I suppose I'm like most addicts when it comes to Star Trek: In Deep Denial. When Deep Space Nine was on I barely missed an episode. I even feel uncomfortable about missing a new episode of Voyager and Jeri Ryan's immaculate breasts, uh, I meant "character".
Now that Deep Space Nine has gone off the air I feel that there is a void in my life. How will I fill it? Voyager, while sometime interesting, is just so-so. Janeway just isn't the world's best actress and the stories just haven't been up to the snuff of Classic Trek best.
Fans have noticed and have voiced their disappointment over both shows. And even though I love DS9, there was just a bit too much Vegas lounge singing and silly ass Ferengi stories during the last season. Some of the finale's denouement didn't ring true to me. I never bought the Kira/Odo relationship because I always thought that the actor who played Odo was, well, gay. The relationship he had with the male solid-hating Changeling in one of the latter episodes made much more sense. Why do Changelings even have sexual identities?
Still I would like to see more
Trek in the future, and there have been a few ideas about future treks floating around. I
will offer my humble addict's opinion.
The Main Show That I Would
Like To See: The most interesting character that emerged out of DS9's last
season was the CIA like Section 32. The organization brought a much needed complexity,
moral ambiguity and darkness to the Trek universe. It pretty much casts itself. Dr. Bashir
and Garak, maybe a clone of that Bill Sadler character, could all fit the bill. Kira could
return, as well as Dax.You could imagine them interacting with a number of Trek
characters, visiting all manner of worlds and times. Dr. Bashir has always wanted to be a
spy. Perhaps they could be the spies that watch the spies.
Rumor 1: The lamest future Trek that I've heard of is Star Fleet Academy. It would be some kind of light Real World Trek with these dreadful young actors that I'm sure they would cast. I guess O'brien has already been cast as the wise mentor since he's going back to Earth to teach. Bleah, as Snoopy used to say.
More interesting Rumor 2:
A more interesting rumor and subsequently more interesting show is the one I've heard
about doing a Trek that was set before the time of Kirk and Spock. That has some
potential. It seems like all we had back then were cold war like enemies. The federation
must have been terrible at diplomacy. Did they even have transporters back then? You could
answer all sorts of questions. In the right hands, that could be a tremendous show, which
brings me to my next proposals.
Bring Back the Genre Writers: By right hands, of course, I mean some new hands. What made the Kirk era Trek great is that they used the best science fiction writers of the day. That Trek used Robert Bloch, Theodore Sturgeon, Harlan Ellison, and Norman Spinrad. Why not give folks like Bruce Sterling, John Barnes, Neal Stephenson, Greg Egan, Rudy Rucker and Pat Cadigan a chance? Or to stretch it a bit, why not give Clive Barker or Chris Carter a shot? I can't believe there isn't a single one of those names that wouldn't immediately jump at that kind of opportunity.
As for the films, get some real directors. You could at least ask a Coppola or a Cameron if they'd like to do it. C'mon. Just ask. So what do you think? Can anything be done or is the patient dead?
Current Best Shows:
By far, the best genre shows I saw this year weren't the live
action shows, not even DS9, which, while it came in as a close second, really wasn't as good as the Warner Brothers action cartoon block.
Those shows, made up of the Superman/Batman hour, Men In Black and Batman Beyond were just completely entertaining. Furthermore, they were great science fiction shows. Men in Black for example managed to keep the tone of the film intact and also manage to shine with great weirdness.
Yet all the shows managed to throw out a lot of great Sfnal
ideas: Alternate worlds, robotics, genetic engineering-I'm thinking of that Batman episode of "Critters" written by comic/horror heroes Steve Gerber and Joe Lansdale-even an inspired Batman retrospective show that featured past and present interpretations of Batman as seen through the eyes of children.
That episode featured the somewhat silly Dick Sprang version that inspired the equally silly 60s tv show; the very dark Frank Miller Dark Knight (it was even drawn in his style which was impressive) version got a look; and it ended with the current version, who's probably somewhere between the two. I guess he'd have to be in order to appear Sunday mornings.
My favorite Superman was definitely the Green Lantern episode. I never realized that someone who wore the ring would have to be someone with a lot of imagination. I find this amazing because, to be frank, I've never liked Superman. He's way too powerful. He'd set himself up as a God, like in Alan Moore's Marvelman, or he'd leave town out of boredom. But the show is very entertaining.
Batman Beyond is, for my money, much better than all of the WB's evening programming. It definitely feels like Batman meets Akira. It's full of ideas and in jokes. I swear I've seen Jack Kirby as a character in one of the episodes and I know I've seen his art (I could have sworn I saw a scene that was full of the Marvel character Moloch, as small dolls). There was one episode that featured a trio that were deadringers for the Fantastic Four minus one. Yet another that featured a very cool assassin who reminded me a lot of Electra.
I just wish they would take some of these prime time.
Guilty Pleasures: There are some other shows out there that I find myself watching. Starved for Space Opera, I'm beginning to think Farscape is interesting. At first I thought it was kind of childish. After all , it is done partly by those Henson puppet people, but after looking at it, the writing has improved over the last several episodes. For me, science fiction shows aren't so much about where you start, but where you end up. Farscape is definitely improving and the show looks stunning. It seems like the creators have been studying those Amiga birthed Babylon 5 sets and followed in their footsteps. The alien worlds have enough enhanced touches to make them feel real. Little things are starting to impress me as well: weird eye contacts, affected alien vocal patterns, even the puppets are beginning to grow me.
My favorite shows so far have featured short term time travel and a gangly and mad DNA scientist. It's also clear that they're trying to inject a little science in the show. Universal translators are implanted into you as microbes. The DNA scientist works at the quantum level. It's not Babylon 5 science fiction which is essentially dressed up myth, it actually takes a shot at speculation.
Speaking of Babylon 5, I think its successor "Crusade" is a very good show. It's clear that Mike S. (too tired to even try to spell that last name) has really learned how to create alternate worlds via computer. It's convincing even outside the set of the ship. It also features some fine actors: the usual superior British actor plays a cool Techno Mage, and of course the lead actor is very strong. Too bad I probably won't see anymore after the initial 11 episode run. My only objection to the show is that I don't think that one guy can write all the scripts, because I think the best shows always have a core group of four or five writers doing the scripts.
Personally, it would be kind of cool if the sci fi channel changed its mind and picked it up and did two things: One, no silly story suggestions by the Ted Turner types, and Two: insist upon a stable of four writers who could turn in at least two scripts apiece. If Mike can't think of anyone, try Neil Gaiman, or Bill Gibson or Frank Miller or Bruce Sterling or somebody. Maybe he can get that Matheson guy, father or son, to turn in an episode. Harlan probably knows all those guys. Why don't you make him earn that salary?
The other show I find myself watching is Le Femme Nikita. It's just a wonderfully dark spy thriller that features the world's worst boss, Operations. It also features an actress, who aside from that Borg women, is so attractive that it hurts. And she's not a bad actress. She's not just a model.
I also found myself watching Gene Roddenberry's Earth. I can't say its a great show, but like a lot of great science fiction it has great ideas. I always found myself watching. The show also entertains an interesting premise: Even if the Aliens came and they were initially benevolent, it would be completely horrifying. You would always be questioning their motives.
I also find myself attracted to HBO's Spawn. I've never seen Keith David sound so good. Oh sure, it's kind of bad in that inept Image way, but it looks good and it's not for kids. I can't say its all that mature because the characters say things like "Winn made you his bitch". Nor does the always overwrought ponderous voiceover by Richard Dysart telling us what the Hellspawn is thinking and feeling do it for me all the time. I kept on thinking and feeling and asking why the Hellspawn simply didn't teleport away when he was being beaten silly the last couple of episodes. But still, there was this great fight between Spawn and this vampire, voiced by none other than Jennifer Jason Lee. There's also this great "Prophecy" (the Walken film about the psychotic angel) like subtext where you start questioning heaven's tactics in this war.
Finally, I thought
the best show this year was kind of genre, but it could just as easily be defined as a
"family" drama: The Sopranos. Let's put it this way when it was up against the X
Files, I turned to HBO. Frankly, I felt that I had already seen those Scully and Mulder
shows. The 'Sopranos" really is "Goodfellas" the series.
So what do you think? Curious as to why your favorite show was left off? Email me at firstname.lastname@example.org.