A Writing Entry – I, Robot

Sometimes I have little right to call myself a nerd. There are some pieces of media that I have not read, nor seen, and I feel like those pieces are a huge part of nerd culture. But “nerd culture” is so broad that I’m probably too hard on myself. Still, when my only exposure to Issac Asimov is knowing that he wrote stuff about robots, I feel I need to educate myself.

As such, I have embarked on what will likely be a long journey to read through his novels. He was a prolific author of short stories as well, but I’m going to focus on the “Robots” and “Foundation” series. I intend to read them in chronological order for the universe, not the order in which Asimov wrote them.

Continue reading A Writing Entry – I, Robot

A Media Entry – Random Thoughts of the Mid-week Part 4: Rise of the Randomness

Again, my fevered hamster brain can’t focus on anything long enough for a full-on rant or praise, so please enjoy these tidbits of weirdness.

Continue reading A Media Entry – Random Thoughts of the Mid-week Part 4: Rise of the Randomness

A Media Entry – Let’s Do the Time Warp Again

It’s Astounding…
I once mentioned that science fiction as a genre intimidated me, and that I probably wouldn’t dabble in it.   I’ve also mentioned that I work in the STEM fields.  I understand science and some math, and perhaps this is why science fiction intimidates me.  Making science fiction sound plausible is really difficult.  Besides plausibility, it’s hard to write science fiction that doesn’t seem cliché.  I’ve also seen and read a lot of science fiction that’s quite good, and I’d be afraid anything I wrote would end up being derivative of those better works.  My favorite science fiction subject is probably the hardest to write well – time travel.  Oooo, I would love to write me some science fiction concerning time travel (I did actually write a story in Paranormal is Relative that at least references time travel, although I used magic as a basis instead of science so I cheated a bit with it really).  So here, in no particular order, are some of my disjointed hamster brain ramblings on time travel in various media.

Time is fleeting…
I think I’ve been fortunate enough to encounter some good time travel movies, although the movie Timeline was pretty awful.  I could see that twist ending from a mile away.  Actually, there have been some decent time travel movies, and some even from the ’80s, which isn’t known as a peak decade for movies…or fashion…or music…or anything really.  Except neon.  If you like wearing neon, that was your decade.  And for me, time travel movies.  Anyway, Back to the Future is a classic although I can’t help but notice we’re rapidly approaching 2015 and I see no flying cars on the horizon.  Back to the Future II while not as good did present the concept of a parallel universe.  The third was better and pointed out that sometimes trying to change your future is not a bad thing.
However, Back to the Future is only my second favorite ’80s time travel movie.  My first is actually Bill and Ted’s Excellent Adventure.  Seriously, that really is my favorite ’80s time travel movie.  I know it was silly, but it did have George Carlin, and Keanu Reeves has never been in a better role.  For all the goofiness, the time travel aspect of it was actually fairly well done, including the part about the keys.  I also liked Groundhog Day, which is about a Bill Murray being caught in an endless time loop until he figures out how to break the cycle (while being Bill Murray of course).

Madness Takes its Toll…
A lot of time travel media hinge on time paradoxes, which are really hard to pull off.  Time paradoxes are so ubiquitous it’s hard to keep them from being parodies of time travel.  I distinctly remember an episode of “Star Trek: Voyager” in which the crew found themselves in a time paradox and as Janeway was trying to work through it she said something to the effect of, “I knew I didn’t want to get involved in a time paradox when I learned about them at the Academy.  The past is the future and the future is the past.  It just gives me a headache.”  “Star Trek” has some good time travel episodes.  There’s of course the famous “The City on the Edge of Forever” episode in TOS.  TNG had more than a few time travel episodes, including the one where Picard shoots himself and of course the Data’s Head two-parter (yes, I know it’s called “Time’s Arrow” but no one calls it that).  Heck, the series finale centered around a time paradox of sorts.  ST:DS9 explored the very concept of linear time with Sisko as the alien Emissary (before it turned into a war-time space opera).  I liked how the aliens perception of linear time was skewed by Sisko’s emotional attachment to the past.  Not all the time travel episodes in the “Star Trek” series were good, but those bad ones don’t stick in my mind.  “Babylon 5” had an awesome time travel set of episodes, and the set-up in the first season didn’t pay off until the third.

So listen closely…
And of course the show “Doctor Who” is dedicated to time travel, although the show “Red Dwarf” had some episodes concerning time travel that were pretty funny.  And yes, I already bought my tickets to see “Day of the Doctor.”  My theory for the success of Doctor Who is that because the show was cheaply made British sci-fi the stories had to be compelling enough to overcome the obvious cheapness (Daleks originally had plungers for arms).  Of course my favorite Doctor is #4 (Tom Baker), although I have certain fondness for #3 (John Pertwee), whom I think of as “Judo Action ’60s Doctor.”  I have also liked all the modern-era Doctors.  This show handles time paradoxes very well.  In fact, the modern era arcs all seem to be time paradox related.  I think the show also highlights a problem with living so long and seeing so much – eventually insanity.

But not for very much longer…
I love comic books, but I have to say that I don’t like most of the time travel stories in comic books.  Mostly this is because the shared nature of the universe and not infrequent soft retcons/reboots almost guarantees continuity snarls.  Trying to figure out which past is the correct past for the current present and then determining if that was always the past can be quite confusing (“Was that shop always there?” “Oh, yes.  Been there for ages.”  “Yes, but has it been there for ages yesterday?”).  Time travel and parallel universes almost go hand-in-hand in comics, so that further complicates matters.  The best example of this is the tangled timeline of Cyclops and Phoenix, who have met three of their children and only one was from Universe-616 and they have been sent both into the future to raise Cable but also into the past to stop Sinister.  I would say that makes sense in context, except it really doesn’t; this is the sort of thing Janeway was lamenting about.

I have to keep control…
The ubiquity of time travel makes it a common story to parody.  As mentioned, “Red Dwarf” had some funny episodes concerning time ripples as the ship approached light speed and parallel universes.  Also, Lister is his own father.  Fry from “Futurama” is a man out of time, and actually has a damaged brain because of a time travel adventure in which he “did the nasty in the pasty” and became his own grandfather.  This is probably a parody of Lazarus Long, and I’m not too fond of those stories because they got kind of weird and also squicky.  And of course the twist in time paradoxes (see the above mentioned Timeline) can be so obvious and cliché that pulling off a genuine twist is really hard (wow, really, the main character is the king whose tomb they were digging up in the beginning; what a shock).  “Darkwing Duck” even parodies common time travel clichés.  Although I have to say I’d be happy if I could effectively even parody time travel stories.  I fear that’s a level of skill I do not have, but sure wish did.

So that’s your lot of random thoughts for today.  By the way, for a movie with a song called “Time Warp,” there’s no time travel involved.  But the song’s got a beat and you can dance to it.

A TV Entry – Where No One Has Gone Before

A disclaimer – my first exposure to “Star Trek” was Star Trek: The Next Generation (which I shall abbreviate as “TNG” because I am lazy and don’t want to write out the full name).  I saw the original series (hereinafter abbreviated as “TOS” because I am again, lazy) after TNG, so I probably view it in a slightly different way than those for whom TOS is the original.  I enjoyed TNG, but I’ll opine the first season was pretty painful.  That was TNG’s puberty – awkwardly trying out different looks and ideas to find its voice.  The second season was rocky but better, and by the middle of the third season I think the show found its groove.

TNG was a drama, but it wasn’t a serial drama.  It was, to me, an episodic morality play.  Obviously it was shown in episodes, but by “episodic” I mean that by and large the episodes were disconnected from each other.  The episodes featured the same cast, but I’d estimate at least 75% of the show could be watched in any order and still make sense as long as the viewer was familiar with the premise and main characters.  Strictly speaking, the show wasn’t a morality play by the Medieval definition; however, I call it a morality play because I think the purpose was to explore the consequences of the characters’ actions and philosophies and morality rather than explore the characters’ relationships, which is usually the subject of a drama (I also think Law & Order also fits into my idea of a morality play).

I base this theory on both the characters of the main crew and the alien species they ran across.  Some episodes were morality plays that had the set dressing of science fiction but really could have worked equally well with some other set dressing (I’ll provide examples).

The Crew:
The characters of the main crew were so perfect as to be beyond paragons and almost archetypes, which works well for a morality play and less for a relationship-driven drama.  The characters were in fact so perfect there was little room for development for any of them, which is part of the reason most of the episodes could be shown in any order and still make sense.

1) Captain Jean-luc Picard – the consummate diplomat (very good with speeches), the wise father-figure, the patient, dignified gentleman who on rare occasions when roused to anger proved himself a capable warrior as well.  His only flaw was that he did not get along well with children, but his reasons were pretty understandable (he thought it irresponsible to expose them to the danger that life on the Enterprise entailed).

2) Commander William T. Riker – Kirk 2.0, if you will.  Confident, capable, but occasionally reckless and easily had his head turned by women.  He was meant as a foil to the ever-dignified and patient Picard.

3) Lt. Commander Data – Pinocchio (the show got better once they stopped pointing that out).  The android who is superior to biological beings in pretty much every way (to the point he stole the whole damn ship himself) and yet wants nothing more than to be human.  Serves occasionally as comic relief when his efforts to be more human don’t quite work out because he just doesn’t understand humans very well.

4) Lt. Commander Geordi LaForge – The Engineer.  That’s it.  He’s named “the forge” for crying out loud.  Genius in engineering and all around nice guy.  Also serves as Data’s main guide to humanity.  A rather underdeveloped archetype as I can’t even remember what hobbies he had outside of engineering, if any.

5) Lt. Worf – the warrior learning the way of peace (who paradoxically got beat up a lot), and also fish out of water.  He was Klingon but raised by human parents and devoted himself to learning the ways of the Klingons.  Another character (like Data) trying to find his place in the world.

6) Lt. Deanna Troi – The counselor.  That was her entire role.  She was nice.  She was empathic (half alien).  One of the least developed of the archetypes, sadly.  Sometimes a damsel in distress, and sometimes her good advice was completely ignored because she wasn’t a more traditional warrior/officer.  I also can’t remember any hobbies she had.

7) Dr. Beverly Crusher – The doctor and the mother.  Again, her role was basically to be the consummate, capable, patient doctor.  She also had the secondary role of the mother and would often break the rules because of her son.  She also occasionally served as a love-interest to Picard due to their obligatory will-they-won’t-they get together thing (although that was thankfully not played up very much).  She, at least, was shown to have hobbies outside of medicine.

Also, this is why art and culture in the show seemed to be frozen in the 20th century.  Not just because it’s really hard to imagine art and fashion in the future, but because using culture and art that were recognizable by the 20th century viewing audience made a handy shortcut to their characters.  For example, Picard, the consummate diplomat, always listened to classical music.  But Riker, his younger and brash foil, was into jazz.  Their musical tastes served to reinforce their archetypical nature.

Ancillary characters:
These were actually often my favorite characters.  The main characters were so rigid in many ways and so perfect it was nice to see characters that had some flaws.
1) Lt. Tasha Yar – Tasha was killed in the middle of the first season, so it’s hard to judge her character very well.  However, one of the episodes featured a flashback to the planet where she grew up, and it appeared to be a little slice of Hell.  She was aggressive, violent, and temperamental, but I believe she was meant as a foil to the rest of the crew who came from rather privileged backgrounds (or at least not a Hell-planet).

2) Dr. Katherine Pulaski – Leonard “Bones” McCoy’s distaff counterpart.  Highly competent but with an unreasonable bias against the emotionless Data (instead of an unreasonable bias against the emotionless Spock).  There was very little else to her character, but she was only there for the second season.

3) Lwaxana Troi – Ambassador from the planet Betazed, full telepath, Troi’s mother, and someone who did not in any way understand the word “boundary.”  In some ways the very stereotypical meddling mother overly concerned with getting her daughter married (Troi’s father had been in Starfleet) and always looking for a new man herself.  The Federation was so stiff and rigid in sensibility and fashion and pretty much everything else, her over the top manner was always welcome by me, even if she was in many ways so stereotypical.  For all that, her character was allowed to develop and mellow to some degree, and we the audience learned about some of the terrible tragedies that had occurred in her otherwise privileged life.

4) Lt. Reginald Barclay – An engineer who was first introduced as one of Troi’s patients.  I liked him immediately because he was the only person shown who used the Holodeck exactly the way 95% of people would use the Holodeck – for personal fantasies.  However, his very human nature was somewhat vilified because the very perfect crew never would even consider using the Holodeck for such crass endeavors.  Barclay was human.   A very neurotic human, but it was nice to see that not everyone in Starfleet was such a paragon of virtue as the main crew.

5) Alexander – Worf’s son, who was three-quarters Klingon.  He was not as developed as other side characters, however, and served mostly to soften Worf, who never expected to be a father and had a hard time coping with the lack of discipline that pretty much characterizes all children ever.

6) Chief Miles O’Brien – O’Brien first served as the transporter operator and then later was given a bit more screen time.  Sometimes he was literally a plot point, but his developing relationship with Keiko (I’m afraid I forget her last name) was a welcome human addition to the typical morality play.  Miles and Keiko also served to show what family life was really like on a ship that was exploring strange new worlds.

7) Ensign Ro Laren – This was the character that introduced us to the oppressed Bajorans, and honestly the crew were kind of mean to Ro for no good reason.  First she was told she couldn’t wear her traditional earring and second they were just shocked beyond all reason when she told them her family name was first and her given name last so she should be address as Ensign Ro, not Ensign Laren (as though no one in the history of humanity had ever used that type of naming convention).  She (although a few seasons later) stepped into Tasha’s role in many ways as an aggressive and often violent person coping with her own bleak past.

8) Guinan – the magical Negro.  There’s really no other way to put it.  She ran a bar and she listened and she advised and kind of made Troi unnecessary.  There was only one instance where she was absolutely angry and bordered on unreasonable, and that actually bolstered her character a great deal.

9) Wesley Crusher – Oy.  He was so obviously the Author Avatar that it’s hard to judge his character outside of that.  He rapidly became the Scrappy Doo of the show because let’s face it, when Starfleet is supposed to be made up of the best and brightest and they are continually getting saved by a kid, that’s not going to endear that kid to anyone.  He was the former trope namer for the Creator’s Pet.  However, even he was so perfect that the episode in which he is covering up for his friends in Starfleet Academy seemed pretty forced and out of character.  He was finally put on a bus and became a god or something.

The Antagonists:
In a morality play, the protagonist meets up with personifications of concepts in order to cause him to choose a Godly life.  Broadly speaking, many of the alien species encountered by the Enterprise (and even the Federation itself), are if not personifications but representations of concepts or philosophies or thinly disguised modern-day political powers.

1) The Federation – Human utopia and probably a very idealized version of the United States with liberty and justice for all unless you don’t have warp technology.  I never quite understood the purpose of the Prime Directive.  No, I understood the purpose of it but given all the Federation’s advanced technology, it seemed to me there were sneaky ways of saving sentient species without accidentally causing them to worship the Enterprise as a god.  In fact, there were a few episodes about this and frankly the Federation seemed pretty bad at it.  On the other hand, there is no drama in which everything goes according to plan.

2) The Vulcans – The Vulcans had mastered their baser impulses and turned their energies into developing technology and ridding their world of poverty.  The Vulcans represented everything humans could be if we’d just stop getting angry and killing each other all the time.  I think, though, all lack of emotion was meant to be shown as bad, but that learning to cope with emotion in constructive ways was really humanity’s only way of moving past our inherently savage nature.

3) The Klingons – Speaking of humanity’s savage nature, we have the Klingons, which are Vikings with a hefty dose of Samauri honor layered on top.  They brawl, they fight, they live to die but always with honor, and the main plot point the Klingons served was this – how does a society of war cope with peace?  Typically in TNG the answer to this was to dishonor Worf (and I’m only half-joking about that).

4) The Romulan Star Empire – Obviously the Roman Empire.  The Romulans were really the Federation’s nemesis.  They were organized, powerful, dangerous, and they wanted to conquer everything.  In a meta-universe were the point of many shows was to explore how black and white really weren’t, the Romulans typically were clearly in the black.

5) The Ferengi – A late-comer to the Trek universe, and after a bit of a false start making them just another savage, discriminatory species, they became the ultimate capitalists and proponents of a free market system (i.e., Wall Street).  The plot point they served was to demonstrate that free-market capitalism run amok was not a good thing (sometimes the morality was really heavy-handed).

6) The Cardassians – Another late-coming race to the scene.  The Cardassians were very clearly (to me) Russia after the fall of the Soviet Union.  They had been a big power in the universe, and now they were less so thanks to the Federation, who also told them they had to free the Eastern Soviet Bloc countries, I mean, their Imperial territories.  Their purpose was to show the fallout of that kind of loss of power, which often involved various Cardassian officials trying to get it back.

7) The Bajorans – Hey, so you know those Eastern Soviet Bloc countries, I mean, former Cardassian territories, and wonder how freedom worked out for them?  Meet the Bajorans!  A formerly oppressed people coping not only with learning the way of peace after a long war, but also curbing their desire for vengeance against their former oppressors.

8) Q – So you know how power corrupts and absolute power corrupts absolutely?  Yeah, but he was one of my favorite characters anyway.

9) The Borg – Conformity is very powerful, but conformity is very bad.  When everyone is expendable and no one matters except the end goal, you get the Borg.  All individuality is completely lost to the greater hive mind and the end goal.

10) The Maquis – not technically a race but a group of Starfleet officers (by and large) and other defectors from the Federation who banded together to help the Bajorans fight off the Cardassians’ efforts to reclaim their Empire because the Federation wouldn’t help enough.  The Maquis served to show that not everyone agreed with the Federation, and that an ex-world power couldn’t be trusted to keep their world.  On a smaller scale, they showed that power corrupts and bureaucracy bloats to the point of being ineffective, even in a utopia like the Federation.

Again, the culture of the Federation being frozen in the 20th century was used as shortcuts to compare the Federation against other cultures.  As mentioned before, Picard listened to classical and Riker to jazz, but in one episode Picard had a teenage boy on the ship from a very war-oriented culture and that planet’s native music could best be described as “death metal.”

Pretty much any show about the Federation vs. the Romulans was really about how conquest for conquest’s sake is bad.  Pretty much any show about the Federation vs. the Klingons was how a) war for war’s sake is bad or b) peace is harder to achieve than war.  Pretty much any show involving the Bajorans was to point out that oppression is bad, but becoming the oppressor is worse.

Because of the morality play structure of the show, there were many episodes I wouldn’t even consider science fiction.  For example, many of the shows that were the Federation vs. the Romulans would have worked equally well had the set dressing been the High Elves vs. the Drow.  Or the shows with the Cardassians and the Bajorans would have worked equally well in a drama set in 1992 with the U.S. State Department fighting with their Russian counterparts over secret Russian military operations in the Ukraine.  When the show really did delve into sci-fi, it often fell into the same traps most sci-fi falls into (inventing technology that is never used again, time travel, technobabble, etc.), but it usually did a pretty good job with it.

None of this, to me, is bad, although I think with the way television has changed, there are people who wouldn’t like the structure very much.  Nearly all shows are now serialized, even sitcoms to some degree, or at least follow an arc for the season.  And some of the morality plays in TNG are really heavy-handed (why don’t the Cardassians realize it’s bad to oppress other races?).  And in the later seasons it kind of became the Worf and Data show.  Still, I accept these things like I accept the painful first season.  There’s still a lot of good television there.  I think the crew didn’t really boldly go where no one had gone before, but they gave it a good try.

A Movie Entry – Star Trekkin’ Across the Universe

On the starship Enterprise under cap’n Kirk…

In which I discuss my views on the six movies with the original series cast only.  I may end up with my nerd card revoked for this one.  There is a saying about “Star Trek” movies – “Even-numbered Trek movies don’t suck.”  This implies two things – odd-numbered Trek movies do suck, and the best that can be said about the others is that they don’t suck.  This is not a very high bar for a set of movies.

I liked the original television series, for all the low-budget movie props and badly choreographed fight scenes.  I’m not entirely sure what the creator of the series intended, but I always thought the idea of Star Trek was to explore ideas, some controversial, within the relatively safe shell of science-fiction (it’s not pointed satire, it’s make-believe, see!).  Not all the episodes were very good.  Some had interesting premises but the execution was poor.  Of course, the series wasn’t exactly high-brow cinema either.  Captain James T. Kirk seduced women and often punched people.  Dr. McCoy was comically curmudgeonly at times.  Chekov was adorably foreign.  Sulu was capably foreign.  Scotty was contractually obligated to perform miracles.  Uhura answered the phone which was considered progressive for both women’s and civil rights.  And Spock watched it all, supposedly unemotional but definitely bemused/irritated, and made sarcastic comments on the illogical behavior of his shipmates.  For the time, the cast really was diverse.  I should also probably note that I watched Star Trek: The Next Generation before I got a chance to see the original series, so that may be affecting my opinion.

So, where does this leave the movies?  Well, I’m going to say it – I don’t think all the odd-numbered movies sucked.  I know, I know, that’s totally against conventional wisdom.  I will at least explain why, so perhaps my nerd card will not be revoked.

Star Trek: The Motion Picture – This is actually the most Trekkie of the original movies to me.  There’s a strange alien life form headed to Earth, and the crew is sent to investigate.  It’s pretty cerebral (and I am told by a co-worker who saw it in the theater after smoking some…cigarettes, shall we say, that it was also pretty darn trippy).  The alien captures one of the crew members (one of the hottest bald women I’ve ever seen in cinema) to use as its ambassador.  The alien calls itself “Vger” and is looking for its creator, which it believes is on Earth.  There is of course drama as the crew has no idea who the creator is, and Vger becomes more and more agitated.  And also, the brash new captain (who of course clashes with Kirk) who was not in the original series is in love with the woman who became the ambassador.  When they find out that “Vger” is actually one of the Voyager spacecraft (both of which despite being launched in 1977 are still working and well on their way out of our solar system) that was found by a race of intelligent machine-aliens and upgraded.  Once Vger had attained sentience, it decided to return home to find its creator.  Vger wasn’t exactly thrilled to find out its creator was in fact an advanced species of primate, but ended up merging with the crewman who was in love with the bald woman to create a brand new life form.  It also has a 44% freshness rating, and a rating of 6.3 out of 10 stars.  I think people thought there just wasn’t enough action.

And it doesn’t suck because – This sounds to me like a darn good Trek episode.  There’s a love drama (not with Kirk, although he was clearly checking out the bald woman), Kirk trying to prove he’s still Kirk to an upstart youngster, and a mystery to solve that could have dire consequences.  Who is Vger?  What is Vger?  Why does it want to get to Earth so badly?  I thought the reveal that Vger was one of Earth’s own spacecraft was a neat twist.  It begs the question of what is God, and what is a lifeform?  What are the consequences of sending bottles out into the cosmic ocean?

Star Trek II: The Wrath of Khan – this is a movie made for Trek fans.  The main baddie comes from an actual episode of the original series and the end of the movie has no emotional impact unless the audience know Kirk and Spock.  Khan’s overacting was a great match for Kirk’s overacting (much scenery was chewed), and the end is legitimately emotional.  It has a 91% freshness rating and 7.7 out of 10 stars.

And it doesn’t suck because – I’m not going to say this sucks; not at all.  But I don’t think it’s the best of the original six movies either (which could also get my nerd card revoked).  On the surface, it’s really a pretty generic action plot:

–Brash Hero is now middle-aged is now removed from the action and teaching the next generation, but longs for his glory days.  Coincidence leads him to an Old Flame he left 20 years ago when he was young and stupid.  Old Flame has a child (in this case a son) about 20 years old.  Hero does not put two and two together.  Old Flame is working on a world-changing technology that in the wrong hands could be a terrible weapon.  Enter a Bad Guy from the Hero’s past to take the technology and also takes Old Flame and Child hostage.  In the course of this, Hero finds out Child is his child.  Bad Guy kills Old Flame and/or Child to hurt Hero (in this case, just the Child).  Hero swears revenge but is outmatched by the Bad Guy at every turn.  When all looks lost, the Hero’s unorthodox, out-of-the-box, brash thinking combined with the Bad Guy’s arrogance wins the day, although at further great cost in the form of a heroic sacrifice (in this case, the Hero’s Best Friend).–

To me, this is one of the least Trekkie of the movies precisely because the plot is so generic.  I know, there are only so many plots, but when a plot could as easily be set in the modern day as it could space, then I feel it’s barely science fiction.  Also, I’m not saying action is bad, either.  The first movie would have benefited from some more action.  But this movie is almost entirely action.  What makes this a Trek movie is, again, the emotional reaction from the audience pretty much relies on knowing who these people are.  And if you do, wow, is that ending a punch to the gut.  Otherwise, it’s a medium-budget, serviceable action flick set in space.

Star Trek III: The Search for Spock – This is actually a direct sequel to “II” and picks up right where “II” left off, with a despondent crew and a dead Mr. Spock.  Spock’s father Sarek tells Kirk that Spock’s thoughts survived inside of Dr. McCoy’s mind and that they need to try to find his body.  Unfortunately there’s a problem in that Kirk loses command of the Enterprise and is told to go back to his desk job.  Kirk being Kirk, he’s not about to let pesky little things like rules or regulations keep him from saving an old friend, even if it means effectively stealing the new Enterprise.  Having buried the body on the planet that was being terraformed by the world-changing technology in the last movie, they head there while McCoy is having serious multiple-personality issues (occasionally to comedic effect).  It turns out a technology that can bring a dead planet to life can also bring a dead Vulcan to life, although it also turns out such technology is incredibly unstable and dangerous.  And of course, everyone’s favorite Trek baddies the Klingons get right in the middle to mess everything up.  In the end, Spock and McCoy are returned to their own bodies with perhaps just a bit more respect for each other, and Kirk destroys the brand-new Enterprise he just stole.  It got a 78% freshness rating (not bad at all for an odd-numbered Trek) and 6.5 out of 10 stars.

And why it doesn’t suck – The premise is interesting, if perhaps a little comic book-ish (I am 95% certain “dead dude stores brain in someone else while waiting for resurrection” describes what’s going on with Charles Xavier right now).  The actor playing McCoy does a good job portraying a man literally of two minds.  Kirk is Kirk, as I said, and damn rules and regulations because friendship is magic!  I mean, important.  A lot of this does rely on those relationships between the crew members the audience is expected to be familiar with.  The movie also shows that creating life is not an easy task, and that humanity has a long way to go to be on par with God.

Star Trek IV: The Voyage Home – Really, II-IV are one big trilogy.  So having fetched Spock and gotten him and McCoy in their right minds again (well, McCoy more than Spock since Spock basically had to grow up all over again), the crew are heading back to Earth presumably to face some serious charges of insubordination and theft.  Their ship back is a stolen Klingon ship, because nothing says, “Please don’t charge me with mutiny,” while returning in your sworn enemy’s spaceship.  Fortunately for them, an alien spaceship is in the process of destroying the Earth and they are the only ones who can save it.  Except they can’t.  Spock informs them the aliens are trying to talk to humpback whales, which are extinct.  But Kirk is Kirk and won’t let pesky things like “the laws of physics” and “ripple effects in the space-time continuum” stop him from saving Earth.  They go back in time to late 1980s San Francisco to find some whales and steal them (and just happen to have a ship with a cloaking device).  This allows them to take full advantage of the “fish out of water” premise (ba da dum!), especially since Spock is still kind of loopy.  Also, I guess when they get the two whales back to the future, the whales tell the alien probe everything’s fine and then later the poor whales find out everything’s wrong.  Anyway, it has an 85% freshness rating and 7.2 out of 10 stars.

And why it doesn’t suck – it doesn’t.  It’s part of the reason conventional wisdom says even-numbered Trek films don’t suck.  It’s a wholly different tone than the previous three movies, or even the two in this trilogy.  It’s much more comedic and has a nice, if unsubtle environmental message.  I like this one and think it’s a good Trek movie.  There isn’t as much generic action flick action plot and it plays around with the concepts of unforeseen consequences and time travel.

Star Trek V: The Final Frontier – Spock’s fully Vulcan half-brother is the hippie-dippie leader of a peace cult that steals a spaceship to go find God at the center of the galaxy.  Sybok also has the ability to use the Penance Stare, I mean, help people face their “inner pain” which has the net effect of brain-washing them.  Also, it turns out God is just a trapped alien and Sybok sacrifices himself to allow the crew to escape by using his Penance Stare, I mean, making the alien face its inner pain.  It has a 21% freshness rating and 5.2 out of 10 stars.

And why it doesn’t suck – yeah, it sucks.  It totally sucks.  I only said I didn’t think all odd-numbered Trek movies sucked.  This one really does.  The premise might have been interesting considering the other movies do have underlying questions about the nature of God, but the execution was poor and the “twist” was something everyone saw a mile away.

Star Trek VI: The Undiscovered Country – Kirk and McCoy are about to retire from Starfleet once and for all.  The Federation is busy negotiating peace with the Klingons when a high-ranking Klingon official is assassinated and Kirk and McCoy are tried, convicted, and sentenced to a prison planet for the crime.  Spock and Co. head out to find the real culprits, exonerate Kirk and McCoy, and salvage peace negotiations.  Kirk and McCoy try not to get killed on the prison planet while working on their own investigation.  Eventually the crew all meet up again and have discovered the assassination was a Klingon plot to frame Kirk and McCoy and start a war between the Federation and the Klingon Empire.  It has a freshness rating of 83% and 7.1 out of 10 stars.

And why it doesn’t suck – it’s pretty good, actually.  There are definitely some comedic elements to it (“Captain, not every species keeps its genitals in the same place”), some lively action sequences with a scenery-chewing bad guy, some investigation and conspiracy theories, and in the end a crew that has done great things but is still trying to define their place in the stars.  They fly into space to decommission the Enterprise using a line from Peter Pan.  It’s a very Trek send-off, to my mind.  The way it ends indicates the journey isn’t really over yet.

How would I rate them?  I’d put VI at the top and V way, way, way, way down at the bottom.  Every other movie is better than V by at least an order of magnitude.  But I don’t think the Motion Picture and III actually suck.  I think they’re pretty decent.

So, can I keep my nerd card?

Fifteen-minute Movie: Star Trek

or, “This is an Alternate Universe and Anything Could Happen Damn it!”
or, “I am Not Spock

The final frontier:
[[A big hole in space complete with space lightning opens up near the USS Kelvin]]

Captain – Space lightning?  Seriously?

Science Officer – Yep, space lightning.  But I’m acknowledging it’s impossible.

Lens Flare – Hi everyone!

[[A mysterious ship emerges from the hole and blows the holy living hell out of the Kelvin]]

Nero – What’s up?  I’m jamming all your transmissions and transporting.  Send your captain over or I finish blowing the holy living hell out of your ship.

Captain – That Romulan is totally going to kill me.

George Kirk – Wait, we know what a Romulan is?  I thought they were introduced a bit later in the original series.

Captain – If you’re actually going to compare this to anything that happened in the original series or the previous movies, you are going to be really disappointed.

Kirk – But their ship doesn’t look Romulan and since when do Romulans have tattoos?

Captain – Don’t think too much about this.

Kirk – Duly noted, sir.

Lens Flare – Me again!

Captain – Kirk, you’re in command.  Evacuate everyone while I buy us some time.

[[The captain goes over to the Romulan ship where they conveniently speak Federation-lish]]

Nero – Give me Ambassador Spock and his little ship.

Captain – I have no idea who that old guy is or what you’re talking about.  What century are you from anyway?

Lens Flare – Cool!  Time travel and alternative universes.  That’s bold!

Nero – It doesn’t matter to you, only the audience.  And I’m going to kill you now. [[does so]]  Okay, blow up that ship.

Lens Flare – I’m over here!

Nero – Wait a minute, wait a minute.  Lens Flare, are you going to be doing this the entire movie?

Lens Flare – Pretty much.

Nero – Why are you here?

Lens Flare – To build dramatic tension!

Nero – But that’s what the script is for, and the actors are for.  Are you saying that instead of trusting in a good script and good actors to produce dramatic tension, the film-makers are going to opt for a cheap special effect?

Lens Flare – Pretty much!

Nero – *facepalm*  Fine, fine, let’s get back to the blowing up of things.

Lens Flare – Can do!

[[in the meantime, Kirk has given the evacuation order, which includes his wife who is, in a wacky sitcom hijink turn of events, going into labor with their first child]]

Kirk – Okay, if I just set this thing on autopilot I may still be able to get out of here… [[the autopilot is broken]]  “F@#&!  Even in the future nothing works!”  Self-sacrifice it is.

Mrs. Kirk – What?!?  ARRRGGGHHH!!  [[Lens Flare helps give birth to little Kirk; the Kirks agree on a name before the Kelvin smashes into the Romulan ship]]

Iowa (Really?  Looks kind of desert-y to be Iowa; damn global warming):
Li’l Kirk – “Head out on the highway, lookin’ for adventure…

Cop – Hold it!  Hold everything!  I know that the filmmakers have to show Kirk is a badass.  I get that.  But how does “Kirk is a badass” get to the point of absurdity in which I am chasing down a ten-year kid who is driving a nearly three-hundred year old car!  There is so much suspension of disbelief required here I can’t even believe the filmmakers are asking this of their audience!

Li’l Kirk – I’m also about to wreck it spectacularly and not get so much as a scratch. [[does so]]  See?

Cop – I-I have no response to this.

Vulcan Child – Hey, li’l Spock.  I’ll bet being half-human makes it easy to get you angry and violent, so I’m going to provoke you.  [[this works and li’l Spock ends up beating the hell out of him]]  Note to self: it is not logical to provoke an emotional being to anger and violence.

Li’l Spock – Dad, they said mean things about you and Mom.

Sarek – Because I am Vulcan, I will say something cryptic and unhelpful.

Vulcan (A bit later):
Venerable Council – Spock, you are accepted to the Science Academy.  Also, I will say this in the most dick-ish way possible.

Spock – How is it logical to be a dick for no good reason?

Venerable Council – You know, because.

Spock – Yeah, I think I’m going to join Starfleet.

Shady Bar (on a Utopian Earth?  Sure, Why Not?):
James Tiberius Kirk – Hey, you’re hot.

Lens Flare – You really are hot!

Uhura – Thank you for summing up my character in this film so succinctly.  Let me round that out by telling you to go to hell, you drunk frat-boy.

Kirk – If I was a drunk frat-boy, I’d be in a brawl by now due to my macho posturing.

Random Cadet – Hey, leave her alone.

Kirk – Oh, right, here we go. [[“and the man in the back said everyone attack/and it turned into a ballroom blitz;” which is broken up by Captain Pike]]  I would’ve had him if I hadn’t been blinded by Lens Flare over there.

Lens Flare – It’s my job!

Pike – Kirk, you can be a better man than this.  Your father was awesome and you have good test scores.  Clearly this means you’re meant to be a great leader.

Kirk – Seriously?  You’re giving me the generic wise mentor speech that we’ve seen in so many movies?  You don’t even know me.

Pike – It’s what I got.

[[This is enough to cause Kirk to join Starfleet and he ends up shipping out with Uhura’s class; also Bones is there and probably drunk]]

Starfleet Academy (three years later):
Kirk – I am so ticked off I can’t beat the Kobayashi Maru!

Bones – It’s supposed to be impossible.  Just get over it.

Kirk – Hell no! I’m James T. Kirk and I am always going to be winner!  [[Kirk proceeds to be the smuggest dick imaginable as he cheats his way to victory in the test and wastes the time of all his friends and future fellow officers and Lens Flare]]

Starfleet Academy, Board Room:
Board Member – Kirk, Commander Spock says you cheated in his test.

Kirk – I am going to act genuinely shocked that anyone would have thought I cheated even though I acted like the smuggest dick imaginable when I beat the test.

Spock – So you concede you cheated?

Kirk – Nope. I won.  I always win.  I’m James T. Kirk goddamn it!  You watch; I’ll get the Board on my side and they’ll graduate me.

Board Member – That will have to wait.  We just received a distress signal from Vulcan and as we have at least six ships docked nearby and apparently almost no other staff, you cadets are going out.

Kirk – Hey, my name isn’t on the list.  Even Lens Flare is getting on board.

Bones – Don’t worry, I’ll sneak you aboard because…well, you know what, I have no idea why but I do it anyway.

[[After a brief error with the anachronistic parking brake, the Enterprise takes off]]

Kirk – Hey, that kid with the funny accent said space lightning!  It’s a trap!  I have to warn Captain Pike!

Lens Flare – Wait for me!

[[Kirk manages to make his way to the bridge with Bones and Uhura trailing after him.]]

Kirk – It’s a trap!

Pike – Why are you even here?

Kirk – I have to warn you…

Pike – No, not you, Lens Flare.

Lens Flare – I’m building dramatic tension for you!

Spock – Security, escort this man off the bridge, and I mean Kirk.

Kirk – What, Lens Flare stays and I go?  Hell no, pointy ears!  I’m right like I always am!  This is the same thing that killed my dad.  That ship is waiting for us!

Uhura – I am only here to confirm his story?  Really?  Fine, yes, I intercepted a transmission two days ago that supports his crazy story.

Pike – Okay, let’s put up shields in case something bad is waiting for us, like a debris field of our former fleet and a ship that blows the holy living hell out of us.  [[yeah, that]]  At least the shields are up.

Sulu – Are you sure?  I thought was just Lens Flare again.

Chekov – What good are the shields even doing?  The debris is scraping our hull!  Also, there appears to be a giant drill thing drilling into Vulcan!

Nero – Hey, Enterprise, what up?  Send your captain on over, okay?  Laters!

Pike – Well, I’m going to die.  Spock, you’re the new captain.

Spock – I accept this assignment with all due dignity and lack of emotion.

Pike – And Kirk’s your XO.

Kirk – Awesome!  And I didn’t even graduate!

Spock – What the hell?!?!?  I mean, what, sir?  He’s reckless, he’s on suspension, he’s insubordinate, and this is highly illogical!

Pike – Just go with it.  Kirk, Sulu, Red Shirt, you parachute out of the shuttlecraft to the drill platform and destroy it.

Red Shirt – What can possibly go wrong?

Drill Platform:
[[An exciting sequence follows in which Kirk, Sulu, and Red Shirt are in fact color-coded and plummet towards Vulcan and the drill platform with Lens Flare in tow; Red Shirt gets sucked into the plasma beam and Sulu is forced to cut his parachute before it retracts; then Romulans emerge and the fight starts]]

Romulan 1 – Why am I fencing with you?

Sulu – Because it’s awesome and a shout-out to the original series!

Romulan 1 – Seriously, why am I fencing with you?  I have a gun!

Sulu – Oh.  Then I have no idea. [[Kirk and Sulu dispatch the Romulans.]]  Damn it, Red Shirt had all the explosives.

Kirk – Wait, what?  This was an extraordinarily dangerous task that could have killed all of us, albeit unlikely.  Still, if the explosives aren’t cumbersome, why didn’t we all have enough to blow this thing?

Sulu – I have no idea.

Kirk – Well, hell, let’s use these guns the Romulans dropped and blow it up old school tommy-gun style. [[they do so]]  I’m sure that won’t endanger us at all… [[the platform disintegrates and Sulu falls off leaving Kirk to dive after him because apparently Starfleet has never heard of a back-up parachute]]  I’ve got you!  [[his parachute promptly breaks]]  What the hell?  Our tech sucks!

Lens Flare – Don’t worry, I’ll save you!

[[Actually, Chekov saves them despite some technobabble about how it’s dangerous to beam them while they’re in motion]]

Kirk – Ouch.  Well, at least we saved Vulcan.

Nero – [[drops the itty bitty bomb]]  Yeah, about that… No you didn’t.

Spock – Damn it!  Evacuate everyone!  I’m going to down to save the Vulcan Council at least.  [[Only a few members get squished as they escape the cave]]

Chekov – Don’t move or I can’t lock on!

Mrs. Sarek – Um, are you sure I can’t move to slightly more stable ground?  I mean, I know you’ll lose the lock but hopefully you’ll have a few more seconds to re-lock on me instead of me standing here hoping you beam me before the ground falls out from underneath me.

Chekov – Sorry, you can’t move.

Mrs. Sarek – Damn it.  [[falls to her doom prior to Chekov saving everyone else although Vulcan is pretty much hosed]]

Kirk – We need to rescue Pike!

Spock – We need to meet up with Starfleet and work out a better plan.

Lens Flare – I’m here!

Kirk – You’re a jerk!  We have to rescue Pike and I’ll start punching people until I get my way!

Spock – And this clearly proves you are ready for command.

Kirk – Is sarcasm logical?

Spock – It’s not illogical.  Also, Vulcan neck pinch.  [[Kirk takes a little nap]]  Get him off my ship.

Uhura – I’m really sorry. [[kisses him]]

Lens Flare – Hey, you two are actually dating?

Spock – Yes.

Lens Flare – But you were her teacher, and no place of academia allows a teacher to date a student, and now you’re her commanding officer, and no military allows this kind of fraternization with the subordinate staff.  I mean, I know this is supposed to be an enlightened century and all, but this still seems wrong.

Uhura – You can just shut the hell up while I tenderly comfort my man!

Not Hoth:
Lens Flare – Wake up!

Kirk – What the hell?  Did Spock actually throw me off the ship?  That jerk!  Just because I was insubordinate, violent, and unhinged doesn’t mean he actually had cause to discipline me!  Argh, so unfair!  [[Kirk heads out and eventually runs from monsters in a sight gag that actually made more sense in Star Wars I and finally stumbles into a cave and is rescued]]  Lens Flare, move.  I can’t see that guy’s face.

Lens Flare – Sorry!

Kirk – Yeah, that doesn’t help.  Who the hell are you?

Mysterious Man – You are James T. Kirk.

Kirk – I know who I am.  I don’t know who you are and I don’t know how you know who I am.

Mysterious Man – I’m Spock.

Kirk – Okay, trapped in an ice cave with a crazy man and Lens Flare.  This is shaping up to be one hell of a day.

Old Spock – Let me try telepathy; don’t worry, it’ll only trigger a flashback. [[does so]]

Flashback (Old Spock narrating) – 129 years from now, Romulus’ sun will become unstable.  I’ll promise to save them by using “red matter” to create a black hole to absorb their sun which in retrospect really just exchanges one problem for another.  I am, er, was, or will be, anyway, I didn’t get there on time and the sun exploded.  Nero happened to be there and chased me down.  I used the bomb to stop the sun explosion and ended up accidentally creating a hole in space-time.  Nero’s ship got through first and destroyed the Kelvin, then waited 25 years to capture me.  Nero took the remaining red matter and destroyed Vulcan as revenge against me.

Not Hoth:
Kirk – Okay, let’s assume all that made sense.  Now I know that Nero’s ship is over one hundred years more advanced than anything we have and he’s got this super-bomb stuff.  What do we do now?

Old Spock – First, don’t tell young Spock about me.  Time paradox and stuff.  Second, you have to be best buddies with Spock.

Kirk – We hate each other, so I don’t see that happening.

Old Spock – Damn it, you have to be best buddies!  There isn’t time to build up an actual emotional attachment between you two.  Okay, third, you have to command the Enterprise.  Make young Spock emotional.

Kirk – This is not going to make him want to be my best buddy here.

Old Spock – Worry about that later.  Finally, we’ll go find the Federation outpost which happens to have exactly the person we need to get out of here.

Federation Outpost:
Old Spock – Montgomery Scott.

Lens Flare – Hey, Scotty!  We’ve missed you!

Scotty – I know, right?  So I’m totally going to steal every one of the few scenes I’m in, okay?

Old Spock/Kirk/Lens Flare – Sounds good.

Scotty – Right, now, let’s try some highly experimental technology to beam onto a ship in warp that will never be used again!

Spock – How in the hell did you beam aboard my bridge?

Lens Flare – Magic!

Kirk – You’re a jerk.  A jerky jerk uptight emotionless jerk who saw his mother and whole planet die and is acting like nothing’s wrong.  Boo hoo my planet is gone and I’m not sad at all.

Spock – KILL! [[tries to strangle Kirk]]

Kirk – Note to self: it is not logical to provoke an emotional being to anger and violence.

Spock – Oh, no, I am too emotional to be captain.  I will resign my command and leave the bridge.  [[does so]]

Kirk – Well, this makes me captain and we’re going to save Earth!

Lens Flare – Hi again!  I know what’s going on, but you don’t, and this guy just provoked Spock to make him step down so he could take over.  Doesn’t that seem suspicious to anyone else?

Everyone else – Nope.

[[Nero’s ship puts down the drill into San Francisco Bay as the Enterprise hides in Titan’s atmosphere so they can sneak up on the ship to beam Spock and Kirk and Lens Flare over or sabotage Nero’s ship and stop the drill]]

Nero’s Ship:
Lens Flare – Oooo, creepy!

Kirk – I’m going to kill Nero and save Pike!

Spock – I’ll stop the drill and then somehow we’ll get back to the Enterprise!  Hey, a ship in a ship that seems to recognize my voice commands.  Obviously we need to have a chat when we get out of this.  [[Spock steals Old Spock’s ship and blasts his way out to destroy the drill]]

Kirk – Nero!  Surrender!

Nero – Wait, really?  You’ve been nothing but brash and stupidly reckless this entire movie and now you decide to follow protocol and demand my surrender?

Kirk – It shows I’m maturing as a leader. [[he is promptly disarmed from behind and some random Romulan starts to strangle him]]  Note to self: maturity is overrated.

Nero – Ha!  Now you will witness my revenge!!!!

Kirk – Your revenge is lame.

Lens Flare – It is!

Nero – No, it’s awesome.  See, I imploded Vulcan and I’ll implode Earth too!

Kirk – Lame!  You have a ship that is more than one hundred years more advanced than anything in this time period.  You also know the exact day Romulus’s sun is going to explode because you were there!  Why the hell didn’t you go back to Romulus?  Your engineers could have taken this ship, reverse-engineered it, and given the Romulans a technological advantage so great they could have just conquered the Federation and everyone else!  And they could have started to try to save their sun or evacuate the planet since they have over a century to plan!  Instead you waited 25 years for Old Spock and now you’ve got the most powerful explosive in the galaxy, you still haven’t thought of going home to save your planet?!?

Nero – *blink blink blink*  You thought of all that?  Just now while watching the movie?

Kirk – Yeah.  It’s kind of obvious.

Nero – Damn it!  I’m insane! [[notes Spock’s ship goes into orbit]]  Follow him and kill that guy!

Romulan 2 – But he had a good point, actually. [[Kirk kills him]]

Kirk – Okay, you and me, cinematic fight!  [[the fight is inconclusive but not in Kirk’s favor]]  Um, I’ll go rescue Pike now. [[this he manages to do as Spock rams his ship into Nero’s]]

[[Against all odds, Scotty manages to beam out all three people to safety presumably using a refined version of the technique Chekov used earlier.]]

Kirk – Okay, we’ll offer Nero and his crew another chance to surrender.

Lens Flare – Um, no one thinks maybe we ought to get out of here considering his ship is about to become a giant black hole?

Spock – It’s important for him to mature as a leader.

Nero – Go to hell!

Kirk – Okay, well, even though you’re going to die anyway, I’m going to open fire on you!

Lens Flare – But-but the black hole!

[[Nero’s ship is imploded and destroyed]]

Sulu – Sir!  The ship has turned into a huge black hole and is sucking us in!  I don’t think we can escape!

Lens Flare – Yeah, that!

Kirk – Scotty, you are contractually obligated to save the ship against impossible odds!

Scotty – Eject the warp core!  The explosion will push us away from the black hole and not tear us apart!  Probably!

[[This works and the Enterprise and Lens Flare escape]]

Board Member – Even though you cheated on the test, stowed away on board the Enterprise, got thrown off the ship for mutiny, manipulated the captain into resigning so you could be captain, and in general behaved like a spoiled child who always gets his way, we’re graduating you with honors, the rank of captain, and giving you the Enterprise to command.

Kirk – Like I said, I am always right and I always win.

Earth, A Bit Later:
[[Old Spock meets young Spock]]
Spock – You’re me.

Old Spock – Yes.  Obviously I can’t talk to you too much, but here’s what you need to know.  I manipulated Kirk and you two need to be best buddies.

Spock – That is beyond illogical.

Old Spock – Damn it, be best buddies!  Trust me, it works out fine, or at least it did in the original six movies.  Live long and prosper and all that.

Space, The Final Frontier:
Old Spock – These are the reboots of the Starship Enterprise.  Its continuing mission is to exploit cheap dramatic tricks, seek out new lens flares and new CGI action sequences, and to predictably go where so many movies have gone before.

–fade out–

Fifteen-minute Movie: Star Wars II: The Attack of the Clones

or, “In Which Everyone Ignores Alarming Warning Signs”

Scrolling exposition – So the Seperatist movement is getting stronger with the help of the Trade Federation and their droid army because it turns out the Republic doesn’t have an army although they’re working on that.  It’s also rumored some guy named Dooku, yes, Dooku is helping the Seperatists.

Naboo Officer – See, no one’s trying to kill you, Senator.

[[Amidala’s ship is blown up from the inside, killing her decoy]]

Naboo Officer – Er, well, this is why you have decoys.

Chancellor’s Chambers:
Amidala – Someone tried to kill me.  I think it’s this Dooku guy who’s rumored to be working for the Seperatists.  Or that Viceroy of the Trade Federation who hates me.

Windu – Dooku used to be a Jedi which means he’d never try to kill anyone.

Palpatine – Well, someone is trying to kill the Senator right before this crucial vote to allow the Republic to have an army.  She should go back to Naboo where she is protected.  I think you Jedi should assign her old friend Obi-wan Kenobi for the job.  And if that Padawan has to come with him, well, I’m sure it’ll be fine.

Yoda – Not a bad idea, that is.  Obi-wan her protector will be.

[[Enter Obi-wan and a nineteen year old Anakin, who is wearing black despite the fact that no Jedi ever is shown as wearing black; not Anakin at the end of the first movie, not the younglings shown later in the movie, not Obi-wan as a Padawan learner, and not any knights or masters; in short, why the hell is he wearing black?!]]

Obi-wan – No problem, we got this.

Anakin – You are totally hot and I’m no longer a little kid.

Amidala – That’s true, but I still remember you as a little kid.

Anakin – *glowering* Gee, thanks.

Senator’s Chambers:
Amidala – So are you going to investigate who tried to kill me?

Obi-wan – No, our orders are just to protect you.

Anakin – I think we should investigate.  What’s to keep the assassin from trying again?

Obi-wan – While that is a logical point, the Council told us just to protect her.

Anakin – *glowering* Well, that’s just stupid.

Obi-wan – We’re not fighting about this in front of the Senator.

Senator’s Chambers (later):
Obi-wan – So we’ll fight while she’s asleep.  First of all, quit questioning my orders.  I am your master!

Anakin – *glowering* Yeah, yeah, and how many times I have saved your ass because you’re still incredibly reckless?

Obi-wan – That is entirely beside the point.  Also, I don’t like you spending so much time with Palpatine.

Anakin – He’s a good man.

Obi-wan – I’ve got some doubts about that.  Also, I’m alarmed by your obvious feelings of attraction to Amidala.  You know Jedi are all about emotional detachment.

Anakin – *creepy look* I’ve been obsessing about her since I was nine.  You think being around her is going to make me not obsess?  By the way, I’ve still be dreaming about my mother being in pain.

Obi-wan – While Jedi can see the future and faraway places, I’m going to dismiss your dreams as absolutely nothing to worry about.  Emotional detachment, remember?

Anakin – Yeah, well, but couldn’t we have scraped up some cash to free her from slavery so I wouldn’t have these worries?  I’m sure Amidala would have given us the money being the queen and all.

Obi-wan – Emotional detachment, damn it!

Anakin – *glowering* Yes, Master.

[[While the Jedi are arguing, the assassin sends a droid to sneak into Amidala’s room and kill her with poison slugs and only R2-D2 is paying any attention and even R2 seems oddly slow on the uptake]]

Obi-wan/Anakin – [[finally sensing danger]] Uh-oh!

[[The Jedi run into save Amidala so Anakin slices the slugs into pieces and Obi-wan dives out the window to grab the droid; what follows is a fairly awesome chase scene through Coruscant to track down the assassin]]

Obi-wan – Anakin, have I mentioned lately how arrogant you are?

Anakin – All the time, but your criticism might have more effect if my arrogance didn’t save your ass.  Now, watch me catch that assassin.

[[Anakin jumps out of the speeder; the chase culminates outside a seedy club but of course the assassin is killed by her employer before she can name him; however, the assassin’s assassin conveniently leaves a tell-tale dart in her neck]]

Jedi Council:
Windu – Ok, so now someone should probably find out about that assassin.  Obi-wan, you go investigate the assassin, and Anakin will go to Naboo with Amidala to protect her.

Obi-wan – Oh, I have a bad feeling about that.  Can’t you send someone else to investigate so I can keep an eye on my Padawan?

Windu – Apparently not.  You investigate, he stays with the Senator.

Senator’s Chambers:
Amidala – Jar-jar, I’m leaving you in charge as the official Naboo representative.  I don’t know why, because you are a complete idiot.

Jar-jar – Meesa important.  Yaaaaay!

Anakin – I’m totally awesome and Obi-wan is just holding me back.  All the Jedi are just holding me back.  They suck.

Amidala – And for some reason I find your whining endearing.

Greasy Spoon Diner (because where else do you start an investigation?):
Obi-wan – Dex, can you identify this dart?

Dex – No problem.  Comes from the planet of cloners.  Here’s the address.

Obi-wan – Wow, that was pretty easy.

Jedi Archives:
Obi-wan – Huh, there’s no planet named Kamino in our archives.  What in the world could that mean?  I’d better ask Yoda.

Jedi Kindergarten:
Yoda – A mystery this is.  Children, your thoughts?

Adorable Jedi Youngling – If physics says the planet is there, then the archives are wrong.

Obi-wan – I never thought of that!

Yoda – Dense, you are.  The data could have been erased only by a Jedi.  Despite my age and wisdom, completely baffled am I to the identity of this Jedi.

Amidala – I was so awesome as queen the people tried to amend the constitution to keep me as queen.

Anakin – I hate politicians.

Amidala – Gee, thanks.

Anakin –  Not all of them.  I like you, for instance.  I’ve been thinking about you every single moment of every single day since we met.  I’m in pain without you.  I have to be with you forever.  Forever!

Amidala – And for some reason I find that romantic instead of really creepy and obsessive. [[they kiss]] Wow, that was not good thing to do.

Anakin – It was awesome!  I’ve been dreaming about it every day since I met you.

Amidala – No!  We can’t be together.

Queen – The Senator needs further protection.

Amidala – Then I’ll hide out in the country.

Anakin – Hey!  I’m in charge of security here!

Amidala – Excuse me?  This my home and I know where I’ll be safe, and might I remind you that I was pretty damn competent in the last movie?

Anakin – Yeah, yeah, I’m sorry.

Amidala – That’s convincing.  However, this will essentially isolate me with you, which seems like a really bad idea if I want to keep my emotional distance from you.

Anakin – Oh, that’s okay then!

[[Obi-wan finds the planet right where physics says the planet is and lands]]

Cloner 1 – We’ve been expecting you, Jedi Master.

Obi-wan – You have?

Cloner 2 – Your clone army is ready, just as you ordered.  It’s based off of the DNA of a bounty hunter named Jango Fett.  Really, it’s a top-notch army for your Republic.

Obi-wan – I ordered?  It’s ready?  For the Republic?

Cloner 2 – Well, not you, but some other Jedi.  Whatshisname.

Obi-wan – That guy’s been dead for like ten years.

Cloner 2 – So does that mean you don’t want the army?  We don’t do refunds.

Obi-wan – Oh, no, it’s all good.  Can I meet this Jango guy?

Cloner 2 – Sure, no problem.

Naboo Countryside:
Amidala – I value public service very highly, even when people don’t cooperate.

Anakin – When I’m a powerful enough Jedi I’ll make them cooperate whether they like it or not.

Amidala – And for some reason I don’t find that sociopathic attitude complete anathema to every value I hold.

Obi-wan – Cute kid, Jango. So tried to kill anyone lately?

Jango – No.

Obi-wan – Did Whatshisname hire you for this clone job?

Jango – No.

Obi-wan – Well, I guess I’ll leave you alone now. [[leaves]]

Jango – Boba, it’s time to get the heck out of here.

Naboo Countryside (again):
[[And Amidala is wearing her skimpiest outfit yet with a corset thing that really shows off her, um, senators]]

Anakin – We should be together.  It’s all I’ve ever wanted!

Amidala – That’s a bad idea.  You should stop suggesting it.

Anakin – I’m in such agony wanting to be with you all the time!

Amidala –  Look, if we get together, I could lose my job, you’d get kicked out of the Jedi order, and living a lie would destroy our lives.

Anakin – Hey, I’d totally do all that if only I could be with you forever and ever and ever!

Amidala – My final answer is no.  [[leaves]]

Anakin – I’ll take that as a maybe!

Obi-wan (transmission) – Ok, Council, here’s the deal.  A dead Jedi ordered an army for the Republic like ten years ago when the Republic isn’t even authorized to have an army.  There are a lot of questions I didn’t ask because apparently I’m really bad at being a detective.  However, none of you guys saw this coming either and you’re supposed to see the future and faraway places and stuff.  So what next?

Windu – *facepalm* Capture Jango and bring him here for questioning.

Obi-wan (transmission) – Right-o.

[[Anakin is awoken by dreams of his mother in pain and suffering]]

Anakin – I’m sorry, but I need to go to Tatooine and find my mother.  I know promised to never leave you no matter what, but I have to do this.

Amidala – I’ll go with you.  I should be as safe on Tatooine as Naboo, although admittedly this doesn’t help my cause of keeping emotional distance.  Still, this is the only decent thing for a sympathetic person to do.

[[Obi-wan’s attempt to capture Jango goes pretty badly so all he can do is put a tracking device on his ship]]

Obi-wan – Man, what the hell?  Why can’t I, as an awesome Jedi, bring in one freakin’ bounty hunter?

Tatoonine, a Grubby City:
Anakin – Watta, where’s my mother?

Watta – Well, normally I’d try to bargain for information but you are so creepy I’ll just tell you.  I sold her to a moisture farmer named Lars.  I think he freed her and married her.

Amidala – That’s nice, actually.

Outer Space:
[[Obi-wan’s effort to capture Jango fails again although he tracks him to Geonosis]]

Obi-wan – Damn, not only am I a terrible Jedi, I’m a terrible pilot too.

Tatooine, the Moisture Farm:
Owen – Hi, I’m your step-brother and this is my girlfriend Beru. We’re just here for foreshadowing and don’t really play a part in the plot.

Anakin – Fine by me.  Where’s Mom?

Lars – I’m Lars and Shmi’s husband and your stepfather.

Anakin – Yeah, yeah.  Where is my mother?

Lars – Er.  She was kidnapped by Tuskan Raiders.  I put together a rescue party and most of us perished and I was terribly injured.  I’m really sorry.

Anakin – I’m going to rescue her.

Lars – That’s suicide.

Anakin – I am not going to lose her. [[rides out to save his mother; he finds the Raider village and Shmi having nearly been tortured to death]]

Raider Village:
Anakin – Mom?  I’m here now.

Shmi – You’re all grown up and a Jedi.  I can die a happy woman. [[does so]]

Anakin – Nooooo!!!!  I’ll kill everyone, man, woman, and child. [[does so]]

Coruscant, Jedi Council Chamber:
Yoda – [[who can apparently feel this outburst of rage and hate]] Almost like an ominous warning of things to come this is.

Obi-wan – I’ve come all this way so it would be nice if someone would give me relevant plot information.

[[cue Dooku’s party with the Viceroy and other Seperatists in tow]]

Dooku – The droid army is almost ready to go.  Viceroy, I promise Senator Amidala will be killed.  The Republic doesn’t have an army, so it’ll be easy to secede from them.  Did I miss any relevant plot points?  No, good.

Obi-wan – Damn it, I’ve lost my long-range transmitter.  I’ll send the message to Naboo and have Anakin re-transmit it. [[efforts to reach Anakin on Naboo fail]]  He’s not answering.  I hope nothing’s wrong.

Yoda – Half the galaxy away am I and I know something is terribly terribly wrong with your Padawan.  But your Padawan is only two systems away and you don’t suspect anything’s wrong until he doesn’t pick up his damn comm?

Obi-wan – Well, maybe you should have taught him instead of me, pointy-ears!  Oh, he’s on Tatooine.  What the hell is he doing there? [[transmits message]]

[[Anakin returns with a body wrapped up in a sheet and proceeds to glare at everyone as though it’s their fault Shmi is dead]]

Amidala – I’m sorry.

Anakin – I killed everyone.  I killed every man, every woman, every child, every living thing in that village in my rage.  One day I will have power over death and no one will ever die on me again!

Amidala – Well, if your creepy, obsessive stalker behavior wasn’t enough to drive me away before, finding out you’ve got scary anger issues and psychopathic tendencies won’t drive me away either.

R2-D2 – Beep blorp beep <<Message for you, sir>> [[the transmission is played and Obi-wan is obviously attacked at the end; the Jedi Council orders Anakin to stay put]]

Amidala – Just because the Jedi Council ordered you to stay put like a sensible person and for the first time this entire movie you seem inclined to obey orders doesn’t mean I can’t do something colossally stupid and brave.  Let’s go rescue Obi-wan.

[[The Jedi send Windu and all available Jedi to Geonosis to rescue Obi-wan while Yoda heads over to Kamino; in the meantime, Palpatine manipulates Jar-jar into helping him get emergency powers to create an army because Jar-jar is a idiot]]

Geonosis, Brig:
Obi-wan – Since I’m not escaping any time soon, can someone give me some more relevant plot information?

Dooku – Sure.  The Senate is under the control of Sith Lord Darth Sidious.  But if you join me, we can rule the galaxy as father and son.

Obi-wan – What?

Dooku – Sorry, I got caught up in the moment.  Join me, and I won’t have to kill you and you’ll have a pretty cushy job in the new galaxy order.

Obi-wan – I think you’re lying about the Senate and I’d rather die than join you.

Dooku – Okey-dokey.

Geonosis, Droid Factory:
[[Amidala and Anakin’s attempts to find someone to talk to end horribly as for some reason they are chased into the foundry/factory where the droid army is being made and have to run an obstacle course of death]]

Geonosis, Ship:
C-3PO – No, we’re not leaving.  We were ordered to stay.  So we’re going to stay.

R2-D2 – Beep blorp blorp <It is my job to save the main characters and I have a feeling they’re going to need saving really soon so you better come help me>

C-3PO – What, really?  Amidala is plucky and competent, although less so than she was in the last movie, and Anakin’s nearly a Jedi knight.  Why should they need help from an admittedly clever little astrodroid?

R2-D2 – Blorp <You have no idea.  Now move it>

Geonosis, Droid Factory:
Amidala – I sure hope someone rescues me before I get molten metal poured on top of me!  Like maybe a Jedi!

Anakin – I kind of got my arm welded into this machine so excuse me while I deal with my own problems.

[[R2-D2 saves Amidala from death by molten metal and gets her out of the bucket as well]]

C-3PO – You are kidding me.  R2 really did save them.  That seems kind of sad and pathetic.

[[However, Anakin and Amidala are captured anyway and sentenced to death via gladiatoral combat]]

Amidala – Since we are about to die, I think this is a good time to tell you that despite being whiny, creepy, obsessive, psycho, and really unlikeable, I’ve fallen in love with you and I’ve died a little bit every moment I haven’t told you.

Anakin – Wow, that’s also kind of creepy, but what can I say?  I totally dig creepy.

[[The pair are chained to pillars next to Obi-wan]]

Obi-wan – What do you have to say for yourself?

Anakin – I’m Anakin Skywalker and I’m here to rescue you.

Obi-wan – Yes, I can tell by how you’re all chained up too.

Anakin – So what do we do?

Obi-wan – Be grateful Dooku is making a classic mistake of evil and instead of just killing us is putting us in a situation we may possibly be able to survive.

Anakin – What about Amidala?  She’s so helpless and small.

Amidala – Excuse me?  I’m not entirely useless. [[proceeds to pick her locks and climb up the chain to the relative safety of the top of the pillar]]

[[In walk the monsters and the Jedi proceed to do a pretty good job of surviving and freeing themselves, despite the odds; Amidala also holds her own except for the ridiculous rippable shirt that leaves her entire midriff bare; however, in the end, they are surrounded by droids]]

Dooku – Well, that was amusing.  So now what’s your plan?

Windu – I sneak up behind you with my lightsaber.

Dooku – Okay, I didn’t see that coming.  Let the awesome droid on Jedi fight scene begin!

[[thus begins the fight with lots of Jedi against tons and tons of droids which ends with a lot fewer Jedi surrounded by a few fewer droids; also Windu kills Jango, which makes Boba cry; like anyone really cares]]

Obi-wan – Hey, Mace, remember when you said since Dooku was a Jedi he’d never try to kill anyone?

Windu – Stuff it, Kenobi.

Dooku – Right, and we’re back where we were a few minutes ago.  So now what’s your plan?

Windu – We defeat you!

Dooku – You and what army?

[[enter the clone army]]

Yoda – Glad am I that you asked.  Save the Jedi.  Hurt the Droids.  Capture Dooku.

Dooku – Are you kidding me? [[escapes]]

[[Thus starts the clone and droid fight with the Jedi in pursuit of Dooku and the escaping Seperatists; in the course of transit, Amidala is knocked out of the transport but appears to not be dead]]

Anakin – I have to save her!

Obi-wan – We have to get Dooku!  Damn it, emotional detachment!  What would she do in this situation?

Anakin – *glowering* Get Dooku.

Geonosis, it doesn’t matter where:
Obi-wan – Okay, let’s work together to…

Anakin – Get Dooku!! ARGH!!!  [[attacks Dooku]]

Obi-wan – Do you even listen to a thing I say?

[[Dooku easily beats back Anakin]]

Dooku – Right, can I fight a real Jedi please?

Obi-wan – Bring it, old man!

[[Dooku easily beats back Obi-wan and injures him beyond fighting capability]]

Obi-wan – Oh, man, I like totally suck!  Aren’t I supposed to be awesome?

Anakin – I’ll save you! [[attacks Dooku again; for some reason Obi-wan sends his lightsaber so Anakin can fight with two even though he hasn’t trained with that and it doesn’t do him much good as Dooku disarms Anakin and then literally disarms (the right one) Anakin and chucks him into Obi-wan]]  Apparently I suck too.

Obi-wan – Damn it!

Yoda – Hello, my former Padawan.

Obi-wan – You trained this guy?  Wow, maybe you aren’t such a great teacher.

Yoda – About to save your sorry Jedi butt, I am, so insults you should keep to yourself.

Dooku – You’re a little old man.  I’m a totally awesome Sith now.  Look, I can hurl heavy objects at you with telekinesis.

Yoda – Hold them back, I can.

Dooku – How about some Sith lightning!

Yoda – Absorb that, I can.

Dooku – Well, hell.  Lightsaber duel it is.  Considering I’m six and a half feet tall and a fraction of your age despite being old for my species means I should win easily.

[[Naturally Yoda is totally awesome because the little old man in kung fu movies always is the most dangerous]]

Dooku – Wow, this is totally not going as I thought it would.  I’ll leave you with the choice of catching me or saving those two idiots.  [[drops heavy pillar on the incapacitated Jedi]]

Yoda – Damn it. [[saves Jedi allowing Dooku to escape, then resumes his guise of little old man]]

Obi-wan – So, we won, right?

Yoda – We’re peacekeepers and a war just started on our watch.  Think you that we have won?  Honestly.

Anakin – [[now sporting a bionic arm]] So you’re going to marry me and we’ll live a lie?

Amidala – Have you been using any Jedi mind tricks on me?

Anakin – No, not shown in the movie anyway.

Amidala – Hm, then apparently I am an idiot because yes, I’m marrying you and will live a lie that could destroy us both.

Anakin – That’s great!  I will love you forever.  Forever.

Amidala – Nope, that’s not creepy at all.

Dooku – Your plan to destroy the Republic is working really well.

Sidious – Of course it is.  I’m so glad the Jedi are oblivious to every alarming warning sign of my eminent control over the galaxy.

Dooku – That and they can’t tell when a Sith lord is standing right in front of them.

Sidious – I know.  It’s so pathetic.

-fade out-