I’ve been an avid fan of Ron Moore’s Battlestar Galactica for over four years, and with good reason. I consider BSG to be one of, if not the best weekly dramatic show on television. I’ve also spent the last year picking apart season 4 with my good friends Dave Caolo and Jen Segrest over at The Sci-Fi Cast. But after watching the first part of the finale last night, I’m starting to have my doubts that the show will end how it has lived. If you’ve watched Daybreak Pt.1 of Battlestar Galactica and are interested to know why I’m worried, then head on over to my post – “Walk with the Prophets, Ronald D. Moore” at The Sci-Fi Cast and check it out.
In their seemingly never-ending mission to get fans to buy more stuff, Paramount will soon be releasing a new blu ray box set aimed right at Trekkers. Although the ‘Star Trek Motion Picture Trilogy’ does not contain Star Trek: The Motion Picture, as the name would seem to suggest, it does contain re-mastered versions of The Wrath of Kahn, The Search for Spock and The Voyage Home in glorious HD.
According to Amazon.com the box set will be released May 12th, will retail around $50 and come complete with loads of extras. A quick glance at the product specs reveal commentary by William Shatner, Leonard Nimoy, Nicholas Meyer, Ronald Moore (of BSG fame) and many others as well as stacks of shorts, trailers and other goodies. It’s difficult to say if these new high-def versions are worth enough to replace any older copies you may have on DVD, but I suspect that given the amount of bang for the buck Paramount’s packing, updating your collection just might be the logical thing to do.
Hat tip to @Talosman for this post.
While I was surfing around looking for some last minute Christmas presents, I came across a little piece of Star Trek heaven. This new Seven of Nine 7″ figure, sculpted by Rudy Garcia is just one in a set but it’s a pretty good likeness and who wouldn’t want a little Seven on their desk? The clincher however is the incredible marketing text that accompanies the item:
“Seven of Nine’s grimly pallid countenance is moderately contradicted by the voluptuousness with which she occupies her form-fitting sculptured chassis.”
Sold and sold! I think “form-fitting sculptured chassis” is the most elaborate way I’ve ever heard someone say “nice rack!”. If you have a Trek fan on your Christmas list, this might be just the thing the holographic doctor ordered. Then again at this late stage in the game you’ll probably need a temporal anomaly to get it to your doorstep on time. Oh well, there’s always next year!
After my recent Ode to an Outpost piece about Deep Space Nine, I had several readers tweet me asking for an “essentials” guide to the series. Basically it would be all the episodes of the DS9 that I would recommend to a newbie so they could become familiar with the show, watch very best parts and leave the questionable bits behind.
I actually think this is a great idea, kind of like the iTunes essentials playlists that Apple puts together for a particular genre of music. Given the fact that my friend Louie is attempting to familarize himself with Star Trek before the big movie hits next spring, I thought it best to start with Star Trek: The Original Series. If things go well, I’ll write similar guides for other Trek series, including DS9.
What follows are my bare bones suggestions for anyone who has never watched the Original Series. They are the absolute minimum a Trek newbie should watch to get a sense for the show and its characters. Of course, as with anything, your milage may vary so let me know if you found this post helpful. Thanks!
Balance of Terror
Although the episode is a bit clunky due to the fact that it’s one of the earliest scripts, it’s a must watch for any Trek newbie. The story introduces the Romulans to the Star Trek universe and defines their place in future stories. It also highlights Leonard Nimoy’s early emotional portrayal as Spock, something that quickly changes.
One of the best episodes of the entire series, it lays out the foundation for the second Star Trek film, The Wrath of Kahn. Filled with great drama and even a few action scenes thrown in for good measure, Space Seed helps define the history of Star Trek’s future.
Devil in the Dark
A classic haunted house tale that is the first time Kirk and Spock start to develop the friendship that carries them through the next 40 years. The episode is filled with mystery and suspense and features some nice interplay between Nimoy and Shatner. Devil in the Dark is also the first time McCoy utters his famous tag line “I’m a doctor not a…” in this case, “bricklayer”. Classic!
City on the Edge of Forever
Regarded by many Star Trek fans to be the very best episode of the Original Series, City on the Edge of Forever is a powerful love story that gives Shatner the rare chance to under-act. It also strengthens the bond between Kirk & Spock, while serving as a wonderful example of how to write an effective time travel story. Definitely a must see.
Amok Time gives us a small glimpse into the history of Spock’s home planet, its culture and more. The story revolves around the “big three” – Kirk, Spock & McCoy and features a number of great scenes between the lead actors. Aspects of Vulcan revealed in Amok Time pop up in numerous places throughout all of Star Trek.
The Doomsday Machine
Not a whole lot of character development here, but that’s okay. The Doomsday Machine is one of my all-time favorite episodes and is basically an action/suspense story in space. The writers cleverly put Spock & McCoy in the middle of the action, and at each other’s throats which always makes for the best episodes.
Journey to Babel
If any new fan is looking to understand the character of Spock as portrayed by Leonard Nimoy and created by Gene Roddenberry, then Journey to Babel is your best guide. The story introduces his human mother, Amanda, and his Vulcan father, Sarek as murder breaks out aboard the Starship Enterprise. The episode features terrific character development and gives fans an understanding of the future events of The Next Generation as well as Star Trek III, IV & V.
The Trouble with Tribbles
Although this episode doesn’t contain the strongest story, or the best acting, it is a rare funny episode of Star Trek. This, plus the fact that if you get asked about Tribbles by a Star Trek fan, and you’re not familiar with them, you’re libel to get some nasty looks. It is also necessary viewing for appreciating the brilliant Deep Space Nine episode Trials and Tribulations. Trust me on this one.
The Ultimate Computer
Many episodes of Star Trek toss out the name “Daystrom” in reference to the character portrayed by William Marshall from The Ultimate Computer. Daystrom is the Star Trek equivalent of Albert Einstein, and the story showcased here reveals where the character originated. It also serves as a wonderful example of how Kirk’s love of the Enterprise effects his decision making, here and in the movies.
Requiem for Methuselah
One of the best episodes from the third season, Requiem once again gives the big three the chance to develop their character’s relationships as they attempt to solve the eternal riddle of the mysterious Mr. Flint. The final scene in this episode serves as a sign post to understanding Spock’s ongoing relationship with Kirk, both as First Officer to Captain as well as one friend to another.
SPOILER WARNING: If you’ve not watched Star Trek: Deep Space Nine, then you’ll want to beware because there are spoilers ahead (some minor, some major). Now you know and knowing is half the battle.
Ask any Star Trek fan which series is their favorite and they’re likely to tell you Star Trek: The Next Generation. Like the original series, Next Generation was created by Gene Roddenberry and was full of imaginative stories, strong characters and top notch production values. Given all this, it’s no wonder TNG forms the bedrock of the modern Star Trek franchise. But from the futuristic utopia that was Roddenberry’s Next Gen universe, sprung the series I’ve come to regard as my favorite – Deep Space Nine. Considered by many to be the “troubled middle child”, caught between Next Generation and Voyager, Deep Space Nine never received the critical praise or audience numbers it deserved.
Thanks to my friend Corey and his DS9 DVD collection, I’ve been watching Deep Space Nine from season 1 for the better part of a year. Like most TV shows, DS9 started out rocky. Episodes devoted to the “problem of the week” along with actors and directors who were unsure of the character’s motivations led to some wild over-acting and sloppy story lines early on. But unlike Next Generation which peaked in season 4 & 5 and Voyager which was barely exciting for much of its run, Deep Space Nine only got better the longer it ran.
Despite being born in the shadow of The Next Generation, Deep Space Nine quickly found its footing and by season 3 all pistons were firing. Producers had introduced the Starship Defiant to take our heroes on missions of exploration and adventure away from the station. A new, deadly enemy called The Dominion, with a dark and complex backstory was introduced that would lay the ground work for some of the best story lines in seasons 6 & 7. Strong relationships formed between major characters like Odo & Kira and Worf & Dax. Writers like Ron Moore of modern Battlestar Galactica fame, pushed studio heads to allow multi-episode story arcs, something that was frowned upon for a weekly series that needed to stand alone in syndication.
Like many fans, I could probably fill a book with all of the aspects of the show that I love. I won’t go into that level of detail but I did want to share some of my favorite parts. In no particular order, here are just some of the things I appreciate whenever I watch Deep Space Nine:
• Sisko, The Emissary – Not only did Deep Space Nine tackle a tough and controversial subject like religion, but it boldly wove it into the fabric of the DS9 universe. Making Sisko not only a heroic Starship Captain, but also a religious icon was a stroke of genious on the creator’s parts. Watching him evolve from a bitter man who lost his wife at the hands of the Borg, to become the most beloved person of the Bjorian faith was both satisfying and unexpected.
• The Ferengi – Hats off to DS9’s writers as well as the actors who played all of the Ferengi. They took two-dimensional characters driven purely by profit and injected serious helpings of loyalty, family and much needed comedy into the Ferengi lore. DS9 did for the Ferengi, what Next Generation did for the Klingons, move them beyond simple charactatures and into the realm of “real people”. I especially love Rom’s devotion to Quark despite his brother’s often less-than-stellar treatment of him. Ferengi episodes were always winners in my book.
• Worf & Dax – Simply put, one of the best reasons to watch the show. Worf had always been a favorite on Next Generation, and with Deep Space Nine, the character was given a chance to grow beyond battles and bat’leths. Their devotion to each other along with their ability to overcome seemingly impossible differences put smiles on fan’s faces. The wedding episode “You Are Cordially Invited” was a series highlight and gave us a peek inside Klingon culture no fan will soon forget. When Dax died at the end of season 6, it left a huge hole, not only in Worf’s heart, but in ours too.
• Vic Fontaine – During the original run of DS9, I positively hated Vic Fontaine episodes. The holographic night club singer, played so cooly by real-life crooner James Darren, often got in the way of stories about the Dominion or the Prophets or something else of fan interest. But as the years have passed, I realized just how great Vic was and how his stories were necessary diversions from the weight of heavier plot lines. The Vic Fontaine episodes “His Way” and “Bada Bing, Bada Bang” are now among my all-time favorites.
• Bashir & O’Brian – Every Trek series nurtures key relationships between characters and Deep Space Nine was no different. The growing bond between Miles O’Brian and Julian Bashir was a delight to watch unfold. It formed the basis of many solid stories and grounded the two characters in a reality that all of us could relate to. On their own, I can’t say I really liked Bashir or O’Brian, but their chemistry together was undeniable.
• In The Pale Moonlight – Without a doubt, my favorite episode of Deep Space Nine, it highlights the incredible acting skills of Avery Brooks and Andrew J. Robinson. The story takes several twists and turns and shows just how committed Captain Sisko is to winning the war with the Dominion. It should have won an Emmy for writing, but like all of Star Trek when it comes to winning important awards, it’s overlooked. Pity that.
• Jeffrey Combs – A skilled character actor, Combs brought flair and depth to any number of characters he played on DS9. My personal favorite had to be the conniving yet obsequious Weyhoun. Comb’s delicious exchanges with Marc Alaimo as Gul Dukat were a feast for Trek fans everywhere as was his ability to portray a villain you loved to hate. Combs’ talent was also evident as one of the bright spots in the bottomless pit that was UPN’s Enterprise. His portrayal of the Andorian Captain, Shran, actually kept me tuning in long past the point of no return.
• Morn – Always seen but never heard, the ever-present patron of Quark’s Bar started as bit part but quickly became a fan favorite. Just knowing Morn was sitting at the bar week after week gave fans like myself an in-joke that only other Niners could appreciate, and for that, we loved him to death.
All of these things, and more, made Deep Space Nine one of the best dramas on television for the seven seasons it was on TV. Near the end, the show lost much of its staff to the creative leech that was Star Trek: Voyager. Paramount’s efforts to launch the now defunct UPN network meant less money, less promotion and poor time slots that ultimately forced DS9 to end its run in 1999.
Unfortunately, unlike TNG’s crew or even Voyager’s, Trek fans have never been blessed with an appearance of any DS9 character in a single Trek film or subsequent series. In 1999’s mediocre Star Trek: Insurrection, we learned that the newly returned Janeway had been promoted to Vice Admiral. In 2002’s Star Trek: Nemesis, long time TNG characters Riker and Troi were finally married. Will we ever learn the fate of Captain Sisko or discover what became of Odo, the Great Link and the Dominion? What of Rom’s efforts to bring change to the Ferengi Alliance as Grand Nagus?
In death, as in life, Deep Space Nine remains the black sheep of the Trek family. Someday perhaps Niners will be lucky enough to have Paramount revisit the fates of Captiain Sisko, Colonel Kira, Quark and the rest. In the meantime Deep Space Nine will continue to be this fan’s very favorite Star Trek series and perhaps one of my favorite shows of all time. Thank the Prophets for DVDs.
Sometimes you have to take a break from the big stuff and just enjoy the little things in life. For me, one of the things that gives me pleasure is spotting flubs in television and movies. Called continuity errors, they are gaffes made by the filmmakers that are antithetical to the story or the staging. Today I spotted one such error in one of my all-time favorite episodes of Star Trek: Deep Space Nine – Take Me Out To the Holosuite.
In the episode, the crew of Deep Space Nine is challenged to an old-fashion baseball game by a group of smug Vulcans. Captain Sisko spends two weeks getting his fellow crew members up-to-snuff on the Great American Pastime. At one point we see Colonel Kira coming off the field and her jersey reads “Kira”. But a little later in the episode, her jersey magically changes to read “Nerys” (her birth name) and remains this way for the rest of the episode.
Like any die-hard Trekkie (yes, I’m a Trekkie, not a Trekker) I’m more interested in why this costuming error occurred in the first place. All the other Niners with surnames and birth names have their surname embroidered on their DS9 baseball jersey. Captain Sisko’s is “B. Sisko” as opposed to “J.Sisko” which we see on Jake’s back. Doctor Bashir’s is simply “Bashir” as you would expect. But in the Star Trek universe, Bajorans traditionally list their family name first, then their birth name (like Asian cultures). So although Kira’s character is called “Kira Nerys“, Nerys is really her first name and Kira is her family name.
Given this, which jersey in the episode is the wrong one? It seems to me that the character should indeed be wearing the “Kira” jersey, and not “Nerys” that she wears for the majority of the game. Then again, they are in an informal setting and so she might have opted to use Nerys among friends. Memory Beta, one of the numerous Trek Wikis simply says “In a costuming error, Kira’s uniform says “Kira” early in the game, and “Nerys” later.” but it doesn’t explain which is which.
Strangely enough, this is the kind of question that geeks like myself can spend all day debating, so if you’re a Star Trek fan, I’d love to know which name you think should be on Kira’s uniform. And if you happen to think this entire post was a waste of time, I know some friendly folks that are dying to meet you.