Saturday, June 28, 2008

Star Trek 568: Bliss

568. Bliss

FORMULA: Where Silence Has Lease + Persistence of Vision + The Cloud + The Game + Galaxy's Child

WHY WE LIKE IT: Naomi Wildman's big adventure.

WHY WE DON'T: Anything we haven't seen before?

REVIEW: It's that old nugget, the space siren trope, rearing its seductive head again. While Bliss isn't unwatchable, it IS derivative to the point of being forgettable. Voyager encounters what is basically a mouth in space, though they think it's a wormhole that leads directly and conveniently to Earth. Throw in some will-sapping telepathy and letters from home that promise to make your dreams come true, and you have an efficient lure for a stranded Starfleet crew.

Getting into the crew's headspace is something that's been done before, though here we do get to see what kind of life each character would love once he or she gets back to the Alpha Quadrant. Chakotay would like to become a teacher, Paris a test pilot, Neelix to have a valued role, Janeway is still hung up on Mark, and B'Elanna wants the Maquis to be alive. No real surprises. Seven and Naomi, lacking the drive to go back to the Earth, are unaffected, as is the Doctor, so it'll be up to them, along with a knowledgeable Ahab figure, to free Voyager from the monster's grip.

And it IS a monster far more than it is an alien life-form. Still very much indulging in fantasy, the show presents a creature I can't imagine evolving naturally. It eats starships. It can not only weaken people's minds and manipulate their senses to show them anything they want, but also broadcast actual sensor data and text messages. And yet, according to the Doctor, it does so on instinct and is likely non-sentient. What?!? I don't know if they were trying to make it ok for him to help kill the monster (because they actually don't), but it's a ludicrous assertion. If the creature's powers don't follow their own rules, it's that there are no rules. It does what it does because the script requires it to do so. In other words: The lazy writing Voyager is becoming known for.

The Seven-Naomi sisterly relationship is the bright spot and in many ways, the child's presence helps blanket the episode with a sort of fairy tale quality that makes sense. The technobabble solution at the end is so much more palatable when it's called "making Voyager taste bad", isn't it?

LESSON: Why they call it the mouth of a wormhole.

REWATCHABILITY - Medium: Not terribly badly done, but we've seen all of this before, and it's never risen above Medium either.


mwb said...

Classic example of phone the story in. There were times when they clearly don't even try to create something good.

Siskoid said...

You know, when I started on Voyager, I was wondering how I would get through it, seeing as I had very bad memories of it.

But it really wasn't that bad.

However, while I remember the early episodes more, I remember the feeling from the later ones most. I think Season 5 is where things really got off the rails, and I expect a rant coming tomorrow to celebrate Dark Frontier.

mwb said...

No I complain but fundamentally it wasn't that bad, but it was also not that good.

I certainly watched it all the way through when I watched it via netflix a few years back.

There are bits and arcs that get your hopes up, just to dash them later though. It's that fact, which makes me sound a little harsher than I should be.

I still haven't been able to face ST: Enterprise, which I wanted to like but just couldn't.

Siskoid said...

I feel the same way about Voyager.

As for Enterprise, I liked it more than you (though it wasn't perfect by any means).

I guess we'll see how my reviewing it will bear this out but:

Season 1 had the right "astronaut" feel to it.
Season 3 was Voyager done right (how the ship got more and more damaged, etc.)
Season 4 was continuity porn like probably Enterprise should always have been, so a lot of fun for Trekkies, which really, the franchise was appealing to almost exclusively by then.

Its biggest flaw was the introduction of a time war element that 1) wasn't necessary and 2) never really paid off. Time travel should have died with Voyager.

mwb said...

IMO, ST:E lost the right to be taken seriously in the very first episode - when T'Pol, resident Vulcan hottie woman, had to be stripped down to her underwear and smeared all over with glistening anti-fungal gel. As much as I am in favor of glistening half naked beautiful women, it was just too silly and blatant for words.

Any hope of redeeming themselves was permanently lost with the Time War.

That said maybe it's time for to run through the whole series via netflix. (Right now I'm re-watching Stargate SG-1, Charmed and Lost World.)

Siskoid said...

T'Pol's presumed sex appeal was a sore point for me as well.

Teebore said...

Wow, your opinions on Enterprise eerily match mine almost point for point, right down to the "Voyager done right" and the ridiculousness of T-Pol's sex appeal (though we're certainly not alone on that one).