Farscape : What Was Lost – Part 1 : Sacrifice

December 17, 2014 in Farscape by Firebird

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Crichton, Chiana and Rygel are reunited with D’Argo and Jool at an archaeological site run by Jool’s people, the Interions. The purpose of the dig is to find a missing probe that might reverse the planet’s dangerous atmospheric conditions. Peacekeepers led by Grayza land and capture the crew, and Crichton finds himself unable to fight back, mysteriously compelled to do Grayza’s bidding.

Synopsis

The “Previously on…” segment includes some scenes cut from previous episodes which is a bit confusing but serves to tell us that Scorpius is Grayza’s prisoner and Braca has been promoted by her to Captain.

The crazy old lady, nicknamed Granny by Crichton, is on the planet too along with a Creature-from-the-black-lagoon style alien.

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Once again Granny is being all weird and blowing strange stuff into Crichton’s face causing him to have visions. This time apparently they show the past including where the missing part of the probe can be found.

At the end of the episode Granny has forced Crichton to throw himself off a cliff into the sea, apparently so he’ll die and therefore be unable to tell Grayza what he has seen.

Star Trek : The Corbomite Maneuver

December 15, 2014 in Guest Blogs, Star Trek by GuestBlogs

A Guest Blog by Mindless-Droid

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This week’s classic Star trek episode is The Corbomite Maneuver. While mapping an uncharted unexplored region of space the Enterprise encounters a strange cube. The cube blocks the ships path and Spock orders all stop. After studying the cube and being held for eighteen hours Spock theorizes it is one of two things. A space buoy or flypaper. Kirk decides not to stick around and plans to move away from the cube. After several attempts to move away from the cube Kirk orders all stop but the cube continues to close on the ship and begins emitting dangerous radiation. With no other option and the cube still closing in Kirk orders a phaser strike that destroys the cube.

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With only minor damage to the ship Kirk weighs the option of continuing on or turning back. He decides to probe on. Kirk also orders simulation exercises as the ship and in particular Baily at the helm were sluggish in the encounter with the cube. McCoy and Kirk discuss the crew and Bailey in Kirk’s quarters as the exercises commence. After the first exercise results in a 96 Kirk orders another but as it gets under way Sulu brakes in another object is approaching.

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The approaching object is a massive starship that grabs the enterprise in a tractor beam and probes the Enterprise systems shutting some down. A message from the ship identifies itself as Balok from the First Federation and after examining the ships records and accusing the Enterprise of trespassing Balok deems the ship dangerous and that it will have to be destroyed. Balok grants the crew ten Earth minutes. Spock taps into the message and gets a visual of the alien commander. Baily who has been under stress snaps and is relieved of duty. Kirk tries to reason with the alien but all efforts are rebuffed. Spock says that it’s checkmate. McCoy arrives on the bridge and discusses Baily’s condition with kirk which results in an argument over McCoy’s log entry which he says he is not bluffing about making. Kirk apologizes but the argument gives him an idea. Not chess poker and he makes up the Corbomite Device bluff. He tells Balok that all Earth ships have the element built into and if any destructive energy hits the ship an equal reverse reaction destroys the attacking ship.

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The bluff is partially successful as the countdown reaches zero and nothing happens. Balok tell the crew that their ship will be towed by a smaller pilot vessel to a planet in the First Federation where they will be interned and the ship destroyed. As Balok begins towing the Enterprise Kirk waits for an opening to try to escape. Baily notes that Balok’s ship has move a little farther ahead and Spock scanners say his power is down slightly. Kirk initiates a breakaway attempt. The Enterprise struggles to brake free overheating the engines and straining Balok’s ship. At the last second the Enterprise brakes free.

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Uhura picks up a distress call from Balok to the Fesarius his ship is damaged and is losing life support. Uhura says that the message probably didn’t reach the mother ship. Kirk decides to board the ship in a rescue attempt to prove to the aliens that they are peaceful. He takes McCoy and Baily. Upon arriving they discover that Balok is just a puppet and that and that the real Balok resembles a small Earth child. Balok tells them that this whole scenario was a test to prove their true intentions. Kirk agrees to opening relations with the First Federation and Baily volunteers to stay to be the first emissary.

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This is another great first season episode. We actually see the Enterprise on its mission to contact new life and civilizations. It was also a nice way to see a first contact and get the point of view from the alien side. I like how they made the First Federation powerful but not overly powerful. Sometimes when they made the aliens all powerful it made the story less believable. The Fesarius is a cool ship design and the re-mastered version gives it some nice detail. We not only get to see the drama play out between Kirk and Balok but we also get to see Kirk Spock and McCoy deal with life on the ship. McCoy and Kirk discussing the crew in particularly Baily and what they have been through. Kirk’s apprehension about having a female yeoman is actually a way to show his devotion to his ship and crew when he says he already has a female to worry about the Enterprise. You also get to see the big three and how they relate to each other and how they have come to be friends and comrades something I feel is lacking in the latest Star Trek incarnations. This episode has some of Treks best music as well. You also get one of the first of McCoy’s I’m a doctor lines when he tells kirk “What am I a doctor or moon shuttle conductor.” One thing I wish they would have done is mix up Uhura’s lines a little she says “Hailing frequencies open sir.” Quite a number of times.

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Some bits of trivia. This was the first episode produced after the pilots but was aired later due to post production of the special effects. Balok was played by Clint Howard who is the brother of Ron Howard. There is a shot of Sulu turning around to look back at Kirk this shot was reused in many future episodes as stock footage. There is also a scene when the time is counting down Sulu says “I knew he would.” To nothing because Balok line “You have one minute.” Is missing. This is the first time the ships phasers are used in the original version they are shown as red but the re-mastered version has them as the more consistent blue beam (which I prefer personally). The scene when Spock first sees the Balok puppet called for him to react in fear but the director told Leonard Nimoy to just react by saying “Fascinating” helping refine the character. The Balok puppet became quite iconic being the last scene shown during the season two credits. This episode was nominated for a Hugo award. No red shirts were harmed in this episode.

Doctor Who: Dalek War – Planet of the Daleks

December 13, 2014 in Dr Who, Guest Blogs by GuestBlogs

A Guest Blog by Hevy782

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At the end of Frontier in Space we had the Daleks revealed as the true masterminds behind the plot to start a war between Earth and Draconia. While their plan was stopped, their army is still intent on invading the galaxy and this is where Planet of the Daleks comes in. The second part of the Dalek War story-line was written by Dalek creator Terry Nation, the first he penned since The Daleks’ Master Plan in 1965 with William Hartnell as the Doctor. He had taken the rights to use the Daleks away from Doctor Who back in the late sixties and attempted to launch them in their own series in America. However, nothing ever came to fruition and the Daleks were, in effect, gone forever. But an agreement was eventually reached to bring the Daleks back and after their first colour appearance in Day of the Daleks the previous year their creator was finally ready to return to them with new ideas, such as invisible Daleks and ice volcanoes, as well as old ones, such as Thals in a jungle setting and a Dalek base on the edge of said jungle, to add to the celebratory feel.

Continuing from where Frontier in Space left off, the Doctor falls uncouncious in the TARDIS and the Time Lords operate it by remote control, sending it to the jungle planet of Spiridon. Once there, Jo leaves to go finds help and stumbles across a group of Thal’s, Taron, Vaber and Codal, who are marooned on the planet. They agree to go find the Doctor, who has now recovered, and leave Jo inside their damaged space ship. Unaware to them, Jo has been infected by a deadly Fungus but is saved by one of the native Spiradons, Wester, who tells her that the Daleks are on the planet and have enslaved his people. The Doctor is found and then bought back to the Thal ship but he and Codal are captured by the Daleks who destroy the ship, leaving the Doctor believing that Jo is dead. The Doctor and Codal are brought inside the Dalek base but are able to escape their captors and are driven to the lower levels where. Meanwhile, another Thal ship crashes and the survivors, Rebec, Marat and Latep, meet up with Taron and Vaber. Taron, Rebec and Marat then enter the Dalek base through the cooling tunnels and meet up with the Doctor at Codal on the bottom floor where the Doctor discovers a giant refrigeration unit is keeping an army of ten-thousand Daleks in cold storage. Marat is killed but the rest are able to escape and they meet up with Jo, Latep and Taron. A Dalek patrol then finds the Thals and kills Vaber but are the Daleks are then over powered. With a Dalek casing and some Spiradon furs they are able to enter the city but are then detected by the Daleks within. They once again escape to the lower level but this time have a plan and blow up a rock wall, allowing the molten ice to flow through into the base and encase the Dalek army in ice. The Thals then steal a Dalek ship and head off back to Skaro. The Doctor and Jo are then pursued through the jungle by the Dalek Supreme but are able to get to the TARDIS and escape. The Dalek Supreme then orders for mining to begin at once to free the army and announces that the Daleks are never defeated.

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Now the first time I saw Frontier in Space I didn’t move immediately on to watching Planet of the Daleks. In fact, it was a number of years before I first saw Planet of the Daleks so I had a lot of hype built up from the cliffhanger at the end of Frontier in Space. Now then, you may remember me using the term loose to describe the Dalek War story line a couple of times in this post and the last one and that’s because you can watch Planet of the Daleks without having first watched Frontier in Space and still get the same level of enjoyment out of it. There is very little reference to the Draconians and the Ogrons here except partway through the story when the Doctor and Jo meet back up and while the story picks up where it left of last time with the Doctor injured, this injury could have been from virtually anything and it would not have affect the plot of this story at all. Does this bother me at all? Not too much as they both stand well on their own and are both enjoyable but it doesn’t really feel like there’s enough pay off in Planet of the Daleks for someone who’s taken the time to sit down and watch Frontier in Space beforehand. Where my big problem with this comes in is the cliffhanger to episode one which features the “surprise” reveal of a Dalek. Terry Nation often devotes the first cliffhanger of a serial to revealing the Daleks despite many of his stories featuring the word Dalek in the title. This is made even worse here by the fact that the Daleks were featured at the end of the previous story so it just makes the first episode of this seem like padding purely there to build up to a reveal which we already know full well about. The dialogue itself edges round the word Dalek so much that it’s almost an insult to the audience’s intelligence and it just feels cheap. However, the reveal of the Dalek is nicely handled in terms of visuals with the Doctor, Taron, Vaber and Codal spraying the invisible being to slowly reveal the shape of a Dalek. Other than that it’s a real waste. I could go on but by this point I’m tired of talking about the negatives of this story so let’s more onto the positives.

The first of those positives is the action/adventure style of story being told here and while it’s not as fast paced as a lot of the stuff we have nowadays (which in my eyes is a good thing as it allows time for reflection and tension building) it still rattles along at a much faster pace than Frontier in Space did before hand. I like Nation’s style of writing and while it’s not always original it is always fun in some way or another. He has a very distinct style of writing which involves the characters facing peril after peril and having to think of a way out of it in a limited amount of time while under a great deal pressure. There are loads of moments like this in this story and not everyone makes it out of them alive which adds a real element of suspense when you get to the next one. This story also has a lot of similarities with the first Dalek story and it is often debated whether or not this is Terry Nation simply recycling old ideas because he can’t think of any new ones or if he’s doing it deliberately to help with the celebratory feel. While we may never know for sure, I like to believe in the latter. Television was very different back then than it is now as episodes were made only with the intention of being shown once or twice and there was no way to record stuff back then. This would mean that it had been almost ten years since The Daleks was shown so people watching Planet of the Daleks all these years later are scarcely likely to remember that, a great deal of them were probably not even born when at the time when the first story went out. There were novelisations though and I think that The Daleks was released in book form the time that Planet of the Daleks went out but fans that had read the book were probably saw this as the closest they would ever get to seeing the classic serial rather than seeing it as the cheap copy that some make it out to be today. Moving on to the Thals, we have some interesting characters amongst them.

However, there are only two really worthy of discussion and they are Codal and Rebec. Codal is the character who develops the most over the course of this story and is the one who works best with the Doctor. There is a great line about courage which the Doctor says to Codal in the second episode and you can really see his character take it on board for the rest of the story. We then have Rebec who is the only female of the group but nevertheless plays a fairly active role. The only problem is that she is tied to the character of Taron and rather than being a character in her own right she is often only treated as Taron’s love interest for the story. So a step down in terms of female representation compared to what we had in Frontier in Space but Jo is as strong as ever here in what is her penultimate story. She spends the first half separated from the Doctor which gives her some interesting stuff to do on her own including breaking in to the Dalek base in an attempt to free the Doctor. Finally we have the Daleks themselves who are very menacing in this bit do have their limits. However, they make up for these with their cunning shown by their attempt to wipe out all life on the planet with a deadly bacteria.

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In conclusion, Planet of the Daleks is the weaker half of the Dalek War story-line but is still a good enough story and is a fun romp to kill a few hours with. It’s also left open ended and doesn’t leave the Daleks completed wiped out at the end, a common mistake often made as those types of endings never have any impact because it’s obvious that the Daleks won’t stay dead for long. So then, it’s a seven-out-of-ten from me and while that’s a step down from Frontier in Space it’s still a strong rating. The Dalek War story-line itself is something that I would recommend every Doctor Who fan take a look at as it is made up of two very good stories worth your time. We’re now getting closer and closer to Christmas which means that the Christmas special, Last Christmas, is coming up soon but until then be sure to sound off your thoughts on the story in the comments below.

The Day of the Triffids – Episode 6

December 11, 2014 in Cult TV by Firebird

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Spring, 6 years later. Bill returns to the farm from a foraging trip in London. He and Jo have a son, the other couple have a daughter and Susan is all grown up. They’ve built a triffid proof fence but the triffids congregate outside in ever larger numbers. Bill regularly clears them with a flame-thrower but they keep coming back, the last count was over a thousand.

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Farscape : Crichton Kicks

December 10, 2014 in Farscape by Firebird

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Continuing work on his theories of wormhole technology, Crichton ekes out an existence on board Elack – an old, dying Leviathan. The peace is shattered by the intrusion of a female alien, Sikozu, and a squad of Grudek mercenaries intent on harvesting Elack’s neural tissue. Crichton fights to save his new home, his struggle hindered by the Grudeks’ pet: a vicious and deadly alien canine called the Brindz Hound.

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The Day of the Triffids – Episode 5

December 9, 2014 in Cult TV by Firebird

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The footstep are not Jo. It’s Coaker, his group have fallen sick just as Bill’s did and he realises that Beadley was right after all. The two take trucks and set off to the location written on a blackboard at Beadley’s headquarters.

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Star Trek : The Dagger of the Mind

December 8, 2014 in Guest Blogs, Star Trek by GuestBlogs

A Guest Blog by Mindless-Droid

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This week’s classic Star trek episode is Dagger of the Mind. On a routine supply run to the Tantalus V rehabilitation colony the Enterprise beams up a container bound for Earth. What the crew doesn’t know is that one of the colonies inmates has hidden in the container. After subduing the transporter technician the inmate eludes the search for him and makes his way to the bridge. Upon arriving at the bridge the inmate in an agitated state requests asylum on the Enterprise and will stop at almost nothing to get it. Kirk and Spock quickly take control of the situation and Spock renders the inmate unconscious with the Vulcan nerve pinch.

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Blake’s 7 : Time Squad

December 6, 2014 in Blake's 7, Guest Blogs by GuestBlogs

A Guest Blog by Hevy782

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Another episode, another new regular cast member. Jan Chappell joins the Liberator as Cally in the fourth episode of Blake’s 7 which is titled Time Squad. Series creator Terry Nation is once again on writing duty for this story and Pennant Roberts, director of the second episode Space Fall, returns to direct this time around. Of the first three that episode was my favourite (followed by the first episode The Way Back and finally the third episode Cygnus Alpha) and part of the reason for that was the strong directorial decisions of the episode so hopefully we see that carried over to here. So then, high expectations for this episode and I hope it lives up to them so without further adieu let’s get into the synopsis.

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The Day of the Triffids – Episode 4

December 4, 2014 in Cult TV by Firebird

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As Bill struggles to free himself a blind man arrives with a cup of tea. He explains that Bill is tied up under the orders of Coaker, the man arguing at the gates the day before. The man himself soon arrives. He intends to force the sighted people he’s kidnapped to lead groups of the blind and he’s got Jo too. Bill is shipped off, handcuffed to his group.

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Farscape : Dog With Two Bones

December 3, 2014 in Farscape by Firebird

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Moya transports the remains of Talyn to a sacred Leviathan burial ground. Those on board are at a crossroads, each wanting to pursue a separate path. Crichton dreams of returning to Earth with Aeryn at his side, but Aeryn is unsure. Upon entering the graveyard, Moya is attacked by a huge rouge Leviathan. The crew must team up once more to save their home, but it seems that no matter which way the battle goes, their intertwined fates are sure to unravel.

Synopsis

This episode takes part half in Crichton’s head where he’s imagining being back on Earth and marrying Aeryn.

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