Tuesday, April 28, 2015

"The Corellian Connection [PG-13] - Chapter 9




The Alberforce slowly descended upon the flat, Tatooine desert before it wheeled to a stop. Ahead, two familiar people emerged from a dome-shaped abode that served as the moisture farm's centerpiece. The starship's captain heaved a sigh of relief. "We're here. Finally. Tatooine." Voranda Sen glanced at the two people approaching the ship. "Who are they?" she asked.

Captain Sen's companion smiled cryptically. "My in-laws," Padme explained. "I haven't seen them in over four years." The tragic circumstances surrounding her last visit rushed to the forefront of her thoughts.

"In-laws?" Captain Sen's brows rose questioningly. 

Padme nodded. "An . . . my husband's step-brother and sister-in-law. At least I think they are now married. The last time I saw them, Owen and Beru were still engaged. Excuse me. I'll just have a talk with them." She unfastened her seat strap and left the cockpit.

As she strode down the boarding ramp, the Tatooine couple came forth to greet the hooded Padme. "How do you do?" Owen Lars greeted uneasily. "My name is Owen . . ."

". . . Lars," Padme finished. She threw back her cape's hood, eliciting gasps from the young couple. "And Beru Whitesun. Or is it Lars now?"

Beru exclaimed softly, "Padme? Padme Amidala? But we thought you were dead."

An embarrassed chuckle escaped from Padme's mouth. "Yes . . . um, I'm sorry that you didn't know the truth. It seemed that circumstances had turned me into a fugitive from the Empire. So much so that I had to make arrangement to fake my death. Actually . . . the Jedi helped me make those arrangements." She paused, wondering how the couple would receive her next words. "The reason I'm here is that . . . well, I'm asking for sanctuary." She paused, as she noticed the wedding rings that the couple wore. "Oh my! You did get married. Congratulations!"

"It happened not long after we last saw you and Anakin," Owen murmured. He nodded at Padme's right hand. "I see that you also have a wedding ring. You're married?"

Padme allowed herself a wistful smile. "Yes."

A long pause followed before realization dawned in the couple's eyes. "Anakin?" Owen shook his head in disbelief. "You and Anakin got married? But he's . . . I mean, he was a Jedi. How was that . . .?"

"Anakin and I had married just over a week after we last saw you," Padme quietly explained. "On Naboo. Our marriage had remained a secret, until the last days of the war. When all of our troubles began."

Beru shook her head in confusion. "I don't understand. You mean to say that you're hiding from the Empire, because you're the wife of a Jedi Knight?"

Padme sighed. "No . . . it's a lot more complicated than that. I . . ." Using her personal comlink, she summoned the others from the Alberforce. Within minutes, Voranda Sen, Madga, and the droids disembarked from the starship. Madga carried Leia, while Captain Sen carried Luke.

Both Owen and Beru gaped at the two toddlers. "You have . . . children!" Owen exclaimed.

Nodding, Padme replied, "Twins. Luke and Leia. They're Ani's children." She sighed. "Now you know why I'm hiding from the Empire. And why I'm asking for sanctuary." She regarded the couple with pleading eyes. "Could you help me?"



After the Javian Hawk finally arrived at the Averam Spaceport, Anakin turned to Han. "Let's check on our passengers, shall we?"

An unusually sober Han nodded. "Sure," he muttered. The young boy made his way out of the cockpit. To Anakin's surprise, he detected a great deal of moodiness from the young Corellian.

Both Anakin and Han found the Yebs gathering their belongings in the ship's passenger section. "Thank you, Captain . . . Horus for a most interesting trip," Senator Yeb commented. "I believe that my sister and I owe you a fee in the amount of . . ."

"Three thousand Imperial credits," Thalia Yeb finished. She handed a credit chip over to Anakin. "This for you, Master Skywalker."

"It's now Captain Horus, Miss Yeb. Please remember that."

A tart smile curved the Andalian woman's lips. "I suppose I'll have to. Although it would be hard for me to do so, whenever I think of this trip. Thank you for your help, Master Jedi." She shook Anakin's hand. Then she turned to Han. "And you too, Master Solo." Then she picked up her valise and headed toward the boarding ramp.

Senator Yeb hesitated. "Mind if I speak with you for a moment . . . Captain?"

"As a matter of fact, I want to speak with you, Senator." Anakin nodded at the Corellian boy. "It's about Han."


Anakin continued, "I wonder if you can find a home or place for him to stay. I don't believe it would be safe for him to return to Corellia. Someone is . . . searching for him. Someone unpleasant."

The senator shot back, "Are you referring to that gangster that young Mr. Solo had mentioned?"

"Yes I am."

Yeb's eyes rested thoughtfully upon the boy. "I would be more than willing to help, Master Skywalker," he said. "But how can I be sure that young Master Solo will not run away?"

"Excuse me?" Anakin frowned.

A sigh rose from the senator's throat. "Let's be frank, shall we . . . Captain? The boy obviously wants to stay with you. Even if I do find a permanent home for him, I suspect that he will find a way to run away, in order to find you. Why don't you simply allow him to remain with you?"

"A secondhand space freighter is no place to raise a boy," Anakin retorted. "Especially one flown by a renegade Jedi Knight, who was once a Sith apprentice. Don't get me wrong. I like Han. In fact, I like him a lot more than I should. But I'm not the proper person to raise him."

Senator Yeb grabbed hold of Anakin's arm and guided him away from Han. "Look, Master Jedi, I realize that you have done a lot to feel ashamed for." Anakin's face grew hot with shame. The senator continued, "I'm not trying to make excuses for your actions. But you are not the only one who has contributed to the Republic's destruction. I'm responsible, as well. Along with members of the entire Galactic Senate, the Jedi Council and many others throughout the galaxy. We had all stood by and allowed Palpatine to assume absolute power without any opposition. I had not been there when you had led the purge against the Jedi Order. But you were not in the Senate, when we handed over the galaxy to Palpatine on a silver plate. To this day, I feel deeply ashamed for joining in the applause when the Chancellor had declared himself emperor. Master Solo is obviously aware of your checkered past. And I suspect that he has committed acts that he might be ashamed of." The former senator's dark eyes grew intense. "I've been given a new chance at life. I plan to devote myself to forming a resistance against the Emperor. You also have a chance . . . starting with that young boy. Why not take it?"

Anakin stared at Senator Yeb for several seconds. Then his eyes focused upon a sullen Han. He sighed. "I'm only 23 years old, Senator," he murmured. "I'm too young to be the guardian of a boy some 12 to 15 years my junior." Another sigh left his mouth. "All right. I'll let him stay with me."

"Are you sure?" the senator asked uneasily.

With a nod, Anakin replied, "Yes. Like I had said, I like Han very much. He reminds me a lot of myself when I was his age. I just didn't want him to face a possible situation in which he might end up being hurt by me."

"Well . . ." Senator Yeb hesitated. "I guess the matter is closed." He thrust out his hand. "Good-bye, Master Jedi. And good luck. Hopefully, we might encounter each other, one day."

Anakin shook the senator's hand. "Thank you. And good luck to you, Senator."

Senator Yeb faced a wary Han. "Well young man, good luck to you in the future. And I want to thank you for assisting both my sister and me."

Han's eyes grew wide with disbelief. "I'm not coming with you?"

"I believe the answer is no, Master Solo." The senator's mouth stretched into a wide grin. "It seems that Master Skywalker plans to provide a home for you. So, good day. And good-bye." He nodded at the young boy and marched down the boarding ramp.

The Corellian boy stared at the two Andalians' retreating figures. He frowned at Anakin. "So, what happens next?" he demanded.

For one odd moment, Anakin found himself remembering that day on Naboo, when he learned of Qui-Gon Jinn's death and that Obi-Wan would become his Jedi master. He shook his head and explained, "First, I need to purchase supplies and repair the Hawk's hull. The Empire might still be searching for it and the two ships that had left Corellia around the same time we did. I don't want to give them a chance to find any proof of our encounter with the Agamemnon. Once we leave, it's back to Nar Shaddaa for us."

"Us?" Hope glimmered in Han's brown eyes. "So, you're not sending . . .?"

Anakin grinned, as he ruffled the Corellian boy's thick hair. "Looks like you're stuck with me, kid." Han responded with his own grin. "C'mon, let's get those supplies." The young man and the boy marched down the freighter's boarding ramp, together.


Inside one of Averam's more exclusive restaurants, Bail finished the last of his lunch. He pushed aside his plate and sighed. Two days had passed since his arrival on Averam. And Solipo Yeb has yet to arrive on the planet. Bail found himself wondering if the former Andalian senator remained stranded on Corellia.

The Alderaanian prince took a deep breath. 'Calm down Bail,' he told himself. 'Calm down.' Perhaps the journey from Corellia to Averam had turned out to be longer than expected. Satisfied with this answer, Bail paid for his meal and rose from his chair. Two Alderaanian bodyguards, seated at another table, rose from their seats and followed him out of the restaurant.

Twenty minutes later, Bail and his companions arrived at their hotel. Upon entering the lobby, the prince strode toward the desk clerk. "Do you have any messages for me?" he asked. "Aurelis Blum."

The clerk's face lit up with excitement. "Oh yes! Master Blum! Um . . ." The round-faced man check his desk. "Yes, you have a Mistress Thalia Kor and her brother have arrived. They're waiting for you, inside the hotel's parlor."

Solipo! At last! Bail thanked the clerk and turned on his heels. With his guards not far behind him, he quickly marched toward the hotel's elegant drawing-room. There, he found both Solipo and Thalia Yeb, slightly covered in dust. Relief flooded his body, as he greeted the pair. "Solipo! I'm so glad that you've finally made it!" He shook his former colleague's hand. Then he turned to the other man's sister and bowed. "Milady. I am happy to see that you have arrived safely. Both of you. Shall we retire to my suite?"

Nearly twenty minutes later, the trio sat inside the large drawing room of Bail's suite. Despite their slightly exhausted state, the Yebs found the energy to discuss their past adventures. Then Solipo delivered a bomb. "I know that I had promised not to say anything, but you will not believe who had had brought us here," he added. "Thalia had immediately recognized him."

Bail regarded his former colleague with curiosity. "He must be someone very important."

"I don't know about that," Thalia said. "But he was an important hero from the Clone War."

The back of Bail's neck tingled, as he frowned at the Yebs. "War hero? Was he a . . .?"

"Jedi Knight!" Solipo finished triumphantly. "The Hero of No Fear himself! Anakin Skywalker! Imagine my surprise when Thalia recognized him."

The Alderaanian stared at the pair in shock. "Anakin Skywalker? He's al . . . he was your pilot?"

"That he was," Thalia declared. "I had recognized him from the HoloNet News reports, during the war." She took a sip of her Vine Spider Tea, before shaking her head in disbelief. "You should have seen the way he had handled his starship, Your Highness. It was amazing!"

Bail murmured, "I can imagine. Uh, where is he now?"

Solipo shrugged his shoulders. "I have no idea. Several hours had passed since our arrival. And Master Skywalker had informed us that he did not plan to remain here, very long." He paused at stared at the older man. "Why are you interested in his whereabouts? Do you hope to involve him into the resistance? That is . . . if we ever form one."

Padme and the two surviving Jedi Masters flashed in Bail's mind. "Perhaps. Who knows? As for this Sith Lord you had seen on Andalia . . . what was his name, again?"

"Darth Rasche," Solipo replied. "Anjuli Nab had mentioned his former name, but I don't remember it."

Thalia sighed. "You have such a bad memory, Solipo."

Bail leaned back into his chair. "Darth Rasche," he murmured. The very Sith Lord that had recently paid a visit to Alderaan. Bail wondered what was the real name of the Emperor's new apprentice.



As Palpatine's eyes scanned a data pad that featured a report from the Imperial Fleet commander in the Rayter Sector, Sly Moore's voice crackled from his office's communication system. "Pardon me, Your Highness," she announced. "You have a message from Grand Moff Tarkin in the Kashyyyk System."

'Ah yes,' the Imperial leader thought privately. He tossed aside the report and switched on his personal holoemitter. The military leader's holographic figure appeared before him. "Lord Tarkin," Palpatine greeted coolly. "I hope you have some good news for me."

Tarkin reported, “Kashyyyk has been successfully annexed, Your Highness. The Wookies are now prisoners of the Empire. At least two-hundred thousand of them were captured.” He paused dramatically. “Including one of the leaders, Tarfful. They will be sent to containment camps on the Wawaatt Archipelago. Soon, they will join the Geonosians to work on the super weapon project.”

Pleased by the news, Palpatine beamed happily. “Excellent work, my lord. And please convey my pleasure to Lord Rasche for a job well done.” He hesitated, as a thought came to him. “Speaking of my apprentice, how was his performance.”

“Oh, did well, Your Highness. He had ordered an orbital bombardment of Kashyyyk that caused considerable damage.”

“Hmmm.” Palpatine nodded. “And the other Imperial Fleet commanders? What do they think of him?”

Tarkin paused. “To be frank, Your Highness, many are . . . surprised that one so young has been placed in a high position within the Imperial forces.”

“Has anyone recognized him?”

“No, Your Highness,” Tarkin replied. “But then . . . Lord Rasche did not receive much publicity during the Clone War. If hardly at all.”

On the whole, Palpatine felt pleased by the Grand Moff’s report. He considered Rasche’s willingness to order an orbital bombardment of an entire planet very impressive. “That will be all, Lord Tarkin. And congratulations for a job well done.”

“Thank you, Your Highness.” Tarkin bowed before his image disappeared.

Palpatine leaned back into his chair and closed his eyes. He sighed. Then he instructed Sly Moore to contact Darth Rasche, aboard the Exactor. Minutes passed before his apprentice’s image illuminated above the holoemitter. Darth Rasche kneeled. “What is thy bidding, Master?”

“Lord Rasche, I have just received Grand Moff Tarkin’s report on the situation at Kashyyyk,” Palpatine announced. “I would like to hear your account of the battle.”

Rasche paused before he said, “The Empire now has complete control of the Kashyyyk System, Master. At least two hundred thousand prisoners have been taken. Which should make Lord Tarkin very happy.”

“And the Jedi?” Palpatine asked.

“I encountered six of them,” Rasche added distastefully. “All former padawans, except for one. Three are dead, two were wounded and one . . . unfortunately escaped. The last three managed to escape from the planet.”

Palpatine dismissed Rasche’s last words. He was more interested in the three dead Jedi. “You said that three were killed. All of them were former padawan learners?”

Rasche replied, “Only two of them were. The third was Jedi Master Roan Shryne.” He paused. “I was finally able to catch up to him . . . after his escape from Murkhana.”

The news took Palpatine by surprise. “You had managed to kill . . . Master Shryne? A Jedi Master?”

“Yes, Master.”

“Impressive,” Palpatine declared. “Very impressive. The Force seems to grow stronger within you, Lord Rasche.”

Rasche preened slightly before he added, “About the Jedi who managed to escape from . . .”

Palpatine dismissed them as insignificant. “Mere padawan learners. Without the Jedi Order, they will never become anything more. Do not worry. They will eventually be found.” 

Rasche bowed. “Yes, Master. About Solipo Yeb, has he . . .?”

The Sith Lord’s enthusiasm dimmed slightly. “He has escaped from Corellia, and is still at large. Also, the warship assigned to track him has also disappeared. The Agamemnon. I want you to head for Corellia and trace Yeb’s whereabouts.”

“Yes, my master. Senator Yeb and the Agamemnon shall be found.” Rasche bowed one last time before Palpatine switched off the holoemitter.

Feeling a slight sense of elation, the Sith Lord leaned back into his chair. Within a week, the Empire has managed to assume control over Andalia and Kashyyy, acquire thousands of Wookie slaves for the Great Weapon project and witness the deaths of a powerful Jedi Master and a Jedi Knight - all due to his newest apprentice. Palpatine’s initial regret at losing Anakin Skywalker as his apprentice now barely existed.


Thursday, April 23, 2015

"CENTENNIAL" (1978-79) - Episode Five "The Massacre" Commentary

"CENTENNIAL" (1978-79) - Episode Five "The Massacre" Commentary

The fifth episode of "CENTENNIAL""The Massacre", proved to be a difficult episode for me to watch. In fact, many other fans of the 1978-79 miniseries seemed to harbor the same feeling. This episode marked the culmination of many conflicts between the Native Americans featured in James Michner's saga and the growing number of whites that make their appearances in the story. It is a culmination that ends in tragedy and frustration. 

I am a little confused over exactly when the "The Massacre" begins. I can only assume that it begins days or even hours after the last episode, "For as Long as the River Flows". The episode picks up with German-Russian immigrant Hans Brumbaugh successfully panning for gold, when he is accosted by his former comrade, the gold-obsessed Larkin. The story eventually moves into the meat of the story - the outbreak of violence between white settlers, the military and Native Americans resisting the encroachment of the whites upon their lands, culminating in the arrival of a former Minnesota settler named Frank Skimmerhorn and the massacre he ordered against a peaceful village of Arapaho and Northern Cheyenne, led by one Lost Eagle from the previous two episodes.

Personally, I consider "The Massacre" to be one of the miniseries' finer episodes. One of the reasons why I consider it among the best of "CENTENNIAL" was due to its graphic and unsentimental look at how the American government and settlers either drove away or nearly exterminated the Native American inhabitants in the Colorado region. Along with screenwriters John Wilder and Charles Larson, director Paul Krasny pulled no punches in depicting the violence and manipulation used to finally defeat the Arapaho and especially Jacques and Marcel Pasquinnel. Frankly, I found the whole episode rather depressing to watch. 

Most viewers would pinpoint Frank Skimmerhorn, the former Minnesota settler-turned militia commander as the villain of the piece. And it would be easy to do so. Using his political connections, he managed to usurp the authority of U.S. Army General Asher; declare Major Maxwell Mercy as a traitor for the latter's futile attempts to maintain peace; order the death of poor Clay Basket, who tried to sneak away from her son-in-law's trading post in order to warn her sons of future danger; and place Levi Zendt's trading post off limits to military personnel. And he did all of this before committing the episode's centerpiece - namely the massacre of Lost Eagle's peaceful village.

The massacre was a fascinating, yet horrifying event to watch. More disgusting is the fact that it was based upon an actual event that occurred in Colorado in November 1864 - the Sand Creek Massacre. Not only was the massacre featured in this episode based upon an actual event, the Frank Skimmerhorn character was based upon a real person - John Chivington, who led the Sand Creek massacre. Unlike Chivington, Skimmerhorn was a survivor of the 1862 Dakota Sioux War in Minnesota, who had witnessed the near slaughter of his family. This family tragedy is what triggered Skimmerhorn's obsessive hatred toward Native Americans. Mark Harmon returned in this episode as Captain John McIntosh, the regular Army officer who found himself under Skimmerhorn's command. Like Captain Silas Soule and Lieutenant Joseph Crame at Sand Creek, McIntosh refused to lead his men into the attack and allowed several unarmed Arapaho women, children and old men to escape. The one scene that really nauseated me featured the murder of two Arapaho children by militia troopers.

Another aspects of this episode that both horrified and fascinated me was the American citizens' reaction to Skimmerhorn's"victory". It made me realize that despite Skimmerhorn's crimes and obsession with exterminating the Arapaho in the region, these citizens, the military and the government wholeheartedly supported his actions . . . when they were useful to them. But it took one incident - Skimmerhorn's murder of the surrendering Marcel Pasquinnel - to express horror and turn their collective backs on him. And the odd thing is that Skimmerhorn was never legally prosecuted for shooting Marcel in the back, just ostracized. 

In retaliation for the massacre of Lost Eagle's village, Jacques and Marcel Pasquinnel went on the rampage, attacking American emigrants and military personnel with Cheyenne leader, Broken Thumb. But their retaliation did not last long against the overwhelming odds against them. Jacques ended up lynched by the Colorado militia and U.S. Army. Michel was shot in the back and murdered by Skimmerhorn. Some have argued that the Pasquinnels - especially the hot-tempered Jacques - paid the price for their violence against American settlers. Personally, I suspect they would have been doomed, regardless of any path they had chosen. They could have followed Lost Eagle's path and capitulate to the U.S. government's terms. But Lost Eagle's choice only led to most of his followers being decimated by Skimmerhorn and his militia. I believe the Arapaho and Cheyenne were simply in a no-win situation.

Despite my high opinion of "The Massacre", I realized that it was not perfect. As I had hinted earlier, the time factor in the episode's first half hour struck me as a bit wonky. The episode obviously began in 1860, with Brumbaugh's final encounter with Larkin. Yet, it is not long before Frank Skimmerhorn makes his first appearance. If Skimmerhorn was supposed to be a fictionalized version of John Chivington, screenwriters John Wilder and Charles Larson failed to realize that the real life militia leader did not make his appearance in the Colorado Territory until 1863 or 1864. To this day, I am confused about the year in which Skimmerhorn arrived in the Colorado Territory. And I also had trouble with a scene featuring a duel between Maxwell Mercy and Frank Skimmerhorn, following Michel Pasquinnel's death. I can understand that as a West Point graduate, Mercy would be an experienced swordsman. But how on earth did Skimmerhorn, a farmer/minister-turned militia commander would know anything about sword fighting? Because of this, I found the duel between the two men rather ludicrous. I also noticed that Barbara Carrera's character, Clay Basket, seemed to have become forgotten not long after her character's death. Characters such as Pasquinnel, Alexander McKeag and even Elly Zendt (who was mentioned in this episode) seemed to resonate long after their deaths. But not poor Clay Basket. 

Because of the first-rate nature of the episode, "The Massacre" featured some excellent performances. Gregory Harrison and Christina Raines gave solid performances as Levi and Lucinda Zendt, as they tried keep their lives together, while Skimmerhorn wreaked havoc on their worlds. Both Stephen McHattie and Kario Salem were both passionate and poignant as the doomed Pasquinnel brothers. And Mark Harmon had his moment in the sun in a scene that featured his character Captain McIntosh's dignified refusal to participate in Skimmerhorn's massacre. Cliff De Young gave a subtle performance as Skimmerhorn's only surviving family member, John, who becomes increasingly repelled by his father's murderous and maniacal behavior. Alex Karras continued his excellent performance as German-Russian immigrant Hans Brumbaugh. But the performances that really impressed me came from Chad Everett, Nick Ramus and Richard Crenna. Chad Everett gave one of his best performances as the well-meaning Maxwell Mercy, forced to witness the destruction of his hopes of peace between the Americans and the Arapaho. Nick Ramus was beautifully poignant as the peaceful Lost Eagle, who witnessed the massacre of the people he had led for so long. And Richard Crenna was both terrifying and pitiful as the malignant Skimmerhorn, who allowed a family tragedy to send him along a dark path toward victory, adulation and eventually rejection. 

The episode's epilogue picked up three years following Skimmerhorn's departure from the Colorado Territory. The new town of Centennial is being built and Oliver Seccombe (Timothy Dalton), the Englishman whom Levi had first befriended back in "The Wagon and the Elephant", makes his reappearance in the story. Only this time, Seccombe will make a bigger impact, as he reveals his plans to create a cattle ranch for a British investor named Lord Venneford. And judging from Brumbaugh's reaction to Olivier's news, the epilogue sets up a new conflict that will have an impact upon the new Centennial community for at least two decades.

Thursday, April 16, 2015

"TITANIC" (1953) Photo Gallery

titanic2 (1)

Below are images from "TITANIC", the 1953 movie version of the sinking of the S.S. Titanic. Directed by Jean Negulesco, the movie stars Barbara Stanwyck, Clifton Webb, Robert Wagner, Audrey Dalton, Richard Basehart, Brian Aherne and Thelma Ritter: 

"TITANIC" (1953) Photo Gallery
















Monday, April 13, 2015

"THE HOLLOW" (2004) Review

"THE HOLLOW" (2004) Review

I have never been a fan of Agatha Christie’s 1946 novel, "The Hollow". Many would find my opinion surprising, considering its reputation as one of the author’s best works and a fine example of the "country house murder" story. But I cannot help how I feel. I simply never warmed up to it. 

The 1946 novel eventually became a successful London play in 1951. And in 2004, producers of the "Agatha Christie’s POIROT" series adapted the novel into a ninety-minute television movie in 2004, with David Suchet as Hercule Poirot. I have seen ”THE HOLLOW” at least twice. Yet, my opinion of the story has not improved one whit for me.

I cannot say that the movie had a terrible story. The latter revolved around the murder of a successful and Harley Street doctor (in other words, expensive) named John Cristow, who specialized in disease research. The murder occurred at a weekend house party held by Sir Henry and Lady Angkatell at their estate called the Hollow. Dr. Christow was a brilliant and charismatic man who was having a passionate affair with his wife’s cousin, a sculptor named Henrietta Savernake. His plain and not so-intelligent wife, Gerda, was unaware of his affair with Henrietta. But she did become aware of his past with an actress named Veronica Cray, who found fame as a Hollywood star and was staying at a cottage on the Angkatell estate. And there were other members of the Angkatell family that became caught up in several affairs of the heart - like Edward Angkatell, a distant cousin of Henry and entailee of the family's beloved house, Ainswick, who was in love with Henrietta. Also staying at another cottage on the Angkatell estate was Hercule Poirot, who was on hand to solve Dr. Cristow’s murder.

As I had stated earlier, my opinion of Christie’s story had not improved after watching "THE HOLLOW". What can I say? I found it difficult to care about most of the characters. Despite his intelligence and dedication to his profession, I never liked the John Cristow character. In fact, I rather despised him, which made it difficult for me to care whether his murderer would be caught. Only one of the main suspects was portrayed in an unsympathetic light. Yet, the character failed to distract me from my dislike of the other characters – save one. And even though the murderer’s revelation came via a double-bluff, I found the plot’s details difficult to remember to endure, let alone remember. Yeah, I disliked the story that much.

Despite my dislike of "THE HOLLOW", I must admit that it could boast some pretty good performances. I was especially impressed by Megan Dodds as Henrietta Savernake, Jonathan Cake as John Cristow, Claire Price as Gerda Cristow, and Sarah Miles as Lucy, Lady Angkatell. The one bad apple in the bunch turned out to be Lysette Anthony, who gave an over-the-top performance as Veronica Cray, Dr.Cristow’s former lover turned Hollywood starlet. David Suchet did an admirable job as Poirot, but for once, his performance did not strike me as memorable.

I have mixed feelings about the movie’s production values. Michael Pickwoad did a solid job with his production designs, even if James Aspinall’s photography did not do much justice to it. But Sheena Napier’s costume designs and the hairstyles left me feelings confused. Although Christie’s novel was published in the mid-1940s, this movie seemed to be set in the 1930s. Yet, there were times I could not tell via the costumes and hairstyles whether the movie was set in the 30s or 40s. Very confusing.

When I saw "THE HOLLOW", I had hoped my negative feelings toward Christie’s 1946 novel would change for the better. Unfortunately, it failed. Perhaps I might watch "THE HOLLOW" once a year in the hopes that I will learn to appreciate the story. Then again . . . perhaps not.

Wednesday, April 8, 2015

"STAR TREK VOYAGER": Unfit For Command?


Do many STAR TREK fans consider most Vulcan characters unfit for command? I wonder. I came across this ”STAR TREK VOYAGER” fan fiction story about the letters written to the Alpha Quadrant by Voyager’s crew in the Season 1 episode,”Eye of the Needle”. The author of this particular fan fiction story seemed to believe that because of their emotional distance, Vulcans are basically unfit for command. Personally, I disagree. 

This belief that Vulcans were unfit for command certainly seemed supported by Lisa Klink’s screenplay for the Season 2 episode, ”Resolutions”. I am sure that many recall this episode. In it, the Voyager crew is forced to leave Captain Janeway (Kate Mulgrew) and Commander Chakotay (Robert Beltran) behind on a planet after the pair found themselves infected by an incurable disease. Lieutenant Tuvok (Tim Russ) assumes command of the ship and ends up facing a possible mutiny led by a very distraught Ensign Kim (Garrett Wang). Klink’s screenplay portrayed Tuvok as a cold by-the-book officer, incapable of noticing or understanding the crew’s uneasiness of leaving behind the captain and first officer. Quite frankly, not only did I dislike this one-dimensional portrayal of the ship’s highest ranking Vulcan, I found it slightly inaccurate.

As a Vulcan, Tuvok has made it a practice to keep his emotions to himself and lead his life in a very logical manner. But this does not mean that he was exactly how Klink had described him in ”Resolutions”. Underneath the cool exterior laid a very emotional and passionate man who loved his wife and family a great deal and considered Kathryn Janeway a great friend. He also possessed a temper that he obviously must have struggled to contain all of his life. 

Tuvok did possess a problem with interacting with others. This stemmed from a tendency to be a loner. This trait of his was specifically pointed out in the Season 3 episode, ”Alter Ego”. In it, Harry Kim became infatuated with a hologram (a tall and leggy blonde named Marayna). To deal with his infatuation, he turned to Tuvok to help him recover from it. Tuvok did more than that. He became friendly with the hologram. But the hologram proved to be a lonely alien at a space station who used superior technology to prevent Voyager from leaving a particular area of space. When Tuvok pointed out her loneliness, she returned the favor:

MARAYNA: I don't believe you.

TUVOK: I beg your pardon.

MARAYNA: I think you're tying to isolate yourself and make a public protest at the same time.

TUVOK: Explain.

MARAYNA: You didn't want to be here in the first place. Being the only one without a lei sets you apart from the others, allowing you to symbolically maintain your solitude. And since everybody can see that you're the only one without a lei, you're letting them know that you'd rather be somewhere else.

TUVOK: Your logic is impeccable.

But Tuvok’s loner tendencies did not mean that he lacked an ability to understand the emotional needs of others. Even before ”Resolutions” had aired, Tuvok managed to display this trait on a few occasions. He was the first member of the crew to sense that Seska might prove to be a dangerous problem for the crew . . . even if he did not know about her being a Cardassian spy. Instinct told him that Tom Paris may have been innocent of the murder of a Banean scientist in”Ex-Post Facto”. In ”Elogium”, he expressed compassion for Neelix’s fear at becoming a parent and helped the latter come to a decision about starting a family with Kes. He was the only one who did not allow his fear or paranoia to get the best of him and realized that fighting the entity that was rearranging Voyager’s structure might prove to be the best thing in ”Twisted”. He managed to befriend Kes. In ”Innocence”, he managed to offer comfort to a dying Voyager crewman and a group of alien children who had been abandoned to die by their kind. And for a man who was supposed to be an incompetent leader, he sure as hell managed to avoid any problems with leading the Security/Tactical Division.

If there is one scene before ”Resolutions” that provided an excellent example of how compassionate Tuvok can be, one might as well return to his scene with the dying Ensign Bennet in ”Innocence”:

TUVOK: Tuvok to Voyager. Voyager, do you read? You must lie still.

BENNET: I can't, I can't feel my legs.

TUVOK: Several of the vertebrae have been fractured.

BENNET: Isn't there anything you can do?

TUVOK: I'm afraid the shuttle's medical supplies are inadequate. We must wait for Voyager to find us.

BENNET: It's getting worse. My whole body feels numb.

TUVOK: I want you to slow your breathing, relax your muscles. Try not to move.

BENNET: All this time I thought I was so lucky with no family back home. Nobody to miss. Now it seems kind of sad not to leave anybody behind.

TUVOK: I believe Ensign McCormick would miss you a great deal.

I realize that Lisa Klink wanted to create some kind of conflict between Tuvok and some of the crew in ”Resolutions”. But in painting Tuvok as an emotional iceberg incapable of compassion or seeing to the needs of others, I feel that she had went too far. This is quite evident in that the mutinous and obviously immature Harry Kim had been written with more sympathy than Tuvok. It is no wonder that ”Resolutions” has become one of my least favorite ”VOYAGER”episodes.