Star Trek: The Lost Missions - Episode 10

Whew ... I almost thought I wasn't going to get an entry to you this weekend, since our broadband internet was out for two days and finally came back up just a few hours ago. Better late than never, eh?

Did I say that the previous Peter Pan/Power Records Star Trek audio adventure was the dopiest? Sorry, I meant this one. Not only does it boast (and I use that word lightly) a security officer who sounds like he's doing a crappy James Cagney impression, but the rest of the story ain't much better, as might seem to be indicated by its title, "Dinosaur Planet" (no writer credits again, and as was the case last time, it's probably for the best). Here goes nothin'...!


Happy Birthday, Voyager!

Are you ready to feel old? I sure wasn't, particularly when such a jarring realization came exploding out of the warm-and-fuzzy tidbit of nostalgia that it did, like some macabre jack-in-the-box from the nightmarish Mirror Universe. What am I talking about, specifically? Okay, I might as well at least try to get used to saying it: Today marks the 15th anniversary of the premiere of Star Trek: Voyager. Believe it or not, it's true ... January 16, 1995 saw the auspicious debut of the UPN television network, with its very first program being "Caretaker", the epic two-hour pilot episode of Voyager.

But I really have to stop making this sound like an occasion to mourn ... on the contrary, it's well worth celebrating! I can remember the setting vividly: we were staying in a hotel during our first visit to the Pacific Northwest to find ourselves a new home. My brother and I shared a room, and I had to plead with him to let me watch it since he wasn't, still isn't, and probably never will be, the least bit of a sci-fi or Star Trek fan. Out of the goodness of his heart (two nouns that I had never thought were applicable to him), he allowed me to be part of that landmark occasion in television history.

I can also remember how entertained I was. This was by far the best Star Trek pilot episode ever! It had an interesting premise, a compelling story, and likeable characters. And you know how The Next Generation finally seemed to find its groove in the third season, and Deep Space Nine also took about three years to get its mojo working? Well I felt, right from the beginning, that Voyager had hit the ground running. The cast seemed to fit together and be comfortable with their characters right from the start, and in retrospect that probably had quite a bit to do with how enjoyable the pilot episode was.

It wasn't perfect, of course -- the interpersonal conflict kind-of flew in the face of Gene Roddenberry's "everybody-gets-along-in-the-future" ideal; I wasn't totally keen on the whole sequence of events that brought about the Maquis in the first place; and then there was the biggest plot hole of them all, the idea that people believed a Vulcan (Tuvok) would forsake logic and join the Maquis -- but the greater overall dramatic potential of the show made those nits much less worth picking.

I'm really, really tempted to watch "Caretaker" this very evening, in a true anniversary celebration of its premiere, but I can't bring myself to do it. You see, I've been watching the Star Trek series DVDs in order for several months now, even going to the point of interspersing DS9 episodes at the same point where it originally began running concurrently with TNG, and I'm intent on doing the same with Voyager at the appropriate time. I've only gotten to TNG's early seventh season (DS9's early second season) at this point, so I still have roughly 30 episodes to get through (all the way up to DS9's "Past Tense" two-parter) before I can "legally" start watching Voyager. I want to re-experience the introduction of the Cardassian treaty, the creation of the Demilitarized Zone, and the introduction of the Maquis in the intended order ... it'll help me appreciate it more, as I've appreciated several other firsts in the TNG-era shows that I'd forgotten about in recent years.

As a special bonus on this oh-so-special day, here's a bonus feature from the Voyager Season One DVD set, which shines the spotlight on the unfortunate miscasting of Genevieve Bujold as Captain Janeway, including a real treat -- actual footage from the first two days of shooting, giving us a peek at the captain that almost was. Happy Voyager Day, one and all!


Late Night Double Feature Picture Show

While taking advantage of the previously mentioned store-closing sale at our local Suncoast, I decided it was as good a time as any to pick up a pair of titles that I had been considering checking out lately. I don't often buy movies sight unseen, mind you (though I probably do so more often than the average person), but at rock-bottom prices (50% off regular price), I figured why not? Besides, if I really don't like them, I can always trade them in at the local CD store.

The first of them is Timeline, adapted from a Michael Crichton novel. It tells the story of a group of college students whose archaeology professor vanishes on a dig, apparently ending up in the 14th Century. After confirming with a technology firm that's experimenting with teleportation that the professor was indeed whisked back to the past by accident, the prof's son is compelled to jump back to rescue him. Of course, it may have something to do with the fact that he's got the hots for one of his dad's students. Anyway, the group has a scant six hours to find and rescue the professor -- on the eve of an historically pivotal battle, no less -- and complications of course ensue, on both sides of the timeline.

It's an interesting story, and fairly well executed, though it's not particularly remarkable. The fact that it stars the studly Paul Walker I'd consider a plus, though he ain't gonna win any best actor Oscars anytime soon. I'd forgotten that Neal McDonough (the ill-fated Lt. Hawk in Star Trek: First Contact) was in it, and I always enjoy seeing him ... and thankfully we didn't see a whole lot of Billy Connolly. It's not that I don't like him, mind you ... it's just that the last thing of consequence that I saw him in was the sitcom Head Of The Class, in which he less-than-adequately took the place of Howard Hesseman, so I'm just not used to seeing him in any kind of dramatic role just yet. But anyway, bottom line: it was a reasonably entertaining movie, but I'm glad I didn't spend any more for it than I did.

The second of these two films is the one I was far more eager to see: The League of Extraordinary Gentlemen. I had bought the comic book miniseries back when it was published, but I still have yet to read it (sad as it sounds, that's the case with most of my comic collection), although the concept has always intrigued me: a group of 19th-Century literary characters cobbled together as an ad-hoc superhero team to go after a madman bent on world domination. Imagine: Allan Quatermain, Captain Nemo, a now adult Tom Sawyer, Dr. Jekyll, the Invisible Man, Dorian Gray, and Mina Harker (from Dracula fame), all together in one story, and going after a villain whose startling true identity is not revealed until the climax.

It was certainly an entertaining movie, though there was something keeping me from calling it "great" ... perhaps the plot meandered a bit and could have been a bit tighter. What wouldn't have kept me from calling it great was the always delightful Sean Connery as Quatermain, nor was the intriguing notion of a grown-up Tom Sawyer ... made all the more watchable by the extremely easy-on-the-eyes Shane West. I'm not sure why this movie was somewhat of a disappointment, because I enjoyed it quite a bit, and I don't regret buying it at all. In fact, I'm actually a bit disappointed that there in all likelihood will never be a sequel.

I also picked up one or two other sci-fi-related releases, which I'm sure I'll get around to discussing eventually. Too bad that Suncoast wasn't really worth shopping at until its going-out-of-business sale....


Star Trek: The Lost Missions - Episode 9

Happy New Year! And what better way to kick off the new year than with the next quasi-exciting Peter Pan/Power Records Star Trek audio adventure!?! It's probably the dopiest of all of them, but that actually makes it bizarrely entertaining in its own special way. In "The Robot Masters" (author unknown, and I think it's best that he/she stay that way), the Romulans plot to overthrow the Federation with their own enormous robot army. Can Kirk and his crew thwart their dastardly plan? Well, duh.