Tales from the Cultural Wilderness Journal

Sunday, June 19, 2005

Insurrection and Wonder Woman

[Previous entry: "Cinemas and Star Trek (Movies)"]

Monday picks up where Sunday left off - one more Star Trek film to go, and this one appeared to be scratched on arrival. Fortunately it played perfectly okay.

So Star Trek: Insurrection. The best of the Next Gen films - everyone bitches about this being a feature length TV episode, but what's wrong with that? It's got great action sequences, lots of great character moments without too much focus on Picard and Data and lots of intrigue with Star Fleet going off the deep end for a potentially earth-shattering medical breakthrough. It's nice to see that their recent tribulations (Dominion, Borg) has left them a little frazzled!

The only dumb bits in this movie are the Worf moments - why do they keep trying to shoe horn him in to these movies after he went his own way in DS9? Leave him to his DS9 duties... wasn't he going to be Federation ambassador to the Klingon homeworld or something?

Of course, what they needed to do after this one was a DS9 movie with Section 31 and more Federation tearing itself apart. But what do we get? Clones of Picard, Stupid Data, and not-very-sinister Romulans. Oh, and a ship that can fire while cloaked - yawn! But we'll save observations on Nemesis until they release the Collector's Edition...

Meanwhile, we go back to the second half of Wonder Woman, and kick off with "Going, Going, Gone." It opens with a guy on a submarine, with a laser, and a fighter plane seeing a UFO and the pilot bailing out. The plane was carrying a nuclear weapon (as they do) and now Diana needs to find out where it's gone.

"Spaced Out" sees Diana at a science-fiction convention, where some thugs are looking for some missing laser crystals. There's also a master thief to deal with, but he has a habit of borrowing other people's convention costumes, so he's not the easiest person to track down. What's most surprising about this, is that Wonder Woman isn't mobbed by fans the moment she shows up... what sort of conventioneers are these?

Tuesday kicks off with more Wonder Woman, and there's more UFOs in "The Starships Are Coming." These are manufactured by a bunch of lunatics who want to persuade a military commander to nuke China to prevent a major invasion fleet landing... there's some not very convincing aliens for Wonder Woman to deal with, but that's what you get with people in costumes...

"Amazon Hot Wax" has the distinction of Judge Reinhold guest starring in a show about dead musicians and blackmail over last recordings. Of course, Diana has to go under cover as a singer while she investigates the record company. It'd be interesting to find out who's singing the songs she performs...

"The Richest Man In The World" sees a tiny European nation buying some technological macguffin from the titular character. Unfortunately, the rich guy spends his life in hiding and there's only three people in the world who know what he really looks like, so when he's kidnapped and the macguffin goes missing, he's got to rely on a young ne'er-do-well to help him out.

Wednesday continues the Wonder Woman marathon, although these are all short evenings because I've got Haunted to finish (the Kelley Armstrong novel).

"A Date With Doomsday" has Diana visiting a dating agency. They've got a process for copying a person's hands and face with latex so they can impersonate them to commit crimes. It's not the worlds greatest episode, but things pick up from the next one...

"A Girl With A Gift For Disaster" sees a woman who's jinxed get mixed up with a bunch of thieves who claim to be working for the IADC. She seems to defy the odds every time she's nervous - causing traffic accidents, grenades to go off, flipped coins to land on their edge - in other words a perfect distraction for her alleged boyfriend to commit his burglary.

"The Boy Who Knew Her Secret Part 1" sees Diana battling real aliens after a whole bunch of silver pyramids crash to Earth in a small town. The pyramids trap the person who picks it up's life force and replaces it with an alien intelligence. Fortunately for Diana, before she can get taken over, the titular boy comes in and saves her.

"The Boy Who Knew Her Secret Part 2" picks up with the aliens believing they've all been taken over, and Wonder Woman having found out that they're just there to seek out an evil shape changing fugitive and then they'll leave. Unfortunately, the fugitive is masquerading as part of Diana's party, and he drugs her to forget that she's Wonder Woman. Fortunately the boy also knows who she is so can break the hypnotic effect.

"The Man Who Could Not Die" feels like setting up a spin off. Diana has to deal with a strange bunch of characters at the IADC, and they set up a potential lead for the spin-off in the title character. After dealing with an indestructible ape, Diana encounters an athlete who's been given the same treatment - he no longer needs to eat, drink, or sleep, and is completely invulnerable. The scientist who did it to him is holding the antidote hostage in return for a whole bunch of crimes...

[Previous entry: "Cinemas and Star Trek (Movies)"]

Friday, June 17, 2005

Cinemas and Star Trek (Movies)

[Previous entry: "A (Potentially) Flawed Wonder"]

It's a Saturday, and where I could spend all day watching Wonder Woman, I've instead realised Howl's Moving Castle is on limited release, and even though it's been dubbed the hell out of, it's probably still watchable. So, up early and out the door to get to a 10:30am showing.

It's not a bad film, although they never really explain the curse that the girl, Sophie is under. Her age seems to bounce up and down with fair alacrity. Billy Crystal makes a good fire demon, but it'll be interesting to see how the film compares in the original language. At least it should have some quiet moments while this is suffering from Disney "fill every second with sound"-itis.

I made the mistake of following the film up with the Star Wars film I've been managing to avoid. It's a good part, but the dialogue's still a bit clunky. It's nice to finally see the Wookies, and Yoda being friends with Chewbacca makes sense, even if they don't meet in the original trilogy. The Palaptine-Yoda fight isn't very good, but Ewan McGregor gets a whole bunch of good fight scenes here, even if they do spend the first half hour beating you over the head with how useless he is. In fact, he's like two characters here - completely useless for half an hour, then he's this all-powerful Jedi who can beat anyone, and then he's Anakin's equal in the final battle. Some consistency in his powers would have been nice!

After some book shopping (the latest Kelley Armstrong - Haunted - and the latest Jeffrey Deaver Lincoln Rhyme novel - The Twelfth Card) and finding that the Douglas Preston / Lincoln Child novel isn't out until Tuesday, it was home to some Star Trek movies. Insurrection was one of the possibly scratched discs that arrived this week, so I need to watch all the ones I've not seen before I get to it.

Unfortunately, I've only actually watched the first one, so we kick off with Star Trek II: The Wrath Of Khan... which holds up the early film sequence of even numbers being good. They pick up the Space Seed thread of Khan being marooned on a planet, throw in a trainee vulcan officer, Kirk's son, and a weapon that could destroy planets while creating new life, and you've got quite the actioner.

But it's a very subdued Captain Kirk we get in this film. He appears tired and world weary, not really wanting to have to go through all this pain and stress again.

Film 3, The Search For Spock, opens with the final Spock / Kirk scene in the second film, just so the audence can recap what happened in the two years since film 2 was released. I'm expecting this to be a weaker film (mainly for the odd-even curse), but I have only the vaguest memories of it. The only points I'm expecting are a completely pointless killing off of Kirk's son, and the Captain somehow gaining possession of a Klingon Bird of Prey so they've got something to hide in the park in Film 4...

Probably the most glaring weakness in this film is the tragic mis-casting of the recast Saavik. Kirstie Alley did a pretty good job in the second film, but Robin Curtis is in no way true to the character that developed in the first part... Christopher Lloyd doesn't make a particularly convincing Klingon either...

It's a bit meandering and doesn't really go anywhere, but it isn't all together a bad film. It could just do with feeling like more than just a vehicle for bringing Spock back, but the action sequences aren't very action-ey, the character moments are fragmentary at best (except for McCoy channeling Spock's spirit), and it just wanders its way to a conclusion without any real purpose.

Sunday dawns with an earthquake... at least this one I recognized as a quake (the last one was just a really big bang). I think it was the room shaking gently for 10 seconds or so that gave it away. My upstairs neighbours aren't that proficient at making the room shake!

Then, after watching a crazy Republican foment war with Iran (what army is he planning to fight that one with?!), it was time for the Canadian Grand Prix. And if it weren't for all the retirements, it would have been a really dull race.

Then there's a two hour gap into witch Star Trek IV: The Voyage Home fits cleanly. This is probably the best of the Star Trek films - it doesn't take itself too seriously, tells a rollicking action story, and still covers the important moral element. There's reference back to the original show in the whole time-warp element. And there's the usual implausible Kirk love interest.

I was then due to watch the 4400 season 2 kickoff (it's a repeat from last week and I completely spaced on it then), but decided to skip it as I was intending to buy the DVD anyway. However, I put it on while changing discs and spotted Summer Glau and Jeffrey Combs and got stuck for half an hour.

Of course, I did eventually manage to tear myself away, arguing that it was more important to get through stuff I already own than to watch stuff I'm going to buy anyway. So it was an hour and forty-five minutes of dreck I had to get through in Star Trek V: The Final Frontier. It has some redeeming elements - the crew on leave at the start - and some weak elements - everything after the twenty minute mark.

So it's with high hopes we go in to Star Trek VI: The Undiscovered Country. It's even numbered, so it should be a good one, and we've got David Warner in it again - going from Federation ambassador to the planet of peace in 5, to the Klingon Chancellor in 6... that's quite a promotion (and of course a species change)!

The scenes of the Klingon moon exploding just about match up with the Voyager episode that recreates them, although there seems to be no sign of Janice Rand on the Excelsior so far... There is Kim Cattrall however, who can brighten up any film, even if she is playing evil vulcan.

Ooh, and there's another time travel anomaly in this film - Odo has traveled back in time and is masquerading as a Star Fleet commanding officer with war plans for defeating the Klingons. What purpose has he got there? Has the Dominion got a time travel plot going on to prevent the alliance with the Klingons so that they can win the war in the DS9 timeline?

Okay, not only is Odo wandering around Starfleet Command, talking to the Federation Chancellor, but there's a Jem Hadar imprisoned in Rura Penthe - or at least the race that the Jem Hadar are engineered from (because the Dominion wouldn't need a clone soldier race that has genitals!). And Christian Slater is serving aboard the Excelsior...

Star Trek: Generations is next up, and it's the first outing of the Next Generation crew. It was during this film I realised why the Next Gen films didn't work as well as the Original Crew films - they try to maintain the broad cast focus, and everyone gets short shrift, whereas with the originals, it was really only Kirk, Spock and McCoy who got any storyline.

Anyway, it's got dumb "Data with emotions" bits, annoying interludes with Lursa and Baator - they were annoying in the series, we don't need to give them big screen time - a completely pointless Kirk death scene, and an excuse to destroy the ship. Who decided Deanna should get to fly it in to a planet? The last film to uphold the odd-even curse.

Star Trek: First Contact blows the curse out of the water. It should be a really good film - Borg attack Earth, time travel, Zephram Cochrane's flight and first contact with the Vulcans. But it just isn't very good. Patrick Stewart should stick to Moby Dick if he wants to play Ahab, and Data gets a whole bunch of screen time with the Borg Queen - see, the Queen was a dumb idea when Voyager introduced it, we don't need a big screen reappearance.

Deanna continues to get dumb storylines in the movies - this time she gets to get steaming drunk in a bar while trying to counsel Mr. Cochrane in to making his flight. Geordi finally gets to ditch his VISOR in this film, in favour of artificial eyes. There's a brief appearance by the EMH and Reg Barclay, but any more Voyager references just point up how feeble the Borg have become - Janeway runs them in to the ground every week and she's not exactly the brightest bulb...

[Previous entry: "A (Potentially) Flawed Wonder"]

Saturday, June 11, 2005

A (Potentially) Flawed Wonder

[Previous entry: "Two Days Of Batman"]

Wednesday sees the rest of the Batman disc, the two part "Feat Of Clay" introducing Clayface to the animated show. We have an actor impersonating Bruce Wayne... and doing a pretty good job of it, but then he's got some face cream that allows him to reshape his face in to any form... and it's a good thing too considering he was in an accident and is horribly scarred.

Unfortunately for him, the crime kingpin who supplies his cream is upset that he failed the last mission and his goons forcefeed him a whole jarful of the cream... which turns him into the shapeshifting blob of clay calling himself Clayface.

And then he tries to get revenge, while Batman tries to stop him (and dodge the police, as they think Bruce is guilty of the attack at the start)...

Due to a number of scratched looking discs in the latest shipment, I've decided to skip the last disc of Batman Volume 1 for now, and watch Wonder Woman Season 3... at least until the picture breaks up at a scratch and I can justify sending it back...

Ooh, new theme tune... and it's horrible! We open with "My Teenage Idol Is Missing" and this is a really weak premise for Wonder Woman to get involved in - she's doing some business in town for the Government, and the company director she's dealing with has a daughter who managed to sneak on to the balcony of the teen star and watch him get kidnapped. Now the daughter is being a nuisance to persaude Diana to at least investigate...

"Hot Wheels" sees a whole lot of investigation going into the theft of classic cars... especially when one of them has secret military plans hidden inside it. Diana has to put up with an annoying cop as a partner, who doesn't have much time for women. And wow I'm losing interest...

Lets hope that "The Deadly Sting" is a better attention retainer. Okay, we're at a football game, and the transition betwen actual footage and staged shots for the show are completely laughable. Ooh... someone's shot the receiver with something... they're fixing the games, and presumably Steve will want Diana to investigate... because Steve doesn't do any of that sort of thing any more! I know this is Wonder Woman, but he's a bit helpless these days...

"The Fine Art Of Crime" starts the episodes on the second side of disc one... and this is the side with the scratches, so we'll see what happens. Anyway, we have a good guest cast - Ed Begley Jr, who we last saw as Henry Starling in Star Trek Voyager (Future's End), and Roddy McDowell who we last saw during the show rotation in Buck Rogers (Planet of the Slave Girls) and Wonder Woman season 2 (The Man Who Made Volcanoes). We have an artist (McDowell) who's creating extremely lifelike statues (and presumably using real people to do it), but there's also a string of robberies going on that Diana needs to look in to.

Thursday night (already?!) continues Wonder Woman with "Disco Devil" and we're at the disco, with a government scientist. The girl with him lures him in to a mirrored room, and then a guy comes in and reads his mind - removing the memories of the last 24 hours in the process. This does of course, mean he can't remember the code to disarm a bomb that they're they're testing at the nearby army base.

Fortunately, there's a second guy out there who can extract memories, but he's now wanted by the bad guys because the first guy is throwing his weight around. Of course, the second guy does almost find out that Diana is Wonder Woman... but the two mens powers cancel each other out at the end, so there won't be any more mind reading...

"Formicida" looks to be a silly episode, with a woman who can telepathically control bugs. She's bringing down buildings by having ants eat the superstructure, and she's got a thing against an industrialist who has a chemical plant producing a pesticide she wants destroyed.

"Time Bomb" opens with shots from Space 1999... claiming to be Earth in the year 2155 and there's a whole bunch of mushroom like habitation domes, at least once we've had the reused footage of one of the spacecraft. And there's some scientists with a time portal who are going to observe Washington in 1978... but one of them wants to accumulate stuff which appears to be outlawed in the future, so she's going to go back there. Of course, her research partner has to go back to stop her...

Of course, a guy in a silver suit is easy to keep track of, even if he has no idea how to get around in Washington DC... of course, he does let slip to Diana that there's a nuclear holocaust in 2007 (well, we're right on target if Bush continues in his usual manner... and I'd probably better move if Joe Straczynski has anything to contribute to the issue!).

The fictional beachfront town of Santa Corona takes center stage in "" and there's a Beach Club that a bad guy wants... and he's going to extreme lengths to get it - including wrecking the owner's daughter's car. As he says, "be thankful it's not your daughter" who presumably is the one the episode is titled for as she appears to be something of a "Skateboard Wiz."

That wasn't too bad, but we've got evil killer dolphins in the next episode... and we can't have enough evil killer dolphin entertainment! But at least he's called Bluebeard... that's a suitable name for a killer dolphin! Okay, "The Deadly Dolphin" is really about a kidnapped navy trained dolphin, but presumably he does some killing later on if he's supposed to be deadly?

Apparently, the dolphin's service records went missing, so the navy don't really know what he was trained for... who wrote this lunacy?! The dolphin was stolen out of the Caribbean and shipped to the Pacific, where he escaped, and then caught by the aquarium, and now kidnapped again... Okay, evil land developer wants the most expensive housing development in the US... so how is a dolphin going to get him that? Do navy dolphins successfully burrow through California soil? Are they trained to destroy new homesteads? They're given special training to hate ranch-style homes?

I'm sorry - this episode is just too silly for words... I know the third season is mostly goofy episodes (mindreaders, ant-controlling women, leprechauns, Spock's Brain, more aliens)... but this one takes the biscuit so far.

Ah, there's a golf course, and a developer called Mr. Goodspeed. If his first name is Stanley then we might be talking a bioweapons trained dolphin who needs to infiltrate a high security prison to stop a bunch of terrorists. But no... it's Ira Goodspeed, obviously we're talking about his son.

Ooh, now Diana has to save Gladys the dolphin from a whole bunch of sharks - this dolphin appears to have no clue how to deal with them - even I know dolphins deal with sharks all the time, but apparently this one needs Wonder Woman to emit mysterious red blasts of light at the sharks to drive them off!

It's Friday night... date night... oh, okay, ignore that... it's just a night where I don't have to get up for work tomorrow. As I seem to be pursuing a headache, we'll see how much of Wonder Woman I actually manage to get through. We kick off with "Stolen Faces" and there appears to be a duplicate Wonder Woman. Well, okay, there's a guy making really realistic rubber masks of people so he can pull off a cunning robbery. He didn't, however, count on his fake Wonder Woman rescuing a young boy and ending up in the hospital for her troubles...

"Pot Of Gold" has a guy trying to sell two plates to print perfect hundred-dollar-bills, and he wants a pot of gold in return. However, the buyer steals it from a leprechaun, and he's now out to get it back (according to the legend I've never heard of, he has to get it back all on his own, so he's not all that amused about Wonder Woman's interference).

In the next episode, aliens kidnap Mister Spock and remove his brain to power a computer in "Gault's Brain"... oh, no, wait, that's Gault, not Spock... okay, there's this industrialist see, and he's dead. But some crazy scientist has removed his brain and put it in a jar (and it has a really freaky eyestalk!). And now it has the powers of telekinesis and can read War And Peace in under an hour. What he really wants though, is a young athletic body to put his brain in...

I've finished the disc, and I've just spotted that Howl's Moving Castle is out at the cinema, so I'm going to listen to some music, sleep, and hopefully get to a showing of the new Miyazaki film tomorrow.

[Previous entry: "Two Days Of Batman"]

Two Days Of Batman

[Previous entry: "A Weekend Ago"]

Monday's viewing continues the Animated Series of Batman. "Pretty Poison" sees the introduction of Pamela Isley, and apparently she's getting engaged to Bruce's friend, and district attorney, Harvey Dent. Unfortunately, Pamela is a little cuckoo... something to do with Harvey building a penitentiary and nearly killing a plant. So she's become Poison Ivy and intends to take her revenge...

"The Underdwellers" isn't very good... there's a guy called the Sewer King, and he's got a whole bunch of kids working for him in the sewers - stealing stuff, digging, but always staying silent on pain of being put in the light box.

"P.O.V." finishes the first disc, and it's three cops being grilled about a bust that went wrong. They've all got different versions of events, but the outcome is suspension for all three. However, one of them puts the clues together and goes after the criminals again, helping Batman out to collar the whole gang.

"Forgotten" sees homeless people going missing, and Bruce goes undercover to find out what's happening to them. Problem is, when he's captured by the thugs he's hit over the head and loses his memory. So there he is working in some criminal's mine with the other homeless, with no idea that he's Batman... Alfred has to come through with a rescue here, and gets some fun scenes proving he's not particularly helpless.

"Be A Clown" sees the Mayor throwing his son Jordan a birthday party, but he's just insulted the Joker by comparing him to Batman, so there's a little revenge on the cards. Jordan wants to be a magician, and stows away with the Joker (currently pretending to be Jecko the Clown) to learn from him. But when Batman turns up, how long will it be before Jordan realises that's he's working with the wrong guy?

Harvey Dent makes a reappearance in the two-part "Two-Face"... only this time he might not be on the side of the angels. Ooh, and Rupert Thorne makes an appearance as the criminal ringleader that Harvey is determined to bring down. Harvey's got something of a temper on him... oh, okay, multiple personality - he's been supressing his anger for most of his life and it's taken on a persona of its own.

Unfortunately, when Thorne finds out about this, and attempts to make a deal with Harvey, a fight ensues, and Harvey gets seriously scarred on half his face. And now he's at large... and he's got a double-headed coin to make all his decisions for him...

"It's Never Too Late" sees a mob war between two crime bosses - Thorne and Stromwell - so presumably Thorne wins, what with him being in charge in the previous episode... Stromwell's son has been kidnapped and he's willing to meet with Thorne (who obviously is planning a trap). Stromwell seems to have a fear of trains, after some childhood incident. And yes, this synopsis is incoherent.

Hopefully I'll make more sense of "I've Got Batman In My Basement" (which was trying to win an award for dumb episode title). Batman tries to take on a couple of Faberge Egg thieves, but gets attacked by a vulture - a giant South American vulture to be precise! And of course, giant birds are the purview of the Penguin. Lets see, we have a junior detective, and he's following the bird, but Batman shows up to capture the Penguin - obviously he manages to get gassed and the kid has to rescue him and take him back to his crime lab (or basement, as most people would refer to it!).

Tuesday sees more Batman, with "Heart Of Ice" kicking off the viewage, and obviously we get the introduction of Mr. Freeze, who's apparently got a grudge against GothCorp. He was injured and his wife was killed (or nearly so) in a lab accident, caused by the current head of GothCorp... he wants revenge (which pretty much puts paid to the lack of emotion bit), while Batman will settle for giving the police the evidence of the accident.

On to disc 3, and "The Cat and the Claw" becomes our first two parter of the disc with Catwoman's first appearance in the show. Of course, this wasn't originally broadcast as a two parter - the two episodes were separated by a few, but here they're presented together. Of course, Batman and Catwoman spar, and then Bruce and Selina meet the next night when Bruce is being auctioned for a good cause (some big cat sanctuary)... so who should win a date with him?

Ah, there's the other half of the title - Red Claw, the most ruthless terrorist leader - is also in town, and his thugs are causing problems for the police. So - Selina's an animal rights activist trying to buy some land, and Red Claw has other plans for the land.

Okay, maybe these episodes do belong together... that's very much a to be continued... so why were they episodes 1 and 8 in airdate order and 13 and 16 in production?

"See No Evil" has a young girl being visited by an invisible man, who's giving her expensive necklaces. He doesn't sound too happy about the fact that the girl and her mother are moving though... Ah, okay, it's a man in an invisibility suit.

"Beware Of The Grey Ghost" gets us back to the strong episodes - someone's blowing up building and claiming responsibility as "The Mad Bomber" - and it jogs Batman's memory of a show he watched growing up about a crime fighter called the Grey Ghost. However, Simon Trent is now just a penniless actor who can't find work... but he's the only one with a copy of the show... fun tie-in here having Adam West play Simon, and it's nice to see Batman got his inspiration for the Batcave from somewhere...

"Prophecy Of Doom" sees a banker friend of Bruce's being taken in by a seer called Nostromos... who keeps going on about the inner voice and someone being in grave danger... as long as an alien doesn't burst out of someone's chest we'll let the reference go. Oooh... now I know where Chancellor Gowron got his eyes from...

Of course, when Nostromos predicts death for Bruce Wayne, he's got to make it happen by sabotaging his private elevator. Amazingly, Bruce has the Batman costume in his jacket pocket (well, he wasn't carrying a briefcase!) so he can get out.

[Previous entry: "A Weekend Ago"]

A Weekend Ago

[Previous entry: "Some Voyager (Season 3)"]

Saturday sees the rest of Voyager's season 3 and it's the usual mix of good and bad leading up to a reasonable two parter split over the season break.

We start with "Rise," which is a Neelix and Tuvok episode.

"Favorite Son" sees Harry Kim take center stage when he starts having a serious sense of deja vu about the area of space they're travelling through. Then he starts exhibiting mysterious genetic changes and takes on the characteristics of a race they're passing. It seems the children of that race are seeded throughout the galaxy and their natural traits remain dormant until they find their way back hoome. Of course, when 90% of the planet's population is female and extremely attractive, most of the males decide to stay... but they're hiding something...

"Before And After" is a Kes episode, and she suddenly finds herself bouncing backwards through time. At the start she's an old woman being put in a bio-temporal chamber to prolong her life, but the procedure awakens chroniton radiation in her and causes the problem. So she goes from being married to Tom Paris, with Harry married to her daughter to slowly returning to the present time (through the Year of Hell... nice bit of foreshadowing here) and then back to when the Krenim attack the ship and she gets dosed with the radiation. Unfortunately, the Doctor's treatments don't work perfectly, and she keeps getting younger...

"Real Life" has the Doctor trying to understand people better, so he creates a holographic family to allow him to experience a home life. But when B'Elanna and Kes find that it's too perfect, they introduce some reality in to it. A good episode, with a touching ending...

"Distant Origin" sees a reptilian scientist challenging the orthodoxy of his people that they originated in the Delta Quadrant by tracking down Voyager and kidnapping Chakotay. He believes that they originated on Earth (and Janeway and the Doctor discover that they're descended from Hadrosaurs... I think they might have been better going with Raptors but what do I know?), and Chakotay postulates that they survived the extinction event on an isolated landmass, developed spaceflight and left Earth to escape another disaster that destroyed their continent. Silly... but these people do have transporters that can transport all of Voyager inside their spaceship!

"Displaced" sees the crew being replaced every seven and a half minutes by a very surprised alien. Of course, as the crew gets replaced, they're slowly outnumbered by the aliens and it's clear they're going to take over the ship. The crew find themselves in a perfectly suitable habitat which is clearly a zoo or prison... of course, with the help of a friendly alien from the next cell over, and by modifying the Doctor's mobile emitter, they find the hidden door and escape... allowing them to use the aliens' tranporter technology themselves...

"Worst Case Scenario" has the crew messing around with a holodeck programme about a mutiny of the Maquis shortly after arriving in the Delta Quadrant. Unfortunately, the programme is incomplete and no-one knows who wrote it, until Tuvok volunteers that it was his. Tom wants to finish it, but Tuvok doesn't like the direction his ideas are going in, so they agree to collaborate, and when they open the programme for edits, they accidentally trigger a booby trap set by Seska who then proceeds to try and kill them...

"Scorpion Part 1" finishes the series, and the Borg are back. Voyager finally encounters Borg space, and they're being thoroughly beaten up by Species 8472. Fortunately, Voyager has a weapon against them (or at least the beginnings of one in the Doctor's modified Borg nanoprobes), so Janeway wants to make a deal. She'll help the Borg build a weapon, in return for safe passage through Borg space.

"Scorpion Part 2" picks up in Season 4 and of course, everything has gone wrong. The Borg have tried to take over the ship, sucked it in to fluidic space, and demanded the weapon. Of course, Voyager has now found that the Borg started the war against Species 8472, but there's more pressing issues, like the fleet of killer ships coming at them. They have to use the weapon, but fortunately the Borg drone remaining on Voyager is unlinked from the Collective so can't get them to come and assimilate them.

With Voyager temporarily finished, I watched some comedy, with Eddie Izzard's show, "Glorious" - it's not the best of his live performances, but it does have a good bit about computers and printing.

Heathers finished up the night - it's been an age since I saw this last, so it felt like seeing it fresh. It was weaker than I expected, and I thought I remembered all the Heathers dying, but was watchable nonetheless.

Sunday kicks off with the extremely battered Danger Mouse. I'm not sure what happened to the shipment, but it was clearly bashed to hell and it was therefore probably faulty... so we watch until it fails...

"Rogue Robots" sees flying robots attacking all the secret agents and world leaders, and Baron Greenback behind it. The flying things with teeth aren't the only robots to deal with though - there's a pair of boots, and a robotic tom cat with six arms all tipped with deadly weapons to deal with as well.

"Who Stole The Bagpipes?" sees Baron Greenback stealing all the bagpipe herds in Scotland, and then using them to make a sonic ray gun that will destroy stuff. Of course, DM and Penfold are there to stop him, but they've got to deal with a mechanical Loch Ness monster first.

"Trouble With Ghosts" sees Greenback holding Colonel K at gunpoint to claim that Greenback has given himself up and DM can go on holiday in Transylvania. Of course, it's a trap and Greenback has populated the castle with his mechanical ghosts, ghouls, vampires, and other beasties.

"Chicken Run" sees a giant chicken terrorising the nation, when a scientist's growth serum is stolen by Stiletto and Baron Greenback. The giant chicken chases DM and Penfold, but they're saved by a pidgeon, before being captured by Greenback and stuck in with the chickens. Penfold manages to save the day when he gets himself immersed in the growth serum.

"The Martian Misfit" sees Greenback build a mousehunter that looks like it's from Mars. It starts out by destroying Number 10, before DM and Penfold get on the case, although it does manage to take out the Telecom Tower. Of course, chasing the robot allows Greenback to go on a crime spree, stealing a big diamond called the Eye Of Hercules.

"The Dream Machine" proves what I suspected... the discs are faulty... but then they got bashed to hell in transit considering the bent and buckled shape of the cases... so this'll have to go back...

With Danger Mouse out, I switch to Farscape: The Peacekeeper Wars, which has been sitting on the shelf for a while. It's pretty satisfying as a series wrap-up, although they kill one of the cast completely out of the blue, they spend too much time with the silly "Rygel is pregnant" story, and the Sikozu plot thread comes completely out of the blue. Other than that, the explanation of where the Peacekeepers came from explains a whole lot very elegantly, and where's the feature film?

With that over with, I move to Batman: The Animated Series. Now I've got the complete show on the shelf, I should be able to go through it in a short period...

"On Leather Wings" sees Batman with a bat problem - Man Bat - and the police out to get whoever it is who's breaking in to pharmaceutical companies looking like a bat!

"Christmas With The Joker" sees the Joker escape from Arkham on Christmas Eve, and the first appearance of Robin in the series.

"Nothing To Fear" sees Batman facing off against the Scarecrow, who induces the worst fear in everyone who get zapped by him. The Scarecrow was apparently a professor of subliminal psychology at the university and now he's out to stop the university who fired him. Bruce is apparently afraid that he's shamed the family name.

"The Last Laugh" sees April Fools Day in Gotham... and demonstrates that these episodes are presented slightly out of order - Christmas to April in two episodes? And the Joker is back, this time with a barge on the river that's not only full of rubbish, but is giving off laughing gas that affects everyone it passes.

[Previous entry: "Some Voyager (Season 3)"]

Wednesday, June 8, 2005

Some Voyager (Season 3)

[Previous entry: "The Complete Miracles"]

Trying to catch up, but I've been feeling pretty run down all week, so it's hard enough cataloguing what I watched, let alone writing synopses of it all... but Wednesday saw me picking Voyager back up again, and we're mired in the middle of season 3.

We start with "False Profits" and we pick up a thread from a Next Generation episode where two Ferengi get sucked through the Barzan Wormhole. Unfortunately they end up in the Delta Quadrant and set themselves up as gods on a backwards planet. Of course, Voyager decides to blunder in to the middle and put a stop to their exploitation, and possibly open the wormhole long enough to get home. A comedy episode not helped by Neelix having to play the Grand Proxy...

"Remember" sees a telepathic species on board Voyager to help out with something, but while they're there, B'Elanna starts having vivid dreams of a political upheaval on a planet and her and her boyfriend's involvement in it. Not the greatest episode...

"Sacred Ground" continues the mediocre episodes, when Kes gets zapped by some forcefield, and Janeway has to go through some silly religious ritual to find out how to save her.

Fortunately, the series picks up a little in the first of a two-parter, "Future's End Pt 1" when a timeship from the 29th Century appears and tries to destroy Voyager for a disaster that they haven't yet caused. Fighting back they manage to send the timeship, and themselves, to 20th Century Earth, where they have to stop a crazy man by the name of Starling from using the timeship.

Thursday continues with more Voyager: "Future's End Pt 2" picks up where part 1 left off, with Starling having probed the Voyager database and knowing a great deal about them, and having captured the Doctor (although he does get a mobile emitter out of this, so he can finally venture off the holodeck and out of Sickbay).

"Warlord" is a Kes episode. She gets possessed by the spirit of an evil warlord, who transfers from his previous host when that one dies. Unfortunately for him, Kes' telepathic abilities make keeping control a difficult proposition. It's a reasonably good episode, that allows Jennifer Lien to play against type... although she's not entirely convincing at it...

"The Q And The Grey" is a fun episode, when Q turns up wanting Janeway to bear his child. It seems Quinn's suicide in Death Wish has led to some unfortunate consequences and now the Continuum are having a Civil War over whether the Q should be allowed to die or not. Q has decided that having a child would be the best way to shake the Continuum out of its malaise... but his ex-partner has something to say about the matter.

"Macrocosm" is a really, really dumb episode - Neelix (nuff said) and Janeway return to the ship after some diplomatic mission to find everyone unconscious or missing, and giant creatures roaming the corridors... it seems the ship has been taken over by a macro-virus, which is using the crew to reproduce. Dumb, dumb, dumb, dumb, dumb!

I finished the evening with "That's Carry On" - the next film in the Carry On boxset - but it's a clip show... and although it's nice to see a few shots from the early films that aren't in this set, the clips aren't all that funny...

On Friday he watched more Voyager... yes, it dragged on a bit...

"Fair Trade" sees Neelix being irritating. Then the ship encounters the Necrid Expanse, which sounds suitably ominous, so hopefully Neelix will shut up now! Nope, it is a Neelix episode. He meets an old criminal friend, helps him with a trade, and then tries to cover it up... and he's constantly annoying while doing it.

"Alter Ego" sees Harry falling in love with a holodeck character called Morena, and asking Tuvok to help him eliminate his feelings... and isn't this a recycled TNG script with Commander Riker? 11001001?

"Coda" isn't much better - Janeway gets stuck in a temporal loop with Chakotay. Or does she? Did she really die on the planet they crashed on? And who's this guy claiming to be her father (wasn't he one of the ones infected by the parasite in the TNG episode Infection?)? Ah, she's not really dead, she's being talked to by an alien who wants to eat her... while the crew frantically try to save her on the planet. Dumb...

"Blood Fever" ends well - we've got a destroyed colony, and they find the remains of one of those who destroyed it... hold it... this is impossible... there wouldn't be remains... okay, ignoring the continuity error, they find a Borg skeleton. But there's a lot else to like in this episode - a Vulcan engineer starts to undergo his first Pon Farr, and decides to bond with B'Elanna. Unfortunately he doesn't realise he's done it, and she starts getting violent and erratic (and desperate to mate with Paris apparently).

"Unity" picks up the Borg theme introduced in the previous episode when Chakotay crashes on a planet after following a Federation distress signal. After his random compatriot gets killed in the firefight on arrival, he's saved and nursed back to health by a love interest... oh, okay, a human woman who wants to help him... but the only way to save him is to hook him up to their collective - they used to be Borg drones but were freed when the nearby cube was disabled and now they want Voyager's help to reactivate the collective amongst the people on the planet to prevent the continuing fueding.

"Darkling" is a pretty silly Doctor episode, but there's some good hints of Kes' future here. The Doctor has decided to improve his programming by adding personality subroutines from famous people throughout history. Unfortunately, these traits have a bad effect on him when their interactions cause him to manifest an evil alter-ego that is determined to stop Kes from leaving with some explorer and to escape Voyager with her.

[Previous entry: "The Complete Miracles"]

Monday, June 6, 2005

The Complete Miracles

[Previous entry: "A Real Mixed Bag"]

Monday is a holiday (Memorial Day) so there's a chance to get a fair chunk watched...

Panic In The Streets is the last of the Fox Film Noirs in the first release, and it sees an outbreak of bubonic plague in New Orleans. It's discovered when a guy is fished out of the water having been shot, and the chase is on for anyone who had contact with him (which obviously puts the medical officer at odds with the thugs who shot the guy).

Carry On Again Doctor is the next film in the Carry On boxset, and it's one of the more memorable ones. Jim Dale is a doctor who causes a complete disaster in the hospital and gets sent to a clinic on a small tropical island. Once there he meets Sid James, who shows that he's got a native cure that reduces weight phenomenally. Of course, he works out an agreement whereby he can go back to England and make shedloads of money off of it...

Miracles kicks off with "The Ferguson Syndrome" and we're introduced to Paul Callan, a guy who investigates miracles for the church. He's having a crisis of faith because he keeps managing to prove them false, each one having a perfectly good scientific reason. So he quits (and then has a freaky vision of a demonic little boy on a train), but is called back a few months later to check out a boy in a small town south of him... the boy is very sick, but he appears to be able to heal sick people around him. His grandmother's cancer, a blind woman's eyes... but each time it makes him sicker.

Of course, this is brought to a head when the boy's mother tries to take him away to prevent him from having to heal anyone else. Paul follows, but gets distracted, and in the rain misses that they've stopped at the railroad crossing. He swerves around them and into the path of the oncoming train. The boy decides to heal him, giving up his own life in the process, but not before they both see Paul's blood spelling out words on a piece of broken windshield - "GOD IS NOW HERE" - which draws the interest of mysterious guy Alva Keel (Angus McFadyen playing a character with a really dumb name) who wants Paul to leave the church and join his organisation.

"The Friendly Skies" really kicks off the show, when a plane coming in to land disappears from the radar screens and from visuals for 60-odd seconds. When it reappears, the passengers are strangely altered. When the team are called in to investigate, they find a woman who was unable to move now up and around; a girl who's seen her whole future life flash before her; a couple who've never met before and are now all over each other; and a steward who's talking in Armenian.

Paul gets wrapped up in the story of the woman who was in the wheelchair, who's been unable to tell her husband how much she loves him, while the woman on the team (whose name is eluding me - ah, Evelyn) deals with the young girl. Alva takes on the steward, and he's the only one who realises that the Armenian he's spouting is really complex physics that tells people how to disassemble matter at the atomic level. Of course, there's also the nurse who burned to death in the toilet that needs to be autopsied... which could be a problem when they discover that the effect is wearing off... and that horribly burned woman slowly becomes unburnt.

"The Patient" is a bit weaker but has a good ending. Alva wants to talk to a scientist who's investing a disease that leaves people completely paralysed but whose symptoms seem to include paranormal abilities. The Doctor clearly has no interest in Alva's line of questioning and hasn't seen any evidence of the paranormal, until his star patient starts sending him messages through the computer interface. Paul gets involved with the Doctor's daughter, while Alva runs around trying to prove that the patient is possessed and it's the possessing spirit that's trying to destroy the Doctor and his life's work.

"Little Miss Lost" has Paul seeing a young girl, over and over again, at the scene of disasters. The girl is the only unclaimed body at each of these events, but Paul is the only one who sees her before the disaster occurs.

Alva has records of the girl going back many years, always being the only unclaimed body at the site of a disaster all around the world. But she seems to be trying to give Paul a message, so they set out to find her parents from the original disaster in which she died.

"The Bone Scatterer" sees a boy who believes he's killing people while he sleeps and is now afraid of sleeping. Of course, when you're dealing with Indian burial grounds, and twins that died at birth and were buried there, you've got the beginnings of a spiritual protector who's fed up with the boy's father (the Sheriff) beating him and the rest of the community not protecting him from it...

"Hand Of God" sees Paul under investigation by the police, after a murdered woman is found to have a drawing of him in her diary. Apparently, there's a whole bunch of people who saw the words "GOD IS NOWHERE" in blood (and Alva has been keeping their existence secret from Paul). There's a boy going around, who saw the phrase written as Paul did, who thinks Tommy (the boy from the pilot) wants him to kill all those who saw the alternate message, because they are "the darkness!"

"You Are My Sunshine" sees Paul visiting an old flame, who happens to be living in a house that a whole bunch of people died in previously, and their spirits are now possessing the pair of them. This isn't a very good episode...

"The Battle At Shadow Ridge" picks things back up when Alva and Paul go looking for ghosts. Two children have seen a Civil War soldier... but more worryingly, he's also seen them. There's also a haunted gas station mini-mart to deal with, and Alva becomes convinced that the humidity has caused the layers of history to become thin, allowing things to pass back and forth... including a musket shot that should take out the Civil War soldier, but instead shoots Paul. Of course, for all the highlights in this episode, the giant sound system at the end is a little silly.

Tuesday continues the Miracles theme with "Mother's Daughter" and we're talking reincarnation when a young Amish girl starts believing she's really someone else. Apparently the girl drowned when the other girl committed suicide, and now that other spirit is coming to the surface to take over. The girl and her mother carry this episode, and the attempted suicide scene at the end is fantastic.

"Saint Debbie" sees Paul's old mentor (Hector Elizondo) ask Alva and Paul to investigate a waitress who had her throat slit and who then was miraculously unharmed. Paul thinks it's a hoax, while Alva wants to believe it's all real and she should be sainted. It's a fun little episode, and we need more Hector Elizondo in this show...

"The Ghost" sees a guy's office being haunted by his dead son's spirit. Or at least that's what everyone in the office believes. Paul and Alva aren't so sure, as they initially can't find any evidence of it. There's a lot of discussion of the difference between ghosts and poltergeists here - one is an actual haunting, the other is the emotions of someone in pain causing objects to move...

"The Letter" sees one of Paul's friends from the orphanage, Georgia, having a birthday and getting a letter from her dead father... the last he wrote before he died. Unfortunately, the following day she receives a newly written letter in the mail, purporting to be from her father. There's lots of Hector Elizondo here, as he's the one who wrote the letters originally (based on her father's dying wishes), but the guy on death row writing letters to all his victims families, getting messages from his actual victims, is also a highlight...

"Paul Is Dead" sees the continuing haunting of Paul by Tommy (the boy from the pilot), but Evelyn has to carry the focus of the episode when her son gets abducted while Paul is supposed to be watching him. Of course, a fake TV psychic has managed to predict all this, having had an actual vision for the first time in his life.

And then Paul goes to the only source who may be able to tell him what happened - Tommy - but for that he'll need to die first. This has some good elements - the bit about Paul needing to let go of Tommy as it's actually him haunting the dead kid rather than the other way around was good, but they could have done with more about the darkness that Tommy was on about all the time...

[Previous entry: "A Real Mixed Bag"]


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