DISCOVERY’S fifth episode of season 2… far from perfection! (editorial review)

SPOILERS UP THE WAZOO!!!

Oh, well.

After four very positive reviews from the guy known for his generally critical reviews of STAR TREK: DISCOVERY‘s first season, some of my readers were beginning to wonder if Jonathan had been replaced with an alternate universe doppelgänger.

Not this time, though. “Saints of Imperfection” was just that: imperfection. Now, it’s not that I expect every episode of Discovery to be” perfect”—that starship sailed long ago!—but this one was far from it. In fact, it regressed into a lot of what I used to complain about often in season one: sloppy and lazy writing, rushing to “hit the beats” without giving characters or viewers a chance to emotionally process all that’s hurtling at us, unbelievable plot contrivances, predictability, and a host of other annoyances (at least in my book).

Granted, this was the final episode produced under the supervision of former show-runners Gretchen Berg and Aaron Harberts, who were reportedly fired because of cost overruns and also for mistreating the staff writers. Both reasons are very evident in this episode. Although the VFX looked gorgeous and could easily win an Emmy later this year, I can understand why the budget for Discovery was blown. And while I love watching exciting VFX, I much prefer a good story with characters I care about.

And that brings us to the writing, which surprised me because the writer, Kirsten Beyer, wrote the strongest episode of season one, “Si Vis Pacem, Para Bellum” (the one on the forest planet where Saru freaks out), and is also the only staff writer who has several published Star Trek (Voyager) novels. In other words, Kirsten knows her Trek and her writing. So what happened to so totally derail this episode and backslide into many of the old problems of season one?

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Star Trek’s DISCOVERY RECOVERY continues! (editorial review)

Admiral, there be SPOILERS here!

At first, I was going to title this blog “Has STAR TREK: DISCOVERY Finally Got Its Groove Back?” Then I realized that it never really had a grove during season one…at least for me.

But the series does seem to have found a new groove that began with the first episode of season two and has continued now into its fourth episode, “An Obol for Charon.” And for anyone wondering what the heck that means, an Obol is an ancient Greek coin that was put in the mouth of a corpse before burial to be taken down to the underworld and used to pay Charon, the Ferryman, for a trip across the River Styx. (Speaking of which, how awesome was this song from 1982?)

Now, the episode itself wasn’t as good the second episode of season two, but it was better than the third episode. And it felt infinitely more Star Trek-like than nearly the entire first season. In fact, let’s take a look at how Star Trek is working its way back into Discovery

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NO TRUCE with DR. SEUSS on FAIR USE! (Part 2)

Yesterday, I updated you that on Thursday at 1:30pm Pacific Time, the two parties in the DR. SEUSS/STAR TREK mash-up lawsuit will meet in Federal Court in San Diego, CA. The original complaint was filed more than two years ago, and after countless motions, discovery, and an emotional rollercoaster of rulings from the judge, this hearing is likely the last time the two parties will appear before the judge until the trial begins.

Assuming there is a trial.

Barring a surprise last-minute settlement (which, I think, is highly unlikely), Thursday’s hearing could very well result in either the case being dismissed by the judge or else sticking a knife into the defense team to make the lawsuit all-but-impossible to win.

But assuming the case goes before a jury, and if I were a a juror, what argument(s) would be most likely to persuade me that Oh, The Places You’ll Boldly Go! deserves the freedom to be published?

For me, there was one thing that was mentioned—only very briefly by the defense attorney in a previous filing—that in my opinion would weigh most strongly on me as a juror. It was a surprisingly simple question:

What exactly should the defendants have licensed?

Think about it. If the book had been The Cat in the Hat Knows a Lot About Star Trek, then the answer is straightforward: they’d license The Cat in the Hat. If their story was Mr. Spock Meets the Grinch, then they’d license the Grinch, Max, and maybe Cindy Loo Who. But which Dr, Seuss character did David Gerrold, Ty Templeton, and ComicMix use without permission?

The best that the plaintiffs could come up with is the “boy” (their word) who appears on the cover and throughout the original Go! book. However, as with other characters in the Boldly book, this “boy” has been transformed. He wears a TOS command tunic and black pants instead of pajamas. Is that still the same character? The two Zaxes were turned into Spocks. The guy with the Sneeches’ star-machine was turned into Scotty with a transporter.

When does a copyrighted character get changed enough that he becomes a new creation? It’s an intriguing question!

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NO TRUCE with DR. SEUSS on FAIR USE! (Part 1)

This Thursday at 1:30pm Pacific Time, the two sides in the ground-breaking DR. SEUSS/STAR TREK mash-up lawsuit will meet in front of Ninth Circuit Federal Judge HON. JANIS L. SAMMARTINO in courtroom 4D of the Edward J. Schwartz Courthouse in San Diego, California.

Last month, I reported the hearing date as January 31. But the lawyer for the defense caught the flu and requested, and was granted, a one-week delay (which is not all that unusual).

In a previous blog, I discussed the history of the case, and what each side is asking the judge to do. In short, the defense wants the judge to end the case before it begins next month…in favor of the defense, of course. This would mean her ruling that their mash-up Oh, The Places You’ll Boldly Go! should be considered (as a matter of law) to be FAIR USE and therefore protected speech. Therefore, any copyright claims would be nullified, and Team Mash-up (DAVID GERROLD, TY TEMPLETON, and their publisher COMICMIX) would be free to publish their book without legal liability. Also, the defense wants the remaining two claims of trademark infringement (different than copyright) dismissed because it is not reasonable to trademark an artistic “style” nor the look of a typographic font.

The plaintiffs, DR. SEUSS ENTERPRISES (DSE), are trying instead to convince the judge in this case to do the same thing that was done in the AXANAR lawsuit: declare that the mash-up is not Fair Use and, therefore, cannot be defended as such. Likewise, they want the judge to rule that, yes, it is reasonable to hold a trademark on an artistic style and a font. This wouldn’t necessarily end the case (unlike the defense motion,) but a favorable summary ruling by the judge would make the lawsuit all but unwinnable for the defense…as happened previously with Axanar.

So why have I given this case so much attention?

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STAR TREK: DISCOVERY makes a major KLINGON KOURSE KORRECTION! (editorial review)

SPOILERS? WE’VE GOT A FEW. BUT THEN AGAIN, TOO FEW TO MENTION…

Along with much of the United States this past week, hell has frozen over yet again as Jonathan Lane writes a THIRD consecutive mostly-positive blog about STAR TREK: DISCOVERY! Granted, my first blog of season two was more noncommittal…yet hopeful. But my second blog was 100% raving praise.

So what about the third episode, “Point of Light”?

I wasn’t prepared to like it. In fact, after watching the manic first three minutes where the camera NEVER ONCE STOPPED MOVING (seriously, watch it again), I was feeling carsick…or maybe starship sick. I knew the Klingons were coming this episode, and I really hated them and their incessant subtitles in season one.

So I was prepared to write a blog titled “Two Out of Three Ain’t Bad…” or “Well, that Didn’t Last Long…” full of disappointment that Discovery had stumbled and slipped back into the same old problems. I began to mentally compose my opening complaint that saying, “Attention: trainee half-marathon approaching!” should NEVER be followed by turning OUT the lights so you can’t see what’s coming! “Starfleet stupidity or just idiotic writing?”

Yep, I was totally gonna write a blog like that—but then Amanda happened…

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STAR TREK finally comes to DISCOVERY!!! (editorial review)

WARNING – There’s spoilers off the starboard bow!

People seem to think that I only write negative things about STAR TREK: DISCOVERY…that I’ll never accept it and will always find something to criticize: uniforms, Klingons, lack of banter, etc.

Well, the pigs are flying folks! Satan is skating to work! And Jonathan Lane is about to write a 100% POSITIVE review of the latest episode of Discovery, “New Eden.”

What can I say? I loved it. It felt like I was watching STAR TREK…possibly for the first time since Burnham and Georgiou walked across that desert planet at the beginning of the premiere episode. Nothing bothered me…not the uniforms or the “non-canon” console graphics or even Tilly. Heck, I didn’t even mind that the magic mushroom drive once again saved the day.

When it’s good Star Trek—when it FEELS like good Star Trek—all the rest of the discontinuities with canon can be safely beamed out of my mind.

So what made this feel like “real” Star Trek to me…?

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STAR TREK: DISCOVERY season two premiere REVIEW – Am I back on board? Well…

WARNING: Teeny-weeny spoilers ahead

On Thursday night, I watched the season two premiere of STAR TREK: DISCOVERY, the episode”Brother.” I also watched the latest episode of The Orville just before because fate and network programming executives have seen fit that new episodes of both shows debut on the same night!

Well…

Mostly, the reviews I’ve read seem to be positive. My friend Dave even texted me the following morning and said, “Considering all the banter, I thought you’d have enjoyed it…”

For me, it wasn’t that simple. “It was good” or “it was bad” or “it was better than season one” or “it was closer to Star Trek” oversimplifies what I consider to be a very complex reaction to a show that is obviously hitting the “reset” button after its first season struggled to attract an audience. Discovery had to make a lot of course corrections for season two, and on some maneuvers it succeeded and leaves me hopeful—and for others, I sigh and shake my head as the show is still missing the mark…at least for me.

In other words: it’s complicated…

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Follow-up: Yes, SHAWN O’HALLORAN, you ARE stalking ALEC PETERS!

Yesterday, I called SHAWN P. O’HALLORAN a moron and a stalker. Shawn didn’t like that at all. In fact, he got so upset that he wrote an 800-plus word Facebook response, culminating in the following hysterical rant…

Please excuse the vulgarity. I felt it necessary to show how off-the-handle Shawn had flown.

Unfortunately, the saddest part is that Shawn has COMPLETELY missed the point of yesterday’s blog. Whether he wants to face the truth or not, Shawn P. O’Halloran IS a stalker—at least according to this definition on Wikipedia:

Stalking is unwanted or repeated surveillance by an individual or group towards another person. Stalking behaviors are interrelated to harassment and intimidation and may include following the victim in person or monitoring them.

That’s almost word-for-word what they (the detractors operating individually and as a group) do to ALEC PETERS. Looking though his records (public or not), analyzing his business dealings, even following him around at conventions and live-streaming him and his girlfriend…that is MONITORING. Heck, the Facebook group is even named for the blog site: AaxMONITOR!

In Shawn’s case, the obsession with Alec has become socially demented and dysfunctional. I mean, Shawn spent his own money to research Alec Peters’ business records and even whether or not Alec owns his own house!

What normal person does that?

It’s not like Shawn is a journalist working on an article (Carlos Pedraza claims that alleged distinction). Shawn doesn’t work for law enforcement or the plaintiff’s law firm. He’s not a private investigator. He’s just some obsessively weird nobody from Las Vegas who can’t stop writing about, ridiculing, and prying into the professional and private life of some guy in Georgia. In other words: a stalker. (Victims of stalking don’t necessarily have to be famous or beautiful or even women.)

Of course, Shawn says his primary goal is to “keep the public informed” before they give Alec any more money. But that’s essentially bull poop. Shawn’s true purpose is intimidation and harassment, as shown here in Shawn’s original post announcing his “deep research” into Alec…

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AXANAR detractor/stalker crosses a line …again

I want you to imagine having a stalker…the kind of stalker who watches your every move in an effort to ruin your life…who goes through your personal and business records looking for ways to hurt you and your closest friends both professionally and personally. Like Arnold Schwarzenegger’s Terminator, this stalker will not stop. Day after day, month after month, year after year…he just keeps coming.

This stalker is also a moron, but I’ll get to that in a moment.

Last week, I reported on a possible hacking attempt into ALEC PETERS’ YouTube account and suggested that the prime suspect(s) was/were one or more of the AXANAR detractors who are laser-focused on sabotaging Alec and the Axanar fan project.

Man, did the detractors jump down my throat on that one…

  • “You have no proof!”
  • “Where’s your smoking gun, Slow Lane?”
  • “You owe us an apology!” (Wait, after you guys have called me every name in the book for nearly three years, I owe you an apology???)

Anyway, this time I not only have a smoking gun, I’ve got the full confession, courtesy of Alec’s stalker extraordinaire, SHAWN P. O’HALLORAN (the aforementioned moron…and I’m not using “moron” in a pejorative name-calling way; as you’ll discover shortly, he is truly lacking in intelligence in his chosen profession).

Okay, obviously we need a little background information first…

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Major FAIR USE showdown coming in DR. SEUSS/STAR TREK copyright lawsuit! (part 2)

Yesterday, I recounted the two-year history of Star Trek‘s “other” major infringement lawsuit. Back in 2016, tribble creator DAVID GERROLD and comic book artist TY TEMPLETON teamed up to create what they considered to be a parody mash-up of Star Trek and Dr. Seuss, a book they intended to call Oh, the Places You’ll Boldly Go! Along with publisher ComicMix, they launched a Kickstarter which took in about $30,000 before being shut down when Dr. Seuss Enterprises (DSE) sued all three of them for both copyright and trademark infringement. No money was ever collected from the crowd-funding campaign.

It’s just over two years later, and after a roller coaster ride for both plaintiff and defendants (see Part 1), we’re now in the final weeks before the start of the actual trial in early spring.

Or are we?

Following long months of motion-filing, jockeying for position with Judge JANIS SAMMARTINO of the Federal Ninth Circuit, and collecting pre-trial testimony and documents from witnesses during the discovery phase, it’s time for one final “Hail Mary” pass from each side.

Yesterday, I reviewed the defense team’s motion to dismiss the case (read it here in its entirety) on the grounds that DSE didn’t really prove any realistic monetary damages (meaning that the mash-up should be considered as Fair Use and the complaint dismissed) and also that DSE’s remaining two trademark claims from font and art style weren’t valid. The defense arguments were solid and generally convincing…at least to me.

But then I read through the plaintiff’s motion for summary judgment. Like the defense team, DSE would like this case to end before it ever goes to court (and they rack up another six figures in legal bills!). But while Team Mash-up wants the judge to dismiss the lawsuit entirely, DSE would prefer the judge to rule that the defendants are obviously liable for multiple counts of willful copyright and trademark infringement and should be forced to pay hundreds of thousands of dollars in damages. And why trouble a jury when the final verdict is so obvious?

Are the plaintiffs as convincing as the defendants? Let’s take a look…

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