REVIEW; Star Trek: The Next Generation “Yesterday’s Enterprise”

Still one of my favorite episodes and it always will be

Eurylade Reviews

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I have been a fan of Star Trek for as long as I can remember. I first started watching it in the late 1980s when Star Trek The Next Generation was still going through its maturity phase of Seasons 2 and 3. Star Trek has evolved a long way since then and there are countless moments or episodes that stand out. I have often been asked what my favorite episode is and in truth I can never decide. I therefore often compile lists of my favorite episodes. These lists tend to change from time to time but one episode above all others has always appeared on that list. I am referring to “Yesterday’s Enterprise”.


Season 3 will be remembered by most for its penultimate episode “Best of Both Worlds Part 1” but hidden in among the series was this gem. It has often been remembered simply as the one where…

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GAME ARTICLE: Atari’s “Hot” commercial on the eve of its downfall

Tony Wilkins spies an old Atari 5200 commercial released on the eve of the 1983 video games crash.


“Nobody’s hotter than Atari this summer.”

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Two ridiculously beautiful girls and three obscenely masculine men stomp across a beach in what appears to be an early MTV video to a soundtrack proclaiming that nobody was hotter than Atari that golden summer of 1983. The footage culminates in the five of them playing an Atari 5200 on the beach with the images projected in the sky and I will be honest here for a minute; that looks like a pretty awesome idea. But behind the cheese of this macho 1980s scene the truth was that the home video games industry was on the verge of its equivalent to the St. Valentine’s Day massacre.

You can understand why Atari thought it was the hottest thing. Between 1977 and 1982 the home game console market exploded and there were more consoles around than ever with Atari’s iconic 2600 leading the charge. Supporting these consoles were numerous third party developers bringing out game after game with some console libraries being truly immense. Then in 1983 everything went wrong. The market collapsed in spectacular fashion to the point where had it not been for Japan’s growing games console development it would have been very likely that games consoles would be remembered in the same way we remember laser disc players now.

So what happened?

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There were numerous reasons the market went bust in 1983. One big reason was that personal computers could play games as well as handle your taxes and compose letters and offered new threats to the console market. This was a bigger thing in Europe rather than the US where marketing campaigns told parents that game consoles rotted their children’s minds while PCs could open their minds. Another factor was US inflation which was damaging the economy as a whole.

The truth is though the market itself was to blame. As I said there were more consoles than ever and more games than ever to the point where the market was truly flooded and many stores actually found themselves lacking the space to store the latest titles. This meant that in the age before online buying many game developers failed to make a profit on their games because not enough people were buying them. The real problem was that console manufacturers such as Atari lost control of the games developed for their console. Anyone who had the means to produce a game and publish it on a cartridge could make a game for an Atari 2600 and often the games made were very clear rip offs of more successful games. To add insult to injury many of the high profile games that came out flopped quite publicly the most notorious of which was the now legendary ET – The Extra Terrestrial game.

The collapse lasted between 1983 and 1985 but it in that time the casualty list read like a World War I battle;

  • Atari 2600………………………………………………………………………….Wounded In Action
  • Atari 5200……………………………………………………………………………….Killed In Action
  • Bally Astrocade………………………………………………………………………..Killed In Action
  • CollecoVision…………………………………………………………………………..Killed In Action
  • Commodore 64…………………………………………………………………..Wounded In Action
  • Emerson Arcadia 2001………………………………………………………………Killed In Action
  • Fairchild Channel F…………………………………………………………………..Killed In Action
  • Magnavox Odyssey²………………………………………………………………….Killed In Action
  • Mattel Intellivision……………………………………………………………………Killed In Action
  • Vectrex…………………………………………………………………………………….Killed In Action

…to name but a few. Incredibly there were a host of games consoles that were simply rebranded as something else like the CollecoVision Gemini which is in fact an Atari 2600. Both the Atari 2600 and the Commodore 64 did survive the crash but their glory days were effectively over especially with the arrival of the all-conquering NES.

Nintendo did effectively save the home console market with its NES but even that felt the damage caused by the crash. Even being called a home games console was a hindrance with many toy retailers fearful of a repeat of the 1983 crash refusing to sell it at first with those that did doing everything they could to call it something else. NES proved one of the most successful consoles ever. With much of the competition dead and buried and its performance being noticeably better than the pre-crash machines it went on to outsell everything with Sega’s Master System struggling to catch up.

Atari would never fully recover however. It continued making Atari 2600s and its clones until the early 1990s but every new console it came out with never really challenged Nintendo (and the increasingly hostile Sega). The Atari Jaguar was a sad end to Atari’s line.

The Order of Trinity & The Kessel Run

Following news that Star Wars fans can audition for small parts in the new movie we at the Order of Trinity decided to celebrate by creating this by putting our Bitstrips avatars in the cockpit of the Millennium Falcon. Yes we know that Bitstrips are cheesy but we love them.

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From left to right is Tony Wilkins, Mark Berryman and Wes Imlay

The rendering of the cockpit can be found here

REVIEW; From Dusk Til Dawn: The Series

Mark Berryman reviews From Dusk Til Dawn the tv series.


 

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I remember the first time I saw From Dusk Till Dawn, I had been waiting for it for ages. I’ve been a massive Quentin Tarantino fan since I first saw Reservoir Dogs. I wasn’t disappointed. It has to this day remained one of my favorite films. When I heard that Robert Rodriguez had decided to remake it for a TV show, I was excited. I wondered how he would stretch the story out for a whole season. Turns out, quite spectacularly. Rodriguez has said that the TV show is the novel of the movie. He was able to go back and expand on all the stories that he and Tarantino had originally wanted to tell, but couldn’t because of the restraints of the movie running time.

I didn’t envy the people who would be stepping into the shoes of George Clooney and Quentin Tarantino, as Seth and Ritchie Gecko. Boy did they cast well, DJ Cotrona as Seth and Zane Holtz as Ritchie are perfect. The series starts at the convenience store where things go from bad to worse pretty quickly. Don Johnson this time plays Sherrif Earl McGraw and while the scene starts the same you immediately find out that this show is not going to be the same as its parent. Rodriguez takes what we already know and then change it and for the better.

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One thing the series does do is delve deeper into Ritchie and exactly what is wrong with him. Immediately we find out that he is connected to the oncoming vampires in a much bigger way. He gets visions of Santanico Pandemonium played by the stunning Ezia Gonzalez, asking him to “set her free”.

The story takes the course we recognize as the brothers make their way to Mexico, while at the same time showing us a much bigger picture and that the brothers, unknowingly are key to everything. When they reach the Titty Twister and Ezia Gonzalez leaves you saying “Selma who?” after showing us her version of “the dance” you are soon realizing, you have no clue as to what is to come.

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I cannot say enough good things about this show. I can’t wait to watch it all back in one go to see it in it’s full glory. For me the age of the TV remake of a movie is better than anyone could have imagined it could be. Teen Wolf, Hannibal, Bates Motel, Fargo and now From Dusk Till Dawn are all showing that maybe there is life in the old dog yet. Not all remakes have to be bad as TV is showing.

So if you’re a fan of the film, don’t be put off. Everyone I’ve spoken to who has seen the film and then watched the TV series all seem to agree, this is a far superior telling of the story. Season 2 will be out next year, can’t wait!

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NEWS: Pics of Capaldi filming new Dr Who episodes reveal interesting costume

Pictures released of Peter Capaldi filming at Aberavon beach, South Wales reveal him wearing a familiar orange spacesuit. It looks very similar to one worn by David Tennant first when facing “The Devil” and then later by Matt Smith. Is this just a reuse of previous props to save money or is there some link to these stories? All this has done is peak our interest here at the Order and increase our excitement for the new series.

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REVIEW; Nightmare at 20,000ft

Tony Wilkins looks at one of the most iconic episodes of The Twilight Zone, it’s original story and the 1983 movie version


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There’s a man out there…There’s a man on the wing of this plane.

Richard Matheson could not have possibly known in 1961 when he penned his short story that he would be creating pop culture gold. His idea that only one man onboard an airliner can see someone or something on the wing tampering with the engines has become an iconic piece of television when it was featured in an episode of the cult tv series The Twilight Zone in 1963 starring William Shatner. There followed numerous parodies and even a remake for the big screen movie of the series in 1983.

Richard Matheson’s inspiration for the story came from a World War II legend amongst allied pilots about little creatures that would sabotage aircraft in flight causing them to crash inexplicably. In reality it was a not-so-funny joke among aircrew to explain why some badly made or designed aircraft malfunctioned regularly.

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While the three versions differ in their build-up the overall premise remains the same. In the original story Bob Wilson is a borderline suicidal businessman on just another trip across country on a DC-7 airliner. In the 1963 William Shatner episode, Bob Wilson is traveling with his wife after recovering in a sanitarium from a mental breakdown he had on a previous flight. The 1983 movie version dispenses with Bob Wilson altogether and instead John Lithgow plays John Valentine, another businessman but one with a rather severe fear of flying. Regardless of which version you look at the point remains the same; to make everyone around them doubt what they are saying. This is at the very heart of the story being very psychological in nature and even has you the viewer/reader questioning whether it is real or not.

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Once the character and his problems have been established the story settles in. In each case Wilson/Valentine are doing their best to try and relax while most of the passengers fall asleep thus reducing the chance of anyone else seeing the gremlin when it appears. The aircraft flies in to a storm but the stewardess reassures him that it is nothing the aircraft can’t handle. Wilson/Valentine find their eyes wandering out the window and that’s when they first see it. At this point it is just a something crawling on the wing. In the original story Wilson thinks that some poor dog or cat has got caught on the wing during take off but quickly he realizes that there is nothing on the smooth wing for the creature to hold on to. In both the 1963 and 1983 Twilight Zone versions Wilson/Valentine both see it as a man from the very beginning.

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The pattern of doubt begins with Wilson/Valentine trying to tell the stewardess about it and this happens a few times but each time he tries to get someone else to look outside the creature is not there. This is the fundamental point that makes everyone question his sanity. The story handles this fact better than either of the Twilight Zone versions. In it Wilson believes that the gremlin can see him as well and is toying with him by hiding every time he tries to call someone. In fact during one instance when he tries to summon the stewardess Wilson is very careful to move his arm slowly toward the button to summon her in an effort not to alert the creature. Nevertheless it fails every time and he remains the only person who can see it.

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Looking at the 1963 episode the gremlin is quite a close representation of how Matheson described it in his book. The creature is very fury with an almost human face although it is hideously grotesque with its facial features being distorted. The fur was most likely meant to allow it to survive at such cold temperatures. A key feature of this gremlin however is the fact that despite its bulk and lack of wings it is described in the story as being impervious to gravity which is what allows it to fly. By stark contrast however the 1983 movie version is a far scarier looking creature with long dreadlock-style hair, large teeth and a slimey body making it look more like a lanky version of the Predator.

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With his efforts to alert the aircraft’s crew a failure Wilson/Valentine becomes particularly agitated when the creature no longer seems content with its wing walking routine and starts to damage the aircraft. This raises the stakes ten-fold. Now, alerting the crew is a matter of life and death but again his efforts are in vain and only further question his sanity. In each version however he is certain of what is out there and feels compelled to do something to save the aircraft even if no one belives him. In each version he gets a gun but through different means. In the short story he carried a gun around his in bag for protection but later as a means of eventually committing suicide. In the 1963 version William Shatner’s Wilson steals a gun from a sleeping police officer while John Lithgow’s Valentine steals it from an FAA sky marshal.

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Wilson/Valentine then opens the emergency exit causing the cabin to depressurize sending panic around the aircraft and fires his pistol at the creature successfully fending it off before they land. This scene is perhaps the scariest in the 1983 version. In that one the creature charges forward at Valentine until Valentine runs out of bullets and grabs hold of the terrified man’s face seemingly to kill him. It stops however when the storm breaks and the runway is in sight. The creature then signals to Valentine that it was unsuccessful this time and leaps away. This is perhaps most frightening because the creature displayed intelligence in its actions to sabotage the aircraft whereas in the short story and the original episode the creature showed interest in the aircraft as though it had never encountered one before and wanted to know how it worked. It had lost the cover of the storm and was running out of time to bring the aircraft down so gave up. The idea that there are these creatures in storm clouds plotting and scheming to bring down airliners does play on everyone’s, even experienced flyers, fears.

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The last scene of each story sees Wilson/Valentine being carted off on a stretcher. The 1963 version was best portrayed here. There is almost total silence as Shatner’s Wilson is carried out of the aircraft by the ambulance crew. It is very ominous and unsettling as you start to wonder yourself if it was real or not. Wilson remains convinced in all three versions that he has saved the plane. In all three versions of the story the last moments always imply that the gremlin was real with damage to the engine of the aircraft although it could still be attributed to storm damage thus furthering the question of whether it was real or not. The 1983 version does go further however and shows claw marks all over the engine thus implying it was definitely real and finally the crew who were constantly doubting Valentine start questioning it themselves.

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There are numerous reasons why the story has become such an icon. It was written at a time when air travel was beginning its massive explosion that would change the world forever. In the 1960s more people flew than ever before and there was still a lot of fear around it. It has to be said that the fact Star Trek’s William Shatner starred in the 1963 version had a part to play in its popularity in later years (Star Trek first aired in 1966 three years after the original episode). Say what you like about Shatner; you have to admit his performance was flawless in the 1963 episode. Lithgow too in the 1983 version gave a wonderful performance that really made me feel like I was watching someone on the verge of a mental collapse. It is worthy noting that when William Shatner first appeared in 3rd Rock From The Sun with Lithgow there was a scene where Shatner says he saw something on the wing of a plane and Lithgow replies “Me too”. You have to love the little nod to their respective roles in this tv legend.

To really demonstrate its impact on pop culture you have to look at the countless parodies that have been made of this story. From The Simpsons to Saturday Night Live, all have taken the opportunity to immortalize the story further to the point where nearly everyone knows the immortal line, “There’s something on the wing” even if they haven’t seen it for themselves and that’s how you know a story is great.

NEWS: Personalized Starfleet Diplomas

Think your CV or Resume could use some spicing up? Then how about a diploma from Starfleet Academy?

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CafePress.com are now offering a Starfleet Diploma complete with your name on the front. If that’s not impressive enough then you can also boast having Captain Hikaru Sulu, Commandant, Starfleet Academy, and Captain Richard Hahn, Superintendent, Starfleet Academy as signatories. It’s price is $35.00 (£21.00) plus postage costs.

Of course I am not really suggesting you order this and start putting it on your credentials but this would make a decent gift for a Trekkie or even if you think you deserve it yourself. It does look of a high standard and would make an excellent addition to a collection of Trek-related merchandise.

Click here to go to the page to order your Starfleet Diploma