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Star Trek: Enterprise – Divergence (Review)

This May, we’re taking a look at the fourth (and final) season of Star Trek: Enterprise. Check back daily for the latest review.

Given the general directions and interests of the fourth season, an episode like Divergence was inevitable.

Before Affliction and Divergence aired, the subject of “Klingon foreheads” was of great interest to a fandom that had noted the change in Klingon make-up between the broadcast of The Time Trap in November 1973 and the release of Star Trek: The Motion Picture in December 1979. In the years following the debut of the “forehead ridges” during the introductory sequence of The Motion Picture, the ridges became a source of curiousity and fascination for the fandom.

Things come to a forehead...

Things come to a forehead…

This curiousity was stoked by the franchise itself, most notably Star Trek: Deep Space Nine. Perhaps owing to the show’s engagement with its franchise roots, the production team teased out the dilemma on a number of occasions. Three classic Klingons – Kor, Koloth and Kang – actually gained ridges between their appearances on the original Star Trek and their reappearance in Blood Oath. Encountering flat-headed Klingons during Trials and Tribble-ations, the crew pushed Worf for an explanation. “We do not discuss it with outsiders,” he responded.

Given that the fourth season of Star Trek: Enterprise has been so fixated upon issues of continuity and history, it seems like it was only a matter of time before one of the season’s multi-episode arcs would be devoted to explaining what had originally been a quirk of make-up design and had evolved into one of the franchise’s most fun (and admittedly trivial) riddles.

Food for thought...

Food for thought…

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Star Trek: The Next Generation – The Emissary (Review)

This January and February, we’ll be finishing up our look at the second season of Star Trek: The Next Generation and moving on to the third year of the show, both recently and lovingly remastered for high definition. Check back daily for the latest review.

The Emissary is one of the stronger episodes from the tail end of Star Trek: The Next Generation‘s second season. An interesting meditation on heritage and race, as well as an insightful character piece for Worf, The Emissary is an interesting exploration of Worf’s relationship to his culture – and how his experience is far from universal. It’s the sort of story that The Next Generation should have been producing on a more consistent basis, but it’s better late than never.

Bonded by blood...

Bonded by blood…

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Star Trek – The Klingons: Starfleet Intelligence Manual (FASA) (Review)

This August, to celebrate the upcoming release of Star Trek: Into Darkness on DVD and blu ray, we’re taking a look at the Star Trek movies featuring the original cast. Movie reviews are every Tuesday and Thursday.

We’ll be supplementing our coverage of the movies with tie-ins around (and related to) the films. We’ll be doing one of these every week day. This is one such article.

The sheer wealth of supplemental material which exists for Star Trek is often quite stunning. While nowhere near the marketing juggernaut that Star Wars is, the depth of the Star Trek brand can’t help but seem impressive. On top of the television show and movies, there are novels and comics, but it goes even further than that. Models, blueprints, Christmas decorations, action figures, and even china dinner sets. It is occasionally awe-inspiring, but also quite intimidating.

Still, it’s interesting to witness how this extended material has come back to influence the “core” of the franchise. It’s not unheard of for spin-offs and tie-ins to help develop a core property. Kryptonite and Jimmy Olsen were added to the Superman mythos, for example, following their popularity on the radio show. Here we have some background material prepared for the FASA Star Trek role-playing game that was popular during the 1980s. As with a lot of this sort of stuff, it’s not really “canon” or “continuity” in anyway that seems to count.

However, The Klingons: Starfleet Intelligence Manual is interesting because it world-builds the franchise, explicitly in reference to John M. Ford’s vision of Klingon culture in The Final Reflection.

st-klingons-fasa

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Star Trek: The Next Generation – Loud as a Whisper (Review)

To celebrate the twenty-fifth anniversary of Star Trek: The Next Generation, and also next year’s release of Star Trek: Into Darkness, I’m taking a look at the recent blu ray release of the first season (and a tiny bit of the second), episode-by-episode. Check back daily for the latest review.

At the very least, Loud as a Whisper has its heart in the right place. At least of most of its run time. Essentially an issue-driven (and guest-star-driven) show that is determined to prove to the audience that a disability need not define a person, it’s a little undermined by a subplot where Pulaski and Geordi discuss the possibility of making the Chief Engineer “normal” again. However, once you get past the earnestness of it all, Loud of a Whisper seems a little clunky as television drama, with all manner of potentially interesting ideas that are never really explored. The result is a massively disappointing story that feels a bit like a clumsy after-school special.

What goes around...

What goes around…

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Star Trek: The Next Generation – We’ll Always Have Paris (Review)

To celebrate the twenty-fifth anniversary of Star Trek: The Next Generation, and also next year’s release of Star Trek: Into Darkness, I’m taking a look at the recent blu ray release of the first season, episode-by-episode. Check back daily for the latest review.

It’s hard to believe that we got this far into the show without a Picard-centred episode. Sure, the original Star Trek was reluctant to probe too deeply into Kirk’s background, but Star Trek: The Next Generation had already demonstrated that it was more willing to probe the histories of characters like Data (Datalore), Worf (Heart of Glory), Yar (Code of Honour and The Naked Now) and Troi (Haven). Star Trek shows, by they nature, tend to gravitate around their leading actor, and Patrick Stewart has been shown to hold the show together through sheer force of will at certain points. However, We’ll Always Have Paris marks the first time we’ve really delved that deeply into the character of Captain Jean-Luc Picard.

While we don’t peer nearly deeply enough, it’s fun to base an episode around Patrick Stewart, and time-travel was always a fun story-telling device on The Next Generation.

Picard's love life is solid as a rock...

Love on the rock…

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Star Trek: The Next Generation – Heart of Glory (Review)

To celebrate the twenty-fifth anniversary of Star Trek: The Next Generation, and also next year’s release of Star Trek: Into Darkness, I’m taking a look at the recent blu ray release of the first season, episode-by-episode. Check back daily for the latest review.

I think Heart of Glory is, ironically, one of the first times that Star Trek: The Next Generation is consciously trying to force its way out of the shadows of its illustrious predecessor. Episodes like The Naked Now and Justice felt like hold-overs from the classic sixties Star Trek, with little acknowledgement that the world (both inside and outside the show) had dramatically changed in the two decades since Star Trek appeared. I used the adjective “ironically”, because Heart of Glory actually sees the return of one of the most classic Star Trek aliens, and one of the most recognisable pop culture extraterrestrials.

The series bible famously stated the show had no real interest in going back to the Klingons, but Heart of Glory suggests that following up with the funky foreheaded aliens might have been the smartest thing that the first season did.

I am Klingon, hear me roar!

I am Klingon, hear me roar!

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