Monday, November 30, 2009

V for Vhat Happened to That?

Yeah, Siskoid, what happened to your weekly review of the new V series? Well, you see, what happened is Tuesday came, and I was sitting in the living room, and I sort of chose not to watch it.

Just like that.

In other words, the show failed to grab me within its first three episodes, and I was only watching it because I said I would on this here blog. Just trying to get rid of SOME obligations where I can.

Peace (V).

Star Trek 1088: The Last Verse

1088. The Last Verse

PUBLICATION: Star Trek: The Next Generation #70, DC Comics, April 1995

CREATORS: Michael Jan Friedman (writer), Deryl Skelton (artist)

STARDATE: Unknown (follows the last issue)

PLOT: Placing the scripture bubbles into the altar doesn't reveal a treasure, but instead awakens a giant robot bent on getting revenge on the new regime. Riker's not happy about having been manipulated by the long-dead monks, so he tries to stop the robot. His former colleague turned killer gives his life to defeat the robot. Meanwhile, Crusher and Pulaski use the life support system to incapacitate smell-sensitive goons in the service of the mad scientist holding them hostage. Thanks to various clues, they then deduce that he was telling the truth about one of the doctors at the conference being responsible for the explosion that disfigured him.

CONTINUITY: See previous issues. Ro leaves the ship to pursue special training (Preemptive Strike).

DIVERGENCES: See previous issues. Still a bit late for Ro to do so.

PANEL OF THE DAY - Crusher... Her name didn't come out of nowhere, you know.
REVIEW: The two stories end with criminals being vindicated and the real villains revealed. In the case of the Riker story, it's a big action set piece that's let down by the art. At one point, Riker destroys part of a bridge that is still there in following panels. The doctor story, on the other hand, has plotting problems. It's just an endless babble-a-thon as people retread or reveal wholesale incriminating clues about the culprit. Much of it was set up in an issue that you'd have read a month earlier, not that much of it left a mark on me TWO DAYS AGO. Boring and not very pretty to look at.

Sunday, November 29, 2009

This Week in Geek (23-29/11/09)

Buys

With its newest revision, About Time 3 has just gone from the slimmest volume in the series to the fattest, from 180 pages to more than 500 in fact! Flipping through, I don't think there's any section or essay on the 3rd Doctor's adventures that hasn't been revised, rewritten or expanded. I don't regret buying it at all, and can read it cover to cover without feeling like I've read it all before. While I was shopping at Mad Norwegian Press, I also picked up Time Unincorporated volume 1, featuring fanzine articles and book treatments by Lance Parkin (of Ahistory fame).

On DVD, finally got Life on Mars volume 2 and Star Trek: Untitled. Oh yeah, and just to build my Hong Kong film collection, Protégé (with Andy Lau). And though the latest Fables trade seems to be late, I did get the most recent Jack of Fables.

"Accomplishments"

DVDs: Kung Fu Fridays brought us Once Upon a Time in China II, in which Jet Li reprises his role as Wong Fei Hong, this time fighting a strange cult of Westerner-haters as well as the Manchurian regime, just trying to keep his country stable. Though comparable to the first movie in terms of entertainment, I think this one's just a notch easier to follow. Not enough Donnie Yen though! Picture quality is only marginally better than the first film - Tristar didn't do much to help these along. And no extras to speak of (the DVD puts the "English dubbed version" in the special features though).




I also flipped Doctor Who's The War Games, a massive DVD release that includes 2 and half hours of extras in addition to the 10-part story (3 discs). The War Games is mostly remembered for the first mention and appearance of the Time Lords, and as Patrick Troughton's last story (Jamie and Zoe's too). But that's the last episode. Before that is a sweeping epic that takes you through various historical wars and some mad futuristic sets, and Philip Madoc's War Lord is one of the better acted villains of the era. It doesn't even feel like 10 episodes, moving along quite nicely. In addition to the usual stuff, the DVD also includes features on black and white television, regeneration, 2nd Doctor comics, Malcolm Hulke's Target novelizations, Pertwee's bits from the Devious fan video, and more. Great package. (The Easter Eggs are for completists only, like 20 minutes of sound taken from location filming.)

Big Finish Doctor Who audios: Gareth Roberts is always good for whacky fun and though I thought of steering clear of an audio called Bang-Bang-a-Boom, I thought it was great fun. A complete parody of Star Trek (Dark Space 8 shows some obvious roots), it features the 7th Doctor and Mel posing as fleet officers at an interstellar singing contest / telepathic peace conference, and memorably, an alien opera singer putting the moves on the good Doctor. I wasn't TOO sure about the sentient hamster's voice, but you see what I mean about wacky. Surprisingly, they don't get Bonnie Langford to sing, which I would have thought would have been the whole point.


Rob Shearman's Jubilee was up next. Though Shearman famously reworked this 6th Doctor/Evelyn story into New Who's "Dalek", it doesn't have that much in common with it. The tortured Dalek, yes, but there's a whole lot more craziness on show in the audio. There's an alternate timeline, a completely psychotic guest cast, and a paradox I don't think I can explain. The script is Bob Holmesian in its wry humor and well crafted satire, and there aren't too many Daleks (which, in large numbers, tend to irritate the listener). "Dalek" remains the tighter, more heartfelt story, but Jubilee is funnier and more epic in its scope. It's also got at least one jaw-dropping cliffhanger.

After those two, The Dark Flame by Trevor Baxendale, featuring the 7th Doctor, Ace and Benny turned out to be a disappointment. It's just... ordinary. And we get so few audios set during the New Adventures that I wish it could have been more. The plot revolves around a resurrected force from the beginning/end of time and seems grandiose enough to fit the NA era, but there's little here we haven't seen/heard before in other Doctor Whos. Benny's flippant humor gets old very fast and the villains are two-dimensional.




Improv: Had myself half a tour this week. I couldn't do the last four out of nine shows because of an event I had to help prep for Saturday. An event that got postponed as it turned out, which makes me a gloomy gus indeed. What we do is basically improvised one-hour plays in schools based on class suggestions or set dressing we find in situ. The only show I participated in worth mentioning on this blog is a fantasy epic in which a court jester becomes the unlikeliest of heroes and saves the king's life. Great success, with excellent period costuming, humorous but dynamic battles, and stage magic that really took the kids in. My own dual roles as a master at arms and a manipulative counselor on the side of good were minor, but had nice scenes with the principals.

Hyperion to a Satyr entries this week include:
Act I Scene 2 - Ghost Stories according to Branagh
Act I Scene 2 - Ghost Stories according to Olivier

New Unauthorized Doctor Who CCG cards: A dozen cards for my Relative Dimensions 5 set, including Bill Bailey as a possible modern Meddling Monk, and Lady Christina from Planet of the Dead.

Someone Else's Post of the Week
Michael May's Plump Sister is to The Christmas Carol what my Hyperion to a Satyr is to Hamlet. But while I haven't found time for Hamlet one-offs in popular media, Michael's gone and handed us a Ghostbusters Christmas Carol this week. Give him some love.

Star Trek 1087: Trek to Madworld

1087. Trek to Madworld

PUBLICATION: Bantam Books, January 1979

CREATORS: Stephen Goldin

STARDATE: 6191.8 (after Vulcan!)

PLOT: The Enterprise is to ferry Kirk's childhood hero and his daughter Matika to the struggling colony of Epsilon Delta 4, but his illness takes a turn for the worst and it is revealed that the colony's environment is poisonous. The ship races to Epsilon Delta 4, planning a mass evacuation which would mean taxing the Enterprise's living conditions. Before they get there, they are caught in a bubble universe run by an insane Organian called Enowil along with a Klingon and a Romulan ship. They are given the task to figure out what's missing in Enowil's magical world that makes him so unfulfilled. In exchange, he'll grant them a wish. Faced with the possibility of an enemy power getting some strategic advantage, Kirk agrees to try. Enowil seems to have everything they can think of, however. The Klingon captain manipulates Matika into beaming to the Romulan ship and planting a bomb, taking one player out of the competition, but Enowil transports both her and a Romulan guard back to the planet where they face various monsters together and fall in love. When the Klingon captain realizes his plan has failed, he beams to the Enterprise to try the same thing, but is stopped by Kirk. When Kirk returns to the Madworld, he finds the solution: Enowil is missing an audience to show his creations to. Having won, Kirk's wish is granted. The Epsilon Delta 4 colonists will be moved to the Madworld healed and free to move to and from Enowil's bubble universe. Matika and the Romulan will be its first citizens.

CONTINUITY: The trip starts at Babel (Journey to Babel). Enowil is a rogue Organian (Errand of Mercy). The Madworld has tribbles (The Trouble with Tribbles). There are also passing (but noticeable) references to The Conscience of the King and The Squire of Gothos.

DIVERGENCES: The Enterprise is called a Constellation-class ship.

SCREENSHOT OF THE WEEK
REVIEW: Disappointing for a large number of reasons. Most importantly, I think, the book seems to change premise a third into it. The idea of fitting an extra 700 people aboard the Enterprise had promise, and Goldin is particularly adept at having his characters work out problems logically (until the end, that is). Alas, none of this is relevant, because we're whisked into a surreal "comedy" universe at the mercy of a Trelane wannabe. Though meant to be comedy, Goldin's dry style in the opening third (his prose sometimes reads like D&D room descriptions) is a cross-purposes with the rest of the novel's tone. It never becomes funny. Best it can do is whimsy. Just as the opening chapters turn out to be irrelevant, there's a lot more padding to come. Even Kirk is heard to say Enowil's myriad demonstrations become boring after a while, and there's a huge epic starring a non-descript Hero at one point that goes on for pages and pages of who cares. Matika's attempt at sabotage leads her on a side-thread that is just as colorful and irrelevant, especially since her unconvincing romance with the Romulan leads no one to think Enowil is missing LOVE. It's much like her being described as a maverick debater, and then not taking part in the debate scene. Kirk's solution is ok, if not great, but his wish is what takes the cake. If Enowil can do anything, how about just making Epsilon Delta 4 habitable? A lot less convoluted than uprooting a mining colony and dropping them into a Lord of the Rings marathon. I'd still like to read that "stuff 1100 people on the Enterprise story though.

Next for the SBG Book Club: A Call to Darkness (TNG), Warped (DS9), No Surrender (SCE), World Without End (TOS).

Saturday, November 28, 2009

Spaceknight Saturdays: Let's Get It Over With

This is it! The double-sized epic blow-out! The Wraith War to end all Wraith Wars! It all ends HERE!

Well... not quite. The normal-sized Spaceknights #5 does feature a huge battle between good and evil Spaceknights, but it doesn't quite deliver on resolving the threads weaved into the last 4 issues. So I'll entreat you to join me a round of THAT MAKES ROM SAD every time Starlin and Batista miss the boat. Let's practice that, shall we? For example, look at that inaction cover. All together now: THAT MAKES ROM SAD!

Yes, yes it does.

The players: The new Spaceknight Squadron versus the Wraithknights. Almost immediately, Val the Angel (Sentry) - who is NOT the hero of this series - declares single combat with the biggest baddest Wraithknight.
He has to regain the honor lost when he let Rom be killed, but still... Not only should one of Rom's sons get a chance for proper avenging, but it hardly makes sense for the other Knights to respect the duel's conventions when victory is on the line. But what do you expect from a leader who's idea of strategy is this:
Yes. watch your back, Starshine. Especially when the bad guy is on your front. One last cue: THAT MAKES ROM SAD (from now on, you're expected to know when you should just chant those words).

Of course, Balin also thinks having been given Terminator's title was a huge honor. I guess nobody told him he turned traitor.

Then, two more players enter the fray: The combined fleet of the dissident protectorate worlds who think the Spaceknights are the real enemy and the Deathwing, a Wraith creature the Spacknights weren't able to overcome at all in previous issues. So what do you do about a monster your entire Squadron can't even scratch? If you're Balin, send only a single Spaceknight after it. THAT MAKES ROM SAD!
And Firefall actually makes it scream! So much for consistency. Hasn't this sequence already made Rom sad enough?! Apparently not, because Sentry uses the scream as a diversion to finally stick it to his Wraithknight foe. (In space, everyone can hear you scream.)
I love his reaction, but the death blow is all in shadow, anti-climactic at best. THAT MAKES ROM SAD! The Deathwing goes crazy and moves to attack the poor misguided alien fleet, but the Spaceknights still have their hands full with the remaining Wraithknights. Methinks it's time for a deus ex machina, and it comes in the form of Axadar the Neutralizer that doesn't look like Rom's Neutralizer, popping out of nowhere (subspace).
It wasn't destroyed by that bomb after all, just 'ported itself (very slowly) to Tristan's hand. And not only does it enable him to nullify the Wraithknights' armors, but also send the Deathwing to Limbo (so it was a polymorphed Wraith?). On top of that, the gun reveals all the plot the comic can't in its few remaining pages. THAT MAKES ROM SAD! It tells Tristan Lord Gaspar was the mole. It reveals that anger is what keeps Balin from holding the Neutralizer. And so on.

Then the Vanguard shows up, the army that was supposed to fight this battle, but they don't do anything. The alien fleet is at peace once again, and the Wraiths are defeated. So why were these guys introduced at all? Just to MAKE ROM SAD! It's a lot like the plot point about Scanner risking brain damage by keeping the Knights mind-linked. That had neither a purpose or any consequences. THAT ALSO MAKES ROM SAD!

If the Wraithknights are corrupted Galadorians (which they apparently are) and you don't count the Deathwing (which at no point is refered to as a Wraith), then no Wraiths were harmed in the making of this mini-series. The Wraith we do see gets away, and wipes every trace of evidence linking him to the plot, including Gaspar's mind. THAT MAKES ROM SAD!

The epilogue has Balin put an end to the rivalry between him and Tristan, Tristan lets Brandy stay on a Prime Director, and a Wraith War is threatened but you know isn't followed up on. Ever. THAT MAKES ROM SAD!

How does the comic end?
Uh-huh. Right. You know what to say to that.

Next Saturday: The Spaceknights - where are they now?

Star Trek 1086: Dreams Die

1086. Dreams Die

PUBLICATION: Star Trek: The Next Generation #69, DC Comics, March 1995

CREATORS: Michael Jan Friedman (writer), Deryl Skelton (artist)

STARDATE: Unknown (follows the last issue)

PLOT: On Altair III, Riker and his old colleagues brave various traps to return to bubble scriptures to their rightful monastery, while Riker ponders who killed one of their number. A critical clue tells him who the killer is, and that crew member confesses that he desperately needed to salvage his family's reputation. They had recently lost their fortune, and a Ferengi had told him the bubbles activated a map to a lost treasure he hoped to steal. Meanwhile, Dr. Crusher goes to a medical conference where a disfigured madman drops in guns blazing, blaming an innocent man of causing the explosion in his lab 15 years ago and threatening to destroy the starbase they're all on...

CONTINUITY: See previous issues. Dr. Selar has a silent cameo (The Schizoid Man). Crusher finally meets Pulaski. Geordi has fixed Soong's emotion chip recovered in Descent.

DIVERGENCES: See previous issues. If Data agrees to use the chip, it'll contradict the events of Generations.

PANEL OF THE DAY - Riker so wants to be Kirk.
REVIEW: When Friedman cuts off a thread, he starts another, so plenty of stories on the go here. The Riker thread has me wondering if the killer's motivation is believable or justification for choosing the least likely suspect (and why telegraph it on the cover?!?). The monks' treasure will probably be revealed in the next issue. I'm not expecting the Earth to move. The Crusher thread feels a lot like Riker's in that it introduces another big cast of new characters, most of which won't get more than cursory development. When the mystery is solved, we won't care much because we won't have known the characters very well at all. The villain is "comic book" in the extreme, spewing exposition and nursing ridiculous motivations. Good thing Pulaski's in it. She's pretty entertaining. Both threads have some action, but that's really not Skelton's forte. I'm not sure if that's a Data thread starting up or just a "cut scene" to explain what's been happening with the emotion chip. It probably should remain the latter.

Friday, November 27, 2009

Sexy Cat of the Geek #37: Shakira

Name: Shakira
Stomping Grounds: Warlord (DC Comics)
Side: Good
Breed: Skartaris werecat
Cat Powers: Can turn herself into a human woman. Somehow doesn't arouse any jealousy from the Warlord's wife.
Skills: Eat 6, Sleep 7, Mischief 6, Wit 7, Weapons 8
Cat Weaknesses: Cat-like instincts even when fully human, such as a desire to chase mice, and a pathological fear of water. An unfortunate bikini bottom.

Star Trek 1085: The Bajoran and the Beast

1085. The Bajoran and the Beast

PUBLICATION: Star Trek: The Next Generation #68, DC Comics, February 1995

CREATORS: Michael Jan Friedman (writer), Deryl Skelton (artist)

STARDATE: Unknown (follows the last issue)

PLOT: Ro is taken into a castle by a lonely, hooded man as his guest. Though she can't completely trust his assertion that he sent a message to the Enterprise, she still refuses to peek under the hood he uses to hide his "beastly" appearance when she gets the chance. The Tisatti attack and Ro fights them, but can't prevent the death of the old man. The Enterprise crew arrives just in time to save her life and the dying old man reveals he is a Cardassian ashamed of the part he played in Bajoran death camps. Ro, in tears, still calls him friend. Meanwhile on Altair III, Riker's party has survived the collapsing bridge, but tempers flare around an old love triangle from the old days. That night, one of Riker's old colleagues is found murdered...

CONTINUITY: See previous issue.

DIVERGENCES: See previous issue. The idea that Ro was in the Resistance is not corroborated by the show.

PANEL OF THE DAY - Planter's tried unsuccessfully to breach the Cardassian salted peanut market.
REVIEW: The Ro story tries to subvert the usual "Beauty and the Beast" Trek plot by not making the "beast" a villain, but it feels off. On the one hand, it's got its creepy moments that are continually deflated by there not being any danger at all from the old man. It's like a non-mystery. On the other, it tries to flashforward Ro through her own version of Duet, which just isn't credible given the length of the story. As for the Riker stuff, well... Yesterday I compared it to the Friedman novels Reunion and Saratoga. Today I can confirm that it has the EXACT SAME premise as those novels. A bit predictable.

Thursday, November 26, 2009

Sexy Cat of the Geek #36: Isis

Name: Isis
Stomping Grounds: Assignment: Earth (Star Trek)
Side: Good
Breed: Alien werecat
Cat Powers: Rudimentary telepathy. Able to defeat a number of Starfleet security guards alone. Turning into THIS:
Skills: Eat 4, Sleep 7, Mischief 8, Wit 7, Inspire Jealousy 6
Cat Weaknesses: Annoyingly vocal (except in human form, when she annoyingly silent). Creeps you out to think what her relationship to Gary Seven actually is.

Star Trek 1084: Friends and Other Strangers

1084. Friends and Other Strangers

PUBLICATION: Star Trek: The Next Generation #67, DC Comics, January 1995

CREATORS: Michael Jan Friedman (writer), Deryl Skelton (artist)

STARDATE: Unknown (follows the last issue)

PLOT: Riker goes back to Altair III with other former officers of the USS Hood who went on a mission 8 years ago and wound up with sacred books-on-tape (well, in little balls, at any rate) they pledge to keep safe and return after the Altairian civil war ended. Meanwhile, Ro and another officer have taken an ambassador back to a starbase and must return to the Enterprise in a shuttle. They never make it, however, because a Tisatti ship damages it and it crashes on an unknown planet. Only Ro survives, and she is taken by a mysterious robed figure. On Altair III, Riker and his colleagues hike to a monastery, but a rope bridge collapses under their feet...

CONTINUITY: Troi and Barclay are seen together, a friendship started in Realm of Fear and carried through Voyager. Ben the waiter appears (Lower Decks). The Altair III mission (in which Riker didn't let Captain DeSoto beam down) was first mentioned in Encounter at Farpoint. One of Riker's old colleagues heard something about Lt. Thomas Riker (Second Chances).

DIVERGENCES: Ro Laren shouldn't be on board at this point (Preemptive Strike). It is suggested here that Captain DeSoto died since he was last seen in Tin Man, at Wolf 359 (The Best of Both Worlds); Treachery, Faith and the Great River may suggest he has not (but that's not made explicit). He is called Jonathan instead of Robert.

PANEL OF THE DAY - You CAN take the 'hood out of the man!
REVIEW: As I've said before, I like it when the comics (and novels) are used to fill in the gaps in continuity. We've heard about Riker's Altairian mission a few times before, but never its specifics. Friedman uses that gap to introduce us to Riker's former crew (as he does for Picard in Reunion and Sisko in Saratoga), and I like how (again, as usual) he attempts to make the guest crew feel like a good alternative to the Enterprise's. I hope to discover more on these characters as the story develops. The Ro Laren stuff also holds interest, setting up a mystery, but also exploring her personality. And she's one of my favorite ancillary TNG characters...

Wednesday, November 25, 2009

Sexy Cat of the Geek #35: Catwoman

Name: Selina Kyle
Stomping Grounds: Batman-related media in all its forms
Side: Depends
Breed: All woman
Cat Assets: Julie Newman (above). Eartha Kitt:
Golden Age costume:
Lee Meriwether:
Animated series:
New Look Catwoman:
Skills: Eat 3, Sleep 6, Mischief 10, Wit 9, Putting the moves on Batman 8
Cat Liabilities: Michelle Pfeiffer:
Jim Balent:
Halle Berry:

Star Trek 1083: Just Desserts!

1083. Just Desserts!

PUBLICATION: Star Trek: The Next Generation #66, DC Comics, December 1994

CREATORS: Michael Jan Friedman (writer), Deryl Skelton (artist)

STARDATE: Unknown (follows the last issue)

PLOT: A generation ago, a giant space-faring creature came to Utalabria and ate all their nuclear waste. Today, the planet is choking with waste again as they pray for the creature to come back. It does, but this time it attacks the very food it craves, raining radioactive dust on the planet. Crusher thinks it's allergic to its food, just like a boy in sickbay was earlier, and the ship shoots the same medicine at the creature. It works, but Picard still makes a point of slapping the Utalabrians on the wrist for depending on other people to get them out of their irresponsibility's consequences.

CONTINUITY: Worf compares the Utalabrians' waste management irresponsibility to the the Klingons' which led to the incident on Praxis (ST VI).

DIVERGENCES: Shows a Benzite in a blue shirt at the helm.

PANEL OF THE DAY - The universe hocks up a hairball.
REVIEW: I think the plot synopsis is indictment enough, but I guess I should pad things out more. The issue comes off as preachy. Not only does Picard get morally superior with the Utalabrians, but a couple pages are given over to Crusher giving a lesson on what allergies are. And with such accurate scientific information, it's odd that the rest of the story makes absolutely no sense. We're to believe the Enterprise can fire "medicine bolts" and that a young boy and a giant star-creature use the same cure? Pass.

Tuesday, November 24, 2009

Sexy Cat of the Geek #34: Tigra

Name: Greer Grant
Stomping Grounds: Marvel Comics
Side: Good
Breed: Werecat
Cat Powers: Yes.
Skills: Eat 5, Sleep 5, Mischief 6, Wit 7, Sleeping with Tony Stark/Picking the wrong side in Civil War/Getting sexually assaulted by lame supervillains 7
Cat Weaknesses: Rough tongue. Bad writers (see Skills).

Star Trek 1082: The Choice

1082. The Choice / Cry Vengeance / Out of Time

PUBLICATION: Star Trek: The Next Generation Special #2, DC Comics, 1994

CREATORS: Michael Jan Friedman (writer), Gordon Purcell and Terry Pallot (artists) / Chris Claremont (writer), Chris Wozniak & Jerome K. Moore (artists) / Michael Jan Friedman (writer), Steve Erwin and Charles Barnett III (artists)

STARDATE: Unknown (between Timescape and Descent) / Unknown (between Phantasms and Dark Page) / Unknown (the same)

PLOT: In The Choice, Ro is faced with reliving the events that got her court-martialed. Before she joined the Enterprise, she allowed Seriphami terrorists to make her believe they were in their vulnerable healing trance and stunned her commanding officer who was about to inadvertently kill them. It was a trick however, and her actions resulted in the death of that officer. Today, the Seriphami are using the same strategy, but Ro can't take the chance they're not bluffing. She runs into their midst unharmed, proving they're really healing up, and has to shoot Riker before he kills them. Rather than get the court-martial she expects, she's commended for her actions. In Cry Vengeance, a supernaturally long-lived Jamie Finney arrives on the Enterprise-D under an assumed name, on a mission to avenge Kor's death. She dies in battle with Gowron, squaring any debts and feuds Kor might've had (I think, see Review). In Out of Time, Morgan Bateson of the Bozeman has trouble coping with having been trapped in a time loop for 80 years, so Troi brings him in touch with Scotty, who's in the same boat.

CONTINUITY: Ro first met the Seriphami on Garon II, leading to the events that got her court-martialed (Ensign Ro). The second story is a sequel of sorts to Claremont's Debt of Honor GN, and features Ben Finney (Court-Martial)'s daughter Jamie Finney (now a Fleet Captain posing as "Colleen McMurphy) and Vulcan/Romulan Fleet Captain T'kir (Debt of Honor). Finney's holodeck program features the Enterprise-A from that story and Kor (Errand of Mercy). Kurn was first seen in Sins of the Father, and Gowron and Duras in Reunion. Alexander also appears, and is still using the Ancient West holodeck program (A Fistful of Datas). Out of Time features Captain Morgan Bateson (Cause and Effect). Scotty entered the TNG era in Relics.

DIVERGENCES: I'm surprised there are only three races that use "particle beam weapons", all of them never seen before. Bat'leth is misspelled Bat'telh. Kor has apparently been murdered - not according to Blood Oath! Why is Bateson still wearing his outdated uniform whent his is clearly (from Troi's) years after Cause and Effect. The details of Bateson's story may well be contradicted in the novel Ship of the Line.

PANEL OF THE DAY - One Claremont script, one scene with nudity.
REVIEW: In "The Choice", Friedman gives me two things I like - a story that fills in a gap in Trek lore, and more Ro Laren! The details of her court-martial, muted on the show, are believable and don't make Ro out to be the bad guy, and her solution in the present is classy and shows her growth. Top notch art from Gordon Purcell here as well. The art on Cry Vengeance is even better, what with frequent cover artist Jerome Moore on board. Unfortunately, Chris Claremont's story makes use of his every tic. There's needless voiceover, a ninja chick with unexplainable powers (Jamie hasn't aged a day because of Vulcan yoga!), word bubbles that are so numerous they obscure the art, and continuity so opaque as to make me give up in frustration. Debt of Honor was a fine graphic novel, but trying to give it a TNG sequel is just messy and indulgent. Out of Time is a short little interlude that makes a natural connection. It's not Ship of the Line, but is cute as an instance of TV's Frasier needing a psychiatrist's help.

Monday, November 23, 2009

Sexy Kitty Week

As I mentioned in yesterday's This Week in Geek, I'll be on tour with my improv troupe part of the week. It's in a nearby region, so I'll be in and out of town, but I don't know if I'll have the time or energy to generate much content. Yeah, it's time for an extended Cat of the Geek Week. To make it a little more Google-friendly, all 5 "cats" will be sexy girls, some feline, some only kitty-themed.

Gotta cater to my demographic (what a terrible pun). For the ladies out there, I know I owe you for this. Don't worry, I'll find some way you can collect in the near future. So without further ado...

Sexy Cat of the Geek #33: Pussy Galore
Name: Pussy Galore
Stomping Grounds: A haystack in Goldfinger
Side: Evil then Good
Breed: All woman
Cat Powers: Immune to charm. Judo. Piloting.
Skills: Eat 3, Sleep 6, Mischief 8, Wit 8, Making sweet love under a parachute 10
Cat Weaknesses: Not as immune to Bond's charms as she would like.

Star Trek 1081: Brother's Keeper

1081. Brother's Keeper

PUBLICATION: Star Trek: The Next Generation Annual #5, DC Comics, November 1994

CREATORS: Howard Weinstein (writer), Rachel Ketchum, Bob Smith, and Charles Barnett III (artists)

STARDATE: 47512.3 (between Sub Rosa and Lower Decks)

PLOT: On its way to bring an admiral to a peace conference, the Enterprise stops by a damaged station sitting in front of space-time anomaly. Geordi brings over a team to investigate and stays a little too long. When the anomaly emits a burst of energy, Data is damaged, perhaps irreparably, as is the Enterprise. Geordi becomes obsessed with saving him, going as far as trying to return to the station for whatever data might be in its computers, risking a court-martial. In the end, even the rushed admiral agrees Data must be saved, and a crew manages to get the station's computer core just before it is destroyed. Data is saved by the information.

CONTINUITY: Reg Barclay appears. Geordi has a Sherlock Holmes-related dream in which Moriarty and his lady friend appear (Elementary Dear Data, Ship in a Bottle). Picard runs his equestrian holodeck program (Starship Mine).

DIVERGENCES: None.

PANEL OF THE DAY - Geordi shouldn't have accepted that invitation to Deanna's girls' night out.
REVIEW: I've been a strong critic of Howard Weinstein's writing, but Brother's Keeper features none of his usual tics and is a pretty effective Geordi story. On the series, I never managed to connect with Geordi. He was Data's straight man and none of the stories focusing on him specifically were much good. Here, the friendship that defines him is put at risk, and consequently, the story is charged with emotion. Weinstein even reverses the usual plot point about a pushy admiral who might want to take command of the ship. The art is better than usual and the characters all look and sound like they should. And great final scene, making something inevitable a little more special.

Sunday, November 22, 2009

This Week in Geek (16-22/11/09)

Buys

The theme of this week's buys is people fighting the supernatural on tv. I got the Sarah Jane Adventures Series 2 and for really, really cheap, all seasons of Buffy the Vampire Slayer. I've probably watched less than a season of Buffy over the years, but I've never disliked it, and recent Whedon discoveries like Firefly and Dr. Horrible made me jump at the chance of getting all seven seasons essentially for the price of a single season of Star Trek. Why not.

"Accomplishments"

DVDs: Flipped Spooks/MI-5 Series 1, and even with only 6 episodes, I thought it was an engrossing success. After that shocker in episode 2, I was hooked for life. As the series is still going on, I think it's gonna cost me a pretty penny to get up to date. And it was lovely to catch Hugh Laurie (House) and Naoko Mori (Torchwood) in "before they were stars (to me)" moments. There are tons of extras on the discs, with clever "you are the spy" menus that make them all seem like Easter eggs (I eventually found that the skip button could release me from watching the overlong animations). In addition to commentary tracks, there are all sorts of featurettes, interviews and hidden credits (the show airs without credits... ooh, secretive!).


Our Hong Kong movie showing this week was Infernal Affairs 3, at once an immediate prequel and sequel to the original film, whereas IA2 took place so long ago, it really just stands on its own. Tony Leung and Andy Lau are back and in great form, though sadly, the characters of Wong and Sam are very minor players this time (which is fine, given they got starring roles in the previous installment. People talk about diminishing returns, but there are still some great scenes and awesome stylistic touches (the dual psych appointment for example). The DVD does have fewer features though, with no commentary and only a short (but good) featurette to call its own.



Big Finish Doctor Who audios: My, how that ipod is proving useful! Wanting to find out a little more about new companion Hex, I decided to listen to a few more 7th Doctor stories. The first of these was the quite strange Dreamtime by Simon Forward, which made impressive use of Australian mythology. I didn't always understand what was going on, but strong sound design and sufficiently interesting images made it a winner overall. It basically starts with the TARDIS landing on Ayres Rock flying through space on a small asteroid and goes on from there. Good because it was so unusual, though I was disappointed the "clutch" aliens weren't actually the Chelonians from the New Adventures (they're Forward's creations from The Sandman, which I skipped, but will go back to soon).

Then came Live 34 by James Parsons and Andrew Stirling-Brown, one of those audios that actually uses the audio format in a clever way. Gone is the Doctor Who theme, and instead we get a series of radio broadcasts (on Live 34) that tell the story of impending revolution on a colony world through news items, interviews, and investigative reports. It's a fun experience that unfortunately (and perhaps necessarily) devolves into long exposition in the last chapter. Still, lots of nice touches, from sound dropping out to censored words, as well as a real live news presenter lending his voice to the faux radio station. As someone who used to produce similar radio news programs, I can vouch for the fact it actually SOUNDS like such a broadcast (until the last bit at least) and I could tell just what was going on behind the scenes in the studio just by experience.

I don't know what kind of episode Edward Young's Night Thoughts would have been on tv, but it was commissioned for Season 27, which never happened. I guess it would have turned out something like Ghost Light. While I appreciate the attempt at a moody, thoughtful horror story, I've got to call this one a failure. Despite the atmosphere, nothing really happens for two chapters, and then the whole thing turns into melodrama that had me turning my eyes into my head. The only thing worse than the ham-handed revelations was the time travel physics on show that are so far past nonsense that they plunge head first into drivel. But at least something happens in the last half.

Simon Guerrier's The Settling is Hex's first foray into history and of course, he tries to change it by preventing a massacre. It's a great vehicle for his character, using his compassion and self-doubt to good effect. And is that a crush on Ace he's nursing? Fun dynamic. While I'm a fan of pure historicals, and I like that the audios do routinely go down that route, as a North American, this one lost me in parts. I'm afraid Oliver Cromwell is not as big a historical figure here as he is in the UK. Made me learn more about history, which I suppose is the whole point! Also, top marks on the very evocative music. Very nice.


Switching gears, I listened to The Sandman, Simon Forward's story that ties into Dreamtime (yeah, I got them in reverse). Though it has an intriguing premise, with the 6th Doctor consciously being an entire species' bogeyman, the various aliens' voices are just plain annoying. For the same reason that I find Dalek stories a little trying - screaming distorted voices - I had trouble with this one. Anneke Wills (60s companion Polly) plays one of those voices, but you can't tell it's her, nullifying any cool factor her participation might have generated. Good ideas, good imagery, irritating execution.

Hyperion to a Satyr entries this week include:
Act I Scene 2 - Ghost Stories according to the text

New Unauthorized Doctor Who CCG cards: 31 new cards this week, completing the Adventures in History set with cards from The Time Meddler and The War Games among others. That tally also includes cards from Relative Dimensions 5, my annual "boutique product" featuring cards from extracanonical sources like novels and audios. Here's Hex:
Someone Else's Post of the Week
Doctor Who's Character Sheet is up for discussion on Hero Press. Make sure to click the link to the pdf to read all the wonderful "Traits" your favorite Time Lord has. This is making more and more excited about the upcoming role-playing game!