Until last night, that is. Unable to sleep, I took a break from the late Tony Horwitz’s excellent (so far) Spying on the South, and decided to watch a movie. Star Trek II: The Wrath of Kahn was one of the recommended movies. Now, I’d seen bits and pieces of it before, but never the whole thing. I knew parts of the story line, but had no continuity. So I decided to watch it, and see if it measured up to the hype.
The story was so good, in fact, that I hardly noticed how quaint and dated the special effects seemed. I’m glad that I took the time to see it, even though it didn’t help much with getting to sleep.
One advantage (perhaps the only advantage) to being sick the last 5 days is that I’ve had time to race through Season 1 of Star Trek:Enterprise. A few days back I posted my initial thoughts on the show. I really enjoyed the first season, thought it was very well done, but not without some problems. Now that I’ve finished watching the first season, here are some additional thoughts.
- I loved the fact that it is a prequel to the rest of the series. There is often a debate about the order in which to watch such series (or read them if they are in book form) but I have always been of the opinion that they are best enjoyed in the order of creation and not the order of the timeline. This is because you get more insights out of the show. Reading Prelude to Foundation, for instance, before any of the other Foundation novels might be enjoyable but you will miss many of the references scattered throughout the novel that make sense in the context of the whole series. The same is true for Enterprise.
- I was surprised by the opening sequence of the show–that it didn’t adhere to the normal openings for the show. Apparently, this was quite the fan controversy when the show first came out. I didn’t like the opening–at first. But I’ve got to admit, it grew on me. Despite being a rather sappy song, I grew to like it somewhat. The fact that it was defiant reflects, perhaps unintentionally, John Archer’s own defiant attitudes.
- Tucker can sometimes be too hasty in his decisions to interfere with alien worlds. I think this is a flaw in the storytelling, to some extent. Even today, scientists are concerned about the bacteria our probes might carry to other worlds, like Mars for instance. Surely this concern would carry through to the next century and be magnified when considering alien worlds inhabited by intelligent civilizations. T’Pol argues against much of this but her reasoning is no more enlightened then our own present reasoning. This aspect of the show is perhaps its weakest point, but I will acknowledge that it may have been an easy decision for good story-telling, i.e., more drama.
I’ve mostly enjoyed the various Star Trek series, although I don’t consider myself a hardcore fan. My knowledge of the trivia of the universe is poor–when compared to, say, my knowledge of the trivia of M*A*S*H. I’ve only ever seen episodes from 2 of the series: the Original Series and the Next Generation. I’ve seen most, but not all, of the motion pictures. And even in TOS and TNG, I haven’t seen every episode.
My favorite series has always been TNG. It’s always seemed to me that the writers of TNG learned a lot from what TOS was trying to do and took it to the next level. They made the characters into real people with real problems and that was a large part of what I think made TNG a very good series. I’ve never seen a single episode of Deep Space Nine, Voyager, or Enterprise.
Until today, that is.
You have to remember (and those of you who’ve been here a while will know) that I am not a fan of sci-fi TV and movies. I just never felt that what I see on the screen can match what I see in my head when I read a good science fiction book or story. TNG was certainly an exception to this. My favorite episode (and my favorite of any Star Trek TV show or movie is “Inner Light.” I think of that as a perfect TV story, as good as you can get; it is the episode TV equivalent of Ray Bradbury’s “The Rocket Man.” (My second favorite episode is “All Good Things…” and my third is “City on the Edge of Forever.”
Tonight, I watched the pilot of Star Trek: Enterprise and I loved it. I have a thing for “the early days” in stories that we already know. Sometimes, when the story-telling is done poorly (as I think it was done with the Star Wars series), the “prequels” don’t come out so good. But I always loved the two prequels that Isaac Asimov wrote for his Foundation series. Indeed, I thought Forward the Foundation was the best of the series.
And I thought the pilot of ST:E was excellent for similar reasons. It adds depth to a universe we are already familiar with, providing new insights into how things unfolded in that imagined history of space exploration. I like the somewhat lower-tech feel of the episode. I liked the nervousness with which the various races treated one another. It shows that it took time for bonds to form, that it wasn’t something that happened overnight but took hard work and trust.
And I think Scott Bakula is perfect in his role as Captain Archer.
So after one episode (well, two really since the pilot was a 2-parter) I’m a fan. I just hope that they can keep this up through all four seasons.
As the Little Man gets older (he’s almost 23 months!) his consumption of information and the need to be entertained seems to increase exponentially. It is no longer enough to point to an airplane in the sky. He wants to see airplanes on the computer. And even that doesn’t seem to be enough. So this weekend, nearly at my wits’ end, I tried another approach.
“Do you want to watch spaceships?” I said to him. He knows what a spaceship is. He has the cover of the May 1941 Astounding on the wall above his crib.
“Yeah!” he said, clapping his little hands.
“Okay, come here.”
He jumped into my lap and watched me pop in the DVD to my second-favorite* Star Trek: TNG episode: “All Good Things…”
Superman Returns was released on DVD today and I picked up the special edition 2-disc set. I’ve already seen the movie three times, but I’m looking forward to seeing it again. And the special features as well. I also picked up Star Trek IV: The Voyage Home and Star Trek: Generations. I watched the former when I got home from work this evening.
House is on in 15 minutes and I’m going to watch that and then it’s off to bed–a little earlier tonight than last night.
After House this evening, I watched the episode of Star Trek: The Next Generation that I had my TiVo record for me today, “The Inner Light”. As I mentioned earlier, I have seen the episode once before, several years ago and I thought it was terrific. Often times we make these things out to be bigger in our head than they are in reality, but this was not one of those times. I watched it again tonight and I thought it was an incredible episode. The story is phenomenal and the acting is perfect. It is an interesting episode because it involves almost no special effects and in fact, is acted out almost as though it is a stage play. It’s emotional ending was more powerful this time, even though I knew what was coming.
I’ve told TiVo not to delete that one. I imagine I’ll be going back and watching it again some day.
(The title is a weak attempt at a pun on the Grateful Dead’s “Truckin'”.) I just finished watching the finale to Star Trek: The Next Generation, “All Good Things…”. Since it first aired, back when I was in college, it is the third time that I have seen it. I have always been fond of that episode. As much as this might go against purists (I’ve never really been much of a Trekkie), I think it is a better episode than Harlan Ellison’s “City on the Edge of Forever”. But it is not the best Star Trek episode I have ever seen. Keep in mind that I never really watched anything after TNG. However, in all of the episodes I have ever seen, the one that I think stands out the most, the one that brought tears to my eye, is “The Inner Light”. I’ve only seen the episode once, but it made quite an impact.
As it turns out, the episode is airing on Tuesday during the day, and my new TiVo is set to record it for me so that I can finally get around to watching it again. I didn’t know it until today, but the episode actually won the Hugo Award for Best Dramatic Presentation in 1993. It is truly a remarkable episode. You can find a review/spoiler in the link, for those wanted to know more about the episode. I look forward to checking it out again Tuesday evening.