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Star Trek – Journey to Babel (Review)

The first Star Trek pilot, The Cage, was produced in 1964. To celebrate its fiftieth anniversary, this December we are reviewing the second season of the original Star Trek show. You can check out our first season reviews here. Check back daily for the latest review.

Journey to Babel is pretty influential, as episodes of Star Trek go. It is an episode that really cements idea of the Federation that came to be at the heart of the franchise, suggesting that the organisation really is a diverse intergalactic alliance of diverse alien species, rather than a union between Earth and Vulcan. More than that, the episode suggests that the individual members of the Federation might not exist in perfect harmony with one another, but may each operate with their own agenda and motivations.

However, what is really remarkable about Journey to Babel is how much of this unfolds in the background. All this world-building and -embellishing is very much a secondary concern for writer D.C. Fontana. Despite its scale and its scope, Journey to Babel is a decidedly personal story about a family in crisis. It works remarkably well, offering viewers a bit more insight into Spock as a character and where he came from.

Party on, Gav...

Party on, Gav…

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Star Trek: The Next Generation (DC Comics, 1989) #47-50 – The Worst of Both Worlds (Review)

This November and December, 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.

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

The Worst of Both Worlds, as the name implies, is an excuse to revisit one of the pivotal moments of Star Trek: The Next Generation. (Go on, guess which one!) Unfortunately, it’s not quite up to the task – a failing down to both to the scripts from Michael Jan Friedman and the artwork from Peter Krause. It winds up feeling like an interesting idea, given a rather lackluster execution, working best as a study of the impact that the show’s third season cliffhanger had on the franchise.

A time warp...

A time warp…

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Star Trek: The Next Generation – Sarek (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.

Sarek is a rather wonderful episode of Star Trek: The Next Generation. It’s a celebration of the franchise’s history, but without being overwhelmed by the weight of continuity. It’s also a heart-breaking story about an old man coming to terms with his mortality, assessing the legacy that he leaves behind and the future he had hoped to shape. The beauty of Sarek, then, is the way that the episode ties these two threads together – offering a rather touching metaphorical exploration of Gene Roddenberry’s own influence on the franchise and his own deteriorating health.

Back to the future...

Back to the future…

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Star Trek – Sarek by A.C. Crispin (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.

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

One of the more interesting things about the expanded Star Trek universe is the diversity. It is possible for supporting characters and guest stars to carry their own narratives and stories within the grand sweeping tapestry of the Star Trek universe. Despite his importance to the mythos, Mark Lenard’s Sarek only made a handful of appearances across the history of the franchise. He only appeared once in the entire classic Star Trek television show, in Journey to Babel.

It is a testament to Mark Lenard’s dramatic abilities and D.C. Fontana’s writing that Sarek would recur across Star Trek: The Animated Series, Star Trek: The Next Generation and even the original Star Trek movies. The character – despite only appearing in a supporting role across four televised episodes and four feature films – remains one of the most intriguing supporting characters across the franchise.

A.C. Crispin’s Sarek offers a fascinating glimpse at one of the show’s most compelling guest stars, even if the novel does suffer a bit trying to “fix” some of the problems that the author seems to see in Star Trek VI: The Undiscovered Country.

tos-sarek

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Non-Review Review: Star Trek (2009)

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 was not in a healthy place at the end of the first decade of the twenty-first century. The last film, Star Trek: Nemesis, had been box office poison – partially due to the terrible script and direction, and partially due to the monumentally stupid decision of opening it during a winter season including The Lord of the Rings: The Two Towers, Harry Potter and the Chamber of Secrets and Die Another Day.

On television, things hadn’t been much brighter. Ratings had been in decline since Star Trek: Voyager hit the air, and Star Trek: Enterprise went through both a re-tool and a creative shift before becoming the first Star Trek television show since the eighties to be cancelled before running a full seven seasons. Even the most ardent Star Trek fan would have to concede that the franchise did not appear to have a bright future at that point in time.

And yet, against all odds and despite all the goodwill the franchise had lost, JJ Abrams and Paramount managed to reinject both an energy and a vitality into the film, producing one of the best blockbusters of the decade.

A commanding Enterprise....

A commanding Enterprise….

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Star Trek Special #1 (1994) – The Needs of the One (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.

In many ways, the Star Trek movies feature more character development and exploration for the cast than the entire three seasons of the television show. Star Trek III: The Search for Spock and Star Trek IV: The Voyage Home are true ensemble pieces, but there’s also more of a sense that this is a family rather than a bunch of people who just hang out together. I’d argue that the cast of Star Trek: The Next Generation remain the tightest ensemble that the franchise has ever produced, but the first six movies portray the crew of the original Enterprise as a bunch of people who have been to hell and back together.

Michael Collins’ The Needs of the One represents a bit of an interlude between The Search for Spock and The Voyage Home, taking place during the crew’s three month “Vulcan exile.” While Collins’ script suffers from its inability to decide whether it’s a Spock-centric character drama or a day-in-the-life of the renegade crew, it’s a fascinating story situated in a lacuna of the movies’ chronology. It cements the idea that Spock has been radically altered over the course of the film series, and that his character arc spans the first four films.

Indeed, Collins’ opening sequence tying together his failure to achieve Kolinahr in Star Trek: The Motion Picture with his decision to once again rejoin the crew in The Voyage Home.

When all Kirk asked for was a tall ship, he probably should have been more specific...

When all Kirk asked for was a tall ship, he probably should have been more specific…

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Non-Review Review: Star Trek IV – The Voyage Home

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.

Up until the release of JJ Abrams’ Star Trek in 2009, Star Trek IV: The Voyage Home was the most successful of the Star Trek films. Indeed, it ranks alongside Star Trek II: The Wrath of Khan as the film which has most deeply dug itself into the popular consciousness. “I’m from Iowa; I only work in outer space” might not be as iconic a quote as “KHAAAAAAN!!!”, but a lot of people casually remember “the one with the whales.”

The fourth film in the series closes off an inter-connected trilogy of Star Trek films, wrapping up character development for the leads and tying up loose ends, but it’s also – somewhat paradoxically – the most accessible of the movies. If you’re looking for an introduction to Star Trek, it’s hard to think of a more welcoming entry than The Voyage Home. However, what’s really strangely charming about The Voyage Home is that it’s also probably the film truest to the franchise’s humanist values.

Ship off the starboard bow!

Ship off the starboard bow!

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