Talkin' 'Bout Trek Generations

In the midst of my "ongoing mission" to watch all of my Star Trek DVDs in order of production, I had finished off The Next Generation, was in the third season of Deep Space Nine, and was apparently so focused on gearing up to start in on Voyager (yes, I've been interspersing them just like the series had originally overlapped), that I almost completely forgot about the 1994 feature film, Star Trek Generations. That surprised me, since I've always loved that movie, despite the fact that it served as a further reminder that my beloved crew's TV voyages were a thing of the past. I'll admit that my attachment to it may partly stem from the fact that there was nothing else to do in the podunk town I was living in at the time than to go see it at the theatre each weekend ... plus you might recall that I have something of a soft spot for movies that are not highly thought of by anyone else. Hey, Generations may not be a perfect movie, but it's a sentimental favorite of mine.

Why is Generations looked down upon so harshly? Okay, maybe it doesn't have as strong or choesive a story as most other Trek features, but it's not completely devoid of plot like some amateur critics (including the loudly opinionated woman at the Trek convention I went to shortly afterward) claim it to be. And perhaps the destruction of the Enterprise-D was none-too-gracefully shoved into the story, but in a way it did go along with the overall "love, loss, and mortality" theme of the film. But by far the biggest gripe about the movie, at least from old-school Trek fans, had to do with the way that Kirk died (or, depending on who you ask, the mere fact that he even died at all). They say he was treated shabbily and that his death wasn't heroic. "The man who beat the Kobayashi Maru and defeated the Gorn on Cestus III got killed by falling off a rickety old bridge!?!?!"

Maybe it's just the fact that I'm more a fan of TNG than TOS, but to me that sounds like plain old whining. First of all, forget the circumstance of a busted bridge being his undoing; the simple fact is that not everyone can have a graceful death. Secondly, anyone who says his death wasn't heroic obviously wasn't paying attention. Besides, in a way, Kirk "died" twice in the movie, each time heroic: at the beginning, he marched down into the bowels of the ship and put himself in harm's way to save the Enterprise-B and everyone on board; and at the end he gave his all to save not just the crew of the Enterprise-D, but all the 230 million inhabitants of a neighboring planet!! Not only that, but in between he opened up a can of whoop-ass on Soran in one of those good old-fashioned fistfights of his.

I could keep going on and on in defense of Star Trek Generations -- I also liked the humor in it, and the music was pretty good, too -- but I'll have mercy on you and stop here. But in "commemoration" of this movie, I thought I'd share with you one of the most curious pieces of Trek memorabilia in my collection, which just so happens to have been released in conjunction with that very movie. It was a promotional CD-single of a cute little techno-esque tune entitled "Make It So". A pen-pal from Central America sent me the music video on a VHS tape back in the day, and it was kind-of cool (how I wish it'd been included on this disc!), so I know it was popular down there, as well as in Europe, where the CD was produced. Its connection to Generations is questionable -- the music is a remix of the TNG theme rather than Dennis McCarthy's music from the movie, and the sample of Patrick Stewart saying "Make It So" isn't from the movie either -- but, nevertheless, it's a fun little ditty. Enjoy! (Click here for the song, and click the cover image below to enlarge it.)


These Are the Voyages of the Starship Endocrine...

Does anyone else remember the Star Wreck books, written by Leah Rewolinski? It was a series of seven parody novels, published by St. Martin's Press in the early '90s, based on both The Original Star Trek Series and The Next Generation, and later incorporating the Deep Space Nine characters. (The series ended shortly before Voyager came into being.)

Sure, the name Star Wreck has been used countless times as a Trek parody title, but otherwise this series was quite funny and entertaining. The author had fun with the names of the characters (my favorites being "Jean-Lucy Ricardo", "Georgie LaForgery", "Julio Brassiere" [Julian Bashir], and "Guano" [Guinan]), as well as with the stories of course. Chief Engineer Snot, for instance, coached Georgie on the use of technobabble, leading Georgie to become an expert with lines like, "the fratzenjammer molecules in this quadrant are making the sprucer inducer run really hard!" In this twisted universe, the transporter was called the UltraFax, and the Klingons were known as the Kringles.

If you've never picked up any of these books, and you take the Trek universe lightly enough to enjoy a totally zany parody that ignores the obvious incongruities like Kirk's crew being alive and well during the time of Picard's crew, then I urge you to seek them out and give them a read. They're not very long, they're pretty easy reads, and they'll tickle your funny bone. I'm sure Doc McCaw, Dr. Cape Pragmatski, and Dr. Beverage Flusher, would all agree that laughter really is the best medicine.

Here are Amazon links to each title in the series:


Jesse Mach, You Speed Demon

Wow! They're just putting all kinds of crap on DVD now, aren't they? I don't necessarily mean that in a bad way, mind you. I was rather surprised, though, when TV Shows on DVD said that "Since the beginning of the TV-on-DVD era, fans have eagerly wanted this show to come out on disc!" And I'd be flat-out lying if I said I wasn't quite curious to see Street Hawk again, since it's been aeons since I have. I am rather concerned, though, that it might not live up to my fond childhood memories, as has happened with two other sci-fi shows from my youth that I've watched in recent years.

I loved the TV adaptation of Blue Thunder when I was a kid, so I picked up the DVD set shortly after it came out ... but I hadn't realized until adulthood how bad it was, so I ended up trading the thing in before I'd even watched half the set. And several years ago the Sci-Fi Channel aired the very-short-lived, Tron-in-reverse show Automan, and that too ended up crushing the nostalgia bubble that had merrily floated around in my head for oh-so-long. The plots were clumsy and preposterous in the former, and the acting was amateurish and uncomfortable in the latter.

What concerns me most is that Rex Smith was a singer-turned-actor ... and we all know how not well that bodes for a TV series, especially one from early-1980s science-fiction -- a subgenre known for its impaired realism and fleeting shelf-life (two characteristics that are not necessarily mutually exclusive). Nevertheless, its resilience could end up surprising me. Here's the cover art, courtesy of TVshowsonDVD.com ... bitchin', huh?


Deep Submergence Vehicle

Just the other day I finished watching the DVD set of the first -- and, in my opinion, the only real -- season of the 1993 NBC sci-fi drama series SeaQuest DSV. I remember fondly when it debuted on TV. Quantum Leap was all too soon ending its run, and Star Trek: The Next Generation was heading into its final season (though I don't recall now whether or not we all knew at the time that it was their final season), so my appetite for good science-fiction was at one of its all-time peaks for me. And SeaQuest was a lot like an undersea version of Star Trek: TNG ... up to and including a way-cool main title theme, voiced over with a neat-o introduction by its captain!

I liked SeaQuest for the same reasons I liked Star Trek: TNG -- the smart way that they would integrate real-world science, and believably extrapolate on speculative science, in each episode. I also loved the first-season family of characters ... they were all real and likeable, and they all seemed to actually have a place in the crew. I loved the late Roy Scheider as the stoic captain ... Royce D. Applegate was endlessly likeable as the crusty old security chief with a heart of gold ... Stephanie Beacham lit up the screen as Dr. Kristin Westphalen ... I'm not sure if I had the bigger crush on Tim O'Neill (Ted Raimi) or Miguel Ortiz (Marco Sanchez) ... and who can forget the impish Ben Krieg, charmingly portrayed by John D'Aquino?

I was positively overjoyed when I heard that it was being released on DVD since, during the year it aired, we lived in a podunk town in the middle of nowhere, where the cable reception was about as good as bad TV aerial antenna reception. As a result of all the ghosting and static, we could barely see anything in the typically dark underwater CG optical shots, some of the most thrilling of the show. And what was beautiful about how the first season played out was that, since the producers weren't sure the show would be renewed, its "saga" was closed out nicely with no loose ends left untied, and no sort of a cliffhanger ending. So people like me feel no need or compulsion to buy the second season if we don't want to.

And boy, did I not want to. I don't know why the producers (or, more likely, the network) felt they needed to completely upend the show, throw out two-thirds of the cast, and replace them with some of the most bland and derivative characters ever to grace a sci-fi show -- and, most unnerving, they were all so uniformly young and attractive that it threw what credibility the show might have otherwise had left right out the window. I watched it on TV back then, but I don't even remember if I made it all the way through the season ... I don't think I did. The other thing that more-or-less ruined the show for me was how they veered into the more outlandish "fantasy" elements of sci-fi instead of staying grounded more in reality, which was half of the charm of the show (the original cast being the other half).

Fortunately the DVDs retained one of the best elements of the show's first season: the closing-credits segments in which oceanographer Robert Ballard explained some of the real-world science that inspired each episode. But unfortunately, they missed the boat (no pun intended) on including some good extras: most notably remembrances for deceased cast members Jonathan Brandis and Royce Applegate (Roy Scheider hadn't yet passed away when the set was released). Might I buy the second season out of curiosity, to see if I may have too hastily passed judgment on it back when it aired? Maybe ... if I find a low-enough price tag on it.