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Join us for the latest on the best in extraordinary fictional television and film from the past, present and future, and analysis on its cultural impacts.

Find out about the amazing facts in fiction, and discover the truth about what's really going on in the World around us...

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Friday, 22 February 2008 08:13

Star Trek: Voyager

A woman takes charge of bringing her crew home ...

 

USA - 1995-2001 - 172 episodes (60 mins) - colour

By the time Voyager arrived on screen to replace the recently retired Star Trek: The Next Generation, the challenge for its creators was to devise something different while remaining true to Gene Roddenberry's original vision. With the final frontier looking increasingly familiar as each series expanded the Star Trek universe their answer was to take Voyager out of the conventional environs and place it in the unknown Delta Quadrant, out of contact with Starfleet.

Stranded 70,000 light years from Earth, the crew of the USS Voyager, along with the Maquis freedom fighters they were sent to apprehend, found themselves closest of all the franchise's incarnations to it's original roots. Although their prime motivation was to return home, the route back still allowed them to "seek out new life and new civilizations" along the way.

Viewed by audiences with ambivalence, although Voyager enjoyed the novelty of a female Captain, Kathryn Janeway, once on its course the stories proved formulaic and repetitive. The Federation and Maquis crews settled in as allies too quickly and comfortably and attempts to create credible story arcs proved less than successful, while the Kazon, created as a continual thorn in Voyager's side, proved disappointing and were replaced by the always-reliable Borg.

Once again secondary characters became the most interesting, in particular the holographic Doctor with his dry sarcasm and curmudgeonly bedside manner reminiscent of the original series' Leonard McCoy, and Seven of Nine, the shapely Borg Drone, rediscovering her humanity after being separated from the Collective.

 

REGULAR CAST
Kate Mulgrew as Kathryn Janeway
Robert Beltran as Chakotay
Roxann Biggs-Dawson as B'Elanna Torres
Robert Duncan McNeill as Tom Paris
Ethan Phillips as Neelix
Robert Picardo as the Doctor
Tim Russ as Tuvok
Garrett Wang as Harry Kim
Jeri Ryan as Seven of Nine
Jennifer Lien as Kes

 

Posted in Series Formats
Friday, 22 February 2008 08:11

Star Trek: The Next Generation

Catching lightning in a bottle a second time ...

 

USA - 1987-94 - 178 episodes (60 mins) - colour

Eighteen years on from the demise of the original Star Trek, after the aborted Star Trek: Phase 2 painfully metamorphosed into the series of movies starring the original cast, a new, recognisable series was reborn with Star Trek: The Next Generation.

Set 78 years after the original mission, with a new Enterprise and a new crew boldly going where no one had gone before, Star Trek: The Next Generation was still a hard sell. In America, with no network prepared to commit to more than a pilot and thirteen episodes, the show was sold straight into syndication. Finally on screen, it then had to overcome legions of die-hard fans of the original Star Trek who shared a common belief that a show without Kirk or Spock would never work, and the first year of episodes did little to alter that view, keeping too close to the mythos dictated by creator Gene Roddenberry, with stories reminiscent of, or directly recycled from, the original show.

It took until its third year for The Next Generation to find itself, all the while staying true to the Star Trek ethos, by which time the characters and universe they inhabited was properly defined, and worthy adversaries like John de Lancie's mischievous Q, and the relentless Borg, were established. By the end of its seven year run, overcoming all the odds stacked against it, The Next Generation even succeeded in superseding the original show as the flagship Star Trek series in the eyes of its increasingly loyal fanbase.


REGULAR CAST
Patrick Stewart as Jean-Luc Picard
Jonathan Frakes as William Riker
Brent Spiner as Data
LeVar Burton as Geordi LaForge
Gates McFadden as Beverly Crusher
Marina Sirtis as Deanna Troi
Michael Dorn as Worf
Wil Wheaton as Wesley Crusher
Denise Crosby as Tasha Yar
Diana Muldaur as Katherine Pulaski

 

 

Posted in Series Formats
Friday, 22 February 2008 08:10

Star Trek: Deep Space Nine

The original strapline for this series was "It Waits" ...

 

USA - 1993-99 - 176 episodes (60 mins) - colour

With the original Star Trek described as "Wagon Train to the Stars", Star Trek: Deep Space Nine was suggested as "The Rifleman in Space", rooted in place rather than traveling through the uncharted wilds.

In this instance the frontier settlement became a recently abandoned Cardassian space station, taken over by the Federation upon request of the Bajoran government after withdrawal of Cardassian Occupation. Put under the command of Benjamin Sisko, a Starfleet Captain damaged by his past and initially unenthusiastic of his new responsibility, DS9 is discovered to be at the mouth of a previously dormant wormhole allowing instant access to the distant Gamma Quadrant of space. As a consequence, Deep Space Nine soon became the most strategic outpost in Federation space.

Evolving over time into a darker, richly complex and adult side to Star Trek's optimistic view of the universe, the multi-cultural setting of Deep Space Nine, more importantly sidestepped Gene Roddenberry's binding restriction that humans had worked out their petty differences, allowing actual conflict amongst the characters to create better drama.

With the addition of the starship Defiant allowing the crew to extend their range, and Commander Worf (Michael Dorn) joining the crew from the Next Generation's Enterprise, Deep Space Nine established a number of lengthy and complex story arcs to create a welcome mix of political intrigue, power plays and galactic wars amongst alien races; the Klingons, Romulans and Cardassians inherited from previous shows, and the shape-shifting Founders and Jem'Hadar that made up the Dominion Empire from the Gamma Quadrant.


REGULAR CAST
Avery Brooks as Benjamin Sisko
Rene Auberjonois as Odo
Nana Visitor as Kira Nerys
Alexander Siddig as Dr Julian Bashir
Colm Meaney as Miles O'Brien
Armin Shimerman as Quark
Terry Farrell as Jadzia Dax
Cirroc Lofton as Jake Sisko
Michael Dorn as Worf
Nicole deBoer as Ezri Dax

 

Posted in Series Formats
Friday, 22 February 2008 08:07

Star Trek (The Original Series)

Opening the final frontier ...

 

USA - 1966-69 - 79 episodes (60 mins) - colour

One of the most successful concepts in television history, spawning a franchise that is still alive today with a new big screen movie in pre-production, this is the biggest American Cult TV series of them all.

Devised by Gene Roddenberry, a former LAPD officer and veteran scriptwriter of shows like Dragnet and Naked City while off duty, the pilot episode "The Cage" was rejected by network executives who deemed it too cerebral for the average viewer, and consequently unbroadcastable. Unprecedented at the time, the show was given another chance and, after extensive recasting, a second pilot was filmed, "Where No Man Has Gone Before" with the requisite dose of action added.

Charting the adventures of the crew of the USS Enterprise, seeking out new life and new civilizations in the high frontier of outer space, Star Trek used science fiction properly, as a commentary on contemporary social issues and society's ills and gains. Amongst the action and adventure, many of the new worlds discovered in the wide range of thought-provoking stories were skewed reflections of our own world. That said, the triumvirate of charismatic Captain James T Kirk, inspired by C S Forester's Captain Horatio Hornblower, the loyal and coldly logical Vulcan First Officer, Mister Spock, and cantankerous Chief medical Officer Leonard 'Bones' McCoy, supported by their mixed gender, multi-racial crew, never lost touch with the human experience that became central to Star Trek's ongoing identity.


REGULAR CAST
William Shatner as James T Kirk
Leonard Nimoy as Spock
DeForest Kelley as Leonard McCoy
James Doohan as Montgomery Scott
Nichelle Nichols as Nyota Uhura
George Takei as Hikaru Sulu
Walter Koenig as Pavel Chekov
Majel Barrett as Christine Chapel
Grace Lee Whitney as Janice Rand

 

Posted in Series Formats
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