Tag Archives: technobabble

Why Fans of Classic Movies Should Like Star Trek: Voyager

11 May

I’m a firm believer that Star Trek: Voyager has something for everyone; however, everyone is not the same, of course.  For example, if I were trying to  indoctrinate cajole my Grey’s Anatomy-loving coworkers into watching my favorite show, I would entice them with a completely different set of pros.

As it stands, the following list is inspired by my blog friend Ruth, who is a delightful classic-movie blogger.  Several posts ago, I talked about Voyager’s still enjoyable bad episodes, and she commented that she’d never watched the show before.

That’s an Internet gauntlet, folks.

I’ve compiled this list to attract a certain kind of person, and I have faith in my tactics.  And, as Captain Janeway would say, I feel lucky today!

Series Overview

Let’s get a quick rundown of what’s going on in this series before I start the list rolling.  I’ll pretend anyone reading this has never watched Star Trek, so I’ll try not to be too technobabble-y.

The Premise:  It’s the 24th century, and Earth and several other planets have long ago joined together to form The United Federation of Planets.  Starfleet–a space navy, basically–serves and protects this governmental agency.

There’s some disputed regions on the fringes of the Alpha Quadrant (because they’ve divided the galaxy into quadrants and named them with Greek letters, of course), and a rebel group called the Maquis has sprung up to defend what they feel is their own land.  Officially, The Federation sees the Maquis as terrorists, but they’re all wronged idealists, mostly (and the dudes they’re fighting [the Cardassians], who are officially in The Federation, are sneaky jerks, tbh).

Captain Kathryn Janeway and her new starship Voyager have been sent out to the Badlands to go after a particularly trouble-causing Maquis ship, on which one of Janeway’s oldest friends is serving as a spy!  Quelle drama!

Before she goes, she springs a dude from jail who had been in Starfleet and then also in the Maquis to act as her guide! Quelle more drama!

Well, both the Maquis ship and Voyager get gotten by an alien who pulls them 75,000 lightyears away from Earth–all the way to the Delta Quadrant.  This dying alien is trying to figure out if anybody has similar DNA so that he will have an heir to look after this planet he’s looking after.  Spoiler alert:  Nobody does.

Meanwhile, these other aliens are trying to get at the thing that transported everybody from the Alpha Quadrant so they can use it to gain power and take over stuff.

Janeway can’t let them gain power and take over stuff because they’re meanies, so she destroys the thing, stranding her ship and the Maquis ship in the Delta Quadrant.  Quelle drama-est!

This is the first time Janeway meets Chakotay (the Maquis captain). I hope they both brushed their teeth this morning because dang.

Janeway and the Maquis captain decide to join forces to get back home, so they all take up residence on Voyager and are forced to work together.

Meanwhile, they’ve picked up a few people from the Delta Quadrant to be on their crew:  a dude who’s a trader and is supposed to be good at navigating this–to Alpha Quadrant types–uncharted space and a lady (from the planet the alien who whisked them away was guarding) who has a really weird short lifespan.

Also, meanwhile, the ship’s doctor dies in the first twenty minutes or so and is permanently replaced by the Emergency Medical Hologram.  His journey into sentience becomes a plot point in many episodes.

Also along the way they run into the Borg, a species that is not so much a species but an amalgamation of species who act as one unit, like a hive, and they basically steal other species’ bodies to use in their ultimate goal of perfection through putting together the best parts of every species and then enhancing themselves with robotics.  The Borg are weird and scary and robotic and hard to describe, and when you’re part of the Borg, you have no personality of your own and do only the will of the Collective.  Anyway, Janeway rescues a lady from the Borg, and her journey into humanity becomes a plot point in many episodes.

So, if all the sci-fi hasn’t already turned you off, let’s have a go at the list.

Honorable Mention:  Clean (with a Little Innuendo)

One thing I really love about old movies is that they’re not explicit.  If a couple is intimate, they cut to a fireplace.  If somebody’s mad, he gives a glare and bunches his hands into angry fists instead of cursing a blue streak.

And because of the cleanness, they get to have a little more fun (and be a little more creative) when they wanna be a little bit dirty.  So they say things like, “You know how to whistle, don’t ya?” instead of something yuckier.

Because Voyager aired on regular old TV instead of HBO and because we have a lady captain who is so stagy and sassy, we get cleanness, and a little bit of sassy dirtiness once in a while.

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A Day in the Life of a Star Trek Director

6 Mar

Good morning, everyone.  Quiet on set, please.

No, put down that bat’leth.  We’re using it in next week’s episode, and I don’t need it getting lost among all those leola root props.

Ok, let’s look at what we’ve got on the docket today… Hmm… A scene in engineering and two on the bridge.  That means we’ve got a lot of technobabble today.  Let’s start with some vocal warm-ups.

What a to do to die today at a minute or two till two.  A thing distinctly hard to say but harder still to do.

Faster now.

Red leather yellow leather, aluminum linoleum, red leather yellow leather, aluminum linoleum.

All right.  To engineering.

I need six extras to stand around in the back.  I want stage chatter, but not too much.  You, the one in make-up already:   Look really concerned.  You, the tall one: look mad as hell.  You, the short one:  Act like a Maquis.

What do you mean what’s that supposed to mean?  Hell if I know.  I haven’t directed this before.  It’s what’s in the script.  Find your inner freedom fighter and channel it.

What?  Yeah, good idea.  Play the scene while mentally singing “Battle Hymn of the Republic.”  Nice.

All right, leads.  Find the x’s you’re supposed to stand on.

Yes.  I know there’s only one x.  Both of you stand on it.

Don’t bother with the logistics.  I want you both in the same spot.

Good scene, everybody.  Good take.  Let’s go on to the bridge.

All right.  I need four extras this time.  You with the hair: Pretend you don’t have hair.  You without the hair:  Pretend you do have hair.  Other two:  Pretend your dog just got run over, and the captain just bought you a new dog.

Ok, leads.  This is what I want you to do: Walk toward each other until your noses touch, then the one on stage left will step back half a step.  This is where I want you to play the scene.  I hope everyone brushed his or her teeth this morning.

Great scene, everybody.  Next we’ve got our other bridge scene.  The alien that comes on the viewscreen has twelve ears, and the rest of his face is a chin.  You will all act as if this is something you see every day, except you–guy with the earring–will raise an eyebrow.

Then Twelve Ears will come in off the turbolift.  Captain, I need you to sit in his lap when he sits down.

Where does he sit down?  Ha.  Yes.  Good question.  He will sit on that console, and you will sit on his knee.

No, no, no.  Don’t play the scene as though you’re in love with him.  Play it like you’re in love with everyone else and are using him to make everyone else jealous.

Yes… yes… good… good.  Touch him more.  Yes.

Great work.

Tomorrow we’ll tackle the holodeck scene, and I’ll need everyone to come in wearing bikinis.

Ok.  Who’s up for burgers?

I Guess I’ll Talk About This Thing Everybody’s Probably Talking About

25 Jan

I’m sneering about J.J. Abrams.

I’m sneering because he’s going to direct the next Star Wars, I guess.  I have a lot of issues with this:

Concern A:  What is the next Star Wars even going to be about?  Will new actors play the old characters?  Will the new movies follow a particular set of extended-universe novels?  Will anyone care?

Surely someone smart somewhere has said that a film is only as good as its villain.  Who’s going to be better than Darth Vader?  That is, who’s going to be better than Darth Vader was before the prequels came along and made him a complete lame ass?

I’m sure a lot of stuff could happen in the Star Wars universe, but as much as I loved those movies when I was a kid, I don’t think I care at all anymore.  Every time I think about Luke and Han and everybody, I then think about garish early 2000s CGI and wooden acting and bad dialogue taking the wind out of the sails of intrigue and grit.

Prequels that are different from the other thing don’t have to be all bad.  I’m watching Caprica right now, and while it doesn’t really satisfy me as something belonging to the same universe as Battlestar Galactica, I don’t hate it.  I actually like it as its own show, and I like the characters for who they are in their own show, and I like the idea of it.  I kind of think of it as really good fan fiction, where it’s not exactly canon, but it’s fun to think about anyway.

The Star Wars prequels aren’t that way for me.  I think of them as awful fan fiction that is actually canon, and it makes me want to strangle one of my favorite villains.  Instead of loving to hate him, I find myself hating to hate him and hating to love him, and hating to love him.  Basically all hate.

So here we are at some more sequels.  I’m hearing that it might be a reboot?  Why?  How do you get grittier than A New Hope?  Or flashier than The Phantom Menace?  Those are the two ways reboots occur, and neither of them makes any sense to the franchise.  Maybe it will be something in between gritty and flashy like Alias.  So we’ll have a bunch of fast-talking d-bags with a lot of drama at home?

Concern B:  I’m the kind of nerd who loves both Star Trek and Star Wars.  I love them both for their characters and their stories and their technobabble.  But I also love them both for their respective moods.

Star Wars–the original trilogy, of course–feels like a western, with gamblers and outlaws and wayward boys coming of age and crazy old coots in the desert and crazy old coots in the swamp and tall men in black suits trying to take away people’s land.  There’s something just raw and adventurous about the feeling of the original Star Wars trilogy.  Something familiar, but something exciting.

Star Trek feels like…well, it feels like Star Trek.  It’s got philosophy and utopian societies and fantastic technologies, but it’s also got just downright silliness.  Mirror universes with bearded Spock!  Janeway running around fighting gigantic CGI -viruses!  Data and Wesley! Star Trek is just such good-natured fun a lot of the time–exploring for exploring’s sake and being silly with the crew along the way.

And here’s where we come to my second concern:  I liked Abrams’s first Star Trek movie as a stand-alone piece in the same way that I like Caprica.  I like it as really good fan fiction.  But I don’t consider it canon because it simply does not feel like Star Trek.  It’s so heavy.  It thinks it’s weighty, and it acts weighty.  The Romulans incinerate the planet Vulcan, and Spock cries and makes out with Uhuru for comfort.  Meanwhile, in real Star Trek land, B’elanna Torres is telling someone to get the cheese to sickbay.

So I just don’t know what Abrams is going to bring to the Star Wars table.

But I can tell you what I wish he’d brought to the Star Trek table:  Mirror Universe!  Why couldn’t he have done a whole trilogy set in Star Trek’s established mirror universe?  With evil versions of all our favorite Star Trek characters?  Then he could have messed with the mood all he wanted, and it would’ve made sense!

Times I Wanted to Straight Up Punch Captain Janeway

12 Oct

This is written for the DPChallenge: And Now For Something Completely Different.  I usually write about how the bomb Janeway is, so I decided, for a change, to write about times she sucks.

Love is such a complicated emotion, especially when the object of your affection is a fictional character who’s been written by more people than a priest-and-a-rabbi joke.

So, while in general I can’t get enough of Captain Janeway, sometimes she does something so absurd and out-of-character that I want to punch her.  Here are some of those times.

(Dis)Honorable Mention: 5.23 “11:59”

The Episode: Nothing’s happening out in the Delta Quadrant, so everybody starts researching his or her ancestors and talking about why these ancestors have been such great inspirations.  Most of the episode follows Janeway’s great-great-great-times-a-million grandma, Shannon O’Donnell, whom Janeway believed to be an astronaut.  Turns out, O’Donnell was just some out-of-work nobody who helped a bookstore owner come to terms with selling his store to a shopping mall.

Why I Want to Punch Her:  Janeway is so proud of her lame ancestor and so dejected when she finds out this lame ancestor was, indeed, lame.

Redeeming Quality: It’s not so much Janeway I want to punch–having childhood heroes and then being flummoxed/disheartened when they’re not that heroic is pretty human, after all.  Shannon O’Donnell, though.  Your story is SOOOO BORING, girl!

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If Captain Janeway Were in Everything

24 Apr

I love technobabble stock phrases; therefore, I love Captain Kathryn Janeway.

The following represents what it might be like if Captain Janeway and her technobabble stock phrases infiltrated other works.

Let’s get the obligatory coffee one out of the way first (since it’s not really technobabble, but I couldn’t resist it):

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