Warp Speed to Nonsense

Warp Speed to Nonsense

Monday, November 23, 2015

"Star Trek: The Motion Picture" (Part 1)

"Star Trek: The Motion Picture"
Original Theatrical Release Date: December 7, 1979
Rating: G
Stardate: 7410.2

Okay, bear with me, cuz it gets complicated fast here.
So in 1976, it was proposed that they do a film called Star Trek: Planet of the Titans. Basically, the TOS characters get into it with the Klingons, and there's some stuff about an extinct mythical race called the Titans. They end up going back in time to an Earth thousands of years in the past, and after the crew teaches primitive Terrans about fire, they figure out that they happen to be the mythical Titans. The project got the axe in '77.
That same year, an idea was floated to turn "Titans" into a reboot of TOS. They called it "Star Trek: Phase II," and they were going to reuse a bunch of the same costumes and stuff from TOS. Paramount was aiming to start a new television network (which much later ended up becoming Fox), and they wanted to do another Star Trek, because why the hell not? That series had a built-in fandom that did not show signs of fading. They brought most of the principle players back, with the exception of Leonard Nimoy, who felt he got the shaft on royalties and was not interested in playing with CBS or Paramount anymore.

David Gatreaux as Xon

They also brought three new crew members aboard, including William Decker, son of Commodore Decker, the dude from the TOS windsock episode. Also included: Ilia, a Deltan; and Xon, the young, Vulcan first officer who would replace Spock. These characters were cast, and scripts drawn up, the first of which was called "In Thy Image" and which was to be a feature-length pilot. But near the end of 1977, they again gave the project the axe, and decided to do "In Thy Image" as a film. Two scripts that had been written for Phase II were recycled and used in TNG instead ("The Child" and "Devil's Due"). The remainder of the Phase II scripts were later used to make a fan series originally called Star Trek: New Voyages but the name was later changed to Star Trek: Phase II. So now, when you look up Star Trek: Phase II, the search engine asks if you want the defunct series that never aired in the late seventies, which came from the ideas of one movie proposal, and ended up becoming the idea for another film; or if you're looking for the fan-made series from the early 2000's that was made with scripts from the aforementioned scrapped late-seventies show.
Confused yet? I did warn you.

Early poster for TMP, utilizing Phase II concept art

The director of this new film, Robert Wise, was told by his wife that Star Trek is not Star Trek sans Spock, so Wise went to Nimoy with a check in hand for the amount of the lost royalties. Nimoy joined the cast, which meant that they no longer needed Xon the younger Vulcan, and actor David Gatreaux received the part of Commander Branch instead. Xon's fascination with humans was then recycled into a character trait for TNG's Data.
Let's check back in with Gene Rod, shall we?
From early on, our boy was kind of obsessed with his characters meeting God, and we know by now that the network was not down with that idea at all. Meeting God was blasphemous, but meeting the Devil was perfectly fine, which is how two Enterprise crews meet the Horned One (TAS: "The Magicks of Megas-Tu" and TNG: "Devil's Due"). Because Star Trek is nothing if not green, Gene kept recycling this "meeting God" idea until several films and episodes had shades of the idea, and we finally got the most literal version of the story in the unfortunate-as-hell fifth film "The Final Frontier." Oh, Gene. The idea of meeting God is not going to work well, now matter how you write it.

In the meantime, dude kept getting shunted sideways out of his own projects. The networks found him difficult to work with because he wanted to retain a lot of control over his characters, and so they would give him bullshit titles like "Executive Consultant in Charge of Hanging Out in that Office Upstairs, And No You Don't Have to Take His Advice or Input Seriously."

tl:dr: film, not film. Show, not Spock. Not show, Spock. Film, not Gene. Maybe God? Definitely Chekov.


So we start out with a receding shot of space, passing stars on either side, and a selection of music known as "Ilia's Theme." Star trek was one of the few Hollywood productions, and one of the last, to include the practice of playing a minute or so of music before an "epic" film. It's a lovely selection, but I wonder what audiences were doing during that time? Were they wondering when the movie was going to start? Whispering to one another? If this was playing today, phones would be popping out.
Then we get the Paramount screen and finally the title screen, and the music switches over to what became the TNG theme.

After the rousing romp we enjoyed with the cheery TNG music, the movie then sets the mood to be a little darker and more mysterious. Then - 
fuck yeah, Klingons!

That's some iffy green-screen, but I'm shrugging it off because it's 1979, and those models are hella sweet. We get some close-up shots, which is what happens when the studio has money to spend on your production. Then we see them flying into some blue cloud thing.

We go inside one of the cruisers, where it's dark and dingy, and actually kind of the sort of ship you'd expect to see flying around in space. And these Klingons, man. I lurves me some Klingons, and we jumped light-years ahead in design with these guys. 
Gene Rod always wanted the Klingons to look more "alien" but with his crappy little budget, it wasn't possible to do anything but... well, brownface. Here, we got cranial ridges, sharpened teeth, and full-on armored uniforms. These new Klingons are awesome as hell.

I know it's not the case, but with everyone on board this ship having the same
 cranial ridges, my brains wants to declare them all clones. This film, of course,
falls before the time when they decided that cranial ridges are like Klingon

Okay, so if you go way back and read these reviews from the beginning, you'll note how baffled I was at those first Klingons. I'm pretty much a straight TNG girl, and being used to TNG-era Klingons, I could not figure out how we had gotten from TOS Klingons to TNG Klingons, because as it turned out, this was my missing link. I imagine I sounded like a full-on noob back then. Oops. Really, all I knew of it was Worf muttering "We do not discuss it with outsiders" once, which I took to be a huge cop-out and a missed opportunity for some cool backstory. There again, I had not watched any of the TOS-based shows or films, so I had no idea that a backstory actually existed, and only I was not in on the joke. Womp-womp. The backstory goes like this: Klingons posted in places very near humans, who might be coming into contact with said humans, were surgically altered to appear to be more like humans so that it might ease relations with them. The practice was later dropped when it was discovered that human would treat Klingons the same either way. Another backstory says that an illness ripped through the Klingon Empire, one that left victims deformed and ridgeless. This second backstory comes from several episodes of Enterprise. So, backstory one or backstory two, that shit gets explained either way.
Also, notice the subtitles? They're speaking Klingonese! Gene was over the idea that Klingons should speak English all the time, so he hired a linguist to invent a Klingon language. He was dissatisfied with the outcome, and Jimmy Doohan actually created the Klingonese used for this movie, coaching the actors on how to pronounce their lines just before the scene was shot.

Anyway, back to the film: our Klingons have fired torpedoes into the blue cloud thing, but were not met with success.
We switch over to some kind of station, where humans pick up what appears to be a distress call from the Klingon ships. It seems that firing weapons into the blue cloud thing was fucking dumb, as the cloud is now taking down the cruisers with lightning bolts. The commander of the remaining cruiser attempts to fire another torpedo at the approaching lightning bolt thing, but too late. The lightning bolt eats torpedoes for breakfast, and the Klingons fry.

The humans in the space station watch the cruiser disappear.
"Well, fuck."
"Um," says one girl at the control panel, "went ahead and plotted the course of that cloud. It's headed for Earth."
Weird-ass dramatic music!

Guess where we're going next? Yes, yes, yes! Vulcan!

Ack! God! Spock with long hair! No, no, no, no!

Spock is supposed to be at some monastery or something, practicing kolinahr. He approaches what I guess is a sacred area or something, and a woman in white tells him that he done good with the kolinahr. She tries to put a necklace on him, which is probably the Vulcan gold star or something, but he stops her. He looks weirded out, and she melds with him to find out what's wrong. Turns out he hasn't actually achieved kolinahr, and that the answers he needs to find are out in space. She says his human half is calling him back out there. She sort of smirks when she says it, too. Bitch. So humans are racist against Vulcans, and Vulcans are racist against humans. Spock just came out to achieve some peace, and honestly, I think he's being so attacked right now.

Also, didja notice that we got more subtitles? Yup, they're speaking Vulcan. The scene was filmed in English, but apparently it felt weird, so remember that guy they hired to create a Klingon language? He also created a Vulcan language. This time, though, the language he made worked well, and then they reordered the wording so that what they were saying in Vulcan sort of synced up to the scene as filmed in English. It's standard procedure for dubbing a lot of foreign films these days.
"Later, gator," she tells him, and she and her two boy toys take off.

We cut over to San Francisco, and the integration of flying vehicles and futuristic buildings is actually pretty fabulous.

 It's about two and half years since the end of the five-year mission, and Kirk has been promoted to admiral. He gets off a shuttle and starts a convo with another Vulcan science officer, but there's clearly some kind of stick lodged up his butt, because he's being all "I outrank you, pleb," like all admirals on this show tend to be. God, are all admirals like that IRL? Is "insertion of stick" the procedure that follows your promotion ceremony to admiral in Starfleet?

Clearly, the science officer feels the same way, because when Kirk walks off, the man cocks an eyebrow at him, which we all know is the Vulcan version of giving someone the finger.

We go up to a space station in orbit around Earth. This film clearly spent a mint on their model shops, and it shows. They obviously want to get their money's worth, so each time a model is involved, we get a slow close-up shot of it. These scenes are a little slow, but the models are really awesome, so let's check out the station:

This is where Kirk beams to. He hops off the pad and is met by a mustachioed Scotty. That 'stache is not my favorite, but that seems to be Scotty's look going forward, so I guess I don't get a vote. Let's talk about these uniforms for a sec: Kirk's is not bad. It has some accent color to it, and it's pretty straight-forward. But Scotty's is the color of muddy clay, and the uniforms for this movie were difficult to get in and out of because the shoes were attached to the pants. They seriously hired a cobbler from Gucci to come in and make the shoe-pants by hand. One stipulation that each of the cast members made when agreeing to do the second was, "Please get rid of those fucking uniforms!" 
So how did we get these, anyway? The powers that be decided that the red, gold and blue were too garish for the big screen, and that the ladies' tunics were sexist. (Really? I'm shocked.) So they switched to drab, form-fitting uniforms with "futuristic" pants-shoes. No, thank you.

As soon as Kirk sets foot in the space station, he starts bitching at Scotty, who bitches back. Seems that the E was redesigned and refitted, and they still have another 20 hours worth of work, but Kirk wants it done in twelve. Also, he's pissy because he has to be shuttled over, because the E's transporters are down.  He reveals to Scotty that they have to get the E up and running in twelve because the blue cloud thing is going to reach Earth in three days, they need to be ready. Then he tells Scotty that he managed to be reinstalled as the guy in the captain's chair. Scotty's congratulatory arm touch is so sweet that I found myself saying, "Just kiss already!" Hmmm, never really considered a Kirk-Scotty ship before now.

We get a lovely action shot next where the shuttle pod comes up on the Enterprise, still in it's docking bay, and there are multiple angles and music that I can only describe as being a "Star Trek Suite." It's slower and more nostalgic than the regular TOS theme. I think it was meant as a love letter to both Kirk and to the audience of Trek fans who had probably spent ten years waiting to see that ship again. For those who watched the animated series, the wait was closer to five, but either way, the wait is unfun. I know. I've been waiting 19 years for the third book in a trilogy to be released. After a while, you just stop hoping. As near as I can tell, the time spent between the end of TOS and the animated series is the longest between old and new Trek content that has ever occurred. People absolutely were ready to see that ship again.

While it's funny to note that here, Kirk is only being shuttled to the ship because the transporters are down, the decision was made that captains of new ships should approach them for the first time via shuttle. I think that decision was actually a good one. Not only could you get in some awesome establishing shots of the ship, but in-universe, the captain is allowed to view the ship in all its wonder before boarding. Simply beaming over means that you don't really get a look at the bigger picture.

Kirk and Scotty, dock, and Scotty is called down to Engineering right away. Kirk takes the fancy-pants lift to the bridge, which is in chaos, because they now have eight fewer hours to complete work on the thing before it goes live. He's greeted by Uhura, who is already sitting at communications.

Nichelle Nichols hated these uniforms especially, saying they "weren't Uhura."
While I agree with her, the uniform does look pretty good on her. But let's be
real: Nichelle could rock a burlap sack.
The dude in the chair behind her gets up and -


Kirk asks where Captain Decker is, and Sulu says he's in Engineering, and oh, BTW, he doesn't know that Kirk is now in charge. Sucks to be Decker. Kirk tells them to gather on deck at four am, because he's gonna tell them about the blue cloud. Ugh, I know they're running on twenty-four time-tables, but shit. I'm going nowhere at four am, unless it's to the bathroom.
Kirk climbs in the fancy lift again to go give Decker the crappy news that his command has been... commandeered.

Decker does not take the news well. He was all happy to see Kirk at first, but then Kirk is all, "You're being temporarily demoted for this mission because I have five years' experience with this ship."
"Um, it's a brand new ship?" points out Decker.
"Yeah, that's why you're the first officer," says Kirk. "Sorry," he adds.
"Lying motherfucker," says Decker. "When I got this post, you said you were jealous and wanted another commission for yourself. Well, good job, you got it."
Damn. Tell it like it is, Decker.
Kirk pulls rank and tells him to report to the bridge.

Scotty gives Kirk a sad look, but then a panel behind him explodes. Someone is trying to beam over, but there are still problems with the equipment. Scotty and Kirk run to the transporter room.
Y'all... it's Rand.
And she's not wearing that fucking wig! Yes!

A quick thing about Rand: it's no secret that she was not my favorite TOS character. But I liked Grace Lee Whitney, who seemed like a nice lady. She was well-liked by the cast and crew, and when she was let go in season one, people were never told why. Rumors surfaced about substance abuse later on. Either way, I'm actually kind of glad to see her back. As long as she doesn't fall back into her old habit of hitting on Kirk, we're good.

Kirk and Scotty try to help Rand boost the signal, but only part of the pattern gets through and Rand whispers, "Oh no, they're forming." She turns around so she doesn't have to watch. We are not so lucky. The two people beaming over become these human-shaped blobs shielded by the sparkle of the transporter, at which point they start screaming and vanish. Kirk calls Starfleet and asks if they re-materialized.
"Enterprise, what we got back didn't live long... fortunately."

So one of the people who died on the transporter pad was that Vulcan science officer that Kirk was rude to in that earlier scene at Starfleet headquarters. Kirk encounters Decker in the corridor and tells him that because no one else is available, he's going to have to double as first officer and science officer instead. Decker seems thrilled.

At four am, Kirk shows the assembled crew the footage of the Klingons getting fried by the blue cloud. He says their mission is to intercept it, and possibly take it down. At the end of the video, Epsilon 9, the station that got the footage originally, calls to tell Kirk that the cloud is some kind of energy field. and it's huge. They're under attack. The transmission starts cutting out, and when Kirk asks for an external view, it shows the cloud, the lightning effect, and someone doing a space walk who most likely got fried just after the camera shut down.

Good Lord. We're not quite a quarter of the way through this film, and we've already killed a buttload of people. Where is Bones? I need a really terrible Bones joke to get through this already-downer film.

On the bridge, Kirk has changed into the grey jumpsuit thing, which is not as nice as his admiral uniform. Uhura reports that the transporters are functioning normally again, and that replacement crew are coming onboard.
"Whoa," she says. "We're getting a Deltan navigator named Ilia."
Ilia enters the bridge, and both Sulu and Chekov look up because Persis Khambatta, the girl playing Ilia, was an Indian model and she's stunning, even with her head shaved bald.

(Fun fact: even though Khambatta was hired to play Ilia for Phase II, and knew well in advance that she would have to shave her head for the part, she was still paranoid that it would not grow back, and kept her hair in a box, insuring it "just in case." Surprise, it grew back.)

Ilia and Decker know each other, as Decker was stationed on her home planet years back. They are friendly, but then she asks why he is a commander. Kirk says he has the utmost respect for Decker, and that he feels that they will both do a good job and be professional. She takes this as a slight, and tells him sharply that her oath of celibacy is on file with Starfleet. Why? Because Deltans have sex constantly. Like, with everyone. And humans can't handle their appetites. So Deltans in Starfleet have to agree to not fuck the crew. This isn't actually discussed in the film, so maybe you're supposed to guess?
Uhura reports that the last of the crew is ready to beam up, but one of them is refusing to do so. She has the tiniest smile on her face, because we all freaking know who it is.
"Cool," says Kirk. "I'll take care of it."
He goes down to the transporter room, where four people are hopping off the pads. The last one tells him that the remaining crew member wanted to see everyone else's molecules scattered in the machine before he went. Kirk calls Starfleet to say that they're ready for the last guy to beam up.
This is what appears there.

I'm sorry, Bones. Did you fuse with a tribble in the transporter? That shit needs to go.
Seems Bones was retired or something, and got called back on reserve duty, so he's not exactly happy about being here.
"I got drafted!"
"No..." says Kirk. He admits that he requested the doctor. "Dammit, Bones! I need you! Badly!" And he extends his hand. Bones takes it, and they share a look.
Wow, all of the slash ships are out in full force with this film.
Now installed as the new doctor, he gets right back to good-naturedly bitching about everything.
"I heard Chapel is a full-fledged doctor, so I need a top-notch nurse, and I bet they changed up my whole sick bay, because engineers love to do change shit!"
And that is exactly what I needed after all that freaking death.

Annnnd, we leave.

Kirk's Log 7412.6: "In order to get to the cloud thing in good time, we have to risk warp drive before leaving the solar system."

Um... has that always been a problem? Because I feel like they've gone to warp in plenty of solar systems.
Bones enters the bridge, sans furry chin, and bitches briefly about his new sick bay. Kirk gets into it with Decker about needing warp drive now, without doing more simulations. Scotty complains that they need more simulations, too. Kirk goes a bit Veruca Salt, because he wants it now. Bones wisely tells him to STFU and let people do their jobs. But Kirk insists, and Sulu takes the ship to warp one. They go to plaid.

But then something goes wrong, and they go to... I dunno, rosette? It's actually a pretty cool effect.

So this hilarious thing happens: on the show, when something would happen, and the crew would get a rough ride, all of the actors on the bridge would shake. And they would shake the camera so it was obvious why people might be falling out of their chairs. Here, all of the actors shake and bounce in their chairs, but the camera is not shaken. It's funny to watch. It doesn't so much look like they're in for a rough ride as it looks like they're just shaking themselves.
Anyway, Kirk is looking around while his bridge crew tries to compensate for their fuck-up. It's hard to hear what they're saying because their voices are distorted and Ilia has a really thick accent, but time is apparently slowing down, and Kirk asks "Tiiiiime to impaaaaact?"
Ohhh, Kirk. You really have fucked up all the shit, haven't you?"

Okay, so I guess there's an asteroid or a potato in their stream, or something? Kirk wants to phaser it, but Decker yells, "Nooooooo, torrrrrpeeeedoes!"
They drop out of the rosette thing just before the torpedo goes off and destroys the asteroid. Everything goes back to normal. No damages, but Scotty reports that they entered a wormhole because there was an imbalance in the warp engine. Implying that Scotty and Decker were right about not going to warp without running more simulations.
Kirk asks Decker to his quarters, and Bones decides to tag along. That has to be the most awkward lift ride ever.

Kirk tries to ream Decker about counter-manding his phaser order, but Decker explains that the E was redesigned in such a way that phasers would not have worked, or could have possibly fucked up more shit.
"Oh, so you actually saved our asses..." murmurs Kirk.
"Yeah, I'm aware," Decker replies.
Kirk barks at Decker about not competing with him. Decker asks to speak freely, then points out that Kirk has not been in space for more than two years, and has no idea how this ship works. Basically, just because a ship is named "Enterprise," that doesn't mean Kirk actually knows anything about it. Kirk realizes this too, and asks quietly if Decker will subtly help him with this mission. Decker agrees, and is dismissed.
"Dude is right," says Bones.

Decker runs into Ilia in the corridor. It's obvious that there's some kind of unfinished romance between them, and he apologizes. She kind of brushes him off, cuz it's clear that she's still sore about it.

Back in Kirk's quarters, Bones accuses Kirk of getting this command assigned to him in order to avoid doing other stuff. The good doctor also thinks that Kirk will try to keep the Enterprise. Uhura calls in to say that a little shuttle wants to dock with them. Chekov thinks it's a courier. Kirk agrees to let the shuttle dock with them.
Bones says he's got his eye on Kirk.

The little shuttle docks with the E and Chekov goes to the docking doors. The computer announces that the shuttle holds one occupant, "Starfleet, inactive."
Aw, yeah! Time to get our Spock on!

What follows is hella awkward. Spock appears on the bridge and Kirk reacts in a similar fashion to that kid Peter at the end of "Homeward Bound" - hooray! His stoic retriever has returned! Unreactive, Spock says he has been monitoring their communications with Starfleet, and he knows of their engine troubles, and offers his services as science officer.
"Fuck yeah!" says Decker, because you know he never really wanted that job, anyway.
Doctors McCoy and Chapel burst onto the bridge, all smiles, and Bones exclaims, "I'm actually glad to see you!"
He just stares at them, then announces that he's going to talk to the engineer before disappearing in the lift.

And Chapel is brunette again, thank Zod.

Kirk's Log 7413.4: "Spock is helping Scotty repair the engines, so now we can get to the cloud thing while it's still more than a day away from Earth."

This time when they go to plaid, they make it all the way to warp seven without issue or without having to shake in their seats. Kirk winks at someone, I think Chekov. (Should I be shipping that, too?) Half of the bridge crew are wearing Casual Friday uniforms.

Kirk and Bones invite Spock into the captain's lounge for a bro-chat.
"So what's the deal?" asks Kirk. "You went to Vulcan to stay permanently, and to practice kolinahr, where you're supposed to learn how to remove all of your remaining emotions. But you stopped doing that to hang out with us. Why?"
Spock drops his "I'm so emotionless that I don't have to talk to anyone" schtick (which is nice, cuz that was getting old fast), and he tells them that he sensed an intelligence with perfect thought patterns out in space. He thinks the being might be the blue cloud, and that it might have the answers that he was seeking with kolinahr.
"How convenient that you were able to hitch a ride with us out to this thing," says Bones cheerfully. 
"Hey, you know, if you sense these thought patterns again, could you let me know?" asks Kirk.
Spock agrees, and leaves.
"How do you know dude won't put his own needs ahead of the ship's needs when we encounter this thing?" asks Bones. "What about any of us?"
"I don't think any of us would do that," says Kirk.

Dude, I love that ship has windows, and I love that the captain's lounge is located
close enough to the warp nacelle that you can see it out the window like that.

Uhura calls to say the cloud is three minutes away, so everyone hustles back to the bridge. She broadcasts friendship messages on all frequencies in all languages. Spock reports that they are being scanned, but Kirk says not to scan the cloud-thing back, or it might think they're being hostile. Spock says the energy is coming from the very center of the cloud, and is some kind that's unknown. Decker wants to raise shields, but Kirk thinks that might be misinterpreted as well. Spock says he thinks there's an object at the center of the cloud. Kirk decides to fly into the cloud and check out the object.
Dramatic music! Will they get fried?

Spock pauses, then says he senses the intelligence in the cloud thing.
"It's contacted us, but wants to know why we haven't answered back," he relays.
The cloud-thing fires its weapon, which Spock reports is plasma-based. Kirk orders shields up. The lightning hits the E, this time green instead of blue.

Scotty reports engine systems are overloading, and shields are hella down. Chekov's station electrifies, and he burns the crap out of his hand. The lightning stops. Chapel rushes on the bridge to treat Chekov, but Ilia says she can stop the pain.
She puts her hands on his shoulder and concentrates, and he says it feels better. It's probably because all of the blood rushed to his other head, but whatever. Christine treats his burn.

Going back over the recorded info from the encounter, Spock figures out that the message from the cloud was actually broadcast at one million megahertz, and at a rate too fast to comprehend. He is working on a way to send a message at the same speed. The cloud sends another lightning bolt. Spock manages to send a message just before it's due to hit. The lightning dissipates.
Kirk has a convo with Decker and Spock about the fact that they're going to fly into the cloud. Decker wants to use caution and not go in, Spock recommends they keep moving forward. After a few minutes' discussion, Kirk decides to keep pushing through to the middle.
They hit the perimeter and keep going.

Hey, cloud. Were you designed by the same guys who animated "The Magicks of Megas-Tu"? Cuz I'm pretty sure that the answer to that is "yes."
Then - what the hell is that?

Kirk asks Uhura to transmit pics of the "alien" back to Starfleet, but she tells him that anything she sends out is reflected back at them. He tells Sulu to take them in closer.

So then we fly over looks like random machinery for about ten minutes, in this never-ending fashion. Remember how, in Spaceballs, we fly over Spaceballs I for a million years at the start of the film, and it just keeps going on and on, and you're like, are we ever going to reach the end? This was my question for this part of Star Trek: The Motion Picture. Are we ever going to reach the center or brain, or whatever we're trying to reach?

That blue light in the back is not the light at the end of the alien tunnel, just like those yellow lights in the foreground were not, either. It's just some lighted part that they'll fly over, and another light will appear on the horizon. tar Trek wants you know that the cloud-alien thingy is really big, so they'll spend ten minutes flying through computer-generated fractal patterns and call it clouds. Then they'll spend another twenty flying over random machinery. Then we hit some kind of space sphincter.

Now there's one of those annoying as hell fountain fireworks on the bridge that's too fucking bright to look at. No really, I think that might actually be the base of it on the floor in front of the viewscreen.

"Um, is that one of their crew?" asks Chekov.
"No, it's a probe," says Spock, who is scanning it.
Kirk tells the bridge crew to just let it scan the ship, and he's cool with the situation until it links itself into the computer and starts scanning through files. Then he assumes the worst and says that the alien is learning about Earth's defenses and Starfleet's secret crapola, and he wants the computer turned off. Decker tries to do it, but Spock pushes him out of the way, and does this two-handed club move to break the console. The scanner gets its revenge by attacking Spock.
Ilia stands in front of Spock. It attacks her. It attacks Spock again when he tries to protect Ilia. It attacks Decker for trying to move toward Ilia. Then it zaps her completely, and she disappears.

The scanner is gone, and so is Ilia.
"And that, you stupid asshole, is why I didn't want to come in here," Decker barks at Kirk.
Oops, now they're being pulled into the space sphincter by a tractor beam. There's no way to break free.
Once inside, the sphincter closes behind them, and now they're trapped.
What is the alien-cloud-thing? Is there a center part to it? How many licks will it take to get to the Tootsie Roll center? Can the Enterprise crew find a wise old owl in time to tell them?

Find out next week, when I watch the second half of this slow-ass movie.


I was pretty sure I had tried all of Snapple's tea selections when I came across their Peach Green Snap Tea this week. It's in one of those cans that's not quite as large as the Arizona teas, but the suggested retail price is still blatantly printed on the can as part of the design, so it'll probably fall into the same quality categories. For proof, take note of the fact that tea is listed fifth in the ingredient section. I also failed to notice that, while this tea is primarily sweetened by corn syrup, it also lists sucralose, something I steadfastly avoid because it has a weird, fakey sugar taste.
Bottom line: is it any good?
Well... it's sweet. Like, really sweet. Like sweet tea sweet, but apparently, they also make a sweet tea flavor, so I have to wonder if the sweet tea flavor just tastes like this minus the peach, or if it's actually sweeter.
Does it tastes like tea? Nope. tastes like peach. Not the gross earthy peach that I've had in some teas, but like a ripe peach. It's like peach nectar. 
If you don't like sweet, and you really just want some freaking tea, this is not your can. If you like peach flavor, this might be your thing. I'm not sure I'd buy it again, but I wouldn't say no if you offered me some like at a party.
Actually, I bet this would make a good mixer.

Animal eye doctor: "Bratty isn't going blind. He
just has eyesight similar to humans who need
Me: "I want to see Bratty in bifocals."
Everyone else: "Me too!"


  1. Maybe it's because I predate the "MTV generation" and can tolerate the slowness, but I love this movie. (Well, except the cruise through the cloud. This isn't 2001, Mr. Wise.) As a techie, I can appreciate all the work the creative staff put into the redesign of the Enterprise and into the infrastructure needed to support Starfleet's mission.

    It's always fun for me to remember that the Klingon captain is played by Spock's dad, Mark Lenard. Who'd even guess?

    Which trilogy are you waiting for the third book to be released?

    1. I'm not quite pre-MTV, so I'm a mixed bag here. I appreciate the slower films that take their time to tell their stories, but we spent forever getting through that cloud, and then forever again flying over the machine at the center. I love, love, love the model work in this film, but that particular model is so massive that they were still constructing one end of it while they were filming the other end. It got a bit old, switching back and forth between shots of the model, and shots of the crew's reactions while watching said model on the viewscreen.
      I keep forgetting that was Mark Lenard. He's so iconic as Sarek that it keeps slipping my mind that he also played the Klingon captain and the Romulan commander in "Balance of Terror." Weird to think that's him under all of that make-up! :D
      The book I'm waiting on is the last book in the Exiles trilogy by Melanie Rawn. I bought and read the first two not long after they came out, and have been waiting on the third installment for what seems like an eternity. I wonder if it's something to do with the story itself, as she's published quite a few things in the interim. I'm trying to be patient, though. Neil Gaiman once told an irate fan "George RR Martin is not your bitch," which I think rings true for many things. I'd just like to see how the story ends, you know?