“Alias” on Sunday nights has been a boon for ABC. After finally catching up on the episodes I’ve taped, I think I can offer some comments of my own now. After the 11/2/03 episode, I’ve noticed this: “Alias” is taking some lessons from every great soap opera, science fiction television show (such as Star Trek) , and previous spy drama: “Alias” is also finding aways so that no one (not a major character anyway) gets to die. CIA agent Sydney Bristow loses two years of her life, after having been almost killed in last season’s season finale. Sydney has no memory of what she did or where she went. Evil Francie, aka enemy agent Allison Doren in the physical form of Sydney’s late best friend Good Francie, still has some explainin’ to do. And the tension between Sydney, her ex-handler/ex-boyfriend Michael Vaughn, and his new wife/NSC agent Lauren Reed, is so thick that you’d need a power saw to cut through it. The third season of “Alias” isn’t nearly as plot-twisted as seasons 1 and 2, and I miss Lena Olin as Sydney’s morally-ambiguous mother (she and actor Victor Garber, as Sydney’s CIA agent dad) sizzled on the screen. But, “Alias” continues to be fun tv.
My apologies for being away; baseball drained me and life took hold, I suppose. Reflecting on the month of October 2003, I can say that Star Trek literature has its good and bad moments, but lately, it has been more interesting than the currently broadcasted incarnation “Star Trek: Enterprise” (previously just “Enterprise”, but apparently returning to the Star Trek name in an attempt to reclaim fans who have been unhappy with the lack of consistent storytelling in a prequel series like this). The book franchise has released the special “Lost Era” series, to cover the heretofore unseen gap between the movie “Star Trek VI: The Undiscovered Country” (the last movie on the original crew of the Enterprise, of The Original Series (TOS)) and “Star Trek: The Next Generation” (TNG). These books take lines of references about the “Lost Era” from TNG, “Star Trek: Deep Space Nine,” and “Star Trek: Voyager” and flesh them into stories, as well as bringing to life characters who have had minimum screen time. I haven’t read book 1, since I was eagerly awaiting book 2 – and I particularly enjoyed reading it.
“Serpents Among the Ruins,” by David R. George III, which came out in October, focuses on the experience of the starship U.S.S. Enterprise-B. Captain John Harriman, of the Enterprise B, was seen in “Star Trek: Generations” (the first TNG movie, and the end of William Shatner as Captain Kirk) as one who couldn’t possibly overcome that giant Kirk shadow. Fortunately, the Star Trek novel “The Captain’s Daughter” by Peter David rehabilitated Harriman’s character and “Serpents Among the Ruins” continues the portrayal of this man and how he fits in the pantheon of Enterprise heroes. I highly recommend this book, for being an intruiging read. It demonstrates the complex galactic politics of the Star Trek universe (yep, the Romulans and the Klingons are at it again, and the Federation don’t exactly come out looking like beautiful angels either). “Serpents Among the Ruins” was probably much too descriptive than it should have been, but I couldn’t put it down. It left me thinking, “Geez, how can Harriman pull that off? Who is he kidding?” but then realized that what he did was clever – his conscience is cleared of wrongdoing and he gets the right outcome, even if his means were questionable and bizarre. Harriman’s first officer, Demora Sulu, was also a good character and the story maintained the great Trek tradition of celebrating ideals and diversity with a good story.
Peter David’s latest entry in his “Star Trek: New Frontier” series , “Gods Above,” continues the adventures of Captain Mackenzie Calhoun, a non-human and all-around crazy hero, and his sidekick, Captain Elizabeth Shelby. In this book, they have to deal with the Beings, who had presented themselves to Captain Kirk a century before as “Gods” (of the ancient Greek variety). “Gods Above” isn’t nearly as powerful a punch as I’d like it to have been, but it has its moments (Mac and his one-liners; Mac and Shelby’s maturing relationship; the boy Moke, innocent and brave; and the return of Spock). Good read.
It may be awhile before I splurge on more Star Trek reading, but I’m feeling a little better about the Star Trek franchise after I read something as good as these had been.
[Scene: downtown 6 train , Me reading the Village Voice. The paper is open to the advertisement for the Greenwich Village Halloween Parade. All are seated shoulder to shoulder]
Woman, late 40’s, long salt & pepper hair : Are you going to the parade?
Me: No, not really.
W: Why not?
M: Well, my dad’s in the hospital so I’m not really in the trick or treat mood. [My dad’s doing fine, not to worry — he’ll be out on Saturday.]
W: Oh, I can understand, I’m sorry about that. I’m going as Susan B. Anthony. I’ll carry a sign saying “their servitude is all the more debasing because they do not realize it.”
M: Maybe you can throw Susan B. Anthony dollar coins?
W: It’s too bad they never caught on.
M: Yeah, the JFK dollar coins had it right — they were the right size.
W: The new dollar coins were too much like quarters.
W: Have you seen the new $20 bills?
M: Sure, but with that pink background they look kind of fake.
W: I think that they are colorful.
M: I know that they’re trying to stop counterfeiting, but everyone knows what the old bills look like.
W: Other countries have money that have different colors and different sizes, and it works for them.
M: [getting off at Grand Central] Anyway, I hope you have fun at the parade.
W: Thanks, hope everything works out for your dad.
Wow, that was surreal.