Q was introduced in the series pilot as a villain, sort of like Roddenberry’s idea of what he imagined God to be like, a chaotic despot with no regard for humanity. However, by the third season, Q evolved. In the episode “Q Who”, he became human and learned to see how much humans value each other, even those who annoy them. In fact, my theory is that it’s Data’s actions in that episode that inspired Q’s motives in this episode.
Here we see a different side to Q, one I like more than how he started off. To me Q is at his best when he is chaotic neutral rather than chaotic evil. He does what he wants, but not for evil intent. He does it instead to teach Picard something he should have learned from his youth.
The episode builds on something that was revealed in season 2: Picard’s artificial heart. He had to have a transplant at an early age in order to lengthen his life after a moment of egotistical weakness made him value his pride over his life. Since then, he had often wished he hadn’t made that near-fatal mistake. Especially at the start of this episode when he learns that the very thing that saved his life so long ago is now killing him.
This is an episode that I think isn’t talked about much, and I have to ask why. It’s well-crafted, and it has a great premise.
Before I start talking about this episode, I have to talk about a couple episodes that precede it. First is “Elementary, Dear Data”. In that episode, Data and Geordi are playing Sherlock Holmes on the Holodeck with Dr. Pulaski, who replaced Dr. Crusher for the second season. Geordi got sick of Dr. Pulaski constantly ribbing Data about his only following the script of what normally happens in a Sherlock Holmes mystery and not doing actual detective work. (Dr. Pulaski, just because Data doesn’t have emotions doesn’t mean he has to put up with your attitude. I can totally understand why Geordi was annoyed with you. Man I hated Dr. Pulaski) So to prove a point, he asked the computer to create an opponent based on Professor Moriarty for Data to defeat. The result is a completely self-aware version of the brilliant criminal. He’s like the Holodeck on God Mode. The only reason he stops is that Picard convinces him that it would be in his best interest, that someday they may learn a way for him to leave the Holodeck. This would lead some elements that would be explored with Star Trek Voyager’s Emergency Medical Hologram.
The first 2 seasons of TNG are universally regarded as the worst part of the show’s history. If you want the whole sordid story of why these seasons are such a mess, I suggest watching Chaos on the Bridge, the 1-hour documentary about the beginnings of the show.
One of the biggest problems with the first season is definitely Tasha Yar, played by Denise Crosby, who was chief of security in that season. We know very little about her, and she was one of the few characters who didn’t get a spotlight episode in the entire history of the show. This is her only spotlight, and–spoiler alert–she dies! Is it any wonder why Denise Crosby wanted to leave?
A few years back, I reviewed what I considered were the best and worst episodes of the original Star Trek. While I was writing those posts, I had started rewatching the 80’s version, Star Trek: The Next Generation. Now that I’m on the final season, I’ve decided to do a retrospective for this series as well (And DS9 fans, your day is coming. I’m in season 5 of that now.
When Disney acquired Star Wars from George Lucas, they decided to release one movie each year at Christmas. This started with Episode 7, The Force Awakens. In addition to the main movies (the “episodes”), we would also get movies that touch up more on the mythos of the franchise. Rogue One was just the first of these. Because it is the most recent Star Wars movie released, I have chosen it to end my retrospective. I don’t think I’ll be able to see The Last Jedi before the end of the year, so I will wait for the DVD.
Rogue One takes place before the very first Star Wars movie and follows a team of rebels attempting to retrieve the plans for the first Death Star (because Return of the Jedi has a Death Star too).
The Phantom Menace, despite what people said about it, actually did well at the box office. This is why I say Star Wars can do no wrong. They can make a movie that is almost universally considered one of the worst movies ever, and it can still make great returns.
In the original trilogy, Empire Strikes Back was darker than A New Hope. Temple of Doom is the darkest of the Indiana Jones movies. That pattern continues here as well. And it seems George Lucas learned from his mistakes in The Phantom Menace. I could see why he wanted total control over these movies. Even though his name was still associated with the original trilogy, Lucas had people that would tell him if his ideas didn’t work. Here, he doesn’t have to worry about that. I’m not saying that’s a good thing, but I’m saying I can see his reasoning.
One thing I like about this movie is that Jar Jar Binks is barely in it. He’s not the overbearing klutz he is in the previous movie He still makes mistakes, but it’s more frightening because Emperor Palpatine doesn’t even have to use Jedi mind control to coerce him. In fact, a lot of the deception that Palpatine weaves is done through his own charisma, not mind control. That’s why he’s such a great villain. He knows when to use his powers and when not to.
I like that the relationship between Obi-Wan and Anakin has matured to the point where they’re now trading witty banter. I especially love the scene where Kenobi laments to Anakin “Why do I have the feeling you’ll be the death of me?”
“I never needed to say I was Batman. I just showed up.”–Adam West in an episode of “The Big Bang Theory
This is a post I’ve been dreading even though I knew I’d have to do it eventually. With the news last week, I knew I’d have to make a tribute to Adam West. This was a person I would have to make a tribute post for because he was an important part of my childhood.
When I was in fourth grade, a new TV network started in New Orleans, WNOL-38. (It eventually was bought out by Fox and currently the WB/CW network) For its first two years, it was your basic channel that had syndicated reruns. One of these was the Batman TV series from the 1960’s starring Adam West as Batman and Burt Ward as Robin.
It was this show that introduced me to Batman, the Dark Knight. Each weekend, they would air both parts of the original episode back to back. Each week had a great old movie star or TV personality guest star as the villain. There were famous comic book villains such as the Riddler (Frank Gorshin), the Joker (Caesar Romero) or Catwoman (Julie Newar, Lee Meriwether, and Eartha Kitt) . The show even had its own villains like King Tut (Victor Buono) and Egghead (Vincent Price). It was fun and action-packed. I loved how the fights always had sound effects printed on the screen, just like a comic book.
Not only did Star Wars change how movies were made, but also how they are marketed. Remember that while VCR’s and Cable TV were around in the 1970’s, it would be quite some years before either became as prominent as they would in the 80’s and 90’s. In fact, Hollywood was completely against cable television and ran ads in movie theatres (and ironically enough, on TV) telling people how bad an idea Cable Television was. They were worried that more channels meant that cinemas would receive less money from people. Toy makers saw little value in making toys based on movies. They didn’t have the staying power as TV shows or comics, once the movie was gone from theatre, it was believed the toys would not sell anymore.
George Lucas wanted to change that. He had to, because he’d spent so much money on A New Hope’s effects that he had to find some way to compensate. He did it with licensing. And not just toys, but later, comic books, tie-in novels–all kinds of stuff. It was, as the Star Wars parody Spaceballs famously put it, “Where the real money from the movie [was] made!” In fact, Kenner was the first toy company to even take the risk. I had some of these. I had the Emperor’s Guards (who started working for Skeletor after I got them because I figured “well, they had to get work somehow”), some Stormtroopers, and of course Luke Skywalker, Yoda, and even Wicket. (Yes, I liked the Ewoks, so what?)
Return of the Jedi was meant to be the end of an era. For the most stubborn of the Star Wars fans, it is the end, as some want to pretend the prequels never happened. It is the conclusion to Luke’s journey and the closing of an epic tale.
This is my favorite movie in the entire saga, yes, including the prequels. While I admire the risk taken by revealing that Darth Vader is in fact Anakin Skywaler, to me Jedi is better because it is the next step. Having a big reveal is one thing. What is an even bigger risk is going forward with that reveal and letting it alter the course of the story.
There are drastic changes as a result of the story. Lando Carlrissian, a former friend of Han Solo, has now joined the Rebellion. Apparently in the time between Jedi and Empire, Lando wanted to make amends for sacrificing Solo for the sake of allowing Cloud City to remain neutral. Seeing his friend encased in carbonite causes him to realize he cannot sit idly by and hope that someday the Empire will be overthrown. He spent the last half of the movie helping Leia to escape Cloud City. He takes the next step in his atonement and joins the rebellion.
Han Solo is no longer neutral either. There were hints early on that Solo wanted to join the rebellion like the rest of the heroes. However, he couldn’t as long as Jabba the Hutt was alive and threatening his life. He’d be endangering his friends because every bounty hunter would be gunning for him. But when Leia murders Jabba, that threat is lifted and now Solo can be the hero he was meant to be.
Yoda is now close to death when Luke meets him once more. The once courageous and eccentric mentor is now no longer needed and he faces death with dignity, as Obi-Wan Kenobi did before him. But before he passes away, he tells Luke the truth. Obi-Wan explains that they did not keep the truth from Luke because they felt he could not handle it, but because they didn’t want him to make the same mistake Anakin did. Even if he is doing a good thing by confronting Vader, if he lets his emotions cloud his judgement, it will be all the more easier for the Emperor to manipulate him. And he almost succeeds.
For many Star Wars fans, The Empire Strikes Back is the definitive movie of the franchise. Although the franchise debuted in 1977, Star Wars really feels more like a byproduct of the 80’s than the 70’s. That’s how ahead of its time the original movie was. It not only secured the franchise as a permanent part of our culture, but also secured George Lucas’s place as a filmmaker. For better or worse, Star Wars defined him. Even when he tried to do a different movie later in the 80’s, Willow, it paled in comparison to Star Wars. Yes, he also helped make the Indiana Jones franchise. but that was a collaboration with Steven Spielberg. Star Wars was the more definitive movie.
Although I enjoy the series as a whole, Empire is not my favorite of the series. Which one is? You’ll find that out next time. That doesn’t mean I don’t like the movie, far from it. I just don’t enjoy it as much as everyone else does.