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L.I. Underhill is a media critic and historian specializing in pop culture, with a focus on science fiction (especially Star Trek) and video games. Their projects include a critical history of Star Trek told through the narrative of a war in time, a “heretical” history of The Legend of Zelda series and a literary postmodern reading of Jim Davis' Garfield.


  1. SK
    September 7, 2015 @ 3:18 am

    Reviewers who criticise a story not for its flaws, but simply for not being the one they would have written.


  2. Daniel
    September 7, 2015 @ 5:19 pm

    I just discovered your site and have been loving your take on Star Trek in all its forms. Have an unusual question for you; I noticed your posts on Phase II episodes. For the last several weeks for no particularly good reason I've been obsessed with trying to track down all the actual Phase II scripts (for which I've found only 3). Did you write your posts based on those or were you going from the excellent Reeves-Stevens book on the series?

    P.S. Your site is awesome, I've sunk half a day into it… Sorry for posting OT on this post, figured you'd be more likely to see it than commenting on a year old post!


  3. Daru
    September 7, 2015 @ 9:35 pm

    "It's Geordi's empathy, combined with his strength of will, that has earned him the love and respect of a culture of proud warrior women, and I think that's sort of a lovely moral."

    Sounds like a lovely story and one that Geordi ceryainly has deserved. I have never liked the general assumption by most Trek fans that he was wussy, as I always found his empathic character as being something I could really identify with. Really sad that he often gets slightly ridiculed by the writers (i.e. the awful, insulting holodeck comeback episode with the Enterprise's creator).

    So often I found as a similar person to Geordi that I was similarly ridiculed for being a soft, feeling male and in the end I decided not to lose who I was and I found the positive stories with TNG to be an inspiration at that time.


  4. Josh Marsfelder
    September 8, 2015 @ 4:44 am

    Hey Daniel! Welcome aboard-Glad to have you!

    My take on Phase II was indeed based on the Reeves-Stevens' book: I would read their summaries of the scripts and than extrapolate what an episode made out of that brief might have looked like. Then I wrote a review of that hypothetical episode with the conceit it had actually gotten produced. The only exceptions were "In Thy Image" and "The Child", both of which I did have the original scripts to work from as they were reproduced in the book, and "Devil's Due", which was half a Star Trek: The Next Generation essay.

    Sorry I couldn't be of more help, but good luck in your search!

    (And don't worry about commenting on old posts-I read every comment that gets posted no matter how old the topic!)


  5. Josh Marsfelder
    September 8, 2015 @ 4:45 am

    I find that to be such a strength of this show when it's working properly. I'm really happy it could help you in that way!


  6. Daru
    September 8, 2015 @ 4:53 am

    Thanks Josh, glad to hear that for you too.

    One of the many things I have gotten from this blog is a better perspective on the character of Geordi, as when I was a lot younger I was swayed by the poor writing in the show that didn't understand him.


  7. elvwood
    September 8, 2015 @ 8:46 am

    "One of the many things I have gotten from this blog is a better perspective on the character of Geordi, as when I was a lot younger I was swayed by the poor writing in the show that didn't understand him."

    This. Whereas I could always see the potential in Beverley Crusher even though she was frequently poorly served by the scripts, Geordi seemed kind of…just filling space. I empathised with him more than, say Riker, but didn't find him as interesting. That has now changed.

    I wonder if never having seen Reading Rainbow makes a difference? It doesn't matter now; this is a limitation of my perception that has now been bypassed. Thanks, Josh!


  8. Josh Marsfelder
    September 8, 2015 @ 1:37 pm

    You are most welcome-It makes me really happy whenever I hear my work has had a meaningful impact on how people read things like this. And of course Geordi being my favourite character, well, that just makes me all the happier!

    I do sort of think Reading Rainbow is really key here. It was that show, not Roots, that caught the eyes of Gene Roddenberry and D.C. Fontana. There's the stuff that's in the writer's guide too, but for me the kicker was comparing those two performances: LeVar Burton really is playing the same character in Star Trek: The Next Generation that he does on Reading Rainbow, or at least he defaults onto that unless he gets specific instructions to the contrary. And I do think that's significant.


  9. Daru
    September 8, 2015 @ 6:01 pm

    Cheers josh & elvwood. I guess I had a pretty similar experience elvwood, as I not only had never seen Reading Rainbow but had never even heard of it until this blog. Without having any prior benefit of LeVar's work and performance there I can see how I just wouldn't have gotten him.

    So glad you opened my eyes Josh!


  10. Daibhid Ceannaideach
    July 31, 2016 @ 7:41 pm

    This is fascinating. As someone else who never saw Reading Rainbow, I’m kind of reminded of a throwaway line in the not-very-good Star Wreck parody novels. Kirk and Picard (I won’t bother trying to remember the “hilarious” parody names) are discussing how their crews aren’t getting along, and one of the problems is that Scotty sees engineering as secret knowledge and Geordi wants to do a Reading Rainbow segment about how the warp drive works.

    And even only being vaguely aware that this was an American kids’ programme LeVar Burton did, the line struck me, because I think it’s the only occasion Star Wreck made a meta reference to an actor’s outside career. I don’t recall any jokes about Kirk being TJ Hooker, or Spock joining the Impossible Missions Force, or even Picard and Shakespeare. But apparently, “Geordi LaForge is LeVar Burton from Reading Rainbow” makes so much sense even an increasingly sour parody dealing in character cliches could see it.


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