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  #31  
Old 11-21-2013, 07:17 AM
samwiseb samwiseb is offline
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I think it's the eyes. There's less of en emphasis on using them in modern acting (especially TV), and celebrities -as opposed to traditional actors- are less likely to exercise that kind of discipline anyway.

Plus people in general probably assume Vulcans are wooden, just from pop culture. And that fans are socially-challenged people who go around mimicking Spock or something. So what's your typical TV actor supposed to do if he lands a ST gig?

'Unification' -- I would see as being product of a more episodic time when most of the planets visited by the Enterprise had only a dozen inhabitants on them, despite more progressive stories like The Undiscovered Country attempting to show otherwise. For every 'Sins of the Father' there was a 'Friday's Child' or a 'Private Little War' (really, why would a space-faring people like the Kilingons feel the need to negotiate or manipulate the natives of these dozen-populated worlds? They don't have a prime directive).

Anyway, if the Vulcan's really believe that "peace should not depend on force," maybe you really could occupy their planet with just a couple ships. It would be like occupying the capital and shutting down the government, however temporarily. The Federation could root them out, but time and policy would be a factor. There might even be pressure to dismiss a Vulcan/Romulan conflict as an "internal matter" much as what happened with the Kingon civil war in 'Redemption'. Does any of this excuse the writers... probably not. But the fact that Vulcans suddenly had a sizeable military (and were able to use it) on ENT probably should have been another clue that the three-parter would only end the way it did.
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  #32  
Old 11-21-2013, 11:00 AM
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While I do not perceive Blalock's or Russ' performances as stellar I doubt that they were inspired by this Sheldon Cooperish pop cultural image of Trek fans and thus, as you pointed out, indirectly Vulcans. That would be pretty bad research by the actors and pretty bad directing which doesn't correct such errors.
I'd rather say that Blalock's T'Pol suffers from being often too wooden or too emotional, i.e. missing this sweet spot which Nimoy hit so often, this sweet spot of conveying ample of feelings between the lines via letting Spock pretend to be utterly distanced and rational while actually being ironic, sarcastic, arrogant, condescending or whatever.

I doubt that a Romulan invasion of Vulcan would be perceived as internal matter, the Vulcans are after all part of the Federation (think about your own fairly federal country, even die hard "more state power" Southerners who whine about DC and want less central power would never suggest that states should have their own military; if there is one thing you do together in a Federation it is defend your borders) and do not want to have to do anything with Romulus.
After all the main obscenity (from a Vulcan point of view) of Ambassador Spock's efforts towards peace is not so much doing this work in secret and on enemy territory but rather acknowledging via his acts that Romulus exists. At least this is how I read Balance of Terror. The Vulcans knew very well who the Romulans are but were embarrassed to reveal it after the war, they prefer to disavow the very existence of their distant brothers because they remind them of their past and who they could easily become. And I guess the empire wants to conquer Vulcan not because of military-strategic considerations but because they wanna annihilate this cultural mirror image of themselves. One culture pretends the other is not there whereas the other strives to eradicate the other. Cultural lunacy in the guise of cold logic, isn't this why we love these two Trek races?

There are other perspectives besides the psychoanalytical one. You could wear e.g. mythological-historical glasses and then the Vulcan-Romulan story would become the Greek-Roman one: Aeneas flees from Greece after the Trojan War, founds Rome and "later" (shift from mythology to history) the Romans come back and conquer Greece.
OK, this is just fooling around but it is kind of fun that there are such similarities.

About Vulcan pacifism, I don't perceive such a clear cut after the Vulcan Reformation. Sure, there are these lines in United

Quote:
T'POL: Minister T'Pau is dispatching twenty three vessels.
ARCHER: That's all?
T'POL: The High Command has been disbanded. Many of our ships no longer have full crew compliments.
ARCHER: T'Pau could have picked a better time to clean house.
but I doubt that the war with the Romulans has been won without any serious Vulcan military engagement. After all the Federation emerges afterwards and you do not cooperate politically unless you have cooperated militarily and/or economically before.
I guess that the shift rather occurred after the foundation of the Federation, when Vulcan did not have to defend its territory on its own anymore, when defense became a common endeavour. There are probably relatively more Vulcan science officers than Andorian tactical officers in Starfleet.
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  #33  
Old 11-22-2013, 01:10 PM
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I always imagined that planned invasion as Romulan special forces who take control of key points on Vulcan as a spearhead to a larger fleet action that would follow.

Surely large scale war would follow such an action. The taking of the Vulcan capital would only be an opening move.
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  #34  
Old 11-23-2013, 03:44 AM
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Wow this thread has moved on a lot since I looked at it the other day. Will have a proper read over the weekend, but just to add my 2-cents on the changes to the Vulcans in Ent:

As I've said I liked what they did with the Vulcan's, having them as passively hostile and almost like a disapproving parent was in my opinion probably the biggest and best change made to the show (and not totally out of the blue, DS9's Take me out to the holosuite was a starting point to this), quite a bold statement to make but it's because it opened up so many doors for story telling and the episodes that focus on it are the one's above all others that feel like Ent and that could only be done on Ent with that set of characters.

As has been said, Archer being all hot-headed and a bit of an idiot makes sense when you consider his history with the Vulcan's and his father. Couple all this with the Andorian's in The Andorian Incident and you've got the got the setup for the best (IMO) ongoing storyline in Ent.

I'm not saying it was done perfectly everytime and I agree that the Vulcan's attitude came across as a bit forced and needlessly confrontational but compared to some of the other ongoing storylines in Ent and the other series it stands up pretty well.

Looking at it the other way, had they not changed the Vulcan's, and instead kept them as the boring, flat species they were in TNG, which is often (and mostly for very good reasons) put up as the golden standard to which everything is compared, then the show would have been much worse for it.
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  #35  
Old 12-06-2013, 01:37 PM
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Roysten View Post
Looking at it the other way, had they not changed the Vulcan's, and instead kept them as the boring, flat species they were in TNG, which is often (and mostly for very good reasons) put up as the golden standard to which everything is compared, then the show would have been much worse for it.
Indeed. There is nothing worthwhile Vulcan-wise between Leonard & Lenard and ENT (Saavik is popular among fans but I think Alley played horribly and Curtis played Russ-style mediocrely).
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  #36  
Old 12-07-2013, 07:14 AM
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All actors playing Vulcan's should have watched Leonard and Lenard in action to show that you can get emotion and a gravitas in your performance without coming across as emotional, and in fact be quite witty and sympathetic. Too many actors played Vulcan's as mindless machines, especially in TNG.

Had TWOK made Saavik's half-Romulan ancestry canon then it would have better explained her performance. Curtis was quite flat and boring, she had the stoicness and emotionless part of it right but Saavik goes immediately from having an edge and being interesting in TWOK to totally forgettable.

I don't think Russ was bad as Tuvok, I do think poor use was made of him in Voyager, same as Chakotay really, who started with claws and fire then was totally emasculated under Janeway, in a way Tuvok suffered the same fate in that he was meant to be a voice of reason and sage like and just plain wasn't. Episodes that should have raised his character and made him interesting singularly failed to. Examples being Tuvix, Prime Factors (which would have been good but was never followed up on), Learning Curve (same as Prime Factors), Innocence, Flashback, Alter Ego, Riddles... I could go on.

Rise and Gravity try to make him more endearing but they just don't really work. Flashback was hugely disappointing to me on several levels but amongst other things it could have better expanded on Tuvok's character. I think part of the problem was having Neelix as his "McCoy" if you get what I mean. In a strange sort of way Neelix was really quite racist in his refusal to accept Tuvok for how he was. In TOS you had McCoy being openly racist but Spock always came back with retorts and you knew later that it was banter amongst friends. Tuvok is just continually irritated by Neelix as it the rest of the audience but not in a way that does anything for Tuvok's character.

Anyway I digress. Returning to ENT, I enjoyed T'Pol's character, like Ryan she avoided her character just being used as eye candy with strong performances and ENT in general made Vulcan's seem more real IMO. They weren't perfectly portrayed by any means but at the very least it was refreshing and an actual change of franchise direction rather than a slightly different coat of paint.
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  #37  
Old 12-09-2013, 04:11 AM
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I totally agree with everything you said.

About Neelix, I wanna add that I do not think it was a coincidence that it was precisely the seemingly most open-minded "let's immediately embrace new people" fellow who treated Tuvok like this. Political correctness is often quite racist on the second glance (My favourite example is the term Native American which is utterly racist, it implies that these guys belong to nature whereas White people brought culture to the continent. Indian is a much better term as it is an eternal monument to White man's stupidity.)

About ENT, I do not think that Blalock or the other actors who played Vulcans were particularly good (I have a weakness for Graham's Soval though). I think it were rather the scripts which made the Vulcans become interesting again. In my opinion ALL the stories which focus on the Vulcans are good whereas stories which deal with a particular Vulcan (of course mostly T'Pol) are sometimes good and sometimes bad. If TOS was the series which explored one Vulcan ENT was the show which explored Vulcankind (interestingly Shran was basically like Spock in this respect, i.e. an unfamiliar species was explored mainly via one character).
Take Fusion. I do not think that the acting of the bad guy who mind-rapes T'Pol is that good (I like the actor though who plays the guy who did not have contact with his terminally ill father but changed his mind) but it was beautiful to have an episode which shows the benefits and problems of "easing up". Before this episode came along one story contained only an argument for (TFF) or against (24th century Spock) Vulcan orthodoxy.
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  #38  
Old 12-09-2013, 01:13 PM
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martok2112 martok2112 is offline
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That, and Manny Coto had a lot to do with improving Enterprise.

The big problem with trying to do a prequel series is conceptual, both visually and ideologically.

Our vision of the future in the 60's was radically different from the vision of the future in the 90's or 2000's.
On a visual level, how do we make technology look 100 years primitive compared to Kirk's time, and yet look cooler than the stuff we have present day, which looks cooler even than Kirk's tech? That was a big problem.

Ideologically, yeah, the crew had to be written up rather enthusiastic and impulsive. They are not constrained by the Prime Directive. They could get away with some stuff that future generations could not (without some creative maneuvering and log entries). Of course, their actions are a large part of why the PD was created in the first place.
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  #39  
Old 12-16-2013, 12:45 PM
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Quote:
About Neelix, I wanna add that I do not think it was a coincidence that it was precisely the seemingly most open-minded "let's immediately embrace new people" fellow who treated Tuvok like this. Political correctness is often quite racist on the second glance
I wonder if that's part of what made him so annoying, it was a double-standard in his character. What makes it even more annoying is that he doesn't really evolve, I mean taking a character who is in some ways similar - Rom, Rom started off as bad comic relief that really wasn't funny and quite a step backwards in terms of how Ferengi were portrayed compared to Quark and Nog, but over the series he grew and became really quite likeable and rounded. Back to Neelix... they tone down the jealously a bit... he became morale officer, he sometimes pretends to be part of security... where's the real character evolution? I'm not super anti-Neelix by any means, he has a (small!) number of good episodes, but even Mortal Coil (which is the only really attempt I know that truly came close to giving him any real depth) was still pretty bad and was forgotten by the time we got to the next episode. *Sigh*

Graham's Soval gets two thumbs up from me as well, he truly grew into that role making Soval quite likeable at the end again making him sympathetic and give off emotion without being emotional. I think I like Blalock more than you it seems Horatio, I think she certainly got the good stories, much like Ryan and Picardo before her to the detriment of most of their respective cast members, but she deserved the attention and again like Ryan it wasn't just her physcial attributes that did it. IMO bad scenes and episodes were rarely let down by her performance, the only thing that really annoyed me was the pouting!

I'm intriuged about your Shran-Spock comparison, I hadn't thought about it that way but it makes sense.

Quote:
Our vision of the future in the 60's was radically different from the vision of the future in the 90's or 2000's.
On a visual level, how do we make technology look 100 years primitive compared to Kirk's time, and yet look cooler than the stuff we have present day, which looks cooler even than Kirk's tech? That was a big problem.
I actually think they did a remarkable job in that respect. I always liked the Akiraprise and the internal sets worked for me, especially when held up to the TOS sets of In a Mirror Darkly. The big visual change I would have made would have been to shrink everything down, very very tight corridors, a tiny bridge, a hot uncomfortable engineering, very few windows.... This would have never have worked from a filming or cinematic point of view but for me would have added that realism. The computer graphics wre always going to be tough, making something look more primitive than TOS yet more modern than today is essentially impossible, aagin I think they hit a nice compromise.

What they could have changed were the trek cliches, as in NO TRANSPORTERS and as much as I liked them no anti-matter torpedoes. Even more than that and probsbly one of the more recognisable cliches was the hull plating/shields can take two hits, on the third hit we're defenseless, this ticked me off and has been an unchanged story device used for over 40 years and that lost its dramatic effect more or less the second time it was used. What would have been effective here would have been the crew thinking the plating was going to protect them then have a crippling blow from the first shot, this could have drilled home that the ship was delicate like a crystal flower and would have opened the door to different stoytelling through ship battles.
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  #40  
Old 12-16-2013, 05:05 PM
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I totally agree, Neelix didn't go anywhere. He is supposed to be the gypsy of the Delta Quadrant yet settles in more easily than the Maquis and doesn't want to really go anywhere or achieve anything. Not that all characters have to be dynamic, guys like Paris should and guys like Tuvok must stay the same.

Perhaps this structural problem of the series has something to do with Janeway. Like many women who started to occupy hitherto male-dominated positions in the 80s and 90s Janeway was often "more man than men" (don't call me a male chauvinist, women noticed this "Thatcher factor"' as well: And so, watching as our women have moved into leadership roles, I noticed that, initially, to get into those positions, the women were trying to be more men?more male than the men. And there was a stridency and an anger in some of those early women leaders, which is understandable. - Jane Goodall) and often very maternal which is why she is often criticized as a decentered character. As any challenge to her authority would have made it necessary for her to be even more male it was impossible to have any Chakotay-Janeway rivalry concerning the "throne" in the first season or any other strong characters which includes a better Neelix that isn't satisfied with cooking or playing morale officer.
Note again that this isn't a sexist point, if someone like Jadzia Dax had command she would be more relaxed and able to endure strong people besides herself.


About T'Pol, the problem was often lack of subtlety. Take the Trellium addiction stuff in Season 3 and the ensuing romance with Trip. Why humanize her like this and in such a soapish manner when Blalock can, to use your words, "give off emotion without being emotional" perfectly fine like e.g. in the sublime final scene of the series (for me Terra Prime and not These Are the Voyages... is the proper end of Enterprise)?
So I guess I have rather an issue with the writing, if she gets a good Nimoyesque scene (in your sense of showing feeling precisely via not showing any directly) she can play it nearly as well as Nimoy.

By the way, this subtle style is similar to how Spiner played Data although the difference is of course that Vulcans have emotions but show little of them whereas Data is ontologically split: he is not supposed to have emotions, he clearly has none in a "neurological" sense but it is nonetheless obvious* to everybody that he has feelings (unless you really wanna argue that he just emulates human behaviour when he works like crazy to save his dieing daughter). He might express something like friendship fairly technical ("As I experience certain sensory input patterns, my mental pathways become accustomed to them. The inputs eventually are anticipated, and even missed when absent.") but so what, it is not like he is a complex sentient machine whereas we are complex sentient machines plus some unknown X. Our unknown X that arises out of biological complexity is our consciousness (not just unknown but not knowable, you cannot explain consciousness scientifically as science always seeks automatic mechanisms which is the very opposite of consciousness) and Data is conscious as well so his basic paradox, that he has feelings although he has none, should not surprise us.

* - An exaggeration, I know that unlike the fairly ordinary point that Data often appears to be more human than we are my claim is quite controversial as it is not merely about how Data appears to us but about how he is.


About the technology, just like there is some not-so-obvious serialization in the form of subtle themes running through the show such that you gotta watch the entire thing from beginning to end to appreciate it we also had to wait until one of the last episodes to really see that 22nd technology looks more primitive than 23rd century technology.
This is the tragic paradox of ENT, it only works retroactively, e.g. the nasty Season 1 Vulcans only make sense once you have seen the Vulcan three-parter in Season 4. But by then the ratings were already down and reacting too sluggishly so the series was canceled ... and then everybody watched the last season in reruns or on DVD and loved it (and the folks who did not love any of the gems in S4 need to spend some serious time in a reeducation camp near the Klingon-Orion-Federation border ).
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