A Look Back At Star Trek: Deep Space Nine, Part One

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This month marks the twentieth anniversary of perhaps the most underrated Star Trek show Star Trek: Deep Space Nine. It differed from the other Trek shows in that it took place on a space station (the titular Deep Space Nine–DS9) near a wormhole and the characters often had to deal with the political and social ramifications of galactic events and encounters. In so many ways, Star Trek: Deep Space Nine is arguably the best Trek show and certainly the best spinoff of the original Star Trek. A reason why the original is considered the best has to do with nostalgia and its iconic nature. Star Trek: Deep Space Nine  or DS9 isn’t as fondly remembered as Star Trek or Star Trek: The Next Generation but it should be highly regarded.

Some early critics of the show complained that the stories were rather dark, bleak and depressing. This was because the show’s first two seasons dealt with rebuilding a shattered civilization. DS9 orbited an ancient world called Bajor and it had been occupied by the enemy Cardassians (who built the station using Bajoran slave labor), who were like the Nazis. The Bajorans were a rough analogy to the Jews after World War II and Israel at its beginning. The Bajorans were on the verge of a civil war and desperate. While their plight made for some terrific episodes (“In The Hands Of The Prophets” and The Circle trilogy), it probably turned off casual viewers who wanted to see the standard starship zipping around the galaxy and having the crew solving some kind of tech-based problem.

Spiritual Leanings

wormholeBeing that the deeply religious Bajorans were a focal point in the early episodes, the show touched on religious matters. In fact, it was one of its core concepts. In the pilot episode “Emissary” the show’s main character, Commander Benjamin Sisko (Avery Brooks) was assigned to the station and later discovered a nearby stable wormhole that was created by enigmatic non-corporeal aliens. While this was a major scientific and socio-political game changer for the Federation and helped put Bajor on the map, this event had religious ramifications. It turned out there was a prophecy in Bajoran religion that a non-Bajoran savior called the Emissary would discover the wormhole and the “Prophets” that the Bajorans worship. Therefore, Sisko became a major religious figure among Bajorans who they believed would eventually bring them salvation. This was a role that Sisko and Starfleet was very uneasy with chiefly because of their secular nature and the whole Prime Directive thing of non-interference.

Timing Is Everything

A reason for why the show wasn’t a runaway hit may have to do with the timing of when it premiered. During that time, Star Trek: The Next Generation was at its peak in popularity and some fans probably wanted DS9 to be more of the same.  Sure it didn’t make sense to go to the trouble of creating a new show just to regurgitate the same ship traveling premise but some just want the same formula repeated over and over. So DS9 in trying to be distinctive was probably too different, which is what Star Trek needed and still does. The show was murky in its morality, the main heroes often committed actions that were questionable. At the time, it was believed by the suits in Paramount Studios that people didn’t want Star Trek to be dark and ambivalent, which is one of the so-called reasons behind the creation of the next spinoff Star Trek: Voyager.

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Now with all the publicity Star Trek: Voyager was receiving along with the continued popularity and coverage of Star Trek: The Next Generation, it was difficult for DS9 to get any attention. It became the redheaded stepchild of the franchise. While that was unfortunate, one good thing to come out of that was that it was largely left alone. As executive producer Rick Berman concentrated on Star Trek: Voyager and Star Trek: The Next Generation’s spinoff films, exemplary writers and producers like Ron Moore, Ira Steven Behr, Robert Hewitt Wolfe and René Echevarria were put in charge of Star Trek: Deep Space Nine and made the show its own. They took risks with the characters and situations and it paid off creatively. Continue reading

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J.J. Abrams Picked As Director For Star Wars VII

abramsAccording to The Wrap and other sources, J.J. Abrams is set to direct Star Wars: Episode VII. Despite earlier proclamations about his loyalty to the Star Trek films and ruled out a directing gig for Star Wars, it’s seems to have been a smoke screen to throw off people, especially snoopy journalists. The Wrap also claimed that Ben Affleck was strongly considered for the job. Maybe he’ll have a chance with Episode VIII.

muralJ.J. Abrams has the credentials for this directing job. He created the acclaimed series Lost and even in that show his fan-worship of Star Wars came about, especially during season five when Hurley was stuck on the island in the 1970s and tried to write an improved screenplay for The Empire Strikes Back. He also co-created the just concluded sci-fi show Fringe and has a good track record as a director. While his first big-screen job was on Mission Impossible III, he came to prominence when he directed the reboot of Star Trek and then Super 8. In fact, one of the complaints about Star Trek was that it felt more like a Star Wars film with the big-action scenes and spectacular special effects. If anything, that film proved that he was one to seriously consider for a new Star Wars film. Regardless, he should be credited super 8for bringing the franchise back from the dead even if it came in a slick package. It still worked. Fans should also look at Super 8, which showed that the director could helm believable and sympathetic characters, something that the Star Wars films need at this point. In other words, Abrams can bring out fine performances from his actors.

Abrams has said in the past that Star Wars was his passion and it makes sense that someone like him should direct the start of the next trilogy. He can be seen by many as a solid choice to direct the next Star Wars film but he has his detractors. Already the forums are burning up with statements of lens flares polluting Star Wars: Episode VII. Some people have reacted with a shrug and a “whatever” to this news. Some feel that his films are largely superficial and fail to deliver satisfying conclusions. Those are the fans that J.J. Abrams has to win over. Still Disney could’ve done far worse. At least it won’t be Zack Snyder. 

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One more thing, this probably means that a new director will be needed for another Star Trek film. Most likely Star Trek Into Darkness could be J.J. Abrams’ last Trek film because he’ll be busy.

Lewis T. Grove and C.S. Link

 

 

Fringe & Its Fantastic Foray

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After five seasons, Fringe, one of the best science fiction shows on TV, comes to an end. Fans can now breathe a sigh of relief that the show runners were able to conclude the wonderfully twisting saga of the Fringe Division’s Science Team and its investigations into the bizarre and who later became freedom fighters for humanity.

When Fringe first premiered in 2008, it came off as a sophisticated, 21st-century version of The X-Files. Both shows were similar in that they were about government agents investigating freakish phenomena. In Fringe’s case, the main characters FBI Agent Olivia Dunham (Anna Torv), consultant Dr. Walter Bishop (brilliantly played by John Noble) and his son Peter (Joshua Jackson) didn’t chase UFOs or ghosts but encountered weird monsters-of-the-week and fringe-level science like teleportation, fast-growing humans and so on as part of their investigations for the Science Team.

libertyBut the show soon developed its own mythology. It turned out there was a reason behind all the weirdness going on in the world, which was called The Pattern. Usually they happened in the New York/ New England area as illustrated by bold 3D location titles. Unlike The X-Files, where it became apparent that the producers didn’t know what was going on with its convoluted stories, Fringe methodically explained things and the answers led to more intriguing questions. It made one want to find out what was going on. For instance, in the first season finale “There’s More Than One Of Everything” viewers learned that Peter Bishop was actually dead with an apparent doppelganger of his running around. That led to the revelation of an existing parallel world, which was dramatically shown when Olivia found herself transported inside a very much intact World Trade Center.

Things became stranger and more titillating in latter seasons. That could be one reason why the show wasn’t a ratings hit. While sci-fi fans may have loved the bizarre antics of mad scientist Walter Bishop (like eating licorice during grisly autopsies) or the uncanny plots and macabre premises (such as reanimating a beheaded person when the missing head was reattached to the body) it probably turned off casual viewers. Well what would one expect in this society that loves shallow reality programs? Still, Fringe grew a cult following as people discovered this quirky show that dealt with parallel universes and visiting enigmatic post-humans from the distant future.

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But fans fell in love with the equally peculiar characters. There was Peter who was conflicted about his place in the world as seen in the show’s pilot. He was a brilliant but shiftless person with dubious morality and estranged from his father (who was committed at that time to a mental hospital). Olivia was seen as the more stable person yet contended with being thrown suddenly into bizarre cases while remaining a dedicated and resilient agent. Her core was terribly shaken from the events of the late second season/early third season. She traveled to the parallel world in “Over There, Parts I & II” and was captured and brainwashed. Her redheaded double (nicknamed “Fauxlivia”) came to Olivia’s world and took her place. These early third season episodes that shifted between the two worlds were some of the best. After Olivia finally escaped, and had difficulty with her romantic relationship with Peter, it was clear that she was traumatized.

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Potential Star Wars Directors

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Ever since George Lucas sold Lucasfilm and the Star Wars property to the Walt Disney Company, there has been a barrage of speculation over who will direct the films in a newly announced Star Wars trilogy.

Recent reports have it that J.J. Abrams and Guillermo Del Toro allegedly turned down offers to meet with Disney to discuss directing the new films. There have been other reports of directors who either are or aren’t interested in helming a new Star Wars film. Meanwhile, actor Jason Flemyng blurted recently that his friend and noted genre director Matthew Vaughn (the director of Kick-Ass and X-Men: First Class) was picked to direct Star Wars: Episode VII.

Whether or not that is true, there are other notable directors that are well suited for the gig. Aside from current rumored frontrunners like Jon Favreau, Joe Johnston and Brad Bird, it’s time to point out some candidates that haven’t been mentioned but are worthwhile contenders.

Alonso Cuarón would be a solid choice. His resume include three genre films (Harry Potter And The Prisoner Of Azkaban, Children Of Men and the forthcoming Gravity) and the first two show a distinct, engrossing and moody style that would fit in nicely with an Empire Strikes Back-style Star Wars film. Cuarón should definitely be considered for a darker themed film.

Kenneth Branagh, who directed Thor, Mary branaughShelly’s Frankenstein, and several Shakespearean dramas, is a worthy candidate. His films have gravitas but more importantly are generally entertaining. This was best shown with Thor and Branagh has the skills to do a big-budget sci-fi spectacular with heart and emotion.

raimiSam Raimi could shoot up to the top of the list if his Disney film Oz, The Great And Powerful becomes a hit. He also has a terrific lineup of popular genre films under his belt like the Evil Dead and Spider-Man trilogies. Most likely a Star Wars film directed by Raimi would be very humorous, full of frantic energy and could be just the thing to help boost the Star Wars franchise.

Neil Blomkamp should be tossed into the list because ever since his film District 9 was released and received so much acclaim, geeks all over the Internet keep touting him for every potential genre film. So why not here? Besides his background as a 3D animator and his talent as a director should put him on the short list. BTW that prawn mechanical battle suit in District 9 looks like it would blend in well in a Star Wars film.

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Deadloggers Of The Walking Dead

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Some of the most popular clicks on Starloggers have been for the reviews of the hit TV show The Walking Dead. Many of us here love the show and think it’s one of the best if not the best TV show on air right now. Although it has primarily a horror theme, it is borderline sci-fi with the revelation at the end of The Walking Dead’s second season that the cause of the zombie (or rather walkers) outbreak was because of a virus that is infecting every living person on the planet.

cast[1]After some discussion, it was decided to launch a new blog called Deadloggers, which will be dedicated to The Walking Dead TV show. Each post will take the same detailed look at each episode from The Walking Dead as seen here on Starloggers. Evan Rothfeld, who wrote all the previous reviews/commentaries of each episode, will continue to do the same over at Deadloggers. Each review will have a detailed synopsis and commentary of each episode aired to date. We’re starting off now with all-new reviews of the first season of The Walking Dead, readers will see how Rick Grimes and company (including the fleash-eating walkers) were first introduced. Afterwards, the plan is to transfer over the second and third season reviews that appeared on Starloggers. The reviews here will be condensed and abridged, so in order to read the complete posts readers will have to visit Deadloggers. Then reviews of the remainder of season three will be posted on Deadloggers and so on. And who knows? Maybe in the future we may go beyond the show.

We hope anyone who enjoyed reading the reviews will visit the new blog and check it out. If anyone has any comments make sure to drop us a line.