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101. A Star is Born (#182) – This Just In

Hosted by Andrew Quinn and Darren Mooney, and with special guest Stacy Grouden, This Just In is a subset of The 250 podcast, looking at notable new arrivals on the list of the 250 best movies of all-time, as voted for by Internet Movie Database Users.

This time, Bradley Cooper’s A Star is Born.

At time of recording, it was ranked the 182nd best movie of all time on the Internet Movie Database.

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Star Trek: Voyager – Death Wish (Review)

This February and March, we’re taking a look at the 1995 to 1996 season of Star Trek, including Star Trek: Deep Space Nine and Star Trek: Voyager. Check back daily Tuesday through Friday for the latest review.

Death Wish is an interesting beast.

On the one hand, it is a decidedly cynical cash-in. It is very much a crossover episode that exists to cement the ties between Star Trek: Voyager and Star Trek: The Next Generation, to the point where it not only features a beloved guest star who bookended the seven-year run of The Next Generation, but also a “special appearance” from the secondary lead of that show. It was also consciously moved around in the production order so it might air in February sweeps, and was heavily hyped as part of the network’s news cycle.

Qrossover!

Qrossover!

On the other hand, Death Wish is a fascinating episode on a number of levels. It is certainly the best of Q’s three appearances on Voyager, and certainly ranks among some of the character’s best work in general. Death Wish engages with a fairly hefty social issue of the nineties, as Janeway is embroiled in a debate about the morality of suicide. It also serves as a vehicle for writer Michael Piller to put his own version of Voyager on trial, with certain segments of the episode resonating quite clearly with the behind-the-scenes turmoil on the show.

Death Wish is a paradox of an episode. It is bold and daring on its own terms, but it is also cynical and coy. It is an example of Voyager actively steering into its reputation as “Next Generation Lite”, which will cause a lot of problems for the show down the line. This is a shame; Death Wish is actually quite interesting on its own merits.

The road to nowhere...

The road to nowhere…

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Star Trek: Enterprise – E² (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.

Conventional wisdom treats as a bump in the road between The Forgotten and The Council, an episode that could easily be skipped on a marathon rewatch of the season. The argument suggests that the episode ultimately provides little meaningful information and advances the season’s over-arching plot by inches. The most critical of fans will consider an episode that saps the momentum out of the final run of the third season, preventing a clear home run between Azati Prime and Zero Hour.

This is certainly true from a plot-driven perspective. It would be easy enough to trim from the twenty-four episode season order without anybody batting an eyelid. At least Shran gets to make a cameo appearance in Zero Hour, while Lorian fades into discontinuity and non-existence. Like so many time travel stories, the final act of conveniently erases itself from existence. This just reinforces the sense that nothing that happened actually mattered in the grand scheme of things.

It's like looking in a mirror...

It’s like looking in a mirror…

This is another example of the complications that tend to come with serialised storytelling. The conventional way of telling a long-form story is to drive it via plot – to have a clear path along which the characters might advance with a number of clear markers along the way. In the case of the third season of Star Trek: Enterprise, the launch of the Xindi weapon is an obvious marker; it is a plot point which the show must address before the end of the season. As such, the show’s serialisation is typically measured by whether it moves the crew in relation to that plot point.

doesn’t move the crew appreciably closer to that plot point. There is a miniature hurdle for the crew to overcome (getting into the subspace corridor to make the meeting with Degra), but it is very clearly just window-dressing on a plot that is very clearly more interested in the time-travel dynamics of having the Enterprise crew meet their descendants. The same narrative ground could have been covered by having Degra accompany Archer to the Xindi Council at the end of The Forgotten.

He's all ears...

He’s all ears…

However, plot is not the only thing important to long-form storytelling. Theme and character are just as important, as The Forgotten demonstrated. The biggest problem with is that it is a plot-driven episode of television that advances the season’s thematic and character arcs, but with a story that is disconnected from the season as a whole. Which is a shame, because the thematic and character dynamics are fascinating. This is the perfect point at which to confront Archer with the idea of legacy and consequence; to ask what kind of future might lie ahead.

As with a lot of the scripts for the third season, feels like a meditation on Enterprise‘s relationship with the rest of the franchise and where it stands at this point in its run.

"Worf and Dax neve rhad to put up with crap like this."

“Worf and Dax neve rhad to put up with crap like this.”

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The X-Files – Gethsemane (Review)

This February and March, we’re taking a trip back in time to review the fourth season of The X-Files and the first season of Millennium.

Agent Mulder died late last night from an apparent self-inflicted gunshot wound to the head.

– Agent Dana Scully, 22nd October 1997

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The X-Files – Demons (Review)

This February and March, we’re taking a trip back in time to review the fourth season of The X-Files and the first season of Millennium.

The fourth season of The X-Files is an oddity.

That is particularly true when it comes to the show’s mythology. Not only has any sense of narrative progression stalled after the “to be continued…” hook of Talitha Cumi, the fourth season seems to branch the mythology out in multiple directions that never really get anywhere. Tunguska and Terma introduce a Russian conspiracy that quickly becomes a footnote. Tempus Fugit and Max focuses on private military contractors who are never mentioned again. Memento Mori gives Scully cancer halfway through the season, and the rest of the year tries to catch up.

A cigarette-smoking spectre...

A cigarette-smoking spectre…

Demons is an episode that sits rather awkwardly as the penultimate episode of the season. An episode about Mulder undergoing aggressive therapy to recover lost memories seems a little out of place with everything else going on around him. After Memento Mori, you would imagine he would be worried about Scully. After Zero Sum, you imagine he would be wary about putting himself in a vulnerable position. Demons feels very much like it would make a good first season episode, a product of the time when Samantha Mulder was our lead’s primary driving motivation.

Instead, Demons sits awkwardly before the big season finalé with its own clear agenda. Scully’s closing monologue is clearly designed to lead into Gethsemane as almost a four-part season-bridging epic. However, the execution feels a little too haphazard, a little too casual, a little too disorganised. Demons feels less like the lead-in to an earth-shattering story and more like a script designed to plug a gap late in the season.

"Hey, look on the bright side, this time next year, you'll be in a psychiatric institution."

“Hey, look on the bright side, this time next year, you’ll be in a psychiatric institution.”

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