Tread Perilously — Star Trek TNG: Shades of Gray

Tread Perilously’s annual Star Trek Month continues with the worst episode of Star Trek: The Next Generation, the infamous clipshow known as “Shades of Gray.”

When the Enterprise scouts a newly discovered planet, Commander William T. Riker gets barbed by a carnivorous plant, which pants a microbe in Riker’s nervous system. Geordi and Data beam back down to the planet to investigate the creature as Riker’s condition worsens. Finally in a coma, Dr. Polaski can only stave off the infection by forcing Riker to relive some of his best — and worst — memories of his first two years as the ship’s first officer.

Erik and Justice try to talk about an episode with a terminal case of senioritis. Justin introduces Red Dog, the old time Paramount stage hand. Erik suggests Dr. Polaski is Gene Roddenberry’s laziest creation. Dr. McCoy’s racist tendencies also get examined. The lack of standard issue hardsuits gets raised — not that it would’ve helped the crew of the Prometheus. Erik recalls how much he hated Riker as a child even though he loves him now. The discussion turns into a clip show of some of Erik and Justin’s favorite topics, including Riker’s sexual prowess, their difficult time with anime, Star Trek: Deep Space Nine, and their love of Airplane II: The Sequel.

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Tread Perilously — Star Trek: The Way To Eden

Tread Perilously begins its annual Star Trek month with the TOS episode “The Way to Eden.”

The Enterprise intercepts a ship stolen by an ambassador’s son and his pals, who all follow a cult leader known as Dr. Severin. Their youth, colorful clothes, and love of music put them at odds with the square Starfleet staff and Captain Kirk, whom they call “Herbert.” Dr. Severin has a plan to get to a planet known as Eden, which happens to exist in Romulan space. When he manages to take control of the Enterprise and cross the Neutral Zone, it’s up to Kirk and company to stop him from reaching landing on a planet which may not be what he or his group expects.

Seth Linker joins Erik and Justin for an hour of fake hippies and scenes of Gene Roddenberry discussing sex. Erik tries to game the politics of writers D.C. Fontana and Arthur Heinemann. Seth points out some merit in the universally panned third season episode. Justin discusses the problems with future slang. He also posits that Captain Picard and Michael Jordan helped normalize balding for men in the late 1980s and early 1990s. Seth suggests the music is consciously recreating the worst of 60s folk rock and everybody enjoys the truth about Eden, which is in no way related to Sha Ka Ree.

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Tread Perilously — Dr. Strange: Pilot

Tread Perilously concludes a month of failed TV pilots with 1978’s attempt to bring Dr. Strange to the small screen.

When a demon gives Morgan Le Fey (Jessica Walter) three days to prevent Dr. Stephen Strange (Peter Hooten) from learning the mystic arts, local sorcerer Lindmer (John Mills) realizes he must finally train the young psychology resident. At the Manhattan area hospital where he works, Strange must deal with cooky patients, a psych ward nurse dispersing too much medication, and the absentee head of the department. But when Clea Lake (Anne-Marie Martin) comes to the ward after becoming bewitched by Morgan, Strange learns about his special heritage. His nascent skills will be tested as Morgan offers him the chance to join her side and rule a dimension which happens to look like a Dio album cover.

Justin and Erik praise Dormammu for sitting this out. They also finally discuss Avengers: Infinity War. Justin calls Erik on his habit of showing people terrible movies and television. Erik praises anytime Jessica Walter finds herself in Led Zepplin-land. Justin tries to describe the terrible claymation demon in the pilot. He also points out the Hollywood executive fear of magic. Erik explains both the film Pumaman and why it’s sometimes called “Pyumamin.” Both note the attempt to make Wong (Clyde Kusatsu) a less egregious character and discuss the problem of classic comic book love interests. But will they declare Dr. Strange the worst failed pilot they watched?

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Tread Perilously — Wonder Woman: Pilot

Tread Perilously’s tour of failed TV pilots continues with the 2011 Wonder Woman pilot. Its reputation is justly deserved.

Diana of Themyscira (Adrianne Palicki) lives a triple life. She’s a high-powered executive at Themyscira Industries, a superhero known as “Wonder Woman” and Diana Prince, a lonely woman looking for a man to make sense of all of her troubles. While the company tries to introduce a new Wonder Woman doll, Diana sets her sights on disreputable pharmaceutical executive Veronica Cale (Elizabeth Hurley), who is starting some sort of super-solider program. She also butts heads with Los Angeles detective Ed Indelicato (Pedro Pascal). It all comes down to a warehouse fight and a surprise appearance from her ex, Steve Trevor (Justin Bruening).

Erik and Justin end up talking about Supergirl and the Wonder Woman feature a great deal. Erik points out geographical detail and Justin marvels at his ability to use L.A. shortcuts. They also talk about The Shield, which should give you an idea of how much they did not enjoy the Wonder Woman pilot. Erik accuses Kelley of skimming the Wikipedia article on Wonder Woman as the beginning and end of his research. He also explains to Justin the phenomenon of “Surprise Darkseid.” Tread Perilously’s love affair with Marvel’s Cloak & Dagger continues and Justin points out how David E. Kelley failed to make a single choice in developing this Wonder Woman series.

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Tread Perilously — L.A. Confidential: Pilot

Tread Perilously continues its tour of failed TV pilots with 2003’s L.A. Confidential.

Hard boiled Los Angeles detective Jack Vincennes (Kiefer Sutherland) will do anything to get transferred back to Narco and bring down a heroin racket. But since he’s in stuck in Ad-Vice, he tries to uncover the source of the heroin anyway. Meanwhile, Detective Ed Exley (David Conrad) takes his job in the Internal Affairs Division way too seriously. As a consequence, he gets reassigned to deal with an extortion threat against Marylin Monroe. Officer Bud White (Josh Hopkins) gets noticed by Captain Dudley Smith (Tom Nowicki), who could use Bud’s propensity for violence on a new taskforce. But first, he must play bodyguard at a luau hosted by Pierce Patchett (Eric Roberts), where Bud meets the new-in-town Lynn Bracken (Melissa George) and catches wind of a murder.

Erik and Justin reveal they are both fans of James Ellroy’s L.A. Quartet — and it informs all of their opinions of the pilot. Justin tries to figure out why Sutherland is in this despite 24 being on the air. Magneto shows up to take over directing duties. The game L.A. Noire gets nothing but praise; as does the L.A. Confidential feature film. Dick Stensland gets re-envisioned as “Stenz the Menace” while Dudley Smith becomes an Odin worshiper. Erik points out the difficulties in making a film about The Hat Squad and Justin suggests a page-one rewrite.

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Tread Perilously — Aquaman: Pilot

Tread Perilously continues its month of failed TV Pilots with the 2006 pilot for Aquaman — aka Mercy Reef.

Occasional SCUBA instructor and animal liberator A.C. (international heartthrob Justin Hartley) spends his days as a lovable rogue and helping his friend Eva (Amber McDonald) run her seaside bar until forces from Atlantis arrive in town to deal with loose ends. When a siren (guest star Adrianne Palicki) makes killing A.C. a priority, he must finally face the truth of his past and take hold of his destiny. Luckily, a friend of his parents (Ving Rhames) appears to train him, not unlike a Watcher, and aid him in freeing Atlantis. Meanwhile, Air Force pilot Lt. Rachel Torres (Denise Quiñones) is out of her depth despite being headhunted by an X-Files type agent interested in the mysterious goings-on in the Bermuda Triangle.

Justin and Erik invent a more standard drama series called Mercy Reef about broken people trying to rebuild their lives in a scenic paradise. They also get lost in the ethnic ambiguity of actor Lou Diamond Phillips. Justin complains that international heartthrob Justin Hartley stole his allotment of hotness. An in-depth discussion of Jaws 3D and Jaws: The Revenge breaks out. The use of “A.C.” reminds Justin of Al Cowlings. Erik praises McDonald’s performance as one of the pilot’s highlights and Hartley as its winning feature. But is it possible this vision of Aquaman isn’t sexy enough?

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Tread Perilously — Fearless: Pilot

Tread Perilously begins a special experiment with a month of failed television pilots. Up first, The WB 2004 pilot for Fearless starring Rachel Leigh Cook.

Gaia Moore was born without the “fear gene.” Consequently, her reflexes are heightened to compensate for the lack of a fight-or-flight response. While it makes little sense, it makes her an ideal candidate for the FBI and a special taskforce handling “young crime.” Her first case sees Gaia and the team on the trail of a major identity thief. But when the confidential informant helping on the case turns out to be the ID thief’s son, Gaia will have to use her lack of fear to save the day. Meanwhile, her knew partners try to uncover her secret.

Justin and Erik discuss the importance of beta readers for writing projects of all types. Ian Somerhalder becomes “Ian Smoulderhalder” because of course he does. Justin points out the supporting cast made notable guest appearances on Buffy the Vampire Slayer. Erik begins his fantasy casting for Denis Villeneuve’s upcoming Dune. He also points out how far away 2004 feels. Justin defends Cook despite the terrible dialogue she speaks throughout. Erik considers how the careful application of cyberpunk would solve many of the pilot’s problems and both attempt to find better roles for Cook.

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