REMEMBER ME (3 of 3): One Viewer With An Opinion To Rule Them All


Though the idea of webcasters analyzing old episodes of Star Trek is one that’s relatively new, some people have been at it since before it could qualify as nostalgia. Indeed, while our friends at Mission Log – whom we looked at yesterday – started in 2012, Chuck Sonnenberg was reviewing episodes of Voyager while the ship was still stuck in the Delta Quadrant. In the last article in our Remember Me series, we explore yet another way to look back at Star Trek’s run; and, this time we’ve got statistics! Hit the jump for Part Three.

“I started it originally because I was practicing web coding skills and needed to have content to work with, so reviewing Star Trek: Voyager episodes (which were still coming out at the time) seemed like a fun way to come up with that,” said Sonnenberg, host and producer of the popular Sci Fi (or SF) Debris, which started with text reviews in 1999 and switched to video in 2008.


Billing himself not as a Roger Ebert-esque authority and but simply “a viewer with an opinion,” Sonnenberg has avoided becoming a Comic Book Guy-esque, whiny, nit-picking nerd. He doesn’t take himself seriously and injects his reviews with a lot of humor.

“I’ve tried to appeal to fans who, on the one hand, like to explore the ideas of Trek but, on the other, are willing to question its philosophy and ideas, or at the very least are open to discussing them,” Sonnenberg said. “And also, being able to laugh at it sometimes: that we can be serious one minute and silly the next.”

Pictured: Kirk punching a woman he just kissed. Not pictured: a particularly complicated philosophy of bettering ourselves and the rest of humanity

One example of how Sonnenberg will poke fun at Trek’s philosophy is their insistence on a perfect, moneyless future – while they’re asking you to hand them money hand over fist, as seen in stuff like this 1987 promo video to advertisers before TNG went on the air.

While most of his reviews are Star Trek, he’s also branched out into Babylon 5, Battlestar Galactica, Red Dwarf, Stargate, Star Wars: Clone Wars, and other properties. One of the web’s more prolific reviewers, Sonnenberg does a new review about every three days. He takes requests (for a small donation).

By the numbers
Having been at it for so long, Sonnenberg has quite a library: more than 300 Trek reviews (as of June 11, 2014),or 41 percent of the franchise.

He’s developed an extensive system for evaluating each episode (or movie), scoring them from 1 to 10, with each grade relative to its own series – so when he looks at an episode of Enterprise, he’s not comparing it to “City on the Edge of Forever.” The score he gives out most frequently is 7.

Seven_of_Nine couch
(Insert joke about “score” and “Seven”)


Committing to such a 1-10 ranking system means that, when he’s done, the average score would be 5.5 – which is actually pretty close to what’s he’s got right now: 5.6.

Screen Shot 2014-06-27 at 10.39.21 AM

The more of a series he’s reviewed, the closer he is to hitting that 5.5 – which is his average for Voyager, the show he’s reviewed the most and, bizarrely, seems to like the most even though he always talks about how many things he dislikes about it.

He only gives out one score of “Zero” for each series, representing the (ahem)

worst episode ever

So far, these have been “Threshold” (VOY), “A Night in Sickbay” (ENT), “Code of Honor” (TNG), and “Profit and Lace” (DS9). He reviews one of these “worst of the worst” as his annual Christmas tradition.

God bless us. Everyone.

Learning the Tropes
Sonnenberg has also developed a series of recognitions for common themes in Trek so extensive that he has his own TV tropes page. These include:

  • Janeway Pi – when a ship is autodestructed (because Janeway’s command code is Pi-1-1-0)
  • Burn, Baby, Burn – when a shuttle is destroyed (so every week)
  • Ancient Chinese Secret, Huh? – when something from Earth’s history is referred to as “ancient,” like “The Ancient West” instead of “The Old West” in “A Fistful of Datas
  • Like Unto An Amoeba – when the crew encounters godlike aliens
  • Lazarus of the Week – when someone comes back from the dead; Tom Paris has received the only “Jesus of the Week” for bringing himself back from death

The one award he gives out for every episode is the self-explanatory Annoying Character of the Week. The exception is “Voyager,” where Annoying Character becomes the Stupid Neelix Moment. (Any VOY episode without Neelix gets an automatic +1.)

Watch your future’s end … or a new beginning?
With the revitalization of the brand under the Abrams reboot, Sonnenberg feels that Trek can enjoy both increased popularity in the broader sphere and increased dedication among its core fans – bringing back those who may have “lapsed,” even if they’re divided in their opinion.

“Indeed, it gives us the possibility perhaps of the best of both worlds (pun very much intended), that an abbreviated series with high production values a la Game of Thrones could happen – the money to give it something closer to the level of effects of the films but with the chance for greater depth and more opportunities for ideas the films can’t afford to cover by their nature as films,” Sonnenberg said. “The chance to be a more sophisticated series, both in its look and in its substance, that’s a definite possibility now.”

And if that happens, then maybe we’ll start referring to The Original Series as The Ancient Series.

omega glory
And then stab people while quoting the US Constitution


How far back does your connection with Star Trek go?

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Discuss: What are some of the best examples of Trek nostalgia you know? Tell us and share links in the comments below.



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It’s been a long road, getting from there to here, but I think the best nostalgia I’ve seen lately has to do with “Star Trek: Enterprise.”

I would not have said this, say, a couple of years ago. But there is a bit of twinge of sadness that “Enterprise” never got its due, that its day in the sun was somehow taken from it while it was building toward its prime.

Some of that is due to my unhappiness over the changing tastes of the viewing public, inevitable though it might have been. I would still liked to have seen “Enterprise” progress further along the arc toward the future we saw in TOS. It would have been a great adventure.

Worst Episode Ever? He hasn’t gotten to “Spock’s Brain”, has he?

Everyone’s definition of “worst” is different, or can be.
For me, “worst” has to equal “dullest.” In TOS, that’s something like “Mark of Gideon,” which drags on like a m$#%@# to a fairly modest pay-off.
If, on the other hand, you’re trying to tell me that “Spock’s Brain” (which I consider great fun) is the “worst,” you must mean that worst equals dumbest, or least believable premise. Okie Dokie. I’m then going with TNG’s “Symbiosis” (aka Just Say No to Drugs.) Not only is this one a bad episode in a weak first season, it portrays Starfleet as absolute idiots who cannot consider drug abuse as a problem because they themselves don’t suffer from it. It’s a toss up who gets the worst lines, Wesley or Picard.
There are plenty more to pick on. Most are simply floating in a dull grey mist of forgettable Treks. That includes far too many Enterprise eps.

In any case, snarking on bad eps is a fine Trek tradition, and it will be duly observed here.

Love SFDebris. Though, some of his commentary on Voyager just serves as a harsh reminder how many bad decisions were made with the series, and how good it could have been.

I’ve been following SF Debris for a while now and I have to say that while I don’t always agree with him, I’m usually comfortable with the reasons he gives for that which I disagree with. Like he says in each episode; he’s just a viewer with an opinion. He’s not telling us why WE should it shouldn’t like a particular episode or film, he’s just telling us why HE liked or disliked it. And I respect that.

Plus his videos are quite funny. Lol.

STIV, had two great nostalgic moments, first in the beginning and then at the end.

First: When Jane Wyatt reprises her role as Amanda. The crowd cheered when she appeared on screen.

Last: When Sarek is taking his leave of Spock before going home, he acknowledges that Spock’s choice to join Star Fleet was a good one.* Some great feel-good closure for the TOS faithful who know the backstory on the Spock/Sarek rift.

* Of course the TNG writers had to muck this up with later revelations that Spock and Sarek never truly reconciled.

As for worst episodes of all time, that would be hard to narrow down and highly subjective. Each of the series had some outstanding episodes, and each had some stinkers.

@Jeff, yes he did get to Spock’s Brain. He gave that a 1 out of 10. So far that’s the worst score given to a TOS episode.

Hmm someone literally quantified his review scores, I’d never thought I’d see that.

also as of note I started watching him as I wondered why I had so many fond memories of TNG, but only 6 of Voyager

and FYI I grew up with TNG and the TMP movies, as I literally just watched the second movie over and over as a kid for the music lol

so screw you rick berman for firing the guy who tried to make the music in TNG much more like the movies, as you could have drawn more kids in that way lol.

also I have to admit I kinda take offense, but not to a serious level, of the article comparing him to the angry geek from the simpsons.

as he’s married and has kids, as he’s said so on his twitter and its shown up in his reviews a few times over the years.

so maybe the author needs to watch his galaxy quest review

and the following video, the story teller and you ^-^

I grew up on TOS when it first went into syndication, followed by TAS and then TMPs. Later, it was TNG, DS9 and VOY. I tried to get into ENT, but I bailed just before the Xindi Arc in season 2. Even so, I still kept up with TMPs, including the NuTrek stuff. Maybe its time to give ENT a second look?

BTW, I do hope that other ‘Trek series reviewers are interviewed, especially Red Letter Media. They have an excellent analysis on the TNG films that is a hoot.

Seeing the cast members of VOY in the above photo reminded me that I haven’t seen many updates about where they are now (besides good ol’ Captain Janeway, of course). This would be a neat story idea.

There are some great characters in that cast — Robert Picardo, for example, is so much fun at conventions, as are, of course, Garrett Wang and Ethan Phillips. I know that Tim Russ is behind a fan-based production company. There is a rather plaintive story behind the career of Jennifer Lien that I remember reading. On a more positive note, Robert Duncan MacNeill is now a director; I recall that he was a lot of fun at conventions, too.

I can’t congratulate and thank the TrekMovie staff enough for putting out so many great articles in such a short space of time. It makes surfing over to something to look forward to again. I hope more people take notice that TrekMovie is back!

Shouldn’t Mike Stoklasa get an honourable mention for his Mr. Plinkett Star Trek reviews?

12. Odradek – July 1, 2014

That’s true. And while I appreciate the SF Debris reviews, the Plinkett reviews are in a different league.

Look how thin the Voyager cast used to be.

The Plinkett reviews are rude, crude, expert on Trek and HILARIOUS. Did I say they were crude?

My nomination for Worst Episode Ever: Star Trek: Enterprise “Impulse”
— a ship full of Vulcan Zombies for heavens sake! They should have just called that silly episode “The Attack of the Killer Vulcan Zombies”. Pure mindless drivel… “Impulse” makes “Spock’s Brain” seem sophisticated by comparison.