My Thoughts On All Things Star Trek

My friend Isaac Hulke and I recently decided to do a limited series of podcasts about Star Trek. They will start posting soon here. In it we devote an hour to each series and then we will go movie by movie discussing each in detail.

We have recorded episodes about the original series and the animated series already. I have always been a very big fan of all things Trek but this has forced me to go back and rewatch many of the episodes of the various shows that made it great.

Before recording last week I went back and watch the TOS episodes “Mirror, Mirror”, “Space Seed” and “The City On The Edge Of Forever”. They made me fall in love with the series all over again. There was so much being done in the series that was not only ground breaking but just great storytelling. In that podcast we also discussed what impact the show had on our present. Many of the children who grew up watching Trek wanted to move into finding ways to create the fictional tech that was used on the show. Many things we take for granted today came from people inspired by that show.

This weekend I have been spending some time watching some of the great episodes of The Next Generation. Being a reflection of our times in the 80’s and 90’s Gene Roddenberry used many things that really took a foothold in our culture and used them in the series. One of the major things was showing a Klingon being part of the Federation. Another was designating Troi as the ship’s counsellor as therapy was such a popular thing during that time.

The Next Generation has not yet proven to be as influential on our society as TOS but some things that were created for the show have since come to pass. The tablet computer being used as a reading device rather than carrying books around became one of the staples of Star Trek and has since begun to take a hold in our society today.

Not only have these shows influenced us in technological way but they have also given us some wonderfully entertaining hours of television. In TNG we had the introduction of some of the greatest creations in all of Trek – The Borg, Ferengi, Cardassians, and many other alien races that proved to have a lasting impact on Science Fiction by holding a mirror up to our society and showing us what we are. There were also some amazing introspective stories. One of the many great episodes was “The Inner Light”. I have had conversations with the writer of that classic episode and he said he was amazed by how beloved the episode has become. He now travels around to conventions and talks about his experiences. His name is Morgan Gendel. If you ever have the opportunity to meet this man you will not be disappointed. He is a very warm and engaging person.

I have spent a lot of time this weekend watching Deep Space Nine. It is sort of the forgotten child of Star Trek. People really should put it up there as one of the greatest creations ever to come from the Trek Universe. Instead it us constantly overshadowed by its predecessors. Voyager gets talked about more because of it sucked. And that’s a shame. DS9 was an amazing series that took a decidedly different journey. It was set aboard a space station and dealt with Federation officers being placed in a war torn part of deep space. It played in an entirely different sandbox. On a regular basis they dealt with loss, religion and racial conflict much more that than any of the other series dared to do. Sure, it moved into soap opera territory from time to time. They all did. But the show was much more daring and bold than anything that came before it.

And then there was Voyager. Wanting to get back to the fun of space exploration was the idea behind the show. They came up with a Lost In Space idea where they were cut off in an uncharted quadrant so far removed from Federation space it would take over 70 years at maximum warp to return. Instead of capturing the fun of TOS they opted to make Captain Janeway a nearly spineless person who would constantly ask “what did we do to offend you?” rather than take action. The secondary cast was horribly underused. The stories were weak and Neelix was possibly the worst SciFi character outside of Jar Jar. Enough said on that until the podcast recording.

Enterprise was an uneven show but really started to come into its own in its final season. It’s a shame the show could not have run at least a little longer. I would have liked to see Captain Archer and his crew dealing more with the beginnings of the Federation. And Scott Backula is just cool.

It’s nearly unanimous how people feel about the Trek movies. The odd ones are bad, the even ones are good. But does that hold true for the reboot of the movie franchise. You will have to time into the podcast to find out my feelings on the subject. We also offer trivia. We talk about the series that never was – Star Trek: Phase II, and many other things. I will be sure to let you know when they are available.


Heavy On Neon, Light On Zombies – Night Of The Comet Reviewed

1984 was a simpler time. Video games were still in their infancy, cell phones didn’t exist, Al Gore hadn’t invented the internet, and movies like Night Of The Comet had a shot at a theatrical run.

Night Of The Comet starred Catherine Mary Stewart of The Last Starfighter, Kelli Maroney of Chopping Mall, Robert Beltran of Star Trek: Voyager, and Geoffrey Lewis of The Devil’s Rejects. It was directed by Captain Ron helmer Thom E. Eberhardt. The film is about survivors after a comet wipes out everything on the planet except for those safely tucked away in anything made of steel. Everyone else was turned to dust. Well, not everyone. Some slowly turned into zombie like creatures that we never really saw feed on anyone.

The movie begins by showing Reggie played by Stewart working at a movie theater. She is a wiz at some video game in the lobby. Every high score is hers but one and she gets mad when she notices that number six on the list is not her. Firm she goes to the projection booth to have sex with the projectionist. She falls asleep there and discovers in the morning that she is one of the few survivors. She goes home to discover her sister Sam, played by Maroney, also survived because she slept in the shed overnight.

The sisters then go to the radio station because the DJ is still on the air. When they get there they discover it was pre-recorded but they meet Hector, played by Beltran. Together they have some adventure that take place off camera, like looking for guns, and then go shopping. There is a montage sequence of the sisters dancing around and trying on clothes set to Girls Just Wanna Have Fun by Cyndi Lauper.

While at the department store things move along at a faster pace. They are discovered by a group of men who are infected and slowly turning into zombies. They try and kill the girls with their guns while Reggie is the only one armed on het side. The girls are on opposite ends of the store but the two armed men shooting at them stick together and just turn to shoot rather than split up. They also never reload. I guess this store sells guns that have magical reload capabilities. Eventually they’re caught and then saved by survivors from a think tank from just outside of town that is gathering up people to experiment on.

Is this movie making any sense to anyone at this point? It doesn’t make sense to me…but I still love every minute of it. There’s the terrible acting of the department store zombie guy, the weirdness of the female characters, the terrible dialogue. What’s not to love?

This movie is bad from start to finish. There’s no two ways about it. But this is the sort of infectious bad movie that makes you love watching it and hoping that the joy will last all the way to the end. I make no apologies for liking this movie and don’t feel I should. It’s something that could only come from the 80’s. People have tried and failed since. There was a different sensibility back then. Things were less jaded. People could make a fun bad movie and it was accepted for what it was. Now, people expect more. The difference is that they don’t expect more story. They just want more explosions and pretty pictures to distract them from the badness. I give this movie 4 out of 5 stars.

This movie will he reviewed on the next episode of The Gorram Nerd Hour where you will hear Brian’s opinion on this film as well. Find us on Facebook or Blogspot.

Bryan Fuller, What Are You Doing With Your Career?

For years Bryan Fuller has been a bit of an inspiration. He got his start writing professionally when Star Trek had an open script submission policy and became a writer on Deep Space Nine and Voyager. He then went on to create the wonderful series Dead Like Me.

Over the years the shows he created have been very short lived, none going more than two seasons, but they shine brightly and are remembered fondly. He also created Wonderfalls and Pushing Daisies. He was also a writer on Heroes, turning in some of the best episodes of that show.

So what made Fuller want to adapt both Hannibal and The Munsters into new television shows? It seems to me that he is better than that. The new version of The Munsters is called Mockingbird Lane and stars Jerry O’Connell and Portia De Rossi as Herman and Lily and it’s more of an hour long drama than a comedy. Eddie Izzard is playing Grampa Munster.

It’s not that I have a problem with the cast. I love Izzard and De Rossi. O’Connell can be likable in the right role. This just seems like a risky venture and, if it fails, could mark the end of Fuller’s career. Then there’s Hannibal. Do we really need to see a young Hannibal Lechter before he was captured working with the FBI? I don’t think so. What made Manhunter and Silence Of The Lambs so good was the fact that we knew very little about the character and that made him scary. By the time movie series went on we didn’t care anymore. It may be different with this show, I don’t know. I hope so.

Fuller has a very strong and creative voice. I hope that these new shows allow it to shine. I’m afraid what will happen is the same thing that happened with Carrie. Fuller wrote a television mini-series based on the classic Stephen King novel and amazing Brian De Palma film. It was meant to be a back door pilot for a series and left it open at the end. Fuller’s creative talent seemed stunted. There were very few moments I saw hints of his clever writing. Instead it was a stale retread of a story we already knew.

Let’s hope we see more Battlestar Galactica and less Knight Rider in his reboot of The Munsters in terms of quality. And as for Hannibal…your guess is as good as mine there.