Star Trek – The Original Series – Complete Series Review – Season 2 Episode 26 – Assignment: Earth

This the last episode of season 2.  We are told at the beginning of the episode that the Enterprise has been sent back in time to 1968 by means of blah, blah, blah.  They are there to do research.  By a remarkable coincidence they intercept an enormously powerful transporter beam coming from 1,000 light years away.  The beam deposits a seemingly human man holding a black cat.

The man identifies himself as Gary Seven (played by Robert Lansing), a human agent of a far off highly advanced race that he claims maintains a population of humans to visit Earth and influence human history in a way that limits the possibility of self-destruction.  Gary tries to convince Kirk to let him continue on to Earth to fulfill his mission which is to harmlessly but frighteningly destroy a nuclear weapon during a launch into orbit.  Kirk is unsure of Seven’s story and refuses to release him without proof of the truth of his story.  He fears that Seven is an alien enemy trying to destroy Earth by triggering WW III.

Seven manages to escape from detention on the Enterprise and proceeds to his base in New York City.  There he finds out that the agents meant to sabotage the orbital rocket have died in a car crash.  He must go himself to the Florida rocket launch and program the rocket to explode 100 miles above Russia thus convincing the Americans and their enemies that keeping H-bombs orbiting the Earth is a very bad idea.

At this point a woman hired by his two late associates to be their receptionist, Roberta Lincoln (played by a very young Teri Garr in a miniskirt) shows up and further confuses Gary Seven’s mission.  Meanwhile the Enterprise has identified the destination Seven transported to and sends Kirk and Spock dressed in mid-century American clothes.  They get into an altercation with Roberta and she manages to send for the police.  Gary Seven transports to the rocket launch location before Kirk and Spock reach him.  Meanwhile the NYPD shows up and Kirk has Scotty beam the two policemen and himself and Spock to the Enterprise.  The two policemen are stunned by their transportation.  Kirk and Spock exit the transporter and Scotty returns the officers to Earth before they can recover their wits.

Kirk now knows that Gary Seven has reached the rocket base and he and Spock decide to go there to stop Seven’s plan.  They are immediately arrested by the base’s armed guards and hauled off to, of all places, the mission control location.  Gary Seven is now on the gantry next to the rocket and has begun reprogramming the rocket.  At this point back on the Enterprise Scotty locates Gary Seven on the side of the rocket and attempts to beam him aboard the Enterprise.  But as Seven begins to materialize in the Enterprise transporter Roberta Lincoln fiddles aimlessly with the controls of the transporter in New York and the machine finds Gary Seven and brings him to New York.  How’s that for ridiculous!

After that we have Roberta Lincoln realizing that Seven can’t be from the CIA and knocking him out with a metal box.  Then Kirk and Spock, who in the interim have been rescued from detention by Scotty, show up and use up all but a few seconds of time needed to detonate the bomb in the upper atmosphere.  Shatner uses his confused face to let us know he isn’t sure whether he should do the only reasonable thing and let Seven prevent the nuke from reaching Earth.  Spock has to bless his decision by saying there is no information to make a logical decision so Kirk’s human intuition is the only choice.  Kirk says, “Do it!”  And the show comes to a blessed ending in the glare of a thermonuclear explosion at exactly 104 miles above the ground.

In the epilogue we learn that history had recorded that the bomb did go off at that altitude and was the impetus for nuclear negotiations between the United States and Russia.  And Spock informs Seven and Lincoln that they will have interesting adventures together in the near future.  We then see that Seven’s cat Isis can also transform herself into a scantily clad and buxom woman and when Roberta questions Gary about this female rival, “Who’s that?”  She transforms back into a cat in time for Gary to tell Roberta, “That’s my cat.”

Okay, let’s go over this a little bit.  This episode was a sort of pilot for a spin-off starring Lansing and Garr that never happened.  And I will say that these two were definitely a notch above the caliber of most of the guest stars.  They both had good presence, some comedic timing and decent acting skills.  The script although filled with improbabilities piled on ridiculous coincidences moved along quickly and reached a satisfying climax without Shatner breaking out too much of his classic emoting.  In fact, having Lansing and Garr dominate the air time was extremely refreshing.  And this is one of the few episodes I can think of where Dr. McCoy has almost no time on screen.  So, it’s a real win/win.

I would say this in one of the good episodes.  As mentioned above Shatner doesn’t get to use much of his bag of painful tricks so the Shatner mockery value will be sort of low.  Let’s call this an 8 // 3.

Dave Freer Over at Mad Genius Club Has a Good Essay on Writing

Dave talks about what it’s like reviewing your own book for publication and feeling like the whole thing is poor.  I’m writing a book myself and I have to say I understand exactly what he’s saying.  The urge to re-write whole sections is almost overpowering.

Seeing other people pound out multiple books in a year is humbling.  I get side-tracked continuously between blogging and photography and just trying to keep my real life floating along.  Kudos to those who do all that and also create good fiction too.

A good read.

Time After Time (1979) – A Science Fiction Movie Review

Malcolm McDowell is H.G. Wells.  He has invented a time machine and is about to use it to explore the past and future from his home in 1890, London.  But at a dinner party where he is announcing his project one of his friends John Leslie Stevenson steals it to escape from the police who have discovered that he is Jack the Ripper.  Stevenson is played by David Warner that I only know from his turn as Bob Cratchit in the 1984 version of A Christmas Carol.

After the time machine returns empty from the Ripper’s escape Wells follows him back to 1979 San Francisco.  No explanation is given as to how the time machine can also move through space but since this movie isn’t very good, we won’t quibble about unimportant gaps.

In San Francisco Wells meets up with a currency exchange bank clerk named Amy Robbins played abysmally by Mary Steenburgen and naturally they fall in love and we’re trapped into listening to their various thoughts on women’s liberation and casual sex.  It’s pretty awful.  Amy thinks her “career” at the bank is her whole life.  She left her husband because he wanted her to raise a family.  The monster.

Wells finds Stevenson and he tells Wells that 1979 is the greatest place in the world for Jack the Ripper with casual sex and easy access to women and sharp knives.  Then there is this ridiculous chase scene where the two Englishmen are running around on the streets of San Francisco.  It looks ludicrous and they’re not really running very fast.  Then supposedly Stevenson is killed in a minor car accident.  Wells takes this opportunity to see the Redwoods outside of San Francisco and talk to Amy about women’s lib again.

Then we find out that Jack the Ripper must not have been killed because women start turning up butchered.  Wells tells Amy that he’s from 1890.  She tells him he’s nuts and to prove to her that he is telling the truth he uses the time machine to bring her forward a week and she finds a newspaper that shows that Jack the Ripper has killed her the day before.

So, they go back to the week before and try to catch the Ripper and save Amy’s life.  Cars get flat tires; Wells is arrested by the police as the Ripper and it appears that Amy is murdered and hacked to pieces by the Ripper.  The police let Wells go because he couldn’t have killed Amy while he was in custody.  But, big mistake, it was Amy’s friend who was butchered and now Stevenson has her hostage and wants to trade her life for the key to the time machine.

Stevenson tricks Wells and after getting the key takes Amy with him as he heads to the time machine.  Wells takes a car and somehow figures out how to drive at night in a crowded city and follows them to the machine.  There he begs for Amy’s life but Stevenson decides to take her with him but somehow in a way that doesn’t make any sense she escapes him.  As Stevenson enters into the machine and begins setting it for the future Wells removes another key from the outside of the machine and this sends Stevenson to “infinity,” whatever that means.  Hoorah for Wells and Amy.  Now Amy decides that her bank job isn’t as important as marrying Wells back in 1890.  And they live happily ever after.

This movie is so bad that it both sucks and blows.  The special effects are laughably bad and cheap looking.  They remind me of some effects that they used on Gilligan’s Island.  The dialog is awful and the 1970s disco hedonism is embarrassing.  Mary Steenburgen is an awful actress but this part is even below her talents.  The quality of this film is at the level of a made for television movie.  McDowell and Warner are decent actors but they aren’t given anything to work with here.  It’s all too silly and badly done.

Not recommended.

Color Out of Space (2019) – A Science Fiction and Fantasy Movie Review

Tyler Cook of the Portly Politico and I have decided to cross link on our reviews for this movie.  We both thought this movie was awful but we thought that readers should see nuanced differences.  Actually what you’ll see is our two styles.  Tyler is a witty and intelligent writer and I like to rant.  So here’s the link to his review and below is mine.

This is a cinematic version of Lovecraft’s story about a meteor that lands in a rural Massachusetts farmyard and infects the soil and the water with an entity that subtly alters the plants and animals and then sucks the vitality and finally the life out of every living thing around it before shooting back into space leaving a dead landscape behind.  But let us say the movie takes liberties with this plot.

How do I hate this movie?  Let me count the ways.

First off, I despised all the characters in this story.  I even despised the seven-year-old who was the youngest kid in the family.  They are stereotypical yuppie transplants to the countryside and all of them have extremely annoying personalities.  The father is Nicholas Cage and he spends his time milking alpacas and raising heirloom tomatoes.  The mother is a financial advisor who has neglected her kids to the point that older son is a useless pothead, the daughter is a bitter Wiccan wannabe and the younger son appears to be a doofus.  Tommy Chong is the forest dwelling pot grower who supplies the son with his weed and also seems to be acquainted with alien invasions.  Then there is the hydrologist who is taking water samples for a new reservoir that will be covering the property that Nick Cage’s family currently inhabits.  He walks around warning everyone about the dangers of meteorites and contaminated water but achieves nothing other than somehow surviving the apocalypse.

Next is the plot.  In the original Lovecraft story, the baleful influence of the entity slightly modifies the appearance of plants and animals but its most powerful effect is the sapping of the life force and eventually even the structural integrity of organic materials.  By the end of the book the whole farm where the meteor lands, the house, the trees, the animals and people, the wagons and the fences crumble to dust.  Only stone and metal remain.

In this version of the story the entity is able to fuse groups of animals together into hideous many-headed monsters.  It can disable all communication devices and even alter time, making days and nights shorter as needed.  So, they’ve revved up the monster’s power quite a bit.  But the use they put this to is horrendous.  In one scene the mother and the seven-year-old kid are walking in the dark near the barn when the creature zaps the both of them with its potent “light.”  Next, we see that the mother and the little boy have been fused together.  His head is attached to her shoulder, their torsos are fused and both of them are writhing in agony.  And the older son characterizes what’s happening to them as the younger son being re-absorbed into the mother’s body.  Even the thought is horrifying to consider.  And later on, the fused creature starts taking on a preying mantis like shape and Nick Cage’s character shoots both of them in the head to end this nightmare.  Okay sure, this is a horror movie and it’s no more disgusting than the scenes in John Carpenter’s “The Thing,” but he didn’t use a mother and a little boy as the victims of this abomination.  To my mind this is awful.

Finally, the acting.  The only cast members I’ve heard of are Nick Cage and Tommy Chong.  I’m guessing the rest of the cast is unknown and they should stay that way.  They were awful and so were the two better known actors.  The script was awful.  The plot was tedious and the resolution seemed pointless and annoying.  I will say some of the special effects were interesting looking and well done.  But not the fused animals and people.  Those were hideous and depressing.

I would avoid this movie.  Nick Cage has descended indeed from the time when he was a pretty good actor.  He should be ashamed that he was in this crap.   Seeing this movie has ruined a perfectly good day out of my life.  Not recommended.

10JUN2021 – OCF Update

Today is a disrupted day due to errands and visits.  But also I have to watch the Nick Cage movie of the H.P. Lovecraft story “The Color Out of Space.”  Tyler Cook of the Portly Politico and I have agreed to each watch this stinkeroo and then review it to the best of our abilities.  He has watched it and assures me it’s awful.  So today I will bite the bullet and watch it before Camera Girl gets back from weekly shopping.  I am dreading the experience already.  The things I do for my art.

28MAY2021 – OCF Update

The weather turned cold and wet just in time to make my Sunday barbecue into an indoor event.  I’m guessing the swimming pool will be empty but we’ll have fun anyway.  All the grandkids will be there and I’ll regale them with stories from my days as a doughboy in WW I.  Wait, that can’t be right.  Well, they’re kids they may believe it.

I’ve started a new story.  I’m writing an alternative present/future with a revolt against the Left.  It will have some touches of techno-thriller and some sci-fi and I’ll be in it too.  So that’s scary.

It’s got my interest.  We’ll see how this goes.  I may throw some scraps of it up on the site and ask for feedback.

Stay tuned.

Arkhaven Comics – A Review

Vox Day is an idiosyncratic guy who will be remembered, if for no other reason, because he waged the hilarious Rabid Puppies War against the pink science fiction doofuses of WorldCon in 2015 and 2016.  But he is also the proprietor of a book publishing company, Castalia House and recently he has branched into comics with a company called Arkhaven.

Last month Arkhaven started up a comic site that publishes the various stories on-line for free at  https://www.arkhaven.com/  .  I’ve never been a comic book guy.  I did watch a few of the Marvel tv shows when I was a kid and I did bring my grandsons to watch the Marvel movies until they started getting too woke.

But there are at least a couple of comics on this site that I can appreciate.  One is Ben Garrison’s Editorial Cartoons.  Ben’s editorials are from the right and his drawings are clever.

The other that I just started following is a dark fantasy (supernatural) comic called Chicago Typewriter.  It’s very well drawn and the story so far is entertaining.

Anyway, if you have any interest in comics, check out Vox’s site.  I think he should be congratulated for jumping into a field that up till now has been more than dominated by woke publishers who have made their former readers unwelcome.  I hope this venture is a great success and Vox makes a pile of cash.  Vox is one of the few people on our side who has walked the walk and built his own platform.  Kudos to him.

Nicholas Cage – The Man, the Myth, the Legend – Giving Shatner a Run for his Money

It has been brought to my attention that a film version of “The Color of Space,” one of the only good H.P. Lovecraft stories, was made last year and it starred Nick Cage.  I vowed I would watch, no matter how bad.  And to get my self in the mood to appreciate this cinematic experience, I watched a very funny SNL skit from back in 2012 when the show was only mostly bad.

Here’s the trailer for this magnum opus.  How could it go wrong?

Larry Correia Teases a TV Deal

Larry posted about a convention he was Guest of Honor for (FantaSci in Raleigh-Durham).  And then he teased a TV deal he has.

“Also during that I asked Toni if I could talk about something else really cool, she gave me permission and I mentioned a new TV deal (contracts are in the mail!). Except I just realized before I blab about that on the internet, I should probably wait for her official announcement before posting more. But stay tuned, it’s really awesome news.”

Can I imagine a Monster Hunters International tv show?  Well yeah!  And of course I already have Adam Baldwin as Agent Franks.

Be still my defibrillating heart!

Well, to be continued when Larry lets the other shoe drop.  But this sounds like fun.

Side Jobs and Brief Cases – Two Short Story Collections from The Dresden Files – by Jim Butcher – An SF&F Book Review

These two books are each a group of short stories that Jim Butcher has collected.  Side Jobs was published in 2010 and Brief Cases was published in 2018.  In each case Butcher collected the stories that had been published in anthologies then added a new novella at the end.  And obviously the differences in subject matter and tone in the collections match up with the where they fit in the chronology of the Dresden Files at the time they were written.  But just as with the overall series the “feel” of the stories and especially the character of Harry himself is surprisingly consistent.  He is as always, a wise-cracking, annoying defender of the human world against the forces of the various supernatural creatures he opposes.  He battles White, Red and Black Court vampires, ghosts, sorcerers, werewolves, faeries and other folklore creatures.  Harry is always a little too lefty and feminist for my complete stamp of approval but Butcher writes a very good story and I have been reading these books for a very long time and even when some lefty cultural stance annoys me, I still read and enjoy the story.  And these stories are no exception.  Some character or some comment from Harry will annoy me but I’ll still read and enjoy each story.

The stories are self-sufficient and can be read alone without the need to jump into the next one.  And because the stories were written for various anthologies some of them have oddball plots that were picked to fit in to some overarching theme.  Like in Brief Cases there is a western story called “A Fistful of Warlocks” that was written for an anthology called “Straight Outta Tombstone.”  And likewise for other stories that had themes relating to weddings or relationships or even beer or baseball.  But even the stories that you would think would be just a throwaway Butcher puts in the work and makes the story hang together.  And in these short stories sometimes Harry isn’t even the narrator.  Thomas Raith, John Marcone, Karrin Murphy and even Molly Carpenter each narrate a story.   And especially in the case of Thomas and Marcone I think these add a lot of interest to the story because of the very different point of view of these characters from Harry.

Just as with the rest of the Dresden Files these books cannot be enjoyed unless you already have read the first few books about Harry.  But it is good to know that Jim Butcher takes the time to make even his short stories worth reading.