Happy Birthday, Star Trek

If there is one television show that really defined my childhood, it had to be Star Trek the original series. Note that I say the original series because in my world, Klingons are not on the bridge, there is no such thing as a ship’s counselor and the Captain does not sip tea.

As Star Trek turns fifty this year (like me!) I decided to make a list of some of my favorite episodes. It was hard to whittle the list to ten, but, in no particular order, I managed to come up with:

The Menagerie I and II: I love how these episodes incorporated the unaired pilot with Captain Pike and the original crew. It’s an interesting insight into the “progressive” sixties that the network cut the role of Pike’s second in command, played by Majel Barrett, because test audiences thought she was too pushy. Majel ended up as Nurse Chapel, the voice of the computer, and Mrs. Roddenberry, so I’d say it worked out well enough.

Spectre of the Gun: The Enterprise crew gets to re enact the OK Corral… as the losing  side. Great stuff, even with a modest set budget.

Let That be Your Last Battlefield: Many Star Trek episodes were metaphors for modern issues, sometime thinly disguised and sometimes less than deft in their execution. But this one, in which superficial physical differences were perceived by opposing sides as fundamental character distinctions, was brilliant.

A Piece of the Action: If I straight up had to choose one episode, this would probably be it. Kirk and Spock navigate an alien culture that has modeled itself on the gangtsers of the 1920’s. I  totally understand all the rules of fizzbin.

Shore Leave: Unbeknownst to the crew, a  well-intended pleasure planet is reading their minds to help create a Fantasy Island type experience. McCoy’s white rabbit and Kirk’s vengeance on his Star Fleet bully was epic. I would love to see this Kirk/Finnegan rivalry in the current reboot of the series.

Trouble with Tribbles: Klingons, furry creatures, interstellar political intrigue. A classic by anyone’s standards.

Mirror Mirror: Doppelgangers, Spock with  beard and Uhura has a knife in a thigh holster.

I Mudd. I love the humor in this episode, and especially Kirk’s revenge by stranding Mudd on a panel full of androids… of his nagging mother.

The Conscience of the King: Shakespeare, murder, revenge. Perfection.

Patterns of Force: This was a powerful visual episode in which a Star Fleet observer’s “well intended” manipulations of a society result in a Nazi-like regime that Kirk joins a resistance to overthrow.

Runners Up include the The Corbomite Maneuver, which is crafty Kirk at his best, The Gamesters of Triskelion, which has all the classic Trek elements, campy music, fight scenes, scantily clad aliens and those shock collars, and The Galileo Seven, Spock’s moment to shine as leader of a stranded shuttle, who has to battle for his own crew’s respect as much as battling the largely unseen aliens outside.

Ok, Trek fans, what are your favorite episodes/series? I’m always up for Trek talk. Live Long and Prosper, ya’ll.


My Week in Entertainment

At long last, I finally saw “Captain America, Civil War” yesterday. Definitely one of my favorite Marvel movies so far. It ran a bit long, but with such a huge cast, it isn’t a story that can be tidied up ninety minutes. One of the best features of the comics was the occasional superhero vs. superhero issue. This movie did those stories justice and so much more. One scene in particular between Iron Man and Captain America was framed in such a  way that you could almost see an iconic comic panel. And when Captain was trying to hold a helicopter down with one arm… well, let’s just say I was entertained and more. I also  enjoyed a spirited nerd fight with my daughter on the way home when she challenged my belief that Captain America ALWAYS beats Iron Man (unless Iron Man cheats or has help). In case you’re wondering, as far as the plot goes, I’m Team Captain all the way (sorry Tony, imposing a political process on the Avengers just because you’ve got the feels is just as self centered and narcissistic as creating Ultron without bothering to tell anyone).

I loved all the supporting cast. When Spidey popped up, I almost burst into spontaneous applause, but managed to redirect my attention into a tub of buttered popcorn. I love that Spidey looks and acts like an actual teenager. And Marisa Tomei as Aunt May? Genius. Loved seeing Ant Man enter the fray. Loved the Black Panther and his character arc.  The Vision wearing a sweater vest and pining for Wanda. Some of my favorite moments:

Black Widow chasing down bad guys at the beginning of the movie and engaging in some nifty hand to hand combat.

Sharon Carter giving Sam a receipt for a “Bird Costume.”

Bucky in the back seat of a VW asking Sam to move the seat up and Sam refusing.

Sam later telling Bucky “I hate you” after Spidey ties them up in his webbing.

Hawkeye saying “Made you look,” to Iron Man before dropping a bunch of cars on him.

Spidey relating to Aunt May that a guy named Steve from Brooklyn had given him a black eye.

Bucky and Steve entering the Hydra lair together,  friends gearing up for one last fight.

During the fight with Iron Man, Captain staggering to his feet, and in a rhyming scene from the first movie says, “I can do this all day.”

There were so many more. Do yourself a favor and see it on the big screen. Seeing this made up for the trainwreck that was my evening trying to watch Trainwreck last week and giving up after thirty minutes. Sorry, but no, just no. Not for me. Luckily there was a re run of “Normal Again,” one of my favorite Buffy episodes.

Any book, tv or movie recommendations from you? I did catch the first two episodes of Preacher last night. I read a few of the comics several years ago but not sure if I can commit to the show.

What did you read/watch last week?



Reasons to Love Sue Heck

“The Middle” has been a Wednesday night staple in my house for several years. The travails and triumphs of the Heck family, who, as the title implies, live both literally in the middle of America and in the disappearing middle class, are comic gold. Middle child Sue Heck, in particular, is a character that I find both adorkable and worthy of admiration. Here are a few reasons why:

  1. Her moral compass points due north. Sue is unfailingly honest and true. She can’t abide committing a transgression and is the first to blurt out the truth when a lie would better suit her needs. Consider the episode where she tried adding “…and so on and so forth and what have you” to the end of a sentence to omit crucial information and in the end, just couldn’t do it. Sue cannot tell a lie. She’d make a lousy politician.
  2. She is relentlessly optimistic. If you watched Sue ask for her special achievement ribbons for her high school graduation, your heart broke a little for her when she found out she had none, not even perfect attendance (“But I’ve been gunning for that one!”).  Even so, she soldiered on. She tries out for everything, even, as her brother points out, she never gets picked. Sue may have had to make up her own version of a cheer squad and didn’t get a single invitation in sorority rush, but she still has an unshakeable faith in herself and in the goodness of the world.
  3. She is fiercely loyal. Sue is a faithful friend to Brad. She loves her family. She worries for them. Of all the Hecks, she is the touchstone, the one who will pull out all the stops to make Mom and Dad’s anniversary special, the one who will drive her little brother to a con and make sure he has a good time. She’ll even let it slide when Mom and Dad forget her birthday.
  4. She reminds us all a little of our younger selves. The mall job. Finally getting your braces off. Having a crush on a professor. Feeling overlooked (looking at you, Frankie, for forgetting your child’s birthday). Sue encapsulates a piece of just about everyone’s adolescence.
  5. She is genuinely excited about life. That patented Sue Heck enthusiasm is contagious. Whether she’s making an elaborate Disney schedule or trying out for a job a Dollywood, you just know Sue Heck isn’t going to walk into a room without a huge smile and a can-do attitude. Leave the brooding posers at the door, Sue is my kind of millennial.

So there you have it. This is why I love Sue Heck. If you’re like me and watch entirely too much television for your own good, who is your favorite character(s)?