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“Star Trek: Voyager” Season 7: The Skip It/Watch It Guide

And, after seven long seasons, it’s time for erstwhile “Voyager” chronicler Whitney Bishop to bring us home. Take it away, Whitney! –Liz

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Geena Davis: “We just heard a fascinating and disturbing study, where they looked at the ratio of men and women in groups. And they found that if there’s 17 percent women, the men in the group think it’s 50-50. And if there’s 33 percent women, the men perceive that as there being more women in the room than men.”

Here, at the dawning of this last season of Voyager, I’ve got a theory for why, by the end, pretty much damn near every guest actor on the show is male — unless, of course, the character has to be a sex object, seduce someone, and/or give birth to someone, in which case that role can be filled by a lady — and that theory is basically summed up by that quote up there. The ratio hasn’t been great throughout the rest of the show, but by the end it’s just ridiculous. I think that the more time Janeway, Seven, and B’Elanna get, the more the show feels its gender quota has been filled and just defaults to male secondary characters.

I honestly think the lack of adult female roles has a lot to do with male perceptions of how women take up space. By the seventh season, Janeway still has the helm, Seven is an object of interest for many of the plots now, and B’Elanna’s pregnancy has pushed her back to frequent consideration where she once was absent from episodes entirely. Three women doing things is like having a show entirely about women, and therefore there’s no need to ensure gender diversity elsewhere.

To be clear, I’m not accusing anyone of malice or deliberate misogyny. But seeing seventeen percent and thinking it’s the same as half is just another indication of the failure of imagination that never let Voyager boldly go quite the way it should have. The show started out touting its female-led crew, but wound up not only struggling under its inability to keep up its initial promises of being Feminist Trek, but actually backsliding. That’s sort of sad.

And now, for Season 7… Read the rest of this entry

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“Star Trek: Voyager” Season 6: The Skip It/Watch It Guide

The adventure continues thanks to the wonderful Whitney Bishop, who continues her quest through the Delta Quadrant with the cleanest refugees in Starfleet. Season 6 is here — we’re almost home, you guys! –Liz

Voyager_S6Season six of Voyager really becomes the Seven Show. On the one hand, that’s great, because Jeri Ryan is still the most talented cast member and Seven of Nine has some of the most interesting character development still left. Also, up until the end, it strayed away from the disasters that are usually her romance plots and embraced her ability to do other things, like take care of special-needs children and wear less makeup.

On the other hand, though, focusing on her means leaving a lot of good characters by the wayside. Nothing of note has happened to Chakotay in a good long while, and while Harry, Neelix, and Tuvok are present in a lot of scenes (and get to lead the plot in about an episode each), they’re generally supporting the action, not carrying it. That’s just death on a show that’s supposed to be an ensemble cast. I read that this season was a slog for Robert Beltran, and I have no problem believing that, considering how he was in every episode of the show (as was Tim Russ), but I don’t actually remember his being in most of the ones this season.

I’m also just going to point out the fact that three of the four cast members the show forgets about are three of its four cast members of color, put that down, and back away slowly. (If you’re interested in detailed-yet-spoilery statistics, Adherents.com has a list of Species / Race / Gender / Ethnicity Breakdown Among Star Trek Cast Members, which was a good read.)

SEASON SIX Read the rest of this entry

“Star Trek: Voyager” Season 5: The Skip It/Watch It Guide

Whitney’s back, you guys, because there are seven full seasons of “Voyager” and our lord and savior Hugh Jackman knows that you need to know which ones to skip and which ones to watch. Here’s Season 5 — Seasons 6 and 7 are coming soon! –Liz

c9_d_55316_0_StarTrekVoyagerSeason5Some notes: Remember what I said all the way back in the season three guide about Tom and B’Elanna being boring? (Liz sure does!) [I sure do! We still disagree about that! –Liz]

In fact, that relationship starts to be one of Voyager‘s strengths as it goes on — once it gets past the cringe-inducing courtship stage and settles into a long-term relationship, their boring is great! They’re together, but they’re not together all the time. Each gets appropriately worried when the other is in a dangerous situation, but not to the point of completely breaking down. It’s an actual, grown-up relationship between two people who have to work together. The show gets over the painful stages of OMG WILL WE OR WON’T WE and OMG WE DID AND NOW WE MUST NOT TELL ANYONE and settles them down into, yep, we’re dating, the end. And that’s lovely.

I’m picking on romance in particular here because this season made so many attempts at it, and they all fell flat — all, that is, with the exception of Tom and B’Elanna, which remained a quiet, pleasant background constant (more or less). Read the rest of this entry

John Tells Liz What Happened In “The Mortal Instruments: City of Bones”

Dear Frank,

John Ross is back! John Ross is back! Having survived “50 Shades of Grey” and “The Host,” he’s once again about to reveal the secrets of lady-focused drama. Is it because he loves the act of epistolary recapping? Or because this blog gives him a reason to do things like watch movies based on young adult fiction? That is between John Ross and his maker. All I know is, we benefit.

Love,
Liz

Dear Liz,

The-Mortal-Instruments-City-of-Bones-Poster-535x792My expectations were below gutter level when I went to see The Mortal Instruments: City of Bones. At the time, it was at 13% on Rotten Tomatoes and based on my previous experience with a young adult novel franchise turned movie — The Host — I made sure to sit near the back just in case. But then halfway through the movie, when I did in fact have to go to the bathroom, I found myself holding it because I didn’t want to miss anything. Whether it was intentional or not — I still can’t tell — this movie is fun to watch!

Now I know the point of this is to fill you in on everything that happens in the movie but honestly I couldn’t tell you. I had no idea what was going on half the time. Like other teen novel adaptations, you get the sense that the filmmakers had to leave in everything from the book or face the wrath of its fans. (Too bad the World War Z novel wasn’t popular with teenage girls.) But that’s what I love about these young adult novel adaptations: Were it not for this fear of pleasing the fans, no one in their right mind would make a movie as batshit insane as this one. Read the rest of this entry

Nick Tells Liz What Happened On “Survivor: Caramoan”

Dear Frank,

Another guest post! We are truly blessed. Loyal reader Nick really wanted to tell me about “Survivor,” and I cannot deny anyone the opportunity to tell me about stuff. It is, after all, one of life’s most unique pleasures.

Love,
Liz

Dear Liz (and I guess Frank, too),

SURVIVOR: CARAMOAN -- FANS VS. FAVORITESAlthough some may believe that reality TV is worse than getting an STD or having jury duty, I still feel compelled to write in about the latest season of Survivor: Caramoan — Fans vs. Favorites. Because quite frankly, it was a treat!

If you don’t already know, Survivor is a show where 16-20 Americans are put on an island to compete for a $1 million prize. They participate in rewards challenges, where they get food or luxuries that make their camp life easier — fishing gear, tarps, blankets, etc. Then, there’s an immunity challenge. The winning team is immune for the week and the losers go to Tribal Council where they have to vote off one of their own. Our gracious host, Jeff Probst, then grills them about how much they hate each other. If we’re really lucky that week, there’s tons o’ tears and drama and it’s beyond great. Read the rest of this entry

John Tells Liz What Happened In “50 Shades of Grey” (Part 1)

Dear Frank,

Here’s the true story of how this came about — at an engagement party a few weeks ago, your friend and mine John Ross (a writer/filmmaker based in Los Angeles), mentioned that he was looking for a good excuse to read the best-selling erotic novel “50 Shades of Grey,” so he might learn what all the hype was about.

Because one of Liz Tells Frank’s proudest traditions is other people telling me about stuff, I immediately said to this nice Nebraska-born young man, “You should tell me about it so that I don’t have to tell Frank about it!” He proceeded to buy the book that night at his local grocery store (because apparently they are seriously selling “50 Shades of Grey” in grocery stores). And then, everything for John changed. For the better? Let’s find out….

Love,
Liz

Dear Liz,

502bdd39acc01.imageFifty Shades of Grey tells the story of Anastasia Steele, leader of a four-man Ghost Team call-signed “Hunter,” tasked with extracting an arms dealer named Christian Grey from a terrorist-controlled compound in Sucre, Bolivia. After using her remote surveillance drone to tag and execute the surrounding hostiles, Anastasia at last breaches the compound — taking out the last remaining guard with a silenced double-tap.

His body drops to the floor to reveal Christian Grey, bound and tied to a chair — her objective. She flushes. She can see the heat radiating from his toned physique through her thermal optic tac scope. Her breathing accelerates. Her optical camouflage deactivates and she starts to feel a pinch down there. Her subconscious is pinned down but her inner-goddess is providing cover fire—there’s just something about him that she can’t keep away from!

That is a pretty accurate snapshot of my psyche while reading Fifty Shades of Grey. I played a lot of Tom Clancy’s Ghost Recon: Future Soldier, because it was the only way I was going to get through the book—by taking frequent breaks to kill people. It was rough, Liz. There were moments when I wanted to take the book out to my driveway, run it over with my car, then light it on fire — for example when I would read an exchange like this:

Read the rest of this entry

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