Monday, October 24, 2011

Star Trek's flaws

The STAR TREK vision. A future without war, racism, sexism, religion, or greed. For all its forward-thinking, it has two blind spots (or three, counting the chauvinist objectification of women, but they've been trying to amend that ever since). Two or three blind spots is hardly a damning critique - that there are so few is actually stunning, as every creation is inescapably a product of its time, and the America that spawned roddenberry was (and is) a place of profound barbarism and staggering ignorance. It's possible too that there are more flaws than these, as my eyes have their own blinders.
The first? Isolation. It is inconceivable that after another few centuries of the awakening of the human spirit, the lot of the average person could be such a howling wilderness of isolation. The average TREK character is as spiritually and physically alone as you or i and everyone you know. We live in a world where people are taught to look out for themselves, for ultimately no one else will. We live in a world where, once we leave behind the momentary paradise of infancy, we quickly learn that intimate human touch comes only in one context - sex. And sex always comes with a staggering price. Human society three centuries hence will never resemble us in that regard.
Who could be more isolated, in the name of duty and propriety, than our beloved starship captains? Or worf and odo, living in two worlds, at home in neither? Spock, data, and the doctor take isolation to an even more pronounced realm...indeed, this is no small part of the reason why these three characters were the most resonant on their shows...their isolation, their sense of literal alienness, is something that touches us in ways we can only begin to articulate. And the rest of the crews...well, they have intimacy on occasion, but only in the context we ourselves receive it - sex. A tiny allowance might be made for the fact that these are servicepeople, and as such need to maintain a level of professional distance blah blah blah...but really, that protest holds little water. It is simply inconceivable that with another few centuries of understanding how critical touch is to human well-being, that we might continue to condemn ourselves to the eternal neurosis of the touch-deprived. So where is the alien race whose biggest personality trait is hugging? Hugging when happy, hugging when sad, hugging when nervous, hugging when much hugging so liberally given, would be unforgettable. The talaxians, for example. Is it faintly possible that one of the least successful TREK characters could have been saved by making the talaxians a race of huggers? Probably not...but you get the idea.
The second blind spot in the TREK vision is of course (everybody say it together now) m-o-n-o-g-a-m-y! It's hysterical to think that in three century's time (or even three decades...), humans might still be so unevolved as to think that monogamy is anything other than a maudlin, horrific, dehumanizing relic of a time when half of the human race owned the other half (and more, if you include the kids). Not that there aren't occasional glimmers of non-monogamous sanity in the trekiverse. By the time ENTERPRISE came around, they even devoted an entire species to polyamory.
So let's celebrate these glimmers, kiddies. Let's enjoy a TREK marathon dedicated to the idea that loving MORE than one person makes you MORE of a person, not less.
-The Outrageous Okona, TOS
-a collage of riker/kamala and picard/kamala scenes from "The Perfect Mate" TNG
-Second Sight, DS9
-a collage of riker/troi and riker/ro scenes from "Conundrum" TNG
-Stigma, STE
TREK's flaws.
What? You were expecting "One Halloween night, neelix, lwaxana, and alexander in ferengi costumes, walk into a kazon bar..."?

Wednesday, October 19, 2011


There are two points about the events unfolding here. The idea put forth is that the Lord brings into being a physical extension of Its holy spirit, in the form of a human. This god-person lives, grows, and feels as other humans do (A god we created in our image supposedly created us in Its image...and then created another god, in OUR image? If this all feels a bit incestuous and pedestrian and masturbatory, you're not alone.). My first point is that it seems a violation of the Lord's consistency, to ordain that a god-person appear only at one particular place and time in history. Are messiah stories just a shabby way to subvert the notion of omnipresence? How can god be "more" or "less" present? And it just seems unjust that certain people be given access to this god-person, while others are not. My second point is that having this god-person come as a man reinforces the fallacious notion of male superiority. To this day, sexist ideas are so embedded in most of humanity that the "naturalness" of a male messiah (or indeed of God ITSELF being male) is something that many people, of both sexes, never think to question. Of course, if the god-person had to come as one human, It had to be one sex or the other. But how telling is it that the Bible, a book penned by men, would have a male messiah? How obvious? How tawdry. Would Christianity have achieved the following it has, had Jesus come as a woman? Perhaps the Lord was merely being pragmatic, in creating Jesus in the gender that would be most readily respected, but again, it does not seem reasonable that the Lord could pander to a system of repression and subjugation.
These words, as with many of Jesus' words, contain nothing which, in and of themselves, proclaim unreasonableness. Bear in mind however, that these words directly contradict commands from the mouth of God, from the Old Testament. If Jesus and God are one, as Matthew attests, it is inconceivable that they could contradict one another.
Jesus' anger or irritation with the tree, even to make a point, seems unjust. And illogical, too, unless trees possess spirituality like that of humans. Which is fine with me, but not really in line with the Bible thus far.


-winter 2001
At the Orpheus, i returned to Mamet, having found a three-actor piece that was just right for Amanda, Derek, and i. It was about Hollywood soullessness, a story of two mercenary junior producers who get a shot at the big time. One of them is seduced by a temp secretary (whom he thinks he is seducing) into producing an arty movie of no commercial value. The second producer reacts as he must, and the secretary is shown to the street. Brilliant, rapid-fire dialogue. Shane stage-managed, and Donna McDonald came onboard as assistant director. Mamet veterans all, we threw ourselves into it. Rehearsals were a delight. I played Bobby Gould, who is seduced by Amanda's character. I grew a goatee and mustache, and slicked my hair. As Charlie Fox, Derek was slick-tongued, soulless perfection. He bloodied my face (hidden capsules), and threatened to kill Amanda. The "big break" Bobby and Charlie are celebrating is the agreement of a famous star to be in one of their projects. Derek's unscripted Keanu Reeves impression was beautiful. Amanda is the "plow", the agent of change. The script that she is pushing is so esoteric (THE BRIDGE: OR, RADIATION AND THE HALF-LIFE OF SOCIETY - A STUDY OF DECAY), that it took Amanda a while to realize how actually not ridiculous it is. For the first time, we expanded into a new venue. I had made some connections in downtown Ft. Myers, which had a younger crowd, and we agreed to put on one show a week at a bar called Gotham Hall. I was especially happy with the show posters, which featured a vintage photo of a boy and girl kissing. Picking the show music was also becoming one of my favorite parts of the process. An Ethel Merman recording of "No Business Like Show Business", Tracy Chapman's "New Beginning", plus "King of Hollywood" by the Eagles…also Billy Joel's "Big Shot", which i thought was too lite, but the others pushed for it. The county's biggest reviewer came on opening night, when the show was still a night or two away from peaking. The review was uneven (largely due to me, i might add). The subsequent beach review was much more praising. It's a tough show to perform, and some physical obstacles didn't help. In a wrestling accident a few weeks before we opened, i tore my shoulder so profoundly that i couldn't lift my arm at all opening week. Another week, i lost my voice, requiring us to cancel two performances. The shows at Gotham were nice, but we had to cancel one due to a lack of crowd. It was normally my policy to cancel if there were no reservations by show afternoon, but i didn't do so that day, because i wanted to impress upon our new hosts that we would deliver what we promised. That didn't sit well with Derek, who was upset he had come out for nothing. Derek was also frustrated that my command of the lines wasn't 100% opening week. This saddened me, as i thought the world of him. On the occasions we did perform without undue obstacles, we had a wonderful time, and so did the audience. We never had large crowds. I was game to do another show in Gotham, but they took a pass (the owner never even came out to see us).

Wednesday, October 12, 2011


I recently finished a project that took over two years...watching every episode of every series of STAR TREK. Don't you wish your boyfriend were hot like me? Here are the comparative results, and a cornucopia of cross-TREK marathons. Throughout the marathons here (and in the series' reviews), i strove to represent each worthy episode only once, so if an episode seems inappropriately missing, it's likely slotted elsewhere. Certain episodes of off-the-charts greatness however, cannot be doubly denied.
1) STAR TREK (3.0)
3) STAR TREK animated (3.0)
4) VOYAGER (2.9)
GREATEST SEASONS (episode average)
1) TOS, season 1 (3.2)
2) VOY, season 4 (3.1)
3) TOS, season 2 (3.0)
4) TNG, season 5 (3.0)
5) VOY, season 5 (3.0)
6) ENT, season 1,3 (3.0)
WORST SEASONS (episode average)
1) DS9, season 1 (2.5)
2) TNG, season 1 (2.6)
3) DS9, seasons 2,3,5 (2.6)
2) STAR TREK (21)
3) VOYAGER (18)
3) STAR TREK (3)
5) VOYAGER (5)
-The City on the Edge of Forever TOS
-Yesterday's Enterprise TNG
-The Siege of AR-558 DS9
-Death Wish VOY
-In a Mirror, Darkly ENT
-Dead Stop ENT
-That Which Survives TOS
-Disaster TNG
-Hope and Fear VOY
-What You Leave Behind DS9
-Friday's Child TOS
-Affliction ENT
-Ethics TNG
-The Quickening DS9
-Latent Image VOY
-Minefield ENT
-Balance of Terror TOS
-The Enemy TNG
-The Practical Joker TAS
-The Big Goodbye TNG
-Real Life VOY
-Our Man Bashir DS9
-Chosen Realm ENT
-The Apple TOS
-Mortal Coil VOY
-Who Watches the Watchers TNG
-Impulse ENT
-Genesis TNG
-Empok Nor DS9
-Catspaw TOS
-Sleeping Dogs ENT
-Day of the Dove TOS
-Heart of Glory TNG
-Rightful Heir TNG
-Sons of Mogh DS9
-Apocalypse Rising DS9
-Prophecy VOY
-Blood Oath DS9
-The Communicator ENT
-The Enterprise Incident TOS
-Unification pt. I TNG
-Far Beyond the Stars DS9
-Relativity VOY
-Judgment ENT
-Court Martial TOS
-The Measure of a Man TNG
-Dax DS9
-Author, Author VOY
-The Enemy Within TOS
-Allegiance TNG
-Through the Looking Glass DS9
-Deadlock VOY
-Similitude ENT
-Divergence ENT
-The Doomsday Machine TOS
-Cause and Effect TNG
-Equinox VOY
-What Are Little Girls Made Of? TOS
-The Offspring TNG
-Whispers DS9
-Prototype VOY
-I, Mudd TOS
-The Forge ENT
-Yesteryear TAS
-Amok Time TOS
-Innocence VOY
-The Savage Curtain TOS
-The Changeling TOS
-The Inner Light TNG
-Friendship One VOY
-the orion scene from "The Cage" TOS
-The Pirates of Orion TAS
-Whom Gods Destroy TOS
-Borderland ENT
-Bound ENT
-Dagger of the Mind TOS
-The Hunted TNG
-Unforgettable VOY
-Captive Pursuit DS9
-Bounty ENT
-Cold Station 12 ENT
-The Trouble with Tribbles TOS
-Aquiel TNG
-Civil Defense DS9
-The Best of Both Worlds TNG
-I, Borg TNG
-Regeneration ENT
-Drone VOY
-Scorpion VOY
-Endgame VOY
-Canamar ENT
-The Eye of the Beholder TAS
-Birthright TNG
-Displaced VOY
-Cogenitor ENT
-A Private Little War TOS
-The Outcast TNG
-Prime Factors VOY
-the first ilia bridge scene from THE MOTION PICTURE
-Elaan of Troyius TOS
-The Perfect Mate TNG
-Rajiin ENT
-Dawn ENT
-Arena TOS
-Darmok TNG
-Twilight ENT
-The Paradise Syndrome TOS
-Conundrum TNG
-Workforce VOY
-The scene where number 1 takes command in "The Cage" TOS
-The Lorelei Signal TAS
-Angel One TNG
-Macrocosm VOY
-Bound ENT
-Patterns of Force TOS
-The Killing Game VOY
-Stormfront ENT
-the mccoy/data scene from "Encounter at Farpoint" TNG
-Relics TNG
-Dr. Bashir, I Presume? DS9
-Death Wish VOY
-Borderland ENT
-the spock/data scene from "Unification" TNG
-Mudd's Women TOS
-Bem TAS
-A Matter of Time TNG
-The Crossing ENT
-Return to Tomorrow TOS
-Warlord VOY
-Power Play TNG
-the geskana scene in "Desert Crossing" ENT
-The Gamesters of Triskellion TOS
-the football scene in "Justice" TNG
-Tsunkatse VOY
-Take Me Out to the Holosuite DS9
-Spectre of the Gun TOS
-A Fistful of Datas TNG
-North Star ENT
-Relics TNG
-Dreadnought VOY
-Destiny DS9
-The Catwalk ENT
-Carbon Creek ENT
-Assignment: Earth TOS
-Time's Arrow TNG
-Future's End VOY
-Shuttlepod One ENT
-The Galileo Seven TOS
-Liaisons TNG
-Coda VOY
-One Little Ship DS9
-The Menagerie TOS
-First Flight ENT
-Shattered VOY
-Tapestry TNG
-First Contact TNG
-Lifesigns VOY
-Twilight ENT
-The Visitor DS9
-Year of Hell VOY
-Yesterday's Enterprise TNG
-The Way to Eden TOS
-Devil's Due TNG
-Paradise DS9
-Timeless VOY
-Parallels TNG
-Children of Time DS9
-Azati Prime ENT
-The Ambergris Element TAS
-Thirty Days VOY
-Shore Leave TOS
-Two Days and Two Nights ENT
-Let He Who is Without Sin... DS9
-Captain's Holiday TNG
-United ENT
-The Time Trap TAS
-The Void VOY
-The Chase TNG
-Oasis ENT
-Metamorphosis TOS
-The Survivors TNG
-Shadowplay DS9
-Resolutions VOY
-Mirror, Mirror TOS
-The Emperor's New Cloak DS9
-Living Witness VOY
-In a Mirror, Darkly ENT
-Similitude ENT
-Wink of an Eye TOS
-Force of Nature TNG
-The Sound of Her Voice DS9
-Blink of an Eye VOY
TREKATHON (fierce)
-The Doomsday Machine TOS
-Yesterday's Enterprise TNG
-The Siege of AR-558 DS9
-Scorpion VOY
-In a Mirror, Darkly ENT
TREKATHON (feeling)
-Similitude ENT
-This Side of Paradise TOS
-The Measure of a Man TNG
-The Visitor DS9
-Someone to Watch Over Me VOY
-Two Days and Two Nights ENT
-The Trouble with Tribbles TOS
-The Outrageous Okona TNG
-Trials and Tribbalations DS9
-Message in a Bottle VOY

"Star Trek"

I was born midway through the original run, so my first memories of the show were from mid-70's re-runs. Which makes me part of the audience that "created" syndication as a television phenomenon. Though i've never ordered plomeek soup in klingon, been a convention-goer (with the exception of one glorious Secaucas afternoon in 2006), or belonged to a fan-created "crew", you'd be hard-pressed to find someone more devoted. Scotty could give you warp 8 (maybe a wee bit more) why were there about twenty-nine episodes in which the ship went faster without blowing up or shaking apart? I think that damned ship hit warp 36 once. And yes, i resisted the BATATHON with frank gorshin, julie newmar, lee meriwether, yvonne craig (and even roger carmel and stanley adams!). But you don't have to.
1) 3.2
2) 3.0
3) 2.8
-The Cage (1)
-Where No Man Has Gone Before (1)
-The Corbomite Maneuver (1)
-What Are Little Girls Made Of? (1)
-Menagerie (1)
-Balance of Terror (1)
-The Squire of Gothos (1)
-Space Seed (1)
-The Devil in the Dark (1)
-The City on the Edge of Forever (1)
-Amok Time (2)
-Mirror, Mirror (2)
-The Doomsday Machine (2)
-The Trouble with Tribbles (2)
-The Gamesters of Triskellion (2)
-By Any Other Name (2)
-The Enterprise Incident (3)
-Spectre of the Gun (3)
-Let That Be Your Last Battlefield (3)
-The Savage Curtain (3)
-All Our Yesterdays (3)
PERFORMANCES (# of episodes)
leonard nimoy (spock, 80) ****
Plus 22 animated episodes, 6 films, "Unification" TNG, and two films as director. The fact that i have one rounded ear and one pointed made my differentness as a child seem...logical. I didn't literally believe i was half-vulcan, but it was a thought that made me smile.
william shatner (kirk, 79) ****
Plus 21 animated episodes, 7 films, and director/story credit for THE FINAL FRONTIER. Now, go watch INVASION IOWA. Trust me.
-The Enemy Within
-The Paradise Syndrome
-The Mark of Gideon
-By Any Other Name
-Requiem for Methusalah
-the "what IS it with you" scene from UNDISCOVERED COUNTRY
-Errand of Mercy
deforest kelley (mccoy, 75) ****
Plus 20 animated episodes, 6 films, and one NEXT GEN. Brilliant? Beyond.
-The Man Trap
-Friday's Child
-For the World is Hollow, and I Have Touched the Sky
-the mccoy scene from "Encounter at Farpoint" TNG
nichelle nichols (uhura, 68) ****
Plus 18 animated episodes, and 6 films. Never less than perfect.
-Charlie X
-the swahili scene from "The Man Trap"
-Plato's Stepchildren
james doohan (scotty, 64) ****
Plus 22 animated episodes, 7 films, and 1 NEXT GEN. Flawless.
-Wolf in the Fold
-The Lights of Zetar
-the scotty/mccoy hall scene from "Turnabout Intruder"
-the drinking scene from "By Any Other Name"
-Relics TNG
george takei (sulu, 51) ****
Plus 15 animated episodes, 6 films, and 1 VOYAGER. Young. Wet. Bitches.
-The Naked Time
-The Slaver Weapon
-The Excelsior scenes from UNDISCOVERED COUNTRY
-Flashback VOY
-The Hot Troll Deviation THE BIG BANG THEORY
walter koenig (chekov, 36) ****
Plus 7 films, and 1 TAS writing credit. A fan's greatest friend.
-The Apple
-The Way to Eden
-the Botany Bay scene from THE WRATH OF KHAN
majel barrett (chapel, 25) **
Plus 12 animated episodes, 2 films, the original pilot first officer role, a separate subsequent recurring character...and something like 232 credits in all five series and three additional films as the computer voice. It's good to be the wife of the king.
john winston (kyle, 11) ****
grace lee whitney (yeoman rand, 8) ****
Plus 4 films, and "Flashback" VOYAGER.
roger c. carmel (harry mudd, 3) ****
Oh harry...
-Mudd's Women
-I, Mudd
-Mudd's Passion
bruce hyde (lt. kevin riley, 2) ****
Who doesn't loves a little riley?
mark lenard (sarek, 1) ****
Yes, sarek technically has twice as many appearances on NEXT GEN, and his character arc ends there. But factor in 1 TAS, 3 films (plus a fourth as a klingon), and an immortal TOS appearance as a romulan, and placing mark anywhere but here would be illogical. His contributions to sci fi go well beyond seven iconic turns as the most unfeeling father this side of the great santini.
-Balance of Terror
-Sarek TNG
-Journey to Oasis BUCK ROGERS IN THE 25th CENTURY
Well, obviously.
-The Trouble with Tribbles
-Trials and Tribble-ations DS9
-The Tholian Web
-In a Mirror, Darkly ENT
-The Corbomite Maneuver
-The Squire of Gothos
-A Piece of the Action
-Tomorrow is Yesterday
-The Cage
-Operation: Annihilate!
-Return of the Archons
-The Cloud Minders
-Where No Man Has Gone Before
-The Trouble with Tribbles
-The Devil in the Dark
-The Counter-Clock Incident
-The City on the Edge of Forever

Sunday, October 9, 2011


Dear Yankees, Red Sox, and Phillies (or as i like to say, New York All-Stars, Philadelphia Yankees, and Boston In-The-Black Sox),
I'm very sorry to hear about your recent departures from the race to become this year's world champions. My condolences to all of the fine people who represent your athletic clubs. As Aunt Lola always says, keep your peckers up. I'm sure you're each just one more plundered all-star away from returning to the pinnacle of your sport.
May i suggest, however, a new approach to the perrenial problem of how to be the very best in a system that (unlike that commie football league with its fancy-pants salary cap) makes no pretense to fairness?
I offer, for your consideration, the New Haven Yanksockies. Were you to merge your three ball clubs into one, the embarrassment of losing a divisional series to some payroll-challenged team that doesn't know it's supposed to lose, will be erased forever. It's even possible you might never lose a game again. I know, i know, that seems a bit heavy-handed, but we've done studies on the fans in Boston, Philly, and New York, and their capacity for shame is virtually non-existent - a full 93.8% said they would eagerly attend a game in which their team had no chance of losing. Fans in your fine megalopolis would flock to your new 500,000-seat stadium in New Haven, Connecticut (a compromise location between your three excellent municipalities). It would have a monstrous green outfield wall, the Phanatic roaming the field between innings, and a picture of George Steinbrenner's face on every seat.
Of course, some of the stars on your fine clubs will have to adjust to being bench players. This will work out smoother than you might fear...the fact that these players signed with you in the first place should tell you all you need to know about their values and integrity. Tell them it's for the good of the team and the greater glory of the Henry/Montgomery/Steinbrenner families, then pay them all fifty million a year. Trust me, you'll be able to afford it.
You might be tempted to include the other member of the big four, Chicago, in your plans, but that's an agony no one needs. The Mets are tempting too, with their geographic proximity and payroll four times greater than loser teams like Tampa Bay...but every great team needs a whipping boy, and numbers don't lie. There are few things Americans love more than watching a New York team take it on the ass.
I know that melding this many egos into a cohesive unit will be a challenge. It's possible that bickering and power grabs may prevent this merger from even getting past the negotiation stage. In that event, here's my backup plan, which would sadly leave out the nice folk in Philly and Boston. Please tell the general manager of the Yankees (New York, not Philadelphia), Mr. Cashman (No that his name? Come on, really?), that he could trade just one of his players, a certain Mr. Rodriguez, for the entire roster of the Kansas City Royals. I know, i know, if the Royals had anyone worth having you would have bought them long ago...but just between you and i, Mr. Cashman, i'd look into this one. Word on the street is that your Mr. Rodriguez is a cheater. And i ain't talking about Madonna (rim shot!). I'm sure your fans would be outraged if they ever thought for one second that any of their twenty-seven championships were come by unfairly.
The Yanksockies. One team. A payroll of 511 million dollars, in a league where the other teams would average 84 million.
What, my friends, could be more American than that?

Saturday, October 8, 2011

"Star Trek: Voyager"

The fourth TREK series, and a fine addition to the universe. That it didn't achieve the excitement engendered by the classic and NEXT GEN is hardly reason to ignore it. It created many moments worthy of its heritage, and was a return to TREK sanity after the miss & hit experiment that was DS9. I was a bit ambivalent over the first few seasons...yet like DS9, it received a jolting season 4 overhaul. Is someone trying to tell us that the fourth season of classic TREK would have been better than the first three? VOYAGER offered a high level of writing, occasionally worthy of science fiction at its best.
1) 2.7
2) 2.7
3) 2.9
4) 3.1
5) 3.0
6) 2.9
7) 2.9
-Eye of the Needle (1)
-Projections (2)
-Death Wish (2)
-Future's End (3)
-Distant Origin (3)
-Scorpion (3-4)
-Year of Hell (4)
-Message in a Bottle (4)
-Prey (4)
-In the Flesh (5)
-Someone to Watch Over Me (5)
-Equinox, pt. 1 (5)
-Tinker Tenor Doctor Spy (6)
-Blink of an Eye (6)
-Body and Soul (7)
-Shattered (7)
-Endgame (7)
PERFORMANCES (# of episodes)
-kate mulgrew (kathryn janeway, 170) ***
Plus NEMESIS. Forever in the world's mind, there will be a female STAR TREK captain. You had an impossible job, kate...the search for a balance that would please everyone (trekkies, feminists, casual fans...). You succeeded. Naysayers, begone.
-Good Shepherd
-tim russ (tuvok, 170) ****
Plus GENERATIONS, "Starship Mine" TNG, and 2 DEEP SPACE NINEs. After nimoy, mark lenard, and robin curtis, the only vulcan who got it right. Whenever they gave him a chance to shine, he lifted everyone and everything. The brilliant mr. russ. He also directed "Living Witness".
-Alter Ego
-the farewell scene from "Homestead"
-robert beltran (chakotay, 170) ***
Just to remind you that DS9 wasn't a bad dream, they put a spiritual monkey on the first officer's back. It says much about robert's talent and affability that he bore the weight.
-Distant Origin
-Natural Law
-robert duncan mcneill (tom paris, 170) **
Admit it, tom was never as compelling as nick locarno in TNG's "The First Duty". Was it simply that the producers didn't suck it up and pay the writer to continue using that character? Might that tiny thread of chemistry have made the difference? We wanted to like tom, we did. But they got away from his "bad boy" side too quickly. He should have bedded kes, he should have...well, you could make a list, but instead we got another Starfleet goodie-goodie, saddled with a flaccid romance that ate his character. Robert directed four episodes, and four ENTERPRISEs.
-The First Duty TNG
-Ex Post Facto
-The Chute
-Thirty Days
-roxann dawson (b'elanna torres, 168) **
Plus "Dead Stop" ENT. Another low rating not the actor's fault. It would have been more interesting to push the boundaries of her tempestuousness, and oh, that groaning clunker of a romance...mightn't it have been more compelling to explore b'elanna and chakotay romantically? Or even harry? Ah well. In season 4, a new character came in to be the sex symbol that torres could have been. Not that every show ought have a sex symbol - let's not pander. But at a certain point with a character long on potential and short on movement, you have to say, "DO something, wouldya?" Not roxann's fault...she can only read the lines she's given. She also directed two episodes, and ten ENTERPRISEs.
-the chakotay love scene from "Persistence of Vision"
-Extreme Risk
-Day of Honor
-garrett wang (harry kim, 168) **
It's tempting to give him a third star for not being overtly annoying. He may not have been the most talented trekker to tweak a tricorder, but like terry farrell, the writers knew how to make him look good (or good enough).
-Non Sequitur
-Favorite Son
-Ashes to Ashes
-The Disease
-robert picardo (the doctor, 167) ****
Plus FIRST CONTACT, and "Doctor Bashir, I Presume?" DS9. If you're not comfortable with gushing, skip to the next character. A role that robert initially wanted no part of, he went on to become the character most responsible for the success of the show. Episodes that DON'T make the cut in this marathon are better than ones that did for other characters. Of the forty-eight characters in the TREK universe who rate their own marathon, the doctor is the only one whose episodes that were diverted to other marathons, might make a better marathon than the ones here. An embarrassment of riches. He also directed two episodes, and co-wrote "Life Line".
-the doctor scene from FIRST CONTACT
-The Swarm
-Tinker Tailor Doctor Spy
-Someone to Watch Over Me
-Renaissance Man
-the party scene from "Endgame"
-ethan philips (neelix, 164) *
Plus FIRST CONTACT, "Menage a Troi" TNG, and "Acquisition" ENT. A lovely a disaster of a character. Can anyone put their finger on what was so wrong? Not making him perversely jealous over kes might have helped. A more evolved (non-20th century human) attitude, one encouraging of her having an affair with tom or the doc...then you might have had something, oh keepers of the flame. But really, he should have been written off in the season 3 house-cleaning. Or very much sooner, UNLESS they were willing to dive deep into the fact that even after seven years, everyone still pretty much kept him at arm's length (Starfleet protestations to the contrary). But they didn't...and creating an intentionally annoying character is perhaps the greatest challenge in script writing. You have to make annoyingness appealing (at least on some subconscious level), but neelix makes urkel look like frank burns. Someone on the staff had a gallows sense of humor, at least. For your cathartic mental health, i offer the...
-the dying scene from "The Phage"
-the death scene from "Meld"
-the death scene from "Macrocosm"
-Mortal Coil
-jeri ryan (seven of nine, 102) ****
Franchise revitalized? Check. A fascinating character, and jeri's looks prevent her from receiving proper appreciation. The show didn't (or perhaps couldn't) do full justice to how smart seven would actually be, as a former drone. Realistically, that's but one reason she never would have even been able to reassimilate into humanity...but we'll call that a necessary conceit. Seven oh seven, we love thee true.
-Dark Frontier
-Body and Soul
-Human Error
-jennifer lien (kes, 68) **
We liked her. No, really. A romance with the doctor (or tom) might have popped. But that neelix thing...great googily, it was so awful we could never put it out of our minds when she appeared. That's not just about chemistry...the writers dropped the ball in never giving us a scene that showed us why she loved him. They never gave us that "ah, i get it" moment. And then they axed the wrong character.
-Before and After
-scarlett pomers (naomi wildman, 17) ***
Should have been annoying. But kinda nice.
-martha hackett (seska, 13) **
Plus "The Search" DS9. Eh.
-manu intiraymi (icheb, 11) ****
Makes you wish the show had gone another season or two.
-Child's Play
-alexander enberg (vorik, 8) **
Plus "Juggernaut", and 2 NEXT GENs. Okay, in all fairness, he often invokes nimoy's presence more pitch perfectly than perhaps any other actor. Is the low rating because it's mimicry without depth? Perhaps he did as much as he could given limited screen time and occasionally subpar writing.
-nancy hower (samantha wildman, 8) ***
How did her snot-nosed offspring wrangle more episodes? A romance with harry or neelix would have been interesting.
-josh clark (joe carey, 7) ***
Plus "Justice" TNG. That perfect kyle/o'brien small-dose presence.
-dwight schulz (barclay, 6) ****
Plus FIRST CONTACT, and 5 NEXT GENs. Somebody give this character a series! See
-marley mcclean (mezoti, 5) ****
I suppose it made narrative sense to write off our little decollectivized borgling, and perhaps with naomi around there was only room for one ten year-old...but 'tis a shame. She nailed her character with humor and humanity.
-richard herd (admiral paris, 4) ***
Plus "Birthright" NEXT GEN...not to mention starring or recurring roles on V, T.J. HOOKER, SEAQUEST, and SEINFELD. Invite this man to dinner.
-john de lancie (q, 3) ****
Plus 8 NEXT GENs, and "Q-Less" DS9. See
-suzanna thompson (borg queen, 2) ***
Plus 2 NEXT GENs, and "Rejoined" DS9. With the deck stacked against her, she achieved the impossible - making us forget she's not alice krige.
-brad dourif (lon suder, 2) ***
Sci fi luminary dourif gave disturbing (and poignant) reality to a betazed serial killer.
-In the Flesh
-Elementary, Dear Data TNG
-Message in a Bottle
-Flesh and Blood
-Life Line
-Eye of the Needle
-One Small Step
-Death Wish
-Someone to Watch Over Me

Voyager, season 7

-Unimatrix Zero, pt. 2 ***
Reports of janeway, tuvok, and torres' assimilation were exaggerated, as the doctor gave them neural suppressants which maintained their individuality (though they are full drones, on the surface...a nice visual, particularly with b'elanna). They infect the collective with the nanovirus. The queen fights back, and unamatrix zero must be sacrificed. The albatross around this one's neck, as in part 1, is the near-total lack of chemistry between seven and her former love. The sudden turnaround of her refusal to embrace him also feels artificial. But...tain't often you see a pissed-off klingon ex-drone leading a borg sphere into battle. I'm just saying.
-Imperfection ***
A degrading cortical implant is killing seven. Icheb has a risky solution, which he forces upon her when she refuses to allow him to be imperiled. WEST WING fans, watch this one with the eye of a hawk.
-Drive *
This one really pulls you dialogue, beautiful visuals, the snazziest Starfleet flight suits you'll ever see, plus a nice helping of cyia batten (CHARLIE WILSON'S WAR, CHARLIE'S ANGELS: FULL THROTTLE). It veers into mawkish monogamy however, then explodes into preposterous contrivance when it asks us to believe that tom would stop his ship in middle of a galactic grand prix to talk to b'elanna about, y'know, relationship stuff. Don't hold anything that could shatter a TV screen when the final shot rolls - "Just Married" and tin cans on the Delta Flyer! How hilariously appropriate is the title of the subsequent episode?
-Repression **
Tuvok investigates attacks on former maquis crewmembers. He discovers that the assailant is himself, under the hypnotic control of a radical maquis vedek back on Bajor, who is causing him to mindmeld with his victims and bring them under the vedek's control. They commandeer the ship, even though the conflict has been over for three years. Captain chakotay has tuvok prove his loyalty by trying to kill janeway. This episode puts the "far" in far-fetched...yet it almost works.
-Critical Care ***
The doctor is kidnapped and forced to treat people on a planet where the quality of care is proportional to a person's social class. A fine guest turn by larry drake (L.A. LAW, THE KARATE KID).
-Inside Man ***
Reg! Deanna! A ferengi crew intercept a Starfleet transmission to Voyager, and re-program it to send a hologram of barclay with instructions that will get Voyager home...with, however, all biological life aboard dead, so that they can harvest seven's nanoprobes. The fake reg is mucho suave, and the doctor is the only one who suspects something is amiss. Back in the alpha quadrant, the real reg (who has been hoodwinked by a dabo woman) works to save the crew with the help of troi, whom he picks up on the sexiest risan beach you've ever seen. Delightful.
-Body and Soul ****
-written by eric morris, phyllis strong, michael sussman
-directed by robert duncan mcneill
Smashing. Kim, seven, and the doctor are taken prisoner by hologram-fighting aliens. She stashes the doc's file in her implants, and his personality takes control of her. He (in she) goes on a sensate binge, and two of the aliens get into romantic conundrums with him (in her). Charming guest turns by megan gallagher (CHINA BEACH, MILLENIUM) and fritz sperberg (NORTH, PATRIOT GAMES). Jeri ryan's performance is a revelation, and picardo is his usual wry wonderfulness. Their characters' paradoxical lives are brought into focus. This one might paste a goofy smile on your face.
-Nightingale **
Aiding a medical transport, kim has growing pains on his first command. This one suffers from a flawed premise - harry ignores the Starfleet non-interference policy for humanitarian reasons, but when he discovers that pretext is a lie...he still takes sides in an alien war. With ron (BARNEY MILLER, FIREFLY) glass!
-Flesh and Blood 1&2 ***
Voyager receives a distress call from the hirogen, who took the holotechnology they were given, and created a race of sentient beings to hunt. The holograms escaped, and are now fighting back. They manage to kidnap the doctor, and his sympathies are won by their calm, charismatic leader (jeff yagher - V, MY FELLOW AMERICANS). Their crew are an alpha quadrant cornucopia - cardassian, klingon, breen, and others. The doctor implores janeway to give them aid. When she attempts to deactivate them, he throws in with the holograms, who then kidnap b'elanna. Their leader turns out to be a spiritual megalomaniac content to massacre his enemies. A rather brilliant episode, and very resonant in terms of the doctor's sentient growth (and the unspoken realization that the crew still have a long way to go in accepting him as an equal).
-Shattered ****
-written by michael taylor
-directed by terry windell
Voyager is split into past, present, and future temporal zones. Chakotay is the only one who can move from zone to zone, courtesy of an injection by a pre-mobile emitter doctor. He must convince a badlands-era janeway to work with him. They meet icheb and naomi from seventeen years in the future, and a fully borg seven from the past. The more janeway learns, the more uncomfortable she becomes with stranding Voyager in the delta quadrant. It's a love note to the show's history...and it works, even tugging the heartstrings.
-Lineage **
A pregnant b'elanna has horrible flashbacks to her childhood...and the audience has horrible flashbacks to "Drive". When torres and tom discover that their baby will have klingon ridges, she reacts irrationally, reprogramming the doctor to genetically resequence the baby. In all fairness, this one is laudably ambitious, dealing with the damaged self-images that childhood cruelties cause. Whether 24th-century human children could be so callous, is perhaps beside the point - a noble attempt is made to get into the parental rejection issues at the root of b'elanna's damage. The effort is sunk, however, by horrible 20th-century attitudes, to wit:
TOM: This isn't about their expectations or hopes. Or...doubts. None of this belongs to them.
B'ELANNA: It belongs to us. All of it.
The "happy couple" are freaking out at the thought of impending parenthood. This is a healthy, sane reaction, but every viewer at home wants to pretend that it's just part of life. It's not - it's just part of life when two isolated people are expected to be the entire support system for an entirely new being. Nothing good can come of that, but despite all the misery and lifelong neuroses it causes, our culture tells us it's okay. An injection of sanity would have been for someone to say:
CHAKOTAY: Chill out, you two. This baby is all of ours. And we're all going to raise it.
-Repentance **
Voyager rescues the crew of a death row prison ship. Issues of class imbalance arise, and seven realizes that one of the murderers has a brain imbalance which has disabled his conscience. Once the doctor unwittingly corrects this genetic deficiency, she sees in him a mirror of her own destructive life as a drone. It all never quite lifts off, just because of misfiring chemistry. Fine turns by jeff kober (ALIEN NATION, CHINA BEACH) and f.j. rio (DEEP SPACE NINE, BEVERLY HILLS 90210) are wasted.
-Prophecy **
Voyager finds a multi-generational klingon ship, whose crew come to believe that b'elanna's unborn child is their messiah. The most striking TREK use of CGI to recreate a classic vessel. I want to love this one, i really really do...but the substance underpinning the gloss is too flawed. They suddenly find themselves with two hundred war-era klingons aboard, and react with minimal security. Tom agrees to a duel to defend his wife's honor, which feels a bit out of character, but might have been saved by a perfectly choreographed such luck, though. Neelix mating with a klingon almost works...but only almost. They destroy the klingon battlecruiser way too soon. There's a whole lot of spiritual mumbo jumbo which is annoying AND unrealistically resolved - all these pilgrims who have been travelling for eighty years suddenly find their messiah, then are content to abandon said messiah to settle an alien planet? A lovely guest turn by wren t. brown (WAITING TO EXHALE, WHOOPI) as an atypical klingon captain.
-The Void ***
Voyager falls into a matterless pocket of subspace which traps ships. Morality is quickly put to the test, but in a wasteland of predatory survival, janeway forges tenuous alliances. The ragtag confederation escapes, thanks to the doctor's befriending of a native, mute species that all the other ships consider unintelligent vermin.
-Workforce 1&2 ***
Most of the crew are shanghaied to work on an alien planet, with their memories manipulated or erased. Janeway's "paradise syndrome" moment, as she falls into the embrace of good man jaffen (james read - REMINGTON STEELE, LEGALLY BLONDE 1-2). It's her most resonant, satisfying romance (a questionable accomplishment, as i thought the previous episode was going to be about her love life). Tuvok's buried consciousness struggles to arise. Alone aboard Voyager, the doctor's emergency command program is activated, and he fends off alien attack. A little quease is injected into the proceedings by tom befriending the bristly b'elanna (who, unbeknownst to him, is carrying his child). Don most (HAPPY DAYS, EDtv) plays an amoral doctor, and john aniston (THE SHAKIEST GUN IN THE WEST, DAYS OF OUR LIVES) brings his friendly genitals to the party. Superb.
-Human Error ***
Seven practices her social skills on the holodeck, including romance with chakotay. It's poignant and hopeful, until she triggers a borg subroutine which shuts down her cortical node if emotions resurface fully. Tenderly beautiful.
-Q2 ***
When q finds his son (a spot-on turn by keegan de lancie - EXIT TO EDEN, THE VELOCITY OF GARY) too much to handle, he dumps him on janeway. The scamp turns the engine room into a nightclub, removes seven's clothes, puts three borg cubes on their tail, and kidnaps icheb and the delta flyer. Daddy q pops in and out (of janeway's bathtub, among other things), trying to avoid responsibility. In the end, both father and son grow up a little. Brilliant.
-Author, Author ***
Through a video feed, a Starfleet arbitrator (joe campanella - ONE DAY AT A TIME, MAMA'S FAMILY) is called in to determine the doctor's sentient status after his holonovel is published back home against his wishes. The novel portrays Voyager-like characters in an unflattering light, amid the struggle of photonic life to be accorded freedom and respect. At first the holo-characterizations seem preposterously unfair (or preposterously funny, like lt. marseilles and three of eight)...but seen as metaphor, i'd rush to the doc's defense. Barclay and admiral paris are at the hearing. This is the episode the doctor's character arc has been building to for seven seasons. Unlike comparable TREK trial episodes, they use a lot of humor to leaven the seriousness...and it hits beautifully on both levels.
-Friendship One ***
Receiving its first Starfleet mission in six years, Voyager is sent after a 21st-century probe. Tragically, it caused an anti-matter reaction when it struck the atmosphere of an alien planet, and a nuclear winter ensued. The irradiated survivors take an away team hostage, believing that Earth is trying to conquer them. They kill joe carey (after seven seasons, only four episodes from home). Greater tragedy is barely averted, as their leader aims anti-matter missiles at Voyager, and tom saves the life of a premature baby. Voyager begins the task of clearing their atmosphere, and they see their sun's rays for the first time in generations.
-Natural Law ***
Chakotay is wounded in a shuttle crash with seven, and taken in by a pre-agricultural culture. The most beautiful, realistic depiction of a "primitive" race in TREK history. They are gentle and capable and offer help with no thought of reward...which makes me think that someone on the writing staff has been doing their research. Dismissive at first, seven forms a touching bond with a teenager (autumn reeser - THE BRADY BUNCH IN THE WHITE HOUSE, ENTOURAGE).
-Homestead **
They finally write off neelix's character - and only 6.9 seasons too late. Voyager encounters an imperiled colony of talaxians, neelix falls in love, and he saves the day. The plot is more appropriate to a john wayne film than a vision of 24th-century humanity, and the only thing saving this from one star is a charming guest turn by julianne christie (IT'S PAT, ENCINO MAN), plus a four-star farewell from tuvok.
-Renaissance Man ***
It's a doctorpalooza! He spends most of the episode impersonating nearly the entire bridge staff in order to sabotage the ship, because aliens will kill janeway if he doesn't. How long will it take you to realize that janeway isn't herself (literally)? Wonderful action, and subtle humor throughout. Dozens of decoy docs, from a bird's-eye (bald-eye) view! Paris kisses him! Can he outfight tuvok?? And the scene when he thinks he's about to decompile, and confesses all his transgressions? Hysterical. The only missing element (and long overdue, at that), is janeway finally putting a pip on his empty collar. Otherwise, pure wonderfulness.
-Endgame ****
-written by kenneth biller, robert doherty
-directed by allan kroeker
A scorcher of a double-length series finale. Alice krige (FIRST CONTACT, CHARIOTS OF FIRE) returns as the borg queen, to face off against two from a future in which it took Voyager 23 years to get home (with horrible losses - seven of nine dead, chakotay dead of grief, tuvok crippled by delta-induced dementia). Admiral janeway says fuck the temporal prime directive, and steals Federation technology to go back in time and try to bring Voyager home through a borg transwarp hub. The younger janeway wants to destroy the hub instead. Seven agrees to surgery which will finally allow her full emotional expression, so she can consummate her flirtations with chakotay - which is not unsatisfying, though not as satisfying as altogether avoiding the banal question "WHOM will she pick??" Her rejection of monogamy is on record, so we'll blame this on a failure of writerly imagination - but we're at least happy that sexual healing has arrived. Barclay and admiral paris await in the alpha quadrant with a fleet, and lisa locicero (RENO 911!, RUSH HOUR 2) is wonderful as miral paris, the grown-up daughter of youknowwhom. Future harry is a captain. Future doctor picks a name, and marries an organic. Plus another helping of (klingon) vaughn armstrong. At the end, when they're suddenly, finally home, one feels almost cheated at the underplaying of the emotional's hard to believe that the release from the enormity of their isolation wouldn't result in a more rawly human reaction. The only one not crying should have been Tuvok. But i quibble. Brilliant.

Tuesday, October 4, 2011

yoko's lost verse

(A demo tape was recently found in a box of junk at a yard sale in Piscataway, New Jersey. The demo is an early recording of "Give Me Something", by Yoko Ono. It contained this fourth verse, which got cut from the released version.)

The pasta's limp
The salad's limp
The broccoli's limp
Your blimp is limp
Give me something that's not limp
Come on!
Come on!
(come on!!!)
Give me something that's not limp
Come on!
Come on!
(come on!!!)
Give me something that's not limp
Come on!
Come on!
(come on!!!)
Give me!
Give me!

Monday, October 3, 2011

M*A*S*H, season 4

-Welcome to Korea
Henry and Trapper have left the building. How do you recover from that? By having the services of Larry Gelbart. No matter which characters you preferred, season 4 bursts out of the gate with a burst of excellence that is in all ways undeniable. Hawkeye stumbles home from R&R, to find that Trapper's been discharged. He rushes to the airport to say goodbye. Missing him by ten minutes, he and Radar welcome his replacement, B.J. Hunnicut. They smuggle coroporal-captain O'Reilly into an officer's club, treat dying soldiers on the road, and get smashed at Rosie's...all before B.J. even meets Frank.
-Change of Command
Horse hockey! One of Klinger's most shining moments. Army careerist Sherman T. Potter arrives to take command. Tensions run high and Frank runs away, but by the end of the episode Potter's singing drinking songs in the Swamp.
-The Late Captain Pierce
Hawkeye is mistakenly declared dead. Eisenhower's visit has communications down. A dogfaced undertaker (Richard Masur - RISKY BUSINESS, THE THING, RHODA) wants his body. Seamless.
-Dear Mildred
Potter writes an anniversary letter. Margaret and Frank commission him a bust, made by the indomitable Cho (Richard Lee-Sung). Radar gives a rescued horse. Potter's road apple slip is iconic.
Hawkeye has a jeep accident. With a head injury, he is taken in by a family who speak no English. He babbles to them (and sings the odd show tune) to avoid falling asleep. An indelible performance by Alan.
-Some 38th Parallels
Frank auctions garbage, Radar is shaken by the sudden death of a patient whose life he'd saved, and Hawkeye delivers a messy present to a colonel (Kevin Hagen, LITTLE HOUSE ON THE PRAIRIE) who delivers too many dead soldiers. Hawk has a bout of impotence with Lynette Mettey (in the last of her six unforgettable appearances as various nurses...a great actor and the sexiest jaw in television history). The resolve is a bit unsatisfying, but what do you want from twenty-four minutes?
-The More I See You
The woman Hawkeye could never get over (the wonderful Blythe Danner) is assigned to the 4077th. She's married now. Their feelings return. He proposes himself into a corner, literally...and she knows he'll always be married to his work first. She transfers out, leaving him hollow and alone.
It's hard to describe why this episode is four-star. It's missing the "unforgettable" factor that is the most pertinent requirement. Heck, it's even missing a plot. But this unrelenting unspooling of the worst conditions the camp has ever dealt with taps into the idea of M*A*S*H at its purest. Unending casualties as supplies, explosions, blood in the eye, surgery without gloves, and the announcement that China has entered the war sending 300,000 soldiers...all of it interspersed with B&W newsreels.
-The Interview
Real-life Korean correspondent Clete Roberts stars as himself, interviewing camp personnel for a newsreel. Filmed in black & white without a laugh track, the network was very nervous, but this episode is an essential part of any conversation invoking the words "greatest M*A*S*H ever". Written and directed by series creator Larry Gelbart, his swan song after four seasons. Words can never express our thanks, Larry.
-Hey, Doc ***
An airtight lil' gem focusing on "under the table" treatments for visiting officers who don't want indiscretions on their records. Frank drives a tank over two tents and a jeep. Plus the delightful Ted Hamilton (THE PIRATE MOVIE).
-The Bus ***
The surgeons and Radar get stranded on a broken-down bus in the middle of nowhere. Frank hoards chocolate, and a surrendering North Korean (the endlessly delovely Soon-Tek Oh) fixes their ride.
-The Kids ***
A gem of a look into O.R. life on the day orphans stay in camp. Frank loses his dubious purple heart to a newborn.
-Of Moose and Men ***
B.J. helps an outraged Zale write a letter to his straying wife. Zale, of course, has a moose in town. A bristly colonel (Tim O'Connor, BUCK ROGERS) is outraged at Hawkeye's lack of discipline.
-Soldier of the Month ***
Frank, delirious from fever, says "The only one who ever liked me as a kid was the school janitor...he showed me pictures of the heavyweight champs." Where i come from, we call that "slidin' a live one past the censors".
-The Gun ***
The lovely Warren Stevens ( plays a wounded colonel whose fancy gun is stolen.

Sunday, October 2, 2011


1979, directed by Bud Townsend

Not a great film. The writing flirts with good, but occasionally descends into obviousness. The directing and cinematography could have used a defter touch.
Not a great film.
But an absolutely astonishing one. Astounding and confounding.
Every movie is of course a snapshot of its era. Even films that deal with the past or future, cannot help but reflect the attitudes and morals of the day. COACH is about a female ex-olympian, Randy Rawlings, who is hired to coach a boy's high school basketball team. The Principal who hired her (a dandy performance by Keenan Wynn - DR. STRANGELOVE, SANTA CLAUS IS COMIN' TO TOWN) wasn't aware she's not a man, and tries to dismiss her. She threatens litigation, and the "woman vs. boorish male establishment" vibe is one you fully expect from a 1979 film. Randy (Cathy Lee Crosby) is of course very capable, and triumphs. Well and good. But what you never expect...
Is anything other than a pedestrian film. The studio, Crown International, was pumping out a slew of drek during the 70s. A glance at the bios of the writers and director doesn't prepare you for anything special.
A huge part of the plot deals with romance. No surprise, you say? The romance is between Randy and one of her players, Jack Ripley. Ah, that gets your attention? Jack is played by Michael Biehn (TERMINATOR, ALIENS, THE ABYSS, TOMBSTONE), in his screen debut. So, a tale of forbidden love?
Not really.
Modern eyes cannot conceive of any movie dealing with a sexual relationship between a high school student and teacher, unless it's in the context of some morality tale in which there will be, must be, punishment and suffering. The only movies that get around that rule are comedies that makes no pretense to reality....AMERICAN PIE, or something of that ilk.
COACH is none of those. It's a comedy, but an earnest one, never straying from the attempt to portray real life.
And the confounding thing is, you keep waiting for the hammer to fall.
You keep waiting for the love affair to explode.
So many moments go by, when you think for sure the hammer was supposed to have just fallen.
It never does.
The film portrays a loving, sexual relationship between student and teacher...and not one life gets shattered. The team triumphs, Randy and Jack keep having loving sex, and...that's it, really. There's not even a mawkish "you know this has to end" scene. Randy is aware of Jack's inexperience, and never encourages him to think that their relationship has a future...but she also never tells him it won't. I know what you're thinking, this is all just some overblown male adolescent fantasy. I don't think so. Randy is very much her own woman. She's smart, not a caricature. Plus, one of the writers was a woman, Nancy Larson. I often look for the presence of a female writer on any show that deals with sexuality, and feel affirmed when i find one (does this reverse-sexism bother me at all...yes).
But it's not just that the hammer doesn't fall. It's that the lovers don't spend the film walking on eggshells. There's almost no paranoia...only once does Randy bristle, when Jack brushes her ass when they're barely alone. But she immediately forgets about it. And there's an unforgettable scene where they barely avoid getting caught fucking in the gym shower. So it's not like they're in some dreamworld, unaware that something illicit is going on...they're just profoundly unbothered.
Now how you or i or your cousin Lou might feel about all this...well, most people would be bothered, even outraged. And in the past i've stated that teachers like Mary Kay Letorneau, while they should never be exposed to any kind of prosecution, probably should lose their posts. But i say that only because this society is so neurotic about anything to do with sex. We're so guilt-ridden and repressed, that almost any teacher/student relationship is likely to end in conflicts of interest and everybody generally losing their heads. But in a healthy society, i cannot imagine any consensual adult/youth sexual relationship being damaging to anyone...indeed, just the opposite. Do you really think the best way for someone to learn about sex is with a partner equally inexperienced and nervous, or with someone experienced and nurturing?
A fascinating film. Tantalizing too, because rather than just have simple bad dialogue, it's almost like the writers were going for a kind of realness, a la Mamet. The lines are faintly clumsy, that intentional? Maybe.
Is COACH just an accidental product of the tail end of the sexual revolution, before the wave of PC hypersensitivity to workplace propriety arrived in the eighties? Or did the creators know exactly what they were doing? I'd love to do a remake, and lavish really good writing on it. I'd also love for a deluxe dvd to be released, full of cast and director/writer interviews. Brent Huff (THE PERILS OF GWENDOLYN) also stars, and there's another actor i'm having a hard time not believing isn't future NBA hall of famer Kevin McHale, required for some reason to act under the pseudonym Jack David Walker. Jack, if that's really you, i apologize.
Some of the moments are hit and miss, but it's a sweet film, and thanks to Crosby and Biehn it's very sexy, in a non-gratuitous way. Yes, Cathy fills out her gym suit in a way that could fill any adolescent (or adult or geriatric, or single-celled paramecium) with tingly feelings. But for its time, it leans a little closer to prudery than disinhibition (indeed, without that flaw, Randy Rawlings might have registered as one of the most beautiful cinema characters of all time). And more to the point, it's Cathy's performance that shines. Watching it, you are filled with curiosity over what ate the career she should have had. THAT'S INCREDIBLE was fun, but she obviously had much more to offer. The heck of it is though, a part of me thinks she looks back on this movie with a touch of embarrassment.
One of our family stories is how my grandfather never went any further than seventh grade. He said he knew he was ready for the real world when he started sleeping with his teacher. A tall tale? I'll never know. A tale of evil wrongdoing? You tell me.
A fantastic film to watch with a group. Be prepared for spirited, contentious discussion.