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Josh Reviews the Triumphant Final Season of Star Wars: The Clone Wars!

I quite enjoyed the animated Star Wars: The Clone Wars series when it ran on Cartoon Network from 2008-2012.  Although the series started out a little wobbly (the first four episodes, which were edited together into a film that was released theatrically, were mediocre at best), it gradually grew into a wonderfully rich and complex series that fleshed out the Star Wars universe.  I was sad when the show was cancelled before its planned eight seasons could be completed (a casualty of Lucasfilm’s purchase by Disney).  I was thrilled that Dave Filoni & co. were able to sneakily bring back several characters and storylines from The Clone Wars into their next animated series, Star Wars: Rebels, thus giving Clone Wars fans some much-needed resolution.  I never dreamed we’d ever see an actual return of the series, and so I was blown away last year when the news broke that The Clone Wars would be returning with twelve additional episodes to wrap up the series!

This final batch of twelve episodes, which were released on Disney+, consisted of three four-episode stories.  The first two story-arcs were enjoyable.  The final four episodes were, without question, the best new Star Wars stories I have seen in years.  I am not exaggerating!  I was BLOWN AWAY by the final four episodes!!!  The animation was spectacular, beyond anything the show had done before.  But it was the character storylines that made these episodes so jaw-dropping.  Deeply emotional, richly nuanced, these episodes gave us the payoff to more than a decade of story-telling, and it was incredible.  This was ESSENTIAL Star Wars, and cements the legacy of this Clone Wars series as a critical part of the Star Wars saga.  I wouldn’t have said this before these final episodes, but I’ll say it now: if you haven’t seen these episodes, you haven’t seen the full Star Wars story.

If you haven’t watched The Clone Wars, but you’re swayed by my bold statement above that this is critical Star Wars storytelling, where to begin?  It’s tough, because while I think most of the show is watchable, there’s no question that the early seasons are a little shaky and more kid-focused.  But you can’t just skip the first few seasons, because you’ll miss a lot of important character-development and world-building.  So my suggestion is this: watch the final episodes of what Disney+ lists as season six (these were the “Lost Missions,” a final batch of completed episodes that were first shown on Netflix, after the show was cancelled on Cartoon Network).  The final four episodes are: “The Lost Ones”, “Voices”, “Destiny”, and “Sacrifice”.  Those four episodes tell a complete story that is super-awesome and ties very closely into … [continued]

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Josh Reviews Better Things Season Four

Pamela Adlon’s magnificent TV series, Better Things, seems to get better and better with every season.  The ten episode fourth season was another wonderfully memorable, moving and funny installment.  I love this show, and if you’re not watching it, I highly recommend you change that forthwith!

Better Things was co-created by Pamela Adlon, who also plays the lead role, writes most of the episodes (she wrote or co-wrote five of the ten season four episodes), and directed ALL of them.  I have a particular love for TV shows that feel like the strong expressions of their creator/showrunner, and Better Things is a prime example of this.  The show feels so personal and autobiographical for Ms. Adlon, even as I recognize that it’s a work of fiction.  But there are clearly many levels of underlying truth to the stories being told; this makes the show so compelling to me.  It is also, as I have written before, a magnificent showcase for Ms. Adlon’s talents.  I love that she has created a show that is so wonderfully unique.

The show is a beautifully-made character study, allowing us a peek into the life of Sam, her three daughters (Max, Frankie, and Duke), her mother Phil, and many of the other women in her life.  The show is focused on exploring the lives of these women; not in a tacky or superficial way, but through rich, complex, nuanced storytelling.

There is plot to be found in Better Things, but unlike most TV shows, the series is never really about the plot.  It’s about these characters.  The show is, at the same time, bracingly realistic and lifelike, while also being dreamlike and playful.  As the narrative flows onwards, we’re carried forward from vignette to vignette.  Sometimes we linger to dig deeply into a moment and then we move on (often skipping the type of plot-driven connective-tissue scenes found in other TV shows).  The result is a beautiful ensemble character piece.

The cast is amazing.  I’d enjoyed Pamela Adlon’s work before Better Things (she was so memorable in her sporadic appearances on Louie), but now that I’ve seen this show I am cemented as a fan for life.  The three young actresses who play her character’s daughters — Mikey Madison, Hannah Alligood, and Olivia Edward — get better each season (and they were terrific to begin with).  I was particularly pleased that this season gave Frankie (Hannah Alligood’s character) a number of interesting stories, allowing her to mature out of the angry phase we saw her in for most of season three.  (I also love how delicately the show continues to address Frankie’s fluid sexuality without making it into a Big Deal.)  Celia Imrie continues to … [continued]

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Star Trek: The Antares Maelstrom

Star Trek: The Antares Maelstrom, the new Star Trek novel by Greg Cox, is set in the later days of the Five Year Mission.  As the novel begins, Captain Kirk and the U.S.S. Enterprise are summoned to assist the colony of Baldur III.  A rare and valuable material known as pergium has been discovered on the planet, leading to a “gold rush” as prospectors from across the galaxy rush to the colony, hoping to make their fortune.  This has overwhelmed the infrastructure of the small, independent colony, as well as the local space-station, and tensions are rising as the colony’s locals fight with the newcomers and all are frustrated by breakdowns in power, supplies, and other necessities of life.  And so Captain Kirk is forced to divide up his leadership team: Scotty works to keep the colony’s power station operational; McCoy helps assist the beleaguered medical staff; Uhura coordinates with the local civilians; and Sulu assists the security team on the space station.  Spock and Chekov, meanwhile, head off to a neighboring world on a mission of their own: they fear that smugglers are interfering with the pre-industrial society there in order to obtain a rare tea that is popular on Baldur III, a tea for which demand has skyrocketed due to the influx of newcomers.

Mr. Cox has written quite a number of terrific Original Series Star Trek novels.  (When Pocket Books temporarily halted their publication of new Trek books, I took the opportunity to read a variety of older Trek novels I hadn’t gotten to; quite a few of Mr. Cox’s stand-alone Original Series novels were among that number.)  The Antares Maelstrom is a fine addition to his oeuvre.

I like the idea of a “gold rush” in the 23rd century.  This is a fun and original hook for the novel.  And I particularly enjoyed the way Mr. Cox was able to give an important, meaty story-line to every single one of the Original Series characters.  This was a true ensemble story, and I loved that.  It’s especially nice to get to see Uhura, Chekov, and Sulu.  I loved how Uhura’s story-line allowed her to use her people-skills to great advantage, while also showing off her competency under pressure and her organizational and leadership skills.  As a bridge officer on the Starfleet flagship she would surely possess those qualities, but many Original Series adventures don’t really allow her to show them off.  I also liked how her musical skills were also utilized.  Sulu, meanwhile, got to show off his piloting skills, his scientific acumen, and his leadership skills, when he’s forced to basically take command of a huge city in space.  Chekov’s story, meanwhile, builds on the … [continued]

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Josh Reviews Modern Love

May 18th, 2020
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Amazon’s series, Modern Love, is based on the New York Times column of the same name.  Each episode of this eight-episode anthology series adapts a specific Modern Love column.  Each episode tells the story of a romance; though the episodes feature different types of love stories featuring characters of different ages, genders, and situations.

I wouldn’t have expected this to be up my alley, but I found myself rather taken by this show.  This isn’t ground-breaking television by any means, but it’s endearingly warm-hearted.  Anthologies can be a tough sell, but I enjoyed the way each episode in this series was completely different.  It helps that the cast they assembled for these eight episodes was quite extraordinary (see more on this below).  At a brisk eight-episodes, the series didn’t overstay its welcome.

Here are my (mostly spoiler-free) thoughts on the series:

Episode 1: “When the Doorman Is Your Main Man” — Cristin Miloti (How I Met Your Mother, the “USS Callister” episode of Black Mirror) plays Maggie, a single young woman living in New York City who has a very close relationship with her building’s doorman, Guzmin (Laurentiu Possa).  This slight tale is a nice intro to the series, though ultimately I found it to be one of the weaker entries.  Both my wife and I thought the show was going to be about Maggie ultimately falling in love with her father-figure of a doorman, an idea that we both found very creepy.  Ultimately the episode went in a different direction (thankfully), but because that’s what we thought was happening for most of the episode’s run-time, it cast a shadow over our enjoyment of the story.

Episode 2: “When Cupid Is a Prying Journalist” — Catherine Keener (The 40-Year-Old Virgin, Being John Malkovich) plays Julie, a reporter interviewing a young man, Joshua, played by Dev Patel (Slumdog Millionaire, The Newsroom), who has started a successful dating app.  Over the course of the interview, Joshua tells Julie tells the story of the woman he loved who he let get away, and Julie tells Joshua a similar story from her own past.  I really liked this episode, and I was particularly taken by Julie’s story of how she reconnected, late in life, with her old flame, played by Andy Garcia.  I liked Julie’s story even more than the “main” story of Joshua and Emma (Caitlin McGee)!  I thought Mr. Garcia and Ms. Keener had terrific chemistry, and I was moved by their melancholy story of missed opportunities.

Episode 3: “Take Me as I Am, Whoever I Am” — Anne Hathaway (Love & Other Drugs, Interstellar, The Dark Knight Rises) plays Lexi, a woman … [continued]

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I loved Josh Gad’s Goonies cast reunion, and his Back to the Future reunion was just as much fun!

I always enjoy sampling Robert Myer Burnett’s Robservations show.  Recently he had a terrific in-depth interview with Melinda Snodgrass, a terrific writer who, among other credits, wrote the Star Trek: The Next Generation episode “the Measure of a Man”, which is one of the best TNG episodes of all time!

I also really loved Mr. Burnett’s recent lengthy interview with David A. Goodman.  Mr. Goodman is the current head of the Writer’s Guild of America, and as such he has been at the focal point of the WGA’s lengthy conflict with agents in Hollywood.  Mr. Goodman is also a terrific comedy writer.  I first fell in love with his work as the author of “Where No Fan Has Gone Before,” the magnificent Star Trek-focused episode of Futurama.  Mr. Goodman has worked with Seth McFarlane on many projects, including Family Guy and The Orville.  This is a terrific in-depth interview:

Sad news this week: the passing of Jerry Stiller.  Jason Alexander wrote a wonderful piece about his Seinfeld father that is a lovely read.  Meanwhile, enjoy this classic Seinfeld blooper:

Click here for a fascinating, in-depth interview with Chronicle director Josh Trank, exploring what happened after his life exploded following the release of his dismal Fantastic Four film in 2016 (which he claims was taken away from him and re-edited) and his subsequent quitting or being fired from a Star Wars film.

This is a lovely look back at the career of Linda Cardellini.  I first became a fan of hers with her fantastic work as Lindsay Weir on Freaks and Geeks!

Lots of exciting Star Wars news has come out recently!  Hot on the heels of word that Ahsoka Tano will likely appear for the first time in live action on season two of The Mandalorian, played by Rosario Dawson, comes two additional cool announcements.  First, we heard that Temuera Morrison, who played Jango Fett in Star Wars: Episode II (and whose voice was dubbed over as his cloned son Boba Fett in the currently-available versions of The Empire Strikes Back and Return of the Jedi), will play Boba Fest in The Mandalorian season two.  Even since Return of the Jedi, Star Wars fans have speculated that Boba might have found some way to escape from the Sarlacc.  It looks like that might finally be confirmed!  (Though Robot Chicken has already established the definitive version of Boba Fett’s final fate.)  Even more exciting to me as a huge fan of the Star Wars animated shows Clone Wars and Rebels comes news that Battlestar Galactica’s Katee Sackhoff [continued]

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Josh Reviews The Report

Amazon’s film The Report, written and directed by Scott Z. Burns, depicts the years-long process in which the Senate Intelligence Committee investigated the C.I.A.’s use of torture of detainees after September 11th.  The investigation was led by Daniel Jones, a staffer for Democratic Senator Diane Feinstein, who chaired the Senate Intelligence Committee.  Mr. Jones worked with a small team for six years on the report, which wound up totaling more than 6,700 pages.  The full unreacted report remains classified to this day, although a 535 page “Executive Summary” was released by Senator Feinstein and the Committee in December, 2014.  The film is partially based on the Vanity Fair article “Rorshach and Awe” by Katherine Eban.

The subject matter of The Report is very challenging.  The film’s first half contains several flashbacks that present instances of the C.I.A.’s “enhanced interrogation techniques,” which I found extremely difficult to watch, even though the scenes are brief.  On the other hand, the rest of the film mostly depicts subject matter that can be extremely dry.  Daniel Jones worked for years with a small team in a windowless room, reading e-mails and files and other documents.  That’s a hard subject matter to dramatize.  The sequences of committee hearings and political back-room conversations aren’t much easier!  Mr. Burns and his team had quite a challenge to weave this all into something compelling that could sustain an audience’s interest.

I am impressed by what they have done.

Now, be warned: The Report doesn’t have the momentum of a film like Spotlight.  Despite the best efforts of Mr. Burns and his terrific cast, I have to admit that there are portions of this very talky film in which I struggled somewhat to remain focused.  At the other end of the spectrum, as I’d noted above, there were sequences — the flashback to the C.I.A. interrogations — that were extremely unpleasant and tough to get through.

But the power of this incredibly important and relevant story shone through.  And the terrific cast was a huge factor in bringing this story to life successfully.  Adam Driver is fantastic in the lead role as Daniel Jones.  This is the least flashy role I have ever seen Mr. Driver play.  There’s not a single moment of the type of explosive energy that has characterized many of his best roles, from Adam in Girls to Kylo Ren in the Star Wars sequel trilogy.  This is a very internal performance.  Mr. Driver keeps all of his energy tightly bottled up.  And yet, his charisma shines through his stillness.  Daniel is like a coiled spring throughout the film, and that intensity blazing forth behind Mr. Driver’s eyes kept me, as a viewer, riveted … [continued]

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Josh’s Guide to Watching Battlestar Galactica!

I hope you enjoyed my recent series, giving a step-by-step guide to watching (and falling in love with) Star Trek!  After getting to Deep Space Nine, my strong recommendation is that, rather than continuing with any of the mediocre series or movies that came after Deep Space Nine, you shift to a different show that, to me, is a perfect next step after watching DS9: the reimagined Battlestar Galactica!  

The “reimagined” Battlestar Galactica was a reboot of the original Galactica series from 1978.  This new Galactica ran for four seasons on the Sci-Fi network between 2003-2009.  That show was created and overseen by Ronald D. Moore and David Eick.  Mr. Moore was one of the best writers from Star Trek The Next Generation and Deep Space Nine.  Battlestar Galactica was a huge leap forward in the types of stories that Trek had been developing through Next Gen and then DS9.  It’s much darker than Trek, and the episodes are much more tightly connected than Trek episodes ever were.  But it’s very cool to see how ideas (characters, themes, approaches to storytelling, etc.) that Mr. Moore and the other Trek writers were playing with were taken to the next level on this different series.

If you’ve followed my recommendations and watched and enjoyed Star Trek: Deep Space Nine, the end of DS9 will flow very smoothly for you into the start of Battlestar Galactica.  And, of course, the series completely stands on its own, so even if you’ve never seen ANY Star Trek, I highly recommend you give Battlestar Galactica a try!

I really love this show.  It’s one of my favorite sci-fi shows ever.  But, seriously, Battlestar Galactica is not just an amazing sci-fi show, it’s an amazing TV show, full stop.  Don’t let the title stand in your way!  If you like ambitious modern TV dramas, you will enjoy Battlestar Galactica!  As co-creator David Eick once famously put it: “we set out to make a space opera that would be appealing for people that hated fucking space operas.”  The series was included in Rolling Stone’s list of the 100 greatest TV shows of all time; Time Magazine called it one of the 10 best shows of the 2000s; Alan Sepinwall included a lengthy section on the show in his wonderful book How the Revolution was Televised, about groundbreaking dramas that changed TV forever; I could go on and on.

The series began with a two-part, three-hour mini-series (which is terrific), and then it ran for four seasons.

It’s all pretty fantastic!!  (I will be upfront that the fourth and final season is a bit wobblier than I wish it was.  That season … [continued]

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How to Start Watching (And Fall in Love with) Star Trek — The Conclusion!

We’ve arrived at the end of what history shall surely judge the most important blog series I will ever write: a guide to how a newbie should discover Star Trek!  In part one, I recommended fifteen stand-out episodes of the Original Series.  In part two, I recommended that, as a next step, a newbie watch the following four original Trek movies: the informal trilogy of Star Trek II, III, and IV, and then skip to Star Trek VI for the grand finale of the adventures of Kirk, Spock, McCoy, and the rest of the Original Series cast.  In part three, I gave detailed instructions for what to watch and what to skip when diving into the first great Star Trek spin-off, Star Trek: The Next Generation.  In part four, I gave a guide for watching my VERY FAVORITE Star Trek show: Star Trek: Deep Space Nine!

After completing Deep Space Nine, you should definitely watch the 2019 documentary What We Left Behind: Looking Back at Star Trek: Deep Space Nine.  This beautiful, heartfelt look back at Deep Space Nine, overseen by DS9 show runner Ira Steven Behr, is a terrific salute to the show.  Click here for my full review.

What’s next?

The Deep Space Nine series finale aired in June, 1999.  There’s been a lot of additional Star Trek made in the subsequent years, but sadly there’s nothing that I can wholeheartedly recommend to you.  (However, if you’re impatient, scroll down to see another sci-fi show that I STRONGLY recommend you watch after Deep Space Nine…!)  Meanwhile, let’s take a look at the other Star Trek series and movies:

Star Trek: Voyager The next Trek spin-off aired from 1995-2001.  I don’t care for Voyager.  For a long time, I considered it by far the worst of all the Trek shows (though the most recent Trek makes Voyager look great by comparison).  The show had an interesting premise — enemy crews (the U.S.S. Voyager and the Maquis rebels they were chasing) are flung 70,000 light-years from home, and must work together in order to survive in an uncharted, dangerous area of space.  The idea of throwing off the familiar to tell new stories with new aliens in an entirely new part of the galaxy seemed like a great idea, and the story conflict between the two crews seemed ripe.  But the series immediately abandoned its premise.  The Maquis rebels are all wearing Starfleet uniforms by the end of the pilot episode.  The series never actually explored the realities of life all alone, decades away from home or support.  The premise seemed designed to embrace the continuity of storytelling that had made DS9[continued]

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How to Start Watching (And Fall in Love with) Star Trek — Part Four!

May 7th, 2020
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Welcome back!  We’re drawing to the end of the most important blog series I will ever write: a guide to how a newbie should discover Star Trek!  In part one, I recommended fifteen stand-out episodes of the Original Series.  In part two, I recommended that, as a next step, a newbie watch the following four original Trek movies: the informal trilogy of Star Trek II, III, and IV, and then skip to Star Trek VI for the grand finale of the adventures of Kirk, Spock, McCoy, and the rest of the Original Series cast.  In part three, I gave detailed instructions for what to watch and what to skip when diving into the first great Star Trek spin-off, Star Trek: The Next Generation.  And now, in part four, we arrive at my VERY FAVORITE Star Trek show: Star Trek: Deep Space Nine!

I adore Star Trek: Deep Space Nine.

I think DS9 seasons 4-7 are my favorite seasons of a Trek show (only rivaled by TNG seasons 3 and 4), and they for sure the best extended run of episodes that Trek ever had.  It does take the show some time to arrive at the greatness it would become, but I will guide you around the potholes.

Season One:

Here in season one, I think the pilot episode is fantastic. When I first saw it, back in 1993, I found it a little “talky”, but now it is my very favorite of all the Trek pilot episodes.  I think it’s emotionally rich and complex and does a great job of introducing all of the characters.  These days, when I want to rewatch a DS9 episode, this is my go-to episode (even before some of the huge action episodes of later years).

What follows that pilot episode is a run of six of seven decent stand-alone episodes.  The show falls back, here, on a TNG model of stand-alone sci-fi adventure stories each week.  Compared to today’s TV, and also to where the show will go in the 2nd half of its run, it feels like a very old-school style of storytelling.  But I think the first half of the season has fun stories, and they do a nice job developing and exploring the characters.  I think the second half of season one is a mess, and I will mostly have you skip those episodes.  The season ends very strong, with two terrific episodes. “Duet” is, I think, one of the best Star Trek episodes of all time, of any series.  This strong ending will lead into a fantastic three-part opening of season two (Trek’s first three-parter!), and we’re off to the races.

I will say … [continued]

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How to Start Watching (And Fall in Love with) Star Trek — Part Three!

May 6th, 2020
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Welcome back to the most important blog series I will ever write!!  This is a guide to how a newbie should discover Star Trek!  In part one, I recommended fifteen stand-out episodes of the Original Series.  In part two, I recommended that, as a next step, a newbie watch the following four original Trek movies: the informal trilogy of Star Trek II, III, and IV, and then skip to Star Trek VI for the grand finale of the adventures of Kirk, Spock, McCoy, and the rest of the Original Series cast.

If you’ve followed my instructions so far, I highly suspect that, by this point, you will be hooked!!

After watching Star Trek VI, you could go back and watch more of the Original Series.  (In part one, I listed many additional great Original Series episodes.)

But my general recommendation would be to buckle up and take a deep dive into the first live-action Star Trek TV show spin-off: Star Trek: The Next Generation.  Produced between 1987 and 1994, TNG ran for seven seasons and a total of 178 episodes.  That is a LOT!  The first two seasons were very rough, but by season three TNG had developed into a magnificent show, and there is SO MUCH amazing storytelling in seasons three through seven!  If you read on, I’ll give you my detailed instructions as to how to watch TNG, skipping all of the bad episodes to get quickly to the great stuff.  Be warned, though, whereas my initial list of Original Series recommendations was relatively short — 15 episodes out of the full run of 79 — I think it’s worth spending a lot more time with TNG.  But don’t worry — I suspect that, at this point, you’ll be into Star Trek and well-primed for the amazing journey that awaits you watching TNG.

First, an overview.  Star Trek: The Next Generation is a terrific Star Trek show.  For many fans, it’s the best of all the series.  It is certainly the most popular of all the Trek spin-off shows that came after the Original Series.  (Personally, I feel – correctly! – that Deep Space Nine is the best of all the Trek spin-offs.)

Just as I was upfront about some of the flaws in the Original Series, let me be honest about the problems with TNG.  First off, the first season is TERRIBLE and the second season is also PRETTY STINKY.  It doesn’t really become the show it would be until season three.  (Therefore, as you’ll see below, I’m going to suggest you skip most of those first two seasons!)  Second, aspects of TNG haven’t aged so well.  Interestingly, as a kid watching … [continued]

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How to Start Watching (And Fall in Love with) Star Trek — Part Two!

Yesterday I posted part one of this, possibly (probably!) the most important blog series I will ever write!  It’s my guide to how to start watching (and fall in love with) Star Trek!

Yesterday I suggested that a newbie begin by watching a select group of episodes from the Original Series.  I listed fifteen stand-out episodes.  My general recommendation is to move on to the movies at that point… but for anyone who’s really digging the Original Series, I also listed about 20 more episodes that you could watch and enjoy before diving into the film series.

(Interlude: But what about The Animated Series?  Many people don’t know this exists, but from 1973-74, twenty-two episodes were made of a half-hour, animated version of Star Trek!  The animation was done on the cheap, but the series was overseen by talented Original Series Trek writer D.C. Fontana, and many other key Original Series people were involved behind the scenes.  In my opinion, this is absolutely canonical Trek.  It’s aimed for kids, but there are still a number of very watchable episodes in the mix.  For newbies, I recommend skipping this and moving straight on to the films, but its something you might want to revisit at some point.  If you want to watch just one episode to get a taste for the series, I’d recommend “Yesteryear,” which in my mind is the clear stand-out of the series.)

And now, on to the original six Star Trek films!

For a newbie, my advice is to skip Star Trek: The Motion Picture.  This is somewhat painful for me, because I have a lot of love in my heart for this film.  There is a lot that is interesting and enjoyable in this film, but there’s no question that it’s a misfire.  The tone is off.  It’s a very cerebral, intellectual story — which I like, actually, but it’s missing the warmth that Trek should have, and large chunks of it are, let’s admit it, boring.  TMP, made in 1979, was far more influenced by 2001: A Space Odyssey than by Star Wars.  Actually, I love the boldness of that very unusual choice, but it results in a film that is somewhat unsatisfying and, for long stretches, dull.  The visuals shift between amazing (I love the redesign of the Enterprise, with the story reason being that the ship was refitted following the conclusion of the five-year mission — the refit Enterprise is my favorite spaceship design of all time; how’s that for a bold statement!!) and terrible (whoa boy are the new uniforms horrific).

(If you do watch TMP, the best version is the Director’s Edition, made in 2001.  This was one of … [continued]

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How to Start Watching (And Fall in Love with) Star Trek — Part One!

May 4th, 2020
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Welcome to the most important blog post I might ever write!

I love Star Trek.  

I think that, of all of the series/franchises/stories/universes that I love, whether they be in movies, TV shows, novels, comic-books, or whatever the media, Star Trek will always be my favorite.

I love Star Trek for its optimistic, utopian vision of the future.  I love Star Trek for its strong focus on humanistic values and moral messages.  I love Star Trek for its respect for science.  I love Star Trek for its many beloved characters.  I love Star Trek for its complex continuity, for its world-building, for the feeling that all of these different stories, told over more than fifty years, matter and fit together into a cohesive universe.  I love Star Trek for its heady intellectual ideas and also for its kick-ass space action/adventure.  And that’s just a start; I love Star Trek for so many more reasons.

Over the years, I have frequently talked with fellow lovers of movies, TV shows, novels, comic books, etc., who weren’t big Trek fans like me.  For many of them, they were potentially interested in Trek, but they didn’t know where to begin.  At this point, there have been thirteen Star Trek movies and eight different TV series (Star Trek, Star Trek the Animated Series, The Next Generation, Deep Space Nine, Voyager, Enterprise, Discovery, and Picard).  Not to mention a wealth of spin-off materials in other media like novels and comic-books.  Where should someone begin when trying to discover Star Trek?  It can feel overwhelming.

Rest easy, friends!  I am here to give you my expert guidance on how to start watching (and fall in love with) Star Trek!

I strongly suspect that, if you are a reader of this site but you don’t yet consider yourself a Star Trek fan, if you gave it a try, you will like (and probably love!) Star Trek.  

With my guidance, I can show you how to dip your toes into this vast ocean.  There is a whole universe of amazing story-telling out there, just waiting to be discovered!!

Several times in the past few years, I have tried variations on the approach that I will outline here.  It has not failed yet!  That statement is not about tooting my own horn, but rather as evidence of how great Star Trek is — even (or maybe I should say, ESPECIALLY) the Original Series, which is now more than fifty years old.

OK, so where to begin?

Part One: Star Trek: The Original Series

I suggest that, to begin your journey into Star Trek, that you start by watching between about 15 episodes of the Original Series.

It’s astonishing how … [continued]

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As we begin, please allow me to again ask all of my readers to please support this website by taking advantage of my being an Amazon affiliate.  This means that if you click through to Amazon from any of the links on this site, I’ll get a tiny percentage of the price of ANY purchase you make on Amazon for the next 24 hours.  You can use the Amazon banner ad at the top of the home page, or any specific Amazon link within one of my blog.  You don’t have to purchase the specific item I linked to!  Just use one of my links to get to Amazon, and then purchase whatever you normally would.  So please, allow me to ask: when you’re thinking about doing some online shopping, please click through to Amazon through one of my links.  It’d be a huge help to allowing this website to continue!  Thank you!  Now, onwards…!

Wait, whaaat?  Unbreakable Kimmy Schmidt is returning as a Netflix special — and it’s an INTERACTIVE special just like Black Mirror: Bandersnatch???

This makes me SO HAPPY!!  I cannot wait for this.  I am over the moon that this fantastic show is back for more on Netflix.

Here’s something else that made me so happy — this online Goonies cast (and more!) reunion!!  Watch this immediately.  Goonies never say die.

How did I miss this?  An El Camino short film featuring more of Jesse Plemons as Todd??

That is hilarious… and creepy.  (For more from the Breaking Bad universe, I just this week posted my review of Better Call Saul season five!)

Guardians of the Galaxy director James Gunn has posted his complete “Meredith Quill Awesome Mix” playlist on Spotify!  This is a cool list of great music, many of which wasn’t included in the first two Guardians of the Galaxy films.

For anyone out there who loves the original Predator, click here for a terrific short video looking back at the making of that film.  (I love the quick shots of the original terrible-looking alien design!!)  This is part of a film called In Search of Tomorrow, billed as “The Definitive ’80s Sci-Fi Documentary.”  The project has already been backed on Kickstarter — click here for more.

Click here to learn more about how Mike Schur & co. made the surprise new episode of Parks and Recreation that aired last night as part of an effort to raise money for Feeding America’s COVID-19 Response Fund.

Have a great weekend everyone, and stay safe!… [continued]