HOLY $#@*! When did CBS suddenly learn to make STAR TREK???

SPOILERS? HOW COULD THERE NOT BE SPOILERS?

I wasn’t gonna blog about this week’s episode. I really wasn’t. We were at Disneyland all day Friday and Saturday, and that’s usually my prime reviewing time. But OMF-ingG! What did I just watch????

It was STAR TREK. REAL Star Trek. The kind of Star Trek that gets me all excited and emotionally engaged and dying to see more. It was the kind of Star Trek that has me caring about the characters and not giving a crap that the uniforms are all shiny or the Tellarites now have tusks or the lens flares are multiplying like tribbles. Who cares??? This was a friggin’ STAR TREK!

If you hate Discovery or refuse to watch it or you stopped watching it in (or after)season one…I totally get and respect that. I spent nearly the entire first season kvetching, feeling angry and frustrated and even a little betrayed as a fan over CBS “ruining” this thing that I’d loved for the entire five decades of my life.

And honestly, I went into season two doubting that they could pull the rabbit out of their butts and fix things. Some “true believers” made the argument that TNG and DS9 weren’t exactly firing on all thrusters in their first seasons either, and they all got a lot better. But in my mind, Discovery was so far down into the hole that I didn’t think they would ever make it back into the light.

So if you’re wondering if Jonathan has been brainwashed by the CBS Talosians and tricked into typing a blog that raves about the eight episode of Discovery‘s second season, I invite you to check it out for yourself—just this one episode “If Memory Serves”—and see if you feel as surprised (and impressed!) as I do.

This was the kind of episode that I used to watch back in college…where it ended and I just wanted to TALK about it with other fans! And that’s why I’m writing this even though the episode aired three nights ago.

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The right captain at the right time – WHY WE LIKE PIKE! (Discovery editorial)

I usually write my weekly STAR TREK: DISCOVERY review editorials on Fridays and Saturdays after the new episodes premiere on Thursday night. But the family and I are leaving on tonight for the weekend. So I’ve decided to pre-write my weekly blog—not about the latest episode—but about a character who is rapidly becoming my favorite starship captain in Star Trek: actor ANSON MOUNT’s portrayal of Christopher Pike.

It was literally the last thing I expected going into season two. I mean, I hoped that the show would course-correct after the disappointing and often frustrating season one (at least in my opinion, but I’m not alone). I was curious to see how they’d handle Pike and some of his crew—Number One, Dr. Boyce, Yeoman Colt, and of course good ol’ (young) Spock. But never in a million years would I have predicted falling in love with Captain Pike and having him rapidly take his place as my favorite Starfleet captain!

Granted, it’s still early. We’ve only had 7 or 8 episodes featuring Pike…versus a hundred hours of Kirk, nearly twice that for Picard and Sisko and Janeway, and about the same amount for Archer. Upcoming episodes could ruin the character or make me start counting the minutes until Pike goes back to the Enterprise.

But I doubt it.

Part of the reason I like Pike (and so do MANY others) so much is the outstanding performance of Anson Mount. He really is an amazing talent…and if you haven’t watched his previous series Hell on Wheels, then you are missing some amazing television and yet another awesome character.

But it’s not just that Pike is being played by a top notch actor. William Shatner, Sir Patrick Stewart, and the others are all stellar performers portraying iconic captains. So why have so many fans (even ones like me who couldn’t stand Discovery a year ago) fallen in love with Captain Pike so quickly?

I think I know…

Continue reading “The right captain at the right time – WHY WE LIKE PIKE! (Discovery editorial)”

Keep on SPOCKIN’ me, baby! (STAR TREK: DISCOVERY editorial review)

FORECAST: Moderate chance of SPOILERS

In season one, many readers wondered if I was just a “hater” and wouldn’t like anything I saw on STAR TREK: DISCOVERY no matter how good it was. But so far in season two, Discovery has been batting .667 with me, with four positive reviews and only two episodes so far that I felt warranted criticism.

So now that we’ve reached the halfway point of season two and the search for Spock has finally moved into the “found him!” stage, what did I think of the seventh episode, “Light and Shadows”?

I’ll let Spocko sum up my feelings…

Yep, I loved this episode. For a second week in a row, I watched through the entire episode without stopping or stepping away. I was completely engrossed, and the episode seemed to pass so quickly!

Of course, I should note that this was also the SHORTEST episode of the season so far, with a run-time of just 40 minutes. For comparison, the season premiere was a full hour, episodes 3-5 were about 50-52 minutes each, episode 6 was 56 minutes, and only episode 2 was under 50 minutes (only 44 minutes). So this latest episode was definitely a short one (which also means less expensive to make…but don’t tell anyone!).

Okay, before I get to reviewin’, I wrote some song lyrics after watching this episode—as a tribute to Michael Burnham’s “trek” through the two seasons of Discovery. If you don’t want spoilers or have any loyalty whatsoever to the Steve Miller Band, skip this next part…

I went from Shenzhou to the Disco all the way to the Mirro…
then Kaminar down to Vulcan and more…
Section 31 where the things they have done are taking me to Talos IV.
So keep on Spockin’ me, baby! Keep on Spockin’ me, baby!

Ahem. Okay, let’s dive in…

Continue reading “Keep on SPOCKIN’ me, baby! (STAR TREK: DISCOVERY editorial review)”

ALEX KURTZMAN finally brings HOPE to STAR TREK: DISCOVERY! (editorial review)

SPOILERS…GET YER SPOILERS HERE!

Okay, before I get to my review, please indulge me as I provide my own introduction to the sixth episode of STAR TREK: DISCOVERY‘s second season, “The Sounds of Thunder.” And if you haven’t seen the episode yet, you totally will NOT understand this…

Faster than a speeding human…
More powerful than a Ba’ul wrist restraint…
Able to take command when Pike or Lorca aren’t around…
Look, up on the bridge!
It’s a kelp!
It’s a tall, thin alien!
It’s SARUPERMAN!
Yes, it’s SARUPERMAN…
Strange fugitive from another planet
Who came to Starfleet and proceeded to learn 90 different languages.
SARUPERMAN…
Who can sense the coming of death…
Crush ominous floating robots in his bare hands…
And who, disguised as Commander Saru,
Mild-mannered first officer of the
USS Discovery,
Fights a never-ending battle for balance, blueberries, and the Starfleet way.

Okay, now that’s out of my system. On to the review…

Ever since last June when Discovery show-runners Gretchen Berg and Aaron Harberts were reportedly fired because of cost overruns and also for mistreating the staff writers, fans have been waiting to see what new showrunner and Trek Tsar Alex Kurtzman would do to the series. Would he be the savior who finally straightened out all of the problems with Discovery that made it feel, to many fans, like the show was NOT Star Trek?

Or would Kurtzman proceed to screw things up even worse? Does Kurtzman even “get” Star Trek (as he claims to be a true Trekkie)? After all, this was one of the three writers of Star Trek Into Darkness, a film many fans felt was the worst and weakest of the three reboot Trek movies.

Was Kurtzman to be Discovery‘s salvation or ruination? We would all find out with the sixth episode of season two, Kurtzman’s first episode as showrunner….

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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!

Continue reading “NO TRUCE with DR. SEUSS on FAIR USE! (Part 2)”

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?

Continue reading “NO TRUCE with DR. SEUSS on FAIR USE! (Part 1)”

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…?

Continue reading “STAR TREK finally comes to DISCOVERY!!! (editorial review)”