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Reviews: ‘Mandalorian’ Chapters 1 through 4

In my effort to get caught up on The Mandalorian before new content buries me (whatever it is and whenever it arrives; many TV show schedules are still very uncertain with all the COVID-19 shooting delays), I’ve posted reviews for the first four episodes of the first season. These follow the shorter format established in my reviews of much of the second season. The last four reviews of season 1 will be posted at a later date.

Overall, I’m more bullish on season 2 of The Mandalorian (with its forward movement of storylines and tie-ins with the larger Star Wars universe and its bringing together of characters) than on season 1, which was good and entertaining, but with a much looser (and sometimes repetitive) overall narrative structure.

Anyway, here they are. More to come.

Read the reviews here…

Great content. No business model.

This site has always been a hobby. A “labor of love” as the cliche goes. It’s not a business, even though I have to report what meager earnings I make to the IRS, paid in the form of self-employment taxes. If this were a business, it would be a failing one. There’d be no way I could pay myself for my time. But that’s not why I’m doing this.

But that also doesn’t mean I’m against making money. Not at all.

My attempts to monetize Jammer’s Reviews have been minimal, to the point that I wonder if I’m stupidly leaving money on the table. (Probably not that much; my audience isn’t actually that big.) But my revenue-generation efforts have existed in their minimal form for a long time. I’ve had Google AdSense on the site for many years, and back in the day I used to be in the Amazon affiliate program — before it was discontinued years ago in my state because of Amazon’s then-refusal to collect state sales taxes. (It has since been restored, which was itself a number of years ago, but I never bothered to take up the program again. Earnings there also had always been meager.) (Read more…)

‘Discovery’ season finale: That hope has bid adieu

Discovery‘s third-season finale is an episode that alternates excessive, choppy, overwrought, and interminable action sequences with a Trekkian plot that would be perfectly fine if not for all the arbitrary technobabble and junk-science extras that are bolted onto it to explain other things. This is a mess for 50 minutes, and then exceedingly tidy for 10.

This is also an episode that cements (although it was pretty clear by the time "Su’Kal" got here) that this season is barely about anything it seemed to be when it started. The season started as "Rebuild the Fallen Federation!" (The cover art had Burnham holding a tattered Federation flag on a barren planet.) But then a few episodes later, in "Die Trying" (the season’s best episode) it became "Rediscover the Current Diminished Federation!" Now, at the end of the season, it’s "Kill Osyraa!" The season gradually went from potentially grand to painfully reductive and unambitious.

Read the full review…

Die Hard with a Burnham

"There Is a Tide" tries to do what should’ve been done many episodes ago: some world-building within this century. It may be too little, too late, but I guess I’d rather see it attempted rather than not seeing it at all.

After having exploited Tilly’s tactical weaknesses and seizing Discovery, Osyraa takes the ship back to Starfleet Headquarters, where she uses the subterfuge to get inside the base’s shield perimeter where she demands … an audience for peaceful negotiation. I admit I did not see that coming. Turns out there’s more to Osyraa than previous episodes — in which she, say, fed her nephew to giant worms — had indicated. She wants to form an alliance between the Federation and the Emerald Chain, providing a new economic model for the Federation through its mercantiles in exchange for access to Discovery‘s spore drive, which she believes the Emerald Chain has the scientific resources to reverse-engineer and mass produce. This could be a benefit for the entire galaxy, possibly solving a lot of problems posed by everyone’s dilithium shortage.

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‘Su’Kal’: Burned by the Burn

"Su’Kal" would be a reasonably okay sci-fi story in the standalone tradition of Star Trek if the circumstances were different. This is an alien contact within a holographic simulation that has some things to recommend, including notable atmosphere and characters trying to use psychology and storytelling to communicate with someone who has endured a lifetime of isolation. The problem is, this is tied into the season’s central mystery of the Burn in a way that’s crushingly disappointing. (At least, so far. Specifics are not yet revealed, although I can’t imagine any technobabble explanation could salvage this general idea.)

I’m reminded of DS9‘s "Extreme Measures," in which a big piece of the fate of the Dominion War was riding on a virtual-reality probe to explore the mind of Section 31 operative Sloan, but the device was mostly used as an excuse to give O’Brien and Bashir one last buddy adventure. The idea of one last buddy adventure was fine, but the vehicle was inappropriate and the timing was terrible.

Read the full review…

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