the Little Red Reviewer

Posts Tagged ‘Star Trek

I’m late to Discovery, and I’m fine with that.  After watching the first season, i have a lot (holy shit a lot!) of thoughts.  I wasn’t sure how to get them all down, so I cheated, and interviewed myself about my experience.  This is not a review or a critique, it is a ramble.   Cuz I got thoughts, and what is the internet good for, if not rambling?

 

Yeah, so this blog post is less about ST: Discovery and more about how I react to things.  But I finally watched the first season, and I Have Thoughts.

 

Very minor spoilers ahead.

 

This showed on CBS All Access like a year ago. Why did it take you this long to finally watch it?

 

Biggest reason: I don’t find CBS All Access to be worth what they are charging for it. There isn’t enough there there.    I love subscription streaming services, when those services offer a lot of stuff I’m interested in watching. Netflix could double what they charge and I’d still be ripping them off.  CBS All Access was asking me to pay however much a month for one show. I still find that idea laughable. Discovery looked interesting, but this was a simple value equation: was the cost of CBS All Access a value match for what I was buying? Nope.

 

A friend bought the 1st season on Blu-ray and offered to let me borrow it. So that’s how I ended up finally watching Discovery.

 

What did you think of the overall design of the show?

 

I love the artwork of the opening credits. I’m a sucker for anything architecture-y.  I liked the interiors of the Klingon ships. The color schemes for the Discovery sere darker than I’m used to for a Star Trek story,  it was more Deep Space Nine (a station that wasn’t designed by the Federation), everything was more Battlestar Galactica than I was expecting.

 

Battlestar Galactica? What makes you compare this show to BSG?

 

Design. Color scheme. Dark plot elements. Tension.  The focus on non-verbal communication and body language. Even how it was filmed.

 

I’m used to Star Trek sets being of neutral color schemes, I’m used to the camera angles being more “old school”, so that one set, one hallway, could be made to look like many.  The set designs, camera angles, and filming style felt more Battlestar Galactica or even Firefly to me. Grungier sets, more sharp edges and fewer softened edges, more hallways that looked like actual hallways.  I grew up on Next Gen and Voyager. Those scripts were written almost “cozy mystery” style, where you knew from the first minute of the episode that everything would be neatly wrapped up and sanitized in 42 minutes with minimal tension, no anger or arguments, no issues with integrity,  plenty of diplomacy, and that in a few weeks the characters would forget everything that happened in this episode. Deep Space Nine left that episodic-ness behind somewhat, which was nice.

 

Discovery didn’t feel sanitized. It didn’t feel like anything was going to be wrapped up in one or two episodes. The character’s non-verbal communication added a ton of tension and suspicion. I didn’t feel like the characters would forget what happened in a few episodes. It felt like a scifi soap opera. It felt like Battlestar Galactica. I mean that as a compliment to both shows.

 

You posted on twitter that you’re afraid of Jason Isaacs. What the hell?

 

He’s a really great actor.  Has a metric fuckton of presence.  He walks into the room and your eyes are on him (ok, maybe that’s just me?).  I saw him in a Netflix original tv show called The O.A., which I highly recommend if you haven’t seen it.  Isaacs plays the villain, and boy is he sociopathically villainous. I left the first season of The O.A. scared shitless of him.  The 2nd season of The O.A. comes out soon, and in the promo, it looks like the characters are now friends with him? What the fuck! Why aren’t you running away from him as fast as your legs will take you? He’s the bad guy!!!

 

So when he showed up on Discovery, a loud voice in the back of my head was screaming “RUN”.   It wasn’t the words that were coming out of his mouth that made me nervous, it was all his non-verbal mannerisms, that he looked away from people while talking, the angle of his shoulders, his not quite smile when things were going the way he wanted.  Watching him on screen was like noticing a big spider crawling down behind the sofa. I know it’s there, i just don’t know exactly where, or when it’s going to crawl out, or if it’s two centimeters from my shoulder, right this second. Oh, hai anxiety!

 

I was so freaked out by him that I had a tough time paying attention to what was happening on the TV screen.    It made me feel a little better when some stuff is revealed about his character, i felt justified in my anxiety and unrelenting fear.

 

What about other actors and characters? Who did you like? Who didn’t you like?

 

I love Michelle Yeoh.  She makes everything better.  Every scene with her is my favorite scene. She looked like she had a TON of fun filming her scenes, and I just love everything about her and her character.

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June, where did you go? Last I checked it was June 2nd, how is it already July??   I didn’t post many reviews in June, but I did get a lot of reading done.  Some of these I’ll write reviews for, some of them will get a capsule review in this post.  Here’s what I was up to this month:

 

I finished this fun little gem:

Spock Must Die is the famous novel where thanks to a transporter malfunction, the Enterprise now has two Spocks. Which one is the “real” one? What will they do with the other one? When war breaks out at the Klingon border, the importance of solving the mystery ratchets up. Even when Kirk is sure which Spock is the true, original Spock, he insists on calling his friend “Spock Two”. When questioned why, Kirk responds that by saying “two” every time he says his friend’s name, it forces him to remember how important it is to solve the problem at hand.  Fun little book, right around 200 pages.  Great beginning, satisfying end, a little slow in the middle.

 

then there was this other little gem:

Mightier than the Sword is the new novella out from K.J. Parker.  I’m not going to say much because I do plan to write a review, but it was fun, smart, snarky, and a joy to read. I’ve read it at least twice now, maybe three times?  I read these quick little novellas, and then I get ready to write a review, realize I don’t remember the details, so I read the whole thing again.  If you like Parker, you will love Mightier than the Sword.

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star-trek-vol-2-bookStar Trek Vol 2, by James Blish

published in 1968

where I got it: purchased used

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Don’t let the title of this book fool you, this is not a novelization of the second Star Trek movie. . . although this little volume is tangentially related to that movie.

I better start from the beginning. Starting in 1967, James Blish started adapting the Star Trek teleplays into short stories, printed as volumes that covered seven or eight tv episodes.  He’d adapt the teleplay before it was edited for television, before it was ever filmed. So the short stories do differ from the tv episode scripts a bit. Also? The short story adaptations skip all the filler junk, you get just the straight up story with none of the stuff needed to fill out a 48 minute tv show. Sometimes that means a tighter story,  sometimes it means the story feels very rushed.

This second volume of teleplay adaptations contains adaptations of the following season one episodes:

Arena

A Taste of Armageddon

Tomorrow is Yesterday

Errand of Mercy

Court Martial

Operation – Annihilate!

The City of the Edge of Forever

Space Seed

Some of you are saying “hey, those two are the famous episodes!” and to that, I respond “yes, they are!”

My favorite thing about these short stories is that they are short. In 13 to 15 pages I get a complete Star Trek adventure.  Sure, the long novels are fun and in depth, but these were fun little Star Trek capsules.   I should talk about the famous ones first, shouldn’t I?

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willful-childWillful Child, by Steven Erickson

published in 2014

where I got it: purchased new

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Are you a fan of the movie Galaxy Quest? Do you enjoy quoting Zapp Brannigan and quoting things he might say?  Are you a Star Trek fan who makes fun of the show in good fun and out of love?  If you answered Yes to any of those questions, Steven Erickson’s Willful Child is for you.

Like many original Star Trek episode scripts, Willfull Child is not as a whole what I would describe as a good book. The pacing is off, the characters are pretty flat, the dialog is stilted. And all of that is part of the joke.  Erikson is playing around with Star Trek tropes, science fiction tropes, humor tropes, and human exploration tropes and having buckets of fun with along the way.  Captain Hardrian Sawback is the bastard child of Zapp Brannigan and Eric Cartman, the Terran Space Fleet’s mission is to subjugate or maybe obliterate as many life forms as possible, and the further you get into this book, the more you’ll be laughing.   The country music programming joke is still my favorite.

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And Yes, this is the same Steven Erickson who is famous for his Malazan Book of the Fallen series. After writing that many heavy fantasy novels, I’d say he more than deserves a humorous palette cleanser of a novel.

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So, apparently I’m on a Star Trek kick?

ishmael-hamblyIshmael by Barbara Hambly

published in 1985

where I got it: purchased used

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When I saw this book at a used bookstore a while back, I  couldn’t say no. I mean come on – Spock playing what looks like chess in what looks like it could be the wild west? Also? Any Spock story is a good story. And Barbara Hambly? Shut up and take my two bucks.

At Starbase 12, Kirk and Spock observe a Klingon transport ship behaving rather oddly. Spock manages to get aboard, and the next thing everyone knows, the ship has entered the mysterious storms of the nearby Tau Eridani Cloud and disappeared. Kirk blames himself for Spock’s disappearance and fears the worst.

Suffering from amnesia, Spock wakes up in the woods under the blue sky of a planet. The year is 1867 and he’s in Seattle, which is a muddy logging town on the frontier. Injured and weak, Spock is taken in and nursed back to health by Aaron Stemple. Nicknamed Ishmael, and introduced around as Stemple’s nephew, Spock’s memories very slowly return to him. He knows his homeworld is elsewhere, he has bits and pieces of memories of technology. Meanwhile, Stemple give Ishmael a job at his mill, and helps him learn about the politics of the Seattle community. The story rambles a  bit, with Ishmael sharing his contemporary and progressive worldview, and inadvertently widening the worldview of those he befriends in Seattle. It doesn’t matter what Spock is doing, it’s always fun to watch him interact with humans who act impulsively and irrationally. And of course, I heard every line in my head in Leonard Nimoy’s voice.

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Every Star Trek fan worth their weight in Romulan Ale remembers Voyager.  So many firsts in this show – first female captain,  first ST adventures solidly outside the Federation,  first crew that wasn’t solid star fleet (or even academy graduates!),   and I’d tell you about some other firsts, but they are late season spoilers so I ain’t telling.  After a wide ranging Star Trek chat with a friend recently, I decided to give the series another go.

 

Voyager originally aired from 1995 until 2001.  I was in high school in 1995 which means I watched the first three seasons religiously, and then who knows after that, because college.  I vaguely know what happens at the end of the series, or at least I think I do, but once I get to the last season I’ll be coming across episodes I’ve never seen before.

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Like all Star Trek shows, Voyager has great episodes, good episodes, and downright boring episodes.  I’m using the Watch/Skip guide over at Liz Tells Frank so I can skip the boring episodes. In her spoiler-free rundown of each season, Liz lets you know which episodes are must watch for the over arching story line, and which can be skipped. Netflix numbers the 2-part pilot as 1 full episode, and Liz numbers the pilot as 2 episodes, so the numbering is off if you watch on Netflix, but the episode titles are correct. Here are my thoughts on the Season 1 episodes I’ve watched so far.

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on Friday July 22nd, if you live in Southwestern Michigan, you can hear an edited version of our Star Trek chat on 102.1FM at 7:50am, 11:50am and 4:20pm.  Or just click here to listen to us talk on and on and on and on.

 

http://wmuk.org/post/why-star-trek-endures

 

 


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some of the books reviewed here were free ARCs supplied by publishers/authors/other groups. Some of the books here I got from the library. the rest I *gasp!* actually paid for. I'll do my best to let you know what's what.
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