Star Trek : Galileo 7

February 16, 2015 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 Galileo 7. The Enterprise is on route to Markus III with urgent medical supplies. The ship will pass close to the quasar Murasaki 312. Captain Kirk decides to stop and study the quasar over the objections of High Commissioner Ferris who tells Kirk that the medical supplies need to be delivered to Markus III within 5 days. Since they are three days away Kirk decides to go ahead with the study. Spock leads a team in the Galileo 7 shuttlecraft. Shortly after launch the ship encounters turbulence and is thrown off course losing contact with the Enterprise. The quasar makes sensors useless and Kirk must find a way to find the stranded shuttle in a vast area of space before time runs out.

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The shuttle has made an emergency landing on a lone planet in the center of the quasar. Upon inspection Scotty finds that the ship has been damaged and that they have lost a great deal of fuel. Scotty finds that they will need to lose 500 pounds to achieve orbit meaning three of the team will have to stay behind. Lieutenant Boma suggests they draw straws but Spock says he will make the decision logically causing tension among the crew. Back on the Enterprise Uhura acting as science officer discovers the one planet in the area that can support life. With tension high between Kirk and Ferris the enterprise begins the search.

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As two of the team conduct a scouting mission they come under attack by large cave man like giants. Latimer is killed and Gaetano is successful in driving them off with his phaser. Spock arrives and logically analyzes the situation which angers Boma and Gaetano that Spock would be so unfeeling when one of them has been killed.

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On the enterprise the search grows futile as sensors are still inoperative and shuttle flyovers reveal nothing. Kirk orders wider search patterns in hope of getting a lucky find. Back on the planet the crew has lightened the shuttle by 150 pounds and with the death of Latimer this means only one person will have to stay behind. Boma enters the shuttle telling Spock that they are ready for Latimer’s funeral. Spock deems it more important for him to help in the repairs which angers Boma and McCoy as Spock is in command and it’s his responsibility. During the repairs a tube ruptures spilling the last of the fuel and making take off impossible. Scotty says they are done but Spock says there are always alternatives.

Outside loud grinding noises are heard. Boma and Spock argue on how to defend against the giants. Spock’s plan is to scare them with phaser fire. Spock Gaetano and Boma move out and use the phasers to frighten the creatures and it appears to work. They leave Gaetano on guard duty and head back to the ship. Scotty has come up with a plan to use the phaser’s energy as fuel but leaving them defenseless.

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Gaetano is attacked and killed by the creatures. Spock McCoy and Boma look for him but he is missing Spock orders them back to the ship along with the phasers he will find Gaetano. Spock finds Gaetano’s body and is chased back to the ship by the creatures who start pounding it with rocks. Scotty electrifies the hull scaring them away. Boma and Spock but heads again as Boma wants to conduct the funeral for his fallen comrades. Spock relents stating as long as the creatures allow it. The Enterprise landing parties have also encountered the creatures suffering casualties. On the bridge Ferris informs Kirk that his time is running out. Kirk orders all search teams and shuttles to return. Uhura informs him the last shuttle will return in 23 minutes.

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The phaser transfer is completed and Scotty tells Spock they have enough fuel to achieve orbit make it last for a few hours and enough for a controlled reentry. Spock tells Boma that they have ten minutes for the funerals and that he will assist in them. Back on the Enterprise all search teams have returned and Kirk orders a space normal speed and course to Markus III with all sensors pointing aft. On the planet the funeral is interrupted by the creatures. Spock is trapped by a boulder thrown at the crew. He orders them to leave him and take off but they free Spock and board the ship. The engines are working but they are being held down by the creature.

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Spock hits the boosters and frees the ship. They achieve orbit but using the boosters has eliminated all hopes of a controlled reentry. Scotty reminds Spock of his statement that there are always alternative to which Spock says he may have been wrong. Calculating that they only have 45 minutes left Spock on an act of desperation jettisons the fuel and ignites it hopping the Enterprise will see the flare. Sulu scanning notices the flare and Kirk orders the ship back to the planet. They beam out the survivors just as the shuttle burns up in the atmosphere. As the ship heads to Markus III Kirk confronts Spock on his emotional act of desperation. Spock defends the decision as the only logical course of action left to him. Kirk bluntly asks him if he would admit to a purely emotional act to which Spock replies, “No sir.”

Another good season one episode. Lots of action and adventure on the planet. We get some insight into Spock’s character and his balancing of his human and Vulcan side. His interaction with the emotional Boma and trying to save the crew logically made for some dramatic moments. The tension of the search and the tension between kirk and Ferris is well played. I like that they made Ferris competent in this one his decisions were always aimed at saving the most lives possible. It is a nice contrast to the bumbling Starfleet bureaucrats we see in other episodes. Scotty was once again the miracle worker. We see his ingenuity here which will become his trademark. This episode also shows the relationship between Spock and McCoy which will also be played up more as the series moves on. The re-mastered version of this episode is nicely done enhancing the Murasaki quasar and the Galileo’s flare. All in all a great episode. Even though we lost several crewman no red shirts were harmed in this episode. Sort of makes you wander about all the red shirt clichés.

{Editor’s note – this is the last of the Original Trek blogs but the next episode “Squire of Gothos” was the first blog so you can continue in broadcast order by going back to it. Thanks Mindless-Droid and Siblings for a great run!}

The Seven Faces of Doctor Who: The Claws of Axos

February 14, 2015 in Dr Who, Guest Blogs by GuestBlogs

A Guest Blog by Hevy782

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After being exiled to Earth at the end of his Second incarnation this new Doctor played by Jon Pertwee brings more than a few changes with him. The programme is now broadcast in colour, UNIT play a much more vital role, the Doctor becomes more of a man of action and that’s just a few of the many changes which came along when the show entered the seventies. The Claws of Axos is the story I choose to represent this era of the show as it comes from the second year of Jon Pertwee’s time as the Doctor and is thus from a time when the show had decided what it wanted to be after a rather experimental first year. Alongside Jon Pertwee’s Doctor the serial also features Katy Manning, Richard Franklin, John Levene, Nicholas Courtney and Roger Delgado as Jo Grant, Mike Yates, Sergeant Benton, Brigadier Lethbridge-Stewart and the Master respectively. Now that is a rather large regular cast based upon Doctor Who’s standards but it made sense to have this set up with the involvement of UNIT as they wouldn’t change their key staff every story and it gave an almost family feel to the whole thing. In fact this group of regulars is often described as the UNIT family. Another interesting thing to note about this story is that it is the first to feature TARDIS interior scenes since Patrick Troughton’s swan-song, The War Games. It is the first of many stories to be written by the dynamic duo of Bob Baker and Dave Martin who would later to go on to create everyone’s favourite robot dog K9. The director meanwhile is Michael Ferguson who also directed our previous story, The Seeds of Death. Now before we look at the synopsis let’s talk about why I choose this story as opposed to any of the other fan favourites from this era. Simply put it’s because there is a lot going on and it rattles along at a similar pace to the new series and so I felt that it’s probably a good place to start for newer fans who want to look back at the classic series. Now then, I think now is the right time to move on to the synopsis for this story so let’s take a look at that.

Unlike most stories this one doesn’t start with the TARDIS landing on Earth but instead with a strange spaceship doing so and UNIT heading off to investigate. The beings within, the Axon’s, claim to be peaceful and have landed to refuel their ship. They also offer a gift, Axonite, which has the power to duplicate any molecule. However, they are really all part of the same entity as their ship, Axos, and it has been lured to Earth by the Master so that it can destroy drain all the energy from Earth to feed itself with. The Doctor grows suspicious of the Axon’s seemingly benign intentions and goes to investigate. Meanwhile, Chinn, an official from the ministry of defence, has his own men take over the affair and arrest those from UNIT so that he can keep all the advantages of Axonite for Britain rather than the whole world. However, Chinn’s plan is foiled and distribution of Axonite goes ahead as originally planned. Unfortunately this means that Axos can now feed on the energy of the entire planet which means the Doctor, who now knows the truth, has to race against time to stop it. He tricks both the Master and Axos and uses his TARDIS to trap them in a time-loop but while he is able to escape it the Master is too which mean he survives to fight another day. So while the Earth may be safe from Axos the Master is still at large and dangerous.

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Now then, if I had to choose just one word to describe this story then it would probably have to be psychedelic. Now you should not be put off by this description as there’s a lot more to the story than just that but the scenes within Axos are very much dominated by strange effects and colours which gives them a very psychedelic feel. Luckily for those who don’t like that sort of thing (I myself don’t mind it) those scenes are few and far between. The story itself has lots of twists and turns and a lot of scenes are crucial to the overall story which is good unless you’re writing up the synopsis for it, so what you read above is a very basic outline of quite a complex story. It really does feel like writers Bob Baker and Dave Martin gave their all for this story and while some ideas don’t end up being executed so well you just have to admire the sheer ambition of them. In fact ambition is one of the key things this story has going for it, it has it in abundance. But what about the characters who inhabit this complex story that Bob Baker and Dave Martin have created. Well I think it’s on fit and proper to start of with the main character, the Doctor, who is wonderfully played by Jon Pertwee. Now while his action hero side is shown off all to much in this story his intelligence is. He has his standard outrage at the actions of a political figure which can sometimes get a bit annoying but in this story they are totally justified and Chinn is quite an irritating character anyway so he definitely deserved to be shouted at by the Doctor. That’s to say I dislike Chinn’s presence in the story, far from it in fact as his annoying nationalist views allow many of the other characters to shine. One of these characters is FBI agent Bill Filer who strikes up a nice friendship with Jo and overall I find him to be quite likeable. Now I’m not from the US so I can’t really judge his accent but I’ve heard quite a few say that it’s rather bad. It’s going to be different from person to person as to whether it puts you off his character or not, some may even find it offensive. But to me it’s not all that bad and I actually quite like the character.

The UNIT regulars however, mainly Captain Yates and Sergeant Benton, are very much pushed into the background for a lot of this story. Even Jo suffers a bit but to a much lesser extent. The Brigadier on the other hand gets a great scene where he has to make a deal with the devil and work alongside the Master to save the world. Not only that but he also has to make the choice between saving the Doctor and Jo or the world. It’s a lot of heavy stuff and Nicholas Courtney of course performs it brilliantly. Beyond this however he doesn’t get to do a whole lot but these moments are so amazing that they basically make up for it. Our final character of note is of course the Master who is superbly played by Roger Delgado, the first and (in my honest opinion) the best. Admittedly the story would probably have functioned just as well without him but it’s nice to have him there anyway, mainly because of Roger Delgado’s sublime performance who brings out the best in every actor he acts opposite. One last thing I’d like to discuss before I conclude this review is the Axon’s. They’re a very solid idea for a monster and it’s rather a surprise that they haven’t returned at all. But Peter Capaldi has said he’d like to face off against them at some point (even though Steven Moffat doesn’t seem too keen on the idea) so you never know what might happen.

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In conclusion, The Claws of Axos isn’t perfect but a lot of merits and a pace similar to that of the new series. It was a tough call but I’m afraid it’s only a seven-out-of-ten from me but it’s a very strong seven and is still most definitely recommended by me, especially for those who are fairly new to the classic series. Up next is The Masque of Mandragora where the Fourth Doctor and Sarah take a trip to renaissance Italy but until then be sure to sound off your thoughts on the story in the comments below.

Farscape : I Shrink Therefore I Am

February 11, 2015 in Farscape by Firebird

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When Moya is raided by bounty hunters working for the Peacekeepers, every crew member is captured except for Crichton and Noranti. The armoured intruders shrink the captives and imprison them inside holding cavities in their torsos – if Crichton harms them, he endangers his friends as well. Finding that Scorpius is also free and on the run, Crichton teams up with him to fight off the menace, unaware that the leader of the bounty hunters has a hidden agenda.

Synopsis

Noranti doesn’t actually contribute much to the story spending most of it in a drug induced coma. Crichton comes up with several creative ways to kill the bounty hunters until only four of them are left.

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In the process Scorpius is captured and discovers that the lead bounty hunter is, unknown to his followers, a Scarran.

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Crichton tells the other bounty hunters and when one of them goes to check he and the other two are killed by their boss. It’s left to Crichton to take out the Scarran which he does with a battle of shrink rays and a final stomp of his boot.

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The episode sees Scorpius almost a member of the crew and discussions about Moya traveling into ‘Tormented Space’.

Star Trek : Shore Leave

February 9, 2015 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 Shore Leave. After a grueling three month stretch the Enterprise arrives at a planet in the Omicron Delta region. The planet seems idyllic. Sulu and Doctor McCoy taking part in a scouting survey believe it to be a great place for the crew to have shore leave. McCoy even comments that it’s something out of Alice in Wonderland. As Sulu goes to take biology samples a white rabbit appears claiming to be late followed by a young girl chasing after him.

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Shore leave is authorized and as the crew prepares for shore leave McCoy reports his sighting to Captain Kirk. Spock pulling a report from Doctor McCoy stating that Kirk is in need of rest convinces him to beam down to the planet. Kirk meets up with McCoy and he shows Kirk the rabbit’s footprints. Kirk orders shore leave to be put on hold. Just then shots ring out it seems Sulu has found an antique firearm one that coincidently he has wanted for his collection. The group splits up to investigate and as McCoy and Kirk walk back to the glade were McCoy first encountered the rabbit an antenna is seen following their movements. Soon more strange things appear usually after someone has mentioned them. Kirk encounters a practical joker Finnegan from his academy days after telling McCoy about him. Don Juan appears to Yeoman Barrows who she had been thinking of. Kirk (Of course) sees an old flame.

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Kirk has the landing party rendezvous at the glade where they beamed down. Meanwhile back on the Enterprise Spock has detected an energy field below the surface of the planet. It is very powerful and seems to be draining energy from the ship and disrupting communications. More things appear as people think of them a dress for Yeoman Barrow, a tiger, and a samurai warrior. Kirk reports the strange occurrences to Spock back on the ship. Spock having determined that the energy field is absorbing all power from its source uses the last of the power to beam down and report his findings to Kirk.

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Back at the glade McCoy tells Barrow that she shouldn’t be afraid with a brave knight to protect her just then a knight appears and McCoy says that it can’t be real and stands his ground the knight lances McCoy and kills him after which kirk shoots the knight with the pistol Sulu found. Sulu discovers that the knight wasn’t a living being. Spock discovers that everything on the planet is made of the same cellular makeup. As they investigate McCoy’s body vanishes. A fighter plane making a strafing run kills another crewman. Spock begins to theorize that the planet is reading peoples thoughts and manufacturing them in the real world. Kirk’s tormentor from the past reappears and he chases him out into the country side. After a brief fight Kirk is knocked unconscious. Kirk comes to and finally gains the upper hand on Finnegan and asks him what he is doing here to which Finnegan replies he is being exactly what Kirk expects him to be.

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Spock shows up asks Kirk if he enjoyed the fight. Kirk realizes that he did indeed enjoy it. Spock theorizes that thoughts are being read and manufactured as real things. The landing party regroups at the glade and Kirk orders everyone to stand at attention and not even think. Just then a caretaker appears and explains that they had not realized that the Enterprise crew didn’t understand what the planet was made for and that his race built it for their amusement. McCoy reappears unharmed and explains that they have an amazing manufacturing center underground where they can do anything. The caretaker explains that his people built all this for amusement and invites the crew to stay and enjoy themselves. Kirk authorizes shore leave for the crew.

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This was one of those fun episodes. You pretty much can figure out what is happening especially with the antenna showing up and everyone’s thoughts becoming real. We get a little back story on Kirk from his academy days. This is also another of those episodes with an interesting alien culture that you wish you could learn more about even though they don’t even get a name in this one. No red shirts were harmed in this episode and if they would have been the caretaker would have fixed them up.

Blake’s 7: Breakdown

February 7, 2015 in Blake's 7, Guest Blogs by GuestBlogs

A Guest Blog by Hevy782

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As we continue our look back on Blake’s 7 we reach Breakdown, an episode which guest stars prolific film actor Julian Glover as a villainous surgeon called Kayn. Many will probably recognise him best from Indiana Jones and Star Wars where he played Walter Donovan in The Last Crusade and General Veers in The Empire Strikes Back. But that’s not all. He also appeared in the film version of Quatermass and the Pit as well as multiple Doctor Who stories. Other credits to his name include James Bond and most recently Game of Thrones so as actors go he’s certainly done a lot, especially in terms of cult television and film. Shifting focus back onto the episode itself, Terry Nation is once again at the helm in terms of writing and Vere Lorrimer has returned to direct his third story after previously working on the third and sixth episodes Cygnus Alpha and Seek-Locate-Destroy. Vere Lorrimer has previously managed to attract Brain Blessed to the role of Vargas in Cygnus Alpha so he seems to do a good job when it comes to casting big names but unfortunately his directorial decisions are often rather bland and simple which isn’t bad but instead just means that there’s more work for the actors to do to keep the viewers interested. Luckily they’re also backed up by a strong script so let’s look at that now with an overview of the plot.

Breakdown itself begins with Gan’s behavioural limiter implant malfunctioning which causes him to attack the rest of the crew. They manage to subdue him and diagnose what’s wrong with him. Unfortunately, they have no way of helping him alone and therefor must find help elsewhere. Avon suggests the neutral medical facility XK-72 and after traversing a dangerous sector of space they manage to arrive safely. Once there they meet a surgeon named Kayn who soon works out that they are fugitives and summons the Federation. Blake must then force Kayn to complete the operation as the enemy closes in. With the operation complete, Kayn is returned to XK-72 just as Federation ships arrive. They open fire but Blake is able to manoeuvre the Liberator out of the way and the blast instead strike XK-72, destroying it. Blake and his crew then make a swift exit and easily manage to outrun the Federation ships. Gan is then welcomed back by the rest of the crew and they then head off to continue their crusade elsewhere.

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It’s another good episode in my opinion, definitely lifted by the presence of Julian Glover. But as his brilliance is pretty much self-explanatory I’m not going to go on about him. Instead I’m going to talk about Gan who has been missing out on the limelight for far too long now. When I started watching this episode I thought it was going to centre around Gan and while I guess it did in one way it just wasn’t the way I’d hoped for. I guess the best way to describe it would be that while Gan is centre stage the spotlight is anywhere but. Similar to Avalon in the previous episode, Gan is treated as more of a plot device to drive the story forward than a character in his own right. He only really gets one proper scene as himself and the rest of the episode he spends either in a savage state or unconscious. But while Gan misses out in this episode some other characters are given a chance to shine. One of these is Cally who we get to see a more caring side of and we even get to see signs of an almost sisterly relationship between her and Jenna.

However, the character who is perhaps in the spotlight the most is Avon who almost abandons the crew of the Liberator in this episode. However, even when he’s doing so he’s not simply selling them out but is instead trying to make sure they get away safely. Eventually he does decide to return to the Liberator when Kayn’s interference causes things to become quite uncomfortable for the crew of the Liberator which proves that he has grown rather attached to his new friends even if he doesn’t like to show it. The episode also reveals that Avon has a number of boltholes scattered around the galaxy for him to find sanctuary in if things get too hot for him with the crew of the Liberator. It says quite a bit about his character that he has these but it says even more that he was willing to give one of these up to save the life of Gan. Speaking of Gan, he’s not the only thing that’s lacking in this episode as there is also a distinct lack of humour here. Now obviously I didn’t come into this expecting a slapstick comedy but I was expecting a little more than what I got. The only funny line I can think of is Vila’s one about being afraid of nothing and that’s rather feeble compared to a lot of the other stuff he’s come out with. Vila does get a serious moment though when he threatens Kayn which is nice to have.

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In conclusion, Gan may still be missing the attention that he now desperately needs but that doesn’t mean this is a poor episode. Breakdown is a nice little episode which develops some characters nicely and I’d give it a seven-out-of-ten for those reasons. We’re also now nearing the finale of the first series and next up with have an episode intriguingly titled Bounty but until then be sure to sound off your thoughts on the episode in the comments below.

Farscape : John Quixote

February 4, 2015 in Farscape by Firebird

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Chiana and Crichton are sucked into a game world ruled over by a virtual Stark, who sends Crichton on a quest to ‘Kiss the Princess’. To escape the game, they are forced to battle old friends and enemies in fantastic guises. Meanwhile, aboard Moya, Scorpius escapes and brings the crew under his control.

Synopsis

Another of the totally weird ones and a good excuse to welcome back a whole raft of departed characters. Obviously there’s Stark who’s bearing a major grudge against Crichton but we also see Peacekeeper tech Gilina, Jool, Crais (as an Ogre) and right near the end Virginia Hey returns as the real Zhaan.

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Also thrown into the mix we get a Crichton version of Max Headroom. Bonus geek points and likely a big give away of your age if that means anything to you.

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The Seven Faces of Doctor Who: The Seeds of Death

January 31, 2015 in Dr Who, Guest Blogs by GuestBlogs

A Guest Blog by Hevy782

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Today we continue our look back at Classic Who and shift the focus onto the Second Doctor played by Patrick Troughton. This week’s story is The Seeds of Death which features Frazer Hines as Jamie McCrimmon and Wendy Padbury as Zoe Heriot alongside Patrick Troughton’s unforgettable incarnation of everyone’s favourite Time Lord. For those of you who don’t know Patrick Troughton is my favourite Doctor and despite some tough competition from the likes of Tom Baker he is still managing to hang on to the top spot on my list. I choose this story because it shows both his silly and his serious side more-or-less equally and it also follows the format typical of many stories from his era. It is of course a base-under-siege story and while it does have some differences to the standard base-under-siege format it is still essentially what it boils down to. It is also the second appearance of the Ice Warriors who were primarily brought back because it was cheaper than making an entirely new monster but also because they had proved popular in the first appearance. The writer of said first appearance, Brian Hayles, was also bought back to write this sequel although script editor Terrance Dicks ended up rewriting the majority dues to issues with the original scripts. Michael Ferguson was bought on to direct the story and that is pretty much all the behind-the-scenes stuff in a nutshell so I think it’s about time to move on to the nitty-gritty of the story itself.

Starting off with the précis (which is basic a posh word for synopsis) for The Seeds of Death, the story begins with the TARDIS landing in the late twenty-first century where a revolutionary teleportation system called T-Mat has superseded all other forms of transport. It is controlled from a base on the moon but when all contact is lost the Earth enters a state of crisis. Unbeknownst to those on the planet bellow, the moonbase has been invaded by a group of Ice Warriors who plan to send seed pods to Earth which will spread oxygen sapping spores and end all life. With no other way to reach the moon, the Doctor, Jamie and Zoe pilot a rocket to there and discover the presence of their old enemies. They then manage to rescue the surviving technicians and teleport back to Earth using T-Mat, but the fungus is already taking effect and there seems to be no way to stop it. After some experimenting, the Doctor finds that the fungus can be destroyed with ordinary water and then goes to the weather control bureau to make it rain. Unfortunately, an Ice Warrior had been sent on ahead to destroy the weather controls but the Doctor is able to rig up a solar-radiation device to kill the Ice Warrior with. He then fixes the weather controls and causes it to rain, destroying all of the deadly fungus that was suffocating the planet. However, an Ice Warrior fleet is moving in and a signal is being transmitted by the Ice Warriors on the moon to direct them there. Earth then sends a satellite up which is transmitting the same signal to lure the Ice Warrior fleet off course and into an orbit which will send them into the sun. The Doctor then heads up alone to disable the signal on the moon so that the Ice Warriors will all follow the false signal but while he is successful he is also captured by the remaining Ice Warriors. Tired of waiting, Jamie follows on after the Doctor and then saves him from the Ice Warriors, dealing with them in the process. with all the threats to Earth now dealt with the Doctor heads off in the TARDIS with Jamie and Zoe, but it’s far from the last he’ll see of the Ice Warriors.

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On the whole this story is surprisingly well made given the moderately troubled pre-production and low budget and the effort that went into making this clearly shows in the end product. Obviously it’s not flawless but given what they had to work with they came out better than expected. The sets themselves look very sleek and futuristic but in that classic sixties way. It very much shows what route they thought we were going to go down in the future but now it seems like we’re heading in a completely different. As for the costumes, they are also rather simplistic and while it does make the majority of the male cast members look like rather tacky superheroes the performances thankfully draws the audience’s attention away from the costume and makes them instead focus on the acting and the story. As for Mrs Kelly, one of the few female members of the cast, she’s given a much nicer costume which really stands out as high quality when compared to the costumes worn by those around her. As for the Ice Warriors the general design is pretty much the same as what we saw in their original story, The Ice Warriors, only here they look much more tight and for the most part less tacky. The lip sinking doesn’t match up that well but luckily they don’t have much lines as most are said by their leader, Slaar, who has an entirely different design. He is much more sleek and almost snake like compared to the standard Ice Warriors’ more turtle-like look. He even has a great hissing voice which is reminiscent of a snake. The character is written very well and Alan Bennion gives a great performance. Director Michael Ferguson is definitely aware of the productions strengths and limits but by no means does he play it safe. He takes risks which ultimately pay off and his decision to keep the Ice Warriors hidden for the first episode though use of point-of-view shots was pure genius. There’s also a very nice low angle shot of an Ice Warrior with the sun in the background, it works so well as you can’t make out an of the Ice Warriors features and it gives a real sense of menace.

Interestingly enough, the Doctor doesn’t come in to the story until about half way through the first episode which means that there’s a fair amount of time setting up the characters and the plot even before the TARDIS lands which is nice. One of these characters is Fewsham who ends up helping the Ice Warriors for most of the story. But not out greed or a lust for power but simply because he doesn’t want to die which might not be the most commendable of attributes but it’s certainly realistic. He does, however, die a hero and makes up for his past mistakes which is a nice bit of character development even though it’s a bit predictable. Another great character is Gia Kelly who is one of the few female characters is the story but she is much stronger than most of the men. She doesn’t let anyone push her about, even her superiors, and is very much focus on getting the job done right. Now The Seeds of Death is very much the Doctor’s story (despite Patrick Troughton being on holiday for episode four) but that doesn’t mean that Jamie and Zoe are left with nothing to do and they are given quite an active role in the proceedings actually. It’s also interesting to note that they spend most of the story together whereas some stories like to split the main characters up to drive different strands of the story before reuniting at the end. Here they do split up fairly often but always met up again fairly quickly and practically everyone gets a chance to act opposite each other which is great.

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Overall, The Seeds of Death is another great story which is arguably more relevant today than it was back then. It’s all about space travel and how we should be exploring the stars which is something we seem to have given up on these days and are too focused on making our lives easier. Admittedly we don’t have anything like T-Mat to do this but there are loads of other luxuries in today’s world that we could quite easily live without. So it’s a nine-out-of-ten for me on this one and next week we’ll be moving on to the Third Doctor with The Claws of Axos, an absolute romp of a story featuring UNIT and the Master but until then be sure to sound off your thoughts on the story in the comments below.

Farscape : Natural Election

January 27, 2015 in Farscape by Firebird

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Crichton correctly predicts a wormhole’s appearance near Moya, but simultaneously a giant space plant captures the Leviathan. An attack with D’Argo’s ship only succeeds in sending the plant into Moya’s conduits, making it even more difficult to kill. Eventually, an agent is found that will repel the plant, but it only exists in Scorpius’ cooling rods. In order to save Moya, Crichton will have to place trust in his arch nemesis.

Synposis

A fairly standard ship in peril episode. Sikozu continues to buddy up with Scorpius. Aeryn makes the major mistake of trusting Chiana with a secret, which naturally she blabs to D’Argo who then tells Crichton.

Scorpius’ cooling rods allow him to clear poor Pilot of the invading plant.

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But it takes Noranti’s abilities as a chemist combined with Sikozu’s knowledge of Laviathans to find a solution that works for the whole ship.

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And finally after taking it in turns proves unworkable the crew hold an election for a permanent captain which D’Argo wins.

Star Trek : Balance of Terror

January 26, 2015 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 Balance of Terror. While patrolling along the Romulan neutral zone Captain Kirk officiates at the wedding of two of the crew he receives word that they have lost contact with Earth Outposts number 2 and 3. As Kirk begins the ceremony a red alert is signaled outpost number 4 is under attack. Kirk orders full ahead.

As the Enterprise races toward Outpost 4 Kirk and Spock brief the crew about their mission. Spock explains that the neutral zone and the Earth outposts were put in place after the Earth Romulan war of over a century ago. He also notes that since the war the treaty has been unbroken and that neither side has seen the other due to lack of visual communications back then. Kirk then explains that his orders are explicit they are to defend themselves but they may not violate the treaty and that in order to prevent interstellar war the Enterprise and the outposts are considered expendable. Lieutenant Stiles says that it has to be the Romulans and they have violated the treaty. Kirk asks how they would know it’s the Romulans. Stiles says they are painted like a bird of prey. Kirk asks how he knows and Stiles tells kirk that several of his relatives died in the war.

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The Enterprise finds outposts 2 and 3 have been destroyed but re-stablish contact with outpost 4. The outpost has been attacked and severely damaged. Commander Hansen tells Kirk that the weapon was a sort of energy plasma and destroyed his base even though their shields were up and they are a mile deep in an asteroid of solid iron. Just then a ship appears on Hansen’s view screen he switches the screen over to the Enterprise just as the ship fires its weapon and disappears. Outpost 4 is now totally destroyed. The attacker has vanished. Spock discovers a blip on the motion sensor and the ship is headed back towards Romulan space. Kirk and Spock theorizes that being cloaked uses a lot of power and that the invisibility screen may work both ways. Kirk orders a parallel course to appear as an echo to the Romulan ship to which Stiles objects showing his hatred of the Romulans. Stiles then tells Kirk it’s possible that Romulan spies have infiltrated the Enterprise. Kirk orders a security alert. Just then Uhura intercepts a message from the Romulan ship Spock locks onto it and is able to get a visual of the Romulan bridge. To every ones shock the Romulans look exactly like Vulcans.

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Uhura tells kirk that they are still working on translating the Romulan message. Stiles mutters that they should give it to Spock to which Kirk asks if he is complimenting Spock on his skills to translate it. Stiles says he’s not sure to which Kirk orders him to leave any bigotry he has in his quarters there’s no room for it on the bridge. The Romulan ship becomes visible and changes course Kirk orders them to follow. Aboard the Romulan ship their commander knows they are being followed and consults with his centurion on what they will do next and what the ramifications will be. As they talk Decious who sent the message picked up by the Enterprise reports in. The commander reduces him two steps in rank for breaking radio silence. Centurion warns him that Decious has powerful friends that could be dangerous to him to which the commander replies “Danger and I are old companions”. The Romulan commander is wary of what will happen when they return and have proof of the Earthman’s weakness. Centurion is concerned that the commander isn’t fully on board with the mission but is reassured by him that he will do his duty.

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Aboard the Enterprise Kirk holds a conference on what to do next. Stiles wants to attack while they are still outside the neutral zine. Sulu is wary and asks how they will hit an invisible target. McCoy also voices resignation Spock then adds that if the Romulans are an off shoot of the Vulcans they cannot show fear and agrees with Stiles to attack. Kirk agrees and orders an attack as the Romulan ship turns toward a comet. They believe the ship will become visible as it enters the comet.

As the two ships enter the comet the Romulan commander is told that their shadow no longer follows. He is quick to realize Kirk’s plan and initiates an escape maneuver. When the Romulan ship does not become visible as predicted Kirk realizes this and changes course as well. We see each Captain commending the others skill. Kirk orders the Enterprise to fire at the Romulan ship blindly hoping to score a hit. The Romulan ship is hit and as a piece of ceiling falls toward the Romulan commander the centurion pushes him out of the way and is gravely injured. Back on the Enterprise the phaser control circuit burns out. The Romulan commander decides to attack they de-cloak and fire their weapon. Kirk orders all to stern as the phasers are inoperative. The weapon eventually overtakes the ship but has dissipated somewhat and only causes minor damage. The Romulans go back to their previous course, Kirk resumes a parallel course. Stiles informs Kirk that they’ll be entering the neutral zone in one minute Kirk decides to attack before then. The Enterprise fires and hits the Romulan ship. Kirk decides to continue pursuit into the neutral zone and continues the attack. The Romulan commander deploys a decoy as he has all the debris from the damage jettisoned into space as well as the body of his friend the centurion who has died. Spock scans the wreckage but it is to late the trick has worked and the Enterprise has lost contact with the Romulan ship.

Each ship now plays the waiting game looking for a clue as to where the other one is. Kirk and McCoy discuss the day’s events in Kirk’s cabin. Kirk is starting to feel the strain of command. McCoy reassures Kirk that he is doing the right thing. Back on the bridge Spock making further repairs on the phaser controls accidently hits his control panel and activates a signal that the Romulans pick up. The Romulan ship closes in but Kirk guesses their move and hits them with more phaser fire. The Romulan commander’s frustration grows as he keeps being out maneuvered. He orders more debris into the disposal tubes and also one nuclear device used for self-destruction. Spock scans the debris and picks up the metal cased object Kirk orders a point blank phaser strike. The device detonates one hundred meters from the ship damaging the Enterprise. The phasers are undamaged but only the crewman who was to be married Tomlinson is left to man them. Stiles volunteers to go as his first assignment was in weapons control. Spock tells Kirk that they can move off to make repairs but Kirk decides to play dead.

On the Romulan ship the commander wants to retreat as he does not trust Kirk. Decious reminds him that it is their duty to destroy the enemy, reluctantly he decides to attack. Spock checks on the phaser control room Stiles tells him rather rudely that everything is okay. As Spock leaves Stiles notices that the phaser coolant is leaking. Just then the Romulan ship turns to attack. Kirk orders the phasers to fire but Stiles and Tomlinson are unconscious. Spock hearing Kirk over the intercom rushes in and fires the phasers scoring a direct hit disabling the Romulan ship. Kirk hails the Romulan ship and offers to take on its survivors. The Romulan commander after expressing great respect for Kirk refuses the offer tells him that he has one last duty to perform and self-destructs. Kirk goes to sick bay. Spock had saved Stiles. Stiles expresses regret about his suspicion of Spock and is amazed that Spock would risk his life to save him after everything he said to him. Spock brushes it off as having saved an important crewman and has no other feelings in this matter. Kirk asks McCoy “How many men did we lose?” McCoy says only one Tomlinson who was to be married that day. He tells Kirk his fiancé is at the chapel. Kirk goes and comforts her telling her that there has to be a reason. She tells Kirk she is okay. Kirk leaves and heads back to the bridge.

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This is one of the best episodes of the entire classic series if not the best. The Romulans are introduced in this episode and unfortunately have never really been done justice afterward although The Enterprise Incident wasn’t bad and Deadly Years they really didn’t have a large part in. I often wonder why they never played up the Romulan plasma weapon again being it was so powerful. I never did like the way they were portrayed in The Next Generation they always seemed so stiff and dull it may have been the uniforms and let’s not mention Nemesis. In this episode they were awesome Mark Lenard who went on to portray Sarek Spock’s father was great in this episode as the somewhat conflicted Romulan commander. The interplay with him and the centurion gives some nice background on the Romulans and their culture. Having them also be an off shoot of Vulcan makes them even that more intriguing. The interplay between Kirk and the Romulan commander was great each one out guessing the other until finally Kirk got the upper hand. The final scene in which the Romulan commander shows his respect for Kirk is one of my favorites in the series especially this quote “You and I are of a kind. In a different reality, I could have called you friend.” This episode also lays the foundation for the cloaked ship being unable to fire its weapons unless it becomes visible. The subplots of the wedding and Stiles suspicion of Spock added to the drama of the episode.

Some trivia from this episode.

The episode is said to be based on two movies Run Silent Run Deep and The Enemy Below.

The Romulan crewman all wore helmets to cut costs on making them all prosthetic ears.

Mark Lenard also went on to play a Klingon in Star Trek the Motion picture always hated that title.

The ships phasers are shown more like photon torpedoes here as that term had not been invented yet but it is explained by Kirk ordering the phasers to be set for proximity blast, also this is the only time the phasers are fired through a series of commands to another control center other than the bridge.

A longer portion of Hansen’s transmission that was not used had him saying that the Romulan ship was similar to ours and that he suspects they may have stolen some of our technology this played up to Stiles having suspicion that there were spies on board the Enterprise.

If you watch closely when the Enterprise detonates the nuclear warhead (a favorite scene of mine “Helm hard over, phasers fire point blank!”) not everybody “falls” in the same direction.

The model for the Romulan ship was damaged and that is one of the reasons when the third season episode The Enterprise Incident aired the Romulans were said to be using Klingon ships.

When Kirk leaves the chapel after consoling Angela he is sullen and slightly slumped over but as he walks down the corridor he straightens up and regains his air of command.

The Seven Faces of Doctor Who: The Dalek Invasion of Earth

January 24, 2015 in Dr Who, Guest Blogs by GuestBlogs

A Guest Blog by Hevy782

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While we sit back and wait for the highly anticipated series nine I thought it best to turn to the classic series to pass the time. So over the coming weeks I’ll be looking at one story from each of the original seven Doctor’s. The first port of call is The Dalek Invasion of Earth which of course features William Hartnell as the First Doctor, Carole Ann Ford as Susan Foreman, William Russel as Ian Chesterton and Jacqueline Hill as Barbara Wright. I decided to settle upon this story to represent the First Doctor’s era because it represents a change in direction for his character. Before he mainly trying to get himself and his companions out of dangerous situations but here he is trying to make a difference and leave the world he visits in a better state than it was when he arrived on it. It is also one of the most iconic Dalek stories to date with shots of them roaming about London that became embedded in the memories of an entire generation. The story itself is written by Terry Nation and directed by Richard Martin so without further adieu let’s get on to the synopsis.

The story itself begins with the TARDIS landing in a Dalek occupied London and the travellers soon become separated with Susan and Barbara getting caught up with the resistance while the Doctor and Ian become prisoners of the Daleks. The resistance then launches an attack on the Dalek saucer where the Doctor and Ian are held and while the Doctor manages to escape Ian is still inside and the resistance is torn to pieces by the retaliating Daleks. The saucer then takes off for the mines in Bedfordshire and the Doctor, Susan, Barbara and what remains of the resistance heads there too. After having a quick look at the mines the Doctor reveals that he believes it to be the heart of the Dalek’s operations on Earth and that putting a stop to he work here would cripple the Daleks plans. The Daleks themselves plan to dig to the centre of the Earth and replace the core with a device which will allow them to pilot the Earth. They send an explosive down to penetrate the crust of the Earth but Ian intercepts it and the Doctor is able to break into Dalek command and turn the Dalek’s robotic servants, the Robomen, against their masters. The Daleks device is unable to destroy the crust of the Earth but still causes a massive explosion which destroys the remaining Dalek saucers above. The Doctor and his companions then head back to London where a tough choice has to be made. Susan has fallen in love with one of the resistance members and rather than have his granddaughter choose between him and the man she loves he makes the decision for her and dematerialises without her, leaving her to settle down and aid in the rebuilding of the Earth.

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I’m not sure what it is exactly but I just absolutely love this story. I just get such a great feeling while watching early serials like this and I guess that feeling would best be described as nostalgia, which is odd considering that my parents weren’t even in double figures when this went out. So why do I get this feeling of nostalgia while watching old stuff like this? Probably because I watched things like it when I was younger but it’s interesting nevertheless. There’s also something just so appealing about a story where the invasion has already been and gone and the characters are now living in a rather well realised post-apocalyptic world. Obviously it’s the sixties so you can’t expect too much but it did have certain advantages with streets of an empty London being achieved in a way that couldn’t be replicated now because of people’s lifestyles today leading to the streets being filled at all hours. The musical score is also great for this. There isn’t much of it but what there is gives a feeling of emptiness and hopelessness. The first episode sets it all up particularly nicely with some great camera work as well as a tight script which builds up a great sense of mystery and eeriness.

Then there are the Daleks themselves who are very much of a bygone era here but I honestly don’t mind that and in some ways I actually prefer it this way. They’re still threatening and arguably more so because when you make an enemy so powerful like the new series did with them and then have then defeated fairly quickly then they’re just not threatening. Here they are threatening in numbers but when they are defeated it takes time to get to that point and therefor it doesn’t make them seem much less threatening. I honestly like the Daleks from the seventies the best as the weren’t too powerful for their own good like they would later become but aren’t as easily defeated on their own as they were here. We also have the appearance of the Robomen here who are humans conditioned to obey the Daleks and they are used as far more than just foot soldiers for the Daleks, they are used for emotional value too with interactions between them and people they used to know before they were converted. It’s things like that which make the Daleks much more evil and much more effective as villains, the idea that they’re not just killing people but taking their humanity away from them too. In fact the Robomen are a bit like Cybermen in that sense. There are also a great array of believable characters created here by Terry Nation but I’m instead going to focus on the four regulars to finish off. They all get to play a fairly equal share in the story with each of them carrying a separate strand of the story and leading said strand to it’s end point. Arguably the Doctor and Susan get slightly less to do than Ian and Barbara for the majority of the story but that’s more than made up for by the final scene in which the Doctor says goodbye. It’s a very heart-wrenching scene and it gets me every time. In fact I would probably say it’s the most emotional scene in all of the Doctor Who because it’s not overacted but done just right and it’s very probably William Hartnell’s best performance as the Doctor and the music afterwards signs the story off perfectly, simply perfection.

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In conclusion, The Dalek Invasion of Earth is a magnificent story and one which I would recommend all Doctor Who fans watch if they haven’t already. However, it isn’t flawless so it is one mark off with a nine-out-of-ten from me unfortunately. Still that’s a very good score and I hope you’ll join me next week when we take a look at The Seeds of Death, an action-packed Second Doctor story featuring the Ice Warriors but until then be sure to sound off your thoughts on the story in the comments below.

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