REVIEW: WHAT WE LEFT BEHIND: LOOKING BACK AT DEEP SPACE NINE

What We Left Behind: Looking Back at Deep Space Nine (2018)

Starring

Max Grodénchik (Rocketeer)
Andrew Robinson (Hellraiser)
Armin Shimerman (Buffy: TVS)
Nana Visitor (Dark Angel)
Colm Meaney (Layer Cake)
Jeffrey Combs (Re-Animator)
Aron Eisenberg (Puppet Master III)
Rene Auberjonois (Boston Legal)
Alexander Siddig (Gotham)
Casey Biggs (Broken Arrow)
Terry Farrell (Hellraiser III)
Penny Johnson Jerald (The Orville)
Avery Brooks (American Hsitory X)
Chase Masterson (Yesterday Was a Lie)
Michael Dorn (Arrow)
Wallace Shawn (Young Sheldon)
Marc Alaimo (Total Recall)
Bill Mumy (Lost In Space)
J.G. Hertzler (Zorro)
Robert O’Reilly (The Mask)
Cirroc Lofton (Beethoven)
Nicole de Boer (Cube)

What We Left Behind: Looking Back at Deep Space Nine (2018)Star Trek: Deep Space Nine was the fourth television series in the Star Trek franchise. It ran for seven seasons and a hundred and seventy-six episodes in syndication. The finale, “What You Leave Behind”, aired on June 2nd, 1999. DS9 was markedly different from Star Trek and Star Trek: The Next Generation. The show setting was a recovered enemy space station near the planet Bajor. A grieving Starfleet commander, Benjamin Sisko (Avery Brooks), assigned to help the Bajorans recover from a devastating occupation; discovers a wormhole to a distant region of the galaxy, the Gamma Quadrant. What followed was a thrilling, slow-burn escalation to the epic, Dominion War; a conflict against powerful Gamma Quadrant adversaries that threatened the United Federation of Planets.What We Left Behind: Looking Back at Deep Space Nine is a wonderful retrospective and coda to the beloved series. The documentary is produced and directed by Ira Steven Behr, DS9’s showrunner/executive producer, and filmmaker/Star Trek enthusiast David Zappone; who produced The Captains and For the Love of Spock. Originally crowdfunded to celebrate DS9’s twenty-fifth anniversary, Behr was astonished by the legions of fans that contributed money. It changed the scale of the documentary, and provided an opportunity to pursue fandom’s dream scenario; a look at the story for a possible season eight of Star Trek: Deep Space Nine.ds9-cast-1200x786What We Left Behind reunites the original cast, writers, filmmakers, and studio executives for interviews. DS9, though it ran for seven seasons, was pilloried by critics at the time. The show was too dark, political, and not adventurous enough. The sci-fi mainstream decried a Star Trek series that was serialized, not episodic. They wanted each week to be a new adventure on a different planet, mimicking the format of the incredibly popular Star Trek: The Next Generation. DS9 had elaborate storylines that stretched over multiple seasons and embraced controversy. From racial and ethnic issues, religious strife, to television’s first lesbian kiss, it was a Star Trek series that obliterated boundaries. Ira Steven Behr has frank discussions with the Paramount studio executive who didn’t understand his vision for the show. Luckily, his persistence and a cult following allowed DS9 to continue its risque path; albeit with some major changes forced by the suits.what-we-left-behind-looking-back-at-star-trek-deep-space-nine-still-1-1160x480Without delving too deep into the details of the interviews, two pivotal events are explored. The first was the addition of Star Trek: The Next Generation’s bad-ass Klingon, Lt. Commander Worf (Michael Dorn), in season four. The cast, Behr, Rick Berman (overall Star Trek TV producer), and several Paramount execs discuss bringing the popular character to the struggling show. What was already a tight-knit crew had doubts, but welcomed Dorn into the fold. The decision turned out to be exactly as hoped; a shot in the arm that revitalized DS9. The same cannot be said for the killing of Worf’s wife and series regular from the start, Lt. Commander Jadzia Dax (Terry Farrell). What We Left Behind takes a frank look at the turmoil caused by firing her. Terry Farrell’s treatment and decision to leave was a blow to all. Behr also shows the professionalism and resilience of the core players. Nicole de Boer’s Lt. Ezri Dax, who replaced Terry Farrell, was a key character during the final season. Seeing the players and producers discuss this tumultuous time is riveting. They developed lifelong bonds from their time on DS9. The show profoundly impacted them on a personal level. Defining the acting careers for many of the cast members.1266412299-What-We-Left-Behind-Looking-Back-At-StarIn true DS9 fashion, What We Left Behind gets political. The doc explores the casting of Avery Brooks as Star Trek’s first black captain and series lead. We see how Brooks, who unfortunately is only interviewed through archival footage, steered the path of DS9. Captain Sisko was a father foremost. DS9 had an incredible story arc with his son, Jake Sisko (Cirroc Lofton), growing up on the space station. Brooks wanted the show to portray a positive black male role model as a parent and leader. DS9 was filmed during the LA riots of 1992. Anyone who watched DS9 knows how thoughtfully the series tackled such heady issues. Fandom will also be quite surprised what Behr has to say about the relationship between Garak (Andrew J. Robinson) and Dr. Bashir (Alexander Siddig).what-we-left-behind-terry-farrell-nana-visitorWhat We Left Behind does not forget the talented production designers, effects teams, and make-up artists that made DS9 so realistic. Some of the funnier scenes have Armin Shimerman, who played Quark the Ferengi bartender, and René Auberjonois, who played the shape-shifting security chief Odo, cursing the other cast members, particularly Colm Meaney (Chief O’Brien). They had to sit for hours in make-up, and then work in the uncomfortable prosthetics; while the “human” actors had mere touch-ups. It’s all in good humor, but illustrates the physical toll of playing DS9’s alien characters.armin-shimmerman-what-we-left-behind-star-trek-deep-space-nine-1170189-1280x0The most thrilling aspect of What We Left Behind is the plotting for a potential season eight. Behr gathered the original writers, including Robert Hewitt Wolfe, for a storyboard session. The breakdown is accompanied by CGI animation and pre-vis sketches. Prepare to be blown off your couches. Set twenty years after Captain Sisko defeated the Dominion and vanished into the wormhole, the season eight storyline is jaw-dropping. It’s loaded with surprises that will melt the minds of every DS9 fan. Behr and the writers acknowledge this is pure fantasy, but does it have to be? CBS and Paramount allows fan made Star Trek, as long as it’s not for profit. I would shell out in a heartbeat to have a crowdfunded, CGI adaptation of DS9 season eight. Voiced by the original cast of course. Behr raised the money for What We Left Behind in a weekend. I’m pretty sure fandom can make that happen… What We Left Behind: Looking Back at Deep Space Nine is a must see for fans, and anyone who appreciates great science fiction. DS9 is the perfect series for the binge-watching, streaming audiences of today. It’s remarkable that a show which ended two decades ago, and was misunderstood by the masses, has found a new generation of ardent supporters. I think Star Trek: Deep Space Nine is not only the best Star Trek series, but arguably, the best sci-fi series. Seasons five through seven were masterful, exhilarating and engrossing television. We need to see season eight. What We Left Behind: Looking Back at Star Trek: Deep Space Nine is available now on DVD/Blu-Ray from Shout! Factory.

REVIEW: THE INCREDIBLE HULK (1977) – SEASON 3

Starring

Bill Bixby (My Favorite Martian)
Lou Ferrigno (I Love You, Man)
Jack Colvin (Child’s Play)

Bill Bixby in The Incredible Hulk (1978)

 

RECURRING / NOTABLE GUEST CAST

Katherine Cannon (Magnum P.I.)
Gary Graham (Alien Nation)
Marc Alaimo (Star Trek: DS9)
Robert Davi (The Goonies)
Ray Walston (Star Trek: Voyager)
Joan Leslie (High Sierra)
Scatman Crothers (The Shining)
Robert Alda (Secret File, U.S.A.)
Bob Hastings (Batman: TS)
Fred Ward (Tremors)
Diana Muldaur (Star Trek: TNG)
Guy Boyd (Bones)
Stanley Kamel (Domino)
Anne Lockhart (Battlestar Galactica)
Mark Lenard (Star Trek)
Allan Rich (Quiz Show)
Paul Koslo (Stargate SG.1)
Mickey Jones (V: The Final Battle)
Melendy Britt (She-Ra)
Gerald McRaney (Focus)
Henry Polic II (Might Max)
Sheila Larken (The X-Files)
Dennis Haysbert (Far From Heaven)
Peter Jason (Mortal Kombat)

Lou Ferrigno in The Incredible Hulk (1978)For the third season no multi-part episodes were included, so there really wasn’t much continuity here by comparison to the previous year. That serious tone that helped the series out in the second season was back for this one, but there were still some bits that just didn’t feel right. Having the Hulk freak out on an acid trip, party at a disco, and David fight his moustache wearing evil twin proved to be moments that were really hard to take. Little bits and pieces like this invaded just about every episode and some of the plots get downright ridiculous.Lou Ferrigno in The Incredible Hulk (1978)Even so there were still some good episodes all around this season, but they were slightly harder to find.Of the good stuff “Homecoming” definitely stands out as one of the best here. In this episode David goes home to his family for Thanksgiving. While there he spends a little time trying to help out with a problem on the farm, but that’s not what makes this episode so entertaining. For the entire time we’ve known David, we haven’t really learned much about his history prior to being big and green. This episode provides plenty of opportunity for the writers to explore his character and some of his background.Lou Ferrigno in The Incredible Hulk (1978)Another solid episode from this season include “The Snare” which has David being invited to an island where he’s hunted by a madman. “The Psychic” is an interesting episode that puts David’s morality on the line when he learns that Jack McGee is going to die. David’s life sure would be a heck of a lot easier if the nosey reported wasn’t around, but could he live with that? This episode really got into David’s head and we got a nice glimpse at how he ticks.Lou Ferrigno in The Incredible Hulk (1978)Aside from these episodes, most of the other ones here are simply passable. In all honesty it seemed as though by this point the show had already begun to slip though it still retained most of the quality.

REVIEW: THE INCREDIBLE HULK (1977) – SEASON 2

Starring

Bill Bixby (My Favorite Martian)
Lou Ferrigno (I Love You, Man)
Jack Colvin (Child’s Play)

Bill Bixby and Mariette Hartley in The Incredible Hulk (1978)

RECURRING / NOTABLE GUEST CAST

Mariette Hartley (Encino Man)
Brian Cutler (Emergency!)
Rosalind Chao (Star Trek: DS9)
William Lucking (Red Dragon)
Lance LeGault (Stripes)
Myron Healey (Shadow on The Land)
Gerald McRaney (Focus)
Mickey Jones (V: The Final Battle)
Ned Romero (Star Trek)
Sally Kirkland (JFK)
Mako (Conan The Barbarian)
Donna Wilkes (Jaws 2)
Marc Alaimo (Star Trek: TNG)
Brion James (Blade Runner)
Pat Morita (The Karate Kid)
Shelley Fabares (Coach)
Kerrigan Mahan (Mighty Morphin Power Rangers)
Christine Belford (wonder Woman)
Billy Green Bush (Jason Goes To Hell)
Ernie Hudson (Ghostbusters)
Austin Stoker (Battle For TPOTA)
Carol Baxter (The Curse of Dracula)
Barbara Tarbuck (S. Darko)
Aline Towne (Highway 301)
John Fujioka (Mortal Kombat)
Fred Ward (Tremors)
Sherman Hemsley (The Jefferson)
Robert F. Lyons (Roswell)
Morgan Woodward (Cool Hand Luke)

Lou Ferrigno in The Incredible Hulk (1978)The second season of the Hulk starts out with David heading to Hawaii and getting married to a woman named Carolyn. Of course, being cursed as he is, things naturally don’t end well for the doctor. In the end though, this “Married” episode was interesting because it was more or less two parts and presented itself as a much larger story than we had become accustomed to.Bill Bixby in The Incredible Hulk (1978)The thing with The Incredible Hulk is that most every episode followed a strict formula and you could basically expect the same structure over and over again. Due to that fact it is always a nice thing when the mold is broken, which did happen from time to time with the series.That “mold” is broken again later in this season with a two-part episode entitled “Mystery Man”. This storyline features the very definition of a close call when David is involved in a car accident that renders him with amnesia. It is bad enough he doesn’t remember what happens when he’s the Hulk, but now he just plain doesn’t know what’s going on. Because of the accident his face is bandaged and he winds up spending a lot of time with McGee when they are involved in a plane crash together.You’re left wondering throughout the episode whether or not the reporter will actually put two and two together.Aside from these two breaks from the standard set by the first season, the rest of this year’s batch of Hulk episodes are formulaic. It works for many episodes, but there are others which just aren’t quite as sharp. “The Antowuk Horror”, “Alice in Disco Land”, “Killer Instinct”, and “Stop the Presses” all stand out as prime examples of the show at its best, while “Wild Fire”, “Vendetta Road”, and “The Disciple” are a few of the lower points.Lou Ferrigno and Mickey Jones in The Incredible Hulk (1978)All in all, the second season of The Incredible Hulk was much better than the first, but then again in the opening year the show was just finding its footing. We still see a little bit of that here though it’s safe to say that the show handles this material better than most science fiction programs of the era. Many of these episodes and plots are cliché beyond reason, but the series handles them seriously and with a hefty flare for the dramatic. This was definitely one of the feathers in the Hulk’s cap and because of that the series retains much of its entertainment value some thirty years later.

 

REVIEW: WONDER WOMAN – SEASON 3

Starring

Lynda Carter (Supergirl)
Lyle Waggoner (The Carol Burnett Show)

Lynda Carter in Wonder Woman (1975)

RECURRING / NOTABLE GUEST CAST

Michael Lerner (Elf)
Leif Garrett (The Outsiders)
Lance LeGault (Stripes)
Craig T. Nelson (Poltergeist)
Ed Begley Jr. (Better Call Saul)
Roddy McDowall (Planet of The Apes)
Gavin MacLeod (The Love Boat)
Michael DeLano (Commando)
Wolfman Jack (Motel Hell)
Joan Van Ark (Knots Landing)
Eric Braeden (Titanic)
Peter Mark Richman (Friday The 13th 8)
Mako (TMNT)
Rene Auberjonois (Star Trek: DS9)
George Cheung (Rush Hour)
Tim O’Connor (Buck rogers)
Sheryl Lee Ralph (Fam)
Judge Reinhold (Beverly Hills Cop)
Rick Springfield (Ricki and The Flash)
Barry Miller (Fame)
Donnelly Rhodes (Battlestar Galactica)
Bob Hastings (Batman: TAS)
Marc Alaimo (Star Trek: DS9)

Lynda Carter in Wonder Woman (1975)Wonder Woman still remains an icon to this day, thanks in many ways to the TV series and the performance of Lynda Carter in the lead role. As I stated in my Season 2 review, not many actresses could have pulled it off. But Lynda, however, had it, and still does. Between Seasons 1 and 2 of Wonder Woman things became a bit more modern. With Season 3 things seemed to change a bit more, and in my mind, for the better. Gone were the comic book-style captions. Although the comic book opening sequence and theme song were fun, it was nice to get something a little more serious for the third year. Diana Prince’s huge glasses also disappeared over time.Lynda Carter in Wonder Woman (1975)The Season 3 DVD set maintains a really nice packaging design that maintains the comic book roots of the original series while at the same time not looking cheesy. And, like I said, it’s nice to have all three sets side by side.Lynda Carter in Wonder Woman (1975)The set features commentary on the episode “My Teenage Idol Is Missing” with Wonder Woman herself, Lynda Carter. In the commentary, Ms. Carter talks about where she hoped the show would have ended, about the fads and feminism at the time of the show, and, of course, she talked about that episode’s guest star, then-teenage heartthrob Leif Garrett. (Leif did the rounds on late 70’s television during his pop star years… look for him also on other series such as CHiPs) Although it seemed that Carter had a list of things or a script she may have been referring to, it was really nice to hear her talking about it and even better considering it’s 25 years after the fact and she’s still willing to discuss it. The third season also features some of Wonder Woman’s alternative costumes, like the groovy motorcycle outfit, and she sometimes wears a cape.Wonder Woman (1975)Anyway, for comic book fans, or for fans of the Wonder Woman character, Wonder Woman is a great package, and a great series to own all the way through. I’ve only been able to watch a few of the episodes thus far, but the ones I’ve seen so far – particularly in this third season – I have liked a lot. Episodes that I haven’t watched yet, with titles like “The Boy Who Knew Her Secret,” sound very intriguing and I can’t wait to see more. Bonus! Look for guest stars like Craig T. Nelson, Ed Begley Jr., Joe E. Tata (“Nat” from 90210!), Gavin MacLeod (Captain Stubing!), Wolfman Jack, Knots Landing couple Ted Shackelford and Joan Van Ark, Rene Auberjonois, and Rick Springfield – all in the third season

 

REVIEW: TOTAL RECALL (1990)

CAST

Arnold Schwarzenegger (The Terminator)
Sharon Stone (Catwoman)
Rachel Ticotin (Con Air)
Ronny Cox (Robocop)
Michael Ironside (X-Men: First Class)
Mel Johnson, Jr. (Hideous!)
Marshall Bell (Twins)
Robert Constanzo (Batman: TAS)
Marc Alaimo (Star Trek: DS9)
Dean Norris (The Cell)
Debbie Lee Carrington (Men In Black)
Lycia Naff (Star Trek: TNG)
Robert Picardo (Stargate: Atlantis)
Mickey Jones (V)
Rosemary Dunsmore (Orphan BLack)
Peter Kent (True Justice)

In 2084, Earthbound construction worker Douglas Quaid is having troubling dreams about Mars and a mysterious woman there. His wife Lori dismisses the dreams and discourages him from thinking about Mars, where the governor, Vilos Cohaagen, is fighting rebels while searching for a rumored alien artifact located in the mines. At “Rekall”, a company that provides memory implants of vacations, Quaid opts for a memory trip to Mars as a secret agent fantasy. However, during the procedure, before the memory is implanted, something goes wrong, and the story diverges between the question of what is real and what is hallucination. Apparently, Quaid starts revealing previously suppressed memories of actually being a secret agent. The company sedates him, wipes his memory of the visit, and sends him home. On the way home, Quaid is attacked by his friend Harry and some construction coworkers; he is forced to kill them, revealing elite fighting-skills. He is then attacked in his apartment by Lori, who reveals that she was never his wife; their marriage was just a false memory implant and Cohaagen sent her as an agent to monitor Quaid. He is then attacked and pursued by armed thugs led by Richter, Lori’s real husband and Cohaagen’s operative.
After evading his attackers, Quaid is given a suitcase containing money, gadgets, fake IDs, a disguise, and a video recording. The video is of Quaid himself, who identifies himself as “Hauser” and explains that he used to work for Cohaagen, but learned about the artifact and underwent the memory wipe to protect himself. “Hauser” instructs Quaid to remove a tracking device located inside his skull before ordering him to go to Mars and check into the Hilton with a fake ID. Quaid makes his way to Mars and follows clues to Venusville, the colony’s red-light district, primarily populated by people mutated as a result of poor radiation shielding. He meets Benny, a taxi driver, and Melina, the woman from his dreams; but she spurns him, believing that Quaid is still working for Cohaagen.
Quaid later encounters Dr. Edgemar and Lori, who claim Quaid has suffered a “schizoid embolism” and is trapped in a fantasy based on the implanted memories. Edgemar warns that Quaid is headed for lunacy and a lobotomy if he does not return to reality, then offers Quaid a pill that would waken him from the dream. Quaid puts the pill in his mouth, but after seeing Edgemar sweating in fear, he kills Edgemar and spits out the pill instead of swallowing it. Lori alerts Richter’s forces, who burst into the room and capture Quaid, but Melina rescues him, with Quaid killing Lori in the process. The two race back to the Venusville bar and escape into the tunnels with Benny. Unable to locate Quaid, Cohaagen shuts down the ventilation to Venusville, slowly asphyxiating its citizens. Quaid, Melina, and Benny are taken to a resistance base, and Quaid is introduced to Kuato, a parasitic twin conjoined to his brother’s stomach. Kuato reads Quaid’s mind and tells him that the alien artifact is a turbinium reactor that will create a breathable atmosphere for Mars when activated, eliminating Cohaagen’s abusive monopoly on breathable air. Cohaagen’s forces burst in and kill most of the resistance, including Kuato, who instructs Quaid to start the reactor. Benny reveals that he is also working for Cohaagen.
Quaid and Melina are taken to Cohaagen, who reveals the Quaid persona was a ploy by Hauser to infiltrate the mutants and lead Cohaagen to Kuato, thereby wiping out the resistance. Cohaagen orders Hauser’s memory to be re-implanted in Quaid and Melina programmed as Hauser’s obedient wife, but Quaid and Melina escape into the mines where the reactor is located. They work their way to the control room of the reactor, and Benny attacks them in an excavation machine. Quaid kills Benny, then confronts Richter and his men, killing them too.
Quaid reaches the reactor control room, where Cohaagen is waiting with a bomb. During the ensuing struggle, Cohaagen triggers the bomb, but Quaid throws it away, blowing out one of the walls of the control room and causing an explosive decompression. While reaching for the reactor controls, Quaid knocks out Cohaagen, which causes him to be sucked out onto the Martian surface, killing him. Quaid manages to activate the reactor before he and Melina are also pulled out. The reactor releases air into the Martian atmosphere, saving Quaid, Melina and the rest of Mars’ population. As humans walk onto the surface of the planet in its new atmosphere, Quaid momentarily pauses to wonder whether he is dreaming before turning to kiss Melina.
Good Si-Fi story. The special effects are, as expected, a little dated now but was state of the art for the 90’s. Story moves at a great pace and Arnie is at his usual best with great one liners “consider this a divorce” to Sharon Stone as his evil wife. I prefer this version to the re-boot in 2012.