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Star Trek by the Minute 066: Sewer Interrogation Begins

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STbtM Posts: FirstPreviousUhura continues to look at Spock, and nearly breaking into tears says "OK." She then plants a kiss right on Spock's mouth to which he responds, and they separate as the lift comes to halt. The door opens and Uhura watches Spock exit and walk down the corridor. Speaking of which: where is he going? It must be someplace important for the acting captain to leave his post in the middle of an emergency, failing to hand off command to anyone or give anyone on the bridge a clue as to what was going on, where he was going, what he was doing, when he'd be back, etc. It seems reasonable that simply a normal viewer might want to know who was in charge of Starfleet's most advanced vessel and best weaponry, to say nothing of the crew aboard the ship. Apparently we will never find out, because the film cuts immediately to a scene of the Narada zooming through some sort of energy conduit or hyperspace with a blue-white light reminiscent of the signa…

Star Trek by the Minute 065: Uhura's Kiss

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As the segment opens, Uhura puts down her earpiece and arises from her chair to follow Spock who is walking to the aft bridge turbolift. The precognitive door sensors demonstrate they are still functioning, as they patiently wait for just the right moment to do anything: first Spock enters, then stops, presses a button, waits for a moment, and then Uhura to clicks her go-go boots across the bridge, joining Spock in the lift. As soon as she enters, the doors begin to close the instant her first foot hits the lift deck – while she's still moving. The pair gazes meaningfully into each other's eyes, before Uhura reaches over and presses a button to stop the lift. Spock, having read the Starfleet Seduction Manual section on "quick privacy", is well aware her actions have elevated the sexual situation status to yellow alert at the very least. Perhaps having spent too much time listening to Chekhov, she declares (no kidding): "I'm sorry…

Star Trek by the Minute 064: Endangered Species

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STbtM Posts: First - PreviousAs the planet Vulcan collapses, we have an opportunity to see more examples of bad science, lazy writing, and an inconsistent plot that doesn't maintain even a semblance of coherency with itself. First, the bad science relating to the setup of the plot: the story is that a drop of red matter has been injected into the planet or so that it can create a singularity, or black hole. As discussed previously, there's absolutely no reason to drill to the core of the planet to position a singularity in some kind of central location, except as a poorly thought out plot device to enable lots of special effects scenes like those we just witnessed in this case featuring the giant tentacle drill, skydiving, sword fights, and professional wrestling moves worthy of the Insane Clown Posse. If we suspend disbelief regarding the need for red matter delivery to the core of the planet and simply assume that this has occurred, then the planetary collapse shown in the e…

Star Trek by the Minute 063: Amanda Dies

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As the segment opens, it has been 8 seconds since Spock alerted the Enterprise to begin the beam-out. Let's think about that: our team is in the middle of a catastrophic disaster with the Enterprise on split-second standby for the refugee call for rescue and the instant they are in a safe zone for transport, they request emergency evacuation. Tick, tick, tick goes the timer on their survival, while our 23rd century technology on the Enterprise takes longer to start than a hand-cranked 1912 Henderson, and whorls of glowing plasma surround the survivors. The survivors patiently wait for evacuation while some more cliffs collapse around them, more whirling plasma and nothing happens. More time goes by. More cliffs collapse as the survivors watch with increasing worry through more transporter special effects.
The characterization that during this time no one does anything is not quite fair, because Amanda does actually teleport from the safety of Spock'…

Star Trek by the Minute 062: Katric Ark Escape

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As the segment opens we see Spock running up the large sloping mountainside that leads up to Katric Ark entrance. It seems to be quite a ways and we wonder why he would want to beam down so far away from the entrance. The planet is collapsing, everyone has mere seconds to survive, while Spock is doing some kind of weird crouching beam-in position, and has decided to try some mountain jogging across dangerous & unstable terrain for what, sightseeing? We know that everyone on the planet, everyone on the ship, and the Enterprise itself have only a few seconds. Since we later see the evacuees transported from just outside the Katric Ark entrance, we have to wonder why, in the Vulcan hell, (Thx Muser) would anyone would ever consider beaming to the bottom of the mountain they need to get inside? Eventually making it into the entrance tunnel, he shields eyes from falling debris and sprints into the temple chamber door and up some stairs to a gigantic statue o…

Star Trek by the Minute 061: Spock Beams Down

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With Kirk and Sulu tumbling in an uncontrolled free-fall, Kirk yells: "Enterprise, where are you?" Again, what Kirk chooses to shout is not only pointless, but in the real world this shouting would be impossible as well. Any experienced jumper can tell you, just breathing is difficult enough when you have winds over 100 MPH hitting your unprotected face head on, try enunciating anything intelligible with this kind of turbulence blasting your mouth and lips. The effect can be simulated by having a competent friend drive over 100 MPH, while one sticks their head out the passenger-side window, and you'll see what I mean. Next, try holding a microphone 1 meter out to the side (like a cellphone) and get an understandable message to it. Good luck.
Naturally, you would not hear anything from the device because of wind interference, yet Chekov repeats "Hold on, hold on, hold on." Forget about the unbelievable story, the fact that this writin…

Star Trek by the Minute 060: Minimum Safe Distance

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Sulu, who has been standing on the edge of the platform like he is preparing to back flip off of it, does a back flip off of it. The transporter technician's voice comes across Kirk's com as "I can't lock onto you, don't move…don't move!" This hardly seems possible: a speed of light (or faster) transportation system that cannot lock onto a target with a tiny amount of relative motion? For example, if the Enterprise were near Earth and stationary relative to the sun, a cadet at Starfleet Academy would be moving about 30 km/sec relative to the ship. Because we don't sense the Earth's motion, 140 m/s in a straight vertical diving freefall seems fast – but is really more of an indication of how poorly our senses give us an accurate impression of "the bigger picture". In reality, locking onto a person in freefall at maximum velocity would involve less than one half of one percent difference in their relative speed…

Star Trek by the Minute 059: Retract the Drill

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Back on the Enterprise Bridge, Chekov seems to have disregarded Spock's precognitive order to run "gravitational sensors" and instead chose something like "geological sensors" since we see his panel warning "SEISMIC ACTIVITY" in bright red letters. Overlooking that seismic activity is only one of many possible results from gravitational field stress, why would we care, and why would the computer warn us about quakes, even really severe ones? Most space bodies, including stars, M-class planets and small, dustball moons are somewhat dynamic, along with everything else that isn't sitting at an undisturbed equilibrium. On the Bridge, many people begin excitedly chattering indistinctly, pushing buttons and urgently talking about strange gravity waves or whatever, but it is not about the computer's warnings nor picking up the away team. I wish there were an incoming message from the an alternate universe, a reasonable one who…

Star Trek by the Minute 058: What’s the Matter?

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Sulu pulls Kirk back onto the platform and cries "Olsen had the charges." Kirk, still panting from hanging out on the platform with previously breathing Romulans replies "I know." "What do we do?" Kirk picks up one of the disruptors lying around and yells "This!", and Sulu follows his lead as the two of them demonstrate, yet again, suicidal ignorance by firing automatic weapons at a nearby vertical section, even though it appears to be made of heavy metal and perfect for ricochets that, if one were extremely lucky, would only blind the shooter and anyone else who happened to be standing around – especially if they did not bother to put on any eye protection. Whether an energy-based sidearm is a believable weapon to attack an armored building is another matter, but a much better response for the remaining members of the assault team would be to enter the access hatch, disable the beam, and gain some intel on the enemy. Thi…

Star Trek by the Minute 057: Have Guts Enough to Get the Point

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In a sweeping shot over the drilling platform, we see Kirk and Sulu fighting Romulan miners. There are some silly stage-fighting exchanges of blows until Kirk ends up hanging by his fingers off the edge of the platform. In an overhead view, we again see the problems that the effects crew had in visualizing large objects and distances. The drilling beam is about 15-20 meters in diameter, so while the platform is shown very high from the surface, many times the altitude of the cloud layers, the drilling beam terminator point is fairly large when it should be hair thin, if visible at all. The Romulan tries a few Frankenstein-like stomps on Kirk's fingers for some reason, when all he needs to do is keep Kirk from climbing back up.
Sulu's embarrassing fight scene continues with neither participant actually trying to hit the other in a vital organ, but making lots of wild arcing sweeps with their weapons. Finally, Sulu blocks a straight down chop by the Romula…

Star Trek by the Minute 056: Sulu’s Switchblade!

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As the two struggle over the Romulan weapon, it repeatedly discharges, puncturing Sulu's canopy 3 times, giving him control problems. Sulu struggles to make the landing as the lumbering Romulan seems to get the upper hand with Kirk, but our hero is somehow able to disarm the bad guy and throw away his weapon. Then he decides to pull a phaser he apparently had the whole time, and the Romulan is somehow able to disarm Kirk by slapping it from his hand...Kirk lets this weapon fly away without a care also. His phaser dances down the platform's rusty metal like a thing possessed – then careens off the edge.
Meanwhile, Sulu is trying to overcome the problems of having a skydiving helmet that obstructs most of any lower half of the user's field of view. This helmet seems great for looking up at the drop vehicle, bad for seeing where you're going. Perhaps this is why Olsen got incinerated?
When we cut back onto the platform, where Kirk stupidly ditched …

Star Trek by the Minute 055: Olsen is Gone

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Olsen Redshirt continues his dive to the last possible moment and throws out his chute, but botches the landing, and gets dragged by his chute into the beam from the Romulan drill. His body melts away in the beam like butter, although there is no hint of the explosives he was supposed to be carrying. You would think that if he had enough high-explosives to "destroy" a mining drill, (which we would expect to be tough), there should be something that happens when vaporized in an energy beam…
Kirk lands on the platform with difficulty, showing off a very cool chute retraction button that sucks the rig back into a nice, neat hexagon. On the Enterprise Bridge, Chekov reports the successful landing to Spock, watching the viewscreen…not assigning and managing damage-control teams…not getting any casualty reports, not scanning the enemy ship for potentially planet saving information, not working on strategies for disabling or destroying the Narada, if necessar…

Star Trek by the Minute 054: Atmospheric Resistance

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This segment continues the 30 second vacuum freefall of Kirk, Sulu, and Redshirt along the Romulan drill, which gives us some time to review some first year physics regarding acceleration, and speculate on planetary dynamics. In films and TV, Vulcan gravity is shown as about the same as earth, although canon states it is "considerably" stronger with an atmosphere that is less dense.

We would normally expect planets with strong gravitational fields to collect proportionally more atmosphere, probably mitigated by the stellar wind which could strip gas away from the upper atmosphere unless the wind was deflected by a magnetic field, such as what the earth possesses. I thought this would explain why the Martian atmosphere is so thin, but then we look at Venus and see a super dense atmosphere. Since stellar wind paradoxically increases speed as it moves away from the sun, perhaps the higher density and slower speed at Venus' orbital radius is the determ…

Star Trek by the Minute 053: Drop Zone

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At this point, Sulu turns to face Kirk and deadpans: "Fencing". Like so much else, one might claim the absurdity of Sulu's reply was a joke, and that he wanted to inject a bit of self-deprecating humor into the situation. Forgetting that this reply is likely to further undermine Kirk's already-shaken confidence in his squad's members, this dialogue directly violates the spirit with which Gene Roddenberry imbued his characters: cultural pride. This is why his original first officer was female, why Spock was Vulcan, Chekov was Russion, Uhura was African, and they interacted with the central character from the center of the North American United States. Anyone with an appreciation for the grand history of Japanese martial arts and in particular the near sacred solemnity accruing to swordsmanship would be loathe to mislead a gaijin, insult the ancestors, and demean a ryu by equating bushido to a European sport activity.

Back in the shuttle cockp…

Star Trek by the Minute 052: Dr. Puri is Dead

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In response to Pike's quip, Quinto lifts one eyebrow, nods, and heads to the Bridge, walking through a beautiful set of automatic double doors that announce "AIR LOCK" four times. The set dressers /designers really could have gotten away with saying "inferiority-complex" once – we don't need all caps yelling at us, nor lens flares every one and a half seconds, nor the seriously misguided interior design "brilliance" of equipping nearly every available space with quick-shatter glass.
Spock takes the big chair, touch taps a com and sensibly orders "Dr. Puri, report." With the guts of the ship destroyed, melted, in flames, or whatever, it seems sensible to assess the situation, get a casualty report, and some sense for how rescue efforts are proceeding.
"It's McCoy," is the answer that comes across Spock's audio, "Dr. Puri was on deck 6, he's dead." Spock replies: "Then you have just …

Star Trek by the Minute 051: Be Careful, Spock

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This section opens with the Romulans finishing their red matter loading, when we cut to Pike leading Spock, Kirk, and Sulu through another of the poorly designed sets for the Enterprise seen earlier, this one was used when McCoy smuggled Kirk aboard. Pike explains: "Without transporters we can't beam off the ship, we can't assist Vulcan, we can't do our job." The transporter comment is technically true, but it's a bit like saying that without a McDonald's we can't order a Big Mac. How are these similar? Although factually true, they are hardly anything you would ever hear anyone say because "beaming" is the only thing transporters do, just like McDonalds is the only place you can get a Big Mac. The crew can still get off the ship with all the shuttles and presumably any other lifeboats aboard, they simply can't use the transporters. The statement that loss of transporter function prevents the ship from rendering a…

Star Trek by the Minute 050: Liquid Manifesto

STbtM: First /\ PreviousWe hear Chekov stutter "Ye-Yessir," confirming his acceptance of ship's conduct as this segment opens, with a zoom out from the Bridge into space with a great, dizzying roll while the Enterprise seemingly drifts toward the Narada. I can only imagine that on the big screen, this would really be spectacular. On the Romulan ship, Nero looks over the shoulder of a female (to be seen but not heard, of course) and the commander stalks up to Ayel, ordering: "Prepare the red matter." His first officer's hesitant "Yes, sir..." combined with the ominous background music let us know that whatever this is, it's serious.
For no obvious reason, Ayel runs toward Spock's ship while looking over his shoulder, above and opposite the direction he is running…weird. Although the Narada's design makes very poor use of space with all those spiky tentacles, it is supposed to be a mining ship, and presumably there would be some big cargo…

Star Trek by the Minute 049: Chekov Has the Con

Previous: STbtM 048: Psychic Psycho

Spock turns from his aft-facing station on the Bridge to face the viewscreen, stands and walks forward, and monotones: "Pardon me, I do not believe you and I are acquainted." Nero responds: "No we're not…not yet." So, the dialogue here indicates Nero knows he's time-travelled backward and that what he has experienced in the future has not happened yet. Why even put this exposition in the film if Nero is going to scream the exact opposite worldview later? The only answer that seems plausible to me is that the development team had no respect for the story – they wanted profits and they wanted them fast – so they slapped out a script of drivel and funneled it into a massively funded, corporate production pipeline, after which it was excreted to theatres and now on video, all at incredible profits.

Nero continues "Spock, there's something I would like you to see." OK, what might that be? He doesn't say, but th…

Star Trek by the Minute 047: Psychic Psycho

Previous: STbtM 046: With Shields Like These…

In the flow of battle, Nero's order to destroy the Enterprise was followed instantly by his bridge crew, with missiles hot in 5 seconds, impacting the target in 10. Sulu's useless "status report" and Pike's nonsensical order to "get Starfleet Command" takes another crucial 10 seconds, during which the next salvo from the Narada should have been on its way. Spock's report on the Romulans' "high energy pulse device" and Pike's ordering of "All power to forward shields, prepare to fire all weapons" yet again consumes what should the last available seconds for the crew to avoid certain death, yet they choose to use this time to chat about information that has nothing to do with keeping themselves alive, like getting the hell away from a ship against which it is obvious - glaringly obvious - they have no possible chance of success.

Entering a battlefield under red alert, shouldn'…

Star Trek by the Minute 046: With Shields Like These…

Previous: STbtM 045: Shields Up!
This segment opens with the Enterprise zooming through the wreckage of the destroyed fleet, which the Narada has pulverized. The Enterprise crew continues their frantic activity to avoid the structural carnage and detritus as if all this debris was some sort of surprise! It's not like everyone in the theatre didn't know what happened, and what the Enterprise was getting into, yet Pike and all the other flag officers and even Kirk who had been shouting warnings about a trap until a few moments ago, they all act as if this is the biggest surprise of their lives, less expecting what they find than my 8 year old. Might any experienced space combat veteran do better than this?
As the Enterprise rolls to starboard 90 degrees and drifts forward toward a huge disc section of wreckage in front of them that looks large enough to be part of an orbital station, Pike orders "Full reverse, starboard roll 90 degrees, take us underneath…" Editors proba…

STbtM 045: Shields Up!

Previous: STbtM 044: Kirk's Sound Logic
Spock continues: "…and Lt. Uhura is unmatched in xenolinguistics; We would be wise to accept her conclusion." Bzzzt! Oh, I'm sorry, that knocks the pointy-eared Vulcanian out of our bonus round, but thanks for playing "Are You Smarter Than a 5th Grade Pakled?" We have a nice parting gift basket for you backstage including WFF 'n Proof's party pack and tofu kebabs. Why is Spock sulking out behind the back curtain? Uhura's report only makes two statements: (1) She translated the message (confirming its existence) and (2) that its content was accurately reflected in Kirk's summary. Neither of these is any kind of conclusion because conclusions are logical consequences arising from the truth of some set of propositions. All bachelors are unmarried, and Bill is a bachelor. These propositions, if true, lead to the conclusion Bill is a bachelor. Spock the super-genius from a logic culture is unable to understa…