Rest in Peace, Yvonne Craig

Well, I guess I have reached the age where all of my childhood actors are passing away. Boy does it make me feel old.

Yvonne Craig

Actress Yvonne Craig passed away August 17, 2015 at the age of 78. She has 86 imdb credits, although she doesn’t show up on streaming Netflix’ search list. Admittedly most of her parts were rather small. She got a boost to her career when she started dating Elvis Presley.

Her big claim to fame, of course, is that she starred as Batgirl in the third season of 60s Batman. Earlier this year, we showed our granddaughter all of the Batman episodes as well as the three movies (which did not feature Craig). She enjoyed the show but was enthralled when Craig showed up in season 3. There sure aren’t enough female superheroes.

Yvonne Craig

I don’t know about other shots because of Netflix’ search fails but Craig can be seen in the original Star Trek episode “Whom Gods Destroy” as Marta.

Rest in peace, Yvonne Craig, you will be missed.

R.I.P. Leonard Nimoy 1931-2015

Leonard Nimoy

 

Leonard Nimoy passed away February 27th, 2015 at the age of 83. Like his alter ego Spock was so fond of saying, Nimoy did indeed live long and prosper. While imdb lists 134 credits for Nimoy, 22 of those were playing Spock in various capacities.

Here is one where Netflix really does allow you to celebrate his life. They have the entire original Star Trek series on streaming as well as the animated series and the first six movies. If you want to see what else he did, Netflix also has Mission Impossible television series, Atlantis: The Lost Empire, and the 1978 remake of The Invasion of the Body Snatchers. I have also heard that the the documentary To Be Takei is quite good though I have not yet had the opportunity to watch it.

Rest in Peace, Leonard Nimoy, you will be missed.

October This ‘n’ That – Vudu Edition

 

Vudu

 

* Vudu has changed their new customer sign up offer. Instead of 10 standard definition movies, you get 5 HDX movies for FREE. Available selections include: Star Trek, Independence Day, G.I. Joe: The Rise of Cobra, Mona Lisa Smile, Death Race 2, Last Action Hero, Great Day of the Fliers, There’s Something About Mary, and Cold Light of Day.

* Vudu has also extended their in-home disc-to-digital sale. Converting a Blu-Ray to HDX is $2, DVD to HDX is $5, DVD to standard is $2. If you convert 10 or more titles at a time then your total is half-price. It is an excellent, almost painless program.

There are some drawbacks however. As it is in Beta, there are many discs it doesn’t recognize, some it recognizes as incorrect title, and many Blu-rays that it thinks are DVDs. Also to convert Blu-rays, you have to have a Blu-ray drive which is a bit uncommon. Many movies are unavailable for conversion as well, particularly Disney titles.

* On a sad note Panasonic is shutting their plasma TV division. While they made awesome plasma televisions, ultimately I went for a TV half the price. I guess a lot of people did as Pansonic’s TV division lost $913 million last year.

* Netflix has released Super HD to all U.S. markets now, providing you have the bandwidth. I wonder how this will compare to Vudu’s wonderful HDX format.

June This ‘n’ That

Just some ramblings

Amazon Prime* Amazon Prime signed some more exclusives with NBC/Universal for the first seasons of Grimm and Suits and the first two seasons of Covert Affairs starting now. Hannibal will come in the fall and Defiance next year. I’m always glad to see Amazon pony up the bucks to compete with Netflix, even though these shows don’t interest me.

* Amazon just released Season 7 Part 1 of Doctor Who to Prime and season 3 of Downton Abbey is not far behind.

Xbox One* Microsoft announced the Xbox One and, unlike Sony’s invisible Playstation 4, they showed their new system. While there wasn’t much information on games, they sure want to take TV watching to the next level. You hook up your cable to the Xbox and then control it with your hands and/or voice – without a controller. As if I wasn’t lazy enough, now I’ll be able to just say “Xbox on, Netflix on, play Arrested Development marathon” and never get off the couch. Cost: $500

* As if that wasn’t bad enough, Microsoft has applied for a patent on ‘television achievements’ – pretty soon I’ll get my  10 points for that Arrested Development marathon and another 10 for not getting up to use the bathroom since the Kinect knows when you leave the couch.

Spock Glass* Returning to Mighty Dollar, they had put out some Spock glasses making my set complete. Instead of a starship and the character, the Spock glass features Spock and Classic Spock. I now have two of each glass except Kirk (meaning no one can use Kirk :P)

My Star Trek Glass is Half Empty

Okay, I’m kicking myself for not buying more of these but I went to our local Mighty Dollar and they had Star Trek glasses for a buck apiece. There are four glasses in the series and they had tons of Uhura, Kirk and Nero but none of Spock. These are all based on J.J. Abrams reboot.

Trek GlassesThe glasses are frosted and feature the characters on the front…

Trek Glasses…and spaceships on the back. I only bought three but should have bought some duplicates as breakage does occur around here. I thought they were pretty nifty.

Star Trek – TV week

Before I get back to watching movies on instant Netflix next week, I thought I would cover some of the fabulous TV options available. All kinds of Star Trek are currently available on instant Netflix.

WATCH: Star Trek the Original Series – 1966-1968

With the unflappable Capt. James T. Kirk (William Shatner) at the helm of this classic sci-fi series, the crew of the starship USS Enterprise keeps intergalactic danger at bay and delves deep into the exploration of space … the final frontier. Leonard Nimoy co-stars as the sharp-eared Spock, Kirk’s Vulcan first officer, with DeForest Kelley, James Doohan, Nichelle Nichols, George Takei and Walter Koenig rounding out the iconic crew.

All three seasons of the classic show are not only currently available but stream in beautiful HD! While the shows come across as corny now, keep in mind that a lot of their moral points were quite bold for their time.

With their simple special effects, broad acting, and bright primary colors, the original Star Trek is almost ideal for portable viewing on the go (for those with i devices or other smart phones). Season two contains most of the best episodes (The Trouble with Tribbles, The Doomsday Machine, Mirror, Mirror).

A fascinating adjunct to the original series, Star Trek – The Animated Series is also available. It was from 1973 and features the voice acting of much of the original cast. I have not yet watched it so I cannot comment on its quality.

WATCH: Star Trek – The Next Generation (1987-1993)

“Set decades after the adventures of the original Enterprise crew, this syndicated sci-fi series carries on the Star Trek franchise. In the year 2364, Capt. Jean-Luc Picard (Patrick Stewart) leads the new Enterprise on missions of discovery. First Officer William Riker (Jonathan Frakes), Chief Engineer Geordi La Forge (LeVar Burton) and Klingon crewmember Worf (Michael Dorn) join Picard as they explore the universe and interact with alien species.”

This show actually began quite terribly with each episode ripping off an episode of the original series. “Q”, an early major villain was just an updating of “The Squire of Gothos”. Despite a rocky start and far too many pedantic episodes, Next Generation grew into an excellent science fiction series with a fascinating new villain in the Borg. The best episodes were the two-parters “Best of Both Worlds” and “Redemption”.

Having said that, you might want to wait a bit as Next generation is supposed to be available in lovely HD this fall.

Star Trek: Voyager (1995-2000) and Star Trek: Enterprise (2001-2004) are both available for those who want more recent series. I have not really tried Voyager yet but I found Enterprise very disappointing. Star Trek: Deep Space Nine is supposed to be available next month.

On the movie front, only Star Trek, the excellent 2009 reboot from J.J. Abrams. Look for a pre-Thor Chris Hemsworth as George Kirk in an early sequence.

 

 

Star Trek

Star Trek the original series season 1 is currently available on Instant Netflix. These are the remastered high-definition episodes. While they are not as good as the Blu-Ray discs, the visuals are astounding if what you are used to is either memories of the old series or the Columbia House VHS/DVD transfer. The audio has been given a huge boost as well. Season two is my favorite as it contains most of my favorite episodes – hopefully Netflix will release this on Instant at some point. On the other hand if Netflix releases too much Star Trek on Instant then I’ll never get any work done. There are many excellent episodes in Season 1 – here are a few of my favorites:

Star Trek Season 1

1. Space Seed – “In this prequel to the film Star Trek II, the Enterprise encounters a group of brutal superhumans led by Khan Noonien Singh. Khan battles Kirk for control of the ship and turns a trusted crew member against Starfleet. Ricardo Montalban guest stars”

Ricardo Montalban’s florid style of acting goes well with the arrogance of Khan’s character. Interesting goof is that Chekov recognizes Khan’s ship, The Botany Bay in the movie Star Trek II even though Chekov doesn’t appear in Star Trek TOS until the second season. An old Starlog cartoon pokes fun at this by showing Khan and Chekov meeting in the Enterprise bathroom.

2. Balance of Terror – “The Enterprise pursues a Romulan warbird after it destroys several Federation outposts. The physical similarities between Vulcans and Romulans spark bigotry against Spock by a racist human member of the Enterprise crew. Mark Lenard guest stars”

My favorite episode of Season 1, this one plays out almost exactly like a WW2 submarine movie. Very tense episode and our first look at the Romulans. Mark Lenard is excellent as the Romulan commander but it is a bit disconcerting when we see him later as Sarek.

3. The Galileo Seven – “Spock, Bones, Scotty and several crew members crash-land a shuttlecraft on a planet where they’re attacked by deadly giants. In a race against time, Spock risks his and the lives of the other survivors for a slim and dangerous chance at a rescue”

This episode really gives Leonard Nimoy a chance to shine. Another very tense exciting episode, this is another retelling of Howard Hawks’ Rio Bravo.

4. Arena – “Aliens abduct Kirk and a Gorn, a large, violent, lizardlike humanoid. For a chance to save the lives of their crews, the aliens order Kirk and the Gorn to fight to the death. But Kirk won’t agree to being some alien bullies’ space gladiator”

William Shatner’s turn to shine as Kirk goes mano a Gorn while the rest of the crew spectate. The one problem with the high definition transfers is that it’s hard not to laugh when they cut from Shatner to a very obvious stunt double. On the other hand, the Gorn does appear to do all of his own stunts.

5. The Devil in the Dark – “When a bizarre monster kills several men at a mining colony, Kirk and Spock beam down to investigate. Through a Vulcan mind-meld, Spock learns the creature is intelligent and has a valid motive for its murderous actions against the miners.”

The Devil in the Dark takes a classic monster scenario and turns it into a morality tale (something Star Trek has always been good at). This episode also features one of Bones’ classic “I’m a doctor not a…” comments.