You May Have Talent, But You’re Not an Underdog

There is yet another video floating around about a kid in some “Got Talent”-like show, telling his sad history and then singing in some ok fashion.

Now you must be asking yourself “What video is this?” and that’s the core of the point I’m trying to make: Every single “Got Talent” video that hits the web is about some kid, man or woman who had some hard time in their lives and then got a chance at the show. Sure, there is the eventual “person who sings/dances/talks incredible bad it’s too funny to pass away”, but the great majority is the underdog who finally got their chance.

So this kid from a middle class family, who managed to get some guitar/singing lessons from time to time, managed to have his time to practice and such, learnt the tricks of trade, created a band with some friends, practices every weekend… well, sorry for you, you don’t “Got Talent” ’cause you’re not an underdog.

Kinda reminds me of those “Reality TV” shows where people are invited and they have to do some crazy shit. I mean, what’s the reality when you have to stay standing for 12+ hours non-stop? Do you stay 12+ standing non-stop at your house, by any chance?

Who’s the best captain?

It’s been some time I’m trying to find the perfect timing for a Star Trek post and it seems the celebration of 45 years since the first episode makes it a perfect time for it.

Before I go, I think it’s better to tell you what are my expectations in the Star Trek universe. When Gene Ronddenberry created Star Trek, his plan was to make a series showing that, in the future, humanity would always solve things going the higher ground. The captain of the most important human ship, thus, most embody those qualities.

So, in order from worst to best:

Benjamin Sisko (Deep Space 9)

Deep Spacers forgive me, but Sisko was the worst captain the Federation could get, even if you compare him to Jellico. Maybe Sisko wasn’t a bad captain before he took the helm of Deep Space 9, but after the very first episode, he turned into the reluctant captain: He didn’t want to be the captain of Deep Space 9 and couldn’t get into terms with the loss of his wife — and he didn’t for the whole series.

Not only that, but he did slip every single thing for what the Federation stands for: He accepted, with no regret, about people doing wrong things under his nose (won’t spoil, but it involves Garak and the 19th episode of the 6th season) and used his position of “Emissary” to manipulate a whole system. His actions may had saved the station and brought peace to the region, but it was still wrong. For a series that tried to show the best of the human race, Sisko shown the worse.

Kathryn Janeway (Voyager)

Janeway wasn’t bad per se, she was in a very thought and dark situation — honestly, the darkest of all series: In the other side of the universe, with no hope of getting home in a lifetime… If that wasn’t dark enough, their ship was slowly falling apart, replicators falling and the biological memory slowly going out. Everyone mentions “Janeway slow decent into madness”, but I never noticed that. She does start lacking control of her ship due a fall into depression (in one episode, she isolates herself completely from the rest of the crew), which should probably be diagnosed before she was given the big chair.

Jonathan Archer (Enterprise)

Archer had a hard time in front of him: The Federation and all the prime directives didn’t exist yet and his Enterprise (the one without the NCC-1701 prefix) was the first big human warp ship. No rules, no role-model… Archer was fated to fail. But thing is, he didn’t.

In all the crazinest that happened, he had to deal with the fact that he was, at the same, responsible for exploring the universe, trying to make new alliances and the captain of the biggest space weapon Earth had. In one episode, knowing Earth would be under attack, he tried to reach Earth, but the dilithium crystal was completely drained. On the way, only with impulse engines, they find a merchant ship and ask if they are willing to trade their dilithium crystal for supplies, which the merchant says no. After exploring all the possible options, Archer decides, showing a complete regret on his decision, to steal the other ship dilithium crystal (leaving behind enough supplies for the merchant ship to complete its route, promising his crew that he’ll come back and help that ship once Earth is saved). That puts Archer way above the others, simply ’cause he sees and regrets doing what’s wrong.

James T. Kirk (The Original Series)

Kirk didn’t had a soul of a captain: deep down, Kirk was an adventurer. Being a captain only gave him the perfect tool to go into the greatest adventures a man could be part of. He also knew that he would have to play by the rules, so he does. The fact that he doesn’t like to lose is also the reason he follows such rules (’cause he knows he would lose his ship and had to give up his adventures). Also, following the rules made things hard, which only made the things more exciting.

Surely, he had the greatest crew ever: Bones and Spock played two sides of a conscience (the emotional side and the logical side) and Kirk played the judge of those two. But, deep down, Kirk knew the rules and had a conscience (even if it was only strong enough to hear Bones).

Jean-Luc Picard (The Next Generation)

For the Federation standards and rules, Picard was the perfect captain. He followed rules, he had conscience to do the greater good (even against the rules), he had absolute control of his ship and crew (without a strong hand, like Jellico) and, most importantly, he took the job of being a captain seriously. He did not take vacations ’cause he knew there was a job to be done and he was in the position to do so.

Contrary to Kirk, Picard didn’t need the “conscience personifications” walking around him to remind him of logic and morals: He had that in himself.

And, for being the “better human” Roddenberry expected in his series, and having a soul of a captain, Picard is the better captain.

Why the new Star Trek bothers me

For a while, I’ve been ranting about the new “Star Trek” movie by J.J.Abrams and written by Roberto Orci and Alex Kurtzman. This morning I finally realized why it bothers me and why the line “OMG, boobies in Star Trek?” makes me giggle.

First, let’s take a look at the list of main Star Trek characters in the series:

  • The Original Series: James T. Kirk, Spock, Dr Leonard “Bones” McCoy, Montgomery Scott, Hikaru Sulu, Pavel Checkov, Uhura (and let’s throw Christopher Pike just for the sake of it.)
  • The Next Generation: Jean-Luc Picard, William Riker, Geordi La Forge, Worf, Beverly Crusher, Wesley Crusher, Deanna Troi, Data.
  • Deep Space Nine: Benjamin Sisko, Kira Nerys, Odo, Julian Bashir, Jadzia Dax, Quark, Miles O’Brien, Jake Sisko, Worf (yes, again), Ezi Dax.
  • Voyager: Kathryn Janeway, Chakotay, Tuvok, B’Elanna Torres, Tom Paris, Harry Kim, The Doctor, Neelix, Kes, Seven of Nine
  • Enterprise: Jonathan Archer, T’Pol, Charles Tucker III, Malcolm Reed, Hoshi Sato, Travis Mayweather, Phlox.

    Go on. Go clicky-clicky and try to find the two that doesn’t fit. I’ll wait.

    Did you spot the two?

    Ok, the answer is: Wesley Crusher and Jake Sisko (although I made it hard for you to noticed why Jake doesn’t belong there.) They are the only teenagers in the whole list of series that were main characters (there we some kids in “Voyager”, but they would appear in only one or two episodes.) All the others look like they are in the late twentys or early thirties (with a few exceptions that look more like they are getting into their fourtys.) And that also includes non-human, ageless forms, like Odo, Data and the Doctor, and the ones with longer lifes, like the Vulcans. Even the youngest crew of all series, the Voyager (they were going into final training before going officially into service when they were transported to the Delta Quadrant) looks like they were in the later twentys.

    And that’s why the new Star Trek bothers me. All the actors (with the exception of McCoy) look like they are in their early twentys and in full operational status already. Even in the original series, when the Enterprise goes into its official mission of “explore strange, new worlds, to seek out new life and new civilizations”, Kirk looks like he’s in the late thirties. And now you have a Kirk that looks like he just out of puberty.

    Yes, there were boobs in the TOS. But they belonged to mature females, not some out of puberty, hormone full chick.

    To me, it looks like the tone of Star Trek changed from “When you get out of your studies and do some real life training, you may be a member of the most important ship of the human race” to “jump into the most important ship of the human race! All you need to do is be able to talk!”. Sign of the times, maybe, when you’re supposed to finish college and be a full experienced whatever-they-call-you-in-the-field. But, still, Star Trek looks a little bit tainted with an “easy way to get there” view.

    But, then again, I’m an old trekkie (although I never remember if the proper way is trekker or trekkie…)

The reverse ideas

On the post about Final Fantasy, I realized that most of the series follow the same basic premise. And yesterday, after watching the next season of “Heroes”, I realized that most TV series also follow the same idea. That’s when I came with the reverse ideas for those things:

Reverse Final Fantasy: The forces of Light and Darkness most be in balance, or the universe will explode. Unfortunately, the Light is getting over and so the Warriors of Darkness must be summoned to save the planet. To do that, they must pillage villages, destroy families, corrupt kings and such. Honestly, I think it’s cool because you’ll end doing wrong things for the right reason.

Reverse TV series: This occurred to me when I saw “Continue in the next episode” in the end of the first episode of “Heroes.” Almost every TV series starts showing the personalities of the main characters, then add some action, add some cliff-hangers, try to connect every main character in a way and (in the really well written series) it ends closing all the open plots and shows a happy ending. What I’m thinking here is a series which the first episode is the happy ending. Everyone is fine, the universe is saved, the villains are in jail… and it ends with “Continues in the previous episode.” So the whole thing is a lot of retcons over and over again, trying to explain how character X became the villain, how Y found his/her super-powers, how the city was destroyed…

Heroes

What if you could feel you could fly? Or that you know you could bend space and time? Or you could see an evil yourself on every mirror? Or seeing your paintings of disasters becoming real on the newspapers? Or seeing yourself getting hurt and healing in just a few seconds, without any scar? And how to tell this without sounding like some childish comic?

“Heroes” seems to take the same premises of “Smallvile” and “Batman Begins”: the story of super-heroes, from the beginning, when they wren’t heroes. But, instead of going comic-like, the authors decided to take a “real-life approach”. They don’t understand their powers, they don’t know how to control them, they don’t know why they have them or, most importantly, they don’t know what to do with them.

The only weird thing is that they all appear in New York or, for one reason or another, they come to New York. Nice coincidence, uh?

The idea isn’t new. There was another series that explored the idea of people with super-powers, like “Smallvile” and “The Last American Hero”, but the series took a more comic approach, showing the powers and putting super-villains. “Heroes”, on the other hand, start exploring the conflicts inside the special people, when they realize there is something weird with them. The point the powers appear could mean anything: they could be daydreaming or suffering schizophrenia. Even you could start doubting they have super-powers in the first episodes — and that is very well explored.

One thing is for sure: the girl that can heal quick is really freaky. Seeing her with a dislocated shoulder, with ribs coming out of her chest or with a broken neck really freaks you out. On the other hand, she is the the first to do a hero job before anyone else.

Acting is movie-like: good acting, not cheesy acting and really really convincing. I mean, if they wanted to do a movie with it, they wouldn’t need to do another screen-test or change actors or even take another director of photography. It is that simply good.

The only problem with the series appears in the sixth or seventh episodes. For some reason, the authors decided to add some “conspiracy”-like mistery, with people showing some marks after blanking out. I really thought it was complete unnecessary at this time, they could have explored their super-powers a lot longer and than add something weird in it (government, strange agency, whatever). Ok, a conspiracy could add some spice in the story, but it is stealing the good stuff in the series: the heroes and their super-powers.

Anyway, that’s a series worth watching.

Casseta & Planeta já era

Como tive que ficar na casa da minha avó na terça, tive o desprazer de ver “Casseta & Planeta” depois de quase dois anos (porque o resto da programação da tevê aberta consegue ser pior que isso). E, sinceramente, o pouco que o Casseta tinha de engraçado sumiu a muito tempo. Olhei uns três blocos e tiver vontade de sair na rua, procurar um daqueles tijolos sem furos e atirar com toda força contra a tevê, na esperança dele se transmitido pelas ondas de tv e atingir alguém lá na Globo.

A pior parte é que todos os demais canais “temem” o Casseta: nenhuma outra emissora está tentando vir com um programa pra competir com eles só por causa da história que o Casseta tem, quando, antigamente, ainda era um dos programas engraçados no ar.

Como dizem no popular: “Não cagam e não desocupam a moita”.

Gundam Seed Destiny

There are few things more fun to watch than anime series with giant robots. Not many, but there are.

Gundam Seed Destiny meets its quota of mecha, and has a strong storyline.

The events in the story happen a few years after a great war (told on Mobile Suite Gundam SEED), and a new one is appearing in the horizon. Unfortunately, it goes on, and two factions, Earth and Plant (an artificial planet, populated by genetic enhanced humans) got to arms against each other, with the small Earthan island Orb crushed in the middle, trying at any costs not going into war.

There are a lot of twists in the story: first you think one side is the right, then you see they are not what they look; you pick the other side, just to find out they are also not what they look; and the rest isn’t very good either. But that’s not a bad thing, as we also have these kind of duality. So you are no seeing something too different from real life.

There are some very strong scenes on this series: in the first episode, when one of the main characters loses his family in the war, you are shown them lifeless, torn bodies. Not a nice scene. Of course, even shocking as it is, it gives you a since of the grieve he is carrying. Also, when the story turn to the second “good guys”, you see them killing an enemy, whose last words are the name of a woman. His sister? His mother? His lover? We don’t know, but it shows that, inside that mobile armour there is a man, with a family. Is it right to fight justice and peace when someone like him leaves a broken heart behind? That kind of questioning goes all the way in the story, making yourself ask what is right in a war. A lot of thoughtful moments, I can tell you.

As you would see in the Wikipedia page, there are a lot of criticism about the series. Unfortunately, I must agree with some points, but that doesn’t mean the series isn’t worth your time.

Star Trek: Enterprise, 4th season

After AXN moved “Star Trek: Enterprise” for a weird spot in their programming (17:00 on sundays) and decided to replay the 3th season, I decided it was time to use this thing called “internet” and find the episodes by myself. Fortunately, I found a torrent with the whole season and spent my Saturday watching every episode.

Before going on with this review, let me say that I just loved the 3rd season. The main reason I watched every Star Trek up to day is the “what would I do?” factor, where I try to find out what would I do if I had a problem like the characters were. I didn’t care a thing about the “temporal wars”, which were way too much criticized by other Trekkies.

So, we have the end of the cliff-hanger left in the previous season with “Storm Front”, parts 1 and 2. Not bad, but a little dry. They closed the temporal wars, as it was getting critics by every Trekkie around (not me).

Then, they screw it up.

“Home” is a critic to prejudice against races, but they focused on so many characters you can’t even get a feeling for any.

“Borderland”, “Cold Station 12″ and “The Augments” tries to focus on the story about the race Khan (yeah, for “Star Trek II: The Revenge Of Khan”) but, again, it is so out of focus that you can’t follow the story correctly. It is nice seeing Brent Spinner (Mr. Data on Star Trek: The Next Generation) playing a more emotional character, but I think his years playing Mr. Data really screwed up his acting talents as a emotional character. The only thing up take from this three part story is the joke in the final episode.

“Awakening” and “Kir’Shara” focus on the Vulcan religious logic and how the federation got a vote of trust from the Vulcans. And that’s it. There is nothing worth on these episodes.

“Daedalus” is a story about ghosts and the after-life and how we don’t let the past die, when we got a hold so strong on someone that isn’t there anymore and how we forget to keep living. It is a way to the roots of the “what would I do?” days, but you didn’t feel anything for the characters and the episode simply dies. And you have nothing to got a hold on it.

“Observer Effect” is the return of “what would I do?” at full strength. All cast should be proud of their actings here, as they play two characters on the same body, without leaving their personalities behind. Also, there is a nice discussion about the first rule (“do not interfere with other species”) when you are in the other side of the coin.

“Babel One”, “United” and “The Aenar” pull the Enterprise back to the diplomatic issues and present the Romulans. There was a great deal of controversy over this episode, as the original series never mentioned them, and TNG points that no one has ever had a contact with a Romulan before. Not great episodes, in my opinion, but saved by the final touch in the “Aenar”, when Trip leaves Enterprise.

“Affliction” and “Divergence” try to “fix” the Klingons with rugged foreheads when they were flat on the original series. I felt they where excellent in keeping the tension. One thing that could’ve made a great addition to the series was the presence of Columbia, the sister ship of Enterprise. So you have double the crew, double the ships and double the opportunities for new stories. Also, Trip keeps moving from ship to ship, just to add tension to his relationship with T’Pol.

“Bound” again focus on the relationship between T’Pol and Trip and gives the old Trekkies another taste of the Orion dancers. A lost opportunity here, as T’Pol and Trip are the only ones immune to the dancers pheromones and it is explained by the Vulcan physiology and a bound between T’Pol and Trip. It would be a lot more interesting, in my opinion, if their immunity could be explained by their love.

“In a Mirror, Darkly” is a two part episode again create to satisfy old Trekkies. Who forgot about the bad Kirk and bad Spock episode? This episodes focus entirely on a different dimension, where all the crew of the Enterprise is bad. Even the federation doesn’t exist, being replaced by a Human Empire, who fights everyone. Great laughs when seeing the “Enterprise” crew using the clothes of the crew from the original series. Even the sounds are the same. Also, additional points for the change in the opening, showing a darker version of all experiments they used in the original opening.

“Demons” and “Terra Prime” turn again to T’Pol and Trip relationship, stealing some fragments from “Home” and the xenophobia against aliens. Not a great pair, except for finally adding the dots in the “i”s and the traces in the “t” in T’Pol and Trip relationship.

“These are the Voyages” is the last episode of “Star Trek: Enterprise”. I’ve read somewhere that the current crew didn’t approved the presence of Jonathan Frakes (William Riker on TNG) and Martina Sirtis (Diana Troi) and I must agree with them: they added nothing to the episode; actually, their presence almost ruined it, as there isn’t a general path on it. Again, saved by the last minutes, as it ends with a mix of all three Enterprise captains saying the famous “Space: the final frontier. These are the voyages of the Starship Enterprise; its continuous mission to explore strange new worlds, to seek out new life and new civilizations, to boldly go where no man has gone before”, with the ships coming through. A touching and beautiful finale for a series that didn’t get the respect it deserved.