Inside Pulse » Star Trek A pop culture mega-site with Movies, TV, Music, Sports, Comics, Video Games coverage for diehards, including news, reviews, live event coverage, audio podcasts, exclusive interviews and commentary. Wed, 19 Nov 2014 19:00:08 +0000 en-US hourly 1 A pop culture mega-site with Movies, TV, Music, Sports, Comics, Video Games coverage for diehards, including news, reviews, live event coverage, audio podcasts, exclusive interviews and commentary. Inside Pulse no A pop culture mega-site with Movies, TV, Music, Sports, Comics, Video Games coverage for diehards, including news, reviews, live event coverage, audio podcasts, exclusive interviews and commentary. Inside Pulse » Star Trek Disney Reboots Star Wars Novels, Comic Books & More As Expanded Universe Ends To Make Way For A New Dawn Fri, 16 May 2014 10:00:46 +0000 This news was bound to happen. With Disney’s acquisition of Lucasfilm and the Star Wars franchise, one of the first acts was to announce a new movie trilogy starting with Star Wars VII, as well as standalone films, plus a new animated TV series called Star Wars Rebels. Disney also purchase Marvel Comics years ago and it will now publish comics when the Dark Horse Comics license agreement ends.

Del Rey will continue to publish Star Wars tie-in novels for Star Wars, but its starting at ground zero as Disney has decided to remove the Expanded Universe of novel, comics, video game and even, it would appear, the 1980’s Star Wars cartoons Ewoks and Droids from official “continuity”. All that will be considered “Canon”, or in-continuity, from the past will be the first six Star Wars films and the recent animated cartoon series Clone Wars; we assume the Clone Wars film that begat the TV series is also “in”.

I had been avid reader of Star Wars’ Expanded Universe and, although unrelated, Star Trek’s literary work too.

Star Trek was at a similar crossroads several years ago when the Star Trek franchise was rebooted onscreen with the wildly successful 2009 film. However, since a big part of their reboot involved time travel and the creation of an alternate timeline that the film series populates, it allowed Simon & Schuster to continue to publish stories set in the “prime” Star Trek timeline with novels covering The Original Series (TOS), The Next Generation (TNG), Deep Space Nine (DS9), Voyager (VOY) and Enterprise (ENT). And, these stories would all count to an extent. However, “Canon” in common geek parlance was always reserved for what happened on screen whether in film or TV. That has become a bit easier with the film reboot set in the past of Star Trek. So, there are no barriers to telling stories in TNG era Star Trek novels or comics. The same can be said for actor William Shatner’s Captain Kirk first five year mission story despite actor Chris Pine’s Captain Kirk film adventures in his new Trek timeline.

However, Star Wars has thrown the baby out the bath water literary-wise. While I disagree with jettisoning 35 years of the Expanded Universe of Star Wars lit, including novels and comic books, I do like the idea of a more coordinated approach to Star Wars novels, comic books, video games, etc. that complement the true Canon adventures in film and TV. Branding the literature and ancillary Star Wars material like the video games as Canon too flies in the face of the generally accepted geek understanding of the concept of Canon despite the positives that come from more coordination of the storyline content amongst all Star Wars properties.

However, it is not all bleak for fans of the Expanded Universe novels. Some will still be print and be easily demarcated from the new in-continuity Star Wars prose with a new “Legends” banner at the top of all classic EU novels in print. I assume the same approach will be the case for Star Wars comics trade paperbacks or hardcovers that will remain in print.

Below are the two news releases from Disney. The first is the announcement of four new Star Wars prose novels set in the new continuity to hits stands in 2014 and 2015. The second is the announcement of the rebooting of the Expanded Universe. We open with a video released by the Disney folks behind Star Wars looking back at the EU in tribute and looking forward to the new futures of Star Wars lit.

Saying Goodbye To The Star Wars Expanded Universe



Press Release:

Disney Publishing Worldwide and Random House Announce Relaunch of Star Wars Adult Fiction Line


Following today’s announcement of Lucasfilm’s new unified storytelling approach, Disney Publishing Worldwide is proud to announce their first step into that larger world, beginning with Del Rey Books. The publishing program will feature new adult fiction novels set in the beloved galaxy far, far away, and will be closely connected to the cinematic entertainment currently in development at Lucasfilm.

Star Wars novels consistently rank on the New York Times Bestseller lists — from the very first tie-in novel, an adaptation of Star Wars: A New Hope released by Del Rey in 1976, to the recently published Star Wars: Kenobi — and dozens of titles in between. With over 75 million copies sold worldwide, these books have captured the imaginations and creativity of authors who have enriched the Star Wars experience for fans around the globe.

Going forward, Lucasfilm has begun mapping out the narrative future of Star Wars storytelling that will appear on film and television and in other media so that all projects will benefit from real-time collaboration and alignment. The future Star Wars novels from Disney Publishing Worldwide and Del Rey Books will now be part of the official Star Wars canon as reflected on upcoming TV and movie screens.

“With the establishment of the Lucasfilm Story Group and our even greater focus on unified storytelling, we expect our entire publishing program to be stronger and more meaningful than ever before,” said Jeanne Mosure, senior vice president and group publisher, Disney Publishing Worldwide. “We’re extremely excited to kick off this new strategy with Del Rey Books.”

The first novel to benefit from this deeper collaboration is Star Wars: A New Dawn, by bestselling author John Jackson Miller. Set prior to the events of the forthcoming animated series Star Wars Rebels, this novel tells the story of how two of the lead characters of the series, Kanan Jarrus and Hera Syndulla, came to cross paths. To tell this important backstory, Miller benefited from contact with series executive producers Dave Filoni, Simon Kinberg and Greg Weisman, who together ensured this tale will be part of the Star Wars canon of storytelling going forward. It is scheduled for hardcover and eBook release on September 2, 2014.

“We’re extremely proud of the hundreds of amazing Star Wars books we’ve published at Del Rey,” said Scott Shannon, SVP, publisher, Del Rey and Digital Content, “And now we’re excited to finally be able to call our upcoming novels true canon — a single, cohesive Star Wars storyline — all while keeping the amazing backlist of Star Wars Legends content in print.”

Following Star Wars: A New Dawn, the all-new Star Wars fiction line will continue with the following 2014/2015 titles:

James Luceno

(UPDATE: The novel delves into the life of the Grand Moff.)

Kevin Hearne
January 2015

(UPDATE: The novel is Luke Skywalker’s first hand account of what happened between Star Wars A New Hope and the Empire Strikes Back.)

Paul Kemp
March 2015

(UPDATE: The novel tells of the tale of Emperor Palpatine and Darth Vader stranded together on a inhospitable planet.)

In years past, the storylines that would appear in print and on screen were developed separately, resulting in an “Expanded Universe” that differed in ways large and small from the filmmaker’s “canon.” These rich stories provide a treasure trove of characters to fall in love with — and deep worlds to explore and will live on in both physical and digital editions, newly-branded as Star Wars Legends.

For more information and for looks at the covers of all four new titles announced above, please visit the Del Rey Star Wars Books Facebook page at All Star Wars, all the time.

Press Release:

The Legendary Star Wars Expanded Universe Turns a New Page

For over 35 years, the Expanded Universe has enriched the Star Wars experience for fans seeking to continue the adventure beyond what is seen on the screen. When he created Star Wars, George Lucas built a universe that sparked the imagination, and inspired others to create. He opened up that universe to be a creative space for other people to tell their own tales. This became the Expanded Universe, or EU, of comics, novels, videogames, and more.

While Lucasfilm always strived to keep the stories created for the EU consistent with our film and television content as well as internally consistent, Lucas always made it clear that he was not beholden to the EU. He set the films he created as the canon. This includes the six Star Wars episodes, and the many hours of content he developed and produced in Star Wars: The Clone Wars. These stories are the immovable objects of Star Wars history, the characters and events to which all other tales must align.

(Editor’s Note: The “I, Jedi” novel on the left was not part of the official news release, but it is John Babos’ favorite Star Wars novel. It is still in print and highly recommended reading.)

Now, with an exciting future filled with new cinematic installments of Star Wars, all aspects of Star Wars storytelling moving forward will be connected. Under Lucasfilm President Kathleen Kennedy’s direction, the company for the first time ever has formed a story group to oversee and coordinate all Star Wars creative development.

“We have an unprecedented slate of new Star Wars entertainment on the horizon,” said Kennedy. “We’re set to bring Star Wars back to the big screen, and continue the adventure through games, books, comics, and new formats that are just emerging. This future of interconnected storytelling will allow fans to explore this galaxy in deeper ways than ever before.”

In order to give maximum creative freedom to the filmmakers and also preserve an element of surprise and discovery for the audience, Star Wars Episodes VII-IX will not tell the same story told in the post-Return of the Jedi Expanded Universe. While the universe that readers knew is changing, it is not being discarded. Creators of new Star Wars entertainment have full access to the rich content of the Expanded Universe. For example, elements of the EU are included in Star Wars Rebels. The Inquisitor, the Imperial Security Bureau, and Sienar Fleet Systems are story elements in the new animated series, and all these ideas find their origins in roleplaying game material published in the 1980s.

Demand for past tales of the Expanded Universe will keep them in print, presented under the new Legends banner.

On the screen, the first new canon to appear will be Star Wars Rebels. In print, the first new books to come from this creative collaboration include novels from Del Rey Books. First to be announced, John Jackson Miller is writing a novel that precedes the events of Star Wars Rebels and offers insight into a key character’s backstory, with input directly from executive producers Dave Filoni, Simon Kinberg, and Greg Weisman.

And this is just the beginning of a creatively aligned program of Star Wars storytelling created by the collaboration of incredibly talented people united by their love of that galaxy far, far away…. All Star Wars, all the time.

Thanks for reading. All feedback welcome.×120.jpg

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Blu-ray Review: Star Trek: Enterprise (Season Three) Tue, 28 Jan 2014 17:18:13 +0000 Sometimes a TV shows needs a few years to get itself sorted out. This normally doesn’t happen since a floundering show will get canned fast by a network if it isn’t delivering the right ratings. But there are times when a show is given a chance to adjust and thrive. Star Trek: Enterprise was given the precious advantage of time to get its bearings and establish itself. The show was given the green light since STar Trek has a built in devoted audience. UPN wanted the Star Trek name in their lineup. The show had a good bait with its focus on the early days of interstellar travel. It wasn’t quite under the same pressure as Firefly. Enterprise wasn’t consistent in quality during the first two seasons. Many viewers tuned out after the second season which is a shame. Why? Because the show got much better during the second half of its four year run. Star Trek: Enterprise – Season: Three has the show finally coming into its own instead of coasting on the franchise’s legacy.

How was this rejuvenation accomplished? By creating an alien race that wants to wipe out humanity. “The Xindi” identifies what alien race cut a destructive line through Florida. This new alien race supposedly has struck the Earth since they get attacked by humans in the distant future. The Enterprise must head out to find the planet Xindus which is located in the Delphic Expanse. This lead to a massive story arc where Captain Archer (Quantum Leap‘s Scott Bukula), T’Pol (Jolene Blalock) and Trip Tucker (Connor Trinneer) are in pursuit of the Xindi. This is not the old Star Trek with the prime directive. They must stop the Earth from turned into a pile of space rocks. This is a big jump for the franchise where they never had a massive storyline that would dominate a season. Shatner and Picard didn’t have any adventures that weren’t wrapped up in one or two episodes. Archer has an enemy that sprawls through out the season. It’s a much more intense cat and mouse game as Archer pokes around strange planets and hustles for information. There are a few episodes that deal with things other than the Xindi. “Carpenter Street” contains the time travel fun that always pops up in Star Trek. “North Star” gives a little Wild West flair to the science fiction. But the Xindi dominate the storylines. This is more than the usual Enterprise episodes from the first two seasons.

Why didn’t the ratings go up for Enterprise during its revival season? I blame a really lame theme song that sucked the energy out of viewers. Diane Warren’s “Where My Heart Will Take Me” sung by Russell Watson sounds like it was stolen from a Lifetime original movie. It’s bad enough to be the winner’s song on American Idol. If only they had revamped the opening credits, the series might have regained the viewership. If only they had an opening as bold as the direction of scripts, this wouldn’t have been the penultimate season.

The video is 1.78:1 anamorphic. While the show was made in HD, the image isn’t quite as defined as expected. Perhaps they softened things up to not reveal too many of the secrets of the future? The audio is DTS-HD Master Audio 5.1. It sounds fine, but doesn’t quite push the speakers to the limit. There’s also German, French and Japanese dub tracks. The subtitles are in English, French, Japanese, German and Dutch.

Archival Mission Logs: The Xindi Saga Begins (13:12) deals with the change in the story arc for the season.

Archival Mission Logs: Enterprise Moments: Season Three (12:58) explores “Twilight,” “Chosen Realm,” “Similitude,” “Harbinger,” “Azati Prime,” and “Zero Hour.”

Deleted Scenes from “Similitude” (2:30), “Chosen Realm” (1:08) and “E2″ (4:42).

Audio Commentary on a few episodes. Director David Livingston and Consulting Producer David A. Goodman for “Impulse” and Writer/Producer Mike Sussman and’s Editorial Director Tim Gaskill for “Twilight.”Writer David A. Goodman and Uncredited Writer Chris Black for “North Star,” Assistant Director Michael Demeritt also for “North Star,” Writer Manny Coto and Actor Connor Trinneer for “Similitude,” and Writer Manny Coto also for “Similitude.” Co-Writer David A. Goodman, Co-Executive Producer and Co-Writer Chris Black, and Actor Connor Trinneer for “The Forgotten.” Co-Excutive Producer and Co-Writer Chris Black and Co-Prducer and Co-Writer André Bormanis for “Countdown.”

Text Commentary by Mike & Denise Okuda on “The Xindi,” “Impulse,” “Countdown.”

In a Time of War(89:34) is a three part documentary on the Xindi arc.

Temporal Cold War: Declassified (20:17)deals with the Temporal Cold War arc.

Enterprise Profile: Connor Trinneer (17:15) spends time with the actor.

A Day in the Life of a Director: Roxann Dawson (17:27) follows the Voyager actress as she directs the new show.

Behind the Camera: Marvin Rush (15:44) shines a light on the veteran Star Trek cinematographer.

Enterprise Secrets (4:12) features 2nd Assistant Director David Trotti wandering around the Paramount lot.

Outtakes (6:14).

Photo Gallery is packed with pics.

NX-01 File 07 (1:37): Recollections of a nude Phlox scene.

NX-01 File 08 (5:46) features Costumer Designer Robert Blackman history of crew uniforms.

NX-01 File 09 (3:09): Producer/Writer Mike Sussman explains “E2.”

Star Trek: Enterprise – Season: Three is a major turn around from the first two seasons. The show took a major risk by dedicated the season to a major story arc. While it didn’t quite pay off in the ratings, it improved the show’s legacy. Scott Bakula was more than ready to be more forceful as Captain Archer. For those who stopped watching during the second season, this boxset is required viewing.

CBS DVD presents Star Trek: Enterprise – Season: Three. Starring: Scott Bakula, John Billingsley, Jolene Blalock, Dominic Keating, Anthony Montgomery, Linda Park and Connor Trinneer. Boxset Contents: 24 Episodes on 6 Blu-ray discs. Released: January 7, 2014.

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Disc News: Visiting Hours and Bad Dreams Reach Blu-ray Sat, 11 Jan 2014 22:00:51 +0000 A double dose of clinical fear is coming from Scream Factory on February 18. Bad Dreams and Visting Hours are stepping up to Blu-ray. The two horror films had been released as a double feature a few years ago. Now you can enjoy William Shatner’s hairpiece in 1080p. There are also fresh bonus features that weren’t on the original DVD. Here’s the press release from Shout! Factory:

This February, Scream Factory invites you beat the winter blues with a double-feature of two intense 1980s horror favorites making their Blu-ray debut! In Bad Dreams, the sole survivor of a psycho-led mass suicide awakens from a 13-year coma and begins having visions of the deceased cult leader. Starring Jennifer Rubin (A Nightmare on Elm Street 3: Dream Warriors) and directed by Andrew Fleming (The Craft.) In Visiting Hours, an opinionated news reporter (Lee Grant) is stalked by a psychopath in a hospital where she is recovering from his first attack on her. Features an all-star cast including Lee Grant, William Shatner, Michael Ironside and Linda Purl.

Available for the first time on Blu-ray on February 18th, 2014, this movie collection boasts original theatrical key art, anamorphic widescreen movie presentations and exciting bonus content. Horror fans can preorder these exciting Scream Factory collections now at

Bad Dreams Special Features:

Commentary with writer/director Andrew Fleming
Interviews with actors Jennifer Rubin, Bruce Abbott and Dean Cameron
The Special Effects of Bad Dreams
Behind the scenes of Bad Dreams Original Ending
Theatrical Trailer

Visiting Hours Special Features:

New interview with writer Brian Taggart
New interview with executive producer Pierre David
New interview with actress Lenore Zann
Photo Gallery
Original Radio Spot
Original TV spots×120.jpg

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Blu-ray Review: Star Trek: The Next Generation (Season Five) Sat, 11 Jan 2014 21:08:09 +0000 Star Trek: The Next Generation - Season Five brings this victory mark to the world of 1080p with the standard definition effects upgraded to HD.]]> The sequel boldly went where the original series wished to go. During William Shatner’s original opening to Star Trek, he spoke of the Enterprise’s five year mission. Sadly that cruise only lasted three years. Star Trek: The Next Generation proved that syndication was a lot kinder to space exploration then a network. Although Gene Roddenberry wouldn’t be able to see the fifth season reach its finale. The creator of the Star Trek universe passed away in October. Star Trek: The Next Generation – Season Five brings this victory mark to the world of 1080p with the standard definition effects upgraded to HD.

The season begins by wrapping up the cliffhanger “Redemption.” Can Worf wipe out the dishonor being leveled at his family. There’s also a battle dfor the Klingon High Council. It’s a gripping tale which presses Picard (Patrick Stewart) and crew. “Darmok” brings back Paul Winfield to the universe. He had played Captain Terrell in Star Trek II: The Wrath of Khan. Although this is also the big time debut of Ashley Judd. The story is about the crew trying to understand a new alien language. What does it take for them to bridge their communications? “Ensign Ro” introduces audiences to the Bajorans.

“Unification” is the big two part episode that brings back Spock (Leonard Nimoy). This turned out to be the height of the show’s ratings with millions tuning into the TV event. Spock does his best to bring piece between the Romulans and Vulcans. But there’s trouble in his logic. Best to watch both episodes in one sitting. “New Ground” brings Worf’s son to the ship. He’s got issues being a dad. “Hero Worship” lets Data become a bit of a dad to an orphaned child. The crew gets messed around quite a bit on “Violations.” “The First Duty” brings back Wesley Crusher (Wil Wheaton). He’s been spending time at Starfleet Academy and is now in hot water from a flight training exercise. “The Perfect Mate” has Famke Janssen (X-Men) putting her metamorph powers to seductive use. The season wraps up with “Time’s Arrow.” Data’s head is fond in a 500 year old dig on Earth. Can Data figure this one out?

Star Trek: The Next Generation – Season Five is a major accomplishment since it brought the show to the promised land of fifth season. It also proved that the creative force behind ST:TNG could keep the series going without Gene Roddenberry around. The big get for the season is the return of Spock in an impressive double episode adventure.

The video is 1.33:1 full frame. The Blu-ray contains episodes that have gone back through post-production to have the standard definition image upgraded to high definition. The show no longer looks fuzzy. The audio is 7.1 DTS-HD Master Audio. This sounds so much better than ever before. There’s also the original Dolby Digital 2.0 audio from the original broadcast. There are dubs in German, Spanish, French, Italian and Japanese. The subtitles are English, French, Spanish, Japanese, German, Danish, Dutch, Finnish, Norwegian and Swedish.

Requiem: A Remembrance of Star Trek: The Next Generation
(60 minutes) is a two part documentary dealing with the death of Gene Roddenberry.

In Conversation: The Music of Star Trek: The Next Generation
(70 minutes) panel chat with composers Dennis McCarthy, Ron Jones and Jay Chattaway.

Four Audio Commentaries
on “Cause and Effect” (Brannon Braga and Seth MacFarlane), “The First Duty” (Ronald D. Moore and Naren Shankar), “I, Borg” (Rene Echervarria with Mike and Denise Okuda) and “The Inner Light” (Morgan Gendel with Mike and Denise Okuda). That is Seth MacFarlane of Family Guy talking Trek.

Archival Mission Logs are the bonus features from the DVD season set. They also include the episode promos

Deleted Scenes have also been upgraded to HD.

Gag Reel (7 minutes) reminds us of when special effects aren’t so special.

Star Trek: The Next Generation – Season Five does the show proud as it cruises into a five year mission mark. The return of Spock marks a high point for the series.

CBS DVD presents Star Trek: The Next Generation – Season Five. Starring: Patrick Stewart, Michael Dorn, Gates McFadden and Elizabeth Dennehy. Boxset Content: 26 episodes on 6 Blu-rays. Released: November 19, 2013.

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Blu-ray Review: Star Trek: Enterprise (Season: Two) Sun, 17 Nov 2013 00:22:03 +0000 Star Trek dared to show us what life would be like in the distant future. How man would go beyond its own solar system to meet life forms on distant planets. After the original series in the ’60s, the show was relaunched in the ’80s with two additional sequel series that dared to go even farther into the future. While there was rumors of a Star Fleet Academy series, the producers decided to take a step back into the past with Star Trek: Enterprise. Now the story can be told about the role that the Enterprise played in opening up the final frontier. Captain Jonathan Archer (Quantum Leap‘s Scott Bakula) is the son of the inventor of the Warp 5 engine that powers this early version of the Enterprise. He’s launched into distant orbits thanks to his old man. In a sense, Archer is now the father of Captain Kirk as he first encounters the aliens that would become familiar encounters in the “future” series. Star Trek: Enterprise – Season: Two lets us know what man first encountered when they blasted past Pluto.

“Shockwave, Part II” continues the season one cliffhanger that trapped Capt. Archer in the 31st Century thanks to the the Sulibans that have hijacked the Enterprise. Can he get back to the right time? “Carbon Creek” is a semi-time travel episode. T’Pol (Jolene Blalock) recounts about how the first Vulcans arrived on Earth back in the 1950s. Ann Cusack (John and Joan’s sister) has a role in this pointy ear encounter. “Minefield” is an early encounter with the Romulan’s space traps. While clearing a floating minefield, Lt. Reed (Dominic Keating) gets pinned between the explosive and the hull of the Enterprise. Archer needs to free up his shipmate before the Romulans come back and finish them off. Things don’t go too right since the next episode is called “Dead Stop.”A Night in Sickbay” lets Archer worry about his sick dog. Will the pet survive the night? It’s a domestic tale from deep space.

“The Communicator” reminds the crew why they can’t leave their technology with other cultures. In this case someone leaves their communicator behind. They have to turn the ship around and hope that nobody picked it up. Otherwise, they’ve just accelerated another civilization like the creatures on Ancient Aliens. “Vanishing Point” explains what can go wrong when you use the teleporter too much. It’s risky. A shuttle craft breaks down on a planet in “Dawn.” While things are fine at night, they must be rescued before the sun comes up. The Vulcans get into a land war on “Cease Fire.” It’s up to the illogical humans to talk them into a peace deal. Archer gets sent to a frozen penal colony in “Canamar.” Can his ship rescue him or will he be working their until Kirk arrives in the final movie? Archer once more gets into trouble when the Klingons put him on trial for “Judgment.” Is he going to get sent back to the penal colony planet? “First Flight” recounts how the scientists tested the first warp drive engine. “The Expanse” lays down a massive attack on Earth. An object in space scorches the surface like an intergalactic General Sherman. The Enterprise must save the planet.

Star Trek: Enterprise is an interesting show with its ability to have a clunky version of the original Star Trek. Nothing quite works the way it’s expected since this is the first time man has gone so far into the stars. The early Enterprise bridge is a rather cramped starship. Capt. Archer is the right tone of leader for such a novel crew. He has just enough boldness without being an utter blowhard. The tone of the show is rather quiet a lot of time. The crew doesn’t get too noisy during a crisis. There’s no overacting moments on the bridge. They don’t react like certain characters of future journeys. It was a smart movie to take the timeline back after placing the earlier series so far into the future.

Star Trek: Enterprise
“Shockwave” (Part 2), “Carbon Creek,” “Minefield,” “Dead Stop,” “A Night in Sickbay,” “Marauders,” “The Seventh,” “The Communicator,” “Singularity,” “Vanishing Point,” “Precious Cargo,” “The Catwalk,” “Dawn,” “Stigma,” “Cease Fire,” “Future Tense,” “Canamar,” “The Crossing,” “Judgment,” “Horizon,” “The Breach,” “Cogenitor,” “Regeneration,” “First Flight,” “Bounty” and “The Expanse.”

The video is 1.78:1 anamorphic. The transfers look good. The show was the first to be finished in High Definition. The audio is 5.1 DTS-HD Master Audio. You get to hear all the familiar Star Fleet sounds coming through the channels. The dubs include German, Spanish, French, Italian and Japanese. The subtitles are in English, French, German, Italian, Japanese, Danish, Dutch, Finish, Norwegian and Swedish.

Audio and Text Commentaries
are featured on five episodes. They are eager to share what made each episode a bit special in these pioneer days.

Deleted Scenes pop up for six episodes.

In Conversation: The First Crew (94 minutes) brings back the cast and crew after nearly a decade. They sit on the soundstage and swap tales of their time in space. Everyone is in a great mood.

Season 2 Promo (0:24) focus on their mission to explore.

Enterprise Moments: Season Two
(19:11) is previously produced special with the cast and crew talk about the just completed sophomore season.

Enterprise Profile: Jolene Blalock (14:28) covers her time as T’Pol. The producers talk about how they went about creating her Vulcan character. She loved watching the original Star Trek.

Inside a Night In Sickbay (11:17) explains how they had to create an episode that would save the budget. The producers created an episode that deals with the Captain’s dog being sick.

Photo Gallery
is dozens of production pics.

Shooting Future Tense (17:16) is behind the scenes that lets you see the Stand In crew. Be thrilled to the sight of the faux Capt. Archer.

Enterprise Secrets (4:50) has an assistant director recount his time with Klingon Gulags.

Levar Burton: Star Trek Director (7:01) lets him call the shots on the ship without wearing the visor. He’s focused on directing over the last decade instead of acting. He also called the shots on Deep Space 9 and Voyager.

Enterprise Outtakes (11:12) has a bunch of green screen misadventures. Best goof belongs to the intergalactic custodian.

Unchartered Territory (89 minutes) discusses the triumphs and headaches of the second season in a three part documentary. Brannon Braga addresses how the show altered when a new UPN crew wanted the show to fit in more with their teen demographic desire. They wanted a band on the ship like Josie and the Pussycats in Outer Space.

Star Trek: Enterprise – Season: Two brings more adventures from the early days of Warp 5 space travel. Captain Archer and his crew look good making so many discovers in the pioneer days of the Final Frontier. This is the second of four seasons. The bonus features shed a light on what the producers were dealing with from alleged creative executives.

CBS DVD present Star Trek: Enterprise – Season: Two. Starring: Scott Bakula, Jolene Blalock and Connor Trinneer. Boxset Content: 26 episodes on 6 Blu-rays. Released: August 20, 2013.

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DVD Review: Combat! (The Complete Series) Tue, 05 Nov 2013 23:20:25 +0000 The Allied infantry forces arrived on French shores as part of D-Day on June 6, 1944. They fought the Nazis across the French countryside until they hit German border in mid-March 1945. The offensive was a hard fought 10 months. TV viewers might be a little vague on the timeline since Combat! had King Company, 361st Infantry Regiment roaming France for five seasons. Second Lieutenant Gil Hanley (Rick Jason), Sergeant “Chip” Saunders (Vic Morrow) and their platoon never had a moment’s rest. If you factor days covered in the 152 episodes, they probably were close to real time for a unit in the campaign. Combat! The Complete Series brings together the most extensive military drama.

The series starts off with the platoon already in France. This isn’t Band of Brothers. “Forgotten Front” has them making the big choice of whether they need to hold onto a German prisoner or kill the guy during a fire fight. The first season has Shecky Greene as Private Braddock. “Rear Echelon Commandos” deals with the problem of expecting competent replacements.The new guys that show up at the platoon include a cook, a disc jockey and a ballet instructor. Not exactly the next Sgt. York to the rescue. “Cat and Mouse” lets Ted Knight (Too Close For Comfort) play a Nazi. He’s so good, it seems like his Ted Baxter character on Mary Tyler Moore might have been playing dumb to avoid war criminal charges. “A Day in June” flashbacks to the D-Day preparations in England. Archival footage of the invasion saves the production from staging large sized military scenes. Harry Dean Stanton (Big Love and Repo Man) was part of the unit on that fateful day with Vic Morrow. Tom Skeritt (Alien) can be spotted in uniform.

The show was a hit and more guest stars were brought in to destroy Hollywood backlots for the second season. Lee Marvin (The Big Red One) arrives ready to blast Nazis in “The Bridge at Chalons.” Nick Adams (Rebel Without a Cause) helps battle for control of a river crossing in “Bridgehead.” “Masquerade” makes you question the identity of James Coburn (In Like Flint). “The Long Way Home” captures Sgt. Saunders. He must deal with the S.S., Richard Basehart (Voyage to the Bottom of the Sea), Simon Oakland (Kolchak: The Night Stalker) and James Sikking (Hill Street Blues). “The Wounded Don’t Cry” has Sgt. Saunders make a deal with a German to get plasma for a hospital. Leonard Nimoy (Star Trek‘s Spock) is part of the sketchy mission. “The Medal” confuses if Frank Gorshin (Batman‘s The Riddler) or Joseph Campanella (Mannix) took out a German tank. “The Chateau” is a battlefield tale involving Frank Sutton (Sgt. Carter on Gomer Pyle U.S.M.C.). “Survival” shows Sgt. Saunders (Morrow) is as tough as they come when he battles to rejoin his men even with a nasty injury. “High Name Today” makes the guys worry about the hotdog ways of Dean Stockwell (Blue Velvet).

The third season sends the platoon to a higher altitude. “Mountain Man” puts Theodore Bikel (The African Queen) on top of a hill. He claims he’s sitting out this war out after what happened to his family during World War I. However there’s a bit of a fear that he’s working with the Nazis to set the guys up as sitting ducks. Telly Savalas (Kojak) is a Greek colonel out to kill as many Nazis as he can in “Vendetta.” Jennifer Aniston’s dad John is part of Telly’s crew. “Silver Service” puts Mickey Rooney on the front lines. Rooney had served under General Patton during World War II. “The Hard Way Back” paints Sal Mineo (Rebel Without a Cause) as a coward when he deserts Sgt. Saunders in his time of need. “A Gift of Hope” gets Rip Torn (The Larry Sanders Show) tagged as a deserter. But could he really bolt from the battle? “The Enemy” makes Robert Duvall (The Godfather) an explosives expert who has wired a French village to blow. Frankie Avalon is far from the beach in “Brother, Brother.” “Heritage” lets Charles Bronson (Death Wish) blow up stuff.

“Main Event” is slightly comical when a renowned fighter joins the unit. What Sgt. Saunders isn’t counting on is the guy’s manager (Jack Carter) being part of the deal. “S.I.W.” has legendary filmmaker John Cassavetes get accused of a self inflicted wound to go back home. “The Linesman” crosses Jack Lord (Hawaii Five-O) into the battle. After fleeing Dodge City, Dennis Weaver (Gunsmoke & McCloud) must force a French family off their farm. “The Old Men” brings back Simon Oakland as the world’s oldest private. “Hills Are for Heroes” is the peak of the show. The platoon is ordered to take a hill without any real support. The combat turns bloody as the men can’t back off the mission. Watching both episodes back to back makes this a feature film experience. Vic Morrow called the shots as actor and director. It’s a shame he didn’t get to direct more feature films. The man had talent on both sides of the camera.

The fifth season brought a new element to the action: color. The addition of hues changed a little bit of the atmosphere in the show. Black and white film does a fine job at capturing the gritty and haggard faces of men who had been in the combat zone for so long. Color film takes away a level of intensity. “The Gun” has the unit in charge of moving a massive cannon through difficult terrain in order to take out a German bunker. Wayne Rogers shows up in the battle years before he’s be stationed on M*A*S*H*. While Bill Bixby (The Incredible Hulk) is up for a court martial, he must join others on a mission. “Ollie Joe” features your USDA required visit from Claude Akins (Sheriff Lobo). “The Brothers” has Sal Mineo (Rebel Without a Cause) and Ted Knight (Caddyshack). “Cry for Help” makes Robert Duvall a Nazi medic. Can he overcome his beliefs to help in a dire situation? “Gadjo” has Sgt. Saunders crossing paths with a gypsy played by Ricardo Montalban (Fantasy Island). There’s way too much macho on that screen for a set under 30 inches. “Anniversary” turns freedom fighter Telly Savalas (Kojak) into man sick of both Allies and Nazis. Can the unit get him back on their side? Or will he get taken out like Col. Kurtz? Saunders gets captured by the Nazis in “The Gantlet.” “The Masquers” is another peak into the televised military service of Gavin MacLeod (The Love Boat). Turns out Nazi soldiers are dressing up as US troops. Can Captain Stubbings be a German in disguise? MacLeod served in the Air Force. “A Little Jazz” brings Dennis Hopper (Blue Velvet) to the front as a musician playing in a USO Band. He gets battlefield action that’s not in his preferred tempo. “Nightmare on the Red Ball Run” is a second dose of Claude Akins. Likewise the final episode “The Partisan” brings back Robert Duvall. Maybe the show had to come to an end since they ran out of guest stars as well as property to bullet ravage?

Combat! The Complete Series allows Vic Morrow a chance to shine over the prolonged campaign. He’s such a force on the small screen. He seems like a guy who has spent five years battling the Nazis instead of just a pretty boy actor with his hair mussed up. The entire series does a great job of always making it seem like the platoon is in jeopardy with a chance that not everybody is going to make it. The numerous guest stars help up the impact of the battles. Seeing how ME-TV has cut back Combat! to only one episode a week, Combat! The Complete Series is the perfect holiday gift for fans that are missing their nightly Vic Morrow fix.

The video is 1.33:1 full frame. The first four seasons of black and white transfers look sharp. They bring out the muck of the action. Quite a few episodes are a few minutes short of the 50 minutes. Nothing seems incomplete enough to upset my dad when he was watching the DVDs. The audio is Dolby Digital mono. The sound is good for a TV series with major explosions.

Audio Commentaries
include Tom Lowell on “The Celebrity,” Robert Altman on “Cat and Mouse,” Michael Caffey on “Cat and Mouse,” Joseph Campanella on “The Medal,” Robert Altman on “Survival,” Ben Cooper & Tom Lowell on “Next In Command,” Sutton Roley on “The Battle of The Roses,” Ted Post on “The Sniper,” Richard Donner on “No Trumpets, No Drums,” Ted Post on “The Bridge at Chalon,” Tom Lowell on “Bridgehead,” Esther Mitchell on “Anatomy of a Patrol,” Ted Post on “The Hostages,” Michael Caffey on “The Glory Among Men,” Warren Stevens on “The Gun,” Conlan Carter (“Doc”) on “Cry For Help,” Jo Davidsmeyer and Steve Mitchell on “Night Mare On the Red Bull Run” and George Fenady gives the details of the finale “Jonah.”

Memories of Combat (23:23) points out how Robert Altman had more control over his episodes than a normal TV director is alive. Richard Donner (director of Superman, The Goonies, Lethal Weapon, Maverick) shares his memories of working with Vic Morrow. He was a selfless actor. One cast member asked him what it’s like to be a star. Vic replied, “I’m not a star. I’m a comet and I’ll flame out before my time.” Rick Jason looked good with a gun because he was a hunter.

Social Security in Action (14:00) interviews Vic Morrow and Pierre Jalbert from Hollywood. This is more of a celebrity chat with an ad break about filing for Social Security benefits. Vic recounts his time in the Navy. Sadly Vic wouldn’t get to file for his social security check.

Rick Jason Radio Interview is from KTRS in St. Louis from 2000. The DJ interviewing Rick is a big fan so he enjoys talking with Rick.

The Big Picture
(28:22) has Vic Morrow narrate a documentary about the Ranger training school at Ft. Benning.

Combat! Directed by Vic Morrow (27:19) focuses on the episodes when Vic was allowed to call the shots on his troops. The actors liked to work with Vic since as an actor, he wasn’t ego driven on the set. “Hills Are For Heroes” was his finest two hours in the director’s chair.

Combat! This Season in Color (62:40) explores the transition from when the series had to become color. There’s a debate about if the show works with hues. Cast and crew seem mixed if it changed the tone of the series when they lost the shadows. But the network needed color. This is broken into two parts.

Notes, Oddities and Bloopers are provided for each episode. Jo Davidsmeyer, author of Combat! A Viewer’s Companion to the WWII Series lets you know what to watch.

Photo Galleries cover all five seasons and the numerous guest stars.

Combat! The Complete Series boxes up Vic Morrow’s adventure fighting the Nazis across France. The series is captivating in its coverage of men at war. The bonus features explain so much about the show. The audio commentaries from Ted Hope (Hang ‘Em High), Richard Donner (Superman) and Robert Altman (M*A*S*H*) is a master class of directors who made the leap from TV to cinema.

RLJ and Image Entertainment presents Combat! The Complete Series. Starring: Vic Morrow, Rick Jason and Dick Peabody. Boxset Contents: 152 episodes on 40 DVDs. Released: November 12, 2013.

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Star Trek Into Darkness Spin-Off IDW Comic Star Trek Khan #1 Spoilers: Why Does Benedict Cumberbatch’s Khan Noonien Singh Look Nothing Like Ricardo Montalbán? Wed, 16 Oct 2013 12:00:18 +0000 SPOILERS follow!

It looks like the IDW comic book mini-series “inspired” by the Star Trek Into Darkness film will in part provide an explanation to something glaring in the film basically why Khan Noonien Singh originally looked like an East Indian villain portrayed by Mexican actor Ricardo Montalbán to the current portrayal by Anglo Saxon actor Benedict Cumberbatch. The vehicle or plot device to do this will be a Starfleet trial involving the Captain of the USS Enterprise James T. Kirk.

After this point in the story we are thrown back into Khan’s childhood where he does look decidedly East Indian. IDW’s Star Trek Khan #1 doesn’t explain the physical difference between Cumberbatch and Montalbán Khan, but it begins the tale towards this.

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DVD Review: The Twilight Zone (The Complete Fifth Season) Mon, 16 Sep 2013 21:00:43 +0000 The Twilight Zone goes out on a high note that continues to marvel and sustain. ]]> How did The Twilight Zone only last five seasons? It felt like it must have lasted a decade since it has been ingrained in pop culture. Alfred Hitchcock Presents lasted a decade. While Hitchcock’s anthology series was fine, Rod Serling’s The Twilight Zone proved to be the gold standard that’s been repeated endlessly on UHF, PBS, SyFy (back when it was SciFi) and ME-TV. The reruns still pack a punch after half a century. The fifth season was a true return to form since the network allowed Serling restore the episode length to 30 minutes long instead of an hour. This time reduction allowed the stories to get back to the lean, mean shocking ending weight. What brought around the end? CBS felt the show was too costly. ABC wanted Serling to bring it over, but only if it became Witches, Warlocks and Werewolves. Serling turned off the lights rather than deal with running a spooktacular series. The Twilight Zone: The Complete Fifth Season wraps up the legendary series on a high note.

“In Praise of Pip” has Jack Klugman (Quincy) enter a hall of mirrors after discovering his son his injured and dying on the other side of the world. In the midst of his grief, he stumbles into a hall of mirrors and sees his son as a young child (Lost In Space‘s Billy Mumy). Is it really his son? “Steel” predicts the future of movies about fighting robots. In this case Lee Marvin (The Big Red One) is the manager of an older model robot eager for one more shot. “Nightmare at 20,000 Feet” is one of the legends of the season. William Shatner (Star Trek) has a fear of flying. He’s been working on overcoming it before this big flight. But he’s about to have his senses tested with a mysterious passenger. This one was written by the great Richard Matheson (The Night Stalker). Director Richard Donner would go on to make Lethal Weapon) and “Danger Island” on The Banana Splits. “Last Night of a Jockey” lets Mickey Rooney go nuts as a race track rider accused of doping his horse. He won’t take the charge. Telly Savalas (Kojak) learns the price of creepy toys in “Living Doll.” His daughter’s new doll has a message for him that sends him over the top.

“The Old Man in the Cave” takes us to the 10th anniversary of World War III. James Coburn (In Like Flint) and survivors are waiting to see if a stash of canned foods is safe. Some don’t want to wait for a mysterious man in a cave to give his verdict. “Probe 7, Over and Out” crash lands Richard Basehart (Voyage to the Bottom of the Sea) on a distant planet. He gets bad news from Harold Gould (The Dean of Thespians) that Earth is in the middle of a nuclear war so nobody will be able to rescue him. Can Basehart get along with the locals? Ed Wynn is a man who swears he’ll drop dead if his grandfather clock stops ticking in “”Ninety Years Without Slumbering.” “The Long Morrow” shoots an astronaut into space. He’s kept in suspended animation for nearly 40 years, when he wakes up back on Earth, he has to adjust to being so young while his peers are elderly.”Number 12 Looks Just Like You” takes us to a future where kids become adults thanks to a transformation process. Everyone gets to pick from a limited model selection. This is what they do to stars of various Bravo Real Housewives series. A women keeps getting strange phone calls in “Night Call.” Is she the victim of the Jerky Boys?

“An Occurrence at Owl Creek Bridge” isn’t a proper episode. Serling got the rights to a Canadian short film based on Ambrose Bierce’s story. The original short film would win the Oscar. This is a great adaptation for viewing in case you have to read the short story for an English class. “What’s in the Box” lets a couple see their lives on the TV. Today we call that Duck Dynasty. “The Masks” will make you scared of Halloween disguises. “I Am the Night—Color Me Black” deals with the hanging of a man for killing a bigot in self-defense. Ivan Dixon (Hogan’s Heroes) is a minister who won’t be quiet about the impending execution. “Caesar and Me” is an evil ventriloquist dummy in the hands of Jackie Cooper. A hungover couple wakes up to find themselves in a strange house in an even strangers neighborhood in “Stopover in a Quiet Town.” “The Encounter” was kept out of syndication for the longest time since it dealt with Neville Brand (The Untouchables) and George Takei (Star Trek) fighting over Pearl Harbor. “The Brain Center at Whipple’s” lets Richard Deacon (The Dick Van Dyke Show) improve his factory with the help of robots. But why should robots stop on the factory floor? “The Bewitchin’ Pool” is the final episode. A brother and sister find a mysterious relative under the water.

The Twilight Zone might have come to an end as a network series, but it quickly gained a loyal cult following on syndicated TV for all the right reasons. The stories have just the right amount of twist to surprise the most jaded of viewers. The performances are top notch so even if you know the twist, you want to experience the episode repeatedly. It’s not unusual to just marathon episodes on a rainy day. The Twilight Zone: The Complete Fifth Season returns the show to the tight 30 minute length that allows it to shock without too much pacing to hit the hour mark. The show went out on a high note that continues to marvel and sustain.

“In Praise of Pip,” “Steel,” “Nightmare at 20,000 Feet,” “A Kind of a Stopwatch,” “The Last Night of a Jockey,” “Living Doll,” “The Old Man in the Cave,” “Uncle Simon,” “Probe 7 Over and Out,” “The 7th Is Made Up of Phantoms,” “Ninety Years Without Slumbering,” “Ring-A-Ding Girl,” “You Drive,” “The Long Morrow,” “The Self-Improvement of Salvadore Ross,” “Number Twelve Looks Just Like You,” “Black Leather Jackets,” “Night Call,” “From Agnes, with Love,” “Spur of the Moment,” “An Occurrence at Owl Creek Bridge,” “Queen of the Nile,” “What’s in the Box,” “The Masks,” “I Am the Night Color Me Black,” “Sounds and Silences,” “Caesar and Me,” “The Jeopardy Room,” “Stopover in a Quiet Town,” “The Encounter,” “Mr. Garrity and the Graves,” “The Brain Center at Whipple’s,” “Come Wander with Me,” “The Fear” and “The Bewitchin’ Pool.”

The video is 1.33:1 full frame. The transfers appear to be from the restored high definition masters that were used for the recent Blu-rays. There’s a richness to the black and white images. The audio is Dolby Digital Mono. The levels are just right for Rod Serling’s introductions and closings.

No bonus features.

The Twilight Zone: The Complete Fifth Season wraps up the legendary series with quite a few iconic episodes. The return to 30 minutes brings back the original tone of the show. This collection doesn’t have any bonus features so it’s perfect for fans of the show who don’t crave bells and whistles. They just want to sit back and binge on episodes to get their Rod Serling fix.

RLJ Entertainment presents The Twilight Zone: The Complete Fifth Season. Starring: Jack Klugman, Jackie Cooper, James Coburn, Lee Marvin, Martin Landau, Mickey Rooney, Shelley Fabares, Telly Savalas, William Shatner and George Takei. Boset Contents: 36 episodes on 5 DVDs. Released: September 3, 2013.

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Blu-ray Review: Star Trek Into Darkness Tue, 10 Sep 2013 19:00:15 +0000 Star Trek mythos inside and out. ]]> I’ve always been a Star Wars guy, and with that comes the unwritten rule that you’re just not really supposed to like Star Trek as well. Of course, in 2009 all that changed when J.J. Abrams took Star Trek in a whole new direction – a direction that was all but impossible not to love. So while I wouldn’t consider myself a Trekkie on even the most minute level, I will say that this new direction the franchise is going in is definitely something I can get on board with.

Star Trek Into Darkness is the second film aboard the Enterprise for Abrams and it’s just as good as his first time out – which isn’t an easy task considering! In fact, just about everything is bigger, and in most cases better this time around, with many nods to fans who know all aspects of the Star Trek mythos inside and out. This time around Abrams is able to play in the Star Trek sandbox a little bit more, as he doesn’t have to worry about creating an alternate timeline and reintroducing characters that many already knew and loved. Now it’s all been established, we know that this crew will experience new, fresh adventures together and not just rehash what’s been done before – even if Into Darkness somewhat rehashes what’s done before.

But while it does revisit familiar territory (especially with most of it coming from the second film in the original franchise), it does so brilliantly, and it works on every level imaginable. By this point everyone knows that Kahn is back, and if you don’t, well, the movie obviously wasn’t that important to you to make that a big deal regardless. While Abrams was nervous about casting Benedict Cumberbatch in the role – seeing as he doesn’t resemble the original interpretation of Kahn whatsoever – he stuck to his guns and let the actor prove himself to any naysayers. And prove himself he does. Cumberbatch makes Kahn an extremely memorable villain, with a mix of absolutely dastardly deeds and a shocking ability to get audiences to actually sympathize with why he’s doing them. It’s fantastic to watch play out, and he’s a character that really steals pretty much every scene he’s in.

While the last film focused on everyone being introduced and growing as a crew, Into Darkness focuses more on the hardships that sometimes come from decision making, and how those choices can affect friendships and alter the course of many a lives. This namely has to do with Kirk (Chris Pine) and Spock (Zachary Quinto), and how Spock just can’t seem to grasp the concept of lying to protect a friend, or bending the truth in order to keep the family functioning happily. No, Spock is by the book, and after a mission goes awry, he tells it like it is to Captain Pike (Bruce Greenwood) who ends up taking back his ship from Kirk and sending him back to training for reckless behaviour.

Of course, that’d be a pretty boring movie – okay, maybe not boring, but it would really be a retelling of the first film, so it’s a good thing Kahn comes in to shake things up. Aside from Kirk and Spock, everyone’s favourites are back: Uhura, played by Zoe Saldana, who is excellent in the film, especially during a scene where she gets to test her linguistic skills; Bones, played by Karl Urban, who gets some really great moments this time out; Scotty, played by Simon Pegg, who plays up the comedic side of things, which is always welcome; and Sulu and Checkov, played by John Cho and Anton Yelchin respectively, both of whom have some bigger parts to play this time around.

Other newcomers alongside Cumberbatch are Peter Weller and Alice Eve. Weller plays Starfleet Admiral Marcus, who is quite an interesting character. Weller knocks it out of the park and really takes the character up a notch against some other fine actors. Eve has been called eye-candy for her role in the film, and while that’s true to some extent, her character also has some interesting aspects to her. And while beauty is definitely an asset for Eve, she’s also got some solid acting chops to help her stand toe to toe with her onscreen comrades as well.

It’s clear to see that Abrams has only grown more comfortable in the Star Trek universe in the four years since the first film came out. He touches on a variety of things that the old series did in terms of crazy planetary travels to kick the film off, as well as really capturing the epic feel that a film like this needs – lens flares and all! While his future with the franchise is uncertain after he took on the role of director for Star Wars: Episode VII, he really showed what a true visionary he is with Into Darkness; though that’s something you could pretty much say about anything he’s worked on for quite a while now.

Star Trek Into Darkness pays homage to many classic Star Wars moments while also making them unique in their own way to fit into this new universe. While it will be great to get some fresh new adventures for the crew of the Starship Enterprise, revisiting a character like Kahn was a welcome one — especially to someone who really never got introduced to him the first time around and only knew of him through the infamous “KAAAAAHN!” scream that’s blasted throughout the ages. For fans of the series, this is a must own; and for anyone who enjoys spending a little over two hours simply soaking in awesomeness? Well, this is a must own for you too.

The Blu-ray transfer looks spectacular, with beautiful tones, crisp lines and fantastic all around colour and images. The special effects are stunning, and they blend right into the natural sets so that even with the clean look of Blu-ray, it’s hard to tell what’s real and what’s CGI. The sound mixes are also spot on, with the dialogue coming through strong, and the soundtrack accentuating everything perfectly.

On the special features front there’s a “Play All” button that will allow you to watch all seven of the featurettes at once, making it one giant 42-minute behind-the-scenes feature. I highly recommend doing this, as it’s just an engrossing piece of work that will be done in the blink of an eye (and by blink of the eye I mean 42 minutes). The featurettes are as follows:

Creating the Red Planet – This piece takes a look at the extensive process of creating the opening scene of the film. It’s always amazing to see just how much work, and how many people it takes to create a moment that’s over in just a few moments. Really an interesting watch.

Attack on Starfleet – This featurette gives you a bit more of a look at just how hands on Abrams is, and how much he likes to work with things that are on the actual set and not just added in post.

The Klingon Home World – Another great little piece about a scene that’s quite explosive in the film. We also get to see just how amazing Zoe Saldana is when it comes to memorizing languages.

The Enemy of My Enemy – This piece talks about bringing Kahn back, and how Cumberbatch didn’t even know who he’d be playing for the longest time. It’s a great look at why Abrams was hesitant, yet excited about bringing back this classic Trek character, and how it paid off in the end.

Ship to Ship – Remember the scene where Kirk and Kahn are flying from the Enterprise to the enemy ship? Well, here we get to see how that’s actually created. It’s quite fun to see Chris Pine standing on a platform surrounded by a green screen simply being told when to move left and right because there’s actually nothing around them. It looks incredibly intense on screen, but anything but during the creation process. That’s not to say things don’t get more action packed for the actors near the end of that scene!

Brawl by the Bay – This piece takes a look at the battle between Kahn and Spock on the futuristic garbage truck. Again, a quick, but fun watch with great inside information from both Quinto and Cumberbatch.

Continuing the Mission – This is a brief piece about a great cause, where those who have served in the armed forces in one way or another return home and continue serving by helping out around various communities.

Paramount Pictures and Skydance Productions Present Star Trek Into Darkness. Directed by: J.J. Abrams. Written by: Damon Lindelof, Alex Kurtzman, Roberto Orci. Starring: Chris Pine, Zachary Quinto, Zoe Saldana, Benedict Cumberbatch, Alice Eve, Peter Weller, Bruce Greenwood, John Cho, Simon Pegg, Karl Urban, Anton Yelchin. Running time: 131 minutes. Rating: PG. Released: September 10, 2013.×120.png

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The SmarK Blu-ray Rant for Star Trek (The Original Series: Origins) Tue, 10 Sep 2013 12:00:02 +0000
Star Trek_The Original Series - Origins

Pretty simple compilation disc here, as we get the “origins” of the major players in Star Trek Into Darkness in case new viewers want to know where they came from.  Which means five episodes of the original series, four of which were in the first season.   So basically a few episodes of the first season repackaged into a new single disc.  But they’re all good ones, at least.

Note:  Although the season sets allow you to switch between the new-fangled computer graphics and the original pie plates on strings, this disc only gives the fancy new versions.

“The Cage” (First appearance of Spock and the Enterprise and Christopher Pike.)  So this was the very first, unaired pilot episode, originally presented in black & white but shown in color here.  Not to be confused with The Menagerie, which was the two-part episode cut together from this one later on.  So instead of Kirk, we have Jeffrey Hunter as super-angsty Captain Christopher Pike, weary of these years of travelling in space with his Martian science officer Spock and female First Officer.  Sadly, his moping is interrupted by a distress signal (delivered by intergalactic teletype), and off they go.  The top-flight CGI shots intercut with the zero-budget sixties bridge set is jarring to say the least.  The bulk of the episode takes place on Talos IV, as Pike and his crew find a group of crash survivors and one hot chick, who once again proves that dames ain’t nothing but trouble by luring Pike into a kidnapping via big-headed aliens.  Spock is much more emotional and hotheaded here, literally shooting first and asking questions later.  The Talosians screw with Pike’s mind while the bridge crew sits and talks and talks and talks and then decide “Maybe we should go with an EVEN BIGGER CANNON” as their solution to the problem.  Finest minds in the galaxy, these guys.  The talking continues as Pike debates with the aliens, and then talks with dream girl Vina in a variety of scenarios created by the Talosians and holy shit does this episode start dragging badly.  No wonder NBC rejected it as a pilot.  Majel Barrett as Number One is basically Spock as a woman, it should be noted.  After some “everything was an illusion” double-crossing back on itself, Pike escapes and flies off into space again.  At 63 minutes, this was WAY too long and talky and it’s no wonder that it went nowhere.  Sadly, Jeffrey Hunter died in 1969 and wasn’t able to cash in once the show exploded.

“Where No Man Has Gone Before”.  (First appearance of JAMES FUCKING T. KIRK) Third episode aired, but the first one shot (not counting “The Cage” of course) and stuff is drastically different here.  The uniforms are all different, most notably, and there are cosmetic differences in the ship.  Plus there’s no McCoy, only Dr. Piper.  So the plot sees the Enterprise voyaging to the edge of the galaxy, where a giant barrier awaits to put the cosmic smackdown on anything that comes near.  And in this case, Lt. Gary Mitchell suffers that fate which so many Trek characters would suffer after him:  Godlike powers without the godlike instruction book.  You can tell he’s godlike because he has silver contact lenses after his exposure to the barrier.  Kirk, it should be noted, is 100% fully formed as a character here, as Shatner nails the thing in one episode and doesn’t look back.   Spock, on the other hand, shows emotion (despite his claims to the contrary) and is frankly kind of a dick at times.  Speaking of being a dick, once Gary Mitchell starts showing superpowers, the crew switches from supporting his lifestyle choice of godhood to “let’s take him down to the planet and blow the shit out of him”.  Can you blame him for going crazy and trying to kill everyone?  Things get a bit silly as Gary Mitchell and his silver-eyed bride-to-be Dr. Hot Lips try to craft a paradise, and Kirk is having none of that.  Dig the overacting on Kirk as he’s tortured by Mitchell!  There’s just no “off” switch with Shatner, is there?  Luckily, they needed an action show to sell this version of the pilot, so instead of philosophical debate we get the first ass-whooping delivered by Kirk to settle things, as it should be.  Remember kids:  For all the talk about Roddenberry’s visions of peace, more often than not the solution was Kirk beating the hell out of someone and then dropping a rock on them.   Usually metaphorically speaking, but in this case literally.

“SPACE SEED”  (First appearance of KHAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAN!)  Yes, this will do.  The caps are mine.  The Enterprise finds a dead ship in space, apparently the USS Botany Bay, which is filled with leftovers from the Eugenics Wars who have been frozen and left to drift as punishment for, you know, trying to conquer the world and all.  Thus we meet Ricardo Montalban as Khan Noonien Singh, a combination of Hitler and Alexander the Great.  So you know this is gonna lead somewhere bad.  He immediately tries to shank McCoy after miraculously recovering from being mostly dead, and has an electric conversation with Kirk where you can just feel the alpha male posturing bleeding from the screen.  This carries over into a supposedly-civil dinner where Spock is needling Khan like a swordsman while Kirk watches for weakness, and Khan even points that out to gain the upper hand again.  Meanwhile, hottie crew-woman Marla falls in love with the ultimate bad-boy and agrees to help him in his quest to re-establish his empire of cloned super-soldiers.  And Khan comes THAT close to taking over the ship and killing everyone, only losing out because of a dramatic stunt double battle.  And Kirk banishes him and his crew to Ceti Alpha V, noting that it might be interesting to return later and see what’s become of him.  Awesome, awesome stuff.

“Errand of Mercy”.  (First appearance of the Klingons)  After a quick battle with them (off-screen to save money) to save the planet Organia from invasion, Spock and Kirk beam down to check on them and make sure no one’s been slaughtered.  Oh, and to offer protection from the big bad Klingons.  The Organians are stubbornly against any help from either side.  One really cool bit of new CGI here sees the awesome nerds inserting an entire Klingon fleet into what was previously just a one second shot of the Enterprise taking a hit.  Michael Okuda has the best job in the whole world.  So back to the episode, as the Klingons declare themselves the new rulers of the most peaceful planet in the universe and Kirk has to hold his tongue under the guise of being an Organian, and this is clearly a US v. Russia allegory.  The Klingons here are more of a general evil menace rather than the specifically honourable warlike race they became later on.  But while the Organians have no interest in fighting back, undercover Kirk and Spock are all too willing to blow some shit up to make their point.  Kirk readily admits that he’s a soldier and not a diplomat, and that’s a key difference between him and Picard.  Kirk and Kor actually start bonding over how annoying these pacifistic Organians are because they just want to wage some WAR, baby, whether their Organian friends want to help them or not.  Everything is a just a little too weird, as the Organian leader calmly leads Kirk out of any predicament set up by Kor, with little regard for any potential consequences.  Finally Kirk has just had enough and launches a two-man war on the Klingons (complete with another great little bit of dialogue with Spock about their odds of survival…approximately 7824.7 to 1) and finally the Organians step in and declare that shall be no violence on or around their planet, and that’s that.  And then the big twist:  The Organians are not even human beings, they’re energy beings who are supremely powerful and morally superior and even correctly foretell the future alliance between the Klingons & Federation.  Spock again notes that it’s life, but not as we know it.  This one kind of loses something without the Vietnam war as context (The lesson is that you shouldn’t interfere unless asked, you see) but it’s the KLINGONS!

“The Trouble With Tribbles”  (First appearance of…do I really have to tell you?)  This is of course one of the best Trek episodes of all-time and one of the funniest as well.  You know the story and love it already:  The Klingons and Federation are arguing about who can develop a planet most efficiently, and Kirk ends up answering a distress call on a space station.  The emergency:  Guarding 2 tonnes of wheat.   So Kirk, who with barely-concealed hatred of bureaucracy, gives everyone shore leave, wherein they meet scuzzy trader Cyrano Jones, who sells Uhura a Tribble.  And then the Klingons take shore leave on the station and things go downhill for Kirk rapidly from there.  The most famous scene of course sees Scotty getting into a barfight with the Klingons over harsh words said about the Enterprise.  This marks the first time someone calls Kirk a “swaggering, tin-plated dictator with delusions of godhood.”  Although he would be far from the last.  Kirk’s followup chat with Scotty (“…and THAT’S when you hit him?”) and the visual gag of the multiplying Tribbles are classic understated Trek comedy.   And of course, the only creatures in the universe who despise Klingons more than James T. Kirk does are the Tribbles, so everyone ends up getting what they deserve.   This one became even more famous when DS9 did a time travel episode that saw Worf participate “behind the scenes” and act as a meta-commentary on the episode.

The Pulse

Five great (or in the case of “The Cage,” historic if nothing else) episodes of the Original Series for cheap!  Not exactly essential, but hardcore Trekkies already have the seasons sets anyway, so this is aimed squarely at casual fans and it’s a fine selection of Kirk goodness.×120.png

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