Wednesday, December 29, 2010

Deep Space Nine, season 3

-The Search 1&2 ***
The station is assigned the Defiant, an overpowered cruiser with a cloak, originally designed for fighting the borg. Sisko takes her into the gamma quadrant in search of the founders, to initiate negotiations. They retreat after a fight, only to find the Federation already giving major concessions to the Dominion, including ceding them Bajor. The crew goes renegade and collapses the wormhole...only to find that these events were only playing out in their minds, while they were studied by their Dominion captors. Kira and odo find his homeworld, and discover that his people are the founders. A nice red herring tease, with appearances by martha hackett (VOYAGER, CARNOSAUR), john fleck (ENTERPRISE, TRUE BLOOD), and the debut of ken marshall (KRULL, THE GODS MUST BE CRAZY II) as commander eddington, a Starfleet security officer assigned to the station, much to odo's chagrin.
-The House of Quark ***
Great googily, don't blink...a good ferengi episode! Quark claims responsibility for the death of a klingon, then is kidnapped to Kronos and forced to marry the widow.
-Equilibrium ***
A compelling, beautiful journey on the trill homeworld, as jadzia deals with violent, musical visions, and discovers that memories of a homicidal host have been surgically repressed.
-Second Skin **
Kira finds herself on Cardassia, as a cardassian (if this sounds like a warp breach waiting to happen, trust your instincts). She's told she's been a surgically-altered sleeper agent. The writers can't be faulted - without nana, this might have been a winner, especially with a fine performance by lawrence pressman (NINE TO FIVE, DOOGIE HOWSER M.D.) as her "father", who has also been duped. One of garak's finest episodes, too.
-The Abandoned ***
An infant is discovered in a wreck. When he ages at a phenomenal rate and starts attacking people, they discover he is jem'hadar, genetically manipulated to be a killer addicted to a drug only available from the founders. Odo tries to offer him a better life. To sisko's dismay, teenaged jake is romantically involved with a dabo woman (jill sayre - SPIDER-MAN 1-2). It's a shame the writers dropped this relationship after mardah's only appearance.
-Civil Defense ***
A cardassian counter-insurrection program is accidentally initiated, which takes control of all station functions. Without the command codes, the station approaches self-destruct. Dukat offers help, but at a price. A tight episode that rises as high as three stars can go. I find it implausible, however, that garak doesn't know how to pronounce "interrogative".
-Meridian ***
Dax falls in love with a resident of a multi-dimensional planet (brett cullen - SOMETHING TO TALK ABOUT, THE WEST WING) and decides to go with him on his next shift...which will take sixty years. Quark tries to fill an order for a holosuite sex program of kira - without her permission. The story and visuals are standout; if the chemistry and writing were just a touch sharper, this would be top-tier.
-Defiant ****
-written by ronald d. moore
-directed by cliff bole
Will Riker!!! Wait. Back up. Tom Riker!!! Jonathan frakes visits, and schmoozes kira into giving him a tour of the Defiant. When she reveals the command codes, he stuns her (literally) and takes the ship for the maquis. He goes into the heart of the cardassian empire to expose a secret invasion fleet. Kira's psychoanalyzing is a tad obvious, but hot damn, we got a winner.
-Fascination **
Lwaxana visits, unaware she has a syndrome which causes her to empathically infect people with intense sexual longings. A premise that falls short of its promise.
-Past Tense 1&2 ***
Through a transporter malfunction, dax, sisko, and bashir are accidentally stranded in 2024 San Francisco. In a beautiful crystallization of life's butterfly-wing unfairness (or perhaps an affirmation that cute chicks can skate through life as long as they remain cute), she falls into the lap of luxury while they wind up in a concentration camp. In order to prevent the timeline from unraveling, benjamin must take the place of a man who wasn't supposed to die. A fine effort helped by dick miller (THE TERMINATOR, GREMLINS 1-2), deborah van valkenburgh (TOO CLOSE FOR COMFORT, FREE ENTERPRISE), and most sweetly clint howard (SPACE RANGERS, AUSTIN POWERS 1-3) in his first TREK appearance since 1966, when he was seven.
-Life Support **
After an horrific accident, bashir uses extraordinary measures to prolong bareil's life long enough for him to complete a peace negotiation. Jake has a disastrous date (with lark voorhies - SAVED BY THE BELL, HOW TO BE A PLAYER), thanks to nog's cultural chauvinism.
-Heart of Stone ***
Chasing a fugitive, kira becomes trapped in a growing crystalline structure. Odo tries to free her before she suffocates. His love for her comes to the surface for the first time, until he figures out that it's not kira at all - it's a changeling trying to understand odo's bond with the solids. A genuine surprise, something not often achieved by TREK.
-Destiny *
As a defrocked vedek (erick avari - HEROES, HOME ALONE 4) agitates against cardassian participation in a joint venture, sisko becomes conflicted between his roles as emissary and Starfleet officer. By the end, he starts believing ancient bajoran scripture...and roddenberry's ashes scribble a memo - "NOOOOOOOOOOO!!!" A lovely B plot is wasted, in which o'brien experiences antagonism and sexual tension with a cardassian scientist (tracy scoggins - LOIS & CLARK, BABYLON 5). Colm has more chemistry with her than he ever had with rosalind. Sadly, the following episode does not find dr. gilora permanently posted to the station, while keiko runs off with a couple of nausicaans.
-Prophet Motive **
Grand nagus zek starts giving away money. Quark realizes his personality was shifted by an encounter with the "prophets" he has a wormhole alien showdown.
-Visionary **
While romulans visit, o'brien gets disturbing visions.
-Distant Voices **
Bashir is attacked, and begins aging rapidly.
-Through the Looking Glass ***
Sisko is kidnapped to impersonate his deceased, mirror universe self. Beautiful moments with mirror jennifer.
-Improbable Cause **
After an assassination attempt on garak, odo must figure out why.
-The Die is Cast ***
Rejoined with his former Obsidian Order mentor in a cardassian/romulan attack fleet headed for the founders' home planet, garak tortures odo for information.
-Explorers ***
Sisko and jake reconstruct an ancient bajoran space vessel, to try to prove that bajorans left their system without warp drive. The darling debuts of leeta (chase masterson - ROBIN HOOD: MEN IN TIGHTS, OF GODS AND MEN) and ben's beard.
-Family Business **
Quark and rom return to Ferenginar, because their mother has broken the law by conducting business (and wearing clothes). A fine turn by andrea martin (SCTV, MY BIG FAT GREEK WEDDING).
-Shakaar ***
Winn becomes kai, and asks kira to negotiate with an old flame (duncan regehr - V, ZORRO).
-Facets ***
Great idea, good result. In a trill ritual, the spirits of dax's former hosts inhabit her friends' bodies. Odo as kirzon? Brilliant. Nog prepares for Starfleet Academy.
-The Adversary ***
Sisko is promoted to captain. An ambassador takes the Defiant on a mission to prevent a war. Once under way, systems' control is lost, and a founder plot to start a war is uncovered. The crew races to find the changeling. It's fascinating how much the show brightens on Defiant episodes...does this mean my spirit is more moved by "serial novelty"?

Tuesday, December 7, 2010

2 Kings & Chronicles

2 Kings 3:27
The Lord's blessing had not turned from the three kings, therefore it is not reasonable that they should begin losing in battle. The wording of this verse is peculiar; it seems to imply either that the Lord turned It's wrath upon Israel (without reason or justification), or that the Moabite king's offering brought forth a divine wrath which repelled the Israelites. If it was the Moabite king's offering that brought about this wrath, then the implication is that there exists a godly force other than the God of the Hebrews, with comparable power. The Bible has before hinted at that possibility; either the Lord is randomly and contradictorily using Its power, or this verse is a confirmation of that possibility.
2 Kings 14:6
It is simply staggering how outrageous this lie is. Mind you, these are solid, reasonable words in and of themselves. But to make a claim that these words are in line with the Law of Moses? These words are a direct contradiction of the words that Moses put forth in Deuteronomy 5:9. Such colossal inconsistency cannot be reconciled within a text inspired by God.
1 Chronicles 10:13-14
We have here a clear causality. Saul was unfaithful to the Lord; Saul dies. Plain and simple, and irreconcileable, for this kind of direct and immediate divine justice is simply not a reality of life. Nevertheless, the situation described is a clear-cut example of retribution following faithlessness. All this illustrates exactly what was so relentlessly frustrating about the books of the Kings. Divine justice, both as punishment and reward, occurs many, many times. And for divine intervention to be reasonable, two things must be present: justness and consistency. In Kings 1&2, the justness of the interventions was questionable, and the consistency almost nonexistent. We observed like offenses bring about differing punishments, unequal offenses given equal punishments, divine favor disappearing at crucial moments for no reason...the example of Saul is clear-cut cause and effect. Similar faithlessness throughout Kings 1&2 was treated with varying degrees of light punishment (Jehoram), heavy punishment (the small boys of 2 Kings 2), and no punishment (Jehoahaz). When divine consistency is gone, reasonableness quickly follows.
1 Chronicles 28:4
How do you reconcile this with the vast bloodshed the Lord has both sanctioned and inflicted?

Play On!

-summer 1998
I got a call from J.T. Smith, at the Old Schoolhouse Theater on Sanibel. It was a beautiful space, originally a one-room schoolhouse. J.T. staged musical reviews, and was trying an occasional comedy. He wanted me to play Billy in the upcoming show. The script was funny. I told him i was interested, and could he pay me? He told me he could get me $100 a week, and not to tell the other actors. I almost passed, because i didn't want to be known as an actor who works for free, but it was a great part. The script is about a community theater troupe putting on an original play, an Agatha Christie-style whodunit. The playwright keeps rewriting and meddling, and everything goes very wrong on opening night. I played the "leading man". The dressing room was a fun place. Dave Yudowitz had been a comedian, and was trying his first acting, in his late sixties. His gestures and timing were wonderful. A sweet, sweet man. Tom Corcoran played the director, and he was so great, very easy-going and fun. Clement Valentine played the villain, and very well. On the girls' side was Unota Lucero, the "leading lady", Betty Madonna, the "playwright", Teresa Shea and Carolyn Smith, the "tech crew", Joanna Theiss, the "maid", and Jene, the "Lady". The stage manager was a young guy named Jason, and he and Betty and Joanna rounded out my buddies in the cast. J.T. was a bit standoffish, but he created a good atmosphere. Dave and Tom ribbed me about the crush sixteen year-old Joanna had on me. She was talented, smart, and fun. I had been writing a play about a guy trying to deflect the crush of a teenager, and Joanna's energy crept into the writing. I finished writing it around the end of the run, and got a copy to her. She may have ended up thinking i was coming on to her. The talent level of the actors was a little uneven, but there was enough to make it a good, funny show. At the start of the second act Tom is onstage, and i enter. In our second week, i did something i'd never done. I was late for my entrance. He ad libbed some dialogue. I was shocked. So guess what happened in week three? I did the same damn thing again. Don't ask me how. Sorry, Tom.

Friday, December 3, 2010

"he's just not that into you"

2009, directed by Ken Kwapis

I don't often broker in the emotion hate.
I hated this movie. I wanted to do an oedipus on my eyes.
Admittedly, i saw only half. The second half. Why didn't i turn it off? We humans slow down for carnage.
This is not about chick flicks. Watch LOVE ACTUALLY with me, and see who cries. The problem with this movie is not that it's insipid (it is), the problem is that it acts like it's not - and the dialogue is clever enough, the performances winning enough, that idiots will be lulled into agreeing. This is not like the romantic comedies of Katherine Heigl, which make no pretense to intelligence. No, this movie would make Gandhi want to hurt someone.
Part of it is the sense of betrayal, from actors who have done delightful, respectable work. Jennifer Connelly. Scarlett Johansson. Ben Affleck (hey, he did SHAKESPEARE IN LOVE, okay?). Luis Guzman. Were they not allowed to read the script? It may be that they owed favors to Drew Barrymore, who produced this offal. And understand, i have no hatred for Drew, but this is not EVER AFTER, an inoffensive yawner.
Affleck's character has been Jennifer Aniston's love for seven years. He doesn't believe in marriage, an eminently defendable position. She snaps one day, needing that ring! They break up. As soon as she realizes that marriage isn't important, he gives her that ring. You'll never witness a more facile, unrealistic, perverted treatment of an important issue.
On another track, Justin Long is buddies with Ginnifer Goodwin, a romantic who gets her heart trampled weekly. He tries to make her understand men. She decides that he's in love with her, and throws herself at him. Consistent with his character, he rejects her. Then he's suddenly mooning over her, realizing that...oh, never mind. This stuff makes LOVE, AMERICAN STYLE seem like DANGEROUS LIAISONS.
"he's just not that into you".
See it with someone you don't like very much.