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Stardate 0011.20: Spoiled Rotten

Plus: Trek Movies, Trek People, Trek This Week, Trek Analysis, Trek Books

By Michelle Erica Green     November 20, 2000

Warning: Spoilers Ahead!

Startrek.com has updated the official synopsis information once again, giving us the schedule for Star Trek: Voyager for the rest of 2000 and some hints about what we can expect in the new year. Several episodes have already been moved out of the production orderthis week's 'Body and Soul' and next week's 'Nightingale' have moved ahead of the sweeps month movie 'Flesh and Blood,' which will air Nov. 29.

I am now officially looking forward to 'Nightingale,' because it sounds like Seven of Nine as well as a bunch of aliens will be under the command of Ensign Harry Kim. TrekWeb summarizes that while Voyager is undergoing maintenance, Kim's away teamincluding Seven and Neelixwitnesses a brutal attack on another vessel. Kim takes the helm of the damaged Kraylor ship, which is still threatened by Annari weapons. But his new position goes to his head, and he discovers leadership isn't all it's cracked up to be. You'd think he'd have realized that from watching Janeway. Poor Harry. After all these years as an ensign, taking flak from Tuvok and Seven at every turn, who can blame him?

'Flesh and Blood,' which airs the week afterwards, brings back the Hirogen and the holographic technology given to them by Janeway, as the inventions rise up against their inventors. Unless UPN decides to schedule a new episode instead of straight reruns through December, it looks like we may have to wait until the approach of February sweeps for 'Shattered,' in which most of the crew travels through time, and 'Lineage,' in which Torres considers altering her child's DNA against Paris' wishes. The official site now has cast and crew lists for these episodes, but not much news.

In upcoming installment 'Repentance,' Voyager rescues a damaged vessel transporting convicts to their place of execution. Apparently, Seven of Nine and Tuvok make some discoveries that place them between the alien system of justice, the Prime Directive and the safety of Voyager. The official synopsis doesn't say anything about Seven developing a relationship with one of the condemned, but that's been the scuttlebutt.

'Prophecy,' the long-rumored episode about a warship filled with descendants of Klingons who have no idea the war with the Federation is over, has a new twist. When their vessel is destroyed, all the gagh-chewing, opera-singing dudes with foreheads to match their attitudes must come aboard Voyager, forcing crewmembers to share quarters (including Tuvok and Neelix, according to a recent convention appearance by Ethan Phillipsmore on that in a moment).

And if that doesn't sound complicated enough, apparently these Klingons believe in an old prophecy that posits a coming Messiah, the Kuvah'Magh, savior of the Klingon race, which they believe to be Paris and Torres' baby. If that doesn't make Torres appreciate her Klingon genes, I don't know what could.

Phillips appeared the weekend before last at United Fan Con, where he spoke not only about upcoming episodes, but the structure of the final arc and the next Trek series. According to a report by my frequent Anonymous Source, Phillips said that Ken Biller, Brannon Braga and Rick Berman will write the last seven Voyager episodes, presumably bringing the ship back to the Alpha Quadrant to face whatever trials might remain there. The actor said he had no idea exactly how the series would end, but he believed that nearly all the episodes yet to be written had been assigned scriptwriters.

If you're devastated because this means you sent in your spec script too late, get your chin up and get to work thinking about stories set during the early days of the Federation. Phillips told the UFC audience that Series V will be set about 100 years before Captain Kirk's era, adding fuel to the rumors that have long suggested that the series would take place shortly after the events of the historic flashbacks from Star Trek: First Contact.

At one time, Paramount sources suggested that the show would have villains from the future trying to disrupt the timeline to give a twist to the action, but right now Paramount is still denying that any of the current rumors are accurate, including this one. Phillips also said the cast would consist of five regularsthree men, two womenwhich would make it markedly smaller than the previous several Trek series.

Trek Movies: Trek X

As long as we're on the subject of future Treks and movie connections, Rick Berman revealed in his latest Star Trek Communicator update that Brent Spiner is playing a big role in the development of the plot of the next film, but said it was too early to determine whether Jonathan Frakes would direct this latest venture. Spiner is working along with screenwriter John Logan (Gladiator). Berman reveals in the interview that Spiner brought Logan to the project, introducing the writer to the executive producer. '[Brent] and John have always wanted to work together on a story, and Brent has certainly been a terrific part of the process,' said Berman.

Once negotiations with the cast are completed, Logan will be writing what Berman calls 'a rip-roaring adventure with a lot of humor,' more light-hearted and more action-oriented than previous films. TrekWeb, which generously provided a transcript from the interview, added that Berman talks about the new film in nearly identical terms to those he used discussing Insurrection in its early stageswell, at least he's not saying 'fresh approach' the way he does all the time about Series V.

Berman said that currently there are no plans to feature members from any cast other than The Next Generation, which probably means that if there's any Deep Space Nine crossover, it will be cameos rather than a move towards integrating the crews. 'The Next Generation crew is alive and well, and they have established themselves in movieland and they are our main focus,' explained Berman. The new film will have a new villain, but will also feature some previous villains. Finally, Berman said he was beginning to doubt that the film would make the Thanksgiving 2001 release date for which he had previously hoped.

Trek People: Shorts and Shakespeare

Writer and former pre-production coordinator Eric Stillwell passed on the news that Robert Picardo and David Livingston have made a short film together. Picardo, who plays the Doctor on Voyager, stars in Slice of Life, produced and helmed by frequent Trek director Livingston. The two co-wrote the movie.

Picardo is one of Voyager's most versatile contributors. In addition to being a series regular and having directed for the showmost recently 'One Small Step'he is the only Trek actor ever to receive screen credit for writing for the series, on the episode 'Life Line.' Livingston most recently directed this season's Voyager episodes 'Imperfection' and 'Flesh and Blood Part II.'

Patricia Tallman, who performed stunts for many years on Star Trek before she moved into the spotlight as Lyta Alexander on Babylon 5, appears in Slice of Life along with Picardo and Matthew Baer. The short is currently available at the AtomFilms.com Website, though you must register to see it in its entirety.

A startrek.com dispatch from earlier this month entitled 'Dominion Leaders Take on Shakespeare' reported on a charity production by three beloved Star Trek: Deep Space Nine villains: Marc Alaimo (Dukat), Casey Biggs (Damar) and Jeffrey Combs (Weyoun). The stage-trained actors performed selections, including scenes from Hamlet, Richard III, Twelfth Night, Othello and other works by the Bard. The Venice, Calif., performance was entitled 'What Shakespeare Leaves Behind,' referring to the final episode of DS9, 'What You Leave Behind.'

Biggs performed the famous 'Once more unto the breach' from Henry V. Alaimo performed a monologue from Two Gentlemen of Verona with a stuffed dog as his stage partner. In Renaissance tradition, which forbade women from taking the stage, Combs donned a tiara to play Juliet opposite Biggs' Romeo. (Slash fans, tell me you will ever get the image of Damar romancing Weyoun out of your heads.)

Proceeds from the event went to the charities City of Hope, which funds cancer research, and Penny Lane, a foster care service for abandoned and abused children. The latter is also supported by Patricia Tallman, who often rallied Trek and B5 cast members to events to raise funds for the latter.

For people who can't get enough Kate Mulgrew, startrek.com has posted a two-part interview with the actress who plays Captain Janeway. In addition to reiterating some of her common themes of the past year (it's too late for Janeway and Chakotay, the finale should be poignant, Mulgrew's first priority when Voyager ends will be her husband), she makes some interesting comments in response to fans' questions.

My personal favorite: When asked what kind of chemistry Captains Janeway and Kirk would have, Mulgrew says, 'Absolutely fantastic, as it is between Bill Shatner and myself. They'd crack open a bottle of wine, put their feet up and have a good laugh. She would really enjoy his ribaldry, his irreverence, his bombastic, maverick approach, his virility.' Ooh, yeah.

Mulgrew names The Doctor as her favorite character on Voyager, citing the writing and Bob Picardo's skills as an actor. She cites 'Death Wish' with John De Lancie and 'Counterpoint' with Mark Harelik as her favorite episodes, and says she was very happy with the direction in which Brannon Braga took Janeway when he was executive producer.

Mulgrew revealed that she has met with the artistic director of the American Conservatory Theater in San Francisco to discuss plays she might perform therepossibly Macbethand said that while she plans to support her husband's political aspirations, she has none of her own after having been honorary mayor of Brentwood. Surprisingly, she did not reiterate her wish for her character to go out with a bang, but said, 'I've been told by so many people that actually it would be the worst possible scenario. Now I'm confused by what I want. Maybe we should just get home and have a nice dinner.'

Trek This Week: 'Body and Soul' Plot Summary

Aliens board the Delta Flyer, accusing the crew of developing biogenic weapons and harboring a photonic being. While Harry Kim tries to explain their mission, Seven of Nine hides the Doctor's program in the only truly safe place: inside her cybernetic implants. The aliens throw Seven and Kim into their brig.

The Doctor loves being inside a human body. While he controls Seven's movements, he and alien leader Ranek have a dinner date. Later he tries to kiss her, to the Doctor's disgust. In Sickbay, the Doctor helps develop a treatment for the biogenic disease created by the local rebellious holograms, and begins to fall for a woman named Jaryn. Seven is annoyed when he becomes sexually aroused in her body.

Using the alien captain's attraction to Seven's physical form, the Doctor makes contact with Voyager. The ship is short a tactical officer, as Tuvok is struggling with pon farr, but it arrives to rescue the away team. Seven uses the mobile emitter to free the Doctor, who holds the alien crew hostage so she can lower the shields. Ranek gets injured when he tries to interfere, and the Doctor refuses to beam away until he can treat the alien captain. Celebrating afterwards in Sickbay, Seven brings champagne and toasts to shared experiences.

Trek Analysis: Turnabout Intruder

'Body and Soul' features a Jeri Ryan performance I'll never forget. What a marvelous mimic she is! It's an extraordinary job, to take over the role of a character with facial expressions and mannerisms that constantly expose his dry wit, yet she's absolutely convincing as the Doctor. It really looks like he's pulling her strings. The vivacity and risk-taking of both Picardo and Ryan are sublime.

The writing is clever and restrainednot as hilarious as the Farscape episode where John Crichton's mind entered Aeryn Sun's body and ran off to play with her breasts, but a major improvement on 'Turnabout Intruder,' the Classic Trek episode where Kirk was trapped in a woman's body. There's no Tootsie syndrome, no sense that the Doctor believes he makes a better woman than Seven. What he believes is that he makes a better human being. The scene in which Seven (with the Doc speaking for her) calls the Doctor rather than Janeway her mentor gets played for laughs, but it makes one stop and think: if someone other than the ascetic, command obsessed Janeway were Seven's role model, would she be a happier, more open person?

It's too bad we never learn the details of the photonic insurrection. Maybe the holograms were sick of being used for sex. I'm glad Tuvok's pon farr wasn't blown up into a big crisis, it had to be addressed during this seventh season, but pitythe man enters the most passionate period in a Vulcan's life, makes a face at the idea of making love to a false image of his wife, decides to do it anyway, and presto, he's cured.

I can't get past flinching at how readily everyone on Voyager creates holograms to satisfy their lusts, even the captain. It's interesting that Paris says he doesn't do that anymore, now that he's married. Maybe Tuvok's sexual yet lonely state was supposed to provide a contrast with Seven and the Doc's physical yet chaste bonding, but I hoped the battle with the aliens would get him over his pon farr. That would have been much more satisfying.

Trek Books: Star Trek S.C.E. #3: Hard Crash

I have said this before, and I will say it again when I review the final volume of the Dark Matters trilogy, but let me say it here just to emphasize the point: Christie Golden's Star Trek novels give me faith in the franchise and make me desperately wish that she, rather than Braga et al, were going to be the head writer of Series V. Her S.C.E. novella, a mere 87 pages long, introduces two new alien cultures, gives us the strongest perspective yet on Gold's command, and features three poignant love storiesfour if you count the passionate symbiotic relationship between a captain and her ship. I'm most familiar with Golden's Voyager novels, so I'm delighted by how well she writes Geordi LaForge, plus all the new characters of the S.C.E. series.

Hard Crash begins when an alien vessel crashes into a peaceful planet and wreaks havoc for no apparent reason. The crew of the Da Vinci beam over to discover a dead pilot whose body appears to have been mutilated by the ship. But on closer investigation, she seems to be related to the Borghalf-organic, half-cybernetic, engineered specifically to work with the vessel. The ship, which the pilot Jaldark called 'Friend,' doesn't realize that she has died. When 110 tries to make contact, the Bynar is badly injured.

That's the plot. The drama emerges from the subtext, beginning with the point of view of a linguist who misses his lover, alternating with the panicked cries of Friend who misses Jaldark. As the Da Vinci crew tries to make non-threatening overtures to the damaged vessel, the linguist reflects on his beloved Anthony, 110 mourns the loss of his partner 111, Gomez and Duffy consider reviving their romance, and the crew comes to understand that Jaldark's relationship with Friend went beyond their comprehension. A newly activated EMH begins to explore feelings with Dr. Lense, as well. These layered stories add nuance to an already engrossing tale of first contact.

A momentary gripe: it took me several weeks to get a copy of Hard Crash that I could read. Hard Crash exists in two formats, Glassbook (at BarnesandNoble) and Acrobat (at NewMedia). But I couldn't get the Glassbook reader to install on my computer, and the download site kept refusing to load the Adobe plug-in required for Acrobat e-books. I have the previous two Trek e-books in Microsoft Reader format, but apparently Hard Crash isn't available yet for that software.

Pocket Books is still charging $5 for these short novellas, despite problems with software, downloads and a slightly higher-than-usual ratio of errors from having rushed the series into production. I gather that people are buying them anyway, but it seems unfair to fans to ask such high prices when there are so many problems associated with this new technology. If I were a new fan, I'd rather pay for the cheap paperback reprint of The Romulan Way.

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