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Saturday, 30 September 2017

The Orville 1-04: If the Stars Should Appear (Quick Review)

Episode:4|Writer:Seth MacFarlane|Air Date:28-Sep-2017

This week on Sci-Fi Adventures, I'm writing some quick thoughts about The Orville's fourth episode, If the Stars Should Appear. Here's my first thought: the name sounds like it was found in a box of unused Star Trek episode titles, and I hope there's a few more left in there for later episodes because it's great.

This seems to be have been the second episode filmed, but it was held back to fourth because... I dunno, maybe it's terrible and they didn't want to scare people off early. It's not uncommon for series to film episodes out of order though, Doctor Who's always doing it, so I'm not going to read too much into it.

It's another episode credited to creator Seth MacFarlane, which means he's written four in a row now (no matter what order you put them in). I'm sure he'll let someone else have a turn eventually. The director's Trek veteran James L. Conway, and Memory Alpha tells me he's responsible for classics like DS9's Duet and Way of the Warrior, Voyager's Death Wish, Enterprise's Broken Bow and Next Gen's... oh shit he did Justice? The one where Wesley falls into the flowers? That's a contender for being the worst episode in the worst season of the entire run! Well, it was from season one; the poor guy was doomed from the start.

This is a quick review without that long recap I usually do, I'm just going to jump straight into SPOILERS and opinions, so you'll probably want to have watched the episode first before going any further.

Thursday, 28 September 2017

Star Trek: Nemesis

Star Trek Nemesis title logo DVD
Written by:John Logan|Directed by:Stuart Baird|Release Date:2002

Today on Sci-Fi Adventures, I'm writing about more Star Trek! This time though I'm watching the last of the Next Generation movies and possibly the worst of them all: STAR TЯEK: NEMƎSIS! The reversed letters are there because the film's all about duplicates and mirror opposites. Also...

Yes that is the Diablo font

You know, from the video game Diablo. It's called Exocet if you're curious.

Anyway, there's a reason I'm writing about this particular film on this particular day and that's because it's Star Trek: The Next Generation's 30th anniversary! Yeah, it's not the ideal choice, I'd rather watch the pilot, Encounter at Farpoint, or maybe even something good, but this is what I got.

I'm also getting a bit of deja-vu here, as we already had a big Star Trek anniversary last September when the Original Series hit 50. Also, it was Voyager's 20th in 2015 and it'll be Deep Space Nine's 25th in 2018. You get a series with this many spin-offs and it's anniversaries all decade long. Oh, plus it's Star Trek: Discovery's 0th anniversary this year, seeing as it just aired 4 days ago. They could've held it back or moved it forward a few days to sync them up, but nope!

Nemesis itself came out in December 2002, which means that it had to struggle with being the first post-Galaxy Quest Trek movie. It's also the first Trek movie to have to deal with the Star Wars prequels raising the space opera VFX game, with Attack of the Clones having twice the budget to play with. It's hard to say that it was a lack of money on screen that killed Nemesis though, when it was Maid in Manhattan that beat it to the #1 spot in the US box office! The film opened badly and then fell to oblivion, with one of the worst second week drop-offs in the history of motion pictures.

Paramount had brought on a big name Hollywood scriptwriter for this one (Gladiator writer John Logan), and a legendary editor to direct (Stuart Baird), so they were convinced that the series must be suffering from 'franchise fatigue' and cancelled all plans for fifth Next Gen film. It was seven years before they'd dare releasing another Star Trek movie again, this time with J.J. Abrams at the helm and a budget. Worked out better that time.

Okay, there'll be SPOILERS and screencaps beyond this point, so continue at your own risk. I'm considering the whole Trek franchise up to 2002 to be fair game, but I'll not spoil a thing about what was released after it.

Wednesday, 27 September 2017

Star Trek: Discovery 1-02: Battle at the Binary Stars (Quick Review)

Episode:2|Writer:Gretchen J. Berg & Aaron Harberts|Air Date:24-Sep-2017

Today on Sci-Fi Adventures, you're getting a second Discovery quick review! Because they split the pilot into two separate episodes and then released them back to back to give me more work.

This half of the story is by a different pair of writers, as Gretchen J. Berg and Aaron Harberts have taken over from Bryan Fuller and Akiva Goldsman. They also took over the series from Fuller as they're the current showrunners, so hopefully this episode will show that they know what they're doing.

It seems like they got a little mixed up when they were coming up with the title, as Battle at the Binary Stars sounds like it belongs to an old-school Battlestar Galactica story. I'm not complaining though. In fact, coming after Charlie X, YesteryearThe Naked Now, Past Prologue, Parallax and Fight or Flight, it might be the best second episode title Star Trek's ever had! Kind of gives away what happens though.

This is going to be shorter and scruffier than my usual reviews, with no screencaps or recap, but there'll still be plenty of SPOILERS for these first two episodes. In fact, I might spoil a little of earlier Trek as well, especially Star Trek: Nemesis and J.J Abrams' Star Trek movie from 2009, but nothing that comes after. Because for the first time in this site's long 18 month history there is no next time yet for me to spoil!

Tuesday, 26 September 2017

Star Trek: Discovery 1-01: The Vulcan Hello (Quick Review)

Episode:1|Writer:Akiva Goldsman & Bryan Fuller|Air Date:24-Sep-2017

Hey, look at this thing that finally exists for real!

Today on Sci-Fi Adventures I'm reviewing the massively expensive, endlessly delayed first episode of Star Trek: Discovery, the first Trek series on TV for 12 years. It missed Star Trek's big 50th anniversary by just over a year, but it's just in time for Star Trek: The Next Generation's 30th! Almost. If they'd just waited 4 more days...

I'm so excited to get the chance to watch this at last because I've had this question on my mind for months: which one's going to be the crap one, Discovery or The Orville? Can they both be good? Also, the 2009 Star Trek movie feels like J.J. Abrams trying to make a Star Wars film, The Orville is obviously Seth MacFarlane attempt at making a Star Trek series, so I'm curious about what Discovery's trying to be.

This episode's co-written by the writer of Batman and Robin and Lost in Space, but I'll try not to let that influence my judgement. After all, this is a modern US TV show with a room full of other writers working on every episode. For instance, the original story for this one came from the co-writer of Transformers and Star Trek Into Darkness! I'm going to stop looking at the credits now before they put me off.

This is going to be a super quick review, written in a hurry without screencaps or a synopsis slowing it down. I'm just going to leap straight into giving SPOILERS and sharing my thoughts on this major cultural event/TV show.

Saturday, 23 September 2017

The Orville 1-03: About a Girl (Quick Review)

Episode:3|Writer:Seth MacFarlane|Air Date:21-Sep-2017

Today on Sci-Fi Adventures I've got another quick The Orville review for you. It's not my fault this is coming so soon after my last one, they put two episodes out in the same week.

About a Girl is the third episode in a row to be credited to creator Seth MacFarlane, so it's starting to seem like he has a whole lot of Star Trek stories stored up in his head that he's eager to get through. There was another writer involved, Brannon Braga, but this time he was the director. The guy's written more Trek than anyone else on the planet, but this is the first time I've ever seen something he's directed, so I hope he doesn't suck at it.

Unlike most of my reviews, I'm writing this up in hurry, with no screencap recap and a negligible amount of proof-reading. But there will be SPOILERS, so don't go any further if you don't already know how it ends. Unless you don't care, then you can do what you like!

Friday, 22 September 2017

Star Trek: Deep Space Nine 2-05: Cardassians

Episode:25|Writer:James Crocker|Air Date:24-Oct-1993

This week on Sci-Fi Adventures, I'm writing about an episode of Deep Space Nine that's probably about Cardassians.

I won't bore you with a long introduction this time. Just be aware that I'll be recapping the whole episode and referring back to earlier Star Trek episodes, so there'll be massive SPOILERS. You'll not see any spoilers for episodes aired afterwards through (Star Trek or otherwise).

Tuesday, 19 September 2017

The Orville 1-02: Command Performance (Quick Review)

Episode:2|Writer:Seth MacFarlane|Air Date:17-Sep-2017

Today on Sci-Fi Adventures I've got another super-rushed first draft quick review for you! No screencap recap, just opinions and SPOILERS.

I'm not sure how long I'm going to keep writing about Orville episodes, especially with Discovery joining it soon, but I had to give my two pennies' worth on how the first normal episode turned out. Like the pilot, it's written by Seth MacFarlane, but this time he's got the guy who played Tom Paris on Star Trek: Voyager in to direct!

Robert Duncan McNeill switched to directing a long while back and has worked on series like Enterprise, Supernatural, and especially Chuck, so he's a good choice, but I can't help but think that the producers were going for Star Trek names deliberately to give the series some credibility and lure in the fans. My first clue was that the next three episodes are directed by Brannon Braga (long time Trek writer), James L. Conway (long time Trek director) and Jonathan Frakes (long time Riker).

Okay, it's all spoilers and criticism below this point, so don't go any further unless you've seen the episode already or don't care.

Saturday, 16 September 2017

Babylon 5 2-09: The Coming of Shadows

Episode:31|Writer:J. Michael Straczynski|Air Date:01-Feb-1994

This week on Sci-Fi Adventures I'm watching the Hugo Award winning Babylon 5 episode The Coming of Shadows. It won the award for 'Best Dramatic Presentation' in 1994, back when individual TV episodes had to fight it out in the same category as blockbuster movies. So this didn't just take down beloved Deep Space Nine episode The Visitor, but also 12 Monkeys, Apollo 13 and Toy Story! Damn, that's a lot of movies and series with a number in their title. Also a lot of Tom Hanks.

Just to put that win in context, previous winners include: Jurassic Park, Terminator 2, Who Framed Roger Rabbit, Aliens, Back to the Future, Star Wars, Raiders of the Lost Ark, Blade RunnerA Clockwork Orange, 2001: A Space Odyssey and Star Trek's The City on the Edge of Forever. So I'm expecting this to be at least as good as all of those.

Man, I love listing things; it saves me from having to actually think about the words that I'm writing. Anyway, this episode was written by J. Michael Straczynski and directed by Janet Greek, who'd already given us stories like Points of Departure, Signs and Portents and Chrysalis by this point, just to pick a few names from the very top of my episode rankings. So it'd be fair to say they'd assembled B5's A-Team for this one. Well, except for Dwight Schultz; he'll not be participating as a guest star this time (or ever again).

I'm going to be recapping the whole episode with screencaps and writing my thoughts underneath, so there'll be maximum SPOILERS past this point. I'm sure I'll end up spoiling things from earlier episodes too, but I'll not say a thing about what happens after (though I can't promise the episode itself won't reveal a few things about what's to come).

Monday, 11 September 2017

The Orville 1-01: Old Wounds (Quick Review)

Episode:1|Writer:Seth MacFarlane|Air Date:10-Sep-2017

Today on Sci-Fi Adventures I've got a surprise mini-review of The Orville's brand new pilot episode for you!

The Orville is a live action sci-fi comedy drama series by Family Guy and American Dad creator Seth MacFarlane, starring himself as the captain of the U.S.S. Orville, a starship on a mission to boldly go and discover some new worlds and civilizations and stuff. I've read a lot of reviews by folks who've already seen the first three episodes and they weren't exactly kind to the series, but I'm still a little optimistic. I've often thought that it's a shame that talented Star Trek fans always go to so much trouble to replicate the classic series exactly with their fan films, when they could go for 'close enough', drop the name, and make some money for their hard work, and now it seems MacFarlane's done exactly that! Plus he got Iron Man/Zathura director Jon Favreau to direct the pilot, which seems like a smart idea.

Alright, this is going to be a super-rushed next-day quick review with no recap, few screencaps and no second draft, but there will still be a few mild SPOILERS scattered around. I won't spoil the whole plot for you this time though, or the jokes (the trailer beat me to it).

Tuesday, 5 September 2017

Star Trek: Deep Space Nine 2-04: Invasive Procedures

Episode:24|Writer:John Whelpley and Robert Hewitt Wolfe|Air Date:17-Oct-1993

This week on Sci-Fi Adventures, I'm writing about more Deep Space Nine. Season 2, episode 4: Invasive Procedures, to be precise.

The series' second season kicked off with a big flashy three-parter with a phaser fight every episode, plus location shoots, Odo morphs, an elaborate dogfight sequence, stuntmen falling off cliffs... it was basically a two-hour apology for season one. But those kinds of episodes come at a cost, and in this case, the cost was money, so I expect these next few stories are going to be on the cheap side. Though they did pay to put a smokey space-fog background behind the station this week, which is cool.

We're also done with serialisation for a while, probably because certain people in certain positions of authority wanted to keep everything contained to single episodes that could be watched in any order. To be fair though this was still a fair few years before DVD season box sets and Netflix, and the ridiculously expensive VHS tapes only had 2 episodes on.

Anyway, I'm going to sharing screencaps of the whole episode and writing down my thoughts underneath, so there's going to be massive SPOILERS past this point. Plus I'll probably end up spoiling something from an earlier episode of Trek along the way, but nothing from anything that came after this. As far as I'm concerned it's October 1993 right now, and I don't even know what a DVD or a Netflix even is.