Just forget the words and sing along

Monday, April 15, 2013

More Stuff on my PVR

Well, I still don't think this is going to be a regular segment, but here we are again.  There's stuff that's accumulated on my PVR, and I feel compelled to blog about it.  So tempting to dissect the new episodes of Doctor Who and start speculating as to what the deal is with Clara Oswald, but since the Internet is already flush with that, let's blog about something that's rarely blogged about...Star Trek.

Yup, I frequently finding myself recording reruns of the original series on Space in the middle of the afternoon.  Space is showing the remastered episodes, and there are some episodes where I never got to see the new special effects.

Quick history lesson for the norms:  for Star Trek's 40th anniversary back in 2006, Paramount figured it was time to digitally remaster the original series for high definition.  But, in the process, they discovered that the classic special effects just did not hold up in high definition at all.  So, they decided to create new special effects with modern computer animation that would be HD-ready.  Don't worry, if you're a purist who still wants the original episodes with the original special effects, it's all been released on Blu-Ray.

Anyway, I saw that The Trouble With Tribbles was coming up, so I had to give that one a watch.  I won't go into it too much, because I actually own it on VHS and I've got a Fishing in the Discount Bin coming up dedicated to it.  Again, mainly I was watching it for the new special effects.  Trouble with Tribbles isn't a special effects extravaganza, just showing the Enterprise in orbit around a space station.  For new additions, there's a Klingon battle cruiser, too.  Originally, the battle cruiser was off screen for the whole episode, but for the remastering, they slipped it into a couple of shots.  I was actually a little disappointed with this one.  The effects in this episode just seemed a too CGI.  A little too slick and polished, and as such, a little out of place.

And then, later in the week, it was time for A Piece of the Action, aka "the gangster planet episode."  This is another much beloved lighter episode of Star Trek.  The Enterprise travels to the planet Iotia, which was last visited by the starship Horizon a century before.  Since the Horizon visited before the Prime Directive was in place, Kirk, Spock and crew are curious to see what kind of cultural contamination there's been.  They beam down to the planet...and land smack dab in the middle of a rerun of The Untouchables.  Upon investigating, they discover that a Horizon crewman left behind a history text entitled Chicago Mobs of the Twenties, and those highly imitative Iotians based their whole society around it.  Knowing that mob rule is no way to run a planet, Kirk, Spock and Bones set out to stop a gang war and start steering the society towards a more responsible government. 

Again, this episode is just funny, as the Enterprise crew gets caught up in the culture shock of landing in a planet straight out of the past.  As the episode ends, Kirk even gets lost in the part and starts speaking in a bad Al Capone impersonation.

It's also notable in that there was long talk of doing some kind of sequel.  See, the episode ends with Bones sheepishly admitting that he left his communicator behind.  Of course, since the communicator contains the fundamentals of Starfleet technology, our heroes wonder what might happen if those highly intelligent and imitative Iotians reverse-engineer it.  So people really wanted to see a sequel in the Next Generation era.  They wanted to do it on The Next Generation, but Gene Roddenberry vetoed the idea.  Roddenberry wanted to minimize references to the original series on The Next Generation, so TNG would be its own thing.  They were painfully close to doing it on Deep Space Nine as their 30th anniversary tribute episode, but they ultimately decided to do their crossover with The Trouble With Tribbles instead.

The premise would have been simple.  The Enterprise-D or the Defiant visits Iotia.  They discover that, thanks to McCoy leaving behind his communicator, the Iotians have now based their society around 23rd Century Starfleet (i.e. the original series), and the entire planet is now one never-ending Star Trek convention.  They tell us it would have been a "loving homage/gentle poke at the fandom."

I kinda hoped they'd do a prequel on Star Trek: Enterprise where the Enterprise NX-01 encounters the Horizon and meets a forgetful historian who's always leaving things behind.  

But there's more on my PVR than Star Trek.  Thank you, TeleToon Retro, for allowing me to get all nostalgic for my youth and showing all those cartoons from the 1980s.  Like He-Man and the Masters of the Universe.  Another much beloved episode was on recently, Teela's Quest.

This one has become quite famous for the new developments it brought to Masters of the Universe continuity.  Teela begins to wonder about her biological parents, and goes off on a quest to the Oracle of the Crystal Sea to find answers.  Skeletor's henchman Mer-Man sees this, and asks Skeletor if he can pursue Teela, as Mer-Man has sworn a vendetta against Man-At-Arms, and seeks to gain vengeance through Man-At-Arms' adopted daughter.

He-Man finds out where Teela's gone, and since the Crystal Sea is too dangerous for one to go alone, He-Man decides to go after Teela.  But, Teela's looking after herself just fine, and as the Oracle begins giving Teela her answers, Mer-Man shows up and ambushes her.  Every 20 years, a demon rises from the bottom of the Crystal Sea, and if you give it a sacrifice, you can tame it and get it to do your bidding.  Man-At-Amrs  interrupted the ceremony 20 years ago, and now, Mer-Man seeks to do the ceremony again, and get his revenge on Man-At-Arms by using his own daughter as the sacrifice.

He-Man finally shows up, and the Oracle fills He-Man in on what's going on.  He-Man shows up, rescues Teela, defeats Mer-Man, and kicks demon ass.  With that done, they go back to the Oracle.  The Oracle continues his story, of how 20 years ago, Mer-Man was going to sacrifice a beautiful falcon to the demon.  But Man-At-Arms fought off Mer-Man and saved the falcon.  The falcon then leads Man-At-Arms to her nest, and in it is a baby...the infant Teela.  In the Oracle's vision, Teela immediatly recognizes the falcon as Zoar, the falcon form of the Sorceress of Greyskull.  Teela begins to put it together.  "But then that would mean...."

The Sorceress emerges from the shadows.  "Yes, Teela.  I am your mother."  The Sorceress then explains that Teela is destined to become the next Sorceress of Greyskull.   And that's why Teela must have no knowledge of her parentage.  If anyone knew of Teela's connection to the Sorceress, or Teela's destiny, evildoers might attempt to get the Power of Greyskull through Teela.  So, with tears in her eyes, the Sorceress erases this knowledge from Teela's memory, replacing it with the simple knowledge that Teela's mother is alive and loves her daughter very much.

Such a beautiful episode, and provides some very interesting back story for the familiar characters.  And it was written by Paul Dini!  Dini, of course, a long time writer who's become best known in recent  years for his Batman work.  He worked on The Animated Series, is the co-creator of Harley Quinn, and wrote the mega-blockbuster video game Arkham City.  Working on He-Man back in the day was one of his first professional gigs.  He doesn't look back on it with much fondness, as Filmation, the studio that made He-Man, was a very cheap outfit, and most of his colleagues seemed to be very bitter old TV writers just killing time before retirement.

That, and I've recently become enraptured with reruns of The Mighty Hercules.  It's on TeleToon Retro every night.  It was one of those cartoons that was just always on when I was a kid.  Watching it now is a little bit shocking.  Apparently, the outfit that owns The Mighty Hercules had all the episodes painstakingly digitally remastered a few years ago, so I've never seen it looking this crisp and sharp.

Not too long ago, an artistic friend of mine asked me if I'd be interested in writing a comic book.  I'd write it, he'd draw it, and we'd self-publish it digitally.  The thing was he didn't want it to be superheroes.  I was intrigued, but idea wise, I had nothing.  About the most I got was some form of high adventure tale set in a fantasy world.  The Mighty Hercules would definitely be the model to follow, though.  Just a simple tale of high adventure in a fantasy setting.

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