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Star Trek – The Deadly Years (Review)

The first Star Trek pilot, The Cage, was produced in 1964. To celebrate its fiftieth anniversary, this December we are reviewing the second season of the original Star Trek show. You can check out our first season reviews here. Check back daily for the latest review.

“Accelerated ageing” is one of those classic science-fiction tropes. It’s one of those stock element that can be easily baked into an episode – like “evil duplicate” or “body theft.” It instantly adds drama, gives the actors something to do, and offers a chance for the make-up team to work on something that might be considered a bit more prestigious than aliens. It pops up on shows as diverse as Stargate SG-1 and The X-Files.

Within the Star Trek franchise, the trope shows up a couple of times. The Deadly Years is the most obvious example, but it also shows up during the first two years of Star Trek: The Next Generation, when that show was trying hardest to channel its direct predecessor. Too Short a Season inverted the trope to give us “accelerated de-ageing”, while Unnatural Selection played it entirely straight.

A wrinkle in the timeline...

A wrinkle in the timeline…

The Deadly Years is an episode that doesn’t quite work as a cohesive whole, although if its populated with some intriguing moving parts. There is a sense that the writing staff are trying to plug perceived gaps in the story by throwing everything they have into the mix. Some of these are good ideas, some of these are already so familiar that they feel like Star Trek clichés at what marks the halfway point of the original production run.

There are several elements here that would arguably support their own episodes. On top of the idea of the crew ageing rapidly, we get the wonderful dramatic hook of Spock trying to prove Kirk unfit for command – a plot point that never feels like it gets enough focus. However, we also get another “incompetent/crazy/stupid senior official” plot heaped on top to provide a suitably dramatic climax to the episode. And the Romulans return, albeit as generic heavies. The Deadly Years is a mixed bag at best.

"She's... well, you get the idea..."

“She’s… well, you get the idea…”

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Non-Review Review: Calendar Girls

Calendar Girls is that sort of wonderfully quirky comedy that only the British can pull off. Based on the true story of a bunch of Yorkshire middle-aged women who stripped off for a calendar to raise funds for the local hospital, it’s a wonderfully wry and witty sort of tale that can really be split into two halves: the first exploring the societal pressures and prejudices which surrounded the construction of the calendar and the second an exploration of the consequences of the fundraiser’s success. While the first half is certainly more entertaining than the second, it’s a charming and endearing little film.

Get a load of those buns...

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In This Day and Age? The IMDb/DoB Fiasco…

Sometimes I’m amazed at how Hollywood works. Sometimes I’m disappointed. This time, I’m both. Part of me enjoys the stories tear open the seedy underbelly of how Hollywood really operates and reveals the sort of corruption that would make a hard-drinking monologuing private detective blush. Paying Variety to make a negative review disappear, for example. Now it appears that actors are fighting the geeky paradise of the Internet Movie Database in order to get their dates of birth removed from the pages.

According to his resume, he's only 27...

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Do We Live in the Age of the Forty-Something Leading Lady?

Jennifer Aniston’s romantic comedy The Bounty Hunter may not have quite set the US box office alight last weekend (coming third behind Alice in Wonderland and some film even I’ve never heard of), but she’s still one of Hollywood’s biggest name leading ladies currently on film – and I don’t see that changing. And she’s 41 years old. Sandra Bullock, that darling of the nineties romantic comedy, spent last year reaffirming her golden touch, with the surprising-even-by-the-standards-of-the-genre romantic comedy The Proposal and an Oscar-winning role in The Blind Side. There was also a Razzie-winning role in All About Steve, but she even managed to use that to demonstrate that she is still one of the queens of Hollywood. And she’s 45 years old. Are the attitudes towards women – particularly leading women – changing in Hollywood?

Is Aniston on a winning Streep?

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Growing Old in Hollywood…

Is it possible for an actor to age gracefully? The Guardian has been very fruitful in providing food for thought this week and the article that grabbed my attention today is a discussion of Heath Ledger’s potential had his life not been cut so tragically short. I don’t intend to dwell on what could have, should have or would have been, but the article does raise some interesting assertions about the ageing of great actors:

If you want to propose Pacino, De Niro and Nicholson as the outstanding figures of the 70s and 80s, who can be resigned about what has happened to them? They have become pastiches of what they once were.

So, is that what really awaits our truly great actors at the end of their careers?

Grumpy - but cool - old men...

Grumpy - but cool - old men...

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