seeing patrick stewart in the die hard-ish masterminds reminded me of a few star trek: the next generation episodes. since they kind of relate to the die hard-ish theme, this will be one of the rare instances where we review tv shows.
these three episodes are from seasons 5 and 6, so we don’t have to put up with yar or wesley crusher. in between some “message” episodes that try to say something about adoption, sexual orientations or euthanasia.
my recollection kind of failed me in the first one, “disaster” from season 5. watching it again, it’s not really as die hard-ish as i remember. the plot has something to do with the enterprise without power and unable to move. the regulars are all stuck in different parts of the ship: troi, o’brien, ro on the bridge, dr. crusher and geordi in the cargo bay, worf and various supporting characters in ten forward, riker and data move about the ship trying to fix the problem, and picard stuck in the turbolift with three kids who are science fair winners.
so that sounds more like a towering inferno or poseidon type disaster movie than die hard. but then die hard also has elements of disaster movies, with action movie elements on the forefront. i guess “disaster” could be seen as three or four mini die hard-ish situations.
though i was disappointed with the die hard-ish promise, which i made myself, “disaster” is pretty enjoyable for me as a tng fan. at this point in the series, this plot device allows them to play with the weekly structure and develop a few characters. troi taking command of the ship with ro being a doubter is more or less the main plot point. the riker and data part is pretty routine, but as usual, brent spiner (and the script) injects a large amount of humor to the otherwise standard subplot. the dr. crusher/geordi section provides the action elements, and we don’t see them pair up very often in the series.
the two high points for me though, is the hilarious worf playing doctor/nurse to various supporting characters and eventually delivering the keiko/o’brien baby; and the way the injured picard deals with the kids, especially if you’ve seen all the previous episodes when family and children are involved regarding captain picard.
other than the mentos commercial moments at the end, it’s overall a pretty decent episode. but since it’s not die hard-ish, i’ll skip the ten point comparison.
i worry less about my memory after watching “power play,” 10 episodes after “disaster.” it is finally a die hard-ish episode that is more akin to what i was looking for.
the pretty lengthy prologue shows us a distress signal the enterprise received from a faraway/isolated moon. while data recognizes that the signal is from 172 years ago, troi senses survivors. mishaps ensue and troi, data, and o’brien beam back to the enterprise taken over by entities. the three of them eventually take over the control of the enterprise and hold up in ten forward with hostages.
in the context of the series, it’s an interesting way to break up the monotony of the weekly grind. it’s fun for the audience and the actors to have the opportunity to play someone outside of their regular parts yet at the same time appear as the same characters.
once you make it pass the lengthy first act, the episode doesn’t let up. the taking over the ship scenes are carefully structured and masterfully edited. as in “disaster,” worf is in ten forward with various hostages. it doesn’t play for obvious laughs as in “disaster” but the scenes between him and data are sublime.
the smart premise combines the die hard-ish situation with star trek’s scifi element perfectly. even though they are taken over by alien entities, troi, data, and o’brien are still more or less themselves. knowing everything they know about the ship and the standard procedures. troi got the part of the terrorist leader, data as the hardcore terrorist right hand man, while o’brien handles the hacking stuff, aka the nerdy terrorist.
like a lot of the die hard-ish movies, “power play” plays with the villains’ motives, switching between political to personal. though i’m not too convinced with the final twist at the end. unlike die hard-ish movies, we don’t get a lone hero. instead, every regular on the ship work together on the masterplan to foil the villains objective. it’s fine as a bottle show but mostly it’s worth watching for the actors being able to play different characters.
star trek: the next generation – s5e15 – power play
the pitch: die hard in ten forward
bruno, the mcclane surrogate: there isn’t one. it’s more of a collaboration.
the gruber factor: troi, data, and o’brien, whose bodies have been taken over by unknown entities. troi is good as the leader with a motive, data is great as the hardass terrorist henchman.
the hans objective: first they want to change course of the enterprise to an unstable part of the moon, so that they can rest in peace, but there’s a twist, as in most die hard-ish movies, when it comes to their real motive.
wrong place at the wrong time: the trio cut off communications and power. and they are on a spaceship in space. so no one can really go anywhere.
the help: cut off from the outside, there isn’t really any outside help.
the family element: the most interesting part is that while o’brien is taken over by the entity, he still remembers things regarding his wife keiko, who is one of the hostages.
bonfire of the weaponry: phasers, data’s hand, forearm.
last man standing: the masterplan has more to do with group effort and technology than fights. it takes place mostly in the cargo bay with most of the regulars. but no lone hero and main villain showdown.
unbearables: even though there is a long prologue, the takeover scene is surprisingly effective. the hostages and the villains stays mostly in ten forward. there are plenty of negotiations but since it’s the future, no walkie-talkies are needed. geordi and ro crawl through a futuristic vent to spy on the bad guys. the lead terrorist’s right hand man doubt the hero’s honesty. picard tries to talk the villains logically to get them to release the hostages. the villains have motives that are not what they seem at first. the music is very similar to die hard 1. the villains have to take hostages with them when moving to a different location.
the third and final die hard-ish episode of tng is also the most die-hard-ish-iest. it’s the best episode out of the three and it’s one of the top five episodes of the series. “starship mine” is from season 6, about a year after “disaster” and “power play.” it’s perfection in just about every way.
it only takes about five minutes to set up the episode during the pre-credit sorkin-esque sequence. like a well oiled machine, we are given all the information we need in quick and efficient manner so we don’t get the clunky prologue as in “disaster.”
in this five minutes, we learn that the enterprise is docked for a routine baryon sweep, the crew is invited to attend a reception that no one wants to go. data, we learn, is trying to master human’s ability to make small talk (something i should learn myself). we also see every single crew member comes to the captain with a problem regarding the sweep and picard making split second decisions. this sequence ends with a lovely moment of picard alone on the bridge. no lines spoken. just a captain and his ship. a perfect moment after the preceding hijinks.
at the party picard learns of the opportunity to ride horses. he uses that as an excuse to get away from the party and get his own saddle from the enterprise. like john mcclane at the airport, he sees something out of the ordinary on the enterprise and the show gets on the road, in space.
by the way, the first terrorist that picard runs into and had to kill is played by tim russ, who later plays tuvok on voyager. picard also kills him by using what seems to be the vulcan neck pinch.
so we got picard by himself on the powered off (because of the sweep) enterprise with the terrorists and the rest of the crew (except for worf, who only appears in the pre-credit sequence but this is right after the klingon two-parter birthright so he deserves some rest) stuck at a lame party. one would assume that plot a is the picard one and the party would be the usual unrelated but lighter b plot. but like tarantino’s c.s.i. episode, instead of having two separate unrelated plotlines, the party subplot eventually works along with the picard on the enterprise story, which doesn’t happen very often on weekly tv series at the time.
though make no mistake, “starship mine” is still essentially a one man show, between the screenplay and stewart’s game performance, he makes a great older futuristic mcclane. he sneakes around, crawls through vents, improvise weapons, posing as someone else, and when the time comes he gets down and kick some ass.
the party people later became hostages and they have a pretty smart plan to foil the terrorists. though once again, brent spiner provides great comic relief as data making small talks with other crew members.
another thing i like is that the terrorist group is led by a woman, which we don’t see a lot in die hard-ish movies (yes, there are fights involving picard and the lead terrorist). though they could have gave her a more terror-er name than kelsey. the interesting thing here is that their goal is to steal trilithium, which is used to power the enterprise engine. though we learn that it can also be used as weapon.
to make things even more interesting, in addition to the terrorists group, the sweep taking place on the enterprise, represented here by green laser, is lethal to organic matters, so on top of the terrorists, there’s that to up the stakes.
i think the television structure helps elevating this episode above a lot of the die hard-ish movies, especially since at this point it’s already been on for five years. unlike the die hard-ish movies, they can cut right to the chase with minimal setup and expositions. regular viewers will also recognize the locations of each scene, which adds to the tension and suspense. the action scenes are pretty good even though they can’t get away as much as they do in dtv movies.
surprisingly, “starship mine” is the best die hard-ish i’ve seen all month.
star trek: the next generation – s6e18 – starship mine
the pitch: die hard on the enterprise
bruno, the mcclane surrogate: captain picard, who gets down and dirty, gets a chance to be pretty badass. he’s even out of the starfleet uniform and changed into riding uniform, which seems to be federation issued.
the gruber factor: maria marshall as the terrorist leader kelsey. she and piccard has some pretty die hard-ish moments and exchanges. they even have a fight at the end. for some reason, all the terrorists have red hair.
the hans objective: to steal the trilithium on the enterprise. as with most die hard-ish movies, their objective switches between greed and political gains.
wrong place at the wrong time: picard beams back to the enterprise to get his saddle so he can ride horses, and get away from the bad party. because of the sweep, the power are off with no way to communicate or beam off the ship. pretty good excuses compare to other die hard-ish movies. there’s also subtle and moving little touches about a captain protecting his ship.
the help: it’s picard’s one man show. the rest of the crew has their own die hard-ish situation. he is finally able to call out to stop the sweep.
the family element: though taken over by the terrorist group, the picard plot and the party plot doesn’t really affect each other.
bonfire of the weaponary: saddle, laser welder, vulcan nerve pinch, hypospray, disruptors, geordi’s visor turns into a hypersonic pulse device, baryon sweep, crossbow, riker’s fist, improvised tranquilizer, green strips that were never explained, picard’s fist, tube containing trilithium.
last man standing: there’s a fight between picard and kelsey, but instead of fight to the death, picard uses smarts and remove a safety pin type thing on the container that carries the trilithium.
unbearables: party people become hostages, picard notices something out of place and trapped on the ship. picard is discovered numerous times by bad guys holding guns from behind. picard pretends to be mott the barber when discovered. the lead bad guy finds out who picard really is later. the terrorist kills one of her own. the motive turns out to be for profit. there’s kind of a class issue with the thief trying to steal the trilithium from the rich and powerful federation. picard and kelsey has quite a few die hard 1-ish conversations over communicators. picard and the terrorists crawl through jeffretubes and vents. picard improvises and uses whatever’s on the enterprise as weapons.
all of the next generation episodes are currently available on netflix instant, or youtube, which charges $8 less than netflix.
submitted to Pussy Goes Grrr’s juxtaposition blogathon