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Star Trek Discovery: Season Two

I have a secret…although I profess my love for Star Trek, I have had a hard time following this new series, and have only very recently finished the second season although the finale came out months ago. In theory, I DO like this series, as I’ve shared in the posts I wrote about the beginning of Season One and then when I finished it. But each season I’ve had some time constraints that popped up mid-season and I had to put my watching on hold, and then I struggled with finishing the final episodes.

The first season was atypical to what most Star Trek series have been like, and I came to think of it as more Star Trek-inspired than truly a Trek show. With a mid-season break, the creators seemed to do a bit of course correction and tried to hew the last few episodes of season one towards established canon. Captain Pike, the predecessor of the Enterprise’s Captain Kirk, was introduced and it seemed as if season two might try to actually be more Treky. They even cast a new Spock to be introduced as a pivotal character as the foster brother to Michael Burnham, the lead of this series. I truly enjoyed the four Short Treks that started off the season as teasers for the regular episodes to come. But alas, season two went off the rails with an extremely convoluted storyline.

*Spoiler alert* At the end of season one, Discovery meets up with Enterprise that had been on a faraway mission and sat out the recent war with the Klingons. With Captain Lorca no longer with the ship, Captain Pike is sent over to captain the USS Discovery as the USS Enterprise is docked for repairs. This sets us up to meet a young Spock who is in the midst of a mental breakdown and not anything like what we expect from TOS. Spock and Michael are brother and sister as Spock’s parents took in an orphaned Michael as a child and their connection is forced and ridiculous. There is a huge absurd storyline about a Red Angel visiting at pivotal battles to help and it ends up with the two of them needing to save ALL HUMANITY with a time-traveling space suit. In the midst of all this,  a character is brought back from the dead and my favorite character Tilly has to fight the most annoying alien ever. Three of the Short Treks tie into the narrative at the conclusion, and in the end, the crew splits up, with some of them having to go to the future with the USS Discovery.

It doesn’t bode well that many of my favorite characters were left behind in their present-day, while Michael and many of the younger crew members were sent to the future. I assume that’s not to say we will never see them again, cause come on its Star Trek; but I will miss Captain Pike, young Spock, Number One, love-struck Ash, Klingon Chancellor L’Rell and mirror-universe Georgiou. Michael was really grating on my nerves, with way too much focus on her and her earnestness, so more of her next season is not appealing. This turned out to be a pretty negative review of Discovery, but I’m not ready to give it up yet. The recently announced new Short Treks look promising and I will be all in for the new Picard series next year!

Live long and prosper, my friends!

-Nancy

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Fiction’s Fearless Females: Captain Kathryn Janeway

In celebration of Women’s History Month, Kathleen and I have joined up with some other amazing bloggers to celebrate! A group of eight of us (and perhaps more if others wish to join in) are each picking a fictional fearless female to feature.  I had the pleasure of participating in another blogging series last year, The Great Chis Debate,  in which several of us argued who the best cinematic Chris was (Chris Pine was absolutely the winner) but in this series, there are no winners, as each woman featured in the next few weeks are fabulous and ALL are deserving of praise.

Our series was expertly kicked off by the Green Onion, who wrote about Ellen Ripley of Alien movie fame. Ripley was a perfect starting point as her first 1979 representation showed “She represents all that is great in a heroic character and being a woman doesn’t define her, it’s just a part of who she is”  and led to other excellent portrayals of women in film and on television. That now leads me into my choice for our #FictionsFearlessFemales series: Captain Kathryn Janeway of the Star Trek Voyager crew, played brilliantly by Kate Mulgrew.

Star Trek is my favorite fandom, as many of the posts on my blog revolve around the movies, television and webseries that have been inspired by the original classic. In the first series we were introduced to Uhura, who was beautiful, smart, ambitious and an equal to the men- she was the original Star Trek role model. All strong female Star Trek characters owe a debt to her, and we were blessed with other great women in the Star Fleet universe such as Doctor Beverly Crusher and Deanna Troi of The Next Generation series, plus Kira Nerys and Jadzia Dax of Deep Space Nine. But Star Trek took the next logical and needed step of having a new series feature a female captain, with subsequent series Enterprise and Discovery building off Janeway’s pioneering role.

In 1995 Voyager premiered with the perfect captain who I picked as best captain in my earlier  post My Perfect Star Trek Crew. The series premise was for the newly launched U.S.S. Voyager crew to track down an infiltrated Maquis ship and bring them to justice.  The Maquis were a paramilitary terrorist group in which Janeway had sent her Security Officer in as an undercover operative and had enlisted a disgraced former Starfleet officer who had been a gun for hire for the Maquis to help find them.  Voyager’s crew and the Maquis fighters are accidentally drawn 70,000 light years to the far side of the Delta Quadrant by an alien seeking survival, calling itself “The Caretaker.” The Voyager and Maquis crews have to form a tentative bond to survive once both ships are compromised and they have to unite into one crew as they face the reality that it will take them 75 years to get back home.

Through seven seasons the Voyager crew explored and engaged with alien species they were completely unfamiliar with as they journeyed home. Through several dangerous maneuvers and a battling of wits they were able to get back into Federation space in seven years. Janeway was the perfect captain for this journey, for faced with extraordinary pressures, she united two warring factions and built a unified crew out of former enemies. Faced with an untenable situation, she came out stronger than ever. There were times she made some questionable decisions, including cutting off her glorious long hair (I loved her ever changing hair styles and  buns), but her imperfections and quirks made her relatable.

As with many iconic characters, the real life actors and actresses become forever tied to their roles, and Kate Mulgrew is no exception. She just recently wrapped a well regarded six season arc as Red in the television series Orange is the New Black but she will always be remembered as Captain Janeway. Thus, I loved finding this tweet on International Women’s Day, which was also the day this blogging series launched.   She is fully supportive of a new captain in our universe- Captain Marvel! Having females support other females is so important, and never detracts from the original’s glory.

Star Trek presents an idealistic and Utopian future, with Earth moving past it’s racial and cultural differences, and ready to explore space. The tagline was “Space: the final frontier. These are the voyages of the starship Enterprise. Its five-year mission: to explore strange new worlds. To seek out new life and new civilizations. To boldly go where no man has gone before!”. And boldly go it did- the series gave us a ground breaking captain that was not defined by her being a female. She was an example of grace under fire who exemplified remarkable leadership skills. Janeway not only is a hero but a role model and a perfect example of a fearless female!

As I wrap up this post, I now pass the baton to Michael of My Comic Relief who will then pass off to my writing partner Kathleen. Other bloggers in queue after Kathleen are Rob of My Side of the Laundry Room, Kiri of Star Wars Anonymous, Jeffrey of The Imperial Talker and bringing us home will be Kalie of Just Dread-full. Please check in weekly as this series unfolds.

Live Long and Prosper, my friends.

-Nancy

I Heart Characters: A Character Overrun with Personality 

I ♥ Characters is a weekly meme hosted by Dani @ Perspective of a Writer to showcase blogger love for characters. Each week she supplies a topic and we supply the character from whatever media we love and link up so others can blog hop and share the character love. ♡

This weeks topic is:  A Character Overrun with Personality (This character totally bowls you over due to their powerful / expressive / in your face personality. Do you enjoy them or are they annoyance incarnate?!)

I am choosing Ensign Sylvia Tilly of Star Trek Discovery as my example of a character that has personality to spare. Typically Star Trek ships are shown to have crew members that are professional to the extreme. Set in the future, it’s as if crew members have evolved, and that they are never awkward or make mistakes. While it’s nice to think that people will develop, let’s be realistic. Discovery seems to be pushing boundaries on what fans consider Star Trek, and this is one example, as this series seems to be letting us see crew members as more realistic. As such, Tilly has become a breakout star in the cast, for many people relate to her.

Tilly is a new engineering crew member of Discovery and is very eager to please. She yearns for more, and gets accepted into the command track, as she has ambitions to captain some day. When Michael Burhham, a disgraced crew member from another ship is assigned to her as a roommate, Tilly teaches her empathy and helps Michael integrate better into this new ship’s crew. But despite her awkwardness, Tilly is very smart and a good soldier.

A reason why I connect so much with Tilly, is that she reminds me of myself. She is sweet, and can often be overlooked or not taken seriously because of her kindness. She is curvy and has wild curly hair plus a parent that she never could please. But she is also extremely competent and has a steely resolve that takes some people by surprise due to her being underestimated.

When the show was on hiatus between seasons CBS created four shorts to tide over viewers, and Tilly headlined the first mini-episode. Her big personality has made her a fan favorite, and Discovery would not be the same without her!

-Nancy

Star Trek: Discovery -Short Treks

Star Trek Discovery tried an innovative approach in keeping it’s audience’s attention and building interest- it put out four shorts (each approximately 15 minutes long), one each month starting in October. They were non-linear, with three of them showcasing fan favorites.

Runaway

Ensign Sylvia Tilly was featured in the first episode, with a short that featured Tilly befriending a stowaway alien.

Tilly, in all her awkward glory, has become a favorite of the Discovery crew for many viewers (including me!). In this short, she accidentally meets a new species of alien that can turn invisible. When the two encounter one another in the mess hall, chaos erupts, but when other crew members arrive for a meal, the shambles can be attributed to Tilly being known for unintentionally being a magnet for mayhem. I had to have a huge suspension of disbelief that Tilly never reported this alien, even for the somewhat valid reasons for her being there, and got away with transporting her back to her home world. Wouldn’t there be logs of those kind of transmissions? But I digress. The friendship between the two and the character development you see in Tilly make up for these issues, and it was a sweet slice-of-life short.

 

Calypso

This short proved to be the most atypical as it is set 1000 years in the future and is set on the empty USS Discovery, and the title name refers to a story in Greek mythology.

An unnamed human soldier, who later goes by Craft,  is found drifting in an alien shuttlecraft and inadvertently comes near the USS Discovery.  A tractor beam brings him inside the ship and he awakens in sick bay. Wary, he tries to escape, but he is calmed when the female speaking through the intercom is friendly and non-threatening. We find out the ship had been abandoned 1000 years prior by the crew, and the AI has evolved in that time and calls herself Zora. Craft shares that he was escaping a battle and wants to be reunited with his wife and child, whom he hasn’t seen in ten years. Craft and Zora (in holographic form) bond, and there is a poignant scene in which the two recreate a dancing scene from the movie Funny Face.  The ending harkens back to the title of this episode, and if you aren’t familiar with that myth, look it up!

 

The Brightest Star

 

Commander Saru gets an origin story that explains how the first Kelpien joined Starfleet.

We first meet Saru, living a quiet agrarian life with his father and sister, but the village lives in fear as an alien nation demands tributes on a regular basis. When the alien ship drops some technology Saru examines it on the sly, refusing to accept that this life is all there is. His questions to his father are rejected but he continues trying to send out a message to others beyond his home planet.  Time goes by, but he eventually receives a message from an unknown ship that they will arrive the next day. I gasped with who stepped out of the shuttle, and I’m sure all Trekkie fans started checking their Star Trek canon to see if the years matched up. While this story had a bit of a discrepancy with what Saru previously shared about his home world (edit- and a comment in the first episode of the second season didn’t match either), this was a lovely origin story. His last quote “I saw hope, in the stars. It was stronger than fear. And I went towards it” was perfect.

 

The Escape Artist

Harry Mudd, an expert on long-cons, pulls the wool over many bounty hunters and renegades in a clever way in this last episode.

Mudd is a recurring scoundrel in the Discovery series, based off a character that only appeared twice in TOS. Actor Rainn Wilson is having fun with this role, so his inclusion in one of the shorts was welcome. In this episode Mudd has been sold by a bounty hunter to an alien that was previously wronged by him. We see Mudd also trying to get out of previous jams with other aliens, so we don’t know if this current alien will fall for his tricks. The way he was begging not to be taken to the Federation made me think of Brer Rabbit, and the reveal at the end of exactly how this rogue got out of trouble again was ingenious.

All four of these shorts were strong, and each had a different feel. They were a wonderful lead-in to the start of the second season of Discovery and I hope they continue making them for future seasons. In the meantime, live long and prosper, my friends!

-Nancy

The Autobiography of Jean-Luc Picard

After my rough start with The Autobiography of James T Kirk, I was leery of picking up The Autobiography of Jean-Luc Picard, but I’m glad I did. Listed as the “story of one of Starfleet’s most inspirational captains” it is presented as if it were written by Picard and once again it is “edited” by David A Goodman.

The foreword by Beverly Crusher Picard immediately establishes that Picard and Dr. Crusher married some time after their TNG days together, which pleased me to no end, but when Q co-opted her foreword I almost put the book down. The editorial choice for Goodman to interrupt a book by Q was unbelievably lame.

We start in Picard’s youth on his family’s vineyard in Le Barre, France, and he establishes the difficult relationship he had with his father and older brother. He shows ambition from an early age, and never gives up on his quest to join Starfleet. His Starfleet days showed that he was a stickler for the rules, and didn’t necessarily have the charisma that you associate with a captain.

To me the book started to take off when he graduated and began his career leading to an early captaincy of the USS Stargazer. He ended up spending 20+ years on that ship, and we are shown why he would choose to stay on an old ship for so long. Normally we associate officers in Starfleet as having stellar careers but Picard has some ups and downs, and sometimes makes decisions that are a bit suspect. He also has time off ship and has to deal with bureaucracy and uncertainty.

What I liked about this book, so much more than the Kirk novel, was that the relationships between Picard and others were so much more believable and fleshed out. His friendship with Jack Crusher and a young Beverly on the Stargazer, established the crushing guilt he felt when Jack died under his command leaving Beverly widowed with a young son. He long carried a torch for her but felt he couldn’t act on it. I enjoyed meeting some people from his past that were new to me, and I loved every time that he first met a character that you knew would play a role in what we know as Star Trek canon.  When he was given the USS Enterprise to lead he specifically asked for some officers that he had met in past missions on other ships.

His time on the Enterprise wasn’t covered in-depth, as this book is geared mostly to fill in gaps of his life we are not familiar with. I was disappointed that so few pages were devoted to his time with the Borg, as I thought that was a crucial and life changing event for him. His later years, including his time as Federation Ambassador to Vulcan, and his late in life marriage to Beverly aren’t given much time either.

These books are supposed to be viewed as canon, as they are approved by Paramount and CBS Studios, but as it was written in 2017 I question how much it will be hold up as it was recently announced that there will be a new Star Trek series starring Patrick Stewart who will once again play Jean-Luc Picard. While I am thrilled at the chance to experience further adventures with Picard, I do wonder how they will handle storylines, and if any of his TNG crew will make appearances, especially Gates McFadden who played Beverly. Please have all of them on the show- make it so!

An autobiography about Spock will be coming out in August of 2019, and since my opinion of these novels written by Goodman has improved, I plan on picking it up. I need to know the identity of Spock’s wife that was hinted at in this book! In the meantime- live long and prosper my friends.

-Nancy

For more information on Picard’s book, tune in to the enjoyable podcast Trek FM: Literary Treks 209 that interviews Goodman

 

Discussion Post: Star Trek vs Star Wars

I wish to discuss the age old question… are you a fan of Star Trek or Star Wars?

If you follow this blog, you may have noticed that I love both. I have written many a post about both franchises. But I am in the minority that I like both- many people are either firmly in one camp or the other. So, let’s discuss the similarities and differences of both these space westerns, and I hope you will share why you like one vs the other.

Star Trek started on television in 1966. It’s supposed five year mission lasted only three. An animated series followed in 1973 and the first movie with the original crew debuted in 1977. It presented an idealistic and Utopian future, with Earth moving past it’s racial and cultural differences, and ready to explore space. The tagline was “Space: the final frontier. These are the voyages of the starship Enterprise. Its five-year mission: to explore strange new worlds. To seek out new life and new civilizations. To boldly go where no man has gone before!”. The franchise was reinvigorated with the new television series The Next Generation, which was then followed by Deep Space 9 (DS9), Voyager, Enterprise and most recently Discovery. The movie series was rebooted in 2009 with new actors portraying TOS crew, but on a different timeline to avoid canon issues.

This is minus the new Discovery crew!

Star Wars was an immediate hit in 1977 when it debuted on the big screen. Set in the past, this more swashbuckling series also had a strong spiritual component and was a straight up adventure. Two more hit movies came out in 1980 & 1983, making stars of Harrison Ford, Mark Hamill and Carrie Fisher. But that seemed to be that until the series was  given a new prequel trilogy starting in 1999 which established how Darth Vader came to be. Again a pause, but starting in 2015 Disney continued the journey of the original three stars with a new trilogy plus stand alone movies set in the Star Wars universe. With the Disney machine behind this franchise, it is set for years to come.

This is minus the newest trilogy !

Here are but a few of the differences between the two series:

Science vs Drama

Future vs Past

TV series vs Movies

Logic vs Spiritualism

Gene Rodenberry vs George Lucas

JJ Abrams vs JJ Abrams

( Ha!- He has directed movies from both franchises!)

 Paramount vs Disney

Now I shall reveal my favorite of the two…Star Trek!  While I might have grown up on Star Wars, it was discovering Star Trek: TNG that established my nerd cred. Star Wars was cool to like then, and still is today. For me to admit that I adored Star Trek took some spunk. My sorority sisters in college were kind of shocked that I liked it so much but they loved me so they put up with my “eccentricities”. I could talk about the various series for hours and eventually wore down my boyfriend (now my husband) into watching the episodes with me. The Star Trek fandom might have less numbers but they make up for it in kindness, as the Star Wars fandom can be toxic at times.

So…are you a Live Long & Prosper fan or a May The Force Be With You? Tell me why!

-Nancy

 

The Great Chris Debate! Part 4: Chris Pine

This week, Michael of My Comic Relief, Kalie of Just Dread-full, Kathleen, and I went head to head – trying to decide which cinematic superhero Chris is best! Michael supported Chris Pratt, Kalie choose Chris Hemsworth and Kathleen went with Chris Evans. All three shared heartfelt but misguided treatises as to the superiority of their Chris. While all three are excellent writers, they all fell short (and they secretly know it). Clearly the best was saved for last, which quite obviously is Chris Pine.

To say that the public is blessed with such four outstanding Chrises is an understatement. People come in with their own preconceived notions of what they find attractive, sexy and funny. All of the Chrises fit into those categories, but it takes a truly superior Chris to rise above the rest. So let’s wrap this up for once and for all, as I prove my Chris is best.

As if we needed an introduction to the best of the Chrises, but here it is, announcing it himself:

Continue reading “The Great Chris Debate! Part 4: Chris Pine”

Star Trek Green Lantern: The Spectrum War

I picked this graphic novel on a whim as I am a huge Star Trek fan, and thought it would be a hoot to read about the Kelvin timeline crew meeting Hal Jordan.  IDW Publishing and DC Comics partnered together to bring us “The Crossover Event of 2015” and it did not disappoint!

I admit I am not very familiar with the Green Lantern Corps, so I really appreciated how explanations were worked into the narrative to bring you up to speed on how the whole power rings worked along with what the different colors symbolized. Cheat sheet: green, violet, blue and indigo rings are good while red, orange and yellow are bad.  Guess what- the violet, blue and indigo rings choose Star Trek crew while the evil rings went to a Klingon, a Romulan and a Gorn. These are not aliens you want to mess with folks!

Hal explains to Kirk and crew that he and a few other lanterns were pulled into the ST universe by Ganthet, one of the Guardians of the Universe, when he utilized Last Light to save the lantern corp when they were fighting a losing battle with villain Nekron. Evil lanterns from the DC universe have also been sucked into this timeline and they align with their color counterparts, but without their power batteries, all the lanterns are at risk.

Image result for star trek green lantern the spectrum war
Johnson, Mike and Angel Hernandez. Star Trek Green Lantern: The Spectrum War. 2016 (first comic published in 2015)

Without spoiling too much, it would be safe for you to assume that there are several epic fights. Almost all of the main crew of the Enterprise get to wield ring power at one time or another. Several other green lanterns show up, and working as a team, a plan is put into action to save the universe. There is humor utilized throughout and the illustrations are top notch in this graphic novel. The Star Trek crew is drawn to resemble their movie counterparts, and as such it was sad to see Anton Yelchin (although this was written before his real-life death), yet it is heartwarming to know his portrayal will live on in books. I loved the variant art throughout, with all contributing artists submitting outstanding work.

Another crossover series with these characters is planned, so I look forward to more adventures with them. As Hal summarizes in the end, combining two motto’s into one- ” I am sworn to protect strange new worlds. New life. New Civilizations. To boldly go…by Lantern’s light…where no one has gone before!”

On a side note, I recently was in a good-natured Twitter fight with my friend Michael @ My Comic Relief about which is the best Chris. While he fought the good fight for Chris Pratt in Guardians of the Galaxy, my superior choice of Chris Pine as Kirk clearly was the winner.  In fact he even shared that a student of his said of Chris Pine, “The universe is in Chris Pine’s eyes!”. Not only does this student deserve an A+, it clearly shows how right I am. That this book that I had requested weeks earlier came in this week, is the final proof that MY Chris wins!

-Nancy

Image result for battle of the chrises

Star Trek Discovery: Season One

Star Trek Discovery has been quite a ride!

I had been anticipating this new series for over a year, but with several production delays, it did not premiere until September 2017. I eagerly watched the first three episodes and felt it was intriguing, although I had some major issues with the feel of it considering it is a prequel to TOS. I basically was having a hard time with suspension of disbelief that all the changes fit in with established canon. I then took an extended break from the show, as I was in my last semester of grad school and had to concentrate on my portfolio and final projects. It wasn’t until after Christmas that I binge watched all the episodes I had missed.

Watching the episodes in a cluster really changed my viewing experience for the better. All of a sudden I was immersed in the Star Trek universe and looked at it as a whole instead of dissecting the parts like I have tended to do in the past. With all of it swirling in my head, I was able to watch the final episodes as they were released and came away pleased with the series.

Image result for star trek discovery cast

I read an interesting article “The Fascinating Ways Star Wars and Star Trek Are Challenging Their Own Franchises”  which compares the new directions that both Star Wars and Discovery have chosen to take with their leads. I found I have some personal contractions in how I feel about these new antiheroes- for I was aghast at Luke’s portrayal in the recent The Last Jedi but was okay with how Captain Lorca of the U.S.S. Discovery was a warhawk and quite arrogant.

Discovery also changed up the pacing of the series with a prequel to a prequel in the first few episodes, with the series first starting on the U.S.S. Shenzhou and for it’s lead character not being a captain. The odd pacing also included what seemed to be a season ending arc concluding a few episodes shy of the finale, with the last two episodes taking a sudden u-turn that seemed to aim towards story lines that might align with TOS.

I think what has tipped the scales for me is the characters. I like them! They are diverse in the very best way. Michael Burnham is an appealing lead, whom I predict will eventually become a captain and be the one that will be included in captain montages with the other Star Trek series leads.  Commander Saru is a unique alien that has captained ably, but I worry that his quiet fortitude will be overshadowed by more dramatic staff. Crusty Lt. Stamets and his husband Dr. Culber are a perfect example of showing a loving relationship and Ash Tyler showed male vulnerability (before his huge secret was revealed). Sure, I liked Captains Lorca and Georgiou, but it is the regular crew that has elevated the show for me.

And Tilly- I shall devote a whole paragraph to her! I love her! She is me! She is sweet, and can often be overlooked or not taken seriously because of her kindness. She is curvy and has wild curly hair plus a parent that she never could please. But she is also extremely competent and has a steely resolve that takes some people by surprise due to her being underestimated. When her Mirror Universe counterpart was Captain Killy (she was bad-ass there!) I was thrilled. More Tilly please!

As proof of how much I like the show, when I saw the picture below- I teared up in happiness. Included are additional bridge members (the two on the left and the three in the back row on the right) who haven’t had much development yet, but have so much potential! The picture makes me hopeful that the episodes won’t always concentrate on the leads, and that lesser known ship crew can get their due. They deserve a #DiscoParty!

Was the series perfect? Hell no! I have come to think of it as not quite Star Trek, for it is a grittier and less idealistic show than I have come to expect. Instead, it is sci-fi adventure show that pays lip service to the series, and I suspend logic (Spock!) for the sake of enjoyment. It is quite rare for me to do, but my tendency to make mountains out of molehills would only do me a disservice and I would miss out on this flawed but captivating new series.

I look forward to season two! In the meantime- live long and prosper!

-Nancy

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