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New Podcast! Make It So – Season 2, Episode 8 (“Mercy”)

I am recapping Star Trek: Picard for The Escapist, and so was thrilled to join the wonderful Kurt North on Make It So: A Star Trek Universe Podcast to discuss the eighth episode of the second season, Mercy.

I have somewhat complicated feelings about Picard. There are parts of it that I love, and parts of it that I am a bit more skeptical about. One of the joys of coming into the podcast to discuss the episode was getting the chance to talk about the season as a whole, given how its various arcs were set up and how they paid off. It seems particularly opportune, given that Mercy is a somewhat stronger episode than those surrounding it.

Anyway, it was a huge honour to be invited on, and I hope you enjoy. You can listen to the episode here, or click the link below.

New Escapist Column! On How “Star Trek: Picard” Remixes “The Voyage Home”…

I published a new piece at The Escapist this evening. We’re doing a series of recaps and reviews of Star Trek: Picard, which is streaming weekly on Paramount+. The third episode of the second season released this week, and it seemed like a good opportunity to take a look at the series.

One of the interesting aspects of the second season of Star Trek: Picard has been the way in which it has been drawing more overtly from classic Star Trek tropes, with the season taking a number of cues from Star Trek: First Contact. With the third episode, the season reveals some method to this approach, offering a reframing of the movie’s basic premise that places a greater emphasis on the familiar narrative template employed by Star Trek IV: The Voyage Home.

You can read the piece here, or click the picture below.

New Escapist Column! On “The Wrath of Khan” and “The Voyage Home”, and the Soul of “Star Trek” in “First Contact”…

I published a new In the Frame piece at The Escapist this evening. Given that this month marks the 35th anniversary of Star Trek IV: The Voyage Home and the 25th anniversary of Star Trek: First Contact, it seemed like a good opportunity to take a look at their relationship within the Star Trek franchise – and how they connect to Star Trek II: The Wrath of Khan.

For many Star Trek fans, The Wrath of Khan remains the most beloved and most brilliant entire in the franchise’s cinematic canon. However, it’s notable that The Voyage Home was a much more populist hit, resonating with general audiences. For a decade following the release of The Voyage Home, it provided a template for the franchise for a decade. However, with the release of First Contact, the balance of power shifted. Suddenly, the franchise found itself caught in the gravity of The Wrath of Khan, which exerted a powerful gravity on the franchise’s direction and development.

You can read the piece here, or click the picture below.

Star Trek IV: The Voyage Home (DC Comics, 1986) (Review)

This June, we’re taking a look at some classic Star Trek movie tie-ins and other interesting objects. Check back daily for the latest reviews and retrospectives.

The comic book adaptation of Star Trek IV: The Voyage Home does a surprisingly good job of translating the comedy adventure into comic book form. Relying the creative team of Mike W. Barr and artist Tom Sutton to produce a one-shot comic book adaptation of the feature film, DC Comics have reached a point where they are able to consistently and reliably churn out comic books based around the Star Trek franchise.

Indeed, one might imagine that the somewhat lighter tone of The Voyage Home would pose a challenge for the duo, eschewing the grand space opera of Star Trek III: The Search for Spock in favour of something more firmly rooted in modern sensibilities. However, Barr and Sutton do a wonderful job adapting the screenplay into a charming comic, even if it does seem to be aimed more squarely at hardcore Star Trek fans than casual viewers.

Standing tall...

Standing tall…

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Star Trek IV: The Voyage Home by Vonda N. McIntyre (Review)

This June, we’re taking a look at some classic Star Trek movie tie-ins. Check back daily for the latest reviews and retrospectives.

Comedy doesn’t always translate well between different media. That’s not to suggest that comedy works better in one medium as compared to others, merely to contend that certain forms of comedy don’t translate perfectly between different media. It works any number of ways. Something that is funny in sound and vision is not necessarily hilarious in prose. Gags relying on delivery might play better with a seasoned performer than in the mind’s eye of a reader. Witty prose doesn’t always lend itself to narration or articulation on film.

Much of Star Trek IV: The Voyager Home plays as broad farce, following a bunch of time-travelers from the future (and refugees from television land) as they try to interact with the real world. The movie does have some wonderful character moments – notably Spock’s character arc that beautifully brings him a full circle and Kirk’s relationship with Spock – but it also plays the Star Trek ensemble in a highly caricatured manner, more as archetypes than fully-realised three-dimensional characters.

This is grand. After all, these are fictional characters rather than real people. After all stories are more than just excerpts from the biographies of fictional characters. While it’s nice to have consistent characterisation, suggesting that you can’t have Kirk and Spock acting in an exaggerated fashion for the sake of comedy is a very narrow and restrictive view of what Star Trek is or should be.

The Voyage Home gets the big character beats right – Spock’s insistence that the crew rescue Chekov, Kirk convincing Gillian to trust him, Spock “guessing” – that we can excuse the crew’s lack of awareness about a time period they have visited before and the general flippancy of the movie itself. The novelisation, however, is another matter. Vonda N. McIntyre clearly cares a great deal about the characters. That was one of the strengths of her work on the novelisations of the last two films. Here, however, McIntyre struggles to balance that with the tone of the story.

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