Star Trek Saturdays #28

It’s time for Star Trek Saturdays #28!!!

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This week’s episode is “The City on the Edge of Forever” and it’s rightfully acclaimed as the best episode of The Original Series.

We open with the Enterprise being rocked by time distortions as they orbit around an unidentified planet. A distortion causes the center bridge console to spark and injure Sulu. McCoy, called to the bridge for aid, successfully injects Sulu with a hypospray of a few drops of cordrazine–which Kirk notes is “tricky stuff”–and he is revived. Just then, another distortion rocks the bridge, and McCoy falls on his hypo, injecting himself with a massive dose of cordrazine. This causes him to freak out and, in a burst of paranoia, escape from the bridge.

Security teams try tracking him down, but he overpowers a transporter crew member and beams down to the planet. A landing party of Kirk, Spock, McCoy, Uhura and two redshirts go down to find him, where they encounter this:

The stone-age Stargate thing here is actually an intelligent being which calls itself the “Guardian of Forever” and proceeds to show the crew images from Earth’s history. While that’s going on, they find McCoy and Spock subdues him with a nerve pinch. However, Kirk and Spock both start looking at the portal, with Spock, frustrated that he’s not recording all this, beginning to do so. McCoy regains consciousness and, delirious and now looking like a plague victim, jumps through the portal and disappears.

Uhura tries to contact the Enterprise, but gets nothing. The Guardian explains that McCoy has altered history in such a way that the Federation doesn’t exist anymore, thus no Enterprise. Kirk realizes that he and Spock will have to go back and prevent McCoy from doing whatever he did. Kirk orders Scotty that, if they don’t succeed, the others will go through the portal into the past so they’ll still be alive.

The Guardian begins playing its footage of Earth events and, with the help of Spock’s tricorder, he and Kirk locate the right time, jump through and land in 1930 New York City. After an altercation with a policeman and some bums, they wind up in the basement of a street mission, where they meet Edith Keeler (Joan Collins), who runs the mission.

Allowing them to work for the Mission for pay and helping them find a vacant room in the same apartment as her, Edith–a kind, optimistic woman who speaks of world peace and humanity traveling the stars–begins falling for Kirk and he likewise while they wait for McCoy to show up. Spock, meanwhile–whose appearance Kirk awkwardly, awkwardly explains as because he’s Chinese whose ears were caught in a mechanical “rice picker” (eghhh)–spends all his free time working on procuring radio tubes and such to allow him to alter the tricorder’s rate of playback to accurately determine when McCoy shows up.

After several setbacks, Spock succeeds in getting an image of a newspaper headline about Edith dying and then another headline about her successfully meeting with President Roosevelt in 1936 about a peace plan. After this, the tricorder sparks out with feedback. Telling Kirk he’s found the discrepency where McCoy alters the past, Spock asks Kirk the ominous question, “What if Edith Keeler must die?”

Hands down, this is a terrific episode. Joseph Pevney is back again as director and he’s just as good as he ever was, treading the sci-fi and human stuff with equal importance. The script iss by Harlan Ellison who…well, okay, this is gonna be a little hard to explain.

Ellison–pictured above–has a reputation for being the most contentious and litigious creator alive; he’s taken out a rash of lawsuits against literally anyone who changes work he does for them in any way and, in recent years, he’s even trademarked his own name.

So when his original script for this episode–which involved an Enterprise crewman dealing drugs among the crew murdering someone to prevent him from snitching and going through the portal instead of McCoy–was deemed as unsuitable by Roddenberry and rewritten by D.C. Fontana, Ellison was characteristically miffed. In 2009, he even filed suit against Paramount claiming they owe him all sorts of residuals for the finished episode as well as all the merchandise–spin-off novels, etc.–that’s derived from it (the case is still pending at this time).

Regardless, the finished script is terrific, presenting an impossible dilemma and the agonizing choices that must be made. It also allows for terrific performances–Shatner and Nimoy are at the top of their game, DeForest Kelley is terrific as a paranoid, dangerous McCoy and Collins makes Keeler sympathetic and understandable.

A whole mess of places and people have said this is the best Trek episode ever and while I wouldn’t say that, it’s hard to disagree. Check it out.

Thanks to Memory Alpha, the official Star Trek wiki for the pics and episode information, as well as Amazon Instant for hosting the show. We’ll see you next Saturday and until then, live long and prosper.

DC On TV

So I decided not to review the first episode of Agents of S.H.I.E.L.D. on here because well, most of you would probably know or predict that I’d like it. And yeah, I did. I think it’s a terrific show that can only get better (I am a little annoyed that I now have to catch up with Brooklyn Nine-Nine on Hulu, though, but hey, I made a Hulu account again, so that’s fun).

Anyway, pretty much right after–or maybe even during–the premiere of Agents, Warner Brothers announced that, in addition to the already-revealed Flash series due to spin off of Arrow this upcoming season on the CW, Fox will be making a one-hour drama called Gotham, a show about the early days of Lt. James Gordon on the cop beat before Batman showed up.

Some have expressed reservations, and those–along with the fact that it’s being developed by the guy who made The Mentalist–has given me some pause. But for the most part, I’m intrigued to see where this goes. If nothing else, it’ll be cool seeing a young Gordon–although we don’t know how young he’ll be yet–take down street-level criminals and maybe mob kingpins (like longtime Bat-nemesis Rupert Thorne, maybe?). And the fact that it’s on Fox–meaning, unlike the Flash show, it’ll have some sort of budget–means it can afford to look good if nothing else.

But here’s something even more interesting: NBC announced today that they’re developing a show around John Constantine.

Oh man, THIS could be good.

For those of you that don’t know, John Constantine is a working class magician, con artist and amoral antihero created by Alan Moore in 1985 during his run on Swamp Thing, then spun off into his own long-running, very realist and dark, and generally excellent Vertigo comic book that only just ended this year, with him being brought into the New 52 and having his edges sanded off.

This could be very interesting, indeed; I mean, we all thought Hannibal was gonna suck and that’s one of the best shows on television, so why couldn’t this work?

The only thing that gives me pause is the production team of David S. Goyer and some other guy from The Mentalist. Goyer’s not a bad writer when it comes to films (Man of Steel  is good, dangit) but his other TV show Da Vinci’s Demons is apparently crap.

Still, if they indulge my mental fantasy and teach Mark Pellegrino how to affect a Liverpudlian accent, we’ll be in business…

“True To Your Self” Publishing Books and Comics

As per request, and given that a whole lot of you who follow me on here have ventured into self=publishing yourselves, I thought I’d talk some more about the panel I attended on self-publishing at Grandcon, which I briefly alluded to here.

The panel wasn’t moderated by anyone; it was just two guys, Tim Kenyon and Mick McArt. Kenyon is a professor of writing and comic studies at Saginaw Valley State University, but he’s also published several novels through small presses; the main thing he was there to promote was the first volume in his original graphic novel series, Endtime (which I bought the last day of GrandCon but have not read yet). He talked about what that was like and on the whole had some interesting insights as to how working for yourself is a good motivator.

McArt is a writer of, mainly, his own Tales of Wordishure, a series of Christian-themed children’s fantasy books. He spoke at length about how he looked into vanity presses and about how they’re actually very helpful and slightly hurtful (he stressed that you should not allow them to do your PR; there are several websites out that do that for free or at least for cheaper) as well as the importance of maintaining an internet presence and what it’s like to go into self-publishing for yourself.Kenyon had a lot to say on that as well, relaying how he actually found a printer, after a long time of searching, right down the street from his house.

The two also took several questions from the audience about confidence-building, the importance of getting out and doing actual shows and signings (even craft shows), and the benefits of physical publishing and e-publishing your book together rather than just e-publishing (“There’s nothing more motivating than seeing all the books in boxes in my house, knowing I have to get rid of them all,” Kenyon said).

Since there was such a small audience, the panel felt very comfortable with everyone, including me, feeling like they had found the answers to questions they hadn’t even thought to ask. I can definitely say that it made me more confident about my own projects.

I would go on but I can’t recall any more memories of the panel, but here’s something that happened before it: I made my way to the room about 5 minutes before the panel began and the other one–a panel on worldbuilding featuring Tracy Hickman–let out. I actually found myself, thanks to the crowd of people outside, standing next to his wife, Laura as Tracy came out, a woman recognized them and they kindly agreed to take pictures with her husband. Nice little thing, that.

Grandcon–Days 2 and 3

Hey folks,

Sorry this had to be combined but that’s what happens when you get sick on the weekend of a convention. I feel like garbage and unfortunately, I was too selfishly tired to write. My apologies.

Regardless, here’s what Saturday was: me and the roommate got up at 8:30 because we were scheduled to play a session of the newish RPG 13th Age (a game created by the guys behind 3rd and 4th edition Dungeons & Dragons). Turns out we were a half hour late–it started at 9–but we still made it and had a really fun time. This game is GREAT; very easy character creation, easily the most fluid, easy to understand combat system I’ve ever played; as our gamemaster put it, “it’s first edition D&D with modern math.”

After that got over at 1, we looked around the dealer’s room which was mostly taken up by this enormous seller of back issues and discounted trades and graphic novels. From there, I bought vol. 7 of Ultimate Spider-Man, the Vertigo book Pride of Baghdad, the complete Omega the Unknown: Classic; from another dealer, I bought the first volume of Mouse Guard.

Then I attended a wonderful panel on self-publishing that had authors Tim Kenyon and Mick McArt, who were quite lovely as they spoke on the dirty details of aligning with a vanity press, starting your own press and the ins and outs of publishing generally. Inspiring stuff.

Then, after all that, went back to my apartment, had dinner, then attended a screening of Raising Arizona that my college’s Film Arts Committee put on, where a fun time was had by all. By the time I got back, however, I was too bushwhacked to do anything other than watch half an episode of Fringe, then go to bed.

After sleeping for 12 hours today, I got up, watched Fringe, did laundry, then headed back to the con where I spent most of today at the Dealer’s Room, where I made out like a BANDIT…and lost all of my available cash. Pics will be added later, but today I found, in no particular order:

  • Endtime, Tim Kenyon’s self-published graphic novel
  • John Byrne’s The Man of Steel miniseries (for $5)
  • A collection of issues 26-29 of the legendary EC Comics title The Vault of Horror
  • Volume 2 of Spider-Man: Brand New Day
  • A complete run of a 12-issue 1985 miniseries by Marvel called The Eternals
  • 7/8ths of the DC ’80s miniseries Millenium, and a Batman tie-in issue to go along with that
  • The FIRST ISSUE of Marvel’s long-running Star Wars comic from the ’70s and ’80s (for 50 cents!)
  • An issue of Mickey Mouse
  • Some ’90s one-shot called The Legacy of Superman
  • A random back issue of Detective Comics
  • And finally an irresponsiblely HUGE  run of Bronze Age (’70s) Superman issues

Also today, I had the pleasure of meeting legendary Dragonlance co-creator Tracy Hickman (who signed a copy of his new Batman novel for me and talked with me about writing!) as well as talked to the editors and founders of a website that I’ll have more to say about soon.

Quite a weekend, eh? If that’s what the first year of GrandCon yields, I expect to be back again and again in the years to come.

Also, judging from this post, the Little Red Reviewer was there and I missed my chance to try and arrange a meetup! D’oh!!!

GrandCon, Day 1

Hey folks, as I promised, here’s a short little summary of the first day of GrandCon!

Well, while the convention actually opened at 9, my friend/roommate and I weren’t able to head over there until about 4:00. Once there, we got our badges, tote bags and other such things.

After checking around the–admittedly not too large–convention area and finding that the dealers’ room won’t be open until tomorrow, we headed over to the games library.

This was a HUGE place, stocked with basically any sort of board and tabletop game you could think of. All you had to do was check out any one you wanted at the desk, then sit down at one of the many long tables lining the hall and play.

Having time to kill, we decided to do just that, with me teaching my friend how to play Dominion, a fun medieval-themed card game I learned this summer that’s all about amassing land and victory points. We played for about an hour, then ran back to our apartment (the main reason we decided to go to GrandCon, besides how cheap it was, was that it’s about 5 minutes from where we live) to eat dinner then headed back for a round of Pandemic.

When I say Pandemic, I mean the board game, not the computer game. It’s a tough game normally–considering you have to contain 4 different viruses all over the world, it’d better be–but our round, which we played with 2 other guys, was rather quick. Then again, considering we registered for only an hour of play, I suppose that was by design.

With nothing else to do, we headed back to the game library and learned how to play this game the makers of Bang! made called En Garde. It was fun–though I can’t really recall the rules–and easy to pick up, but having been really sick today and yesterday thanks to my other roommates, I got tired.

So we headed back to our apartment, watched a GREAT episode of Star Trek–yes, it’s what I’ll be covering next–and now I must sleep.

I’ll be back tomorrow with Day 2!

Brooklyn Nine-Nine (Review)

Hey everybody,

Very, VERY sorry I just sort of shut down without explanation. The best couple weeks were pretty nuts: I had to finish the class I was taking over the summer, move into an apartment, and start probably my hardest semester ever seemingly all at once.

That aside, my not even announcing my absence was unprofessional and I’m sorry. So, here’s what I’m gonna do: this weekend, I’m attending the first-ever Grandcon, a new comics and tabletop gaming convention that’s literally 5 minutes away from where I live. Like I did way back when I covered the Festival of Faith & Writing, I’m going to be covering each day of the con and what I did. Then, we’ll get back into the normal swing of things, which means yes, Star Trek Saturdays will start again (and with an iconic episode)!

Here, then, to tide you over, is what I thought of Fox’s new comedy that premiered last night, Brooklyn Nine-Nine, which stars SNL & The Lonely Island’s Andy Samberg as Detective Jake Peralta, a smart but goofy detective in Brooklyn’s 99th Precinct and Andre Braugher as his new Captain, Ray Holt, who, among other things, decides to straighten him out.

Brooklyn Nine-Nine

The show comes from Parks & Recreation co-creator Michael Schur and while I don’t watch that show, the critical buzz for this suggests a lot about Parks: its premise never forgets to be funny, but also proves to you that these are cops solving crimes; the familiar leading actor is what draws you to it, but the supporting cast is what keeps you entertained. The cast here is very funny, by the way–Joe Lo Troglio and Terry Crews as a fumbing oaf and a nervous wreck are two standouts, but the rest are all really fun too. Most importantly, the writing seems plenty sharp; when the jokes land, they land.

The debut episode is available on Hulu right now if you missed it last night. I enjoyed it; I think I’ll stick with it. Let me know what you think and I’ll see you on Friday for Grandcon!