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Showing posts from February, 2008

Recent Movie Roundup 6: Special Oscar Edition

2007 is not the first year in which I've seen all of the best picture Oscar nominees, but it is the first year in which I've seen all five nominees in the movie theater, before the ceremony, and because I was genuinely interested and eager to see them (as opposed to picking up the least objectionable DVD available at Blockbusters on a dull weeknight, AKA the only conceivable reason to watch Seabiscuit). This is a surprisingly strong list of films, or maybe not so surprising given the overall quality of the films produced last year. 2007's award films started trickling into Israeli movie theaters around January, and in the last two months I've seen more films than in the six or maybe even ten months previous, and there are still films (Once, Sweeney Todd, The Darjeeling Limited) I haven't gotten around to. Though I'm not in love with all of the nominees--several are, in fact, deeply flawed--this is the first time in a while that I've cared about the Oscar…

Back Through the Wormhole: Table of Contents

I've noticed several people linking to the series now that it's over, and to facilitate this, here is a link post.
Introduction
The Two DS9s - Did Deep Space Nine only get good in its later seasons?
The Menagerie - Alien races on the show
Looking for Ron Moore in All the Wrong Places - The obligatory Battlestar Galactica comparison
What Does God Need With a Space Station? - Deep Space Nine's treatment of religion
Ode to Kira - Just what it says
The Justice Trick - Odo and his troubled relationships with Kira and morality
Odds & Ends - A few more comments

Back Through the Wormhole, Part VIII: Odds & Ends

Believe it or not, after seven installments there's still stuff left to say about Deep Space Nine. Here are a few topics that didn't grow into full-fledged essays:
It's an axiom of television writing that romance, and specifically romantic pursuit, is interesting, but established relationships, and most especially marriages, are boring. Perhaps because it was generally strongest when telling stories about the conventional and the mundane, on Deep Space Nine the reverse was true. Its romantic plotlines were usually obvious and uninspired (and occasionally offensive), but its depictions of long-term romantic relationships were winning and, yes, romantic.

Dax and Worf come together in the most insipid of ways, and the fifth season episodes that focus on their courtship are tiresome and in some cases ("Let He Who is Without Sin") borderline unwatchable. Once they marry, however, the writing for their relationship achieves a whole new level. If previously there had…

Back Through the Wormhole, Part VII: The Justice Trick

BENDER: Forget it, you can't tempt me.
ROBOT DEVIL: Really? There's nothing you want?
BENDER: Hm. I forgot you could tempt me with things I want.

Futurama, "The Devil's Hands Are Idle Playthings" If Deep Space Nine's character development has a theme, it is the loss of innocence, and of an idealized self-image. The characters who undergo this process most prominently over the course of the series are Sisko—who not only loses his iron grip on the difference between right and wrong in his efforts to win a brutal war, but also surrenders his objectivity and his detached rationalism in the face of the Bajorans’ faith—and Odo—who at the beginning of the series believes himself to possess an innate sense of justice, but discovers not only that his people have no true understanding of the word, but that his own grasp of it is rather tenuous. Bashir starts out the series a literal ingénue, whose delusions about the glory of war and the glamour of spy life are soon wo…

Back Through the Wormhole, Part VI: Ode to Kira

The breathtaking awesomeness of Kira Nerys, which has been recurring theme in these essays, became apparent to me only a few episodes into my journey back through Deep Space Nine. Almost as soon as I came to this realization, I started pondering a question: how is that this fantastic character, who is strong, capable, confident, and decent, doesn't have pride of place in the pantheon of kickass female characters in genre television? Why isn't her name mentioned in the same breath as Susan Ivanova and Dana Scully, Buffy Summers and Aeryn Sun? What I'd like to do in this essay is take a closer look at Kira, at the qualities that make her so awesome, and most particularly the ways in which she works as a female character. I'd also, however, like to look at the ways in which Deep Space Nine undermines Kira, and serves both her and the show's female fans ill.

Kira's most prominent quality is the fact that she's an imposing fighter. This is the woman who, wit…

Recent Reading Roundup 15

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This recent reading roundup is brought to you courtesy of my brand new MacBook Pro and the almost anticlimactic process of setting it up--simply connect the new computer to the old one via a FireWire cable and come back in an hour to find your old computer mounted on a device with double the RAM, triple the disk space, and four times the processor speed. To quote Giles, I felt so useless, just sitting there and not contributing. Incidentally, if anyone in Israel is interested in a PowerBook G4 in good condition, drop me a line.

At any rate, to dispel the perception that the last month has been spent doing nothing but watching and writing about Deep Space Nine, here are a few books.
The Child in Time by Ian McEwan - Dan Green at The Reading Experience recently wrote an essay comparing McEwan's early novels to his later ones, and concluding that the former are better, sharper, and more savage critiques of the class issues that permeate most of McEwan's fiction. I seem to have t…

Back Through the Wormhole, Part V: What Does God Need With a Space Station?

No one who watched Deep Space Nine's pilot episode, "Emissary," would have had any reason to expect a subtle, multi-faceted treatment of religion from the series. Though by no means disrespectful or dismissive of religion, "Emissary" treats it in a manner familiar from many other genre stories--the SFnal trope of alien (or human) gods who turn out to be aliens themselves, the fantasy standard of a prophecy fulfilled by our heroes (a prophecy whose existence, as Sisko patiently explains to Jake in "In the Hands of the Prophets," makes perfect SFnal sense given the Prophets' non-linear nature). The Celestial Temple is important not for its spiritual significance to the Bajorans but as a conduit for traffic and commerce. For a while, that was all Deep Space Nine's treatment of religion amounted to. When an extremist resistance fighter proposes to destroy the wormhole in order to prevent alien races from interfering with Bajor in "Past Prolog…