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Week of June 4, 2001

Fans protest Sisko's omission in Enterprise teaser. Those of you who caught the series finale probably saw UPN's first promo for the upcoming Star Trek prequel Enterprise, and you may have noticed that the voice-over places the new show "before Janeway and Picard, before Kirk and Spock" - but what about the captain of that other Star Trek series? Fans mounted a campaign to protest to omission of Captain Sisko of Star Trek: Deep Space Nine, the franchise's only African-American lead character thus far, and it seems that Paramount is listening. A spokesperson for UPN confirms that the Enterprise promo is being revised to add that the new series takes place before Sisko as well - and that same spokesperson also says that the omission of the character wasn't intended as a slight toward the series (considered by many to be both the most neglected series and the high point of the Trek franchise) or to its star, Avery Brooks. Source:

Blake vs. the Daleks. Big Finish Productions is gearing up for the premiere of its limited audio series Dalek Empire this month, and has announced that none other than Gareth Thomas (of Blake's 7 fame) will be a regular member of the cast for the four single-CDs comprising the series. Naturally, Thomas won't be playing Blake again (hey, Big Finish, what about reviving that series in audio only?), but he enjoyed his guest starring turn in Storm Warning, the first of the Paul McGann Doctor Who Audio Adventures, enough to return for more sessions at Big Finish. Also starring in the Dalek Empire series will be Big Finish veterans John Wadmore, Sarah Mowat and Mark McDonnell, the latter appearing as a "less-than-dynamic space security agent" (!). Source: Big Finish Productions

ELO to be featured on VH-1 Storytellers. ELO fans - of which I realize there are probably precious few out there reading this - set your VCRs for Friday, June 15th, as ELO takes the stage. The actual concert - the first live gig for the group in 15 years, just as the upcoming Zoom is the first ELO album to feature founding member/principal songwriter Jeff Lynne in that long - was recorded on April 20th in New York City, and members of that audience have reported that it was an outstanding concert. Another concert was taped in late May for a PBS special to air this fall (with a possible video and DVD release in tow). At the more recent show, bandleader Jeff Lynne hinted that it won't take a decade and a half for the next ELO album to come together. In addition to this week's release of Zoom, June will also see the release of remastered editions of the classic ELO albums Eldorado, Discovery, Time and Secret Messages - each with extra tracks which have never before been heard, though most of the much-anticipated demo tracks will turn out to be short excerpts and not full songs. All of the re-releases will contain the complete original packaging.




Secret Messages

Source: Sony Music, VH-1

Undiscovered Jellyfish. Fans of the short-lived early 90s power pop group Jellyfish are already celebrating the news that Capitol Records is working on a four-disc box set of unreleased, live and demo tracks from the band, most of which has never been heard. The box set is reportedly being assembled with the full participation of former members Roger Manning (now a member of Umajets, Andy Sturmer and Jason Falkner, with release tentatively scheduled for December. No track listing has been announced yet, and the news comes from the UK, so Stateside release details are still forthcoming - if, indeed, it will be released on this side of the Atlantic. Source: Jellyfish Mailing List submitted by Chris Bray

"Lost" Who books finally hit U.S. shores. Though they were published a year ago in Britain, five of the novels in the Doctor Who series have been unobtainable in the U.S. due to the previous Stateside distributor's financial difficulties. But now those problems have been solved, and is now starting to bring Who fans up to date on these pivotal novels in the series - as well as offering the latest new title in the series on both sides of the pond.

Doctor Who: The Ancestor Cell
(held-over novel from 2000)
Doctor Who: Vanishing Point
(new novel)

Killer DVD of the Week. This is sure to raise somebody's hackles, but this week's Killer DVD is only available in England (though the same title is available on tape - sans cool features - in the States). The DVD in question is the latest digital reissue from the BBC's classic Doctor Who series, 1984's The Caves Of Androzani. Not only does Caves sport 90 minutes of the best action/adventure Doctor Who has ever offered, but it's also the swan song of Peter Davison, the fifth actor to take on the title role, and the introduction to Colin Baker, whose ill-fated tenure in the role lasted barely over two seasons. Davison joins companion Nicola "Peri" Bryant for an audio commentary track, and the disc also features deleted footage, raw studio footage from the regeneration scene, and a complete isolated music score. Lucky Brits! They get all the cool stuff on DVD.

Doctor Who: The Caves Of Androzani

Game over. The scene opens with a starship, looking suspiciously like Voyager, swooping around the Golden Gate Bridge as firecrackers explode in the background. People dressed in Starfleet garb begin applauding, and then we realize what's happening: the crew of Voyager - trapped in space for close to seven years - has apparently made it back home. Our suspicions are confirmed when we see Janeway and some of the crew - looking a bit older - joining in an earthbound celebration.

       Was there any doubt Voyager would make it back? Of course not. Most of us already knew the ending months, even years, before the finale. Watching the finale, it was clear the producers faced a daunting challenge of crafting an exciting finale out of a foregone conclusion. How do you create the drama and emotion of an unexpected reunion home when everybody knows it's going to happen anyway?

       The answer the writers chose was a unique one: begin the show with what we already know will happen - the homecoming - and fill it out with an action-adventure story. Unfortunately, by taking this road, the writers robbed the show of the one reason we're tuning in - to see the crew finally get home. Or, more importantly, what happens after they get home.

       As entertaining as the Borg story is, it lacks the scale and epic flavor to justify a finale, least of all a series finale. I'm sorry, but as hard as the producers try, they can never remake The Best Of Both Worlds, the stunning two-parter from Next Generation's early days that deserved its own theatrical release. Part of what made that story so gripping were the tense character fireworkers and kick-ass musical score by Ron Jones, both of which are sadly missing in Voyager's finale. I've never been a fan of the "new music" of Star Trek - that watered-down, ambient scoring that was instituted after Ron Jones left TNG in its fourth season. The finale has its moments of bombast and adrenaline - namely, during the space battles - but overall it's a dead weight as usual.

       I was also surprised at how completely comatose the actors appeared in this one. It's the finale! Can't someone look excited?! Janeway herself hardly budges when she sees her double beam aboard, although I have to admit I enjoyed this particular Trek contrivance because it reminds me of one of my favorite Next Generation episodes, Time Squared, where Picard interacts with his future self. It was nice to see Alice Krige return as the Borg Queen, but she didn't have much to do beyond walk around and say evil things.

       The budding romance between 7 of 9 and Chakotay, as unbelievable as it seemed, had moments of charm, but it's become a tired Star Trek cliché to send off a show with as many romances between the principal characters as possible. Speaking of clichès, we end yet another series with a time travel twist, a character that develops a brain disease, the death of main character leaving a bitter widower, and an aging captain going on a "foolish" mission that no one approves of. Hell, the only thing separating this finale from All Good Things..., the TNG send-off, is the poker game at the end, which actually could have helped this show.

       Which brings me back to my biggest gripe about the finale - its ending. Sacrificing the homecoming itself for a dull, two-hour shoot-'em-up with the Borg was a misstep of galactic proportions. I was eagerly awaiting the moment Voyager would land on Earth and be greeted by anxious family members of the crew and a rousing score. Instead we get a "Hey, how ya doin'?" from a nearby ship and a standard fly-off-into-the-sunset seen in just about every other episode of the series. Booooring!

       I can't say what Voyager's place will be in the Star Trek legacy. To be honest, I lost track of the show in its second season somewhere. Watching the finale was a chance to revisit a show I once loved and a franchise I once adored. Coming back to it after several years, I was reminded of all the things I liked and all the things I hated about Star Trek. As much as Star Trek has tried to change and adapt to the times, it has remained mired in a creative sameness for far too long.

       I'm not sure what the answer to improving Star Trek is. When the Next Generation debuted in 1987, it was really the only show of its kind on TV. These days, thanks to the growing popularity of cable, there are a glut of sci-fi/fantasy shows on TV, some very well written and creatively superior to Star Trek.

       Star Trek will live on and, of course, prosper. We have a new series and a new crew on the horizon. As long as there's money to be made, we'll have a Star Trek.

       Whether I'll be there for the ride this time around, we'll just have to wait and see.

Rating: 2 1/2 stars out of four)

Robert Heyman correspondent

(Editor's note: As one of the longest-serving LogBook correspondents on the staff, Robert Heyman reviewed some of the earliest Voyager episodes as well; click here to see some vintage 1995 reviews.)

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