Category Archives: Screen Watchers Guild

If it’s on a screen, and worth watching, we’re all about it.

Star Trek: The Original Series – Top 5 Favorite Episodes

tos_classic_images_a_r01My love affair with the original Star Trek series began on the shag-carpeted floor of my grandparents’ house in the early 80’s, watching syndicated reruns with my uncles before family dinners. This being the 80’s, and me being an impressionable young grammar school nerd, I was acutely aware that Trek was dumb and old, and Star Wars was awesome. I also had an action figure-obsessed cousin who took every opportunity to convert the kitchen linoleum into the frozen surface of Hoth, all while ridiculing his dad’s scale model Enterprise.

fancy a drink with Lt. Noel and Dr. Van Gelder?
fancy a drink with Lt. Noel and Dr. Van Gelder?

The passage of time has allowed me to appreciate Star Wars for the wild west space fantasy that it is (and, let’s face it, two good movies), while more fully embracing Gene Roddenberry’s vision of our future and the timeless relevance of his ever-expanding Star Trek universe. It all started with this show, in 1966. And now, years later, I’m able to watch these episodes in all their technicolor glory and recall the wide-eyed, partially terrified impressions from my youth. The melodrama, mystery, and mini-skirts. The iconic sound effects and styrofoam soundstages. I’m all in. It’s impossible for anything of this sort to fully withstand the test of time, and many moments have since crossed over into camp, but the sum is certainly greater than its parts.

Having said that, of course, I’m going to pick five individual episodes that stand out. There are plenty of best-of and favorite episode lists out there, and narrowing down my own proved more difficult than I anticipated. I’m just glad I opted for The Original Series, because choosing just five episodes from the seven seasons of either The Next Generation or Deep Space Nine would probably be far more difficult. I’ll let my cohorts struggle with those choices (and then rudely comment on the ones they missed). The following episodes are listed in airdate order, not preference.

Andrea and Ruk operate the android making machine
Andrea and Ruk operate the android making machine

“What Are Little Girls Made Of?”
Season 1, Episode 7 (1966)

This early Trek episode provides examples of some of the classic conventions that we’re all familiar with: red shirts dying first, Kirk’s problem-solving fisticuffs, and discovering that space is full of beautiful women. It’s also a reminder that, as wonderful as this original cast is, sometimes the guest stars steal the show. Gene Roddenberry’s wife, Majel Barrett, is back as Nurse Chapel, a role she became more and more comfortable with as the seasons progressed (and the role I’d prefer to remember her for, as opposed to Lwaxanna Troi from Next Generation). The great Ted Cassidy (Lurch from Addams Family) plays the hulking Ruk. And the gorgeous Mini-Skirt Mobster Sherry Jackson, as the android Andrea, teaches us a thing or two about programming. In the middle of all this is a meditation on humanity’s quest for youthfulness, and the ever-pertinent question of Man or Computer. Continue reading Star Trek: The Original Series – Top 5 Favorite Episodes

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Star Trek’s 50th Anniversary

star-trek-original-series-season-2This month, one of the world’s most beloved science fiction franchises is celebrating its 50th anniversary. On September 8th, 1966, NBC aired “The Man Trap” and audiences were introduced to Captain Kirk, Dr. Leonard “Bones” McCoy, and the rest of the crew on a five-year mission aboard the U.S.S. Enterprise. Gene Roddenberry’s Star Trek was immediately popular, and, despite only three initial seasons, soon developed a cult following during the years of syndication, since evolving into a pillar of popular culture as well as the preeminent sci-fi saga of our era (sorry, Star Wars fans). In the five decades since Star Trek premiered, Roddenberry’s vision of our future has expanded into six television series (with a seventh forthcoming), thirteen feature films, and hundreds of novels, comic books, and games, as well as countless fan-driven celebrations ranging from conventions to stage plays and drag shows. There are plenty of ways to get in on the anniversary action. Here are five of the items on my to-do list.

flos_one_sheet_fm2_for-printingTake in a movie.  
J.J. Abrams and Justin Lin’s Star Trek: Beyond isn’t the only Trek movie in theaters this year (although it may be the only one worth springing for IMAX 3D). Adam Nimoy, son of Leonard Nimoy, started working with his father several years ago on a documentary that would explore the character for whom Leonard is universally recognized – the Enterprise’s first officer, Spock. When Leonard passed away last year, the film shifted focus slightly, and began to incorporate more biographical background on the man behind the pointy ears, including an incredible perspective on mid-century Hollywood. The resulting film, For the Love of Spock, is a touching tribute to Adam’s father, as well as a love letter from a planet of Trek fans to that most endearing of Roddenberry’s creations.
Continue reading Star Trek’s 50th Anniversary

You Win or You Die: Season 6, Episode 10 Scoring Update

I gotta say, in the realm of fantasy games and sports, season-ending injuries are one thing, but there’s nothing quite like seeing one of your top-scoring team members just give up and walk out of a window. Fantasy Thrones has been an incredibly fun way for us to engage with the show and we can’t wait to see how the last season pans out.

While Tommen’s death wasn’t necessarily surprising (yet certainly hilarious, even I have to admit), Cersei’s plot to blow the Sept of Baelor back to the days of the First Men was not only one of the biggest moments in the series, it completely flipped the script on our game. In one episode, Cersei took out six rostered characters; the High Sparrow, Lancel Lannister, three members of the Tyrell family in Loras, Margaery and Mace, as well as her uncle Kevan Lannister. We all knew that the longer the show went on, the more kills would matter in the game. Debt Payers ended up absolutely crushing the field, with Cersei netting MMDG’s team a grand total of 52 points!

In fact, Cersei herself scored 35 points over the course of the season, better than my entire team, which barely held on to second place after losing both Lancel and Tommen. The only team unaffected by Cersei’s wrath was Limb-itless, who had no characters die this week.

The rest of the episode featured plenty of other non-death related highlights. Olenna Tyrell forging an alliance with the Martells with the help of Varys, Sam Tarly ultralight beaming in the library at Oldtown, and Arya feeding Walder a sou-Frey and avenging her family by introducing Needle to his throat (didn’t take death long to sneak in to that list, huh?).

So let’s get back to the deaths. We had seven deaths across five teams! You know what that means, more bodyart! Continue reading You Win or You Die: Season 6, Episode 10 Scoring Update

You Win or You Die: Season 6, Episode 9 Scoring Update

While we didn’t get quite as many rostered character deaths as we were expecting to get out of “The Battle of the Bastards,” this might have been one of the most action-packed, stressful, and satisfyingly brilliant episodes in the show to date.

I have to tip my hat to director Miguel Sapochnik’s ability to put the absolute fear in me for my team captain. While Jon has had the safety cushion of being resurrected for a few episodes now, the incredible tracking shot of him going through dozens of near-death experiences on the battlefield had me losing my mind. I was almost 100% convinced he was actually going to die again while he was suffocating under the piles of bodies.

My mood quickly changed upon seeing Littlefinger arrive with the army of the Vale. Once Jon was able to get through the gate of Winterfell thanks to Wun Wun’s valiant last stand (we miss you Wun Wun!), he was able to carry out sweet vengeance on Ramsay’s face, ultimately stopping to allow Sansa to take matters in to her own hands.

There was some deliberation on how we should have awarded the kill on Ramsay, however, we decided to give Sansa and Masters of Cwnage the K point (along with Ramsay’s APP points per usual). While Sansa did not directly kill Ramsay, we felt that her having complete control over whether he lived or died (technically she could have spared his life by letting him free) while sitting in the kennel of hungry dogs made her responsible for his death.

With Sansa getting the kill awarded to her, she now brings Masters of Cwnage up to second place with 26 points, with Limb-itless staying flat at 18 points week-over-week after losing Ramsay.

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LDG’s ode to Ramsay

It’s still very close, and with most characters having achieved upwards of 3-4 APP points, that’s a lot of points waiting to be stolen if some are killed by other teams. While we probably won’t see any more deaths in the Winterfell camp, the finale next weekend will be the longest in the  show’s history, so who knows what to expect.

The team currently in last place, the Many-Faced Team, just so happens to have a character privy to the location of massive caches of explosives planted throughout the largest city in Westeros. It’s anyone’s game.

Standings Week 9

Full scoring update is below. Continue reading You Win or You Die: Season 6, Episode 9 Scoring Update

You Win or You Die: Season 6, Episode 8 Scoring Update

If I had the opportunity to put money down on one of our rostered characters getting offed in “No One,” I would have done it. Luckily, I did not have said opportunity, and therefore am not quite as upset about the lack of action.

Still, show writers Weiss and Benioff are giving us all the signs that these last two episodes could go completely nuclear, especially with Dany finally returning to Meereen; I doubt that siege is going to last much longer with Drogon subbing in. He doesn’t look like he has any jokes.

I’d like to pour one out for our deceased members of the waiver wire: characters who had appearances in season 6 that would have been allowed to be picked up next season, but have now passed on to the great beyond. Here’s to the Waif, Blackfish, Lady Crane, Khal Moro, Osha, and Ian McShane. Oh, and how can I forget this kid?

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#ollysdeadface

It’s safe to say there’s a select group of characters who are in real danger this coming weekend, and judging by the title of the episode, “The Battle of the Bastards,” I’m betting a majority of the full 60 minute episode will take place near Winterfell, with the Jon and Ramsay bout serving as the title card.

And the undercards we should be worried about? I’m going with Harold Karstark, Brienne, Sansa, Ser Davos, Podrick, and Tormund. There’s obviously plenty of people in King’s Landing who are in deep trouble, but I think this episode is going to focus too heavily on the north for me to make any educated guesses on people in the Red Keep, or Essos for that matter.

Standings Week 8

Full scoring update is below. Continue reading You Win or You Die: Season 6, Episode 8 Scoring Update

You Win or You Die: Season 6, Episode 7 Scoring Update

So after a relatively quiet Episode 6 we get….an even more quiet Episode 7. But not without intrigue!

Most importantly; CLEGANE BOWL IS ON, BABY!!! “The Broken Man” brings back everyone’s favorite anti-hero, Sandor Clegane, aka The Hound. Will he get a chance to reclaim his honor and defeat his Franken-brother, The Mountain?

I have to say I was pretty disappointed with Arya this week. She decides to tell the Faceless Men to go pound sand, and then just skips across Braavos looking for a ship to sail back to Westeros? Arya, you already know the Waif has it out for you and can mimic literally anyone’s appearance. A girl needs to keep her guard up! Because when you don’t keep your guard up, you get stabbed in the abdomen and thrown off a bridge.

Briennes over Bronn only scored one point, but it was a big point. Finally scoring for his namesake, we got the first appearance of Bronn. The Big Three (Jon, Sansa, and Davos) weren’t able to do much in the way of bolstering their forces, leaving Sansa to call upon Littlefinger(?) and get the Knights of the Vale on her side.

Meanwhile, Theon and Yara are posted up in Volantis with their fleet, happy to be away from the gloomy Iron Islands and their huge-lunged uncle Euron. Well, at least Yara is.

Margaery makes it clear she is still on Team Tyrell after passing her secret note to Olenna. After seeing the post-show teaser for the next episode, it looks like whatever Margaery has planned might finally come to fruition next week.

Only three episodes left. We’re now on the home stretch. We’ve still had no Sand Snake sightings, or heard literally anything from Dorne for that matter. However, I wouldn’t count them out. I’m expecting the Martells to make a surprise appearance in the series’ historically insane penultimate episode. You heard it here first!

Standings Week 7

 

Full scoring update is below. Continue reading You Win or You Die: Season 6, Episode 7 Scoring Update

You Win or You Die: Season 6, Episode 6 Scoring Update

I had to spend two days, TWO WHOLE DAYS, trying to avoid spoilers for Episode 6 during my return home from the Sasquatch Festival this weekend. Luckily, not much happened while I was out.

I was very pleased to finally get an APP point from Lancel, but more curiously, did you see that absurd weapon he was brandishing? Come on, that thing’s gotta do something interesting!

Lancel-Lannister-in-Game-of-Thrones-Season-6-Episode-6-Blood-of-My-Blood-1

While my team still holds a commanding lead, “Blood of My Blood” has me thinking that a few teams are ready to make serious moves. With Jaime demoted from the Kingsguard and instead put in charge of leading the Lannister army, he is now primed to do some serious damage for LDG. However, no one should have more hope after this episode than MeanOldPig. Arya’s betrayal of the Faceless Men means the Waif and Jaqen have officially been added to her ever-expanding hit list.

I’m sure Masters of Cwnage is pleased to have a Valyrian blade now in his possession after Sam steals Heartsbane from Randyll Tarly, who has now taken the Throne of Total Dick Dads since it was vacated by Stannis.

Oh yeah, and rengstorff has a dragon again. Greaaaattt.

Standings Week 6

Full scoring update is below. Continue reading You Win or You Die: Season 6, Episode 6 Scoring Update

You Win or You Die: Season 6, Episode 5 Scoring Update

Last week I rather overzealously predicted five killings in this week’s episode. While my prediction was certainly way off, the emotional weight of losing the two characters that we did certainly felt like five.

While the death of Hodor was soul-crushing to say the least, it didn’t have much of an impact on the overall scoring. It was Hodor’s first appearance since we began so MMDG only lost out on one point. The real shakeup came courtesy of the Night’s King himself. Tyranofloresrex’s team got right back in the action with that huge kill of the Three-Eyed Raven. With the Night’s King getting the Kill Point and stealing all of the Raven’s Appearance Points, we are now starting to feel the brutal weight of important characters being killed off by other important characters.

It’s also likely we could have seen the last of a few characters for a while. Dany’s touching demand of Jorah to find a cure for himself could mean he might be out for the season, while Dolorous Edd holds down the Night’s Watch so the rest of the Wall party can go build themselves an army.

Standings Week 5

It’s MeanOldPig’s second death in three weeks, and while his gallows artwork was a fitting tribute to Ser Alliser, his Three-Eyed Raven has now officially set the bar for what we should be expecting after these deaths. MMDG’s “Hold the Door” tat just pours salt in the Hodor-sized wound in our collective heart.

Full scoring update is below. Continue reading You Win or You Die: Season 6, Episode 5 Scoring Update

You Win or You Die: Season 6, Episode 4 Scoring Update

Last Sunday was Bay to Breakers in SF, the only Sunday of the year you’ll likely see more rampant nudity than on Game of Thrones. After stumbling and bumbling our way home from the drunken masses, we were able to settle in and view episode 4.

While there were no important killings this week, we did get to see some new faces this season that helped bolster a few teams’ scores. The first appearances of Littlefinger and Sansa brought the Masters of Cwnage up to 9 points, tying for second place with Limb-itless. Jorah’s scaly secret is out of the bag now, at least for Daario, so that adds some additional intrigue to LDG’s team. However, it’s LDG’s last draft pick, Ramsay, who makes one of the biggest power plays in the episode that could bring this series to a boil. His letter to Jon Snow was ruthless, and having Sansa read the final bit aloud makes the battle for Winterfell seem all that much closer.

Standings Week 4

While the Mountain failed to show up to do any skull bashing, picking up an entire Dothraki army, I feel, was a fair compromise for rengstorff’s team.

It was a fairly calm episode overall so I’m assuming at least five people will die next Sunday.

Full scoring update is below. Continue reading You Win or You Die: Season 6, Episode 4 Scoring Update

You Win or You Die: Season 6, Episode 3 Scoring Update

While some of us got back in to town late Sunday after spending time with our lovely mothers, we were still all able to sit down and enjoy our first episode since the start of the fantasy season.

Our Game of Thrones Fantasy League got off to a rip-roaring start last night with lots of  appearances from most of the initially drafted character pools. Only “The Rebels,” consisting of a few of the Greyjoys and Sand Snakes, did not make any appearances.

Scoring in the first episode saw four of the teams draw level at four points each. Even though Many Faced Team had the expected setback of losing Alliser Thorne this episode, they are still one of the four teams with four points. The lone kill point in this episode goes to Abominable Snow-Bran after Jon Snow, now free of his Night Watch duties, executes the traitors by hanging. That leaves Abominable Snow-Bran with a commanding lead of 7 points after taking away Thorne’s lone APP point.

Full scoring update is below.

The Teams:

Abominable Snow-Bran – hltchk (7 Points; 6 APP, 1 K)

GoT Ftsy Team MH
House Stark: Bran (1)
Team Targaryen: Missandei (1)
House Lannister: Tommen (1)
The Wall: Jon Snow (3)
The Old Gods and the New: Lancel Lannister (0)
Friends Like These: Olenna Tyrell (1)
Rebels: Yara (0)
Continue reading You Win or You Die: Season 6, Episode 3 Scoring Update