“Star Trek: DS9” – S3, E11 & 12 (“Past Tense: Parts I & II”)

Part I: The Defiant has arrived at Earth and Cmdr. Benjamin Sisko (Avery Brooks), Dr. Julian Bashir (Alexander Siddig) and Lt. Jadzia Dax (Terry Farrell) are beamed to the surface, where they will address the Starfleet Symposium in San Fran on the situation on the other side of the wormhole (the Gamma Quadrant). But they never arrive! Chief Miles O’Brien (Colm Meaney) has no clue what happened; it was a transporter accident (very common in the ST universe). Meanwhile, the three find themselves in San Fran, but the time is 2024. Bashir and Sisko are arrested and put the Sanctuary District (a ghetto where homeless, jobless, and mentally ill people live). Sisko notices this is a few days before a major riot breaks out (a pivotal moment in history). Lee (Tina Lifford), a woman working at the processing center, gives them ration cards (for food) and explains how things work. Dax is assisted by Chris Brynner, a wealthy businessman, who helps her get an ID and hotel room (assuming she was mugged).

Part II: Sisko has taken the place of the revolutionary Gabriel Bell to ensure the hostages at the processing center stay safe. He needs to keep the trigger-happy B.C. (Frank Military) and security guard Vin (Dick Miller) calm and away from each other. Bashir fears for the captain’s life, as the original Bell died in the riots. When their new friend, Webb (Bill Smitrovich), manages to reach the processing center, Sisko asks him to find some stable men to guard the hostages. Dax decides to take action, frustrated w/ just watching the news on the riots. On the Defiant, Major Kira (Nana Visitor) and Chief O’Brien decide that their only option is to go back into the past, though Odo (Rene Auberjonois) looks a bit worried. (This ep as directed by Jonathan Frakes, who played Riker on TNG.)

Sisko: By the early 2020s, there was a place like this in every major city in the United States.

Bashir: Why are these people in here? Are they criminals?

Sisko: No, people with criminal records weren’t allowed in the Sanctuary Districts.

Bashir: Then what did they do to deserve this?

Sisko: Nothing. Just people, without jobs or places to live.

Bashir: Ah, so they get put in here?

Sisko: Welcome to the 21st century, Doctor.

Bashir [after a day at Sanctuary]: Causing people to suffer because you hate them… is terrible. But causing people to suffer because you have forgotten how to care… that’s really hard to understand.

This is the first Star Trek production to feature scenes set in the 21st Century. Ira Steven Behr’s inspiration to create the Bell Riots was the 1971 riot in New York’s Attica Prison (where inmates demanded better living conditions). While this ep was being shot in LA, the city was deciding whether they should set up a separate area for the homeless. This is the kind of story that Roddenberry would’ve approved of, as it tackles current social problems under the guise of sci-fi. If you (or a friend) are new to Trek, these might be up your alley.

Chris: Don’t worry, your friends are fine. That’s the whole point of the Sanctuary, to give people in trouble food and a place to stay.

Dax: If that’s all it’s for, then why is there a wall around it?

On the Women at Warp podcast (May 8, 2016), they discussed these eps in depth. Sisko and Bashir (both men of color) are quickly taken away and arrested; Dax (who landed in a different area) and is a beautiful white woman was the one who got rescued. Though Dax is not human (she is a Trill w/ hundreds of years of knowledge), she easily explains that her markings are tattoos. Later on, we see her at a party w/ Chris’ upper class friends; one couple is annoyed that protests in Europe led them to cancel their vacation. Dax knows just how to charm Chris and uses her privilege to help her friends. Sisko decides that Webb (an even-tempered white man w/ a family) should be the public face of the riot; this is a clever move. While police surround the area, Webb gets on the call w/ Det. Preston (Deborah Van Valkenburgh) and states the demands of the Sanctuary residents. Bashir, young and coming from a sheltered background, learns much from Sisko and experiencing hardship. Kira and O’Brien provide a sprinkling of humor in the dark story by hopping through time periods.

“Star Trek: The Motion Picture” (1979)

Well, that’s it. We gave it our best shot, it wasn’t good, and it will never happen again. -William Shatner’s first thoughts on viewing this movie

[1] Everything is very straight-faced and sincere. To introduce someone to Star Trek with this film would be a bad idea.

[2] The Enterprise is much more of a physical ship traveling in space, and less of a device to facilitate storytelling.

[3] ...most of the film has the crew standing on the bridge, gazing out in awed-wonderment at all the expensive, and impressive, special effects…

-Excerpts from IMDB comments

I learned that this movie is often derided as Star Trek: The Motionless Picture. So, what’s good about this movie!? The original TOS actors, particularly Nimoy, do the best w/ what they get (which is not much good dialogue). We don’t see much of their chemistry or friendship; everyone seems cold and distant. If you love TOS and/or grew up w/ it in the ’60s or saw reruns in ’70s, then this isn’t a total waste of time. If you’re not much of a fan, then go ahead to the second film (which is great). They basically pretend like this one never happened- LOL! There is a fun scene where Dr. McCoy (DeForest Kelley) is sporting a full beard and (very ’70s) casual outfit w/ chunky gold necklace. Also, Gene Roddenberry loved the (now iconic) main theme from the musical score, which he reused for Star Trek: The Next Generation (TNG). Below this review is the scene which I thought was done very well.

The original script was written by Roddenberry and titled “The God Thing” though it was rejected by Paramount executives b/c of the storyline in which the Enterprise crew meet God. Many other story ideas were considered: preventing JFK’s assassination, becoming the Greek Titans, and trying to prevent a black hole from swallowing the galaxy. The popularity of Star Wars: Episode IV – A New Hope (1977) had a big impact on the story, pacing, and marketing of TMP. Many sci-fi fans (incl. writers) viewed Star Wars as fantasy and fluff. Roddenberry always saw Star Trek as a more serious endeavor. The story was pushed toward more complex ideas; the decision was made to have no battle scenes (which hurt the movie). The early promos for newspaper ads had as the line “There is no comparison.”

Orson Welles narrated trailers for this film- a voice familiar to classic film fans! Director Robert Wise was also the editor on Citizen Kane (1941); he also reedited and reshot The Magnificent Ambersons (1942). Welles held a grudge against Wise b/c of the latter work; he probably recorded the trailers b/c he needed money. Wise (who was unfamiliar w/ Star Trek) was convinced to take on the directing job by his wife Millicent (a huge fan of TOS). She also convinced Wise to campaign for Leonard Nimoy’s return. Nimoy agreed to do the film only after Paramount agreed to a settlement of his lawsuit for allowing his TV series likeness to be used by advertisers. Wise (best known for West Side Story and The Sound of Music) is sadly not in his element here; his directing style contributes to its slow pace.

The producers and cast were worried about their appearances after being away from TOS for 10 yrs. In the later movies, the aging of the crew became part of the story. The cast hated the uniforms (as did viewers). One of the cast’s conditions for returning for a sequel was to have new uniforms. It was understood in the script, but not said outright, that Cmdr. Will Decker (Stephen Collins- who also didn’t watch TOS) was the son of Commodore Matthew Decker from The Doomsday Machine. Persis Khambatta (who played Lt. Ilia) was a model from India; she had her head shaved for the role. She has very little to do, though it is rare to see a Hollywood newcomer/woman of color at that time in such a big production. The abandoned TV series (Phase II) was to have three new main characters. Paramount was concerned that Shatner might ask for too much money (if the series was extended). Decker was created, so that once Kirk had to be written out, he could take on the new lead role. Will Riker and Deanna Troi on TNG were later incarnations of Decker and Ilia.

As many have pointed out before, Klingons continue to be the one-note baddies; they were not developed until TNG. The Klingon words spoken by the Klingon captain were invented by James Doohan (Cmdr. Scott). Linguist Marc Okrand later devised grammar and syntax rules for the language, along w/ more vocabulary words in Star Trek III: The Search for Spock (1984), and wrote a Klingon dictionary. Doohan also devised the Vulcan words heard during Spock’s Kolinahr ceremony. The scenes were first shot in English, but when it was decided to use Vulcan, Doohan wrote lines (to fit the existing lip movements).

“Star Trek”: Must-See Episodes of The Original Series

This is a list I compiled after reading many comments (IMDB and YouTube), listening to a few podcast episodes (focused on ST universe), and (of course) considering what I liked best. As w/ much of episodic TV, you don’t need to watch these in order. This should be helpful to those viewers who are not so familiar w/ TOS, but would like to start watching (or perhaps re-watching after many years). FYI: I watched the (remastered special effects) eps on Netflix first 6 years ago, then also over the past 2 months (during quarantine- when stuck at home). Enjoy, leave a comment, & stay safe!

Season 1

The Naked Time

The Corbomite Maneuver

Balance of Terror

Arena

Tomorrow is Yesterday

Space Seed

This Side of Paradise

The Devil in the Dark

Errand of Mercy

The City on the Edge of Forever

Season 2

Amok Time

Mirror, Mirror

The Doomsday Machine

Journey to Babel

The Trouble with Tribbles

A Piece of the Action

The Ultimate Computer

Season 3

The Enterprise Incident

Day of the Dove

The Tholian Web

“Star Trek: TNG” – S3, E15 (“Yesterday’s Enterprise”)

This is one of the top-rated (also fan fave) eps of Star Trek: The Next Generation (TNG); I’ve seen it 3x over the years. At the 50th anniversary Star Trek convention in Las Vegas in August 2016, fans voted this the 5th best ep of the franchise. It’s well-written (despite having 6 different writers- incl. a young Ronald D. Moore), tense (w/ great music and innovative direction), thrilling, and includes an element that Star Trek doesn’t usually do well (romance). Our heroes on the Enterprise-D see a “temporal rift” opening in space, which Data (Brent Spiner) thinks could be unstable. Lt. Tasha Yar (Denise Crosby) is alive in this alternate timeline where the Federation is in a 20+ yr. war w/ the Klingons! Lt. Worf- being a Klingon- is not there; Michael Dorn had a fun scene in the opening of the ep w/ Guinan (Whoopi Goldberg). This is the ep where he gets introduced to “warrior” drink (prune juice)- LOL!

Capt. Picard (Patrick Stewart) and Cmdr. Riker (Jonathan Frakes) don’t like each other. I esp. liked the (dark) lighting used on the bridge. The uniforms are a bit different (militaristic); the crew wears silver belts on their hips (which holds phasers). We hear “battle alert” followed by a “condition” (either yellow or red). Unlike the Captain’s log and Stardates, Picard records a Military log using “combat dates.” This is the first time Wesley Crusher (Wil Wheaton) is seen wearing a Starfleet uniform.

The world we know changed when the Enterprise-C traveled 22 yrs. in the future commanded by (a lady boss) Capt. Garrett (Tricia O’Neil). The actress does a terrific job; many fans noted that she paved the way for Capt. Janeway on Voyager. Dr. Crusher (Gates McFadden) tells her to rest longer in sick bay, but she’s a tough cookie (insisting that her crew needs her). I esp. liked the scene w/ Garrett and Picard on her ship’s bridge; he lowers his voice at one point to admit that the war is going worse than commonly known. O’Neil later played a Klingon in TNG (Suspicions) and a Cardassian in DS9 (Defiant).

Lt. Castillo (Christopher McDonald), the helmsman under Garrett, is wowed by the tech, incl. modern weaponry. He learns much from Tasha as they spend the day together; they start to develop feelings for each other. As some viewers noted, their relationship happens naturally (unlike what you’d expect from episodic TV). I learned that McDonald was one of the top actors vying for the role of Riker- no wonder he fits in so well in this episode! The costumes worn by the crew of the Enterprise-C may look familiar to movie fans; these are similar to designs on Star Trek: The Wrath of Khan (which I watched recently).

Guinan knows something is wrong, though she can’t explain exactly what to Picard (who gets rather mad at her). After seeing Nichelle Nichols as Uhura in TOS as a young girl (and getting very inspired), Goldberg vowed that she’d be part of the Star Trek world someday. Tasha notices that Guinan is acting weird around her; it’s b/c they were never meant to know each other. In time, Picard realizes that the Enterprise-C must return to its own time/place to restore the original timeline. They would (most likely) die defending a Klingon outpost against the Romulans, but could prevent a war.

We brought Denise Crosby back to kill off Tasha Yar a second time. It was a great opportunity to send the character off in a big heroic sacrifice because nobody was really happy with the way she left the series in the first season. Nobody on the show really liked it, the fans didn’t like it, I’m not sure even she really liked it. So “Yesterday’s Enterprise” was a chance to kill her right. -Ron Moore

“Star Trek”: Season 3, Episode 15 (“Let That Be Your Last Battlefield”)

Chekov: There was persecution on Earth once. I remember reading about it in my history class.

Sulu: Yes, but it happened way back in the twentieth century. There’s no such primitive thinking today.

This is one of those eps that I’m sure many non-Trekkers (or Trekkies) have read of/heard about. On the way to a mission, The Enterprise comes across a shuttlecraft stolen from Starbase 4 by Lokai (Lou Antonio- part of the chain gang in Cool Hand Luke), a humanoid who is half black and half white. Soon his pursuer, Commissioner Bele (Frank Gorshin- best known as The Riddler on the ’60s Batman series), arrives onboard (from an invisible ship- one of the biggest budget cuts in TOS). Bele demands that Lokai be turned over for transport to Cheron (their home planet) where Lokai has been convicted as a terrorist.

Spock: [referring to Bele and Lokai] Fascinating. Two irrevocably hostile humanoids.

Scotty: Disgusting is what I call ’em.

Mr. Spock: That description is not scientifically accurate.

Scotty: Mr. Spock, the word “disgusting” describes exactly what I feel about those two.

Kirk: That’s enough for today. Those two are beginning to affect you.

Bele regards Lokai as of an inferior race and claims that Lokai’s people were destroying their civilization. Lokai contends that Bele’s people enslaved his people, but then we learn that Lokai’s people engaged in mass destruction. Bele believes he is right (pursuing justice). Their hate for each other puts our heroes in danger; Kirk tries to convince them to stop fighting. Both men have superpowers and this pursuit has lasted 50,000 years!

Spock: Change is the essential process of all existence

The screenplay was based on a story by Lee Cronin (the pseudonym of Gene L. Coon). He had left Paramount and was under contract with Universal, so he was not supposed to be working for Paramount. The original story didn’t depict the aliens w/ bi-colored skin; one was a devil w/ a tail and the other was an angel. Director Jud Taylor came up w/ the idea of bi-colored skin shortly before filming. The plot was a (obvious/heavy-handed to critics and modern viewers) indictment of the discrimination/prejudice in the late ’60s. MLK, Jr. had been assassinated less than a year earlier. This was a few years after the Watts Riots (LA) and the events dramatized in popular movies: Ghosts of MississippiMalcolm X, and Mississippi Burning.

[1] This episode does have the marvelous self-destruct sequence initiated by Kirk, in which Spock & Scotty join in to voice the self-destruct codes. This sequence manages to squeeze out every bit of suspense possible for such a televised few minutes…

[2] There are a few good lines such as the scene where Spock tells Bele that his planet was once a violent world which the Vulcans eventually resolved through logic and cool reasoning. 

[3] All theories are suggested by Spock, incl. nature vs. nurture. Their hated has outlasted the population of their planet. The only writing flaw is their hatred spans thousands of years. Nobody lives than long, except the “Q” maybe! The stock footage used for the burning of the planet looks suspiciously like the burning of Atlanta from GWTW, don’t you think?

-Excerpts from IMDB reviews