Archive for March, 2010

Trekathon 161: Booby Trap (TNG)

March 21st, 2010

Another episode that dances around the subject of Holodeck porn. The reality of the 24th century would be that the computer’s memory would be stuffed with no end of it, but somehow all we ever see in the show is the kiss.

A lot was done right in this episode: Picard’s fascination with the alien ship, Geordi’s lovelorn hopelessness, Leah Brahms (or rather, a holographic simulation of her) helping out on the engine stuff. But the trap never developed enough of a sense of menace, and there was an awful lot of technobabble in the holodeck scenes. Not enough to make this a bad episode by any means, just the things that were holding it back from being great.

161 down, 576 to go.

Trekathon 160: The Bonding (TNG)

March 21st, 2010

Welcome to Meh. Population: This episode.

There’s nothing really that wrong with the writing or the acting of the episode. There are even some good moments, such as Wesley talking about his Father’s death.

It’s just, at the end of the day, not a very interesting Star Trek story. Someone’s mother dies, and they has to come to terms with it. The only Star Trek thing here is the alien ghost, but that was also the weakest part of the episode.

160 down, 577 to go.

Trekathon 159: Who Watches the Watchers? (TNG)

March 17th, 2010

I know the moral of this episode was supposed to be ‘gosh, isn’t the Prime Directive wise’. But that wasn’t my interpretation. I’d suggest the opposite – the episode shows that the ‘cultural contamination’ is more a result of not controlling contact, not the contact itself.

Anyway, leaving aside my Prime Directive problems, I was surprised to find myself enjoying this one. Picard’s explanation of technology (‘Clarkes Third Law’ really) was a great conversation, beautifully acted. And the planet side scenes were quite believable (for the most part – the ending wasn’t great).1

Great Star Trek moment: the reappearance of Vasquez Rocks. Yay!

159 down, 578 to go.

  1. Although someone hasn’t been keeping up to date on their Star Trek lore when writing this one. The race are described as ‘proto-Vulcans’, and are logical and relatively emotionless. But previous episodes have established that Vulcans were actually quite violent at this point in their evolution. 

Trekathon 158: The Survivors (TNG)

March 17th, 2010

Ah, it’s the super-powerful alien again. Well, I suppose it had been quite a while, really (The Royale was the last, I think).

The episode is a bit of a throw back to The Original Series in a lot of ways. It had echoes of The Man Trap and Metamorphosis, but also still had its own unique plot.

Two things bothered me. Firstly, it didn’t seem very ‘Picard’ to be so mysterious and unforthcoming about his intuitions and discoveries. And Troi was just dreadful.

The reactions at the end also bothered me. They don’t like the fact that the alien could have saved the colony but didn’t. But how is that different really from the prime directive? Seemed like hypocrisy to me.

158 down, 579 to go.

Trekathon 157: The Ensigns of Command (TNG)

March 17th, 2010

So the Enterprise has every imaginable type of scientist on board, but not even a single ensign with a legal background? That seems short sighted.1

So we end up with the Enterprise command staff looking through the treaty text on their own, trying to find a loophole. Seems like a pretty bad idea to me.

Meanwhile, down on the planet Data gets caught up with an android fetishist. Oh, and learns a little something more about what it means to be human (no, not that – Tasha covered that back in season one).

Overall, not bad, not good.

157 down, 580 to go.

  1. And unrealistic. My understanding is that most sizeable warships in real life have a legal officer on board, so why not the Enterprise? 

Trekathon 156: Evolution (TNG)

March 15th, 2010

And on to Season 3.

The ‘Wesley nearly destroys the ship’ thing was a nice change from the earlier ‘Wesley saves the day’, but it bugged me that no one ever seemed to mind that a dangerous experiment had gotten out of hand. Surely a stern talking to, at least, is called for in this kind of circumstance.

That problem aside, this wasn’t too bad – not firing on all cylinders, but not bad. The obsessed scientist is pretty good, and Dr Crusher’s concerns over Wesley are a nice addition.

(BTW, I was having a bad case of ‘what is Dr Kelso doing in space’ through this episode).

Today’s aside: the return of Beverly Crusher. One of the interesting features of The Next Generation is how stable the cast was. There were really only two changes to the core cast: the one year absence of Beverley Crusher, and the departure of Wesley Crusher. It’s a sign of how strong the casting at the start was, because that’s far less change than the average show sees over seven years.

156 down, 581 to go.

Trekathon Season Review: The Next Generation, Season 2

March 14th, 2010

Season 2 is a pretty polarised year. As opposed to Season 1, which was bad with the (very) occasional hint of good, Season 2 seemed to alternate between bad and good. There are some very dreadful shows (The Royale, Shades of Gray), and some of the very best of all time (Q Who, The Measure of a Man).

The average is clearly much much better than the first year. In fact, all things considered I’d say this is the best season of Star Trek since the end of Season 2 of TOS back in 1968.

But there’s still quite a bit of room to grow. The actors have fully settled in, but the writing still relies a bit too heavily on cliched aliens, and easy idiot plots. But the good writing has started to let the characters grow, especially Wesley who, while he didn’t have a lot to do, got away from saving the Enterprise every week and was instead just a very junior officer.

The really positive sign is that when the writing is bad, the characters are starting to feel ‘wrong’, rather than just stupid. That means that all the writers have to do is to come up with interesting situations, and then throw the characters in and see what happens.

That brings the rankings so far to:

  • TOS Season 2

  • TOS Season 1

  • TNG Season 2

  • TAS Season 1

  • TOS Season 3

  • TAS Season 2

  • TNG Season 1

To date, that’s 7,151 minutes watched, or 21.61% complete. Next on to Season 3 of Star Trek, where things really started to fire on all cylinders.

Trekathon 155: Shades of Gray (TNG)

March 14th, 2010

Everybody loves a clip show.

OK, no they don’t. No one ever likes a clip show.

This episode isn’t dreadful until it gets to the clip show bit – a bit by the numbers, but still not the worst thing ever put to film. The clip show itself is dreadful – poorly organised reminders of some of the low moments of the two seasons so far. They seem to have taken a positive delight in choosing episodes like “Angel One” rather than “Q Who”.

Still, not the worst bit of Star Trek ever. I’d rather watch this than The Way to Eden any day of the week.

155 down, 582 to go. And that’s Season 2 of TNG done.

Trekathon 154: Peak Performance (TNG)

March 14th, 2010

Sharing your episode title with the subject line of spam I’ve received recently isn’t a good start.

Still, I thought this episode was very good up until the Ferengi turn up. That was enough to push the episode from ‘very good’ to ‘good’, but even the Ferengi weren’t as awful as previously here.

Overall the back half of Season 2 has been pretty good.

Aside: A bad Star Trek habit is the monoculture: all Klingon’s are warriors, all Zakdorn’s are brilliant strategists, and so on. It’s a lot easier to write, but it doesn’t feel very real.

154 down, 583 to go.

Trekathon 153: The Emissary (TNG)

March 14th, 2010

Another strong episode, this time with Worf getting a girlfriend (and also a little bit of time in the big chair).

Klingon culture struggles along – apparently Klingon mating rituals are largely based on 1980s romantic comedies, where the two main participants fight until they realise they’re in love. I was a little sad that the previous suggestions about Klingon love poetry didn’t get used here, it would have made it a lot more interesting.

(Important note: despite the fact that this episode inevitably leads to Worf’s son Alexander, I am not deducting any points for this episode).

153 down, 584 to go.