Star Trek Voyager Turns 16

16-Jan-11 10:58 AM by
Filed under Humor, Star Trek; 1 comment.

On this day in 1995, Star Trek: Voyager made its premiere, launching Paramount's own television network, UPN. Though building on plot threads developed in The Next Generation and Deep Space Nine (most noticeably the existence of the Maquis rebel faction), by stranding a Starfleet vessel in the far reaches of the Delta Quadrant, the show promised to return the franchise to its founding premise of exploration and discovery, something that was often absent from the more operatic DS9.

For all that potential, Voyager is often maligned as the worst Star Trek series of all. Consistent plot holes (no stranger to the Star Trek universe), atrocious writing (Threshold beats out Shades of Gray anytime), sexy but shallow characters (Kes, Seven of Nine), non-threatening adversaries (leave it to Voyager to defang the Borg), and an over-reliance on spatial anomalies (including time travel as a series finale deus ex machina) hamstrung the show.

Voyager had its strong points as well, and I enjoyed its episodes more often than I didn't. But a proper roast doesn't focus on a subject's admirable qualities, so to bid a happy sweet sixteenth birthday to the fourth live-action Star Trek series, I offer this breakdown of Voyager's secret formula (note: the following video contains a subtitle with the f-word — you have been warned):

Happy anniversary, Voyager. May you live long and prosper!

(Hat tip to uncultured via ROFLrazzi)

Star Trek Dallas Team: The 1969 Generation

17-Apr-09 1:23 PM by
Filed under Humor, Star Trek, Television; Comments Off on Star Trek Dallas Team: The 1969 Generation

In less than a month, Star Trek will see a rebirth. Though initial impressions are positive, there are still fans worried about taking the franchise in a new direction. Change is bad, right?

In contrast, I've always found Star Trek to be limited in its scope. Why must science fiction be its own genre? Surely there's room for Star Trek to explore other styles, such as comedy or murder-mystery. How about Friends: Ten-Forward or CSI: Cardassia?

Some enterprising (heh) editors are of the same opinion and, as proof of concept, have remodeled Star Trek after their favorite hits from the past. What would Kirk and company look like if they composed The A-Team?

Need less action and a bit more intrigue? Then try Dallas:

Or, if you prefer something more light-hearted, how about Gilligan's Island?

If, after seeing all these alternatives, you're still a purist who believes Star Trek belongs firmly in the future, then let us at least return to 1969, the era in which it was launched:

(You can also view a side-by-side comparison of the Star Trek and 1969 openings.)

So, what do you think… is there room enough in the world of Star Trek for all these genres to get along?

(Hat tips to IT Blogwatch and Dayton Ward)

TNG at 20: The Voyage Continues

26-Sep-07 6:00 PM by
Filed under Star Trek; 1 comment.

Twenty years ago this autumn, I was a sophomore in college. I remember watching the premiere of Star Trek: The Next Generation (or TNG) with friends. While most of us were fans of speculative fiction, we had little idea of how entertaining and influential TNG would become.

I had grown up on the writings of Jules Verne, H.G. Wells, Isaac Asimov, and Arthur C. Clarke, but I had watched the original 1960s Star Trek only in reruns. During freshman year, I had fought for the dorm lounge television with people who preferred The Late Show With David Letterman over some old show with people wearing colorful pajamas, odd makeup, or both. But we were a small but dedicated band, and we made it to the stars. Among the friends I met then was my future wife.

Over the course of many late nights and foosball games, I learned about the United Federation of Planets, its Starfleet, and the Prime Directive that forbade its explorers from interfering in the internal affairs or development of alien worlds. The so-called "Wagon Train to the stars" combined Westerns with ray guns, and mythology with scientific speculation.

By the time TNG began, I was indeed a Trekkie — or "Trekker," as some prefer — having learned the cant among the franchise's fans: phasers, warp speed, and the Vulcan nerve pinch and salute. Of the eventual six movies with the space opera's original cast, the best two — Star Trek II: The Wrath of Khan and IV: The Voyage Home — had already been released. Thanks to magazines such as Starlog and various "technical manuals," I learned about transporters and Jeffries tubes (the access tunnels throughout starships, named after an original series art director). Around Thanksgiving of 1987, I would attend my first science fiction convention, one run by Creation Entertainment in New York.

It's also worth remembering the context into which this Enterprise was launched — that, despite the success of multimedia franchises such as Planet of the Apes and Star Wars, there was little genre entertainment on television at that time. As we look forward to 2007's premieres of Heroes, Lost, or Battlestar Galactica: Razor, among others, note that 20 years ago, there was only Stephen Spielberg's anthology Amazing Stories, horror drama Friday the 13th: the Series, and another Earth-based movie spin-off, Starman. Weak visual effects, even weaker writing, and a lack of interest among mainstream viewers and networks had doomed all but the U.K.'s Doctor Who to short lifespans or syndication.

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TNG at 20: To Everything, There Is a Season

23-Sep-07 11:41 PM by
Filed under Star Trek; 1 comment.

Star Trek: The Next Generation was the first Star Trek to enjoy a full, cancellation-free run. This October 2nd, its 176 episodes will be available in a new box set (watch the trailer, read the press release). Though $40/season is a fair deal, $278.89, after shipping, is still no small amount of change. And, as Trek Nation has been recently reminding us with their retro reviews, some entire seasons of TNG have not aged well.

There are many ways to separate the wheat from the chaff. Various fan collectives offer thematically-related content, so if you like time travel or Q, you're bound to be satisfied — unless you dwell on what these packages miss, such as "Future's End". For my money, The Jean-Luc Picard Collection is the best value, as I prefer episodes that offer not an anomaly of the week, but significant, focused character development. "Tapestry", "Darmok", and "The Inner Light" are worth their weight in latinum, and with the former two both coming from season five, perhaps that is the series' best season. Other fifth-season episodes "I, Borg", "The Perfect Mate" (another Picard episode, and one which first unites Patrick Stewart with Famke Janssen, prior to their X-Men team-up), Spock's return in the two-part "Unification", and the first half of "Time's Arrow" supports this theory.

But only with the new, complete DVD collection can you get all the above along with gems like "The Best of Both Worlds", "Yesterday's Enterprise", and "Relics" — so if you have money to burn, take the good with the bad and splurge on all seven seasons (plus exclusive features and documentaries). But if you don't, then what season (or fan collective) do you recommend, and for what episodes?


Also in the TNG at 20 series:

Chatting with the Stars

10-Aug-07 11:35 AM by
Filed under Celebrities, Star Trek, Star Wars; 2 comments.

Audio interviews with two spacefaring luminaries have recently become available.

The first (courtesy TrekToday.com) is Garrett Wang on the James Madison show (iTunes). It's not the best interview: it starts off a bit slowly, the reception occasionally drops, and at one point, Mr. Wang puts the host on hold while he takes another call. But there are some fun stories as he reminisces about playing Harry Kim on Star Trek: Voyager and the interplay he had with other Star Trek and UPN actors. Tune in to the James Madison podcast tomorrow for a similar interview with Robert Picardo, who played that show's holographic Doctor.

The other interview (courtesy TheForce.net) is a brief one with Anthony Daniels, aka C-3PO, wherein he talks about science, Star Wars, and scouting. His message on the importance of science in the present and future of society is spot-on and would be right at home in Scientific American or Point of Inquiry.

These Are the Voyages…

01-May-07 3:36 PM by
Filed under Star Trek; 3 comments.

May 13th marks the two-year anniversary of the airing of the series finale of Enterprise — what may've been the last episode of Star Trek ever. My viewing habits precluded catching most of the fourth and final season when it originally aired, so this past weekend, I engorged myself on the last 19 episodes (which I shall attempt to discuss spoiler-free).

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