Thursday, April 18, 2013

ST:TNG 6.09 The Quality of Life ~ Star Trek: The Next Generation Re-Watch

It's a question of what is life when the tools called exocomps start acting on their own win 6.09 The Quality of Life.

Images Source: TrekCore

Star Trek: The Next Generation Re-Watch continues with ...

The Quality of Life
Season 6, Episode 9

Story:
  • While the Enterprise is assessing the viability of a particle fountain they come across small independently minded tools called exocomps which after self-preservation behaviour is expressed Data takes up the quest of defending them as lifeforms.
    Character Focus:
    • Data is clearly the focus here taking the task of being on the side of the exocomps.
    • Doctor Farallon, who created the particle fountain and is a risk-taking project lead that also created the Exocomps.
    • Depending on where you fall on the question of "are they life", the Exocomps themselves are a focus.
    What I remembered about this episode:
    • I remember the exocomps, and how it was cool that they could hover around but kind of scary that they behaved differently than expected and/or thought for themselves.
    What I noticed now, that I didn't notice then:
    • They did tons of tests on the exocomp, but they never tried to communicated with it. I know they never discussed any language capabilities with the exocomps, but they've certainly in the past tried to connect with things that may, or may not, be lifeforms.
    • The whole opening scene with Beverly vs Worf, Geordi and Riker playing poker and betting for the men to shave their beards or Beverly to go blond depending on who won. To bad we never got to see the possible result!
    What feels different now, than then:
    • I'm a little surprized at this one as a lot of the themes explored were done so before in 2.09 The Measure of a Man when a trial was held to determine if Data was property or not.
    • Because I remembered the exocomp story well, this time around I was actually more interested in the whole process around creating a project and when or how long it should be in testing, etc.; although it was a bit of a challenge to enjoy that storyline as Doctor Farallon was very abrasive and hard to support.
    What remained the same:
    • They have a very clever reveal in this one, that Data being distracted by Beverly and getting into a conversation is what turns the tide on seeing that they exocomps saw through the illusion of danger in the testing of their sentience.
    What I see differently:
    • It actually took me a bit to place this one, because they are initially helping out some folks who created and ar using a particle fountain and it's all about the (in)stability of it, and that goes on for quite a bit before the exocomps get pulled out to save the day.
    • It's pretty sad to see that Data considers himself alone because he is unique.
    Great Quotes:
    • "The broadest scientific definition might be that life is what enables plants and animals to consume food, derive energy from it, grow, adapt themselves to their surroundings, and reproduce." - Beverly
    • "And what about me? I do not grow; I do not reproduce. Yet I am considered to be alive." - Data
    • "I have observed that humans often base their judgments on what is referred to as instinct or intuition. Because I am a machine, I lack that particular ability. However, it may be possible that I have insight into other machines, that humans lack." - Data
    Left off at:
    When a dangerous situation presents itself where Geordi and the Captain are in danger and at the same time Data finds a new argument for the exocomps to be considered a life form, a moral dilemma arises on if the exocomps should send them to their death to save humans. Then, they realize they can see if they will decided to actually take up the task if given the choice (versus attempting to override their programming), and they decide to do it.


    Images Source: TrekCore

    Tuesday, April 16, 2013

    Defiance ~ Spoiler-Free Episode List

    Images Source: Showcase.ca

    Defiance is a new science fiction series that is airing on Showcase, and it debuted on April 15, 2013.  It marks the very first series that I will be watching exclusively online, and as such I know that the Showcase website is the place for us Canadians to see it. The thing is, there are tons of videos to explore for Defiance, including lots of behind the scenes, sneak peeks and more which I love to watch after watching a a series. When I'm watching for the first time I like to get completely absorbed by it and not yet break into how they did stuff. So, I decided to make a spoiler-free link list for just the episode, for any others who also like to watch in this way.

    New to Defiance? Here is a series description: "Set in the near future, Defiance introduces an exotically transformed planet Earth, its landscapes permanently altered following the sudden – and tumultuous – arrival of seven unique alien races. In this somewhat unknown and unpredictable landscape, the richly diverse, newly formed civilization of humans and aliens must learn to co-exist peacefully. Each week, viewers will follow an immersive character drama set in the boom-town of Defiance, which sits atop the ruins of St. Louis, MO, while in the game, players will adventure in the new frontier of the San Francisco Bay area. The dramatic tapestry of the series and the intense action of the game will exist in a single universe where their respective narratives will inform one another and evolve together into one overall story."

    Defiance is a Canadian/US co-production of 13 episodes and stars Grant Bowler, Julie Benz, Stephanie Leonidas, Tony Curran, Jaime Murray, Graham Greene and Mia Kirshner.

    Defiance ~ Spoiler-Free Episode List
    Edit: As of late July 2013, only Episode 12 is available online.


      Grant Bowler as Joshua Nolan, Julie Benz as Amanda Rosewater, Stephanie Leonidas as Irisa


      Tony Curran as Datak Tarr and Jaime Murray as Stahma


      Mia Kirshner as Kenya and Graham Green as Rafe McCawley

      Saturday, April 13, 2013

      Jumping in Mid-Season *Can* Work! Or, Why I Love The Neighbors



      I can be very peculiar on my TV watching habits (see my Hannibal dilemma here), and one of my peculiarities is only and always watching things from THE BEGINNING.  Jumping in mid-season feels ridiculous, I feel like I've missed so much and that I won't "get it" and oddly spoiled on things if I decide to go back and watch from the beginning.

      But with this in mind, that means if I miss even one episode of a show, I'll have to wait until it re-airs and then start from there.  That's a fair amount of work, and I've done it and at times it's worth it and at other times not.  But the other thing is, to watch something from THE BEGINNING, you have to know it's coming.  I keep a pretty strong eye of the upcoming schedules, but I did not know The Neighbors was coming.

      I'm an avid listener of the Tuning into SciFi TV Podcast, and I noticed week after week Brent mentioning enjoying The Neighbors and encouraging people to watch it.  I often agree with Brent, so hearing it over and over kept me thinking I should give this show a chance.  I was also wondering, what is show The Neighbors?  I finally looked it up and only recognized Jami Gertz from the cast list (and she'll always be Star from The Lost Boys to me), and saw that it was a half-hour science fiction comedy.  So, we have two red flags with 'half-hour' and 'comedy' which are formats I rarely watch.  Science fiction however, always goes yes list.   Putting that all together, I decided to give it a chance even though it breaks my start from THE BEGINNING rule.



      The first episode of The Neighbors I watched was the Halloween-themed episode last fall. Likely the worst one to start with, as not knowing characters and then people being in costume and acting out of character can make for more confusion. I also completely misunderstood the premise of the show, who and how many of the characters are aliens, but still enjoyed it.  It did drop off my viewing schedule for a bit and then I started watching it regularly in the new year.  I finally figured out the premise (a regular family moves to a gated community where everyone else living there are aliens) and enjoyed it every week up to and including the recent season finale. 

      After getting into the swing of the show, I realized The Neighbors is just the kind of comedy I like. It's based on cultural misinterpretation and social awkwardness, but there is zero malicious intent.  Everyone is doing their best to get through the days, and the human family is pretty traditional day-to-day connecting and relationship building and then the aliens are always wanting to dive into new experiences, but rarely know how.  That leads to a lot fun stuff, and even serves as a way to discuss the weirdness of how social behavior works (or doesn't) without getting to heavy. 

      In the end, did it matter that I missed the first portion of the season?  Not so much.  In fact, misunderstanding a lot of it ended up being no big deal and actually quite funny.  And now I'm really looking forward to catching all the episodes I missed, which for me is pretty high praise. bet! 

      Now I just hope that The Neighbors will be renewed for a second season! 

      The Neighbors aired on CTV and ABC.






      Thursday, April 11, 2013

      When Do You Break Your Own Rules? Or, Should I Keep Watching Hannibal?

      Cast of Hannibal: Hugh Dancy, Caroline Dhavernas, Laurence Fishburne, Aaron Abrams, Lara Jean Chorostecki, Hettienne Park, Scott Thompson and Mads Mikkelsen (Image Source)

      I watch a fair amount of TV. Okay, okay, I watch a LOT of TV. Over the years I've developed a good sense of what I like to watch, and what I don't enjoy. Two things I rarely budge on: I don't watch procedural shows and I don't watch anything with serial killers. Sounds simple enough, right?

      Enter Hannibal, a TV show that is essentially a prequel to Silence of the Lambs and follows and criminal profiler and a psychologist. For me, it should be a no brainer that I'd not be interested, but when I found out that the it stars Mads Mikkelsen and Hugh Dancy I went into confusing conflict mode because I'm a big fan of both actors and always want to see their work. Most people likely know Mads Mikkelsen as the villain in Casino Royale, but he's also formidable in After the Wedding, King Arthur (2004 version, he plays Tristan), Valhalla Rising, Pusher and Pusher II. I know Hugh Dancy best also from the 2004 version of King Arthur where he played Galahad, and he was also in Adam, Blood and Chocolate and Martha Marcy May Marlene.

      If you've seen Silence of the Lambs, you will know that there is shall we say quite a twisted element to whatever the story of the show will be. I think it's assumed that the audience is suppose to be in on what's going to happen, which is a pretty gutsy choice, but in case there is any uninitiated reading I won't say more.

      My curiosity got the best of me and I tuned in last Thursday even with my no-serial-killers and no-procedural clause. Hannibal's first episode entitled Apéritif was visceral, hard to watch but also had very good storytelling and acting (you can watch it online here to see what you make of it). I'm not sure where they are going with the characters or the story, but I already feel for the characters. Dang! Feeling for characters can definitely push a show to the 'to watch' list. But, I don't know what they are trying to say, and to be honest I was was so focused on the two character that I didn't pay that much attention to the crime of the week story. It's not clear if it will be a crime-of-the-week show, which again can slide it out of the no-procedural clause. I was also intrigued that it's a dual-protagonist show, and it's clear that's the choice here as when the title card and actors names appeared on the screen they did so together. That's a cool, bold move which I could support. And I almost jumped out of my seat with excitement when I saw Scott Thompson (Kids in the Hall, and I swear he's the voice of the Moose on Big Brother Canada). But it teeters on edge on uncomfortable, and even recognizes and acknowledges the danger of where it can go emotionally which is pretty horrifying.

      I'm undecided. I think I'll have watch at least one more episode of Hannibal to see how I feel about it, and if it's worth breaking my own rules.

      Do you have rules for TV watching? What could break them?

      Hannibal airs Thursdays at 10pm ET on CityTV and NBC.

      ST:TNG 6.08 A Fistful of Datas ~ Star Trek: The Next Generation Re-Watch

      The holodeck goes haywire, western-style in 6.08 A Fistful of Datas.

      Images Source: TrekCore

      Star Trek: The Next Generation Re-Watch continues with ...

      A Fistful of Datas
      Season 6, Episode 8

      Story:
      • The Enterprise has an unexpected 48 hours of leisure time when a transport ship is delayed. During this time Data and Geordi test having Data be a back up system for the ship, but things go awry with Data not only individually but his programming which infused itself into the ships systems including Worf and Alexanders trip to The Old West in the holodeck.
        Character Focus:
        • Worf and Alexander are the focus as Alexander created a western-themed holodeck program for them to play together during some down time. Of course it all goes horribly wrong. Troi also comes out to play and makes a heck of a good "mysterious stranger".
        • Although he's in the title, Data isn't in it all that much as himself, except for the story of trying to be a back up system for the ship; but on the other hand Brent Spiner as multiple holographic versions of western characters that look like Data, are certainly a focus..


        Images Source: TrekCore

        What I remembered about this episode:
        • I remember this one as the cute western episode with Worf and Alexander.
        • I also remember not quite understanding the episode, because Data takes on so many of the holodeck characters and sometimes they start as someone else and then become Data and others are always Data, it was way too confusing for me. I have a thing about people 'not being who they actually are' that totally freaks me out that I think kicks in and just obliterates my comprehension at times.
        What I noticed now, that I didn't notice then:
        • It's kind of odd how little 'Data' is a part of this episode, although the stuff where he starts talking and walking like he's in a western is hilarious.
        • I think they got a new Spot for this one. He cropped up in multiple ways, not only with Data, but also influencing the replicators and Spot-themed poetry takes over Beverly's play.
        What feels different now, than then:
        • I have to admit this one feels a bit different now that I've actually seen A Fistful of Dollars, For a Few Dollars More and The Good, The Bad and The Ugly. Sure, I had seen westerns when I saw this, but it's still very different to know so many of the specific as well as the general references.
        • I love seeing this side of Troi, I love how she embraces the story and also makes sure when things get real she knows how high the stakes are.
        What remained the same:
        • Troi kicks BUTT in the western world. I thought it was so cool she joins the party and does a great job of it. And Worf does great as 'Sheriff Worf' too.
        What I see differently:
        • Sometimes I wonder if there is every an episode where they holodeck is used, and things *don't* go wrong.
        • I actually have been enjoying the holodeck ones on this re-watch, which wasn't always the case in the past as they inevitably feel like a reset by the end. I'm not sure what changed my thinking by something did and I'm glad!
        Great Quotes:
        • "I find it extremely difficult to predict what you will find acceptable. Perhaps hunger will compel you to try it again." - Data, to Spot
        • "Durango! I'm called Durango!" - Troi
        • "The town of Deadwood may face danger once again. If they do... they will need a sheriff... and a deputy." - Worf
        Left off at:
        When it's discovered that Data is infused to the ship, they start to correct the problem and inside the holodeck Troi and Worf work to let the program play to it's logically end so it will be complete and turn off. Which it almost does with a near-miss with a barmaid version of Data.


        Images Source: TrekCore

        Wednesday, April 10, 2013

        ST:TNG 6.07 Rascals ~ Star Trek: The Next Generation Re-Watch

        4 crew members get a little younger in 6.07 Rascals.

        Images Source: TrekCore

        Star Trek: The Next Generation Re-Watch continues with ...

        Rascals
        Season 6, Episode 7

        Story:
        • While Picard, Keiko, Ensign Ro and Guinan are returning to the The Enterprise via shuttlecraft they need emergency transport and when they are beamed on the ship they rematerialize as 12 year olds. Plus, crazy Ferengi's try and take over the ship.
          Character Focus:
          • Picard, Keiko, Ensign Ro and Guinan are all in focus this episode, as well as their relationships and life choices historically and possible future choices. Picard contemplates what he would do if stays this young, Keiko has awkward moments with both O'Brien and a very cute, growing Molly and we also get to see Ro and Guinan continue to develop their friendship.
          • We also see both Beverly and Troi try to help and reassure the newly young with their unexpected circumstances.


          Images Source: TrekCore

          What I remembered about this episode:
          • I remember this one as the getting young episode, and especially Guinan trying to get Ro to lighten up, Molly not remembering Keiko and Picard's tantrum.
          What I noticed now, that I didn't notice then:
          • No one actually says whether or not they actually look like how they did when they were 12 years old. No flashbacks, no new-yet-old pictures, just living in the now. Which I think is what the episode is really about.
          • I couldn't remember at all how they fix them, but I knew it was a 'the transported did it / transporter fix it' episode; so I focused more on how they dealt with being young, again.
          What feels different now, than then:
          • This one was a lot of fun the first time (and anytime) I saw it, but iIt might even have been the most fun as a part of this re-watch as now I know the characters even better.
          • I think on first watch I got a little not impressed by the actor who plays the you Picard, but it's just how he says 'Picard' which isn't like Picard. After that, he's totally spot on and it's not just the shirt tug, and tea ordering but delivery of lines ("This is just so ridiculous") and how he maintains the same energy with crew members including how directly he asks Crusher if she's going to relieve him of duty. I wonder how he would have reacted if it was only others that were changed.
          What remained the same:
          • This one is a lot of fun, and it pairs both the ridiculousness of the situation with the realness of the situation well.
          • The Picard tantrum scene to see his "Dad" as a way to talk to Riker, and the big run and hug gets me giggling every time.
          • Riker out speaking techno-babble to the Ferengi and relying on him not admitting he doesn't understand to buy time and a way to sneak into actually using the computer to free up controls for Picard.
          What I see differently:
          • I totally forgot the whole Ferengi take over, and that these Ferengi's are apparently unaligned with the Ferengi Alliance. Wow, I had to look that up because I couldn't remember what the word for Ferengi's as a whole were, oddly I could only remember The Romulan have an Empire, and nothing else.
          • It's amazing how Guinan has no problem at all with the transition, and even embraces it. Zero stress there. That's pretty awesome.
          Great Quotes:
          • "I haven't been young for a long time. And I intend to enjoy every minute of it." - Guinan
          • "This is the isopalavial interface, which controls the main firomactal drive unit - don't touch that! You'll blow up the entire firomactal drive." - Riker, speaking technobabble
          • "Miles Edward O'Brien, I am still your wife." - Keiko
          Left off at:
          Picard, Ro, Guinan and Keiko are grouped with the kids when the Ferengi's take over the ship. They along with Alexander creatively trick and capture the Ferengi's to restore power. Crusher and O'Brien figure out a way to use the transporter to restore them to their adult selves.


          Images Source: TrekCore

          Friday, April 05, 2013

          ST:TNG 6.06 True Q ~ Star Trek: The Next Generation Re-Watch

          A young Starfleet intern discovers her talents might be more than earthly in 6.06 True Q.


          Images Source: TrekCore

          Star Trek: The Next Generation Re-Watch continues with ...

          True Q
          Season 6, Episode 6

          Story:
          • The Enterprise welcomes an intern aboard who has powers beyond normal human ranges, and she is tested by none other than Q just as the ship is preparing to supply a planet with supplies to help alleviate their ecological troubles.
            Character Focus:
            • Amanda Rogers, the intern about The Enterprise is the focus of the episode as after being on the ship for a brief period of time she displays powers of telekinesis and object teleportation, which is later explained by the fact she is a Q.
            • Q is also a focus on the episode, and oddly wrecks much less havoc on the ship than normal as he 'tests' Amanda to see is she is a full Q or not.
            • Both Picard and Beverly play key roles here in advising Amanda, liaising (or trying to liaise) her with Q and look out for everyone's well being.
            What I remembered about this episode:
            • I remember this as a 'baby Q' episode, and that Amanda gets a crush on Riker which is very cute.
            What I noticed now, that I didn't notice then:
            • It was nice to see Q pretty early in Season 6 as we didn't see him at all in Season 5!
            What feels different now, than then:
            • I find it a bit odd that there there is an intern that *isn't* in The Academy. We know she's from earth, she certainly looks the same age or older than Wesley when he went to The Academy (or perhaps it's just that I recognize her from Conan The Destroyer).
            What remained the same:
            • It's horrific that the Q considering the two options of her either joining the Q Continuum, or destroying her. Not very nice. I wonder if her 'human' outlook would change how the Continuum acts or thinks at all.
            • I always love the exchanges between Picard and Q, and this one is particularly good for that as Picard wants them to appear at least civil together although that's a strain he manages to creatively find a way to do it.
            What I see differently:
            • I'm very curious about the choices Amanda and other Q make about their omnipotence. Our friendly neighbourhood Q always approaches it from the perspective of getting anything he wants, but I wonder if you are born into the continuum with that perspective would you even perceive a want, as a want. Is there not something about wanting something the fact that you don't have it? If all Q can instantly have what they want, doesn't it definitely change what a want even is?
            Great Quotes:
            • "Everything was normal, and then suddenly it's like the laws of physics went right out the window." - Geordi
            • "Amanda, er... Allow me to introduce... er... Q... Er, he's, erm... he's an acquaintance of ours. We've, er, we've known him... for years..." - Picard
            • "Ever since I got here I've been fighting this. I've been denying the truth - denying what I am. I am Q." - Amanda
            Left off at:
            When faced with the choice of either remaining among humans but not using her powers or joining the Q Continuum, Amanda chooses to remain with humans. But at the first sign of trouble on the planet they are helping, she intervenes and not only solves the minor problem but restores the ecology of the entire world. She decides to go her own way, and then she'll connect with the Continuum.



            Images Source: TrekCore