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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. BerserkRL
    April 4, 2014 @ 5:10 am

    there's really no case to press against Komether as the contract is perfectly legal

    Well, there's the principle of inalienable rights.

    There's a particular strain of spirituality and occultism that posits what we think of as “demons” or “evil entities” are actually creatures that are basically willed into existence by intensely powerful negative emotions and negative emotional states. I'd figured it was a fairly recent innovation (like in the past two decades)

    It feels like an extremely familiar trope to me, though the only example that comes to mind offhand is Forbidden Planet.


  2. Adam Riggio
    April 4, 2014 @ 11:24 am

    This post shows one of the strange parts of Star Trek: Phase II in your treatment. Yes, it's an alternative-history path for the development of Star Trek to have taken. But it was also a source of scripts and ideas for the successful relaunch of the franchise, and the one that did achieve so much of Star Trek's potential, TNG. Because there are essentially two iterations of the story: the Phase II version with Kirk and company, and the TNG version with Picard and company. And the TNG version is the vastly superior one, even though this episode is not exactly one of my favourites. Still good, but not one of my favourites.

    But your comparison makes me think of something that may have kept the Phase II production team from reaching its potential, despite the improvement overall: the sheer cultural weight of the original crew's image. Having Kirk and most of the gang as the principal characters (and the fact that the default mode of writing Xon seems to be as a younger Spock anyway), brings a terrible gravity to the show. The scripts, apart from a couple of notable ones like "In Thy Image," can't bring themselves to depart from the stereotypes of the original Star Trek, good or bad. It's difficult and strange when any of the major characters act outside of their types. No, worse than that; outside the popular image of their types.

    With TNG, because you got a whole new cast and context, you could build a whole new dynamic without having to contend with the gravity of the baggage. Star Trek had to leave their most revered cultural figures behind to achieve its potential philosophical progress.


  3. Anton B
    April 10, 2014 @ 3:24 am

    Tellingly, Picard isn't very familiar with the concept of Method acting (which, of course he wouldn't be: Patrick Stewart is a veteran thespian trained with the Royal Shakespearean Company) and doesn't understand at first why Data would be interested in such an “archaic” and “antiquated” style of acting.

    Not really. Stewart trained at the Bristol Old Vic Theatre School before joining the Royal Shakespeare(not Shakespearian) Company. I'm sure his studies there would have included a look at both Stanislavski and Checkov. The form of 'the Method' being satirised here is probably the adaptation of Stanislavski' s techniques developed in the 1950s in the Actor's Studio by Lee Strasberg. This set of strategies for 'finding the character' became the target of many popular comedians due in no small measure to the exasperating prima donna antics it inspired on movie sets by alumni such as Brando, Hoffman, Monroe etc. The joke here is a Hollywood screenwriters idea of what acting is about and would not have occured to Stewart or Spiner. The joke backfires somewhat as certainly by the 1990s (let alone the 24th century) Stanislavski's and Strasberg's 'method' was indeed already considered 'antiquated'.


  4. Josh Marsfelder
    April 10, 2014 @ 4:36 am

    "Royal Shakespeare (not Shakespearian) Company"

    Blame it on spellcheck.

    Obviously the joke is in the script, but I'm trying to draw parallels between it, the kind of acting Stewart and Spiner engage in, and the performativity of TNG in general. My point isn't that Patrick Stewart doesn't know what the method is (of course he does) but to pseudometaphorically explore another way Picard (both on screen and in the writer's room) was shaped by Stewart's positionality.

    Thing is, this relies, as much of this post does, on my currently unwritten Star Trek: The Next Genration section.


  5. Anton B
    April 10, 2014 @ 7:46 pm

    Indeed. I took your point but was a little confused,as to what you were inferring. BTW sorry if my comment seemed snarky. Blame that on me attempting brevity. Loving this blog and looking forward to the Next Gen section.


  6. Daru
    April 16, 2014 @ 8:12 pm

    There was actually much more to Goethe, as he made massive contributions to science also. As a scientist he undertook very extensive research into the nature of colour, plant development, morphology and embryology, and inspired further research in scientific knowledge all the way up to figures such as Rupert Sheldrake.

    Goethe’s approach was in contrast to the mechanistic doctrine, and insisted that the scientist was not a passive observer of an external universe and that there is no ‘objective truth’. He saw individuals as being in relationship with nature, and placed importance on the contribution the observer brings to the observed. His approach asked that we actively engage our senses, to help reveal the real world, opening up new ‘organs of perception’. There is also the slimmest possibility that Goethe's work may have been well known beyond faust, as his work above was reworked into a form of observational principles known as Gothean Science within the Steiner movement.

    Now I find these last parts interesting with regards to 'Devil's Due' in the sense that Kirk / Picard and all are being challenged b the story to see what is really going on.


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