Tag Archives: star trek

Like Star Trek, The Original Series? You’ll Like This

Bunch of fans got together and wondered “So the Enterprise was on a Five-Year Mission, right? What happened the last two years?”

With lots of folks donating time, labor, and materials, they’re creating a new, internet-only fan work about Star Trek.

If you approach this the correct way — a continuation of the original 1960s TV series using new actors — this is pretty cool. Amazing set work, a passable script, guest stars returning from the original series, even relatives of the original actors playing in the cast. All because they love the show.

In the startup world, you’re supposed to go out and show people what you’re doing to see if they like your solution. You know you’re golden when, while you’re showing what you’ve got, the other person says “Shut up and take my money, dammit!”

I felt this way watching this series. Heck, I’d pay 40 bucks for a DVD with a new season of shows on it — as long as they all had this quality. Here’s hoping these guys continue to pull it off!

Star Trek Continues E01 “Pilgrim of Eternity” from Star Trek Continues on Vimeo.

If you liked this review, liked the episode, and want to do the whole fan thing, here’s the Star Trek Continues page.

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Nerd Wars: Star Wars Versus Star Trek

Over the past month, I’ve re-watched the entire Star Wars series. Also, as part of a morning exercise routine, I’ve re-watched many shows from Star Trek, The Original Series (STTOS)

So yesterday, when I saw Bill Shatner say that Star Trek beats Star Wars easily? I felt I had to give this some thought. It’s Star Wars versus Star Trek. Who wins?

Small Impact. It’s obvious to me that Star Wars wins in the small arena — cultural impact over 1-10 years. The movies were bigger events, the hype more, the audiences much greater.

Large Impact. Likewise, it’s obvious to me that Star Trek wins in the large arena — cultural impact in the 10+ year range. After all, people became scientists because of Star Trek. We named a space shuttle test-bed “Enterprise.” Areas of scientific research were started (or continued) because of Star Trek. Even to this day, there are people working on problems and writing books because of being inspired by ST.

Attractiveness of Actors. I think Trek wins here as well hands-down, as Shatner points out. Whether or not this is an important metric or not I leave to the reader.

Special Effects. Star Wars dominates here. It is nothing if not great eye candy. The third movie, Revenge of the Sith, starts out with one of the most incredible special effects spectaculars I’ve ever seen. Trek is no contest.

Addressing deep questions. Star Wars doesn’t even really try, as far as I can tell. Yes, there are a few questions in there somewhere, like the question of when to do the “wrong” thing in order to save those you love, but this isn’t serious stuff. This is space opera. Good movies overall, no doubt, but nothing to make you a bit introspective.

Powerful storylines. I really don’t want to give this to either set of shows. Yes, Star Wars is really a six-movie drama about Anakin Skywalker, but re-watching it, I don’t think that storyline is very powerful at all. It looks like, well, it looks like somebody who made a couple of good movies, then tacked on a few more movies around those in order to claim to have a set. If you press me, I’d pick Star Wars, but only on protest.

Amount of creative material produced. Again I don’t think there’s any question, Star Trek has churned out hundreds, perhaps thousands of stories, characters, and plotlines. Most of these stank, yes, and the ST universe quickly reached a very bad place where it was all so much nonsense. But it was a lot of material.

Cage match. So the question everybody wants to ask: you take all the ships and technology from one series and have them fight the other one. Who wins? I have to give it to Star Trek, which reached the point of having a deus ex machina early in the series and still managed to pound out dozens of shows. Not that I think this is important. Once again, it’s the reader’s call.

Re-watching Star Wars, it occurred to me how much the first two movies in the series stunk. Jar Jar Binks anyone? Lucas really screwed the pooch with those films, and it’s a testament to the power of the fanbase that he made so many billions from them. There a tremendous amount of bad Star Trek as well — easily the majority of episodes — but the numbers work out where, overall, there’s a greater number of interesting and provocative stories in the Star Trek world. After all, Lucas really only had one shot at it. Star Trek just kept going at it over and over again.

So in the Star Wars Star Trek Wars, I have to give the prize to Star Trek. But please, no more from either series. Enough is enough.

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Lighten Up

I got in the habit a few months ago of collecting unusual technology-related pictures.

It started out as an effort to collect images for presentations, but somehow it took on a life of its own.

Here are some of the best. Enjoy!

Dilbert cartoon about user interfaces and morons

Children's book with title: no, you can't be an astronaut

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Retro Techno

I was watching the remastered versions of the old 1960s Star Trek TV show the other day, and while the new graphics were great, I couldn’t help but think how god-awful the instruments and displays were, compared what we are using today.

instrument panel from the old star trek show

But then — being the contrarian I am — I thought: Doesn’t this actually make a bit of sense?

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Looking for the Archons

Sci-Fi can be deeply meaningful, or just all so much bullshit. It all depends on how you consume it.

During lunch for the last week I’ve been having a Trek-for-lunch workout session. Just old Star Trek shows (remastered) and the elliptical machine. Yesterday’s show was “Return of the Archons” If you’re not a trek fan, here’s a synopsis of the show from wiki


Lieutenants Sulu and O’Neil are dispatched to the surface of the planet Beta III to learn what became of the Archon, which disappeared there one hundred years earlier. Recognized as outsiders, they draw the attention of the lawgivers. Pursued, the officers call for beam-out, but only Sulu is retrieved, and he is in a strange mental state.

Act One

Captain Kirk beams down with a larger landing party to investigate. Spock, Dr. McCoy, sociologist Lindstrom, and two guards, Leslie and Galloway, form the balance of the landing party. Immediately, Spock notices a strangeness in the people they encounter; a kind of contented mindlessness. Then the Red hour strikes – the beginning of the Festival, a period of debauchery and lawlessness. Fleeing, the landing party bursts in on Reger, Hacom, and Tamar. They had been told by Bilar and Tula, two passersby, that Reger could rent them rooms for after Festival. Their questions seem to terrify Reger. They are given rooms and retreat from the mayhem outside, trying their best to get a few hours’ sleep.

Festival ends the next morning. Reger, learning the landing party did not attend Festival, concludes they are not of the Body, and asks an astonishing question: “Are you Archons?” The conversation is interrupted by the arrival of lawgivers, the robed servants of the mysterious Landru. The lawgivers command the landing party to accompany them, to be absorbed.

Act Two

Kirk, acting on a hunch, defies them – and causes confusion. He’d correctly concluded this society is built around obedience, and might not be ready for disobedience. Taking advantage of their confusion, Reger guides the crew to a place he knows, where they will be safe. But on the way, Landru employs a form of mass telepathy to command an attack. Among the attackers is… Lieutenant O’Neil. Reger warns against bringing him along, but Kirk cannot abandon a crew member.

Spock discovers a source of immense power, radiating from a point near the landing party’s location. Reger tells Kirk about the arrival of the first Archons: many were killed, many more were absorbed. And then he drops the bombshell, mentioning casually that Landru pulled the Archons from the sky… Kirk contacts the Enterprise, and learns that heat beams are focused on the ship. Her shields are able to deflect them, but nearly all ship’s power is diverted to this purpose. Communications are poor, escape is impossible, and the orbit is decaying. If Kirk can’t put a stop to the beams, the ship will be destroyed. Worse, contacting the ship enables Landru to discover and stun the landing party.

Act Three

They awaken in a cave-like cell, but McCoy, Galloway and O’Neil are missing. Then McCoy returns – and he has been absorbed. Evidently, this is the fate that awaits the entire landing party. Lawgivers appear, demanding Kirk accompany them, and this time, Kirk’s refusal results in an immediate death threat. The orderly society has corrected a flaw.

Kirk is taken to a futuristic room: the absorption chamber. There, a priest named Marplon will oversee Kirk’s forcible induction into the Body. Lawgivers summon Spock, who is taken to the same place, and there encounters Kirk, now mindlessly happy.

Act Four

Spock learns that Marplon is part of the same underground to which Reger belongs. Marplon intervened to prevent both Kirk and Spock from being absorbed, and returned their weapons. Spock, acting as instructed, makes his way back to the cell.

Discussing Landru and his society, Kirk and Spock reach the same conclusion: the society has no spirit, no spark; Landru’s orders are being issued by a computer. Kirk decides the plug must be pulled. Spock is concerned this would violate the Prime Directive, but Kirk opines that the directive applies to living, growing cultures. When Reger and Marplon join them, Kirk demands more information: the location of Landru. Reger reveals that Beta III was at war, and was in danger of destroying itself. Landru, one of the leaders, took the people back to a simpler time. And, Marplon claims, Landru is still alive.

Marplon takes Kirk and Spock to a chamber, the Hall of Audiences, where Landru appears to his acolytes – or, at least, a projection of him does. There, Landru regretfully informs them that their interference is causing great harm, and that they, and all who knew of them, must be killed, to cleanse the memory of the Body. Blasting through the wall, Kirk reveals the truth: an ancient machine, built and programmed by the real Landru 6,000 years earlier. This machine, now calling itself Landru, was entrusted with the care of the Body, the society of Beta III. To that end, it has enslaved all members of that society, and those who visit, in a thralldom of happiness that is stagnant and without creativity.

Kirk and Spock discuss this with Landru, asking it difficult questions it has evidently never had to answer, questions about whether its approach to creating the good is really creating evil. Ultimately, they convince it that it is the evil, and that it must destroy the evil – and it does, exploding in a burst of pyrotechnics.

Kirk leaves a team of specialists, including Lindstrom, to help restore the planet’s culture “to a Human form”.

It’s not a great episode, and I kept noticing that one of the red-shirt guys kept asking stupid questions. The plot would inch along towards us realizing that it’s a computer controlling things, and the character would say something like “Don’t these people have a soul!”

It seemed kind of stupid, but then I realized that the writers were using all the dumb comments as a way of continuing to explain the plot. Perhaps folks in the 1960s couldn’t understand computer mind control. I don’t know. it seemed heavy-handed to me. It had lots of problems. If I was going to start picking apart problems, I wasn’t going to enjoy the story much. How about making up a game?

So with nothing better to do than exercise and think, I started asking myself the old editors and writer’s question: “what could you take away from this show and it would still work?”

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