Movie Review – Star Trek: First Contact

 

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“Resistance is Futile” (Taken from the Memory Alpha)

 

“And you people – you’re all astronauts on some kind of star trek?” – Zefram Cochrane, reminding moviegoers what they paid obscene amounts of money to see.

Premiere: November 22nd, 1998

Written By: Ronald Moore and Brannon Braga

Directed By: Jonathan Frakes

Plot: The specter of the Borg still lingers over Captain Jean-Luc Picard – largely because he was kidnapped and assimilated by them for a while. Thus, when the Borg come back to attack Earth, he defies Starfleet orders to lay waste to a Borg Cube. Unfortunately, a Borg Sphere (seriously, what is with the Borg and simple geometry) comes out of said cube, and the Enterprise follows it into the past where they intend to assimilate all – not to mention, ruin the first contact between Vulcans and Humans.

The crew try and keep Dr. Zefram Cochrane on track when it comes to the launch of his epochal ship, despite him being a bit different from his idolized portrayal in the 24th century. Picard tries to take on the Borg, but slowly goes a bit nuts in doing so, much to the concern of Lily, a resident of Cochrane’s settlement who wound up on the Enterprise. In the mix-up, Data gets captured and is tempted by one particular Borg – the Borg Queen, who fancies herself the end and the start of the collective.

Review:

Well, Generations was a bit of a misfire to pass the torch. Not that I won’t ever watch it again, but it really was just a double-length episode of TNG. Really, the only things film-worthy were a) the cameo by Captain Kirk, who proceeded to fall victim to poor lair construction, and 2) the Enterprise-D getting trashed by the Klingons. Still, the movie made a decent profit, and a follow-up was commissioned.

With Johnathan Frakes in the Director’s Chair, Braga and Moore back in the writer’s room, and the franchise arguably just coming off its cultural apex (with Voyager and Deep Space Nine airing at the same time), the sequel finally embraced the cinematic atmosphere by doing a deeper analysis of the series’ most well-known and well-renowned antagonist – the Borg.

(Warning: minor spoilers for TNG are in this review. Continue at your own risk.) Continue reading

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Scullyfied Simpsons: “They Saved Lisa’s Brain” (Season 10, Episode 22)

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“Oh, a sarcasm detector. That’s a real useful invention!” – Comic Book Guy. Standout quote. Glad it came in this wonderful season!

Airdate: May 9th, 1999

Written By: Matt Selman

Plot: Springfield’s culture, never particularly highbrow, hits a low point when a contest asking contestants to embarrass themselves collapses into a full-blown riot. In response, Lisa pens an open letter begging the townsfolk to better themselves. That letter catches the collective eyes of Springfield’s MENSA chapter, who encourage her to join. Despite a bit of terseness in the group, their concerns about Springfield’s culture gain more prominence when they inadvertently cause Mayor Quimby to skip town. Following the town charter, they take over as a quasi-junta.

Review:

OK, 21 episodes down, two to go in the tenth season. Only took me about two years to do so. And after that complete and utter debacle of the last episode, these next two might close the season out on a high note.

There is a sort of bizarre coincidence, though, that I’ve noticed. Despite this season overall being quite focused on Homer’s increasingly bizarre antics, the debut and penultimate episodes of the season take a closer look at Springfield’s favorite intellectual, Lisa Simpson, and examines just where she fits into this strange society. Continue reading

Red Dwarf Review: “Can of Worms” (Series XI, Episode 6)

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“How do I break this to you… you’re a moron!” – Rimmer, to the Cat after his date.

Oh, Rimmer. Go easy on him. Let me handle this. Cat, man, you’re a moron!” – Lister, for once, agreeing with Rimmer. Bring on the giant meteor.

Airdate: 27 October, 2016

Written By: Doug Naylor

Plot: While cutting across an asteroid belt to get back on course, Starbug winds up coming across a largely deserted ship. It’s crew – a mercenoid and a prisoner. After some confusion, the crew take out the mercenoid, and the prisoner is rescued. Said prisoner, Ankita, happens to be of the Cat’s species. Cat becomes smitten with the very similar prisoner – assuaging his own anxieties regarding his love life (or lack thereof) – and goes on a date with her.

Unfortunately for him, Ankita happens to be a Polymorph who intends to deposit her eggs into the Cat. Ergo, the end of the Cat’s first date results in him becoming pregnant – thus becoming the third person on board Red Dwarf to become pregnant, and the second male.

Review:

Well, here we are. The last episode of Series XI. Hard to believe that it’s been almost 4 years since I began looking at this silly little sci-fi show – one that is more than the sum of its parts. And, so far Series XI has been rather solid. There’ve been no truly spectacular episodes, but I would argue that a couple of episodes have been great, and the rest, so far, have been good.

So, will Series XI continue the trend of stable quality? Will it break my expectations and be one of the most spectacular episodes of the series? Or will XI putter to the end?

Well, let’s start my analysis with the fact that this episode focuses on the Cat.

Continue reading

Red Dwarf Review: “Krysis” (Series XI, Episode 5)

“Have you ever felt ‘I’ve wasted my life?” “You? Sure! Every single day!”  – Lister and the Cat, summing up a midlife crisis.

Airdate: 20 October, 2016
Written By: Doug Naylor
Plot: Kryten’s hit a rough patch in his duties aboard ship. The trio diagnose him with a midlife crisis – something that becomes readily apparent once Krytie dons a bright red shell (pictured above). To try and remind him of how far he’s come, the Boys from the Dwarf go to the Nova III, to analyze a similar mechanoid and see how he’s held up all alone… only to come across a mechanoid that has become a connoisseur of and participant in all the finest arts.

Review:

This episode should not work.

I mean, let’s face it – the plot here is pretty much the child of Star Trek V: The Final Frontier and Barely Beyond A Joke”. I disliked The Final Frontier, and “Beyond A Joke” is my second least favorite episode of the show (third if you count “Krytie TV” as an episode and not as an instrument of torture banned by the Geneva Convention). Point is – is the third time the charm for these plot threads on this blog?

Well, if you count the second half of Gravity Falls season 2, then for the most part, yes.

But what about the fourth time? Does it work then?

Continue reading

Red Dwarf Review: “Give and Take” (Series XI, Episode 3)

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“I am now fluent in all the deceptive arts. I could work for FIFA!” – Kryten. Hey, that’s base level, Krytie. Manage a presidential campaign.

Airdate: October 2nd, 2016

Written By: Doug Naylor.

Plot: While scouting for a medical droid aboard an abandoned spaceship, Rimmer and Kryten come across what they suspect is the target droid. Lister and the Cat actually do come across said droid, who proceeds to perform malpractice in a fit of insanity. Rimmer and Kryten come to their defense and rescue them – although they destroy a pair of kidneys that were to go into Lister. With Lister’s kidneys removed, he needs to get the Cat to donate and for the rescued droid to rewrite the DNA. Unfortunately, that proves a tall order.

Review:

Hey, the Cat gets an episode! Sort of. Last time Lister and the Cat interacted, Lister learned about how Archimedes invented gravy after a bath fell on his head. What we saw there is their dynamic starting to take shape after largely being held off over the prior several series. This episode continues that trend – with Lister’s life in Cat’s hands. (Here’s hoping he had a will.) In fact, it’s probably my favorite of the season so far.

Continue reading

Red Dwarf Review: “Twentica” (Series XI, Episode 1)

 

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This is first-degree toastercide!

“If that’s the penalty for toast, what the hell do you get for pizza?” – The Cat.

Airdate: 22 September 2016

Written By: Doug Naylor

Plot: In the depths of uncharted space, Starbug gets intercepted by a ship of Expanoids – a subset of Simulants. They pull a trick on the Dwarfers to obtain an artifact – the Casket of Cronos – that allows them to travel back in time to 20th-century America. There, technology beyond the Gilded Ages are prohibited, and scientists are driven underground to speakeasies. In order to free themselves, they must find a use of a machine part that was given to them by a doomed scientist.

Review:

Before I begin, I just want to say that there’s this incredible feeling I have in reviewing Red Dwarf as it comes out (in America, at least) for the first time. This, again, was the very first show I decided to blog about. As the years have gone by, I have come to admire the show more. And even though I wouldn’t place it at the top of my all-time favorites (The Simpsons, Steven Universe, and Gravity Falls are a holy trinity of awesome animation), I still think it is one of the most overlooked sci-fi shows out there.

To get (virtually) brand new episodes for the first time in my fandom (Red Dwarf X came out just before I became a full-blown fan of the show) was something quite indescribable. I watched them all in a day.

With that said…  I begin my (silly) analysis of Series XI. Continue reading

Steven Universe Review: "Tiger Millionaire" (Season 1A, Episode 9)

 

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Still a better advertising strategy than spoiling the results of your competitor’s matches.

 

Airdate: January 20th, 2014

Synopsis: Amethyst messes up a mission by punching the monster of the week, getting gunk all over Steven and earning her Pearl and Garnet’s scorn. The night after, Steven manages to track Amethyst down to an old warehouse, where a wrestling league is held. There, she moonlights as the Purple Puma – a ruthless wrestler that’s shooting up the ranks. Steven becomes struck by the aura of the whole thing, and becomes her assistant as “Tiger Millionaire” – a ruthless venture capitalist from the jungle.

Review: Full disclosure – I’m not really a professional wrestling fan. Don’t hate it, don’t really follow it. Most of the info and jokes about wrestling here, I got from brief skims from the TVTropes and Wikipedia pages. All I know is that WWE Smackdown airs on SyFy – by far, the most insane and idiotic programming move that doesn’t involve scheduling Dilbert after Shasta McNasty. (Nice job, UPN.)

So, this episode… in an actual sci-fi show. Easily among my favorite episodes from the front end of the first season. Continue reading

Steven Universe Review: "Serious Steven" (Season 1A, Episode 8)

Who designed this? Who? Who?

Airdate: January 13th, 2014

Synopsis: A massive accident at Funland (the amusement park where Steven and Connie almost got flattened by a roller coaster) weighs heavily on Steven, as two weeks later, they go to the Strawberry Fields, which used to be a battle site for the Gems. Characterized as Steven’s first “serious” mission, Steven tries to prove himself worthy to Garnet. This can only end badly, especially when a pyramid that they walk in flips over, thanks to Steven.

Review: Fans who started watching new episodes in Season 2 (ya know, half of the fandom, up to and including myself) might be a bit put off when they first see this episode. You see, we’re still in the part of the show where Steven is more like that kid that the Gems happen to have on their backs. With the gems treating this as his “first serious mission”, Steven has a hell of a lot of weight on his shoulders.

Most impressively, he’s hanging out with Garnet this time. A tall order for the ten-year-old, indeed. Continue reading

Steven Universe Review: "Bubble Buddies" (Season 1A, Episode 7)

(Note 25/11/15: Review edited because, in hindsight, the review I originally posted had a few errors in logic. Sorry.)

 

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Stevne and Connie roll on Dunkin.

 

Airdate: December 2, 2013

Synopsis: Steven’s attempts to talk to a bespectacled bookish girl sitting on the beach (not his first attempt, apparently) result in him saving her life from a boulder… but also causes the two to become trapped in a bubble of Steven’s own making. Any and all attempts to free them fail.

Hilariously.

And by hilariously, I mean they almost drown.

Review (SPOILERS): BUBBLES! Uh, I mean GEEKS! Uh, I mean GEEKS IN BUBBLES!

Uh, I mean, one of the biggest cliches in sci-fi history (if not TV history) has got to be the “first episode love interest”. If I may be able to describe it, it revolves around two protagonists (often of the opposite sex) who both appear in the first episode. It’s assumed from that moment on that the ship involving the two is to set sail and reach its destination.

In that case, Steven Universe certainly subverts that cliche a bit off the bat by waiting for episode seven to introduce a probable love interest for Steven… and then subverts it even further by having the two actually communicate right off the bat, rather than just have a series of awkward stumbling conversations.

The end result is what I consider to be the closest thing to a “sublime” episode of Steven Universe so far.
Continue reading

Gravity Falls Review: “Weirdmageddon” (Part 1) (Season 2, Episode 18)

(Before we begin, I sincerely apologize for this review coming out so late. This accompanies a quick announcement about my Star Trek film reviews.)

500 Miles North of Normal, 500 Miles West of Weird.

Airdate: October 26th, 2015

Synopsis: At the end of the last episode, well, to quote Vyvyan from The Young Ones

“This is the end! Armageddon! No future!

Yep – all hell broke loose. Bill is practically unstoppable – he turns Ford into a backscratcher, steals Deputy Durland away from Sheriff Blubs, unleashes his friends, and screws up Preston Northwest’s face. (You don’t want to see the end result of that.) Most damningly, he kidnaps Mabel, and locks her in a bubble. Alone, Dipper is left looking for any sort of help. Fortunately, it turns out Wendy is an excellent survivalist, and the two plan to go through the bubble to rescue Mabel. Unfortunately, old enemies come back to settle a score.

Review (STUFFED WITH SPOILERS): If I might borrow a philosophical statement from Pauly Fuemana, “how bizarre!” If madness in Gravity Falls was quantified, this would break the scale on a level that the Jockey Elves would be jealous over. Granted, this is a genuinely good episode we’re talking about here.

This episode is sci-fi horror at it’s finest, thriving on the macabre and the concept of a world gone mad. Bizarrely, though, the ending makes it one of Gravity Falls’s more optimistic episodes, even in the face of the apocalyptic setting.. The question is, does that bit of optimism work?

Before we begin, another reminder – spoilers. They are legion. Continue reading