Star Trek

All posts tagged Star Trek

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.

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. https://steamcommunity.com/sharedfiles/filedetails/?id=1660256436

There are so many thing this episode does almost right. I mean, I love it. It’s the kind of ensemble show Star Trek: the Next Generation can be and that is when it’s at its best.

Maybe it’s just me, but as I get older I see a more paternalistic/authoritarian ideology behind the love of Picard. He’s the sort of morally pure authority figure that justifies his position as the Enterprise’s “ultimate decider.” Even his open leadership style is an example of him allowing others to speak.

I see the obvious advantages of having a single person making executive decisions in crises. I also get having someone decide what is and isn’t a fruitful avenue of solving a problem before it’s a crisis. It’s only when an episode feels so right because it gets out from under that that I feel something’s amiss with the status quo.

Am I on to something here? Is there a quieter message at play about the link between moral purity and power in Captain Picard? And to a lesser extent, Data?

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.

Sometimes, a story–whether it’s a movie, a book, or an episode of television–is so bad you don’t know where to start. Sometimes it so so bad that you can start at the start and ride it all the way through to the end.

If that wasn’t clear, “Galaxy’s Child” is one of those stories. When the episode literally says the lesson, but then rewards a character for refusing to learn that lesson, your Aesop is broken.

I can’t think of an episode of The Next Generation where the illustrated lesson is more at odds with the actual words people are saying. Sure, some episodes contradict later episodes–“Journey’s End” and Insurrection pitting obedience versus principal, “Sarek” and “All Good Things” confronting aging versus respect, and “The Price” versus literally any episode where Riker is a petulant child because Troi is getting some.

Guernica is the Spanish town where Francisco Franco bombed civilians with German help in 1937, just prior to WWII. Picasso famously painted a mural of it.

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

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. https://steamcommunity.com/sharedfiles/filedetails/?id=1660256436

What I’m trying to say is that we appreciate Lanel’s initiative and drive. They are virtues, and they’re rare ones. Just not virtues in a biblical sense, I guess.

We gloss over a lot of this episode and that’s probably because it’s such a solid, meat-and-potatoes episode. It covers the balance of conservative and progressive thought, mass hysteria, and the problems that we as a people face with the possibility of encountering extraterrestrial intelligence.

Also, I don’t mean to dismiss all unexplained phenomenon out of hand. I remember something about lights over Mexico City in 2017 that were apparently rare rocks with negatively-charged oxygen pairs breaking down to release electricity that could create plasma.

I mean, I generally understand those physics, but I’m 75% sure Tommy Lee Jones used that line in one of the Men In Black movies. Regardless, I’m sure that the same way straight people miss LGBT news because they aren’t reading it, there’s got to be a lot of mysterious news I miss because I don’t read it. Please feel free to enlighten me.

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 six most recent episodes are also available in a Stellaris mod.

Clues

It’s a solid episode and we’re being mean. It’s not “about” anything in the Star Trek sense. We don’t have a debate about whether Data’s loyalty to Picard is based on its own merits or obedience to the chain of command.

We don’t discuss the ramifications of keeping the existence of a dangerous planet hidden, of how Starfleet can’t keep this secret, or of how Ensign Jeffers on Deck 21 won’t consent to have his memories wiped and will hide a note in a bulkhead.

I believe Derek was talking about Elrond, who probably has a stronger brand than Gowron (RIP). Also, my comment about getting “them off of their tractors” is a reference to Futurama’s jab at Hollywood’s underestimation of Middle America, not a jab at Middle America.

But is this the limit of Patrick Stewart’s acting or is this just excellent bad-acting?

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.

No surprise this one was a reworked Phase II story, which I’m surprised that I–having read the Phase II scripts–didn’t catch. It makes a lot of sense when you view this through the lens of The Original Series. Or maybe just through the lens of TOS’ lowered expectations.

Making legal quibbles might be criticizing deck chair colors on a sinking ship, but that’s my specialty. They call “jury trials” “jury trials,” but they call “judge trials” just “trials.” That’s my only point–THEY HAD A JAG OFFICER IN SEASON TWO!

This episode isn’t bad, it’s just goofy nonsense that’s not really goofy enough. It’s a good concept too–this is basically the plot of Watchmen a thousand years on, with sleight-of-hand instead of a giant, exploding, telepathic squid.

Of all the takes, “Devil’s Due” is the least cynical, but they’re based on a reality of our own actions. Does global warming reflect poorly on humanity, or just our most powerful members?

Reminding you that if you’re listening to a Star Trek podcast you are–statistically–one of those members.

Also, Constantin Stanislavsky was a real actor, Stella Adler was a real lady, and Garnav is made up, so exactly what we thought.

Link to the opening credits of “Dawn of the Dead”: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=MdddUJWIj_M

And link to Mitchell and Webb’s “Remain Indoors”: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=0WsuaYh_hkg&list=PL3Dx8Yxab-uFpPdulB4g2rw5bpJIFlcPU

It’s also the plot of South Park’s “Nobody Got Cereal?” episode, which WAS goofy enough. http://southpark.cc.com/clips/t83thg/just-plain-rice

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.