World’s Worst Trekkie: Wolf in the Fold, The Trouble With Tribbles, and The Gamesters of Triskelion

Well. There are many fascinating things in this trio of episodes. Tribbles. Serial killers. Talking alien brains that orchestrate death matches. Prepare yourselves, my friends, for the road ahead is paved with hilarity, absurdity, misogyny, violence, unexpected historical references, and fantastic hair.

DISCLAIMER

There will be SPOILERS for these three episodes and probably also the Star Trek franchise in general. You’ve been warned.

“Wolf in the Fold”

Oh, wow. That was, yes. That was surely an episode.

At first, I assumed we were in for our standard ‘Starfleet officer is framed for murder’ story, but oh no, my friends. Oh no. Things take a turn for the WTF when it’s revealed that it’s not Scotty who’s murdering women but Jack the Ripper. JACK THE FUCKING RIPPER. Redjac is a non-corporeal alien entity who kills women because they’re more easily terrified than men. (According to Spock, that is, who you’ll remember is absolutely perfect 80% of the time and sucks so hard the other 20%.) Obviously, I was unprepared for this turn of events. Mek mentioned JtR early in the episode (cause murder, fog, etc.), but it was supposed to be a joke. Reader. It was not a joke. Kirk actually says things like “but everything we’ve uncovered points to Jack the Ripper,” which is just categorically untrue, BTW. It has literally been less than 20 seconds since JtR even became a possible suspect. Redjac is also played by John Fiedler, who notably voiced Piglet from Winnie the Pooh. Which means that “Evil Piglet is Jack the Ripper!” is now a real thing that I have said.

That’s obviously the most ludicrous thing that happens in the episode, but never fear: absurdity abounds in many forms today! Like how Scotty is only on this planet at all because Bones prescribed him a rehabilitative trip to the local belly dancer tavern, which is supposed to cure him of his “total resentment toward women,” an affliction he’s been suffering from ever since some woman caused an explosion that knocked Scotty into a bulkhead?

I . . . I can’t. I just can’t.

There’s also the “psycho-tricorder” (a device I’m relatively sure is never used again), Spock’s random ass theory of the “hypnotic screen,” the fact that Kirk seems way more concerned about making sure Scotty gets cleared of all charges than he is about any of the dead women (including one of his own officers, for Christ’s sake), and the fact that Kirk ultimately defeats Jack the Ripper by getting everyone on board high.

I can’t stress enough that this is all a real episode, a real episode that really aired.

It’s terrible. I wanna watch it twice.

Chief Asshat: I’m gonna have to go with all of them? Yeah, all of them.

MVP: Whoever’s responsible for Sybo’s hair and wardrobe because it’s incredibly rare for me to see women’s fashion on TOS and think, Hell yeah, I’d wear that.

Grade: Vanilla

Line of the Episode:
“I . . . I don’t remember.”
“Really, sir, that is hardly helpful.”

“The Trouble With Tribbles”

HOLY SHIT WE’VE REACHED THE TRIBBLE EPISODE!

I’ve never actually seen this episode in full before. I have seen the above GIF plenty of times–which is actually more morbid than you’d expect, considering how many of those cute cascading Tribbles are already dead–plus “Trials and Tribble-ations” a billion years ago.  But this is the first time I’m seeing the OG version, and folks, it’s delightful. There’s a reason this one’s a classic: the script is hilarious, and the actors land every damn line. (Well. Okay, I found Chekov’s “everything was invented in Russia” shtick a little forced today, but everything else.)

Some of my many favorite moments:  Scotty being able to endure any insult except an insult to the ship, Spock fooling absolutely nobody when he insists that he is immune to the charms of the tribble, Uhura archly reminding Kirk how often she gets short leave, Kirk putting his foot down due to the tragic loss of his chicken sandwich and coffee, and nobody wanting to take responsibility for beaming all the tribbles over to the Klingon’s engine room. (Which is hilarious, but also, holy shit, this is an act of WAR. Like, they basically just sentenced Cyrano Jones to 17 years of fuzzy labor for this kind of irresponsible shit.)

Short of quoting half the episode, I’m not sure how much I have to say. I do, of course, deeply relate to Scotty trying to pass up shore leave in order to stay inside and read, but I wish he’d also said something like, “Yeah I’ve had trouble relaxing on shore leave ever since that unfortunate time I was framed for multiple murders by Alien Jack the Ripper.” And the Klingons, once again, do not particularly act like the Klingons I’m familiar with, though I was kinda amused to see Klingon Trelane, or rather, the actor who played Trelane in “The Squire of Gothos” showing up in this episode as Koloth.

Chief Asshat: Oh, Baris, just for being a whiny little shit.

MVP: Kirk and Scotty. They both made me laugh a lot.

Grade: Chocolate

Line of the Episode: Oh, this is hard. “Extremely little, ensign” is a fantastic burn by Spock. I always enjoy some Bones and Spock banter, and of course, “You gave them to the Klingons?” is just fantastic. Still . . .

“My chicken sandwich and coffee . . . this is my chicken sandwich and coffee . . .”
“Fascinating.”
“I want these things off the ship. I don’t care if takes every man we’ve got. I want them off the ship.”

It’s all about Kirk’s delivery. It’s so incredulous/plaintive. It makes me think fondly of Janeway, who we all know would’ve burned every tribble alive if they got between her and her coffee.

“The Gamesters of Triskelion”

. . . can I have Jack the Ripper back?

Seriously. “Wolf in the Fold” is terrible, but like, drinking game terrible. It’s delightfully bad. There is no such delight to be found in “The Gamesters of Triskelion.” The script physically hurts me. There are discussions of freedom, slavery, love, and beauty, and every single line is the worst line. The fight scenes are terrible, too, which of course is totally normal, but as this is a classic “you must fight to the death for our amusement” episode, it’d be cool if I could at least say nice things about the death battles. Alas, there is very little to praise here. Like, okay, I did laugh when Galt says he’s been sent to welcome our heroes, and we immediately cut to Kirk being forcefully cuffed to the wall. That was funny. Also funny: the fashion. Kirk’s battle harness, for instance. Also, I wanna get a bald cap and cosplay Galt. His collar is so sparkly!

Otherwise, yeah. We get a weird amount of closeups and poorly acted monologues delivered to the sky. We get a lot of pointless filler scenes where Bones and Scotty argue with Spock, which is especially galling because it’s so goddamn obvious that Spock is correct. (There is, admittedly, a funny moment where Spock totally trolls these two as he leans in, all hush-hush, and brings up mutiny–but it’s too little, too late.) We get Kirk seducing an alien woman for the 87th time. (I initially thought of her as Sexy Oompa Loompa, which isn’t entirely fair, considering her green hair is fantastic, and her skin isn’t nearly orange enough. Mek mentioned that Lady Gaga could rock this look, which is absolutely correct–and yes, Google tells me the similarities have definitely been noted before.)

Alien Lady Gaga wants to leave on the Enterprise and learn about the stars, but isn’t allowed to despite her newfound freedom because, IDK, it’s more important that she stays here, being taught by the evolved, colorful brains who enslaved her in the first place? Bullshit, sir. You take this woman away from this terrible place. Also, Kirk wins everybody’s freedom far too easily, like, what the hell happened to the whole “to the death” part of the rules? And did I mention the scene where Lars the Thrall tries to sexually assault Uhura offscreen? Yeah, no, what the fuck was THAT shit, writers? Absofuckinglutely not.

In conclusion:

Chief Asshat: Lars, obviously, but Kirk kinda sucks here, too

MVP: Uhura, who’s had an immensely shitty day and deserves better

Grade: Strawberry

Line of the Episode:
“Your–your terms are unfair!”
“On the contrary, they’re extremely fair, since your alternative is death.”

MEGA Coming Soon-Ish: All The 2016-2017 TV Coming Your Way

Okay, that’s a lie: it’s not all the TV. But it’s quite a lot of it. We’re talking trailers galore, people, say roughly 20 of them. Let’s see how long they last before they’re inevitably taken down!

With so many trailers, you’d think I’d have more on my To-Watch list, but sadly that list is rather short, as it appears that many of the shows I’m interested in (like Emerald City, Powerless, or Midnight, Texas) are premiering mid-season and don’t yet have previews available. (One was leaked for Powerless but has since been taken down by NBC. Curse you, NBC.)

Still, there are a bevy of shows I could potentially check out, depending on early buzz, better trailers, important TV schedule conflicts, etc. There are also quite a number of shows I have very little interest in, and three trailers I wouldn’t necessarily mind setting on fire. I’ll let you find out which is which, but I’ll tell you this now: as awful as Bull sounds (and it does sound AWFUL), it was actually not my least favorite trailer this year. Yup. There’s a show that looks worse than Dr. Phil writing about a younger and more sexually magnetic version of himself rigging juries and otherwise outsmarting everyone he meets.

My fellow Earthlings, I present (some of) the 2016-2017 television season:

ON THE WATCH-LIST

Frequency

I watched the movie this show was based on a long damn time ago, and I know I liked it back then, but I barely remember anything about it now. This trailer tells you a lot, like, presumably every big twist that happens in the pilot, but I can’t say that it doesn’t intrigue me. (Although I suspect I’ll be hiding my face a lot while Peyton List says stuff that clearly doesn’t jive with the current timeline anymore.) This show feels like it has the potential to be ambitious, though, and seems like a bit of a departure for the CW. I don’t know if it’s going to be good, but I definitely plan to check it out.

(Good Lord. I just watched the trailer for the original movie, and it’s so ridiculously dated with music that goddamn swells. It kind of makes me wanna watch the movie again, and also makes me terrified to do so.)

Prison Break

*Disclaimer: SPOILERS for the previous seasons*

God help me, I’m actually going to watch this. I feel like I have to: I watched the original series, after all. (For a while, anyway, although I finally gave up sometime during the last season, either when Michael’s saintly dead mom was revealed to be alive and EVIL, or when Decapitated Sara somehow came back to life, violating TV’s one sacrosanct rule: anyone can come back, so long as they still have their heads. More importantly, Michael and Lincoln (or rather Captain Cold and Heat Wave) have been one of Legends of Tomorrow’s very few saving graces, and this looks so utterly ridiculous that it basically demands a watch, not the least of which because the show originally ended with Michael being dead too.

Obviously, Prison Break has never met a resurrection it didn’t like, which is a funny thing to say about a show that has zero speculative elements. Anyway, this looks pretty corny. I’m not sure what the worst part is; either Wentworth Miller’s thick and over-the-top “brother” or Sara’s waxing poetic about her supposedly dead love: “He was like a storm appearing suddenly out of a clear blue sky.” Gag. And yet, I’m going to try it, at least, the first episode. I’d commit to more, but one of the only people who apparently isn’t returning is William Fichtner, and while that’s probably a wise career decision on his part, he was easily the best part of the original show. For Fichtner, I’d commit to a season. Everyone else gets an hour out of me.

MAYBE I’LL CHECK OUT

Making History

I actually don’t watch a lot of comedy on television (although I feel like I should watch more). I might check out Making History, though, because despite having a very uneven track record of enjoying time travel stories, this trailer actually made me laugh several times. Especially with lines like “you have urgent questions about colonial Massachusetts” and “what story starts with a guy getting in a duffle bag in a garage and has a happy ending.” Oh, and also “yes” and “no, not at all” simultaneously. (Although the “show me the money” bit did kind of fall flat for me, and I’m curious/hesitant to see how they’ll be handling slavery in general.)

I’m not 100% on this yet–I rarely am with comedies–but it might be worth investigating further.

Timeless

(Ugh, screw you, bullshit internet for failing AGAIN–I’ve lost my whole section here.)

Okay, take two: I see now that the primary TV trend this season—other than the remakes/reboots/sequels that absolutely no one was waiting for–is time travel. This one looks . . . okay. On one hand, this is about an unlikely trio going back in the past to stop some big time crime, so sure, that could be fun. Goran Visnjic looks to be the primary villain, which I’m on board with, and Matt Frewer is playing . . . er, someone? Whatever, I’m always happy to see Matt Frewer show up. And I’ve already decided that Rufus is my favorite character.

On the other hand, I’m less excited about our lead heroine. It’s not an acting thing; she just seems like an utterly boring character, pretty and bland and lacking a single definitive personality trait. Supposedly, she’s along for the ride because she’s a historian, but I’m sure you won’t be shocked that there are hints that something else is going on here, some big secret or past history or possible destiny that makes her Special. Yawn. And while I’m excited to see Shantel VanSanten (hi, Patty!), the soldier dude’s whole ‘I’m almost certainly a depressed alcoholic because of my dead wife’ thing? Repeat: YAWN.

This could be a fun little SF action show, and maybe I’ll get into it. But I’m concerned it’s feeling a bit generic and trope-y right now.

Lethal Weapon

So, I don’t plan to check this one out, but to be fair: the trailer isn’t nearly as bad I’d expected it to be, and I could try the pilot out just to see. I did laugh a few times, and the actors seemed fine in their respective roles. I was probably the most interested in Kevin Rahm as the police chief, though, just because he’s one of those character actors that pops up here and again on TV, and it’s been a while since I’ve seen him. (Ah, I see he’s recently been on Madam Secretary and Mad Men. Well, that explains that mystery, then.)

Of course, I also rolled my eyes pretty heartily at Riggs’s Dead Wife. Not that I expected or even necessarily wanted them to take out Madame Refrigerator, of course, but sweet Jesus, she was preggers and in a floral top, like, trope a little harder, guys. (Seriously, I basically just made fun of this last week in my proposed outline for Tetris: The Trilogy.) Mostly, though, I’m not sure I get the point of this show: there’s nothing particularly new here, nothing that makes me think I should watch this rather than just re-watch the movie. I mean, hopefully it will be updated to exclude any gross homophobic lines. Still, I’m not excited about this.

Maybe if it had been gender-flipped. That, I could have been on board with.

Shots Fired

Potentially powerful, but I’d be lying if I said I was sure I was gonna check in. It’s definitely the kind of show I’d have to make myself watch, not one that I’d naturally be inclined to. Shots Fired appears to be an “event series,” so if it does well, I’m guessing it will be something in the vein of True Detective, where the characters and actors change every year. Might be one of those shows I wait to hear a few reviews of before checking out.

Still Star-Crossed

It’s . . . kind of interesting, despite its awful title. Romeo and Juliet is remade all the time, but I feel like it’s rare that anyone actually goes anywhere new and exciting with it. This is admittedly different, though, because Still Star-Crossed takes place after R+J have already kicked the bucket. It focuses on what happens after the events of the play, and I’m intrigued by the idea of two houses struggling to survive in the aftermath. Like a more consolidated Game of Thrones, but with less dragons and probably more suicide.

I’m less keen, though, on the idea that everything hangs on the arranged marriage between–wait for it–Benvolio Montague and Rosaline Capulet. Like, I could totally watch a show where that was part of the drama, but this (along with what I’m assuming will be a steamy love triangle) appears to be the primary plot, and that sounds less interesting to me. On the upside, Rosaline looks pretty fun. On the downside, Mercutio and Tybalt are probably still dead, so. Meh. I might check it out, but it’s far from a sure thing.

No Tomorrow

I’ve seen two trailers for this now. This one’s longer and, in my opinion, far more interesting, but I’m still not sure if I want to try this, and I swear it’s not just because this is the show that’s bumped iZombie until mid-season. (Okay, that’s not entirely the reason. Look, I’m trying not to hold grudges, but iZombie is one of my favorite things on TV right now, and I’m still cranky that I have to wait until 2017 to get it back.)

Parts of this trailer look cute, and I’m happy that our MC (who has to learn to live life to the fullest, and such) has moments where she calls her love interest out on bullshit, like, seriously, that shit about the job? NO. Not okay, don’t care how hot you are. But story-wise, I’m not convinced this would hold my attention for a full year, not to mention . . . what happens after that year? Presumably at some point we’re going to find out if Galavant is right about the asteroid apocalypse, yes? (Unless you’re really going to stretch it out, which, boo.) I’ll tell you right now: if this show started life as a basic, quirky rom-com that become an SF apocalypse rom-com? I would respect the holy hell out of it. It might become my favorite thing ever. And CW actually might be the only station weird enough to do it, but I feel like that might be wishful thinking on my part, and I’m just not sure I care enough about all the carpe diem shit to wait for the ultimate endgame.

Conviction

This is so close to a pass, guys. Literally my only interest in it is Hayley Atwell. I mean, okay, the supporting cast is also fine: we’ve got Emily Kinney from The Walking Dead, Merrin Dungey from Alias, and Shawn Ashmore from the X-Men movies (but it’s his twin from Warehouse 13 and Killjoys who’s stolen my heart). Story-wise, though, this is doing very little for me: it feels like a knock-off of few different political/lawyer soaps shoved into one, and I’m not really feeling much about this trailer. I might give this a shot, but I’d much rather Netflix just made me happy and picked up Agent Carter instead.

The Good Place

This looks kind of funny. I’m basically in love with Kristen Bell, and while this is no Veronica Mars, she made me laugh a few times here, so I could check it out. My main concern with this one is that . . . well, where does this show go? I could maybe see watching it for a season, but beyond that, how do you keep it from just being the same thing over and over again? There’s really only so many times I can watch Kristen Bell do something hilariously naughty and slowly learn some kind of moral lesson, only to forget anything she’s learned again the next episode. I might give it a shot for her, but this story almost seems like it’d be better suited for a movie or mini-series, rather than a TV show. (Unless it goes to really surprising metaphysical places–but I’m thinking that’s unlikely for an NBC comedy.)

PASS

MacGyver

This is a pass, but it’s a light pass. If I heard a bunch of great reviews praising it for being a fun and silly good time, I’d probably check it out. The trailer just doesn’t really excite me, like, I’m all about using a hose and some gum and, say, a matchstick to make something that goes boom, but I generally need a little more than that to invest in a TV show, even a procedural, and right now it seems like that’s basically all there is.  Generally, I’m looking for great banter (this is okay) or awesome character dynamics (meh) or really exciting world building (ha), and I’m not quite feeling that. I was pleasantly surprised that George Eads is in this, but right now he and Lucas Till just aren’t big enough draws for me, and as I never watched the original, I don’t have nostalgia working for me, either.

Time After Time

I told you guys: time travel is in this year.

This one (surprisingly based on a book, which was actually already adapted into a movie back in 1979) has a gloriously cheesy premise: H.G. Wells unwittingly befriends Jack the Ripper. Jack the Ripper steals H.G. Wells’s time machine and heads into the future, and H.G. Wells pursues. It’s ludicrous and dumb and could be a fun WTF watch, but I’m just not feeling the trailer enough. Maybe if Jaime Murray was H.G. Wells instead. This just doesn’t quite have the charm that, say, the first season of Sleepy Hollow did, and I’m giving it a couple of months before it gets cancelled.

(Holy shit, the 1979 movie had Malcolm McDowell, David Warner, and Mary Steenburgen? I feel like I might have to actually watch that at some point.)

Designated Survivor

The whole idea of the one random government schmo who doesn’t get to go to the State of the Union because someone might blow it up has interested me since I first learned about it in The West Wing. Regardless, this show doesn’t quite look like my jam. While it’s nice to see Kiefer Sutherland playing someone other than a special agent killing machine, I’m kind of expecting this to espouse a ‘the best president is just the little guy, a real MAN OF THE PEOPLE’ philosophy that I expect will get boring fast. Plus, he’ll probably somehow still manage to punch someone in the face. And I don’t trust the wife at all.

The Exorcist

Meh. I’m mostly interested in this one because Alfonso Herrera won my heart as Hernando in Sense8 . . . but I think I’d rather just watch him in the second season of that. This isn’t the worst trailer I’ve ever seen, but it doesn’t feel very atmospheric or creepy to me, and I’m not quite sure how they’re planning to turn it into a TV show–because a dude trying and failing to exorcise the same person over the course of five years could get rather dull. Perhaps the priests will visit a new family every season, or maybe the show will morph into more of a ‘demons are taking over the whole town’ or ‘stop the apocalypse!’ type of show. I could check it out, but I have no real plans to unless I hear absolutely stellar reviews.

24: Legacy

On one hand, I like that this story is about someone other than Jack Bauer, and the MC’s girlfriend looks like she isn’t entirely useless, so that’s good. Plus, Miranda Otto in a command position! I could totally watch that.

On the other hand, you know what we really don’t need in this country right now? Another show about Middle Eastern terrorists trying to destroy America.

Also, Jimmy Smits is evil, or else he’s dying before the end of the season. Calling it now.

Star

I tried out the trailer purely for Queen Latifah, but there’s just something about music industry stories that bores me to tears. I don’t even know what it is. I like music; I just don’t give a shit about the backstage drama or the perilous rise to fame or, well, pretty much any of it. Star has a diverse and interesting cast (Cinna! You made it!) but it just isn’t my kind of thing at all.

Downward Dog

Yeah, no. Even if I was interested in an entire TV show from a dog’s POV (which, no, that’s a five-minute short for me at best), oh my God, his mouth moves as he talks. No. No. I hate that.

OH MY GOD SET IT ON FIRE

This is Us

Yeah, that’s a big no.

As far as I can tell, this is just a show about a bunch of people who were born on the same day. Presumably, they’re all secretly connected in some way or will become connected over time, but right now it’s just days in the lives of a handful of people who share the same birthday. Obviously, that’s not my usual robots and explosions and blood-sucking vampires, but I could try to expand my horizons and check this one out . . . except that one of the characters is apparently a fat woman whose whole story arc/life seems to be about the fact she’s fat. There is not a single scene with her in it where her size  isn’t mentioned. She needs multiple post-its reminding her/scolding her not to eat the cake. She takes out her earrings before getting on the scale. Even her love life is about being a fat person dating a fat person. And I’m just . . . I’m beyond tired of this, that a person’s weight is the only thing that matters, that every facet of her life is about how heavy she is. I need more stories about fat people that aren’t about being fat.

Bull

I’ll admit, the trailer itself is just a straight pass for me, even if it bizarrely seems to tell you every single thing that happens in the pilot. And I’d like to be interested for the cast: I followed Michael Weatherly from Dark Angel to NCIS, and I’ve enjoyed Freddy Rodriguez too (especially in Planet Terror), but the synopsis of this one is just . . . blargh. First, it’s a show about Dr. Phil’s early career, and I don’t know which demographic that appeals to, but I’m sure as hell not in it. Dr. Phil is actually credited as a writer on this show, making it even weirder, especially since Bull’s character is actually described as “having a physicality and feral intelligence that make him magnetic to women and a bruising candor.” Er, ew? The whole thing is just one long squick fest of no thanks, not interested, please move along, move along.

And Finally . . . The Great Indoors

Oh, no. Oh, man. I didn’t think anything was going to be worse than Bull . . . but then I watched this. And I’m like, “Nooooo. No, Joel McHale, I like you so much.  Not you. Not YOU.” But guys, this looks awful. Here are the the only two lines I laughed at:

“You draw a parallel right now, and I will tear both of your arms off and beat you with them.”

“You die.”

That’s it. Those are the only jokes I laughed at in a sitcom trailer that’s over four minutes long. It turns out the entire workplace comedy is about making fun of millennials, how sensitive they are, how unrealistic, how they know nothing about real life and have made the whole damn world too PC. And I’m like, you know, I hear people whining about millennials a whole lot more than I actually hear millennials whine.

Now, full disclosure: I was born in 1985, so I’m in kind of a weird spot, generation-wise: often I get grouped with millennials, but sometimes I’m placed with whatever the hell generation came before them. (Generation Y? What are they even known for?) And I’m watching this trailer thinking, look, if I’m supposed to think emotional support animals are bullshit, or wish people would stop policing racist, sexist, and homophobic slurs, or rant about how the internet keeps people from experiencing the real world, as if I haven’t made at least half a dozen friends solely because of the internet . . . yeah, no. Sign me up to be an official millennial, folks, because this trailer was painful even without the laugh track. (Oh, yeah. There’s a laugh track. I thought those went extinct, like, ten years ago. Must have the millennial hope in me.)

That’s all for today. Which TV shows are you the most/least interested in?