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Star Trek: Voyager – Demon (Review)

Demon is an episode with some interesting ides that cannot make up for a lackluster execution.

The writing staff on Star Trek: Voyager had been playing with the idea at the heart of Demon for quite some time. It had been a candidate for the third season finale, before Brannon Braga settled upon the story that would become Scorpion, Part I. It was considered for a mid-season two-parter, but the writing staff could never come up with a way to make the story work; Year of Hell, Part I, Year of Hell, Part II, The Killing Game, Part I and The Killing Game, Part II were all written to fill gaps left by a story that refused to materialise.

Spaced out…

As such, there is a faint scent of desperation to Demon. The episode arrives in the final stretch the fourth season, at a point when the production team is very clearly fatigued and where writers are generally desperately grasping for anything resembling a workable story. The harsh production cycle of television means that the start of a twenty-six episode season can be planned over the summer hiatus, but that the tail end of the season is typically assembled on the fly. This is the stretch of the season where even Star Trek: Deep Space Nine produces Profit and Lace or Time’s Orphan.

The problems with Demons are compounded by the fact that it is very obviously a budget-conscious show. While it features a number of elaborate computer-animated sequences, it also films primary on standing sets and features no credited guest stars. The result is a curiously plodding show, one full of extended dialogue scenes that inform neither plot nor character, and which feel like a conscious attempt to sideline the more ambitious elements of the story. The result is the waste of an interesting idea on a forgettable episode.

Something’s wrong here, though Torres can’t quite put her finger on it.

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The Lone Gunmen – Diagnosis: Jimmy (Review)

This October/November, we’re taking a trip back in time to review the eighth season of The X-Files and the first (and only) season of The Lone Gunmen.

Diagnosis: Jimmy is another formulaic piece of episodic television.

To be entirely fair, this is a logical part of any first season. While the production team is trying to figure out the identity of a young show, it makes sense to apply templates that have worked in the past. It was an approach that The X-Files adopted in its early seasons, with episodes drawing from popular and successful films. This worked out quite well in some cases, with Ice offering a skilled take on The Thing while Beyond the Sea played with The Silence of the Lambs to great effect.

A lotta lolly...

A lotta lolly…

With that in mind, it seems perfectly reasonable for The Lone Gunmen to attempt something similar. Writer John Shiban compared Eine Kleine Frohike to The Ladykillers. The characters within Maximum Byers all but acknowledged that it was the obligatory “prison episode.” If the writers don’t have to worry about the basic story ideas and beats, there is more room to develop character and flavour. With that in mind, Diagnosis: Jimmy positions itself as a twofer. It is both the standard “hospital” episode and a gigantic homage to Rear Window.

Unfortunately, it’s not a particularly inspired piece of television.

Fox has got the show in their sights...

Fox has got the show in their sights…

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Star Trek – The Immunity Syndrome (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.

The Immunity Syndrome is an underrated masterpiece, the first genuine classic overseen by producer John Meredyth Lucas.

It is bold, brilliant and more than a little bit weird. This is Star Trek as pure sixties science-fiction. It is a psychedelic ecological tale focused on mankind’s place in the larger universe. It doesn’t just pit the Enterprise against a giant space amoeba, it suggests that the universe itself is a singular gigantic organism, a complex system in which the Enterprise is just one part. The Immunity Syndrome is weird and wonderful, eerie and beautiful in equal measure. It is one of Star Trek‘s most effective encapsulations of the sixties.

Freak out!

Freak out!

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