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Star Trek: The Newspaper Strips – Beware the Omnimind! (aka Restructuring is Futile) (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.

As brilliant as the Borg were when they were introduced in Q Who?, they were hardly the most original of constructs. The cybernetic aliens went on to become one of the most iconic and recognisable pieces of Star Trek lore, featuring in the most popular Star Trek: The Next Generation feature film and all the subsequent spin-offs, but it’s tempting to give the Borg a bit more credit than they’re due.

After all, cybernetic organisms were hardly cutting edge in 1989. In fact, this wasn’t even the first time that Star Trek had told this kind of story. In late 1981, the Star Trek news paper strip that had begun as a companion piece to Star Trek: The Motion Picture, featured a similar adversary for Kirk’s Enterprise.

Resistance is futile!

Resistance is futile!

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Star Trek: The Next Generation – The Measure of a Man: Extended Cut (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.

This is a rare treat.

The Measure of a Man is generally regarded as one of the best episodes that Star Trek: The Next Generation ever produced, and a crown jewel in the entire Star Trek franchise. As such, it’s a prime candidate for this sort of lavish restoration treatment, with the blu ray collection featuring not only the televised version of the episode, but a special extended edition.

This extended edition was the version originally filmed and edited together, until the production team realised that it ran almost a quarter-of-an-hour over the slot allocated to the show on syndicated airing.

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Star Trek: The Next Generation – The Measure of a Man (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.

Ah, The Measure of a Man.

It’s the first point in the run of Star Trek: The Next Generation where we’ve reached an episode that could legitimately be ranked as one of the best that the show would ever produce. Even today, the episode remains a favourite of Star Trek fans around the world, and a superb demonstration of what the series is capable of. Almost half-way into the second season, we get a glimpse of what The Next Generation could be, and how it balance its own identity against the proud philosophical traditions of its parent series.

It’s also quite brilliant.

A Data with destiny...

A Data with destiny…

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My 12 for ’13: Star Trek Into Darkness & Fighting for the Future…

This is my annual countdown of the 12 movies that really stuck with me this year. It only counts the movies released in Ireland in 2013, so quite a few of this year’s Oscar contenders aren’t eligible, though some of last year’s are.

This is number 6…

Star Trek Into Darkness won’t win any awards for scripting or plotting. It’s very hard to succinctly explain the various overlapping evil plans directed by the movie’s two competing villains – who knows what at which point, and how that makes sense in the context of their objectives. Star Trek Into Darkness is a bit of a hot mess when it comes to storytelling – an overly convoluted plot that spends far too much time homaging what come before, when it should be boldly going somewhere new.

And yet, despite that, there is an ambition to Star Trek Into Darkness, a willingness to embrace big ideas and questions about cynicism and optimism, about hope and fear, about the attitude that people adopt towards the future. At the most basic level, that’s what Star Trek is. Into Darkness doesn’t have the same space as a television show to delve into those questions, nor to offer the same degree of nuance.

However, it’s a willingness to ask them that is quite endearing.

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Star Trek – Music of the Spheres by Margaret Wander Bonanno (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.

Music of the Spheres is something of a legend in Star Trek circles. It’s not quite a ghost story, spoken of in hushed whispers. Indeed, author Margaret Wander Bonanno has made the manuscript available to interested fans via her website, and has used it to raise money for a variety of worth causes. She’s documented the difficult story of how her original novel warped in Probe in a wonderfully wry and insightful essay, offering a glimpse at the inner workings of Pocket Book and Paramount towards the end of the eighties.

It’s a rare peek behind the curtain, with Music of the Spheres serving as a compelling vehicle to explore just what was going on inside Star Trek licensing in the late eighties and early nineties.

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Star Trek (DC Comics, 1984) #7-8 – Saavik’s Story (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.

Star Trek comics are an interesting way of catching a glimpse at the franchise one-step away from the heart of production. While there are other forms of tie-in media, comics are produced on a monthly schedule. While scripts need to be written and art needs to be drawn, there’s less lead-in time required, meaning that contemporary Star Trek comics are often able to react dynamically to on-screen events. While novels might take up to a year from original pitch to the time they hit the stands, there’s something rather more urgent about tie-in comic books.

This is an issue for many tie-ins comics. For example, the syndicated Star Trek newspaper strip launched shortly before the release of Star Trek: The Motion Picture made a point to feature Ilia as a bridge officer on a relaunched USS Enterprise. She rather suddenly disappeared after those involved actually saw the movie and realised that she didn’t quite survive the adventure. Similarly, when it came to detailing the adventures of Kirk and company in the wake of Star Trek III: The Search for Spock, writer Mike W. Barr moved the crew over to the USS Excelsior, in accordance with writer Harve Bennett’s original plan.

That said, Mike W. Barr’s comic book origin story for Lt. Saavik holds up rather well, fitting quite comfortably with Carolyn Clowes’ origin for the character offered in the superb 1990 book The Pandora Principle. Of course, Barr’s origin sketches the broadest of outlines, and is clearly more preoccupied with crafting a pulpy space opera adventure.

Saving Saavik!

Saving Saavik!

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Star Trek – Season 1 (Review)

To celebrate the release of Star Trek: Into Darkness this month, we’ll be running through the first season of the classic Star Trek all this month. Check back daily to get ready to boldly go. It’s only logical.

That came together rather well, didn’t it? With the current success of Star Trek as a blockbuster movie franchise, it’s fun to speculate about the show possibly returning to television. Being honest, I would be nervous about that. In this cut-throat age where ratings need to solidify (or start rising) almost immediately, I wouldn’t trust the first season of a Star Trek spin-off to rope in viewers quick enough. None of the Star Trek spin-offs, from The Next Generation through to Enterprise, had what could be considered “strong” first years. Occasionally there were a few classic episodes buried in there, as with Deep Space Nine, but it always seems to take a Star Trek show some time to find its “space legs”, so to speak. Time that I am not sure it would be afforded in the current market place.

Which makes it all the more spectacular that Star Trek itself started out so phenomenally. The first year of the show (and the franchise) is not only the best first season of any Star Trek show ever, it’s also in the running for the best of the thirty seasons of television that the franchise has produced. Not bad at all, considering that it seems like nobody had any idea what exactly they were doing when they started out.

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