Star Trek Saturdays #41

It’s time for [at long last]…Star Trek Saturdays #41!!!

292px-TOS_head

This week’s episode is “I, Mudd” and it is  absolutely hilarious in a way Trek usually isn’t. The return of Harry Mudd, the only other reoccurring TOS villain besides Khan, is most welcome and the whole episode is, even with the danger posed this time around, a romp from start to finish.

Before I go on, let me profusely apologize for not having done this since September. It’s not like I haven’t been writing–I’ve done a ton of news stories over on Another Castle, for instance, and had some other big stuff happen, which I’ll have up here shortly. But this blog and, most especially, this feature, have suffered drastically for all my increased productivity.  I am truly, truly sorry for that.

Also yes, I know posting this the day after the death of the iconic Leonard Nimoy. I’ll post my own tribute to the man shortly, but I hope the way I describe Spock here will articulate just how key Nimoy was, as Alan Sepinwall wrote, to making Trek the institution it is.

Now then.

We open with Spock & McCoy walking down the halls when a new crewman, Norman (Richard Tatro), passes them by and barely says hello. McCoy mentions how irritatingly unemotional he finds Norman; Spock replies that he hadn’t noticed. The whole exchange is golden, but the capper is when Spock, after McCoy mentions Norman still hasn’t shown up for his physical, responds “He’s probably terrified of your beads and rattles.” Spock is so wonderfully wry throughout this episode and it’s great.

Norman enters the auxiliary control deck, knocks out the crewman there and initiates an override. On the bridge, Sulu registers a course change but can’t correct it. Kirk orders security to auxiliary control. Norman heads to engineering, knocks out most of the crew there (including Scotty), and jams the controls.

Norman then makes his way to the bridge and exclaims that he’s in control, with the ship slated to reach its new destination in 4 days at Warp 7; he’s jammed the controls so that if anything deviates from this plan, the ship blows up. When asked why he did this,  he opens a panel in his stomach to reveal he’s an android.

File:Norman's circuits, remastered.jpg

4 days later (during which time Norman’s been asleep in front of the lift), the ship arrives at an uncharted planet. Norman awakes and tells Kirk that he, Spock, McCoy, Uhura and Chekov must beam down with him to the planet or he’ll destroy the engines. They do so and are ushered into the presence of Lord Mudd the First aka Harcourt Fenton “Harry” Mudd (Roger C. Carmel).

File:Mudd the First.jpg

Mudd, surrounded by androids who are mostly beautiful women–the two in the photo are both named Alice (played by twins Alyce and Rhae Andrece) and are part of a series of 500–explains that Kirk and the others have been brought here to spend the rest of their lives on the planet, which he’s named Mudd.

Even though he ended up in prison at the end of his last appearance, Mudd explains that he escaped and turned to illegally reselling patents. He was caught on the planet Deneb V and sentenced to death, but stole a ship and drifted through space until he found planet Mudd. Of course, he doesn’t outright say this; instead, the truth is revealed through a great bit of banter between Carmel and Shatner that is really funny.

Although he likes having a slew of robot women at his beck and call, and he even has an android replica of his nag of an ex-wife, Stella (Kay Elliot) to yell back at, Mudd says he’s so bored because the androids won’t let him leave. He told them to get a spaceship to find more humans to study and so he could leave; finding Kirk & co was just dumb luck.

The androids take the landing party to a recreation area with quarters, where they explain that every comfort will be provided to them. They reveal at Kirk’s prodding that they were made by a humanoid race in the Andromeda galaxy, meant to serve their masters’ every whim. Eventually, the civilization was destroyed by supernova, leaving just exploratory outposts into other galaxies–including planet Mudd–alive. Spock surmises when the androids leave that the sheer amount of them–over 200,000–and their actions mean they must be controlled by a central operator.

Spock discovers a central control room with Norman in it and asks him about it. Norman replies that he isn’t programmed “to respond in that area.” Meanwhile, Scotty and the rest of the crew are beamed down and replaced by androids on Mudd’s orders.

Kirk worries that the crew will grow to love their “gilded cage” and he appears to be right. Chekov is delighted when he finds out the Alices are programmed to act exactly like human females (“This place is even better than Leningrad!”); Scott is astonished by the engineering facilities; McCoy marvels at the research labs and Uhura seems taken with the idea of being transferred to an android body.

Can Kirk get his crew to snap out of it? Can he reclaim the Enterprise and stop Mudd leaving? And do the androids merely want just to serve man?

Like I said, this entire episode is pretty much one big laugh riot. Yeah, some of it is definitely dated–the nagging wife bit especially–but it all works thanks to the energy of the cast and the freewheeling attitude of the script.  Although still a scuzz, Mudd is less creepy here. Now, he’s just one big joke. The goofy outfit he’s derived for himself and his loquaciousness help reinforce this. Carmel gives a tremendous performance. His rapport is amazing and it’s a wonder Mudd was never brought back after this outside of The Animated Series (reportedly, there was a plan for Mudd to appear in TNG, but it was never followed through).

The rest of the cast is great too. Like I said, Spock gets a lot of great one-liners and Nimoy proves that one of the ways his unmistakable voice could work was as a dispenser of dry humor. Mild spoiler (but not really if you know how people usually trick robots in fiction), but the crew has to act completely irrationally and bonkers at one point. These scenes are about as funny and surreal as it gets. It’s very Batman ’66-ish in a lot of ways.

Writer Stephen Kandel, who created Mudd, is clearly having a lot of fun here and you get swept along with it. Director Marc Daniels, back after “Mirror Mirror,” doesn’t have a whole lot of flashy tricks here, but he does bring a campy ’60s humor vibe to the whole affair. A little cheesy, sure, but great stuff.

Thanks to Memory Alpha for the pics and episode info and Amazon Instant Video for hosting the series. We’ll see you next time and until then and always, live long and prosper.

New DUCKTALES Cartoon Coming to Disney XD in 2017

Originally posted on Another Castle:

Disney announced on February 25, 2015 that a new version of its beloved 1980s cartoon DuckTales is entering production and will air on Disney Xd –the media giant’s boy-oriented digital cable channel that airs shows such as Star Wars Rebels and Gravity Falls. The new series will be produced in-house by Disney Television Animation. A voice cast has not yet been announced.

DuckTales has a special place in Disney’s TV animation history,” said Marc Buhaj, Disney Xd’s general manager and Vice President of programming, pointing to how the original series was primarily based on the comic book work of former Disney animator and story writer Carl Barks, who created Scrooge McDuck–Donald’s uncle and the richest duck in the world–in 1942 for comics published by Dell Publishing (currently being reprinted by Fantagraphics Books). Uncredited for his original work, Barks’ identity was uncovered by fans in the late 1960s and…

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Best of 2014 Year End Review: Tom

Originally posted on Another Castle:

Weird to think I’ve only been here on Another Castle for not even a year yet and already I’ve written so dang much. Between editorials, reviews, interviews and news stuff, I’ve written more non-academic stuff in the last half-year than I ever have. It’s amazing.

Equally amazing are the good writers and editors I’m surrounded with here. We put out a lot of good stuff here. So as you’ve probably seen already, we’ve done some wrap ups reflecting on the best writings our coworkers have done, as well as our own. So, without further ado, here are my picks (in no particular order):

5 Cartoon Characters That Would Make Great Comic Books

Source: LATimesBlog.LATimes.com

Jean-Pierre Vidrine has always had a simple, direct style of writing that’s informative without being overbearing and this is the best example. Plus his choices here range from “Yeah, that is kinda obvious” to “”Wait, why HASN’T this happened…

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Legend of Korra Finale And Series Thoughts

WOW it’s been a while since we’ve had an actual blog post here that wasn’t just reblogged stuff, eh? Yeah, sorry about that, but when you’re a news writer and reviewer as well as a college student, a lot of that stuff takes up your energy and time.

But last night, something big enough in pop culture happened that I feel I had to fire up the ol’ blog editor and talk about it here. I speak not of The Colbert Report endingwhich I haven’t watched yet–but of The Legend of Korra, the beleaguered spinoff of Avatar: The Last Airbender that ended its four season run by premiering the final two episodes online at midnight last night (it’ll air on Nicktoons Network tonight).

Let’s clear things up first: unlike the vast majority of nerds my age, I didn’t really care for Avatar as a kid. Don’t get me wrong, I thought the world and the concept was interesting, but the show just never clicked with me, even when I was in its target age range. It just seemed too episodic and same-y most of the time. Granted, thanks to the entire show being on Amazon Instant, I’ve come around on it, but it’s still a slog for me to get through at times (near the end of Book 2: Earth as I write this).

It was the stellar first season of Korra that made me want to get back into its predecessor. But at the end of the day, I still prefer Korra over Aang simply because her setting–1920s Shanghai/Beijing with steampunk elements thrown in–are more interesting than globetrotting from Village of the Week to Village of the Week, the comic relief, villains and pacing are all very well done, and Korra as a character is far more interesting and sympathetic–a headstrong and confident teenage girl somewhat cocky about being the most powerful person on the planet who grows, changes and deals with great struggle over the course of the show–then a century-and-change old kid who’s always pacifistic. Not to mention she’s very of-the-moment considering we’re living in an age of female main characters.

Now, Korra has not been without its problems. Let’s be clear. The first season, which I like a lot, is rather rushed in spots. The second season is a couple episodes longer than it needs to be and overstuffed with plot. Zaheer, the villain of the third season, is a huge threat but has his menace undercut by a stiff vocal performance from Henry Rollins (yes, the Black Flag guy).

And throughout, the show’s various romance subplots–which, like it or not, are kind of an essential component of a story about a bunch of young adults–have ranged from believable and heartwarming to really undercooked and awful (I maintain that Mako is very much this series’ equivalent to Jason Biggs’ Larry from Orange Is The New Black). But despite all that, the show still holds together for me because of its largely efficient attitude towards self-contained arcs, its gorgeous animation (yes, even in the Seasn 2 episodes by Studio Pierrot that everyone hates) and its dynamite voice cast (the show won a Daytime Emmy for casting for a reason).

It’s a real shame then that, when given a show as entertaining and kinda groundbreaking (like Avatar, Korra takes place in a world entirely composed of People of Color) as this, Nickelodeon dropped the ball and hard. This wonderful post by Carrie Tupper at The Mary Sue dives into it far better than I can, but even I can tell that yeah, maybe taking your critically acclaimed and beloved show and a.) offering basically no merchandise to support it b.) not promoting it at all and then shunting it online and c.) even going so far as to slash the final season’s budget, forcing the creators to make a clip show that nobody wants just so their people can have work is a pretty gross, awful thing to do.

But to their credit, the show’s creators and production crew have always done the best job they can with the hand they were dealt. Nowhere was that more evident than last night’s two part finale, “Day Of The Colossus/The Last Stand.” In capturing the final battle between Korra (Janet Varney) and the crew and Big Bad Kuvira (Zelda Williams) and her giant mecha suit, the animators of Studio Mir went all out in making things as big, explosive and awesome as they deserve to be.

The writers too–the credited ones are Tim Hedricks and franchise co-creator Michael Dante DiMartino–do their best, giving every one a Big Damn Hero moment and, when all is said and done, providing lovely codas to every character’s personal arcs. Combine this with the cast’s typical top-tier work–in particular, comedian John Michael Higgins as goofball Tony Stark Verrick and anime dub veteran Todd Haberkorn as Kuvira’s fiance-turned-pawn Bataar Jr. deserve awards recognition for their work here and this season as a whole–and you have a damn great series finale.

The final minutes of the show, in particular, are amazing.  I know not everyone watched it right at midnight (or couldn’t if the show crashed Nick’s site at one point which it may have), but if you haven’t seen it yet, don’t highlight the following text:

Okay, so the final minutes of “The Last Stand” in the composition, the dialogue, acting and execution, particularly the last shot, indicate that yes, the long hoped-for romance between Korra and Badass Tony Stark Asami (Seychelle Gabrielle) is in fact canonical. Given that–nominally anyway–this is still children’s television, we don’t actually see them kiss. But literally every single thing about these last scenes indicates that yeah, these two are in love.

Is that awesome? Yes. Is that groundbreaking? Inspiring? HELL YEAH. However stupid it is that the scene’s intent can’t be made more explicit, the fact is that Korrasami–as the shippers have called it–is definitely real and that is a great, bold, powerful statement to make.

Heck, between this and the character of Nathan Seymour being canonically confirmed as transgender in Tiger & Bunny: The Rising, similarly the last thing for its franchise, animation has been really damn progressive so far this decade. Could more steps like this follow? And maybe actually be not restricted by nonsensical guidelines? Let’s hope so.

So yeah, great ending to, all things considered, a great television show. Not just animation, but in all of TV; good stuff well worth seeking out. (Also, I still stand by what I wrote here. Deal with it.)

 

RAT QUEENS Finds Replacement Artist

Originally posted on Another Castle:

According to a press release sent out December 11, 2014, Image Comics announced that Stjepan Sejic will be the new artist on Rat Queens beginning with issue #9 on February 25, 2015. Sejic has garnered acclaim for his work on Top Cow titles like Witchblade and Aphrodite IX, as well as Sunstone – his web comic, which Top Cow will publish in collected form later this December.

Sejic, working with series creator/writer Kurtis Wiebe, will be the fantasy comic’s first regular artist since original artist/co-creator Roc Upchurch was arrested for domestic abuse and subsequently removed from the title. Rat Queens, the Image press release–reprinted below–also states, will return to regular monthly publication beginning with issue #12 in May. Rat Queens was nominated for an Eisner this past summer for Best New Series and has been optioned for film.

Source: Image Comics

Cover image via


IMAGE COMICS/SHADOWLINE WELCOMES NEW ARTIST…

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STAR WARS: THE FORCE AWAKENS Character Names Revealed

Tom Speelman:

Nifty ain’t it? Also how has no one made a Cameron Crowe joke with Poe Dameron yet?

Originally posted on Another Castle:

On December 11, Lucasfilm revealed the names of the new characters to debut in Star Wars: The Force Awakens that were glimpsed in the teaser dropped Thanksgiving weekend. In an exclusive reveal to Entertainment Weekly, Lucasfilm unveiled the names of the characters played by John Boyega, Daisy Ridley and Oscar Ridley as well as the Sith and droid characters that appeared in the teaser.

The names were revealed in the style of old-school Topps trading cards, viewable in a slideshow on EW‘s website. Ridley’s landspeeder pilot — widely rumored to be the daughter of Han Solo & Princess Leia — is named Rey. Boyega’s character, who sports Stormtrooper armor, is named Finn; Issac’s X-Wing pilot is named Poe Dameron. The Sith, whose actor is still unrevealed, is named Kylo Ren; the new droid’s name is BB-8.

Directed by J.J. Abrams, Star Wars: The Force Awakens is scheduled for release on…

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TEKKEN 7 Will Not Include ‘Lucky Chloe’ in U.S. Release

Originally posted on Another Castle:

Lucky Chloe, a new character designed for the upcoming fighting game Tekken 7, will not be in the game’s U.S. release after receiving negative online feedback. Game director Katsuhiro Hanada announced on Twitter that the character will be restricted to Asia and Europe in response. Hanada unveiled Lucky Chloe — a female fighter with cat ears, pink paws, a tail, headphones and pigtails — at a recent live stream event.

A thread on NeoGAF criticized the character, finding her design unappealing and stereotypical of J-pop stars’ attire. The thread, and several others, were forwarded to Hanada through Twitter. In response, Hanada revealed Chloe’s Asian/European exclusivity, but was also highly critical of the backlash. In an online statement Hanada explained, “By the way, Are you ‘Western’ only one bulletin board? Hello small world. I’ll make muscular & skinhead character for you.”

Source: The Escapist, Katsuhiro Hanada (via Twitter)

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