Tuesday, October 16, 2012

Deep Space Nine, Season 1: Move Along Home

Deep Space Nine, Season 1
"Move Along Home"
Airdate: March 14, 1993
9 of 173 produced
9 of 173 aired

Introduction

The station receives its first formal visit from a species from the Gamma Quadrant. Rather than being interested in diplomacy, they head straight to Quark's to play games...you know what? I just can't. I won't dignify this episode with a summary. It implies there's a cohesive story that can be summarized, and that's simply not the case. If you want to know what happens, you'll just have to watch it like we did.

They have many uses... like gouging out your eyes and puncturing your eardrums, to prevent you from experiencing this episode.





Writing

Kevin: This is definitely in the running for worst episode of the series. I can only say the story was a non-existent, convoluted mess in so many clever and entertaining ways, and I used up most of my wit in the podcast, so I'm not going to spend too much time on this. The plot makes no sense. I don't care about the characters, and tension that should be created by the game is lost because it makes no sense what danger if any the characters are in and it doesn't seem like any fun, ever subjectively to the Wadi. Why play this game? It just looks like a long, boring journey to a meaningless ending.

Matthew: Yeah, the "twist" at the end was pretty much akin to the "it was all a dream" story - a regular feature of third grade creative writing lessons. It could possibly have been interesting if someone (my vote is for Primmin, because I liked him) were red-shirted to amp up the tension. We could have really learned about the Wadi, and what a world obsessed with games would really be like. The takeaway character development seemed to be centered on Quark and cheating, which is fine, but it was under-focused on, and any real lesson was robbed by the ending. I would have liked, given the teaser, for the Jake-Dad dyad to be at the center of the game, instead of 4 arbitrarily chosen (in full uniform with tricorders and communicators, for no discernible reason) main cast members who seem to be playing the game because the actors' agents said so.

Kevin: I won't add anything else to this except to say that words "shap" and "alamaraine" once again haunt my nightmares.

Matthew: Your mention of those game jargon terms calls our attention to one of the major species of problems with this show - a convoluted game without any dramatic elements for us to latch onto, with annoying names for things. It's kind of like a game a toddler would make up, you know? Like the kid's just sort of making stuff up without any real forethought or concern for the fun of gameplay (I know I've always wanted to play a game where people ignore me at cocktail parties while I suffocate on gas), and also asking you to remember a bunch of nonsense words to boot. Fizbin was funny and enjoyable because the nonsense was truly nonsense, and because the scene only lasted for 2 minutes. Chula, on the other hand, was a key element in a good, oh, 40 minutes of this show. This is when editors and producers need to give writing staffs serious notes. The note I would give is, "guys, this is one of those 'more fun to talk about than to watch' ideas." Also, is it "sixth shap," or "shap six?" Get this crap straight, people.

Acting

Kevin: If you were hoping for sterling performances to make this episode tolerable, you're going to be disappointed  Armin Shimerman gets one good speech and that's certainly not enough to turn this one around. I will say I did like the scene between Sisko and Jake in the teaser. It says something that the teaser has nothing to do with the episode. As much as I am not a fan of Jake, the father-son interactions were always genuine and touching.

Matthew: What really bugged me is that the main cast seemed checked out at times, like they knew this sucked. To be fair, of course, it did suck. So it's not as though they're wrong. But Shatner would have really tried to sell it, no matter how silly he thought it was, and if he couldn't, he would play it with a wink. These guys seemed annoyed. I'm not claiming I know their inner states. I'm just saying how it seemed to a viewer. Joel Brooks as Falow was... not good. I agree that Shimerman and Lofton were the highlights, but by no stretch of the imagniation did they provide enough to salvage the episode.

Production Values

Kevin: The garish purple and orange hexagonal world of the game was awful. The face tattoos read as cheap substitute for actual alien make up. The costume were stiff, sparkly nightmares. The actual game board could have been interesting with the levels and angles and whatnot, but it wasn't shot in anything other than extreme close-up and straight ahead behind the actors.

Matthew: I'm not trying to say that it could have salvaged the whole episode by any stretch, because the other problems were so dire, but special effects could have both added visual interest and explained some problems. How did the players around the board know what was happening to the kidnapped internal players? It seemed like Quark didn't, while the Wadi did. Was there a psychic link? Maybe there could have been a holo-projection effect in the middle of the board. And yes, the game set was fugly. Then they went to a boring, drab cave for the last 5 minutes. Huh?

Conclusion

Kevin: I'm sorry for the abbreviated review, but there's only so many ways to say "bad." Even nightmares like Code of Honor and Justice had a "so bad it's good" quality. This was just bad and excruciatingly boring. This is a one because I can't give zeros.

Matthew: Yep, this is so bad it's bad. It's a resounding 1, for a total of 2. A lot of DS9 Season One episodes have been a little bit on the boring or undercooked side. But until now, they had never been boring and gratingly stupid at the same time.

Podcast



1 comment:

  1. OK, when I saw you podcasted, I actually got a little upset. Now I had to *watch* the episode. At least you guys made it enough fun that I was laughing my butt off all the way through. (The drinking game helped.)

    Now, the only thing I remember fondly about this episode is how much bizarre fun Sisko appeared to have doing the Allamaraine dance. And if you can explain to me why spell check actually accepts Allamaraine as a word, I will be amazed.

    I'm so glad that I'm not the only one who found this incomprehensible. I continue to remind myself that Siddig El Fadil gets better as the seasons progress. He eventually turns into someone who can sing Jerusalem with Colm Meaney.

    But good Lord, why was this episode based on Chutes and Ladders? WHY? Even CHECKERS has more skill than Chutes and Ladders!

    And *forgot his uniform*? I'm sorry, but he's not that incompetent, and even if I'm supposed to retcon that he's faking it so that people don't know that he's genetically engineered, there's "human error" and "can't make it in Starfleet", and he's headed for the latter.

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