Archive for February, 2010

Trekathon 132: The Cage (TOS)

February 28th, 2010

Wheee, all the way back to the beginning.

Why this one now? Because it was first shown on television on 4 October 1988, a month or so before the start of Season 2 of TNG. It had been around in other forms before then, but I’m going to go with TV release dates.

For those who don’t know, we’ve already seen most of this episode, as the flashbacks in The Menagerie parts 1 and 2.

Most of the comments that I had then still stand. It is too cerebral and talky (a little like the first season of The Next Generation in places). The standalone version is more coherent as a story, but it has significant weaknesses as a pilot. You don’t get a good sense of anyone except Captain Pike.

Better than almost anything that’s aired for Next Generation so far, though.

132 down, 605 to go.

Trekathon Season Review: The Next Generation, Season 1

February 28th, 2010

This show was honestly pretty lucky to get a second year.

There are some good moments. But not nearly enough. There’s really only one truly great episode (“The Big Goodbye”), and a an awful lot of just plain bad episodes. Some of the episodes are up there with the very worst ever.

The blame for this is mainly with the writing. It does take the actors a little bit to settle down, but some of the material they’re given is just woeful. Way too much preaching about how wonderful the 24th century is (and, by contrast, how awful things are now).

But if you had to compare this with the worst season of Original Star Trek, the third? No contest. This is far, far worse.

The rankings so far:

  1. TOS Season 2
  2. TOS Season 1
  3. TAS Season 1
  4. TOS Season 3
  5. TAS Season 2
  6. TNG Season 1

Next: Back to The Original Series for the original pilot (aired for the first time between Seasons 1 and 2 of Next Generation), and then Season 2 of The Next Generation.

Trekathon 131: The Neutral Zone (TNG)

February 28th, 2010

From the title I was expecting a nice tense Romulan-centric episode, something like Balance of Terror back in the original series.

Instead we get borderline-slapstick fun with the unfrozen humans, clearly meant to underline just how incredibly advanced and awesome the Federation is. I wouldn’t have been a fan of this kind of thing even if the episode title hadn’t raised the expectations in my mind.

Still, the one bright point is that the Romulans are back, and Star Trek is part of the way to having a decent recurring villain.

The moment when I saw the guitar I was pretty worried – I thought they might start singing. Fortunately saved from that one this time around.

131 down, 606 to go. 6,000 minutes watched.

Trekathon 130: Conspiracy (TNG)

February 28th, 2010

Babylon 5 ruined this episode for me.

You see, before Babylon 5 the idea of having a vast conspiracy just come up and be resolved in one episode was the norm. Babylon 5 started to do this kind of plot over whole seasons, which added to the impact. For instance, in a more modern era there would have been a member of the main crew acting strangely for several episodes before this one who then turns out to be infected, for instance.1

So what might have been a great episode at the time is just a good one now. But it’s doing things that we’ve never seen Star Trek do before, and it has some fantastic action scenes. Oh, and an exploding head.

Great Star Trek moment: the first time in any of the TV shows that the crew has gone to the surface of 24th (or 23rd) century Earth.

130 down, 607 to go.

  1. In actual fact, the show is actually being quite innovative in that there was actually a link to this in an earlier episode, which is a first for Star Trek. 

Trekathon 129: We’ll Always Have Paris (TNG)

February 28th, 2010

A fairly interesting episode that’s slowed down by writing that doesn’t quite reach as far as its grasp, but manages to avoid mediocre or terrible. As a result it’s better than almost anything else in this season (yeah, faint praise I know).

It doesn’t actually rise to the level of ‘good’ – Picard’s relationship with the Doctor’s wife never really feels real, and there’s too much technobabble in the main plot. But solid marks for effort all around.

129 down, 608 to go.

Trekathon 128: Skin of Evil (TNG)

February 28th, 2010

A giant oil slick kills the security officer of the Enterprise. The episode mainly fails simply because the alien looks so ridiculous you cannot take it seriously. Really, it’s just a giant pool of black liquid. It’s hard to believe it as a significant threat to the Enterprise.

Fundamentally there’s the potential for something nice here. It’s so rare to just have the kind of random, meaningless death that is part of reality. Most TV shows will only kill characters to some purpose, or with some great villain. The need to write someone out because of a contract dispute had some potential. But it doesn’t add up.

Tasha Yar’s death here kind of proves Denise Crosby’s point: there isn’t a single other member of the main bridge crew whose death would be so unaffecting (except maybe Troi). She’s had no character development. She’s not very good at her job. And there isn’t much evidence that she got on well with anyone except Worf. Maybe the writers would have gone somewhere eventually, but she was getting less development than any other character. Heck, in her funeral scene the only thing they could think of to do was to have Tasha give compliments to the crew, because there wasn’t enough about her for them to say. The only crew member who really seems to react is Troi.

128 down, 609 to go.