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Star Trek – Arena (Review)

To celebrate the release of Star Trek: Into Darkness this month, we’ll be running through the first season of the classic Star Trek all this month. Check back daily to get ready to boldly go. It’s only logical.

Arena is a fascinating piece of Star Trek, because it’s such an iconic and important piece of franchise history, despite the fact that it’s far from the best that the show has to offer. Indeed, the basic premise of the show is rather generic science-fiction B-movie stuff. Kirk is forced to compete against a lizard-like alien by some god-like beings to ensure the survival of his crew. The script, by producer Gene L. Coon, is credited to a story written by Fredric Brown. Despite its similarities to Brown’s short story of the same name, Arena also shares quite a few plot points with a 1964 episode of The Outer Limits, Fun & Games. None of this is to suggest that Coon was consciously channelling these sources when he wrote the teleplay, just to illustrate how generic the basic plot is.

However, despite (or perhaps because of) this rather straightforward and familiar set-up, Arena is a truly memorable episode of Star Trek. Like quite a few other episodes of the original Star Trek, the episode produced images and concepts that have resonated well outside Star Trek fandom, to the point where elements like the Gorn or Kirk’s highly dubious improvised weapon will be recognisable to people who have never actually seen the episode. However, the episode is also vitally important to the Star Trek franchise itself, as it offers a more thorough expansion and exploration of the back story that has been inconsistently hinted at throughout this first season. Arena is really the first episode to feature a fully-formed framework for the internal logic of the Star Trek universe, one that has informed half-a-century of the franchise.

Plus, you know, Kirk wrestles a lizard man.

Don't pretend you aren't loving every minute of this, Shatner!

Don’t pretend you aren’t loving every minute of this, Shatner!

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Star Trek: The Next Generation – Requiem by Michael Jan Friedman & Kevin Ryan (Review)

To celebrate the release of Star Trek: Into Darkness this month, we’ll be running through the first season of the classic Star Trek all this month. Check back daily to get ready to boldly go. It’s only logical.

We’ll be supplementing our coverage of the episodes with some additional materials – mainly novels and comics and films. This is one such entry.

At the risk of stating the obvious, Star Trek is a franchise spanning almost half-a-century with six leading actors and five different television shows. Due to its nature, one of the more enjoyably fanboy-ish pastimes is attempting to reimagine various confrontations and encounters, swapping out the characters involved. How would Kirk have responded to the Borg? Would Sisko have been ideally suited to dealing with the Xindi threat? What if Janeway faced the Doomsday Machine? Different characters have different defining moments, and those moments often play to their particular strengths. It might be fun to watch Khan spar with Picard, but it probably wouldn’t work as well as it did with Kirk. Q and Kirk would probably have difficulty striking it off.

Still, Kirk’s confrontation with the Gorn in Arena stands as one of the most iconic moments in the whole of the franchise, to the point where the weird toga-wearing god-like being at the end barely gets a look-in. Indeed, based on Sisko’s fanboy gushing in Trials and Tribble-ations, it seems to be one of Kirk’s defining moments within the shared Star Trek universe. So it might be fun to take Captain Jean-Luc Picard, and put him through that same sort of confrontation.

tng-requiem

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Star Trek – The Galileo Seven (Review)

To celebrate the release of Star Trek: Into Darkness this month, we’ll be running through the first season of the classic Star Trek all this month. Check back daily to get ready to boldly go. It’s only logical.

It’s amazing to think that only now, almost half-way through the first year of Star Trek, the show is doing a Spock-centric episode. Spock is an iconic and instantly recognisable part of Star Trek lore, to the point that Leonard Nimoy’s version of the character served as the link between the classic series and JJ Abrams’ 2009 reboot of the franchise. The character appeared in The Cage, the very first episode of Star Trek ever produced. He is perhaps even more iconic than James T. Kirk himself.

So it feels slightly weird, then, that The Galileo Seven should serve as the first episode of the series completely devoted to Spock as a character, pushing Jim firmly to the background as we get a look at Spock’s first command experience.

Talk about carrying dead weight...

Talk about carrying dead weight…

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Star Trek – The Conscience of the King (Review)

To celebrate the release of Star Trek: Into Darkness this month, we’ll be running through the first season of the classic Star Trek all this month. Check back daily to get ready to boldly go. It’s only logical.

The Conscience of theKing continues the work of Balance of Terror in fleshing out the fictional universe of Star Trek. While the first few episodes of the show gave little thought to this universe’s shared history and our characters’ origins, The Conscience of the King offers us a glimpse into the past of Captain James T. Kirk. Like Dagger of the Mind, another episode borrowing its title from Shakespeare, it builds off the suggestion that humanity is still a long way from perfection, and that the fact we have reached the cold expanse of space does not mean that our troubles can be left entirely behind. In contrast to some of Roddenberry’s later decisions about the Star Trek franchise, it is clear that utopia is a path, and not a clear destination.

His mask is slipping...

His mask is slipping…

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Star Trek – Vulcan’s Glory by D.C. Fontana (Review)

To celebrate the release of Star Trek: Into Darkness this month, we’ll be running through the first season of the classic Star Trek all this month. Check back daily to get ready to boldly go. It’s only logical.

We’ll be supplementing our coverage of the episodes with some additional materials – mainly novels and comics and films. This is one such entry.

I’ve never really felt too strongly one way or another about continuity. I never got too upset about Klingon forehead ridges, or the fact that Khan somehow remembered Chekov from an episode that took place before he joined the Enterprise. I’ve always found the use of the term “canon” to describe the shared continuity as more than a little indulgent or absurd. I consider some of the better tie-in novels I have read to be a worthy part of the Star Trek universe, regardless of the fact that they may not fit, or they may contradict what was depicted on-screen. I’ve never been too tightly tied to the notion that something is “important” or “in continuity” among this 700-episode franchise.

Still, I can’t help but feel like there’s something almost legitimate about Vulcan’s Glory. It is a novel from writer D.C. Fontana, who served as script editor and writer on the classic Star Trek show, and is regarded as one of the guiding lights of the franchise. She went on to write for both Star Trek: The Next Generation and Star Trek: Deep Space Nine. Given her importance to the show over its extended history, anything Fontana writes about it is worthy of note. Indeed, Vulcan’s Glory was originally published in 1989 and was reissued in 2006 for the franchise’s fortieth anniversary.

Even to somebody reluctant to consign “importance” or “worthy” to a tie-in based on outside factors, the story of Spock’s first mission on board the Enterprise, written by one of the strongest writers of the original Star Trek and a guiding influence on the franchise, still jumps out as a pretty important book.

vulcansglory

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Saw Franchise Dies a Painful Death…

What makes this particular painful about this story is that they’ve caused all the fuss over director Kevin Greutert over what is essentially a lame duck film. You could make the case that the writing’s been on the wall for the Saw franchise since the second movie which began a steep decline into ridiculous torture porn (so I enjoyed the first one, so sue me) or even since the last one which underperformed financially. Which is tough to do on a film that has a budget of your average 1970s Doctor Who serial, to be frank. Anyway, despite the seemingly large investment that making Saw VII in 3D would seem to represent (even crappy 3D ain’t cheap), it looks like Lionsgate are calling it a day. Saw VII will be the last of the franchise.

Brace (geddit?) yourself...

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Star Trek Sequelitis – Who We Want to See

Never afraid to jump on the bandwagon, we were so impressed by the movie that we’ve seen, we thought we’d write a list of the aliens and creatures that we want or don’t want to see in the proposed sequel. Part of me really hopes that JJ Abrams continues to breath originality back into the series, but there are also a lot of very cool aliens out there in the big Star trek universe. Here are a few of the many, many characters and species we can see being considered for an appearance.

Balok was shocked he didn't make the list...

Balok was shocked he didn’t make the list…

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