Tuesday, December 17, 2013

Guinan Appreciation Post

Guinan is from a long lived humanoid species from El-Auria. She traveled around the galaxy after her people were conquered by the Borg. She has a close relationship with the Enterprise captain Jean Luc-Picard. We learn in "Time's Arrow" that this is actually where she and Picard first met, although the Picard from the future remembers it differently until the future Picard meets up with the past Guinan. Got it?

Guinan has many gifts, first and foremost being a great listener. In fact, in one episode she claims to come from a species of listeners. Working in Ten-Forward as the main barkeep, she senses when someone is suffering an internal conflict, sometimes even imposing on the surprised brooding soul. The Captain, Counselor Troi, Dr. Crusher, and Ensign Ro have all gleened something from their conversations with her. She has helped them find that inner epiphany that they otherwise would have failed to recognize.

She also seems to possess a sixth sense, being able to discern when things aren't quite right. In "Yesterday's Enterprise," after the ship had gone through a time distortion, she was the only one who sensed that things arent' the way they were supposed to be. This is supposed to be a ship of exploration and peace, not war, she informs Picard. Good thing in this time line Jean Luc's relationship with Guinan is still of a close personal nature, for he trusts her intuition and orders a change of plans that sets them back on course toward the time distortion.

She also has a past relationship with the Q Continuum, primarily the one who's been a constant source of aggravation for the crew. Guinan reveals "I knew it was you" to him when he and Picard suddenly show up in Ten-Forward after the captain had been missing from the ship for several hours. When Q, out of spite for his offer of being their guide through the universe is rejected, sends the ship hurling into uncharted space, Guinan warns the captain to turn around immediately. It is this area of space where the Borg originate and unfortunately for several crew members, Picard fails to heed her warning. She becomes a valuable source of information during their encounter with the menacing species.

So here's to the best barkeep in all the Federation!

Monday, December 9, 2013

Lt. Commander Geordi La Forge Appreciation Post

Lt. Commander Geordi LeForge serves as chief engineer and sometimes helmsman of the U.S.S. Enterprise. Like his predecessor Commander Montgomery Scott (Scotty) from the first Enterprise, he knows the ship's inner workings like the back of his hand. Perhaps literally too for Geordi wears a special visor to help him see having been blind since birth. The visor has special properties which allow him to see the structural integrity of warp cores and other metallic-like fixings and even auras around the human body.

Geordi often finds himself at the wrong end of a phaser, plasma burst, or electro magnetic charge. His visor makes him especially vulnerable not only to technical mishaps, but adversaries who covet his visor's usability for their own purposes, such as a Klingon spy working for the Romulans in "The Mind's Eye."

When he's not saving the Enterprise from imminent danger in such episodes as "Contagion," and "Booby Trap" (in which he ends up falling in love with the holographic image of the ship's warp core designer Leah Brahms), he's always going that extra mile for a friend, and even new found friends such as the Romulan soldier in "The Enemy." He took the socially shy and awkward Reggie Barclay under his wing and helped mold him into an outstanding officer. And let's not forget how he formed a friendship with a member of the Borg, the Federation's greatest enemy. Christened "Hugh" by Geordi, he helped the lone member of the collective become an individual.

His greatest friendship is reserved for the ship's third highest ranking officer and android Data. When Data was believed dead after a shuttle craft explosion in "The Most Toys," Geordi refused to accept the investigative findings. Not because he refused to accept the passing of a friend, but because he knew the android better than his other shipmates and realized Data's last recorded entry upon departure was missing a key element that would normally be overlooked by any other officer thinking such protocol redundant. But Data, being a strictly by the book, would not leave anything out. Geordi's persistence lead to a new investigation, which lead to the rescue of Data from a space pirate intent on keeping Data as a prized possession.

So, hears to the ship's chief engineer; a man of integrity, dedication, loyalty, and all around great guy!


Sunday, December 1, 2013

Best in the Eating of Humble Pie---The Loss

Counselor Troi loses her empathic abilities in "The Loss" and gives a tongue lashing to Dr. Crusher and Captain Picard when they try to offer her hope or inspiration. Commander Riker gives her something to think about in this epic scene---the high and mighty queen of empathy gets served!

Friday, November 29, 2013

Best in Language as Metaphor---Darmok

In "Darmok," Captain Picard has to figure out what the Tamarian captain is trying to convey. The language is made up primarily in proper names, places, and a one or two word description depicting an action or backdrop. What I found amusing about it was that their language is English, but based on their ancient stories and myths. As Counselor Troi stated, it would be like describing "love" as "Romeo and Juliet on the balcony."

Saturday, November 16, 2013

Star Trek: Nemesis (review with spoilers)


The film begins when a Romulan council is meeting to decide if they should join forces with Reman fighters to destroy the Federation. The lead council, also called a Praetor, rejects the idea and a traitorous senator excuses herself from the meeting and a weapon is released that gives off deadly radiation and the council dies gruesome deaths.

Then we are witness to the wedding celebration between Troi and Riker with Captain Picard acting as best man. Also appearing at the festival are Wil Wheaton (Wesley) and Whoopi Goldberg (Guinan).

Back aboard the Enterprise, the crew detects positronic waves emitting from a nearby planet near the neutral zone and an away team lead by Picard, with Data and Worf, go down to the planet to investigate and find several android parts scattered throughout. They get  fired upon by others in land rovers and escape to the transport shuttle.

The android is reassembled and identifies himself as B4. In the meantime, a priority message from Starfleet command from Admiral Janeway (guest star Kate Milgrew) asks Picard if he'd like a trip to Romulus to investigate a shakeup of leadership with a new Praetor named Shinzon, who is believed to be a Reman. The Reman's are considered a lower, worker-bee class by the Romulans. The mostly work in the mines on Romulus and manufacture weapons for them.

The away team, consisting of Picard, Data, Troi, and Worf, board Shinzon's vessel. Shizon tells them he wants peace with the Federation and reveals something else; he knows Picard's medical history and cuts himself with a blade and gives it to Data. The blood is analyzed by Dr. Crusher. Shinzon is a clone of Picard! Over dinner later that evening, Shinzon tells Picard that the Romulans had acquired some of Picard's DNA and planned to replace him with the clone. But before the plan was carried out, Romulus had undergone new governance and the plan was aborted. The clone was sent to work in their mines with the Reman. Shinzon developed an alliance with the Reman, including his protector whom he now calls his viceroy.  In his friendship with the Reman's, he was able to assemble an army, acquire weapons and build secret bases and a war ship.  His motive for this was freedom for the Remans. Through force and sabotage, he was able to become Praetor of Romulus.

Picard says he will trust Shinzon when that trust has been earned. He boards the ship to learn that the ships computers have been rerouted through subspace bans. They pick up thalaron radiation particles which are highly toxic and dangerous to living tissue. Data and Geordi learn the source of the unauthorized access and tell Picard they have a way to stop it with a tactical advantage.

The captain gets beamed aboard Shinzon's ship without permission. Shinzon tells Picard that with B4's help, he now has access to the ships communications protocol and has all information about the goings on of Starfleet. His "destiny," is to not bow before anyone, not the Romulans or the Federation, but to control them. He tells picard to "look in the mirror and see yourself."

B4 enters and disarms one of the guards and it's revealed to be Data. Shinzon was given incorrect information about Starfleet, fed to him on purpose when the unauthorized access was discovered. They escape and board the Enterprise.

We learn the reasons for Shinzon's spasms of pain, Dr. Crusher discovers his RNA sequences has been programmed to accelerate the aging process at a certain age, most likely to be able to take over as Captain Picard in the due time. A blood transfusion from Picard could save his life and Picard realizes Shinzon may come back for him.

A battle ensues between Shinzon's ship, the Enterprise, and Romulan warbirds with Romulans who are tired of Shinzon's shit. The Enterprise breaks through Shinzon's ship's cloaking when Troi gets into the Viceroy's mind (it's payback for the mindrape, bitch!)

Shinzon breaks down shields on the Enterprise deck 29 and his boarding party lands on the ship. Outgunned, Captain Picard decides to give them a battle Shinzon can't refuse; crash the Enterprise into his ship. Shinzon puts the ship in full reverse and sets the thelaron radiation weapon to target the Enterprise. While the weapon is getting ready to deploy, Picard does a site to site transport aboard Shinzon's ship and does battle with him.

In the meantime, Data runs through a cargo bay door and floats across space to the other ship after the transporters go offline. Picard gets the upper hand against Shinzon and impales him with a metal beam. Data beams Picard back aboard the enterprise using a portable transporter device and destroys the weapon, and himself, before it deploys.

In the aftermath, the crew goes their separate ways. Riker gets promoted to captain and the Federation is on its way to forming relations with the Romulans.

The films ends with B4 slowly getting his neural pathways aligned to that of Data's as he sings a song that Data had tried to whistle in the holodeck on the ship's Farpoint mission many years before.


Some of the action sequences were impressive. When Shinzon's ship breaks down the Enterprise's shields and crashes into it's bridge, it causes a compression that's stunning to watch, but has tragic results for minor members of the crew. The collision between the two ships is also very impressive on a technical standpoint.

The best part of the film was Tom Hardy as the villain, AKA Nemesis. His expressions, line deliveries, and all around scheming presence make the film enjoyable---mostly on that alone.

Data's death was a spectacular send off, unlike the underwhelming death of Captain Kirk in "Generations."


Can you say plot holes? The ones in this film are GIGANTIC! 1) How or when did Shinzon have time to build an army, build that enormous ship, and garner weapons of such magnitude after having spent the first part of his life in the dungeon mines of Romulus?  2) Why did the Romulans allow Shinzon to live instead of destroying their creation and avoiding conflict if he was of no more use to them? 3) Why did his viceroy take orders from Shinzon when it was the Reman protector that aided and protected Shinzon in the mines to begin with? You'd think their roles would have been reversed after their escape from the mines. 4) Where did B4 come from? The only explanation offered was that Shinzon and his army found the android and tinkered with his circuitry and then used it as bait. 5) How did Shinzon know that it would be the Enterprise to find it? 6) Why leave the android in parts scattered when a trap for the landing party could have been accomplished easier with the android left intact?

WTF is it with Picard's bald head in his youth? In episodes of TNG, we see in photos and flashbacks Picard in his youth with a full head of hair. Here, he's seen in early photos looking like his bald nemesis! Come on, Trekkers don't appreciate bullshit tricks like this!

The film would have been better with Hardy playing the same character but without the backstory of being a clone of Picard and a former slave laborer of the Romulans.

The storyline was also like a dusted off first draft of The Wrath of Khan---the obsessive quest for revenge by the antagonist and the death of a major player.

And we could have done without the mind rape scene with Shinzon and his viceroy attempting to (for lack of a better word) penetrate Deanne Troi as she makes love to her new husband Commander Riker.

Finally, the film lacked the spark, humor, and personal interplay between the characters that were evident in the previous TNG films. The cast seemed tired throughout. Brent Spiner was obviously getting too old to play the ageless android, so his ending was both heroic and necessary.

My score  2 1/2 stars out of  5

Friday, November 8, 2013

Star Trek: Insurrection review (with spoilers)

Star Trek: Insurrection review (with spoilers)

Plot Summation

The film begins on the surface of a planet being observed by Federation scientists, including Commander Data, and inhabited by a human race called the Ba'Ku. Data experiences a malfunction and appears to be injured with circuity exposed around the neck area. He fires phasers upon a cloaked (holographic) station where the scientists and members of the Sona (a human race that appears mummified) are exposed to the Ba'Ku.

The Enterprise investigates and is ordered by an Admiral Doughtery (played by Anthony Zerbe) to retrieve Data and disable him. Captain Picard asks the admiral to retrieve Data and find out what caused his malfunction. The admiral reluctantly agrees but gives Picard only 12 hours until he must leave the area of space.

While investigating, the Enterprise crew discovers that the planet has rejuvenating properties caused by it's rings giving off a form a healing energy. It is this energy that the Sona hope to harness and conspire with the admiral to seize this power without the Ba'Ku's knowledge. They hatch a plan to beam up the planet's colonized inhabitants into a holographic replica of their homeworld on a ship and it was this ship that Data had originally discovered, which lead members of the Sona guards to fire upon Data which caused his malfunction.

Once the conspiracy is exposed, Captain Picard and his loyal crew work against the admiral and the leader of the Sona, Ruafo (played by Academy Award winner F. Murray Abraham) to ensure the Ba'Ku's continuous existence on their planet, hence the insurrection. 

The Sona send energy markers to the planets surface, kidnapping individual Ba'Ku and beaming them aboard their ship when their plan to beam them aboard the holographic replica fails. Dr. Crusher discovers, while on a trek with the crew and the Ba'ku to find safe shelter from the invaders, that the Ba'ku and the Sona are the same race, but split off when disagreements about their way of life cause a small faction to leave--including Ruafo and his henchman Gallatin. The renegades have gradually lost their ability to rejuvenate and heal, causing them to find other means of surviving cellular decay which includes the constant overlapping of skin and giving them their less than appealing appearance.

Ruafo's plan to ignite a charge to explode and harness the rejuvenating power from the planet's orbit is thwarted when the crew, lead by Commander Riker, with the help of Gallatin, manage to beam Ruafo's gang into the holographic/cloaked ship, making them believe they are still on their ship. When Ruafo discovers the trick, he beams aboard the space station to launch the torpedo, but too late. Picard has beaten him to it. Picard self destructs the weapon and beams aboard the Enterprise and leaving Ruafo to his fate on the station. The rest of the Sona are welcomed back into the fold to live peacefully among their Ba'ku brethren on the planet.

The Good

Watching the Enterprise crew experience the rejuvenating properties of the planet is fun: Picard dancing a rumba; Worf getting a "gorch," and having a craving for a live beast, Geordi getting normal human eyes, and Troi and Crusher noticing their "boobs" looking firmer. Data asks Worf if he's noticed the same thing. "Have you noticed how your boobs have started to firm up?" Picard even falls in love with the matriarchal leader of the colony and promises to pay her a visit again in the future.

Data is introduced to the concept of play by a young male colonists. His relationship with Data develops over time, having been afraid of the android at first and then accepting him as a friend and tutor to the android who is still figuring out all the nuances of the human experience.

My favorite scene is when Picard and Worf hunt down and finally capture the runaway malfunctioning android during a shuttle chase scene. Picard manages to get Data involved in singing a production number to keep him occupied while Worf works on overriding Data's transporting lockout. 

Commander Riker decides to shave off his beard after Troi tells him she doesn't like the feel of it after a kiss. "Yuck,!" He asks Data if his close shave looks as smooth as an android's bottom. Data confirms otherwise.

The Not So Good

The Sona's elastic skin with sometimes bleeding lesions is repulsive to look at. And instead of patching things up with their relatives to live in harmony on the planet and experience healing, they seek revenge and plot to steal the planet's healing properties for their own use. They could have avoided decades of unnecessary suffering by swallowing their pride and returning home. 

Admiral Doughtery meets his fate in a rather grisly  fashion---being thrown into a skin stretching machine by Ruafo.

Final Rating:

This is the most lighthearted of the TNG films. It felt like watching a long episode which gave me a feeling of nostalgia, especially while watching it for the first time in the theater in 1998. It's a fun film, with the exception of a few dark moments involving the Sona. 

The episode feeling is also its drawback. It's a 90 minute episode with more computer generated graphics. But it's great seeing the staff of the Enterprise come together for a principle and idea instead of just another threat to the Federation.

My score: 3 1/2 stars out of 5

Friday, November 1, 2013

Lt. Reggie Barclay Appreciation Post

Lt. Reginald "Reggie" Barclay is a socially shy (make that very very shy) individual with a penchant for fantasy, especially fantasy that brings him unconditional love from women. He can be assertive and display prowess with the sword, jousting with the seasoned Captain Picard---but only on the holodeck.

When he's not indulging his fantasies, he's good at figuring out what's causing strange mutations and break down in matter and the cause of strange apparitions in the transporters in "Realm of Fear." He forces himself to face his fear of the dreaded transport device in order to give a more detailed report of what he saw, all the while obsessing with the possibility of being infected with "transporter psychosis."

In "Genesis," he even has a new disease named after him (Barclay's Protomorphosis Syndrome) after contracting a flu in which Dr. Crusher treated with a shot of a T-cell to replace a dormant one. That T-cell contained DNA that causes human tissue to revert back to a much earlier stage in evolution.

He even gets a shot at being the most advanced human known in the Alpha Quadrant after being zapped by a probe on a transport shuttle in "The Nth Degree." With his accelerated I.Q., he figures out how to hook himself up to the ship's computer and gain complete control of it, sending the Enterprise to an unknown area of space and introducing the crew to a new advanced life form who has the ability to bring new species to them to say "hello."

The probe has other positive side effects, such as giving him new confidence which allows him to participate in plays without stumbling awkwardly through his lines and asking counselor Troi for a walk around the arboretum.

He also helps the newly emerged Professor Moriarty gain new life outside the confines of the holodeck in "Ship in a Bottle."

He approaches Zephrem Cochran like a school boy with a crush and nervously shakes his hand vigorously in the film "First Contact."

In one of the funniest moments in TNG ("Hollow Pursuits"), crew members give Barclay the nickname "Broccoli" behind his back. After the captain orders his crew to cease with the name-calling, he accidently mispronounces the Lieutenant's name to his face.

"I look forward to your report Mr. Broccoli.....Barclay."

Saturday, October 26, 2013

Quark Appreciation Post

Quark is one of my favorite characters in the Star Trek universe, let alone Deep Space 9. He's a Ferengi with common sense and charm. And of course, he's seldom seen a profit or capital exchange he didn't like.

He makes an appearance on DS9's predecessor The Next Generation in the episode "Firstborn." Here, he's hailed by Commander Riker to give information about the whereabouts of the Duras sisters. Quark brings up the time Riker won at the game Triple Down Dabo at one of his tables. Riker reminds Quark he's still owed 12 bars of latinum for his win and was given vouchers in their place, vouchers only good at Quark's Bar. Too bad Quark's brother misplaced the safe key.

So they make a bargain---information about the Duras sisters in exchange for the return of those vouchers.

Saturday, October 12, 2013

Star Trek: First Contact review (with spoilers)

The screenplay was written by Brannon Braga and Ronald D. Moore and Directed by Jonathan Frakes. It is the 8th Star Trek film and the first not to feature any of the original series cast.


Captain Picard wakes up from a nightmare about the Borg, only to learn from Starfleet about attacks by them on a deep space station. They have finally entered Federation space. He violates Starfleet's orders and
decides to head toward Earth after a Borg's ship's trajectory was indicated.

Picard, being familiar with Borg ship's weaknesses, summons other Federation ships in the area to fire upon
them in a certain location. The Borg engage a pod and create a temporal time wave which allows them to change history, stop first contact and assimilate Earth's inhabitants. The Enterprise follows it into the wave in order to undo the damage and get history's course back on track.

The crew splits up into two factions---one is making sure Zephram Cochrane gets his warp drive ship up into space on April 5 2063, which alerts an alien ship of Earth's warp drive capability and initiating first
contact. The aliens become one of the federations' biggest allies in the future---the Vulcans.

The other faction stays on board the Enterprise to fight off the Borg that have invaded the ship, who have beamed aboard without the Enterprise crew detecting them. The plan is to break the coolant tanks in the engine core, destroying the hive. But before the plan can be implemented, we are treated to a game of cat and mouse and Data's attempted assimilation by the Borg queen.

The Borg Queen, we learn, is the central mind in the hive--their center. "I bring order to chaos" she tells Data when he asks her if she is their leader.

After his meltdown with the emotion chip in "Generations," Data is now able to deactivate it at will,
allowing him to go on a hunt for Borg roaming the ship without the uncomfortable sensation of anxiety. "Data, there are times I envy you," Picard tells him.

The Borg work to find the encrypted codes to the computers main computer that Data has in his prositonic net while the Queen introduces him to organic sensations with implanted skin. The Queen entices him by reactivating the emotion chip and even manages to get him aroused.

On Earth, Deanne Troi endures several drinks of tequila with an uncouth man who supplies information on the whereabouts of Cochran. Turns out to be Cochran himself---not quite the man depicted in their history books. It's up to the Earth crew to get Cochran sober and back on his feet and get his ship's warp drive ready in time. This portion provides the film's comic relief. Cochran is played exceptionally well by James Cromwell. His assistant Lily, played by Alfrie Woodard, is sent aboard the ship for medical help after the Borg attack on Earth.

At one point Picard, with Lily, activates a chapter of Dixon Hill and leads the Borg into a trap,
deactivating the holodeck's safety and killing many Borg. He retrieves a memory chip out of one of the Borg
(and assimilated crew member) to learn of their next plan. Their new plan is to use the deflector arrays as
an interplexing beacon to get the remaining hives to their quardenance. Picard, Worf, and Lt. Hawk work to
keep the Borg from doing this via magnetic boots on the ships surface in space suits--a plan Worf isn't too
crazy about.

The crew, except Picard, abandons ship after setting the auto destruct sequence---destroy the ship, destroy the remaining Borg. But Picard stays behind to repay a debt to a fellow crewmember who once helped him after his encounter with the Borg---Data.

The two manage to carry out the original plan to break the coolant seal in the engine core, just in time for
Cochran to carry out his mission of first warp flight.

The Good:

There are some good highlights, such as an appearance of "the doctor" mostly seen in Voyager played by Robert Picardo. Dr. Crusher is leading her medical team through the sickbay as the Borg start to break down the barrier. She activates the ships stand-by doctor whom she tells to stall the Borg as they escape. "I'm a doctor, not a doorstop," he replies.

Lt. Reggie Barclay is working with the ground crew and is star struck with the 21st century rocket scientist.
Cochran hates this new found attention and plans an escape by telling Geordi he has to take a leak. "I don't detect any leaks" Geordi replies. "Don't you people pee in the 24th century?" he responds. He also states to Riker, Geordi, and Troi, after they reveal the truth to him about their mission "You're all astronauts on some kind of star trek?"

Captain Picard's run in and adventure with Lily is also fun, especially in the beginning when after talking her down from shooting him with a phaser, he relays that she had the setting on maximum. "It's my first ray gun." And toward the end, she talks him down from risking the remainder of his crew on a hollow pursuit---"Just like Captain Ahab and his whale."

And then there's the confrontation between Picard and Worf. Worf tells Picard he believes his decision to stay aboard the Enterprise is showing lack of objectivity due to his encounter with the Borg. Picard accuses Worf of cowardness. "If you were any other man, I'd kill you were you stand!" yells Worf. "Get off my bridge,!" Picard yells back.

The Not So Good:

The Borg Queen. She's hideous and seems like an afterthought of the writers--writers who have written many of the TNG episodes. I find it odd too that in order to explain her presence now, Picard admits remembering her even though he never made mention of her in the series. Why was his memory about her awakened now? Unless it's because his memory was jarred upon see her (again) in person.

And what about Picard's order for his crew to shoot any Starfleet crew members who have been assimilated? I can see it if they were a threat, but one crew member held out his hand and begged for help. Picard's shoots him! He explained his orders this way---you'd be doing them a favor. Yet Picard himself was brought back from the collective and restored to normal, so why not allow his crew members the same consideration if they are not a threat?

All in all, a pretty good film since the good outweigh the bad. I liked the switch between the lighter story on Earth to the drama and suspense on the ship. And I liked the opening--it was very unique and one of two Star Trek films directed by Frakes.

I give it 4 stars out of 5