Monday, December 31, 2007

Star Trek 388: ...Nor the Battle to the Strong

388. ...Nor the Battle to the Strong

FORMULA: The Ship + Apocalypse Now + The Quickening

WHY WE LIKE IT: Unashamedly bleak.

WHY WE DON'T: Sisko's repetitious worrying.

REVIEW: Jake becomes a journalist, something that will carry him to the end of the series, and the episode is told as an article he's writing. A bit too conversational for that, perhaps, as it sometimes seems like we're simply hearing his thoughts, but by the end, his essay is raw and poignant. And yet it all started as a comedy piece with egotist Bashir all wrapped up in his profile and spouting enough technobabble to last us to the end of the season. Then it becomes a story about war, and that's because Jake forces the doctor to get involved. It's really a story driven by guilt.

DS9 does MASH could be its tagline. Well, one of MASH's more dramatic episodes, though there are examples of gallows humor. This is the first time we really see Starfleet's ground troops, and the episode has a real "war is hell" edge to it, with plenty of body bags, hardened soldiers dying painfully before Jake's eyes, more blood than ever before, and Starfleet personnel acting rather unheroically. There's a kid who shot himself in the foot to get off the battlefield, and Jake only later realizes why though he becomes a hero despite himself, accidentally saving the day while crouching under a table. His story starts as simple musings and ends as a confession.

To balance the bleakness, there is some comedy, in particular surrounding "Quarktajino" and Ferengi considering pregnancies "rentals", but most of the scenes occurring on the station or Defiant feature Sisko as a worry wart. Too much so. It's a foregone conclusion that Sisko would be worried for his son anyway, so we're not learning anything new. Especially after the third worry scene. The ending is also a bit too happy and saccharine, especially given the tone of the rest of the show.

LESSON: No news, make news.

REWATCHABILITY - Medium-High: A courageous look at war that outdoes anything similar Star Trek might have done to date, though any scene not on Ajilon Prime seems like a bit of padding.

Sunday, December 30, 2007

This Week in Geek (24-30/12/07)


'Tis the season to receive... Many thanks to improv buddies Annik and Sly for a beautiful illustrated Complete Shakespeare. My third, I know, but without a doubt the most gorgeous of the lot. Hamlet tally now at... 14 versions and copies, I think.

'Tis the season to buy a lot of crap... Well, in trying to buy gifts for others, I wind up with an armload of stuff for myself. It's why I don't go shopping, I invariably come home with the wrong things. Here's my Christmas load:

Comics: The first Uncle Sam and the Freedom Fighters trade; Fleisher's Wonder Woman Encyclopedia (now I have access to lots of little bondage panels from the Golden Age); Showcase Presents JLA vol.3 (just trying to keep the collection intact); ACME Novelty Library #16 and #18 (the ones I was missing, somehow found in a regular bookstore when I can't count on comic book stores to get them for me); Chester Brown's The Little Man, a collection of his short strips (ditto); and the first two volumes of the Jack Kirby Fourth World Omnibus (personally, I LIKE the newsprint under hardcover format, because I hate how old comics reproduce on glossy paper).

Books: Harold Bloom's Jesus and Yahweh - The Names Divine (my favorite literary critic takes on the various covenants); Umberto Eco on Literature (interesting essays on a number of authors and topics that interest me); Alberto Manguel's The Library at Night (loved him History of Reading, and this looks like more of the same); and three Michael Chabon books, The Yiddish Policemen's Union, The Final Solution, and Gentlemen of the Road (after Kavalier & Clay, how could I not?).

DVDs: So based on the entertainment I derived from The Night Stalker/Srangler, I got me the entire Kolchak series of 20 episodes. And after seeing a friend's copy, I also added Me and You and Everyone We Know to my collection.


Last week, my friend Carolynn had given me the two Evenings with Kevin Smith DVDs, a series of Q&A sessions in large concert halls around the world. They don't take much concentration to watch, so I went through a disc per meal, pretty much (or about 8 hours). If you like Kevin Smith's stuff, you'll like this, especially the stories about other celebrities. Though I'm not nearly the potty mouth he is, I find we have very similar storytelling styles, so it's cool and the gang. Of course, I can't stand that segment of fandom who thinks walking up stoned to the mike and asking Silent Bob for a doobie, but people suck, it's a given.

Exams and holidays usually take a bite out of the gaming schedule, but I was happy to run a Planescape marathon yesterday. Well, marathon... from 9h30 to 2h30 or so. Still, two distinct adventures advancing a quest the players have taken an interest in (it wasn't really my plan that they do so). In the first part, they delivered a love letter from a devil to a demon in exchange for a key to Pandemonium, and in the second part, used it and nearly lost their minds in that place. Special guest appearance by Loki! Light on the fighting and heavy on the role-playing opportunities, just the way I like it. (Material all adapted either from Well of Worlds or Planes of Chaos, just to get credit where credit is due.)

And then there's cards for the Unauthorized Who CCG, of course, but only five, but also the artwork for the purely fictional box:
New Feature: Someone Else's Post of the WeekWhere's the Council of Nicea when you need them? Scipio over at the Absorbascon wins this honor with a comparison between the modern Bible and the DC Universe, and shows that 4th century theologians were apparently more together than DC editorial has ever been. I have a feeling Scip is going to win this dubious "award" a lot in the coming year.

Batman and the Outsiders #4: Pages 16-17

So Meltdown's about to escape when he gets hit by road paint.Oh it's only Geo-Force. Ignore him. He's sending you the universal road sign for "you may pass".
Why is this looking more and more like a music video?
To be frank with you Halo (if you can reign in the teenage tantrums for a minute), you're on your 5th adventure EVER and you're still learning to use your powers. I'm not sure we've seen the stasis aura more than once, twice tops. So there's plenty of stuff nobody's ever been able to do before. Hey, WATCH OUT...
Meltdown: He's not afraid to pull hair. If that isn't the true meaning of evil, I don't know what is. I bet he aims for the crotch too.
Ignore Geo-Force. Just ignore him. Now... what is it Halo should do?
Of course! Turn into powerless human form. While a radioactive supervillain on fire is holding you by the ponytail. Makes perfect sense.

But only if you're trying to kill Halo.

Perfect sense.

Star Trek 387: Looking for par'Mach in All the Wrong Places

387. Looking for par'Mach in All the Wrong Places

FORMULA: Cyrano de Bergerac + The House of Quark

WHY WE LIKE IT: Grilka returns. Dax finally loses her patience with Worf.

WHY WE DON'T: O'Brien, cheating on his wife.

REVIEW: I've always thought Grilka was a "glorious" character too, so it's great to see her return. Worf is immediately smitten, but so is Quark (who, of course, saw her first) and hilarity ensues. Casting Worf in Cyrano's role and Quark in Christian's is as inspired as it is ridiculous, and aside from a poor line here and there (chiefly, the "war, what is it good for" speech), the script is witty and fun about it.

Quark as a Klingon warrior is absurd, but he does have the heart of a poet, which he gets to show when the bat'leth fight goes awry and his has to improvise and stall. Let's just say Ferengi poetry tends to be on the wet side. But despite the fact that both Klingon and Ferengi cultures get made fun of, neither loses its inherent dignity. Quark remains fiercely patriotic regardless of what traditions he chooses to respect for her sake, and Worf isn't humiliated by Grilka's majordomo when taken aside and told to respectfully shove off.

More important to this story is Dax, whose flirting with Worf all these episodes has fallen on deaf ears. Her attraction to Worf never makes her weak, even though she's technically being jilted throughout Par'mach. She takes it in stride, teases him about Grilka, but she is disappointed, even angry. And yet, she acts like it's not that big a deal. She's no Odo, pining away for something unattainable. Eventually, her patience runs out and SHE is the aggressor. And despite the violence of the Klingon "act", their little post-coital scene was rather sweet and very natural. It's the relationship to watch.

The subplot involving O'Brien and Kira getting feelings for each other (thanks to the pregnancy) holds just as many laughs, if not more, but it does go too far eventually. It's all fun and games given the title and tone of the episode, and the more the two try to be apart, the more Keiko tries to throw them together. Odo's teasing ("WHICH part of his family are you?") is also especially funny. It's all very wrong, but the characters at least know it, and you get the feeling that they're trying to escape each other BEFORE they actually get the wrong feelings. Then, there's that ending where O'Brien actually leans in to kiss her and she has to kick him out of the runabout. Too much, Miles. This is where I can no longer suspend disbelief. O'Brien has always been the loyal family man, and there's just no way he was going to give in like that.

LESSON: Keiko is not the jealous type. At all. ("Miles, she's carrying your baby! Make beautiful sweet love to her right this instant!")

REWATCHABILITY - Medium: A lot of funny bits, but it leaves O'Brien and Kira slightly damaged as a result. Worf and Dax may be enhanced by the episode however.

Saturday, December 29, 2007

Star Trek 386: The Ship

386. The Ship

WHY WE LIKE IT: The tense atmosphere.

WHY WE DON'T: Sisko's unnecessary guilt trip.

REVIEW: The show now heads into fairly uncharted territory (for Trek, that is) with "war is hell"-type material. And if you thought Muniz was safe by virtue of this being his third sympathetic appearance, think again. His lingering death is actually pretty harrowing, for O'Brien more than anyone. Though it's been said that the events of Hard Time were never referenced again, I think there may be an acknowledgment of sorts in O'Brien's tendency towards violence here and later in the season. He does take a shot at Worf in this episode, and that's not really his style, is it?

The Ship is really an exercise in anxiety, and everything is meant to unsettle the characters and the audience. You've got an upside down set, odd angles, constant bombardment, frayed nerves, tense firefights, and Muniz' delirium. It's no wonder Sisko has to put everyone in their place (including smartass Dax). It does tend to go on, but that's part of the atmosphere.

We meet our first Vorta since Weyoun, and Kilana is his worthy successor, exhibiting the same kind of false humility. She has some good scenes with Sisko, though we should be a little surprised that the Dominion doesn't mind giving their ship away once the hidden Founder is dead. The questions pile up and never get answered and one gets the impression that the episode was ending and things just needed to be resolved. I mean, if the Jem'Hadar kill themselves, how does Kilana get home, etc.?

Thing is, they could have had the time if they'd taken out the coda. I don't so much mind Muniz' wake, but Sisko's guilt over the deaths of his crew is suspect. In a way, it's a necessary scene that shows Sisko's responsibility to the people under his command, especially as we go into the Dominion War arc. Many more will die, and we can't have a scene like this each time. Get it out of the way now, so to speak. And it's nice to hear personal details about the lost crew. However, can Sisko really consider himself responsible for their deaths? The Jem'Hadar came out of nowhere, destroyed the runabout and Muniz got shot in the first attack. No one actually died as a result of Sisko's pigheadedness over keeping the ship. (Muniz would not have survived without medical treatment, which wouldn't have been forthcoming anyway.) Still, the sentiment was appreciated.

LESSON: Redshirts are people too.

REWATCHABILITY - Medium: More atmosphere than substance, it nevertheless is impactful, with strong performances and good suspense.

Friday, December 28, 2007

Have a Pretty Grim Christmas, Actually

(Spoilers of the Damned follow.)So yeah. That was something of a misstep.

I'm talking about Voyage of the Damned, this year's Doctor Who Christmas Special, of course. On the one hand, there's the tone. The story was just way too grim for a Christmas story. I can appreciate the subversion of expectations, but I felt a little sick at heart that this was the one the entire family was sitting together for. Voyage of the Damned is basically a disaster movie with killer Christmas angels and someone falling into a fire pit in slow motion every ten minutes. Part of that subversion is that the nasty survivor gets to live, while many sympathetic ones do not. Indeed, the two ultimate survivors come out of it filthy rich: The true meaning of Christmas.

Another problem I had was that VotD just... sat there. It felt inconsequential in a way no other episode of New Who has ever done. The reason, I think, is that we've been blessed with character arcs through the last 3 series, and this one was really divorced from that. Even before we knew Donna would return, The Runaway Bride still dealt with Rose's departure in a meaningful way. Every episode, even the relatively stand-alone ones, still featured nice character bits that built on the Companion and her relationship to the Doctor.
Voyage's nominal Companion is Kylie Minogue's Astrid (that's an anagram of TARDIS, right?), but there's a whole band of survivors. Sadly, Astrid isn't the most interesting one there. She's just... there, y'know? As soon as she said she was interested in moving into the TARDIS, you knew her minutes were numbered too. Though, yeah, it's interesting that she gets killed off and that the Doctor's Hail Mary pass at the end actually fails (it barely made sense for her to come back as it was, so succeeding would have really grated). And that's where the special has something interesting to say (finally). The Doctor's frustrated and hysterical "I can do anything!!!" while he clearly cannot is a hard-learned lesson for this version of the Doctor. Where his previous incarnation was, in a sense, a victim, this one enjoys near invincibility. In fact, I'd say I liked the last minutes, but there's a heck of a lot of running through corridors and over precipices before we get there.

Other thoughts about Voyage of the Damned
-Really not used to the new theme music, and for now I'm going to say I liked it better before. Just a little too... rockin'? Of course, the superfast end credits are much worse. Gave me a headache, those things.
-The less said about the moustache-twirling villain the better. I didn't think Max Capricorn's plan made any sense, nor was he interesting as a character. It reminded me of those classic episodes where the guest actors are mugging at the camera for the kiddies because they think that's who's watching.
-There's a strong resemblance between the robotic Host in this thing and the art deco robots from Robots of Death, which is made explicit where one robot's hand gets stuck in a sliding door and is ripped off, just like in the classic episode.
(Sorry, couldn't find a proper screencap of that moment.) Anyway, at first I thought the story would be set at that time, in the "Imperial Era", especially with everyone's knowledge of Earth being so spotty (which, frankly, was done better in the End of the World and most Futurama episodes - the Santa with claws especially). But no, it's Christmas 2008, which was really strange, especially given all the human types hanging about on the Titanic.
-Scene I could have done without: So many choices because there's a significant amount of padding. I guess favorite to go is the Queen running after the spaceship shouting thanks to the Doctor...
-Favorite Line: Responding to a mistake about Great France and Great Germany - "Just France and Germany, only Britain is Great." I think it's lovely when the Doctor gets patriotic.
-That was a nice bit at the end about the snow probably not being real (ballast from the ship), but that someday, it'd be nice if it were. Cuz those Christmas specials are all filmed at the height of summer.

Extra Doctor Who Links of the Damned
Obviously, I'm not the only one who had something to say about it, check out these fine blog entries:
-Blackmarket Pies has a couple of points to make with Boosterin' the TARDIS and Messiah Complex.
-Steve at Gad, Sir! Comics! tells us "I’m Gonna Spend My Christmas With a TARDIS", and discusses a few Christmasy Doctor Who comics.
-And at Blog THIS, Pal!, it's a mostly spoiler-free review of Voyage of the Damned entitled, The Doctor's Titanic Adventure.

The Series 4 preview looked like a lot of fun, and I think Donna'll work out juuuuust fine. But up next is Torchwood Series 2, and that looks pretty awesome. Time Agents returning for Jack? Is that what that is? Coooool.

Batman and the Outsiders #4: Pages 14-15

We never see Black Lightning land and neither does Meltdown...You'll see this unfold, but check out how the Outsiders never use teamwork. First, one of them tries to beat the villain alone. Then, someone else tries. And so on. It's really not helping me like the comic. Even Metamorpho is garbage in this thing. Ho ho ho.
There's also the matter of that not constituting "coating", though I'm glad to see Rex has no nerve endings.
Three facts about Meltdown:
1) He spent a summer at ballerina camp hoping to meet some ladies.
2) In 1981, he unsuccessfully attempted to copyright the catch phrase "Blast it".
3) He has no quarrel with you.
All very well and good, but if he can own the most powerful Outsider, what chance have Black Lightning and Katana got? Maybe if they work together...
Sorry no. As BL keeps shouting "pass ME the ball", she goes in alone.

Don't you just love how STAR Labs has a big safe door with a complicated computer lock, and still feels the need to write "Authorized Personnel Only" on it? How about you only give the entry code to those that are and save on the letter decals?
ONE-FINGERED SALUTE - SECOND STANCE! (Oh, sorry, I've been enjoying Immortal Iron Fist of late. Not that attracting a swinging sword to you isn't a GREAT move in and of itself. Uhm...)
Great way to make this team kick ass: Use a lame villain, and have all the characters say he's lame, but still have them lose to his sorry ass. Katana: Ineffectual.

And now for the Most Sensible Decision in the issue:
The Outsiders: Not worth fighting.

Star Trek 385: Apocalypse Rising

385. Apocalypse Rising

FORMULA: The Enterprise Incident + The Adversary + The Way of the Warrior + The Loss

WHY WE LIKE IT: Klingon Sisko!

WHY WE DON'T: Klingon-sized plot holes.

REVIEW: To plunge into the Dominion War proper, this season premiere more or less puts an end to hostilities with the Klingons. But before it does that, it's gonna have a lot of fun. The greatest reason to rewatch this episode is that Sisko makes a great Klingon. He really gets into the role in a way that O'Brien and Odo never quite achieve (in part because their characters don't allow it, but also because they don't quite have the facial type).

Though it has its clever moments, such as getting Dukat to drive them to the impressive-looking Ty'Gokor, the "mission impossible" has the close calls and near discoveries you'd expect from such a story, but also has fun with the big Klingon party. Sisko gets revenge on a Klingon that killed one of his friends, Worf revels in the atmosphere, and Gowron is always fun to look at. But is he a Founder? The twist, of course, is that Martok is actually the changeling. There are hints (changelings would be good with faces, for example), but it's Odo (of course) who pieces it all together.

Dramatically, he HAS to be the hero in this one because his own particular arc has put him on the wrong track. Now human, he's fallen to drinking and doesn't care about his job as much as he used to. His self pity isn't pretty. The episode (and the mission) is half-designed to make him feel useful again. You figure it out with Odo because the camera cuts to his looks, but if you don't know, the Martok cover is pretty airtight. Since when has he been whispering war songs into Gowron's ear? I dare say we haven't yet seen the real Martok, and yet he's already very cool. (That double dagger move is pretty badass.)

Over at the station, Bashir is walking around basically making everyone feel better (a better counselor than any other counselor I've ever seen in Trek), but I only really mention him because of his talk with Kira. It's a big inside joke where she blames him for her pregnancy. Pretty funny considering.

Now no discussion of Apocalypse Rising would be complete without at least mentioning the various plot holes in the story. For example, why doesn't anyone recognize Worf? It's only on this viewing that I finally noticed that he'd shaven off his beard. Very Clark Kent as far as disguises go. And why doesn't Sisko press the button before his name is called? Does he really need to later brag to his friends that he was actually inducted in the Order of the Bat'leth? Never mind the fact that this particular crew is sent on the mission instead of some black ops unit.

LESSON: The changeling's not dead until you see the fireworks.

REWATCHABILITY - Medium-High: I know it's all a bit silly, but as excuses to dress up go, Apocalypse Rising is a lot of fun and a guilty pleasure of mine. Objectively, probably a Medium, but still a fun and interesting way to put the focus on the REAL enemy.

Thursday, December 27, 2007

Batman and the Outsiders #4: Pages 12-13

Hope you had a good Christmas, now back to our regularly scheduled stake-out:Hey Batman, howzabout you turn your mother%$&in' volume down, man! Really, it's much funnier if you imagine Lightning shouting his dialogue in a Martin Lawrence kind of way.
"You do it up brown..." Nope, I have no idea what that means. I've always thought Batman did up his stuff in black.
Words to live by, but they scarcely explain the Outsiders.
I guess that radio was done up brown ENOUGH! (Am I using that right?)
So what were these two doing? Flying around all glowy and stuff on a stake-out? Wouldn't it be smart to leave one behind in case it's just a broken radio and not Creegan? Well, I'm not Batman, so what do I know. He's brown and I'm not.
Batman is the greatest detective this side of Sherlock Holmes and here's further proof. Proof of soap operatics! If only he would use his deductive powers for good.
Yeah, that tied you tied him up in the basement and called him a retard was pretty harsh. Oh, All-Star Batman and Robin isn't canonical? But Batman and the Outsiders IS? Whatever, man.

Oh and Black Lightning? Not even being attacked.
Again, don't want to criticize the Batman. I know better. But he's outfitted a human electricity generator with all sorts of electronics. Is it any wonder they don't work very well. BZZZT!
Weird blasting gesture, yes, but that's what three years of shadow puppetry courses in prison will do to you.
And now that the fight's started, I'm expecting some dynamic stuff from Aparo. Except I can't quite understand his staging here. Meltdown has made a hole above his head, Black Lightning comes up from behind and zaps him from afar, and then BL is being flung up the hole... So did he stupidly close in even though he could have kept his distance? I guess so.

Ahh the stuff that happens between panels...

Star Trek 384: Broken Link

384. Broken Link

FORMULA: The Alternate + The Search

WHY WE LIKE IT: Founder Leader's speech to Garak.

WHY WE DON'T: If I have to hear about changelings not harming each other one more time...

REVIEW: DS9's season finales haven't been big cliffhangers to date, and this one's no different. Instead, there's a change in the status quo that will impact the next season. That's usually how the show does it, but this time it feels a little quieter than usual. No terrorist bombings, no new enemies, and no changeling loose inside the Defiant. Instead it's a more personal story about Odo turning to oatmeal, forcing him to return to his people for help.

But of course, THEY infected him (probably in Homefront) as punishment for last year's finale, and now they're going to judge him. The Great Link looks much more impressive here than in The Search, a huge ocean of changelings where it used to look like a small lake (maybe it was real deep, or it went on in the back). And so the big change in status quo for next year is that Odo has been turned into a human being. Don't ask how, we just don't know enough about changelings to answer that, but it's an exploration that might interesting for the character. His exile is effectively complete now, and my respect to Auberjenois who allowed himself to be entirely shaved and put on display naked in the scene (though the Michaelangelo staging feels... well, a bit TOO staged).

What about the Dominion War? Well, the cliffhanger, if you will, is the (not quite true) reveal that Gowron is a changeling and that the Founders have been manipulating events to disrupt and weaken the Alpha Quadrant all season. Garak, along on the mission clearly because he's looking for Tain, has a chilling meeting with the Founder Leader that hints at an escalation of hostilities next season. "They're dead. You're dead. Cardassia is dead. Your people were doomed the moment they attacked us." Brrrr. No wonder Garak tried to put an end to the Great Link.

It's a rather downbeat story, but there are touches of humor throughout which are much appreciated. Aroya trying to pick up Odo (with Garak-in-love's help), Bashir almost skipping a rock on the surface of the Link, O'Brien's new family life (anything that makes Dax laugh makes me laugh as well, I love her laugh), Garak entertaining Odo with tales of intrigue, even a gratuitous appearance by the Boslic Captain brings a smile to your face.

But overall, it does kind of trudge along a bit too slowly. Founder Leader really takes her time in a couple of scenes. Quark does a repeat of his friendship scene from "Shakaar". The words "No changeling has ever harmed another" are repeated ad infinitum, ad nauseum... Could have used tighter editing and maybe a dogfight. (I'm KIDDING!) (Maybe.)

LESSON: Odo is usually consistently dense.

REWATCHABILITY - Medium: It's sometimes hard to give a DS9 episode a Medium because stuff happens that is essential to understanding the larger story arc, but that's the nature of these arcs. It's all essential watching. When REwatching however, you already know those plot points. So that said, Broken Link is slow and rather uneventful (especially for a season finale) despite the fact I can't argue its importance or its many excellent moments.

Wednesday, December 26, 2007

Star Trek 383: Body Parts

383. Body Parts

FORMULA: Family Business + Sins of the Father + The Child

WHY WE LIKE IT: Quark's many deaths and real assets.

WHY WE DON'T: So does Moogie get sold into servitude?

REVIEW: Time for Quark to suffer the ol' Star Trek exile. Brunt returns to put the screws on our favorite Ferengi bartender, and you have to admit, his plan is pretty devious. Have Quark believe he's dying, then count on his ego and greed to get him into trouble, first putting his remains on sale, then accepting a large offer and forcing him to obey his contract whether he die or not. Brunt's motives are also interesting. He seems to be a Ferengi of principle and sees it as his duty to engineer the downfall of a Ferengi corrupted by hoo-man ideals. Brunt no doubt sees himself as a hero, and indeed, the reason we have to like Quark is the reason why he is shunned by other Ferengi.

Dark comedy ensues as Quark hires Garak to kill him. He doesn't like any of the methods the Cardassian might employ, and ultimately, can't even let himself be surprised because his survival instinct is just too strong. That's always been Quark, that has! The dream about the Divine Treasury is a nice piece of business as well that makes a clever point about the Rules of Acquisition being a marketing scheme. But as with most Ferengi comedies, it sometimes goes too far (or broad). I could do without Rom's moaning and Quark choking himself in his sleep.

In the end, Quark has to break the contract and loses everything including his shirt. It's almost a sad moment, except that it ends so very sweetly with the crew unloading their crap onto Quark so that he can start the bar going again. Sisko even agrees to pay a storage fee (so Quark can have some dignity too). Hey, they can't let a "community leader" fall. The very thing against which he was railing earlier in the episode is what saves him: friends.

The subplot is a good example of writing under pressure. Behind the scenes Alexander Siddig and Nana Visitor had fallen in love and gotten married, and Visitor had become pregnant. While Gates MacFadden could manage to hide her pregnancy with a lab coat, Kira was a very different character. So does she have an "accident" with Shakaar? And with Keiko pregnant already, are we going to be raising two kids at the same time? The solution to implant Keiko's baby into Kira after a shuttle accident is actually an inspired solution. While at first it seems a bit crazy, it leads to the incorporation of Nerys into the O'Brien family, which can only be good for all characters involved. Again, a very sweet resolution.

LESSON: Never sell your soul on eBay.

REWATCHABILITY - Medium: You could find the subplot disturbing, but sometimes life happens, and it's actually a pretty brave decision. The Ferengi comedy has its ups and downs, sure, but ends on a heart-warming note.

Tuesday, December 25, 2007

The Hopes and Fears of All the Years

Christmas Post, Supplemental: If you're a Doctor Who fan and haven't read Paul Cornell's 10th Doctor story on the Telegraph's website, do yourself a favor. It's as heart-warming as it is clever. You've done it again, Paul.

It inspired this card from me:
And now all I have to do is wait for this year's Christmas special, Voyage of the Damned, and Christmas will be complete. (No spoilers, thanks.)

Official Christmas Post

I've got another one planned for later, but let this be my Official Non-Denominational Holiday Post, one in which I wish Happy Holidays to everyone on the blogosphere and beyond. So if you've ever visited here, or if I've ever visited you, I hope you're having a good one. I am too, after a fashion. I'm doing laundry, and last night I watched 8 episodes of Slings & Arrows (hey, the second season is at Christmas time). Later, I'll have Chinese food with friends. My kind of Christmas really.

I was looking through old drawers and I found these Christmas gift labels courtesy of Wizard Magazine back before it was only for men. Click to Christmasize. My favorite on the first one has to be Milk & Cheese. Who can resist their overpowering ambivalence?But Bone, Hellboy and Concrete are nice too.

As for the second, I'd go for the Madman or if I had friends "like that", Strangers in Paradise.
So from Lady Death, Darkchylde, Avengelyne, Witchblade and all their friends, a Merry Christmas and a Happy New Year.

Star Trek 382: The Quickening

382. The Quickening

FORMULA: Half a Life + Hippocratic Oath

WHY WE LIKE IT: A strong Bashir episode. The matte paintings.

WHY WE DON'T: Kukalaka is born.

REVIEW: The Quickening reveals just how harsh the Dominion can be, and though no member of the Dominion ever appears on screen, their shadow falls over the story quite tangibly. And though this is ostensibly Star Trek's big euthanasia episode, it's really a showcase for Doctor Bashir. DS9 is such an ensemble show, that it's rare for anyone to get so much of the spotlight, and so Kira is reduced to being a pilot, and the rest of the cast get a small, inconsequential bit about Quark's advertising. Only Dax gets anything substantial to do as Bashir's chorus.

But for Bashir, it's a great one, and helps us understand how the various pieces of his character fit together. His wide-eyed enthusiasm gives way to his professionalism as soon as a medical emergency pops up, but he's also over-confident, even arrogant, in his belief that he can find a cure for the blight, and that if he can't find it, I guess there isn't one. That confidence isn't unwarranted, especially when you know about his mutant abilities, and yet, he fails. When he does succeed, with primitive techniques to boot (the Dominion is VERY smart indeed), it's a pyrrhic victory.

Kukalaka the teddy bear is mentioned for the first time, and I must say it isn't the best of DS9's inventions. Not the teddy bear so much as the fact Bashir still has him in his quarters (although to be fair, I still have my very first stuffed animal). Still, it's a nice example of Bashir's winning bedside manner in dealing with Ekoria. Trevean and the euthanasia stuff is used well, as part of their culture more than an "issue" to make a point about. And I must mention the location work and matte paintings, which increase production values substantially.

LESSON: My mom could have been a surgeon too.

REWATCHABILITY - High: Once again, Bashir is allowed a medical episode and it solidifies his character and makes him go through many ups and downs. Ultimately, he comes out a more sympathetic character, and I think he may have become my favorite at that point in the original run.

Monday, December 24, 2007

Batman and the Outsiders #4: Pages 10-11

And now, a comedy bit starring the Batman:Hahaha! Ok, let's move on now.
Radioactive bad guy escapes. Has time to commit multiple crimes and for them to be reported in the newspaper. Batman doesn't take notice by himself. Police aren't notified. Prison warden brings in Batman. And they wonder why Gotham is such a cesspool.
So waiiiiit a minute! Meltdown ISN'T a new character? And he wasn't always Meltdown? Gee, that looks like Dr. Phosphorus! Let me check... no he's no Ned Creegan. Need... more... backstory...
Ok, so he's at once a Batman AND a Black Lightning legacy villain, now it's starting to come together. BL only really fought the 100, right? Ah! Got it. Thanks Wikipedia:

"Cyclotronic Man - Ned Creegan, accidentally subjected to an experimental "purple light ray". The ray made Creegan's skin transparent so that only his skeleton was visible, and charged him with electricity. Tried to eliminate both Black Lightning and Superman, but was defeated. In prison, [deleted spoilers]."

I never did trust purple.
Of course, Creegan never said anything about killing Batman. It's not a Mike Barr mistake. It's part of the plot.
Answer: In this instance, he used the door.
Later, at the all-night bowling alley...
Even later, at STAR Labs Gotham, even though the building is identical to STAR Labs New York...

But that's gonna have to wait for Boxing Day. Hopefully somebody throws a punch. Oh I'll be here tomorrow, don't worry, I don't really do anything on Christmas (filthy pagan...), but I have other posts planned. Yes, Christmas posts (filthy lapsed Catholic...).