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Tag Archive: Russell T. Davies


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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Into the Dalek screencap

Review by C.J. Bunce

With the historic reboot of Doctor Who in 2006 and all of Russell T. Davies and Steven Moffat’s world building since then with Christopher Eccleston, David Tennant, Matt Smith and their five companion voyagers– what if the creators have been holding back?  What if we haven’t seen nothin’ yet, if all these great science fiction episodes were all leading up to the real payoff with the 12th Doctor?  I got that feeling last night with only the second Doctor Who episode of the season.  This new Doctor is here to stay, and the writers are driving full steam ahead, plunging Clara (Jenna Coleman) and the Doctor straight into the darkness without giving us a chance to breathe.

We’ve heard it before: Resistance is futile.  But this time the phrase is not about Star Trek and the futility isn’t about we humans, as the new Doctor stumbles into his latest encounter with one of his most hated borg nemeses: The Daleks.  With “Into the Dalek” Steven Moffat has created what I am sure we’ll look back on as an episode up there with the David Tennant episodes “Waters of Mars” and “Silence in the Library” or Matt Smith’s “Cold War.”Doctor 12 and DalekIn only his second outing as the Doctor, Peter Capaldi is already comfortable in the role he was destined to play since his days sending fan letters to the BBC as a young boy.  With last week’s season opener “Deep Breath,” we were introduced to Capaldi’s Doctor in a typical Doctor Who post-regeneration episode–part with the Doctor learning to “love the skin he’s in” while also getting a taste of how his companion is going to adapt, wrapped in a Tanagra/El-Adrel IV story.

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Evan Peters QuickSilver Time in a Bottle X-Men Days of Futue Past

Review by C.J. Bunce

BOULEVARD DRIVE-IN — It’s hard to believe it has only been six years since Jon Favreau surprised the world, taking a typically underwhelming character like Tony Stark, casting Robert Downey, Jr. as Iron Man, and making the best modern superhero movie.  Although fanboy director Favreau made the Christmas classic Elf before Iron Man, who knew he was going to change how we evaluate the modern superhero film?  So it shouldn’t be surprising that a proven genre director like Bryan Singer, with titles under his belt like The Usual Suspects, X-Men, X-Men 2, X-men Origins: Wolverine, Superman Returns, and Valkyrie, has set the new standard in the summer blockbuster sci-fi, fantasy, and superhero sphere with his latest X-title, X-Men: Days of Future Past.  You don’t even need to be an X-Men or Marvel fan to realize what a triumph Singer has achieved.

The movie is gigantic from the opening set-up.  The giant mechanical Sentinels of the comic books take over Earth in the distant future, weeding out once and for all the small bands of survivors, creating a very Terminator-influenced opening.  Now see if you can spot a theme here.  A band of what you might call Tier 3 X-Men, led by Kitty Pryde (played by Oscar nominee Ellen Page), find a way to send something back into the past to save themselves from Sentinel strikes.  Golden Globe and Emmy nominee Patrick Stewart’s Professor X, Oscar nominee Ian McKellen’s Magneto and Oscar nominee Hugh Jackman’s Logan aka Wolverine take Pryde’s method to come up with a time travel plan that results in dual casts trying to save their world, one in 1973, the other in the future.  Storm, played by returning Oscar winner Halle Berry, tries to fend off the Sentinels to allow the time travel trick to work.

Magneto Fassbender

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