February 28, 2011 Leave a comment
Reviewing “The Gamesters of Triskelion” and “A Piece of the Action.”
The official site of Ron "AAlgar" Watt and Matt Rowbotham's Star Trek-themed podcast.
February 28, 2011 Leave a comment
Reviewing “The Gamesters of Triskelion” and “A Piece of the Action.”
February 21, 2011 Leave a comment
Reviewing “Obsession,” “Wolf in the Fold” and “The Trouble with Tribbles.”
February 17, 2011 1 Comment
It was probably available before at conventions or someplace online, but Gene Roddenberry’s original (1964) pitch for Star Trek was making the rounds a week or two ago, and it was the first time I’d seen it.
Most of us know the basics – Captain Robert April became Captain Christopher Pike and finally James
R. T. Kirk. “Wagon Train to the stars.” (Which at this point has ensured the probably forgettable Wagon Train a sort of immortality by proxy.) The SS Yorktown instead of the USS Enterprise – a name I find myself wondering how they even could have considered. It just sounds so… wrong!
Surprisingly, there is almost no sign of Roddenberry’s infamously insufferable naivete when it comes to his characters. There’s no insistence that the Earthlings aboard the Yorktown be flawless paragons of virtue; no clear disregard for the basic human imperfections that create a compelling drama. I’ve always suspected that (much like George Lucas), Roddenberry retroactively retooled his creative vision to fit popular critical interpretations. In other words, only after reading articles about how Star Trek represented the hope of a bright future for humanity did the Great Bird decide that, oh yeah, I meant to do that. Uh huh.
Credit where it’s due, though: the mult-cultural/gender flavor (though completely different from the final product) is present here from day one. Number One appears to be every bit the capable female that we saw in “The Cage” (perhaps even more so). The navigator is “Jose Ortegas,” a South American with a “Latin temperament” (but surprisingly not a shallow stereotype, given his “painful” awareness of the reputation of the hot-blooded Latin lover, and his perceived inability to live up to it.) Oh, and the cute yeoman, who is the Betty to Number One’s Veronica.
The list of suggested plots is fairly familiar – Roddenberry seemed to love the “crew discovers a planet remarkably like earth”-type stories. Or maybe he was just trying to sell the network on how he could make a weekly sci-fi series cost-effective. I was never a fan of those, for the most part, though his proposed “To Skin a Tyrannosaurus” would have been pretty badass, I must admit.
Most impressively of all is the inclusion of what appears to be some variation of the Drake equation (used by astronomers to speculate mathematically the likelihood of intelligent life in the galaxy). I’m hardly a Hollywood insider or anything, but I can’t imagine a ton of TV pitches include complex mathematical theorems. Certainly not in 1964, anyway. Kudos, Mr. Roddenberry – somehow you got this show off the ground with the additional handicap of boring the executives with math.
So, yeah. In addition to giving us a brief glimpse of the Trek that might have been, this document also paints the much-maligned Roddenberry in a much better light than his contemporaries (and, let’s be honest: Matt and I as well) have done in recent years. He may have had some weird ideas about how to run things once it got going, but based on this original pitch, I wouldn’t go revoking his Visionary status just yet.
February 10, 2011 Leave a comment
After the extreme disappointment I felt reading Infestation #1 last week, I was actually a little hesitant to pick this one up. The actual amount of Star Trek in the first issue was limited to about two and a half pages which is a goddamn rip-off when your cover has prominent Spockage. Infestation: Star Trek #1 has at least one thing going for it. It is all Star Trek. No leather-bound vampires or characters you’ve never heard of. Well, unless you count the disposable red shirts but why start now?
If you missed my review of Infestation, the concept is dirt simple. Zombies escape into through a dimensional portal into various realities that feature famous properties from the 80s. These include GI Joe, Transformers, Ghostbusters and Star Trek. The missed opportunity of a Jem vs Zombies comic is a rant for another day. Anyway, I: ST starts post Motion Picture, pre-Wrath of Khan, so everyone is wearing ugly brown uniforms. Kirk, Spock and Bones are shuttle-bound to the planet of Calibus VII for a ceremony honoring Dr. McCoy for his works in curing a recent plague outbreak. The Enterprise is heading for a Star Base to resupply and will be meeting them at the planet in a few days. The landing crew quickly discovers that the colony has been overrun by the undead. This includes a great little moment when Bones is examining a corpse, speaks his usual line “He’s dead, Jim” when the colonist comes back to life. The crew quickly realize that the stun settings on their phasers don’t work on the undead (I’m pretty sure there’s a canonical reason for this but I don’t know it off the top of my head.) and Kirk is hesitant to use the Kill setting on what he believes to be innocent civilians so the crew takes the traditional Shaun of the Dead defense procedure of wailing on the zombies with shovels. The red shirts (actually brown shirts in the hideous world of late 70s Starfleet.) are quickly killed and turned and Kirk realizes that their rudimentary instincts may allow the zombies to still pilot a shuttle. The crew destroys the shuttle stranding themselves until the Enterprise can pick them up. The issue ends with Kirk, Spock and Bones surrounded and Kirk deciding to switch to Kill.
As far as zombie comics go, this one’s pretty standard. The plot’s something we’ve definitely seen before as Kirk, Spock and Bones attempt to make their way from point-A to safety. In fact, if I had any real complaints about this one, it’s that it doesn’t explore any of the unique ideas that zombies in the Star Trek universe could give us. None of the colonists are aliens, obviously none of the main characters are going to die and we don’t even see the Enterprise. I found myself reading this and just thinking of the missed opportunities. The virus is stated to affect non-humans but even then all we see is a zombified deer. What would the virus do to a Klingon or a Vulcan? Or Christ, what about something completely unhuman like a Tholian? How cool would a zombie outbreak on the Enterprise be? An enclosed space with no place to run to? Perfect.
I’ve talked quite a bit about how well Classic Trek does horror and that’s certainly true. Space is scary because you have nowhere to run to. While there is a little of this in Infestation, it could have certainly been a lot better. As for the actual writing, it was fine. The characterization of the main characters was fine. I particularly enjoyed Bones’ complaining about receiving the award simply for doing his job. The art too was fine, the characters all looking like they were supposed to. All in all, Infestation: Star Trek certainly is in no way a bad comic. It’s just that, as someone who has read and seen a LOT of zombie stuff, there’s really nothing here I can’t get anywhere else. The Star Trek universe is huge and fascinating and it could bring a lot of new ideas to a zombie story but none of that appears here. I’m hoping that’s something the next issue will explore more of. Or any of.
After all, you should always remember:
February 6, 2011 Leave a comment
You may have heard AAl and I discussing IDW Comics’ upcoming zombie crossover on the Sarcastic Voyage a few months back. The basic idea is that IDW owns several popular licenses and decided it would be a good idea to do a crossover with them and zombies. Which are still hot as shit despite everyone knowing that the only good zombie comic is Walking Dead and always will be. It’s like those video game companies that try to make World of Warcraft clones. The world doesn’t need another awesome MMORPG fantasy game. It already has the best possible one it is going to get.
Is that bad ass or what? Ignoring everything else, that promises us Mr. Spock fighting a zombie. If that were the only thing on this comic’s cover, I would buy it. But that’s not all. Oh no. This cover also promises us a Ghostbuster fighting a zombie. Also there is Snake Eyes and what’s his nuts? Er, Truck Bot. Fighting zombies. How could that not pay off? I will tell you exactly how. NONE OF THESE CHARACTERS ARE IN THIS.
Infestation 1, despite being written by some of my favorite comic creators Dan Abnett and Andy Lanning (They write, among other things, the excellent Marvel universe cosmic books like Nova and Guardians of the Galaxy.) is boring as shit. It apparently stars a group of characters called the CVO (Covert Vampire Operatives) who are secret agent vampires who fight monsters in tight leather. This is all fine and well and good but it is not what I signed up for. I was sold a bill of goods and that bill read “Dear Matt, how are you? I am fine. You want to see Spock fight a zombie. You bet your ass you do. Your pal, the Coolest Comic Ever.”
Anyway, the vampires have to stop an infestation (Hey! That’s the name of the show!) of zombies that have escaped from this government base through a portal into a variety of other realities. Which is where we get zombies vs. whatever. This is an awesome idea which I am excited for. The excitement is not to be found here. The script is not great for people who have never heard of the CVO, feeling both confusing AND like you are being led around by the nose. The art isn’t bad but it’s certainly nothing to get excited about. The only appearences of any of the tie-in books are two page previews of each of the franchises and you will not get a very clear idea of what the books are. It is certainly not worth the four bucks you’ll be paying for it. If you’re looking to check this mini out, I’d say give this lead in book a miss and go straight to the Trek mini.
February 4, 2011 Leave a comment
So Matt, you’re asking, what’s been going on in the expanded Star Trek universe. Good question, whoever you are. You’re making introducing this essay much easier so thanks for that. I’ve been a fan of Star Trek novels for quite a few years now, sparked by an interest in the comic work of Peter David. Peter David wrote a long, defining run on the Incredible Hulk and he’s also responsible for some of the finest Star Trek novels ever written. His work on books like Q-Squared and Vendetta made me realize that Trek novels aren’t necessarily just fan fiction in a fancy ass cover with little to no gay sex.
The novels can be an excellent boost when you’re desperate for new Star Trek and the next movie is still at least a year and a half away. What’s interesting is the freedom that’s developed in the Next Generation expanded universe in the last few years. For a long time, Trek novels took place (in the case of books like Doctor’s Orders or the Three-Minute Universe) between episodes or (like The Lost Years) movies. The idea was, like a lot of series tie-in books to try not to contradict anything happening in the parent series. But with the release of Fake Star Trek, the universe of TNG has been abandoned. There are not and will not be another movie or episode featuring Captain Picard, Sisko or *ugh* Admiral Janeway. The creators of the Trek expanded universe are suddenly free to do whatever they goddamn want, resulting in a much more fascinating universe.
In the years since Nemesis, there have been many big changes for Trek. Uh, SPOILERS to follow, folks. The big stuff starts in the “A Time To… Whatever” series which bridges the reprehensible Insurrection to the merely shitty Nemesis. This leads to the breaking up of the some of the Enterprise crew as Riker and Troi get married and fuck off to the Titan. Worf gets promoted to Commander, Picard marries Dr. Crusher, Geordi still can’t get laid, and B-4 is disassembled, put in a box and shipped off to Starfleet for research purposes. SERIOUSLY. Apparently somebody at the Star Trek head offices got my letter Re: Data’s retarded little brother.
With a new universe full of unending possibility, there is of course only one thing to do. Retread old stuff that was popular. Which means it’s time to bring the Borg back again. J.M. Dillard writes the exceptionally average Resistance which features yet another Borg invasion and Picard deciding it would be an awesome fucking idea to go undercover as Locutus. This turns out exactly as expected (Bad.). Next we have Peter David’s Before Dishonor which ain’t great either. More Borgyness, Janeway becomes Borg Queen and the Borg devour Pluto. The planet. It’s pretty goddamn awesome. This one ends with *spoilers again* the death of Janeway! So… I guess Star Trek Head Offices got my other letter too. All of this leads into the Destiny trilogy.
The Destiny Trilogy is actually pretty damn good. It features the Enterprise, Riker’s Titan, Dax’s ship, the Aventine and some chick from Enterprise whom I’ve never heard of but am assured was an actual character. The Destiny Trilogy features the actual origin of the Borg (well, one of the better ones anyway.) and FINALLY (For a while at least.) the death of the Borg. Seven of Nine gets turned back into a human. One who can presumably wear regular clothes now. Picard stops having Borg nightmares whenever we do a Borg book which was all the time. Oh yeah, and the Federation is FUCKED. Billions of death. Thousands of destroyed planets. Vulcan’s been torched (not destroyed, because we are different than Fake Trek.), Risa (the pleasure planet, proving that the Borg are true monsters with no respect for the planet that gave us Dax in a one-piece.) The Federation’s remaining enemies take this as an excuse to get their shit together forming the Typhon Pact.
The Typhon Pact includes the Breen, half of the Romulans (the other half are now with the Federation.), the Gorn Initiative and Tholians. Who are awesome by the way. This all leads into the Typhon Pact series which has just started and which I am currently reading the first book of. So more on that when I am finished. For now, pour one out for Risa and the lonesome death of Dax’s shiny shiny one-piece… See you at the crossroads, baby.
February 4, 2011 1 Comment
I was hoping to use this blog to discuss Trek-related things that we don’t have time to discuss on the show. Okay, it’s not that we don’t have time – it’s that we want to stay focused on episode reviews. This is obviously a subject about which we are both quite passionate, and we could very easily get distracted and wander off on some obscure tangent and forget all about our mission to review episodes. This thing is already going to take until 2017 or thereabouts – stopping to talk about other stuff could push that well into the 2020s.
A few things caught my attention this week:
The script for Star Trek 2 isn’t finished yet. I refuse to be that fanboy who reads more into this than I should. (I have this crazy notion – reinforced wholeheartedly by the previous film – that I shouldn’t judge a thing until I actually see it.) As far as I can tell, this means they haven’t finished it yet. And that’s all it means. I am, of course, wildly impatient… but I’d like to think this means they’re taking their time to get things right. Or, you know, that it just isn’t finished yet.
porn parody erotic fanfic whatever the hell it is, is apparently filmed now. We mentioned this on the podcast – apparently, it’s meant to be totally in continuity, taking place sometime in season six (I think I read that it happens before “True Q.”) I don’t even know where to begin on this thing. It’s not that I don’t think it should exist, or anything like that… but elevating these goofy porn parodies to this level of detail is a new plateau of weird. It feels like there are a thousand snarky things I could say about this, and maybe that’s the problem. Maybe they’re all jockeying for position and shorting out the joke mechanisms in my brain. Worlds are colliding, Jerry.
I guess Shatner is recording a heavy metal album. I know, most of you are probably excited about this. I am not. To me, this falls under the “overplayed things people like ironically” category – I’m surprised he’s not recording it with special guests Chuck Norris, Mr. T and bacon. I feel like we’ve done a half-decent job convincing people who think Star Trek is cheesy to give it a chance. Then Shatner does something like this. You’re not helping us here, Bill!
Oh, so it looks like you guys do want shirts with the Post Atomic Horror logo on them. This is awesome news. We will be taking pre-orders for those within the next week or so.