Saturday, 17 September 2016

Dilmore Concludes Legacies - and Talks to SKoST!

Ian Kimmins speaks to author Kevin Dilmore.

Kevin Dilmore has worked with co-author Dayton Ward for over 15 years of Star Trek novels we had the pleasure of being able to talk the man himself

His new Star Trek novel Purgatory’s Key the conclusion to the trilogy has just been released and is now available. So I asked him what direction we can expect?

If I were to choose a word to describe our direction for Purgatory’s Key, it would be ‘metaphysical’

And about his working relationship with Dayton Ward his co-author

When dividing our work for this book, I chose to do the first drafts of each chapter that takes place in the unnamed realm beyond our own in which important parts of the story take place.

I got to use the most diverse assortment of characters in those chapters that I’ve ever used, from races we know well, to beings the likes of which we’ve not seen. I also explored relationships among the crew of the Enterprise as well as with persons they love not typically aboard the starship. For me, the characters of Star Trek are family to one another; that’s a theme we got to explore this time around.

It seems as though Kevin and Dayton have a wonderful working relationship and also the pertinent question - how much of a challenge was it to co write the conclusion to the 50th anniversary story?

Each book presents its own challenges to me personally. One challenge I don’t have is in Dayton’s and my processes of co-writing.

We have a shared voice that’s distinct from our separate writing voices, and it’s one we can snap into pretty easily at this point.

Beyond our writing partnership, Dayton’s not only my closest friend, we are practically family. Our goal is to make each of our projects the best story possible but never at the expense of each other or of our friendship. I always enjoy collaborating with him.

Did having worked with the other authors (David Mack and Greg Cox) in this series make the process easier?

Our past work with Dave and Greg certainly contributed to ease in the plotting process. We share a sensibility of what we believe makes a great Star Trek story (we learned that about each other years ago through fun conversations whenever we get together).

I then moved on to his other Star Trek novels (The Vanguard Series) and how they influence his present work. Was it easier to write these earlier books? (since you had the freedom to create a little pocket of your own in the Star Trek universe) or would you prefer to deal primarily with the established crews?

It’s been more than a decade now since Dave and former Star Trek editor Marco Palmieri invited us to contribute to their vision of Star Trek: VanguardAt conventions, Vanguard is cited without fail as being among someone’s favorite Star Trek series of books. 

I remain very happy about my writing for the Vanguard story; I imagine I will regard it among my top accomplishments for the rest of my writing career. I felt no more or less freedom with the characters of Vanguard than I do with those from series produced for the screen because I felt no more or less responsibility to them.

While writing, I have just as much fun working with our Vanguard cast as I do any other characters in Star Trek, including those of the original series—and for me, that is saying something!

And of course, with the excitement building about Star Trek: Discovery, I had to ask about the possibility of Kevin being asked to write a novel from this pre-The Original Series era

Who was it that said, “There are always possibilities”? I have complete confidence that the creative minds behind Star Trek: Discovery will present to us an exciting and intriguing facet of the Star Trek universe, and one I would be happy and flattered to explore in prose. Whether I; or anyone I know is invited to do; so remains to be seen.

Going back to the Golden Age of Star Trek; you used to write for the Communicator magazine; how much fun was it to be involved in that period of Star Trek?

I owe my Star Trek career to Star Trek Communicator publisher Dan Madsen and Editor Larry Nemecek. These two men placed confidence in me to cover everything from the opening of Star Trek: The Experience in Las Vegas to the finale of Star Trek: Deep Space Nine. I had uncounted opportunities to meet and interview Star Trek’s writers, visual artists, crew and cast, including a few people for whom I was their first journalistic interview. I made so many friends through the Communicator, such as the contributing writers of the Strange New Worlds anthologies published by Pocket Books, including Dayton, we met when I interviewed him about his short story in the first volume of the series.

Fun is a vast understatement!

And lastly, I asked Kevin what he had in store for the rest of 2016/2017 whether Star Trek related or not.
Looking ahead in 2016, I have a couple of children’s books to be published by Hallmark Gift Books. Dayton and I wrote a story for issue #2 of Star Trek Way-point, heading to news-stands in November from Comics. I stay pretty active co-hosting Pop Minded, a weekly YouTube series on the Hallmark and Community channel. Watch my Facebook  page for more updates.

A true pleasure it was to speak to such a talented and thoroughly nice man. Kevin’s books are available on all formats and I would highly recommend that you indulge yourself in some excellent Star Trek storytelling.

Thanks again to Kevin Dilmore for speaking to us!

Star Trek: Legacies 3; Purgatory's Key'is available from Simon and Schuster ISBN 9781501122774.

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Monday, 12 September 2016

Core Concerns in Embracing the Winds

The second episode this year from Star Trek Continues plunges us into very topical territory.

Tiff Groves steps in to helm her first review of the superb fan series and beware there are SPOILERS ahead.

However It is a sad fact that there is something of a state of flux within the corporate world of Star Trek at present and it is not of this series' making.

Exec producer and Kirk actor Vic Mignogna has addressed his concerns on the website and blog and like all non-profit Star Trek projects, he is awaiting clarification on the guidelines for the future of his work. If things remain the same this could well be the last episode of Continues to be made.

So to the seventh episode of the series; Embracing the Winds is a dialogue driven episode, and an opportunity for writers, Mignogna and James Kerwin to explore the nature of how prejudice affects important decisions.

OK, bit of background first on this one. The entire crew of the USS Hood, is found dead and adrift in their ship (the life-support system having failed under mysterious circumstances which are never really explained). The Enterprise is recalled for two reasons with the first being a salvage operation to bring back one of the seven remaining Constitution Class starships.

In the light of this tragedy, Starfleet command must decide on who is suitable to take over the now captain-less ship which leads to the second reason.

We are then introduced to the first of two guest stars, Commodore Gray played by Erin Gray (Buck Rogers/Baywatch) who reprises her role briefly seen in the last episode and this time plays a much more prominent part of the narrative rather than just being a face on a screen.

Gray has already selected two candidates for the captaincy of the now crew and captain-less USS Hood; Mr Spock, who has been earmarked for promotion for some time, and Commander Diane Garrett, played by Clare Kramer (most well known as Glory during the fifth season of Buffy the Vampire Slayer).

Although keen to promote the first female officer to captain a Constitution Class starship, delicacies of diplomacy are involved especially adhering to Tellarite traditions and their male dominated society. Gray is loathe to commit and would rather Spock be placed in command however he and Kirk (initially) believe that Garrett with her extensive commendations and experience would make the better commander.

Garrett forces Gray's hand however and the decision on the assignment is to be made by a panel of three senior officers, including Gray, Vulcan Admiral Stom and Kirk himself. Despite accusations by Garrett that gender bias has always affected her career, it soon becomes clear that competency and suitability are arguably more essential concerns.

Mignogna has found his feet I think, displaying a more understated homage to The Original Series and letting the narrative of the script and its timeliness lead the way.

Overall it is a statement about the nature of prejudice, and whether it is even possible to avoid our own ‘inner prejudices’ when asked to make decisions. But the script does delve deeper and creates a riveting debate about gender bias and matters of competency in juxtaposition to desire.

There is much to admire about Star Trek Continues and their devotion to their craft, but I think this episode particularly will stand out in the future as courageous effort. Far from being a nostalgia trip or crowd pleaser that we have experienced so far with episodes such as Fairest of them All and Pilgrim of Eternity for example, the story is intimate and fully intended to be thought provoking.

There are definitely parallels with this story and what is happening right now in our world, certainly there is an air of uncertainty about the future direction of all Star Trek.

But also in this age where ‘diversity’ is the buzz phrase of the day, it takes head on accusations of gender bias being the decisive factor in female promotion, but also analyses the counter arguments accordingly.

Above all it actually makes us ask ourselves ‘what would we decide?’

That being said, amongst the relative ‘heaviness’ of the storyline there is still a parallel plot filled with exciting peril involving Scotty (Christopher Doohan) and a critically overloading warp core! It's a secondary part to the story with the Enterprise sans Kirk and Spock retrieving the Hood and does allow the engineer a much larger chunk of the episode than he has been granted before. Doohan definitely manages the scenes using that super-accurate new (for episode six) Engineering section. While not on the Hood, Chekov is given more meaty material to work with in the episode and his closing payoff is both a wonderful tribute to the character and explores the "continuing" nature of the show.

These are the ever growing strengths of Star Trek Continues; the stories feel genuine yet still leave room for traditional franchise adventurism.

The supporting cast are as ever, devoted and able, and more important than perhaps some people realize.

Cat Roberts (who was guest host on the sixth episode of our podcast) dutifully served as Lt Elizabeth Palmer and Michelle Specht as Counsellor McKennah, shares a wonderful dialogue with Spock in one key scene.

By having such an active ‘background’ of extras the production always benefits by looking more authentic. The only tragedy with both these two wonderful female actors and with Grant Imahara's Sulu is that they are given very little to work with in comparison to more recent stories. Chuck Huber's McCoy is AWOL right until the very end of Embracing the Wing and his sudden return does make you wonder where he's been for the last 40 minutes.

The Galileo Shuttle features greatly in the first act which will please many and the visual effects of the Enterprise and the Hood are just superb. It may not be ‘Hollywood’ but the SFX team must be very dedicated to create such convincing work.

The real heart of this episode though has to be Clare Kramer as Commander Garrett. Embracing the Wind because it is very much her story as both a woman in a seemingly male dominated environment plus having to overcome personal issues that have blemished her otherwise exemplary career. Having Spock even agree that she is the better candidate adds significant weight to the argument that Garrett is, logically, the best choice for the job.

Kramer gets a lot of the substance within Continues has always challenged preconceptions and controversial subjects much as The Original Series was intended to do under the guidance of Gene Roddenberry. Gender equality exists right now in our time and the focus here will remind you of its presence not only now but also within that fictional world of The Original Series. Just remember how many yeomen Kirk went through in the first couple of seasons or how many strong female characters were in senior Starfleet positions  and you'll see just how close to the bone the discussion Mignogna and Kerwin raise actually is. It may well be one of the best social commentaries on Star Trek we've ever had.

Kramer is utterly believable and her scenes with Todd Haberkorn (Spock), Mignogna and Grat especially are the best of the episode. It's tightly shot and the courtroom environment really helps to focus that section of the story. Balancing against the salvage operation means the episode retains a good pace and keeps your interest all the way; 43 minutes just flash by.

The closing dialogue of the episode is filled with hope and drive (and the mention of the possibility that one day a woman - and a Garrett - may captain a ship named Enterprise?) 

I hope that Star Trek Continues indeed, continues on and completes the episodes it plans to make.

Whatever happens in the future the entire cast and crew can be very proud of what they have created in what on the surface appears a very straight forward episode but in fact has a much deeper story to tell.

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Sunday, 11 September 2016

Another Five Years Done: IDW Issue 59 and 60

And so here we are - the final adventure of IDW's extremely successful ongoing series with Ian Kimmins taking a look at this seminal story.

Connection kicks off with both Captain Kirks waking up in their quarters. Yes it's a good old fashioned characters swapping universe stories!

Kelvin Kirk wakes up in The Original Series' Kirks quarters and vice versa. As the story progresses we get to find out a bit more why this has happened plus we get to see two more crew members swapped out. One of these is purely for fun and is excellently done. 

Mike Johnson does an absolutely awesome job with the characters voices. Both Pine and Shatner's Kirks are spot one here. Little details such as Shatner's pausing and emphasis on words brings you into the story more. 

All the other characters are very well written and there are little nods to each universe. 

Special mention must go to Tony Shasteen for this issue as he had to use a split page to tell the story but it never feels forced or squashed in. Both the Prime and Kelvin versions are very well done and it is up there with some of his best work. 

Connections, Part Two begins in the engine room of both Enterprises with Scotty, Spock and Kirk examining the probe that the starships had launched at the end of the last issue. Spock deducts from the probe that they are transferring to an alternate reality. 

But as he and Scotty try to figure out how to stop this they are transferred to the other Enterprise. Uhura is the one that figures out the anomaly is actually a trapped life form that is trying to escape and is causing both Enterprises to combine into one. The Enterprise crew realise that a matter/antimatter explosion will free the creature and allow the ship(s) to return to normal. 

Normally this is where most Star Trek stories end but we get a nice tribute as both Kirk's are able to review each others logs due to the partial merge. Here we get to see that while both Kirk's are different at the core they share the same commitment & conviction to the ongoing mission. 

As this series ends on issue 60 we get a nice symmetry with the Enterprise crew ending their five year mission (five years x 12 issues = 60). 

I can't wait for the folks at IDW to take the reigns on the next series. Until then enjoy the down time until we are ready to Boldly Go.....

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Thursday, 8 September 2016

The Podcast Episode Eight

Welcome to our 50th Anniversary Toskars! 

Join us for 80 minutes of near chaos as we check out the latest news from The Official Starships Collection before heading out to the biggest awards show of the season. 

For those who want a heads up, here are the categories and you can find out who won each by tuning in right now either via Soundcloud or over on iTunes! Don't forget to drop us a review and let us know what you think!!! 

Best Actor

Leonard Nimoy - Spock (TOS)
Patrick Stewart - Picard (TNG)
Brent Spiner - Data (TNG)
Avery Brooks - Sisko (DS9)
Robert Picardo - The Doctor (VGR)

Best Actress

Nichelle Nichols - Uhura (TOS)
Gates McFadden - Beverly Crusher (TNG)
Whoopi Goldberg - Guinan (TNG)
Nana Visitor - Kira (DS9)
Kate Mulgrew - Janeway (VGR)

Best Red Shirt Death (TOS)

Hendorff killed by plant – The Apple
Matthews pushed off cliff by Ruk - What Are Little Girls Made Of?
Leslie Thompson transformed and crushed by Rojan – By Any Other Name
Four vapourised by Nomad -The Changeling
Ensign Wyatt killed by Losira – That Which Survives

Best Musical Moment

Beastie Boys - "Sabotage" – Star Trek Beyond
Steppenwolf - "Magic Carpet Ride" – Star Trek First Contact
"Hate You" - Star Trek IV: The Voyage Home
Q’s Mariachi Band – Deja Q (TNG)
"Someone to Watch Over Me" – Someone to Watch Over Me (VGR)

Best Soliloquy

Sisko’s final words – A Call to Arms (DS9)
The Picard Speech – The Measure of a Man (TNG)
Kirk – Risk is our Business - Return to Tomorrow (TOS)
Janeway – Chewing out Tuvok for disobeying orders - Resolutions (VGR)
Archer – final speech - Terra Prime (ENT)

Best “One Episode” Character

The Conspiracy aliens - Conspiracy (TNG)
Horta - Devil in the Dark (TOS)
Tosk - Captive Pursuit (DS9)
The Swarm - The Swarm (VGR)
Annorax - Year of Hell (VGR)

Most Ridiculous Alien Species

The Wadi - Move Along Home (DS9)
Alien guy in the bar - Star Trek III: The Search for Spock
The Lethean - Distant Voices (DS9)
Sylvia and Koros - Catspaw (TOS)
Korvan Gilvos - New Ground (TNG)

Best Space Battle

Losing the station - A Call to Arms (DS9)
Retaking the station - Sacrifice of Angels (DS9)
Voyager versus the Borg - Endgame (VGR)
Enterprise versus the Xindi - Azati Prime (ENT)
Mutara Nebula - Star Trek II: The Wrath of Khan

Best Hand to Hand Fight

Kirk vs Gorn - Arena (TOS)
Kirk vs Khan – Space Seed (TOS)
Kirk vs Soran - Star Trek Generations
Worf vs Gowron - Apocalypse Rising (DS9)
Worf vs Gowron - Tacking into the Wind (DS9)

Best Q Moment

The Q Speech/Picard begging - Q Who (TNG)
“The trial never ends” - All Good Things… (TNG)
In bed with Picard - Tapestry (TNG)
Q allows Quinn to die - Deathwish (VGR)
Q Celebrates his return to immortality – Deja Q (TNG)

Best Trek Actor in a Non Trek Role

Patrick Stewart In American Dad
Brent Spiner in Outcast
Jonathan Frakes voices Adventure Time
Dwight Schultz as Howling Mad Murdoch in The A-Team
Alexander Siddig in absolutely anything he's in/Game of Thrones

Most Impressive Federation Ship

USS Enterprise NCC-1701
USS Defiant NX-74205
USS Enterprise NCC-1701-D
USS Voyager NCC-74656
USS Prometheus NX-74913

Best Alien Ship

Borg Cube
Klingon Bird of Prey (movies onwards)
Romulan Warbird
Krenim Timeship
Jem’Hadar Fighter

Best Holographic Character

The Doctor (VGR)
Moriarty (TNG)
Vic Fontaine (DS9)
Leonardo da Vinci (Scorpion VGR)
Quark’s Head on Kira (Meridian DS9)

Best Make-Up

Jem’Hadar (DS9)
Borg Queen/The Borg Star Trek First Contact
Spock (TOS)
Martok (from In Purgatory's Shadow DS9)
Odo tortured; The Die is Cast (DS9)

Data’s Greatest Moment

Ode to Spot - Schisms
Escaping the Enterprise - Brothers
Creating Lal - The Offspring
Becomes every character on the Holodeck - A Fistful of Datas
Being fully-functional - The Naked Now

Best Prop EVER(non-starship)

Combadge - TNG, DS9, VGR
Genesis Device - Star Trek II: The Wrath of Khan
Mobile Holoemitter - VGR
Tricorder - all series

Worst Tactical Decision

Janeways decision to enter Krenim Space - Year of Hell (VGR)
Kirk swings the Enterprise sideways during the Mutara Nebula battle (Star Trek II: The Wrath of Khan)
Janeway destroys the Caretaker array - Caretaker (VGR)
Tasha attempts to walk around Armus - Skin of Evil (TNG)
Wolf 359 - The Best of Both Worlds, Part II (TNG)

Worst Outfit (CLIVE)

Riker, Angel One (TNG)
Chekov’s Page Boy collar - Star Trek III: The Search for Spock
Crew leisure attire for Neelix’s holodeck resort (VGR)
Quark’s female outfit - Profit and Lace (DS9)
Troi’s button-down season one uniform (TNG)

Worst Facial Hair

Sisko’s fake beard - Explorers (DS9)
Borg reality Riker - Parallels (TNG)
Lazarus - The Alternative Factor (TOS)
Soval - In a Mirror Darkly, Part II (ENT)
Neelix (VGR)

Silliest Prop 

The Dick Rock - What Are Little Girls Made Of? (TOS)
Ferengi Laser Whip - The Last Outpost (TNG)
Data’s console in Generations’ Stellar Cartography (Star Trek Generations)
The masks - Masks (TNG)
Spock’s jet boots - Star Trek V: The Final Frontier

Worst Chat Up Line aka The Riker Trophy

"Start at the top…"; Brenna - Up the Long Ladder (TNG)
"Please sit and entertain me..."; Khan - Space Seed (TNG)
"What’s a knock out like you doing in a computer generated gin-joint like this?"; Riker - 11001001 (TNG)
"Oh no, stay a while. Didn’t your auntie tell you that it’s impolite to leave without playing a game of rings?"; Michael – Fair Haven (VGR)
"And you know I provide the most memorable desserts"; Carmen – Silicon Avatar (TNG)

Worst Hand to Hand Fight

Lazarus vs Lazarus – The Alternative Factor (TOS)
Kirk vs Kruge - Star Trek III: The Search for Spock
Sisko vs Dukat - What You Leave Behind (DS9)
Kirk vs Andorian – Journey to Babel (TOS)
Kirk vs Finnegan – Shore Leave (TOS)

Worst Holographic Character

Fair Haven (VGR)
The Comic – The Outrageous Okona (TNG)
Flotter - Once Upon a Time (VGR)
Sandrines (VGR)
Neelix’s resort (VGR)

Worst Episode

Once Upon a Time (VGR)
Shades of Grey (TNG)
Threshold (VGR)
And the Children Shall Lead (TOS)
Profit and Lace (DS9)

Play along and see if you can guess which contenders our judging panel picked for each category! Have a listen and rate us on your chosen platform!

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Our Top 50

So we made it! September 8th 2016.
Now for the past (almost) four years I have ardently avoided those "top" list because, well, I just have - but with this being the 50th year I felt the time was right to finally do something along those lines. If I don't do it now, I probably never will.
Let me present our Some Kind of Star Trek Top 50 Episodes of All Time starting at the bottom with...

50. Similitude

An incredibly personal episode that takes Star Trek back to its core and asks one of the most uncomfortable questions the franchise had asked for decades - could you kill to save another life? Connor Trinneer's greatest single Star Trek performance as the clone Sim.

49. Let That Be Your Last Battlefield

Frank Gorshin leaves the Riddler behind to tackle racism right on your doorstep. Like Similitude it doesn't shy away from the killer issue of the day and showed that Star Trek was still capable of saying what had to be said in its final, cheaper season.

48. Remember Me

If remembered for nothing more than the classic Beverly line; "If there's nothing wrong with the me there must be something wrong with the universe.". Remember Me offered the Dancing Doctor a rare chance to shine and carry a great story where you really don't know where everyone's going.

47. Yesteryear

Our only animated instalment in the Top 50 and certainly worthy of its place. Returning to the Guardian of Forever this Spock tale would influence many aspects of Vulcan society for decades to come in both the Prime and Kelvin universes. It proved that even a "kids cartoon" could raise a tear.

46. In Purgatory's Shadow/

By Inferno's Light

A true game-changer within a show that was all about changing the balance week in and week out. What's not to love about the return of Martok, the Breen, Worf versus the Jem'Hadar, Dukat changing with the direction of the wind (again) and the shock horror that Bashir on the station is a Changeling?! So much packed into what was one of the most even two-part stories ever.

45. Counterpoint

The musical score is enough to win it a place but you have to applaud the duel of words and minds between Janeway and the alien commander as he hunts for "illegal telepaths". With very obvious parallels to the plight of the millions during the Second World War, there is true terror and fear throughout the story and you just never know who to trust and for how long.

44. The Trouble with Tribbles

"This is my chicken sandwich and coffee." is just one of the lines you don't expect from an episode so great they did it again 30 years later. Tribbles have etched themselves firmly into not just Trekkies' affections but the hearts of geeks across the world and fandoms. There are so many great scenes that make it a great overall package realised from David Gerrold's script.

43. Conspiracy

Season one The Next Generation was never better. Aliens meets Star Trek in one of the most graphic stories ever filmed and one that deserved a sequel that never happened. For a moment you genuinely hope that this might have kicked off a recurring storyline since there were hints earlier in the year. Sadly that would never come to pass.

42. Timeless

Voyager is on ice and Harry gets a decent script that also allows Chakotay time to shine. The 100th episode of the show loaded all the guns and fired a big salvo across the franchise with some stunning CG and lots of time travel elements it showed that Voyager was best when it threw everything in and did its own thing.

41. Azati Prime

The third season Xindi arc of Enterprise is something that you either love or hate. Budget Dominion perhaps but this episode threw everything into disarray. Leading into this story there was a real sense that it was all about to come to a head however by the end you have zero belief that the mission could be a success as the NX-01 spins off into the unknown heavily damaged and Archer is captured. The show's most under-rated episode? Yes. Fact.

40. Family

Enterprise tried something similar with Home but came up light years short. Finally we got to see that events had repercussions and there wasn't a simple reset button before the next episode began. The Best of Both Worlds would continue to echo through many aspects of Star Trek but in Family Picard was never more human. Perhaps only Chain of Command would break him more.

39. Year of Hell

Despite that reset button getting punched this offers the only real chance to see what Voyager should have done - had the ship gradually degrading as the journey continued rather than being in virtually pristine condition each week (but budgets etc etc...). The Krenim Timeship is a beast of a weapon and commanded by one of the best opponents Voyager ever had to face in the geek-nod named Annorax. Time's up.

38. Distant Origin

Not perhaps one for anyone who is a strong believer in the Genesis process of creation it was a different spin to see a good portion of the episode from the perspective of the aliens rather than the Voyager crew. Gegen's beliefs are paralleled to those of Galileo as is his persecution and fall from grace. For Voyager it was certainly unusual to tackle such a massive subject but spinning it from the Voth side again showed the series' panache for the unusual.

37. Devil in the Dark

Reportedly William Shatner's favourite episode it will always be known as the one with the Horta. The silicon-based lifeform showed the potential for Star Trek early on without the reliance on actors dressed up as aliens every week. Spock's mindmeld and McCoy's solution to the Horta are brilliant sparks of storytelling that are still Grade A today.

36. Endgame

The first of three finales in our selection, the last episode of Voyager brought the Borg, time travel and a glimpse of a possible future all to the table. It could only end one way - with the return of the ship to the Alpha Quadrant - but just what leads to that point and the resolutions that are also included here make it a very well rounded package. Shame they didn't make it home a bit quicker than the end titles however as that might have boosted its ranking.

35. Twilight

Ceti Alpha V pops up again although a memory-handicapped Archer doesn't remember exactly what's going on. Another story that lifts the lid on potential future events if the Xindi succeeded in destroying Earth it doesn't rely too heavily on the season arc to focus on the captain and his predicament. A lovely touching story that was a subtle break from the oncoming Xindi armageddon.

34. Equinox

A magnificent "What if..." story that used Voyager's ability to do "concept" better than any other series. Introducing the Nova Class starship we got to see how the show might have evolved if Janeway had ditched the rules and focused on getting back at any cost. A sublime, evenly-paced two-part story where there was some fallout at the end. However in true Voyager style the use of the remaining Equinox crew was sadly lacking thereafter.

33. Past Tense

A very out of water Deep Space Nine story where the station is nowhere to be seen for the full 90 minutes except for the title sequence. Trapped in the 21st Century, Sisko grows a pair and shows the first signs that he could be a true force to be reckoned with. Goatee and shaved head were put on order for the end of the season. The name's Bell...Gabriel Bell.

32. The Measure of a Man

The "Picard Speech" is a true Star Trek classic of monolithic proportions but for me it's the big moment in a courtroom drama episode hence it's not further up the list. It is brilliant and both Stewart and Frakes are magnificent as defence and prosecution to decide Data's fate. Like Conspiracy it highlighted just how strong the cast of the fledgling series were when they were allowed to do exceptional character stories.

31. Space Seed

Fifteen years before Shatner would be screaming his name, Ricardo Montalban was woken up on the Botany Bay and set about making one of the series' most revered bad guys. It's not as good as the subsequent movie but who can argue with a show where the guest chews out every scene he's in and then some. Sitting and entertaining him: optional.

30. The Way of the Warrior

With the Changelings everywhere as related to Odo in The Adversary, tensions are high and paranoia comes as standard in the opener to season four of Deep Space Nine. Worf's arrival might not seem like it's too welcome or necessary but you'd soon be wondering why he'd been wasted on the Enterprise for the past three years of the show. A clear game-changer that may well have saved the show and allowed the series to truly forge its own path.

29. Q Who

The omnipotent alien might get the episode title and be the cause of the Enterprise's arrival in sector J-25 but the arrival of the Borg and their geometrically perfect craft was a chill that I still enjoy to this day and has De Lancie attending only to bookend events. Had Maurice Hurley remained they may have evolved very differently but here we get to see their raw malevolence and relentlessness. Q's speech to Picard at the end is very telling indeed.

28. Cause and Effect

Effectively a 15 minute story retold many times, it's the refreshing way each cycle is retold and the gradual realisation through each repeat that something isn't quite right that make this episode a classic. The appearance of the Bozeman and just how long they've been in the loop is a bitter sweet conclusion.

27. In a Mirror, Darkly

While Deep Space Nine did the most with the Mirror Universe - and ultimately messed it up, Enterprise stepped completely into that parallel existence even down to a reworked title sequence. Prequelling Mirror, Mirror and sequelling The Tholian Web, it's as near a homage to The Original Series as you could get with a uniquely dark perspective on the main characters. Great shame that we never got a fifth season to see the aftermath.

26. Children of Time

The crew of Defiant populate a world in the past when there's no chance to get home. Heavy on character and especially the relationship between Odo and Kira, Children of Time slows the pace but doesn't hinder the final sucker punch of the episode. Well written, well acted and a great story.

25. The Pegasus

Conflict? In The Next Generation? That would never have happened under Roddenberry but in the later years there were some electrically charged moments. The Pegasus revisited a huge elephant in the room around cloaking technology and put Picard at loggerheads with his first officer. The arrival of Riker's former CO, Admiral Pressman just adds fuel to the fire as his loyalties are tested to breaking point.

24. Arena

Kirk versus Gorn - the ultimate one on one fist fight in what is actually a very ABC episode if you really look at it. Indeed, that's just what makes it such a classic as well as the captain's ability to talk down yet another alien race. As for the fight - it's either pure genius or total hokum but still works. Bizarrely.

23. Tapestry

Q in bed with Picard, the captain just a science officer on the Enterprise and Nausicaans playing dom-jot all crammed into an hour of TV. Yet another brilliant "what if" episode that explores an incident we'd already heard of back in Samaritan Snare from season two. There's more than a hint of It's a Wonderful Life here although whether the Enterprise is better off without Picard as captain is never truly explained...(!)

22. What You Leave Behind

Second of three finales in the SKoST list and one that has the most to tie up of any of the series closers. Perhaps also the saddest of all of them given the finality of the story and the nature of Deep Space Nine itself however it's brilliant from start to finish and everyone gets a moment. A final episode that really does close the book and satisfies every arc. Sniff...

21. Blink of an Eye

One world and hundreds of lifetimes in just 42 minutes. Blink of an Eye is a generational story that explores not just the history of one world but its obsession with the "Sky Ship" and their near-religious devotion to the dot in the sky which has been there for millennia. A concept that does nod to a certain The Original Series episode through that title and remains an enthralling watch.

20. Living Witness

Another Voyager entry and another one which pushed the boundaries of the show past it's "planet/phenomenon of the week" standard that tended to creep back in on occasion. The nearest we got to a Mirror Universe Voyager episode, it's incredibly bleak even when the truth outs. Certainly a moral tale on history being misinterpreted and retold by the winners. Does the Doctor really have a backup? After this you won't care.

19. Hard Time

Ah Miles, you do get the worst of the worst. After Tribunal and Visionary he was probably due a holiday but then we get Hard Time. O'Brien's super-condensed prison sentence nearly wrecks his life in every sense and you believe every second of it thanks to Colm Meaney's sublime performance in what has to be his best episode of the franchise without question.

18. Call to Arms

How many times do I hark on about this one? Sisko, Dukat, baseball. The captain's speech which brings us back to Emissary and his original reluctance to stay is touching, the decision to give up the station is unprecedented in Star Trek but those last few minutes are some of the most dramatic and edge-of-seat thrills ever. The fleet assembles, Dukat is back in his office and the galaxy has gone to pot...

17. The Tholian Web

Star Trek without Kirk and it works just as effectively. A rare highlight of the final season, it includes one of The Original Series finest villains (whom we would only get to see again in Enterprise) cause havoc for the crew as they attempt to retrieve their captain when the USS Defiant disappears into a rift. Spock and McCoy putting aside their differences and later full out lying to a recovered Kirk that they viewed his final orders is priceless.

16. Duet

Copied by Waltz but never, ever bettered. Harris Yulin and Nana Visitor nail it to the wall in every scene and made sure that Deep Space Nine would be remembered even at this early stage in its life when the first season had been such an uneven journey. There's a spark in this episode that sizzles and crackles between the two leads every time you watch it - and you can watch it a lot.

15. Mirror, Mirror

Amazing how one goatee can influence generations and indicate an "evil" version of a character. While there were sequels - and a prequel - nothing comes close to knock this as the best of the Mirror Universe episodes and a bona fide Star Trek classic. Aside from Spock there's the sadistic, scar-faced Sulu and the slimy Chekov to contend with as Kirk, McCoy, Scotty and Uhura tackle the ISS Enterprise...

14. Relics

Complete with a retro transporter sound we welcomed back Scotty. The story is fairly basic around the Dyson Sphere but it's all about the former Chief Engineer, his place out of time, his memories and that scene on the holodeck that would bring even a fledgling fan close to tears. The best The Original Series crossover done to an exceptional and heartwarming level and still the only Star Trek episode I've ever watched twice in one day.

13. Trials and Tribble-ations

Talking of crossovers, where Flashback failed, this one succeeded in spades. Compositing footage from 1996 and 1966, Deep Space Nine went back in time to interact with Kirk and crew for this 30th anniversary show. Every scene on K-7 and the Enterprise is brilliantly staged but as for favourites check out the post-fight lineup and Sisko and Dax throwing Tribbles on Kirk as they search for Arne Darvin's bomb.

12. For the Uniform

Sisko turns badass and takes out his frustrations on a punchbag and then later on a whole planet when Eddington comes back to torment him. Shades of The Wrath of Khan in here as we go man-to-man but while you might expect Starfleet captains to be all diplomatic, Sisko has a whole different way of dealing with things. The episode that forged a whole new way for the captain and cemented him as one never to be crossed. More to come on that...

11. Amok Time

Amazing to think that this was such an early episode in the big scheme of things but yet told us so much about the Vulcan culture. Containing a musical score that has been used and used and used in more shows than I care to recall, Amok Time showed the series really could go to exciting alien worlds and be more than a phaser fight. It all makes good sense and all of what we learn here is still applicable to the franchise 50 years later.

10. The Doomsday Machine

William Windom is absolutely on the edge of sanity thanks to the destruction of his ship at the hands of the titular nemesis. For the first time there's a sense that there may be no way to win against such a thing. Shatner's performance is particularly commanding here which only enhances the madness of Commodore Decker and the belief that he has failed as a captain.

9. The Inner Light

Guaranteed a place in any "best of..." list it has a similar note to Hard Time in the life-in-a-flash-of-reality spin but while that has darker tones, The Inner Light is a personal story for Picard where he can see the possibility of enjoying a life as a family man with everything he can never really have as the captain of the USS Enterprise. Guarantee there's not a dry eye in the house for the final two minutes.

8. The City on the Edge of Forever

Without doubt The Original Series' greatest but in this list not the number one episode. Kirk and Keeler are a mesmerising couple and, like The Inner Light it's a chance for the captain to see what could be if he stepped off the bridge of the Enterprise and took a different path. "Edith Keeler must die." announces Spock and by god do we know about it.

7. Darmok

The late Paul Winfield is buried under layers of makeup and gives a landmark performance as Captain Dathon. Language is a boundary but he and Picard finally work out their differences to combat the Beast at El-Adrel and forge a new future for relations between their two peoples. One of those stories that gets quoted all the time; Darmok and Jilad at Tanagra. Picard's cool new jacket debuted here but that's not quite as important...

6. The Best of Both Worlds

Probably the story with the biggest single impact in the history of Star Trek. Returning the Borg in the best two-part story of all time, it has both an A and B story that are just as interesting as each other and explored as they could possibly be. The last beat of part one continues to leave a lump in the throat to this day. Life as you know it is over. Resistance is futile, Number One.

5. Yesterday's Enterprise

Yar is back in the most believable of her returns post-Skin of Evil. Seeing the Enterprise-C was a massive highlight of the show as well as the impact that its removal from the original timeline had on the Enterprise-D and her crew. A true masterpiece of the series that had so many writing credits they filled the screen. Still a triumph over 25 years after it first aired.

4. The Visitor

Personally an episode that had the emotional impact of a sledgehammer and eclipsed anything I'd felt during The Inner Light. Tony Todd and Cirroc Lofton are superb at every step as the obsession to save Captain Sisko takes precedence over every aspect of Jake's life leaving him alone in his home waiting for the last chance to rectify the past. While the chance to see the crew of Deep Space Nine as possible future versions is a wonderful tease, the show is utterly stolen by Todd and Lofton. Exemplary.

3. Far Beyond the Stars

When Star Trek made a statement it made a statement and in this episode we hark right back to the things that made the show great. While there is a story in there about the Prophets contacting Sisko and a chance for the cast to act without their usual uniforms or alien makeups, it's the underlying tale of 1950's American racism that's the real gut blow here. The wrongdoings are deep and raw with the ending truly tragic.

2. All Good Things...

The first and best real glimpse into the "future" of the franchise came in this, the finale to The Next Generation. A triumph in itself, All Good Things... marked a high point of the show concluding under its own steam after seven years rather than being cancelled after just three as had happened with its illustrious and legendary predecessor. Joining the three time periods together and wrapping the series up by returning, in some form, to the heady days of the pilot would be something repeated in both What You Leave Behind and Endgame. Stewart is in every scene of the full 90 minutes and puts in a masterful performance to hold the show in place for one final adventure.

1. In the Pale Moonlight

A controversial choice for our top episode and not everyone agreed. In the Pale Moonlight, some would argue, is perhaps not even a "proper" Star Trek episode since it deals with the lead character lying, cheating, deceiving and ultimately being an accessory to murder in order to bring the Romulans into the Dominion War with the cheery assistance of Garak. Sisko had a few episodes before this which indicated the darker path the character was taking in comparison to Picard and Kirk but we couldn't have expected this. Can the captain live with it? He thinks so. Computer; erase that entire personal log.

So that's our 50 for 50! Hope you've enjoyed the run through and that there are some surprises in there - if not the episodes then the order we've placed them in!

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