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Star Trek: Deep Space Nine – Terok Nor #0 (Review)

Star Trek: Deep Space Nine is twenty years old this year. To celebrate, I’m taking a look at the first season. Check back daily for the latest review or retrospective.

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

Terok Nor might be the best of Malibu Comics’ Star Trek: Deep Space Nine range, a one-shot written by Mark A. Altman and illustrated by Trevor Goring. It isn’t so much the plot that makes Terok Nor so distinctive – there is a lot of running around, some betrayals, some action sequences – but rather the execution of Altman’s story and the atmosphere provided by Goring’s pencils. The origin story of the space station Terok Nor, Altman very shrewdly frames the story as something of an oral history. It’s almost mythic and grand and epic, drawn in broad strokes rather than finer detail.

It serves quite well as the story of the construction of the central hub of the Star Trek show most concerned with legacy and history.

A monument to the Bajoran people...

A monument to the Bajoran people…

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Star Trek Special #2 (DC Comics, 1994) – A Question of Loyalty (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.

A Question of Loyalty is essentially a Star Trek character study, comparing and contrasting the two young Vulcan female characters to appear in the film franchise, providing a meeting between Valeris and Saavik, Spock’s two young protegés. The production history of Star Trek VI: The Undiscovered Country is interesting, as there were early plans to include Saavik. For a variety of reasons, this didn’t work out and director Nicholas Meyer and his writers decided to cast a new role, Valeris. A Question of Loyalty allows the two characters to come face-to-face, and offers both some character motivation for the under-developed Valeris and a fond farewell for Saavik.

Her ears are tingling...

Her ears are tingling…

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Star Trek – Ex Machina by Christopher L. Bennett (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.

Ex Machina is really an astoundingly clever piece of work. On the surface, a lot of reads like a fan’s wishlist, a collection of “snags” made while watching the classic Star Trek films and making a conscious effort to fix them up a bit. There’s a lot of effort into explaining the changes between Star Trek: The Motion Picture and Star Trek II: The Wrath of Khan, with character-centric subplots focusing on Kirk’s ego or Chekov’s growing disenfranchisement.

Indeed, Bennett even provides an entirely unnecessary but quite-enjoyable-nonetheless set of annotations for Ex Machina, explaining where and how he’s tying his story into a rake of continuity. He describes Ex Machina as probing “an unexplored gap” in the franchise’s chronology. Ex Machina exists as both a sequel to a rather bland third-season episode of the show (For the World is Hollow and I Have Touched the Sky) and The Motion Picture. Neither is especially loved among fans.

However, what’s fascinating about Ex Machina is the way that none of this prevents Bennett from crafting a compelling and intriguing narrative. It’s clear that he’s enjoying attempts to fill in various gaps, but Ex Machina works incredibly well as a piece of Star Trek which stands on its own two feet.

st-exmachina

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Non-Review Review: Star Trek – The Motion Picture

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.

Star Trek: The Motion Picture has a lot to recommend it. It’s big, thoughtful science-fiction, ripe with ideas and high-concepts tying directly into the root of the franchise. It gives both Kirk and Spock clear character arcs. It looks and sounds amazing, demonstrating just how far special effects had evolved in the decade since the show went off the air. However, it suffers from a pace that might best be described as “glacial”, and a sense that – for all the grand ideas – we aren’t really boldly going anywhere that new. Elements of the film can’t help but recall both the 1968 science-fiction classic 2001: A Space Odyssey and even the show’s own episode The Changeling.

While it’s easy to admire The Motion Picture, it’s a lot harder to enjoy it.

Strange new worlds...

Strange new worlds…

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Star Trek – The Squire of Gothos (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 easy to see why The Squire of Gothos has become such a Star Trek touchstone. The show is iconic, but there are particular images and ideas that resonate beyond the core fanbase. Captain Pike’s wheelchair from The Menagerie is one such example, as is the fight with the Gorn from Arena. It’s amazing that Star Trek could produce so many memorable and distinctive images so quickly. Trelane might not have the same name recognition, or even the same pop culture cache, but The Squire of Gothos makes quite an impression.

Indeed, the image of a god-like being acting like a spoilt child, dressed in all manner of period military clothing is a great visual, and it’s little wonder that Roddenberry would return to that idea when he was writing Encounter at Farpoint, the first episode of Star Trek: The Next Generation. Similarly, The Squire of Gothos is one of the major influences on Futurama‘s superb parody/homage, Where No Fan Has Gone Before, right down to the wonderful “twist” ending that has been spoiled by almost half-a-century of pop culture osmosis.

Still, even apart from its massive influence on pop culture, The Squire of Gothos is still a fantastic piece of television, and an example of Star Trek at its very best.

It's hip to be squire...

It’s hip to be squire…

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