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Deep Space Nine at 25 – The Most Multicultural of (Star) Treks

Star Trek: Deep Space Nine is the first (and perhaps only) multicultural Star Trek.

Ironically, Deep Space Nine is often derided by traditionalist fans for eschewing core Star Trek principles. Deep Space Nine was the first (and only) Star Trek series to unfold on a space station rather than a space ship, boldly sitting rather than boldly going. More than that, Deep Space Nine was the first Star Trek series to embroil the Federation in an active war, notwithstanding the Klingon or Romulan Cold Wars nor the Cardassian Wars that retroactively took place during the early seasons of Star Trek: The Next Generation.

However, in a very real and substantial way, Deep Space Nine was also the Star Trek series that hewed most closely to the humanist principles of Gene Roddenberry’s Star Trek. It could reasonably be argued that Deep Space Nine simply made an effort to interrogate and to explore premises that Roddenberry never properly considered. At its core, Star Trek had always been about embracing the unknown with open arms and about learning that what was different was not always scary or monstrous. Deep Space Nine embraced that.

Deep Space Nine was not a series about a bunch of explorers looking “to boldly go” in any literal sense, but about a bunch of characters struggling to fundamentally understand “new life forms and new civilisations.” More than the other Star Trek series, Deep Space Nine was about embracing other cultures and values, about recognising that differences could enrich as much as divide, and that there was no single “right” way build a better world. Deep Space Nine is an ode to humanism and compassion, embodying many of the virtues other Star Trek shows nod towards.

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Millennium – 5-2-2-6-6-6 (Review)

This February and March, we’re taking a trip back in time to review the fourth season of The X-Files and the first season of Millennium.

It is interesting to compare and contrast the scripts that Morgan and Wong wrote for the fourth season of The X-Files with the scripts that they wrote for the first season of Millennium. The duo were writing for both shows at the same time – with episodes frequently airing within a week of each other. Morgan tended to focus more on the four X-Files scripts, while Wong worked primarily on the three Millennium episodes. While the seven scripts are all fascinating in their own way, there is a marked difference in how the duo approach the two shows.

Their four episodes of The X-Files are very bold and experimental – they look and feel utterly unlike anything that the show has done; before or after. These four scripts seem to needle at the show, pushing it further. Home seems designed to see how much unpleasantness the writers can get on to Fox prime time in the nineties. The Field Where I Died is a thoughtful and melancholy romance with no companion in the X-Files canon. Musings of a Cigarette-Smoking Man parodies the show’s central conspiracy. Never Again makes the Mulder/Scully dynamic toxic.

Having a blast...

Having a blast…

That makes a great deal of sense. After all, The X-Files was in its fourth season. It was approaching that impressive “one hundredth episode” landmark, the number of episodes necessary before the show would be secure in syndication. (At least in the television landscape of the nineties.) Although less than half-way through its eventual nine-season run, The X-Files was an old dog by this stage of its life cycle. As such, it made a great deal of sense for Morgan and Wong – two writers who had been there at the beginning – to shake things up.

In contrast, the three scripts that Morgan and Wong wrote for the first season of Millennium are a bit more conservative in scope and tone. They are fascinating pieces of television that help to establish the mood of the show, but they are not as experimental of the work that Morgan and Wong were doing on The X-Files. Again, this makes a great deal of sense. Millennium was still a very young show. It was still defining its own identity, figuring out what it wanted and needed to be. Morgan and Wong’s three scripts are essential in that development.

Taking a page from the Group...

Taking a page from the Group…

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Star Trek – Bread and Circuses (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.

Bread and Circuses is not subtle. Then again, that is the point.

There’s a lot of interesting stuff happening in Bread and Circuses, the fourteenth episode produced for the second season, but the last to air. There’s the idea of a world dominated by “a twentieth century Rome”, a rogue captain, a Prime Directive dilemma and a scathing indictment of modern television. Not only is it one of the last episodes with a “produced by Gene L. Coon” credit, it is also an episode co-written by Roddenberry and Coon. It is also the episode of Star Trek that endorses Christianity most explicitly and heavily.

"Wait, we're only getting it in black and white?"

“Wait, we’re only getting it in black and white?”

Bread and Circuses is a bold and audacious piece of television, full of venom and righteous anger, rich in satire and cynicism. It’s a plot so ridiculously over-stuffed with good ideas that viewers are liable to forgive the show’s somewhat cop-out ending where Kirk and his away team beam back to the Enterprise and continue on their merry way as though little has actually happened. Bread and Circuses feels like it uses every minute of its fifty-minute runtime wisely, balancing character with world-building.

It is probably a little bit too messy and disjointed to be labelled a dyed-in-the-wool classic, particularly when compared to the shows produced around it. Nevertheless, it is a decidedly ambitious piece of work, and one that demonstrates what Star Trek could do when it sets its mind to something.

When in Rome...

When in Rome…

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Non-Review Review: The Armstrong Lie

The Armstrong Lie is about a lot of things. It’s nominally about Lance Armstrong’s attempted come back in 2009, and then about how it was all one big lie once the doping allegations became impossible for the athlete to deny. Those are, in a way, the least interesting aspects of Alex Gibney’s documentary. Instead, the film works best as an exploration of power and vested interest, as well as an exploration of narrative and how that narrative is manipulated and shaped to suit agendas.

thearmstronglie1

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We’re an Irish Blog Awards Finalist…

Wow…

I have no idea what to say. We have somehow, against incredible odds, been singled out as one of the five best pop culture blogs based in Ireland by the Irish Blog Awards.

Artist's rendition of author's emotional state right now. Note: Knowledge of method acting techniques might be slightly exaggerated.

To give you an idea of the kind of talent we’re up against, check out my fellow nominees, most of which are longterm fixtures of the Irish Blogging Landscape. I used to read several of these long before I even dreamed of starting up my own little corner of pop-culture-stream-of-consciousness. It’s a cliché to say you’ve been nominated against your idols, but it’s true. A less smaltzy way of saying the same thing is say that, if you can judge a man by the measure of his opponents, we must be doing something right. Check them out:

And a quick shout out to all the dudes and dudettes who took the time to judge. Not just this blog, but the hundreds of others. That takes a lot of patience and we’re glad you all put the time in. Thanks.

And check out our category’s sponsor, Insure.ie. They’ve also invested a lot of time and faith in this whole blogging thing and it’s great to see web companies – particularly Irish webcompanies – investing in an Irish online community. Thanks.

I’ve been emotional enough here, I reckon. I just want to say that I never really imagined that this blog would every really come to much when I started it last May. It was just a place for my random rants about whether bloggers should be considered legitimate critics or whether Hollywood respects its elderly stars. I want to just thank every person who takes the time to read a post – whether they think I’ve somehow said something that might be relevent or they think I’m talking out of a hole other than my mouth – and those who have shown support and encouragement. Yes, you. The person reading this now. Thank you.

And I want to thank those who put up with all my mindless real-world-based, pop-culture-related ranting for years before I started this. You guys know who you are. Especially my significant other. Who has the patience of a saint. Thank you all. 

I’m probably overdoing it, but I figure – in honesty – I’m punching above my weight in this category, and this post feels like the appropriate place for the well-deserved ‘thank you’s. I am honoured and chuffed to have made it this far at all. It has been a pleasure – I hope some people have enjoyed this half as much as I have. I hope to be attending the ceremony in Galway next Saturday, which should be a great night.

I’m going to say it once more: wow.

Blessed are the Geek, For They Shall Inherit the Earth…

It’s a good time to be a nerd. When exactly did it happen? How did Star Trek become cool again? When did nearly half of all blockbusters find their roots in the oft-mocked comic book artform? When did Comic Con become a major event in the Hollywood calendar? When did it become truly hip to be square?

Haute culture?

Haute culture?

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