Tag Archive | Star Trek

Unsolicited Raktajino On “Star Trek: Deep Space Nine”

– before you even ask, raktajino is klingon coffee; lots of beverage humor on “Deep Space Nine” since one of the main characters is a bartender

– this is the “Star Trek” that broke all the rules: instead of hurtling through the cosmos looking for adventure, “DS9’s” heroes boldly loiter on an intergalactic truck stop (one their Federation bosses consider clutch thanks to its proximity to both the universe’s first documented wormhole and a newly autonomous planet called Bajor they hope to fold into their ranks); the action is serialized, unfolding many intricate plots across numerous episodes / seasons; Gene Roddenberry’s commandment of “no interpersonal conflicts” between crew members also goes out the window, so these folks endure more realistic frictions; craziest of all, there’s money in this final frontier, proving even utopia can only spread so far before being priced out

– would you believe it all works, and works gloriously?; “Deep Space Nine” is bleaker and more cynical than the previous entries (call it “Grunge Trek”) but ultimately the characters, whatever their flaws, are being driven by the same hope and optimism that touched Kirk and Spock and Picard and that guy who merged with V’GER; it’s a potent stew that struggles not to engage; that said, in this gorn’s opinion a few bits are dopey, like the holographic lounge singer and the episode with Rumpelstiltskin

– it is strange in the early seasons to see Avery Brooks, who commands this station as Benjamin Sisko, with hair on his head and not on his face; prior to “DS9,” Brooks starred in “Spenser: For Hire” as the bald, goateed detective Hawk, and apparently there was concern audiences would think Brooks was playing Hawk in space; taking one for the team, Brooks changed his look, but had to revert when he felt the change was affecting his performance; Sisko is definitely more commanding with the tight facial scruff and shiny pate

– they could have made Benjamin Sisko’s son Jake a typical brooding teen who resents his father for trapping him on this floating gas station (mom is deceased, killed in a borg attack) but instead he’s refreshingly upbeat and supportive of his old man; he’s also one of the few characters who can pull off the 24th Century fashion of an earth tone vest over a purple jumpsuit

– some of the major antagonists on “DS9” are these grey, neck-heavy aliens called cardassians but there aren’t very many parallels between them and the Kardashians (aside from the basic “ooh these people drive me nuts but I can’t stop paying attention to their exploits!”)

– if anybody knows anything about this show it’s ferengi bartender Quark, who looks like an elephant leprechaun hybrid possessed by the devil; Quark is absolutely possessed by the quest for profit, as are most if not all Ferengis, and he refuses to grant any human the respect of having their species name pronounced correctly (“HEW-mahns,” he insists), but you’d be surprised how often a sense of morality interrupts his naked thirst for money (excuse me—latinum, the official currency of ferengi)

– if anybody knows anything else about this show it’s the episode where our Deep Space Niners go back in time and board the Kirk / Spock Enterprise via the computer technology made famous by Forest Gump; “DS9” should have won a shit ton of awards for special effects on this one because the way they cut these people into the “Trek ’66” episode is so much more seamless than what’s in Gump (it even fooled some people working on the show, they say); furthermore, it isn’t some throwaway entry in the founding “Trek” series they enter but the friggin’ tribble episode—can you imagine if “Deep Space Nine” had screwed the pooch on that one?

– Terry Farrell, who plays a character on “DS9” that is carrying a 300 year old symbiote in her belly that fuses her personality with all the personalities of its previous hosts, left the program after several years to join “Becker”; this is the all-consuming power of Ted Danson, truly the borg of our universe

– “DS9’s” later seasons are consumed by a war that breaks out between the Federation and these brand new aliens from the other side of the wormhole who want to control the universe; a lot of interesting religious stuff comes into play as several other alien races perceive the new aliens to be infallible gods while the bajorans ramp up their faith in Benjamin Sisko, who they believe is an “emissary” sent by their own gods to deliver them from evil; like any other war, this thing’s got espionage, double crossing, triple crossing, breakdowns in the chain of command, and klingons beating the hell out of each other

– also in the later seasons, Jeffrey Combs turns up as this figurehead who is like the nefarious and withering precursor to Rob Lowe on “Parks & Rec”

– since this is “Star Trek” there are of course a few episodes where the crew visit 20th Century Earth and cannot figure out what the hell is going on; as tired as this trope is within “Star Trek” it is never not entertaining

– the “DS9” series finale could be firmer in its second half but once the dust settles one could argue the narrative is open for reprisal (don’t we deserve a feature film where Avery Brooks is givin’ it to some Cardassians for 90 min?)

– yes, Iggy Pop is in one episode playing an alien and he is fuckin’ good

A Glimpse Into My Gatesgiving

There we were, three fleshy lumps on the couch, the bare minimum of our energies directed toward the television. What else were we to do as we awaited Tom Turkey and all his trimmings? Discuss local affairs? I’m afraid there was just nothing left to say about the bowl of pumpkin-flavored M&Ms that sat on the coffee table before us. Still, we couldn’t suppress every stray thought as BBC America pelted us with reruns of “Star Trek: The Next Generation.”

“Is it just me or are all these episodes really Gates McFadden-heavy?”

“It’s just this one, really.”

“Feel like I’m watching Gatesgiving, not Treksgiving.”

“Did you know she was a Muppet movement choreographer for Muppets Take Manhattan?”

“How could I have possibly known that?”

“Why are we watching with the sound off?”

“You think the visuals are bad, imagine the dialogue.”

“God, I wish she’d stop making out with that Kevin Sorbo-looking motherfucker.”

The Satellite of Love this was not, but we were amusing ourselves, doing our best to prevent Roddenberry-induced comas. The steamed bird did not arrive before the episode where our intrepid late eighties space nuts work out some Robin Hood fantasy to save the Captain’s sexy twenty-something personal assistant from the clutches of that nefarious Q, which of course means I had to watch LeVar Burton play a lute in leggings.

The wounds, they won’t heal.

Madea Goes To Space

So, America by and large is sort of choosing to ignore a startling fact regarding the new Star Trek movie, a fact that only came to my attention within the last twenty-four hours. If you haven’t seen the movie yet, this alarming piece of information might deter you from doing so. If you wish not to be smacked in the face with the cold wash cloth of reality, please stop reading here.

Tyler Perry is in the new Star Trek movie. Yes, that Tyler Perry.

I know, I know—isn’t that weird? What’s funny is when I first saw him up on the screen, I thought he was Eriq La Salle (which is only funny because the last blog post I wrote before going to see Star Trek briefly talked about Eriq La Salle). As this guy is yammering away about the Kobayashi Maru or whatever, I’m sittin’ there thinkin’, Man, Eriq La Salle is really puffin’ out these days…he needs to lay off the Burger King. And what’s with the lack of facial hair? What’s with it is the character of Admiral Richard Barnett is portrayed by Tyler Fucking Perry, not Goatee-Rockin’ “E.R.” Doctor From Way Back When.

Naturally, the presence in Star Trek of the cross-dressing morality play author who sassed his way into a cottage industry begs the largest WTF? of the week. Admiral Richard Barnett is Tyler Perry’s first non-Madea role. By that I mean Star Trek is the first movie Tyler Perry has appeared in that he didn’t write, produce, or direct in any fashion. Is Madea a closet Trekkie? I guess. Either that or “House of Payne” turned into a money pit faster than you can say “poor man’s ‘Cosby Show'” and Perry needs all the scratch he can get now.

madea-a-mad-black-woman
“Warp FIVE—don’t make me hurt your white ass!”

Now, I’m inclined to think the role of Admiral Richard Barnett was originally offered to someone else. My theory is Eddie Murphy, who probably turned it down because he thinks he’s too good for bit parts these days (“I have a three lead role minimum in my contract!”). Murphy, as I’m sure you hardcore Trekkies already know, is a fan of the original series and was supposed to be in Star Trek IV: The Voyage Home as some kind of professor comically obsessed with locating the crew of the Enterprise and their stolen Klingon Bird of Prey. Instead, Eddie opted to do The Golden Child; draw your own conclusions about that decision.

With no Eddie Murphy, J.J. Abrams put the feelers out, ostensibly, to find another Hollywood Trek fan he could wedge into his movie, and he ended up with Tyler Perry. George Wendt must have asked for too much money. ZING!

But I kid the guy who makes eight thousand times my yearly income pretending to be a feisty grandmother. It’s just so interesting that he popped up in Star Trek (which you should still totally go see if you haven’t because it rocks). Him and Winona Ryder, man. Yeah, Winona Ryder’s in this shit, too. I had difficulty recognizing her as well – probably because her last theatrical release happened sometime during the Paleozoic Era. OHHHH, I’M ON FIRE TONIGHT!

While we’re talking about ridiculous Star Trek shit, check out this incredible DeForest Kelley tribute I found on YouTube:

You simply were the best, DeForest.

Unsolicited Star Trek Review

star-trek
“As Captain of this ship, I order you to remove your dress…slowly.”

Star Trek
Starring: Chris Pine, Zachary Quinto, Eric Bana, Karl Urban
Directed by J.J. Abrams
2009

They said it couldn’t be done—breathing new life into the venerable sci-fi warhorse known as Star Trek, that is. After killing off Spock and killing off Kirk and partying with whales and meeting God and giving Sulu his own ship and letting Christian Slater and Kirstie Alley and Kim Cattrall and Murdock from “The A-Team” join the Federation, the franchise had been utterly exhausted. What could Star Trek possibly bring us now to top any or all of that?

How about a big, fat, Louie Anderson-sized pile of sex? That’s just what “Lost” creator J.J. Abrams serves up in his subtlety-free Star Trek prequel—homeboy gives the crew of the USS Enterprise a hot beef injection, transforming them from aging space adventurers into chiseled, bad-ass hunks. The 2009 Kirk and Spock still engage in philosophical and tactical debates, but they also brawl like shoot wrestlers and get fine-ass chicks like nobody’s business. Sulu’s a damn action hero in this one, laying the smack down on Romulans like his name was Jack Burton! Not your father’s Star Trek indeed.

The story? Rebel without a cause James T. Kirk (Chris Pine, who makes Shatner his bitch with this performance) is a shiftless Iowa barfly until a Starfleet Captain gets up in his Kool-Aid and challenges him to join the Federation. Kirk says, “Sure, what the hell?” There he encounters and gets to know ornery doctor Leonard McCoy (Karl Urban, whose lips are fascinating), simmering cauldron of hotness Nyota Uhura (Zoe Saldana), and conflicted Vulcan half-breed Spock (Zachary Quinto). This rag tag team of cadets is forced to come together and overcome intergalactic adversity when Romulan asshole Nero (an awesome Eric Bana) unknowingly travels through time and starts stirring up some serious shit near Spock’s home planet.

It would have been easy to let this Star Trek fall into hammy, overwrought autopilot, but it stays on course, remaining taught and exciting the whole way through. The actors all do a great job making you believe in and root for their famous characters without leaning too hard on the caricatures global audiences of Trek have come to expect. The movie is paced excellently, too, not blowing its entire load too soon (they wait until the movie’s practically over before introducing one of the Enterprise’s most beloved crew members; by the time he popped up, I had almost forgotten he existed).

If there’s anything to complain about in Star Trek, it’s either A) the distracting luminescence of Leonard Nimoy’s dentures (yes, Spock Prime is ALL up in this shit), B) the generic look of the computer generated snow beasts that attack Kirk while he’s on the surface of this one planet, or C) this little cutesy alien humanoid on that snow planet who serves no real purpose outside being vaguely adorable and providing some weak comic relief. Hollywood has apparently learned nothing from Jar Jar Binks.

If I wanted to be real nit-picky, I could be all, “Psssh, the guy playing Chekov looked like an extra from K-19: The Widowmaker,” but I honestly don’t care what Chekov looks like so long as he’s Russian and not really respected (check both boxes in this instance). Oh, and there’s this one part with a modern rock song early on that will probably kill the raging semis of a few of you Tribble-fuckers out there, but if you think about the artist in question and some of their lyrics / videos over the years, you’ll get why they were included in Star Trek Reboot 2009: Let’s Make America Hard Again.

Nothin’ else to say except prepare for Warp Five levels of awesome, set phasers for rawk, and beam yourself to the nearest multiplex immediately! KHAAAAAAAAAAAAANNNN (has nothing to do with this movie)!!!!!!!!!!!!

FINAL SCORE: Four Giant Earpieces Jutting Out Of Uhura’s Head (out of four).

What The Fuck Is So Random About Kelsey Grammer?

That’s my question for Lev Grossman, who wrote the following passage about his favorite “Star Trek: The Next Generation” episode, “Cause and Effect,” in a May 4th Time article that generally concerns the forthcoming J.J. Abrams Trek reboot, but also Star Trek at large:

There’s a lot to love about ‘Cause and Effect.’ The fetching but elusive Ensign Ro Laren is in it. Generous amounts of drive plasma are vented from the starboard warp nacelle—always good. The writers actually give Dr. Crusher something useful to do for a change, and Kelsey Grammer makes an awesome, beyond-random cameo as the captain of the other ship.”

Now hold the phone there, Tex. Just what the fuck is so random about Kelsey Grammer? Kelsey’s been a working actor since at least the early 1980s. He was definitely a working actor in 1992, the year “Cause and Effect” was produced. In fact, one could accurately state Grammer was at the height of his fame that year as beloved barfly psychiatrist Dr. Frasier Crane on “Cheers” (the following year marked the beginning of his eleven year run on the spin-off “Frasier”). So I really don’t see how “Star Trek” hiring one of the most popular sitcom actors of that era is even slightly in the neighborhood of “random,” let alone “beyond-random.”

You want “random” for a “Star Trek” captain? How about a toaster? How about a Kodiak bear? How about a toothpick or a diaper or a can of fart spray or a cardboard cutout of Wendy’s founder Dave Thomas? How about something that isn’t a working human actor whose credits include “The Simpsons” and “Another World?” I mean, shit, it wasn’t like Kelsey Grammer was just walking by the Paramount lot when he accidentally tripped, fell into a costume, learned a bunch of lines, and ended up in front of a camera. A pile of uncooked hot dogs? The keys to Brent Spiner’s Honda? Yes, I’ll accept those items as totally “random” Starfleet Officers, but not Kelsey Grammer, a PROFESSIONAL ACTOR and “STAR TREK” FAN who had to be BOOKED and PAID to appear.

While I’m busting your chops here, Lev, I’d also like to take you to task for using that awful “wait for it” gag TWICE in one paragraph. “Wait for it” really only works in spoken dialogue. You’re building suspense for the listener. They will indeed have to wait for the crazy information you’re about to lay on them. They cannot make you speak faster. Your mouth is an instrument only you can control. In print, “wait for it” is just a cutesy pile of vomit that gets in the way of the narrative. I am not going to pause and ready myself for whatever insane fact awaits me in the next part of the sentence. I’m just going to damn you for wasting my precious time with trendy garbage slang that belongs in a sassy pre-teen conversation about Zac Efron.

And yes, Lev, isn’t it just completely fucking insane that “Enterprise” star Scott Bakula was once on “Quantum Leap?” Oh, no, wait—that isn’t completely fucking insane, not at all, because “Quantum Leap” was the most high-profile shit Scott Bakula ever did. Nothing he’s ever appeared in before or since has been more popular—not that football movie he did with Sinbad, not his role on “Murphy Brown,” not his high school turn as the lead in “Godspell.” In the words of Amy Poehler, really? That’s your reveal? Some shit me and my Grandma already knew for over a decade? If your article were an actual real-time conversation between the two of us and that little nugget of info was prolonged with a “wait for it,” I probably would have gone semi-Christian Bale on you. Next thing you’re gonna tell me is the guy who played Urkel doesn’t really talk like that! HOLYFUCKINGSHIT!

As for your prediction that this new Star Trek won’t have a “sense of intimacy” or be both “brilliant and ridiculous,” I guess you haven’t seen the following trailer:

Robot cop, that little kid’s hair, that little kid’s line, James Dean Biker Kirk, Uhura’s granny bra, Crazy Action Suit Sulu—all brilliant, all ridiculous (intimacy quotient pending). How could they not have you at Thelma & Louise Convertible Death Wish Nine Year Old?

Sorry if this all seemed a bit harsh, Lev. I guess I’ve been a little touchy since the Hipster Grifter randomly stole my—wait for it—“Quantum Leap: Season 1” DVD that was autographed by Scott Bakula! It was right underneath my—wait for it—framed photo of Kelsey Grammer! That’s random beyond Thunderdome!