My Voyager Rewatch: S4E15

S4E15 “Hunters.”

Voyager is stealing cable to talk to Starfleet in the alpha quadrant and the Hirogen don’t like it. I wanted to see more of the Hirogen, but the face painting thing is too cliché for me.

It’s weird to see the crew have hope. I predict the writers will use this for some cheap pathos.

Meanwhile, Pro Tip: Don’t want to hire an extra to play a corpse? Throw an empty costume on a biobed and claim there’s been a “complete osteotomy.” That’s technobabble for “This alien has been fileted.”

So, yeah. Letters from home. We get cheap pathos in spades; some of it’s organic, like news about the Maquis, but a lot, like Harry whining about not getting a letter, is just annoying. And Neelix hovering over everyone as they read their letters… Ugh. Très creepy. You’d think there’d be a better way to deliver e-mail in the 24th Century.

And I’ve lost interest in the Hirogen; they’re a completely forgettable morass of hunting clichés and despite having warp drive, they’re idiots. Maybe it gets better, but for now, they rank with the early Ferengi, utterly one-dimensional. At least they aren’t the Kazon.

It was fun watching Janeway be a complete and total badass, but that didn’t make up for the rest of the episode.

This one did not work for me.

Rating: 1 out of 5.

My Voyager Rewatch: S4E14

S4E14 Message in a Bottle

The Doctor’s alpha quadrant adventure is pure cheesy fun! Andy Dick works well as an even haughtier Emergency Medical Hologram Mark 2. It’s a joy watching them play off of each other.

Auto correct tried to give me “Andy Duck.” I’d watch that too.

I could have done without the Paris and Kim side plot. In 2021 it seems silly that something as important as the EMH program doesn’t have a backup.

Voyager 4x14 Message in a Bottle - Idrin is shocked by ...

I would have preferred more of the Hirogen subplot. I don’t remember anything about them and they seem interesting.

But at least we’re finally moved the big “voyage home” story forward. From now on it’s less Star Trek: Gilligan’s Island and more Doctor Who: Blink sans the Weeping Angels of course. An above average episode.

Rating: 4 out of 5.

#StarTrek #StarTrekVoyager

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My Voyager Rewatch: S4E13

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Personally, I don’t wear shirts without a pocket.

S4E13 “Waking Moments.”

Starts strong with an atmospheric teaser that’s almost a collection of vignettes. It’s obvious that the crew is dreaming. It’s nicely disorienting, evoking the feel of a dream before they make the fact undeniable.

There are some nice moments, like some real comedy with Tuvok. Sadly, I’m most impressed that B’Elanna’s uniform has a pocket; it’s functional.

Another vision quest. Yawn. But Chakotay carrying a spear in the dreamscape is hilarious. That’s not Freudian at all.

Star Trek: Voyager - Waking Moments (Review) | the m0vie blog
Tell me about your mother.

Ultimately, a mediocre episode that I had a hard time caring about. Aliens living in dreams makes little to no sense. But lucid dreaming is a cool idea. Check out Ed: “Captain Lucidity”. It’s a much better episode. #Ed #Stuckeyville

Rating: 2.5 out of 5.

#StarTrek #StarTrekVoyager

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My Voyager Rewatch: S4E12

(This is the point where I started tweeting the episodes.) S4E12 “Mortal Coil.”

The Star Trek Gallery: Ships

I’m in the middle of a StarTrek Voyager rewatch and I’m up to “Mortal Coil.” As soon as I heard the word protomatter I knew someone was going to die and be brought back to life. Sure enough, Neelix gets zapped and is revived by Seven’s nanoprobes.

Of course, it had to be Neelix. The episode is now about questioning religious beliefs. They wouldn’t try that with a human character.

The most amazing thing so far is how damn dumb Chakotay is. He’s on his way to watch a holodeck recreation of the accident & he invites Neelix along without batting an eye. “Sure! Come watch yourself die! That won’t traumatize you at all!”

Mortal Coil (episode) - Memory Alpha, the Star Trek Wiki ...

This got heavy-handed fast. And of course, there has to be a vision quest that inexplicably requires a piece of technology.

Neelix contemplates his new condition and the episode almost stops without any real ending. This might be okay if they circle back to it, but without a real epiphany, this is merely a return to the status quo.

It’s a pleasant enough episode but ultimately unsatisfying.

Rating: 2.5 out of 5.

Images used under the fair use doctrine.

My Star Trek Voyager Rewatch

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I’m not always a good Trekkie or Trekker. Whichever.

Until about 2 years ago, I hadn’t rewatched Star Trek: Deep Space 9 or Voyager since their first airings twenty-odd years ago. I’d done partial rewatches of TNG and Enterprise that petered out toward the end of the series.

Star Trek: The Next Generation - The Complete Series (DVD ...

Of course, rewatching wasn’t always as easy as it is now. The Next Generation attempt was actually quite an investment. I’d had some old VHS tapes that we recorded during the first run of the series but those were getting old and they weren’t exactly taped in order. But then in March of 2002, CBS started releasing TNG on DVD. The seasons cost just over $100 each, and I thought, “Here we go! I’m going to enjoy these, in order from beginning to end as the Great Bird of the Galaxy intended!” Although he probably didn’t. Long story short, this was about the time I got serious about finishing my doctorate and finding a tenure-track position somewhere. Season 7 is still wrapped in cellophane.

Starbase-Wandavision

Fast forward to 2019; I finally started enjoying Deep Space 9 again. I’d made it into the fourth season and it was, shall we say, better than I remembered. But the 25th Anniversary of Voyager was approaching and my old friend Rick announced that he would be talking about Voyager season by season on his podcast Starbase 66. That itself sounded like fun! I’ll listen to those! Okay then, Voyager it is, I’ll get back to DS9 later.

And the rewatch has been interesting. I distinctly remember initially finding Voyager electrifying. I watched the first few episodes twice within a week of their airing and hunted for clues on the internet about what might be coming. That quickly turned into a kind of low-key malaise about the show. The characters seemed formulaic and a lot of the episodes felt like they might have sat on the shelf since TNG because they hadn’t quite been good enough to film. I mean, seriously, you’re trying to get home and that’s 70,000 light-years away! How do you keep running into the Kazon? You should have been out of their space after episode 3 or something. Think about the premise for crying out loud! This is Star Trek: Gilligan’s Island. The Mosquitos didn’t come back to the Island after they decided that the Honey Bees were a better band who would threaten their success. You encounter them ONCE because you’re STUCK ON THE ISLAND!

So the Voyager rewatch has been happening for a bit over a year. It’s been a lot of fun even with the show’s flaws. Once again, better than I remembered.

Mid-season 4, I decided to tweet about the episodes. I liked how those came out. I restricted myself to a maximum of 6 tweets and that kept the comments pithy; no weird tangents or references to Gilligan’s Island. I can’t believe that was kicking around in my brain somewhere.

Turns out that’s a pretty efficient way to “review” a teevee episode and that’s a good thing. Two years ago I started a post about Mad Magazine and it’s still gestating there in my drafts folder waiting to see the light of day. So that’s what you’ll find in this “Voyager Rewatch” column. Short efficient quasi-reviews as I work my way through the series. Basically the same as they appeared on Twitter before they’re so far back in the past that they’re hard to find. I hope you’ll join me and enjoy.

More Star Trek Apple Watch Faces

I’m a big Star Trek Fan and so, I enjoy having stuff that looks like it might be used in the show if the show were real life.

Over the holidays I was inspired to create a couple of Apple watch faces that make my watch look as if it runs on the “Library Computer Access/Retrieval System” (or LCARS). That’s the operating system used in all the Star Trek shows set in the 24th century from Next Generation to Lower Decks. I created two, which you can see here.

But here’s the thing: These are made using the Apple Watch’s Photo Face. These are static images that look like they have buttons, but the “buttons” aren’t functional. The only things that are active are the complications that are active from the Apple watch itself.

This isn’t ideal. So what’s the next best thing? How about a watch face that seems interactive? We can get closer. If we load a number of images to the Photo Face the Apple Watch will display a different one every time you raise your wrist and, if you want to pretend it’s actually interactive, you can tap the watch face and it will switch to another image. You can’t control which image you get next, but you can make-believe. Here’s a collection of images you can use.

This collection includes:

A home page with the UFP Logo, three astrometrics faces, two each of planetary conditions, tactical, and medical faces, one face that appears to scan for life signs and a face that looks as though a communications system is active.

So, if you want a watch face that looks like it might be used on a federation vessel, feel free to use the collections above!

To install, save all of the images above to your iPhone.

Then:

  • Select all the images you want to use from your gallery.
  • Scroll down and select “Create Watch Face.”
  • Select the “Photos” face.
  • Set the position of the time, “Bottom” for all of these, and choose the complications you want above and below the time.
  • And select “ADD.”

You should be all set. Comments and suggestions are welcome; and if you’d like a Voyager face let me know in the comments. If you use the watch face please leave a picture in the comments!

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Star Trek Apple Watch Faces

Happy New Year! Almost. As a fun project, over the last week or so, I created a couple of watch faces for my Apple watch. These make the watch look as if it runs on the “Library Computer Access/Retrieval System” (or LCARS) from the Star Trek shows set in the 24th century. It makes sense to share these on the day the landmark 800th episode of the franchise is released.

I was inspired by seeing a smart watch on Twitter Christmas Day with an LCARS face and of course, Apple doesn’t offer one. This is the next best thing, making use of the watch face that displays photos. The “buttons” aren’t functional. The only things that are active are the complications that are active from the Apple watch itself.

So, it you’re like me and you’ve been wanting a watch face that looks like it might be used on a federation vessel, feel free to use one of these and enjoy!

To install, save one of the following two files to your iPhone.

Then:

  • Select the image from your gallery.
  • Scroll down and select “Create Watch Face.”
  • Select the “Photos” face.
  • Set the position of the time, “Top” or “Bottom” and choose the complications you want above and below the time.
  • And select “ADD.”

You should be all set. Happy New Year! Comments and suggestions are welcome; if you use the watch face please leave a picture in the comments!


If you like this, you’ll also like the New and Improved version!


Happy Star Trek Day!

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On 8 September 1966, after two years in development, Star Trek finally debuted on the teevee. Fans have celebrated this date as “Star Trek Day” unofficially for a while now, but the producers of the show have now gotten on board and today, 2020.09.08 is the first Official Star Trek Day with events like marathons, cast reunions and more. “Encounter at Farpoint” is airing on StarTrek.com as I write this.

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In our little corner of the Alpha Quadrant, we’re marking the occasion by flying the flag of the United Federation of Planets. We’ve flown the UFP flag before and you can read my original post about the flag here.

The UFP Flag and Beginning Vexillology

That post contains my thoughts on the flag. For today I thought we’d look at two precursors of the UFP flag and a proposed redesign. The UFP apparently had no flag in the Original Series. The Star Fleet Technical Manual (Joseph, 1975) had a Banner, which can be seen in “And The Children Shall Lead” and it had a seal shown here, possibly designed for the book cover. This seal would make a passable flag itself.

The first place we see an image similar to the “current” UFP flag is on a view screen in Star Trek the Motion Picture when Kirk addresses the crew. This same image is seen as a flag, draped across the Torpedo Tube at Spock’s funeral in The Wrath of Khan.

This clearly looks like a hybrid of the Tech Manual’s seal and the current flag design. There are two advantages over the current design for me. There’s no text and the wreath looks less like something of terrestrial origin.

The last image we’ll look at today is a proposed redesign of the UFP flag that I found on Reddit, created by Doliam13.

This fixes a lot of the issues with the current UFP flag. The text is gone and the star field is more symbolic, looking less like a literal map of our local piece of the Milky Way. This also fixes some of the symbolism in the current design. There are four stars to represent the four founding civilizations of the Federation where the current flag highlights only three. The notion that the three stars represent three of the founding worlds as seen by an observer standing on the fourth is an inane retcon contrivance. Better to just fix the flag and not try to explain it.

A few last things to mark the day. Science Officer Leonard (named for McCoy, Leonard H. Son of David) is properly attired and ready to face the day while I have two different pairs of let’s call them “Spocky socks” that I’ll wear throughout the occasion. The blue, black, and gold pair were made by my lovely wife, Joanne while the pair with the Vulcan salute was a gift from my sisters-in-law.

Also: Tea. Peppermint. Hot.

Star Trek: Lower Decks – “Second Contact”

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I’ve been looking forward to Star Trek: Lower Decks for a while now. Maybe more than a while. They’ve been talking about a Star Trek series featuring the support crew for a long time. I think that initially morphed into the Next Generation episode that was also called “Lower Decks.” That was a fine, but not a spectacular episode of TNG. The notion surfaced again, sort of, with Star Trek Discovery, the only Trek series where the captain was not the central character. Lots of people seem to like Discovery, but I don’t really care for it. 

It was the show-runner who got my attention. Mike McMahan had a twitter feed, and that twitter feed spawned a book. It’s called Warped, and it’s about a mythical eighth season of Star Trek: The Next Generation. This season, kept secret, was purposely so bad that it would force Paramount to cancel the series. Warped is pretty good, but not so good that I actually finished it. There are still some good bits like Westley splicing tribble DNA into Data’s cat, Spot, and the final fate of the Vulcan Punk band “Logic Lice!”

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McMahan was also a writer on Rick and Morty which isn’t everyone’s cup of tea but it is consistently well written and interesting. It’s also deeper than most people probably think it is. If you want to see a classic trek concept (“The Enemy Within”) spun in an interesting way check out “Rest and Ricklaxation.” McMahan didn’t share a writing credit on that but he was head writer for a while and he did write “Total Rickall“, “The Rickshank Rickdemption,” and “Edge of Tomorty: Rick Die Rickpeat,” all of which are both excellent and hilarious.

That’s a lot of preamble if I’m here to talk about Lower Decks. How was the first episode? I really enjoyed it. More importantly, I laughed. A lot. It’s recognizably Trek. It turns out that what that idea to make a show about, as McMahon puts it, “the people who put the yellow cartridge in the food replicator so a banana can come out the other end,” work is animation, comedy and some good writing. The pilot, “Second Contact” is a lot of fun. Mariner and Boimler immediately fall into some familiar patterns and Tendi reminds me of Bashir when he first arrived at Deep Space Nine; full of awe and enthusiasm.

Animation Magazine | The News, Business, Technology, and ...

I liked how a much bigger story involving the senior staff developed behind the more mundane adventures of the ensigns and how these all dovetailed into a satisfying denouement. There are enough references to classic trek to give an old fan like me a warm feeling about the show. That includes the theme music by the way. It’s evocative of Alexander Courage’s original theme but just when you think you know where it’s headed it veers off in a different direction. Paradoxically the theme seems simultaneously very much the same and very different from the original series’ theme.

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“Second Contact” isn’t perfect. Like most pilots, it’s an origin story and like most origin stories the plot takes a bit of a back seat to character introductions. At this stage, most of the characters feel like archetypes, but the broad outlines are solid and I’m looking forward to watching the show fill in those outlines. It’s refreshing to see a lighter take on Star Trek again. Modern trek has taken itself very seriously up til now, but comedy is also part of the franchise’s DNA. I’m looking forward to seeing the spiritual descendants of “Q Who” or “A Piece of the Action” and Lower Decks may be the show to give us those.

I give “Second Contact” four stars.

Star Trek: Picard – “Remembrance”

The first episode of Star Trek: Picard just premiered three days ago as I write this. There will be some spoilers, I won’t know how big they’ll be until I write them. You are warned.

I’ll prattle on a bit first to give some spoiler-free space before I get into Remembrance.

I’m not a fan of Star Trek: Discovery. I don’t hate it and they’ve done some good stuff, but as I said after the first episode, “This is not the Trek I’m looking for.” It’s a bit of a slog for me to get through the episodes. There was too much of a focus on war, but ultimately, it was the ethics that bothered me the most. I’m very much an old school Sci-Fi kind of guy and a fundamental part of that is that humanity is supposed to progress, to get better. The Federation and Starfleet have always represented that better version of humanity in Star Trek and even when they’ve lost their way, like in Insurrection, the plot revolved around the main characters setting it right. A first officer committing mutiny because she thinks she understands a situation better than her captain isn’t Trek. Even worse was the treatment of the tardigrade, which you have to compare to the Horta from the original series. In “Devil in the Dark,” Kirk, Spock, McCoy et. al. investigate a creature that’s killing miners on Janus VI. They take pains to understand the creature, discovering why it was attacking the miners and ultimately helping it. When the crew of Discovery encounters the tardigrade, they exploit the creature, even to the point of risking its life to basically make their ship go faster.

There are “reasons” and “context” for these actions and the Discovery crew eventually stop being horrible, but I think previous crews would have just dismissed the idea out of hand. Discovery got better by the second season, but it still leaves a bad taste. Like the first two Abramsverse movies, I’m left wondering how well the writers understand what makes “Star Trek” be Star Trek.

And here’s why I’m hopeful about this new series: it’s getting the ethics right. The universe is darker and there is some violence at the start of the episode that I found jarring in the context of a Star Trek episode, but the essential core is there. This was driven home in one particular moment for which I have to set the stage. Now-Admiral Picard has retired and is tending to the family vineyard in France. We’ve gotten some hints that his separation from Starfleet was contentious and we see that when he consents to an interview about the Romulan Supernova.

This event lead Jean Luc to step down from commanding the Enterprise in order to lead the rescue armada. Then, a group of synthetics attacked the colony on Mars, destroying the planet and the Utopia Planitia Shipyards where most Federation starships were constructed. Two subsequent decisions clearly bothered Jean Luc. The Federation banned synthetic humanoids and they canceled the rescue mission to Romulus. He resigned from Starfleet in protest, refusing to be complicit in the Federation turning its back on people in need. “The Federation understood that there were millions of lives at stake,” he told the interviewer. “Romulan lives,” she tried to clarify. “No, lives!” he replied. There it is. That is the core of Star Trek. We’re back to the classic situation, The Federation has lost its way and, in this case, it’s up to our titular character to put things right.

It is impressive how well constructed this episode is. The theme of memory is skillfully interwoven through the episode as one would expect for the pilot of a show built around a beloved character from a generation ago (not to mention an episode called “Remembrance.”).

There are also many, many so-called “Easter eggs.” You can check those out here.

And here. Thanks to Todd Egan and Forrest Meekins for the info and the links.

Really, calling these “Easter eggs” is an understatement. These are skillful callbacks to previous episodes and movies and they all point to what appears to be the central themes of the series; the rights of synthetic beings and the social evolution of the Romulans. Both were significant themes in TNG and they have philosophical and ethical heft. The callbacks to The Measure of a Man, one of the best and most significant episodes in all of Trek, were particularly acute. There’s an intriguing mystery developing involving both of these things and Jean Luc’s sense of right and wrong is right at the center.

One of the more intriguing allusions is the title of the stage-setting Short Trek “Children of Mars.” At first glance, the title seems straight forward; the story revolves around two school children who have parents on Mars. In rapid succession, we get to see their connection to those parents, a bit of their lives and then their devastated and devastating reactions as they watch as the synthetics’ attack on Mars unfolds in news reports. If you combine this with the fact that Romulus and Remus are not only the homeworlds of the Romulan Empire, but also the sons of Mars in Roman mythology, this short trek may be key to how the two primary threads of the series will weave together.

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I think that a lot of the credit for the quality of this episode is due to Michael Chabon, Star Trek: Picard’s showrunner. I first encountered Chabon’s work 20 years ago when I read The Amazing Adventures of Kavalier and Clay. This novel centers around two young men who created a superhero back in the Golden Age of Comics, paralleling the story of Superman’s creators, Seigel and Schuster. The book is excellent; I’d recommend it to anyone with an interest in the genre. But, more than that, it is clearly a labor of love, very much like Star Trek: Picard. Chabon has been a fan of Star Trek since he was 10 years old and I expect that this new series will be a testament to how great new installments to venerable old properties can be when talented people who truly understand them are allowed to take the helm.

This now is the Trek I’ve been waiting for.

Bottom Line:

References: