Stellar Watch: Viewing Notes for Star Trek: Discovery, Season 3, Episode 1 @CBSAllAccess #StarTrek #DISCO

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I’m excited to watch the season premiere of Star Trek Discovery tonight. Why? Because the alternative is a town hall with either Biden or Trump (written on 10/15/2020). Plus, I love Star Trek. This is, after all, why I bought a subscription to CBS All Access. I don’t plan on doing viewing notes for every episode; just this one.

Burnham arrives in the future. This is something every space show gets wrong. If you choose a random point in the universe, the overwhelming odds are that it’ll be empty. Yet here she is, showing up in a mess of junk and running directly into a ship.

Gee. It’s a good thing Burnham landed on a class M planet. What are the odds? See above.

Book really can’t fight. Give me the first punch, and you’re going to sleep. Plus, phasers have greater range than knives. It’s not an even trade to separate. She’s still a threat, and you’re no longer one. Dipshit.

The Burn!

A dilithium recrystallizer?

Star Trek IV The Voyage Home - Admiral there be whales here! - YouTube
You cannae do that, not even in the 23rd century!

Oh, wait. Nevermind.

In other news, my spell check doesn’t recognize “dilithium” or “recrystallizer.”

I just saw Morn!

Yep. That’s Morn (you know what I mean).

Amazing that the animal’s goo is everywhere but on Michael’s face.

The red-leaved trees are an obvious homage to the opening scene of Star Trek Into Darkness. That movie deserves no references.

Why is everyone whispering? Speak up. I can’t make out what you’re saying.

Overall, this is a very interesting take on the Star Trek universe. I’m eager to see where this season goes.

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“Unknown Unknown” Perils of Space Travel @StarTrek #StarTrek #space

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Sundays are now lazy days for me. Going forward, I’m just going to re-post other people’s work or just do something silly. Today, however, it’s serious. Neil DeGrasse Tyson and other assorted space scientists always caution us about the “unknown unknown” perils of space travel. This is an example of such a peril. Who could possibly have anticipated this?

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At least now we know to look for space rabbits. You’re welcome.

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Swapping Kirks via Deepfake @WilliamShatner #StarTrek #Deepfake

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Sundays are now lazy days for me. Going forward, I’m just going to re-post other people’s work or just do something silly. Today, it’s using Deepfake to swap the Original Series actors into 2009+ Star Trek.

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Star Trek Intakes #StarTrek #NCC1701 #TV

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Sundays are now lazy days for me. Going forward, I’m just going to re-post other people’s work or just do something silly. In light of this post appearing between my viewing notes for the Star Trek: The Next Generation movies, today is a series of Next Generation bloopers that were put back into the shows.

If you don’t like this post, please note that the original subject of the post was deleted from the internet. I was in a rush. 🙂

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Growing-on-Me Watch: Star Trek Lower Decks @StarTrek @CBSAllAccess #GoodWatch

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Star Trek: Lower Decks is CBS’s attempt to capture the magic of Rick & Morty without losing its target audience. That would seem to be a tough sell: trying to do something but tying one’s hands in an important aspect. It certainly started that way. It’s first couple episodes fell flat for me, but even Futurama had a boring first episode. All first episodes are set ups.

Five episodes in, it’s finally growing on me. It’s better than Star Trek: The Animated Series, which was ridiculous. (There was only one good episode, and it was good because the third act was ridiculously funny.) This doesn’t mean I’d ever re-watch and episode of Lower Decks, but it’s decently entertaining, and I’m already paying for it. The gimmick with this series is that its main characters are ensigns rather than ship captains and senior officers. However, the higher-ranked officers get far more attention than was initially advertised, so they don’t really stick to the gimmick.

I think CBS missed the mark on this one, but if it fills the gap between the other shows such that we always have Star Trek, I’m on board. A low production budget show to fill that gap may have been the idea. Besides, Lower Decks may get better.

Now if you’ll excuse me, I’m off to watch today’s episode. As always, YMMV.

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The Smithsonian’s Restoration of Star Trek’s USS Enterprise #StarTrek #NCC1701 #TV

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Sundays are now lazy days for me. Going forward, I’m just going to re-post other people’s work or just do something silly. Today, it’s the Smithsonian’s restoration of the original model of Star Trek‘s USS Enterprise.

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Travelling Through the Star Trek Universe, Part V. Viewing Notes on Star Trek V: The Final Frontier. @KesselJunkie @WilliamShatner @StarTrek @Hulu #StarTrek #GuiltyPleasure #movie

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Back to Hulu I go, and this time I’m doing something really different. This is my first audio blog post, and I’m joined by my cousin, Kessel Junkie, who I give so much grief on this blog. This is our running commentary on a movie that’s certainly a guilty pleasure for both of us. No one else seems to like it, but we both love it.

Cue up the movie when instructed if you want to watch it with us. Kessel has clearly done his research on this movie, which is unsurprising considering 1) his love of the movie, and 2) the fact that he has a degree in theater. As a Star Trek nut that was raised on the theater (Arena Stage), I should be just as knowledgeable about this movie, but I’m lazy.

Just one note. There’s a point where Kessel Junkie changes the subject on me, and I don’t quite pick up on it, so we wind up talking past one another. I get his point. There’s an apparent canon violation between an episode of the Animated Series and this movie. Both have the Enterprise visiting a planet at or near the center of the galaxy. Fortunately, he’s wrong. The Enterprise was thrown into an alternate universe, so the fact that “God” wasn’t there isn’t a canon violation. Interestingly enough, “Lucien” was originally supposed to be God, but the network nixed that. Enough about that. Enjoy the listen.

No, we’re not related at all.

Click here for the audio file. Note: This is just over two hours long, and if you pause it, note where you paused. Pausing it often requires you to refresh the page before continuing.

I hate my voice. You will too.

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References:
V’tosh ka’tur (Vulcans without logic)
Star Trek into Darkness: Sybok
Spreading It Too Thinly
Shazam v. Guardians of the Galaxy
Travelling Through the Star Trek Universe, Part I
Travelling Through the Star Trek Universe, Part II
Travelling Through the Star Trek Universe, Part III
Travelling Through the Star Trek Universe, Part IV

The Villains of Black Panther

Casey Biggs and Star Trek: Deep Space Nine @netflix @arenastage #QuarantineLife #StarTrek #DS9

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My favorite movie and television property is Star Trek. I wasn’t fond of Star Trek Into Darkness but otherwise am an apologist for the property. However, Star Trek Deep Space Nine wrapped up while I was in law school, so it’s the only series for which I haven’t seen all the episodes. I’m currently remedying that situation by watching seasons 6 and 7.
There’s nothing I can say about the series that hasn’t been said before. Instead, I’ll mention a personal anecdote. I’ve been attending the theater since I was 5 years old, so over 4 decades. However, it wasn’t just any theater; it was Arena Stage. Arena is high-quality theater. I can’t tell you how many now-famous actors I’ve seen cut their teeth at Arena, as well as stop by for a visit after getting their big break.

So, when I saw that Casey Biggs had joined the cast of Deep Space Nine as Damar, I was thrilled. Mr. Biggs has a history with Arena. He was the first actor I had ever seen on TV (L.A. Law) that I first saw at Arena. My favorite two roles for him were that of Odysseus in Homer’s Odyssey and Petruchio in Taming of the Shrew. He appears to be assigned to soap opera hell but consistently gets one-shot roles on prominent TV shows.

He remains an obscure actor, but I’ve paid attention and appreciate what he’s done through these years.

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Spreading It Too Thinly #StarTrek #StarWars cc: @kesseljunkie @williamshatner @BWingFactory #nerd

Last night, my cousin, Kessel Junkie, and I had our monthly (or so) outing at Buffalo Wing Factory. As always, we talk about all things both political and nerdical. Of all the things we discussed, there was one point made that was wholly mine, rather than a consensus between our two views. It’s not that Kessel Junkie hadn’t heard the argument before and accepted it in the context of Star Trek, but I took it to a larger level.

For all it’s bells and whistles, all of the new iterations of Star Trek will never (apparently) have what the Original Series had: character development. At first, this seems like a ridiculous argument, but I’m serious. It’s not that TNG, DS9, and the rest don’t have character development; the problem is that they spread that development too thinly across too many characters.

The Triumverate of Nerd

TOS had three characters: Kirk, Spock, and McCoy. Everyone else was secondary. Can any of the newer series or movies say that? No, they can’t. They’ve all moved from being about “the main characters” to being about “the ensemble,” and the result is that none of the characters mean anywhere’s near as much as the original three. As I’ve pointed out before, we know the year that O’Brien’s mother-in-law was born. That’s a bit crazy. If you’re filling in that level of detail about the most minor of characters, you’re not spending time on who matters most. Granted, TOS lasted less years than any of the other series, so inevitably we would have known more about the minor characters as future seasons were released, but it still would have been about the big three.

It’s Not Just Star Trek

I pointed out to Kessel Junkie, a rabid Star Wars fan (seriously, check out his blog), that this isn’t just Star Trek. The original Star Wars trilogy was about Luke, Leia, and Han. Is Obi-Won Kenobi getting too important? Cut the bastard in half … or into thin air. Whatever. Same with Yoda. Bring them back as ghosts occasionally, but get them out of the action.

The Star Wars prequels became about the ensemble. While it should have been about Anakin, Obi-Won, and Padme, it wasn’t. Mace Windu, Yoda, and a freaking astromech droid were just as important. They got a ton of action independent of the main characters.

A Larger Trend

I haven’t done any serious math here, but this appears to be a larger trend, especially in light of the success of comic book movies. This isn’t necessarily a bad thing. It allows screenwriters to tell a different set of good stories. It’s also no longer “progressive” to just stick a minority on screen, make her a secretary, tell everyone she’s good at math, and rarely let her speak words other than, “I’m frightened.” I can understand a need to continue our social evolution, but it has its drawbacks with respect to the development of characters with whom the audience can relate. If we had the Avengers but didn’t have the benefit of two Iron Man movies, a Captain America movie, a Thor movie, and two Hulk movies, you wouldn’t care as much for those characters as you did (unless you had decades of development through reading their comics, which I do not have).

And this is why Picard will never have shit on original Kirk. Get over it and get off my lawn, you rotten kids.

Of course, Zap’s better than both of those sissies put together.

P.S. Opening day for Star Trek into Darkness is my birthday. Great gift, though it would be better if Cumberbatch were playing Sybok.

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Margaret Weis Drops #MarvelRPG #RPG #gaming cc:@GamingMeerkat

I’ll miss you, old friend … until I play you again a week from Saturday.

Despite my many hours playing Dungeons & Dragons since 2005 (after a 24-year absence from the game), I’m really not much of an RPG gamer. I love FASA Star Trek RPG, but what do you expect? I loved Enterprise! I’ve played Gamma World 4e, Legend of the Five Rings (3rd edition) three times, Dragon Age RPG (Green Ronin Publishing) a few times (mostly as Game Master), and Star Wars Saga Edition once (again, as Game Master). I enjoyed all of those games but played Call of Cthulhu d100 twice and hated it. If I’ve played any other RPGs with dice, I don’t remember it off the top of my head, so apparently they didn’t make much of an impact.  (I’ve also played the diceless RPG, Fiasco, which was great.)

I’d like to broaden my horizons as far as RPGs are concerned, so when my friend, Rishi, offered me the chance to join his new Marvel RPG game, I jumped at the chance. I’ve heard good things about it, so I was intrigued even though I never read comic books. (Come to think of it, I’m not a good geek in general. I don’t play video games, and I find Dr. Who to be retardis.) I wanted to play the mechanics everyone was talking about, so I agreed to play for a couple of sessions before gracefully bowing out.

I don’t think I’ll be bowing out. Our first session was a lot of fun for me. My approach to RPGs has always been to focus on a character concept, where the character has some interesting, overriding character trait, usually but not always a flaw. I then play that trait to the extreme. With my group, that wasn’t only tolerated but welcomed with open arms. As comic book fans, the other players liked the fact that I played my character’s traits so faithfully, even to the detriment of the team, because these are the characters the players love.

Clearly, I’m the baddest ass of the bunch!

Incidentally, I played a guy by the name of Hank Pym, a.k.a., Yellow Jacket. I’d never heard of him but am sure that means something to a lot of you. It also meant something to my cousin, Tom, who still collects comics. When Rishi gave me a list of characters from which to choose, I passed the ones in favor of the Super Human Registration Act to Tom, who told me to pick Yellow Jacket. It’s worked out so far. An insecure, nerdy guy who 1) supports government registration of people, and 2) gains experience points by blaming his own major failing on a loved one? Yeah, I can do this.

Mechanics

And that (finally) brings me to my first point. The mechanics of the game have their flaws, but overall it’s an fun system, especially for someone like me.

The Bad: The dice rolling is unnecessarily convoluted, requiring you to figure out which types of dice to roll (d4, d6, d8, d10, or d12) and in what number every single time you roll. Once I’m used to it, it’ll probably become second nature, but it creates a barrier for entry. If I were the rule rather than the exception, the group probably would have moved on and never played it again. Instead, I was the odd man out. I was the only one that didn’t have experience with the game and wasn’t a comic book reader. Keeping this game going will be easy despite the unnecessary complexity, but I don’t think that will be the case for all groups.

The Good: Rewarding me for domestic violence? Brilliant! I know that sounds bad, but stay with me. No one’s perfect, not even superheroes. We all have flaws, and a role-playing game that doesn’t hide from that fact, even among the heroes, is exactly what I need to make me happy. (Also, I don’t actually have to beat my wife in the game. It’s not necessarily that specific.) Needless to say, this doesn’t always go over well in other systems. In 4e D&D, I have a stereotypical, senile old man, Luigi, who’s great for comic relief, but when I play him in character during combat or role-play, he usually makes bad decisions. It’s never once actually hurt the group when all was said and done  — he was responsible for winning a “social skill challenge” in one adventure despite his eccentricity — but while it’s occurring, it’s tough to convince the other players of that. Some people get very annoyed by his erratic behavior. With Marvel RPG, no one is complaining, and I doubt this is a characteristic of my group itself. The mechanics of the game actually encourage me and them to act the fool at times. And it works.

The Good but with a Caveat: The initiative system is fantastic, but it wouldn’t work in a game like D&D where building a character to go first has so many advantages. Other game systems would have to be tweaked dramatically to allow for the Marvel RPG initiative system. Still, it’s something every game publisher should at least consider.

It’s All About IP

My second point is, as always, that the world lives and dies based on intellectual property law, and this is the more important of the two points. IP law governs everything, and there’s a lesson to be learned here. RPG publishing is a low-profit exercise. It’s tough to do well in it, and whether most publishers will admit it or not, it’s ability to succeed as well as it has depends a great deal on the continued success of Wizards of the Coast. WotC produces Dungeons and Dragons (among others), and does so with the mighty weight of Hasbro behind it. They’re able to do things no other RPG publishers can do, and the entire industry benefits as a result. However, even WotC could hold on to the Star Wars license for only so long. With such a low profit-margin in the first place, having to give up a non-negligible chunk of that in the licensing fee reduces the profit margin even more. Also, unless you’re willing to give up and even bigger chunk of the profits, you have to settle with a non-exclusive license (if it’s even offered), meaning you won’t even be the only game of your kind available. It’s a no-win situation over the long haul.

With that in mind, be disappointed but not angry. I’ve never met or spoke with Margaret Weis, so I have no inside information here, but I’d put good money on the bet that she had a very good reason for letting the license go. This isn’t the fault of Ms. Weis, or of Marvel. It’s just the nature of the industry. The game was selling well, but the numbers just don’t add up in the long run. Everyone needs the core rulebook, but sales of add-ons will always be at least a little less, and often will be much less.

Fortunately, there’s a lot of material out there with even more to come, and many gamers will put together supplemental materials in the form of PDFs freely downloadable from their private sites. This game won’t die anytime soon, and that’s a good thing.

The End

Despite my optimism in the two sentences immediately preceding this one, it feels like there’s been a death in the family (not that bad, though; on the level of a step-cousin). 🙂 I just wanted to offer a eulogy of sorts, if for no other reason than to make myself feel good about it. It’s a good game, we’ll all continue to play it, but like all good things, eventually it must come to an end, and no one is to blame for that. Gaming will go on.

As always, happy gaming!

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