Friday, May 30, 2014

"NORTHANGER ABBEY" (2007) Photo Gallery


Below are images from "NORTHANGER ABBEY", the 2007 adaptation of Jane Austen's 1817 novel. Directed by Jon Jones and adapted by Andrew Davies, the television movie starred Felicity Jones and J.J. Feild: 

"NORTHANGER ABBEY" (2007) Photo Gallery







northanger abbey 2












Tuesday, May 27, 2014

"DIVERGENT" (2014) Review


"DIVERGENT" (2014) Review

Ever since the success of the "HARRY POTTER" movie franchise, movies based upon teen fantasy and science-fiction novels have been hitting the movie theaters in the past decade or so. The latest teen Fantasy/Sci-Fi to be released is a dystopian post-apocalyptic tale set in futuristic Chicago. 

Based upon the first of Veronica Roth's literary trilogy, "DIVERGENT" tells the story of a 16 year-old girl named Beatrice "Tris" Prior lives in a society in post-apocalyptic Chicago that is divided into five factions based upon human virtues and personalities. They are Amity (peaceful), Candor (truthful), Erudite (intelligent) and Dauntless (brave) and Abnegation (selfless). Tris has grown up in Abnegation, though she has always been fascinated by Dauntless. Her father, Andrew serves on the ruling council along with the head of Abnegation, Marcus Eaton and the head of Erudite, and Jeannie Matthews, head of Erudite. Along with other 16 year-olds, Tris undergoes a serum-based aptitude test that indicates the faction into which they would best fit and informs their choice at the Choosing Ceremony. When Tris takes the test, her proctor, a Dauntless woman Tori, reveals that she has the attributes of all five factions meaning she is Divergent. Tori records Tris' result as Abnegation, and warns her to keep the true result secret, since Divergents can think independently and the government considers the latter threats to the social order. In the end, Tris chooses Dauntless at the Choosing Ceremony, and her brother Caleb chooses Erudite, taking their parents by surprise.

Tris leaves her home and meets other initiates, including - her new best friend Christina, her other friends Will and Al, and an enemy named Peter Hayes. After they past a series of initial tests, they engage in a long training session conducted by Tobias "Four" Eaton and the brutal Eric in order to become members of the Dauntless faction, which seemed to serve as some kind of law enforcement organization. Although both Tris and Christina struggle at first, they eventually manage to rise in their class standing. During her training, Tris falls in love with one of her trainers - "Four". More importantly, both of them stumbles upon a plot by Jeannie Matthews, Erudite and Dauntless for Matthews to become "the" leader of Chicago, which includes ridding the community of those considered to be Divergent.

Hmmm . . . what can I say about "DIVERGENT"? I thought it was a decent movie. Its theme seemed to challenge the idea of society being divided by superficial reasons - in this case, human traits. The movie also benefited from Neil Burger's direction, who kept the movie's pace energetic, despite its narrative. More importantly, Burger did a great job in creating some first-rate action and dream sequences. I was especially impressed by the last action sequence that featured Tris and Four's efforts to prevent Jeannie Matthews from forcing Dauntless members to execute those who are Divergent. More importantly, the dream sequences that reflected her fear simulations took my breath away. And I feel that Alwin H. Küchler's cinematography and Richard Francis-Bruce's editing really contributed to those scenes.

"DIVERGENT" also benefited from some excellent and solid acting from its cast. Tony Goldwyn and Ashley Judd were excellent as Tris' parents - Andrew and Natalie Prior. Unfortunately, they were not in the film long enough to have any real impact upon most of the film, except in the last 20 minutes or so. The movie also featured solid performances from Ray Stevenson, who portrayed Four's father Marcus Eaton; Maggie Q as Tori; Ben Lloyd-Hughes and Christian Madsen as Tris' friends Will and Al; Ansel Elgort as Tris' brother Caleb; and Mekhi Phifer. Kate Winslet, Zoë Kravitz and Jai Courtney all gave good performances as Erudite leader Jeannie Matthews, Christina and Eric. But I got the feeling that their performances were hampered by Evan Daugherty and Vanessa Taylor's screenplay. Winslet's subtle performance was undermined by her character's ham-fisted goals for Chicago - a society in which emotions are eventually eradicated. The screenplay did not give Kravitz much opportunity to display her acting skills (unlike her appearance in 2011's "X-MEN: FIRST CLASS"), except in a scene in which she found herself dangling over a ledge, thanks to Eric. The screenplay only allowed Courtney, who portrayed Eric, to sneer a lot, nearly reducing him to a one-note villain.

In my opinion, the movie featured three first-rate performances. One came from Miles Teller, who portrayed Tris' antagonist, Peter Hayes. Unlike Courtney or even Winslet, Teller was given the opportunity to portray a more well-rounded character. And he certainly made the best of it. I also enjoyed Theo James' performance as Tris' trainer and love interest, Tobias "Four" Eaton. Granted, his character struck me as a typical leading man in a production that featured a female as the lead character. Think Angel from "BUFFY THE VAMPIRE SLAYER" or Edward Cullen from the "TWILIGHT" movies. But I also liked how James balanced Four's growing feelings for Tris and his dread of his abusive father. The star of the movie is, of course, Shailene Woodley. In fact, I believe she gave the best performance as the complex, yet youthful Tris Prior. I am not surprised that she managed to carry this movie on her shoulders with ease. I had seen her in the 2011 film, "THE DESCENDANTS" and knew she had the talent and presence to do the job. Some have been calling her as "the next Jennifer Lawrence". I disagree. Woodley is not the next anyone. She is her own self. And I would love to see her and Lawrence in a film together, considering how talented both are. 

And yet . . . I do not love "DIVERGENT". I believe it is hampered by too many flaws to make it a personal favorite of mine. One . . . I found the movie's setting a little . . . questionable. A society that is divided by human virtues? Huh? It is possible that author Veronica Roth had used this division to expose how human beings judge others, based upon superficial reasons. But humans have judged each other for reasons more shallow than personality traits - class, race, gender, religion, nationality, region, etc. I wish that Roth had considered another means to divide her society, especially since selflessness happened to be one trait. And I do not believe that selflessness exists or that human beings are capable of it. And what the hell is up with the younger members of the Dauntless faction running, jumping and leaping all over the damn city? One of the movie's characters - Christina - viewed these actions as crazy. Perhaps. But it struck me as a stupid and immature way to prove one's courage. And why would the more adult members of Dauntless allow this? Why would Roth? As much as the screen chemistry of Woodley and James impressed me, I was somewhat taken aback by their on-screen romance. In the novel, Four was an 18 year-old. I read somewhere that his character aged by six years in order for the role to fit James. If so, I think it was a mistake. By allowing Four to be older, his sexual tryst with Tris transformed into an act of statutory rape. It smacked of the Buffy/Angel romance from "BUFFY" and I have always loathed it. Unless sex between an adolescent and a young adult is considered legal in Roth's literary world. And I was less than impressed by the movie's narrative structure. At least three-fourths of "DIVERGENT" focused on Tris' training with the Dauntless faction. By the time the conflict against Jeannie Matthews' efforts to take over Chicago manifested, the movie had at least 20 to 30 minutes left of running time. And the whole conflict struck me as pretty rushed.

What really bothered me about "DIVERGENT" was its lack of originality. Many have compared it to "THE HUNGER GAMES" saga, created by Suzanne Collins, due to both stories featuring an adolescent girl in a dystopian post-apocalyptic society. But"DIVERGENT" seemed to borrow from other literary/movie/television franchises. Mind you, there is no law that a story like this have to be completely original. One would be surprised at how many novelists and moviemakers borrow from other source materials. But . . . Roth's efforts to put her own twist seemed to fall short. And the movie's screenwriters seemed incapable of improving her flaws. It is bad enough that the movie setting and leading character strongly reminded me of "THE HUNGER GAMES". We have the psuedo-Buffy/Angel romance between Tris and Four. The Choosing Ceremony for Chicago's adolescents strongly reminded me of the Hogwarts School Sorting Hat (which should have been burned) from the "HARRY POTTER" series. And Jeannie Matthews' goal of suppressing human emotions makes me wonder if the character was a fan of "STAR TREK" and a Vulcan wannabe.

"DIVERGENT" is not a bad movie. It featured energetic direction from Neil Burger, some decent performances, and especially an outstanding one from lead actress, Shailene Woodley. But it failed to impress me, due to some unoriginal and flawed writing, along with a great lack of originality. Like I said - "DIVERGENT" is not a bad movie. But I find it hard to regard it as a very good movie, let alone a great one.

Monday, May 26, 2014

"HOW I MET YOUR MOTHER: Ending on Controversy"



The CBS television series, "HOW I MET YOUR MOTHER" (2005-2014), ended its nine season run on March 31, 2014. Television audiences usually greet television finales either with great satisfaction or with equal contempt. Instead of one or the other, the television series created by Carter Bays and Craig Thomas proved to be not only divisive, but also controversial. And romance for the series' main character, Ted Mosby, ended up being the center of that controversy. 

As fans of "HOW I MET YOUR MOTHER" know, the series is more or less one major flashback in which one Ted Mosby decides to tell his two children about how he had met their mother, one Tracy McConnell. Or was it? For nine seasons, fans expected the series to end with Ted meeting the future mother of his children. The final episode, (9.23-9.24) "Last Forever", featured Ted's first meeting with Tracy. However, Bays and Thomas allowed television viewers to meet Tracy before Ted, when she made her first appearance in the Season Eight finale, (8.24) "Something New". That particular episode featured Tracy purchasing a Long Island Railway ticket that would take her to Farhampton, the site of Barney Stinson and Robin Scherbatsky's wedding, where she would perform a bass guitar at the wedding reception. In "Last Forever, Part I", Ted had left Barney and Robin's wedding reception and ended up at the rail station. He planned to return to New York City and prepare for his journey to Chicago and a new job. At the Farhampton station, he finally meets Tracy, thanks to the intervention of an elderly woman.

One is led to wonder . . . what exactly was the controversy about? Why did the finale resulted in a divisive fandom for "HOW I MET YOUR MOTHER"? Well . . . Ted's story continued following his first meeting with Tracy. Two years after their wedding, Barney admitted to Ted that his marriage to Robin was suffering, due to her profession forcing them to become constant travelers. Within a year, they announced their divorce to their friends. Barney resumed his womanizing, until he became a father, following a one-night stand with a date. Robin found it difficult to face Ted and Tracy's happiness and drifted away from the group. Ted and Tracy spend five years engaged and have two children, before they finally get married in 2019. In 2024, Tracy dies. Ted spends six years grieving her, until Penny and Luke (his children) realize the story was really about Robin, whom Ted contemplates dating again. The Mosby children give Ted their blessing and the series ends with Ted standing outside Robin's apartment window, holding the blue French horn he had originally stolen for her, when they first met.

This finale caused a major storm within the "HOW I MET YOUR MOTHER" fandom. Many fans cried foul that the series was really about Ted's tumultuous relationship with Robin, instead of how he first met Tracy. Others sighed with a collective relief over Robin and Barney's breakup and later, Ted's reconciliation with Robin. How did I feel? If I must be honest, I was one of those who sighed at the ending presented by Bays and Thomas. Why? One, I have always found Ted and Robin's relationship rather fascinating. This was probably due to my feeling that Josh Radnor and Cobie Smulders had a great screen chemistry. And two, I have never been a fan of the Robin/Barney relationship. When I first heard that Robin and Barney were being considered as a couple, I cheered at the thought. I liked the idea of the two friends becoming lovers. Smulders also had great chemistry with Neil Patrick Harris in scenes that featured Robin and Barney's friendship. But once the romance began . . . the chemistry fizzled and an odd hollow feeling would swell within my gut.

Unlike many other fans of the series, I never viewed "Last Forever" as terrible. Actually, I thought it was pretty decent. Believe or not, this feeling did not stem from my feelings toward the resolution of Ted and Robin's relationship. Mind you, it was a more than pleasant surprise, but there was more to the relationship that I liked. One, I was glad that Barney realized that he was not the marrying kind. Most people, even the Ted/Robin shippers, saw this as a regression of Barney's character. I did not. I do not believe that marriage matures a person . . . especially since many people get married for the wrong reasons. Both actors George Clooney and Charlie Sheen had marriages that ended in disaster. Like Barney, Clooney never married again after his failed marriage. Well . . . so far. Sheen has gone through three marriages and still managed to prove that he was not the marrying kind. Lana Turner experienced eight marriages before she finally admitted to herself that she was not the marrying kind. When a person finally confronts a reality about him or herself, he or she achieves some kind of maturity. And as far as I am concerned, Barney did exactly that. His maturity increased, when he became a devoted father (following a one-night stand).

And two, I thought "Last Forever" did an excellent job in portraying the friends' shifting dynamics, following Robin and Barney's wedding. The episode began with Ted contemplating leaving New York City for a job in Chicago, following the wedding. But after meeting Tracy, he changed his mind. However, Robin and Barney's travels made it difficult for the group to stay together. This difficulty grew after their divorce, and Robin decided to distance herself from the group in order to avoid witnessing Ted's growing relationship with Tracy. In one emotional scene that I found particularly satisfying, Lily confronted Robin over the latter's absence. This scene reminded me that despite any romantic dynamics, the friendship between the five characters was a very important element of the series.

In the end, Tracy's fate did not take me by surprise. Many fans, including myself, have been predicting her demise ever since the Season Eight episode, (5.20) "The Time Travelers", featured a scene in which Future Ted talked about meeting Tracy 45 days before the wedding at Farhampton. As I had earlier pointed out, Tracy was finally shown in "Something New". More importantly, she appeared not only in flashforward segments throughout Season Nine, but also in a few present scenes in which she met the other major characters - aside from Ted. This final season also featured a very charming episode called (9.16) "How Your Mother Met Me", which featured the events in Tracy's life during those same eight years before she met Ted. 

I can understand why so many fans were upset that the series ended with Tracy's death. They had spent eight years anticipating the moment when she and Ted would finally meet. But they did get to know her during Season Nine. Also, Tracy came off as a somewhat ideal character, despite Cristin Milioti's charming portrayal. And she ended in an ideal relationship/marriage with Ted. Quite frankly, she and Ted seemed just a little too perfect for each other. Bays and Thomas allowed audiences to get to know Tracy before the finale. If they had introduced her . . . and killed her off in the same episode, I would have accused the showrunners of poor writing. More importantly, the script made it clear that Ted spent six years mourning Tracy, before he resumed his romance with Robin. Many fans seemed to have this idea that Ted sought out Robin not long after Tracy's death. Go figure.

As much as I liked "Last Forever", I believe it did have problems. Well . . . I believe it had one major problem. And that problem originated back in Season Five - namely the Barney Stinson and Robin Scherbatsky relationship. I thought it was badly written. Not only did I considered it badly written in this episode, but I feel it has been mishandled as far back as Season Five. If Bays and Thomas had intended for Robin and Barney to get married and divorced, they could have achieved this before Season Nine. Instead, audiences were subjected to nearly two years of Barney struggling to hide his attraction to Robin, ever since their one-night stand in Season Three's (3.16) "Sandcastles in the Sand". They finally began dating in Season Five premiere, (5.01) "Definitions" and broke up by the seventh episode, (5.07) "The Rough Patch"

Two seasons later, they cheated on their respective dates in the Season Seven episode, (7.09) "Disaster Averted". By the end of Season Eight, they were engaged. To make matters worse, the entire ninth season was set during the weekend for Barney and Robin's wedding. They finally got married in one of the final scenes of (9.22) "The End of the Aisle". In a 2016 flashback for the next episode, "Last Forever, Part 1", they had announced their divorce to their friends. I suspect that Robin and Barney's second breakup in the series, along with Barney's return to his bachelor activities, really upset a lot of fans . . . even more so than Ted and Robin's second turn at romance. If only Bays and Thomas had tightened the writing for Robin and Barney's relationship, I would not have found their divorce so abrupt. And perhaps they could have achieved this by allowing Ted and Tracy's first meeting to happen on a day other than the one for Barney and Robin's wedding.

I found it rather odd that a series called "HOW I MET YOUR MOTHER" would turn out to be a lot more. As viewers eventually learned in the finale, a lot of it was about Ted's relationship with Robin . . . from the moment when they first met, to the moment some twenty-five years later, when they decided to renew their romance. The series was also about Ted's relationship with his other four friends - Marshall Erickson, Lily Aldrin and Barney Stinson - and about their own personal lives. Ironically, Robin and Barney proved to be instrumental in Ted meeting Tracy. Due to their wedding, and Ted's attempt to avoid his own feelings about their nuptials, he ended up leaving the wedding reception earlier than usual . . . and meeting Tracy.

It is ironic that many fans and critics ended up being disappointed with the finale for "HOW I MET YOUR MOTHER". Granted, I believe it may have been tainted by some flaws that originated several years ago. But considering how it ended, it proved to be a lot more satisfying to me than the past two to three seasons that preceded it. Goody-bye "HOW I MET YOUR MOTHER". I will miss you.


Saturday, May 24, 2014

"THE AMAZING SPIDER-MAN 2" (2014) Photo Gallery


Below are images from "THE AMAZING SPIDER-MAN 2", the sequel to the 2012 hit film, 2012's "THE AMAZING SPIDER-MAN". Directed by Marc Webb, the movie stars Andrew Garfield as Peter Parker aka Spider-Man: 

"THE AMAZING SPIDER-MAN 2" (2014) Photo Gallery






















Thursday, May 22, 2014



The year 1963 saw the release of Tony Richardson's Academy Award winning adaptation of Henry Fielding's 1749 novel,"The History of Tom Jones, a Foundling". Another thirty-four years passed before another adaptation of the novel appeared on the scene. It turned out to be the BBC's five-episode miniseries that aired in 1997. 

"THE HISTORY OF TOM JONES, A FOUNDLING" is a comic tale about the life and adventures of an English foundling, who is discovered in the household of a warm-hearted landowner in Somerset named Squire Allworthy. The latter adopts the child and Tom Jones grows up to be a lusty, yet kindly youth; who falls in love with one Sophia Western, the only child of Allworthy's neighbor, Squire Western. Tom is raised with the squire's nephew, a falsely pious and manipulative young man named Mr. Blifil. Because the latter is Allworthy's heir, Sophia's father wishes her to marry Mr. Blifil, so that the Allworthy and Western estates can be joined as one. Unfortunately for Squire Western and Mr. Blifil, Sophia is in love with Tom. And unfortunately for the two young lovers, Tom is discredited by Mr. Blifil and his allies before being cast away by Squire Allworthy. In defiance of Squire Western's wishes for her to marry Mr. Blifil, Sophia (accompanied by her maid, Honour) runs away from Somerset. Both Tom and Sophia encounter many adventures on the road to and in London, before they are finally reconciled.

Actually, there is a lot more to "THE HISTORY OF TOM JONES, A FOUNDLING". But a detailed account of the plot would require a long essay and I am not in the mood. I have noticed that the 1997 miniseries has acquired a reputation for not only being a first-rate television production, but also being superior to the 1963 Oscar winning film. As a five-part miniseries, "THE HISTORY OF TOM JONES, A FOUNDLING" was able to adhere more closely to Fielding's novel than the movie. But does this mean I believe that the miniseries is better than the movie? Hmmmm . . . I do not know if I can agree with that opinion.

I cannot deny that "THE HISTORY OF TOM JONES, A FOUNDLING" is a well made television production. Director Metin Hüseyin did an excellent job of utilizing a first-rate production crew for the miniseries. Cinders Forshaw's photography was well done - especially in Somerset sequences featured in the miniseries' first half. Roger Cann's production designs captured mid-18th century England in great detail. And Rosalind Ebbutt's costumes designs were not only exquisite, but nearly looked like exact replicas of the fashions of the 1740s. The look and style of "THE HISTORY OF TOM JONES, A FOUNDLING" seemed to recapture the chaos and color of mid-18th century England.

"THE HISTORY OF TOM JONES, A FOUNDLING" could also boast some first-rate performances. The miniseries featured solid performances from the likes of Christopher Fulford and Richard Ridings as Mr. Blifil's allies, Mr. Square and Reverend Thwackum; Kathy Burke, who was very funny as Sophia's maid, Honour; Celia Imrie as Tom's London landlady, Mrs. Miller; Peter Capaldi as the lecherous Lord Fellamar; Tessa Peake-Jones as Squire Allworthy's sister Bridget and Benjamin Whitrow as the squire. The episode also featured solid turns from the likes of Kelly Reilly, Camille Coduri, Matt Bardock, Roger Lloyd-Pack, and Sylvester McCoy. Max Beesley was solid as Tom Jones. He also had good chemistry with his leading lady, Samantha Morton, and did a good job in carrying the miniseries on his shoulders. However, I do feel that he lacked the charisma and magic of Albert Finney. And there were times in the miniseries' last two episodes, when he seemed in danger of losing steam.

But there were some performances that I found outstanding. Brian Blessed was deliciously lusty and coarse as Squire Western, Allworthy's neighbor and Sophia's father. I really enjoyed his scenes with Frances de la Tour, who was marvelous as Sophia's snobbish and controlling Aunt Western. Lindsay Duncan gave a subtle performance as the seductive Lady Bellaston. James D'Arcy was outstanding as Squire Allworthy's nephew, the sniveling and manipulative Mr. Blifil. Ron Cook gave the funniest performance in the miniseries, as Tom's loyal sidekick, Benjamin Partridge, who had earlier suffered a series of misfortunes over the young man's birth. Samantha Morton gave a superb performance as Tom's true love, Sophia Western. Morton seemed every inch the graceful and passionate Sophia, and at the same time, conveyed the strong similarities between the young woman and her volatile father. But the one performance I truly enjoyed was John Sessions' portrayal of author Henry Fielding. I thought it was very clever to use Sessions in that manner as the miniseries' narrator. And he was very entertaining. 

The producers of the miniseries hired Simon Burke to adapt the novel for television. And I believe he did an excellent job. I cannot deny that the miniseries' running time allowed him to include scenes from the novel. Thanks to Burke's script and Hüseyin's direction, audiences were given more details on the accusations against Jenny Jones and Benjamin Partridge for conceiving Tom. Audiences also experienced Bridget Jones' relationship with her cold husband and the circumstances that led to the conception of Mr. Blifil. Judging from the style and pacing of the miniseries, it seems that Hüseyin was inspired by Tony Richardson's direction of the 1963 film. There were plenty of raunchy humor and nudity to keep a viewer occupied. More importantly, "THE HISTORY OF TOM JONES, A FOUNDLING" proved to be a fascinating comic epic and commentary on class distinctions, gender inequality and social issues.

However, I still cannot agree with the prevailing view that the miniseries is better than the 1963 movie. Mind you, the latter is not perfect. But the miniseries lacked a cinematic style that gave the movie a certain kind of magic for me. And due to Hüseyin and Burke's insistence on being as faithful to the novel as possible, the miniseries' pacing threatened to drag in certain scenes. The scenes featuring Tom and Partridge's encounter with an ineffectual highwayman, their viewing of a puppet show, and a good deal from the London sequences were examples of the miniseries' slow pacing. I could not help feeling that "THE HISTORY OF TOM JONES, A FOUNDLING" could have easily been reduced to four episodes and still remain effective. 

I also had a few problems with other matters. One, I never understood why Lady Bellaston continued her campaign to get Sophia married to Lord Fellamar, after Squire Western prevented the peer from raping his daughter. Why did she continued to make life miserable for Tom after receiving his marriage proposal . . . the same proposal that she rejected with contempt? And what led Sophia to finally forgive Tom for the incident with Mrs. Waters at Upton and his marriage proposal to Lady Bellaston? After he was declared as Squire Allworthy's new heir, Sophia refused to forgive Tom for his affair with Lady Bellaston. But the next shot featured Tom and Squire Allworthy returning to Somerset . . . and being greeted by Sophia, along with hers and Tom's children. WHAT HAPPENED? What led Sophia to finally forgive Tom and marry him? Instead of explaining or hinting what happened, Burke's script ended on that vague and rather disappointing note.

But despite my problems with "THE HISTORY OF TOM JONES, A FOUNDLING", I cannot deny that I found it very enjoyable. Director Metin Hüseyin and screenwriter Simon Burke did a first-rate job in bringing Henry Fielding's comic opus to life. They were ably assisted by an excellent production staff and fine performances from a cast led by Max Beesley and Samantha Morton.

Tuesday, May 20, 2014

"When Irish Eyes Are Talaxian" [R] - 7/9


Part 7

Once Tom and the Doctor had delivered Jenny to her quarters, they returned to Harry's quarters for the now fully dressed Seven. Before they left, Neelix informed Tom about his encounter with Captain Janeway and Commander Chakotay. Visions of a strangled Talaxian cook filled Tom's thoughts when he learned how the Captain managed to fool the former. Using B'Elanna's meditation methods, Tom calmed down and with the Doctor, lugged the former drone to Sick Bay. 

Upon their arrival in Sick Bay, they found Megan Delaney gaining conscious. "Doctor? Tom?" Megan slowly rose into a sitting position. She clutched her forehead and groaned. "What happened? What am I doing here in Sick Bay? And why do I have this god-awful headache?"

The pilot and the hologram dumped Seven on an empty biobed, before the former rushed to help Megan to her feet. "The answer to all three questions," Tom said, "is Neelix's Valax."

"God!" Another groan escaped Megan's lips. "I see what you mean. I had one too many drinks."

The Doctor sarcastically added, "Actually, one drink would have been suffice."

"Huh?" Megan stared at the two men with confused eyes.

Smiling gently, Tom explained that Neelix's Valax proved to be incompatible with the bloodstreams of those from the Alpha Quadrant. "Just about everyone who drank some became affected."

Megan stumbled about Sick Bay, until her eyes came upon Seven's inert form. She nodded at the former drone. "Her too?"

Tom nodded. Before he could open his mouth, the doors slid open and a groggy-looking B'Elanna strode into Sick Bay. "Doctor, I have a splitting headache. Do you have any anaglesiac available?" She paused at the sight of Tom, the Doctor and Megan staring at her. And at the figure stretched out on one of the biobeds. "What the hell is going on?"

"Congratulations Lieutenant," the Doctor replied. "You're the second person to survive Mister Neelix's atrocious drink. Ensign Delaney, here, is the first."

B'Elanna's gaze focused upon Tom and Megan, standing in front of the biobed. For one awful moment, Tom feared she had remembered witnessing his and Megan's wrestling match on Deck 5. "Jenny?"

"Megan." The stellar cartographer walked toward the Doctor. "About that anaglesiac, Doc?"

The Doctor picked up a hypospray from a nearby tray and pressed it against Megan's neck. "I would also recommend a few hours of rest, Ensign. That Valax was very potent."

"I don't get it," B'Elanna said, as she headed for the EMH for her medication. "I only had three glasses of Valax. At least I think I did. And yet, this happens. I thought Neelix's little drink was suppose to have less alcohol than anything made in the Alpha Quadrant."

Tom replied, "It does. The Doc checked it out himself, before today. Like we had told Megan, those from the Alpha Quadrant seemed to have a low resistance to it. Sort of like encountering a new disease."

"Oh wonderful! I get drunk from fermented Leola root. By the way," a frown creased B'Elanna's lovely face, "how did I end up in our quarters?"

Tom explained how Crewman Jarvis found her inside one of the Jeffries tubes. "She had summoned me and I carried you home."

"What about me?" Megan asked. "I wasn't found any place strange, was I?"

A smirk appeared on the Doctor's face. "Only Lieutenant Paris can answer that, Ensign. He was the one who found you."

"He did?" Both Megan and B'Elanna cried out at the same time. All eyes fell upon the pilot. Who found himself growing uncomfortably warm all over.

Struggling to maintain a calm façade, Tom quickly replied, "Well, uh yes. I found you unconscious. Inside Turbolift One."

"Really?" The Doctor's eyebrows waggled mischeviously. "I didn't realize that Ensign Delaney was unconscious."

Tom glared at the hologram. Too bad one could not strangle a photonic being. Tom would have happily done so at this moment. "Yes Doc! She was unconscious when I found her. You just forgot." His eyes fell upon the unconscious figure stretched out on another biobed. "As for Seven," he nodded at the former drone, "you wouldn't believe where the Doc and I found her. It was in . . ."

"Inside the Mess Hall!" The Doctor's smug expression had vanished. Tom noticed how his face had paled. Could holograms do that?

B'Elanna looked unimpressed. "So what? She was found in the Mess Hall. What's the big deal?"

The Doctor glanced at Tom, who remained silent. He added uncomfortably, "Seven was attempting to . . . uh, she was telling jokes to several people inside the Mess Hall." He paused. "Rather badly."

A short laugh burst out of Megan's mouth. B'Elanna arched an eyebrow, Tuvok-style. "Seven-of-Nine, a comic? That must have been an unusual sight."

"Just as a drunken ex-Borg must have been," Megan added. "I thought Seven's nanoprobes gave her a low resistance to alcohol of any kind. Even champagne."

The EMH stiffly explained that as a former drone, Seven possessed a low resistance to alcohol. "Oh yeah," B'Elanna added with a smirk. "I remember when she was once practically tight after a glass of champagne. And that had synthehol. Maybe the next time we go against the Borg, we should consider exposing them to alcohol. Or perhaps Neelix's Valax. Get the Collective drunk and take over ourselves."

Even Tom could not help but laugh at his wife's crack. It felt nice to see that sharp edge of hers in fore, again. His combadge crackled. "Carey to Paris."

Ignoring B'Elanna's sudden interest, Tom responded. "Paris here. You have news for me, Joe?"

"I thought you would be happy to know that the transporters are back on-line. Engineering now has enough power to complete repairs on the external sensors. Hopefully, they should be up pretty soon."

Tom smiled. "Hey! That's good news, Joe! Keep me updated on the repairs. Paris out."

Dark brown eyes narrowed. "The external sensors are off-line?" B'Elanna asked.

Oh oh! Tom saw the glimmer in his wife's eyes and immediately knew she would not be spending the next several hours recovering from her ordeal. He hesitated before answering, "Yeah, but before you think of heading for Engineering, you need to get some rest." Tom turned to the EMH. "Am I right, Doc?"

Mischief lit up the Doctor's eyes. Fortunately, his ethical subroutines kicked in before he could cause any trouble. "Mister Paris is right, Lieutenant. You do need some rest. Both you and Ensign Delaney. I would recommend at least two or three hours of rest before either of you can return to duty."

"I'll rest after I help get those sensors back on line," B'Elanna replied tartly. "Meanwhile, I'll be in Engineering. See you later." She gave Tom a quick peck on the cheek and headed for the doors.

Tom heaved an exasperated sigh and started after his wife. "B'Elanna!"


Around the corner from Sick Bay, a woman hiding the corridor's shadows watched the double doors slide open and Voyager's chief engineer stride out into the corridor. As she marched toward the nearest turbolift, another figure emerged from Sick Bay. A taller figure with sandy blond hair, who wore a black uniform with red shoulders. Gray-blue eyes stared hungrily at the second figure.

"B'Elanna! B'Elanna, wait up!" Tom Paris cried after his wife. "Look, maybe the Doc is right. You've been through a lot today, and you need some rest." The woman surreptiously followed the pair.

The half-Klingon disregarded the helmsman's words with a wave of her hand. "Nonsense! I feel perfectly fine." B'Elanna paused in the middle of the corridor, nearly causing her husband to collide into her. She whirled around and seared him with a shrewd and penetrating stare. "Besides, I think you simply want an excuse to get me inside our quarters. Alone."

Kathryn Janeway frowned, as she watched Tom's jaw nearly drop to the deck. Her frown deepened when he gathered B'Elanna into his arms. Arms she longed to feel around her. "What's wrong with that?" the Chief Pilot whispered into the engineer's ear. "It'll be fun." He gently nibbled his wife's earlobe. Janeway closed her eyes and imagined that mouth nibbling her ear. She shivered.

"Hmmm," B'Elanna moaned. "I am so tempted. But," much to Janeway's relief, the former snapped back into her Chief Engineer mode, "I have external sensors to repair. And you have a starship to run. So . . ." B'Elanna extracted herself from the pilot's arms and continued her march along the corridor. Tom followed closely behind. So did Janeway. When the couple halted in front of Turbolift One, Janeway paused a few feet behind them. She then ducked behind another corner and observed the pair.

"Why don't you accompany me to our quarters first," Tom said, as he and B'Elanna waited for the turbolift. "I have to change into a fresh uniform. And I wouldn't mind some help." He gave his wife the full effect of those blue peepers.

B'Elanna seemed to be made of sterner stuff. Or else she had developed a resistance to the pilot's famed puppy dog eyes. "Sorry Flyboy," she said, patting Tom's arm. "Right now, the ship comes first." The turbolift doors opened and the couple stepped inside.

Silly woman, Janeway thought. How could Lieutenant Torres resist those . . .? An idea struck the red-haired captain's Valax-induced mind. It was an idea that would have horrified every member of her crew, yet it filled her with pure giddiness. She opened the hatch to the nearest Jeffries tube and crawled inside. Janeway realized that if she hurried, she just might reach her destination before the Chief Helmsman.