31 December 2014

B5 Review: The Wheel of Fire, Objects in Motion & Objects at Rest

Season Five and 2262 wrap up with this trio of episodes that see many of the original crew move on to their new assignments or adventures...

The Wheel of Fire
Lyta is becoming a nuisance for Earthgov who ask Lochley to turn her in so she can face charges of terrorism against the Psi-Corps. G'kar is forced by his followers to make a choice and Michael's problem becomes known to the command staff.

Since the death of Byron, Lyta appears to have taken over as leader of the rogue telepaths and now that she's also exploring her powers, she is becoming more of a hindrance to the station and everyone around her. Only Sheridan is able to stop her in a standoff against Lochley and station security. 

G'kar on the other hand is forced to either be recognised as a religious figure by his followers or return to Narn to lead his people. He desires neither and decides he must leave, offering Lyta the chance to come with him.

Lochley takes it upon herself to assist Michael with his drinking problem, and Michael comes to Lyta for help in removing Bester's neural block - who offers a counter proposal.

Under a load of pressure, Delenn collapses in front of Sheridan and Franklin. Back in Medlab, Stephen discovers she is actually pregnant.

This is the title episode if the fifth season of the show but it appears to be of less importance to the overall season arc than those that have come before. It acts as the beginning of the end of the series as a few of our characters look to move on...

Rating: 6.5/10

Objects in Motion
Michael and Lise are threatened with a message indicating they will be targeted in an assassination attempt while the station throws a going away party for G'kar.

G'kar comes face-to-face with the creator of his statue figurines that other Narn have been worshipping. He tells G'kar he has an obligation to his followers and that without them, he is nothing.

The going away party is designed to assist security in finding the would-be assassin and while he is discovered and stopped, the figurine maker encountered earlier draws his own weapon at G'kar, but instead injures Lise.

Garibaldi finds the board of Lise's own company, Edgar's Industries was behind the assassination attempt and confronts them shortly after Lise and he are married.

Sheridan appoints a new Head of Covert Intelligence for the Alliance and bids farewell to his friends G'kar and Garibaldi.

The farewells continue for our characters and we get closer to the end of the season. There are some nice moments between Sheridan and G'kar, and at the end saying goodbye to Michael before going for a walk along the length of the station at Delenn's encouragement.

Rating: 7/10

Objects at Rest
Sheridan, Delenn and Franklin leave Babylon 5, completing the changing of the guard. The new Alliance headquarters are complete and ready, but the trip to Minbar is tarnished.

Franklin has selected Dr. Hobbs to replace him on the station due to her experience and personality. G'kar has selected Ta'lon to replace him. Tessa, the new head of intelligence will remain on Babylon 5 with the new crew.

Lennier comes to the station in order to return to Minbar with Delenn (and Sheridan). During their trip, through inaction, Lennier leaves Sheridan to die while he was tending to a crisis. This fulfills the prophecy Morden's ghost foretold in Day of the Dead. Delenn tries to convince Lennier to return, but he feels he must leave and redeem himself - however long that will take.

Londo pays a visit to Minbar and has dinner with Sheridan and Delenn, with a conversation that appears to be mostly under his control - particularly with references to them always being his friends. He does however leave an urn as a gift for their unborn child. The urn contains a Keeper, a sign that the Drakh are very patient in their plans...

This is the 'final' episode of the fifth season - or more accurately, 2262. While there are the touching moments of the crew departing Babylon 5 for their new jobs and assignments, and even Londo's visit, the incident that put Sheridan in harms way felt like it was included simply to tie up one loose end. Sure, it works, but it never sat that well with me.

In any case, it is a nice end to the series, particularly with Sheridan's recording to their unborn child. The real tearjerker awaits with Sleeping in Light - but, having chosen to watch through the series chronologically, that review will have to wait a little longer...

Rating: 6.5/10

01 December 2014

B5 Review: Movements of Fire and Shadow & The Fall of Centauri Prime

Season Five reaches its climax as some races of the Interstellar Alliance take matters in to their own hands with the Centauri problem.

Movements of Fire and Shadow

Fighting between the Alliance and the Centauri escalates with the Centauri attacking the jump gate network. At Vir's request, Lyta and Stephen head to the Drazi homeworld to investigate what has happened to Centauri casualties in the conflict and Londo realises a horrible truth when he finally gets to meet with the Regent.

The Drazi haven't been returning the bodies of those recovered or captured in battle with the Centauri. This has Vir concerned enough to ask Lyta and Stephen for help. On Drazi they are attacked but soon find that the Centauri ships are being controlled by leftover Shadow technology which can run a ship without requiring a crew.

Sheridan asks Delenn to deliver a message personally to the Grey Council about a technological alliance in developing a destroyer class ship, larger and more powerful than a Whitestar. During her journey, her ship is attacked and herself and Lennier are among the few survivors but helplessly adrift in hyperspace.

Following a narrowly escaped attack on the Babylon 5 jump gate, the Narn and Drazi fleet commanders agree to strike Centauri Prime against Sheridan's wishes.

Londo has a disturbing dream (or was it?) while in his cell with G'Kar. He gets out to discuss with the other ministers about challenging the Regent but finds no support. Finally meeting with the Regent, Londo realises that there definitely is another force at work on Centauri Prime, but too late as it is revealed that all the ships protecting the planet have been sent away and the defence grid has been turned off - just as the Narn/Drazi fleet jumps out from hyperspace and attacks...

This is definitely the climax of the fifth season. All the recent build up in the conflict has lead to this point and a bit of a hopeless situation for many of our characters. 

What will become of Centauri Prime? What repercussions await the Narn and Drazi? Did Sheridan get to Centauri Prime in time? And has Michael suddenly overcome his drinking problem? It didn't seem to be an issue in this episode.

Rating: 8/10

The Fall of Centauri Prime
The Interstellar Alliance attack on Centauri Prime leaves the planet battered as Londo uncovers the truth behind the attacks and his destiny to become Emperor is fulfilled. 

The Drakh have come to Centauri Prime to take revenge on Londo for his part at the end of the Shadow War and to have a place to call home - among a beaten Centauri people, they believe they can mould them into a race to serve their needs for the future.

The Regent passes on and Londo becomes Emperor, enabling him to recall Centauri forces and retrieve Delenn's ship in hyperspace. Londo walks his path alone, unable to tell or warn the others of his situation and appoints Vir as the official ambassador to Babylon 5.

It's an emotional episode as Londo's arc comes to its end. His line in the episode sums it up best:

"Isn't it strange, G'Kar? When we first met, I had no power and all the choices I could wish to make. Now I have all the power I could ever want, and no choices at all. No choices at all."

Rating: 8/10

26 November 2014

Milton: Our little furry family addition

It's about time I posted about my life I thought and a break away from all the sci-fi reviews of the past year!

A little over six months ago now our family got a little bigger with the addition of our furry pet, Milton. With the way things had been going at home, we thought it might help Eleonor in particular if we got her a companion while she was on part-time duties and something that could help her keep her mind off work and other things.

We found Milton, a Jack Russell cross, at the Hawkesbury Animal Shelter after looking at a few others around the place. He was the first dog we saw and Eleonor appeared to develop an immediate bond while I was more interested in some of the larger dogs. Eventually we found that little Milton, who was nameless at the time might be the best choice so we put our names down on the waiting list.

We picked him up from the vet less than a week later and welcomed him home. He was barely 4 months old when we picked him up and he was a little wary around us, particularly me.

Six months on and he's settled right in with us. Unfortunately he has a tendency to bark when we're not home which has been a bit of an annoyance for our neighbours, but aside from some digging and plant destruction in the early days he's a pretty well behaved boy that we have managed to house train fairly quickly. He enjoys a lot of play time as he has a seemingly endless amount of energy and he loves to rip things apart - including his original bed, his favourite play toys and just about anything else!

He has a great personality and loves to be intellectually challenged too. We've tried to help him socialise with other dogs in our local dog park but he does like to make a lot of noise and go up to the big dogs when they're not looking. When they give him attention it's quite a different story though!

Aside from his tan and white features he has slightly spotted skin on his belly and legs and a distinctive curled tail. We're not exactly sure what the other part of his crossbreed is but we have a suspicion it might be Corgi which would explain his tail, his longer fur and having more tan on him than Jack Russell's usually seem to have.

It's good that we both now have a dog after we each lost our family dogs a few years ago and always said we would get one of our own. Milton brings a smile to our faces and makes us laugh :)

Eleonor's written up her own story on Milton shortly after we brought him home.

09 November 2014

B5 Review: Darkness Ascending & And All My Dreams, Torn Asunder

The investigation into Alliance shipping lane attacks concludes and darkness falls across the galaxy in the realisation of what lies ahead...

Darkness Ascending
Michael has an unexpected visitor and Lennier finds indisputable proof about who is behind the attacks on Alliance ships while Lyta is actively looking for assistance from anyone who will help her and the rogue telepaths.

Lennier is working on a theory when Whitestar 27 is recalled to Babylon 5 following Sheridan's finding out about what Delenn has done. Lennier proceeds to take a fighter and continue the investigation where he follows a Centauri warship and documents his findings.

Lise arrives on the station to catch up with Michael who she hasn't heard from through the year. Discovering alcohol in his quarters, she isn't too impressed and Michael is sworn to prove he is in control of the drink while she is there - which he fails to do.

Lyta seeks help but keeps hitting roadblocks - but a deal proposed to her at the very beginning of the series just may still be on the table. I always wondered too, was Lyta ever really in Garibaldi's quarters at the beginning of the episode?

This is where the season begins to pick up, following Meditations on the Abyss we now know, and our characters now know, for certain that the Centauri are involved in the attacks. We still don't know why however. Being as avid a fan as I am of the show, it was hard not to feel just slightly emotional witnessing what Lennier saw aboard his fighter and also the feeling of sadness when Michael tells Lise to leave the station, and why.

Rating: 8/10

And All My Dreams, Torn Asunder
The Alliance presents the evidence implicating the Centauri Republic in the recent attacks as Londo attempts to find out what has happened. Tensions mount and Garibaldi's drinking problem puts lives in danger.
This episode looks mostly at the presentation of evidence against the Centauri Republic and the consequences of promises made by Sheridan & Delenn to the Alliance races. We see the boiling point reaching its peak with Sheridan's outburst against the council. Meanwhile, Londo works to sort out what is going on and gets few answers from homeworld. He and G'kar leave to investigate at its source, leaving Vir on Babylon 5.
It's another well done episode in this arc and we have to wonder where all of this is leading with open hostilities between the Centauri Republic and the Interstellar Alliance now - a result of Michael's inability to keep his drinking under control, which has now started to cost lives...

Rating: 7.5/10

05 November 2014

Trek Review: Official Starships Collection - Jem'Hadar Battlecruiser

Eaglemoss presents their first ship from the Gamma Quadrant with this release - the formidable Jem'hadar Battlecruiser.

The Magazine
I was surprised to see that this ship didn't make an appearance until midway through DS9's fifth season. It would appear many times more in the ensuing Dominion War but it is also worth noting that we never really saw much of the ship, particularly the inside, which doesn't help when trying to put a magazine issue together I imagine!

Regardless, Eaglemoss have a comprehensive issue here which looks at the ship, its design, weaponry and crew complement in all the detail it can provide. There is a brief run down on the Dominion itself, but it doesn't feel like this takes away from the purpose of the magazine unlike the Borg Sphere release. I learned something too with the engines being placed above the hull, not underneath on the wingtips as I had thought!

There are some nice sketches of how the ship could have looked and more interesting information - I would have liked to have seen the filming model that was briefly used but no images of it are included.

Continuing the trend set with the Akira release, this issue seems to strike a good balance.

Rating: 8.5/10

The Ship
The model is reasonably sized and detailed for a ship we didn't get so many close-ups of in the series. The Jem'hadar Battlecruisers were often against dark backgrounds, and with dark colouring on them anyway, this made it sometimes difficult to appreciate their design and hull details.

Eaglemoss have again produced a sturdy piece with different colours and highlights creating a look of different textures and materials. There are no transparent pieces, but there weren't many illuminated sections on the ship in the series either. The printed windows on the hull don't provide much of a sense of scale, I think this is due to the clean look they have - they just appear to be dots printed on the hull rather than actual windows. Due to the scale of the ship, this is probably the best we could expect though.

The underside includes more details and the pink/purple hues we know of other Jem'hadar ships. Again, it's nice to appreciate these details that we may not have had a good look at on screen.

The stand connects to the rear with only a single 'arm' but fastens to the ship quite securely compared to some of the earlier releases.

Overall, this is a nice representation of the ship and another worthy addition to the collection.

Rating: 8/10

03 November 2014

B5 Review: The Corps is Mother, the Corps is Father & Meditations on the Abyss

The Corps Is Mother, The Corps is Father
Bester and two Psi-Corps interns head to Babylon 5 to hunt down a powerful telepath that poses a significant danger.

This episode is told completely from the point of view of huge Psi Corps and sees Bester assigned to a case to track down a telepath that has killed another during routine training.

The path leads them to Babylon 5 where they soon learn Johnathon Harris, their suspect has multiple personalities of differing psi capabilities. This paired with his training in mind shredding poses a serious threat. Harris finds himself teamed up with an opportunistic thug who kills one of Bester's interns when he realises they are after his 'partner'.

Eventually, Harris is brought in by Bester and B5 security. Both he and his associate are handed to Bester.

Another one of those episodes told from another point of view and somewhat interesting if a little stale at the same time. We do get to see that not everyone dislikes Bester like the B5 crew mostly do for example.

The original version of this episode included a modified opening title which replaced the Babylon 5 shield emblem with a Trust the Corps/Psi-Corps shield instead, however the DVD version didn't include it.

Rating: 6.5/10

Meditations on the Abyss
Lennier is assigned to a Whitestar for Ranger training but also to investigate who is behind the alliance shipping lane attacks. Meanwhile, races like the Drazi are becoming impatient with the Alliance in finding out who is responsible for the shipping lane attacks and attempt to bug Londo's quarters believing the Centauri are involved.

Lennier is posted to Whitestar 27 (aka Maria) to learn, but also finds himself in a position to teach others, including Findell who appears to have joined the Rangers for the wrong reasons. Meanwhile, Londo informs Vir that he will be Ambassador to Babylon 5 once Londo becomes Emperor. G'Kar receives his correctly coloured prosthetic eye and Franklin sits in on one of G'Kar's lectures to his people.

There are some funny moments in this episode, including the mention of McBari's and Vir's reaction to the Drazi merchant. There are also some great shots including the Maria's jump from hyperspace and the tactical exercise of the Minbari fighters in an asteroid field. 

Garibaldi's drinking problem continues to worsen.

Rating: 7/10

25 October 2014

Trek Review: Official Starships Collection - USS Thunderchild

With this issue, Eaglemoss brings us one of the most popular designs of the latter 24th century Starfleet, the Akira class.

The Magazine
While the title tells us that this issue is about the USS Thunderchild (never actually named on screen), it instead takes a good look at the Akira class in general.

Details on just how well armed and capable this ship is are presented and illustrated with detailed images and sketches from the ships development and creator. The Akira is a carrier and heavily defended although this was never fully realised on screen. The Akira was introduced in Star Trek: First Contact and got to show off some of its impressive capabilities in its quick appearance battling the Borg and would reappear many times throughout Deep Space Nine and even Voyager.

The interesting sections of this issue again deal with how the ship was designed including some really detailed sketches from designer Alex Jaeger. There's also great insight into how the ship was created in CG and it's use on screen and for the shots used in the magazine itself. They also don't miss the fact that the Akira was such a well received design that it served as the inspiration for the NX-01 that would be used in the series Enterprise.

This issue is filled with the sort of information you want to see and read about from a starship collection, although you will still notice that after reading the opening summary, most of the text accompanying the images in the rest of the magazine will merely repeat the same information. However, I think Eaglemoss have done really well here.

Rating: 9/10

The Ship
While there are some model kits out there of the Akira, Eaglemoss are likely the first to release a pre-built version. I'm a big fan of the Akira design so this is one of the more anticipated releases from the collection.

Much like the USS Reliant from the previous issue, the Akira is a compact and solid ship in model form. For a ship that probably hasn't had that many close ups on screen, the detail of the model appears adequate with the striping and markings accurate to what we saw in First Contact, to the fact the starship name wasn't actually printed on the hull and also the typo in United Federaion of Planets along the catamaran hull.

The upper side of the ship is fairly detailed and the engines include the usual transparent plastics. The underside of the ship suffers a little bit with less detail apparent and unfortunately the yellow Starfleet pennants are extremely misaligned from the red pinstripes on the sides of the lower hull. 

The stand connects behind the saucer section in between the catamaran hull.

The model is a great representation of the popular design, I just wish a bit more attention went into the hull details, particularly underneath. 

Rating: 7/10

Light-up Borg Cube (Subscribers Gift)
Since we're reviewing the Akira, which was designed for the battle with the Borg cube in First Contact, why not also review the light-up Borg Cube subscriber gift as well?

This 'night-light' would certainly look at home among the other ships from the Eaglemoss collection due to its size but also lacks much of the detail we've come to appreciate from the fortnightly models. There's not much weight to the cube and the green light emits through plastic sections around the hull. The level of detail is extremely flat, especially when compared to the recently released Borg Sphere. Rumour has it that the Borg Cube will get its own model and accompanying magazine some time in the near future.