- The Washington Times - Monday, July 21, 2003

No power, captain

“Oh, pity the poor ‘Star Trek’ fan, yearning for the days when space was the only ‘final frontier’ yawning wide before the Starship Enterprise. Right now, after a string of box-office, ratings and creative stumbles, ‘Trek’ seems little more than a flagship headed for dry dock. …

“For the first time [since the TV series’ 1966 debut], audiences are steering clear of both ‘Trek’ movie features and TV series. Last year’s ‘Star Trek: Nemesis’ should have lured moviegoers, given that it was billed as the sign-off of the popular ‘Next Generation’ cast. But the $60 million project took in just $43 million domestically, easily the worst of any of the ‘Trek’ films — which date back to 1979 and the days of $4 tickets. …

“Meanwhile, after a warp-speed launch two years ago, UPN’s prequel series ‘Enterprise’ has struggled mightily. …

“The icing on the dilithium cake is a lawsuit recently filed by videogame publisher Activision against Viacom, parent company of ‘Trek’s home studio, Paramount. The games maker alleges that Paramount has let ‘the once proud “Star Trek” franchise stagnate and decay’ and wants out of the 10-year, $20 million licensing agreement it signed in 1998.”

Tom Russo, writing on “Fallen Star,” in the July 25 issue of Entertainment Weekly

Love games

“If the silver lining for any unwelcome development is that at least things can’t get much worse, perhaps some such optimism is in order for the wasteland known as reality-romance TV. The premiere on July 9 of the show ‘Cupid’ brought us a show in which nuptials have been reduced to a combination of a romantic gong show and plebiscite. Produced by Simon Cowell, the self-consciously obnoxious British judge on the runaway hit ‘American Idol,’ ‘Cupid’ essentially is a cross between ‘Idol’ and another hit series, ‘The Bachelor.’ A panel of three female judges scrutinizes a line of suitors, with two of the judges offering advice to the third panelist, who is trying to find a husband. Eventually, viewers at home will vote to determine which of the finalists wins her hand. …

“One man was led off the set yelling that he wouldn’t leave without ‘my wife and my half a million dollars’ — the latter representing his half of a $1 million dowry put up by CBS.

“The public demand for such manufactured romance is deep and persistent, even though the relationships previously patched together by television have been uniformly temporary. … Nevertheless, the producers of these shows continue to capitalize knowingly on the widespread, well-intentioned desire to see real romance and marriage bloom amid a culture largely desolate of the same.”

Andrew Peyton Thomas, writing on “Romancing the Tube,” Friday in National Review Online at www.nationalreview.com

Comic truth

“I don’t think of myself as a classic conservative. I think of myself as a pragmatist. And these days, pragmatism falls into the conservative camp. We have to depend on ourselves in this country right now because we can’t depend on anyone else. We are simultaneously the most loved, hated, feared, and respected nation on this planet. In short, we’re Frank Sinatra. …

“We’ve got a $38 billion deficit [in California]. I look at the California budget, and I see that we’re paying to remove tattoos. It’s the petri dish for untethered liberalism. I’m telling you, this place is turning into Sweden. Except, at least there the blondes are authentic. …

“It’s fine to talk about health care, but I think most people don’t want to have to use their health care to get stitched up after they’ve been blown up in a bomb blast by a nut case. They want the nut case killed before that happens. So, in that case, it becomes pre-emptive health care. As I get older, it seems unsafe to me to be anything but a conservative.”

Dennis Miller, interviewed by Eric Pfeiffer in the July 28 issue of the Weekly Standard

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