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

Friday, October 11, 2013

Star Trek TNG "The Inner Light" episode summation and review

"The Inner Light" was the 25th episode of season 5. It was written by Morgan Gendel and Peter Allen Fields.


The show begins with the crew doing a survey of magnetic wave in a remote area of the quadrant. They find a satellite, a probe that beams a ray of energy through the ship and Captain Picard is rendered unconscious.

Then the show becomes two separate stories; the one occurring on the bridge where a medical team lead by Dr. Crusher is monitoring Picard's vital signs and trying to figure out how to release the grip the probe's energy  has on him, and the one occurring in Picard's mind.

To Picard, he has been transported to a place he's never seen and learns he's the husband of an indigenous woman named Eline. He at first assumes it's a holodeck generated program and then decides to explore the planet and find some answers. His wife is concerned about  his health and treats him with kid gloves and a bowl of homemade soup.

His life goes by at a clip, going from being on the planet's surface while working on how to return to the Enterprise, to having children and learning about the planet's limited existence.

Their technology only goes so far, for they are able to develop a probe in which to download all information about their civilization and people and launch it into space. But they have not developed warp drive capability, although this is not the focus of the episode.


Jean Luc Picard gradually settles into this new life as a husband, then father, of two children---one, a son, who chooses to focus on his music talent rather than the sciences he's dabble in such as botany and archeology;  and two, a daughter who is more interested in science than pursuing matters relating to love and relationships. Picard the father has concerns for both children but leaves them to their desired life choices.

Life on this planet is communal with appointed leaders and decision makers. At one point, Picard suggests a way to harness water vapor from the atmosphere to make water, a resource the community is slowly losing due to the changing weather patterns caused by the planets main energy star that in the final stages of going Nova. His idea is rejected and he goes back to his wife, resigned to the fact that his ideas won't have much influence on the community's leadership.

Picard, referred to Eline and the community as Kamin, settles into domestic life, learning the flute and telling Eline that he once viewed children as a complication ( as Picard did) but now can't imagine a life without them.

Fast forward to Kamin as elderly grandfather, playing around on the floor with his grandson as he is talked into joining the community to witness the launch of the probe. As he sits on the sidelines not particularly interested, he is joined by a now young and alive Eline and his best friend Betai who inform him that he's already seen the probe---aboard the Enterprise.

It all comes back. Kamin knows now that he IS and has been Jean Luc Picard the whole time. At this point, the probe releases its grip on Picard's brain and he awakens, thrilled to see his old comrades on the bridge but also confused. He takes time off from duty to reflect on his experience and share it in order to let future generations know about the people who once existence and how they lived.

The highlights of the episode were when Dr. Crusher almost loses Picard when they prematurely release him from the probe's grip; seeing Picard settle into a role in which he would otherwise never embark (and asking Eline permission to build a nursery); and the way he clutches the flute, the same one he learned to play on the planet, after Riker hands it to him in his quarters and telling his captain that it was found inside a box inside the probe.


This episode wasn't in my top favorites, but deserves an honorable mention for it's change of pace story. It's a favorite among fans of the series because we get to see Jean Luc Picard as he'd be as a husband and father and living in a time where there is no Starfleet. Like the episode "Family," this is a Captain Picard vehicle. It's another look into the man and character behind the Starfleet uniform and the humanity that is within, contrasted to the rough outer exterior of the Starfleet captain.

Tuesday, October 8, 2013

Klingons Don't Do Anything Small

Worf is affected by the rejuvenating properties of a planet with interesting results. Screen caps from Star Trek: Insurrection 

Star Trek: Generations review with spoilers


The film begins when James Kirk visits a new Enterprise on its maiden voyage. Too bad the crew didn't foresee the disaster ahead for which they were not prepared. A rescue mission is only moderately successful when several transport ships are destroyed in a distortion ribbon we later learn is known as "the Nexxus." Kirk is successful in saving the new ship in time from a core breach, only to be blown out into space, lost forever.

Or so we think. Fast forward 78 years into the next century and we find the crew of Enterprise D giving an accommodation to Lt. Worf. They are having fun on the holodeck when Captain Picard gets a message from Earth. He gets very bad news on his brother and nephew. They died in a fire.

But duty calls and the crew gets a signal about an explosion on a space station. We learn through investigation that Romulans had attacked it, looking for Trilithium. Apparently, this powerful element, if put into the wrong hands, can be a catastrophic weapon. But it is currently being utilized by a scientist named Soren, who we meet briefly on board the maiden voyage of Enterprise B. Soren, played by Malcolm McDowell, is a member of a long lived species like Guinan.. Guinan, along with Soren, was rescued by the Enterprise when her transport ship was caught in the Nexxus.

We learn the Nexxus is not only a cosmic ribbon that rips through space causing cataclysmic events which can destroy entire planets, but a doorway into a realm where time ceases to exist in a linear fashion and gives the inhabitant eternal bliss.

This is the cause of Soren's obsession and he plans to bring the ribbon stream to his location with a rocket launcher and Trilithium. If he can destroy a nearby star, it will cause this cosmic stream and anything in its path will be sucked up into it, which is Soren's plan.

Hoping to talk reason to him, Picard meets Soren down on the planet where Soren is about to launch the missile and destroy the star. Picard must stop him before his action also destroys a nearby class M planet inhibited by 1/4 of a billion people.

The attempt fails and Picard finds himself in the Nexxus. But we realize that a starship captain isn't content to just live in harmony with what his fantasies dictate, especially when they don't include manning a starship. He finds Captain Kirk and the two of them ride off into the sunset/doorway, back before Soren unleashes hell.


The Good:

There were many exciting moments; the beginning rescue attempt on Enterprise B, an attack on Enterprise D by a Klingon vessel manned by the creepy Duras sisters, and the crash of the D ship onto the planet's surface after a saucer separation to escape a warp core breach. All of these events were choreographically stunning.

Soren had made a bargain with the Klingon sisters---a ride to the Nexxus destination in exchange for Trilithium weapons making technology. While investigating the sabotage of the space station, Commander LeForge is kidnapped and his visor is used as a hidden camera for the Duras sisters to use to gain information of the shields and weapons capability of the Enterprise.

Captain Picard does a hostage trade with them. If they agree to beam him on the planet's surface, they can then take him as hostage in exchange for the return of Geordi. The exchange is done. The sisters fire upon the Enterprise and cause great damage before Worf reveals the class type of Klingon vessel the Duras sisters are using has a vulnerability in its plasma coils, which also operates its cloaking device. They bring down the ship's shields and destroy the Klingon vessel. It's good riddance to the Duras sisters.

The Not So Good:

The film at times ran high on adrenaline, not for the audience, but members of the Enterprise crew. Don't get me wrong, Patrick Stewart is a great actor. But the side story involving his family tragedy were a bit much, particularly when he doesn't confide in his number 1 officer William Riker. We are privy to a growling, snippy boss who leaves his crew, and the audience, wondering why he just doesn't open up. Afterall, he's been with this crew for at least 7 years.

The tension is lifted when he finally confides in Counselor Troi. Seeing Picard so vulnerable, such as the time he was held captive and tortured in the tv episode "Chains of Command" is a bit hard to take.

Then there's Data. He decides to try out the emotion chip, that had been taken from Lore's body, after he fails to see the humor in Worf falling off the plank and getting laughs and then getting dirty looks from the crew after pushing Dr. Crusher off the holodeck ship and into the sea below in a spirit of fun.

He still fails to figure out that some things just aren't that funny. He laughs at a 7 year old joke that was stupid and makes a hand puppet out of a tricorder. If that isn't bad enough, he laughs to the point of burning some circuitry in his positronic net. When Soren shows up with a weapon and gives Geordie a beat down, Data hovers in a corner like a rabbit hiding from a fox.

The only good things that transpire from his newfound emotions are his reaction to finding Spot after the crash and his glee when the Duras sisters get a photon torpedo up their asses.

The scene with Picard in the Nexxus was a bit much. The main issue is, his fantasy wife and kids are wearing 19th century hairstyles and clothing! They even talk like Bob Cratchit's family in A Christmas Carol. Gimmie a Break!

Finally, the death of Captain James T. Kirk was underwhelming. I anticipated a better send off from a character who "made a difference." The audience expected at least a ride off into the sunset on the missile, much like Slim Pickens in Dr. Strangelove. Instead, Kirk dies in a heap of rock being satisfied that they stopped Soren from carrying out his demented plan.

Final Score:

I give 3 1/2 stars out of  5.

Data GIFS courtesy of

Monday, October 7, 2013

Best in the Breaking of Bread

Commander Riker shares an epic meal time with Klingons featuring Gagh, Bregit Lung, and Rokeg Blood Pie. He also gets more than he bargained for when a female Klingon officer makes sexual advances. GIFS from "A Matter of Honor" and made by yours truly

Captain Data

Data as Captain of The Enterprise screencap done with Paint tools; lasso, hue, saturation, and oil painting.