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Tag Archive: Joe Menosky


Review by C.J. Bunce

Arriving in book stores today is the next fandom book from Star TrekStar Trek: The Book of Lists is the first book to include information from the first six Star Trek television series (including the Animated Series, but not yet Star Trek Discovery) and all 13 films including Star Trek Beyond.  Noted trivia compiler and writer Chip Carter has amassed 100 lists that will tap the into recesses of any Star Trek fan’s memory.

Carter nicely pulls together lists of topics both inside the various Star Trek timelines and real world trivia about the making of the shows.  Altogether you’ll find 100 lists ranging from in-depth comparisons of episodes to quirky oddities.  List #90 includes actors who appeared in both the classic Adam West Batman television series and the original Star Trek series.  How many can you name?  Carter came up with nine.  List #40 includes twelve popular holodeck programs.  List #66 includes ten episodes that directly tie back to prior episodes from other Star Trek series (an example is the NextGen episode “The Naked Now” and the original series episode “The Naked Time”).  Can you think of fourteen different drinks (List #25) mentioned in Star Trek series (and that doesn’t include Raktajino)?

Star Trek: The Book of Lists makes for some great content that could be used as an extension of the popular “Top 10 list” party game Outburst In Outburst one player reads a subject to one or more other players or teams who must try to come up with all the entries on the list.  Here you could randomly flip to a page and read the subject, allowing others to try to list all the items Carter included in his list.  Tally the wins and hand the book over to the other side, taking turns, making for a fun game for any ad hoc assemblage of Star Trek fans.  It would work particularly well because most of Carter’s lists are not exhaustive.  For example, List #82 includes nine costumes created for the shows that were worn by one character and later re-used by a different character in a later episode.  In fact this occurred literally hundreds of time throughout the Star Trek series, so you could give bonus points to someone who can think of entries not included on Carter’s lists.

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picard-and-dathon

Darmok and Jalad at Tanagra.

Twenty-five years ago one of the finest episodes of television aired on your local channel carrying syndicated programming.  Arguably the best episode in the history of the Star Trek franchise, frequently found atop “best of Star Trek” lists, and among the best of all science fiction stories, it was Darmok, the Star Trek: The Next Generation episode featuring guest star Paul Winfield as the noble Tamarian Captain Dathon.  Darmok first aired September 30, 1991, the first standalone episode of the excellent fifth season, which featured memorable episodes including Ensign Ro, Unification, Cause and Effect, The Perfect Mate, I, Borg, The Next Phase, and another highly rated standalone episode that bookended the season, The Inner Light.  Written by Joe Menosky and Philip LaZebnik, and directed by Winrich Kolbe, Darmok broke new ground for Star Trek first and foremost by removing the universal translator from the equation and allowing one of the 20th (and 21st) century’s key challenges–communication between cultures–to be the focus of an episode.  Like the transporter beam and the holodeck, the translator was a story device–a crutch of sorts–that allowed writers to skip beyond basic problems and move along to more complex conflicts.  Darmok took Star Trek back to the basics.

The Federation and the Tamarians–also called the “Children of Tama”–historically failed to break the language barrier, and therefore never could open up diplomatic relations, until 2368.  The Tamarians were an intelligent and strong alien race–their ship easily overpowered the Enterprise-D.  Piglike in appearance thanks to the make-up work of Michael Westmore, they wore warrior clothing (designed by Robert Blackman) that was reptilian in design, with a vest of multi-colored grommets, and a bandolier of leather, copper, and brass that supported a sheath with a dagger that was both practical and ceremonial.  The vest featured totems, crystals wrapped in shaved metal, used for personal spiritual ceremonies.  The captain kept a log book at his belt, chronicling his journey in the strange written language of the Tamarian people.

campfire

Shaka.  When the walls fell.

The Tamarians reached out to the Federation first, resulting in Captain Jean-Luc Picard (Patrick Stewart) confronting Dathon via bridge-to-bridge visual communication in orbit of the planet El-Adrel IV.  Frustrated by the continued dissonance, Dathon beamed himself, and Picard, to the surface of the planet.  Dathon’s goal: To use the metaphor of “Darmok and Jalad at Tanagra”–a Tamarian story where two warriors joined together by facing a common foe–to bring himself and Picard–and thereby both cultures–together, one way or another.  What took Picard and the viewing audience the course of the episode to learn, that one could begin to understand the Tamarians once you realized they communicated in metaphors, came too late for Dathon.  The enemy of the metaphor–the planet’s beast in the reality they faced on the surface of El-Adrel IV–attacked both him and Picard, but not before Picard understood.

Sokath. His eyes uncovered! 

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