Agents of Shield 4×1: Enter the Rider

Joe tells Kris what happened to the agents on the premiere of Shield. Is Ghost Rider cool or are we in Nic Cage Country? Can the show survive without Daisy/Quake/Skye? All this and some Doctor Strange talk.

Star Trek 50th Anniversary: The First Ten Movies.

So, I reviewed the good, the bad and the importance of my top ten Star Trek: The Original Series episodes. Here, I do the same for the first Star Trek films. Let me know what you think in the comments.

Star Trek: The Motion Picture

Overview: A large space cloud is headed towards Earth destroying everything in its path including a Klingon fleet. Admiral Kirk takes command of the newly re-fitted USS Enterprise from Captain Decker to go look for it. Spock on Vulcan feels the cloud’s presence and reunites with his former crew. Spock is a bit distant from the others, so distant that he goes out in a space suit to mindmeld with it. Spock after the mindmeld returns to being old Spock and explains the cloud has no idea what friendship or love or anything is. At this point, the cloud decides to take control of Decker’s ex-girlfriend Ilia to make her its avatar named V’Ger. After threatening to blow up the ship, V’Ger takes Kirk, Spock, Decker and McCoy to his main hub. There we see its the satellite Voyager from the 1970s. Its deep space mission encountered something and wants to report home. However, V’Ger cuts a wire to stop the report. Decker knowing it will kill him puts the wire back, so he can be with Ilia. Kirk and the others get to the Enterprise in time as a new life form is created..somewhere.

What Works: The Enterprise is beautiful. Everyone has their Enterprise whether it be the original series or the movie version or even the TNG ones. To me, this is my Enterprise. We get a lot of money shots of her thanks to Scotty showing Kirk around. Its cool to see the cast re- unit. The Klingon battle is pretty neat. Deforest as McCoy is the only interesting original series character. He is interesting, because he is playing the McCoy we all know and love.

What doesn’t Work: Sit down, this is going to take a bit. While everyone rightfully agrees Star Trek V or Star Trek: Nemesis is the worst one. This is very close, very close. It is boring. So, boring. V’Ger makes zero sense. It also won’t be the first time, something named Voyager damages Star Trek. Kirk is an jackass as well. He bullies his way into command to the point McCoy has to call him on it several times. Kirk is borderline the villain at times. Shantner goes full Shatner at times when he is reaming out Decker. You feel bad for Decker then you remember in real life, the actor molested some kids, so that goes away real quick. Sulu, Chekov and Uhura might as well be cameos. Scotty has some good scenes, but he is hidden away in engineering.

Why its important: Its the first one. Honestly, if Wrath of Khan was the first one and this was a follow up, there would be nothing here. As I said before, the Enterprise having a new design is significant as well. Decker and Ilia are proto-Riker and Troi. That is about it

Star Trek II: Wrath of Khan

Overview: You’ve seen it. Even no-Star Trek fans have seen it. If you saw Star Trek: Into Darkness, you saw it again. Ok,fine, lets review it. Chekov now an Executive Officer aboard the USS Reliant is out trying to find a planet suitable for Project Genesis. Genesis is a device that can turn a dead planet into a living one. However, if the device is used on a planet were life exists, it would wipe out the living beings on there to form its new matrix. Thus its unfortunate that the planet Chekov investigates happens to be were Khan lives. After City Alpha V exploded, it caused Khan’s world to be turned into a desert warzone. Khan uses Chekov and his captain to take over the USS Reliant to avenge himself on the man who stranded him there, James T. Kirk.

While all of this is going, Kirk is feeling his age. His time as Admiral has made him feel old and useless. So, probably a good thing Khan decides to trick Kirk into taking the Enterprise full of cadets and the rest of his old crew to meet him. The Reliant attacks the Enterprise while her shields are down. Kirk is able to override the Reliant and counter attack. The Reliant runs away while the Enterprise heads to Regula I, the birthplace of Genesis and Kirk’s family. Kirk is introduced to his son, David, by his ex-girlfriend Carol Marcus. They created Genesis, but Khan steals it. Kirk and Spock bluff the time it takes to repair the Enterprise. When Khan comes to finish them off, the Enterprise is long gone. Kirk taunts Khan to follow him into a nebula. There, the Enterprise is able to render the Reliant useless. However, Khan turns the Genesis Device on. The Enterprise with no warp power is stuck until Spock decides to sacrifice himself to save to save the crew. Spock’s body is sent to the new planet that Genesis created as the Enterprise flies off.

What doesn’t work: Nothing. Its perfect in every way. We shall not blasphemy here.

What works: The reason, I didn’t want to do the review is because the plot is tight. While the movie only runs an hour and 45 minutes, it has a lot going on. It might be one of the most thought out and engaging plots in Star Trek history. Everyone is awesome in their roles especially Ricardo as Khan. Khan is so, so great as a villain. He actually has a plan, follows it up and almost gets away with it. His own ego stops him, yet he is able to take out the most beloved member of the crew. That is what makes him great is that he is a three dimensional threat. The Genesis Device is a fascinating concept. That humans would comes so far that we are actually almost God like in creating a new planet. The fight scenes are some of the best in sci-fi history. You feel every blast that the Enterprise takes. The tactics used are practical in that setting.

Why its important: It saved Star Trek. While the Motion Picture made money. A lot of money for a very boring film. This saved Star Trek, because the budget was cut in half and there were some real rumors if it failed, this would be it. It did not fail and became one of cinema’s best movies. The death of Spock is heartbreaking, especially with the recent lost of Leonard Nimoy. It is one of the best death scenes on film. Spock is so noble as he faces the end of his life that it is a perfect note to end on. Shatner really shows off his acting abilities in the death scene as well as through out the movie as we see Kirk dealing with the choices of his past. This would be the movie to which all Star Trek movies are compared to and to some degree all things Star Trek is compared to. It is brilliant.

Star Trek III: The Search for Spock

Overview: Spock is dead. The Enterprise is to be decommissioned. McCoy has gone nuts. Saavik and David are monitoring the now very controversial Planet Genesis. So, Kirk decides to throw a party for his crew, because is probably the last time they will get together. It is crashed by Sarek, Spock’s Dad. Sarek says Spock can be returned to life. All Kirk has to do is get Spock’s memories out of McCoy, find Spock’s body on Genesis and return them to Vulcan for some weird ritual. Standing in his way just happens to be the Federation. The Federation doesn’t want Kirk to go, so Kirk steals the Enterprise. While this is going on Kruge, a Klingon commander, decides to take Genesis. There is a problem, Genesis doesn’t work. David cheated using some illegal materials to create it. Yet, somehow it resurrects Spock, but without his memories, he is an unstable child. Kirk goes to Genesis to find Kruge’s ship there and after a short battle, the Enterprise is rendered useless. Kruge then orders his men to kill Saavikk, but David sacrifices himself instead. Kirk tricks the Klingons into boarding the Enterprise then blows it up. Kirk and Kruge fight to the death on Genesis as the rest of the crew are taken as captives. Kirk is able to kill Kruge and take command of the Klingon Bird of Prey from the lone Klingon warrior aboard. The crew heads to Vulcan where after a bizarre ritual Spock is back to being Spock. Sort of.

What worked: Stealing the Enterprise. It is great to see each character have a moment to get her back. It is probably the most exciting sequence in the entire movie. David is more fleshed out as a character. Unfortunately, he is dispatched at the end of the film. Kirk doing everything to save Spock is really good stuff. Christopher Lloyd as Kruge continues the trend of good Star Trek villains.

What doesn’t work: For a logical group, the Vulcans have a lot of mystical beliefs. The ritual is a cheap way to get Spock back. The battle with the Enterprise and the Bird of Prey is really short, ridiculously short compared to the battle with the Reliant. It is a very short flick and a few character moments with Scotty and Sulu were edited out. Why? I have no idea.

Why its important: Its my first Star Trek in a theater. Yes, its all about me. To be fair, I thought it was fairly weak. Later in life, I like it more. The Destruction of the Enterprise is a huge moment. For many fans, this is as devastating as losing Spock. However, it is done to buy Spock back. What do I mean by that. In story writing, if characters want something back, they have to spend something to get it back. Here, it is in all of its glory. Kirk loses his ship, command and his son to get Spock back. Its a pretty big price to pay.

Star Trek IV: Star Trek: The Voyage Home

Overview: The funny one. A probe is causing widespread outages to ships and space stations as it heads to Earth. Kirk and crew agree to return to Earth to face the mutiny charges for stealing the Enterprise. On the way, they receive Earth’s distress call over the probe. Spock, who is not fully back to being Spock, decodes the probe’s signal. It is communicating using Humpback Whale songs. Unfortunately, the whales are extinct. So, Kirk takes the crew back to the 1980s. They meet Gillian who works at a Sea World type place that has two humpback whales. After a series of misadventures, the crew is able to get the whales and a stowaway Gillain back to the future. The whales talk to the probe and it leaves. After saving Earth again, Kirk is demoted to Captain the Enterprise-A.

What works: The comedy. Nimoy does a great job directing the cast to let their hair down. The save the whale message is pretty good since we still need to do it, today. I do love the opening scene where Sarek confronts the Klingon Ambassador and asks if he has the right to commit murder. Good stuff.

What is wrong; The probe is V’Ger. Its another thing from Earth’s past to come to inflict some pain, because the ways of communications have gone by the way side. Its like if someone you knew got pissed off at you for not responding to their telegram that was sent in 1979 and you only got it in 2010.

Why its important: It is the first Star Trek, I enjoyed in a theater. Again, its all about me. We get the Enterprise and a fully form Spock back at the end. It is a lot of fun to watch the characters interact in the past. There is a lot of character building for Scotty, Sulu, Uhura and Chekov. This is probably the most fleshed out those characters got in the movie series. Spock and Sarek have a good moment at the end to cement their rocky relationship through out the series. This gives Star Trek a breath of fresh air of the downer endings of the last two.

Star Trek V: The Final Frontier

Overview: Oh boy…this one. After getting the Enterprise back, it breaks. The Enterprise-A is not very reliable. That kinda sucks which is another theme for this movie. Spock’s half brother, Sybok is leading a cult for some reason. A cult that finds away to take over the Enterprise to search for God. Sybok has some mental ability to overtake people’s minds by showing them the worst moments of their lives, so they can release their pain. Sybok, Kirk, Spock and McCoy meet “God” after crossing the Great Barrier. “God” turns out to be evil and wants to take over the ship. In the background of this story, some random kid Klingon wants to kill Kirk, because…just because. Anyway, Spock and the Klingons kill “God”. We do get Kirk, Spock and McCoy singing at a campfire at the end.

What Works: What does God need with a starship. That is the best line in this film. A question that can be applied to just about anything when someone says God told me to do this. Its the best counter argument to religion. McCoy having to unplug his Dad is a powerful scene and probably one of Deforest Kelly’s best work as McCoy.

What Doesn’t Work: How about everything. Ok, its bad. There have been people who try to defend this for being kitsch. Its not kitsch, its awful. The plot to find God would seem interesting in any other form, but Star Trek has seen and beaten a lot of God like figures at this point. Sybok being Spock’s brother makes no sense. Why hasn’t Spock talked about him earlier? The Enterprise not working is tired in these films at this point. Scotty and Uhura being a couple is a bit out of nowhere. The rest of the characters just get taken over for no reason. The plot is weak, the special effects are awful and the characters are borderline useless.

Why its important: It almost killed the original crew. Well not literally. It started the debate about getting rid of the original actors and replacing them with younger versions. Other than that, this is a very forgettable event in Star Trek history.

Star Trek VI: The Undiscovered Country.

Overview: Captain Sulu of the U.S.S. Excelsior watches the Klingon Moon, Praxis exploded. Praxis was a major part of the Klingon Empire’s R&D program. The Klingon Empire will not last long without those resources. The Federation sends Kirk and the Enterprise to meet with the Klingon Chancellor, Gorkon, to negotiate peace. Kirk is not happy about the situation since the Klingons killed his son. Their first dinner with the Klingons is a bit awkward. What gets more awkward is when Gorkon’s ship is attacked. The Klingons think its the Enterprise especially after two people in Starfleet uniforms kill Gorkon and a few Klingons. Kirk and McCoy are taken prisoner and tried on the Klingon Homeworld. Spock’s new protegee, Valeris, suggests they keep the Federation in the dark while they investigate what really happened.

Kirk and McCoy are sentenced to a Klingon prison world. Thanks to a changeling they are able to escape, but its really a trap to kill them. Fortunately, The Enterprise beams them up. Kirk and Spock find two dead crew members connected to the uniforms. Kirk tricks the assassin that the crew members are alive. The assassin turns out be Valeris. She was ordered by a cabal of secret players including a Federation Admiral and Gorkon’s adviser, Chang. Chang has a Bird of Prey that can fire while cloaked. The Enterprise and The Excelsior head to the peace conference. Chang intercepts them and we get a pretty good battle. Uhura suggests using the devices use to find gaseous anomalies to find the Bird of Prey. McCoy and Spock tear apart a torpedo to put the device in to track the Bird of Prey. The torpedo finds its mark and Chang’s ship is destroyed. Kirk is able to save the Federation President from another assassin. The Federation and Klingon agree to peace terms. The Enterprise is ordered to be decommissioned, but Kirk and crew take her out for one last ride.

What works: The plot is really good. Its a nice Cold War political thriller instead of America and Russia, its the Federation and the Klingons. Kirk has a nice character arc going from someone who hates the Klingons to a guy who realizes his prejudices and tries to makes amends for them. The battle with the Bird of Prey is almost as good as the battle with the Reliant maybe even better with the Excelsior being involved. There is a lot of good work being done by the actors as well. Christopher Plummer as Chang, the Klingon who loves Shakespeare, has a lot of awesome moments and lines.

Why doesn’t work: Spock putting a tracer on Kirk that the Klingons never see is odd. Really odd. I was never really sure what the Federation, the Klingons and the Romulan conspirators hoped to gain. A war in which they all kill each other? It can’t be for profit, because the Federation doesn’t believe in it. It would have been better if their was a more concert reason for the vast conspiracy.

Why its important: Even though members of this crew pop up in Next Generation or other movies for all intensive purposes, this is the last adventure of Kirk, Spock, McCoy and crew. This is the last time we get them working together to solve a problem. The movie ends with their autographs as a final good bye to the fans. The plot is a nice reflection of the early 1990s as America and Russia deal with the end of the Cold War. Its a good time capsule for this movies. To a lot of fans this is the end of the first era of Star Trek as the Enterprise flies into the sun.

Star Trek VII: Generations

Overview: The Enterprise-B is being sent out on its maiden voyage. Kirk, Chekov and Scotty are there to see it off. However, an energy ribbon called the Nexus has captured two ships in its wake. The Enterprise-B is so new, nothing has been installed. So, Kirk goes to the deflector array to generate a pulse to free the Enterprise-B when it gets sucked in as well. Scotty is able to beam some of the survivors off which includes Guinan and Soren. Kirk is lost after the ribbon hits the spot he is in the Enterprise-B.

In the future, Soren decides he wants to go back to the Nexus and aligns himself with the Klingon sister, Lursa and B’etor Duras. He has developed trilithium which can destroy a star. However, the Romulans find out about it and they try to kill him. Luckily, the Enterprise-D headed by Captain Jean-Luc Picard rescue him. This Enterprise crew is going through some changes as Data decides to take the emotion chip that Lore stole from him. The chip causes to be a bit irrational. It doesn’t help when Data and Geordi investigate Soren’s lab and Soren decides to attack them. The Duras sister arrive to get Soren, the trilithium and now a captive Geordi. Data and Picard figure out where they are going. Picard trades himself for Geordi who now has a camera inside his visor that the Duras sister can see what he sees. The sisters attack the Enterprise-D after they get the code for their shields. Picard fails to stop Soren who sends his weapon into the star. The Nexus captures Soren and Picard as the Enterprise-D is destroyed. In the Nexus, Picard is able to see through the illusion. He asks a Guinnan who maybe a ghost or something in the Nexus for help. She can’t help, but she directs him to James T. Kirk. Kirk refuses at first, but Picard convinces him the Nexus is just an illusion. Kirk returns to stop Soren. Picard is able to take Soren out before he can fire the weapon, but Kirk dies in the process. The Enterprise-D is still destroyed and the crew is saved by other Federation ships.

What works: The beginning with the Enterprise-B is a nice beat and has energy the rest of the movie lacks. Picard and Kirk together are fun. Patrick Stewart has some good moments as Picard and shows why he is the Captain of the Enterprise-D. Shatner knowing this might be his last shot at Kirk, brings us Kirk at his most fun.

What doesn’t work. Here is the thing. The National Enquirer released an early script where the Romulans play a bigger role. They actually show up in the fight between the Enterprise-D and the Duras’ Bird of Prey. The Enterprise-D actually survives the fight. Kirk is shot in the back to save Picard from Soren. Picard then outright kills Soren. What I am saying is there is a better version of this film in print. It just happens to be in the National Enquirer. Minus that, most of this film doesn’t work. What really doesn’t work is the Enterprise-D crew. Minus Data and Picard, they are just there. We don’t get much of them at all. Riker looks like a fool for losing the Enterprise-D to a 20 year old Bird of Prey. It would be like World War II era battleship taking out a nuclear aircraft carrier. Its just a bad way to get rid of a starship for many fans consider to be there home. I know it was done to get to a ship that looks more bad ass. They should have done a re-fit it like they did with the original series Enterprise going into the movies.

Why its important: Kirk meets Picard. It is the first of the torch passing that goes on in Star Trek franchise. It helps that Stewart and Shatner are having a good time with each other. However, it only lasts for a fifteen minutes though. Still, it is cool to see the Captains working together and Star Trek acknowledging their long history.

Star Trek VIII: First Contact

Overview: The Borg return to go back in time to stop First Contact between with the humans and Vulcans. Picard and his new Enterprise-E goes after them. The Borg attack the base of Zefram Cochrane, the father of Warp Drive. The crew divides up into teams to take on the Borg. Riker, Troi and Geordi deal with a very drunk Zefram who is very leery of all of this. Picard, Worf, Crusher and Data have to deal with the Borg Queen, who is the avatar of the Borg. Picard also has to deal with Lilly, Zefram’s assistant, who is not really happy about being kidnapped aboard a starship. Data is captured by the Borg Queen who tries to seduce him. Picard while fighting the Borg becomes increasingly unnerved as his past history with them continues to be revisited. At one point, Picard becomes so unhinged Lilly of all people has to reel him back to reality. Picard decides the only way to stop the Borg is to destroy the Enterprise-E. However, he is going to go alone to save Data. He learns Data has been turned and the Borg have control of the Enterprise-E. Riker convinces Zefram to complete his flight. Data reveals he has not turned and helps Picard destroy the Borg Queen. Zefram’s flight is a success and we get to see the first meeting between the human race and the Vulcan people. The Enterprise-E returns back to their own time.

What Works: The battle between the Borg ship and the Federation while short is still very good. The introduction of the Borg Queen, Lilly and Zefram are nice characters to add to the mythos. Cochran as this not so polished hero of the Federation is really cool. The Enterprise-E is a nice design. The plot does a nice job of balancing Picard’s revenge story with the dark seduction of Data to the comedy of getting Zefram to be the hero that the crew idolized.

What doesn’t Work: They have no idea how many decks on the Enterprise-E. Lilly being the one to bring Picard back from Revenge Land is a bit problematic. It would have been better if it was Crusher than Lilly to get him back.

Why its important: Its the great TNG movie. After how lukewarm Generations was received, this was a home run. The Borg were brought in as the big threat they were in the television show and they did a good job in the movie doing that. Picard also becomes a bit of an action star which becomes a theme for the rest of the series. Data is also great in tricking the Borg Queen. This is as good as Wrath of Khan at times.

  1. Star Trek VIV: Insurrection

Overview: Data has gone nuts. He was working on a secret joint project between the Federation and a race called the Son’a. They are inspecting a group of aliens that seem normal. Data is attacking the Federation and Son’a thus making the secret project known to the aliens. Picard and the crew go after Data. When they stop him, Picard finds out that the planet and its inhabits have a connection. The planet regenerates body parts and the people living there are over hundreds of years old. Picard questions the leader of the project, Admiral Dougherty, about it. Dougherty admits that they are going to take the inhabits off the world. Once off the world, they are going to take the materials that makes the regeneration and place it in a device to use on other worlds. Picard leads a rebellion that the rest of the crew joins him on. We later found out that the Son’a are actually part of the same race on the planet. Riker takes the Enterprise-E to alert the Federation of the conspiracy, but are attacked by the Son’a. Riker defeats them and then returns to save Picard after he destroys the Son’a device that would steal the regeneration. The Federation decides against the action and the divided races come together at the end in peace.

What works: Picard. Really, this is the Picard, we love. The guy who loves to give the morality speeches and acts on them. Stewart is amazing when he does stuff and he has one scene in particular with Dougherty that defines who he is. The fight between the Enterprise-E and the Son’a is good. Riker acting like the military genius that he is and not the moron he was in Generations is good. Most of the cast gets to have fun. I also like the idea of the regeneration planet as well as a race divided that comes together again.

What doesn’t work: Data. Data is really off as the comedy character. He has interactions with a young boy that just doesn’t work. Data acting like a child after being seduced by the Borg Queen in the movie is just awkward. The rebellion is sorta weak. All Picard does on the planet is just trying get people out of the town into the caves where they get trapped near the middle of the film.The remote control to drive the Enterprise-E, what is that about?

Why its important: I wish to say it is important, but it really isn’t. The theme of forced immigration is important especially today with the events in the Middle East and with  building pipelines on Indian soil. However, I get the feeling they really wanted Picard to be the rebellious hero Kirk was. It makes sense for Picard to go rogue, but he really doesn’t since he is fighting the Son’a instead of other Federation members. The film is short and forgettable. There is also the missed opportunity of The Next Generation crew to deal with the Dominion War that was going on in DS9. It is mentioned in the film, but it gets glossed over.

Star Trek X: Nemesis.

Overview: Shinzon, a clone of Picard, has murdered the Romulan Senate. Shizon was created by the Romulans and left for dead on a worker planet. He works his way up the ladder with the help of the Rema, an off shot of the Romulans. He became a big deal during the Dominion Wars. So, he now he is in control of the Romulan Star Empire thanks to other conspirators. Troi and Riker are getting married and moving on to Riker’s new ship, the Titan. In their last mission together, Picard is asked by Shinzon to come to Romulus for peace talks. The other part of the movie is Data finding another androids like himself called B-4. B-4 is a Trojan horse designed by Shinzon. Even though Shinzon acts peaceful, Picard sees through the threat especially after he mind rapes Troi. Shinzon’s battleship is huge and puts a beating on the Enterprise-E. The Romulan conspirators turn on Shinzon after realizing how crazy he is. Picard has the Enterprise-E ram into Shinzon’s ship, but has to go aboard to stop Shinzon’s super weapon. Data follows him by jumping out of the Enterprise-E into space to land on the Romulan ship. Picard kills Shinzon, but cannot get out until Data gives him a device to beam out and stays to destroy the ship. Data is destroyed and the Enterprise-E returns to Earth for repairs. Riker and Troi leave to their new ship. Picard is left to help repair the Enterprise-E.

What works: Well…the space fight is awesome. It really is amazing piece of work. Data having one last scene with Geordi has he goes off to save Picard is a nice touch to their friendship.

What doesn’t work: Where to start. The film forgets a bunch of things about Star Trek’s past. B-4 is not the only android like Data which is a phrase that is uttered. It also forgets that Worf is the Ambassador to the Klingon Empire. It also forgets Riker has turned down a number of assignments, because he wants to captain the Enterprise. It forgets Picard had hair as a young man, so why is Shinzon bald? It forgets that the Romulans are ok as bad guys, so we don’t need clones and vampires. On top of being forgetful, it is a bad plot. Shinzon kills the Romulan leadership to help the more aggressive Romulans who later turn on him for being really aggressive towards the Federation. Its head scratching. The mind rape. Just…I….shit….moving on. B-4 is an awful idea when we had Lore who could have easily have been the villain instead of really any of these people. Lore killing the Romulan leadership sending it into chaos that the Federation has to intervene and then Lore goes on a killing spree when Data gets there makes more sense.

Why its important: Meet the movie that killed Star Trek. It was so bad critically and at the box office, Star Trek was mothballed for almost a decade. It didn’t help that the TV show Enterprise was a bit of a disaster itself. The combo of those two lead to Star Trek leaving the airwaves until the year 2017. A franchise that was printing money for almost decades hit the wall, because of this film. It is sadly the last time, we will see the TNG crew in action. They deserved better than this. We all do.

Star Trek 50th Anniversary: The Top Ten Episodes of Star Trek: The Original Series.

Its the 50th Anniversary of either my wife or mistress depending on what day it is. Star Trek came to me after Star Wars. So, I am not sure which one is my true love franchise and which one is the franchise I cheat on it with. Star Wars is probably my true love, but its difficult when Star Trek gave me a lot in my life. Star Trek allowed me to have a life outside of high school with a group of other Trekkers in a town over. Those interesting people probably saved me from the utter horror that is teenage prison. Ok, high school wasn’t that bad and every one should want an education, but it was not exactly the best of times. Star Trek also introduce me to the world of RPG which you can see me do almost every Thursday night on Twitch TV via Guild of Fools (There is your plug, Josh). I also found other people along my way that share my love of Star Trek. Kris,my real life wife, is even a big TNG fan.

Star Trek has been and will continue to be an important part of my life. So in honor of the 50th Anniversary, I have come up with a list of episodes, movies and other parts of the fandom. I will go over the good, the bad and its importance.

  1. The Cage

Overview: The original unaired plot that showed a weary Captain Pike investigating a distress signal from a long lost ship. There, we see a bunch of older men with one young hot woman named Vina. They turn about to be illusion except for the woman. A mysterious alien group called the Talosians capture Pike in order to mate with Vina. The crew lead by Number One and Spock try to get Pike back using the Enterprise’s weapons, but it doesn’t work. After Pike makes it through the Talosian’s illusions, they decided to kidnap Number One and another female to get Pike to mate. Pike is able to resist to the point that the Talosians relent and allow Pike to leave. Vivan stays behind to help the Talosians out after they stop viewing her as a thing.

What worked: Pike is a great character. He is tired of being in space. Something that was unheard of in sci-fi. Space is a job is such a foreign concept to any of us, yet it somehow makes perfect sense. People get bored or get frustrated by command is very interesting. The human race still has problems is cool. We get a lot of neat space stuff like the Enterprise and the Talosians. The mental warfare engaged between Pike and the Talosians is an interesting concept. The message of mercy at the end is a good one even though it seems forced. Hell is a myth in the 22nd Century. How that got by the 1960s censors, I will never know. A lot of sexual innuendo about Pike and all the women in this episode as well.. Which again, we are talking about sex in the 1960s on TV at dinner time.

What doesn’t work: Its boring. It really is boring. The episode tries to be this high minded adventure, but there is little adventure. There is one big fight with the Talosian is fairly weak.

Why its important: Its where everything started. We have a Captain, we have a Number One, we have the Enterprise and we have a Spock. This is it. The Roddenberry vision of the future is in full display as we see different races and aliens working together as an every day activity.

  1. Where No Man has Gone before:

Overview: James R Kirk. That is at least what his grave says. However, we know him as James T. Kirk. Kirk is our new young dashing captain of the U.S.S. Enterprise. With a sly smile and a sometimes stern look, James Kirk became as part of Star Trek as the Enterprise. In his first adventure, he has to kill his best friend Gary Mitchell who and his now girlfriend, Dr. Danner who have become Gods. Kirk wins using the big laser from the Cage.

What Works: It is more action packed than the Cage. It has Kirk, Sulu, Spock and Scotty. There is a real sense of lose when Kirk has to kill his best friend. Even though we get a small hint at their relationship, it feels like a real conflict for Kirk.

What doesn’t Work: James R. Kirk? What the…

What its Important: Most of the major players, we all know and love are here. For many fans and particular the viewers this is Star Trek. Kirk is in the Captain’s Chair. All is right with the world.

  1. Mirror Mirror

Overview: Before a certain Superhero show made parallel universes the cornerstone to their entire show with a ton of white boards and circles, Star Trek did it first. Ok, its really Twilight Zone, but unlike Twilight Zone this universe would be seen again. Mirror is probably one of the most iconic episodes thanks to Spock’s beard. Kirk and company are sent to another world were the Federation is the bad guys. While evil Kirk is sent straight to the brig by Spock, good Kirk has to battle most of the evil crew to get home. The episode does give a bit of hope to the evil universe where bearded Spock sends Kirk home and Kirk tries to convince him to change for the better.

What Works: The episode is a nice touch of action with questions about individual morality in different worlds. Just the idea of parallel worlds is amazing to me. The actors do a great job of playing their evil versions. I am sure that Takei enjoyed being a jerk to Shatner. Kirk helping evil Spock after they beat him is a great nod that no matter what or who Spock is, Kirk will always try to save him.

What doesn’t Work: We never see the TOS Mirror Mirror universe again in film form. The universe comes back later, but I want to know see what happens when evil Kirk confronts bearded Spock. The big fight with Spock is obviously stunt people at times. The science in jumping worlds is a bit dicey.

Why its important: To a lot of sci-fi fans this is the first time, we get string theory in action form. Star Trek was instrumental in breaking down tough scientific theories into simple ideas. The idea of parallels or alternate worlds can be a bit tough understand, here we get it laid out in simple terms. Its also cool to see our heroes turn into really fun villains.

  1. The Balance of Terror

Overview: Probably my favorite episode of Star Trek. During a wedding ceremony that Kirk is proceeding over, we are told a Federation space station has been utterly destroyed. We are introduced to the Romulan Star Empire and their cloaking ship. The Romulans are the Vulcans’ dirty little secret. The Romulans are Vulcans who either decided to go out to conquer the universe or were forced to leave. Its pretty murky on the reason, the Romulans are this far out. They do have a noble Captain who is not a big fan of going to war for the glory of their leader. Kirk and the Romulan Captain play a game of cat and mouse while Kirk’s own crew grow suspicious of Spock. A crew member is completely racist to Spock, but it is Spock who saves his life instead of the life of the young groom. At the end, Kirk and the Romulan Captain have a nice moment about mutual respect before the Captain destroys himself and his ship.

What works: This is episode is the perfect balance of action and big ideas. War being something to avoid was a huge statement during the Vietnam War and even now. That would be a big enough statement, but we also get a message of intolerance. This is a cracker of an episode and the new remaster version really makes it great.

What doesn’t work: Does Spock really have to save the racist guy instead of the groom? I guess for the narrative of tolerance, he does, but it seems a bit cliche.

Why its important: This is a double layer of tolerance and respect towards one another with a great game of hide and seek between the Enterprise and the Romulan Warbird. This is probably one of the first episodes where we tackle Spock being an outsider that some members of the crew don’t trust him. McCoy is irritated by him, but he never questions his loyalty. This is also where we don’t get a happy ending. The young couple is separated by death, the noble Romulan Captain is killed and we are left wondering what was it all for. Its also the first appearance of the Romulans and discussion of their war with the Federation.

  1. Amok  Time

Overview: Spock has an issue. He needs to mate every seven years or he will literally die. Spock, our most logical and stoic hero is turned into a teenage boy. To save Spock, Kirk takes the Enterprise to Vulcan. On Vulcan, Spock can mate with his soon to be wife. However, his mysterious wife has other ideas. She didn’t want to marry Spock, since it was arraigned. She would rather marry another Vulcan and chooses Kirk to fight Spock to the death. Spock’s illness can also be cured via murdering someone. McCoy tricks everyone into thinking Spock kills Kirk. Spock returns to the Enterprise to find a very alive Kirk.

What Works: This is the episode with the big Kirk and Spock fight with the unrelenting theme music behind it. That is probably what people remember about this episode. McCoy out thinking the Vulcans is pretty great.

What doesn’t work: Spock’s pseudo wife is awful. She won’t help Spock with his illness, forces him to kill Kirk and then ends up with all of his stuff. Just an awful person and never gets any comeuppance due to her actions.

Why is it important: The big thing is Spock hugging Kirk when he sees that he is alive. Its one of the most honest moments of Spock’s life and hints at their bigger friendship. This episode defines the Kirk/Spock relationship.

  1. Devil in the Dark

A mysterious being is killing miners. Kirk and crew investigate the murders. They run into a bizarre space slug called the Horta who burns people alive if they come to close. While fighting the slug, Spock thinks something is wrong. Spock performs a mindmeld on the being. It is revealed that the slug is protecting her children. The miners and the Horta come to an agreement to help one another.

What works: In the beginning, we never see the Horta while it kills the miners. This allows for the horror movie vibe of the first half of the episode. This is the A typical Star Trek episode of Infinity Diversity through Infinity Combinations, IDIC. That we are stronger together through our unique abilities than apart. There is also the idea that the thing we fear is also as fearful of us or closer to us than further away.

What doesn’t work: The Horta even in the remastered edition looks fake. Miners 4 Trump. The miners don’t even seem to care when its revealed they are killing the Horta’s children. We find a lot of working class people in the Federation don’t seem to be that tolerant as the people in Starfleet.

Why its important: Now as it was back then, its good to remind people that sometimes our enemies are not that scary or not really our enemies. Spock mindmelding with the Horta is an iconic image for Star Trek and maybe one that best characterizes what Star Trek is about.

  1. Space Speed

Overview:The introduction of Star Trek’ most famous villain, Khan Noonien Singh. The Enterprise finds a lost ship that contains a bunch of war criminals from the 1990s. Yeah, Roddenberry had a lot more faith in the space program than NASA did. He also foresaw an era where we would genetically engineer soldiers who then turn on us to rule Earth. When they were overthrown they were banished to space. Khan maybe the worse of the lot, because he is charming. So, damn charming. He seduces a female crew member to help him restore his people from their deep sleep in order to take over the Enterprise and he does. Khan should win, but the female crew member helps Kirk and Spock escape to re-take the ship. Kirk goes one on one with Khan and with the help of an inanimate rod, he beats him. Yes, Mission Log Podcast, Kirk beats him in a physical fight. Khan and his people are banished to City Alpha Six instead of outright being killed for mutiny.

What Works: Ricardo plays Khan as a smart, charming and devious foe. He is such a stand out that it is not surprise that he would come back. Kirk and crew taking back the ship is nice to see as well as how loyal the crew is when they offered to join Khan.

What doesn’t work: Khan is abusive as hell to the female crew woman. I am sure showing how toxic the relationship is was the point, but he smacks her around a bit. Back in the 60s that seems to be ok, now not so much. Khan and Kirk are obviously using stunt doubles.

Why its important: Khan. I mean its Khan. Besides that. Its interesting to see what Roddenberry envisioned the not so distant of the 1990s to be. He was kind of right as cloning was a big thing in that decade.

  1. City on the Edge of Forever

Overview: After accidentally injecting himself with some weird serum, McCoy jumps into a time rift known as the Guardian of Forever. Kirk and Spock must travel back in time to save McCoy after it appears there is no Federation anymore. In the past, McCoy passes out in an alley while Kirk and Spock meet a woman by the name of Edith Keeler. Miss Keeler runs a safe house for the poor during the Depression. It turns out that she is very good at giving speeches, so much so, she will make the US as pacifist state when the Nazis come to power. The Nazis win World War II and no Federation. Kirk and Edith become close even though Spock warns Kirk that Edith has to die. After a random meeting McCoy reunites with Kirk and Spock. In that moment of joy, Kirk has to make the most difficult decision to allow a car to kill Edith Keeler as she crosses the street. The crew returns home to find nothing has changed and with a bitter voice Kirk asks Scotty to return them to the Enterprise.

What works: The love story. Even though, Kirk has been known as a love them and leave them guy, you do get the feeling Kirk does care for her. Which makes the choice at the end to let her die even more difficult. The ending is also haunting.

What doesn’t work: Hmm…hmm…nothing.

Why its important: It maybe the most important episode of Star Trek. It gives Star Trek, a level of importance, it didn’t have before. Star Trek was an odd sci-fi show with silly special effects to some people, after this episode, it becomes an award winning show. A show that has depth and emotion. It is also the first time travel is used in Star Trek while asking the questions about the effects of going back in time and what consequences you are willing to live with by doing so.

  1. The Corbomite Maneuver.

Overview: The Enterprise is caught in a battle of wills with a mysterious and very large orb shaped ship. The alien aboard named Balok accuses them of trespassing. After a tight battle, The Enterprise escapes, but goes back to help Balok. Kirk and crew finds that Balok is a child with incredible intelligence and was testing the crew. One of Kirk’s crew agrees to stay behind to help Balok understand humanity better.

What Works: Thanks to remastering, Balok’s ship looks awesome. It is a magnificent looking ship thanks to the odd look. The tension of the episode is very tight and you really feel that the crew is real danger.

What doesn’t Work: The crew member who stays behind is a bit of a screw up. Parts of the episode deal with him going nuts via Space Madness!!!

Why its important: Kirk as a master strategist is on display. He bluffs his way out of the situation which becomes a Kirk staple maneuver. The idea that Kirk and crew would go back to save a wounded enemy shows how far humanity has come in the ways of mercy something that is lacking in this century

10.The Menagerie.

Overview: Captain Pike returns. Sort of. Pike is burnt and confined to a futuristic wheel chair after saving the lives of people in a fire. Spock tricks Kirk to leave the Enterprise, so he can take Pike to the Talosians. The Talosians’ planet, Talos IV, is under quarantine. A quarantine that contains the death penalty if you go. Kirk is able to reach the crew and they stop Spock. At Spock’s trial, he is helped by the Talosians by showing a re-run of the Cage. Kirk agrees to send Pike to Talos IV and Spock is exonerated of all charges.

What Works: Spock being a devious SOB. While this episode is a re-run of the Cage, there seems to be some hints of Spock being like bearded Spock from Mirror Mirror. Spock also cares for Pike and its nice to see that he will go this far for his friends.

What doesn’t Work: Its a re-run. Honestly, the second part of the two parter is just the Cage. The Cage while interesting is still boring even in cut up form as its shown here.

Why its important: Continuity, Continuity, Continuity. The thing that the cinematic Marvel universe has built a billion dollar empire on. The fact that Star Trek goes back to remember their history is somewhat unique in television in the 1960s. Now, every show has some season long story arc or constantly referring to their past. In this time, it is unique. Star Trek’s history becomes a giant thing for the franchise and this is the first building block.

 

Give me your top ten and reasons in the comments below. Live Long and Prosper.

Suicide Squad Review: Harley Quinn and Friends come to the big screen.

Joe, Josh, Kris and Joyce do a round table on DC’s new villain heavy movie. Is Amanda Waller, a person who creates a crisis to justify her job? Are we seeing Will Smith or Deadshot? And is this really the Joker and Harley, we need or deserve? All this and Wonder Woman trailer review.

Star Trek Beyond Any Expectations. Spoilers. Lots of Spoilers.

What is new is now old. That is the beginning premise of the third Star Trek film. Our new reboot crew is feeling the effects of being in space for three and half years. Roughly the same amount of time the original crew had when their TV show got canceled. We find Kirk is bored with being Captain. He tries to offer a piece of an old weapon to a new race to foster peace with another race. It doesn’t go well. This plus he has a birthday coming and like Buffy Summers, nothing good comes from that. We get a nice scene with him and Bones talking how Kirk joined Starfleet on a dare instead of believing in it like his father or even his William Shatner version. I guess it makes sense. We see that life is fairly normal on the ship, but they are headed to a new starbase called Yorktown for some rest, relaxation and rethinking.

The Yorktown is worth going to the film. It is a beautiful special effect of the human imagination. Built inside an oxygen rich dome, we see human life going on. The very dream of Roddenberry’s future is given new life in this amazing scene. Spock received devastating news from Vulcan High Command that Ambassador Spock is dead. Leonard Nimoy’s real life death finds its way into the film for good reason. It makes Spock question if he should stay in Starfleet or repopulate his species. In determining that decision, he breaks it off with Uhura, but she gets to keep a necklace from Spock’s mom which is important later. Kirk even takes a meeting to be Vice-Admiral of the Yorktown. Before, he can take it a mysterious ship appears from the equally mysterious nebula that the Yorktown parked next to. A female alien says her crew is stranded on a planet inside the nebula. The Enterprise is the only ship in the area to handle this problem, of course it is, of course it is.

The Enterprise heads off into more of an asteroid field than a nebula. When it arrives at the planet, it is attacked by a swarm of tiny ships that seem to know the weakness of the Enterprise pretty well. We get a really exciting action piece of the ships ramming into the Enterprise and opening up to reveal an invading party. The invasion of the Enterprise is a bit too shaky and dark for my liking. However, all the principals from McCoy to Scotty to Uhura get heroic moments. Our new villain is called Krall and he wants the weapon thing Kirk was trying to give away earlier. The crew is separated with McCoy and Spock taking one of the enemy ships after being told to evacuate the ship. Uhura and Sulu are taken when they help Kirk separate the saucer section. Scotty is able to Ipod his escape pod away from the ships that are taking the pods for captives. Kirk, Chekov and the alien woman escape pod out as well when the ship crashes.

Here the movie does a nice job of developing these characters further. Scotty becomes a friend to an alien indigenous to the world named Jaylah. Jaylah could be seen as Rey from Star Wars. We get mysterious stuff from her, but she is not another Kirk kid or something. Instead Jaylah has been hanging out on the NX-350, Franklin. One of the early Starfleet vessels that crashed there. The Franklin was thought lost by Captain Eidson. Kirk and Chekov try to use the broken Enterprise to find the rest of the crew. When they go to the Enterprise, they discover our new alien friend is a traitor. After flipping the Enterprise’s hull over, we get rid of her and any chance to find the rest of the crew.

Probably the best pairing is Spock and McCoy. Urban brings it all as McCoy and Quinto matches it. They both embody the characters and both feel the weight of those who made those character. When Quinto tells McCoy about the death of Ambassador Spock, there is a single tear. I feel that we see Quinto in that moment and maybe in a bizarre way, the character of Spock himself mourning that loss. Spock being injured and possibly delirious helps to explain his emotional outbursts. Enough cannot be said for the team up of these two as they help carry a part of the movie that can get boring.

Speaking of boring. The villain. I love Idris Elba. Love Luthor. Love him in the Thor films. I am all in day one if he wants to be Bond or Doctor Who. Here, he is missed used. Krall is not a one note villain, he in his mind is justified in wanting to destroy the Federation. However, we needed more of that why and maybe even a bit of regret and redemption about it. The big reveal is he was Edison. His crew was stranded and found a machine that could prolong life. To do that, you need to sacrifice other lives. Thus, he and his crew enslaved Jayhal’s people and also stole their mining ships. Now, how he turns mining ships into indestructible boarding party ships is never explained. What is explained is all of the ships attack as one unit at a certain frequency.

Eventually, Scotty and Jayhal find Chekov and Kirk who then beam Spock and McCoy aboard. So, we get most of the band back together. Jayhal doesn’t want to help, because the last time she was there, Kral”s man, Mason, killed her father. Scotty explains that together they can do this. Which is the big them of this movie and Star Trek. IDIC. Infinite Diversity in Infinite Combination. The true vision of Star Trek, that we are all in this together and the only way out is together. A bumper stick you did not see at the GOP 2016 Convention. It is actually great to have that be the theme of this film with everything that is going on in the world.

The rescue mission involves using Jayhal’s holo projections that can make doubles of herself as well as hide the Franklin. It also has the motorcycle that we have been dreading in the trailer. Yeah, its cheesy, but it somehow works for the rescue of the lost Enterprise crew. Jayhal kills Mason while Krall is able to get the piece he needs to build a weapon that consumes all life. Krall takes his fleet to the Yorktown. In a tense scene, the crew gets the Franklin to fly one last time. As they head off, Krall attacks the Yorktown. Spock is able to decode the Krall’s ship in either an eye rolling or genius move, the crew plays the Beastie’s Sabotage on a radio frequency to destroy the ships. Of course, Krall escapes and enters the Yorktown. There is a great scene where the Franklin comes up from the river in the Yorktown to destroy Krall’s ship. He even survives that. He is part Terminator at this point.

There is usually a big punch fight in some Star Trek movies usually in the bad ones and here is no different. Kirk has to stop Krall from injecting the bio-weapon into the environmental controls. Kirk stops Krall, Spock and McCoy save Kirk and all is right with the universe. Kirk wants to be the captain again. Jayhal is accepted to Starfleet Academy and…ok..I know I have spoilers in the subject title, but this is is pretty big….still with me. Alright. When Spock goes through Ambassador Spock’s things, we see a picture of the original crew from Star Trek VI. Probably one of the last pictures of that crew together. It broke me. After seeing that Spock decides to get back with Uhura. We also get the Enterprise-A and the start of new missions. However, we will be doing it without Chekov. Anton’s passing is mentioned at the end credits with Leonard Nimoy’s memorial. All tastefully done.

I can rip the movie for the dark shaky cam during the big fights especially the invasion of the Enterprise. I can tear it apart for destroying the Enterprise way too early for this point in the franchise. I can also shake my head for the next Star Trek film in a row with having Starfleet as the bad guys. All of that doesn’t matter, because this felt like a Star Trek film. Probably more so than most of the Next Generation movies. It was an original story. It had new aliens. It had science that sparked the imagination. It also had Kirk and crew. It has taken three films, ok Urban, Anton and Pegg nailed their characters day one. Quinto, Zoe and Cho it took Into Darkness. Now, I feel Pine is Kirk. They are the crew of the Enterprise even without the Enterprise. That seems to be another theme the movie is going for, is the Enterprise is important, but their crew is more important. Which was totally missing from Into Darkness. If this was the second movie and they didn’t destroy the Enterprise. It would feel more like what we wanted when they decided to reboot this thing.

I chided X-Men:Apocalypse for rebooting their Universe and then totally ignoring it to play around with the younger cast for really no reason. Here, the reboot makes sense to tell this story. It feels like a story that Kirk and company would go through. Like those Lost Tales books between the show being canned in the 1960s and the Motion Picture. I do think the idea of destroying the Enterprise is both a nod to Star Trek III and the fact that in season 3, the show was canned the Enterprise gets refitted only to become the Enterprise-A. I guess I can live with that. I just hope its not a reoccurring thing.

If you are a fan of Enterprise the series, you got a ton of love in this movie. The hero ship is an NX style. There is mention of the MACO which were the marines during that time. We even have a Xindi shout out. Ridiculous, a show that is viewed so low by the fans gets this much screen time more than TNG is getting. There is even a Voyager reference to a Commodore Paris. Where is young cadet Picard? Oh, he is not born. Crap.

I thought they would bring up Ambassador Spock dying as a side thing, acknowledging and moving on. Instead, they ran with it. It is obvious this crew enjoyed working with Leonard Nimoy. He was the one that came off the bench to justify the reboot. He had great scenes with Pine and Quinto and from what you hear was there for the rest of the crew to help them along the way. The older crew did that too behind the scenes, but it was Nimoy who was there to even take hits for them. He is as much as their universe as he was the original universe that Trek fans know and love. By making his death, a big deal makes the final reveal of the original crew photo all that emotional, you feel that love and pain. Next to Spock’s death in Wrath of Khan, this might be the most emotional moment in all of the Trek films. Probably more so in the years to come, because there is no way to bring him back. Again, I do hope they plan something emotional for Star Trek IV for Anton. He deserves that much love and respect for playing Chekov with grace and charm.

This film is good. Not Star Trek good which depending on who you ask it has multiple meanings. Its good in that is enjoyable, has a positive message and you get a heartbreaking scene. I highly recommend this film even to the nit pickers out there, because the characters are on point. The most important part of Star Trek is the characters. If you don’t care about the characters then it doesn’t matter how you film a shot or how well you write dialogue or how layered your plots are, you need to care about those characters. It is probably the first time, in this reboot you care about the characters and they pop off the screen. It does help the script is good and when we get interactions with the crew, it feels like Spock and McCoy not Quinto and Urban. I also like the addition of Jayhal to the crew. If you are going to change things around, go all the way. I just hope in the next film even though its time travel, we get something more tangible to that universe. I know people talk about the Borg in the film, but what about Q? Who knows, because it feels like anything can happen which is great for Star Trek.