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Re: Star Trek Thread

Posted: Sat Jan 14, 2017 5:39 pm
by Sarge

Re: Star Trek Thread

Posted: Wed Feb 15, 2017 8:42 pm
by dodgingRuby
I want to resurrect this thread because I freaking love Star Trek. So just to stir up some conversation I'm going to take a different stance on a few points you made Sarge. First let's start with a background:
I have grown up watching Star Trek TNG. I love it. A bonding experience with my brother and father. TNG is and will remain as my most favorite of the series and not just because of nostalgia, I will touch more on that later. I will go through these but a little out of order and surprise surprise I'm saving TNG for last.

Voyager - Is fantastic because of the story line and a few of the characters.
Lets start off with what I disliked and end on a good note! I expect some hate and backlash from this but I despised B'Elanna. Her character made sense, don't get me wrong, I can't image being half human while trying to figure out the rage and insanity of half Klingon inside of you. So I understand how they designed her character but I couldn't help but get tired and sigh a bit when there was going to be a heavy B'Elanna episode. She would whine and be a constant pain in the ass to everyone, this was the leading reason why she was such a turnoff for me.For Janeway, she seemed to just be a female Picard. She stuck to her guns and made the hard decisions when they were necessary. She was a Starfleet Captain through and through, that much was very apparent. Her original decision though to destroy the Caretakers array in order to keep the technology out of the hands of the Kazon is dumb. She has a duty to her crew and mission. The Kazon are pretty thickheaded so it could be a very long time before they even figure out how to use the technology. What's to say they will just cruise on over and start attacking the Federation? They know NOTHING about where Janeway comes from, the likely hood of them using this technology in such a manor is a far reach at best. Also, isn't Janeway MUCH more worried about the Borg who are well known to be in the Delta Quadrant? Janeway messed up and I don't think she would make this big of a mistake being the kind of Captain that she is.
Now for the GOOD! I will touch on two characters that I really think made the season a hit. Our friends the EMH and Feelix. The take on the EMH was quite fitting and easily lovable. Though the laws and physics that govern holographic 'people?' in the realm of Star Trek seem to cross lines across all the series, this one really delves into the mysteries. Its fun to see the doctor begin to explore what it is to come 'alive' in a sense. Many of the Doctor episodes remind me of Data trying to become more human but without too much of the same. They are funny and laughable at times but also dark as you seem them realize that humans deal with emotions and difficult decisions every day. Now for Neelix...I will say at first I hated him. I thought his character was going lack substance and be nothing more than a comedic relief. I'm glad I was wrong. Like any good Trek character he shares knowledge and experiences with the crew and embraces the 'bartender' role of the ship. Like Guinan! One off the most standout Neelix episodes for me is "Tuvix". What a fantastic Voyager episode! I think I teared up when Tuvix knew that he was about to be executed. I am constantly rotating through series TNG,VOY,DS9,ENT, but every now and then I deviate from my lineup and watch this good.

DS9 - I am currently working my way through this one so it's pretty fresh in my mind. It is a phenomenal series and deserves more accolades than it seems to receive; at least from the Trek people that I talk to. If I remember correctly, the show was only made after Roddenberry passed away because he shot down the idea of a Trek series on a starbase more than once. He didn't think you could tell the necessary social stories with people marooned on a starbase. How wrong he was!
Again, starting with the dislikes. Bajorans are setup to be a defeated people, they were raped and savaged by the Cardassians for decades. Holding on their religious values makes sense in this context. The problem I have with this is the story becomes so boring so quickly. You see a constant struggle for power over a powerless people. It's not compelling and I think that's why they eventually focused more on the Cardassian/Dominion story arcs. You get tired of seeing the kai and Vedek assembly fight for "power." Here is where Sarge might ban me from the site... I am not a big Sisko fan. Though he does do certain things well, I didn't like seeing him get sucked into the Emissary role as much as he did. He manages it well in the first few seasons with a few hiccups here and there, but to end the season with him the wormhole aliens didn't sit well with me. In the first episode Picard gives him a stern talking to and lets on the fact that he doesn't think he's right for the role. Rather than vindicating Sisko at the end of the series and showing that he is a good captain, I think you find out that he isn't a good fit for a captain. Almost a dark ending. Though I thoroughly loved the series, the ending just ruins it for me.
Now for the GOOD! This series does a FANTASTIC job of exploring so much more of the core species of the quadrant. The Romulans, Cardassians, and Ferengi are finally brought into the spotlight and they are wonderfully written in. You get a strong history lesson with the Cardassians when they focus on their Bejor occupation within some of the episodes. The Romulans are still a bit elusive and mysterious but the Dominion War story arch adds to it without giving too much. This is exactly how they should be portrayed. The Romulans are pretty close to a xenophobic society so the series plays on this well. What better characters than Quark and Nog to represent the Ferengi. The shenanigans that they are constantly getting into lend very well to a starbase centered series. I love the portrayal of this money grubbing, quick witted, entrepreneurial race.

It's getting late so I will finish my post tomorrow but I wanted to get this out tonight. So perhaps some of you can read it and start loading your magazines with ammo!

Re: Star Trek Thread

Posted: Thu Feb 16, 2017 9:26 pm
by dodgingRuby
Enterprise – Surprisingly enough, outside of the collective dislikes, I thoroughly enjoyed this series. Sure the temporal time lines are messy, the writers putting themselves into a corner, and the abrupt ending are easy things to look back on and want to change. Outside of those, you’ve got yourself a really great addition to the Star Trek family here.
The GOOD! – The characters are raw and almost undisciplined at times. They don’t conform to the Starfleet that we are all too familiar with by this point. They make mistakes, get pushy with their superiors and all have something to prove. This couldn’t have been more fitting for me and I think you hit the nail on the head Sarge when you said it’s because they all grew up on the gravity well of earth! (Thank you James S. A. Corey.) Watching Captain Archer fight for the right to be the captain of the very first Startfleet vessel reminded me of all the documentaries I’ve watched of the Mercury and Apollo astronauts. Competition tends to bring out the best in people and I couldn’t help but get that sense not only with Archer but the whole crew. Everyone was the top of their class and still strived to make sure everyone else knew it. It wasn’t bragging so much as displaying so as everyone knew who they could rely on if a need should arise. This series really captures the sheer overwhelmingly scope of just how little and child-like the human race was outside of our solar system. Granted, the Vulcans were with them for almost a century before the inaugural Enterprise mission so they knew a general idea of what to expect. Archer and the crew make mistakes and constantly get tangled up in situations that they should never have been in in the first place. Fantastic TV content! Couple this with some really well flushed out characters like the loveable Doctor Phlox, Rugged Engineer Charles Tucker, and the very confused yet stable T’Pol. I am only scratching the surface because for each one of these characters there are two more and each one has a multitude of reasons to enjoy them. Bottom line is this series had some cruddy writing that put a bad taste in everyone’s mouth but like all good Trek series, in hindsight it’s a thing of beauty when you can look past the blemishes.

TNG – I suppose I can be somewhat objective and start with some of my dislikes…
It’s not until season two/three that this show finds its stride. I’m afraid it’s because of the timing of the series but the characters take far too long to really flush out; they seemed to play things very safe. For instance, they make an attempt at branching out with the death of Natasha Yar in the first season but I didn’t buy it. Her closeness to the crew isn’t apparent until the episode where they kill her off. Throughout the entire series they also fall victim to a few reoccurring themes. Examples include holodeck malfunctioning and everyone is in danger, an alien takes hold of the ship, or Q shows up and makes Picard mad. I suppose these can be forgiven though because the show ran for seven seasons and consisted of 178 episodes.
Now for the GOOD! – The heart of any Star Trek series consists of solid leadership. Whether that leadership is in the Captain’s chair, with the first officer, the chief of security, chief of engineering, or chief of medicine. Each position is filled by a strong character that can have at least one, if not many episodes that focuses solely on their development. Star Trek TNG does this flawlessly over the course of its seven years. My love for TNG is so deep and rooted because all the characters are so incredibly flushed out and well known. You know that Lt. Geordi La Forge is more than an amazing Starfleet Engineer, he’s a lover who is constantly looking for companionship. My man Data isn’t just an android, he’s so much more and is constantly striving and making headway into understanding what it means to be a human. Riker is more than ready for a command of his own but is still wrestling with his own demons. I can go on with each and every one, including the lowly Transporter Chief Miles O’Brien. The fact that the writers were able to see what an incredible actor he was and to make his position more than it should have ever been. So much so that he crossed series! All of these characters are amazing but it’s Captain Jean-Luc Picard that solidifies the series as the greatest of all for me. He’s everything that a captain should be. He keeps his crew at a distance while maintain a positive relationship with them. He doesn’t compromise himself and reveal himself unnecessarily in front of them. He fights for what is right while keeping in mind his duties to Starfleet and to the ship/crew. His decisions couldn’t be further from emotion based. I will end this with my single most favorite scene among all series and movies. It is from TNG S5:E19 Our First Duty, 32:20. Here we see the greatness of Picard as he talks to Wesley after investigating the mysterious accident that lead to the death of a cadet in Wesley’s squadron. We see what wearing the uniform really means to Picard along with a real sense of who he is as a man, a captain, and a father figure. “The First Duty of every Starfleet officer is to the truth! Whether it’s scientific truth, or historical truth, or personal truth! It is the guiding principal upon which Starfleet is based. If you can’t find it within yourself to stand up and tell the truth about what happened then you don’t deserve to wear that uniform.”

I wrote these posts to stir up some conversations because as I previously stated, I love Star Trek. What’s important to keep in mind is that though I am able to look at a few dislikes here and a few character flaws there I will defend each and every one of these series, stories, and characters. Each and every one has their place and is spectacular in its own right. I continuously watch them over and over with enjoyment each and every time. I cannot think of any other form of television or cinema that I can make this same claim about.
(I’m sure there are some typos and grammar errors but editing just doesn’t sound great. I’d rather spend time watching Star Trek.)

Re: Star Trek Thread

Posted: Sat Feb 18, 2017 10:53 am
by Sarge
Going to respond to mostly specific statements here, Ruby.

Regarding B'Elanna Torres, she is an incredibly talented engineer. B'Elanna is also important for me because she's one of the rare instances where someone in Star Trek isn't an acceptable form of alien or human. You see it here in the language you use as well when you describe Klingons as "insane." They're not insane. They have a very structured culture with very clear rules regarding their behavior.

B'Elanna's issues stem from her feelings of abandonment by the father that wanted her to find her own way in life and the mother that married a human but wanted B'Elanna to behave like a Klingon exclusively. This is something that mixed children must struggle with throughout their lives. Janeway puts B'Elanna in a position of authority and she rises to it and handles herself well, and over the course of the show we get to see B'Elanna deal with crippling depression about the Maquis and her constant identity issues.

This is probably my favorite scene dealing directly with B'Elanna's struggles with her sense of identity .

Regarding Janeway, I am okay with the decision to trap them in the Delta Quadrant. How many times have you seen Kirk and Picard doing the right thing and they're magically back to where they started by the end of the episode and we just chuckle about it? Janeway's determination to follow Starfleet protocol was probably the hardest and probably the smartest decision she made as captain. Federation ideals trapped them in the Delta Quadrant, and she was determined to have them get them out as well. Without sticking to them, it would become all about Janeway's ego and not about the uniform they represent.

Regarding Neelix, I've never gotten over the grossness of his relationship with Kes and the way he constantly trolls Tuvok and refuses to use his name. For someone claiming to be an ambassador, he is not polite to Tuvok.

Regarding the Bajorans, they are one of my favorite species introduced into Star Trek. Setting DS9 near Bajor meant that we got to see daily interactions with a deeply religious people and see how they lived. You cannot cover the way religion impacts people's lives in a single episode, so seeing seven seasons of the Bajorans allows the viewer to explore a religious people in the very non-religious context of Starfleet. Additionally, these people have suffered tremendously and we get to see how that impacts as people. When you're dealing with a Bajoran, you're seeing someone who's been traumatized their entire life and shares that trauma with everyone they love and know. That's deeply affecting and well-handled by the show. That plays into Bajoran politics. All of these people are survivors and they're all headstrong because of it. Each of them survived the Occupation in various ways and were used to operating independently. That just doesn't go away now that the threat has seemingly passed.

Regarding Sisko, he states multiple times that he is not Picard. He himself was very uncomfortable with the role of Emissary, but every time he leans into it, everyone around him from Starfleet comments on how uncomfortable it makes them. However, each time he leans into it there's a benefit for everyone. Telling Bajor not to join the Federation when they did save them from the initial wave of the Dominion and kept Bajor in a position to do what they do best: guerilla warfare. Sure the show ends with a final confrontation regarding the Prophets and the Pah-wraiths, but this comes after Sisko successfully helps orchestrate the entire war with Admiral Ross after leading the Defiant crew on multiple successful missions. He never stopped being a Starfleet captain. I wrote an essay once explaining how Sisko likely went to the same high school I went to in New Orleans because of his military background and understanding of spirituality.

Interestingly, Avery Brooks was not happy with the end of DS9. He didn't want to become Space Jesus. He didn't want Sisko to leave his family and his son. Avery Brooks only took on the role because of Sisko's positive relationship with his son.

Regarding the Cardassians, I am glad the show hired Marc Alamo to play Dukat, because it's important for people to see the ego and horror of someone like him. The Cardassians violated Bajor for half a century and do not own this fact. One of my favorite confrontations in the show happens between Kira and Damar late in the show when he's horrified at Dominion brutality and Kira claps back, "Yeah, Damar, what kind of a people would harm women and children?" The Cardassians have been awful to their neighbors and love to think of themselves as better than others and that ego leads their entire people to ruin.

Regarding the Ferengi, it sometimes frustrates me with the show how often they're used for silly stuff or "shenanigans" as you've put it. Quark makes a very valid point that the Ferengi haven't been involved in a major war in thousands of years because of their ability to negotiate with everyone.

Regarding Enterprise, 42-minute compared to the previous 45-minute episodes of Star Trek hurt the philosophical aspects of the show. The rugged sticktoitiveness of Enterprise wore thin quickly and I got tired of seeing the command staff constantly captured. I was okay with the premise of seeing the building of the Federation, but I've grown weary of human-centric Star Trek.

Regarding TNG, I do not like that Dr. Crusher and Counselor Troi are relegated to nurturing and advisory positions for the entirety of the show. I do not like how Wesley's relationship to all of the male characters is presented as more important than his to his mother (his surviving parent). At this point, however, I don't end up watching TNG or TOS as much anymore because of its episodic nature. I much prefer engaging with shows with a long-term sense of an arc about where their characters are headed and their motivations for their actions.

Re: Star Trek Thread

Posted: Sat Mar 18, 2017 4:24 pm
by Sarge