Archive for February, 2010

Trekathon 127: Symbiosis (TNG)

February 28th, 2010

Star Trek visits the always exciting world of pharmaceutical companies and contract disputes. And the politics are as always very subtle – why, no one has ever compared pharmaceutical companies to drug dealers before.

The entire plot rests on the assumption that the planet is completely full of idiots. No one who has ever tried not taking the drug. No one who has even noticed that it looks a lot like someone on a drug high.

And then there’s the dreadful ‘Tasha explains to Wesley’ about drugs bit, which is about as convincing as an episode of Different Strokes.

Not much to like: there’s some awesome ‘cranky Dad’ stuff from Picard in the otherwise interminable rescue scene at the start, but that’s about it.

This seems like as good a point as any to do my rant about the Prime Directive. In this episode we hear that the results of violating it is “invariably disastrous”. But that simply doesn’t match up with several of the times when the prime directive was broken. It also doesn’t match up with the fact that Picard was breaking the Prime Directive himself in this episode (with the coils). But fundamentally the Prime Directive is an argument that we shouldn’t ever help developing countries, because it might go wrong. It’s a nice story telling trick, but I think it’s fundamentally an immoral rule. People with a capacity to help have an obligation to help. If there are side effects, then you need to fix those too.

127 down, 610 to go.

Trekathon 126: The Arsenal of Freedom (TNG)

February 28th, 2010

For a moment I thought everyone was going to get over the case of the stupids they’ve been experiencing since the start of season one. They pick up the fake Starfleet officer very quickly. But then Captain Picard falls in a hole. Oh, and then despite the fact that they’re within fifteen seconds run of the others Tasha can’t find them.

Half a good episode – the La Forge subplot on the Enterprise was pretty entertaining, with La Forge fending off a near mutiny from the Chief Engineer, fighting the ship, otherwise just being awesome.

But back on the planet we have an after-school special on why weapon merchants are evil. With a very bad case of the stupids with no one thinking to say “Please end the demonstration, we’d like to buy” until the last 5 minutes of the episode.

126 down, 611 to go.

Trekathon 125: Heart of Glory (TNG)

February 25th, 2010

Worf gets an episode at last. I think the only real failing here is that it’s hard to appreciate any kind of deep cultural struggle wihin Worf because he hasn’t mentioned a single thing about being a Klingon to this point. To an extent that’s admirable – he just fits in with the rest of the crew. But it undermines this episode, because we never have any real reason to believe that Worf is tempted by the Klingon renegades, other than perhaps having some sympathy for them. That kind of ruins the suspense.

There was some more superb security from Tasha Yar here: there’s a ship of unknown origin and status, and she doesn’t send anyone to accompany the first officer, second officer and navigator. And then she doesn’t have the prisoners searched for, say, the components of a weapon?

Oh, and the ‘Picard geeks out on new technology even though they’re on a time critical mission’ bit was funny, but seemed out of character. He may be fascinated by that stuff, but he also has a sense of place and priorities.

Great Star Trek moment: although it passes practically unheralded, this episode has the first on-screen use of the replicator.

125 down, 612 to go.

Trekathon 124: Coming of Age (TNG)

February 25th, 2010

I have to assume that the competitive selection for Starfleet Academy is a new thing. Because otherwise we wouldn’t have seen the stupidity levels from the crew we have so far.

On paper, this would seem to be the dullest episode ever: Wesley takes a test, Picard has an inspection. To make things even duller, the outcomes of both are foregone conclusions: Picard won’t leave the Enterprise, and neither will Wesley (at least, not yet).

But despite that it works. The actors are really starting to have a good sense of the characters. But more importantly here the writing comes together. It made this one of the three or four best episodes of this season. For instance, there’s a lovely moment where Worf actually seems like a real live Starfleet officer. It’s the first time he’s done anything but snarl at people.

And there’s even a hook into a broader plot to be picked up in a later episode.

Quote of the episode; “It’s a good thing you’re cute Wesley, otherwise you’d be obnoxious”.

124 down, 613 to go.

Trekathon 123: Home Soil (TNG)

February 23rd, 2010

There was a germ of a good episode in here somewhere, but it kinda got lost somewhere in the fourth or fifth long, talky, scene.

It’s great to be exploring brave new worlds, discovering strange and beautiful alien species. But honestly, could we spend a little bit less of the time in the conference room?

123 down, 614 to go.

Trekathon 122: When the Bough Breaks (TNG)

February 23rd, 2010

Gene Roddenberry did have some great ideas. But kids and families on a starship? This is a warship in more danger week to week than the average Navy ship in our day. And it’s not like it takes a long time to get home – people jet around this corner of the galaxy pretty frequently. It’s a bad idea, that lends itself to silly plots.

And, to prove the point, this week it’s super-powerful aliens who happen to like kidnapping children.1

So, I’m pretty much going to hate this episode unless it does something remarkable. And while there’s a slight creepy vibe to the early scenes with the kidnapped children, it rings really false – there would be a lot more noise, crying, tantrums.

The rest runs pretty predictably down the rails. Everyone is pissed off, but they find a solution that makes everyone happy and keeps the kids on the Enterprise.

122 down, 615 to go.

  1. I do hope the risk register didn’t have this one on it, or some Federation Minister is going to have to resign.