF.
posted by George_Spiggott at 4:19 PM on May 15, 2013 [1 favorite]


We had a good laugh at the idea that everyone spends all their free time learning skills to make themselves better little worker bees (Dr. Bashir taking an engineering course in his off hours, etc) instead of indulging any vices (or personality disorders) at all. Even the action at Quark's is pretty tame. Odo and Worf are both the same variety of square, humorless workaholics; Sisko's one personality quirk is that he's into the universe's most boring sport (baseball); even Kira's post-terrorist angst is dull.

You have to read between the lines. Clearly the holo-suite is being hired off-camera for all sorts of filthy stuff. Rom and Nog are both keen to find alternative employment since they spend most of the first four seasons mopping up spunk and fixing related machinery.
posted by biffa at 4:20 PM on May 15, 2013 [4 favorites]


Also, looking at his lists again he chose Kruge as the best Klingon antagonist over General Chang or Kor? Seriously?

Kirk really needs an equally scenery chewing foe to be up against, and really Khan and Chang were some of the few who managed it. And Kor would've actually beaten Kirk if it wasn't for those meddling Organians. He came back in DS9 for more badassery, though not as an antagonist, I suppose.
posted by Zalzidrax at 4:21 PM on May 15, 2013


TOS: So far the most strongly plotted of the series. It really hits that classic "end each act on a cliffhanger so they won't change the channel" TV structure. Which I think is great. Lots of DRAMA.

That reminds me of the TOS writer's guide that was posted the other day. The first page is all "start with a good teaser" and "make sure act two ends well so they don't change the channel!" I wonder if they lost sight of that in the later series.
posted by cosmic.osmo at 4:22 PM on May 15, 2013


How possible is it that Yglesias didn't actually marathon all of Star Trek like he said and instead just spent a weekend at Memory Alpha filling out lists.

Yes! This Klingon is the best Klingon! Trust me on this! Someone hired me to write this list!

In general, this assignment seems like an odd one to hand a random pundit who isn't otherwise associated with the franchise or So Incredibly Famous that we would care who his favorite captain is.

I mean, we all have a favorite captain. Why is Yglesias' opinion on the matter better than anyone else's?
posted by Sara C. at 4:27 PM on May 15, 2013 [3 favorites]


I mean, we all have a favorite captain.

ANYONE WHO SAYS SOMEONE OTHER THAN KIRK MUST WRESTLE ME ON THE UNNAMED ARENA PLANET.
posted by grubi at 4:31 PM on May 15, 2013 [5 favorites]


Also if your script calls for a Vulcan woman under 40 and you don't cast Gemma Arterton there's something the matter with you.
posted by George_Spiggott at 4:33 PM on May 15, 2013 [1 favorite]


For some reason one of my local stations runs 3 hour blocks of Next Gen, Deep Space Nine, and Voyager weekly, and I just can't get into it. I've tried, dammit. I love science fiction, I love love love love Original Series Trek, but all 3 of the modern series just bore me. They lack the sense of opera, of fun, of Space Western inginuity. Instead of gee-whiz weirdness and high concept boldness its beige meeting rooms and uniforms and space diplomacy and talking things out very calmly in the Situation Room.

The perfect metaphor for post-Kirk Trek is synthonol. Its a series about people who invented a form of alchohol that doesn't get you drunk.
posted by Charlemagne In Sweatpants at 4:42 PM on May 15, 2013


Sara C.: "In general, this assignment seems like an odd one to hand a random pundit who isn't otherwise associated with the franchise or So Incredibly Famous that we would care who his favorite captain is."

Well, he already works at Slate, that was probably a big factor.
posted by Chrysostom at 4:47 PM on May 15, 2013


We live in a world where an evil main character anchored several seasons of 24 and tortured people

Not sure how 24 comes into this. 24 came out after 9/11--and WAY after this episode of TNG--and was about terrorists or something, so it does not surprise me that the sort of thing you describe took place on it.

being moral was Care Bare stuff for babies

I'm saying that making your antagonist be "embodiment of pure evil who gets kicks just messing with people" is the kind of writing you find in children's books and shows, and it's kinda lazy to boot. Of course the Enterprise crew is going to be better "morally" than a magic puddle of pure evil, because they're not a magic puddle of pure evil. The episode was not about being more "moral" than the evil puddle anyway, it was about beating a more powerful bad guy.

Anyways, I never actually watched 24, but I would be surprised if Keifer Sutherland or anyone else on the show played a character with as little nuance as "puddle of leftover pure evil lashing out because he is a lonely meanie".
posted by Hoopo at 4:48 PM on May 15, 2013 [2 favorites]


The Original Series
I'd actually say this and Enterprise are interchangeable in terms of rank for me. When it was well directed it was superb, such as Balance of Terror. But the hippies and Spock's brain are hard to get over.


People always bring that up as a bad thing, but have you ever dipped into an anthology of 60s sci-fi, like something from New Worlds? There are crazy ideas like that on every page! This was a series that got Harlan Ellison to write for it. He hated it, but they still asked him. If Harlan Ellison beamed aboard the Next Gen Enterprise than Dr Crusher would 'sense anger' in him and he'd have a long talk with Guinan about calmly working through his issues before his unseamly displays of aggression threatened to trigger a giant space cloud that fed on negativity from destroying the Enterprise.
posted by Charlemagne In Sweatpants at 4:55 PM on May 15, 2013 [5 favorites]


Well, yeah. Ellison has written some good stuff. He also has an incredible ego and is massively difficult to deal with. I wouldn't want him on my ship, either.
posted by Chrysostom at 4:59 PM on May 15, 2013 [3 favorites]


Well, yeah. Ellison has written some good stuff. He also has an incredible ego and is massively difficult to deal with. I wouldn't want him on my ship, either.

But Kirk would! Kirk would need his passion and humanity and anger to balance out the rationality of Spock. He'd have a drink with Bones, and argue with Scotty! Post TOS the whole ship has been replaced by Vulcans.
posted by Charlemagne In Sweatpants at 5:00 PM on May 15, 2013 [1 favorite]


Well, he already works at Slate, that was probably a big factor.

So?

Again, there's nothing about Matt Yglesias that makes him uniquely qualified to give us his analysis of the Star Trek franchise. I'm sure he's a chill bro and all, but nothing about his series ranking, favorite captain, favorite episode, least favorite bumpy-foreheadded alien species, etc. is any more important or interesting than mine.

I'd love to hear Ron Moore's thoughts on all this stuff, 15 years after leaving the Trek franchise and a decade after starting his own series that in a lot of ways was devised to be the anti-Trek.

I'd love to hear Wil Wheaton's thoughts, as someone who was involved with Trek in a pretty unique way and continues to be involved in geekery and fandom.

I'd love to hear Matt Weiner's take on the Trek franchise, from the perspective of another TV showrunner working in a drastically different TV landscape from any Trek series that has ever happened.

What about getting some of the new cast members to weigh in on their thoughts about the franchise? Most of them would have seen at least TOS via research. Get the bridge crew together to watch a random episode of Voyager and see what they make of it.

Or, hey, maybe Slate could have thrown this assignment to an intern, Grantland-style. That could have been really interesting considering that Star Trek has been off the air for almost a decade.

But there's really not much that separates Matt Yglesias' opinions about Trek from any random person's opinions about Trek.
posted by Sara C. at 5:09 PM on May 15, 2013 [1 favorite]


sure he's a chill bro and all

He's not.

Matthew Yglesias—a Norelco marketing experiment to see if a hand-drawn Sharpie beard on a peeled potato could sell men's earrings—wrote a morally and intellectually odious article at his second job yesterday. His Slate column, "Different Places Have Different Safety Rules and That's OK," addressed the deaths of 161 workers in a factory collapse in Bangladesh with the tone they so richly deserved: bored.
posted by Charlemagne In Sweatpants at 5:12 PM on May 15, 2013 [5 favorites]


(I know he's not -- I just wanted to make the point that I'm talking about the assignment and not my opinions of Matt Yglesias specifically. I don't want him to not write this out of spite, but because it could have been a lot more interesting written virtually any other human being on the planet.)
posted by Sara C. at 5:17 PM on May 15, 2013


I thought this was just an excuse to argue which Star Trek was best, anyway.
posted by Zalzidrax at 5:30 PM on May 15, 2013 [5 favorites]


I dont really have strong feelings about a lot of this stuff. I prefer DS9 and TNG (bad episodes and all) to any of the other incarnations I've seen (all the movies, chunks of TOS and Voyager but not a lot of them). I don't mind the Abrams movies "just" being summer scifi action movies larded with TOS references. I've never heard the Enterprise theme.

But I will say this: I'll never forget the first time I saw the one where Picard becomes a lemur.
posted by sparkletone at 5:51 PM on May 15, 2013 [1 favorite]


One thing that always annoyed me about TNG was the boring b-story that usually took up half the show's time. The a-story would be interesting and plot driven but it would keep getting interrupted by a character driven plot about Worf's kid or someone else you didn't want on the screen.
posted by octothorpe at 5:51 PM on May 15, 2013 [1 favorite]


It really is so alien from the new Star Trek, in which everyone is attractive and no one wears terrible sweaters and there's no diplomacy, whatsoever.

No terrible sweaters, and also, not nearly enough truly terrible floral arrangements.
posted by Jonathan Livengood at 6:02 PM on May 15, 2013


a character driven plot about Worf's kid or someone else you didn't want on the screen

:( I think Andrew is pretty awesome and criminally underutilized :( I like characters trapped between two worlds, which is probably why I like TNG and some of the characters on DS9.
posted by muddgirl at 6:05 PM on May 15, 2013 [1 favorite]


Cortex: JMS has famously railed on the fact that DS9 was a clear and utter theft of the content of his B5 bible by a scheming Paramount, but I'm not sure there's ultimately any way to settle that particular theory short of a written confession. I love B5 and I love DS9 and they are both certainly Shows Which Take Place On A Space Station, but the "it's a ripoff" argument doesn't stand up super well to scrutiny considering how different the shows actually were from each other.

The most compelling theory i've heard that dovetails in to this, is that they did rip it off, but:

A. They only used it as a framework, and specifically avoided taking any ideas that were too identifiable

B. Went through and intentionally changed anything that would be obvious to avoid any sort of legal trouble, accusations as such, etc.

While this is kinda plausible(especially as someone who was involved in the electronic music scene, and saw a lot of "conceptual" ripoffs of material happen that was changed just enough), i will concede at that point you're reaching 9/11 truther levels of "the conspiracy is so well hidden that you look like a crazy person calling it out, that's what they WANTED you to think mannn!" type shit.

It's probably just that i wouldn't put it past a big production company to rip off the little guy in a situation like this at all, and do some due diligence to cover their own asses.

You also have to admit it's a bit strange that two shows with almost exactly the same premise launched so close to eachother, too. It just comes off as a bit Will.I.am vs all the electronic producers to me. Although from there, you could launch in to a discussion about where and when someone being inspired by another's artistic concept becomes plagiarism/an abject ripoff, which is a damn hard question.
posted by emptythought at 6:10 PM on May 15, 2013


Thinking about the original series films, I think The Search for Spock is very under-rated, and The Voyage Home is somewhat over-rated.

The Voyage Home is fun and funny. But it seems more like a filler episode that breaks tension between good, serious pieces than anything else, and hence, a bit underwhelming as a full-length feature film.

I always wonder what people would think of the Star Trek film franchise if they had made 2, 3, and 6, in that order, with the same actor playing Saavik / Valeris.
posted by Jonathan Livengood at 6:17 PM on May 15, 2013 [4 favorites]


My 13-year-old son and I are watching every Star Trek right now and it is a fantastic experience. In fact it has repaired out relationship.

My son has been acting up in school and at home since he was 8 or 9. A nice kid but too smart for his own good, too easily frustrated, too easily distracted. And is it helpful that he loves attention and is great at making people laugh? No it is not. The last five years have been tough, with regular phone calls and notes home from various principals and school counselors, pleas from teachers to get the boy to settle down, hints of ADHD or Asperger's or whatever the diagnosis du jour. We put him in a private school we could not really afford in hopes a more challenging environment would straighten him out. He was expelled in the 6th grade for his constant low-grade disruptions of class and the complaints of other parents. Out of options, we turned to home schooling. That too was problematic with constant monitoring needed to keep him on track.

Last summer, when the boy was 12, he asked me to look at something on the computer. "I can tell they are making fun of someone--like when people imitate Arnold Schwarzenegger--but I don't know who it is." He showed me some Youtube video game walk through. The narrator was doing a lazy Shatner impression, biting off each word: “Now. You. Go. Through. This. Door...”

“He is imitating William Shatner playing James T. Kirk. You know, the captain in Star Trek,” I told Sam.

“Do you mean Star Wars?” Sam asked. I jumped up in alarm.

“Son, go straight to the living room!” I commanded. “Fire up Netflix! Summer school is in session.”

We fell in love with Star Trek. I had not watched the original series of Star Trek since I was not much older than Sam, and I had forgotten that the original series was as much about philosophy and the events of the 1960s as it was about science or adventure. Every episode was a conversation starter, and gave us a neutral ground to talk, from topics like race relations, the rights of individuals versus the good of the many, sexism, the environment.

We also had our favorites--my son liked Spock and Sulu the best of all the characters, I preferred Kirk and McCoy. And as a boy entering his teenage years, my son was very interested in the mini skirted female crew members and Green Orion slave girls. We inhaled the series like so many bags of popcorn, some days watching four or five episodes in a row. “Just one more?” the boy would ask standing between me and the clock on the wall. Why not? One night on his way up to bed he said something I had not heard in years--”I love you Dad!” “I love you too,” I managed to get out before my voice broke.

We decided to watch everything labeled Star Trek ever made. We moved on to Next Gen and then to Deep Space Nine. At some point I realized that I had committed to over 500 episodes of television and 11 movies, but I had made a promise, and beside we were having fun.

From the detente of Star Trek a general household peace blossomed. We got a lot less attitude and a lot more cooperation, and so we were perhaps more understanding and supportive, and positive energy just snowballed. My son became more patient and far slower to anger. The therapist noticed the change. "Star Trek!" we explained. A few months ago my son decided he wanted to go back to public school, and even entering midyear he is doing really well. His therapist suggested that we are about done with therapy.

So there you have it--Star Trek saved our family. We just finished DS9 and are moving into Voyager. By the end of summer we will be done. That is OK though, Battlestar Galactica, Firefly, and other series should carry us through his teenage years.
posted by LarryC at 7:02 PM on May 15, 2013 [413 favorites]


OK, meetup at Vasquez Rocks where we can settle this once and for all.
posted by ckape at 7:02 PM on May 15, 2013 [2 favorites]


One thing that would have been awesome to do with Worf would be to explore the idea of someone intensely into their Klingon heritage, but learned large parts of Klingon tradition, beliefs, etc. from books. It would have been very interesting for Worf to meet other Klingons and for them to react to his learned-heritage.
posted by drezdn at 7:05 PM on May 15, 2013 [2 favorites]


One thing that would have been awesome to do with Worf would be to explore the idea of someone intensely into their Klingon heritage, but learned large parts of Klingon tradition, beliefs, etc. from books. It would have been very interesting for Worf to meet other Klingons and for them to react to his learned-heritage.

On my TV screen, that's exactly what they DID do. I thought it was fascinating.
posted by The Underpants Monster at 7:15 PM on May 15, 2013 [10 favorites]


not nearly enough truly terrible floral arrangements.

This is pretty inside baseball, but did TNG have the WORST greensperson or what?

As someone who has worked in TV art departments before I was just like

WTF those are the ugliest flowers I have ever seen seriously how did you manage to make flowers ugly
posted by Sara C. at 7:27 PM on May 15, 2013 [3 favorites]


OK, meetup at Vasquez Rocks where we can settle this once and for all.

It's only about an hour north of Los Angeles.

Any West Coast mefites up for a meetup?

We can french braid each others hair and talk about whether Kirk, Spock, Picard, or Worf is cuter.
posted by Sara C. at 7:32 PM on May 15, 2013 [10 favorites]


Sara C.: "So?

Again, there's nothing about Matt Yglesias that makes him uniquely qualified to give us his analysis of the Star Trek franchise.
"

Fine, but you called him some random pundit. And he's not-he's a guy who already works there. If they called up, I don't know, Charles Krauthammer, that would be random.

FWIW, Yglesias actually is a long time fan of Trek-here's a load of posts referring to it back when he was at ThinkProgress.

Basically, I feel the way I did about the "I don't like Gatsby" thing I linked to last week: either someone's writing brings some insight to a subject or it doesn't. Yglesias has apparently watched Star Trek a good bit, given some thought to its themes, and written about it. You can agree with what he has to say, or you can not. But I don't think he needs to be Wil Wheaton in order to have something (potentially) valuable to say on the topic.
posted by Chrysostom at 7:54 PM on May 15, 2013 [1 favorite]


I'm hoping to hear people's thoughts on the villain in Into Darkness. ONTD has practically come unglued over it but they're not the best barometer for how most viewers see these things.
posted by orrnyereg at 8:00 PM on May 15, 2013


It's actually unwatchable -- unlike the Star Wars prequels, they seemed to make zero effort to make their Enterprise conform to the true original from The Cage pilot, which is in fact very best Star Trek.

Sarcasm? Sorry, I'm Vulcan :) But yeah, I gotcha. I really wish there was a series that focuses on the pioneering days. It seems like Enterprise starts with the humans already way more competent than I'd expect after only 90 years of Vulcan influence. I'd like to see footage of the inevitable fuckups in the Dilithium Crystal QA Lab.
posted by RobotVoodooPower at 8:01 PM on May 15, 2013 [1 favorite]


In response to the previous discussion of "Darmok" and at the risk of self-linking, here's an essay I wrote about that episode from a linguist's point of view on my defunct (but maybe funct again some day) blog.
posted by The Tensor at 8:04 PM on May 15, 2013 [5 favorites]


I miss your blog, The Tensor! Please re-functify it!
posted by Chrysostom at 8:42 PM on May 15, 2013


"And to all who think of Shatner as Kirk being hammy or overacting... watch any other TV show of that era: overacting WAS acting. Shatner was actually one of the best of his era.

I have an odd sort of specialty regarding this. I am one of the world's only experts in Shatner's acting from the era, beside Shatner himself, as I am the author of Ultra Actors: William Shatner. I literally watched and wrote about every single film Shatner did during the 60s and 70s, leading up to the first Star Trek movie, and the primary focus of the book is Shatner's approach to performance.

I wouldn't call him an overacting, exactly, but he was a big actor -- when the scene called for it, he was huge. You know, DiCaprio has a few meltdowns every single movie that have been described as operatic, and, if that's the case, Shatner's emotional outbursts were the entirety of Wagner. He was capable of some tremendously subtle acting, but, with the exception of Kirk (and Alexander the Great, who he based Kirk on), Shatner has a habit of playing weak men -- moral cowards, or men without backbone. And he was really great in these roles -- he was one character when he played an ineffectual lunatic given to murderous fugues in Impulse (both the summit and the nadir of his 70s films) and as a craven political creature stirring up racial hatred in the vastly underrated The Intruder.

You want Shatner in his biggest freak out ever, you have to hunt down a film called Pray for the Wildcats, which pits him as a weak-willed, suicidal businessman who discovers he must kill Andy Griffith.

You heard me right.

He end up walking through the surf, moaning in agony. It's spectacular, and no actor who played a Starfleet Captain has ever produced anything like it.
posted by Bunny Ultramod at 8:47 PM on May 15, 2013 [66 favorites]


"I am one of the world's only experts in Shatner's acting from the era, beside Shatner himself"

Many times I will let a comment stand and I won't click any of the links or do any further research because I like the perpetual frisson of not knowing whether or not someone's pulling my leg about something so grand.
posted by komara at 8:51 PM on May 15, 2013 [3 favorites]


I honestly don't see much wrong with Shatner's acting in Trek. He represents EXPLORATION! and DRIVE! and THE ETERNAL WILL OF MANKIND! as opposed to the logic of Spock and the more pure emotion of Bones. Picard talks a good game about exploration and human potential, but he'd rather be sitting down somewhere drinking tea and pouring over artificats.
posted by Charlemagne In Sweatpants at 8:53 PM on May 15, 2013 [5 favorites]


Kind of just pulled a Marshall McLuhan there, Bunny Ultramod.
posted by Chrysostom at 8:53 PM on May 15, 2013


You know nothing about me or my work.
posted by Bunny Ultramod at 9:10 PM on May 15, 2013 [12 favorites]


I agree with everything Bunny Ultramod says about Pray for the Wildcats (and generally), but with one addendum:

You come to the film for Shatner, but you stay for Griffith. Seriously. The film is not considered especially great, but for a made-for-TV movie of the week it's actually a pretty intense, physical psychodrama, and Griffith gives what is very possibly his best, and certainly most memorable, hard drama performance probably since A Face In The Crowd.
posted by George_Spiggott at 9:10 PM on May 15, 2013


You come to the film for Shatner, but you stay for Griffith.

Oh my goodness, yes.
posted by Bunny Ultramod at 9:12 PM on May 15, 2013 [2 favorites]


I honestly don't see much wrong with Shatner's acting in Trek. He represents EXPLORATION! and DRIVE! and THE ETERNAL WILL OF MANKIND! as opposed to the logic of Spock and the more pure emotion of Bones. Picard talks a good game about exploration and human potential, but he'd rather be sitting down somewhere drinking tea and pouring over artificats.

I am staring into the middle distance entranced by the image of Patrick Stewart methodically dousing cat statues with Earl Grey.
posted by Sebmojo at 9:14 PM on May 15, 2013 [26 favorites]


Man, fuck that episode where he actually does space archeology, because that episode was BULLSHIT.
posted by Artw at 10:03 PM on May 15, 2013 [2 favorites]


The best Star Trek novel ever - How Much for Just the Planet? - and by far the best science-fiction/Gilbert & Sullivan mash-up ever - is a TOS novel, and would never have worked with any other generation.

I second this. At the end the bad guys shoot a giant inflatable Enterprise.
posted by JHarris at 10:20 PM on May 15, 2013 [1 favorite]


I'm hoping to hear people's thoughts on the villain in Into Darkness.

I just recently watched the TOS episode that features Finnegan.

He came off as a really dull pretty much no-dimensional character there, so I'm curious about how they've developed the role beyond "annoying stereotypical Irish guy".

But I guess I'll tell you my real thoughts on Sunday after I see the movie.
posted by Sara C. at 10:21 PM on May 15, 2013 [1 favorite]


Man, fuck that episode where he actually does space archeology, because that episode was BULLSHIT.

Which one?

I majored in anthropology and for a while gave serious consideration to becoming an archaeologist. When I was a little kid, I wanted to be an archaeologist when I grew up. To this day, I can spend hours in museums geeking out about what a particular type of jade used in a Mayan artifact implies about meso-American trade routes.

And yet even I got fucking sick and tired of Picard constantly going on about fucking artifacts and shit.

I especially hated the episode where he goes off and joins the space pirates in order to prevent this important Vulcan artifact from slipping into Romulan hands. Which is saying something, because when you type it out like that it sounds like a great story.
posted by Sara C. at 10:26 PM on May 15, 2013 [3 favorites]


I nominate LarryC's comment as thread winner.

You might want to show him some Doctor Who along with the others, it's a very very different approach.
posted by JHarris at 10:29 PM on May 15, 2013 [2 favorites]


My favorite Trek movie is Galaxy Quest.
posted by and for no one at 10:41 PM on May 15, 2013 [18 favorites]


I never liked Voyager as much as other people. I think it really failed in the character department; the doctor is pretty awesome, and a few others are tolerable but most of the rest are pretty bad. Neelix is intentionally annoying, Tuvak and Seven of Nine didn't quite live up to their potential (I think Seven of Nine was badly undermined by being the token sex appeal), but most importantly, I can't stand Janeway. She's a perfect example of a character who knows she's wearing the invulnerable plot armor and doesn't have to be scared of anything.
posted by Mitrovarr at 10:56 PM on May 15, 2013


People liked Voyager? I watched it when it ran and I don't know anyone who liked it.
posted by Charlemagne In Sweatpants at 11:00 PM on May 15, 2013


I just recently discovered that one of my exes liked Voyager.

- His defense is that he was in junior high and Seven Of Nine

- The operative word in the above sentence is "ex"
posted by Sara C. at 11:03 PM on May 15, 2013 [2 favorites]


It's a pity that pretty much everything after TOS has forgotten what the word "trek" means. In particular the reboot, where they blast to Vulcan in about a minute and a half, blast back in, for some reason, somewhat more time, blast somewhere else for a few minutes, blow some shit right up, done. Nothing there resembling a trek, really.

Of course, by that strict dictionary definition standard DS9 is the least trekkish and Voyager by far the most.
posted by George_Spiggott at 11:15 PM on May 15, 2013 [2 favorites]


I never really got that into Enterprise. I don't remember much being really wrong with it, except perhaps its need to tie everything together. The main thing was that by that point Voyager had taught me that just because it was Star Trek didn't mean I had to watch it.
posted by ckape at 11:17 PM on May 15, 2013


No matter how much evil Andy Griffith I see, I am always surprised by how menacing evil Andy Griffith can be.
posted by justsomebodythatyouusedtoknow at 11:30 PM on May 15, 2013 [7 favorites]


Re the "trek" concept - meh. I'm watching the original series right now for the first time and it doesn't seem like they spend any more or less time schlepping around the galaxy than any of the other series, with the obvious exception of DS9.

The reboot film doesn't seem to do that badly compared to the other Trek films I've seen (note: I have not seen them all), which at least sometimes tend to take place on planets -- and often that planet is Earth, which if you think about it totally violates the nature of the franchise.

You're right that the actual transportation in NuTrek happens really quickly, but ummmm it's a movie. You can't really waste time sitting on the bridge waiting to get to the place where the action is going to happen.
posted by Sara C. at 11:41 PM on May 15, 2013


Charlemagne In Sweatpants: People liked Voyager? I watched it when it ran and I don't know anyone who liked it.

I've known some people who like Voyager the best out of any of them. It seems most common with people who started with it.

It's kind of too bad it wasn't done better - the concept could have been pretty good. It just needed better actors and writing.
posted by Mitrovarr at 11:44 PM on May 15, 2013


meh. I'm watching the original series right now for the first time and it doesn't seem like they spend any more or less time schlepping around the galaxy than any of the other series, with the obvious exception of DS9.

Er, no, I mean actually going someplace. Far away. Sometimes even that you haven't been to before. I don't mean wasting screen time depicting the travel.
posted by George_Spiggott at 11:50 PM on May 15, 2013 [2 favorites]


TNG, Voyager, and presumably Enterprise go somewhere else, far away, presumably that they haven't been before. That's the premise of those series.

The movies have a so-so track record on this (both the original TOS movies and the TNG movies). An awful lot of them seem to take place at least partially on Earth, so.

You can throw that criticism on DS9, but you can't really throw it on the NuTrek reboot films.
posted by Sara C. at 12:06 AM on May 16, 2013


Is this where I mention that I have a soft spot for TOS episode featuring The Riddler?
posted by wittgenstein at 3:25 AM on May 16, 2013


My favorite Trek movie is Galaxy Quest.
posted by and for no one at 1:41 AM on May 16


It's also my favourite, followed by the Reboot (though Search for Spock will always have my nostalgia love). And you need to include it, to make the odds-bad, evens-good pattern work.
posted by jb at 5:47 AM on May 16, 2013 [1 favorite]


I've known some people who like Voyager the best out of any of them.

I cared for Voyager the least of all the Treks, but its opening credits are still my favorite. So it has that going for it.
posted by octobersurprise at 5:50 AM on May 16, 2013


I would be remiss if I didn't raise a glass to Morn (anagram of Norm). He was in over half of the DS9 episodes and never uttered a syllable of dialogue...
posted by jim in austin at 6:20 AM on May 16, 2013 [5 favorites]


jim in austin: "I would be remiss if I didn't raise a glass to Morn (anagram of Norm). He was in over half of the DS9 episodes and never uttered a syllable of dialogue..."

Best running gag in the show, particularly when they kept referring to how talkative he was. I believe this scene with Worf was the only one in which he makes a sound.
posted by vanar sena at 6:59 AM on May 16, 2013 [2 favorites]


Ugh, Morn was typical of the kind of fanservice gags that turned me off DS9. Also, nearly every B-plot with Miles O'Brien.
posted by muddgirl at 7:02 AM on May 16, 2013


What's wrong with fan service? Specifically, fan service that non-fans are likely to never even notice?
posted by vanar sena at 7:07 AM on May 16, 2013


muddgirl: "Also, nearly every B-plot with Miles O'Brien."

Depended on the B-plot for me. Some were brilliant, others a bit idiotic.

But I happened to like the humor they injected into the series. It was already quite dark and needed some levity.

One of the reasons the writers chose his character for b-plots was they felt the audience could relate to him. This is also why he was chosen for an "O'Brien must suffer" episode every season.
posted by zarq at 7:11 AM on May 16, 2013 [1 favorite]


Is this where I mention that I have a soft spot for TOS episode featuring The Riddler?

The Negron Complex!
posted by Artw at 7:16 AM on May 16, 2013 [4 favorites]


One of my favorite traditions with a now-ex boyfriend were our semi-regular Saturday morning "Trekfasts," where I would make a huge mess of French Toast and bacon and coffee and oatmeal and we would gorge on Star Trek and breakfast together while sitting on the floor next to the coffee table. I highly recommend this activity.
posted by k8lin at 7:27 AM on May 16, 2013 [8 favorites]


Charlemagne In Sweatpants: "People liked Voyager? I watched it when it ran and I don't know anyone who liked it."

I watched it religiously because it was Trek. I think it was easily the weakest of the series. When it was good, it was decent. When it was bad... ugh. I feel the same way about Enterprise, tbh.

There are perhaps a dozen episodes of Voyager that were excellent. Tight, decent stories with great concepts and decent execution. Which isn't a great track record. Most of the better ones included the EMH in a prominent role, such as Living Witness or Message in a Bottle. Or they pushed the crew into uncomfortable, unfamiliar situations, such as Timeless, or the Year of Hell two-parter. Note the penultimate scene of Year of Hell, (spoilers) where Janeway says goodbye to Tuvok, who had been blinded in an explosion earlier in the episode. If you were a casual viewer, the scene probably didn't have much of an emotional impact. But if you watched the show regularly... man, that scene actually moved me to tears.

Worth noting that three of the four episodes I just mentioned occurred outside the timeline of the show. Living Witness takes place hundreds of years in the future. Year of Hell and Timeless are reset button episodes. It's as if to create good, compelling stories, the writers had to step outside the show's format, which seems quite telling.

The series conceived interesting ideas, but often either executed them poorly or stretched them a little too far. Species 8472 and their bioships, for example. The writers ran out of ideas for Chakotay's character somewhere between seasons 3 and 4, and it showed.

I disagree with you that TOS represented some sort of pinnacle of Trek. And that all that's come after it is bland. It's not. There are very good reasons why the sequel series have done so well, and that's not nostalgia. Each show had its own mood, sensibilities and appeal.
posted by zarq at 7:34 AM on May 16, 2013 [3 favorites]


One of the reasons the writers chose his character for b-plots was they felt the audience could relate to him.

I guess I always related more with Keiko. Maybe if I was in the writer's target demographic, I'd like the show better.
posted by muddgirl at 7:46 AM on May 16, 2013 [1 favorite]


I wonder what "The Inner Light" would have been like if the Kataan probe had hit Riker?
posted by drezdn at 7:56 AM on May 16, 2013 [3 favorites]


Poor old Keiko's role has always been to tell him she's very unhappy at him for going off and having the plot.
posted by Artw at 7:57 AM on May 16, 2013 [6 favorites]


Artw: "Poor old Keiko's role has always been to tell him she's very unhappy at him for going off and having the plot."

They completely underutilized poor Rosalind Chao, which unfortunately seems to be par for the course for her career. She's a talented actress who is hardly ever given roles that allow her to show her range.
posted by zarq at 8:02 AM on May 16, 2013 [3 favorites]


muddgirl: " I guess I always related more with Keiko. Maybe if I was in the writer's target demographic, I'd like the show better."

*nod* I have to say, I loved Keiko, but the writers of both TNG and DS9 basically used her character to build O'Brien's and create conflict for him, rather than giving her solo stories. A wasted opportunity.
posted by zarq at 8:12 AM on May 16, 2013 [2 favorites]


And to me, it seemed like O'Brien always came off like a childish jerk to her, moreso than in DS9 than in TNG (where yes, she was a foil, but so was Miles most of the time). "Keiko! You can't leave! Who will order up my meals on the replicator?" "Hey, Keiko, welcome back! Imma hang out with my real life partner, Bashir! Seeya!" "Thanks for saving my life again, Keiko! Now get back to your real job, raising Molly!"
posted by muddgirl at 8:18 AM on May 16, 2013


drezdn: "I wonder what "The Inner Light" would have been like if the Kataan probe had hit Riker?"

This fanfic has to exist already, right? What I'm saying is it would be pornier.

zarq: "They completely underutilized poor Rosalind Chao, which unfortunately seems to be par for the course for her career. She's a talented actress who is hardly ever given roles that allow her to show her range."

Yeah, I'm pretty sure until her recurring part on Don't Trust the B in Apartment 23, the best role she was ever given was the principal on The OC. Which wasn't a role at all.
posted by MCMikeNamara at 8:19 AM on May 16, 2013 [2 favorites]


She was the priest on "Don't Trust the B?!?" This blows my mind as much as finding out that Marshall's mom from HIMYM is Alexander's mom from ST:TNG.
posted by drezdn at 8:43 AM on May 16, 2013 [5 favorites]


Nothing beats finding out that Uncle Rico was the same guy as Lazlo Hollyfeld.
posted by Chrysostom at 8:44 AM on May 16, 2013 [2 favorites]


I'm always confused because O'Brien *isn't* John C Reilly.
posted by Artw at 8:45 AM on May 16, 2013 [3 favorites]


MCMikeNamara: " Yeah, I'm pretty sure until her recurring part on Don't Trust the B in Apartment 23, the best role she was ever given was the principal on The OC. Which wasn't a role at all."

I'm probably one of the few people who liked the movie "What Dreams May Come." Ms. Chao had a very limited role, but there was a scene between her and Robin Williams that was just... fantastic. Wonderful and heartbreaking. I wish I could find it on YouTube.

This is a spoiler for the movie:

Williams is searching heaven and hell looking for his children and wife, who have passed away. He meets Chao, who offers to assist him. She's dressed as a flight attendant, complete with nametag. While they are traveling together, he asks her if the way she looks now is the way she looked when she passed away.

She tells him no, and then says, "We were on this plane trip once and the flight attendant looked like this and had this name tag, Leona. My father said that Asian women were so lovely, and graceful, and intelligent."

Williams: "He didn't mean only-"

Chao: "I know. It was just something he said. But what I thought was: 'When I grow up I want to be like her.'"

And she appears to him then the way he had last seen her when she was alive. As his young (non-Asian) daughter.

It's a beautiful, deeply moving moment in the movie. A multilevel realization on his part. That this woman was his daughter. That something he had said without thinking in a self-absorbed moment (and had probably quickly forgotten) had a profound, lasting and perhaps damaging impact on his daughter's psyche and self-image. The audience gets to see a sliver of her relationship with her father and how much his opinion mattered to her.

One of her best scenes.
posted by zarq at 9:01 AM on May 16, 2013 [13 favorites]


Re O'Brien and Keiko, my issue with them is that, on TNG at least, they were always a glaring clue that nobody on the TNG writing staff had any idea how real humans really are in relationships.

There's this scene early in their marriage on TNG where they're at breakfast having a "lovers' spat" about whether Irish food or Japanese food is better (ummmmm), and it is literally like watching... actually I don't know what it's like watching. It's like watching nothing that has ever been broadcast on television before or since.

Over and over re-watching TNG I was forced to conclude that nobody on the TNG writing staff had ever been in a relationship, ever had sex, ever had post-coital breakfast with someone they were in a relationship with, etc etc etc.

The weird thing is that you'd assume the actors would be able to bring some life into a scene like that, but it's just absolutely wooden. I was always left with the impression that Colm Meaney and Rosalind Chao must not have liked each other very much.
posted by Sara C. at 9:20 AM on May 16, 2013 [3 favorites]


It's easy to believe that nobody on early season TNG actually has genitals.
posted by Artw at 9:26 AM on May 16, 2013 [4 favorites]


Except for Data
posted by MCMikeNamara at 9:30 AM on May 16, 2013 [7 favorites]


Over and over re-watching TNG I was forced to conclude that nobody on the TNG writing staff had ever been in a relationship, ever had sex, ever had post-coital breakfast with someone they were in a relationship with, etc etc etc.

An entire writing staff of Geordis.
posted by drezdn at 9:34 AM on May 16, 2013 [6 favorites]


No, this wasn't one of those "early season" things. This was Season 3 or 4, at the height of the series' ability to tell stories and get across subtle relational stuff between characters. For example, it happens around the same time that Troi and Riker are obviously having an unspoken rekindling of their relationship/fuck buddy arrangement, which is never even SPOKEN about but you still get a frisson of chemistry between Frakes and Sirtis.

And yet they couldn't write/act out a scene that establishes that two married people are married and being sorta shmoopy together?

That said, in later seasons they brought in Jeri Taylor I think to fix some of the "none of us have ever had sex" problems. I think this got a little bit better, but then you also had episodes like "Sub Rosa" where they're trying to explore some more subtle Feels oriented stuff and yet it's STILL like nobody on the writing team knows what it's really like to actually fall for somebody.
posted by Sara C. at 9:36 AM on May 16, 2013 [1 favorite]


Except for Data

"Fully functional".
posted by Artw at 9:37 AM on May 16, 2013 [5 favorites]


it's STILL like nobody on the writing team knows what it's really like to actually fall for somebody.

They have someone on board to do all their feels for them. In retrospect this should have told us there was a bit of a problem.
posted by Artw at 9:39 AM on May 16, 2013 [5 favorites]


nobody on the TNG writing staff had any idea how real humans really are in relationships. . . .

It's like watching nothing that has ever been broadcast on television before or since. . . .

you'd assume the actors would be able to bring some life into a scene like that, but it's just absolutely wooden.

It's easy to believe that nobody on early season TNG actually has genitals.


Perhaps the characters all took the Starfleet pre-employment personality assessment and got spooked. They are all constrained to showing only the emotions that Starfleet HR says they are allowed to have.

"Less talk. More synthohol Romulan Curaçao."
 
posted by Herodios at 9:42 AM on May 16, 2013 [1 favorite]


That said, in later seasons they brought in Jeri Taylor I think to fix some of the "none of us have ever had sex" problems.

The episode you're talking about was written by Jeri Taylor.
posted by muddgirl at 9:43 AM on May 16, 2013 [1 favorite]


Is this where I mention that I have a soft spot for TOS episode featuring The Riddler?

The Negron Complex!


Yes, I will confess to owning several Three Dog Night albums.
 
posted by Herodios at 9:44 AM on May 16, 2013 [2 favorites]


Is this where I mention that I have a soft spot for TOS episode featuring The Riddler?

The Negron Complex!

Yes, I will confess to owning several Three Dog Night albums.


oh that mustache
posted by grubi at 9:52 AM on May 16, 2013


Personally, I don't need to be sat down and shown that a bunch of mostly single people in better health than anyone on Earth currently has, confined in a spaceship together for a decade, is regularly having sex with each other. I assume it's going on offstage somewhere and get on with the business of the story.
posted by The Underpants Monster at 9:54 AM on May 16, 2013


The episode you're talking about was written by Jeri Taylor.

Yes that's why I mentioned it specifically. Even the person they brought in to humanize the characters and help them deal with more civilian/emotional/relational storylines WROTE SUB ROSA FOR CHRISSAKES
posted by Sara C. at 9:54 AM on May 16, 2013 [2 favorites]


I think there was a reason for the Keiko/O'Brien newlywed scene. Which is why it was so awful. It wasn't one of those nice little "noodling" scenes where you discover stuff about the characters. It tied in with the main storyline somehow and we were all forced to watch the most wooden and embarrassing scene ever committed to celluloid unfold before our eyes so that the rest of the story would make sense.

Also seriously who in their right goddamn mind would think Irish food would be better than Japanese food? I mean.
posted by Sara C. at 9:56 AM on May 16, 2013 [3 favorites]


Sorry, misinterpreted your comment.

I assume it's going on offstage somewhere and get on with the business of the story.

I always thought there was quite a bit of that subtextually, but looking back it was mostly just Riker.

Also seriously who in their right goddamn mind would think Irish food would be better than Japanese food? I mean.

Exactly. The Relatable Human Character, apparently.
posted by muddgirl at 9:57 AM on May 16, 2013 [1 favorite]


oh that mustache

The right is black, the left is white
Together we always shout and fight
The black is left, the right is white
It may be because our pants are tight
They really are ti-i-i-ight . . .

= = =

Jo-o-o-oy to the planets
All the Brads and Janets
Joy to the slime-devils on Deneb III
Joy to you and me . . .

 
posted by Herodios at 10:02 AM on May 16, 2013 [2 favorites]


Sara C.: " Also seriously who in their right goddamn mind would think Irish food would be better than Japanese food? I mean."

When the food in question is 'plankton loaf with kelp buds and sea berries'? *raises hand*
posted by zarq at 10:06 AM on May 16, 2013 [2 favorites]


They completely underutilized poor Rosalind Chao, which unfortunately seems to be par for the course for her career. She's a talented actress who is hardly ever given roles that allow her to show her range.
posted by zarq at 11:02 AM on May 16


Yeah, I'm pretty sure until her recurring part on Don't Trust the B in Apartment 23, the best role she was ever given was the principal on The OC. Which wasn't a role at all.
posted by MCMikeNamara at 11:19 AM on May 16


I really liked her in One Thousand Pieces of Gold, which isn't quite as sappy as the poster would suggest.

Also seriously who in their right goddamn mind would think Irish food would be better than Japanese food? I mean."

Irish food is better for breakfast (mmm...sausages and soda bread) and Japanese for dinner.
posted by jb at 10:07 AM on May 16, 2013 [4 favorites]


Artw: ""Fully functional"."

Dammit, did you actually have to type it out? Now I have to go wash my brain.
posted by Chrysostom at 10:08 AM on May 16, 2013 [2 favorites]


I wonder what "The Inner Light" would have been like if the Kataan probe had hit Riker?

This would easily be the funniest episode ever, as it would totally elide the long process of denial-then-acceptance-over-many years that Picard had. It would take like maybe five minutes before Riker forgot all about the Enterprise and was just like, "Oh cool I guess I'm some guy named Kamin" and then sees the flute and is like "Oh SWEET, a fucking WOODWIND" and just starts tootling away.

Eventually, at the end of the episode, his kids would be like, "And this was all just an illusion. Now we will live on... in your memory." and Riker would be like, "What are you talking about?" and they'd be like, "This... all of this... your life here. It was just an implanted memory, so that our planet might live on... in you." and he would be like, "What are you TALKING about?" and then everyone would look kind of nervous, and then Riker would wake up on the bridge of the Enterprise.

And then Crusher would be all, "Will! Will, what happened? Are you all right?" and he'd be like, "Whoa did I fall asleep?" and they'd all be like, "Do you remember anything?" and he'd be all, "NOPE"

And then they'd hand him the flute from the probe and he'd be like "Oh SWEET, a fucking WOODWIND" and tootle tootle tootle some more until one day it rolls under the bed and he forgets he even has it. Which is why the trombone works for him, it's too big to roll under a bed so he can always see it and remember OH YEAH I LOVE PLAYING THE TROMBONE BRAAAPL BRAAP BRAP BWWAAAP
posted by Greg Nog at 10:24 AM on May 16, 2013 [57 favorites]


"Fully functional".

Noonien Soong must have been one weird bastard, really. "Emotions? Meh, I'll get to that later. First I need to get this cock working."

(edited to correct spelling of weird bastard's name)
posted by COBRA! at 10:26 AM on May 16, 2013 [15 favorites]


This is probably why Rodenberry's Chinese friend never got back in touch.
posted by Artw at 10:31 AM on May 16, 2013 [9 favorites]


*sniff*

That is OK though, Battlestar Galactica, Firefly, and other series should carry us through his teenage years.

I humbly submit (based on my own experience) that Babylon 5 complexifies and completes the moral education that Star Trek begins.
posted by snuffleupagus at 10:39 AM on May 16, 2013 [1 favorite]


Okay, now I really want to see the Greg Nog versions of "Inner Light" for each TNG character in turn. Please?
posted by Jonathan Livengood at 10:39 AM on May 16, 2013 [4 favorites]


Noonien Soong must have been one weird bastard, really. "Emotions? Meh, I'll get to that later. First I need to get this cock working."

I think I dated him once.
posted by The Underpants Monster at 10:45 AM on May 16, 2013 [14 favorites]


One of my top 10 DS9 episodes is the one where Rosalind Chao gets taken over by the Pah Wraith. Finally, she gets to actually act. And does a damn fine job of it too. Keiko's character was completely wasted, I think she could have done so much more with it.
posted by Solomon at 11:01 AM on May 16, 2013 [2 favorites]


> "Emotions? Meh, I'll get to that later. First I need to get this cock working."

Thanks to this I will forever equate Often-Wrong with the dwarves from Oglaf.
posted by ego at 11:06 AM on May 16, 2013 [4 favorites]


I'm still really confused about how Roddenberry supposedly had a friend named Khan Noonian Singh in real life. So he was... Pakistani and Armenian and Sikh? Not... impossible, I guess? But you'd think it would be easier to track down the one Pakistani-Armenian Sikh on the planet in some other way than naming a throwaway TV character after him.

(That said I used to use my friend Ranbir's name in Law & Order art department stuff all the time and someone who knew him saw it and reached out to ask if he was somehow involved with the show.)
posted by Sara C. at 11:21 AM on May 16, 2013 [1 favorite]


Slate continues to spit out Trek articles with the Top Six Star Trek Science Mistakes [editor's note: with regard to the Trek series and movies].

Data's Inner Light would probably be the most horrifying or comedic...or both. First, he pops up and while being able to accept that he is being referred to by the wrong name and identified as someone's husband, his logical mind would never accept these as truths. Then, perhaps after successive months of, "I am not your husband, I am a fully functional android and officer of the star fleet of the Federation of Planets..." being repeated ad nauseam until his wife tells him to shut up, he can never have children with his wife due to simply being an android (though - as we've established, he can "perform the functions" of a husband). Which then results in his wife's somber acceptance that her husband is sterile or drives her to bitterness over the failure to have a family.

Alternatively, Data wakes to find himself a "real boy" and we get some weird combination of Data being seduced by the Borg Queen in First Contact or his crying whimpering self from Generations - saying that Data's mind doesn't just shut down by the improbability of it all.

Next, as he's Data, he notices that the sun of the planet he's on is only decades away from going nova and killing the planet. His natural lack of tact results in him telling everyone that their world is doomed, resulting in the planet wide panic and mayhem that the government had tried to avoid by suppressing the truth. Cities fall, families are torn apart, and nations crumble, leaving Data in a dystopian future surrounded by the shambles of the world that he had awoken too years before. His attempts to play the woodwind at first astound the fellow survivors with his immediate virtuosity, his ability to play any song that he has heard just once, as well his repertoire of music from his study of classical music, unheard upon this alien planet.

However, fitful at simply replicating the music he knows, and without the blank canvas, easel and art set of his suite on the Enterprise, he attempts to create his own music - which like his jokes, fail on every level. The ear splitting woodwind songs he plays for the survivor community results in its dissolution, as survivors flee for sanity and comfort - one fellow, the former village baker, simply kills himself at Data's second performance.

Data's time within the memory expires as the same time as Kamin's life, though without children to help tell him that it was all a memory, he awakes on a table in Engineering with Geordi looking down at him. LaForge cracks something about the probe apparently causing a temporarily reboot with Data's system and Data simply shrugs and claims he had an intriguing glitch that must have somehow resulted in his positronic brain accessing a holodeck novel that he had not previously experienced. While prepared to tell LaForge the intricate details of what happened, Geordi turns away to read a display and starts responding "Uh huh..." Data then gazes pensively off camera and returns to his room where he paints an abstract picture of Spot playing a flute.
posted by Atreides at 11:29 AM on May 16, 2013 [4 favorites]


Data's Inner Light would probably be

TNG tried for this with that awful Season 7 episode where he ends up malfunctioning alone on a planet of medieval anti-science jerks and lives this whole other life as a guy named Jayden who doesn't know what the word "Radioactive" means despite having full command of all the rest of his pre-existing science knowledge.

#stabby
posted by Sara C. at 12:12 PM on May 16, 2013 [3 favorites]


Bull's eye, Sarah. Thine Own Self, which coincidentally concerning the Riker version above, featured the last time we see Riker's trombone on the show.

I can only speculate I had brain cells that committed suicide over that element of the show (I clearly remember Troi going for a promotion) and extinguished all conscious recollection of it. According to the notes at Memory-Alpha, it was apparently the "Data is Frankenstein's Monster" episode.
posted by Atreides at 1:03 PM on May 16, 2013


Best Riker moment: Riker visits DS9, acts out of character then hijacks the Defiant. Once he is underway he pulls off fake sideburns, revealing that his beard is actually a goatee and he is actually Transporter Accident Duplicate Riker.
posted by Artw at 1:07 PM on May 16, 2013 [9 favorites]


Artw: "Best Riker moment"

:) They should have used Tom Riker more. Would have been fun.

One of the Peter David ST:TNG books explained why Riker grew the beard. Picard, Pulaski and Troi had teamed up to force him to take a badly-needed shore leave. While away, Riker grew the beard. As revenge. For although Picard doesn't say anything to him about it, Riker is convinced that his captain is thinking, "It is cosmically unfair that my first officer has more hair on his face than I have on my entire head."
posted by zarq at 1:19 PM on May 16, 2013 [7 favorites]


Best Riker moment: Riker visits DS9, acts out of character then hijacks the Defiant. Once he is underway he pulls off fake sideburns, revealing that his beard is actually a goatee and he is actually Transporter Accident Duplicate Riker.

Did that really happen? Jesus, I need to sit down and watch DS9. There's no way that could be as magnificent on the screen as it is in my head.
posted by COBRA! at 1:24 PM on May 16, 2013 [1 favorite]


TNG tried for this with that awful Season 7 episode where he ends up malfunctioning alone on a planet of medieval anti-science jerks and lives this whole other life as a guy named Jayden who doesn't know what the word "Radioactive" means despite having full command of all the rest of his pre-existing science knowledge.

Wow. Not only is Thine Own Self my favorite TNG episode, in my opinion, it is the best single episode of science fiction every produced by the Star Trek franchises. It is all kinds of brilliant.
posted by Jonathan Livengood at 1:28 PM on May 16, 2013 [3 favorites]


DS9 I tried, but it just never drew me in.

I also was of this opinion - I think the first and second season just aren't that great. But once the war with the Dominion really gets going, it is amazing. My partner challenged me to watch the entirety of the series, and Season Three is around where I got hooked. It just needs a little time to work its magic.
posted by corb at 1:29 PM on May 16, 2013


Once he is underway he pulls off fake sideburns, revealing that his beard is actually a goatee and he is actually Transporter Accident Duplicate Riker.

Reminiscent of this moment in The Black Adder.
posted by George_Spiggott at 1:30 PM on May 16, 2013


My partner challenged me to watch the entirety of the series, and Season Three is around where I got hooked.

I'd been talking it up to my lady, who'd only seen the pilot, and wasn't impressed. So we started with the last episode of Season two, which is the first time you see the Vorta, and segues right into the beginnings of the Dominion war. So far, so good!
posted by Greg Nog at 1:31 PM on May 16, 2013 [1 favorite]


COBRA!: "Did that really happen?"

Here you go.
posted by zarq at 1:33 PM on May 16, 2013


Mmm, my favorite part of "Defiant" is when Tom Riker in disguise encounters O'Brien and gives him a super-bitch face, and when O'Brien says something, Riker is like, "You know what you did!" Actually, knowing that it's not really William Riker in that episode probably spoils it.

FWIW, i watched DS9 all the way to somewhere near the end of season 4 and it never hooked me (as evidenced by the fact that I stopped, like, one or two episodes from the season finale). Maybe if I had skipped the first two seasons I'd feel differently. On the other hand, some of the best Garak moments are in those two seasons.
posted by muddgirl at 1:36 PM on May 16, 2013 [3 favorites]


Man, zarq, that clip cuts away before any sideburns-pulling. TEASE.
posted by COBRA! at 1:38 PM on May 16, 2013 [4 favorites]


It's on Netflix and Amazon Prime as a freebie, so I'd suggest just watching the episode - it's one of the good ones.
posted by Artw at 1:50 PM on May 16, 2013


DS9's been the gaping hole in my Trek knowledge for a while, but I've been feeling a slow but steady pileup of proof that I should give it a shot. This is a pretty strong argument.
posted by COBRA! at 1:57 PM on May 16, 2013 [1 favorite]


If anyone on the TNG Enterprise deserved an evil twin, it was Riker. Commence scenery chewing!
posted by Chrysostom at 2:03 PM on May 16, 2013 [3 favorites]


You'll want to start near the end of Season 2, mostly it's TNG rehashes up till then, and then you hit the last S2 episide and everything goes blam.
posted by Artw at 2:04 PM on May 16, 2013


muddgirl: " FWIW, i watched DS9 all the way to somewhere near the end of season 4 and it never hooked me (as evidenced by the fact that I stopped, like, one or two episodes from the season finale). Maybe if I had skipped the first two seasons I'd feel differently. On the other hand, some of the best Garak moments are in those two seasons."

To be honest, the series didn't really begin in earnest until Season 5 when the (uh... spoiler alert:) Federation went to war with the Dominion.The Trek universe became a very different place. The oh-so-ethical, self-righteous and upstanding Federation officers we had grown to know during the first few seasons suddenly found themselves at war against a mostly superior force of fanatics who didn't fear death. They could negotiate with the Klingons. The Dominion had no interest in negotiating except as a delaying tactic.

From season 5 onwards, the show featured more moral/ethical quandries. Intrigue. Betrayals. Lasting injuries and psychological scars for our characters. At least a couple of deaths of characters who had been with the show through multiple seasons, and in one case, someone who had been introduced in TNG. The latter half of DS9 was darker and interesting, and I enjoyed it much more than the first four seasons.
posted by zarq at 2:21 PM on May 16, 2013 [1 favorite]


Wow. Not only is Thine Own Self my favorite TNG episode

FWIW I could have lived with it had they not named him Jayden of all things.

Also the radioactive sublot was kind of stupid considering they kept all the rest of Data's scientific knowledge intact. You can't really know how to invent a microscope but not know what radioactive is.
posted by Sara C. at 2:30 PM on May 16, 2013


Best Memory Alpha page.
posted by Artw at 2:35 PM on May 16, 2013 [5 favorites]


It was my impression that they didn't leave all of his scientific knowledge intact. It was, at best, bits and pieces.

For example, he reacts to the four element view of nature with skepticism but doesn't give a detailed account of how nature really works. He just doesn't think that fire is any of the things making up wood.
posted by Jonathan Livengood at 2:36 PM on May 16, 2013


But aside from possible Swiss-cheesing of Data's memory as an explanation, you absolutely can know how to invent a microscope without knowing anything about radioactivity. See the actual history of science. ;)
posted by Jonathan Livengood at 2:38 PM on May 16, 2013 [4 favorites]


I'm talking about in terms of how memory/information works in Data's neural net, not how the history of science actually unfolded.

Watching the episode, I felt like he would either have his science knowledge intact or not. Which is an assumption about the idea that Data's brain would work similarly to a person's brain, I suppose. But, if you're going to have a "Data has amnesia" episode, you need to either lay clear ground rules about what he has access to, or you need to approach it like a human would have amnesia.

(Then again I'm also uniquely aware that I know more about how memory and the brain work than the average TV viewer in 1994 did. So it may just be that the episode doesn't age well. A lot of my favorite episodes on first viewing in the 90s turned out to stink 20 years later.)
posted by Sara C. at 2:51 PM on May 16, 2013


Okay that DS9 clip has reminded me that everyone always just said their authorization codes out loud all the time and why didn't that strike me as a bad idea until just now?
posted by flaterik at 2:55 PM on May 16, 2013 [7 favorites]


Not to mention the COPIOUS number of times on all series that smart people were able to create voice imitation software that, combined with eavesdropping, enabled them to take over the ship.

They should have used retinal scans or something.
posted by Sara C. at 2:58 PM on May 16, 2013 [1 favorite]


Didn't Data somehow create a radiation detector without knowing what radiation was? That's just a teensy bit more problematic than creating a microscope.
posted by team lowkey at 3:03 PM on May 16, 2013 [1 favorite]


To be honest, the series didn't really begin in earnest until Season 5

This seems like moving the goalposts. I watched 100-some-odd episodes because people swore that it really picked up in the 3rd season. I don't really feel compelled to sit through any more.
posted by muddgirl at 3:04 PM on May 16, 2013 [1 favorite]


That's fine and your prerogative. But I didn't set those goalposts for you.
posted by zarq at 3:08 PM on May 16, 2013


But I didn't set those goalposts for you.

I didn't mean that you, specifically, set any goalposts. I'm talking about DS9/trek fandom in general.
posted by muddgirl at 3:19 PM on May 16, 2013


OK, so I just re-watched The Assignment. Fave bits:

"Keiko" eating the chocolates.
"Keiko" and Miles giving each other evils over the birthday cake.
The scene in the infirmary between "Keiko" and Miles.
Absolute fave bit: The death scene.

Garak still wins overall, though. I think I'd go so far as to say that he's my favourite character from any Trek series.
posted by Solomon at 3:21 PM on May 16, 2013 [2 favorites]


Garak still wins overall, though. I think I'd go so far as to say that he's my favourite character from any Trek series.

Plain, simple Garak? A tailor on the Promenade?
posted by entropicamericana at 3:42 PM on May 16, 2013 [13 favorites]


That simple tailor saved the Alpha Quadrant and all it cost was the life of one Romulan senator, one criminal, and the self-respect of one Starfleet officer.
posted by Arbac at 3:56 PM on May 16, 2013 [8 favorites]


Personally, I don't need to be sat down and shown that a bunch of mostly single people in better health than anyone on Earth currently has, confined in a spaceship together for a decade, is regularly having sex with each other. I assume it's going on offstage somewhere and get on with the business of the story.

I'm a straight guy, so I'm probably not qualified to say this, but the only post-TOS Trek character who really seems sexy is Dr Bashir. What happened to the actor? I watched the episode with him and Garek's backstory last night, and it was pretty cool.

But again, Garak and Quark highlight how bland most Trek characters are. DS9 has ONE character who's morally ambigious and has a bit of fun, and he's always portrayed in the most exagerrated, scheming way. Like he's the token 'dodgy' character on an old sitcom. Like sex is just relegated to 'dabo girls' and 'holosuites'. Its sorta like they tolerate one person on the ship with an actual personality or motivation that isn't Service to the Federation, and only if they keep an eye on him 100%.

I get most of my Trek knowledge from old novels, though. They were great at numbing the brain.
posted by Charlemagne In Sweatpants at 4:28 PM on May 16, 2013 [1 favorite]


I'm talking about in terms of how memory/information works in Data's neural net, not how the history of science actually unfolded.

Watching the episode, I felt like he would either have his science knowledge intact or not.


Sure. But what I'm saying is that Data didn't have much scientific knowledge, if any. Certainly none in the form of accessible propositional knowledge. What he had was methodological knowledge, which he exhibited. And that, primarily, is what makes me say that Thine Own Self is brilliant. The episode nicely illustrates some basic principles of scientific investigation and specifically, causal reasoning.

For example, Data doesn't know what the word "radioactive" means, and he doesn't know what radiation is. But when the townspeople start getting radiation poisoning, he reasons that something unusual must be the cause. He considers himself, and he considers the metal. He rules himself out, since he has been in contact with many people who did not get sick. He notes that the metal is warm to the touch. Why is that, he asks? He then starts looking for features of the metal that might explain it. Although we don't see the process here, he eventually hits on putting up an oil-soaked cloth, which makes the cloth fluoresce when the particles emitted by the metal hit it. And he notes that the container marked "radioactive" blocks the particles. Then he conjectures that the word "radioactive" might be a warning.

In general, I don't see Data as having any knowledge to begin with except maybe a rudimentary version of Mill's methods (or maybe a Baconian account of causation and inductive inference) and a skeptical experimentalist attitude. Everything else he works out by reasoning and experimentation. SCIENCE fiction.

The microscope is also not generated by Data using pre-existing scientific knowledge. He adapts a device already being used by the town's proto-scientist. I imagine Data working out how optics works from first principles, not as having that knowledge to begin with. And again, one could have knowledge stored in a neural net in such a way that being able to build a microscope is know-how that one retains while knowing what radiation is -- or having propositional knowledge about nuclear physics (or organic chemistry going back to the wood example) -- is something one loses.

And, I guess, while I'm writing this, I might as well identify the other great thing about the episode. The whole episode opens with a lengthy and interesting discussion between two women about command and advancement in Starfleet, which has nothing whatsoever to do with their love interests. And the whole b-plot is one of my favorites with Troi, in which she attempts to qualify as a bridge officer. It nicely connects back to another nice episode -- the one in which the Enterprise runs into an anomaly that breaks the ship and Troi takes command in order to re-route power to engineering in time for Data and Riker to save the ship. The episode says something true about self-actualization and testing one's limits. It emphasizes that those sorts of concerns belong to women just as much as they belong to men.

All that said, I totally agree with you that "Jayden" is a terrible name. ;)
posted by Jonathan Livengood at 4:39 PM on May 16, 2013 [8 favorites]


The episode nicely illustrates some basic principles of scientific investigation and specifically, causal reasoning.

Except not really, because we already know that Data is the science officer of the ship and knows a lot about science. We've already seen episodes where he shows up in a strange place and builds advance technology from scratch because he knows how to do stuff like that.

So it's really hard from a story perspective to show us Data, like, inventing advanced technologies from scratch with only the power of deductive reasoning. Especially when we know that, on a typical day, he wouldn't need to invent this stuff.

Maybe it would have been easier if this episode centered around a different character, someone who isn't a scientist or engineer? It could have been an interesting situation to throw Riker or Troi into, for instance. Or, hell, keep it the same but get rid of the radioactive part of the story and make it clear what the rules of Data's amnesia are.

I do like the Troi subplot, though. And I have to say you might be right -- that I can critique the episode on fine points like "was Data inventing or remembering" means it's got to be at least a halfway competent episode.

But Jayden, y'all. Jayden.
posted by Sara C. at 6:53 PM on May 16, 2013


My good friends named their daughter Jayden, after Data. They named their other daughter Kyra Nerise.
posted by Malla at 7:10 PM on May 16, 2013


I'm a straight guy, so I'm probably not qualified to say this, but the only post-TOS Trek character who really seems sexy is Dr Bashir. What happened to the actor?

Changed his name to Alexander Siddig and went off to be good-looking in other stuff.

I remember him from the post-Arabia biopic of T.E. Lawrence (with Ralph Fiennes as Lawrence) - that was pretty good. But also not listed on his imdb page due to his name change? (he was credited as Siddig el-fadil).
posted by jb at 7:28 PM on May 16, 2013


I was completely convinced he was playing Gaius Baltar for at least half a season of BSG.
posted by Sara C. at 7:34 PM on May 16, 2013 [3 favorites]


Except not really, because we already know that Data is the science officer of the ship and knows a lot about science.

Ah. It's not illustrating *that Data knows stuff* but is literally illustrating *for the viewer* what scientific investigation looks like.

In other episodes of TNG, they say a lot of science-sounding words. And they solve a lot of problems, ostensibly using science and technology. But the actual process of the investigation is always left off-screen. The result is that SCIENCE or TECHNOLOGY come flying in from nowhere to save the day, but we viewers don't really see how it is done. How it comes about. How the problems actually get solved in the details.

Think about the number of times that there is a serious problem and then Geordi and/or Data come in and say, "We have determined that BLAH will save us all!" And Picard is like, "Fantastic! We'll do that!" And I sit there saying, "Uhh ... HOW did you determine that BLAH will save us all??!?"

Thine Own Self doesn't do things perfectly by any stretch, but it is unique in all of Star Trek, as far as I know, in actually laying out a decent chunk of the *reasoning*, not just the final product. It makes simple, often compelling scientific arguments, rather than just spitting out science-sounding jargon. The episode lays out enough of the reasoning that a child could actually learn something about how to do science by watching it. And that's why I love it.
posted by Jonathan Livengood at 7:34 PM on May 16, 2013 [3 favorites]


It's not illustrating *that Data knows stuff* but is literally illustrating *for the viewer* what scientific investigation looks like.

No, I get that.

I just think that, in terms of telling a story like this, Data is a very poor choice of character to put into this situation.

Because he's the Science Officer of the ship.

It's kind of like if you wanted to do "Darmok" as a Troi-centric episode. It wouldn't seem interesting at all that she immediately knew what this strange alien was on about. Because that's kind of her thing.
posted by Sara C. at 7:36 PM on May 16, 2013


Yeah, I guess that's a fair point about the casting (although Data isn't actually a science officer: he's in charge of Operations, which is why he wears yellow, not blue).

I worry, though, that the demand you're making would make the episode impossible. The character needs to plausibly have some methodological know-how without any of the propositional know-that. Maybe it could work with LaForge, Berkeley, Dr. Crusher, or young Wesley Crusher. But then, don't you have the same sort of problem cropping up again? Those characters, when they are not amnesiac, would have the relevant knowledge-that. Would the episode also have been bad if one or the other of these had been in it, instead? And wouldn't it have set off other implausibility alarms, like, "How is this person surviving the radiation poisoning?"
posted by Jonathan Livengood at 7:52 PM on May 16, 2013


If you can't get around how to do a story like that without it being the one person who already has an encyclopedic knowledge of science, it's not a good story for an episode of TNG.
posted by Sara C. at 8:15 PM on May 16, 2013


Well, you could in principle. I named four other characters who would have enough methodological know-how to do the science. They just don't have radiation invulnerability.

My point was that if your objection just amounts to "But Data knows too much science!" then it's a lame objection. It's like objecting to all the episodes where Worf fights someone or does something for the sake of honor because that is just too much like something Worf would do. Nothing Data does in the episode depends on his having anything more than good scientific reasoning skills and an invulnerability to radiation. And I don't see any reason to think it would have been a better episode with a different character subbed in for Data.
posted by Jonathan Livengood at 8:52 PM on May 16, 2013


Can we talk about what a butcher Dr. Bashir was? The whole plot line where he turned out to be some kind of superhuman was ridiculous beyond measure given what a crap doctor he was. Innumerable people died on his watch.
posted by mynameisluka at 8:52 PM on May 16, 2013


I named four other characters who would have enough methodological know-how to do the science.

But that's the point. If you're telling a story where [Random TNG Character] ends up on a planet with a medieval/anti-science belief system and they need to use the scientific method to science their way out of a really scary situation, you can't really use Data, Geordi, or Wesley because it would be too easy a task. It would be like sending Troi down to figure out how to communicate with Darmok.

Troi could work. Riker would probably just try to shoot his way out of the situation, so that doesn't work. Picard could also work, but it's obvious that the story was developed to be a reprieve from Picard stories. Also too improbable to get him down on a planet alone, especially since by this point in the series we've come up with too many contrived ways to get him alone on a planet where weird/dangerous stuff is happening.

Crusher could work really well -- and I think making it a medical episode with Crusher struggling to doctor her way out of the situation is the only way it could have really worked -- but there are a lot of external reasons not to make her the central figure. (The main reason being that there's NO WAY the show would have given the A and B plots to Troi and Crusher.)

So you get this ridiculous Data story that doesn't make any sense.

Wow, we have been talking about this one particular episode of TNG for a long time.
posted by Sara C. at 9:24 PM on May 16, 2013 [1 favorite]


Do we get to talk about the new Star Trek movie, here? Because IT. IS. AWESOME.

I'm pretty sure 90% of you are going to hate it and complain about how it ruins everything good in the world... Same way as every Doctor Who thread goes when a new episode gets released. All the same: AWESOME.

Oh, the FPP? He says the mirror universe episodes of DS9 are good. I had to re-read that sentence three times, because the claim being made was so beyond anything I could imagine anyone ever saying.
posted by meese at 10:32 PM on May 16, 2013 [2 favorites]


Wow, we have been talking about this one particular episode of TNG for a long time.

And this is a wonderful example of why I love metafilter.
posted by flaterik at 11:25 PM on May 16, 2013


JJ Abrams is apparently in a huge snit that people still want mercy for the old Trek.
posted by Artw at 11:33 PM on May 16, 2013


Yet another thing that bugs me about post-TOS Trek is most of the aliens just seem like people or cultures the crews have met before. I saw an alien that kinda looked like a Sontaran on DS9 last night and I almost jumped.
posted by Charlemagne In Sweatpants at 11:53 PM on May 16, 2013


Bashir was a pointless non-character. He wasn't developed in any way until the genetic enhancement storyline, and that didn't appear until series 6, I think? The rest of the time, he's just a foil for other characters.
posted by Solomon at 1:35 AM on May 17, 2013


Well, that's a point. But that still only gets him to non-character.
posted by flaterik at 1:44 AM on May 17, 2013


Do we get to talk about the new Star Trek movie, here? Because IT. IS. AWESOME.

Strongly disagree.
posted by Kitty Stardust at 3:29 AM on May 17, 2013 [1 favorite]


Going to see it this weekend but I won't be judging it as Trek, it's really a thing to itself.
posted by octothorpe at 5:20 AM on May 17, 2013


JJ Abrams is apparently in a huge snit

JJ Abrams doesn't know how to not be in a huge snit over something or other. He even does pre-emptive snits about negative reactions he hasn't gotten yet.
posted by The Underpants Monster at 5:31 AM on May 17, 2013 [3 favorites]


Ummmmm would it not have occurred to JJ Abrams in like 2007 or whenever they were developing the reboot that he probably wouldn't have creative freedom to completely own and control every aspect of Star Trek? Because it was a preexisting thing that he didn't invent?

Not to mention that the whole thing with all this rebooting and recycling old properties already owned by a particular studio is the baggage that comes with them. The whole REASON 2009's Star Trek got made was because a company already owned the rights to it and wanted to come up with new ways of using that IP. If you want to completely control how your project is marketed and whether there are risks of "brand dilution" and the like, don't make a fucking Star Trek movie, bro.
posted by Sara C. at 6:17 AM on May 17, 2013 [4 favorites]


Well, at least, J.J. Abrams can walk away from this experience and never have to worry about dealing with the headaches of a beloved, existing property again.
posted by MCMikeNamara at 7:41 AM on May 17, 2013 [5 favorites]


Sara C.: "I was completely convinced he was playing Gaius Baltar for at least half a season of BSG."

At one point when Ron Moore was doing an online "Ask Me Anything" blog on the SyFy channel's website, he was asked if he had ever noticed the resemblance between Siddig and Callis. He said that he hadn't. But now that it had been pointed out, he couldn't stop seeing it. And it was creeping him out.
posted by zarq at 7:42 AM on May 17, 2013 [2 favorites]


The WP page about the new film is a spoiler-fest.

I read it yesterday; I will pass on this one. This is not Trek.

In fact, a pox on all their houses.

I saw nearly every episode of the original Star Trek when it was first broadcast. During the interregnum (1969 - 1987) I must've watched each original episode dozens of times.

Now after nearly 50 years of Trek, they haven't come up with anything that means a fraction of what the best of the original did in its time, warts and all, while they drift further and further from what Trek was all about. Each film has been yet another sad embarrassment, and all the series have been just flabby. TNG and DS9 took longer to reach escape velocity than the original's entire run. VOY and ENT never did.

The rot had well and truly set in when it became possible to use the word 'franchise'. And now Trek is reduced to just a property on which to hang another soulless action-adventure confection.

Fie!

I am returned to the conclusion I'd reached somewhere in the mid-1970s, before Star Wars made it impossible that Trek could have boldly gone where it needed to go. Instead of a teevy series . . .
The original Star Trek should have been a full-length film treatment of The Corbomite Manuever.
That's right: The Corbomite Manuever. That story has everything that made Trek Trek. So have fun, JJ, the governor, and the rest of you. I'm off to find the parallel universe where that's how it all went down:
I'm beaming out that long lonesome wormhole
An' where I'm bound I cannot tell
After all this time goodbye's too good a word, so
I'll just say, 'you can find your own damn' way to hell'.

I coulda got off this wagon train at any time,
When it didn't get any better, but I still don't really mind
I was only me who wasted all those years of my own time
Don't think twice, it's alright . . .
posted by Herodios at 8:04 AM on May 17, 2013 [1 favorite]


It's cold outside
There's no kind of atmosphere
I'm all alone
More or less

Let me fly,
Far away from here
What? We're not doing lyrics?
posted by grubi at 8:17 AM on May 17, 2013 [2 favorites]


I saw the new movie last night! It was pretty good, though not anywhere near as good as the first remake. Much of the drama felt unearned to me, and much of it was directly ripped from a previous Trek movie.

So overall, it felt a bit like watching a goofy teen doing a dubstep cover of a really good song on youtube; I was like, "Well, that's interesting, and technically accomplished, but it feels a little emotionally-hollow in comparison to the original."

Which is a shame, as I REALLY liked the first remake-movie. I've seen it like three times now. This one, I probably won't watch again.

Still, I'm looking forward to the next one in this series, which is certainly stronger praise than I ever gave to Voyager or Enterprise.
posted by Greg Nog at 8:18 AM on May 17, 2013


Can we talk about what a butcher Dr. Bashir was? The whole plot line where he turned out to be some kind of superhuman was ridiculous beyond measure given what a crap doctor he was. Innumerable people died on his watch.

Or WAS he? Perhaps he was only letting them die to perfect his cover of not being more than human..
posted by corb at 8:39 AM on May 17, 2013 [3 favorites]


What? We're not doing lyrics?
I know -- he'll find on star-crusted beaches
Love -- among the star-bellied sneetches . . .

BTW, I've always thought the line, "I'm all alone, more or less" was brill.
posted by Herodios at 8:40 AM on May 17, 2013 [1 favorite]


Alexander Siddig narrated BBC's Wild Arabia. And he's far better in it than he ever was in DS9.

I think my least favourite Trek character was Worf. Guy was just perpetually grumpy and miserable and complaining. I'd rather have Kai Winn or Beverley Crusher on screen than him.

Throws down the gauntlet....
posted by Solomon at 10:57 AM on May 17, 2013


I'm not clear on your intent, but If you're at all suggesting that Beverly Crusher is an character, I may have to pick up your gauntlet, put them on, and strangle you. Metaphorically, of course.
posted by MCMikeNamara at 11:02 AM on May 17, 2013


Gates McFadden played an excellent part.
posted by Solomon at 11:05 AM on May 17, 2013


I feel so dirty now.
posted by Solomon at 11:05 AM on May 17, 2013


Solomon: " Guy was just perpetually grumpy and miserable and complaining."

Obligatory.
posted by zarq at 11:13 AM on May 17, 2013 [2 favorites]


Of NuTrek II, Andrew O'Hehir in Salon says it pretty well:
We’ll crack a couple of watery brews and complain (in Klingon) about Uhura’s ill-fitting romance with Spock, or Chris Pine’s frat-boy weightlifter Kirk, who completely lacks the air of provincial, semi-educated suavity that made William Shatner the greatest bad actor in TV history. Or the fact that those in charge of the “Star Trek” universe could have entrusted its rebirth to someone who actually liked it.
I think there are greater losses than this -- principally the loss of everything thematic about the original -- but that's a good start.
posted by George_Spiggott at 11:31 AM on May 17, 2013 [1 favorite]


Solomon - 1/8th Beverly Crusher is disappointed.

I plan to see the new movie either tomorrow or Sunday, as time allows (I won two free tickets via the Esurance Facebook contest - Woot woot). I do think there is a degree of clashing between what the television series present to us of Trek, which I would consider the purest form, and how Trek has been presented in movie form. I have always found the movies to be a bit more action oriented and generalized as compared to the tv show, in part obviously, because the movies have to find a more generalized audience.

My thoughts:

Star Trek: The Motion Picture - very much borrowed from an original episode, and perhaps because it felt like an extended episode, one of the least entertaining movies.

Star Trek II: Revenge pic! While you have the light element of the power of the Genesis device, isn't it mainly an action film involved with Khan seeking revenge against Kirk, the Enterprise and the Federation? It's been a while since I last watched it, but I'm pressed to really think how this movie, which most consider one of the finest, really reflects the general themes of TOS.

Star Trek III: Again, you have the aspect of the Genesis Project short cuts, but it's once more an action pic with Kirk vs Klingons. You have the Spock Recovery Project going on, but is our insight into Vulcan puberty really enough of an undercurrent to the action to lift the movie over it thematically?

Star Trek IV: I find this movie to be one of the closest to TOS in spirit. Why? We get a whacky situation which is actually a bit more reasonable than Gangster Planet, God-like alien creating an elite fighting force composed of the universe's bests, including Abraham Lincoln, or even better, a dystopian world which developed so similar to earth, that they even drafted an exact copy of the Declaration of Independence. So, going back in time to get humpback whales to bring to the future to save the world? That fits perfectly.

Second, much of the conflict between our Enterprise crew and the 1980s is used to highlight current social and political problems, if not as megaphoney as the show did do from time to time. The movie used the setting to magnify issues in the same way as TOS did, even if it relied on aliens or planets that developed like earth in some way. Of note, in the way of actual "action" I can really only think of the whale hunting ship as creating a moment of tension through acts of violence.

Star Trek V: This was certainly another film, if not entertaining as much, that was more in spirit with TOS. It had a god-like being, a journey to forbidden or unknown lands, and a central element was close to the New Age vibe that occasionally reared its head on TOS. More action than in IV, but less than II or III.

Star Trek VI: I admit, this remains perhaps my favorite of the original crew movies. It draws a good mix of social commentary (racism/bigotry), politics (peace attempts) and action. It takes you on trips throughout the universe and ends with a perfect Trek message that while the future can be fearful when based on trust, we all can just get along. While I wouldn't say this is the most TOS movie, I will say I think it's the best combination of TOS spirit and cinematic demands.

TNG I: This is basically an action film that runs with the premise that is somewhat Trek-like of pursuing Eden or Heaven. However, that exists almost entirely as a sub theme to the "We got to stop the bad guy from blowing up more stars!"

TNG II: Time Travel! Scientific achievement! Action! Perhaps the best TNG film that managed the same good balance of elements that VI captured, but in TNG form. I don't think I need to say much more on the matter.

TNG III: The movie was essentially an extended TNG episode. For what its worth, it was an okay TNG episode, but there were actual TNG episodes that would have made a better feature length movie. With that said, I would argue that it was pretty perfect in capturing the essence of TNG, which you can then argue captured so much of TOS.

TNG IV: This one actually reminds me of ST: II, as it has many elements of classic trek be it the villains, but really was an action film. The difference between it and ST:II was quality.

This all said, I now address the Abrams' flicks. They are much more definitely action films, somewhat akin to II and III, where they take place in a setting of Star Trek.

I have written with this presumption that Star Trek = themes and ideas, and it does, but none of it would have been as successful, particularly the movies, if it were not for the characters and actors involved. I would argue that so long as one does not disagree with the actors and characterizations presented in the new movies, they are as much Star Trek as those Star Trek films which orient themselves around action. More to the point, they are Star Trek because they retain the same characters and setting, in the same manner as previous Trek films.

I think it's completely fair to disagree in the manner stated, but I don't personally think that a criticism of their failure to address the grand themes, philosophies, aspirations and hopes of TOS or even the TNG era Trek shows is necessarily a grounded one when the other Trek movies didn't quite do this, either all the time. Particularly, since one of the most heralded, II, does it among one of the least. (Another argument, because ST:II separates itself more as an action film in the Star Trek universe, it was/is more accessible generally, and thus more universally appreciated).

Right, I reserve to withhold a final judgment until I've seen the new movie this weekend. If I think it's an offense against humanity, I WILL drop a mulligan and make apologetic amends.
posted by Atreides at 11:46 AM on May 17, 2013 [6 favorites]


Atreides, lots of great observations there. But don't be so quick to dismiss Wrath of Khan as an action film in the ST universe... it has a common theme of death and rebirth everywhere you look. The Genesis Device, despite looking like a McGuffin, is precisely and literally this. Kirk, who's coping with his own mortality, asking "where's Doctor Marcus" and his/her son answering "I'm Doctor Marcus". Spock's death in the presence of new life (never mind what we knew would follow). The spectre of the past (Khan and henchfolk) and the ancient unresolved problem it represents finally being dealt with.

It is a cracking good action film but it manages to be a lot more.
posted by George_Spiggott at 11:58 AM on May 17, 2013 [6 favorites]


I saw STID Wednesday night. I'll say first off I consider the Abrams movies to be "alternate universe" stories, with the main timeline of all the TV series being the "main universe." And as alternate universe stories, they're entertaining enough.

principally the loss of everything thematic about the original

But I think that's true to a large extent of the original movies as well as the Abrams movies too. Star Trek — in all its incarnations — is at its best when it's saying something about what it is to be human, or what humanity is capable of (including its largely optimistic view of the future), or when it's holding up a mirror to issues of the present day, or where they are in fact acting "to explore strange new worlds, to seek out new life and new civilizations, to boldly go where no [man|one] has gone before."

And there's not a lot of that in the movies, old or new. It's not completely absent: Star Trek VI, notably, as a mirror for the end of the cold war. And there's a bit of it in Into Darkness. But the two movies which were most about seeking out new life — The Motion Picture and Star Trek V — are considered among the worst of the bunch.

Which goes back to the point of Yglesias's article: the things that Star Trek does well, the things that set Star Trek apart from many other TV and movie science fiction franchises, are things that can be done much better in the context of a TV series than in a movie. (Like many others here, I disagree profoundly with his "best of" lists, but I find his ideas in the main article spot on.)

Most of the movies are action movies, first and foremost. Some of them pretty good, as action movies. But that has a tendency to get in the way of the essence of Star Trek. Abrams's Star Trek was a particular offender in that regard. Into Darkness a bit better. And while I don't mind seeing an action movie set in the Star Trek universe, I'd rather see, you know, Star Trek.

(On preview: I wrote the above before seeing Atreides's comment, as similar as it may seem in the general idea. But I also agree with GS that Star Trek II is one of the cases where being a good action movie doesn't get too much in the way of larger themes.)
posted by DevilsAdvocate at 12:02 PM on May 17, 2013 [3 favorites]


At one point when Ron Moore was doing an online "Ask Me Anything" blog on the SyFy channel's website, he was asked if he had ever noticed the resemblance between Siddig and Callis. He said that he hadn't.

That's astounding since they also play the exact same character (wunderkind who is maybe not such a good person/not trustworthy/not who he claims to be), at least as each series starts out.

OK, bowing out of this now since I don't see Into Darkness till Sunday.
posted by Sara C. at 12:50 PM on May 17, 2013


OK, bowing out of this now since I don't see Into Darkness till Sunday.

Z minus ten thousand meters, Mr Sulu.

(I'm going to use this as my "relurking" phrase from now on.)
posted by George_Spiggott at 1:01 PM on May 17, 2013 [3 favorites]


SOME SPOILERS - Have tried to keep it general.



I really liked the 2009 film, thought it made for a great action film accessible to non-Trek fans but with plenty that rooted it firmly in the ST universe and that made for extra pleasure for fans as well as establishing a continuity with the old universe witout being dominated or cowed by it. The rebooting was a good idea well handled that created for the ST universe to be developed again with new ideas influenced by the old. Unfortunately STID misses the opporunity to build on this. Rather than develop the relationship of the crew the script seems to have emerged
as with the Nemesis script, someone decided on how they wanted to end the film and much of the film was getting there, with a few places called in at along the way because they are well known ST icons. It takes ideas that worked very well in their original form and turns them into a thin and effectively meaningless homage, with a lazy get-out, which cheapens someone else's better work. I am sure that much of the supposed key end scene will actually be lost on the non-Trek fans that the 2009 film brought in, and will largely prove unsatisfying to the fans.

It seems like all the care that went into getting a balance of history and new directions that made the first reboot film a satisfying experience are missing from its sequel. I agree with others here that it does seem to represent a move away from some of the key themes of Star Trek but I was more disappointed that it could not move forward with new ideas.
posted by biffa at 1:36 PM on May 17, 2013


I rather liked it.
posted by entropicamericana at 3:38 PM on May 17, 2013 [1 favorite]


Can we talk about what a butcher Dr. Bashir was? The whole plot line where he turned out to be some kind of superhuman was ridiculous beyond measure given what a crap doctor he was. Innumerable people died on his watch.

Too lazy to google a source now, but an interesting fact is that Siddig hated this plot point and whenever he was given "superhuman" dialog he delivered it as woodenly as possible, so the writers wouldn't be able to develop the storyline.
posted by zixyer at 3:56 PM on May 17, 2013 [3 favorites]


zixyer: "an interesting fact is that Siddig hated this plot point and whenever he was given "superhuman" dialog he delivered it as woodenly as possible, so the writers wouldn't be able to develop the storyline."

That's kind of odd though, since other than his boyish pastimes and games with O'Brien, he basically had no other consistent plot points at all. It was pretty much the only interesting thing about his character and personal history.
posted by vanar sena at 4:58 PM on May 17, 2013


When it comes to thematic issues, regarding the new movie, I'm surprised at how well this review at Pajiba reflects my sentiments. From the last paragraph:

Star Trek has always shifted to reflect our culture, in ways not always clear until clarified by hindsight. In the 1960s it was a beacon in some of the darkest times of the Cold War, when the very idea of a story about a future in which we don’t destroy ourselves was the most daring one could tell. And Star Trek Into Darkness gets that, and tries to make its own contribution. It gives us terrorism and the threat of war, it brings the space combat that the audiences pay to see, but it wraps it up in a rejection of letting that violence define us.

Granted, I do wish they had done slightly more. There are a few moments in the movie, specifically, where I felt like the characters could have come to do the right thing intuitively and naturally, rather than being tempted by violence, anger, and retribution... But, over all, I felt that the movie did, thematically, what I want a Star Trek movie to do. (Movie! A TV show would be a different matter.)

It could have done it more loudly, more clearly. It could have done a better job of TAKING A STAND.... But I also kind of respect it for not doing so: for letting the moral implications of the action be there, recognized and respected, but presented as though they don't require the movie-makers to take a stand for them.
posted by meese at 6:53 PM on May 17, 2013


zarq: "To watch every minute of canon Star Trek (series and movies) would require 22 days, 16 hours and 21 minutes of your time"

This is why it pays to be able to watch them at 2x speed on VLC *without* chipmunk effects. Benny Hill long knew this truth: everything's funnier at twice the speed.
posted by meehawl at 10:01 PM on May 17, 2013


Guy Forges Klingon Bat’leth, Earns Much Honor
posted by homunculus at 10:14 PM on May 17, 2013 [1 favorite]


zixyer: "Too lazy to google a source now, but an interesting fact is that Siddig hated this plot point and whenever he was given "superhuman" dialog he delivered it as woodenly as possible, so the writers wouldn't be able to develop the storyline."

Check Bashir's Memory Alpha entry. Look for the footnote that starts with "Making Bashir genetically engineered in "Doctor Bashir, I Presume" was a last-minute decision." (can't link it directly). That footnote also links to this interview with Siddig.
posted by barnacles at 3:09 AM on May 18, 2013


oh yes, vlc with speed adjustment and time-stretch audio is truly great, particularly for shotgunning TV series. Subtitles become indispensable at higher speeds though.
posted by jepler at 5:55 AM on May 18, 2013


I liked the genetic modification storyline - not that Bashir was super-human, but that he had been intellectually disabled or developmentally delayed, and his parents used this illegal procedure to treat that and make him above average intelligence - again, not a super human, but just the sort of wonder kid he was established as in the first episode. And it didn't matter that the actor didn't know, because the character didn't know until his parents told him.

I thought it raised all sorts of interesting questions about what is treating a disability and what is gaining an "unfair" advantage, in the context of genetic modification.
posted by jb at 6:58 AM on May 18, 2013 [3 favorites]


The series conceived interesting ideas, but often either executed them poorly or stretched them a little too far. Species 8472 and their bioships, for example. The writers ran out of ideas for Chakotay's character somewhere between seasons 3 and 4, and it showed.

I didn't hate Voyager, but Robert Beltran talking openly about how much it sucked was often better than the actual show.
posted by DecemberBoy at 7:37 AM on May 18, 2013


Correction, May 15, 2013: This article originally referred to proton torpedoes rather than photon torpedoes.

(╯°□°)╯︵ ┻━┻
During the recent fund drive for my local NPR affiliate, one of the hosts said something like "We need your pledge to ensure that we're going on, uh, going on all burners... to throw in some Star Trek lingo."
posted by Flunkie at 9:06 AM on May 18, 2013 [1 favorite]


oh, that's great and useful :)
posted by zorroangel at 9:53 AM on May 18, 2013


Charlie Jane Anders: Star Trek Into Dumbness

"Note: This review contains no major spoilers, but does have some broad generalizations, from which one could draw vague but pointed inferences."
posted by homunculus at 11:05 AM on May 18, 2013 [2 favorites]


The WP page about the new film is a spoiler-fest.

I read it yesterday; I will pass on this one. This is not Trek.


Based on the review I linked above, I'll probably pass too.
posted by homunculus at 11:09 AM on May 18, 2013


OK, so I said I'm leaving the thread (ha!), and I haven't seen Star Trekkin 2: Darkness yet. So I'm maybe asking for a bunch of spoilers, here.

(Though my reaction is to two commenters who've said that they won't see the new film, not that they've seen it and this is their reaction.)

What is it about Abrams' Trek reboot that makes it "not Trek"?

I'm in the middle of re-watching the Original Series, in order, generally one episode a day. (Which I admit is neither how it was meant to be watched nor is it how any older Trekkies would have experienced it.)

I just read the Star Trek Writer's Guide, which appears in an FPP I created.

I re-watched 2009's Star Trek earlier this week, in the midst of all my TOS viewing.

It seemed perfectly Treklike to me. There were a few places where Abrams' take is clearly a reimagining and not faithful to Known Facts laid down over the years. But, again, it's a reboot, so that's fine. The idea that Abrams' Spock is capable of having a romantic relationship with a human doesn't completely break Star Trek for me.

To be honest, the structure of the 2009 movie and its reliance on big action sequences and set pieces is SO STAR TREK, guys. Seriously, it could not BE any more congruent with the goals of the series as set forth in that writer's guide. Star Trek started as an action adventure show. Every plot revolves around an adventure storyline and is resolved through broad cinematic action.

I'm left with the idea that the Abrams' Trek "isn't Star Trek" because it's actually entertaining. Either that or the bulk of Trekkies are all just in it for the rules lawyering and don't really care about the spirit of what Star Trek actually is as a broader work of fiction.
posted by Sara C. at 11:49 AM on May 18, 2013 [2 favorites]


Just left the theater and will write a bigger, better review later. My initial response is that it's good, but not great.
posted by Atreides at 12:42 PM on May 18, 2013


While I don't plan on seeing STID (partly because the name is terribly stupid, I'll admit) I have to take this issue with the review:

And it falls short of being a good action movie, because it actively lowers the stakes over and over, instead of raising them.

I hate this aspect of movie-making these days, that there's a formula that must be follow slavishly in every single damn movie, which is part of why most Hollywood movies have become as predictable as Scooby-Doo, Where Are You?

There are times when I feel dissatisfied with even the Aristotelian model of storytelling, which I'll admit is a pretty radical grudge, but that's nothing compared to the straitjacket that Hollywood action movies have been thrust into, where all the dangers are in a uniform pyramid ramping up to the climax. If the fate of the Earth is at stake halfway through, then the galaxy or something like that must be put at risk by the end. You're free to disagree with me on this of course, I just find it saddening.
posted by JHarris at 1:57 PM on May 18, 2013 [1 favorite]


TNG tried for this with that awful Season 7 episode where he ends up malfunctioning alone on a planet of medieval anti-science jerks and lives this whole other life as a guy named Jayden who doesn't know what the word "Radioactive" means despite having full command of all the rest of his pre-existing science knowledge.
Wow. Not only is Thine Own Self my favorite TNG episode, in my opinion, it is the best single episode of science fiction every produced by the Star Trek franchises. It is all kinds of brilliant.
Strangely, "Thine Own Self" is both one of my favorite episodes and one of my most hated episodes. Favorite because of the story that is mentioned here (he did not have all the rest of his pre-existing science knowledge, by the way); most hated because of the absurd Troi B-plot:

"Beverly's a bridge officer! Why can't I be a bridge officer!"

"Well, because it's something that you spend years and years intensely studying and training for, and the people who make it are the best of the best of the best from a civilization of trillions of people."

"Awwwww, but I wanna be a bridge officer!"

"OK, take the test."

(takes the test)

"Sorry, Deanna, you suck."

"Awwwww, but Beverly's a bridge officer! Why can't I be a bridge officer!"

"Beverly doesn't suck."

"Awwwww, but I wanna be a bridge officer!"

"OK, take the test."

(repeat like fifty times, and finally)

"OK, you passed the test after sucking fifty times. Congratulations! You're a commander! Instantly! Despite the fact that you clearly suck at this, that the situations you're supposedly preparing for don't afford you the opportunity for fifty do-overs, and that bridge officers are not necessarily commanders (in fact they include ensigns)!"

"Yaaaaaaaaaaaay! Hey Data, despite the fact that you're incredibly competent and that I clearly suck, and that you've got years and years of experience and I'm doing this on a whim and with the help of some good old nepotism from Imzadi over here, from now on, you can call me 'Sir'!"

"Yes sir."

ugh
posted by Flunkie at 2:09 PM on May 18, 2013 [2 favorites]


Also the radioactive sublot was kind of stupid considering they kept all the rest of Data's scientific knowledge intact. You can't really know how to invent a microscope but not know what radioactive is.
The people who actually invented microscopes did not know what radioactive is.
posted by Flunkie at 2:14 PM on May 18, 2013


Didn't Data somehow create a radiation detector without knowing what radiation was? That's just a teensy bit more problematic than creating a microscope.
The people who invented radiation detectors also didn't know what radiation was. That's how they found out about radiation.
posted by Flunkie at 2:40 PM on May 18, 2013


Solomon: "Favourite characters from any of the shows: tied between Garak and Kira Nerys, especially as The Intendent."

I've been giving this a lot of thought, and I've finally decided that in light of Yglesias's disregard for the Animated Series, my favourite character has to be Shiboline M'Ress, mainly because it's basically the only time Scotty gets some serious action.
posted by meehawl at 3:03 PM on May 18, 2013


You have the Spock Recovery Project going on, but is our insight into Vulcan puberty really enough of an undercurrent to the action to lift the movie over it thematically?

Yes.

God, I can't believe I missed this thread for three days.

What is it about Abrams' Trek reboot that makes it "not Trek"?

Sara C., I'm one of the first nerds to level the complaint that Abrams' Trek isn't Trek. I know we argued about this a little bit on twitter about this the other day, but please, bear with me. I haven't seen Into Darkness yet, but I have read spoilers and I suspect it's going to be more of the same (plus, ugh, Lindelof). What I think you're missing from the original series writers' guide is the emphasis on plot does not come at the expense of character believability. Kirk would not hug a handsome Yeoman on the bridge, for instance, because this is a militaristic ship and it's no more realistic for him to do that than it would be a captain on a navy submarine to engage in huggy-ness. The most jarring aspect, I find, in much modern movie science fiction is when characters don't do their jobs properly but it's treated like it doesn't matter because it's what characters need to do for the sake of plots. For example, the scientists in Prometheus.

They're idiot plots. In a genre where people are supposed to be smart.

There were quite a few moments like that for me in 2009 Trek. Kirk's birth in the middle of battle stretched major credulity--which JJ Abrams included in a large part because he had no idea how else to interest women in the film (ugh). As did Kirk's entire "failing upward" plotline (more on this in a minute), which existed mostly to return his character to his "rightful" place, logic be damned. Spock and Uhura's relationship isn't particularly realistic given what we know about either of their characters in the prime universe, given Spock's culture, and given both his rank and his commitment to his job. The way each of these elements stretches belief is treated like it doesn't matter because they're plot necessities (or, in the case of S/U, the only way to inject sexiness and romance, apparently). But they're each kind of stupid.

That's okay, more or less, because Star Trek movies are sometimes stupid. Stupider than the shows, really, even when they're fun. Like First Contact (stupid, but fun), or IV (stupid, but fun). Or Star Trek V, which was stupid and not even fun. Abrams isn't alone in this.

But his universe still doesn't feel like a Star Trek Universe, to me, a viewer who has been immersed in this universe since I was three years old. The biggest problem is, for me, the aliens. Contrary to what you said on twitter the other day, even TOS had significant alien culture building--not just those aliens of the week, either. The Klingons, Romulans, and Vulcans, especially, were brightly drawn. In episodes like Amok Time and Journey of Babel we learn fairly intimate details about Spock's upbringing and culture, and this would continue to be developed over the course of several series and movies. Which isn't even to get into the interesting and complex species building we saw in subsequent series: the Klingons, the Ferengi, the Cardassians, the Bajorans. Of course, these plotlines were all used to explore different facets of humanity, but diversity was an explicit goal of TOS:
International in origin, completely multi-racial.
But even in this future century we will see some
traditional trappings, ornaments, and styles
that suggest the Asiatic, the Arabic, the Latin
etc. So far, Mister Spook has been our only
crew-man with blood lines from another planet.
However, it is not impossible that we might
discover some other aliens or part aliens
working aboard our Starship.
Over the years, the core franchise would handle human diversity with varying degrees of success. But extraterrestrial humanoid diversity (and the humanoid part is important, because canon) is something it continued to do with a fair degree of success.

We don't see that in 2009 Star Trek. We have one significant alien humanoid character, Spock, who often acts in stark defiance to the established behaviors of his culture. And of course, his culture is obliterated for Plot Reasons. Then we have minor alien character, Gaila, who is mostly a joke. And then we have background puppets.

It's the background puppets (and people with weird CGI faces) that bother me the most. Because that's not a Star Trek trope, as much as I enjoyed space puppets in Farscape. It's a Star Wars thing. And I LIKE Star Wars! But it's very different, and its treatment of non-humans is very different.

But Abrams isn't a Star Trek fan. He's a Star Wars fan. I'm not sure he'd even notice the difference between, say, Scotty's little puppet friend, and Quark. They're both comic relief characters but one has a voice and a personality and a culture. And the other is a punchline or else an easy shortcut to showing the diversity of the universe without having it actually impact the plot. At all.

We get other echoes of Star Wars in 2009 Trek, too. Look at the destruction of Alderaan/Vulcan and how it's used to spur the characters to action. Look at Kirk's (miraculous!) birth and subsequent trajectory: it suggests a messianic figure, "destined" (as Old!Spock says) for greatness. The story is a Campbellian one, like Star Wars. But Star Trek isn't like that--it isn't about that.

Because Captain Kirk is good at what he does.

That's the point of his character, as hammy and overblown as Shatner can be. He's an excellent captain, who cares deeply for his ship and his crew. But Kirk in the new movie sucks at what he does. He only ends up succeeding because he's fated to succeed, not because he works at it. And again, his movement up the ranks stretches credulity, but it's not supposed to matter because it's just a movie and movies don't mean anything, I guess.

Which isn't to say I don't find 2009 Star Trek fun. Sure I do--I'm not a heartless monster. Quinto and Pine have chemistry, the acting was snappy, there's a ton of fanservice, and who doesn't like to be serviced? But I know the stuff of Star Trek. And this . . . this isn't it. It elevates completely different values. Star Trek values. These are fun stories about destiny. Not thoughtful stories about exploration.

I think thoughtful stories about exploration can be entertaining, but I'll be the first to admit that they're not exactly summer blockbusters, usually.
posted by PhoBWanKenobi at 3:14 PM on May 18, 2013 [22 favorites]


The people who actually invented microscopes did not know what radioactive is.

The people who invented radiation detectors also didn't know what radiation was. That's how they found out about radiation.

But, again, the problem isn't that Data is experiencing science history as it happens. Data is starting from a place of knowing all of this stuff, and it's strange that he has the knowledge and the abilities to do absolutely astounding things with science but can't figure out the meaning of the word "radioactive".

Not to mention that he still appears to know every other English word, just... not that one. For Reasons.

I feel like this could have worked out if you sent down a character whose entire JOB ON THE SHIP isn't being a scientist. Or a character who hadn't already been demonstrated to have the entirety of scientific knowledge stored in their head. Or a character who hadn't already zapped into an unfamiliar setting and invented a bunch of kewl science stuff in order to get home. Or, shit, why not start with a character who has an actual brain and can get amnesia in the first place. Basically any character other than Data, and I'd buy that they had a mental block on this one particular strategically important thing.

But, in this particular story, it just doesn't work as written, with Data. It's just poorly conceived Data fanservice.
posted by Sara C. at 3:19 PM on May 18, 2013


Star Trek values.

Augh, missed the edit window. Star Wars values, I mean.
posted by PhoBWanKenobi at 3:20 PM on May 18, 2013


PhoBWanKenobi, that's a superb observation. It really is Star Wars. In Star Trek, people had their positions because they were good at them, in an ordinary, mortal sense. In ST2009 and in Star Wars, people have their positions because they're preternaturally entitled to them. And yes, absolutely -- Scotty's sidekick is a Star Wars alien, not a Star Trek alien.
posted by George_Spiggott at 3:32 PM on May 18, 2013 [1 favorite]


Though my reaction is to two commenters who've said that they won't see the new film

I'm sure I'll see it eventually when it comes to satellite, I'm just not going to go out of my way for it. I don't really like theaters so I see most movies late anyway.
posted by homunculus at 3:38 PM on May 18, 2013


But, again, the problem isn't that Data is experiencing science history as it happens. Data is starting from a place of knowing all of this stuff, and it's strange that he has the knowledge and the abilities to do absolutely astounding things with science but can't figure out the meaning of the word "radioactive".
No it is absolutely not. You seem to be wanting to have your cake and eat it too.

He did not know anything about science except for (1) vague misgivings that he couldn't quite articulate about the idea of "fire" being a component of "wood", and (2) an idea of how to investigate things scientifically.

It's not even remotely strange that he could invent a microscope after having observed a magnifying glass. And why he would know what "radioactive" means simply because he understands how to investigate things scientifically is completely beyond my comprehension.

And he did figure out the meaning of the word "radioactive". Explicitly. What he didn't do was magically know what it meant. That was the whole point.
posted by Flunkie at 3:49 PM on May 18, 2013


I mean, your whole idea seems based on a fundamental thought of "In a weird accident that wipes out parts of his memory, Data would forget how to deduce things logically, experimentally and scientifically before he would forget what the word 'radioactive' meant." And that just seems ass-backwards to me; I would strongly believe that a being like Data would be designed with reasoning at a more fundamental and basic level than mere knowledge.
posted by Flunkie at 3:53 PM on May 18, 2013


Plus (and I hope that I don't suddenly think of more to add and post a fourth response in a row!) Data is quite possibly the only character who it would work for. He's the best in a position to progress through the scientific method to a solution without even knowing anything about science. By far the best one. Sure, maybe Geordi might eventually become the Isaac Newton of Medievalia VII. But Data's the only one in a position to do so from scratch in a matter of a week.
posted by Flunkie at 3:57 PM on May 18, 2013


What is it about Abrams' Trek reboot that makes it "not Trek"?

The dumb as a sack of hammers bit, primarily. All else flows from that.
posted by Artw at 4:00 PM on May 18, 2013 [4 favorites]


I know we argued about this a little bit on twitter about this the other day, but please, bear with me.

Confession -- I somewhat posted that hoping that you'd chime in, because it's REALLY hard to discuss this in 140 character snippets. Especially when we ended up taking it to DM, when for some reason I never get DMs in order and in a timely fashion.

Also, I really hope we weren't "arguing". I mean, it's a TV Show/Movie Franchise. It's one of my favorites of all time, my guess is that you feel the same way, and I love the idea that we can dissect it on the level of something a little grander, say, what ultimately happens in the Mad Men threads. (And I'm sure Breaking Bad, Deadwood, The Wire, and every other really big interesting textually compelling media franchise, there's just also a Mad Men thread happening right now.)

I think this is the reason why I so instinctively scoff at the "SO BAD ITS NOT EVEN TREK" complaints. I might hate last week's episode of Mad Men or think Matt Weiner's ideas about it are bullshit or disagree with the decision to make Megan a central character or to bend Ted Choaugh's character to make him sympathetic. But I'm probably not going to insist that it's TOTALLY NOT EVEN MAD MEN, GUYS. I'm prepared to hear those complaints spelled out, which again is why I was kinda sorta calling you to the thread.

What I think you're missing from the original series writers' guide is the emphasis on plot does not come at the expense of character believability.

No, I absolutely got that. I just feel that, since Abrams' take is a reboot, it's OK if he decides that his iteration of Spock could have a more human-typical romantic life. Spock is half human. In Roddenberry's series, Spock's sexuality was more firmly Vulcan and it was established time and time again that he would NOT "date" a human crewmember. But this isn't Roddenberry's Star Trek, so I'm OK with that. (Not to mention that TNG reversed this within the run of the series for Worf, so clearly this is something that can change without ruining our understanding of a character, even within the Roddenberry/Berman Trek universe. Nobody said later seasons of TNG and all of DS9 "isn't Trek" because one time Worf said he'd never date a non-Klingon and then later he did)

I also feel it's important to say that I think AbramsTrek has PILES AND PILES of flaws, as a work. There are a lot of shortcuts taken with the plotting. I hated Scotty's ewok sidekick. As I said to you on twitter, while I'm OK with Spock dating, there are a ton of issues with him dating Uhura specifically, and even more issues with them openly kissing in front of other crewmembers on the transporter pad.

I just don't think any of those flaws make this movie Not Star Trek. Just like I don't think the left turn on Ted Choaugh makes Season 6 of Mad Men Not Mad Men.

Kirk's birth in the middle of battle stretched major credulity--which JJ Abrams included in a large part because he had no idea how else to interest women in the film (ugh).

I somewhat disagree and would be surprised if Abrams actually meant that (if he said it at all). Kirk's birth is a classic "Save The Cat" moment. We need it to quickly buy Kirk as a sympathetic character for the whole rest of the film and not a rebellious jerk trying to destroy Starfleet from the inside out. Establishing this family tragedy that is all wrapped up in destiny and chutzpah and risking everything to find a solution is MANDATORY for the whole rest of the film. As silly as it is, the film would be an unwatchable mess without this scene.

Of course, I agree with you that it strains credulity. It just so happens that the guy's wife is in labor at the exact moment that he is handed command of a ship that is under attack, and a precise set of coincidences results in his death in the exact moment that his son is born? Sigh. But, hey, it's a movie, and that's not the only time this particular movie relies on a precise set of coincidences to keep the plot moving.

Anyone who thinks it's only in to draw in female viewers is incorrect and VASTLY doesn't understand how the film works. (Again, for all its failures.)

Even TOS had significant alien culture building--not just those aliens of the week, either. The Klingons, Romulans, and Vulcans, especially, were brightly drawn.

But were they non-"brightly" drawn in AbramsTrek? The movie doesn't spend a lot of time talking about the Romulans and their motivations, but to be perfectly honest TOS doesn't really spend a lot of time talking about the Romulans and their motives, either, and neither do they do that with the Klingons. (Though I'll admit I've only seen one Klingon episode so far.)

The series that really painted nuanced pictures of the various non-Starfleet/rival races was TNG, mainly because the depiction of Klingon culture via Worf proved to be so popular. I, too, cut my teeth on TNG and one of my favorite things about it, as a series, is that it took time out to give us a really complex and sympathetic view of the different alien cultures that make up the Gamma Quadrant.

But, y'know, AbramsTrek is a two hour feature film, not a seven season television show. So I'll give it the benefit of the doubt. (Though I would have liked more about the Romulans and less just casting them as the stock bad guys. Even though TOS cast them as stock bad guys.)

Keep in mind, too, that original Trek played fast and loose with all this stuff over the years. Constantly changing up the look of established aliens, using new technology to make aliens look weirder over the years, adding new species while ignoring others, etc. I think if your ability to enjoy Star Trek stops with the use of CGI to create weirder looking aliens and leave the latex forehead thing behind, that kind of speaks to the "rules lawyer" approach to fandom I mentioned before.

(FWIW I definitely agree with you that Abrams dribbled a little too much Star Wars into the Star Trek -- I lost it at the "I am not our father" line.)
posted by Sara C. at 4:12 PM on May 18, 2013


The dumb as a sack of hammers bit, primarily.

Yeah, but go watch a Star Trek episode. While there's some nice dialogue, and occasionally they'll digress into an interesting philosophical issue, for the most part it's a smash bang action adventure show where the good guys are good guys, the bad guys are bad guys, and Kirk always gets the girl.

The show was pitched, written, and made as a smash bang adventure show, and the writer's guide explicitly says that they're not so interested in philosophical haute science fiction type material. They want a story where Kirk, Spock, and Bones work together to save the day in an exciting and colorful manner. And that's how all the episodes play out.

Keep in mind, too, that AbramsTrek is a reboot of Star Trek, not TNG or DS9. A reboot of TNG that turned it into a broad action flick would be Not Really Trek. A reboot of TOS that sticks to that action adventure bread and butter is exactly on point and couldn't BE any more Trek if it tried.
posted by Sara C. at 4:19 PM on May 18, 2013


I think this is the reason why I so instinctively scoff at the "SO BAD ITS NOT EVEN TREK" complaints.

In my experience, the vast majority of fans saying it's not Star Trek aren't saying it's bad for that reason. I'm not, though I think the writing is dumb in other ways, but I think the first one is fine when understood on its own terms. When looked at as Star Trek it's not particularly good, though.

I have piles and piles of complaints about Spock's sexuality in the 2009 work with regard to Vulcan canon but that comes out of having read entirely too many licensed novels and supplementary works specifically about Vulcan. But I will say that no, the Vulcans, specifically, are not as brightly drawn as they were in TOS. Go watch Amok Time! Spock's biological heritage wreaks havoc on the Enterprise. Doubt we'll see any of that in Abrams' version of the future. In fact, I think the general problem with 2009's treatment of aliens is what I touched on upthread, which is that Abrams is willing to give lipservice to non-terrestrial diversity without actually dealing with the plot ramifications of it.

But fine, it's an alt-universe, and he's more human in this universe. I find it implausible, more implausible than any of those developments we see in Mad Men, because the genesis of the alt-universe isn't sufficient to explain away these biological, cultural, and personal changes. I'll suspend my disbelief for it. But the necessity of that suspended disbelief is one of the many things that make the movie non-Treklike for me.

Kirk's birth is a classic "Save The Cat" moment. We need it to quickly buy Kirk as a sympathetic character for the whole rest of the film and not a rebellious jerk trying to destroy Starfleet from the inside out. Establishing this family tragedy that is all wrapped up in destiny and chutzpah and risking everything to find a solution is MANDATORY for the whole rest of the film. As silly as it is, the film would be an unwatchable mess without this scene.

It's stupid, though. It's cheap and stupid. And again, it puts the emphasis on "fate" and "destiny" and these are very very non-Trek values

Keep in mind, too, that original Trek played fast and loose with all this stuff over the years. Constantly changing up the look of established aliens, using new technology to make aliens look weirder over the years, adding new species while ignoring others, etc. I think if your ability to enjoy Star Trek stops with the use of CGI to create weirder looking aliens and leave the latex forehead thing behind, that kind of speaks to the "rules lawyer" approach to fandom I mentioned before.

I think the whole "rules lawyer" thing you keep citing is needlessly uncharitable (especially for someone who is also harping about the Data-as-Jayden thing). I think using CGI would be fine if the writers still dealt with the alien characters in a varied, respectful, and realistic way, which I feel is one of the core values of Star Trek.

They don't, though. They treat them like puppets.
posted by PhoBWanKenobi at 4:26 PM on May 18, 2013 [1 favorite]


Oh, and apropos of very little I will admit that I found it really stupid that the resolution to NuTrek I was that Kirk was handed command of the Enterprise.

Ummmmm, he's still a cadet in the Academy. Even seventeen year old baby faced Chekov outranks him.

The resolution should have been, "We hereby reinstate you at the Academy, and forget the whole Kobayashi thing, and we're putting a HUGE commendation in your record, and this probably fast tracks you to your own command in the very near future." Not "Yeah, sure, I guess you're your professor's boss now, why not?"
posted by Sara C. at 4:30 PM on May 18, 2013 [2 favorites]


Yeah, but go watch a Star Trek episode. While there's some nice dialogue, and occasionally they'll digress into an interesting philosophical issue, for the most part it's a smash bang action adventure show where the good guys are good guys, the bad guys are bad guys, and Kirk always gets the girl.

Yes, but they generally have plots, and at least consist of a sequence of events that flow one from the other. That's a level of complexity the first film didn't meet.
posted by Artw at 4:30 PM on May 18, 2013


I think the first one is fine when understood on its own terms. When looked at as Star Trek it's not particularly good, though.

Funny, I feel exactly the opposite. It's a shit movie, but it's great Star Trek!
posted by Sara C. at 4:31 PM on May 18, 2013


I'll believe it's Star Trek when Kirk talks a computer into committing suicide. He does that at least three times in TOS (Return of the Archons, The Ultimate Computer and I, Mudd). NuKirk couldn't do that. Hell, even Newkirk from Hogan's Heroes could have done that. Though either Kinch or Carter were the real techie types. No? Okay, you make a listening device out of a coffee pot. Go ahead. I'll wait.
posted by George_Spiggott at 4:32 PM on May 18, 2013 [1 favorite]


And again, it puts the emphasis on "fate" and "destiny" and these are very very non-Trek values

I hear that, but I didn't necessarily see the movie as saying that Kirk becomes captain of the Enterprise because it's his fate to do so.

I saw Pike as feeling that way. He's really the only character who even sees potential in Kirk at all.

And I think the movie did an awful job of showing that Kirk lives up to the potential that only Pike seems to see in him. Which is probably why it's so easy to read it as being all about Destiny and such rather than being the journey of a flawed person who redeems himself. Which I think would have made a much more interesting backstory for Kirk.
posted by Sara C. at 4:35 PM on May 18, 2013 [1 favorite]


In response to the previous discussion of "Darmok" and at the risk of self-linking, here's an essay I wrote about that episode from a linguist's point of view on my defunct (but maybe funct again some day) blog.
I just want to say that this (from that essay) is great:
When the captain wants to tell the helmsman to go to warp factor five, does he say, "Darmok...uh...that time he went warp factor five"?
posted by Flunkie at 4:49 PM on May 18, 2013


I somewhat disagree and would be surprised if Abrams actually meant that (if he said it at all)

Sorry, it was actually Lindelof. But still, straight out of the horse's ass, and all.
posted by PhoBWanKenobi at 4:49 PM on May 18, 2013


So here's my longer response and I apologize if it isn't superbly organized, as it's more of free flow of thought on what I thought of the movie. I will also avoid any major spoilers, though I might make allusions.

As I said, I thought the movie was good, or at the least, passable for what I paid money to go see. It was not great, and I actually thought it wasn't as enjoyable as the first movie, and part of that is because they are slightly different films. Incidentally, I downloaded the soundtrack by Michael Giachinno, because I enjoyed his work generally and liked the first Trek soundtrack. It, too, was not as good as the first.

The thought that repeatedly ran through my mind as I watched was that the movie could have been better, or should have been better. I can't tell you precisely how, but it was a film that liked to walk the border between good and better. The ingredients were there, just not baked at the right temperature or for the right amount of time to reach perfection.

First and foremost, this is a film about James T. Kirk and to a lesser degree, Spock. I read many comments from the folks involved in making the film about how it was about Kirk this or Spock that, and that is what the film is about. It is a film about the development of Kirk's character, and as someone complained about above, it actually begins with a focus on Kirk's natural belief in his own ability versus the requirements of the rank of Captain. Into Darkness is about Kirk's journey from that guy who had the meteoric rise from cadet to captain, and the plots, major and minor, exist as the vehicle to move Kirk down along that line. By the conclusion, my thought was that the 2009 Trek and Into Darkness basically exists to show how Kirk became the captain that we met when William Shatner sat down in the captain's chair (it's a point that's driven home by the very end of the film).

My biggest disappointment with the film was that I felt Abrams was not original enough, he relied too much on certain Trek elements that for me resulted in an odd mixture of loving the call back to the source material and at the same time, being distracted by how it was calling back. I know one reviewer complained that it was too much fan service, which is ironic when one of the chief complaints focus on how Abrams doesn't care about Trek or on making a Trek film. It that respect, it seems that he can't win no matter what he does.

Going to Spock's development, as from preview, I can see it's of some debate, Into Darkness will not leave folks happy who are looking for a Spock modeled on TOS. In truth, it's a Spock that is more greatly modeled (though not extremely loyal) off of the Trek movies Spock and TNG era Spock, which is a vulcan who is more comfortable with the human half of his biology. It does focus a general deal on his romance with Uhura, which is parlayed as part of his own internal conflict on what it means to be Vulcan / Human.

The film's direction is the same as the 2009 film, with even more annoying lens glare on the bridge. I couldn't understand WHY Abrams felt the need to have lens glare on a fixed shot of a character on the bridge - it came across almost as if there was a defect in the film.

A minor grump was the inclusion of completely unnecessary sex and cursing. I am not opposed to either in films, but when they graced the screen, it felt totally out of place and unnecessary.

The Klingons are in it! Yes, we knew that, and they definitely fell into the category of under used. I'm not thrilled with how they were presented and felt somewhat of a mixture between TOS and the Trek movies. Additionally, we visit a Qo'noS, but it's a planet that has already been impacted by a partially obliterated Praxis (the event that set off Undiscovered Country), and I had the sense that we were definitely playing in Abrams' sandbox where things have happened that aren't telegraphed to the viewer [Ed's note: Didn't the Romulans in the cut scenes from 2009 do this?] However, the Klingons suffer mostly because they don't exist as a major plot point, they are basically scenery used to drive the plot forward. I don't think Klingon fans will really like their treatment, though there may be interesting potential about a Klingon Empire forced to deal with events that happen decades earlier and at a time when the Federation and the Empire are not at a place and time to think of peace and an alliance.

I am all over the place, but I think the focus and intent of Abrams, after seeing Into Darkness, has always ever been not to give us (yet) the crew of the Enterprise that we know and love so well. His intent was to offer his vision of how they became those individuals, as much as they might in the altered timeline. Into Darkness felt somewhat as a direct challenge to some criticisms from his first film, which I have seen repeated in this thread, and at times I think he successfully deals with them and other times it just doesn't happen.

The enjoyment of the film will deal heavily with the response to the third act by the viewer and how they decided to accept what happens on the screen, and how it happens on the screen.

I will say that I thought Benedict Cumberbatch was his usual awesome self, and while the principal villain in the movie, not quite given enough opportunity to really offer a satisfyingly deep enough perspective into the character he plays.

Ultimately, it is a film about Kirk first and foremost, but that isn't necessarily a bad thing. When you look at the movies, Shatner's Kirk is also often the focus. Even the TOS episodes, many of them revolve around the Captain. It's not a bad movie, but it's one that focuses too much on Kirk's evolution as a Captain at the expense of the story lines. I know one reviewer griped that it failed to follow through on what it promised, but the events that the reviewer refers to aren't what is promised to the viewer. We aren't sitting in the theater to watch over the fate of the Federation or even the Enterprise and her crew. We're there to see Kirk become Captain Kirk.
posted by Atreides at 5:05 PM on May 18, 2013 [1 favorite]


Sorry, it was actually Lindelof. But still, straight out of the horse's ass, and all.

Christ, what an asshole.

This is one of those reasons I typically don't trust screenwriters to talk about their own work and almost never read these interviews.

Because it's really obvious that Kirk's birth is all about getting us to sympathize with him and has nothing to do with women liking the movie.

Especially since about a minute later Uhura is introduced, and the Abrams take on Uhura takes care of that quite well.

And of course, nobody ever seems worried about this with any other dudebro action movie. Why now, and why "fix" it via a birth scene?
posted by Sara C. at 5:47 PM on May 18, 2013


Women like the movie because of the slashy undercurrents of Kirk/Spock/Benedict Cumberbatch. According to my sister, anyway.

I read it yesterday; I will pass on this one. This is not Trek.

Yeah, and I loved it for that reason. It was actually exciting! As Red Letter Media point out, these are just good Star Wars movies. I'm sorry they didn't have enough scenes of people blandly debating in a boardroom over tea.

Hell even the best Next Gen movie, First Contact, was action packed.
posted by Charlemagne In Sweatpants at 6:32 PM on May 18, 2013


I think I've said this previously, but I think the Red Letter Media review of the Abrams Star Trek is pretty great. "It's fun movie, it's just not Star Trek."

Standard disclaimers for Red Letter Media.
posted by Chrysostom at 6:33 PM on May 18, 2013 [1 favorite]


And for something that isn't Trek, it certainly had lots of callbacks and references to old Trek. These are movies for casual Trek fans, and I love them for that. Why try and please the nitpicking pedants of an unpleasable fanbase? Continuity wank just gets in the way of good storytelling.
posted by Charlemagne In Sweatpants at 6:40 PM on May 18, 2013 [2 favorites]


As Red Letter Media point out, these are just good Star Wars movies.

Speaking of good Star Wars movies, someone has animated Patton Oswalt's filibuster.
posted by homunculus at 6:55 PM on May 18, 2013


Here's the thing. Star Trek fans don't want callbacks and references. We don't want fanservice, or at least I don't (are you guys okay with me speaking for all of us? No? sorry . . . ). We want good, complex science fiction stories with compelling characters. Not every universe need be a comic book universe where events are endlessly rehashed from different angles. A prequel could have been done well. Or a new original story set in the endlessly complex, rich, and broad existing continuity. It didn't need to be "continuity wank" to build meaningfully on what came before.

So yeah, Abrams had his work cut out for him. I honestly think a reboot could have worked well as Star Trek if it just stayed true to the original vision and the characters and built a new, interesting story from there.

I'm sorry they didn't have enough scenes of people blandly debating in a boardroom over tea.

You know what? Every other sci-fi film franchise seems to exist for white males age 18-35, chock full of explosions and stupid plot points and women in fridges and whatever else. I guess this is where my nerd panties (they're science blue) start to get in a bundle: why take the thing we like away from us (which Abrams has very literally done--there won't be new Star Trek on TV until he's had his trilogy) and make it yours? You don't like alien diplomacy, thoughtful worldbuilding, a rich history? You have all of the rest of media and television to avoid those things!
posted by PhoBWanKenobi at 6:55 PM on May 18, 2013 [12 favorites]


women in fridges

OK, super individualistic derail, but I've been wracking my brain trying to figure it out since our twitter convo yesterday. So I'll just ask.

You mentioned "refrigerator mothers" in one of your tweets.

WTF are you talking about?

No, really. I ask in the least grar way possible. I googled "refrigerator mothers" and read all about the 50's and autism and psychotherapy and just could NOT figure out what that has to do with the JJ Abrams Trek reboot universe. The best I could figure you have some really interesting critique of Spock's relationship with his mother wrt his Vulcan stoicism.

Can you please tell me what you meant by that so I can get some damn sleep?

(Or did you actually mean women in fridges, which is a totally different trope, but one I equally don't see in AbramsTrek. Unless Spock's mother fits there?)

I am genuinely interested in talking about whichever of these tropes you meant to reference, vis a vis Trek (either Abrams' or the Star Trek universe in general).
posted by Sara C. at 7:02 PM on May 18, 2013


there won't be new Star Trek on TV until he's had his trilogy

Abrams or no Abrams, I actually think this is a good thing and -- to an extent -- like the idea of these semi-non-canonical films as a palate cleanser so that when Trek finally returns to TV it will be actually good and not just a beige mishmash of dull people with bumpy foreheads who rarely behave like actual people really do in real life.

(Also I want to write for that series, so hey, this gives me time to actually achieve that goal. I'd be a little bit sad if there was a new Trek series slated for the 2014 fall schedule, just for totally narcissistic reasons.)
posted by Sara C. at 7:05 PM on May 18, 2013 [1 favorite]


Oh, and I will be SO MAD if Damon Lindelof gets first dibs to run the next Trek TV series.

Go. Off to Star Wars with you, Abrams disciples.
posted by Sara C. at 7:08 PM on May 18, 2013 [1 favorite]


(Or did you actually mean women in fridges, which is a totally different trope, but one I equally don't see in AbramsTrek. Unless Spock's mother fits there?)

Yes, Spock's mother was exactly what I was talking about. I said "refrigerator mothers" because I meant his mother was the woman in the fridge.
posted by PhoBWanKenobi at 7:11 PM on May 18, 2013


I honestly thought that this far-future proposed series that got shelved could have been exactly the sort of fresh start (while still building on the existent continuity) that the franchise needed. Hell, it worked for TNG.
posted by PhoBWanKenobi at 7:15 PM on May 18, 2013 [1 favorite]


Y'know, Tom Cruise is perfectly entitled to make three feature-length love letters to himself, if he can get someone to pay for it and audiences to show up for it. Just don't call it "Mission: Impossible".

I feel pretty much the same way about NuTrek, just to a somewhat lesser degree.
posted by George_Spiggott at 7:17 PM on May 18, 2013


Aha.

I don't know if Amanda's death entirely counts as a "refrigerator" moment, since she's a pretty throwaway character. But yeah.

I'm also not entirely sure her death is necessary. Nor did I especially like the "destroying the planet Vulcan" plot point. Like... why? Planet destruction is SO DONE. I get that it's about the highest stakes you can really do in sci fi, but if you have to also kill a main character's mom onscreen to send the point home, maybe you should consider whether it's really important to destroy that planet in the first place.

And, yes, too Alderaan for my taste. Which was one of the less interesting aspects of Star Wars, anyway, because who cares about some planet we've never seen? I mean, sad for Princess Leia I guess, but???

(It would have been so much more interesting, storywise, to kill Sarek than Amanda. Especially with all the Spock/Sarek baggage in general. This is one of those areas where it's glaringly obvious that Abrams isn't steeped in Trek lore.)
posted by Sara C. at 7:18 PM on May 18, 2013


She's not a complete throwaway character in the original series or the movies that followed, unlike, say, George Kirk (who was never seen), though I admit that a lot of my fondness for her is based on the novel Sarek. Her sudden, tragic death in the 2009 movie seems to exist primarily so that Spock can repair his relationship with his dad and have feelings, which is pretty standard fridgeyness, if you ask me. And yeah, Sarek would have made for a much more interesting death there. But I'm guessing that Abrams didn't want to mirror Kirk's fatherlessness that directly even though I think it would have been more compelling on several levels.
posted by PhoBWanKenobi at 7:25 PM on May 18, 2013


She's not a complete throwaway character in the original series or the movies that followed

Agreed on that front, but again I feel like I'm OK seeing AbramsTrek as its own completely separate extra-canonical retelling. We see Spock's mom for about two minutes, tops, and if the story needs to kill her in order to pay off, well, OK I guess.

I would have been fucking PISSED if they'd decided to kill Uhura refrigerator style, or if the film had concocted a hot & sexy Yeoman type who could be brutally murdered to raise the stakes.
posted by Sara C. at 7:34 PM on May 18, 2013


Agreed by the way that the way the story uses Amanda's death is pretty fridgey.
posted by Sara C. at 7:35 PM on May 18, 2013


And, yes, too Alderaan for my taste.

Boy I must be really slow not to see it before (or maybe it's because I don't read the nerd sites). But Spock does of course fly a ship into the middle of the Romulan Death Star and blow it up from the inside.

Goddamn that's sad.
posted by George_Spiggott at 7:37 PM on May 18, 2013 [3 favorites]


Re Kirk's fatherlessness and (hypothetically) Spock losing his father, couldn't that have been one of the seeds that brings them together?

As it stands the only reason they see eye to eye in the end is that RealSpock makes them, kindergarten playground style. Which is pretty weak when you consider that the Kirk/Spock relationship is THE primary character axis of TOS.
posted by Sara C. at 7:37 PM on May 18, 2013


By the way, TNG cribbed from Star Wars all the time. More in an aesthetic sense than in a narrative sense, but all in all I'm not really upset by that being a thing. Though it is a little silly how much AbramsTrek just maps Star Trek onto the New Hope narrative.

Especially when there are plenty of perfectly good Star Trek ur-narratives to deal with.

Not to mention that Star Wars is a shameless ripoff of The Searchers. If you're desperate to go to that well, why not just crib from The Searchers like every other movie ever? Why make it a third-rate copy?
posted by Sara C. at 7:40 PM on May 18, 2013


I still think Picard should have related the Epic of Gilligan in 'Darmok'. Much more relevant to being stranded on a planet than Gilgamesh. And really, what wouldn't you give to hear Patrick Stewart intone "the mate was a mighty sailing man; the skipper, brave and sure"?
posted by George_Spiggott at 7:49 PM on May 18, 2013 [3 favorites]


Re Kirk's fatherlessness and (hypothetically) Spock losing his father, couldn't that have been one of the seeds that brings them together?

As it stands the only reason they see eye to eye in the end is that RealSpock makes them, kindergarten playground style. Which is pretty weak when you consider that the Kirk/Spock relationship is THE primary character axis of TOS.


I think part of the reason they went with killing Amanda was the reason she was kept out of many of the films (which I think are very sexist):
Unlike the character of Sarek, Amanda Grayson was not included in Star Trek III: The Search for Spock and is absent from the resurrection of Spock that takes place in the conclusion of that film. Her exclusion from the movie is because the production staff couldn't find a way to feature her in the story without her presence seeming overly sentimental. Executive Producer Harve Bennett reckoned, "All she would have contributed was sympathy. The economy of the story was that Kirk and crew get Spock back. Family is secondary. That would have depreciated the moment when Spock says, 'Your name is Jim.' Then we'd have to cut to mother and she would say, 'Oh my God, he speaks!'" (The Making of the Trek Films, p. 46; Trek: The Unauthorized Story of the Movies, 3rd ed., pp. 87-88)

William Shatner originally intended for Amanda to feature more in Star Trek V than she actually does, wishing to explore her relationships with Sarek and Spock. At one story meeting during which Shatner voiced these interests, David Loughery was concerned about accounting for Amanda's influence on Sybok, though Harve Bennett replied, "There are solutions to that." (Captain's Log: William Shatner's Personal Account of the Making of Star Trek V: The Final Frontier, pp. 64 & 65)

Once, when Sarek actor Mark Lenard was asked where Amanda was in the Star Trek movies, he replied, "In the kitchen! Where else would a good Vulcan wife be?" (Cinefantastique, Vol. 27, No. 11/12, p. 103)
A human mother there to comfort him would have meant that Spock wouldn't have been thrust so meaningfully into Uhura's arms, I suppose. But wouldn't it have been such interesting, textured writing if Amanda helmed the colonization of New Vulcan, if she faced her husband's death with stoicism, as he would have wanted it, if she'd spoken of her difficulties with Sarek but acknowledged the fact that she loved him, truly, regardless? (this is the implication in Journey to Babel--Sarek says, as in the movie, that marrying Amanda was logical. But she views this as charming, not cold) And I agree that the parallels between Kirk and Spock could have been lovely and compelling, with Kirk recognizing his own unresolved grief in Spock's loss and a friendship growing organically from there.

Basically they should let us write Star Trek.
posted by PhoBWanKenobi at 7:50 PM on May 18, 2013


Oh god we can't just go around having MOMS around all the time, now can we?

Oh, and agreed about us writing all Star Trek, from this point forward.

(YES THE WHELK I AM WORKING ON THAT SPEC SCRIPT I PROMISE STOP STARING AT ME LIKE THAT)
posted by Sara C. at 7:55 PM on May 18, 2013


You don't like alien diplomacy, thoughtful worldbuilding, a rich history? You have all of the rest of media and television to avoid those things!

No. I want, to steal a game title, Strange Adventures in Infinite Space. Which TOS had. It was originally pitched as a Space Western, with all the implies. The opening sequence of Into Darkness - THAT's Trek. The rest came later.

Was John Harrison named after Sci-Fi author M John Harrison?
posted by Charlemagne In Sweatpants at 7:57 PM on May 18, 2013


Oh, and agreed about us writing all Star Trek, from this point forward.

My pitch is to basically make it an anthology series. Get a bunch of great modern Sci-Di and horror writers and drop the crew into their plots. Minimal continuity. No time travel.
posted by Charlemagne In Sweatpants at 7:58 PM on May 18, 2013


Voyager got interesting when Borg hottie 7 of 9 starting wearing yoga pants.
posted by JayCruz at 7:59 PM on May 18, 2013


No. I want, to steal a game title, Strange Adventures in Infinite Space. Which TOS had. It was originally pitched as a Space Western, with all the implies. The opening sequence of Into Darkness - THAT's Trek. The rest came later.

I'm well aware of the history of TOS. But despite it's action-oriented nature, and despite the high camp quotient, it was still very thoughtful TV scifi for its time.

And with that, I am off to watch some Journey to Babel.
posted by PhoBWanKenobi at 7:59 PM on May 18, 2013 [1 favorite]


It was originally pitched as a Space Western, with all the implies.

Did you know that this is not actually true?

I think this rumor started out because someone (maybe Gene Roddenberry but maybe not) described the show in a sentence as "Gunsmoke In Space." or maybe it was "Wagon Train To The Stars"? Whichever.

The show was pitched as a sci fi series on the backs of shows like The Outer Limits and The Twilight Zone. I think the "space western" angle was just to clarify that they wanted to do an action/adventure type series that would follow a core group of characters around the galaxy rather than an anthology show. Also Roddenberry already had experience with cop shows and westerns, so probably they leaned on "Gunsmoke in space" to emphasize that Roddenberry could do this kind of show.

Sorry guys I'm in the middle of reading the Star Trek production diary written in the 90's by the show's studio exec and line producer. I now know way too much about how Star Trek was pitched, sold, kept on the air, budgeted, cast, scheduled, dubbed, etc etc etc.
posted by Sara C. at 8:04 PM on May 18, 2013


Get a bunch of great modern Sci-Di and horror writers and drop the crew into their plots. Minimal continuity.

So, not Star Trek.
posted by Sara C. at 8:05 PM on May 18, 2013 [1 favorite]


Sara C., if you want the real dirt, read the cast biographies. Contrasting Shatner's to everyone else's is the best thing ever.
posted by PhoBWanKenobi at 8:07 PM on May 18, 2013


Yeah, I'm reading George Takei's right now thanks to a twitter follower.

I read Nichelle Nichols' at some point ages ago, but if I ever find it in a used bookstore I probably will read it again.

I think Nimoy's is next.

I don't really WANT to read Shatner's, but I probably will.

The production diary is fascinating to me, personally, because I've worked in TV production and so many of the things they talk about are still A Thing. Though on the other hand, holy shit I hope when I'm 80 I'm not still boiling about penny ante bullshit like a flushing toilet ruining a take.

Their Roddenberry gossip is hilarious, coming from two very Establishment pre-60's Don Draper types. They're all AND WE SMELLED MARIJUANA COMING FROM HIS OFFICE also HE AND MAJEL RODE AROUND ON A HARLEY. Which just makes Gene sound cool, not like a Hollywood disaster waiting to happen or whatever they were going for there.
posted by Sara C. at 8:23 PM on May 18, 2013 [1 favorite]


Shatner's is pretty good, from what I remember. It's in starkest contrast to Nichelle Nichols's. Whereas Nimoy is in starkest contrast to himself (but both I Am Not Spock and I Am Spock are worth reading).
posted by PhoBWanKenobi at 8:28 PM on May 18, 2013


IIRC Nichelle spent a lot of her book bitching about Shatner, so that sounds about right.
posted by Sara C. at 8:57 PM on May 18, 2013


I just skipped ahead to the end of DS9 S3 - first sighting of Sisko beard! But he's not bald! Hair & beard combo!
posted by Artw at 9:44 PM on May 18, 2013 [1 favorite]


S4 ep1 - beard and bald!
posted by Artw at 10:36 PM on May 18, 2013 [1 favorite]


Saw STID last night and thought it was pretty terrific actually. Yeah it's an action movie but so were most of the TOS movies. It's impossible to say why it's a lot more of a real Trek movie than it looks like from the trailers so I won't but I wish that mefi had a spoiler tag.
posted by octothorpe at 5:43 AM on May 19, 2013 [1 favorite]


The resolution should have been, "We hereby reinstate you at the Academy, and forget the whole Kobayashi thing, and we're putting a HUGE commendation in your record, and this probably fast tracks you to your own command in the very near future."

Yay, someone else who's correct! In a just world, we'd have had another movie or two with Our Beloved Gang working under Captain Pike (or not all under him but coming together in each movie like Worf kept coming back to the Enterprise D/E for movies).

Here's the thing. Star Trek fans don't want callbacks and references. We don't want fanservice, or at least I don't (are you guys okay with me speaking for all of us? No? sorry . . . ). We want good, complex science fiction stories with compelling characters.

I will certainly give you the compelling characters. But as someone who enjoys complex science fiction stories, it's hard for me to imagine people who want complex science fiction stories thinking of Trek as anything other than entertaining but if anything mildly contemptible. I'd be hard pressed to think of more than 5-15 episodes from all Trek that qualified as complex science fiction stories, with the caveat that I gave up on Voyager after a couple of seasons and on Enterprise partway through the first.
posted by ROU_Xenophobe at 8:20 AM on May 19, 2013


we'd have had another movie or two with Our Beloved Gang working under Captain Pike

Eh, I'd be OK with picking up the second movie with Kirk becoming captain of the Enterprise. Let the story assume that time has passed, Kirk graduated and got fast tracked through the bare minimum number of ranks, and NOW let him have a spectacular adventure that results in him becoming captain.

The problem is that they made the stakes of the first movie so high (destroying planets and such) that a second movie treading that ground wouldn't make sense. What could Kirk possibly achieve at this point that is a bigger deal that saving Earth from a ragtag bunch of maybe-Romulans who have the technology to destroy a planet if they want?

Which, again, is why you want to be economical with stuff like that and think through whether it's really necessary.

Anyhoo, seeing STID at 1pm eeeeeee
posted by Sara C. at 8:43 AM on May 19, 2013


But as someone who enjoys complex science fiction stories, it's hard for me to imagine people who want complex science fiction stories thinking of Trek as anything other than entertaining but if anything mildly contemptible.

Why is it so hard to believe that people who like Star Trek actually like Star Trek?

Trek is pretty good SF writing for SF TV.
posted by PhoBWanKenobi at 8:50 AM on May 19, 2013 [2 favorites]


So in SD:ID does Pike fall to the Balrog in Moria or does Darth cut him down in front of Frodo Tiberius Skywalker? Either way, presumably he comes back stronger than ever, right?
posted by George_Spiggott at 9:54 AM on May 19, 2013


Oh, no wait that happens in the first one. Never mind.
posted by George_Spiggott at 9:56 AM on May 19, 2013


Why is it so hard to believe that people who like Star Trek actually like Star Trek?

It isn't. It's hard for me to believe that people who want complex science fiction stories find that desire met by Trek.

I like Trek. I actually like Trek. But I like Trek in spite of the fact that it only very rarely presents complex science fiction stories.

Trek is pretty good SF writing for SF TV.

That bar is so low as to be almost buried in the ground.

But even then, I'll disagree. It's good fun, with good characters who they do a pretty good job with. But on the "complex science fiction" front I'd say it's marginally better than Space:1999 and not as good as the average SF-oriented episode of Twilight Zone or Outer Limits, and certainly not as good as Black Mirror or (in spite of its many other huge, glaring, terrible flaws) B5.

Eh, I'd be OK with picking up the second movie with Kirk becoming captain of the Enterprise.

Yeah, sure, but I really like Bruce Greenwood as Pike, so more Pike = more gooder.
posted by ROU_Xenophobe at 10:31 AM on May 19, 2013 [2 favorites]


But on the "complex science fiction" front I'd say it's marginally better than Space:1999

Funny you should make that comparision. The person who gets blamed for the second season of Space 1999 being stupid and unwatchable (despite having Catherine Schell in it) is Fred Freiberger, who also gets blamed for the third season of Star Trek. The latter seems unfair -- the problems of the third season do not seem to have been of his making. But I think it's on the money with Space: 1999, the awfulness of the second season seems to come directly from his decisions.
posted by George_Spiggott at 10:42 AM on May 19, 2013


If you're looking for complex hard sci-fi, then no, Star Trek won't scratch that itch. But there are dozens of episodes that are excellent soft science fiction, which were made accessible enough for mainstream consumption but still compelling and thought provoking.

I guess it depends on your definition of "complex," and yes, the bar is set very low on television--but part of what makes Star Trek exemplary is the relative SF wasteland that is TV.
posted by PhoBWanKenobi at 10:51 AM on May 19, 2013


I like Trek because of the fact that it only very rarely presents complex science fiction stories and instead often presents good stories.
posted by juiceCake at 11:50 AM on May 19, 2013 [3 favorites]


If you're looking for complex hard sci-fi, then no, Star Trek won't scratch that itch.

Hard SF is mostly boring (or is just lies; Known Space is not hard SF), so no.

I might count 'Devil in the Dark' as one of the relative few good, complex soft sci-fi Trek episodes. There's a sfnal concept in there, and it's not completely stupid*, and they deal with it seriously. There's other stuff going on, but the center is figuring out the mystery of the horta's life cycle.

But at least my impression** is that most Trek episodes are much less SFnal than that.

I might count any number of Zone or Limits episodes as excellent, and several of the Black Mirror episodes reminded me strongly of Greg Egan's stuff. For me, Trek consistently falls short of that mark.

*Example of completely stupid: that episode Voyager where they're caught behind the event horizon of a black hole and [tech] to escape. Because EVENT HORIZONS DO NOT WORK THAT WAY. Devil in the dark is _kinda_ stupid (where the hell does the dissolved rock/metal go when it's moving through the rock?), but in an "I can deal with that" way that's hard to define.

**That is, I'm not sitting down with an episode list to remind me right now. I've still seen every TOS and TNG episode a gazillion times and pretty much every DS9 episode at least once.
posted by ROU_Xenophobe at 12:42 PM on May 19, 2013


Where I'm really going: AbramsTrek is, to me, at least as Trekky as old Trek. To me, it's not giving me any less in the way of complex science fiction stories, because those were almost totally absent from the original timeline as well. For me, it scratches pretty much the same itch, or would if they had the decency to make it a tv show instead of a movie every few years.
posted by ROU_Xenophobe at 12:47 PM on May 19, 2013 [3 favorites]


Why is it so hard to believe that people who like Star Trek actually like Star Trek?

It isn't. It's hard for me to believe that people who want complex science fiction stories find that desire met by Trek.


Exactly. TOS had some good stories, but post-TOS is nowhere near as good as Outer Limits, Fringe, X-Files, Twilight Zone, Doctor Who, and The Prisoner. There's a Fallout: New Vegas expansion, Dead Money, that does more with replicators and hard-light holograms in 4 hours than Trek has done in a zillion seasons (it claims the replicator is the most powerful technology in the Wasteland). It posits a world-changing technology, the Holodeck, and than has eunuchs use it to play Sherlock Holmes.

And what 'good stories'? The one where Spock learns to be human, the one where Data learns to be human, or the one where Odo tries to be human? What about when 7 of 9 tries to be human?

My grandmother was a Trekkie. I read Trek novels to numb my brain during middle school. But its rarely good (except TOS).
posted by Charlemagne In Sweatpants at 3:35 PM on May 19, 2013 [1 favorite]


Nope. Trek is good. Real good, and I like it a lot, and I can even like some bad Trek (ie the Voyager ones with funny 7 of 9 moments and no that's not a boobs comment).

It just isn't particularly good at being complex or deep sf, imho.
posted by ROU_Xenophobe at 4:04 PM on May 19, 2013 [1 favorite]


It posits a world-changing technology, the Holodeck, and than has eunuchs use it to play Sherlock Holmes.

Eunuchs? WTF?

And what 'good stories'? The one where Spock learns to be human, the one where Data learns to be human, or the one where Odo tries to be human? What about when 7 of 9 tries to be human

Go watch "The Visitor" and tell me Trek doesn't do good stories. But nice troll, I guess.
posted by PhoBWanKenobi at 4:07 PM on May 19, 2013 [1 favorite]


Eunuchs? WTF?

Why does nobody use the Holodeck for porn or for violent games? They use it to reenact these stuffy early 20th century dramas, like something you'd see at PBS at 3 in the afternoon.
posted by Charlemagne In Sweatpants at 5:23 PM on May 19, 2013


They do in DS9. I think it's implied that they do in VOY, too. My guess is that using the Enterprise's holodeck for porn would be kind of like being a government employee and using your work computer to find stuff to jack off too. It might happen, but no one is going to be that explicit about it.
posted by PhoBWanKenobi at 5:28 PM on May 19, 2013 [1 favorite]


Yeah, they used to play Battle of Britain in WW2, and Picard seems to habitually play a noir mystery.

But, well, like I've said elsewhere, the Federation is sort of this horrible mirror of the Culture.

The Culture has Minds and orgies and why not engineer drug glands into ourselves because drugs are fun and wheeeeeeeeee and hey let's go talk to the savages so they don't blow themselves to bits.

The Federation has... tedious art-music recitals, and chess, and booze that won't get you drunk, and they'll throw you in prison (or whatever Bashir was threatened with) if you're gene-tampered, and they fear AI, and they'll just sit back and watch a primitive species die rather than do something about it.
posted by ROU_Xenophobe at 5:39 PM on May 19, 2013 [3 favorites]


AbramsTrek is more Trek than TNG to me because people are doing things on a starship and not talking about their feelings in the lounge of a Holiday Inn. (And also because I remember when people were griping about TNG not being Star Trek.)
posted by entropicamericana at 5:40 PM on May 19, 2013 [2 favorites]


So in SD:ID does Pike fall to the Balrog in Moria or does Darth cut him down in front of Frodo Tiberius Skywalker? Either way, presumably he comes back stronger than ever, right?

Yes.
posted by entropicamericana at 5:44 PM on May 19, 2013 [1 favorite]


I truly enjoyed STID. My husband and I saw it Friday afternoon and actually plan to see it again soon. I'm actually somewhat surprised that my enjoyment of it puts me in a minority here. I was pleased to see how certain events unfolded in the new timeline. After seeing the first reboot film, I wondered about how events from the series and movies would play out, so maybe it worked for me because of that.

A lot of people seem put off because the actors are "too attractive". Didn't TOS have a pretty attractive cast? Nichelle Nichols, Leonard Nimoy, Deforest Kelley and George Takei have some of my favorite cheekbones and eyebrows ever (yeah, I have a thing for cheekbones and eyebrows, so what?).
posted by nohaybanda at 6:21 PM on May 19, 2013 [1 favorite]


Why does nobody use the Holodeck for porn or for violent games?

Clearly you have not seen a whole lot of TNG.

Keep in mind, too, that these are all television shows we're talking about. Television shows that aired in the time before basic cable original series were a thing, even. Let alone premium cable. So with the exception of TNG they were network shows, and even TNG actually aired on the networks, the only real difference was the distribution model. It's heavily implied that some people use the holodeck for porn, and we're shown Worf's "calisthenics" program AKA basically Mortal Kombat/Street Fighter II for the holodeck.

I feel like it would have been more interesting, storywise and also aesthetically*, to come up with other practical uses for holodeck technology rather than using it for imagination playtime theatre or whatever. But it's clearly implied that, to the extent that Imagination Playtime Theatre is the main use of the holodeck, the sky is pretty much the limit.

*Wouldn't it be cool to see a starship fitted with holopanels so that crew members could have any quarters they wanted, or holodeck technology used in other parts of the ship like ten forward, sickbay, or even the bridge? Why have a stark, militaristic looking sickbay when you could use holopanels to create an environment that helped patients feel more comfortable? Why have recreation facilities that look like an airport lounge when you could use holotech to make them look like literally anywhere in the galaxy? Think of how holotech could be used in Starfleet departments like botany or stellar cartography.
posted by Sara C. at 6:29 PM on May 19, 2013


Also oh guys I saw Into Darkness and I have SO MANY THOUGHTS so just let me know when the full on discussion can begin.
posted by Sara C. at 6:29 PM on May 19, 2013


I'm hoping to hear people's thoughts on the villain in Into Darkness.

I just recently watched the TOS episode that features Finnegan.


Ummm so guys apologies for buying the rumor that Cumberbatch was going to be playing Finnegan.

Because that's... uh... not what happened. At all.

Were you guys all sitting there tittering at me behind your hands, trying to keep a straight face?

You were, weren't you.
posted by Sara C. at 6:34 PM on May 19, 2013


General inventory of thoughts:

At first I was irritated by the terrorism story point, and felt that the first act or so of the film was SO NOT TREK. (LIke, seriously for a minute there I totally got what everyone who has leveled that criticism against AbramsTrek meant.)

But then they actually left Earth to go somewhere and do something rather than just playing Federation Counterterrorism Supersleuths, and I realized:

Into Darkness is Star Trek as seen through the lens of an episode of 24*. Which at first I had problems with again along the lines of THIS IS NOT TREK ZOMG. Except then it dawned on me. The original series was structured along the same lines as popular shows in other genres of the 60's. (Use "Western" if you like, sure.) So there's nothing really "wrong" with using that formula for Into Darkness. Using a 24 framework to tell a Star Trek story is almost a more Trek-like idea than any of the previous films have been at all.

Other thoughts:

The treatment of the female characters is downright embarrassing. What is the purpose of Carol Marcus even being in the story? During the whole scene where Khan and Kirk have infiltrated the Dreadnought** and Khan attacks Admiral Marcus, I kept expecting Carol to FUCKING DO SOMETHING since she's apparently in the story for a reason, right? But no, she just sits there passively waiting for a dude to save the day. Having no real purpose in the scene except as a "DADDY NO!" reaction shot. Also don't even get me STARTED on the fact that all the male supporting characters (Scotty, McCoy, Chekov, Sulu) get nice little moments to contribute and shine as valuable crew members, but Uhura gets to play Worf and be proven totally useless and wrong. And otherwise just be a whiny girl with, like, FEELINGS and stuff.

Why have there now been two Star Trek movies where the Vulcan neck pinch is not used? I sort of saw a reason not to get around to it in the first, since most of the times that Spock is inflicting violence it's intended to show his human side, loss of control, and desire to cause pain and spill blood. But in this film there are numerous situations where a decisive neck pinch would have been just the thing. Again I'm left feeling like Abrams and Lindelof have HUGE Trek blind spots.

That said I like the idea that Kirk isn't actually that good at fighting and maybe needs to lay off the fisticuffs in favor of smarter tactics.

*Or, I suppose, any "counterterrorism, trust no one, constant twists and turns over who the good guys and bad guys are" drama, but that's 24 to me even without the real-time style.

** Isn't that a Star Wars ism?
posted by Sara C. at 6:53 PM on May 19, 2013


Why have there now been two Star Trek movies where the Vulcan neck pinch is not used?

Where were you during the Khan/Spock brawl? Because you missed a Vulcan nerve pinch and Uhura totally saving the day.
posted by entropicamericana at 7:09 PM on May 19, 2013


The bathroom.
posted by Sara C. at 7:13 PM on May 19, 2013


Wait, that's not true. I'm thinking of a different scene. I was not in the bathroom, and you're right. Though I didn't notice that Spock used the neck pinch among all that vicious beatdown, and Uhura didn't so much "save the day" as drop in to tell Spock a vital piece of information. Which is fine, but I don't even think it was her idea to do that.
posted by Sara C. at 7:14 PM on May 19, 2013


You'r right, Spock totally had Khan right where he wanted him when Uhura beamed down.
posted by entropicamericana at 7:16 PM on May 19, 2013


Let the story assume that time has passed, Kirk graduated and got fast tracked through the bare minimum number of ranks, and NOW let him have a spectacular adventure that results in him becoming captain.

Interesting that this is basically what happened, except for the pointless detour that was the opening sequence.
posted by Sara C. at 7:55 PM on May 19, 2013


The thought that repeatedly ran through my mind as I watched was that the movie could have been better, or should have been better. I can't tell you precisely how...

One problem I had on that point was that Into Darkness is basically just a re-tread of The Wrath Of Khan. Which is fine I guess, but then you're constantly forced to compare it with the actual Wrath Of Khan which already exists.

I think this is why I was so prepared to believe that Cumberbatch would play someone like Finnegan or another minor throwaway villain from an episode. It seems like that would be a more interesting take on "rebooting" story concepts from the show, rather than remaking what has thus far been the most successful and popular Star Trek movie. I liked Star Trek 2009 precisely because it's not a remake of any particular Trek story but tells us new/different stuff and frames things pretty differently from anything I've seen in a Star Trek episode.

I don't feel like Into Darkness accomplished that. Despite the fact that I think Into Darkness is a better plotted film in general (it doesn't lean on absurd coincidences for the plot to keep moving, for example), I'm left feeling like Star Trek is a more interesting movie because I'm not comparing it to a specific already-great Star Trek movie.
posted by Sara C. at 8:03 PM on May 19, 2013


I sort of saw a reason not to get around to it in the first

Spock totally nerve-pinches Kirk in the first one, right before he ejects him from the ship.
posted by ROU_Xenophobe at 8:14 PM on May 19, 2013


(BTW yes I know it's not a literal remake, and a lot of the Khan story points seem to resemble "Space Seed" more than Wrath. But Khan, Carol Marcus, revenge themes, the almost-death of a key character, and the climax hinging on Spock. It's about as close as you could get to a Wrath Of Khan remake without calling it Wrath Of Khan and copying it story point for story point.)
posted by Sara C. at 8:14 PM on May 19, 2013


Oh man apparently I'm not very observant about neck pinches.

In the first one, I started watching for it as soon as Spock punched the bullies. (I took his punching to be a sign of his "human" aggressive nature coming out.) And yet missed it when it happened.

In the new one, I had my eye out for a pinch from the beginning since its absence from the first film (lol) seemed so glaring. And yet missed it when it happened.

Guys, never trust me on the matter of Vulcan combat moves.
posted by Sara C. at 8:46 PM on May 19, 2013


Since we're now talking STID spoilers, maybe somebody can explain something for me: Why is Khan played by Benedict Cumberbatch?

Khan is Indian, and in the past he was played by a Latino. And in Space Seed, I think they specifically darkened his skin with make-up so he'd actually look Indian. And now he's suddenly white.

I admit this wouldn't bother me so much if they hadn't chose Benedict Cumberbatch, who might just be the most Anglo person alive. It's disconcerting that this character has been white-washed, and I can't really think of an explanation why the alternate timeline would suddenly have a white Khan. Maybe there was an explanation in the new movie that I missed?
posted by mokin at 12:32 AM on May 20, 2013


That bothered me, too.

FWIW in the film no mention is made of Khan's Indian heritage at all. It's just a name. It might as well be spelled Conn.

I have a certain degree of respect for that (it's not like Cumberbatch is playing Indian, he's just playing a guy whose name is pronounced like KON).

But it's part of the long laundry list of reasons I think Into Darkness returning to the Khan well was a bad idea.
posted by Sara C. at 12:50 AM on May 20, 2013


Since we're now talking STID spoilers, maybe somebody can explain something for me: Why is Khan played by Benedict Cumberbatch?

Ben Kingsley had a previous engagement.
posted by homunculus at 1:59 AM on May 20, 2013 [1 favorite]


The explanation I've seen for the whitewashed casting is that they wanted to do Khan, because he's the best-known Star Trek villain, but they also wanted terrorist themes, and didn't want to come off as racist by having a PoC be the terrorist. So basically...Ahbrams sucks.
posted by chaiminda at 2:07 AM on May 20, 2013


Andrew Willett's explanation: "I have also decided that Professor Chandani Singh, who ran the Übermenschen program at Amritsar Community College, created 73 Übermenschen of various ethnic phenotypes but named them all after assorted members of her family."

People whom I would prefer playing Khan: Amitabh Bachchan. Kal Penn as Khan, reuniting with John Cho. Ben Kingsley. Alexander Siddig (formerly Siddig El Fadil, Dr. Bashir from DS9). Naveen Andrews. Aamir or Shahrukh Khan. Aasif Mandvi. Heck, Hari Kondabolu or Kumail Nanjiani or Aishwariya Rai as Khan!

If we don't see his name onscreen, maybe it's Kahn, a traditionally Jewish name.

On the whitewashing: NK Jemisin, Racebending.
posted by brainwane at 6:02 AM on May 20, 2013


I can't really think of an explanation why the alternate timeline would suddenly have a white Khan

It wouldn't have been alternate when Khan was Khanning up the place and having eugenics wars and running a big chunk of the planet. Because that was in the mid 1990s.
posted by ROU_Xenophobe at 6:03 AM on May 20, 2013


But Bashir was already a vamp on Good Khan, complete with all the moral hand-wringing and soul-searching over the nature of his being, so you can't go and cast him as Actually Khan without threatening to set up some sort of terrible, tedious "ah and the Khans and the Bashirs are actually the same family" or some "see, Bashir's genetic makeover was based on Khan stock" maneuverings in the backstory and just ugh no.
posted by cortex at 6:15 AM on May 20, 2013


Or, worse, having a lot of people assume that Khan is really literal Bashir, who went back in time to the 1990s to start the eugenics wars and try to rule the planet.
posted by ROU_Xenophobe at 6:47 AM on May 20, 2013


I just thought that they cast a white actor because it made it harder to figure out who he was. If they'd cast an Asian actor you would have guessed right away. Or maybe I'm giving them too much credit.
posted by octothorpe at 6:57 AM on May 20, 2013


So what are the must-read Trek autobios? Which one should I start with? Which ones should I skip?
posted by the bricabrac man at 7:12 AM on May 20, 2013


The reason that they cast Cumberbatch was, dollars to donuts, fangirls. He gets butts in seats.

Apparently they were originally going to cast Benecio Del Toro but he jumped ship.

Trek bios: Takei's (though his bio covering the Trek era is weird because he was in the closet when he wrote it), Shatner's, Nichelle Nichols, and Nimoy's two auto-bios.
posted by PhoBWanKenobi at 7:30 AM on May 20, 2013


Shatner has two, right? Are they both good?
posted by Chrysostom at 7:37 AM on May 20, 2013


Shatner has two, right?

As far as anyone knows.

Are they both good?

Both made of brass, I'd guess.
 
posted by Herodios at 7:40 AM on May 20, 2013 [2 favorites]


You'd want "Star Trek Memories." It's fascinating because in Shatner's version of the story, he's not such a bad guy but the way everyone else tells it, he's the worst human being ever.
posted by PhoBWanKenobi at 7:44 AM on May 20, 2013


My guess for the really real for real reason is that they attached Cumberbatch before the script was written. For butts in seats reasons, like PhoB says.

Also, again, while I'm down with NuTrek as a thing and think it's being largely handled well by Abrams & Co, they really aren't Trekkies and you can often see the seams of their understanding of the spirit of the franchise. It was important to Gene Roddenberry that a variety of races, ethnicities, and nations were represented on the show, which is probably why Khan was "Indian" in the first place. The importance of this has faded a little over the years as Americans have become more global in outlook -- nowadays it wouldn't be considered weird at all to think that an Indian person was once a great despotic leader who ruled a huge chunk of the planet, or that Kirk's greatest adversary could be someone who wasn't white (but also presented in a non-racist way). I really don't think that Abrams has to keep every aspect of the show's canon sacrosanct, but it would be nice to have the sense that he knew about this goal and respected it, even if it is a little less necessary today.

Or, again, JUST DON'T GO BACK TO THE KHAN WELL, Jeez.
posted by Sara C. at 7:51 AM on May 20, 2013


Um, isn't Khan a fairly common name in Turkey, and countries with Turkic linguistic influences? So if you're going to ditch the original backstory and rely on the name alone...not that Cumberbatch looks particularly Turkish or Mediterranean or Central/Eastern European either.
posted by snuffleupagus at 7:51 AM on May 20, 2013


Also, wiki:
The character was originally conceived of as a Nordic superman by scriptwriter Carey Wilber before his ancestry was changed in script revisions. Harve Bennett, executive producer for Star Trek II, chose Khan as the villain for the film.
posted by snuffleupagus at 7:55 AM on May 20, 2013


No. It's used as a last name mostly in South Asia and among Turkic peoples in Pakistan and Afghanistan (and apparently some Tatars in Russia). Not to be confused with Turkish people in Turkey.

Keep in mind, too, that Khan is his first name. Which is at odds with how the name is actually used anywhere in the world. Except for maybe this one friend of Gene Roddenberry's but I'm still confused about that.

Besides, it's established in "Space Seed" that Khan is a Punjabi Sikh. Which, again, doesn't make any actual sense.
posted by Sara C. at 7:59 AM on May 20, 2013


Well, it made sense to the writers on TOS, who though Sikhs were "the most fantastic warriors" but didn't care much about particularities. What's mildly hilarious about this to me is the old story that apparently Roddenberry gave the character that name because he had an old friend he'd lost touch with named "Kim Noonien Singh" and was hoping to induce that friend to get back in contact with him by giving a character his name. I mean, what a great way to get in touch with somebody, right? 'Hey, old friend, it's been a while and I thought it'd be nice to see you again, so I named an insane eugenicist tyrant after you and basically implied that your culture and religion – or rather the hamfisted version of it I conjured up – are TV props that imply racial purity!'
posted by koeselitz at 8:05 AM on May 20, 2013


Also interesting and possibly having to do with the choice of an Indian Khan rather than a Nordic Khan (or whatever name they'd have used) is the fact that NBC heavily encouraged racial diversity in casting on the show. They were encouraged to use minorities as often as possible, not just as throwaway extras but as major characters on the level of a big villain like Khan.

Funny how that has disappeared, and my guess is that if Abrams had wanted to cast an Indian megavillain, there would have been meetings about whether that's realistic, what kind of message it sends, box office numbers, whether it would seem like enough of a challenge for Kirk & Co to beat just some brown dude, etc.
posted by Sara C. at 8:06 AM on May 20, 2013 [1 favorite]


"the most fantastic warriors"

Well that part is at least rooted in reality. I mean, obviously Sikhs aren't literally all great warriors, but it's definitely a huge part of the culture.

I'm still almost positive that the TNG era Klingons are modeled after the Sikhs.
posted by Sara C. at 8:09 AM on May 20, 2013


Here are some interesting thoughts about the whitewashing of Khan by an actual Sikh.
posted by Sara C. at 8:13 AM on May 20, 2013


No, I absolutely got that. I just feel that, since Abrams' take is a reboot, it's OK if he decides that his iteration of Spock could have a more human-typical romantic life. Spock is half human. In Roddenberry's series, Spock's sexuality was more firmly Vulcan and it was established time and time again that he would NOT "date" a human crewmember. But this isn't Roddenberry's Star Trek, so I'm OK with that. (Not to mention that TNG reversed this within the run of the series for Worf, so clearly this is something that can change without ruining our understanding of a character, even within the Roddenberry/Berman Trek universe. Nobody said later seasons of TNG and all of DS9 "isn't Trek" because one time Worf said he'd never date a non-Klingon and then later he did

Yeah, put me in the camp of saying it would be fine for Spock to date a human, but the romance would have to make sense - and Uhura seems more like it's just thrown in there for funsies. What real connection or possibilities do they have? Also, the point of how exciting a Spock romance would be is that it is something that wouldn't take place and would only occur as a result of a chain of circumstances. Read: not this.
posted by corb at 8:20 AM on May 20, 2013


No. It's used as a last name mostly in South Asia and among Turkic peoples in Pakistan and Afghanistan (and apparently some Tatars in Russia). Not to be confused with Turkish people in Turkey.

I stand corrected! I found this on the Kaan surname, which is apparently the variant used in Turkey.

Keep in mind, too, that Khan is his first name. Which is at odds with how the name is actually used anywhere in the world.

According to the wiki link above, the Kaan variant is apparently used as a given name.

But I suppose it's really down to whether or not discarding the original character's backstory bothers you or not. I haven't seen ITD yet, I came for the savory plate of beans.
posted by snuffleupagus at 8:48 AM on May 20, 2013


Uhura seems more like it's just thrown in there for funsies. What real connection or possibilities do they have?

I don't know about that. I'm watching the original series right now, and it's definitely a thing. Spock and Uhura have plenty of scenes together and are shown hanging out/being friends/having lots of work interactions. Not to mention that they basically sit next to each other on the bridge. Asking what they could possibly have in common is a little bit like me asking you what you and your immediate team of coworkers could possibly have in common.

In one of the first episodes of the show*, there's even a scene where Uhura and Spock are hanging out on the bridge, and Uhura is like, "What I wouldn't give to get into that logical and reserved head of yours..." And I think maybe even specifically mentions passion, romance, sensuality, etc.

That said, I'm pretty sure Abrams & Lindelof didn't mainline a bunch of Trek and think, "OMG Spock and Uhura, that's genius!" in an organic real life Trekkies sort of way. I'm pretty sure they were told to create tension between Kirk and Spock over a love interest, and they already had too many principal characters, and Uhura is there, so hey why not.

FWIW I actually think it would have been more interesting if the issue in Spock and Uhura's relationship is that Uhura is the emotionally closed off one, and Spock feels rejected because Uhura is human and a chick and is SUPPOSED to be a certain way. Instead you get the typical cliche nagging girlfriend schtick. (That said, this IS the scene I was in the bathroom for.)

*I'm pretty sure this scene is crafted to be exposition for certain aspects of Vulcan nature, and they put the words in Uhura's mouth because, as a sensual and exotic female (ugh) she represents Spock's opposite. But still. It is a moment that they share, and it's much more blatantly sexually tense than almost any other "shipping" in any sci fi fandom, ever. That scene almost writes the RECIPE for the phenomenon of "shipping".
posted by Sara C. at 9:43 AM on May 20, 2013


whether or not discarding the original character's backstory bothers you or not.

Eh, I'm perfectly OK with that.

The main problem is that they didn't "discard the original character's backstory". They kept it remarkably intact for a reboot that decided Spock can now get laid. Everything about Khan is exactly the same, except for his ethnicity.

Which seems a little hinky, to me.

Though again I'm pretty sure it's because Benedict Cumberbatch was attached to the project before the script was finalized, and for a million stupid "filmmaking by committee" reasons that have nothing to do with Abrams & Lindelof's ideas about race and everything to do with money and market share and butts in seats.
posted by Sara C. at 9:45 AM on May 20, 2013 [1 favorite]


One inescapable advantage of his casting is that it threw guessers off the scent: unstoppable superhuman got a prob with Star Fleet and the Federation, gets his hands on a bigass ship and fucks the Enterprise's shit right up, that much you can tell from the trailers.

And here we have people guessing "...um, maybe he's Gary Mitchell?". The only reason for that is his Eurowhiteyness, they'd have hopped on Khan in an instant if he'd had any melanin. So you know that secrecy benefited from the ethnic misdirection, the only question is how deliberate it was.
posted by George_Spiggott at 9:53 AM on May 20, 2013


That's not really how movies are made.
posted by Sara C. at 9:58 AM on May 20, 2013


Or, belatedly, what octothorpe said, more or less. I've been scanning this thread lightly since the spoilerifficness started.
posted by George_Spiggott at 9:59 AM on May 20, 2013


You know, I really do hate the modern perception that everything has to be a closely guarded secret because spoilers are terrible and evil when it's clearly just a marketing ploy to create buzz.

I have a feeling that viewers in 1982 knew that Khan was coming back for the second film. Because, you know, it was in the title.

Not everything has to be a twist or a surprise to be worth watching.
posted by PhoBWanKenobi at 10:05 AM on May 20, 2013 [5 favorites]


Why did they feel the need to keep Khan's identity a secret in the first place? It's not a great reveal, and compared to, say, Iron Man 3, it doesn't add anything to be secretive about the villain. I blame J.J. Abrams's obsession with Mystery Boxes.

Or on preview, what PhoB said.
posted by mokin at 10:07 AM on May 20, 2013


I'm like 100% seriously really and truly For Suresies positive that Cumberbatch wasn't cast for Mystery Box purposes.
posted by Sara C. at 10:11 AM on May 20, 2013


That's not really how movies are made.

What isn't? Keeping moviegoers off the scent until opening weekend? It's pretty common for highly anticipated films -- The Crying Game, The Sixth Sense, hell, even going back to Diabolique, and probably long before. (And I know a metric shedload about how films are made, BTW.) Doing it through casting is a detail.

Granted they may indeed have cast Cumberbatch before they had a story outline -- which would surprise me a lot because that, OTOH, is atypical of how movies are made, though not unknown for blockbuster sequels that everyone knows are going to get made. But once things were under way, they did in fact keep it under wraps (reviewers were told to keep mum at the screener), and my point is that ethnicity was crucial to the fact that it pretty much worked.
posted by George_Spiggott at 10:11 AM on May 20, 2013


I'm like 100% seriously really and truly For Suresies positive that Cumberbatch wasn't cast for Mystery Box purposes.

You may very well be right, and I'm not saying that happened. The alternate possibility is that the innate misdirection of the casting informed the decision to keep Khan a secret. This strikes me as the most likely scenario, to be honest.
posted by George_Spiggott at 10:16 AM on May 20, 2013


What isn't?

Casting an actor mostly because his race will make it a surprise that he's playing a certain character.

That would be like, number 5437 why it might be nice to cast Cumberbatch as Khan. It's something that the marketing department would look at after the fact and think, "Oh this is interesting, we don't really have to say that this movie is about Khan, since there's no Indian dude in the cast and it's not in the title... Hey, send a memo to the guys cutting the trailer about this, OK?"

It's not something that the head of development would be in casting meetings with JJ Abrams about prior to the film being green-lit.

they may indeed have cast Cumberbatch before they had a story outline -- which would surprise me a lot because that, OTOH, is atypical of how movies are made

It's very likely that there was a meeting in 2011 where someone said, "The next Trek movie needs to be centered around a Big Bad type. We're thinking Benedict Cumberbatch. Go figure out who this Big Bad is." That is EXACTLY how movies are made now.
posted by Sara C. at 10:27 AM on May 20, 2013


It's very likely that there was a meeting in 2011 where someone said, "The next Trek movie needs to be centered around a Big Bad type. We're thinking Benedict Cumberbatch. Go figure out who this Big Bad is."

Which is what I said in the part of the sentence you didn't quote. The rest of this argument is founded on speculation, and I'll skip it.
posted by George_Spiggott at 10:39 AM on May 20, 2013


Except that del Toro was cast as khan first.
posted by PhoBWanKenobi at 10:40 AM on May 20, 2013 [2 favorites]


Was there really another Big Bad in the ToS movies? V'ger, Khan, Klingons, Whale Probe, Klingons, Klingons.
posted by snuffleupagus at 10:43 AM on May 20, 2013


No. It seems like it was a tng movie thing, and usually not a particularly successful one.
posted by PhoBWanKenobi at 10:46 AM on May 20, 2013


Sara C.: "I'm like 100% seriously really and truly For Suresies positive that Cumberbatch wasn't cast for Mystery Box purposes."

No, I agree. But I think the whole "Who is this villain named John Harrison? It's a SECRET!" thing was definitely a mystery box.
posted by mokin at 11:08 AM on May 20, 2013


Is Cumberbatch really a box office draw in the US? Has anyone heard of him other than people like me who watch BBC shows on Netflix?
posted by octothorpe at 11:45 AM on May 20, 2013


He's a critic's darling -- deservedly -- and that's good for a lot of buzz. The fact that he's not this huge thing in the US popular mindset doesn't hurt at all, if anything it helps in a 'golly, guess I want to see what all the fuss is about' sort of way.
posted by George_Spiggott at 11:49 AM on May 20, 2013


He is hugely popular with the pubescent tumblr set. I can only imagine the volume of fanfic that's Spock/ khan.
posted by PhoBWanKenobi at 11:51 AM on May 20, 2013 [2 favorites]


I remember how everyone fussed about Patrick Stewart's casting in TNG... the pop mindset very quickly picked up on his specialness even though he was essentially unknown outside a certain mostly UK aficionado set. At one point I saw an interview with Colm Meany in which the interviewer (some generic Entertainment Tonight type spokesmodelesque stringer) gushingly asked "what's it LIKE working with Patrick Stewart?" He paused, shrugged and said it was a lot like working with any other Shakespearean actor.
posted by George_Spiggott at 11:55 AM on May 20, 2013


So I'm kind of disinclined to see this in the theater. What say you you all? Is a TOS fan who misses the low-continuity, archetypal ensemble approach of the original and who likes his SF to be about something just a little more thoughtful than "angry people shooting at each other" going to like it?
posted by George_Spiggott at 12:19 PM on May 20, 2013


Nah, I'd wait 'til it's on video. It's not bad at all, but you won't suffer from waiting to see it on the small-screen, and you'll regret blowing the cash on theatre-prices.
posted by Greg Nog at 12:24 PM on May 20, 2013


I always want to see movies like that on a big screen ('cause explosions) but if you do, avoid the 3D, it sucks.
posted by octothorpe at 12:44 PM on May 20, 2013


Was there really another Big Bad in the ToS movies? V'ger, Khan, Klingons, Whale Probe, Klingons, Klingons.

The Klingons weren't really the bad guys in the fifth movie. The bad guys were Sybok and Fake-God.
posted by Jonathan Livengood at 1:09 PM on May 20, 2013


Why does god need a FACE FULL OF DISRUPTOR CANNON BOLTS?
posted by Artw at 1:21 PM on May 20, 2013


who likes his SF to be about something just a little more thoughtful than "angry people shooting at each other"

I though STID was a little more thoughtful than "angry people shooting at each other." Maybe not a lot, but at least a little.
posted by DevilsAdvocate at 2:15 PM on May 20, 2013 [2 favorites]


Is Cumberbatch really a box office draw in the US?

He appeals to a pretty vital market sector -- female sci fi fans.

By casting him they're trying to tap into the Dr Who and Sherlock thing and bring in female "influencers". Which eventually trickles down to women in general, making this a movie that you and your girlfriend can both agree on. AKA a "four quadrant" picture, the holy grail of big Hollywood blockbusters.
posted by Sara C. at 2:21 PM on May 20, 2013


What say you you all?

Eh, it was a fun popcorn movie. I agree I wouldn't pay the extra $2 to see it in 3D, but it was an enjoyable way to pass a weekend afternoon.

It's the kind of silly action movie that's fun to dissect, and not the kind where you're like What Am I Even Watching.
posted by Sara C. at 2:22 PM on May 20, 2013


So basically my opinion of Star Trek, in general. Interesting and flawed and fun to pull apart at the seams but all in all leaves me feeling pretty OK about humanity.

I'll also say that seeing it in the theater, with the whole movie theater experience, made me REALLY feel like I'm completely over dystopian grungy Darker Edgier sci fi. I felt like every trailer was for some kind of apocalyptic thing, and then it was nice to be watching a movie where the world is a little bit shiny and optimistic. And yet not without nuance.

Upthread I mused about the new Shiny Optimistic sci fi and what that would look like. I don't really have a problem with AbramsTrek being the answer to that. Even as I have a million problems with the execution. I think the tone and the aesthetic and the hope and camaraderie and trust is a nice change.

(Also I liked that this movie refuted all that Fate and Destiny and Kirk is right just because he's obviously the hero and the hero is always right Star Wars bullshit -- the Enterprise crew had to work together to figure out how to solve this in the right way. Not with vengeance. Not with "the enemy of my enemy is my friend", or by shooting first and asking questions later. I really liked that aspect of the theme.)
posted by Sara C. at 2:29 PM on May 20, 2013 [3 favorites]


I'd say go see it, if only to see it on the big screen. There's always something wonderful about seeing the Enterprise thirty feet high before your eyes that just cannot be captured on a television set.
posted by Atreides at 2:51 PM on May 20, 2013 [1 favorite]


Damon Lindelof admits the Star Trek underwear scene was "gratuitous"
posted by homunculus at 5:35 PM on May 20, 2013


Well it beats that time we got to see Shatner in his girdle.
posted by George_Spiggott at 5:40 PM on May 20, 2013 [1 favorite]


I love how, watching TOS in HD on Netflix, you can invariably see all the actors' underpants all the time. Because it was not meant to be seen in that detail, so yeah, every once in a while Kirk's shirt rides up to reveal the band of his tighty whities, or one of the women's bloomers that they wear under their hilariously non-skirt miniskirts will slide out of place to reveal panties. It makes everything feel so real. And yet also voyeuristic.
posted by Sara C. at 7:28 PM on May 20, 2013


the Dreadnought**

** Isn't that a Star Wars ism?


Dreadnoughts have been in non-canon-but-licensed Star Trek materials at least as far back as the Star Fleet Technical Manual of 1975, two years before the release of Star Wars. I had thought that STID was the first appearance of one in canon, and I was half-right: it is the first on-screen appearance, but Memory Alpha tells me there was mention of one in Star Trek: The Motion Picture. The name itself was probably taken most directly from the HMS Dreadnought launched in 1906, but the name Dreadnought has been used for ships as far back as the 16th century.
posted by DevilsAdvocate at 7:38 PM on May 20, 2013 [1 favorite]


I must be thinking of a different Star Wars ship class.

Star Destroyer? Maybe?

It didn't sound terribly Star Wars-ish while watching the movie, and then when I typed out the word I wondered, "wait, am I in the right franchise?"
posted by Sara C. at 7:44 PM on May 20, 2013


Overthinking It made an episode about Into Darkness
posted by Charlemagne In Sweatpants at 8:04 PM on May 20, 2013


Outlaw Vern reviews it, makes the same joke I did.
posted by Charlemagne In Sweatpants at 12:37 AM on May 21, 2013


I just saw it a few hours ago! I hated it less than I thought I would, was fairly entertained while watching even as I thought the plot had very little structural integrity. It was so fast-paced that most people won't notice how poorly written it was, but I guess that's okay.
posted by PhoBWanKenobi at 3:28 PM on May 21, 2013


Oh, also: "In one of the first episodes of the show*, there's even a scene where Uhura and Spock are hanging out on the bridge, and Uhura is like, "What I wouldn't give to get into that logical and reserved head of yours..." And I think maybe even specifically mentions passion, romance, sensuality, etc. "

It always seemed totally transparent to me that she was teasing him (particularly in that singing scene in Charlie X, where, after serenading Spock and talking about how you should hide your daughter from him, pretty much, she turns around and does the same thing to the pubescent Charlie). Also the relationship between them pretty much drops off to nothing by Season 2.
posted by PhoBWanKenobi at 3:58 PM on May 21, 2013


I guess.

I don't think that scene, or really any of the scenes between Spock and Uhura, are meant to suggest that they are having a relationship. 60's TV wasn't that sophisticated.

But they have scenes together throughout the series. They clearly know each other well, have stuff in common, and socialize outside of work. You could even say they are friends.

They also have an interesting opposites attract component, at least in the original series where Uhura is sensual and artistic as opposed to the Tracey Flick she's presented as in NuTrek.

It's not completely out of left field to imagine they could date. I mean, Worf and Troi is crazier. Buffy and Spike is crazier. Spock and Uhura is, like, on a Mulder and Scully level of shipping potential. Like, why would they not be into each other, aside from the fact that it's established early on that Spock doesn't date?

I mean, don't get me wrong I have a MILLION problems with their relationship in NuTrek. But none of those problems are of the "what would they even talk about" variety.
posted by Sara C. at 5:08 PM on May 21, 2013 [1 favorite]


Oh, and I thought that Into Darkness was, plotwise, a little stronger than Star Trek. Though that's not saying a lot. I mean, at least there aren't multiple points at which the plot cannot move forward without an insane coincidence occurring.

Though you're right about the whole Bones thing. That bothered me a lot.

Also I seriously seriously cosign the "too many countdowns" thing. The first movie had that problem, too. I think the writers think that More Super High Stakes Moments = Better Movie, but really it equals "blew your wad in the first act."
posted by Sara C. at 5:17 PM on May 21, 2013


I saw it last night and absolutely loved it, but then I'm a sucker for space opera.

Also this, from CiS's Outlaw Vern link above:
"As far as the criticisms about Abrams turning what was formerly peaceful, thoughtful science nerd sci-fi into violent action, I don’t think it’s entirely fair because that’s in fact what this story is all about. Weller is using the Kryptonian fate of Vulcan as an excuse to rattle sabers, he’s trying to militarize Star Fleet and purposely start a war with the Klingons. He’s the bad guy. Kirk, meanwhile, learns the lesson of not listening to assholes like that. He takes the mission for revenge purposes (or wrath) but Scotty (still Simon Pegg) tries to talk him out of even having torpedoes on the ship and then resigns because of it."
BINGO. I think most of the critics I've seen howling about the "militarization" themes, which is one of the main themes running through the bulk of the negative reviews I've seen to date totally missed out on this bit. Or not, but they just don't like it anyway because [reasons], which is also fine. Reasons for liking or not liking a big loud explodey space opera are all pretty much valid, but I was highly entertained, and found the characters extremely engaging, which was pretty much all I cared about.

Plus you know I'm like, THE biggest TOS junkie EVAR, and I've re-watched every episode and movie ever made so many times I've lost count (omg I think I've bought most of them on like, three different formats each now :P) but even I can agree that TOS is almost unwatchably cheesy nearly a half century on. I still love it, but for my husband, who didn't grow up with that grand theatrical scenery-chewing style? it's unwatchable, period. This new cast is much finer actors in general than most of the original one (Nimoy excepted, but then he's Leonard fucking Nimoy and that's a key reason he keeps on popping up in the Ben Kenobi role here). And while I admit Uhura's character is written a bit girl-next-door, she did her level best to save everyone's ass in a shitty situation on Kronos, and then absolutely did save Spock's ass when he was getting his shit kicked in by Khan. I was also pretty intrigued by how they ran Kirk's character development arc in this one - he's not just the shallow fratboy that Shatner always was in TOS and OH MY GOD Chris Pine can just act rings around ol' Shatner any day of the week and if you say any different then I will fight you.

last but not least Benedict Cumberbatch playing Chaotic Neutral or just Chaotic Psycho Nutjob is just fucking gloriously malevolent, so there's that.
posted by lonefrontranger at 5:32 PM on May 21, 2013 [2 favorites]


Yeah, theme wise the movie is very much REFUTING the modern day "BOMBS N SHIT REVENGE IS AWESOME LETS BLOW UP STUFF AND NOT THINK TOO MUCH" action movie approach and countering it with the "quiet dorky sci fi" of Star Trek.

Which is a little schizophrenic because it places those themes in a film that is very much structured, paced, and plotted like a standard BLOWIN STUFF UP N STUFF action flick.

Then again, that's basically classic Trek in a nutshell. An action adventure show that frequently took a step to the left to remind us that there's more to life than punchin' shit.
posted by Sara C. at 5:43 PM on May 21, 2013 [1 favorite]


I know, right? Another thing I dug was JJ Abrams' use of Roddenberry's habit of commenting on themes in current events via the medium of craft. The shit show that is Afghani-US diplomacy, domestic terrorism, genetic engineering, US military megalomaniacal sabre-rattley bullshit in general? It's all right there.

Also, jesus people, it's a fucking Star Trek movie. Fistfights and explosions and girls in skimpy clothes and people generally wrecking shit are pure canon! You want depth, fine, go watch Lost in Translation again. personally, I find THAT unwatchable, but whatever, to each their own.
posted by lonefrontranger at 5:56 PM on May 21, 2013 [2 favorites]


oh and last but not least: who the hell HASN'T been stuck in the middle of 2 friends / roommates / classmates / relatives having a snippy little relationship spat? I have personally been trapped in a car on the way to the airport when my roommate and his girlfriend were having it out, and that whole writhingly uncomfortable scene in the shuttlecraft between Spock and Uhura with Kirk caught in the middle? holy shit that was exceptionally well played, I thought. Yeah okay it's Spock and he's supposed to be some kind of perfect robotic machine, but Quinto's Spock is also REALLY FREAKING YOUNG and as such he plays it just that tiny bit more daft and naive than Nimoy's take on the character ever was. TOS Spock would never, ever have made the mistake of filing a report with Starfleet without running it by the captain first; he's more mature and professional than that.
posted by lonefrontranger at 6:21 PM on May 21, 2013 [1 favorite]


who the hell HASN'T been stuck in the middle of 2 friends / roommates / classmates / relatives having a snippy little relationship spat?

But, like, in the middle of an urgent and extremely delicate forbidden mission to fucking Qr'o'nos (fuck spelling that right)? I mean, can't FUCKING MASTER OF CONTROLLING HIS EMOTIONS SPOCK avoid a tedious couple fight for, I dunno, half an hour or so?

REALLY FREAKING YOUNG

Really? He was a professor at the Academy when we met him in the first movie. He's significantly older, wiser, and more experienced than the other primary characters. To the point that it would be unethical for him to even date Uhura in the first place. I think Into Darkness downplayed that a little bit in order to make him and Kirk more equal and to make the ranks/positions make any sense whatsoever. But if you want to look at the two films in continuity at all, Spock ain't a kid. That's Chekov.
posted by Sara C. at 6:34 PM on May 21, 2013 [1 favorite]


Spock and Uhura is, like, on a Mulder and Scully level of shipping potential. Like, why would they not be into each other, aside from the fact that it's established early on that Spock doesn't date?

Because he has no sense of humor? Because the fact that he doesn't date isn't just some little detail but is both integral to his character and makes total sense in light of it? Because he'd probably be a pretty miserable person to be in a relationship with--overly rules-bound, cold, emotionally distant, and may or may not only have sex once every seven years? Because there's a reason why S/U was very, very rarely shipped before these movies, and that's in part because Spock would clearly be married to his job, his ship, his captain, and his platonic manlove for his best friend? Why would someone who is vivacious and emotionally open and warm and funny like Uhura even want someone like that?

There are other couples who have camaraderie on TOS (Chekov and Sulu, for instance) and while, sure, Spock never throws soup at her, there's also just as much prior textual justification for, say, Uhura and Scotty. While that was only ever explored in the films, that was a couple that always made a lot more sense to me. He's funny, warm, dedicated, good at his job--and so is she.

I know you ship them, and I understand what you're saying--they're coworkers, they're friends, and she flirts with him in a bunch of scenes (though again, it's preeeetty one-sided)--but honestly a lot of this seems like confirmation bias, retrofitting a full-fledged romance into a narrative that had very little potential for one before.
posted by PhoBWanKenobi at 7:18 PM on May 21, 2013 [1 favorite]


But, like, in the middle of an urgent and extremely delicate forbidden mission.. When the hell not? You think that kind of shit doesn't go down on "extremely delicate" military missions in the Middle East between partners? You bet your ass it does.

And the whole point of the reboot, if I maybe so frank, is to give the franchise the breathing room to explore other aspects of the characters before they just become one-dimensional cliche cutouts. Spock maybe an Academy professor, but he was a fucking prodigy, too. Not to mention, hey, he just lost his entire culture, background, center, way of life and philosophical origin. Part of the reason Spock Prime plays so smugly imperturbable in TOS is that he's got the weight of all that Vulcan cultural inertia to fall back on. Quinto's Spock? He's got no anchor anymore. He's culturally orphaned and remember, he rejected his role in going to New Vulcan to help "restore the race" or whatever that was Sarek was on about in ST09. He's opting to embrace the human culture of Starfleet instead, for whatever that's worth. Does it affect his personality? Who knows, it could tho.

Not to mention, and this is really going out on a limb with some wild tinfoil hat spitballing, here, but there's always been this huge foxhole partnership between Spock and Kirk, and that is a powerful relationship that reads as bromance even when there's zero fuckery (ahem) going on. Now, Zachary Quinto is an out-and-proud actor, and I'm fine with that and so are a lot of people. But I'm wondering if maybe the new Uhura angle is to allow his character a bit of a foil to keep the heteronormative mainstream audience that rules the box office out there in Normalville from being too squicked out by that whole "Frodo-and-Sam-are-totally-gay-for-each-other" subtext that got read into the "foxhole partnership" of LOTR.

But that's just me and I'm kinda crazy anyhow, so whatever.
posted by lonefrontranger at 7:36 PM on May 21, 2013


Because the fact that he doesn't date isn't just some little detail but is both integral to his character and makes total sense in light of it?

Sure. In the original series.

But if we take AbramsTrek as a reboot -- and I think we're meant to, I mean, they entirely dispensed with Captain April -- I'm willing to buy that this Spock is more in touch with his human side. He could maybe date people. (I agree with you about all the reasons he'd be hard to date, but I mean come ON have you ever seen any other media, like, ever? I'd fucking murder any dude Buffy ever went out with, and yet.)

retrofitting a full-fledged romance into a narrative that had very little potential for one before.

You know that this is what ALL shipping within fandoms is, right? I mean nobody ships Riker and Troi or Willow and Tara. The whole POINT of shipping is to find two characters who aren't together in the "ur-text" of the show and rationalize how interesting it would be if they got together. It's rarely about who would make a good couple in real life. In fact, even if we bring this to talking about characters who really do get together on the show in question, rarely is that about who would make a good couple in real life, either. It's a TV show, not a matchmaking service.

To repeat, I in no way think that Roddenberry's Trek intends us to read Uhura and Spock as being together in any way. Nor do I personally think they ought to have been together, really. It's just a fun angle on a silly TV show. I know there are people in fandom who take it all a lot more seriously, and frankly that's why I tend to stay out of fan circles even as I am a huge fan. But, y'know, thinking "what if Uhura and Spock secretly want each other" is just fun. I don't need to write them a prenup.

It is possible that some of my thoughts about this have to do with my general dislike of Scotty in TOS (though I adore him in NuTrek). Also his behavior in "Who Mourns For Adonais" makes Spock look like every girl's dream lover.
posted by Sara C. at 7:37 PM on May 21, 2013


a scene where Uhura and Spock are hanging out on the bridge . . .

This scene from "The Man Trap" (first episode aired):

Spock: Miss Uhura, your last sub-space log contained an error in the frequencies column.
Uhura: Mr. Spock, sometimes I think if I hear that word "frequency" once more, I'll cry.
Spock: Cry?
Uhura: I was just trying to start a conversation.
Spock: [pause] Well [pause] since it is illogical for a communications officer to resent the word "frequency" -- I have no answer.
Uhura: No, you have an answer. I'm an illogical woman who's beginning to feel too much a part of that communications console. Why don't you tell me I'm an attractive young lady; or ask me if I've ever been in love? Tell me how your planet Vulcan looks on a lazy evening when the moon is full.
Spock: [long pause] Vulcan has no moon, Miss Uhura.
Uhura: I'm not surprised, Mr. Spock.

Here's someone's anthology of TOS Spock/Uhura moments. Most are pretty bogus, really, but check out:

Spock comps on vulcan harp while Uhura serenades him ("Charlie X").

and

Uhura shows that being Chief Communications Officer involves a lot more than being a switchboard operator while Spock noodges / encourages a tetchy subordinate in a crisis ("Who Mourns for Adonais?" (I think)).
 
posted by Herodios at 7:39 PM on May 21, 2013 [2 favorites]


Yeah, that scene was in "Who Mourns For Adonais", which I saw just the other day (see above re Scotty).

They are a lot of fun together, in the scenes they have. Whether they would make good spouses or not.
posted by Sara C. at 7:41 PM on May 21, 2013


You know that this is what ALL shipping within fandoms is, right? I mean nobody ships Riker and Troi or Willow and Tara. The whole POINT of shipping is to find two characters who aren't together in the "ur-text" of the show and rationalize how interesting it would be if they got together.

Of course, but you said this: "It is a moment that they share, and it's much more blatantly sexually tense than almost any other 'shipping' in any sci fi fandom, ever."

And, look, I have been reading ST fic since I was thirteen and I literally never encountered a S/U shipper before the reboot and the above is just factually pretty much not true, from what I can see. Part of it is just that S/K is just a really strong textually justified pairing (that works all in subtext, of course), which eclipsed most other ships. I mean, if we want to talk about writing the recipe for shipping, S/K quite literally did.

Oddly, I have encountered a whole slew of Riker/Troi shippers. Most of them were big Peter David fans.
posted by PhoBWanKenobi at 7:58 PM on May 21, 2013 [1 favorite]


that scene was in "Who Mourns For Adonais"

. . . and -- to return to the original FPP topic -- shows-not-tells in about a minute or so, much of What Made Star Trek Great ® in the 1960s: respect, trust, professionalism, leadership, competence, and the matter-of-fact multi-culturalism and gender equity that Roddenberry sought to confidently show would be our future.

The fact they often failed to meet their own standards is attributable to many factors, not the least of which was simple fatigue. TOS was always over-budget and behind schedule and often had to make stuff up as they went along. I think they sometime just got tired.

* * *

I know what slash fiction is, but "shipping"?

Consults WP.

Oh, good grief! I'm old, and I think I'll stay that way.
 
posted by Herodios at 8:08 PM on May 21, 2013 [3 favorites]


Thanks for posting the duet between Spock and Uhura, I've been meaning to mention that in reference to the debate on what foundations exist. The first time I watched it, I was a little shocked, as it's a scene in which Spock stops being the emotionless Vulcan and a little bit of that grinning Vulcan from the pilot slips through. Also, of course, is the story that it was supposed to be Spock and Uhura kissing in Plato's Stepchildren.
posted by Atreides at 7:02 AM on May 22, 2013


"Lunch and Other Obscenities" is the fanfic that helped me understand the reboot S/U pairing.

do not remind me of how much I adored Peter David's Imzadi when I was a teen, also, I can't stand what he did to She-Hulk
posted by brainwane at 9:18 AM on May 22, 2013 [2 favorites]


Ha, I love that fic. It's great. Also fairly great are the Starfleet Academy reboot licensed novels. But still, for the life of me, I just don't ship original Spock and Uhura.

Peter David gave me Radu, so I love him forever. Despite Problems.
posted by PhoBWanKenobi at 9:24 AM on May 22, 2013


Why Wrath of Khan is Still a Bloody Great Star Trek Movie
posted by Artw at 8:38 PM on May 22, 2013 [5 favorites]


Hm maybe somebody should do a script where Khan and his crew are the good guys, trying to force the Federation to evolve into something post/transhuman.
posted by Charlemagne In Sweatpants at 8:43 PM on May 22, 2013 [4 favorites]


do not remind me of how much I adored Peter David's Imzadi when I was a teen

They can pry my hardcover copy of Imzadi out of my cold, dead hands. Of course, they'll have to come to my glass-domes, hermetically sealed crypt on Betazed to do it.
posted by The Underpants Monster at 5:46 AM on May 23, 2013 [1 favorite]


Why Wrath of Khan is Still a Bloody Great Star Trek Movie

I almost stayed up 'til 2am last night watching TWOK after reading that link before going to bed.
posted by TwoWordReview at 12:43 PM on May 23, 2013 [2 favorites]


I wish more movies were made like Wrath of Khan. What's now called a slow boil used to be effective storytelling, and I hate "modern" movies that are constantly LOOK AT ME LOOK AT THIS THING LOOK AT HIM WHAT IS HE DOING OMG DID HE JUST PUNCH THROUGH THAT WALL LIKE HIM ADMIRE HIM DAMMIT ISN'T HE GODLY, constantly. It's like movies have gotten so insecure that audiences will watch them that they're constantly pandering. I blame, partly, The Matrix.
posted by JHarris at 12:56 PM on May 23, 2013 [6 favorites]


I suspect that ritcset in long before The Matrix. I'd blame Temple of Doom, the first "rollercoaster ride of thrills!" literally to be a rollercoaster as the origin point of the infection, though I'd admit my beloved Star Wars films are not without blame.
posted by Artw at 1:15 PM on May 23, 2013 [1 favorite]


Yeah, Star Wars has a lot to do with it, which is kind of a shame because it's not a formula that works for everything but is a formula that works perfectly for what it is.
posted by PhoBWanKenobi at 1:21 PM on May 23, 2013


Apparently the Khan elements of Star Trek Into Darkness were a late addition to the script.

No idea whether that makes the whitewashing of Khan more or less justifiable.

But Benedict Cumberbatch was definitely cast as the Big Bad before the idea of using Khan came up.
posted by Sara C. at 10:11 AM on May 25, 2013


That's not at all clear from the interview. They say that Cumberbatch was a late addition and that John-Harrison-as-Khan was also something debated after he was cast. They don't say that they made the decision to make Khan the villain only after he was cast.

Husband and I watched Space Seed the other night. Christ, Khan used to be a much more interesting character.
posted by PhoBWanKenobi at 11:08 AM on May 25, 2013 [2 favorites]


Just got back from Action Trek, which I liked a lot. It IS dumb as a sack of hammers though, and remains not actually Trek-like despite quoting Khan so much.
posted by Artw at 6:45 PM on May 25, 2013 [1 favorite]


So, people who have seen the new movie...

SPOILERS

...we're all agreed that Spock, Kirk and Uhura are a threesome, right?
posted by Artw at 9:15 PM on May 25, 2013 [2 favorites]


This requires having seen some movie to know?
posted by cortex at 9:17 PM on May 25, 2013 [1 favorite]


No, a threesome is defined in STID as one Federation Captain and two twenty-something cat girls.
posted by Atreides at 7:15 AM on May 26, 2013 [1 favorite]


I was figuring that was just Kirk taking advantage of the openess of a polyamorous triad.
posted by Artw at 7:24 AM on May 26, 2013


AND SO IT BEGINS ONCE AGAIN
posted by JHarris at 11:39 AM on May 26, 2013


I saw it today. I liked it, and I think it does qualify as Trek. Plus, there is one surprise that hasn't been mentioned yet on this page that I liked very much. Just one more opinion.
posted by wittgenstein at 2:31 PM on May 27, 2013


one of the AV Club's new writers defends Voyager
posted by Charlemagne In Sweatpants at 11:38 PM on May 27, 2013


wait, posted too soon. it dosen't defend it
posted by Charlemagne In Sweatpants at 11:41 PM on May 27, 2013


I liked *bits* of Voyager. A lot more of it than Enterprise, that's for sure.
posted by Artw at 12:02 AM on May 28, 2013 [1 favorite]


there is one surprise that hasn't been mentioned yet on this page that I liked very much

EXPLAIN MOAR
posted by ROU_Xenophobe at 5:19 AM on May 28, 2013


I finally saw it and I enjoyed it. All I want out of a Star Trek movie is a pretty good episode with better effects, so mission accomplished. That being said, I do agree with all the criticisms in the hysterical Star Trek Into Darkness: The Spoiler FAQ but that takes place on a different level than enjoying a Star Trek movie.

However. They need to get out and explore FFS.
posted by shothotbot at 6:39 AM on May 28, 2013


Frankly, every such list is so subjective as to be virtually useless (except for generating threads like this one).
posted by Julian Marsh at 4:21 PM on May 29, 2013


Peter Weller interview.
posted by Artw at 8:38 AM on May 30, 2013


QOTD: Benedict Cumberbatch Was A Church Flasher
posted by homunculus at 1:13 PM on June 8, 2013


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