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Star Trek: Enterprise – Strange New World (Review)

Next year, Star Trek is fifty years old. We have some special stuff planned for that, but – in the meantime – we’re reviewing all of Star Trek: Enterprise this year as something of a prequel to that anniversary. This January, we’re doing the first season. Check back daily for the latest review.

Strange New World is the first episode of Star Trek: Enterprise to come from a writing team other than Brannon Braga and Rick Berman. Berman and Braga would dominate the writing credits for the first season. Even when the final teleplay was credited to another writer or writing team, there was often a “story by” credit given to Berman and Braga. Braga himself has conceded that he essentially re-wrote all of the episodes of the first season.

Still, Strange New World is credited to the writing team of Mike Sussman and Phyllis Strong. Both had worked on Star Trek: Voyager before migrated to Star Trek: Enterprise along with André Bormanis. Sussman had pitched the story for Meld and worked on a number of solo stories and scripts before teaming with Strong on the seventh and final season of the show. The two would remain a writing team for the first two seasons of Star Trek: Enterprise, hitting their stride with some of the strongest episodes of the troubled second season.

Picture perfect...

Picture perfect…

Strange New World is an interesting début for the pair. On the hand, it is a story that celebrates the unique place of Star Trek: Enterprise in the Star Trek pantheon. It’s a story about how great it must be to set foot on an alien planet, and how wondrous it must be to breath air from outside our atmosphere. With its emphasis on shuttlepods and primitive transporters, it does remain relatively true to the prequel premise of Enterprise.

On the other hand, Strange New World is a very familiar Star Trek template. Indeed, it’s a very familiar first season template. It’s the episode where the crew of the ship are exposed to some strange outside force that makes them all act out of character. It’s something of a Star Trek standard. The original Star Trek had The Naked Time and Star Trek: The Next Generation had The Naked Now, while Star Trek: Deep Space Nine had both Babel and Dramatis Personae. In many ways, Strange New World feels like a familiar old story.

Strange yellow daisy fields forever...

Strange yellow daisy fields forever…

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Tintin: The Crab With the Golden Claws (Review)

In the lead-up to the release of The Adventures of Tintin: The Secret of the Unicorn, I’m going to be taking a look at Hergé’s celebrated comic book character, from his humble beginnings through to the incomplete post-modern finale. I hope you enjoy the ride.

The Crab With the Golden Claws is the first of three Tintin stories that were used as the basis of Steven Spielberg’s upcoming The Adventures of Tintin: The Secret of the Unicorn (the other two being, obviously, The Secret of the Unicorn and its sequel, Red Rackham’s Treasure). The Crab With the Golden Claws was originally written during the Nazi occupation of Belgium, when Hergé feared that his then on-going storyline The Land of Black Gold would have proved too politically charged for the country’s new governing force. So the adventure was essentially written as filler, a bit of light entertainment to take the minds of his headers as far away from the political reality as possible. And it certainly succeeds as one of the lighter and brisker adventures in the series, with one major addition to the franchise’s mythos in the form of Captain Archibald Haddock.

This could be the start of a beautiful friendship...

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Tintin: The Blue Lotus (Review)

In the lead-up to the release of The Adventures of Tintin: The Secret of the Unicorn, I’m going to be taking a look at Hergé’s celebrated comic book character, from his humble beginnings through to the incomplete post-modern finale. I hope you enjoy the ride.

The Blue Lotus is regarded as something of a turning point for Hergé’s boy reporter. The cartoonist, apparently urged by those close to him, decided that – rather than basing his depiction of China on a collection of pop culture stereotypes (as he had done in Tintin in America) – he would undertake a considerable amount of research in order to ensure that the story was as respectful and faithful to Chinese culture as might have been possible. Indeed, the Chinese boy who Tintin befriends, Chang Chong-Chen, is named in honour of one of the students who helped him in coming to understand the Far East.

East of Eden...

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