Friday, October 30, 2009

My Top 5 DC Characters That JLU Introduced Me To

I’ve mentioned before in this blog my secret shame of not being as big a comic book fan as I feel I should be. My main exposure to these characters has always been through TV and movies, as a kid I never actually picked up a comic book. So because of that my knowledge has always only focused on mainstream characters. But in 2005 all of that changed when the cartoon series Justice League became Justice League Unlimited, and a slew of more obscure DC characters joined the roster. I was suddenly introduced to all these characters, some of which I had never even heard of before, and I became intensely interested in more than a few. Thanks to Wikipedia, and a few friends of mine who actually know a thing or two about comic books, I’ve learned more about these characters. But still I yearn to know more. Bring me into your four color world comic book characters, and teach me how to live!

I should also mention that almost all of these characters have made appearances in my fan fiction series “Justice League Xander”, in which I cast Xander from Buffy the Vampire Slayer into the role of some of DC’s coolest non-powered heroes. I’ll include links for anyone who’s interested.

5. Mr. Terrific

In JLU, Mr. Terrific only appeared a few times, and never in any kind of action capacity. He took over for Martian Manhunter running the Watchtower and coordinating the League’s missions. So what could have possibly attracted me to this character with such little screen time? The name, which sounds ridiculous even by DC Comics standards? Maybe it was the fact that he was billed as the third smartest man in the world.

My research told me that this was actually the second hero to use the name Mr. Terrific, and that he fought crime with tiny floating balls called T-Spheres. The Wikipedia page doesn’t have much I’m afraid, which has only peaked my curiosity. Enough to seek him out in comic book form? No. Enough to fit him into my fanfic? Why yes, how did you know. Mr. T has made an appearance in “An Arrow’s Flight”, my Xander as Speedy story, and I’m currently kicking around an idea for another story with him in a more central role. I guess it’s the idea of a superhero fighting crime with his wits and his intellect that interests me.

4. Shining Knight

The ultimate fish out of water, Shining Knight is a knight from Arthurian legend displaced in the modern age. I guess what drew me to the character was the impossible situation that he’s been placed in, living in a world that he doesn’t understand, and yet he remains true to himself and his values. I remember noticing him on the show around the same time I noticed Vigilante. Seeing the two of them together, the cowboy and the knight, before I knew anything about them, they were like the Justice League’s version of the Village People. All they needed was a construction worker and an Indian chief and they would have been complete. But the friendship of those two characters turned out to be one of the most interesting things about them on the show. Two heroes from different eras, fighting along side the Justice League in the modern world. It was like a nod the DC Comics beginnings, bridging the gap between that and the future.

The nobility of the character made me think that it would be a good fit for Xander, and so I wrote “Shining White Knight”, which saw Xander displaced into the future in the world of Batman Beyond, where he takes up the mantle of Shining Knight.

3. Vigilante

When I was a kid, my dad used to watch a lot of Westerns, and I was always bored by them. I guess I just always associated them with old movies and old fashioned story telling, which didn’t interest me as a child. Then I saw Tombstone, and everything changed. Kurt Russel and Val Kilmer were so badass in that movie, Westerns took on a whole new light for me and the cowboy as hero character became really interesting to me. Especially after I realized that characters like Han Solo, with his low slung blaster holster and his kicky vest, are basically cowboys. They’re rebels and rougues, but there’s a simple morality to them too, a very black and white sense of right and wrong. So when Vigilante showed up on JLU, I took an interest, even before I heard him speak. And when I heard Nathan Fillion doing his voice, the character really fleshed out and became interesting.

His wiki page reveals a very old history, and an interesting one at that. In researching most of these characters I’ve realized what a rich history that DC comics has. When even the minor characters have 60 plus years of continuity, he can be intimidating.

One of the other things that attracted me to the character, and something that I worked into my Xander story, was the fact that we never saw his face. It was the mysterious stranger character that’s so common in Westerns. What is he hiding? What happened in his past that made him who he is and makes him do what he does? These are some of the themes that I borrowed for “My Heroes Have Always Been Cowboys”.

2. Green Arrow

I’ve always liked archers, I don’t really know why. I remember the old Iron Man cartoon from the 90’s and really liking Hawkeye. Maybe because it’s just so unconventional, for a modern hero to fight crime with such an old fashioned weapon. There’s a romance to it as well, which I supposed is owed in no small part to Robin Hood, especially in Green Arrow’s case. Of all the characters on this list, he’s probably had the most screen time on JLU. When the League first went unlimited, Batman recognized the danger in creating such a large, powerful organization. Even though they had the best of intentions, there was the possibility that their power could be abused. Green Arrow was specifically recruited to be a voice for the regular guy, and to remind these heroes that their powers did not give them the right to cross the line, no matter what the reason. And in that regard, GA had a very important role on the show; the every man.

Xander is also an every man, which I felt made it a natural progression. In “An Arrow’s Flight”, he becomes Green Arrow’s sidekick because he admires him so much. The fact that a regular guy can work hard and accomplish great things without super powers is a reoccurring theme with most of these characters.

1. The Question

My friend Art (Scarecrows_Brain) and I had a discussion once about Batman. Specifically the idea that Bruce Wayne created the Batman persona to strike fear into criminals. Art contended that if in real life a man were to dress like a bat, criminals wouldn’t be scared of him, they would laugh at him and shoot him in the face (feel free to correct me Art if you feel that I’m misquoting you). This led to the question, which hero’s costume would work to that extent in real life? My answer: The Question. If a man approaches you in a dark alley, dressed in a suit and a long coat, and he doesn’t have a face, I don’t know about you but that would scare the shit out of me. When you can’t read facial expressions, you don’t know if he’s smiling or if he’s about to kill you, it’s unnerving. You can project anything onto that blank face, your worst fears.

On JLU Question (voiced by Jeffrey Combs) was played as a conspiracy nut, someone that the other Leaguers didn’t necessarily take seriously all the time. But in the end, The Question’s theories almost always proved to be true. He knows his stuff and he does his homework. He’s smart, not Albert Einstein smart or even Batman smart necessarily, but smart because he pays attention to everything and he knows how to read people and how to ask the right questions. I always felt like his conspiracy buff reputation spawned from the fact that his mind was sharp enough to make connections that no one else could see, that no one else would even think to consider. And his relationship with Huntress on the show added a vulnerability to the character and a humanity that made him not only interesting, but made you care about him.

The theme of masks is another common element in Xander fic, and one that I used for my stories “No Answers, Just Questions” and its sequel "Choices We Make". I like to think that I did the character justice, at least as far as the JLU version of the character. This is the one character on this list that I am planning on going back and reading the old comics, I’ve become that interested.

Thursday, October 29, 2009

Hump Day

A day late and a hottie short, I know. I've been sidelined by the flu for the last few days, the regular kind not the piggy variety. Regular posting will resume soon. In the mean time, enjoy the following:

Jewel Staite

Thursday, October 22, 2009

Tuesday, October 20, 2009

Opie & Anthony Clip O' The Week

Bill Burr and the boys talk about the ShamWow.

Thursday, October 15, 2009

Way Too Late Movie Review – "Wanted"

I have a really bad habit of letting my Netflix movies sit on top of my television for months before I finally get around to watching them. I think it has something to do with having to find a two hour block of time in which I can watch the movie with no distractions, which in this crazy modern workaday world can be hard enough as it is. But when the movie is something that I added to my Netflix queue months prior when the movie was out in theaters, and by the time I receive it I can barely remember why I was interested in it in the first place, it’s also hard to find the desire to set aside that two hours, even when I do have the time. The ironic thing is that when I finally watch the movie, I almost always enjoy it, so you’d think I’d learn from my experience that I’m pretty good at picking movies for myself, being that I am myself. The side effect of this process is that by the time I’ve seen a movie, it’s too late to be able to talk to anyone about it. So I’ve decided that this forum is the perfect place to share my thoughts about these movies, that you’ve either already seen eons ago, or had no desire to see and are thus not interested in the least. And with that rousing introduction, onto my first review.


I remember thinking when I added this to my queue that this looked like a fun shoot ‘em up, and Angelina Jolie looked pretty hot, and on those two fronts this movie certainly did not disappoint. What I didn’t expect, and was pleasantly surprised by, was the main character’s story arc. In the vain of movies like "The Matrix" or "Harry Potter", "Wanted" is a movie about an ordinary man who learns that he has extraordinary abilities, and that he is destined to lead another life, a more meaningful and exciting life. It’s the old adolescent fantasy that you’re destined for more than this one horse town, and someday your real parents, James Bond and Lara Croft, will swoop in and take you away from all of this. Sure, it’s a little immature, but it’s good to indulge your inner child once in a while. After all, isn’t indulging in fantasy what movies are really about.

Wesley Gibson is in ordinary man, so ordinary in fact that he can’t bring himself to care about anything in his life. His job is awful, his boss is an evil shrew who constantly berates and belittles him, his girlfriend is an emasculating bitch who is boning his best friend, and his best friend is a posturing macho asshole. So when he’s kidnapped by Angelina Jolie and led through an elaborate gun fight and car chase which ends in the revelation that his father was an assassin and that he shares the same preternatural gift for adrenaline fueled gun violence, he first can’t believe it. But when he tries to go back to his normal life, he finally snaps. He tells off his boss so perfectly, that the humiliation renders her nearly catatonic. He cracks his best friend in the face with his keyboard, knocking out a tooth and spelling ‘Fuck You’ in midair with the broken keys. This scene alone makes this movie worth it for me. Maybe I’m projecting my own dark, twisted, work-related stress fueled fantasy onto this, but I’m okay with that.

While Wesley trains he learns about the Fraternity, a group of assassins that have existed for a thousand years and who receive their orders from a loom. They are weapons of fate, killing to make the world a better place. They train Wesley because they believe that he is the only one who can kill his father’s killer, a former member of the Fraternity who has left and is now seeking to destroy the group. But once Wesley is finally ready and goes after the man, the movie takes a twist.

(Spoilers ahead. Honestly though, if you haven’t seen the movie by now you’re probably not going to.)

The man that Wesley has been sent to kill is actually his father. He left the Fraternity when he learned that the boss, Morgan Freeman, was no longer taking the targets from the magic loom, but picking them himself for profit. Yes, the shocking twist is that this group of professional killers are actually the bad guys. Whoda thunk, right? Wesley decides to go after the Fraternity, sending a horde of exploding rats into the building. The rats explode, but do surprising little damage. Wesley then spends the next ten minutes killing everyone in sight on his way up to get Morgan Freeman. He’s cornered in the end, so he tells all of the assassins the truth about their boss, that he’s been making up the target list. Morgan Freeman admits it, and tells the assassins that all of their names have come up on the loom, so if they want fate in charge then they should all kill themselves. Angelina Jolie, the good assassin, saves Wesley by curving a bullet all the way around the room, killing all of the assassins, including herself. It’s a good thing they were all standing in a perfect circle. Which is kind of dumb when you think about it, if they had opened fire on Wesley they all would have been killed in the crossfire. Wesley does win in the end when he manages to kill Morgan Freeman with a sniper shot from about ten miles away that actually travels through the hole in a doughnut at one point. But hey, I’m not going to start attacking a movie that bends bullets for realism. I might as well start attacking "Crouching Tiger, Hidden Dragon" on the grounds that Chinese people can’t fly (or can they?).

So what’s the lesson of this movie? If you life sucks, you need to take matters into your own hands to fix it. Take responsibility for figuring out who you really are instead of just trudging through existence on auto-pilot, waiting for something to happen. Maybe the lesson is that morality is in the eye of the beholder. Or that fate is just an excuse to absolve you of personal responsibility. We all make our own fate. Or maybe, just maybe, the lesson is that gun fights are cool and Angelina Jolie is hot and you get to see her ass. Honestly, what more do you want out of a movie?

My Netflix Rating: 4 out of 5 stars

Wednesday, October 14, 2009

Friday, October 9, 2009

My Top 8 Most Rewatchable Movies

Imagine if you will the following scenario. It’s Saturday afternoon, you’re bored and you’re flicking through the channels trying to find something to watch when you come across a movie starting. And suddenly you know exactly what you’re going to be doing for the next two hours. One of those movies, that no matter how many times you’ve seen it, you can still watch it and enjoy every minute of it. One of those movies that even though you own it on DVD, you’ll watch it on basic cable with all the curses bleeped out and commercials. Why do we do that? Are we just too lazy to get up off the couch and put the DVD in? I think that with the way that TV is evolving, with DVR’s and websites like Hulu and Netflix that let you watch stuff on your computer, watching TV has become such a personal experience, always on our own terms. And while the idea of watching something on a network’s schedule instead of our own is becoming obsolete, there’s also some nostalgia left in it. Even though you might be by yourself, you know that you’re sharing this moment with countless other viewers all over the country, and there’s comfort in that. It makes it more of a communal experience.

Speaking of, if there’s one theme that bridges all of these movies, I think it’s nostalgia. There are plenty of movies that I’ve seen and loved, and yet have no desire to ever see again. So rewatchability (yes, I made that word up) isn’t solely related to quality, it’s more about how the movies makes you feel, and wanting to recreate that feeling again and again.

8. The Green Mile

I could probably do a whole list of just my favorite Stephen King movies and not have any problem filling it out. I distinctly remember seeing Green Mile in the theater, and despite it’s length, I never felt antsy or eager for it to end. The pacing may be a bit slow, but it’s perfect for setting up the characters and their relationships with each other, and so it never really feels slow. Despite the supernatural elements, and the fact that one of the main characters is a mouse, it’s a very human story. John Coffey, through his abilities, experiences the worst aspects of the human condition. Pain, suffering, hatred, ignorance, and evil. What I said before about wanting to recreate a feeling, I don’t believe that that has to strictly apply to only happy feelings. Sometimes sadness and tragedy has a way of making you feel empathy for your fellow man, making you feel like a part of the human experience, and that can be just as cathartic.

The Rewatchability Factor: The characters. If you don’t develop an emotional investment in these characters, then it doesn’t work. Tom Hanks especially is good at making you care about his character in every movie that he’s in. In Green Mile, it’s the characters that make the story work. And it’s the characters that keep me interested in this movie time and time again.

7. Highlander

Some movies become so emblematic of the time that they’re made, that they can’t help but feel dated when you watch them. You’d think that this would make the movie less rewatchable, but for me, for some movies at least, it’s the exact opposite. Every time you watch the movie, you’re reminded of when you first saw it. The person you were then, your experience when you first saw the movie, and rewatching that movie becomes pure nostalgia. Of course, the movie has to be good too. The first Highlander movie is very 80’s, from the clothes and the hair to the music and the over-the-top feeling throughout the film. The villain, the fight scenes and the flashbacks are all larger than life. It’s epic in its span, but it still manages to make us care about the main character (I’m sensing a theme here). So many great moments; Heather’s death, Ramirez’s death, Connor being ousted by his clan, his training with Ramirez. They make you feel for Connor, make you care about what happens to him.

The Rewatchability Factor: The mood. The music of Queen especially helps to establish the mood of the movie so well, creating so many memorable moments. Rewatching this movie becomes akin to listening to a favorite album from beginning to end.

6. Shawshank Redemption

This one must be on a lot of people’s rewatchable list, because it’s on TNT every other weekend. It’s one of those movies that you can catch at any point in the movie and still enjoy watching it. In fact, I’ve probably only ever seen the beginning of the movie once or twice, but I’ve seen the middle and the end dozens of times. The second Stephen King movie on the list, and another that isn’t a horror movie. Horror movies don’t have much rewatchability for me. I was never into the slasher movies, like Freddy or Jason, and I never got into the new torture porn genre, like Saw or Hostel. I was always more attracted to thrillers, and the experience of seeing the movie for the first time, not knowing what’s coming, is what makes them thrilling. Recreating that experience with the same movie is almost impossible. The exception to the rule would have to be IT, but again that one is all about the characters and the nostalgia for me and not necessarily the scares.

As for Shawshank, I guess what attracts me to the movie so much is the character of Andy Dufresne. I’ve always loved characters who aren’t just smart, they’re prepared. Always on the ball and ready for any situation, always thinking ten steps ahead with a plan for every contingency. Batman, Gil Grissom, or Robert Goren from Law & Order: CI. Andy is a smart man, brilliant even, and he’s trapped in the ultimate position of powerlessness. He’s used, abused, and beaten down to the point where any other man would have broken. And in the end, as we’re led to believe that his spirit has finally been crushed and that the only way out he has left is suicide, Andy proves everybody wrong. We learn that Andy had been putting his escape plan into motion practically since arriving at Shawshank, every detail meticulously worked out. Sure, there were moments in the movie when Andy’s spirit was broken, but he never gave up hope. As he tells Red in his letter, ‘Hope is a good thing. Maybe the best of things.’ And in the end, Andy’s hope is rewarded.

The Rewatchability Factor: The revenge fantasy. It literally takes the entire third act of the movie to explain Andy’s entire plan, that’s how elaborate it was. His revenge on the warden is so devastating that the man commits suicide. And at the end, Andy and Red live happily ever after on a beach in Mexico somewhere. There is no more perfect revenge fantasy, and I think everyone can relate to that. The movie actually becomes more satisfying when it’s rewatched and you know the ending.

5. The Usual Suspects

Speaking of characters who are always on the ball and thinking ten steps ahead, no one better fits that description than Keyser Soze. Of course, the payoff for that doesn’t come until the end of the movie. The primary attraction for this movie is the story. Everyone (every guy anyway) loves a heist. Maybe it’s the action or the anti-authority angle, or maybe it’s just the idea of becoming insanely rich for a single night’s work, Hollywood loves to romanticize thievery. This movie contains three or four heists (depending on your definition). And on top of that, it’s an intricately woven story, with twists and turns and secret clues, all of which only get better with multiple viewings.

The Rewatchability Factor: The dialogue. From the opening scene at the lineup (“Hand me the keys you motherfuckin’ cocksucker motherfucker, AGGHH!!”) where the actors’ actual laughter made it into the movie, all the way through to the end, the dialogue is so expertly crafted that it’s almost poetry.

4. Batman

This was the first big budget superhero blockbuster movie that I remember seeing, and it changed my life. It was dark, and gritty, and violent, and oh so Tim Burton, and it showed everyone what a comic book movie could be. This movie took the campy Adam West Batman and killed it once and for all. It showed Batman as a dark and brooding conflicted soul, and the Joker as an insane homicidal psychopath. And more importantly, it inspired Batman the Animated Series, which started the DC Animated Universe, which has provided me with hundreds of hours of entertainment over the years.

The Rewatchability Factor: Nostalgia. I’ve seen this movie so many times that I can practically recite it. Watching it now reminds me of what it was like to see it as a kid, and how awesome it was then. I still think it holds up pretty well, and I’ve even shown it to my daughter (who loves Batman) and can enjoy it now on a whole new level as I watch her fall in love with it.

3. The Crow

Visually stunning, The Crow took what Batman did and turned it up to eleven. It’s a dark and brooding revenge fantasy run wild. A heavily stylized, moody piece of cinema that does everything right. A spirit of vengeance resurrects Eric Draven, who then embarks on a quest for revenge against the men who killed his fiancé. The star, Brandon Lee, was killed on the set when he was accidentally shot with a gun that was supposed to have contained blanks. Lee was himself engaged to be married at the time. The Crow has become a fitting swansong for the man whose life and career were tragically cut short.

The Rewatchability Factor: The visual style. So much attention was paid in this movie to lighting and color, to costumes and sets, to imagery and symbolism that every frame of it is a work of art. The movie is practically in black and white (and red), there’s absolutely no blue or green in it at all. It’s the precursor to movies like Sin City and 300, which lift their visual look directly from the comic source material.

2. Spaceballs

Surprisingly, the only comedy on my list. You’d think that of all genres, comedy would be the most rewatchable. Oddly enough, as much of a fan of standup comedy as I am, there aren’t that many comedy movies that I enjoy (and I’ve entirely given up on sitcoms). Mel Brooks however is still a hero of mine, and this movie is mostly why. I guess there’s a heavy nostalgia factor here too. If I look at the movie objectively I can see how a lot of the jokes haven’t aged well, but I just love the movie so much that I forgive it of those sins (kind of like a few members of my family). It’s also possibly the most quotable movie of all time, which for a geek like me is essential. After all, what’s the point of loving a movie if you can’t annoy everyone you know by quoting it to death?

The Rewatchability Factor: The gags. And maybe some nostalgia too, I’ll admit, but ultimately I still think the movie is funny. It’s Mel Brooks making fun of Star Wars, how could it not be funny. Of course, the animated series later showed us exactly how, but I don’t let that spoil the source material for me.

1. Apollo 13

What can I say, I’ve always been a sucker for the space program. You can give me the driest documentary ever, featuring only two men talking in an empty room about the Apollo missions, and I’m there. This movie of course focuses on one of the most dramatic moments in the history of the space program, the Apollo 13 disaster. And it does it so well. Visually it’s awesome, with some of the best effects for it’s time. The human drama of the story is appealing, giving us an insight into the lives of these men who risked so much to fulfill a dream and to better mankind. Tom Hanks once again lends his likeability to the role, making us care about his character. The drama here plays so well that at the end of the movie when they’re waiting to reestablish contact with the command module as they’re making their entry, even though I know what’s going to happen, I’m on the edge of my seat every time.

The Rewatchability Factor: The Space Program. It appeals to the science fiction lover in me as well as the history lover. All the drama and excitement of science fiction, with the added benefit of having actually happened. Maybe that’s the real appeal, that it’s a true story. That these men really lived through this, and that when they came home they just kind of went on with their lives. It’s human drama, ambition and ingenuity at its best.

So what do you think, Sirs? What are your most rewatchable movies?

Wednesday, October 7, 2009

Tuesday, October 6, 2009

Opie & Anthony Clip O' The Week

This week I bring you a clip featuring friend of the show, comedian Patrice O'Neal, and his story about his encounter with the Creepy Cold Guy.

Thursday, October 1, 2009

Top 5 Transporter Accidents

Aside from the holodeck, the one other piece of equipment in Star Trek that has caused the most problems has been the transporter. The concept of the transporter was created by Gene Roddenberry for the original series as a cheat. The show didn’t have the budget to shoot a shuttle landing on a planet every week, so he came up with the transporter. And almost immediately the problem seemed to be that it was too perfect a device. Nearly every problem could be solved by it, and so they had to limit its functionality. It only had a short range, it didn’t work through shields, and a hundred other things that kept the episodes from being only five minutes long. And then someone finally said “Hey, this think scrambles your atoms and airmails them down to a planet where it puts you back together again like a jigsaw puzzle, right? What would happen if something went wrong?” Badness, that’s what happens. But for the purposes of this list, I’ll stick to the more interesting and less fatal incidents.

5. “Realm of Fear” (TNG)

Most of us like to imagine that if we lived in the Star Trek universe we would be as suave as Riker, as smart as Data, and as well respected as Picard. But the fact is, we’re all Barclay and we know it. Lt. Reginald Barclay is the socially maladjusted everyman character that the viewers can identify with. He’s the only character on the show to ever use the holodeck for the same thing that all of us would if given the chance, scoring with Deanna Troi. Who can’t relate to that?

In this episode, the Enterprise responds to a distress call and beams aboard the USS Yosemite, whose crew appears to be missing. We learn that among the rest of his psychological problems, Barclay is also afraid of the transporter. He eventually manages to beam over and then back, but while he’s in the transporter beam he sees what looks like a large worm, floating inside the beam with him. And just before he materializes, the worm bites him on the arm. Just when it seems like Barclay has ingested more than his daily requirement of vitamin LSD, he starts to show other symptoms and diagnoses himself as having transporter psychosis, a debilitating disease that has no cure. But just when we think that we can also add hypochondriac to Barclay’s list of mental problems, it turns out that there really is something wrong with him. They discover some weird microbes on the Yosemite, and then they discover the same microbes in Barclay, and the only way to get them out is using the transporter. Barclay has to face his fear. While in the transporter, he sees the worms again, and for no discernable reason he decides to grab one. When he rematerializes, one of the crewmembers from the Yosemite materializes with him. Apparently the crew of the Yosemite became infected with the same microbes and tried to use the transporter on their ship to get them out, but somehow became trapped in the transporter.

So, if they were trapped in the transporter on the Yosemite, how did they get into the Enterprise’s transporter? And why did they turn into worms? And why did they bite Barclay? And what about Scarecrow’s Brain? Are you beginning to see the kinds of problems that can arise when you routinely disassemble your atoms and broadcast them across outer space? Why was this a good idea again?

4. “Rascals” (TNG)

It’s Jim Henson’s Next Gen Babies! Returning from an away mission, a transporter accident turns Picard, Ensign Ro, Guinan, and Keiko O’Brien into twelve-year-olds (just their bodies that is, their minds remain the same). And just when you think that that’s too outrageous to be believed, the ship is hijacked by Ferengi pirates. The adults turned kids manage to save the day ala “Home Alone” through trickery and their kidly wiles, and in the end Dr. Crusher manages to reverse the process. Unfortunately though, not before a misunderstanding landed Chief O’Brien on the Federation’s sex offender registry. Because of the error he was later forced to transfer to a broken down old Cardassian space station at the ass end of the galaxy.

My question is that once they discovered that the transporter could do this, why did they never do it again? Shouldn’t everyone in the Federation be Immortal right now? This is the fountain of youth here, and yet we never hear about it again. Shouldn’t we be seeing starships staffed with twelve-year-olds, like some sort of bad Stephen Ratliff fic gone amuck?

3. “Second Chances” (TNG)

So in addition to being the fountain of youth, the transporter can also be a cloning machine. In this episode the Enterprise ventures to a planet where some kind of space thing means that they can only use the transporters every eight years. The last time a Federation ship was there was eight years prior, when Riker was part of the evacuation crew and barely got out. So when they beam down imagine their chagrin when they meet Riker’s double, who never got out and has been living on this abandoned base all by himself for the last eight years. They eventually figure out that it was a transporter accident, and that this double is every bit as much Will Riker as our Will Riker is. Except of course he’s been living the last eight years like Robinson Crusoe in space, he has a problem with authority, and he’s still carrying a torch for Troi. Lieutenant Riker however ends up making the same choice that Commander Riker did, choosing his career or his relationship with Deanna, and takes a post on another starship. He changes his name to Thomas, and later he shaves his beard into a goatee, joins the Maquis and steals the Defiant. Talk about overcompensating for a more successful sibling. Maybe he should have changed his name to Garth Knight.

o/'...They're cousins, identical cousins...o/'

This accident more than any other reveals the horrible truth about the transporter. It doesn’t actually transport you, it’s more like a fax machine. It sends your information to another transporter, which creates a copy. The original, meaning you, is then destroyed. So essentially every time you step into the transporter, it’s killing you and creating a clone. Damn, no wonder Barclay (not to mention Doctors McCoy and Pulaski) hate the damn thing so much. I’m beginning to see their point.

2. “Tuvix” (VOY)

This is the exact opposite of what happened to Riker in “Second Chances”. Instead of taking one person and splitting them into two, in this episode the transporter took two people and combined them into one. Apparently it’s just really bad at math. It happened like this; Neelix and Tuvok were on some planet picking flowers (honest) and when they beamed up, only one person materialized. He called himself Tuvix, and he seemed to combine the best qualities of both men. He made a good tactical officer, a good cook, he didn’t have a stick up his ass, and he was only half as annoying as Neelix. The crew warmed up to him pretty quickly, with the exception of Kes who was a little disturbed by watching the mashed together corpses of her boyfriend and mentor walking through the corridors of the ship. The Doctor finally figured out how to separate them, much to Tuvix’s dismay. I guess he wasn’t too keen on being murdered, but they went ahead and did it anyway. Afterwards Neelix and Tuvok both agreed to never talk about the time that they were ‘inside each other’.

1. “Mirror, Mirror” (TOS)

The granddaddy of all transporter accidents, the model to which all other transporter accidents are compared, occurred during possibly the most famous episode of the original series. During a transporter accident, Kirk, Scotty, McCoy and Uhura are beamed aboard an Enterprise in an alternate universe. In this mirror-universe, the Federation has been replaced by the Terran Empire, a brutal totalitarian state. Where they take what they want, destroying any planet that gets in their way, and murdering your superior is the typical mode of advancement. They did make the female crewmembers wear two piece uniforms though, so I guess no universe is all bad. The mirror-universe would later be used in several episodes on Deep Space Nine, where all the female characters made out with each other, and one episode of Enterprise, where Hoshi became empress of the empire. For obvious reasons, these episodes were among the best of both shows.

This episode is also famous for creating the cliché of all evil twins having a goatee, since the mirror-universe Spock had one. Having a goatee myself, I personally find this stereotype to be very offensive. Just because I have a goatee, it doesn’t make me evil. There are so many other valid qualities that I have that make me evil, judge me by those. That’s all I ask.

Goatee = Evil

Honorable Mention: “Relics” (TNG)

This isn’t technically a transporter accident, since it was done on purpose, however it’s pretty cool so I think it bears including. The Enterprise receives a distress call from a transport ship that has been missing for seventy-five years, the USS Jenolan. When they follow the signal they discover a giant sphere, 200 million kilometers in diameter.

“That’s not a moon. Holy shit, it’s the fucking Deathstar!”

No, it’s not the Deathstar, it’s a Dysonsphere. It’s a sphere built to enclose a star, and the Jenolan is crashed on the surface of it. When they beam aboard they find the transporter jerry-rigged to run in a continuous cycle without rematerializing, and there’s still a pattern in the buffer. When the run the materialization routine, guess who it is. Scotty, that’s right! I guess that picture up there is a dead giveaway. Scotty then goes through a little culture shock about the Enterprise-D. He annoys LaForge so much that he kicks him out of Engineering. Then he goes to the holodeck to sit on the bridge of his old ship and get drunk on Ecto-Cooler. In the end, the Enterprise gets pulled into the Dysonsphere and Scotty and LaForge save the day by using the Jenolan to hold the hatch open like a doorstop long enough for the Enterprise to squeeze through. Scotty and LaForge patch up their differences, and Picard decides to give Scotty one of their shuttlecraft to replace the destroyed Jenolan. Which is a bit like giving a retired Army general a tank as a gift, but whatever. Troi also gives Scotty a kiss goodbye, which is odd considering that she had absolutely no interaction with him in the episode at all.


To review, the transporter can also function as a stasis device, a cloning machine, the fountain of youth, a gateway into other dimensions, and Jeff Goldblum’s pod from The Fly. You know what, I think I’ll just take the bus.