24 March 2011

Trek Review: The Corbomite Maneuver & The Menagerie, Parts 1 & 2

The Corbomite Maneuver

The Enterprise is out on the fringe of known space and pushing farther when it comes across a strange cube shaped object (not a Borg ship!) blocking it's path.

Perceiving a threat from the object as it rotates in front of the Enterprise and begins to emit large amounts of radiation, endangering the crew, Kirk orders the object destroyed with phaser fire. Continuing on their journey a larger, spherical ship approaches the Enterprise, disabling her and threatening impending destruction for their aggressive actions against the cube shaped buoy.

Crew tensions run high, but Kirk responds with a bluff, of a special material that all Earth ships are equipped with, called Corbomite. Warning the aliens that the destruction of the Enterprise would result in the destruction of their own ship. The bluff pays off, for the moment when their time passes and nothing transpires.

A smaller ship breaks away from the sphere and tows the Enterprise away. Using the engines and the helm to flick the ship out of tow, the Enterprise breaks free, crippling the smaller vessel. Kirk takes Spock and Lt Bailey over to the crippled vessel where they meet Balok, a childlike being of the First Federation. Their entire encounter to this point had been a test. Balok offers a cultural exchange, where Lt Bailey offers to remain aboard Balok's ship, the Fesarius to learn more.

This has long been one of my favourite TOS episodes. It marks the first time in this re-run that we see the Enterprise fire her weapons and the remastered Fesarius is far improved from the original version. This episode is mostly drawn out with long scenes of tension and authority. There's a big sense of mystery yet immediate danger from the beginning when the warning buoy appears and Spock puts the ship on alert.

More of the comradery between Kirk and Spock is evident in this episode, with Kirk relying on Spock for input, even on decisions Kirk has already made. Spock even comments on this. On the same note, there's also signs in this episode that not every member of the crew likes Spock, with Lt Bailey often challenging him.

Overall Rating: 7/10


The Menagerie, Parts 1 & 2

The only two-parter episode of the Original Series. The Enterprise arrives at Starbase 11, but upon beaming to the surface, Starbase staff report that there was no such communication ordering the Enterprise to travel there.

Kirk and Spock meet Fleet Captain Pike, whom Spock served under while aboard the Enterprise 13 years ago. Pike is the victim of a terrible accident that has left him disfigured and stuck inside a chair that offers him mobility and the basic communication skills of Yes or No via the light/beeper.

Spock tampers with the Starbase communications console relaying orders to the Enterprise to head under computer control and follow out a top secret mission. It soon turns out that Spock has deceived the entire crew and is really using the Enterprise to transport Pike to the planet Talos IV, a forbidden world, but a world the Enterprise, Pike and Spock have all been to before.

A court martial ensues when Spock turns himself in and he explains the reasons behind transporting Pike to Talos IV. What follows is a retelling of Gene Roddenberry's original pilot for Star Trek, entitled 'The Cage'. It shows the Enterprise under Pike's command picking up a distress beacon from an old Earth ship which leads them to Talos IV. Pike is captured and trapped in a Cage, but meets a single Earth woman who has been detained since her ship crashlanded there. The telepathic Talosians are secretly trying to find her a mate so the species can continue to live on in their 'Menagerie'.

The Talosians offer their captives the chance to exist in any world they choose, an illusion of their making, but Pike resists and eventually breaks free.

Spock reveals that returning Pike to Talos IV will allow him to live as a free man again, instead of being restricted to his chair.

These two episodes form an interesting way of incorporating the original adventure/pilot episode within the current series. It also canonises the events of 13 years ago where the Enterprise was operating under an almost completely different crew. However, after watching many, many reruns of 'The Cage' after it was 'uncovered' and made available, I'm glad the version in 'The Menagerie' was somewhat cut down and to the point.

The Talosians are an annoying race in my eyes, no wonder Pike hated them so much in his first encounter with them! 'The Menagerie' has its flaws, how Spock could so easily break into the communications room of a Starbase and how he had a prepared answer for every question from Enterprise personnel when issuing the top secret mission was a bit convenient. Kirk and Commodore Mendez following the Enterprise in a shuttle was probably a bit foolish and the way Starfleet allows Pike to return to Talos IV and lets Spock off with no charges or reprimand at the end just offered a very tidy ending.

Overall Rating: 6/10, both parts.

23 March 2011

Turning 28

So, last week I turned 28 and I've been lucky enough to have had a decent bit of celebrating to coincide with getting another year older.

Oddly enough, even though my birthday fell on March 17th, I didn't actually receive any of the usual gifts until the weekend at the earliest. Heck, at my age I don't come to expect anything and the company of good friends is enough, but it was interesting in any case.

Earlier in the month, Mum and Dad threw a dinner to celebrate the birthday's of Eleonor and myself at Vaby's restaurant in Penrith.

On the day itself, some of my work colleagues put together a morning tea including Barbie printed napkins, chocolate cake and sharing a few laughs. For dinner, Eleonor took me out to the El Phoenician restaurant in Parramatta (see picture below).

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I had previously decided to do something on the weekend and with all the hype surrounding a particular burger place at the end of last year, it seemed like an opportune time to experience them first hand. So I managed to get most of my friends together and experience Killa Burger in all their glory. Check out their 30cm across Killa Burger in the picture below :)

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Surprisingly, for such large burgers, they were great to eat, particularly when cut into manageable pieces that our party could enjoy. Definitely recommend visiting their store if you're after something unique, if you're hungry or just want good value for money!

I had planned to incorporate some afternoon activities such as putt-putt or something but the wet weather literally dampened those efforts so we split up. Some of the crowd would return for dinner at St Patrick's Tavern in Seven Hills later that night - an appropriate venue considering my birthday falls on St Patrick's Day. The restaurant seemed to have forgotten about my booking but soon allocated us a table and we had a reasonable time, although they did seem a bit understaffed for the amount of people dining on the night.

Following dinner we chilled out at The Winston, a new place for us to check out but one we'd have no problems revisiting again.

The weekend came to an end before Eleonor was able to venture to a Kmart store to get my planned birthday present. She'll now have a riding partner when she goes bike riding about the places and this is the first bike I'll have owned in quite a few years.

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With the continuous wet weather I haven't yet been able to take her out for a proper ride to see that everything's okay but I'm looking forward to that first ride and more to come of course. We've already planned to go to some parks and get fit now that we both can ride.

It's been a busy few weeks and if it's not my birthday there'll be other things happening to keep us occupied. Among all the Trek Reviews I've been posting I'd like to try and keep some of my life in these updates from time to time as well!

All the best, until the next blog...

Dan

14 March 2011

Trek Review: Miri & Dagger of the Mind

Miri

The Enterprise discovers a planet identical to Earth - many lightyears away. A landing party to the surface discovers the planet appears to mirror Earth from the mid 1900's.

Soon enough, the party are attacked by a mutated humanoid and the investigation begins.

So it turns out that the planet is mainly inhabited by children and further investigation uncovers that the original inhabitants were working on prolonging life, but there's obviously been some side-effects.

Kirk and the landing party (except Spock) start showing signs of infection and the children take their means of communicating with the ship in orbit which puts McCoy's plans to cure everyone in jeopardy, but Kirk's smooth moves and ability to charm Miri, the first young girl they encountered after arriving at the planet, allow the Enterprise crew to be saved.

This story has parallels with more recent stories like I Am Legend and while it was a decent tale, I just found the children annoying, particularly the "bonk bonk" kid, who also reminded me of someone I went to primary school with!

The blu-ray remaster is one of the most flawless episodes we've seen so far though.

Overall rating: 5/10


Dagger of the Mind

The Enterprise arrives at Tantalus Penal Colony to pick up some cargo and unknowingly takes aboard a stowaway, a crazed Dr. Van Gelder.

Van Gelder finds his way to the bridge and requests asylum. Kirk and psychiatrist Dr Helen Noel beam down to Tantalus to investigate where they meet Dr Adams, administrator of the penal colony.

For the viewers, it's quickly apparent that things on Tantalus aren't quite right. Dr Noel though is lapping up Dr Adams' explanations and methods in keeping tranquility among the penal colonists.

Kirk and Noel find a room fitted with a neural neutraliser and soon realise this is the source of Van Gelder's claims. In a familiar storyline and turn of events to 'What Are Little Girls Made Of', Kirk ends up being shown the full strength of this torturous device.

With Dr Noel's help on the ground and Spock & McCoy working aboard the Enterprise, the crew are able to cause a powercut which deactivates the neural neutraliser and save Kirk. When the power is regained, Dr Adams' mind is wiped by the neural neutraliser and he dies.

As mentioned above, this story seems similar to that of 'What Are Little Girls Made Of'. The interesting parts surround Dr Helen Noel, who we find out had a prior encounter with Captain Kirk and manages to hold her own whilst sabotaging the penal colony.

Overall rating: 5/10

12 March 2011

My First New Car

I've spoken about my passion for cars on many occasions before but never really gone into any details about any of the rides I've owned and driven around.

After nearly 6 years of ownership of my most recent ride, a Ford Cougar, it was coming time to change. That car was almost 10 years old and it was beginning to show, even though to most onlookers the car was still in great condition and running fine.

I ordered her replacement after much research in late February and last week took delivery of a brand new Ford Focus XR5 Turbo - an early Birthday present to myself! This is the first time I've been able to own a brand new car and it's a great feeling mixed with excitement, anxiousness and paranoia!

After one week of ownership the main commute has been to and from work and I'm still trying to get used to all the new features and the different driving experience this car offers. Where the Cougar was a great cruiser, this car regains some practicality and is a little bullet with the turbo allowing things to happen a lot faster. I know the car has quite a lot more in it and it's something I'm adjusting to slowly so I don't screw up in my early days!

While the last car was quite the project car when it came to modifications and accessories I added on, this car will be something totally different. Of course, situations are different and this car reflects that, but with so many other, bigger things to be looking at this year, like the wedding and other house related projects, the car will remain pretty much as is for the timebeing. The beauty being that the car is perfect as it is for the timebeing anyway!

So that's my story and quick wrap-up - let me introduce you to my new car...

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Until next time,

Dan