Saturday, May 21, 2022

Star Trek Discovery: How did it all go wrong? #RIPStarTrek

The problem with Star Trek Discovery is that much of it is good so we keep watching, but absolutely none of it is excellent.  Add to it a few political agendas that are in no way subtle, and you get a show that some people hate with a passion.  There is also little regard for continuity.  Star Trek Discovery shares all the same flaws of the Star Wars Sequel trilogy.  Both Star Trek and Star Wars already have played out their best ideas.  There are few new ideas, so we get much of the same but worse.  These shows are partial echoes of better shows that came before them.

The problem with Star Trek Picard is that it feels like a low-budget show despite them spending 8 to 9 million dollars per episode.   It has the same budget as Star Trek Discovery, but the product is barely passable as entertainment.  Occasionally it is okay but it barely rises above mediocre.

Neither of these shows has a season that I would want to watch a second time.  I've watched some classic Star Trek series multiple times, but there is nothing here that feels like it would be worth it.

Some people have lauded the new Star Trek series, Strange New Worlds, mainly because it doesn't suck. People applaud it for not being as bad as the two previous series.   However, I'm not sure.  So far, it is no better than Discovery and maybe has the same flaws.

In all these shows there is a serious lack of good characters.  Discovery comes close, but it is not on the same level as Star Trek The Next Generation or Star Trek Deep Space Nine.

Friday, May 6, 2022

Star Trek: Picard’s [Spoiler] Talks ‘Giant Secret’ Behind Character’s Shocking Finale Return

Wheaton spoke with CinemaBlend about Wesley's return to Star Trek with the Picard Season 2 finale, saying:

"I feel like the first time this was floated for me at all was a little less than a year ago, so maybe around June of last year. We had a couple of conversations about their ideas, and I was gonna say yes no matter what, obviously. But, the thing that I didn't expect, that remains thrilling to me, is that the way the official Star Trek canon now tells Wesley Crusher's story is exactly the Wesley Crusher story that has existed in my headcanon for over a decade. [Being] that he's effectively Star Trek's version of a Time Lord and I love that. I love it so much. I love Doctor Who like you wouldn't believe and I wanted to be The Doctor so bad. So now, Wesley kind of gets to be as close to that as I think we're gonna get in Star Trek. I was just beside myself."

Tuesday, April 19, 2022

Friday, April 15, 2022

Star Trek Picard - No More Reviews, I'm Out

I find it passable entertainment. I'm not saying it is great, but it has been just barely good enough to keep my interest. I applaud them for giving us more of these characters, even if it could have been something better.

The issue seems to be the same as in The Last Jedi where the fans didn't get the version of the characters that they wanted. That aside, the movie tells a pretty good story.

Picard reminds me of the 2001 Planet of the Apes movie. It was good enough to buy a ticket, but now hardly anyone remembers the movie because it lacked anything that would make it stand out.

Sunday, April 10, 2022

The Simpsons And The American Man: Bart Simpson Is The American Man

Some episodes of the Simpsons are more entertaining than others.  It is a series that I sort of liked, but never went out of my way to watch.

These days, I'm not sure how to define "The American Man".   We are a divided culture.  We are a mix of old and new, but the culture as a whole feels aimless.

Monday, April 4, 2022

Wait till your father gets home (1972) opening titles.

Long before the Simpsons, there was a prime-time animation show called "Wait till your father gets home."  I used to watch it from 1972 to 1974.  I remember it being funny.   It had an "All in the Family" type of story where the father is conservative but everyone else in the family is liberal.  

Tuesday, March 29, 2022

Star Trek Voyager


The show Star Trek Deep Space Nine probably would not have existed if it were not for the extreme popularity of the previous series, Star Trek The Next Generation.  Deep Space Nine was different enough, taking place on a space station instead of a ship, that many Star Trek fans rejected it initially, but the show won over most of them with its great characters, and it became my favorite Star Trek series.

The next series, Star Trek Voyager, returned to the space exploration theme, with a "Lost in Space" plot.  However, right away I felt like it was "Star Trek Light".  The first two seasons were a little on the dull side.  It started as a pretty bumpy ride and slowly got better over its seven seasons.  There was a change about 2/3 of the way through the second season when suddenly the show became much more entertaining.

You can tell from the ratings on the Internet Movie Database that Voyager improved over time.  The last two seasons have no bad ratings unlike the last two seasons of Star Trek The Next Generation which were starting to falter.

In Star Trek The Next Generation, Captain Picard was a great character because he was strong but also highly personable, but Captain Janeway doesn't come across as a person that I would want to spend much time with.  She is essentially the star of the show and is good as a strong female character, but I know that many fans didn't like her.

At the beginning of Season 4, Voyager takes on a new sexy Borg character, named "7 of 9".  One of the actors on the show, Robert Picardo, publically expressed dismay saying that the apparent plan was to get men in the audience to drool so much that they would forget to change the channel.  Apparently, it worked, but having a Borg character also added a great deal to the storylines.  With the addition of "7 of 9", they had to get rid of the character "Kes" played by Jennifer Lien.  Although Kes was a likable character, she wasn't very deep and they had done about all that they could do with her.

Whereas the characters in The Next Generation and Deep Space Nine were really great, only a couple of characters on Voyager really stand out.  The holographic doctor, played by Robert Picardo, and "7 of 9" got utilized more as time went on, crowding out other characters like Chakotay who was the second in command.  However, I never found Chakotay that interesting.

The Talaxian character Nelix has been described as the "Jar Jar Binx" of Star Trek.  Apparently, his character is supposed to be annoying for comic relief.  Although I liked the character, on rewatching the series he got on my nerves more.  Fortunately, Nelix matures over the course of the show, but he also becomes less important.  

The Vulcan character Tuvok, played very well by Tim Russ, deserves honorable mention, but there is only so much that you can do with a full-blooded Vulcan character that is not Spock.  However, he has some really interesting interactions with Nelix.

Later they added a precocious child character who was born on the ship named Naomi Wildman.  The little actress who played her, Scarlett Pomers, seems as good as most of the adults.  It is a delight to watch her interact mostly with 7 of 9, but also with the rest of the crew.

I did not think that I would enjoy watching Voyager again, as it is one of my least favorite Star Trek series.  I am happy to report that the show improved enough to redeem itself.

Star Trek Discovery

 I enjoy Star Trek Discovery, but it is a show that is seriously bogged down by its own hubris. The big difference between the critic and the audience scores on Rotten Tomatoes tells us how poorly it is being received by Star Trek fans. Whereas season 4 scores a whopping 92% by critics on Rotten Tomatoes, on the Internet Movie Database it is 5 out of 10 by the people who watch the show.

Star Trek Discovery Season 4

Star Trek Discovery has been controversial from the start.  Despite its eccentricities mostly in the form of overt wokism, I have defended it for its entertainment value.  It does have many good episodes, although it is a bit uneven.  Sometimes very bizarre choices are made due to some sort of political agenda.

Be it good or bad, every new season has been substantially different from the one before it.  The first season got so much backlash that there was a shakeup going into season 2 which gave us a series that more closely resembled classic Star Trek.  But this didn't last, as season 3 took us into completely new territory, and to a lesser extent so did season 4.

The Internet Movie Database has ranked every season 4 episode in the 5's, which on a 10 point scale is not good at all.  These are the lowest ratings the show has ever had.  I have actually enjoyed most of these episodes, but I am noticing a few problems.  Whereas the previous seasons gave at least equal time to female characters, season 4 is absolutely dominated by them.  The few male characters are either passive or rash hotheads.  It has become a starship of the Amazons.

The emphasis has shifted to conciliation over confrontation to a fault.  Every problem gets resolved by talking it out and hugging.

Last week's episode follows the storyline from previous episodes where one of the male characters for emotional reasons is pursuing revenge against an unknown but dangerous alien species.  This has the potential to destroy any kind of diplomatic resolution, and plunge the galaxy into war.  Naturally, the Federation has to stop him.  They send Captain Burnham to pursue him, who happens to be his girlfriend.  She is the last person who should be doing this, and as a result, she misses multiple opportunities to blow him out of the sky favoring negotiation instead.  She completely fails at her mission.  There are no consequences to this failure.  Instead, the episode ends with another hug.

This series is starting to feel like it is built on a house of cards.  It either has to change or completely collapse.  Some people said this from season 1, but it has never been more evident than right now.

Star Trek The Next Generation


I spent many months rewatching Star Trek The Next Generation after not having seen it for a decade or two.  I probably averaged about an episode per day.  I expected the show to be too dated compared to more modern shows, but this is only partially true.  It is the show that set the standard for every science fiction show that came after.  It has a mixture of many good shows and a few bad ones, but it also has many good things going for it ...

1.  It has a great set of characters.  In fact, I would say a perfect set of characters.  This is very helpful to the show because no matter what else is going on, the viewer wants to tune in every week just to see what happens to these people.

The only other Star Trek show that has equaled The Next Generation in terms of great characters is Star Trek Deep Speed Nine.  That show, in addition to having its own great characters, borrowed a couple of characters from The Next Generation series to maintain some continuity and to hedge their bet by giving the viewers characters that they already liked.

Other shows like Babylon 5, Star Trek Voyager, Star Trek Enterprise, and Star Trek Discovery have some interesting characters of their own, but their bench is not very deep.  There aren't as many interesting characters, and the series Star Trek Picard has at best just one interesting character, which is an older version of Picard from The Next Generation.

2.  The sets are gorgeous.  The inside of the ship Enterprise looks like a fun place to be and a place that you would want to visit every week.

3.  The special effects were great for their time, but still competent by today's standards.  There are times when some ships look like cheap models, but overall the special effects still work very well.

4.  The writing for the most part is very good.  The emphasis is on the characters and their interaction which is what worked well for the original Star Trek Series.

However, there are a few episodes that are duds and there are more of these in the final season.  It seemed like the show was running out of steam and it was time to bring it to a close.

This is a series that occasionally reaches moments of greatness, but the vast majority of shows I would describe as just good.  The episodic nature of the show makes it feel a little gimmicky, in that some life-threatening plot twist has to happen every week for the characters to overcome.  They keep inventing new threats, new technologies to counter those threats, and new forms of radiation good or bad.

Speaking of the series being episodic, this was good for people who want to tune in every week and not worry about having missed the previous week's show.  Except for some two-part shows, almost every episode stands on its own.  

However, later science fiction series became more *serial*, having plots that span entire seasons or multiple seasons. Star Trek Deep Space Nine improved from season 3 onwards by adopting a long-term story, although it would only visit that story occasionally. Babylon 5 was quite complicated having some story elements that would span multiple seasons. Individual episodes could be episodic, but there was a much bigger story lurking in the background. On the other hand, the immensely great TV show LOST was a serial from start to finish, with only a couple of individual episodes being standalone. Battlestar Galactica was also a fantastic series that benefited from being mostly serial. The rebooted Doctor Who had some epic plotlines that lasted multiple seasons.

The series finale, the double-length "All Good Things...", seemed fantastic at the time, although it is a time travel story that doesn't quite make sense.  It is a good send-off for the show.

Star Trek The Next Generation still holds up after 36 years, although in my mind just barely so.  It has since been surpassed by some more modern shows.  By comparison, almost all the Star Wars TV shows have been very good with The Mandalorian being truly extraordinary.

Star Trek and I Love Lucy

All Star Trek TV Series ranked (according to IMDB)

 1.  Star Trek: The Next Generation    8.7.

2.  Star Trek  8.4.

3.  Star Trek: Deep Space Nine  8.1.

4. Star Trek: Voyager  7.9.

5. Star Trek: Enterprise  7.6.

6.  Star Trek: Picard  7.5.

7. Star Trek: Discovery  7.1.

Star Trek - It's Dead, Jim

I think that Star Trek Discovery is passable entertainment.   Much of it is good, although parts of it are too woke.  I feel less attached to Star Trek Picard, but it barely keeps my interest  Both shows break with the more optimistic vision of Star Trek that Gene Roddenberry had.  They are more gritty.

Star Trek Deep Space Nine

Having watched most of the Star Trek Deep Space Nine for the 4th time, the question becomes what is it about this 26-year-old show keeps drawing me back?  Serial space shows tend to be soap operas at heart, but what makes this show really stand out is the great cast of characters.  As a spin-off of Star Trek The Next Generation, which had some great characters of its own, DS9 stole the character of Miles O'Brien from that show to give the new series some familiarity.  Three years later it would also bring on the character of Worf from TNG.  However, these two characters, along with most of the other characters, were to some extent either outcasts or misfits, all of which were wonderfully acted.  This created conflicts in the stories that Gene Roddenberry would never have allowed on Star Trek The Next Generation, which was a show that he wanted to represent a utopian future.  Because Deep Space Nine was willing to go places the previous series wouldn't, it created more interesting and in-depth stories.

The characters on Deep Space Nine are so good that when the series ends you feel like all these good friends of yours have moved away.  After a few years, you miss them and want to visit them again.

The show is not without its flaws.  Early on it lacked any kind long term story arc, which we didn't get until the season 2 finale.  This new story arc was really good, but the series remained episodic, visiting the long term story only occasionally.  Fortunately, the last three seasons became serial, giving us a mostly continuous story.

Since the space station Deep Space Nine is near the planet Bajor, there are many episodes devoted to the politics of Bajor, especially in the early seasons.  The problem with this is that nobody cares about Bajor anymore.  It was a planet created just for this series, and it has never come up again in the Star Trek universe.

The special effects still hold up, but are starting to become dated.  The early seasons used physical models, so the show only had enough special effects to get by.  In the last two seasons it switched to using computer-generated effects, which not only gave us more special effects, but these computer effects hold up really well 20 years later.

Star Trek Deep Space Nine's main television rival was Babylon 5, which is another 90's show about a station deep in space.  Both shows are really good.  Deep Space Nine has better characters overall, but Babylon 5 has a more complex story that is more epic and grander in its vision.  The special effects on Babylon 5 aren't quite as good, but they are adequate.

As much as I like both of these series, neither one quite rises to the level of the reimagined Battlestar Galactica that premiered in 2004.

Monday, March 21, 2022

Re: Dune Prequel Show

Maybe because I'm getting older, I'm starting to feel like most entertainment is getting repetitious. 

Do we need a spin-off for every character?

There are around a dozen Marvel and DC shows, most of which I never watched.  Most of these are soap operas at their basic level.  

Best wishes,

John Coffey

On Mar 21, 2022, at 5:25 PM, Larry wrote:

Dune: The Sisterhood was announced by Legendary Television early in the film's development cycle as a prequel spinoff show for HBO Max. The series will be set years before the first Dune and revolve around the Bene Gesserit, the mysterious order of women with superhuman abilities who work to direct humanity on an enlightened path. Doctor Strange alum Jon Spaihts was originally set to pen the script for the pilot of the series while Dana Calvo would serve as showrunner and Villeneuve would direct, though Spaihts would depart to focus on Dune: Part Two while Diane Ademu-John took over as showrunner.

Thursday, March 17, 2022

Netflix customers mad over plan to charge for password sharing

This has not yet come to the US.  It is being tried first in other countries.  It sounds like it might cost $3 extra per month.  Maybe it will cost more when it comes to the U.S.

Wednesday, February 23, 2022

Did "The Book of Boba Fett" help or hurt the character?

There is some disappointment that the show "The Book of Boba Fett" didn't maintain the character's image as an amoral ruthless bounty hunter.  

In response to ...

I wrote:

If I am being objective, I think that the show is great. The first four episodes give us character development in a way that is really good. The next two episodes are a complete detour, but great in their own right. I was very disappointed that the last episode didn't give us more of the great character development, but the last three episodes are fan service and pretty entertaining at that. 

It does not bother me that Boba Fett does not exactly fit the ruthless mystery man image that we have had of him for forty years. That character is one-dimensional. His story really started in the Mandalorian when he said that he was just a man trying to make his way in a complex universe. That defined the character going forward, and it gave him more depth. The fact that Boba is no longer a ruthless killer means that he has changed a little, perhaps mellowed, but it also means that he is seeking a new path. This is how it had to be, to make Boba into a good guy, unless you wanted a show about an amoral ruthless killer. Now, we need a Cad Bane spinoff.

Tuesday, February 15, 2022

The Book of Boba Fett: The worst "Disney+" Star Wars Series so far?

If I try to remain objective, I think that the series was very good.  The first four episodes gave us the character development that we wanted from a series like this.  The next two episodes were total detours, but fantastic.  The last episode felt a little over the top, leaving me a bit unsatisfied that I didn't get more character development of Boba Fett.

The last three episodes were fan service, but pretty entertaining.  The net result was a mix of different things that didn't feel like they belonged together, but almost all of it was great.

Wednesday, February 2, 2022

The Best Star Wars since... "The Book of Boba Fett" Episode Six (Spoiler Review & Discussion)

They have done a terrific job with The Mandalorian and The Book of Boba Fett live-action series.  They tie in all the Star Wars movies along with all of the animated series into a very cohesive whole.  There is a great big Star Wars Universe there that goes way beyond the movies.