Wednesday, April 27, 2016

TNG Rewatch: We'll Always Have Vegas

I watched We'll Always Have Paris yesterday while I was trying (again) to get back to work. In spite of the fact that it's is a Picardisode I could never find my way to loving this one. Once again, it just feels like a leftover story from TOS. I could totally see Kirk pseudo-struggling with having to save his old flame and his old flame's new super science husband from said super science husband's research mistakes. I do like that Picard won't really let himself indulge in a holo-recreation of the day he left her sitting around in Paris on her own and I've always liked the Three Datas ending--even when I was a kid. I suppose it's just that I know that this show gets a lot better and this episode pales somewhat by comparison and I'm eager to get past this (even though you wouldn't know it by how slow I've been moving through this season--but things here have been crazy. I mean, a week ago, I was on my way back from a whirlwind trip to Las Vegas.)

We live in LA so it's not really a huge deal for us to hop over to Las Vegas for a couple of days. And, of course, there's a lot we love about Vegas. Mostly all the magic shows. Really just the magic shows. I'm not overly fond of the rest of it. Anyway, I've gone on and on about Penn and Teller before  and I have a long history of loving their show etc. And (actually, I'm not sure how I never mentioned this before but,) Penn was on an episode that Scott wrote earlier this season and said if we ever came out to Vegas to come by the show. So, of course, we did. And we went backstage and met Penn and Teller who were very cordial and lovely and the whole experience was very nice.

In fact, it was more nice than they knew. Because one of their new tricks involves a little white rabbit and this time (I've seen this trick live twice now) the rabbit was called, AshleyRose. (If you've just found this blog this is significant because my name is AshleyRose, nice (probably!) to meet you) Penn swung the rabbit up into the air Lion King style and said again, "Everyone meet AshleyRose!" and then again, "AshleyRose."

Penn introduced the rabbit to an audience of hundreds but it was a joke for two people. Me and my husband. The words had significance to Penn, Teller, Scott, and me. And that's it. And that's really rather wonderful and special. (It also doesn't hurt that Penn happened to associate my name with a little, white rabbit.)

Several years ago, when I was in first grade, and my parents had just divorced and I'd gone in and out of homelessness and/or home insecurity and it would be over a year before I saw my dad again and I'd been in three schools over the last eight months, I happened to see a promo for a televised magic special. It was Penn and Teller's Don't Try This At Home. Something about them... their irreverence, their dangerousness, their scofflaw attitude... I loved it. I was trying so hard to hold it together and in many ways I relied on the steady hand of Trek during that time but just as much, I needed to scream and I needed to bark and I needed to see magic happen and then, in the same breath, see how easily it's unraveled. I wrote the date of their special on the calendar in the hallway and kept an eye on it until the night it aired. I've been a Penn and Teller fan ever since.

I never would've thought, when I was writing two magicians names on a calendar in crayon that someday I'd be sitting in their packed house when one of them suddenly barked, "Everyone, say hi to AshleyRose!"

That's pretty magical.

Saturday, April 16, 2016

TNG Re-Watch: Skin of Evil

So here's the deal, I had this whole idea about this episode. I mean, I already wrote about Skin of Evil back in my actual Year of Star Trek so it's not like I have to write about it again.

When I was a kid, living with my dad, we watched a lot of movies and TV together and a lot of them had really evil bad guys. My dad and I both loved really evil bad guys. I personally love evil bad guys who are also imperious and physically imposing (here I can cite my ongoing infatuations with Khan, Bane, King Thrandy, even Hannibal Lector) and it doesn't hurt if they're vaguely British or old-timey. Anyway, my dad and I would watch movies like 5th Element, Die Hard, Tank Girl, and Heroic Trio and paused the VHS to debate whether Zorg, Gruber, Kesslee or The Evil Master (this one sort of answers itself) had any redeeming qualities. Villains that didn't have any were sometimes more fun but harder to take seriously and sometimes that was the point.

While I was watching Skin of Evil (like two weeks ago) my ears perked up because Data, after beaming down to crap town after Tasha dies, tells Armus (the blobby baddie) that he has "no redeeming qualities." It's something Picard repeats later in the episode. And it's something my dad and I would repeat in countless conversations for years after.

Normally, in the following space, I would go on to pontificate about the very idea of redeeming qualities or write about other Star Trek villains, or I could just write about how the last time I saw this one I'd liked Tasha but after watching Voyager all the women in TNG seem so obviously and purposelessly flat to me which makes me sort of sad--but I don't really have it in me. I've been really worried about my dad lately. I'm going back to Kentucky in a few weeks and I'll see him and I'm really glad because I miss him and anything that makes me think about him just makes me want to be near him and then my mind, instead of spending time on the idea of morally bankrupt bad guys, goes back to my dad and all those afternoons and evenings and weekends and summers that we sat on the sofa and, maybe because of this one line in this one episode of Star Trek that we watched together, years before, when I was little, we talked.

Friday, April 1, 2016

TNG Re-Watch: Home Soil - Symbiosis

This week I watched Home Soil, Coming of Age, Heart of Glory, Arsenal of Freedom, and Symbiosis.

The first season is still rocky as hell but everyone is beginning to find their footing. Patrick Stewart is phenomenal as always. LeVar Burton is fantastic and I love just about every moment he's on screen. Frakes is charismatic even if they still don't really know what to do with his character. The higher ups didn't seem to really know what to do with any of these characters at this point but the lady types seem to have had it worse than the rest. Troi, Crusher, and especially Yar are all examples of well intended characters that nobody understood how to write. They're all more of a statement than a real person with real motivations, thoughts, and emotions. As a consequence Sirtis, McFadden, and Crosby don't get a lot to work with and their characters tend to fall fairly flat, which is a shame.

Heart of Glory is my likely favorite pick out of these, mostly because it's Michael Dorn's first chance to really shine as Worf. You get a better understanding of what this Klingon is doing on a Federation ship--how his parents died on Khitomer (he thinks) and how he was found and raised by a Starfleet officer who settled in a farming colony. It's a solid foundation for one of the most interesting characters in all of Trek--a character we wouldn't truly get to know until DS9. We also see the Klingon death ritual for maybe the first time. And that's nice. It's always fun to watch a bunch of Klingons get all shouty.

Symbiosis is the last of the bunch and the high point here is seeing Judson Scott show up as the narcotic peddling ponce from Brekkia:

You'll remember him as Khan's right hand man, Joachim: 

Or, more recently (for me), as Commander Rekar in Voyager's fantastic Message In A Bottle: 

Actually there is one more thing: This is Denise Crosby's last shot episode and contains her "goodbye" to the show, the fans, etc at about 42:14, just as Crusher and Picard leave the cargo bay (and their wonky understanding of the Prime Directive) behind.
Related Posts Plugin for WordPress, Blogger...