Posts Tagged ‘star trek’

Like most people I am not a fan of price hikes. Every time I book a flight back to the UK I weep for days because I remember the time when I could fly there AND back for less than $400 (and you wouldn’t land hungry). But, there is not much I can do as the prices are comparable across all airlines flying that route, and there aren’t any other viable transportation options. I just have to suck it up, and try to fly in the cheapest periods.

Earlier this month Netflix announced that they were separating out their streaming and DVD rental businesses and this re-shuffle would have an associated price hike. And oh my the internets and the twitter went bat shit crazy about the $6 increase (based on if you had unlimited instant and one disc rental), and how Netflix Instant is not worth $7.99 because of its limited offerings.

My plan (unlimited streaming plus two discs) has gone up to almost $20 per month, and whilst there are other things I could spend that $6 on (three bags of Haribo cola bottles or two iced lattes or 3.4 trips on the PATH train) I’m okay with the price hike because it’s still great value for money – especially when you compare it to the alternatives (e.g. premiere cable, movies on-demand, etc).

In an average month we’ll get through 10-14 DVDs, and umpteen hours of Netflix Instant. (Am too scared to look up this exact figure otherwise Alex will tell me off but I’m at home and pregnant during the hottest months of the year so by 3pm AC and collapsing on the sofa look good.) So for our household Netflix is still great value for money especially when you consider that three years ago we quit premium cable and said bye bye to $60 a month, and then a year ago we quit going to the movies and said bye bye to $24 for two tickets (and that’s the cheap end given the horrible trend for turning crappy movies into even crappier 3D movies).

I don’t care about seeing films when they open (or premiere cable shows when they air). I’m happy to wait a couple of months and see them in the comfort of my own home cinema where I can watch ’em when I like,  pause ’em for pee breaks and eat my own snacks that aren’t going to induce adult onset diabetes or drain the cylons’ college fund.

With Netflix DVDs I manage our list like some people manage their stock portfolios. Pushing the new releases to the top, and alternating with the TV series we are working through. I always try to make sure we have some that Alex will watch come the weekend.  But really he loves Netflix Instant because of all the documentaries they have on offer, and the access to back seasons of No Reservations, Top Shot and StarTrek. Also, using Netflix Instant on Apple TV is a dream so much better than via the XBox 360 or DVD player.

Sure I’d love for there to be more new content on Netflix Instant, and I’m excited that they are going to develop their own programming but all this costs $$$, and I am sure this is where the price increase comes in. There is a lot of competition in this space but as far as I am concerned Netflix is still the best value for money and has a great user experience.

Another day another article on the sanitizing of Huck Finn, and when it is acceptable to read/teach it. Leaving aside the crass idiocy of switching out the “n-word” for the “s-word” the thing that surprised me the most about Twain-gate was learning that Huck Finn isn’t read until high school over here. Is that really true? Does no ones parents read it with them as a pre-teen? When I was growing up in London, in the apparently halcyon days of the 1980s and 1990s when young adults had unfettered access to “offensive” reading material, it was considered a young adult read. Therefore I read it when I was ten or eleven years old. For some this would appear to be too young but in my mind this is an ideal time to learn more about prejudice, equality and social history. For a comparison to the Huck Finn predicament, when I was thirteen we read Across the Barricades in school. This is a Romeo and Juliet style love between a Protestant and a Catholic in Northern Ireland during the civil war (or “troubles” as our then government like to refer to it as). Reading this book brought up discussions about mixed faith relationships, sectarian violence, and domestic terrorism whilst Northern Ireland was still very much in the process of tearing itself apart, and the IRA were still waging a brutal bombing campaign on the mainland. So I am afraid that I struggle to understand the issues around not teaching Twain (or other discussion provoking books) in schools when racism and intolerance is still very much a local and global issue.

So, seriously folks, what am I missing?

Is it that kids can’t understand the context that Twain was writing in and therefore it is offensive, or that it naturally leads to discuss about the “n-word”, slavery, the civil war and its legacy, and that’s too hard a topic for pre-tertiary discussion? I refuse to believe that kids are unable to grasp the context of Huck Finn despite the alarming amount of Disney-ficiation and dumbing down going on. At ten I was no pre-teen Twain scholar but I was not phased (or emotionally scarred) by reading books that contained offensive words or ideologies – hello Babar the benevolent dictator or the misogyny of the Famous Five. I may not have know what “context” was then but I had my own frame of reference in which to understand what I was reading: Star Trek.

Growing up I was not blind to the fact that attitudes towards gender, race, class and sexuality had changed overtime. It was easy to understand that when you compared everything to the equality reflected on Star Trek. Star Trek was the ideal.  A time when people were judged on merit and by their actions not by their race, gender or sexual orientation. Hell even a northern Shakespearean thespian could be welcomed onto the bridge of the Enterprise.  So as a kid I understood that I lived in a world somewhere between the stories set in the past, be them fairy tales, Huck Finn or the atrocities of World War 2 (please tell me kids in the US read the Diary of Anne Frank or The Silver Sword before they get to high school?) where society was rife with prejudice and discourse, and the glorious egalitarianism of the United Federation of Planets.

Huck Finn is a thought provoking read, and don’t young adults need to have thoughts and be provoked? Don’t kids today have their own frames of reference in order to be able to understand and evaluate the past? I may not have appreciated all the nuances and themes that Twain was going for in the book but I most definitely understood that the casual racism and prejudice was tied to the period it was set in. It reflected a dated ideology that jarred with my own London of the 1980s (just) and the 23rd century of my beloved Star Trek.

Kids shouldn’t live in bubbles, and parents and educators shouldn’t be afraid of challenging or pushing them outside of their comfort zone.

Alex and I are off for our anniversary dinner tonight, and it got me thinking about one of the fundamental building blocks of our relationship – a mutual appreciation of science fiction. Star Wars, The X-Files and Star Trek were the ground zero from which our relationship was built. Our early years together were a high point in sci-fi. The X-Files had not yet started to disappoint, Star Trek franchises and films were being churned out at an alarming rate (and the days of the dude in the skirt on TNG were behind us), Star Wars was being re-released in cinemas and rumors of Episodes I-III were rampant, and then there was The Matrix. Oh my word The Matrix rocked our worlds. We consumed EVERYTHING apart from Babylon Five.

As our relationship evolved so has our tastes in sci-fi. In a post-Enterprise world quality beats quantity, and we like our sci-fi dark. Instead of the cheerfulness of TNG crew in their pristine ship we have the beaten and broken Battlestar Galactica (it’s tragedy in its purest form and the Greeks would have loved it).

So this is it, the major sci-fi tv series and films we’ve watched over the last fourteen years (vaguely chronologically):

  • Original StarWars trilogy  (VHS vanilla versions before Lucas started fiddling with them)
  • Star Trek: Deep Space Nine (seasons 1-7 on VHS)
  • Star Trek: Voyager (seasons 1-6 on VHS)
  • The X-Files (season 1-9 combo of TV, VHS & DVD)
  • Star Trek: Generations (DVD)
  • Star Trek: First Contact (theatrical, VHS & DVD)
  • Special Edition of the original StarWars trilogy (theatrical, & VHS)
  • Star Trek: Insurrection (theatrical)
  • The X-Files: Fight The Future (theatrical, VHS & DVD)
  • Star Wars Episode 1: The Phantom Menace
  • The Matrix (theatrical & DVD)
  • The Terminator & Terminator 2: Judgement Day (re-watched on DVD -before we saw 3)
  • Terminator 3: Rise of the Machines (theatrical)
  • Star Trek: Enterprise (seasons 1-4 on TV)
  • Star Trek: Nemesis (theatrical)
  • Star Wars Episode 2: Attack of the Clones (theatrical & DVD)
  • The Matrix:  Reloaded (theatrical & DVD)
  • The Matrix: Revolutions (theatrical & DVD)
  • 2004 re-release of original StarWars trilogy (DVD)
  • Star Wars Episode 3: Revenge of the Sith (theatrical & DVD)
  • Battlestar Galactica (mini-series, seasons 1-4 on a combo of TV & DVD)
  • Star Trek: The Next Generation (re-watched seasons 1-5 on DVD)
  • Terminator: The Sarah Connor Chronicles (season 1 & 2 on TV)
  • The X-Files: I Want To Believe (theatrical)
  • Dollhouse (season 1 & 2 on TV)
  • Fringe (season 1 & 2 on TV)
  • Star Trek (theatrical re-boot of franchise)
  • Terminator Salvation (theatrical)
  • Caprica (pilot on DVD)
  • Star Trek: Deep Space Nine (re-watching season 1 on DVD)

This list is not exhaustive, it misses the shows that we don’t watch together (I haven’t managed to convert Alex to Supernatural yet) and I am sure I’ve missed lots of films that aren’t part of franchises but you get the message. It’s a marriage made in nerdiness.

My geek side is having a hissy fit, all be it a silent one as Alex is still asleep (someone was up late playing Trout 14 or Storm Cloud 7 or something), I got my Friday night scheduling wrong….Joan is clashing with Archer!!!!!

The choice is easy, my dedication to the federation comes above all others but if Enterprise had been given the 21:00 slot then, well, at a later time period couldn’t things have got a bit hotter more dramatic.

Hey ho, lets turn that frown into a smile and I’ll remember that I can always catch up with the going ons in Arcardia on repeat nights or next Summers hiatus, and of course it’s only television show so it’s not really that important……

Live long and prosper 😉

So, I am back in my ancestral home – which has been in the family since the turn of the century (alright the last one). My mother’s decoration style is more Tate Modern than Laura Ashley, which means it has a twist of art installation about it. This part of greater London is as rural as I can manage without breaking out in hives…it’s a shocking thirty minute bus ride to the nearest Starbucks and I have yet to find a yoga studio – apparently they are only for people North of the river…..he he he. But this ‘isolation’ is good as I get far more revision done.

Can you tell I am feeling better? The news that Enterprise got renewed has brightened my mood too!

The crew of the Enterprise NX-01 have always been rougher around the edges than their successors, but T’Pol’s experimentation with sex & drugs (superbly portrayed by Jolene Blalock – will she get a nod from Emmys or Globes?), Archer stealing technology and their current fragile state as they limp towards the show down with the Xindi. I loved the way they had to physically haul the doors open/closed and now they resemble Red Dwarf.

But, I hate it when Star Trek dabble in the temporal paradox episodes – they are generally disappointing (remember Kes leaping about in time on Voyager, none of those hook ups came to fruition) and I just know I will end up hollering at the telly. As far as I am concerned if they fail to make to the same mistake then their future selves will cease to exist, full stop.

Scott Bakula should know better, he was in Quantum Leap after all.

So, Angel got it’s P45 last week and now there of mumblings about whether Enterprise will get renewed for a 4th Season.  Well I got my fingers crossed that UPN will greenlight another season. Okay – it was rather slow to get going but so were its predecessors and I am enjoying my time in the Expanse looking for the WMD. Here are a few things that I would love them to include:

* Is Dax old enough to make an appearance?
* Does Q have anything to do with the creation of the Expanse?
* Background on how the Federation was formed. 
* Glimpse at how future conflicts arose e.g. Cardassians/Bajorans, how did the Borg evolve – were they once humanoid but took technology one step too far?
* The social and economic changes that occurred on Earth e.g. how did they come to stop using money, is it a planned economy?
* Give Archer  decent villains to go up against the Xindi don’t really scare in the same way Cardassians (esp. Gul Dukat), Borg or The Dominion did.