Episode 221: Hurdles Beyond

August 31, 2016

221

Popular guest host Kathie rejoins Jakob and Mandi for an impromptu episode to talk about Star Trek Beyond. They all saw together a few weeks ago and have varying opinions about the latest Star Trek fan-film, some of which they’d forgotten already.

Making It Out Alive

By Jakob

As often happens, as soon as I hit “stop” on the recorder, I remembered what I mean to talk about on the podcast. It ties in to the premise of my previous blog post, which was how Hollywood movies, especially franchise films, have taken on the characteristics of fanfiction. I’d written the piece just previous to seeing Star Trek Beyond (because I didn’t expect to see it until it made its way to Netflix) but if I had, it would’ve been a prime example of the phenomenon.  And not just because Simon Pegg, an avowed Star Trek fan, co-wrote the script making it literally a fanfilm.

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Episode 212: Trains, Trek, Tangents and Tinder Updates

October 14, 2015

212

Before heading back to Africa, Kathie wanted to slam the new E.L. James book, Grey. Mandi wanted an update on her Tinder adventures and tangents ensued. So much so neither topic gets talked about much — Grey pretty much not at all. We do however critique the so-called “best selfie ever” (see above). Heck, even the title of the episode is a reference to a post-credits easter egg at the end of the episode. Have fun. We did.

Note: Listeners may be confused by references to Mandi’s brother Jake as well as Jakob being called “Jake” in a game where Mandi and Kathie role-play his parents as that’s what his parents call him. Two different people.

 


Episode 190: Oh Captain, My Captains

May 1, 2014

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A double review of William Shatner’s documentary, The Captains, which is a tribute to his own vanity, as well as the latest Marvel Comics movie, Captain America: The Winter Soldier, which is barely about the titular soldier.


Episode 188: Meanwhile back on DS9…

April 15, 2014

Vintage Television

It’s been a while since we’ve talked about our stay on Deep Space Nine. Frankly, we didn’t have much to say. It was okay, but everything else we’d recently watched seemed more interesting to talk about. More interesting, that is, until we were slapped in the face with Season 5. 

On the episode, we reference GraphTV, a site that graphically tracks the IMDB ratings of any TV series. Mandi claimed it proves Voyager is the better series. Though the numbers do bear this out, it’s not so clear cut once you begin to dig into the data.

DEEP SPACE NINE

Click to embiggen

Episodes rated 8.5 or greater : 15
Episodes in the mean range (7.00-8.49) : 104
Episodes rated 6.5 or less : 20
Episodes rated <6.0 : 5

VOYAGER

Click to embiggen

Episodes rated 8.5 or greater : 8
Episodes in the mean range (7.0-8.49) : 112
Episode rated 6.5 or less : 16
Episodes rated <6.0 : 2

What we see from the data is that DS9 has higher peaks and valleys than Voyager. While it boasts 7 more episodes which rated 8.5 or better, Voyager has fewer in the negative range (6.5 or less), and only 2 in the terrible episode range (<6) compared to DS9’s whopping 5. Voyager also does better within the mean range (7.0-8.49) by a count of 8 episodes, which indicates a greater consistency over the course of the series.

For my money, middle-ground consistency is is more important than exemplary episodes coupled with a greater number of teeth-gnashingly substandard ones.

It is also a matter of objective taste. Many of the highly ranked DS9 episodes, I simply do not care for. Of the three highest rated episodes (8.9) “The Visitor” is the single DS9 episode I’ve felt ranks along side the best of the Trek franchise. “Duet” was oh-kay, but ultimately forgettable (I know it has something to do with Cardassians). Remove the digital gimmickry and fan-pandering in-jokes from the third, “Trials and Tribble-ations“, and what you have it’s a pretty substandard episode. Set it as a typical away mission on a contemporary space station and I’m sure we’d find it in the <6.5 category. Of course, the whole point was Forrest Gumping TOS for ratings so… mission accomplished?

I’d also put forward that as bad as Voyager‘s lowest rated episode, “Threshold” (aka “Salamander Lovin’“) is a far more watchable episode than DS9’s abysmal “…Nor the Battle to the Strong” which, despite unfathomably being granted a 7.4 (this says a lot about DS9 fans), is hands-down the worst single episode of Trek I’ve ever witnessed.

Not captured in the data is the small question of acting ability. Though Robert Duncan McNeill, Robert Beltran and Garrett Wang consistently phoned in uninspiring performances, they never made me feel sorry them as actors or human beings. The performances of Alexander Siddig, Nana Visitor, Rosalind Choa, Cirroc Lofton and, most often, Avery Brooks consistently cause me to cringe from head to toe. Watching any episode that’s heavy on one of their characters is an endurance test where I see how long I can hover my finger over the “pause” button before I plunge it down and run from the room. 

Statistics can be twisted to benefit whichever side of an argument suits you, but in our books the advantage goes to Voyager.

Other links referenced in the episode:

Racism in Game of Throneshttp://artthreat.net/2013/06/game-of-thrones-and-racist-fantasy/

What is your Geek Rating: http://www.buzzfeed.com/awesomer/what-level-geek-are-you


Episode 184: Facebook Quizzes

February 6, 2014

184-blog

We got Nerd Hurdles, which podcast are you? Dan drops by to do some of those novelty personality tests you see on Facebook. If you’d like to play along, go to Zimbio’s quizzes page.


Episode 170: Close Encounters of the 8 Extra-Super Terrestrial Goonies

June 6, 2013

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We decided to stay on the J.J. Abrams train for another episode to cover his 2011 Spielberg homage, Super 8. Surprisingly, it’s not a derailed disaster like the train the film—but does it live up to the source material?

ALSO IN THIS EPISODE: We talk about Deep Space Nine in the first of our promised installments on the popular TNG spin-off.

I’d avoided Super 8 for three reasons. 1) J. 2) J. and 3) Abrams.

Which may or may not be fair. I was also under the impression general consensus was the film completely fall apart by the second act. But I thought Super 8 was actually pretty fantastic. I mean, given that there is less than a single original idea in the whole film.

It far surpasses homage to being a direct mash-up of producer Spielberg’s E.T., The Goonies and Close Encounters and Abrams’ own Cloverfield. If you wanted to be generous, you could use another French word, bricolage, to describe the creative process here. Basically the exact same approach that hampered Star Trek Into Darkness (not so much an homage to Wrath of Khan but a wholesale pillaging and re-purposing).

In Super 8 though, the approach works really well. Perhaps more so than any other film or TV endeavor Abrams has managed to tell a solid story with three-dimensional characters who act in a psychologically believable way, with a minimum of WTF plot points and continuity flaws (Why, oh why, did the truck carrying the white cubes come back into town?).

Perhaps Spielberg (not credited as a writer, though basically he should have been since he wrote pretty much all the source material) helped him out a lot more than was let on. I can’t remember what the criticisms leveled at the film were exactly, but I can’t help feel they must have been fueled by a post-Lost Abrams backlash. I can fully appreciate that, like I said, this is why I avoided it myself (Mandi avoided it because she thought it’d be all hand-held shaky-cam like in Cloverfield). A part of me even wanted to downright hate the film with a white-hot intensity.

But the negativity makes no sense if you watch the film objectively. Without the baggage Abrams’ name (and Spielberg’s for that matter) carries, the film is a solid coming-of-age-boy-and-his-alien-friends-sticking-together-flick (The most convoluted movie sub-genre ever?).

I’m willing to surrender to the inevitable complete lack of originality in the films of the upcoming decade (and beyond) if they’re made this well. 


Episode 169: Star Trek Into Snarkness

May 23, 2013

Nerd Hurdles Snark Trek Into Darkness

This week the nerds hurdle into darkness (see what we did there?) and as a result Kathie snarks on Captain Kirk while Mandi has a Zack attack and Jakob is dumbfounded neither of them had seen Wrath of Khan before.

A few interesting Into Darkness reads and links regarding the more sexist aspects of the film:

FELICIA DAY, asks “Where are the women?  The strong women?  The women we’d like to see in 200 years?”

DAMON LINDELHOF says, Alice Eve underwear scene was ‘gratuitous’

SLASHFILM says, “The whole thing is over within a minute, and ends with Carol still in her bra and panties. Her lingerie isn’t even all that sexy. But — and memorize these next two words, because they’re basically my entire thesis statement — context matters.”

THE DAILY DOT says, “Are we expected to believe that a mysterious plague has wiped out 75% of the women in the galaxy?”

Also, Benedict Cumberbatch looks even more like an OTTER with water streaming down his face.


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