‘Strange New Worlds’ goes full-on ‘Alien’

On the eve of Uhura’s cadet assignment ending and her announced intention to return to Earth rather than stay aboard the ship, the Enterprise is ordered to investigate the disappearance of the USS Peregrine, which went down on an icy planet and stopped transmitting in the high interference of the atmosphere. The crew’s fate is unknown. Pike takes an away team down in two shuttles where they find the crash-landed ship. It turns out the crew members have been wiped out by the Gorn.

"All Those Who Wander" is a fairly straightforward and unpretentious sci-fi/horror B-movie that’s elevated by a major sacrifice and a final coda that deals with the emotional consequences of the aftermath.

The only survivors found on the Peregrine are a young girl named Oriana (Emma Ho), who is being protected by a member of the world’s indigenous species, whom the girl has named "Buckley" (Carlos Albornoz), and whose language the Universal Translator can’t decipher.

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Review: ‘Obi-Wan Kenobi’ fails to feel remotely necessary

Obi-Wan Kenobi is a major disappointment given its resources, cast, and the general goodwill that was built up from The Mandalorian. It’s easily the least of the Disney+ Star Wars streaming series so far, including the middling Book of Boba Fett, which managed to become way more fun in its second half when it essentially became Mandalorian season 2.5.

Between this and Boba Fett, one wonders how quickly the Star Wars Extended Streaming Universe will run out of steam or have the fans turn against it. The film franchise took just four years to go from "victorious comeback" to "temporarily shelved for retooling" thanks to the oversaturation with five movies in that short period. Is the streaming TV universe headed for a similar fate with so many projects on the horizon?

Obi-Wan Kenobi has all the signs of a show that was retooled from a movie script and expanded, needlessly, into a six-part series. It’s sloppy, full of weakly motivated and contrived scenes, and suffers — even more than I had predicted — because it has to leave intact a status quo that means nothing major between Episode III and Episode IV can happen.

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When it gently rains, it pours

On the eve of the signing of a treaty between the Planetary Union and the Krill, a delegation is invited to the Krill homeworld where the treaty is to be signed. The Orville will, of course, carry the delegation, and Admiral Halsey invites Mercer and his away team to attend the signing.

This invitation happens after we’ve already witnessed Teleya (Michaela McManus) — the undercover Krill woman who pretended to fall in love with a duped Mercer (see "Nothing Left on Earth Excepting Fishes"), and who is now a rising populist politician with a growing following — provides an ominous speech that begins Trumpian and works its way up to Hitlerian as she decries the treaty that’s going to be signed and promises that all who have taken part in its creation will be punished as traitors if she wins the election. The crowd screams and chants like a howling mob.

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Dire fantasy has an eleventh-hour redemption

"The Elysian Kingdom" is exceptionally odd, in that it’s such a plodding, boring, test-pattern of a fantasy episode for its first three acts before then becoming really interesting and moving and Trekky in its last act of impossible choices. This was well on its way to being the worst episode of the season before it redeemed itself at the eleventh hour.

That redemption brings it up a few notches, but I still can’t endorse this. I want to throw away the first 40 minutes entirely, in which the Enterprise, trapped in a nebula by a mysterious force, turns into a fantasy world where the crew have their minds hijacked and unwittingly play out the parts in the fantasy book that M’Benga frequently reads to his daughter Rukiya (Sage Arrindell). M’Benga and Hemmer are the only ones who retain their personalities and know they aren’t the characters in the book.

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‘Orville’: High school will kill ya, amiright?

I’m beginning to think giving Seth MacFarlane longer runtimes for this season of The Orville was a really bad idea. They say the final rewrite of a screenplay happens in the editing room, and now in three consecutive episodes we’ve had an editing room that’s far too lax. Nicholas Meyer once said that art thrives on restriction. Well, redundancy thrives on a lack of discipline.

Take the opening minute of "Mortality Paradox." We watch Talla’s shuttle approach the ship (with multiple shots), enter the shuttle bay and land, and then we see Talla get off the shuttle, walk up a spiral staircase and through a corridor, and finally into Grayson’s office. This sequence could’ve been done in 30 or even 15 seconds. Instead, it takes over a minute. Now, that’s not a huge deal in the scheme of things, but it’s indicative of the overall lack of economy and discipline here, and the tendency for this episode to be repetitive by showing us different iterations of the same idea.

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