Saturday Morning Star Trek

Ah, the seventies. Who could forget it? Well, to be honest, I could because I was born in 1979. 😉

These days, most people know of the existence of a TV series in the ’70s that was a revival of Star Trek. However, this wonderful series was nearly lost to time, until it was put on VHS back in the late 1990s. Then, in 2006, after CBS acquired Paramount, they wanted to do a DVD release, so to gauge fan interest they did a fan poll to decide if the series should be considered part of Star Trek canon. Fan interest was there, and the series got a release on DVD, and that was fantastic. Fast forward to 2017, and you can get the box set for $12.99 in the U.S. on Amazon:

I love this series. For those who don’t know, here’s a brief history. In 1969, NBC messed up big time and canceled Star Trek, due to its old faulty rating system, which made it look like the show was a failure. When they re-ran the numbers in the early ’70s using better demographics, they quickly realized that the show in fact was winning their target demographic, males age 18-45. So, they immediately syndicated Star Trek. Hungry for more, they decided to do another Star Trek series, this time an animated series done by Filmation. What followed was essentially Star Trek season 4, a series of 22 half hour episodes aired on Saturday mornings. Was this the best move? Well, the series won an Emmy in 1975 for Best Children’s Series, so you be the judge. This was the first Star Trek Emmy win.

To me, it’s just a great series with some good writing. There was a writers’ strike going on, but only for live action shows. This meant a lot of writers were left with nothing better to do. So, many of the same people who wrote for TOS came back. All of the actors came back except Walter Koenig, though he did write an episode. Aside from their iconic roles, Majel Barrett, Nichelle Nichols and James Doohan provided a number of the voices for other characters, George Takei also voiced a few aliens. They replaced Chekov with a three armed and three legged navigator named Arex, who would have been impossible to create in the 1960s on TV. In fact, the series had many more aliens that looked nonhuman due to the much less limited animation format. Anyway, add it all up and you have a really good series, though it did suffer from a few technical issues, most notably coloring issues. (most animated show suffer from coloring issues)

Anyway, I was on Amazon the other day because I needed to order a couple things, and that box set was right there on my main page under my recommendations. I saw it, saw the price and had it in my cart before I even had time to think about it. So, now it’s all mine. The box is pretty cool, much nicer than a lot of Star Trek box sets. The white case is plastic, and the discs are inside in a thing that pulls out. I guess, with four discs, they figured they could go a bit more elaborate with the box. All said, it’s a steal at $12.99. 😀

Advertisements

Beyond

A few months back, I went and saw Star Trek Beyond in the theater and really enjoyed it.  In my opinion, it’s the best movie in the Nu Trek series.  Since then, I’ve been patiently waiting for the Blu-Ray release.  I’d had the Amazon gift set of the film pre-ordered because I wanted the model of the Franklin it came with, even though I don’t need a 4K or a 3D copy of the film.  Well, I cancelled that the other day and decided to just buy the movie at work.  I’m sure glad I did, because I like the Walmart gift set much better:

20161102_001158

Standard Blu-Ray, (works great for me) a DVD I’ll give to my Dad, a digital copy I’ll never use and three little ship models.  All for around half the price of the Amazon gift set.  The models are OK, they’re about Micro Machines size and quality.  Though, from one of the reviews I read on Amazon, their model isn’t any better.  (I guess someone paid for some ultra fast shipping, which can be done)  Anyway, I’m glad I got this set, it has the discs I want, three models and I got it a lot quicker.  Here’s a couple quick snaps of the models:

littleships01littleships02

Sorry for the kind of blurry pics, best I can do.  I did do a little enhancement in GIMP to make them a bit better.  Also, ignore the stuff behind them, my desk is my catch-all.  😉

What’s this now?

$50?  Shut up and take my money!

 

I was at Walmart last night perusing the movies after my shift and I found this wonderful item for only $50.  I had to buy it.  Plus, I used my employee discount and got $5 off, so it was actually less than $50 with tax.  I’m stoked, because I didn’t have this series on Blu-Ray.

Apparently, they’re the same discs previously released by CBS, which some people whined about on Amazon.  However, for those of us who don’t/didn’t already have those, it’s wonderful.  It’s not very expensive either.  For 20 Blu-Rays, that’s only $2.50 per disc.  I personally like this style of case better than the old DVD ones they did with the big cardboard and plastic things that folded out.  So, it’s a win-win for me.

Unfortunately, while I was on the way home from work, (on the bus) I read that talented actor Anton Yelchin, who played Checkov in the newer movies, passed away in a freak accident at his home.  That’s truly sad, as he was a good actor and I thought he did a great job of playing the role of Chekov, and I also liked him in other things I saw him in.  He was only 27 years old.  So, while there was some joy in my day, there was also a moment of sadness when I read this tragic news.  (please, respect the man and no comments on not liking the newer ST films)

Admiral Janeway

Something has always bothered me about Admiral Janeway seen in Star Trek: Nemesis.  (I saw something online a few minutes ago that brought this subject to mind)  In 2278, when Voyager returned home, she was a Captain.  A year later, in 2379, she was an Admiral.  No biggie there, she obviously got promoted between the end of Voyager and that movie.  However, her rank in Nemesis makes no sense.  I’m going to use this chart from the old Star Trek Encyclopedia to illustrate what I mean.  (thanks to Bernd Schneider and his site Ex Astris Scientia for the chart)

movie-medals-tng-ranks

Looking at the chart, you can see there are five ranks of Admiral, just as there are in most Navies, Admiral one through five stars.  In the current US Navy, those are Rear Admiral Lower Half, Rear Admiral Upper Half, Vice Admiral, Admiral and Fleet Admiral.  Looking at this image from Star Trek: Nemesis, you can see Janeway with 3 pips inside a rectangle on her collar.  (Thanks to Memory Alpha for this image)

Kathryn_Janeway_2379

That rank insignia makes Janeway a 3-star Admiral, aka Vice Admiral, in 2379.  So, in the span of a year, (or so) she would have to have been promoted three times, or would had to have skipped the two Rear Admiral ranks entirely.  This makes absolutely no sense.  I can get the whole thing where she returned from the Delta Quadrant, saving her crew and providing valuable information on both that region and on new propulsion technologies, so she was promoted.  But, skip two entire ranks?  That’s just ludicrous.  For one thing, for all the good she did on Voyager, she did some questionable things too.  Granted, nothing worse than any other Starfleet Captain has done on the shows, but certainly a few iffy things.  Still, there was nothing I could see that would stop her from getting a promotion, but to a more appropriate rank of Rear Admiral Lower Half.  (formerly known as Commodore)

Stuff like this is just what irks me about Star Trek at times.  Of course, I know what they did.  The script called for Janeway to be an Admiral, so they made her an Admiral using whatever rank insignia they had on hand.  They didn’t care that the insignia they gave her promoted her way too fast, they just did it to make their film.

Nerdgasm

I was in a bookstore yesterday called Half Price Books. It’s a chain that’s got locations in 16 states in the US, including a store really conveniently located near where I live in Ohio. Anyway, they buy and sell used books, magazines, movies, video games, some toys and puzzles, etc. They also sometimes have new stuff, but still at reduced prices. Example; several months ago they had a bunch of copies of Frank Herbert’s Dune, but they were the British version. That’s not an issue for me because it’s still in English. 😉 So, I picked one up for a few bucks because I didn’t have that book. I figure they must have gotten a bunch of copies from a store in England that was clearing them out online, or something. (or somebody else bought them and sold them to Half Price Books) Anyway, yesterday I was there because they are having a store wide post-Christmas 20% off sale. I was perusing the books and whatnot, just looking for things that caught my eye when I found this lovely gem:

TNGBook01

They had a whole bunch of them, all brand new. Like that copy of Dune that I have, it’s a British copy, because it has the British official Star Trek web site on the back and the price is listed as £14.99. Again, not an issue for me. What I loved is that it had a price tag on it of $5.99. Take 20% off of that and I paid $4.79 plus sales tax for it. 😀 That’s not bad, considering that it’s brand new and the list price in the US is $18.99. (for what it is, that’s pricey, but for under $5, it was a steal)

It’s a very basic “starter” book about the 1701-D. It’s got general information about the history of the Enterprise, the crew, equipment, etc. Nothing new to a longtime Trek fan like me, but it’s well laid out and has some gorgeous CGI renderings of the ship and insides. However, what really sold me on getting the book is the included CD.

I don’t know how many people remember the TNG Interactive Technical Manual produced by Simon & Schuster in the ’90s, but it’s similar to that, only better. I actually still have a copy of that, but it won’t run on modern computers, so I keep it around more for sentimental value. Anyway, it was all done with set pictures and was in 256 color mode and used Apple Quicktime. (I so loathe Quicktime) You could go to different locations inside the ship and stare at stuff. It wasn’t bad, but it was limited. For example, you could go to the bridge and click on different “hot spots” and stand there and look around. Though, if memory serves, you ability to look around was limited. In fact, I don’t even think you could turn. You could click on things and “zoom in,” but that feature was limited.

So, on to the new book. The virtual tour is actually similar, except it’s done with CGI renderings, not set photos. You still have the hot spots, but you can rotate around and zoom your view in or out. Basically, you can look all around from the predetermined locations. Plus, the tour itself is an HTML page, the tour uses flash, so it will run on any computer with a web browser and flash plugin. All you have to do is copy the folder from the CD to your HD and you have the thing on your computer. 🙂 The CGI renderings are beautiful. In fact, being the CGI nut that I am, the inside covers were huge selling points for me. In the front inside cover, aside from having the CD that comes with the book, they have a wireframe view of the bridge:

TNGBook02
(the back inside cover has a wireframe of Engineering)

Anyway, this is how the tour works. You start off with a side view of the ship, where you pick the location you want to visit:

Tour01

The locations you can visit are the Main Bridge and Turbolift and Ready Room, Transporter Room, Sickbay and Crusher’s Office, a generic corridor section, Main Engineering, a cargo bay. I’m not going to show a lot of the interiors as it is copyrighted, but here are a couple of my favorites:

Tour02

Tour03
(the little com badge icons are the “hot spots”)

The book and CD set has generally mixed reviews. The tour is criticized by some because it doesn’t include the Observation Lounge or Ten Forward. I’ll admit, I’d like to see those and crew quarters. (though, I don’t think this was a high budget project) Some people whined about how the CGI looks, others think it’s gorgeous. I’m in the crowd that think it looks gorgeous. But, I also have an understanding of the kind of work that goes into something like this and can appreciate the amount of work done on it, unlike most people. Since it’s a flash thing done with renders and not actual models, you don’t have free roam to move around. I’d like it if it did, but I think it’s good for what it is. At least you have full rendered interiors and the freedom to look around, unlike the old Interactive Tech Manual. Plus, I love that it will run on any computer with a web browser and Flash. I’ll bet it would even run on a tablet. That’s great. Now, both the book and the CD have some mistakes. I usually just laugh stuff like this off, especially for stuff that I pay so little for. I’ll give you an example of a mistake:

Tour04
(See if you can spot the mistake. I didn’t even see this until I saw somebody’s review on Amazon whining about it, it’s actually funny to me)

So, anyway, this is my newest nerd item. I think it’s great, especially for under $5. If I’d paid $18.99 for it, I may be salty about a few things, like some of the people on Amazon. But, I didn’t, so I’m happy. 😀

Replicators: When?!

When I’m building ships, I like to think of what tech would be available for the time. Example: If I’m doing a really small ship in the TNG era, I don’t have to worry about as much cargo or “crew niceties” space on the ship because they have replicators to “create” both food and equipment. So, there’s no need to devote internal space to things like a galley and you can get by with less cargo bays. However, when considering a ship in the Enterprise-era, you have to factor in that they’d need a galley and more cargo bays. A ship like Enterprise that’s out in unexplored space has to bring lots of food and cargo with them because there are no supply bases in operation yet and they can’t guarantee they’re going to find what they need on the planets they visit. The problem I’m having is with the TOS-era. Did they have replicators? Unfortunately, there is evidence that supports both having and not having them. (typical of TOS and its lack of continuity)

Going back to Enterprise, they had something called a protein resequencer, which is obviously a forebearer to the food replicator. As I understand it, they could carry a block of protein and nutrient enriched “blank” food stuff with them and then use the resequencer to form it into whatever food the cook feels like making. This allows them to not necessarily carry specific food types with them, some of which may need refrigeration or can go bad. This is very important when doing something like space exploration. Also, the ship has a (never seen but mentioned) botanical garden aboard, as the later Enterprises did. This allows them to grow fresh vegetables and also generates oxygen. For drinks, we see them using the beverage slots on the wall, but these don’t necessarily mean they have anything terribly fancy behind it. It may work on the same principle as the modern day soda “gun” that restaurants use, where you push a button and the correct drink syrup is mixed with carbonated water and comes out the tap. The crew of the Enterprise may simply know what drinks are on hand and order them and that drink dispenser puts it into the drinking vessel in a predetermined amount, or it may even have sensors to tell it when the glass/mug is full. (of course, in real life, it was just some person on the other side of the wall pouring the stuff through a tube for them 😛 ) All of that I’m good with.

Now, on to TOS. Firstly, we know the ship had a galley, it was mentioned in Charlie X. (admittedly, not one of their best episodes) In fact, this is actually what got me thinking of this, because yesterday was Thanksgiving in the US. In that episode, Kirk tells the galley: “On Earth today it’s Thanksgiving, the crew has to eat synthetic metloaf, but I want it to taste like turkey.” Ignoring the problems with “On Earth today it’s Thanksgiving,” that whole thing raises some issues. Firstly, what is synthetic meatloaf? Does that mean replicated? Or, does it mean that they use something like the protein resequencer to make it? If they can make synthetic meatloaf, why can’t they make synthetic turkey? Obviously, if they had something like a replicator, it wasn’t creating the finished meal, since they still had to bake the food. Now, admittedly, this was simply a plot device so that Charlie could use his powers to turn the synthetic meatloaf into real turkeys. Unfortunately, this is one of only two examples where I can remember a galley being mentioned. The other is Star Trek VI. (the infamous “Why not simply waporize them?” scene) In that movie, we see the galley. Hell, we even see stewards setting places in the observation lounge officers’ mess. They’re in the galley when Chekov (who, as security chief should know better) asks why somebody wouldn’t just vaporize those gravity boots and Valeris vaporizes a stock pot, setting off the ship’s internal alarm. So, there’s evidence that, even in 2293, the ship was using a galley.

The problem is, most of the rest of the time, evidence supports replicators. In almost every other episode where somebody is eating in the mess hall/rec room, we see them get their food out of those slots in the wall. These are all over the ship, even in the transporter room (for when Kyle gets the munchies, I guess.) Of course, you could simply say that these are sophisticated dumbwaiters. It could be an elevator, or it could even be a transporter. (just because intraship beaming is dangerous for crew members at this time doesn’t mean they can’t beam more simple things) The crew could make selections based on what is available and the galley crew makes it appear in the slot for them. This is challenged in a few episodes, most notably Tomorrow is Yesterday. In that episode, when the Air Force guard is aboard and stuck in the transporter room, Kyle asks him what he wants, and he ponders it a moment and replies “chicken soup.” Kyle flips through a few of those data tapes they have and puts one in the slot next to the food slot, and out pops chicken soup. “Isn’t it amazing they just happen to have exactly what you asked for?” That question was posed by Cdr. Riker in Encounter at Farpoint, when the “station” was able to convert energy into matter and created the exact fabric Dr. Crusher wanted. I find it terribly coincidental that the galley crew of the Enterprise just happens to have chicken soup on hand that day and can put it into the food slot in seconds for that guard. To me, that suggests replication. And, in other instances where they used the food slots, the crew got whatever they wanted. Of course, they could be making choices predetermined by what is on the menu that day, but that example from Tomorrow is Yesterday suggests otherwise, as the AF guard has no idea what’s on the menu. (unless Kyle gave him a menu while we weren’t looking, but I doubt that) Going back to Star Trek VI, the ship not only had a galley, but it had replicators as well. Now, I know that was the “budget” ST film and they used a lot of redressed TNG sets, but Kirk’s quarters had a replicator with dishes in it.

So, when the hell did this technology come about? Can we ignore Charlie X and part of what was done in Star Trek VI and simply say that they had replicators? I think there’s incredibly strong evidence to support this. Please, share your thoughts on this.

Alternatives…

I had an interesting idea while I was working on the I.S.S. Enterprise. Write an “alternate” version of TMP, but with the Terran Empire instead of the Federation as the protagonists. The plot could be basically the same, with an unknown cloud heading towards Earth, destroying everything in its path. However, how would the Empire handle this situation? I’m thinking they would try to capture it, to possess the technology themselves. Anyway, that’s the kind of silly stuff I think up. 😉

Telling Time in Star Trek

I was watching the Star Trek: The Next Generation episode The Enemy last night when something occurred to me. In that episode, the Enterprise is investigating a distress call on the planet Galorndon Core. The planet had strong electromagnetic storms in its atmosphere, so there were only certain clear times and areas through which they could beam. The away team consisted of three people; Riker, LaForge and Worf. After beaming down, Riker set up a beacon for them to meet back and said that they had to be back at the beacon in 14 minutes because the ship would be automatically beaming them back up. So, how the hell do they know how long 14 minutes is? People in Starfleet don’t wear watches. It’s possible that tricorders have clocks, but only LaForge and Worf had trcorders. Riker didn’t have one and the three spit up to search for the source of the distress call. So, I’m watching the episode and it occurred to me this isn’t the first time this has happened. There have been other episodes with away teams where they’ve had a time where they were supposed to meet back up. So, how do they know when it’s time? Again, they don’t wear watches. Not everybody carries a tricorder, so that can’t be it. As far as I know, the combadges don’t include clocks and there’s no good reason for a phaser to have one. So, that’s the conundrum. How do they tell time when they’re not on the ship? (we know the ships have clocks because we’ve seen them in multiple episodes and movies)

Edit: There is a scene in Star Trek II, in the Genesis cave, where Kirk looks at a wristwatch to know if it’s been two hours yet. That’s the only scene I can remember in all of Star Trek where somebody looks at a watch. (besides looking at Mark Twain’s watch as a curiosity in Time’s Arrow, or people from other times looking at watches) It also proves that wristwatches are available in the 23rd century.

When did Star Trek really take place?

When did Star Trek (The Original Series) take place? This is a question that Gene Roddenberry avoided. In fact, they created the Stardate system to avoid answering this. They provided “dates” as a system of nonsensical numbers that told the watcher nothing. But, in a way, they actually did answer it if you watch the right episodes. Specifically, the ones involving time travel.

I was watching Space Seed (one of my top ten episodes) last night and something bothered me. No, not the fact that there was no third world war, aka The Eugenics Wars, in the 1990s. Even though the producers work hard to make it seem as if it does, Star Trek doesn’t necessarily have to take place in our reality. What was bugging me was the frequent statements that Khan and his cronies were asleep for two centuries, or “about two centuries.”

Let’s examine that for a moment. Spock states in the episode’s beginning that the last DY-100 class vessel was launched in the late 1990s. Also, Khan later reveals that he and his band of merry men and women left Earth in the year 1996. Add two hundred years to 1996 and you get 2196. Now, they did at least once say “about” two hundred years. “About” makes it seem that it was near two hundred, but maybe not exactly two hundred. However, according to “canon” information established in the later series, the series ran from 2266 to 2269. Space Seed took place in 2267. Last time I checked, 2267 – 1996 = 271. So, Khan and company were frozen for 271 years, which is a lot longer than “about two hundred years.” Though, this is of course a condition that was stipulated later, which is known as “retroactive continuity,” (where you change the circumstances of your already established continuity at a later date) or retcon for short. “About” indicates that you’re close, but not exact. So, adding the “about,” we can add a bit of leeway, maybe a decade, possibly two. However, that still puts you, at the latest, in the year 2216, assuming it’s closer to 220 years. However, that’s still a far cry from 2267. And, even in The Wrath of Khan, where they established that they were in the 23rd century, they maintained that the Botany Bay left Earth in the year 1996. Again, there was a reference to two hundred years in these lines from Khan:

“These people have sworn to live and die at my command two hundred years before you were born.”

“On Earth, two hundred years ago, I was a prince with power over millions.”

This once again establishes that we’re roughly two centuries after the 1990s. At the beginning of the film, they state that it’s in the 23rd century, which isn’t an issue, given that Space Seed should have been in the late 22nd, early 23rd century and this is fifteen years later. So, even if Khan and his band of misfits were asleep for 220 years, we’re still only up to the year 2231, though “canon” states that the movie took place fifty-four years later. (2285, which isn’t even fifteen years after 2267)

Now, if this was a case of one or two episodes (or an episode and a movie) doing this, this wouldn’t be as big of a deal. As most of us know, continuity in TOS was a mess. However, this is not the only episode to suggest that Star Trek was roughly two hundred years in the future. In the episode Tomorrow is Yesterday, the Enterprise travels back in time to the 1960s. An exact year isn’t given, but we know it’s the late 1960s. This is in the dialog. During the episode, Kirk and Sulu break into an Air Force base and Kirk is captured. He’s later interrogated by a Lieutenant Colonel. Now, Kirk is being a smartass during the entire interrogation. However, at the end, the Colonel says, “I’m going to lock you up for two hundred years.” At that point, Kirk (seemingly earnestly) says, “That ought to be about right.” (those quotes may not be exact, but they’re close enough) How is that “about right?” The last time I checked, 2267 is three centuries later, not two. Two hundred years would get him to the 2160s, which would be closer to the end of the 22nd century than the mid-late 23rd century. This indicates once more that Star Trek actually took place in the later years of the 22nd or early years of the 23rd centuries, not the later part of the 23rd century.

Though, I am happy to say that I’m not the only person whose math puts them there. The book Mr. Scott’s Guide to the Enterprise was published in 1987, before the series was retconned to the 2360s by TNG writers. (presumably, with Gene Roddenberry’s approval) In the “History of the Refit” section, the writer states that the Enterprise was launched in the year 2190 and returned to Earth for its refit in the year 2212. That would put the series from the years 2209 to 2212, which fits with the time line of “about two hundred years” after 1996. Specifically, that would put Space Seed in the year 2209 or 2210. Assuming everybody simply rounded down, that’s close enough to two hundred years to simply say “two hundred years.” This also allowed plenty of time for Robert April and Christopher Pike to have commanded the ship before they handed the keys over to James T. Kirk in 2207. Of course, this is not canon information, but the writer can apparently do math better than TNG writers could

So, that answers the question of when the series should have taken place. Late 22nd, early 23rd centuries, the movies in the early 23rd century. I don’t know where in the hell they got the idea to retcon it to the 2260s, 2270s and 2280s, because none of that fits with what was established during the series or movies. Of course, in the year 1996, (ironically) the movie First Contact came out and they retconned the third world war to the 2050s. So, assuming the same leeway for the “about,” Khan and company would have been asleep for “about two hundred years” and arrive in the year 2267. Though, this doesn’t fit with the episode’s dialog.