My Ranking of the DCEU Movies

Below is my ranking of the eleven DC Extended Universe movies released between 2013 and 2021:

MY RANKING OF THE DCEU MOVIES

1.  “Batman v. Superman:  Dawn of Justice” (2016); dir. Zack Snyder

2.  “Zack Snyder’s Justice League” (2021); dir. Zack Snyder

3.  “Man of Steel” (2013); dir. Zack Snyder

4.  “Wonder Woman” (2017); dir. Patty Jenkins

5.  “Suicide Squad” (2016); dir. David Ayer

6.  “Birds of Prey (and the Fantabulous Emancipation of One Harley Quinn)” (2020); dir. Cathy Yan

7.  “Aquaman” (2018); dir. James Wan

8.  “Shazaam!” (2019); dir. David F. Sandberg

9.  “Justice League” (2017); dir. Zack Snyder (and Joss Whedon)

10. “Wonder Woman 1984″ (2020); dir. Patty Jenkins

11. “The Suicide Squad” (2021); dir. James Gunn

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Top Five Favorite “LOST” Season One (2004-2005) Episodes

Below is a list of my top five favorite episodes from Season One of “LOST” (2004-2010). The series was created by Jeffrey Lieber, J. J. Abrams and Damon Lindelof; and produced by the latter and Carlton Cuse.

TOP FIVE FAVORITE “LOST” SEASON ONE (2004-2005) Episodes

1 - 1.22-1.23 Exodus

1. (1.23-1.25) “Exodus” – This season finale served as a transition in the series’ narrative, as an expedition sets out to find dynamite to open the hatch recently discovered by castaway John Locke. And the raft planned by Michael Dawson finally leaves the island with him, his son Walt, Jin Kwon and James “Sawyer” Ford, resulting in unexpected circumstances.

2. (1.17) “. . . In Translation” – This episode featured Jin’s backstory in flashbacks and the further disintegration of his marriage, when he discovers that his wife Sun had learned English behind his back.

3 - 1.04 Walkabout

3. (1.04) “Walkabout” – While Locke and a few others set on a hunting expedition to find boar for the other castaways, his flashbacks reveal his reason for being in Australia.

4 - 1.11 All the Best Cowboys Have Daddy Issues

4. (1.11) “All the Best Cowboys Have Daddy Issues” – Jack Shephard leads an expedition to find two castaways that had been kidnapped in the previous episode. The episode’s flashbacks reveal the events that led to Jack being responsible for his father’s dismissal from the hospital they worked at.

5 - 1.19 Deus Ex Machina

5. (1.19) “Deus Ex Machina” – In their search for a means to open a hatch they had found; Locke and Boone Carlyle find a Nigerian small plane. And their discovery leads to tragic circumstances. In the flashbacks, Locke meets his parents for the first time, who prove to be major disappointments.

Five Favorite Episodes of “JESSICA JONES” Season Two (2018)

Below is a list of my favorite episodes from Season Two of “JESSICA JONES”, the Marvel Netflix adaptation of the Marvel Comics heroine. Created by Melissa Rosenberg, the series stars Kristen Ritter as Jessica Jones:

FIVE FAVORITE EPISODES OF “JESSICA JONES” SEASON TWO (2018)

1. (2.06) “AKA Facetime” – Super powered New York City private detective Jessica Jones gate crashes an exclusive country club, while hunting for the killer of another enhanced person with connections to Dr. Miklos Kozlov, the doctor who had given her powers. Jessica’s adoptive sister Trish Walker’s addiction to a combat enhancing drug spirals out of control.

2. (2.02) “Sole Survivor” – Jessica stumbles across a new lead on the IGH company at an abandoned clinic, where she had stayed as a girl following the accident that killer her family. Attorney Jeryn “Jeri” Hogarth faces an ultimatum after the secret regarding her Amyotrophic lateral sclerosis (ASL) gets out.

3. (2.13) “AKA Playland” – Jessica finds herself torn between two worlds and facing an impossible choice after finding herself on the road toward the U.S.-Canada with her enhanced mother Alisa Jones, who was believed to be dead.

4. (2.02) “Freak Accident” – Jessica sets out to find Dr. Kozlov and makes a startling discovery. Trish recruits Jessica’s neighbor and associate, Malcolm Ducasse for backup as she visits a figure from her past, a television director named Maxmilian Tatum who had sexually abused her when she was a child actress.

5. (2.04) “God Help the Hobo” – Between anger management classes and tabloid scandals, Jessica and Trish track down a third patient linked to the IGH company. Jessica’s apartment superintendent, Oscar Arocho, extends an olive branch after their previous quarrel about her powers.

TIME MACHINE: Assassination of Archduke Franz Ferdinand of Austria (1875-1914)

TIME MACHINE: ASSASSINATION OF ARCHDUKE FRANZ FERDINAND OF AUSTRIA (1875-1914)

On June 28, 1914; Archduke Franz Ferdinand of Austria was assassinated in Sarajevo, Austria-Hungary (present day Bosnia-Herzegovina) was assassinated. Also killed was his wife, Sophie, Duchess of Hohenberg. Franz Ferdinand was not only an Archduke of Austria-Hungary, but also a Royal Prince of Hungary and Bohemia; and from 1889 until his death, the heir presumptive to the Austro-Hungarian throne.

The assassination had been planned by a group of assassins (five Serbs and one Bosnian) coordinated by a Bosnian-Serb named Danilo Ilić. The political objective of the assassination was to break off Austria-Hungary’s south-Slav provinces so they could be combined into a Yugoslavia. The assassins’ motives were consistent with a movement that will later became known as Young Bosnia. Also involved in the plot were Dragutin Dimitrijević, Chief of Serbian Military Intelligence; his assistant Major Vojislav Tankosić, and a spy named Rade Malobabić.

During a meeting held in January 1914, the group discussed possible Austro-Hungarian targets for assassination that include Archduke Franz Ferdinand. The participants eventually decided to send Mehmed Mehmedbašić to Sarajevo, to kill the Governor of Bosnia, Oskar Potiorek. However, Mehmedbašić ditched his weapons, while traveling from France to Bosnia-Herzegovina via the train, when the police was searching for a thief. Upon his arrival in Bosnia-Herzegovina, Mehmedbašićhe tried to search for new weapons. When his searched delayed the attempt on Potiorek, Ilić summoned Mehmedbašić and on March 26, 1914; informed the latter that the mission to kill Potiorek had been cancelled. The group decided to assassinate Franz Ferdinand, instead. Ilić recruited two Serbian youths, Vaso Čubrilović and Cvjetko Popović on April 19, 1914; to kill Franz Ferdinand in Sarajevo. Unbeknownst to them, three Serbian youths living in Belgrade – Gavrilo Princip, Trifko Grabež and Nedeljko Čabrinović – expressed an eagerness to carry out an assassination. They approached a fellow Bosnian Serb and former guerrilla fighter to transport arms to Sarajevo and participate in the assassination.

Franz Ferdinand, the Duchess of Hohenberg and their party traveled by train from Ilidža Spa to Sarajevo on June 28, 1914. Governor Oskar Potiorek met the party at Sarajevo station. Six automobiles were waiting. Three local police officers got into the first car with the chief officer of special security. Franz Ferdinand, the Duchess, Governor Potiorek, and Lieutenant Colonel Count Franz von Harrach rode in the third car. The motorcade passed the first assassin, Mehmedbašić, who had failed to act. Vaso Čubrilović armed with a pistol and a bomb, also failed to act. Further along the route Nedeljko Čabrinović, who possessed a bomb, tossed the latter at Franz Ferdinand’s car at 10:10 am. However, the bomb bounced off the folded back convertible cover and into the street. The timed detonator caused it to explode under the next car, wounding 16 to 20 people. Čabrinović swallowed his cyanide pill and jumped into the Miljacka River, but his suicide attempt failed. The police dragged Čabrinović out of the river and he was severely beaten by the crowd before being taken into custody. Franz Ferdinand’s procession sped away towards the Town Hall.

Franz Ferdinand and the Duchess returned to the motorcade at 10:45 am. and entered the third card. In order to avoid the city center, General Oskar Potiorek decided that the royal car should travel straight along the Appel Quay to the Sarajevo Hospital. The driver, Leopold Lojka, turned right into Franz Josef Street. After learning about the failed assassination attempt, Princip decided to make another attempt on the Archduke’s life on the latter’s return trip. He moved to a position in front of a delicatessen off Appel Quay. The Archduke’s motorcade made the mistake of following the original route. Governor Potiorek, who shared the Imperial couple’s vehicle, ordered the driver to reverse and take the Quay to the hospital. Lojka stopped the car close to where Princip was standing. The latter stepped forward and fired two shots from a Belgian-made 9×17mm Fabrique Nationale model 1910 semi-automatic pistol. The first bullet wounded the Archduke in the jugular vein. The second bullet hit the Duchess in her abdomen. Princip was immediately arrested. At his sentencing, Princip stated that his intention had been to kill Governor Potiorek, rather than the Duchess. Both victims remained seated upright, but died on the way to the Governor’s residence for medical treatment. As reported by Count Harrach, Franz Ferdinand’s last words were “Sophie, Sophie! Don’t die! Live for our children!”, followed by six or seven utterances of “It is nothing.” These mutterings were followed by a long death rattle. Sophie was dead upon arrival at the Governor’s residence. Franz Ferdinand died 10 minutes later.

Alfred, 2nd Prince of Montenuovo, Franz Joseph’s Chamberlain, hated Franz Ferdinand and Sophie with a passion and with the emperor’s connivance, decided to turn the funeral into a massive and vicious snub. He disinvited foreign royalty, the dead couple’s three children were excluded from the few public ceremonies and only the immediate Imperial family attended. Even the Austro-Hungarian officer corps was forbidden to salute the funeral train. However, this was nothing in compare to the political aftermath of the assassinations.

Not only was Princip captured, but also his fellow conspirators. They were all tried and convicted by early 1915. Ironically, Princip, who had actually pulled the trigger, was sentenced to 20 years in prison, where he died from malnutrition and disease in 1918. Only three of the conspirators were executed on February 3, 1915 – Danilo Ilić and Veljko Čubrilović. Anti-Serb rioting broke out in Sarajevo and various other places within the Austria-Hungary Empire, hours after the assassination. Country-wide anti-Serb pogroms and demonstrations were also organized throughout the Austro-Hungarian Empire by Oskar Potiorek, the Austro-Hungarian governor of Bosnia and Herzegovina.

The assassinations produced widespread shock across Europe. There was a great deal of initial sympathy toward Austria. Within two days, Austria-Hungary and its ally, Germany, advised Serbia that it should open an investigation on the assassination, but the Serbian government responded that the incident did not concern them. After conducting its own criminal investigation, Austro-Hungary issued what became known as the July Ultimatum, which listed demands made to Serbia regarding the assassinations within 48 hours. After receiving support from Russia, Serbia agreed to at least two out of ten demands. The government mobilized its troops and transported them by tramp steamers across the Danube River to the Austro-Hungarian at Temes-Kubin. Austro-Hungarian soldiers fired into the air to warn them off. On July 28, 1914; Austria-Hungary and its ally, Germany, declared war on Serbia. Under the Secret Treaty of 1892, Russia and France were obliged to mobilize their armies if any of the Triple Alliance (Germany, Austo-Hungary and Italy) mobilized. Russia’s mobilization completed full Austro-Hungarian and German mobilizations. Soon all the Great Powers, except Italy, had chosen sides. World War I had begun.

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Five Favorite Episodes of “GAME OF THRONES” Season Two (2012)

Below is a list of my favorite episodes from Season Two of “GAME OF THRONES”, HBO’s adaptation of George R. R. Martin’s 1998 novel from his A Song of Ice and Fire series, “A Clash of Kings”. The series was created by David Benioff and D. B. Weiss:

FIVE FAVORITE EPISODES OF “GAME OF THRONES” SEASON TWO (2012)

1. (2.09) “Blackwater” – King Robert Baratheon’s younger brother, Stannis Baratheon, arrives at Westeros’ capital, King’s Landing, to battle for the city and the Iron Throne.

2. (2.06) “The Old Gods and the New” – Former Stark hostage Theon Greyjoy seizes control of Winterfell to please his father, Balon Greyjoy of the Iron Islands. Jon Snow captures a wildling named Ygritte. And the people of King’s Landing begin to turn against King Joffrey during a riot in the capital’s streets. Daenerys Targaryen looks to buy ships to sail for the Seven Kingdoms.

3. (2.10) “Valar Morghulis” – In this season finale, Joffrey ends his engagement to Sansa Stark in favor for an engagement to Renley Baratheon’s widow, Margery Tyrell, in the wake of the Lannisters’ new alliance with her family. Daenerys seeks to rescue her baby dragons from the warlocks of Qarth.

4. (2.05) “The Ghost of Harrenhal” – Temporary Hand of the King Tyrion Lannister investigates a secret weapon that King Joffrey and his mother, Queen Cersei, plan to use against Stannis’ invasion force. Meanwhile, as a token to Arya for saving his life on the road from King’s Landing, an assassin named Jaqen H’ghar offers to kill three people that she chooses.

5. (2.04) “Garden of Bones” – Sansa is nearly punished by Joffrey following her brother Robb Stark’s latest victory over the Lannister forces. Lord Petyr ‘Littlefinger’ Baelish arrives at Renly’s camp just before the latter can face off against Stannis. Daenerys and her company are welcomed into the city of Qarth. Arya and her travel companions – Gendry and Hot Pie – find themselves imprisoned at Harrenhal Castle.

Favorite Episodes of “MONK” Season Two (2003-2004)

Below is a list of my favorite episodes from Season Two of the USA Network series, “MONK”. Created by Andy Breckman, the series starred Tony Shalhoub:

FAVORITE EPISODES OF “MONK” SEASON TWO (2003-2004)

1. (2.02) “Mr. Monk Goes to Mexico” – The mysterious death of a San Francisco college student at a Mexican resort leads Adrian Monk and his assistant Sharona Fleming to travel across the border and help the police solve the case. Tony Plana, Jorge Cervera Jr., and David Norona guest starred.

2. (2.16) “Mr. Monk Goes to Jail” – In the season finale, a condemned convict is poisoned to death hours before he is due to be executed. Monk is brought in to solve the case and finds himself as the prison’s newest resident. Tim Curry, Kathy Baker and Danny Trejo guest starred.

3. (2.01) “Mr. Monk Goes Back to School” – A high school English teacher falls to her death from a clock tower at the former school of Monk’s late wife. When he is summoned to investigate, Monk dismisses the police’s suicide theory and declares that her death was murder. Andrew McCarthy, David Rasche and Rosalind Chao guest starred.

4. (2.14) “Mr. Monk and the Captain’s Wife” – A sniper causes a car accident that nearly kills Captain Leland Stottlemeyer’s wife, Karen Stottlemeyer. Monk races to solve the case and prevent Stottlemeyer from seeking revenge. Gleanne Headley, Daniel Goddard and Geoff Pierson guest starred.

5. (2.11) “Mr. Monk and the Three Pies” – Convinced that his neighbor was murdered by her husband, Monk’s agoraphobic brother Ambrose Monk asks for the detective’s help. But the husband only seems focused on winning pies at a local fair. John Tuturro and Holt McCallany guest starred.

Chicken and Waffles

Below is an article about the dish known as Chicken and Waffles:

CHICKEN AND WAFFLES

Considered an American dish, Chicken and Waffles is a fusion of two food times – chicken and waffles. The dish is part of a variety of culinary traditions that include soul food and Pennsylvania Dutch cuisine. It is served in certain specialty restaurants in the United States. The combination that is regarded as part of African-American or Southern tradition is usually served with condiments such as butter and syrup and has become a local custom in Baltimore, Maryland. However, the Pennsylvania Dutch version of the dish is usually served with pulled or stewed chicken and gravy on top. This version has become a custom in Northeastern United States.

Several theories about the origin of Chicken and Waffles do exist. But they are theories and is not exactly regarded as fact. Waffles entered American cuisine in the 1600s with the arrival of European colonists. A chef to the prince-bishop of Liège originated the waffles used in this particular dish in the 18th century. The popularity of waffles saw a boost following Thomas Jefferson’s purchase of four waffle irons in Amsterdam after 1789.

Hotels and resorts outside Philadelphia, Pennsylvania began serving waffles with fried catfish in the early 1800s. Such establishments also served other dishes like fried chicken, which gradually became the meat of choice due to catfish’s limited availability. By the 1840s, broiled chicken and waffles became the specialty at Warriner’s Tavern in Springfield, Massachusetts. The establishment was owned by Jeremy and Phoebe Warriner, two well-known African-American abolitionists. The Warriners hired African-American women as cooks for the tavern. They were usually freed or runaway slaves who had learned their trade in Southern plantation kitchens. Chicken and Waffles had been extravagant breakfast staples in plantation houses through much of the South. Earlier, I had pointed out that the chicken served with waffles by the Pennsylvania Dutch was usually stewed and topped with gravy. This version had became an established common Sunday dish among the Pennsylvania Dutch by the 1860s.

The combination of chicken and waffles did not appear in early Southern cookbooks such as “Mrs. Porter’s Southern Cookery Book”, published in 1871; or in the first African-American cookbook, “What Mrs. Fisher Knows About Old Southern Cooking”, published in 1881 by former slave Abby Fisher. The lack of a recipe for the combination of chicken and waffles in Southern cookbooks during the post-Civil War era may suggest a later origin for the dish. Popular culture had associated Chicken and Waffles with the South by 1917 with the publication of Edna Ferber’s novel, “Fanny Herself”.

Fried Chicken and Waffles had arrived in Los Angeles, California by 1931. The dish was served at The Maryland, a local restaurant that marketed the dish as a Southern specialty. The protagonist in James M. Cain’s 1941 novel “Mildred Pierce” was a woman who finds success serving “chicken-and-waffle dinner” at her Glendale restaurant. Chicken and Waffles had become a staple in New York City’s African-American community in Harlem as early as the 1930s in such locations as Tillie’s Chicken Shack, Dickie Wells’ jazz nightclub, and particularly the Wells Supper Club. The dish eventually regained popularity in Los Angeles in the 1970s, due to the fame of former Harlem resident Herb Hudson’s restaurant Roscoe’s House of Chicken and Waffles. The latter has become known as a favorite of some Hollywood celebrities and been referenced in several movies.

Below is a recipe for Chicken and Waffles from the Delish website:

Chicken and Waffles

Ingredients

Fried Chicken
1 quart buttermilk
2 tbsp. kosher salt
Mix of bone-in chicken thighs, breasts, and drumsticks (about 2 lbs.)
Vegetable oil, for frying
2 cups All Purpose Flour
1 tbsp. paprika

Waffles
2 cups all-purpose flour
2 tbsp. granulated sugar
1 tsp. baking powder
1/2 tsp. baking soda
1 cup sour cream
1 cup milk
6 tbsp. butter, melted, plus more for waffle iron
3 Large eggs, separated
1 tsp. cayenne
Kosher salt
Freshly ground black pepper
2 Large eggs

Preparation

1. Brine chicken – In a large bowl, mix together buttermilk and 2 tablespoons salt. Add chicken and cover bowl with plastic wrap. Refrigerate at least 2 hours and up to overnight.

2. Meanwhile, make waffles – Preheat oven to 200°. In a large bowl, whisk together flour, sugar, baking powder, baking soda, and a pinch of kosher salt.

3. In a separate bowl, whisk together sour cream, milk, butter and egg yolks. Gently fold wet mixture into dry mixture.

4. In a large bowl, using a hand mixer (or in the bowl of a stand mixer), beat egg whites until stiff peaks form. Fold whipped egg whites into batter, being careful not to over mix. (A few fluffy streaks of whites are fine!)

5. Heat waffle iron according to manufacturer’s instruction. When the iron is hot, brush grates with melted butter. Spoon about ⅓ cup of batter into waffle maker and cook until golden, about 5 minutes. Repeat with remaining batter. Place cooked waffles in a clean kitchen towel on a baking sheet. Place in oven to keep warm while preparing chicken.

6. When ready to fry – Fill a Dutch oven fitted with a candy thermometer with vegetable oil until 2″ to 3″ deep, then preheat until oil reaches 350º. Prepare one sheet pan lined with paper towels and a wire rack.

7. Transfer chicken from brine to another sheet pan and dry thoroughly with paper towels. Season generously with salt and pepper.

8. In a large, deep bowl, whisk together flour, paprika, cayenne, salt, and pepper. In a large bowl, beat eggs with 2 tablespoons water. Using tongs, place chicken in egg mixture, roll in flour mixture, and shake off excess. Fry chicken in 2 batches until golden brown and cooked through, 6 to 8 minutes (internal temperature should read 165º). Bring oil back to 350º before adding last batch.

9. Place chicken on wire rack and season with salt immediately. Plate waffles with a pat of butter and top with 2 to 3 pieces of fried chicken. Serve with maple syrup on the side for drizzling.

Top Ten Favorite Movies Set Between 1700 and 1749

Below is my current list of favorite movies set between 1700 and 1749:

TOP TEN FAVORITE MOVIES SET BETWEEN 1700 AND 1749

1. “Tom Jones” (1963) – Tony Richardson directed this Best Picture Oscar winner, an adaptation of Henry Fielding’s 1749 novel, “The History of Tom Jones, a Foundling”. The movie starred Albert Finney and Susannah York.

2. “Pirates of the Caribbean: Dead Man’s Chest” (2006) – Gore Verbinski directed this second entry in Disney’s “PIRATES OF THE CARIBBEAN” franchise about the search for the chest that contains Davy Jones’ heart. The movie starred Johnny Depp, Orlando Bloom and Keira Knightley.

3. “Pirates of the Caribbean: Curse of the Black Pearl” (2003) – Gore Verbinski directed this first entry in Disney’s “PIRATES OF THE CARIBBEAN” franchise about a dashing pirate who forms an alliance with an apprentice blacksmith in order to save the latter’s beloved from a crew of pirates – the very crew who had mutinied against the former. The movie starred Johnny Depp, Geoffrey Rush, Orlando Bloom and Keira Knightley.

4. “Kidnapped” (1960) – Peter Finch and James MacArthur starred in Disney’s 1960 adaptation of Robert Louis Stevenson’s 1886 novel about family betrayal in 1740s Scotland. Robert Stevenson directed.

5. “Pirates of the Caribbean: At World’s End” (2007) – Gore Verbinski directed this third entry in Disney’s “PIRATES OF THE CARIBBEAN” franchise about the Pirate Lords’ alliance and their stand against the East Indian Trading Company and Davy Jones. The movie starred Johnny Depp, Orlando Bloom, Keira Knightley and Geoffrey Rush.

6. “Against All Flags” (1952) – Errol Flynn and Maureen O’Hara starred in this swashbuckler about a British sea officer who infiltrates a group of pirates on behalf of the government bring them to justice. George Sherman directed.

7. “Rob Roy” (1995) – Liam Neeson and Jessica Lange starred in this adventure film about Scottish chieftain Rob Roy McGregor and his conflict with an unscrupulous nobleman in the early 18th century Scottish Highlands. Michael Caton-Jones directed.

8. “The Master of Ballantrae” (1984) – Michael York, Richard Thomas, Fiona Hughes and Timothy Dalton starred in this second adaptation of Robert Louis Stevenson’s 1889 novel about two estranged Scottish noblemen, who are also brothers. Douglas Hickox directed.

9. “Swashbuckler” (1976) – Robert Shaw starred in this adaptation of Paul Wheeler’s story, “The Scarlet Buccaneer”, about an early 18th century pirate who forms an alliance with the daughter of a disgraced judge against an evil imperial politician. James Goldstone directed.

10. “The Master of Ballantrae” (1953) – Errol Flynn, Anthony Steel and Roger Livsey starred in an earlier adaptation of Robert Louis Stevenson’s 1889 novel about two estranged Scottish noblemen, who are also brothers. William Keighley directed.

“THE MARVELOUS MRS. MAISEL” Season One (2017) Episode Ranking

Below is my ranking of the Season One episodes of the Amazon Prime series, “THE MARVELOUS MRS. MAISEL”. Created by Amy Sherman-Palladino, the series stars Rachel Brosnahan as Miriam “Midge” Maisel:

“THE MARVELOUS MRS. MAISEL” SEASON ONE (2017) EPISODE RANKING

1 - 1.08 Thank You and Good Night.jpg

1. (1.08) “Thank You and Good Night” – Housewife-turned-standup comic Miriam “Midge” Maisel and her manager, former cafe employee Susie Myerson deal with the repercussions of Midge’s off-script take down of famous comedienne Sophie Lennon. Midge and her estranged husband Joel Maisel briefly reunite for their son’s birthday.

2 - 1.02 Ya Shivu v Bolshom Dome Na Kholme.jpg

2. (1.02) “Ya Shivu v Bolshom Dome Na Kholme” – Midge’s life falls into a tailspin in the wake of Joel leaving her. Their parents butt heads in an attempt to keep the couple together. Susie pushes Midge to seek a career as a stand-up comic.

3 - 1.07 Put That on Your Plate.jpg

3. (1.07) “Put That on Your Plate” – With Susie’s help, Midge hones her act at the Gaslight Cafe. Midge’s father, Abe Weissman, surprises the women with a dinner guest, sending her mother Rose into an emotional spiral. Midge stirs up controversy after meeting a big-time comic, Sophie Lennon.

4 - 1.01 Pilot.jpg

4. (1.01) “Pilot” – Midge seemed to lead the perfect life with Joel and their children. But when his dreams of becoming a stand-up comic bomb at the Gaslight, Joel blames Midge and leaves her. A drunken Midge returns to the club and engages in a comic routine that leads to her arrest.

5 - 1.04 The Disappointment of the Dionne Quintuplets.jpg

5. (1.04) “The Disappointment of the Dionne Quintuplets” – Susie shows Midge the ropes during a tour of New York comedy clubs. Rose takes a bit too much pleasure in Midge and the children moving in with the Weissmans.

6 - 1.06 Mrs. X at the Gaslight.jpg

6. (1.06) “Mrs. X at the Gaslight” – Susie becomes upset when she learns that Midge has been performing her act at private parties. Abe is thrilled when he receives a job offer from Bell Labs. The Weissman family celebrate Abe’s job offer at a local Chinese restaurant, where they encounter Joel and his mistress, Penny Pann.

7 - 1.03 Because You Left.jpg

7. (1.03) “Because You Left” – After her second arrest, Midge finds herself in legal trouble when she is forced to face a judge in court. Abe approaches Joel’s father, Moishe Maisel, with an interesting proposition. Legendary comic Lenny Bruce offers some unconventional inspiration for Midge’s act.

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8. (1.05) “Doink” – Midge gets a job at B. Altman, a Manhattan department store, where she makes new friends. She also hires an unemployed comedy writer, an act that proves disastrous for her budding career. Joel’s relationship with Penny Pann meets with disapproval from his parents, along with the wife of his friend/co-worker Archie Cleary.

Kathryn Janeway and Starfleet Principles – “STAR TREK VOYAGER” (2.14) “Alliances”

KATHRYN JANEWAY AND STARFLEET PRINCIPLES – “STAR TREK VOYAGER” (2.14) “Alliances”

Many ”STAR TREK” fans have claimed that the lead character of ”STAR TREK VOYAGER” lead character, Captain Kathryn Janeway, barely developed as a character during the series’ seven (7) season run. After watching the Season Two episode, (2.14) “Alliances”, I am can see that I would never agree with those critics of Janeway’s character. The Season Two Kathryn Janeway featured in this episode struck me as a far cry from the Kathryn Janeway that finally returned to Earth in the series finale, (7.25-7.26) “Endgame”.

But this article is not simply about Kathryn Janeway. It is mainly about the good captain and the major role she played in ”Alliances”. The episode began with a Kazon attack upon Voyager, which resulted in damages to the starship, several wounded and the death of another Voyager crewman – the popular ex-Maquis and close friend of Commander Chakotay named Kurt Bendera. After Chakotay delivered the eulogy after the funeral, Crewmen Hogan and Michael Jonas voiced their opinion to Captain Janeway that Voyager should operate in a manner similar to the Maquis and consider making a deal with the Kazon for safe passage. Naturally, Janeway refused to consider the idea of trading technology with Kazon, which is something they have proposed in the past. But her resistance to the idea of an alliance eventually faded when Chakotay and Lieutenant Tuvok both proposed that she consider an alliance with one or two Kazon factions to secure peace. Not to trade technology, but to offer protection from attacking forces and emergency supplies. As I had pointed out, the Captain was reluctant to accept Chakotay’s idea, but eventually accepted. Ensign Harry Kim seemed horrified by the idea, claiming that the Federation would never consider forming alliances with the likes of the Kazon. Apparently, the young ensign forgot about the treaty that the Federation had signed with the Klingon Empire in the late 23rd century (something that Tuvok had reminded the Captain about) and one with Cardassia just a few years earlier. Fortunately, Janeway ignored Kim’s protests.

During the series’ first two seasons, Janeway had been a rigid practitioner of Starfleet’s principles, unwilling to be flexible about her command style. She also had a bad habit of ignoring advice that required her to be a little more flexible . . . unless it suited her. Obviously, Chakotay’s suggestion of mixing a little Starfleet principles with Maquis methods never really appealed to Janeway. And I got the feeling that she was determined to prove him wrong. Bear with me. There was nothing wrong in Janeway’s policies about following Starfleet principles – when the situation demanded it. After all, if Janeway had not maintained discipline on her ship, Voyager could have easily become another U.S.S. Equinox. However, there was a time for adhering to Starfleet . . . and a time for using other methods.

Chakotay’s idea of forming an alliance with the Kazon seemed sound. Even Tuvok thought it was a good idea. Yet, Janeway decided to sabotage Chakotay’s idea by accepting Torres and Paris’ not-so-bright suggestion of forming an alliance with Seska and Maj Cullah of the Kazon Nistrim sect. Why on earth would she agree to sign a treaty with the very Kazon sect that the crew of Voyager had been in conflict with since Season One’s (1.11) “State of Flux”? And why did she not simply consider contacting other Kazon sects, as Chakotay and Tuvok had suggested. Then Janeway added more fuel to the fire when she disregarded Tuvok’s advice against forming an alliance with the Trabe, the Kazons’ blood enemy. The Trabe used to be a major power in the Delta Quadrant and also brutal slave masters ruling over the Kazon race. The Kazon eventually revolted and stole all of the Trabe technology, spacecraft and even their home world. The Trabe had been reduced to wanderers that were constantly pursued by Kazon fleets and unable to settle on any permanent planet for fear of being exterminated by the former slaves. In the end, Tuvok’s objections against an alliance with the Trabe proved to be sound. The effort to form an alliance with the Kazon ended up being undermined by the Trabe’s attempt to assassinate the Kazon majes (leaders).

As I had earlier stated, one of Janeway’s major flaws had been her inability to be flexible in the face of Voyager’s extraordinary situation in the Delta Quadrant. During Seasons One and Two, she seemed obsessed with maintaining Starfleet principles. In the end, this strict adherence to these principles did not prevent Voyager’s capture by Seska, Maje Cullah and the Kazon in the Season Two finale, (2.26) “Basics, Part I”. Following this last incident with Seska and the Kazon, Janeway switched tactics and adhered more closely with utilizing Maquis methods. I would have cheered her for this . . . except she went from one extreme to another. Her determination to use any means possible to get home nearly led to Voyager’s destruction in the early Season Three episode, (3.04)”The Swarm”, when she decided to trespass into a hostile alien space after being warned away. Another form of this kind of extremism occurred when she decided to form an alliance with the Borg in order to avoid what she believed was certain destruction at the hands of Species 8472 in (3.26-4.01) “Scorpion”. This alliance led to Species 8472’s defeat and many home worlds opened to conquest and assimilation by the Borg. After Voyager’s encounter with the U.S.S. Equinox in (5.26-6.01) “Equinox”, Janeway finally learned to become flexible by striking a balance between maintaining Starfleet principles and being a little creative when the occasion demanded.

As for “Alliances”, it had the potential to be an excellent episode. Unfortunately, too much had occurred during the episode’s 45-50 minutes running time. ”Alliances” could have . . . should have been a two-part episode. But writer/producer Jeri Taylor decided to stuff this very eventful story into one episode. Worse, the story ended on a sour note with Janeway’s speech reaffirming Starfleet principles. Her strident speech not only made me wince, it also made me wonder if she was feeling a little smug at proving both Chakotay and Tuvok wrong. The ending did not strike me as one of her finest hours.