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Star Trek: Enterprise – Anomaly (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 August, we’re doing the third season. Check back daily for the latest review.

Anomaly continues the sense that the third season of Star Trek: Enterprise is essentially a new first season of the show.

That is most obvious in the way that the script works hard to establish the ground rules of the Expanse. There is a sense that the episode is very clearly establishing rules and plot points that will come into play later in the run. Anomaly not only explains why mining for trellium-D is such a profitable enterprise; explaining that ships without it are susceptible to all sorts of strange distortions to the laws of physics. Anomaly also introduces the spheres, strange structures that will become a key part of the third season’s mythology.

A good man goes to war...

A good man goes to war…

The show is also marking out ground for later exploration. Anomaly becomes a lot more potent in hindsight, with various decisions here reversed in later episodes. In Anomaly, Archer is a victim of piracy; in Damage, he is forced to commit piracy. In Anomaly, Archer tortures a prisoner in order to procure information that he needs; in Countdown, Hoshi is tortured by Dolim in order to procure information that he needs. It is not entirely clear whether these plot beats were figured out ahead of time, but – like the destroyed Xindi home world in The Xindi – they lend the third season a nice sense of moral symmetry.

Most interestingly – and, perhaps, most pointedly – Anomaly represents a clear return to two very early episodes of the first season. The script of Anomaly touches quite overtly on plot points from Fight or Flight and Strange New World. In some ways, it could be seen as a belated do-over.

Sparks fly...

Sparks fly…

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Non-Review Review: The Pirates! In An Adventure With Scientists (Band of Misfits)

This review was embargoed until 14th March.

There’s a lot of charm to The Pirates! In an Adventure with Scientists (or Band of Misfits, if you’re so inclined). Aardman Animation might be best known for their distinctive (and beautiful) claymation style, but the studio also has some very sharp writers providing great concepts, ideas and scripts for their madcap films. Pirates! is no different, taking a fairly conventional setting with a fairly conventional central moral, and just throwing absolutely everything against the wall. The result is a genuinely endearing and more-than-a-little madcap family adventure.

A cut above the rest?

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The Adventures of Tintin: The Secret of the Unicorn (Review)

To celebrate the release of The Adventures of Tintin: The Secret of the Unicorn in the United States later this month, I’ll be taking a look at some of nineties animated television show. Check back daily!

Note: This is our review of the animated episode, check out our review of the book here and our review of the film here.

I have to admit that I was never a big fan of The Secret of the Unicorn. I know it’s strange, given how much praise and respect the film gets in various critical circles, and near universally high esteem that fans of the series seem hold for the adventure. I don’t hate it, and I don’t dislike it. I am just not especially fond of it, especially compared to some of the adventures around it. While the animated adaptation does make the case for The Secret of the Unicornas a solid Tintin adventure, I do have to be a bit disappointed with the transfer quality on the blu ray disc.

If it ain't broke...

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Doctor Who: The Curse of the Black Spot (Review)

Arriving just in time for the latest Pirates of the Caribbean movie (On Stranger Tides), Doctor Who has decided to go all pirate on us – even adopting the episode title The Curse of the Black Spot, to mirror The Curse of the Black Pearl. What we get feels genuinely like “Old School” Doctor Who, with the action confined to a very tight remote location, some corny (but effective) special effects and advanced technology masquerading as superstition. I suppose it was inevitable that a “monster of the week” episode would feel like a bit of a letdown after the superb Day of the Moon, but – while fun – The Curse of the Black Spot never really feels essential.

Not quite a wash-out...

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Who Puts Anti-Piracy Warnings on Legitimate DVDs?

Something just occurred to me while I was working through my Family Guy DVDs over the weekend. I was just learning to hate the damn piracy advertisements – you know the ones, with the “You wouldn’t steal a… [insert noun here]” ones – and I wondered what the hell are these things doing on a DVD I paid good money for. I forked out money over the counter for these bad boys, why do I have to sit through these painful little snippets every damn time I put them in the player? You can’t even skip them on some DVDs! Seriously, what’s the point of having an anti-piracy advertisement on a legitimate DVD? “We know you won’t do it, but in case you were thinking about it…” or “we know you care enough about the industry to buy a legitimate copy, but here’s a lecture anyway…”? It’s like lecturing about truancy at a school meeting or handing out condoms to elderly couples. It’s redundant and it’s annoying. Surely money would be better spent advertising on the web or on television or outside in media where people you buy pirate media are likely to actually see it, rather than simply irritating those of us buying originals.

I’m sorry, that just really ticks me off.