Archive for June, 2006

Going Boldly: Interview with Connor Trinneer, Enterprise’s ‘Trip’ Tucker

June 29, 2006

"It’s changed everything – I feel as though I’ve been somehow rerouted electrically, in my brain or in my heart."

As he talks about the life-enhancing effects of becoming a father, Connor Trinneer smiles and glances wistfully into space, clearly wishing he could be transported home to his baby son, Jasper.    Trinneer is visiting the UK for an appearance at the London Expo and talks to Carole Gordon about fatherhood, the controversial finale of ‘Star Trek: Enterprise’, and the ethical dilemmas raised by the character he plays in ‘Stargate: Atlantis’.   

 

Star Trek has generated a huge fan-base since the Starship Enterprise boldly went where no man had gone before with Captain James T Kirk in command.    The fifth incarnation of the franchise, ‘Enterprise’, under the command of Jonathan Archer (Scott Bakula) also featured Commander Charles "Trip" Tucker III, the Chief Engineer played by Connor Trinneer.    The character quickly became a fan favourite and Trinneer is grateful that the four seasons of the show gave him the opportunity to produce what he considers to be his best work so far.   

"You get ninety-eight episodes, you get some good ones and some bad ones," he says.  "I think that I had the fortune of having some really good stories come my way and with a good story, you are able to flex your acting muscles a little bit more.  That’s also just a matter of confidence, I think; once you get used to the crew and everybody and your environment, that allows you to be freer to hit some home runs.  And I felt like I hit a few."

For Trinneer, the best aspect of the character was that he was very human.

"He was allowed to be fallible, he was allowed to be passionate about what he was working on or committed to and I found him to be such a dimensional character.  He had a sense of humour, he had a sense of authority, and having those strong character traits, makes any situation a lot of fun to play."

In an early episode in season one, ‘Unexpected’, Trip becomes pregnant, giving Trinneer the honour of being the first actor to play a Star Trek male pregnancy.   But it didn’t faze him in the least. 

"I thought it was great fun," he says with a smile.   "It was our third episode and we were all so new and it was such a well-done script.  I had some ideas of my own of things that we added to it – uncontrollable crying seemingly out of nowhere, flashes of anger for no particular reason.   You know, two of the first three episodes were about the character and so I was really able to jump off the cliff and see how I landed.  And I felt pretty good about the start."

‘Enterprise’ may have got off to a good start for the cast and the characters, but ended after four seasons, when ratings failed to meet the expectations of the network.     The final, controversial, episode, ‘These are the Voyages’ focuses on the decommissioning of the first Enterprise at the end of its mission and the signing of the Federation Charter.   The story is told through the characters of Will Riker and Deanna Troi, observing the starship’s final eventful journey via a holodeck recreation on board the ‘Next Generation’ Enterprise.   Is Trinneer disappointed with the way the show – and his character – ended?

"I can’t say I was disappointed at how Trip ended.  I really took it as a compliment that half of that episode centred around the death of my character.   Whether I was making lemonade out of lemons, I don’t know," he says with a rueful smile, "but I took it as a compliment."

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Trinneer pauses and looks thoughtful before continuing.

"How the show ended?   It’s a difficult proposition to sew up a series and I think that what they were ultimately trying to do was to find the link or to create the link between other series in the franchise.  Having said that, the way in which it happened really felt like it took the thunder out from underneath us and I felt ripped off.   We had been doing this for four years, we are already cancelled, why don’t you let us put it to bed?   I love Jonathan [Frakes – "Will Riker"] and Marina [Sirtis – "Deanna Troi"] – awesome people, I laugh with them all the time – but they were in an uncomfortable position.  It was unfortunate, but you move on."

There has been much discussion of why the ratings for this outing of the popular franchise fell so badly and failed to recover.    Trinneer wonders whether the network  promoted the show as well as they might have. 

"I think that one of the reasons it was cancelled was because the ratings were poor.   Now I guess the promotion and the ratings can go hand in hand, but I don’t think that they pushed for the new audience that they felt the show needed to have to keep it around."

Since Enterprise boldly went into television history, Trinneer has made an impression on the fans of another spin-off show, ‘Stargate: Atlantis’, playing Michael, a genetically-engineered part-human, part-Wraith, who will return for two episodes of season three.     Trinneer finds the character and the story intriguing, particularly how Michael challenges the ethics of the Atlantis team.

"He says, ‘You did this to me.  You did this to me to make me more human.   You did this; what does this say about you in a society or a group in a time of war.’   But yeah, the intriguing part of the story is pretty timely – what’s your responsibility to yourself in conflict and what’s your responsibility to your enemy?  If you consider yourself a civilised society, is it a moral, ethical issue to refabricate somebody’s essence or DNA or whatever and make them non-violent?"

Another role where Trinneer plays the bad guy is his recent appearance in an episode of Navy NCIS.    His character, James, kidnaps the Director of NCIS as ransom for his brother who is in custody.

"I did enjoy that," he says.   "I hadn’t gotten the opportunity to play the kidnapper, the thief.  Really, he was a bad guy but the situation he found himself in, he was really acting out of desperately wanting to get his brother back.  But that was cool to play somebody who had the potential for real violence and wasn’t afraid to use it."

Trinneer’s acting heroes vary.   He is currently watching old Gary Cooper and Cary Grant movies, such as ‘His Girl Friday’, and recently discovered Fredric March, who appeared in the original version of the movie ‘A Star is Born’ in 1937.    But he also numbers contemporary stars among his heroes.    

"I think we’ve all got our Italian period where we think that De Niro and Pacino and all that crew are – and they are – at the top of the profession.    One of the negative parts of this business is that it can put you in some positions that pay you a ton of money but really don’t bring out the best in you.  So, yeah, I love the profession too, because you get to constantly be impressed and amazed by people."

But Trinneer doesn’t hanker after roles on any particular TV shows.

"I think there are shows that I admire and I like the work that people do, but it’s not a given that if a show has success, that it is what I consider a good project, or a good piece of work or good television.   So really, you look for stuff that’s of quality."

He discovered that quality in ‘Stargate: Atlantis’, even though after ‘Enterprise’ he was intending to move away fro
m the science fiction genre.

"I found the character of Michael on the break-downs and called my agent and said, ‘Can I get an audition for this?’   I had said, ‘I don’t want to do sci-fi just out of the gate, I want to explore the things that I haven’t done for a long time.’  But I thought this character was fascinating and it turned out that I was right.  I’m really happy that I had the chance to do it."

Having completed filming on ‘Stargate: Atlantis’, Trinneer’s immediate plans include a number of conventions during the summer and "hitting the pavement" looking for projects.   But, above all, he is valuing the time he has with his son, who was born in October 2005.   Trinneer’s family  travelled with him to Vancouver when he was shooting ‘Atlantis’, but they have stayed at home during his present trip across the Atlantic.  

"I think after they are a year old or so, you can start doing stuff like that or if they are very very young, you can travel with them.   Some babies will sleep anywhere."  A dramatic pause, and then Trinneer laughs.   

"Ours doesn’t!  He sleeps, but he hates <b>going</b> to sleep!"

Trinneer says he always wanted to be a father – and his baby son constantly astounds him.

"It’s the most amazing thing that I’ve ever done and am continuing to do.  The most amazing things happen to me on a daily basis with this little boy and it’s changed everything.  It’s changed my outlook on how I see myself – you really do wind up looking through their eyes.   And you really do feel as though you would stop a train for them.  I’ve never wanted something so much for somebody in my life – and that’s his happiness.   I’m constantly shocked and amazed by the whole thing."

© Carole Gordon 2006  

Connor Trinneer:                     http://www.connortrinneer.com/

London Expo:                          http://www.londonexpo.com/

  

TVonDVD: Masters of Horror: John Landis & Lucky McKee; The Dead Zone: Season Four; Where On Earth Is Carmen Sandiego?; The Rockf

June 29, 2006

The latest

Superman Returns – The IMAX Experience: A Swing At A Myth!

June 28, 2006

The IMAX Experience: big honkin

Superman Returns – Feels and looks dated, seriously flawed film hampered by horrible casting. Michelle’s Review!

June 28, 2006

Why, oh why? Every since The Usual Suspects, I’ve been a huge fan of Bryan Singer, the man is responsible for 3 of my top 25 movies of all time, so when the studios kicked Brett Ratner off the Superman Returns project and replaced him with Singer, I thought this couldn’t fail. But boy was I wrong, where do I start with how many things go wrong with this film? Let’s start with the basic premise, or hook, if you will.

The conceit, or big idea, of Superman Returns is everything that happened in Richard Donner’s late 70’s Superman films, notably I and II, happened. We’ll ignore the badness that were Superman III and IV, and pick up the story 5 years after the events in Superman II. This would have been a brilliant and fine idea, if this movie came out, oh, TWENTY years ago! Singer made the mistake of remaining too faithful to the classic two films. I mean it was as if I was in a time warp, and not in a good way.

Everything in Superman Returns feels like a retread, a has been, done there, did that. Never once in this film did I feel like I was watching a Superman for the new millennium. With a reported $200 million dollar budget, I wanted to be awed, to see new filmmaking techniques, or at the very least have some decent cinematography.

But then Singer films never had brilliant and vibrant colors, or super duper effects, even my favorite X-Men franchise were kind of dull to look at, where Singer soars is with character, plotting, pacing.

Superman Returns has his trademark pacing, at almost 2 hrs and 38 minutes the film almost never drags, and grabs your attention – because, hey, it’s Superman. But the characters and plotting are horrid. Beyond the hook of the film, in Superman Returns we find the big guy adrift, not knowing where he belongs, he left Earth when he saw a newspaper announcing that Krypton still lives.

Now, the man in blue has never been known as a genius, but it’s silly that he would leave on the basis of one or two articles (planted by Luthor). Now the film never explains this is the reason he left, I picked this tidbit up from reading the horrid book adaptation. When he returns he finds out that the world has gone on without him – in the novel he discovers his mother is seeing someone else and plans on moving to Montana, in the film he just mopes around the farm for the first 10 or 15 minutes.

If you thought newcomer Brandon Routh was stiff and silent in the 2 minute trailer, then be prepared for two hrs of essentially the same thing. He rarely says anything throughout the film, he just broods and stares. Never once do you really feel like he’s attached to what’s going on around him – but based on his internal thoughts in the book adaptation, that’s the point – he is lost and feels alienated.

The feeling just doesn’t translate well to the screen. Watching two hours of a listless, lost, Superman isn’t exactly fun. He doesn’t hold your attention or have a presence like previous Supermen. He’s no Reeves, Reeve, Newton, Cain, or Welling, compared to these guys Routh is a total lightweight.

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While Supes is brooding, Kevin Spacey is hamming it up and chewing up scenery as the always plotting Lex Luthor. In a return to his plot from the first film, Luthor is orchestrating another land grab. This time by stealing the crystals from the Fortress of Solitude and using those to grow his own continent that people would pay a fortune to live at, because he claims that people will always need “land.”

He plans on killing billions of people to grow his new empire, as two mass objects cannot occupy the same space. Now at what point would it not dawn on him that, if he kills everyone and destroys everything, who the heck left to purchase his land?

Not only that, but he spends most of the film talking about his genius and how he has the knowledge of an advanced race of people, but at no time in the film do we get to see him use this knowledge. For a $200 million film some of the major action set pieces looked comically bad, when his “continent” is finally grown, it looks like he’s sitting on a slab of rock.

There was nothing “technically” advanced about it, if anything he went back to the stone ages – almost literally. If Singer wasn’t so insistent on keeping everything as a replica of the first two films, he really could have done something spectacular with the idea of a growing, gleaming new crystal based Kryptonian City rising from the ocean depths, and instead, all we get are lame rocks.

Other than Spacey, the rest of this film was just horribly miscast. Everyone from the childlike Jimmy Olson (Sam Huntington – who gets way too much screen time) to Kate Bosworth as Lois Lane, almost no one fit the part. I will say that I did like James Marsden as Lois’ “perfect” boyfriend, Richard White. You would think this could have made for some good chemistry and a fun love triangle between Supes, White, and Lane, instead the film totally glosses over it. On the one hand the movie is too serious, and on the other hand it’s not serious enough.

For instance we’re introduced to Lois’ son, and his presence drags the film to a screeching halt, he’s the “comic” relief, and there are serious questions about him that are never asked about or discussed – until the very end, and that moment is wasted because we never get a confrontation between Supes and Lois over it.

Then we have the bumbling, stumbling, non-entity of Clark Kent. I didn’t like the portrayal in the 70s, and I certainly don’t like it now, especially after watching the dynamic between Dean Cain’s Clark Kent and Terri Hatcher’s Lois Lane. How can you take any romance between Superman and Lois seriously when there’s no relationship between Clark and Lois?

Based on this version of Clark, the asinine speech that Bill, from Kill Bill, gave was correct, Clark Kent is nothing more than a shell. But in reality, to paraphrase Batman, Clark Kent is who Superman “is,” and Superman is what he “does.” But the movie Kent is almost “literally” a non-entity.

While, Superman Returns is enjoyable for what it is, and worth a watch, I can’t help but be disappointed and upset by all the missed opportunities and the adherence to a 25 year old film franchise – the first two of which are also in my top 25 movies of all time list.

There are a ton of instances where the film liberally borrowed from the first two movies, from the opening credit sequence, to the use of John Williams amazing original Superman Score, to the set designs, this really is essentially a sequel to 1 and 2, only problem is – it’s 25 years too late.

Final Grade C-

EM Review by
Michelle Alexandria
Originally Posted 6/28/06

TVonDVD: Medium – Season One; The Wild, Wild West – Season One; NCIS – Season One; Star Trek Fan Collective: Q; The Time Tunnel

June 13, 2006

Lots to talk about today

TNT’s “Must See Monday”: Returning Hit The Closer Leads-In To Saved – Oddball Rookie Medical Drama

June 12, 2006

If TNT

A ‘Neighborly’ Chat with Ellen Dubin on Her Role in The Movie ‘Murder in My House’

June 11, 2006

On Monday, June 12th, at 9 PM (EST), Lifetime TV is set to premiere a new movie of the week titled ‘Murder in My House’, starring Barbara Niven and Daniel J. Travanti. Niven plays Laura Kessler, a single woman who, along with her widowed father, moves into a seemly perfect house in an idyllic neighborhood. Only after settling in does she find out that her new home was the scene of a grisly murder several years earlier.

‘Murder in My House’ also stars Ellen Dubin, as Claire, the apparently sweet next-door neighbor who knows quite a bit about the history of the house and befriends Laura Kessler.

“Of course Laura doesn’t ask anything about the house before she moves in,” Ellen Dubin says, with a laugh, during a phone interview with her about her role. “So this is where my character of Claire comes in. Claire knows everybody’s business and she doesn’t hesitate to share it with Laura. She’s so sweet and neighborly.”

Sweet and neighborly sure, but is Claire everything she seems to be? “You’ll just have to watch and see,” Dubin chuckles in a playfully evasive way.

Ellen Dubin is no stranger to the Lifetime movie of the week audiences, having previously appeared in the role of Charlotte Porter in ‘Lies and Deceptions’. Dubin’s foremost interest in doing ‘Murder in My House’ was how she loves working on the kind of movies that Lifetime produces: movies that focus on women’s stories. “Lifetime movies are great movies for actresses because of the opportunity they present for them to play in interesting roles specifically designed for women.” Dubin says that she finds it refreshing that the female leads in the Lifetime movies are the ones to solve the issues or the mysteries. “I think it’s great that women are shown to be able to have the intellect and the strength to save the day.”

Ellen Dubin also liked working on

Anime´ – Karas: A Very Different Kind Of Crow; Ghost In The Shell: Stand Alone Complex – Crime, Prosthetics, Ethics and Philoso

June 10, 2006

The 4400: Big Changes Coming For Season Three!

June 10, 2006

When creepy/cute/sweet Maia warned that

PIXAR Makes It Seven For Seven With Cars!

June 10, 2006

The odds are good that PIXAR will have their seventh straight hit with this weekend