• Entertainment,  Life

    Facebook on My Phone

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    Or rather, Facebook not on my phone.

    I took it off a week ago yesterday, barrelling past the various, “are you sure” questions and the reminders that it would be really easy to activate again if I wanted to. Yes, I’m sure. No, I don’t want to change my mind. I don’t really care if it’s easy to activate again. Get it off. Gone. Removed.

    And I’ve got to tell you, it’s done wonders for my mood.

    I’m on record as saying that social media has potential to be awesome, a great engagement tool, something to keep us in contact with people easily and build relationships with.

    I’m also on record as saying that I think it’s failing at a lot of these things. Maybe all of them. Remember the old adage that if you’re not paying for the service, you’re the product? It’s to a platform’s benefit to keep you scrolling as much as possible. You see more ads and are more likely to click on one, increasing the platform’s revenue. Tie that to being more likely to engage with things that make you angry, and the algorithms learn that showing you things that annoy you will keep you around longer.

    And so the algorithms develop to foster more division and anger.

    And I’m good, thanks.

    Over the last few months, I’ve really noticed those algorithms at work. Pages I’ve liked or groups I’m a member of, the notifications that come up are the ones that would make me angriest or argumentative or most likely to want to call someone out about something offensive/ignorant/wrong and the comments it picks to display under each post as I’m scrolling seems targeted to do the same. The more I resist those, the worse it gets. Look! See what someone said! How can you let such blatant evil stand?

    It works hard on us subconsciously and it works because, and here’s the problem, at some very small level of popularity, there’s always someone who wants to stop by and piss in the cornflakes just for the sake of pissing in the cornflakes.

    Yes, there have been times I’ve enjoyed the care and feeding of internet trolls, but typically only to help them draw attention to what giant assholes they are. I don’t argue with the troll to convince them, because that’s almost always not possible and their goal isn’t to have a rational discussion anyway, it’s for the people who might be looking on. Sometimes, silence implies agreement.

    But at this point in time, the people even peripherally connected to my friends of friends lists who fit into the category of troll have weeded themselves out. Oh, I’ve blocked a few, and unfriended a few, along the way, and I know I’ve been blocked by one and unfriended by at least two during the same time, but I’ve also seen changes in behaviour. Whether those were the result of interactions we’ve had or not is irrelevant. Even if I just planted a seed of doubt somewhere, I’m satisfied. Be reasonable, point out the behaviour, ask questions. The nature of social media means that there’s nearly always someone watching who isn’t the person you’re trying to have a discussion with.

    But those tactics work less with people you don’t have an existing relationship with, random strangers in public online spaces. Trying to effectively engage with those is pointless most of the time. However, there’s another old adage: “We must always take sides. Neutrality helps the oppressor, never the victim. Silence encourages the tormentor, never the tormented. Sometimes we must interfere.” Thank you, Elie Wiesel. Meaning, when something is wrong, speak up. But that doesn’t mean you have to argue with the trolls.

    And I’m tired of even seeing the trolls. They’re not adding to my social media experience. I’d suggest they’re not adding to anyone’s social media experience, even their own.

    Oh, I could take the time to curate things, to beat FB into submission so that it provides the social media experience I actually want instead of the one it wants me to have, and I’ve done a bit of this. I’ve divested myself of most of the pages and groups where the whining and trolling makes up any significant fraction of the content, and I’ve done it quickly, quietly, and fairly close to scorched earth level. Given enough time and effort, I could actually be successful in the short term. But the algorithms are still at work. It’s still more valuable to the platform to make me angry than to make me happy. And sooner or later, FB will make tweak to increase stay time and that will make the algorithm work even harder.

    What does all of this have to do with removing the FB app from my phone? Mostly, it’s providing background reasoning, but it also brings us to changing how I interact with the platform. More importantly, taking it off my phone affects when I interact with it. Now I need a computer to check on social media. No more hate scrolling while watching something, waiting for something, standing in line, killing time in the car during a family member’s appointment. Instead, I have to read or listen to a podcast or write or do something constructive or just be alone with my thoughts.

    And all of that is doing wonders for my mood.

    Stay safe and be well, everyone.

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  • Entertainment,  Television

    Star Trek Sunday: Chronological vs Series Order

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    I have a general preference for series order when it comes to watching Star Trek. Or I would if I were starting from the beginning for a re-watch at this point. At this point in my life, I’m more likely to take each series as a separate entity. My daughter and I are closing in on the final season of DS9 and I’m preparing to do an Enterprise watch of my own. More on that another day.

    Most people seem to suggest that if you’re going to start a watch of the entire universe, you go in series order. That looks something like:

    • TOS
    • TAS
    • TOS Movies
    • TNG
    • TNG Movies
    • DS9
    • VOY
    • ENT
    • Reboot Movies
    • DIS
    • Picard
    • Lower Decks

    There is, however, an argument sometimes made for a viewing order that’s in-universe chronological, which would go more like:

    • ENT
    • DIS
    • Reboot Movies
    • TOS
    • TAS
    • TOS Movies
    • TNG to DS9 to VOY with the TNG movies sprinkled in between
    • Lower Decks
    • Picard

    I’m going to leave out all the things supposedly in development at the moment. The TNG-era line is a bit murky. I’ve come across the argument lately that you should break it out by season rather than series. So Season 6 of TNG should be immediately followed by Season 1 of DS9 and then you do this sort of alternating season thing, inserting the TNG movies at the appropriate junctures, until VOY is the only series left running at the beginning of Season 5.

    I’ve even seen someone make the argument that you should go by the stardate in each episode across all three to get a better sense of the history of the Star Trek future of the time period.

    Personally, I come down on the side of series order. Watch the evolution of storytelling, technology, and social issues. Breaking things out by season for the TNG-era shows would make more sense if there was any real crossover in storylines or background events. For the same reason, breaking it out by stardate seems excessive.

    But that’s me. I also wouldn’t bother with the reboot movies again – once was enough for me – and I’d likely skip both Discovery and Picard. Actually, I mostly have skipped Discovery the first time around, but we’re not going to rehash any of those arguments again. If they’re bringing more people to Star Trek, I’m happy.

    However, at this point in my life, Star Trek viewing takes two forms:

    1. Hey, Star Trek is on.
    2. Watching a series in order from beginning to end over time.

    I’m doing the second of these with my oldest daughter and DS9. I’m about to start doing the same with Enterprise on my own, and for partly the same reason. I didn’t see nearly all of it first run and think I probably missed some good stories. Whether I missed some good Trek or not is a different question.

    What’s the right way to watch Star Trek? While I mostly like to have some kind of order in things, I don’t know what the right answer is for anyone else. How do you want to watch it?

    Live long and prosper.

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  • Entertainment,  Television

    Star Trek Sunday: Lower Decks Revisited

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    Way back in August, I posted about my initial reaction to Lower Decks. The verdict at that point was that it was my favourite new iteration of Trek since Enterprise ended. We were only two episodes in at that point, but the first season is over now and it’s been renewed for a second season. I hope it gets more.

    Why? I’m going to steal most of the paragraph I wrote last time:

    Lower Decks is about friendship, loyalty, compassion, understanding, finding your way, coming of age, and expanding what it means to be a Starfleet officer and a sentient being, human or otherwise. The character interactions come back to the base of Star Trek: supporting each other in a strange but hopeful future and building towards it being even better while doing the right thing because it’s the right thing.

    Kind of what Star Trek is all about. Infinite Diversity in Infinite Combinations and building a better world in every way you can.

    I’ve really enjoyed Lower Decks so far. It’s been fun, it’s been funny, and it’s been Star Trek.

    The reboot movies gave us action movies in Star Trek wrappings. They were beautiful, they were exciting, they were well cast, but only the third one tried to be Star Trek. It didn’t miss, but it didn’t really land, either.

    The first season of Discovery was beautiful but had a lot of questionable aesthetic and writing choices and didn’t give me anything in the way of actually being Star Trek other than taking place in the same universe. I’m told it’s better since, but I’m not ready to give it a second try yet. I felt similarly about DS9 in its first run. In the middle of Season 6, I still kind of feel that way.

    Picard tried to give us big ideas but mostly missed in the fuzzy, drawn out plotting and meandering storyline, a show that could have been a mini-series instead, told in half the amount of time while losing very little story.

    However, I’ve said it before and I’ll restate it now: if any of these have brought new people to Star Trek who will explore the roots and the concepts and the heart of the series, that’s a good thing. It doesn’t matter if I like any particular series or movie and it doesn’t matter what I think of the respect (or lack of it) that might have been shown for source material or characters or concepts. If it means Star Trek continues to get made, that’s a good thing overall.

    I’m probably not the audience for Prodigy (although will likely try it anyway), and I have concerns about Section 31 (nothing wrong with a little moral ambiguity in story telling, but I’m afraid this is going to push that off the deep end in search of the dirty, gritty universes that seem to be so popular in recent years), but I have great hopes for Strange New Worlds as a return to the episodic heart of things exploring the universe and what it means to be human.

    In that light, Lower Decks has given me star Trek back. It’s about people and ideas and making a better world. And sure, it’s given it to me in the form of a sometimes-wacky comedy series, but the deep stuff is there, too, and that’s what I really want from my Trek.

    Live long and prosper.

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  • Entertainment,  Gaming,  Uncategorized

    Rediscovering Halo

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    When I bought the Xbox One a couple of years ago, I specifically got the Halo edition because it came with Halo 5 and I’ve been a fan of the series since I discovered it in 2003, a couple of years after the first one came out. The new console also came with the Master Chief Collection, which puts the first six games into an integrated collection.

    When STO (my primary gaming entertainment for the last year or two) was having its recent update snafu and I couldn’t play for a couple of days, I happened to notice the Collection was still installed, though I’d never actually booted it up. Perhaps it was time to visit an old friend. I played the first two missions and have played four more since, enjoying it like a comfortable re-read.

    But it’s just the campaign aspects of the games I’m interested in; it’s all about the story for me. I’ve never been a PVP fan, though I enjoy cooperative play if it’s done well. When the kids were younger (and all three of mine played some version of Halo at some point), I’d play with them to have some extra time with them, and they were into the multiplayer experience. I never got good at it, but I got good enough that they weren’t leaving me too far behind, and we had fun together. Left to my own devices, though, if we aren’t working together to achieve an objective, I’ve got no interest. So I probably won’t be looking at the online play much, if that’s even still a viable thing with the release of the most recent game five years in the past.

    If I keep enjoying it, there are six more games to replay between now and the release of Halo Infinite, whenever that happens to be.

    Of course, it’s not lost on me that I’m making he discovery at a time when my life is changing and I’ll need to be very, very focused on other things if it works out (more on that next week, really).

    Stay safe and be well, everyone.

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  • Entertainment

    Star Trek Sunday: The Reboots

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    I am on record in several locations as saying that I am not a fan of the Star Trek reboots. I want to be. I really do. Anything that puts the words Star Trek on the front of its name has my intention, and if it has even some redeeming qualities, I will probably enjoy it.

    And I have enjoyed parts of the reboot movies. They each had their moments.

    As a matter of fact, if we look at the first of the splinter timeline movies, way back in 2009, I enjoyed most of the first half of the film. The casting was excellent, and while I didn’t like the arrogant douchebag they turned Kirk into, that arrogant douchebag still had the best interest of his crew at heart, though he had to learn that about himself.

    But about halfway through the movie, things started to fall apart. Not going to go in detail with all of the problems I had with it (I’ve done that elsewhere, and here’s the link if you like), but the second half of was full of weak/bad writing and contrived bits of plot designed to lead us by the nose to the conclusion that the writers wanted. Writers. It took more than one person to come up with this script.

    The second movie had similar issues, but in a bigger way. It suffered from many of the same weaknesses in writing to a larger degree and from much earlier in the film. In general, it had insufficient respect for either the original source material or the fan base and that made it a failure on almost every storytelling level.

    The third film was… okay. Not great, but okay. When I left the theatre with a solid ‘meh’ in my heart, I had to admit it was better than the first two but I wasn’t sure it was going to be enough to save the franchise. It’s been four years, less a month, and there’s been no real movement (beyond vague threats of horrible script ideas, that someone is interested or maybe is the director) to make it happen, making it seem likely this run is dead outside of novels and comics.

    But my biggest problem with the new movies doesn’t come down to any individual flaw in the films themselves. Rather, my issue is the overall concept of the films. Wherever you look, wherever Star Trek was good, it was about ideas. Sometimes precise, sometimes vague ideas, but large or small, Star Trek needs things to think about, things to explore. Star Trek 2009, Into Darkness, and Beyond all fail on this basis. They’re not about ideas, they’re about action, explosions, and lens flares (especially the first two), and the good guys beating the bad guys.

    That’s all. There’s no thought, there’s no doubt, there’s no real struggle to be more than we are, there’s no big idea or dream or concept to make us think about or reconsider some part of the human experience or how we view the world and the universe.

    And I find the new films tremendously disappointing as a result.

    After the first movie, I had many glowing things to say. The casting, the acting, the visuals, the aesthetic in general were all awesome. The writing failed miserably. My one wish, my one desire was that the writing team would do better next time. Well, they made me wait four years, and not only did they not do better, they did a lot worse.

    There were some (not many) awesome things about Into Darkness: the opening sequence was worth the price of admission, and the Klingons had so much potential. But there were too many things that didn’t make sense, and the emotional impact of Kirk’s death scene doesn’t work. Originally, Kirk and Spock had been in our consciousness for more than 15 years and longer, with 79 episodes for us to experience them. They’d been through a lot together seen a lot of things, done a lot of things. They were friends with that decade and a half of history. They both knew it and we felt it every time they were on screen together. When Spock flips out over Kirk’s death in Into Darkness, the new duo have had barely 3 hours of screen time, and most of it hasn’t been together. They haven’t earned the emotional reaction from the audience the writers thought they should get by reversing things, not nearly to the same level, and the scripts we’ve seen them in didn’t help that.

    Into Darkness was a failure, and my plea remained the same to the writers: do better. In fact, it was such a failure in my eyes that the next movie was going to be my last one if it didn’t.

    Beyond was better, if not quite good. Mediocre, middle of the road, adequate. The ideas weren’t quite there, though we started to get back to some fundamentals of inclusion and understanding. IDIC. But the action-adventure aspect was still the primary goal of the film. It was a science fiction action movie with Star Trek trappings and just a hint of what things could be. It wasn’t really a Star Trek movie. None of the three of them are.

    There is a lot to like about the reboots, and so much more to not like.

    And yet…

    I have to consider them a success on some level. Not commercially, that’s a given (well, almost – Beyond didn’t make nearly as much as it should have as a 50th anniversary movie, but if you hadn’t known 2016 was the 50th anniversary, you wouldn’t have from the marketing campaign). Because if you’re not a commercial success, you don’t get to keep going.

    But they are success in one way. They’ve brought more people into the Star Trek universe. Some people who have never encountered Star Trek before are enjoying, on some level, the universe as presented by Abrams and crew. It’s flashy and exciting, even if it doesn’t always make sense. People get to the end of Into Darkness or Beyond and ask, now what? And some of them find the original series of Star Trek. And some of them find the other series. And some of those watch just the right episode or just the right character to hook them.

    And Star Trek fandom grows.

    Considering that Gene Roddenberry’s vision of the future, as seen through Star Trek, was one where we grow up, figure things out, make things better, I can’t imagine that he would be all that happy with the new version of the franchise. It would be hard for me to blame him, it’s so far removed from the original vision.

    But I do think he’d be happy that more people are being led by it to that original vision. And I think he’d be happy that, fifty years on, now 54, it’s still a growing phenomenon.

    Live long and prosper.

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  • Entertainment,  Television

    Star Trek Sunday: DS9

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    Star Trek: Deep Space Nine began its run while I was in my fourth year of university.

    By then I’d long grown beyond the Star Trek Club, which yes, I joined in first year to be with other like-minded Trekkies, though I found myself not quite as like-minded as I might have liked. I wonder now if it was just a vocal few, who, when we got together each week to watch and discuss the most recent episode, were just keeping everyone else silent on topics. But I remember a strongly expressed dislike for Wesley, which I didn’t share because I saw shades of myself in the character, and disparaging comparisons between Picard and Kirk. In fact, thinking back, I remember far more complaints about the show than enjoyment. I think that’s what drove me away from the club. I loved the show, and while I could certainly see issues with it, I couldn’t see as many as some of the people around me seemed to. I didn’t feel the need to rip apart any given episode on the basis of one tiny flaw or perceived character shortcoming I didn’t see.

    But I wonder what the Star Trek club might have made, or did make, of Deep Space Nine when it began to air.

    You probably heard the jokes. The one that got the most play around me was, To boldly stay where no one has stayed before. And there were lots of comparisons to Babylon 5, a lot of them less than flattering. I might have cracked a joke once or twice myself, and I might have made a couple those comparisons. I will admit, watching the first episode in my room on a fourteen-inch colour TV, that I had a hard time liking it. The first few minutes were awesome, with a different perspective on the battle with the Borg cube at Wolf 359. But after that, there wasn’t a lot going on, and there wasn’t a lot to give me a taste or understanding of the characters who were going to make up the crew. It was neat, I supposed, that the captain was black and his first officer was a woman. But what did they have going for them beyond that? And who were the rest of these people anyway? And why wouldn’t the director let the actors act? Especially that first officer and the young doctor? Build a bridge out of them and be done with it or turn them loose to give me some belief that they’re actual characters.

    There were some cool ideas on the nature of time and existence in that episode, and that’s probably what got me to the end. There didn’t seem to be a lot of cool ideas to carry the later episodes, not for the first, short season.

    Deep Space Nine didn’t grow on me so well. I did pick the show up again closer to the end of its run, when there was a lot happening, when the characters were well-rounded and well-developed, when the writing was great. I enjoyed the last couple of seasons, but I got there almost accidentally.

    Again, in today’s television market, Deep Space 9 would not have a chance. Its first season would not have carried it through to renewal, except by the strength of being Star Trek, and that probably wouldn’t save it after the second season, at least not by what I saw of the second season. To be fair, I probably still have a biased view. Like I said, the later seasons were good, and I like what I’ve seen of them, but it took until I was deep into my 40s to try watching the series from the beginning again, and it took my oldest daughter’s interest in it to actually gain a little momentum in the watching of it.

    At this point, we’ve reached about a third of the way into Season 6, and I have a decent recollection of the major events left to come, so I know I like a lot of what’s left, but I’ve struggled all the way along with this show. The characters have grown (and the actors have mostly been allowed to act) and I enjoy most of them, and a lot (though not nearly all) of what I’ve watched has definitely been good science fiction, but much as I like the show, most of it is missing the essential Trekness that puts things properly into what TOS and TNG gave me most of the time. Star Trek isn’t just another form of science fiction. It’s supposed to be about the work towards a better future, a more positive one, a place where we strive to be who we want to be, to be better than we are, to explore the universe and ourselves and what it means to be human. DS9 has some great characters and some great stories and is often really good science fiction, but it mostly doesn’t give me that.

    And I’m skipping all of the mirror universe episodes because they annoy me to no end.

    Live long and prosper.

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  • Entertainment,  Television

    The Next Generation Arrives

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    It’s a Saturday in late September, and the year is 1987. Half a dozen teenage boys sit around an old kitchen table in someone’s basement, engaged in a role playing game descended from Dungeons & Dragons, but with a greater emphasis on realism and detail. It’s the middle of a combat sequence. They clash with a demon that outclasses each of them individually by a wide margin, but is evenly matched with the group as a whole. If they work together, they may defeat the beast and live.

    An alarm goes off. Everyone looks up.

    Someone speaks, the boy whose house they’re playing in. “Okay, we’re done. Time for Star Trek.”

    Did I ever mention that I’m a geek?

    It’s actually Monday, the 26th of September 1987 according to various internet sources. I have no idea why I remember it as a Saturday, but maybe it switched to weekend broadcast at some point and I’m just matching that up in my head. Maybe it was the next weekend on Saturday. Things didn’t always happen at the same time in Canada in those days. And RPGs were a common thing whenever we could get away with it, but those were usually on weekends, too, because then we could play all day and into the night.

    Either way, Star Trek: The Next Generation is about two minutes from coming on the air for the first time. No one at the table questions stopping the game. The demon will wait. The paper will wait. The dice will wait. Star Trek will not and should not.

    The boy whose house it is turns the TV on, channel already set, presses record on the blank tape he preloaded into the VCR, and we settle into various pieces of old furniture to wait for the teaser and the opening credits.

    It is strange. There’s a Klingon on the bridge, and he’s part of the crew. The captain is apparently French but speaks with a British accent. This is easier to reconcile for some of us than others. Wait a second. The Klingon is wearing some frilly sash. Are we sure he’s a Klingon? Well, he’s got the bones structure established by the movies, so yeah.

    It’s exciting. A turn of events: there are three women in the primary cast. And, remember that we’re all teenage boys here, not only do at least two of them seem intelligent and capable, reserving judgement on the third since she’s not really given anything to do, but they’re all hot. There’s action, mystery, and adventure. And the special effects blow us away. We’ve never seen anything this good outside of a movie theatre.

    It’s new. It’s different. It’s wonderful. It’s Star Trek.

    That night began a love affair with Star Trek renewed, the Next Generation, a whole new experience. Fortunately for the show, and for most of the actors’ continuing careers, the writing was permitted to grow. A lot of the episodes in the first season don’t hold up very well and were a bit rough even at the time. You can say the same about quite a few of the episodes in the second season. The third season, it began to hit its stride. Fourth and fifth were spectacular, and six and seven were at least good, if not always up to the same bar.

    No show today would be permitted that growth cycle.

    But that first season, for all its flaws, for all that the actors were still trying to establish who the characters were, and fit themselves into the roles, we loved it. Star Trek was back, and it was big and it was new and was exciting.

    And it was only on once a week, dammit. But there were VCRs and we knew how to use them. If it was only on once, that didn’t mean we watched it only once.

    The Original Series has spawned seven other television series so far, with, apparently, three more on its way at the moment. Four of those, so far, lasted longer than the three seasons my original crew got. TOS found its life in syndication, slipping into the cracks and becoming pop-culture. The Animated Series you can almost count as an extra season of TOS. And there was a second planned TV series with the same actors. But Star Trek Phase 2, perhaps sooner, perhaps later, depending on whose version of history you’re looking at, transformed into Star Trek: The Motion Picture and the movies carried on from there.

    There might have been a gap almost an entire generation long in the real world between the ending of TOS and the beginning of TNG, but there were other stories to tell when TOS ended, and Star Trek: The Next Generation told something around 170 of those stories, accounting for two-part episodes. Deep Space 9 followed, and then Voyager. These three shows all take place roughly in the same time frame, with a little bit of overlap from one to the next. Enterprise turned back the clock, and things were a bit different by then for television, so it didn’t get the same chance to grow. But it was still Star Trek and it got four seasons. How Discovery fares in the longer term remains to be seen. And Picard, a sequel series, is something different again.

    It’s only fair that I give each of the other series a little bit of time. Yes, I grew up with Kirk, Spock, McCoy, Scotty, Sulu, Chekhov, Uhura, and all of the other characters, minor and major, in the Star Trek universe. The original Star Trek universe. But more came later. And more will still come later. There are still stories to be told, and there is still hope for a positive future, for a Star Trek future. It will come.

    Live long and prosper.

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  • Entertainment,  Life,  Movies

    Theatrical Trek

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    I have seen every Star Trek movie ever made for the theatre, in the theatre.

    I didn’t see all of them first run, but most of them.

    After a lifetime of only being able to see the TV or videocassette versions, I managed to catch Star Trek: The Motion Picture in the theatre in my 20s. It happened at a review theatre in the city I was living in a time, maybe during some small science fiction review festival. I don’t remember what the theme was, if any, but I think as part of the same series we saw the fourth Alien movie, and the first Starship Troopers. That would make it sometime in the late 90s, before fatherhood broadened my life.

    The Wrath of Khan, I watched several dozen times on VHS, Beta, and maybe even once or twice on TV, before I saw it in the theatre as part of a triple feature. Several months after The Voyage Home released, which I think I only saw once on its own to that point, we saw The Wrath of Khan, The Search For Spock, and The Voyage Home all more or less in one sitting.

    I saw Star Trek V: The Final Frontier, with most of my primary circle of high school friends in a two-screen mall movie theatre when it first came out. I remember enjoying parts of it immensely and spending some significant amount of time shaking my head or rolling my eyes. A mixed bag of a film, for sure.

    Early in my university days, I took my girlfriend (a few years later, and still, my wife) to see Star Trek VI: The Undiscovered Country when it first came out. She should have known what was coming by then. I also dragged her to Generations, First Contact, and Insurrection in turn.

    I took my son to see Nemesis on what turned out to be the night before my youngest daughter was born.

    I saw the 2009 reboot with my entire family. When I went back for more punishment in 2013, not quite as many of my family members were interested in seeing Into Darkness. In fact, I believe all three of the female members of my family stayed at home, leaving just my son and I to go see it, carrying on what has become a tradition but with gritted teeth and sore eyes. I think we would have enjoyed a bit of the Simpsons version of Star Trek XII more.

    Star Trek Beyond saw a slightly expanded audience in our household. Everyone in the family but my oldest daughter was willing to make that trip to the big theatre in the mid-sized city we live near. Far better than the first two films in the sequence, but still disappointing. Still less Star Trek and more action movie with Star Trek trappings. Not quite the same thing, but it tried a little harder.

    (And, depending on how you count things, I also saw Galaxy Quest first run. Yes, there were other attributes, and while it had its serious moments, and it was a real adventure movie about real ideas and real, well actors. You can’t doubt that it was anything other than a two-hour thinly veiled Star Trek reference. Yes, it told a story of its own, too, and that just made it better.)

    We don’t have cable anymore, and I don’t watch a lot of television anyway, but we have a couple of streaming services and all of the Star Trek series are currently available, so I’m never short of Trek if I need it. If I am somewhere and watching TV is possible, and if I’m skimming through the listings and come across a Star Trek movie, I stop, and that’s what I watch. It almost doesn’t matter which movie it is, though I have my favourites.

    I owned most of the movies on video cassette, the ones that released to it, and for the ones that didn’t, I have a DVD. We don’t have a VCR anymore, although I’m thinking that I might change that for the nostalgia factor. The first six movies currently occupy a nice space in my relatively small Blu-ray collection. Right next to all three seasons of the original series on Blu-ray. At this time, I’m debating replacing my Next Generation DVDs with Blu-ray. Probably not anytime soon. I honestly don’t watch them enough to justify the expense. Not enough extras to do that instead of streaming. And with three teenagers, a house, a full-time career, and all the various responsibilities and debts to go with them, I really don’t have the disposable dollars to do it.

    Besides, they’re all on Netflix, and Prime, and…

    Sidetracked again. Where was I? Oh, yes. If I come across a listing for a Star Trek movie on TV (somewhere TV is an option, because we have neither cable nor satellite TV), that’s what I watch. It doesn’t matter that there are commercials. It doesn’t matter that I can get a higher definition picture with better sound and special features from a Blu-ray in my basement whenever I want. Star Trek is on, and it’s on now. And it almost doesn’t matter which Star Trek movie it is.

    My general opinions on the reboots (and especially Into Darkness) are probably obvious already, but all three movies have their good points, and all three movies have their good parts. I don’t know that Into Darkness has been on TV yet, but I’m sure I’ll watch parts of it when it does if I run across it. The 2009 movie, well, I may watch the first half, and then pick and choose what I like afterwards. To date, I’ve still only seen Into Darkness once. Honestly, once might be all I ever need. It has its good parts, but I can keep them in memory. Except maybe the Klingons before Khan shows up. Beyond was better, but so far, I’m good with the single viewing we did in the theatre there, too.

    Almost feels like it’s time to watch a Star Trek movie now.

    I suppose I would be remiss in not mentioning at least my three favourites. Not quite in order but going back to that triple feature: The Wrath of Khan, The Search For Spock, and The Voyage Home. The Voyage Home had slightly better writing than The Search For Spock, and was absolutely a fun time travel story, but I very much appreciate the death scene offered to the Enterprise in TSFS, coming on the heels of the movie that gave Spock an incredible one of his own. TVH ties all the storylines nicely together with an excellent ending, and a new beginning.

    Yes, maybe it is time for a Star Trek movie festival. Considering the shutdown, I probably don’t even have to wait for next weekend.

    Anyone have any favorites?

    Live long and prosper.

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  • Entertainment,  Television

    Favourite TV SF of the 80s

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    So I was still watching Star Trek TOS in the 80s (I’m still watching it now sometimes), but I was watching a lot of other TV SF, too. Things that stand out in my memory, in alphabetical order so there’s no calling favourites:

    Alien Nation. One whole season and then five TV movies stretching deep into the 90s, proving that it was cancelled too soon. It also wouldn’t be believable if made today. I mean, the US accepting actual aliens as immigrants?

    Alf was more a sitcom than SF, and probably ran a season longer than it should have. Or two. The concept was fun but the jokes were a little on the repetitious side. We all watched it, though.

    Automan. I remember watching a lot of episodes of this, but thinking back, only a few scenes here and there stand out in my memory. I wonder if I should fix that or if it’s a good thing.

    Greatest American Hero. A suit that gives you superpowers but for some reason you lose the instruction manual. He did eventually stop crashing into things when he was flying. I actually own the boxed set of the entire series. Picked it up for not much more than a song a few years ago.

    Knight Rider. Who didn’t want to be Michael Knight back in the day? Working for a secret organization with lots of cool toys and partnered with a self-aware car that could do a lot of things on its own. Bringing help to the helpless, hope to the hopeless, hap to the hapless. Or something like that.

    Max Headroom. Ah, the power of television, of ratings, of eyeballs glued to your screen. The evil of corporations. The wonder of satire. Prescient in a lot of ways.

    The Powers of Matthew Star. Let’s be honest, the only thing that made this worth watching was the acting ability of Lou Gossett Jr. Otherwise, it’s your standard teenager coming of age with superpowers who doesn’t really want to go back to his home planet storyline.

    Red Dwarf. If I’m honest, I didn’t discover this until there were already four series out, so it was already the 90s.

    Star Trek: The Next Generation. So the writing was hit and miss for the first couple of seasons and Worf’s sash was a little frilly for a Klingon in the beginning, but Star Trek was back on TV for the first time in far, far too long.

    V. Looking back, I wonder if this is where the conspiracy nuts got the idea for lizard people. Alien invasion not what it seems, underground resistance, stellar (and huge) cast.

    Voyagers. Cheesy, goofy fun. There are teams of time travellers out there keeping history moving the way it’s supposed to be. Paradoxes and silliness ripe for the plucking!

    TNG is still a semi-regular feature of my viewing, but a couple of the others are probably binge-worthy. There were tons more I could have mentioned, and I didn’t even touch the Fantasy side of the coin. Did I miss anyone’s favourite?

    Be well, everyone.

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  • Entertainment,  Television

    Earlier in 2017 in Serialized Genre TV

    Facebooktwitterrssyoutubeby featherThere has been plenty of other new genre work for the small screen this year, aside from the currently premiering fall stuff, and some of it may even be good.


    Legion, Season 1

    I remember reading about this not long before it first aired and then… nothing. Just rediscovered again recently and I have the first episode queued. I’m interested to see how this plays out, maybe. David Haller has been a pretty flexible character in the comics and they’ve done interesting, ridiculous, and just plain stupid things with him. With current FX available, this could be well done, or it could be a large steaming pile.


    The Expanse, Season 2

    Devoured. While there were parts of this that didn’t quite work as well for me as the first season did, that’s probably because I’ve been reading the books. Some of the divergences from the story aren’t making me happy even though they work pretty well on the screen. They’re blending one story into the next very well and the overall arc is picking up steam. Can’t wait for season 3, but I guess I have to.


    Iron Fist

    I loved Power Man and Iron Fist as a kid (yes, I’m that old), so the translation of both of these into serialized television should be right up my alley. And yet I’ve shied away from them. Still not quite sure why that is, but I do want to see it. I’ll get there.


    The Handmaid’s Tale


    So is it so bad that I’m Canadian and not particularly a Margaret Atwood fan? I recognize that she’s a giant in Canadian literature, but her long profession that she doesn’t write SF when she clearly writes so much of it just irritates me. And I find her writing, well, too literary if that’s a thing. I don’t at all mind a higher brow in my SF, but the brow is a little high for me here, not to mention dark. Maybe it’s me, but I like a little more hope in my fiction. That said, this series is based on the one book of hers I’ve actually read in full and came close to enjoying, in spite of the darkness. Not enough to want to watch an entire series based on it, but I understand the attraction.


    Twin Peaks


    Wasn’t really my thing the first time around, all those years ago, so I find myself unable to get excited about the reboot/decades-later-sequel. Too many possible shows and too little time.




    A DC series I would probably enjoy. Sadly, the network didn’t let it make it through the full first season before cancelling it. I’ve flagged this one for watching anyway, because I rather like the concept of civilian self protection against superhero battles and collateral damage.


    Emerald City


    Let’s do yet another retelling of The Wizard of Oz, but lets drag it out, use every scrap of the original book the writing team likes, throw away all of the stuff they don’t and twist it to fit into our modern sensibilities.

    How many times have I lamented about Hollywood’s ability to tell new stories? Add one to that number.


    A Series of Unfortunate Events

    In direct contrast to my complaint about Emerald City, while this is technically a remake, it’s not something that should ever have been a single movie in the first place. How do you take a series of ten (short) books and turn it into a movie that lasts less than two hours? Answer: very, badly. But as a TV series, with each short book actually getting told across two episodes, you have a chance at doing the story justice, and this does. Looking forward to season 2.


    Time After Time


    H.G. Wells chasing Jack the Ripper through time to our time. Sigh. I’m good, thanks.


    American Gods

    I want this to be good, having enjoyed the novel when it first came out. I’ve only read it the once, but then, it’s been a long time since I’ve done much in the way of rereads. This will either be really good or really bad. Reviews seem to mostly come down on the first one, but, as always, I’ll make my own judgement. This is in the queue.


    Anyone want to tell me something worked or didn’t?

    Be well, everyone.Facebooktwitterredditpinterestlinkedinmailby feather