REVIEW: STAR TREK SHORT TREKS: ASK NOT

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Starring

Anson Mount (Inhumans)
Ethan Peck (10 Things I Hate About You)
Rebecca Romijn (X-Men)
Amrit Kaur (Anarkali)

MV5BMDUzYzk1ZDItOThmOS00M2ViLWIyMDctZTNmZGMwZjlhYTU2XkEyXkFqcGdeQXVyMDU5MDEyMA@@._V1_SX1777_CR0,0,1777,999_AL_“Ask Not,” the third episode of the second season of Short Treks, is out now, and after watching the mere seven-minute-long installment, one could only assume this entry is a prelude to the highly rumored but unconfirmed Pike-era Star Trek series. And if that’s not the case, then this episode is largely rendered moot. Focusing on a training simulation for an unknowing Cadet Thira Sidhu (Amrit Kaur), she is forced to confront a prisoner situation with Captain Pike (Anson Mount), a situation that challenges her dedication to Starfleet. It’s a character test, and one she passes much to Captain Pike’s approval. Her passing grade leads to an engineering assignment onboard the Enterprise.MV5BNTkzZmNkMTUtMWMyOC00MGQ3LWI0OGItNzk3YmFhNjg3ZjBkXkEyXkFqcGdeQXVyMDU5MDEyMA@@._V1_SX1777_CR0,0,1777,999_AL_And that’s it. Seven minutes isn’t a long time to do much of anything, except perhaps one thing: introduce a future cast member of a new TV show. While it is certainly possible that Sidhu is a one-and-done character, that would prompt the question: what would her use be here? Whatever loyalty the audience gains for the up-and-coming Sidhu would be wasted on a one-time appearance, and it’s not like she imparts any particularly relevant lesson or serves as the catalyst for a character-building moment for Captain Pike. There is certainly precedent for introducing new characters in Short Treks and having them return in the series proper. Consider the Short Trek episodes “The Brightest Star” and “Runaway,” which introduced Saru’s sister, Siranna, and Xahean, respectfully, both of whom played key roles in Discovery season two. And by the way, what would be the point of designing the Enterprise’s engine room (which is much, much bigger than the old TOS set but luckily contains fewer beer vats than its 2009 counterpart) if the set wasn’t going to be used outside the 30 seconds we see here?MV5BYWU2NWY2ODUtMzRmMy00YWEyLTkyNzAtOTJhZWJhNzZkODIwXkEyXkFqcGdeQXVyMDU5MDEyMA@@._V1_SX1777_CR0,0,1777,999_AL_In any case, fans wanting more of Anson Mount’s Captain Pike certainly get a fair share here, as most of the episode is a two-person show between Pike and Sidhu. Of course, Mount is still fantastic as Pike, while Kaur holds her own against the veteran star. Sidhu’s likability and dedication makes her a character worth rooting for, which would make it further a shame if she wasn’t seen on the Enterprise again. Hopefully, we’ll soon look back on this episode as an interesting, if perhaps too short, introduction to elements of a Captain Pike TV show.

 

REVIEW: STAR TREK SHORT TREKS: Q & A

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Starring

Ethan Peck (In Time)
Rebecca Romijn (X-Men)
Anson Mount (Inhumans)
Samora Smallwood (The Expanse)
Jenette Goldstein (Aliens)

Ethan Peck in Q&A (2019)Between seasons one and two of Star Trek: Discovery, the production team tried a new approach to Star Trek storytelling: Short Treks. These 15-minute mini-episodes proved quite effective in showcasing returning and new characters, so it’s only natural that Short Treks continue for another season. And to help satisfy fans’ lust for more Captain Pike and the Discovery-era Enterprise, “Q&A” is the first of a few Enterprise-centric Short Treks.Anson Mount and Ethan Peck in Q&A (2019)This episode largely takes place in one room – a turbolift holding Number One (Rebecca Romijn) and the recently arrived Ensign Spock (Ethan Peck). When Spock first arrives on the Enterprise, Number One wants him to practice being an inquisitive science officer by asking a lot of questions. Lo and behold, the turbolift inexplicably traps them together, allowing him to do just that.Rebecca Romijn and Ethan Peck in Q&A (2019)This episode’s main strength is not in its setting. It is just a turbolift after all. But rather, we learn more about Number One than we ever did in her limited appearances in season two. While we’re not exactly sold on Romijn’s interpretation of Majel Barrett’s character from “The Cage,” it is nice to get to know this legendary character besides her love of cheeseburgers. The revelation that she is a nerd for Gilbert and Sullivan is believable and certainly helps illustrate her character’s nature, but the idea that she’d fully showcase this for Spock isn’t so believable – especially since she was clearly embarrassed and ordered him afterwards to forget about it.Rebecca Romijn and Ethan Peck in Q&A (2019)Meanwhile, the expansion of Spock’s character in this episode will be welcome or implausible, depending on who you ask. We see an emotive Spock here, from the very beginning when he smiles before beaming to the Enterprise, to his extremely positive reaction during Number One’s aforementioned Gilbert and Sullivan routine. While season two of Discovery certainly explained (to great success) why Spock is actually quite emotional and his attempts to quell those feelings, it is also unbelievable that Spock would open himself up to an officer he just met or lose control of his emotions so easily.Rebecca Romijn and Ethan Peck in Q&A (2019)The smile was forgivable, and even cute considering we know Spock is starting his tenure on the Enterprise, but the latter required much more time than what the 15-minute runtime allows to become earned. And yes, Number One did have that spiel about knowing when to keep your oddities to yourself, and that still doesn’t make the climax of this episode seem anything but forced and undeserved. We’ll chalk this critique up to a story that was trying to fit too much into its runtime.This is an excellent short and its nice to see more development on Spock and Number One, these shorts do well to fill the void between seasons.

 

REVIEW: STAR TREK: DISCOVERY – SEASON 2

Michelle Yeoh, Doug Jones, Anson Mount, Ethan Peck, Anthony Rapp, Sonequa Martin-Green, and Mary Wiseman in Star Trek: Discovery (2017)

Starring

Sonequa Martin-Green (Rivers Wash Over Me)
Doug Jones (The Watch)
Anthony Rapp (Rent)
Mary Wiseman (Longmire)
Shazad Latif (Penny Dreadful)
Wilson Cruz (He’s Just Not That into You)
Anson Mount (Inhumans)

Star Trek: Discovery (2017)

Recurring / Notable Guest Cast

Mia Kirshner (The Vampire Diaries)
Tig Notaro (In a World…)
Michelle Yeoh (The Lady)
Alan van Sprang (Reign)
Rachael Ancheril (Heroes Reborn)
Jayne Brook (Gattaca)
Ethan Peck (In Time)
Sonja Sohn (The Originals)
James Frain (Gotham)
Mary Chieffo (Miss Dial)
Kenneth Mitchell (Captain Marvel)
Rebecca Romijn (X-Men)
Melissa George (Triangle)
Hannah Cheesman (Defiance)
Emily Coutts (Crimson Peak)
Patrick Kwok-Choon (Wyatt Earp)
Oyin Oladejo (Pond)
Ronnie Rowe (A Simple Favor)
Arista Arhin (Odd Squad)
Raven Dauda (Gossip)
Julianne Grossman (Superman/Batman: Apocalypse)
Sara Mitich (The Expanse)
Bahia Watson (The Handmaid’s Tale)
Hannah Spear (Versus Valerie)
Alisen Down (Smallville)
Tara Nicodemo (Every Day)
Chris Violette (Power Rangers SPD)
Kenric Green (The Walking Dead)
Yadira Guevara-Prip (Supernatural)

Doug Jones, Anson Mount, David Benjamin Tomlinson, Rachael Ancheril, Sonequa Martin-Green, and Sean Connolly Affleck in Star Trek: Discovery (2017)Star Trek: Discovery’s inaugural season was faced with a seemingly impossible feat. The CBS All Access series was tasked with delivering a fresh new take that appeased a hardcore fan base and remained true to the franchise’s 50-year history, while also appealing to a Trek noob who wouldn’t know Voyager from Deep Space Nine. Although Season 1 stumbled in its efforts to remain tightly within canon while also telling an exciting and cohesive story, the show managed to pull off a commendable first run thanks to a charming bridge crew, a delectably villainous leader in Captain Lorca (Jason Isaacs) and that unapologetic love of science and adventure which has come to define the franchise as a whole.Anson Mount, Rachael Ancheril, and Sonequa Martin-Green in Star Trek: Discovery (2017)Building on that, Discovery really hits its stride in Season 2. With the Klingon War on the backburner, the series is finally able to breathe, and as a result, delivers a refreshing sophomore run that just feels like the weight of the world has been lifted off its shoulders. After receiving a distress call from the USS Enterprise, the Discovery crew ditches its plan to pick up a new captain on Vulcan in order to help out fellow Federation officers in need. Starfleet’s most prized ship is offline after suffering a catastrophic meltdown while tracking one of seven red signals that have suddenly appeared in space. With his ship on the sidelines, Captain Pike (Anson Mount) takes the helm of the Discovery for an important rescue mission that was only meant to be temporary. But those ominous signals pose a serious threat to the universe so of course, he’s needed to stay on and uncover that mystery, thus kicking off a thrilling adventure in deep space.Bringing in an iconic character like Pike could have been disastrous but Discovery somehow makes it work. He’s seamlessly woven into the narrative, bringing exhilarating new energy that never overpowers the series’ core cast. Mount’s Pike is dashing, charismatic and genuinely likable, but not without his faults. He’s very much the man Gene Roddenberry envisioned so many decades ago but never feels like a relic of the past. He’s exactly what Discovery, both the crew and series as a whole, needs right now. But he’s also just a fraction of what makes Season 2 such an enjoyable experience.With Discovery learning to let loose and have fun, Season 2 utilizes its arsenal of delightful characters in a way that it never could before. Owing to that is the adorkably wonderful Tilly (Mary Wiseman), last season’s Miss Congeniality whose expanded role is like a much-needed serotonin boost. Brilliant, funny and bursting with nerdy optimism, the new season finds her finally coming into her own as a confident leader, and that transformation is a pure joy to watch unfold. Equally amusing is newcomer Tig Notaro’s Denise Reno, the USS Hiawatha’s brilliant chief engineer whose deadpan humor easily makes her this season’s low-key gem.Anson Mount in Star Trek: Discovery (2017)But among a diverse group of amiable personalities, Michael Burnham (Sonequa Martin-Green) remains the true heart and soul of the series. It’s mostly through her eyes that we learn about the world that Discovery has created, and in Season 2, her story again takes center stage. With the exploration of Burnham’s past comes the inevitable arrival of her adoptive brother Spock (Ethan Peck), and their family drama sets the groundwork for an engrossing journey in the new season.Linked through the same visions of a mysterious red angel, their broken dynamic breathes new life into Spock, a character who’s been explored inside and out, having been around for five decades. But Discovery presents a different Spock, someone on the losing side of an internal battle between reason and logic. He’s not the Vulcan you know from Star Trek: The Original Series, nor does he need to be. With this latest iteration set years before the events of TOS, the show found the loophole it needed to introduce this bearded, disheveled version into official canon — and it’s handled with great care.Ethan Peck in Star Trek: Discovery (2017)By all means, Discovery isn’t perfect. It’s still working to find that natural balance between nostalgia and modernity. But Season 2 takes a carefully bold, gripping, and undeniably fun stab at it and in turn, is a much better show.

REVIEW: 10 THINGS I HATE ABOUT YOU: THE SERIES

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MAIN CAST

Lindsey Shaw (The Howling: Reborn)
Meaghan Martin (Mean Girls 2)
Larry Miller (8 Simple Rules)
Ethan Peck (That 70s Show)
Nicholas Braun (The Watch)
Dana Davis (Heroes)

RECURRING / NOTABLE GUEST CAST

Kyle Kaplan (Drillbit Taylor)
Suzy Nakamura (Deep Impact)
Chris Zylka (The Secret Circle)
Ally Maki (2 Broke Girls)
Audrey Wasilewski (Pushing Daisies)
Leslie Grossman (What I Like About You)
Leslie-Anne Huff (The Vampire Diaries)
Jolene Purdy (Donnie Darko)
Barret Swatek (Power Rangers Turbo)
Ryan Pinkston (Bad Santa)
Tiffany Hines (Bones)
Mindy Sterling (Austin Powers)

I was positive that I would be in for bad acting and a horrible script (The Secret Life of the American Teenager, anyone?). However, upon watching the first few episodes I found that the only problem with this show is that is it way too short for me to get my fill. The show’s storyline is split between that of Bianca and Kat, two completely opposite people. Kat’s story consists of her efforts to make men value her more despite their sexist views, and of short, but charming, interactions between her and the school bad boy. Bianca’s consists of her quest for popularity and her obliviousness admirer, Cameron.  Both story lines can be amusing, but I doubt that anyone really watches for both. Either they’re a fan of Kat and Patrick, or they are rooting for Bianca to replace Chastity as a head cheerleader and steal her football-playing boyfriend . In the movie, the two story lines were linked together in some way, but in the show they only intertwine when Kat and Bianca argue at the dinner table, which is where the separation of fans comes from.Though Meaghan Martin plays a funny, bubbly teen very well, Dana Davis plays the bitchy popular girl so convincingly, and Nick Braun plays the awkward, dorky, and  secret admirer as if that is who he has been his entire life anyhow,  they really deserve accolades. Larry Miller plays the part of a psychotic father in such a charming and funny way that I can’t help but adore every scene he is in. There is definitely a reason he got the part of the father in both the movie and TV show. The strong acting is great since his character is responsible for what little tie the sisters have to one another in the show and creates good family humor.
Lindsey Shaw is so convincing in her character that I can’t imagine any other actress even attempting to play it. She has a natural energy that shines through in her character and she can deliver comical lines like no other. In fact, I probably laugh at her dialogue more than any other character’s simply because of the way it comes out of her mouth. Kat gradually goes through a personal growth throughout the show and the audience can watch as someone so sure of herself fights to stay on track and stick to what she has preached. It’s quite intriguing. Ethan Peck, though soft-spoken and not exactly convincing as the bad boy he is supposed to play, delivers a good, unique version of Patrick Verona. While in the movie the character really seemed as if he could have lived up to the rumors everyone had heard about him, I don’t get that from this version of Patrick. To me, he seems like the misunderstood kid that wants to appear scary only so that people will leave him alone and so that he can be sure anyone that does make an effort to get to know him is worthwhile.Overall, this show is just downright hilarious and the characters are endearing and addictive. The sarcasm alone is funny, but the characters themselves have such strong personalities, each one with their funny little quirks. The best thing is that the characters don’t seem one-dimensional like so many other TV characters are. Sadly it’s another show that lasted just one season but it is one heck of a good season.