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Star Trek: Deep Space Nine – The Magnificent Ferengi (Review)

In some ways, The Magnificent Ferengi serves as a logical end point for the Ferengi.

It is, after all, the last good Ferengi episode of the Berman era as a whole. The Dogs of War is not terrible, but it has serious problems. It looks much better following on from the double-header of Profit and Lace and The Emperor’s New Cloak, which rank among the worst episodes of Star Trek: Deep Space Nine ever produced. Then again, it is not like the other Star Trek series had much better luck, with Inside Man on Star Trek: Voyager and Acquisition on Star Trek: Enterprise also falling flat. However, there is more to it than that.

The comedy really Pops here.

The comedy really Pops here.

The Magnificent Ferengi is an episode that revels in one of the franchise’s most reviled recurring alien species, serving as a grand celebration of the work that Ira Steven Behr has done with the Ferengi since The Nagus during the first season of Deep Space Nine. This is reflected within and without the text. The Magnificent Ferengi is  about a band of Ferengi who finally get to be the heroes of their own weird little war story. However, it’s also a celebration of how well-developed the species is that the episode has seven distinct major Ferengi characters.

Indeed, it could reasonably be argued that the best thing about The Magnificent Ferengi is that it puts a cap on the Ferengi as a concept, rendering any further Ferengi episodes completely superfluous to requirement.

Sharp wit.

Sharp wit.

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The X-Files – Small Potatoes (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.

Darin Morgan’s absence haunts the fourth season of The X-Files.

According to Frank Spotnitz, Darin Morgan had originally hoped to contribute a script in the middle of the season. Unfortunately, that idea fell through. The scramble to fill that gap in the schedule led to Memento Mori, which ultimately became the centre of the fourth season’s mythology arc, for better or worse. Scully’s cancer arc was just one result of the Darin-Morgan-shaped hole in the fourth season. Small Potatoes is another, the show’s first real “comedy” episode since Morgan departed the staff at the end of the third season.

A sting in the tale...

A sting in the tail…

Darin Morgan often gets credit for introducing the concept of comedy to The X-Files. That is not entirely fair; Glen Morgan and James Wong wrote Die Hand Die Verletzt shortly before Darin Morgan wrote Humbug. However, Morgan did refine the idea of comedy on The X-Files. Darin Morgan won an Emmy for writing Clyde Bruckman’s Final Repose, and he still considers Jose Chung’s “From Outer Space” to be among the best things that he has ever written.

Despite Morgan’s departure, it was clear that The X-Files could not completely avoid comedy. Once a show has demonstrated that it can do something particularly well, it becomes very difficult to stop doing that thing. Comedy episodes became something of a staple on The X-Files, with the show regularly churning out light-hearted and funny episodes (with varying degrees of success) until the show was finally cancelled after its ninth season. However, there was a long stretch after Morgan departed where the series seemed quite grim. Somebody would have to go first.

The inside, looking out...

The inside, looking out…

So Vince Gilligan stepped up to bat. Gilligan had been on staff for a bout a year at this point. He had quickly established himself as one of the most promising young writers in the room. While his first script for the show – Soft Light – was arguably more interesting than successful, Gilligan enjoyed an incredible hot streak when he joined the staff. Pusher, Unruhe and Paper Hearts are among the best scripts of the third and fourth seasons. With Small Potatoes, he seemed to position himself as the logical successor to Darin Morgan.

Darin Morgan even appears in Small Potatoes to pass the metaphorical baton.

"Here's Mulder!"

“Here’s Mulder!”

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What if the Best Picture Posters Told the Truth?

Truth be told, I’m a little behind this week. I took a trip down to Sligo at the weekend and I’m preparing for a film noir blogothon next week (stay tuned). So posting this week may be a little… scattershot. Anyway, in a nice way to tie into those wonderful BAFTA poster redesigns from last year, this year we have – courtesy of theshiznit.co.uk – a simple question: what if this year’s Best Picture nominees told the truth, up front? Instead of vague names like Winter’s Bone or Inception or The Fighter… well, that last one’s pretty spot on… but what if the movies just told you everything you needed to know, on the poster? They might look like this…

(click to enlarge)

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The Simpsons Myth: Was It Really That Much Better in the Past?

It’s one of those things that, repeated often enough, becomes the truth. The Simpsons were funnier in the old days. In fact, limping into its twenty-first season, there are probably die-hard fans out there looking for what they might deem a “mercy killing” from Fox, and the vast majority of us have just really stopped watching. However, as I went back this week and re-evaluated all the Futurama movies, it got me thinking: is it really fair to make the argument that The Simpsons aren’t as good as they once were?

It's a tough balancing act...

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Non-Review Review: Step-Brothers

Is just me, or are the Judd Atapow machine comedies getting crasser and crasser? Sure, The 40-Year-Old Virgin and Knocked Up weren’t exactly incredibly clean pieces of comedy, but they certanly demonstrated far more maturity than most of the recent output from that particular comedy factory – for better or worse. It’s just hard to find bodily function jokes and profanity funny for their own sake, and – if that is the measure of humour these days – that sort of humour is a dime-a-dozen these days. That’s not to say that Step-Brothers is entirely without charm (it has more than a few engaging moments), but just that it seems to think that appealing to the lowest common denominator is a legitimate form of comedy when it can’t think of anything better to do.

Brothers in arms...

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Navan Cinema Describes Bruno as “Vile”…

The Diamond Cinema in Navan have a… shall we say unique way of advertising their cinema listings. On ringing up today I heard the voicemail message informing me what time they were airing Bruno at and offering some advice for perspective audience members…

Now, Bruno is particularly vile. It leads to a hell of a lot of complaints from people who say, ‘We didn’t think it was that bad’. It is that bad, it will offend every prejudice in the book, believe me so don’t come on after the film and tell us how horrible it was.

One or two people have enjoyed it though.

The news is apparently doing the rounds. My brother has seen it and says it isn’t that great and it seems to have gone out of fashion fairly quick in the United States (dropping 40% between Friday and Saturday). People are telling me that it’s just not that funny. Ah well. This made my day and reminded me why it’s great to live in Ireland.

Vile?

Vile?

Christian Bale & Johnny Depp’s Set Diaries from Public Enemies!

I’m not a big fan of posting stuff I find on-line at the blog (I’ll generally link to the article and offer my own reaction to it), but this was too fun to pass up:

Television Without Pity has this lovely photo journal contrasting Christian Bale and Johnny Depp’s approach to making Public Enemies. Click the link or the picture. It is one of the funniest film-related articles I’ve read in quite some time.

Check out our own review of the film here.

Then we stopped by a Steak n Shake for a Steakburger (I love those fucking things), but the waitress forgot my fucking chili. I knew it was going to be a problem when she didn't fucking write anything down. "It's all up here!" she said. FUCKING LIAR. How does someone get to become a waitress without the ability to remember a fucking order?

"Then we stopped by a Steak n Shake for a Steakburger (I love those f@!?ing things), but the waitress forgot my f@!?ing chili. I knew it was going to be a problem when she didn't f@!?ing write anything down. "It's all up here!" she said. F@!?ING LIAR. How does someone get to become a waitress without the ability to remember a f@!?ing order?"