All posts for the month March, 2019


This one got me thinking about Star Trek and fanfiction. I don’t judge Star Trek fanfiction, mainly because I make improvisational Star Trek fanfiction every week with my friend Derek under the presumption it will amuse other people. Also because Star Trek’s ability to inspire people is part of its strength.

And yet…I feel like there’s a transition from when a show is true to its premise and fights hard to establish its characters to when it feels established enough to take itself less seriously.

TNG goes from “Symbiosis” to “Qpid.” Deep Space Nine goes from “If Wishes Were Horses” to “Badda Bing Badda Bang.” Buffy: the Vampire Slayer eventually makes that musical episode.

Even shows that are comedic or tongue in cheek seem to do it. Scrubs went from having a very serious core with humor around it to the sitcom it celebrated not being in “My Life in Four Colors.” Hercules: The Legendary Journeys, already tongue-in-cheek, eventually threw up its hands and recast its entire cast as its own production staff in “Yes, Virginia, There Is a Hercules” and “For Those of You Just Joining Us…”

Maybe I’m cherry-picking. Law and Order is on its billionth, tonally-even season. Firefly seemed to consistently have fun with itself. There are definitely anime series which start light, but buckle down–the one with Vash the Stampede comes to mind.

Who knows? Maybe I’m just finding patterns in the static.

The Beige and The Bold is available on iTunes, Stitcher, and other podcasting platforms. It updates Sunday nights at 12:00 PM ET / 11:00 PM CT.

It’s another Barclay episode. It’s great to see the range of Dwight Schultz, even if our leads get warped a bit to make it work. Is it necessary for shows to have bad guys and good guys? Is it necessary just for episodic shows like The Next Generation?

The Beige and The Bold is available on iTunes, Stitcher, and other podcasting platforms. It updates Sunday nights at 12:00 PM ET / 11:00 PM CT.

A Lair Somewhere #33

Gahncai: GRAHH!
Gahncai: It’s open! Looks like there’s an old ash chamber on the other side!
Rulah: Blaze!
Poop Corner: Fwoosh!
Flaming poop goblins: Aaaaaaaaahhhhhh!!!!
Rulah: While they’re distracted, get Ularon. I’ve got Bria. Follow me into the gap!
Gahncai: You don’t have to tell me how to retreat from burning poop-goblins into a volcanic gash with half a party. This isn’t my first dungeon crawl!

Last Time, on this comment: Garak has lots of context, but no agency. He is a very big archetype, but he isn’t relatable. He’s fuckin’ consistent, but his character arc only twitches slightly upward in the last scene of the damned series.

And now, the conclusion:

Garak is efficacious, don’t get me wrong, he gets shit done. But given that his motivation is to GET BACK TO CARDASSIA, he’s fucking god-awful at it. Not in that he refuses to shoot people or slit throats to get what he wants–though he’s inconsistent at that (like when he lets the Cardassians go in “Cardassians”). No, this genius, wheels-within-wheels mastermind doesn’t come up with a single fucking plan to get himself back to Cardassia. He lives at the pivot point of the fucking galaxy and sits there hemming trousers while looking across the Promenade at Quark who’s swimming in the opportunities available. The one time he has a chance in hell of getting back into the good graces are after he panics, blows up his shop, and then stumbles ass-first into boss-daddy’s half-baked return to glory.

He does have internal conflicts that he struggles with Garak has a conscience and he fights it. He’s a smart enough man to see the benefits of Federation society and the flaws of Cardassian society. So much so that after a certain point he doth protest too much when he says the opposite. It’s great stuff.

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This is a reddit post that I went all-in on so now it’s also a blog post.

Quality is subject to taste, so “best character” is subjective. Despite a literal interpretation which implies an objective truth, each person’s best character is actually their favorite character. Changing someone’s mind on this isn’t a matter of debating established fact; it’s a matter of contradicting what fundamentally appeals to someone and even if you’re invited, it’s a presumptuous thing to do.

But if we imagine that there’s an objective basis for character quality, we have to separate it from the subjectiveness of writing, acting, and directing, insofar as those things do not affect how effectively the story expresses the character’s qualities.

A quick search around the internet doesn’t reveal much about objective measuring of what makes a good character. This means that the internet hasn’t quite reached ‘peak internet’ yet, but it also means that this discussion requires creating broad versions of what measures do exist and then applying them to Star Trek characters.

Agency versus Context

Characters have agency, a place within the story that drives them to interact with the story. Neelix is considered a flawed character because he doesn’t have a place within Voyager’s overall story. He’s crammed into whatever space fits and suffers because of it. Captain Picard, however, fits into the specific story of “Best of Both Worlds” very well in that he’s a natural choice for the Borg to target and he has goals and the agency to move towards them. Even after he fails and is assimilated, he still fights the Borg, even if that fight is a simple as a single tear.

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Honestly, “Identity Crisis” is so solid it’s hard to talk about. In retrospect, we spend a lot of time nitpicking here, but at least we didn’t talk about using Troi more.

The thing about “Identity Crisis” is that it’s an episode which has some of the series’ most intriguing unanswered questions. I don’t mean that in terms of not explaining motivations which stretch our understanding of how the universe works (“Why did they do that?”), but instead it asks us to build on the universe with the implications of its story (“What kind of life form would reproduce like this?”).

Speculation from the hip is that a once-sentient species wanted to hide themselves. It’s frustrating that The Next Generation almost completely abandons the incredibly common phenomenon of advanced, destroyed civilizations. You see hints of that in “Future Imperfect” and “The Last Outpost,” with Barash being the last of his people and the T’kon Empire being destroyed, but it’s still very rare.

There’s another one of my Pax Americana rants in there, I’m sure, but the idea that these people made themselves into invisible monsters to preserve their peoples’…??? in the face of…??? tickles all of my cool story senses

The Beige and The Bold is available on iTunes, Stitcher, and other podcasting platforms. It updates Sunday nights at 12:00 PM ET / 11:00 PM CT.

The last four episodes of The Beige and The Bold are also available to add to your Stellaris soundtrack via Steam Workshop Mod. The mod also includes one 17 to 01 track and a rough copy of next week’s episode.

A Lair Somewhere #32

Bria: They got me!
Rulah: Give me your ridiculous sword!
Bria: It’s a broadsw-
Rulah: Gahncai! Break the wall!
Rulah: Frenzy.
Goblin Leader: Charge!
Goblin: SHAH! SHAH!
Rulah: What, Gahncai!?
Gahncai: Sorry. I was waiting for Ularon to tell me it was a bad idea.
Bria’s Broadsword: S L I C E
Goblins: Skree! Skreee. Skreeeeee…
Goblin bodies: Thump. thump. thumpthumpthump.