Posts Tagged ‘Star Trek: The Next Generation’

Non-adventures in dog-sitting, part 4

July 7, 2017

By Matthew E. Milliken
MEMwrites.wordpress.com
July 7, 2017

As I documented exhaustively in my previous post, the Star Trek: Deep Space Nine rerun that I watched on the evening of the last Monday in June had a subject in common with the Star Trek: The Next Generation rerun that I caught on the following evening. And, as it happened, that Next Generation episode had something in common with the DS9 show that I saw on Wednesday night.

Wednesday’s outing was titled “A Simple Investigation”; it opens with two thugs murdering a visitor to Deep Space Nine for reasons that remain unclear until late in the episode. The victim was planning to rendezvous with a woman named Arissa, whom Odo, the station’s shape-shifting security chief, has a flirtatious chat with in the bar. After Arissa is caught attempting to break into confidential Deep Space Nine computer logs and then into a closed office, she reveals to Odo that she is fleeing from a powerful crime syndicate. He resolves to help her, and the two launch an unlikely romance. (Odo had never before been intimate with a solid woman.)

The reason I mention any of this is that “A Simple Investigation’s” main guest star was Dey Young, who played one of the chief colonists in “The Masterpiece Society.”

I won’t belabor the point — it’s just that that’s the kind of coincidence that I find absolutely delightful.

This brings me to the end of my television reminiscences from my dog-sitting stint, but I’ll be back soon with a few notes about the actual sitting-on-dogs part of the dog-sitting.

(Note: I’m just kidding about that sitting-on-dogs thing.)

To be continued

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Non-adventures in dog-sitting, part 3

July 5, 2017

By Matthew E. Milliken
MEMwrites.wordpress.com
July 5, 2017

Author’s note: The following post contains spoilers for the fifth-season Star Trek: Deep Space Nine episode “Dr. Bashir, I Presume,” which originally aired in February 1997. MEM

I mentioned in my previous post that, quite by chance, I picked up my viewing of the Star Trek: The Next Generation episode “The Masterpiece Society” right around the point where this YouTube clip that I’d happened to watch recently came to an end. That wasn’t the only coincidence in play, however. As it happens, this episode had some commonalities with the ST:DS9 episode that I’d seen the evening before.

As I mentioned, in Star Trek, genetic engineering has “been banned by most members of polite galactic society for centuries.” The reasons for this were established in “Space Seed,” the 1967 original series episode that introduced the villainous Khan.

In that show, Kirk and company run across a centuries-old sleeper ship containing Khan and his fellow genetically engineered Earthlings; this group of power-hungry “supermen” were exiled to deep space after winding up on the losing end of the Eugenics Wars. Khan and his associates are revived and brought on board the Enterprise, but as so often happens in these types of stories, their craving for power reasserts itself.

In Deep Space Nine’s “Dr. Bashir, I Presume,” it’s revealed that the chief medical officer of the series’ far-flung Federation outpost was subjected to secret and illegal genetic modification by his parents. The matter is referred to a Starfleet admiral, who tells the Bashirs:

Two hundred* years ago, we tried to improve the species through DNA resequencing. And what did we get for our troubles? The Eugenics Wars. For every Julian Bashir that can be created, there’s a Khan Singh waiting in the wings — a superhuman whose ambition and thirst for power have been enhanced along with his intellect. The law against genetic engineering provided a firewall against such men. And it’s my job to keep that firewall intact.

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Non-adventures in dog-sitting, part 2

June 29, 2017

By Matthew E. Milliken
MEMwrites.wordpress.com
June 29, 2017

Late Tuesday afternoon, I showered, took the dog outside and set out for Sterling, Va., which is a 20 or 25-minute drive from where I’m staying. I was going to — well, let’s call it Massive Marvin’s, a dining establishment that a pair of Internet websites assured me had six pinball machines.

I haven’t yet blogged about pinball, but in brief: I started playing casually sometime last year at the instigation of my friend D—, who’d picked up a pinball jones in 2015 or so; I began developing a true pinball obsession myself about two months ago, which has evolved to the point that I played pinball at five different Triangle venues in the four days leading up to my departure for Virginia.

My phone’s navigation program led me to a nondescript shopping center in a part of Northern Virginia that looked remarkably like every other shopping center that was developed in Northern Virginia in the 1990s. It contained a supermarket, a tool store, a library, an automotive parts store, a few restaurants… The place I was looking for was right by the entrance I’d used, so I found it without too much effort.

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Non-adventures in dog-sitting, part 1

June 28, 2017

By Matthew E. Milliken
MEMwrites.wordpress.com
June 28, 2017

This week, I’m dog-sitting for the Os, friends of mine who live in Northern Virginia. Their home is close to the Beltway — Interstate 495, which rings our nation’s capital — and yet lies more than an hour from the District of Columbia.

I arrived on Thursday night last week, the evening before O pére et mére were to depart for a family reunion in New England. After dinner, I asked to be shown how the dishwasher, laundry machines and TV worked.

After the entertainment system demonstration, Mr. O and I watched a rerun of Star Trek: The Next Generation on this cable channel, which I’d never before heard of. (The cable channel, that is, not the show.) We happened to tune a few minutes after 9 p.m., and almost instantly I exclaimed, “Is that Matt Frewer?!”

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The promising but forgotten pilot ‘Earth Star Voyager’ delivers moderately entertaining science fiction content

January 29, 2016

By Matthew E. Milliken
MEMwrites.wordpress.com
Jan. 29, 2016

My illness-induced quest for mindless entertainment extended beyond watching the dire Star Wars Holiday Special. Thanks to the magic of YouTube’s algorithms, I stumbled upon Earth Star Voyager, a three-hour television pilot from 1988 that I believe originally aired under the rubric of an anthology show known either as Walt Disney’s Wonderful World of Color or The Wonderful World of Disney.

I’m not sure whether the program was first broadcast on ABC, CBS or Disney’s cable channel. What I do know is that at some point, I saw at least part of it, and I remembered it fondly.

The premise is pretty straightforward: In 2088, the powers that be assign 115 mainly young officers and hands to the Earth Star Voyager, a new ship that features the Bowman drive, a cutting-edge propulsion system that can make crewed interstellar flight practical. Because Earth is a toxic, overcrowded dump, humanity is in desperate need of a new home, and a potential site has been found. Earth Star Voyager’s mission is to embark upon the first crewed excursion to another star so it can evaluate the candidate planet firsthand. Because the trip will take decades, the crew will spend nightly sleep periods in suspended animation; the ship also has a nursery to accommodate the children who will be born en route.

But the ship has only just gotten under way before Captain Forbes (Ric Reid) is ejected from an airlock, apparently due to the deliberate malice of an unknown crew member. That leaves the ship in the hands of its untested 21-year-old executive officer, Jonathan Hays (Brian McNamara), and his highly trained but inexperienced command team: Hays’s close friend, the 14-year-old computer specialist and all-around young super-genius Jessie Bienstock (Jason Michas); cocky navigator Huxley Welles (Tom Bresnahan), age 18; the 24-year-old ship’s doctor, Sally Arthur (Julia Montgomery, the female lead from Revenge of the Nerds); and the 22-year-old psychiatrist, Leland Eugene (Bruce Harwood, who went on to become one of The X-Files’s Lone Gunmen).

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The last and the least: ‘Star Trek: Nemesis’ closed out the ‘Next Generation’ films on an unsatisfying note

May 22, 2015

By Matthew E. Milliken
MEMwrites.wordpress.com
May 22, 2015

The 2002 movie Star Trek: Nemesis has an awful reputation. This, I think, is somewhat overblown — somewhat.

Nemesis is the film that broke the Star Trek franchise’s Rule of Even-Numbered Outings, which posits that every other movie is excellent. As it happens, I was never a big believer in that rule, not having particularly liked the eighth Trek movie, Star Trek: First Contact.

Nemesis is widely considered to be the worst Star Trek movie. Perhaps so, but isn’t that sentiment excessively flattering to Star Trek V: The Final Frontier?

Trek’s tenth cinematic outing is also widely believed to be the movie that killed the Star Trek franchise. While it’s true that the next Trek film wasn’t released for seven years, creating the property’s longest-ever absence from movie theaters since its 1979 debut, there are plenty of signs that Nemesis was always meant to put a wrap on The Next Generation movie series. One of them is a plot point in Nemesis itself.

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The pleasant but punchless ‘Star Trek: Insurrection’ continued the march of ‘Star Trek: The Next Generation’ movie mediocrity

May 14, 2015

By Matthew E. Milliken
MEMwrites.wordpress.com
May 14, 2015

Roughly midway into the 1998 movie Star Trek: Insurrection, Jean-Luc Picard is faced with a moral dilemma. The captain of the good ship Enterprise has discovered that Starfleet Admiral Matthew Dougherty is conspiring with the Son’a, a sinister alien race, to secretly relocate the Ba’ku, the 600 peaceful agrarian residents of an isolated and idyllic world. Dougherty and the Son’a leader, Ru’afo, want to exploit a unique natural resource — the radiation emitted by the planet’s rings, which reverses the decrepitude of aging. Unfortunately for the Ba’ku, the only way to collect this radiation in industrial quantities involves a process that will render the world’s surface uninhabitable.

Picard has been ordered to depart the area and allow the Son’a to continue the Ba’ku relocation, which Dougherty claims has authorization from top United Federation of Planets officials. But the captain considers the forced relocation to be morally abhorrent — a violation of core principles that he, the Federation and Starfleet have spent years struggling to uphold. In a somber moment, he stands alone in his quarters and begins pulling his rank insignia from his collar…

In other hands, this might have been a dramatic scene. Here, however, it seems preordained — just another script point. Insurrection was written by 1990s Trek television series producers Rick Berman and Michael Piller and directed by Jonathan Frakes, who plays William Riker, the first officer of the Enterprise. And, rather like Generations, which was the first movie featuring Picard, Riker and the rest of the crew of the 24th-century Enterprise, I think that Insurrection would have worked better had it been released and displayed on small screens rather than silver ones.

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Looking again at the profits of ‘Star Trek’ movies

April 8, 2015

By Matthew E. Milliken
MEMwrites.wordpress.com
April 8, 2015

On Tuesday, in my discussion of Star Trek: First Contact, I mentioned a number of parallels between that film and Star Trek IV: The Voyage Home. Among other things, I wrote this:

These films are also the most popular and successful ones starring their respective casts. The Voyage Home, a 1986 release, grossed nearly $110 million. First Contact, which came out almost exactly 10 years later, grossed $92 million. The only Trek films that made more money were the J.J. Abrams–helmed reboots from 2009 and 2012, which populated the roles of Kirk, Spock and company with a brand-new cast.

I have a confession to make: These numbers are…fishy. Specifically, the numbers cited in yesterday’s blog post weren’t adjusted for inflation. (They came from Box Office Mojo, by the way.)

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Despite its stellar reputation, I recommend that most viewers avoid ‘Star Trek: First Contact’

April 7, 2015

By Matthew E. Milliken
MEMwrites.wordpress.com
April 7, 2015

Star Trek: First Contact was the eighth movie in the Trek franchise. It was also the second (following 1994’s Star Trek Generations) of four movies to feature the Next Generation cast.

First Contact has a number of things in common with Star Trek IV: The Voyage Home. These films marked the directorial debuts of, respectively, Jonathan Frakes (William Riker) and the late Leonard Nimoy (Spock), the first officers of TNG’s 24th-century Enterprise and the original series’s 23rd-century U.S.S. Enterprise. Both movies involve serious threats to planet Earth, which can only be resolved with journeys through time to Earth as it was roughly 300 years prior to the TV series’ main timelines. And both stories have generous doses of comedy, which are often due to the space-traveler-out-of-time aspect of the narratives.

These films are also the most popular and successful ones starring their respective casts. The Voyage Home, a 1986 release, grossed nearly $110 million. First Contact, which came out almost exactly 10 years later, grossed $92 million. The only Trek films that made more money were the J.J. Abrams–helmed reboots from 2009 and 2012, which populated the roles of Kirk, Spock and company with a brand-new cast.

I like The Voyage Home quite a lot, but I’ve never really been a fan of First Contact. In rewatching it recently, my opinion of the movie rose — but only slightly.

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‘Star Trek Generations’ got the 24th-century Enterprise crew off to an uneven start in the movie theaters

March 11, 2015

By Matthew E. Milliken
MEMwrites.wordpress.com
March 11, 2015

Star Trek Generations, the seventh feature film in that science fiction franchise, opened in theaters in November 1994, a few months after the end of the seventh and final season of Star Trek: The Next Generation. The movie, which was written by TNG producers Rick Berman, Ronald D. Moore and Brannon Braga, was explicitly intended to springboard the newer cast into a cinematic series.

Generations did so in part by transporting a character from the original show and movie series into a 24th-century adventure. The Next Generation had largely avoided this kind of crossover, at least partly out of deference to the wishes of Trek’s creator, Gene Roddenberry, who died in 1991 at age 70.

(Dear readers: There be spoilers ahead. I mean, they’re for a 21-year-old movie, but still, you’ve been warned!)

The movie starts in the 23rd century as Captain James T. Kirk (William Shatner) and two of his former crewmen participate in the maiden voyage of the fourth starship Enterprise. This time around, Kirk isn’t in charge — he’s just a guest aboard the Excelsior-class vessel, registration number NCC-1701-B. The crew includes a young ensign named Demora Sulu (Jacqueline Kim), the daughter of Kirk’s old helmsman. Kirk wonders aloud how Sulu was able to start a family. “If something’s important, you make the time,” Montgomery Scott (James Doohan) reproachfully tells his former commanding officer.

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