Steaming Mound Of Manure
Once again, Voyager presents us with an alternate reality nightmare bearing no resemblance to the style, ideals & format of the previous Trek series. I smell the angry stench of Brannon Braga...
Let's be clear: Voyager as a series is hot pig garbage. The writers hate the characters, the producers hate the format, the entire creative team hates themselves and their audience. How else can you explain week after week of black, torturous trauma, of painful death and plague, of demonic possession and slow death and punishment both physical and mental? I'm watching this cosmic train wreck of a series only because I'm currently stuck at home and addicted to all things Trek. I would not wish this program on my worst enemy.
This week B'Elanna, Chakotay, Doctor & Janeway die- yes: die- and the rest of the crew learns that they're actually alien replicants and that their entire lives and memories are fraudulent. I'm making the popcorn! Those unlucky enough to live through the episode are rewarded with cancerous lesions on their face as their bodies are wracked with disease and eaten alive from the inside. (Are we having fun yet?) Lots of insulting techno-babble is expelled from the mouths of the actors in an attempt to justify the torture and abuse... none of it makes a lick of sense.
A last-minute alternate reality/time travel contrivance is supposed to set straight the travesty we've just witnessed, but it's a light year late and a dollar short: once again the underlying theme is the writers KILLING the main characters because they had no better ideas.
Disgusting. Repulsive. Offensive. Gross. Insulting. These are the nicest words I can think of to describe this episode and the majority of the series. Maybe next week the Voyager writers will show some mercy and just let the ship explode in space, killing everyone on board instantly and putting an end to their pain and suffering... or maybe the writers are just cowards who will continue the abuse indefinitely.
Star Trek: Voyager: Dark Frontier (1999)
We Are The Bored
Voyager takes a break from its wondrous, inspiring adventures to tell a two-part tale that plays like a sobering slap to the face: Janeway decides to exploit Seven of Nine's Borg past to steal a transwarp coil, and in the process the Borg reveal plans to get Seven to rejoin the collective and assist them in conquering Earth.
When I think Star Trek Voyager I think of fun! And balloons! And cute little puppy dogs! At least the nightmarish series isn't drowning in a swamp of compromised morality, blurry objectives, questionable character choices and wildly-swinging story lines. That would be bad.
This episode is terrible, stretching a bad idea over two hours, almost single-handedly killing the character and reputation of Janeway while forcing Seven to suffer alone yet again in choosing between humans and the Borg. Oh, and there's a Holodeck fake-out too. You can never get enough of those.
To pad out the two episode arc we are treated to multiple pointless flashbacks and forced to hear "You will be assimilated" and "Resistance is futile" about nine times each. I often wonder what this series would be like if any of the writers seemed to LIKE any of the characters... what it would be like if episodes were even-keeled with recurring, season-spanning story lines... instead our crew is punished and dehumanized yet again while all previous lessons are forgotten in favor of this week's mission.
Why would Janeway risk the ship and her crew member/friend Seven for a transwarp coil only to later risk the ship in order to save the evidently expendable Seven? Even after its revealed that Seven may not want to be saved?
Kate Mulgrew is wonderful as the Captain but the writers did her no justice by making her morality and priorities change with the breeze. Will this be the last time Seven's loyalty is questioned and she is forced to experience the cold fear and terror of reintegrating herself to life as a human? Let's hope so. I don't think she could endure any more of this.
That makes Two of us.
Star Trek: Voyager: The Disease (1999)
Cream of Sum Yung Gai
Ensign Saltine (also known as Harry Kim) falls for an alien woman after sleeping with her. His irresponsible lust endangers the crew of Voyager, but it's okay because Harry really really totally likes this babe, ya know?
I can't fault Harry for his passion, but it's his self-righteous refusal to apologize for his actions that rubs me the wrong way. Janeway- who initially rips Mr. Kim a new Pu-Pu platter- eventually makes an allowance for his blatant disregard of Starfleet policy.
Is that the point of Voyager, of being stranded in the Delta quadrant? Are we just going to spend the rest of the series chipping away at the values and beliefs that make Starfleet- and Star Trek- the inspiring, high-minded endeavor that attracted all of us as fans? "Voyager" seems constantly at-odds with its Star Trek lineage: it's the franchise's rebellious teenager, rejecting its parents' ideals without any clue how to change or improve upon them. What does Voyager ultimately want?
While we wrestle with the deep philosophical questions Harry Kim gets his freak on without ever changing his blank expression and Voyager gets closer to home but farther from their beliefs.
It's 10 PM: do you know where your starship is?
Like An Outbreak Of Gonnorhea
"I think I'm gonna be sick," says Quark, and that one sentence sums up this episode, which can only be described as sewage.
Let me think... where to begin... there's so much wrong with this episode that I may not have enough space to accurately describe it.
"Let He Who Is Without Sin" is soft core sensationalist soap opera sludge, and to pass this off as Star Trek is a violation of the franchise and everything for which it stands.
Leading the parade of shame is the god-awful Terry Farrell, who has managed to keep her character Jadzia Dax as useless and poorly defined as it was in Season One. Farrell- vacuous and stiff- has managed to make Dax lifeless and entirely unnecessary, and she ices the cake of her performance each week by speaking in a faint, flat voice, the result of her clearly not having enough air in her lungs to push the dialogue out through her lips. Maybe that's why she had to overdub every single one of her lines. As an actress Terry Farrell is a cadaver, a comatose shell, and her performance is a crime against the craft of acting.
In recent episodes Dax has suddenly become the biggest in space, with multiple, head-scratching references made to her extensive sexual history and unbridled lust. It's even revealed in the Deep Space 9 TOS flashback "Trials & Tribble-ations" that Dax slept with Dr. Leonard "Bones" McCoy. Read that sentence again. Now a third time if you have to. It doesn't help, does it? Dax is vocal and obnoxious about taking a vacation with Worf to Risa so they can bang each other's brains out in private. She smiles cluelessly and without shame, and urges the senior staff of DS9 to loosen up and get laid, but not before we're treated to a graphic description of Klington/Trill intercourse. "I pulled my neck fugging," Dax tells Odo and Sisko, grinning gleefully, without even a hint of guilt or self-awareness. Also Vanessa Williams shows up as Dax's lesbian lover for some reason. Are we vomiting yet? Someone needs to slap Terry Farrell so hard that the echo from the resulting crack makes schoolchildren weep.
Not to be outdone by Dax's boggling behavior is Alexander Siddig as medical paperweight Julian Bashir. He raises one eyebrow and engages in sexual innuendo so inane and juvenile it would make a twelve year-old boy blush. It seems Julian likes sex, and the act of having sex, and he wants to have as much sex with his dabo cupcake Leeta as he can. Because of the sex. Did I mention sex? In "Without Sin," Star Trek- originally conceived as a high-minded science fiction anthology built on themes of discovery and human nature- melts inexplicably into a broad, goofy, exploitive sex-com as a ragtag band of space station crew misfits hit the road to bust a nut and learn a little something about love, sex, and the true meaning of Christmas. Gene Roddenberry must be rolling over in his torpedo tube on Genesis. This episode is nothing less than an absolute bastardization of the Trek name and the ideals for which it stands... it is a tumor... it is a crime.
My attack on this episode may seem severe but it is in my opinion well-deserved. My criticism of Terry Farrell may seem harsh, but I have patiently waited five years for this actress to display even a trace of talent or energy. I have waited five years for her to TRY. Frankly I'm tired of waiting. If she can't be bothered to even make an attempt then I can't be bothered to show her any sympathy. "Let he who is without sin cast the first stone," says the Bible passage. (John 8:7) *tossing a jagged rock at Terry Farrell's face* Avoid this junk. It's not Star Trek. It's forgettable smut.
"Let He Who Is Without Sin Cast The First Stone." Boldly banging where no man has banged before.
Flushing Dr. Crusher
A lot of people ask- to this day- why the character of Beverly Crusher was written off Star Trek TNG in Season 2 and replaced by the character of Dr. Pulaski. I'll give you the simple answer.
Gates McFadden is a terrible actress. She was fired from the show. Gates McFadden was fired from Star Trek: The Next Generation because she's a terrible actress. She is talent-free. She is an embarrassment. Her inability to act and perform was so pronounced that producers fired her from the show. Gates McFadden was fired because she was terrible.
Is that clear enough or do you need to re-read the above paragraph a few dozen times? The first and best example of Gates' staggering lack of passion and ability is this episode, a cherry-picked custom-made contraption designed to give the world's worst performer a chance to look good.
Gates falls on her face.
Blank, vacant, repressed, hollow, invisible, forgettable, stiff, awkward, frigid, numb, traumatized... pick an adjective, there's plenty to go around. You can argue with me or call me names but first I insist you sit through this 45-minute bowel sandwich called "Remember Me."
I'll be here. I'll be here waiting.
DS9 Roll Call! Avery, Colm, Terry, Armin, Rene, Siddig, Cirroc & Nana!
Yes, the most blandly named cast in television history finishes their third season with a strong episode: newly-promoted Captain Sisko takes his crew to their battleship for a mission, which is quickly sabotaged by a Dominion changeling. Who's real and who's not? Which crew members are in on the ruse? Good story, good action, and good performances combine to make an open-ended season finale without a contrived or over-the-top cliffhanger.
Deep Space Nine can be great Trek when it wants to be... here's hoping Season 4 will have more definitive, substantial episodes like this and less stray character story lines soaked in political/moral soup. Engage.
May I Borrow Your Body?
See the lazy DS9 writers fail to devise a story or plot-based reason for Dax to meet her former hosts: she does it one afternoon because there's nothing good on TV.
The fact that Dax employs the DS9 crew- including Odo AND Quark- to offer their bodies as Trill shells is pointless and beyond absurd. Terry Farrell- who has not a thought in her hollow little head- once again commits a crime against acting with her typically vacant dissociative presence. Much more interesting is watching young and spunky Nog in his attempt to qualify for Starfleet Academy.
Note to DS9 writers: enough hypothetical, imaginary, spiritual fantasy horse diarrhea. I'm old enough to remember when things ACTUALLY HAPPENED on Star Trek, and I miss those days bitterly. Still, this episode gets a bonus point for Odo's rockin' fro.
In Space No One Can Hear You Shrug
"Shakaar" is an example of the schizophrenic nature of Deep Space Nine, and exactly the reason I find my interest in the series rapidly waning.
We're coming to the end of Season 3 and there are too many disjointed story lines and tones going in the series. Is this show about Quark, his bar, and the Ferengi obsession with profit? Is it a lighthearted family show about a single father and his son? Is it devoted to the Bajoran/Cardassian conflict? Odo's identity search? Is it even about the space station anymore? Unfortunately the writers and producers don't seem to know. Week to week is a crap shoot: sometimes you get tense political drama and other weeks it's Deep Space 90210.
This outing features the otherwise-solid character of Kira leaving her job on the station to help Kai Winn retrieve farming equipment for the Bajoran provisional government. Huh? This is the moral and science-fiction morass which sunk the Star Trek franchise post-TNG. There are too many shades of gray plaguing this series: everybody's right while being simultaneously wrong. Who are we as an audience rooting for and why?
So Kira takes a week off to rejoin her former freedom-fighting comrades, unseat Kai Winn as head of the provisional government and somehow manages to return to work on DS9 before her coffee gets cold. Without any penalty or repercussion. Give me a break.
"Civil Defense" is a coma-inducing bore, a Star Trek episode so dull and dreary and pointless that you wonder how it was made. And why.
Sisko, Jake & O'Brien inadvertently trigger a Cardassian security program which locks down the station and threatens our hero's lives. It also provides the episode's ONLY dramatic arc. You see, the Cardassians had evidently anticipated a rebellion of the enslaved Bajoran mine workers and wrote a computer sub-routine to subdue the potentially unruly mob. (How convenient!) This computer program serves as a very thin disguise for terribly written, terribly detailed empty threats to keep our protagonists in supposed danger until the next act break, at which point the program starts issuing a new hollow warning.
"Warning. Warning," says the computer, "poison gas will be released in twelve minutes." Thanks for the heads-up.
"Surrender, Bajoran rebels, or we will be forced to destroy the station," says a prerecorded message from the writers. I mean from Gul Dukat. "You have eight minutes to decide."
"Warning. Warning," says the computer as the episode nears its ridiculous 'action' climax, "Core meltdown in three minutes. And just wait till your Father gets home." Chock-full of junky, clunky writing, zero character development and extraordinarily contrived plot devices, "Civil Defense" is Deep Space Nine- and the Star Trek franchise- at its most abysmal. Will our three lead characters be killed and the space station destroyed in the middle of the third season?!?
I won't spoil the ending for you.
Space, Baby. Deep Space.
Well we're midway through the first season of Deep Space Nine and I figure this is as good an episode as any to take a look at the series as a whole so far. I've been a huge fan of the original Star Trek series, the films, and the Next Generation, but I've only recently decided to work my way through DS9... I had heard mostly good things from Trek fans. I'm only ten episodes in, but here's my take on what works and what doesn't.
The Good: Avery Brooks as Captain Sisko. I already like the actor and the character he plays: he's got a quiet, introspective presence which works very well. It's also a nice change to see a Star Trek captain who isn't trying too hard to be authoritative or iron-willed: Sisko seems perfectly comfortable as head of the space station and Brooks is engaging and leaves me wanting more.
The Setting. What I thought would be detrimental to a Trek franchise- a stationery headquarters as opposed to a propulsive ship boldy going where no man has gone before- has actually turned out to be a positive: there's a stability to the DS9 station that I actually find comforting, especially with the ambient outer-space white noise in the background.
Quark. Boy was I ready to hate this character. In the few episodes I saw during DS9's original run I got the impression that Quark was an over-the-top greedy goofball, an alien bartender/host who was as much of a Gremlin as he was a Ferengi. I've been pleasantly surprised so far by the understatement of the character and Armin Shimerman's performance. If you've ever witnessed the neurotic nightmare Neelix on Voyager you thank the prophets for Quark's quiet dignity.
Odo. My favorite character so far. We don't know much about him yet but he has an air of mystery and steely determination that you don't usually find in a shapeshifter. I hope we get more episodes and backstory on him as the series continues.
The Not-So-Good: Nana Visitor as Major Kira. So far she's been bland and forgettable. Definitely room for the character to grow. Also who names their kid Nana? Chief O'Brien & Keiko. It's great to see Colm Meany from TNG, but so far he's offered little in terms of character or performance, and Keiko is the dramatic equivalent of a Styrofoam peanut. My favorite was the episode where she smiled and nodded.
The Ugly: Alexander Siddig as Dr. Bashir. Vaguely-British, vaguely good-looking and thus far almost entirely useless. He's like a department store mannequin modeling a mock turtleneck. Bashir seems to have two emotional settings: Mildly Surprised and Daydreaming About Donuts.
Terry Farrell as Dax. This is a joke, right? Good one. Now bring out the REAL actress. Farrell is not only corpse-like and comatose in facial expression and flat, stilted vocals, she's physically stiff as a plank when her character is required to move. In this episode she has to play hopscotch and follow a little girl's steps. Farrell looks like a newborn calf whose legs are not yet connected to her brain pan. There are not enough stool softeners in the world to cure her dead eyes and bland symmetrical forehead freckles. Seriously, the woman has been a crime against acting, and as we all know Star Trek is not Shakespeare. The only thing worse than Bashir & Dax is Bashir & Dax TOGETHER, sharing a chemistry-free flirtation and failing to connect as performers on any level. These two can only get better from here on out, because they surely can't get any worse.
But back to the episode: "Move Along Home" is a familiar but fun Trek expedition as the crew of DS9 are forced to play as pawns in an alien culture's game after Quark is caught cheating. I like what I see from Deep Space Nine... it's a chill, mellow Trek, a subtle fine wine in comparison to TOS' whiskey on the rocks and TNG's vodka martini. I'll keep checking in as I get farther in... so far it's worth the trip.
The series so far: B+