For several years on the mothership, the highlight of many of our weeks was Zack Handlen’s classic Star Trek reviews. Beginning with the original series and continuing on with The Next Generation and Deep Space Nine, trekkies had a space all their own in which to both geek out and criticize the very thing they loved. Between the talented gimmick posters, the intelligent discussions, and even Zack’s occasional Wonder-Years style monologues of his childhood (nah I liked those), it was a special place.
That’s probably a little deeper than I’m looking for here, but it’s in honor of his reviews that I’ll be running this on Thursdays at 11am. Thanks to the magic of WordPress, I don’t even have to be awake. And people say the future isn’t wonderful!
And so on to it. Everyone’s favorite over-used trope in Star Trek is, of course, time travel. And everyone’s second favorite trope is literary references. Put that together, and you’ve got the most popular time travel story of all time: Dicken’s “A Christmas Carol.” Every week, we’ll pick something from Star Trek’s past, Star Trek’s present, and Star Trek’s future. All are thinly veiled attempts at launching discussion, but feel free to talk about anything else trek. Or any other sci-fi franchise either, why not. It’s a free galaxy.
*BLACK ALERT* Now, activating spore drive . . . (or transwarp drive or whatever)
This week in Star Trek’s Past
Once we get into the traditional broadcast months, this will be mostly about episodes that aired 20, 30, or 50 years ago. As August was always a rerun month, today we’ll do something different. The 1893 segments of the TNG episode “Time’s Arrow” all took place around August 13, 1893.
“Time’s Arrow” is quite a divisive episode. People either love it or hate it, or they think it is just ok. No, really. Some trek fans think it is the height of Trek — fun, optimistic, with twists and turns aplenty. Others (including Zack Handlen) felt it was slow and hacky. Handlen spends his review talking about the pacing and bad acting and sums it up by saying “It’s just crap, and the worst sin it makes is that it never really feels like a TNG episode at all. The ensemble acts largely like themselves, which puts it ahead of most season one eps, but too much of the action is dominated by a one-off character who is supposed to be charming simply because, well, shut up, he’s totally charming. Just dreadful through and through, and I say we wash our hands of the whole mess and move on.” He gives it a D+.
Here’s a link to his review for your perusal: https://tv.avclub.com/star-trek-the-next-generation-times-arrow-part-ii-1798168466
What do you guys think? Was Handlen on the right side of history or was he writing like his head had been separated from his body?
This week in Star Trek’s Present
The one really big piece of news that has dominated the last week or so has been the announcement that Patrick Stewart is coming back to the Star Trek world as Jean-Luc Picard. Right now, it’s all in the very early stages of what that will look like. All we know is that it will be post-Nemesis. What I’d like to see is a quasi-anthology series where Admiral Picard assigns and provides fatherly advice to a large group of characters who all have individual or small group missions that tie into a larger arc. Maybe some of these characters are from the other shows, maybe they are all new. There are lots of other possibilities. Some have floated the idea of an animated series where Picard has access to a time machine (and whenever he’s not on screen all the other characters are asking “where’s Picard?). What do you think would be the best way to use Patrick Stewart?
The smaller piece of news is that Chris Pine (Kirk) and Chris Hemsworth (daddy Kirk) have outgrown the Trek franchise and want more money than Paramount wants to give them. Hemsworth matters here because the new Star Trek IV (like the old Star Trek IV) is supposed to have a time travel element (see, I told you everyone loves time travel and that it NEVER gets old!). Seems like it would be easy enough to recast someone we only saw for a few minutes in a film made a decade ago. Pine would be a little harder to replace.
UNLESS, now that we have Patrick Stewart back in the fold, we just have him be the captain!!! First scene, he just shows up on the bridge and says “I’m Jean-Luc Picard. I’m the captain now. I’m here from the future to clean up this mess.” BAM. Yeah, it makes no sense. But it’s Picard on the Enterprise. Who is going to complain? No one, that’s who.
This week in Star Trek’s Future
This is long enough so I’m cheating this week and selecting the 24th century parts of “Time’s Arrow” as our look into the future. Mark Twain comes aboard the ship and expects to find a dystopia, thus marking him as America’s first grimdark. It’s classic Trek optimism and I love it. He says it’s even worth giving up cigars over.
And now, a random image from Memory Alpha.
A makeup continuity shot of background actor Michael Moorehead as Klingon in TNG: “Birthright, Part I”.
Hailing Frequencies Open: What other Star Trek actor would you love to see return to the franchise, and how would you pitch their return?