drawnonwords - A Writers Tale

My own views, posts, musings, stories and the odd picture for all to enjoy and let others know.

Tag: Star Trek

Into Darkness

Into Darkness

In 2009 Star Trek was rebooted. It is the in-word for taking a much loved series and starting again. That movie took risks changing what was a well-loved brand, universe and let’s face it huge fan base. However, it worked, despite a few niggles and maybe one set that was never quite right. It worked because it did too things; made money and made new fans. So we move on and wait. Unlike other studios, with Trek there is no spin-off here, no solo performances to fill the void. We have had to wait nearly as long as the original 5-year mission for the second installment.

Having said that, much has been said about this second rebooted Star trek movie and then again, nothing much at all. A trailer teaser gave away something. It featured a character, named John Harrison, a Starfleet officer with the ability to help another’s apparently serious ill daughter. It hinted at something, something that could be very dark in the Trek universe. The whole point of a movie is to tell a story. It is supposed to take the viewer from place A to B with goodness knows what in-between. The story should be make you want to watch and become engaged. This hint teased, you did not know where it was within this story. Again we then had to wait. Finally we get to see what all the rumors were about.

Into Darkness opens with a classic feel. The Enterprise, with a very young and ‘green’ Kirk in charge, Spock in danger of course and the age old prime directive about to be compromised. Now there are many fans who felt at the end of the first movie that Kirk had not earned right to sit in the big chair. But, then to tell that story in the first movie would have taken hours and effectively required a whole host of academy films. Fans might have gone for that, the rest of the public never. Film’s these days have to make big bucks to pay everyone off and create the environment for the next. Yes, in theory Kirk should not have been Captain at the end of movie one. If that had been that, it would have been fine, however it gets addressed a little in this movie.

The dynamics between the young crew have yet to be properly seen. Here is one of the biggest dilemmas for JJ Abrams. In the television series we are led to believe the crew are on it’s five-year mission. They know each other, they have spent time together and have history. By reworking the series, this has all gone. So we are left with building the characters from the start. That was very clear from the first film and it underpins this one, the dynamics of how the crew work and trust each other. In this movie Kirk and Spock are still coming to terms with each other as Captain, first officer and the beginning of one of those rare on-screen friendships. McCoy is the slightly awkward third person here, a sounding board to both. The rest of the ‘original’ crew continue to explore their roles. One which does not really fit yet is Uhura. That character should be more composed with the hint of action. I can only guess that Abrams needs to give this character something to do.

Add to the mix a ‘new’ villain, John Harrison, one who disguises his true motives making the audience wait. The action is fast paced, explosive to say the least and in places typical Star Trek. Humour was always thrown in when others feared to smile. Now for what might sound an odd reference – They do it with mirrors – is a line that comes from an Agatha Christie novel. Now that may appear strange but trust me it does say much about Into Darkness and it’s my only clue. 

I wont give away the plot as I don’t review movies that way. What I will say is that it worked for me and very well. Clever one might say. I did get all the hints and smiled when I was right. The cast did grow in this movie, yes there are a few annoying bits but then the movie was not filmed just for me. They never will and the old fans have two options. Get over it or watch something else.

For me JJ Abrams paced this movie just right. It had action, humour, compassion, classic Star Trek. Remember, he has to fit at least 4 major and 5 not so major characters together. Let alone a supporting cast, some of whom steal scenes. Each needs to give the audience there all in order to make the movie work.

This movie ends with a hope of more films to come. Does it end good or bad? Well, you have to go and see for yourself.

Rating 4.5/5

Tagline ‘Hint – Mirror, mirror, remember?’

Star Trek: The Naked Time

A Fans Thoughts

The Naked Time

Star Trek seldom featured episodes with no ‘guest’ aliens, it was the nature of space to almost always find someone. However, there were the occasional stories which explored the crews. The Naked Time is one of the better explorations of a crew trapped by an unknown virus with, as always, time running out.

The episode opens with USS Enterprise in orbit of the dying planet Psi 2000. Their mission is to locate a missing research team and observe the planet’s breakup. Mr. Spock beams down with a landing party, to discover the researchers are dead having suffered mental breakdowns or a form of madness. The life support system had been shut down leaving the team frozen to death in bizarre situations, such as fully clothed in a shower, seated at a control console as if nothing was wrong, as well as one woman who was strangled. Lt Joe Tormolen, one of the Enterprise landing party, removes his environmental suit glove and comes in contact with a strange red liquid. The landing party is beamed back to the ship and quarantined by McCoy who finds no medical issues and allows them to return to duty.

Of course it would be a very boring episode if nothing happens other than watching a planet explode. Nothing is found, which I guess highlights one problem with decontamination. It can’t spot everything. In this case, the virus is not considered deadly by the machines standards.

Tormolen starts to act irrationally, expressing hostility towards other crew members, threatening Lieutenants Sulu and Riley with a knife. In trying to stop him they too become infected without knowing and Tormolen turns the knife on himself. Although his wound is not life-threatening, he dies much to McCoy’s bewilderment.

Meanwhile, both Sulu and Riley also begin to behave irrationally. Sulu acts like a 17th-century swashbuckler, while Riley revels in his Irish ancestry and locks himself in the Engineering section. Proclaiming himself Captain of the Enterprise, he puts the ship in certain danger. He also has a minor comic role of singing one song over and over again. Everyone whose skin they have touched soon follow suit, and the infection quickly spreads through the crew.

Chief Engineer Scott eventually regains control of Engineering from Riley, but Riley had already shut down the engines. It would take more time than the ship has in its decaying orbit to restart them before the Enterprise crashes into the planet.

Spock becomes infected when Nurse Chapel takes his hands and confesses her love for the Vulcan. Spock struggles to contain his emotions, and infects Captain James T. Kirk when he tries to help. McCoy, having taken precautions to avoid infection, studies blood samples from his patients and water from Psi 2000. He a previously undetected virus that affects humanoids like alcohol, depressing the centres of judgment and self-control. It is transmitted by touch. He develops a serum to reverse the effects, administering the initial doses to the command crew to allow them to bring the ship back under control.

Kirk orders Scott to make a full-power restart of the warp engines, a dangerous process mixing matter and antimatter in order to restart the engines quickly. The restart is successful, propelling the Enterprise at impossible speed away from the planet backwards in time by almost 3 days. While Kirk hopes reliving the last 3 days is nothing like what they have already experienced, Spock notes that they now have a way to travel back through time. Kirk’s response is “We may risk it someday, Mr. Spock.”

This is a classic plot, you can’t always see what might kill you. There are numerous assumptions made during the episode and actions you would expect can’t happen. For example; as Riley locks himself in Engineering, why is there not an emergency way in. In later episodes and series, the Jeffries tubes could be used to get around the ship. Why did it take so long to open one door?Simply to build tension.

The spread of infection itself was very simple. Touch and you’re it. In that case why did not McCoy just quarantine anyone who came into contact with the first victim? Again, plot effect. There are always other plot holes, which sometimes you have to overlook in order for the story to have its effect.

Part of the enjoyment is the confinement of the crew once disaster strikes. They are helpless against one man. They can’t even use the planet to escape too, as it is a danger. The combination makes for tension which is written brilliantly. You can feel the frustration on the bridge as they just have to wait. Yet, it does not lack action. Each crew member is affected differently, again allowing a hidden side to appear if ever so briefly. Naturally this is used again for the central characters in later episodes. It is also interesting from a psychological view-point as to how some of the crew both controlled that element which was released and how they regained control of themselves. Spock in particular, saw his very humanity exposed as his true Vulcan side came through. The battle between his human and Vulcan halves gave us a minor glimpse into how his character could become. The writers, of course, wanted this struggle in order to allow the viewers to bond with him. It was normal for humans to just go ‘off the rails’.

The Naked Time explored the Enterprise crew, rather than just the universe and helped create some of their character traits. It was supposed to be a two-parter ending on the cliff hanger of the Enterprise going back in time. In some respects, for me, I am glad it was kept as a stand-alone episode. They would have used “Tomorrow is Yesterday’ as the second part. After all the turmoil from the episode, there are two questions which never get answered for me and I guess never can be. Since they travel back in time, would the research team still be alive and the crew man that died?

Tagline: “There are always possibilities”

Star Trek The Doomsday Machine

Star Trek: The Doomsday Machine

A fans thoughts

It is often difficult to pick favourite episodes with the Star Trek universe, there are so many. However, I have found that certain episodes I will happily watch no matter what. The original series has a number which I enjoy, The Doomsday Machine being one.

In this is a second series episode, the Enterprise is following a series of destroyed planets when it comes into contact with her sister ship the USS Constellation. The ship has been heavily damaged by an unknown force, to the extent that it seems no-one is left aboard.

Captain Kirk, McCoy, Scotty and a damage control party beam across hoping to discover who or what is behind the attack.

They find one lone survivor, Commodore Matt Decker, deeply traumatized at the loss of his crew and it seems his ship. He tells Kirk of a planet killer, a machine that can slice planets into bits. Kirk asks about his crew, Decker emotional reveals he beamed them to the third planet of the system. That planet was destroyed.

Realising what he must do, Kirk orders McCoy to take Decker to the Enterprise, while he and the damage party ready the Constellation for tow. As they do, the planet killer reappears, and attacks the Enterprise. Damaging the ship Spock manages to stay ahead until Decker decides to take on the beasts again. Spock informs the Commodore that phasers alone will not destroy it but he insists on making the attempt. It is clear the planet killer is heading towards densely inhabited areas of the galaxy and only the Enterprise now stands in its way.

Watching the fight from the Constellation, Kirk els helpless until Scotty informs him they have power and phasers. It becomes a cat and mouse game as Kirk frees the Enterprise but himself becomes a target again. At this point, Spock manages to regain command of the Enterprise, citing Decker as being frankly mad.

Decker takes matters into his own hands by using a shuttle craft to explode inside the machine. It naturally causes little damage.  It does however cause something which Kirk gambles on, the destruction of the Constellation.

Why do I enjoy this episode?

Almost all the original series were stand-alone plots rarely did we see non Enterprise characters reappear. We did of course have the Klingon’s and the Romulus’s appear a few times, but unlike other series, there was no real story arc. The Doomsday Machine, stands out for me as a slow building dramatic ‘How can they win’ episode. It is simple in its plot, the pace is just right and the conclusion just that momentarily humorous. Watching Kirk waiting for transport as the countdown is going, while Spock is calmly stating what to do and Scotty sort of ignoring it all, is classic.

You are made to wonder about the machine itself, but not allowed time to dwell on who built it. There is no need to mention a race or why they did it. It’s just there and blindly killing planets. That was it’s function. There is speculation between Kirk and Spock but the dialogue does not slow down.

There is also the sacrifice of Decker to try to redeem himself which he fails to realise will save the day. As Kirk points out, they are stronger with him than without. A point he misses when he closes communications. Could the Enterprise have beamed Decker out? How would that have changed the story?

There are always people who will look for those little plot holes which given the nature of a television show can’t be helped. For me, in this episode, there are few to be honest. It is well written, hence I can watch it again and again.

The episode does pose some questions of the time. The Doomsday machine had clearly become rogue since it had been found to have travelled from another galaxy. The question was basically why have such devices if they could obviously go wrong. Was that something the producers were trying to say about atomic weapons of the day?

The Doomsday Machine is one of my favourite episodes, I can even quote many of the lines and love the dramatic harsh music. It is all round enjoyable to watch.

DST50

Hello Dear Reader

DST50

What might you ask is DST50? Well, this weekend a 50th birthday (of sorts) was celebrated at the NEC Birmingham. Star Trek, one the top five sci-fi franchises reached 50 years. DST50 was Destination Star Trek 50. I had known about this for some time, both the birthday and event, however, I was unsure about returning to something of my past.

Confession. I used to go to Trek conventions and they were always damm good fun. Held in hotels for the main (apart from one brilliant holiday camp), hundreds of Trek fans would gather to watch episodes new and old, see actors, new and old and meet friends, yes new and old. It was very British in how the conventions were run. Groups of fans bid for the rights and they were voted for by fans.

I do have something of a minor reputation in that at two separate conventions I slightly raised my profile. Although no-one really knew, I believe that due to a very interesting phone call with the BBC, I managed to convince a deputy controller (how I got through one only knows) that the end of season 3 Next Gen was a cliffhanger. How I knew that was through a convention. My other claim to fame was speaking out in a group discussion at a convention. I thought Start Trek Next Gen (not seen in the UK at the time) was basically Roddenberry’s way of exploring future history. My argument was based on naval history. There had been, for example, many ships called Ark Royal, all having different Captains and crew. All Next Gen was doing, was taking that same idea and moving forward from the original series. I was almost given the odd ‘phaser’ stare until a close friend of Roddenberry’s stated that was what he was trying to achieve.

So, many years and many conventions later we reached DST50. Let me say that, somethings move on, it’s right and proper. I made the decision to go very late, in fact with three days to go. On Sunday I did sort of get excited to revisit something of my youth. But, as I walked in I could feel bits missing. This convention was in one of the big NEC halls, not the confined space of a hotel. It was open, way too open for my liking. I needed that hotel feeling I guess. Yet, Star Trek was there. The fans, the costumes, replica sets, back to the old and new. The line-up of actors huge and some I had not seen before. A few friends thought it would be crowded, but no, there was room in fact at times I missed the crush of a small space to watch an episode.

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I did get a buzz, I enjoyed one talk in particular, ‘For the Love of Spock’. That for me was the highlight and I made sure I grabbed my chance to say thank you to the host. Yet, friends were missing. It made me hanker for an old style convention. Staying up til 3am with a bunch of Klingon’s or drinking watching ‘The Doomsday Machine’ for the 10th time that weekend.

Some say (not that show), you can never go back. I disagree but then I would.

DST50 did what it said on the tin. It celebrated Star Trek at 50. Did I really enjoy the time travel? Yes, in a new way. Did it make me think of going back to conventions? Yes. Maybe time to do a little surfing.

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Tagline: ‘To boldly go where many of us went many times before’

A Trek

Hello Dear Reader,

There is always a moment when you read of someone passing away that makes you think. Sometimes, those thoughts are fleeting for many reasons.other make you stop and remember. The passing of Leonard Nimoy has naturally brought back numerous memories for me and millions of other fans. I know full well that blogs, posts, tweets and more have already surfaced around the net. This is now the way of the world. In some respects, this is why I have waited a couple of days.

I have been a Star Trek fan for many years. I first watched Star Trek way back in 1969 when it was first shown on the BBC. I was 7 years old at the time. It was brilliant. Along with many other shows I saw at that time, it had just something about it. The three central characters, Kirk – hero, Spock – intelligent and McCoy – healer in many senses. The trio worked very well together, many times the scripts called for the ice cool logic of Nimoy’s character to temper the scene.

As with other certain roles, it stuck and so did the fans. Despite being cancelled, Star Trek just kept going through people power. Nimoy took on other roles and started in another favourite series of mine, Mission:Impossible. Here is was allowed to express himself, show that he was more than just Spock. But, it was always going to be that one character many of us wanted to see, time and time again.

He did of course come back to this character many more times very successfully in the film series. Even to the point of trying to kill of the character in one of the best Star Trek films in my view. Around the net there is one scene that has been posted, the funeral of Spock from Star Trek 2. It is very well-played out and has a wonderful piece delivered by Kirk. For me, that is not the scene I want to consider for one of science fictions most well-known characters. For me, the scene that sums up both Spock and Nimoy is the touching moment he know he has to sacrifice himself, but with the Star Trek twist. Spock places his hand on McCoy’s forehead and simply says ‘Remember’.

That is how I want to think of this actor and his characters; Remember. It is the same for many who pass away, we have to just remember.

Tagline ‘Remember – need I say more?’

 

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