Archive for April, 2010

Trekathon 239: Schisms (TNG)

April 27th, 2010

Good teaser: the Enterprise explodes.

Bad teaser: Data reads poetry and Riker falls asleep.

This episode could have been great – aliens from another dimension stealing Enterprise crew members in their sleep? That could be a great horror-style episode. However, this episode features a seven minute scene of people discussing how a table from their dreams should be arranged. Sure, it’s a creepy table – but seven minutes!?

Maybe it’s just that the Star Trek style is too bright to allow horror to work, but this was an episode that could almost send you back to sleep. Ironic considering that it starts with Riker’s own sleep problems.

239 down, 498 to go.


Trekathon 238: Relics (TNG)

April 26th, 2010

Scotty!

The third of the original crew to turn up in Next Generation, and the only one to get a story about him – Bones got a cameo, and Spock got a lot of Romulan politics. Here the story is squarely about Scotty, and coming to terms with his usefulness in the new world.

The first half of the episode was a bit odd – while I can understand that Scotty was in a bit of shock, we haven’t seen him before as a rambling old man (closet alcoholic, sure, and there was nothing here to disprove that). It just felt out of character for him to be so oblivious to others when he was reeling off stories, something we’ve never really seen him do before. But the second half of the episode, with Geordi and Scotty developing a friendship, was a much better story.

And I loved the callbacks to the older episodes, it was nice to see some acknowledgment of the original series, which often gets short shrift in the Next Generation.

238 down, 499 to go.


Trekathon 237: Man of the People (TNG)

April 26th, 2010

So, this ambassador who is really a psychic vampire turns up, seduces Troi, but then they work out what’s happening and stop him.

Yuck.

Bad episode, bad premise, and (after some fairly good recent performances) some bad acting from the main participants. Not ‘cover your eyes’ awful, but not a fun hour of television.

237 down, and a nice round 500 to go.


Trekathon 236: Realm of Fear (TNG)

April 26th, 2010

The basis of this episode feels very real – Transporter phobia would undoubtedly be a very real thing in the world of Star Trek.

The episode starts out a bit poorly – it seems to be setting things up to be an hour long counselling session for everyone’s favourite whipping boy, Reg Barclay. The actual plot plays out a lot more cleverly than that, thankfully, playing Reg’s phobia off against the strange things going on with the transporter.

The main weakness turns out to be a bit too much technobabble, and some overly long scenes of adjusting technical equipment.

236 down, 501 to go.


Trekathon 235: Time’s Arrow, Part II (TNG)

April 26th, 2010

Not a great start to the new season – not bad, just missed the mark with me.

We spend an awful lot of time with Sam Clemens – which is a bit anticlimactic, because the dramatic conventions of this type of story mean we know he’ll be on the side of the good guys by the end of the hour. I was also disappointed that we didn’t get to see how Picard and company got their clothing and their apartment – there was at least the possibility of an interesting scene or two possible there.

And because the alien enemies are not really given much time to establish themselves, or their motives or background, there isn’t much to the conflict of the episode.

Technically speaking everything was fine – the story just wasn’t that interesting, and none of the actors weren’t given much to do.

235 down, 502 to go.


Trekathon Season Review: The Next Generation, Season 5

April 26th, 2010

The season was chronologically split by the final movie of the original crew, making this a real season of two halves. Prior to The Undiscovered Country the episodes veered between poor (The Game) and great (Darmok). In the second half, the standard deviation increases: from absolutely awful (Cost of Living) through to truly superb (The Inner Light). It’s like there was no consistent vision or oversight, or even editorial control. While he had been less involved with the show for a while at this point, I do wonder if the death of Gene Roddenberry, together with the distraction of the movie, may have made a difference.

There are three episodes here that I think are among the ten or so best Star Trek has to offer: Darmok, Cause and Effect and The Inner Light. Taken together these three shows showcase some of the best of the different stories that Star Trek can tell.

But on the other side of the coin there are some very dreadful episodes. Cost of Living in particular is, on sober reflection, probably the second or third worst episode of all time.

Everything but the writing is firing on all cylinders now, but the writing veers around like a starship driven by a drunken monkey.

That makes it very hard to judge this season relative to the others. At the top end it’s probably the strongest season to date, but how much should the bad episodes count against it?

Overall I think it’s not quite to the level of TNG Season 3, but it just (very barely) beats out TOS Season 2 on the strength of the good episodes.

That brings the rankings so far to:

  • TNG Season 3
  • TNG Season 5
  • TOS Season 2
  • TNG Season 4
  • TOS Season 1
  • TNG Season 2
  • TAS Season 1
  • TOS Season 3
  • TAS Season 2
  • TNG Season 1

That’s 234 episodes, 10 seasons, and 10,696 minutes (178 hours, or a little over a week) down, 503 to go. And 38,289 words written about it all.