• Following Us

  • Categories

  • Check out the Archives









  • Awards & Nominations

Star Trek: Voyager – Displaced (Review)

The Star Trek franchise has a reputation for being liberal and open-minded.

After all, the franchise is very much rooted in an extension of Kennedy-era liberalism, with the “final frontier” very much an extension of Kennedy’s “new frontier.” It is a franchise that is supposed to celebrate “new lifeforms and new civilisations” that it meets on “strange new worlds”, embracing the alien and celebrating diversity. The franchise is rooted in a utopian version of the future that has been portrayed as at least mostly socialist dating back to Star Trek: The Motion Picture at the latest.

The end is Nyrian.

The end is Nyrian.

However, there are also points at which Star Trek could be considered to be reactionary and conservative. The original Star Trek was nowhere near as progressive on matters of race and gender as many would claim. The first two seasons of Star Trek: Enterprise frequently played as endorsements of politics of the Bush era and the fear of the unknown. The third season of Star Trek: Voyager has been particularly conservative in its outlook; consider the treatment of sex in Blood Fever or Darkling, of the traditional family in Real Life, of globalisation in Unity.

Displaced is perhaps the most striking example, an episode that is essentially a forty-five minute treatise on the risk posed by immigration.

Damn space immigrants, clogging up our space hospitals.

Damn space immigrants, clogging up our space hospitals.

Continue reading

Star Trek – Elaan of Troyius (Review)

This July and August, we’re celebrating the release of Star Trek Beyond by taking a look back at the third season of the original Star Trek. Check back every Monday, Wednesday and Friday for the latest update.

The strangest thing about Elaan of Troyius is just how influential the episode is.

In many respects, Elaan of Troyius codified Journey to Babel as a genre of Star Trek episode unto itself, the kind of story where the crew find themselves assigned the task of ferrying foreign dignitaries around while intrigue and pseudo-science happens around them. This would become something of a template in the early years of Star Trek: The Next Generation, even carrying over to Star Trek: Deep Space Nine and Star Trek: Voyager. Lonely Among Us, Loud as a Whisper, The Price, The Forsaken, Remember.

The Dohlman wants YOU!

The Dohlman wants YOU!

However, in that respect, Elaan of Troyius was simply extrapolating from Journey to Babel by demonstrating that the franchise could employ this basic storytelling model with some frequency. The innovations in Elaan of Troyius are in grafting a “sexy alien babe” narrative into that existing “ferry around” template, which would lead to future stories like The Perfect Mate, Precious Cargo or Bound. In some respects, it was prefigured by Mudd’s Women, an earlier episode about women who exert an unnatural influence over our male lead(s).

The influence of Elaan of Troyius over the rest of the franchise is quite simply astounding. Particularly given how terrible it is.

Elas, my love, it is time to go...

Elas, my love, it is time to go…

Continue reading

The X-Files (Topps) – Ground Zero #1-4 (Review)

This May and June, we’re taking a trip back in time to review the fifth season of The X-Files and the second season of Millennium.

Ground Zero offers an indication of just how much success Topps was enjoying with their line of licensed X-Files comic books.

The monthly series was still being published, and Season One was on a bimonthly schedule. Both books had stable creative teams, and there was no indication that they were likely to wrap up any time soon. Of course, Topps would pull of the comic book market in late 1998, but there was no indication that they considered their X-Files line to be anything other than a complete success. As such, it made sense to expand the line. After all, the company had already used the brand to sell annuals and digests.

Eye see all...

Eye see all…

However, there was reportedly a considerable amount of friction between Topps and Ten Thirteen over the comic book line. Ten Thirteen was reportedly quite firm in what they would and would not allow to be published. Writers John Rozum and Stefan Petrucha have talked about how difficult it was to get their scripts published for the monthly series. It seems that Topps was eager to work around these restrictions. It is telling that neither Season One nor Ground Zero were original concepts; they were adaptations of ideas and stories Ten Thirteen had already approved.

Ground Zero is written by veteran tie-in author Kevin J. Anderson. Anderson had already written a number of popular X-Files tie-in books and had provided a fill-in arc on the monthly comic book with Family Portrait. The artwork for Ground Zero is provided by Gordon Purcell, one of the best likeness artists in the business. Publishing a four-issue adaptation of a tie-in novel is the very definition of a “safe” choice to expand the line, and only illustrates some of the wasted opportunities towards the end of Topps’ stewardship of the license.

Doomsday clock...

Doomsday clock…

Continue reading

The Mandarin Candidate: Legacies From A By-Gone Era

Jon Favreau has effectively confirmed that “the Mandarin” will be the villain for Iron Man 3. Of course, the fact that this particular opponent has been the character’s arch nemesis means that we would have expected him on celluloid long before this – most superhero movies take great joy in using the archnemesis for the original film, after all (Batman Begins managed to just about do without the Joker, but arguably only because he’d already done Batman). Part of the reason it may have taken so long to transition this particular character to the big screen may have something to do with his origins: essentially the character is a yellow peril villain (as the name implies), who was arguably long out of date when he was introduced, let alone now. Favreau has, diplomatically, acknowledged that the character is going to take great care to get ready for a film role, and it got us thinking: how do we deal with long term and iconic characters who may reflect concepts that we aren’t particularly comfortable with right now?

Yep, this doesn't conjure up any unfortunate implications at all...

Continue reading

Hollywood & The Race Lift

I had to represent. Cause they had one good role for a black man, and they gave it to Crocodile Dundee!

-Alpa Chino, Tropic Thunder

Earlier in the week, Cinematical ran an article on M. Night Shyamalan’s new film, Avatar: The Last Airbender. For those unaware, the movie is an adaptation of a hit anime, long due a trip to the screen – I hope it ends up either significantly better than, or significantly trippier than, Speed Racer, the most recent such attempt (seriously, it’s what I imagine really hard drugs are like). Of course, this being Hollywood, Shyamalan has secured a predominantly white cast for his film. Well, except for one of the major roles, which will go to Dev Patel. The fact that that role is the role of the villain probably doesn’t help none, nor does the fact Patel was only the second choice. So why does Hollywood insist on the race lift?

Is the cast ethnicity a sticking point?

Continue reading

The District 9 Racism Debate Rages On…

Looks like the District 9 race row is far from over. On Tuesday, The Guardian ran an article defending the portrayal of the Nigerian gangsters in the film, amidst the rising pressure to get an apology from the film makers. While I have my own reasons for believing the film isn’t racist – check out our review – I’m not entirely convinced by the article in question.

Prawn-rights groups were unavailable for comment...

Prawns Rights groups were unavailable for comment...

Continue reading