Wednesday, August 21, 2013

Far Beyond The Stars

Armin Shimerman, at the Las Vegas Star Trek convention, said that "Far Beyond The Stars" was his favorite episode. I'd been looking forward to getting back around to this one anyway. I hadn't seen it since I was a kid and, come on--50's costumes, 50's cars, 50's SciFi magazine--I couldn't wait!

And really, this one ought to be awesome. Benjamin gets sucked into a prophets-induced alternate version of his life where he's a 1950s SciFi writer. Like some kind of reverse Wizard of Oz (a trip into the mundane from a fantastic world), everyone we know is there but they're all playing their own part as SciFi writers, baseball players, cops, etc. Benjamin is sick of the racial discrimination he experiences on a daily basis and has a vision of the future--one in which a black man commands a space station and basically lives the life of our Sisko--which he writes up into a story. His editor--Odo's alternate self--won't publish the story because it features a black protagonist. The episode is very strong most of the way through. These alternate characters are well written and they piece together an interesting patchwork of humanity for Benjamin to interact with. The plot is engaging and we all want Benjamin to succeed, get his story published, and make it as a writer.

The problem is the very end. Maybe it's just me but Benjamin's final scene completely pulls me out. It's too much. In the theatre, maybe the way he did it would have been amazing and gut-wrenching. But, the way it is, all I can think about his how hard he's acting. I get that what's happening is a HUGE deal, that people really go through similar emotional issues, that when that happens it isn't pretty. But I'm not looking for pretty. I'm just looking for something a little more subtle.

And the thing is, if you're looking for an episode of a SciFi TV show where they use some bizzaro method of time-travel-story-telling to convey the plight of a person of color in an un-accepting society, there's a better one out there and it's from The X-Files. I know it seems ridiculous for me (on my Star Trek blog) to tell you about an episode of TV dealing with race that isn't Star Trek but whatever. Season Six's "The Unnatural" is smart, sentimental, and heartbreaking.

Avery Brooks has (and will again) broken my heart into teensy pieces but, as much as I wanted to, I just couldn't love "Far Beyond The Stars." 


  1. It's so disappointing when you go back and watch something you loved only to realize it's not as good as you remember.

    I do remember that X-Files episode and now I want to re-watch it. I hope it's still as good!

  2. Avery Brooks's acting in that episode has hit me two different ways: 1) Over the top, or 2) Just fine.

    I think it depends what kind of mood I'm in when I see that episode. I'm contemplating watching DS9 again soon, but it would be a LOOONG time before I got back around to that episode. I watch about one a week--not 3 or 4 a day. :)

    That X-FILES episode is good, for people looking for another opinion.

  3. I'm totally with you on this one. I want to LOVE it- and parts of it I do- but it falls flat by the end. Actually, it crumbles by the end. It's too dramatic of a switch, and it's too over the top for me. But gads, do I love seeing these actors in their 50s period wardrobe!
    You're so right about the theater reference. In fact, that's the thing I remember saying over & over to my not-yet husband when these episodes first aired- Avery Brooks is meant for stage.

    I think I may have gotten ahead of you in episodes during your Shakespeare week. I'm sad that I'm closing in on the end of the final season soon. So much to say! I have to sort it out. One thing's for sure- I have a much deeper appreciation for DS9 than I used to. Thank you :)

  4. Agreed completely. Brooks totally kills this one for me with that last scene.


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