Stardate 0010.09: Of Nightingales That Weep - Mania.com



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Stardate 0010.09: Of Nightingales That Weep

Plus: Trek This Week, Trek Analysis, Trek News, Trek Comics

By Michelle Erica Green     October 09, 2000

My Anonymous Source Who Is Very Close To Several Star Trek: Voyager Actors said this week that Roxann Dawson, Robert Duncan McNeill and everyone else involved with the Tom Paris/B'Elanna Torres marriage still claim it will take place in the episode 'Drive'not in a later show, as various rumors keep insisting. My source laughed at speculation that there would be a big wedding in the mess hall. 'Drive' was pretty much completed when filming began in the Gower Theatre, but it's still possible that a wedding scene took place there, if the shooting schedule was changed to work around the availability of Paramount's movie theater.

The actors are all somewhat amusedthough also somewhat nervousat the ongoing rumors of character deaths, which recently have focused on Tuvok, Tom Paris and Harry Kim rather than Janeway or Chakotay. Some of them speculate that Janeway is the most likely victim...but they deny anything has been said to them, so this may originate from Mulgrew's stated wishes, plus the undeniable drama such a death would generate, after the quasi-death of Captain Sisko in the final episode of Star Trek: Deep Space Nine.

TrekWeb revealed last week that several Voyager episodes have undergone name changes. 'The Command,' in which Ensign Kim will have the chance to captain an alien vessel, has become 'Nightingale.' The episode is now listed as number 256 at startrek.com in the official production information. LeVar Burton is directing the teleplay by Andre Bormanis. 'Nightingale' will feature Icheb, one of the Borg children, so this probably means Icheb doesn't die saving Seven of Nine in 'Imperfection'the second episode of the season.

'Inner Child,' in which Torres will try to have her unborn baby's DNA restructured to diminish the Klingon elements, may be renamed 'Lineage.' In addition, Voyager will reportedly discover a Klingon generational ship carrying crewmembers who believe that they are still at war with Starfleet in 'Descendants.'

Tuvok has problems with holograms once more in 'Temple,' a story about Tom Paris' latest holo-program (TrekWeb speculates that this episode may feature the 20th century movie theater, although that has reportedly been used in an episode already filmed for this season). In another Tuvok episode, the Vulcan will have brief contact with his daughter, helping her to follow in his footsteps as a sleuth. Other story rumors concern Seven of Nine developing a bond with an alien criminal, and a comic story in which Voyager pretends to be a traveling circus.

Robert Duncan McNeill is apparently having a terrific season. In addition to his character's impending marriage and fatherhood, he impressed many people last week when he directed 'Body and Soul,' the episode in which the Doctor's program hides in Seven's circuitry while Paris helps Tuvok cope with pon farr. McNeill's 'Someone to Watch Over Me' was a favorite with the cast and crew as well as with fans, and this follow-up comic episode sounds as if it might be as well.

Trek This Week: 'Unimatrix Zero Part II' Plot Summary

On the Borg Queen's cube following their assimilation, Torres plants the virus designed to disrupt the hive mind, but Tuvok's neural suppressants wear off and the Queen accesses all of his knowledge. Armed with Voyager's command codes, the Queen blows a hole in the ship's hull, then demands that Janeway work with her or she will destroy millions of her own drones in order to wipe out the insurrection. Janeway suggests that the Queen visit Unimatrix Zero for herself to find out what the rebellion is about.

Meanwhile Seven enters Unimatrix Zero as she regenerates, unsure of her feelings about her former lover Axum, now a leader in the resistance. She insists to him that the drones must rescue Voyager's away team before attacking the heart of the Collective. Before they can do so, the Queen reveals to Janeway that she has a new weapon: a version of Voyager's nanoprobe virus that targets mutated drones, killing them within minutes. Unless Janeway can convince the Borg in Unimatrix Zero to rejoin the Collective, the Queen will release the deadly virus there herself.

Janeway sends a holographic projection of herself to Voyager via Sickbay's holoemitters, telling Chakotay and Seven that the Borg will kill every drone who insists on remaining in Unimatrix Zero. 'Unimatrix Zero can no longer exist. That's an order. Have I made myself clear, Commander?' she asks. Seven and the Doctor believe the captain intends to ask the drones to reassimilate, but Chakotay understands her underlying message: Janeway wants him to find a way to disrupt the Unimatrix Zero interlink frequency, dispersing the Borg who gather therewith their individuality intactbefore the Queen can kill them.

Voyager disrupts the interlink frequency and holds off the Queen's cube, putting an end to Unimatrix Zerothough not before Seven and Axum say a final romantic goodbye. Surrounded by rebels, the Queen initiates the self-destruct of her own ship. 'I don't compromise with Borg,' Janeway tells her, just before her hologram vanishes as she, Tuvok and Torres beam back to Voyager. Though the away team will need time to recover, the Borg resistance is alive and kicking. So are Seven's emotions.

Trek Analysis: Less Than Zero

Overlooking some really cheap-looking visual effects and the excruciating Seven/Axum love story, 'Unimatrix Zero Part II' is an improvement on Part I. Despite having her head shaved, Janeway rediscovers her sense of humor ('Captain!' 'What's left of her.'). Torres does some of her finest engineering despite the nanoprobes in her bloodstream. Chakotay and Paris argue Janeway-and-Chakotay-style about command decisions, also with a fair degree of humor. And Tuvok, the character we can usually expect to be boringly correct, nearly destroys Voyager's plans for the Borg when he can't keep his focus, despite having Vulcan mental disciplines the other assimilated crewmembers lack.

The once-invincible Borg have been demolished as villains, but that's been a long time coming, ever since Picard discovered in Star Trek: First Contact that their leader is a weak, trampy seductress who will let the ego she shouldn't have get in the way of protecting her Collective. Hence the oddness of the Queen restoring Janeway to her human appearance when she speaks as a hologramI suspect the reality is that the producers decided to spare Kate Mulgrew hours in hideous Borg makeup, but it's quite silly for the Queen to notice or care whether Janeway's happy with her new look.

The Queen sounds clever for awhile attacking Janeway's moral sense, insisting that the captain must be distressed at causing the deaths of thousands of drones who were once individuals and could be again. But then she makes the stupid tactical blunder of sending the captain on a diplomatic mission to her own vessel to stop the insurrection. Even without reading Janeway's mind, how could the Queen not suspect that the captain would have ways of getting a covert message to her crew, right under everyone's noses?

Poor Seven, meanwhile, turns into a girly-girl in Unimatrix Zero, reluctantly reviving her romance with the heroic but dull Axum while the Doctor pines beside her alcove. It is always amusing to hear the Doctor's revelations about which crewmembers suffer elevated heart rates and dilated pupils around potential romantic interests: I'd love to hear his take on how Chakotay looks around Janeway, and how Janeway looks around Seven. Since the Doctor himself shows no outward signs of desire, Seven doesn't catch on to the subtle parallels when the Doctor says she must have chosen a relationship with Axum for the same reason she has chosen a friendship with himself. It's a bittersweet moment, much more touching than Seven's dopey race to regenerate in the middle of a battle so she can smooch once more with Drone Boy.

Speaking of whom: Axum suggests that, since he now knows he's on the border of fluidic space, he may contact Species 8472 to join the rebels in fighting the Borg. Seven thinks this is a fine idea. I realize Janeway and a handful of 8472 did some bonding several years ago in 'In the Flesh,' but Species 8472 are still a potentially deadly enemythey're the reason Voyager formed an alliance with the Borg in the first place! Giving them room to maneuver in order to weaken the already crumbling Borg empire seems like very poor strategy.

Two of my favorite scenes involve the Queen. One's a silly brief moment when she tries to strangle Janeway, only to remember that the figure in front of her is merely holographic. The other takes place in Unimatrix Zero when Her Majesty tries to convince a child that being assimilated is fun. Think of all the friends he'll have, the instant popularity and understanding! It's a clever twist on anti-peer pressure ads directed at teens. Someone should make a 'Don't Do Drugs' spot featuring the Borg Queen.

Trek News: Producers and Lawyers

TrekToday has passed along word that Brannon Braga's official site, brannonbraga.com, is offering readers the opportunity to ask questions for a Q&A to be posted later this month. While Braga will not be able to answer queries about the new Trek series he is working on with Rick Berman, fans may ask about his Star Trek: The Next Generation and Voyager work as well as Mission Impossible II and other films. Those wishing to participate should e-mail questions@brannonbraga.com before October 12. Include your name, a statement about whether or not you wish your name used when the Q&A is posted, and your city and country for the visitor's map. Check Braga's site for more information.

This week the U.S. Supreme Court addressed a case that could have far-reaching implications for the merchandising of Star Trek and many other shows. The high court rejected the dismissal of a California case brought by Cheers actors George Wendt and John Ratzenberger, who played bar regulars Norm Peterson and Cliff Clavin on the Paramount comedy. Wendt and Ratzenberger claim that Paramount stole their images by licensing lookalike robots for a chain of airport bars.

Paramount Pictures and Host International had sought to block the right-of-publicity case, claiming that Paramount owned the copyright and trademarks for Cheers and therefore had the right to permit reproductions in its image. But since the decor of several of the bars includes two life-size, robotic customers, one of whom is garrulous and overweight while the other wears a Postal Service uniform, Wendt and Ratzenberger contend that the figures constitute unauthorized uses of their likenesses.

California has a right-to-publicity law, which prevents the sale of a product by using 'another's name, signature, photograph or likeness in any manner' without the individual's permission. The case was dismissed by judge of the Los Angeles Superior Court judge, who ruled that Paramount owned the characters and federal copyright protections were stronger than the state's publicity law. The Associated Press reports that celebrities including Dustin Hoffman, Bette Midler and Vanna White have successfully sued for damages over the unauthorized use of their voices or images.

First Amendment lawyer Floyd Abrams, who represents Paramount, believes a ruling in favor of the actors would undermine the writers and directors who create television shows and films. 'To say that the people who create characters need approval of various actors is to significantly denigrate the creative process by placing people who played parts in control of the characters,' he told the Los Angeles Times. He said that if the actors win, it will discourage creativity.

But Los Angeles entertainment attorney told The Los Angeles Times that this is a critical issue for working actors in Hollywood, addressing the concerns of actors who become so closely associated with a given character that they are perceived as being that persona. 'If a studio acquires the right to license an actor's image cloaked in the outfit of character, then Warner Bros. could use Harrison Ford's face to sell cigarettes or beer as long as he was dressed as Indiana Jones.'

The implications for Star Trek are clear. If the actors win the suit, Paramount might have to get permission from each actor every time they license a Star Trek product depicting a character from the series. Some actors, such as Kate Mulgrew, already have image approval, meaning that they can demand changes if they don't like the way they're portrayed in any given product, but very few actors ever have the ability to influence corporate decisions about where and how their character's images are used if the studio makes such agreements.

It's fairly clear that certain rolessuch as Saavik, Ziyal and the Borg Queen, all of which were played by more than one actorhave captured the imagination of viewers because of how the characters were written, and that the actors playing those parts have not become inextricably associated with them. But what about Uhura and Scottyroles with which the performers became so closely associated that they found it difficult to avoid typecasting elsewhere? Shouldn't Nichelle Nichols and James Doohan have some control over corporate profits from their likenesses?

This is one of the issues being addressed by the Screen Actors' Guild now in its strike over commercial fees and is expected to be an enormous issue in the spring when SAG may strike over related issues surrounding actors' control of and right to be paid for the use of their images. The Supreme Court ruling that reinstated the case has complicated matters further.

Trek Comics: New Frontier: Double Time

After many years of mediocre offerings from Malibu and Marvel, Trek comic books under Wildstorm editor Jeff Mariotte have been a delightful surprise. The Voyager stories have been entertaining, the Next Generation material well-written. Even given the hideous art of Deep Space Nine's N-Vector series doesn't detract from the dead-on characterizations. In fact, the art highlights the clever dialogue, since you can't really tell who's who based on how the characters look.

Now Wildstorm ventures where only Pocket Books has gone before, with the first New Frontier comic, written by Peter Davidwho also scripted the twelve novels in the series that he co-created with Pocket Books editor John Ordover. 'Double Time' fits into New Frontier canon to explain why the ship disappeared for over a year from Trek-time. It's a cautionary tale about playing God. Captain Calhoun acts like Superman and changes the timeline, despite Starfleet regulations and the interference of Captain Braxton, whose 29th century timeship Relativity travels the galaxy looking for temporal incursions.

Calhoun's desire to rewrite a planetary tragedy is paralleled with the convolutions of his intimate bond with First Officer Shelby. Years ago, he nearly declared their relationship over right after it began, because he wasn't sure it could work. In 'Double Time,' a narrative flashback (in which we get to see Calhoun and Shelby in bed together!) interrupts the 'flashback' Calhoun creates by taking the Excalibur back in time to try to avert a disaster. Calhoun's own past words to Shelby from the past help her determine how to advise him in the present.

This is a clever, witty storyline, tackling a more complex issue than most Trek comics of the past, making good use of a device created for Voyager ('Future's End' and 'Relativity') and referencing the plots of two original Trek episodes ('The Naked Time' and 'Tomorrow is Yesterday'). Though some of the regulars are under-usedmost disappointingly the androgyne Burgoyne, since I really wanted a good look at hir'Double Time' has terrific characters and a great sense of humor about Star Trek. New Frontier has undoubtedly suffered bit because readers don't have a mental image for the crew and aliens as they do for novels based on the other Trek series.

Illustrators Michael Collins and David Roach have remedied that, creating designs for Calhoun, Si Cwan, Kebron, Soleta and the other characters for whom we have no visual frame of reference. For Shelby and Lefler, they've stayed pretty close to the appearances of the actors who played the characters on televised Trek, which gives the new folk a reassuring connection to canon. Calhoun looks less like Pierce Brosnan or Alec Baldwin here than on the New Frontier book coverspicture instead E.R.'s Goran Visnjic crossed with a very young Shatner, and throw in a little David Duchovny. Mysterious Morgan Primus, the Majel Barrett character, appears to have Number One's hair and Lwaxana's height, but we never see her face.

For anyone who has never read New Frontier and is looking for a painless introduction, here it is, with much of the necessary information. There's a brief summary of Calhoun's past on Xenex; his romance with Shelby; the tensions between each of them and Calhoun's other former girlfriend, executive officer Kat Mueller; Si Cwan's odd role as ambassador and exiled prince; Kebron's dilemma as a security officer who's much stronger than the people he protects; Lefler's convoluted relationship with her mother; and the non-traditional attitudes that make these people work well together, even if they veer far from what's been acceptable on Trek television. It's highly recommended.

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