Archive for March, 2012

Trekathon Season Review: The Next Generation, Season 7

March 31st, 2012

Season 7 ended well. That’s about the nicest thing that I can say about it. Otherwise the season was mostly bad to mediocre, with only 6 episodes making it to ‘Very Good’ or better in my ratings (Lower Decks, Preemptive Strike, The Pegasus, Parallels and All Good Things 1 and 2). Against that were two awful episodes (Sub Rosa and Genesis) and another 6 episodes in the ‘bad’ category’. That’s challenging Season 1 and 2 of TNG in terms of output of stinkers.

Overall I’m going to rank it just above of TNG Season 2, mainly because they pull off the ending, and that’s impressive. But overall it was a show that went one year too long. Maybe the writers ran out of ideas, or maybe the competing stresses of a movie on the way, a new series in development, and finding an end to TNG, all conspired to really hurt quality.

That brings the rankings so far to:

  • TNG Season 6

  • TNG Season 3

  • TNG Season 5

  • TOS Season 2

  • TNG Season 4

  • TOS Season 1

  • DS9 Season 1

  • TNG Season 7

  • TNG Season 2

  • TAS Season 1

  • TOS Season 3

  • TAS Season 2

  • TNG Season 1

I’ll update the counts with the DS9 season review in a couple of days time. But farewell TNG (off to movies for you), here comes Voyager.

Trekathon 330: All Good Things… (2) (TNG)

March 31st, 2012

And now, the end of the end.

Endings are hard. But they pull it off about as well as could be imagined. It’s a good story, the stakes are high, and the performances are great.

It’s masterfully done. The intercuts between the different time periods become more and more complex as the episode progresses, but it’s always clear what’s happening.

Heck, I didn’t even mind when the resolution was effectively ‘it was all a dream’ (well, never happened anyway).

330 down, 407 to go.

Trekathon 329: All Good Things… (1) (TNG)

March 30th, 2012

It’s the beginning of the end for The Next Generation.

Endings are hard. Just ask the the writers of Lost or Mass Effect 3. So there’s a lot of pressure coming in to this episode.

There’s a lot happening in this first part. Too much really. Picard is jumping through time. Worf and Troi are getting serious. Picard and Crusher are finally making a move. And then there’s Romulans in the neutral zone.

And then there’s Q. Surprisingly enough, harking back to what worked really badly back in Encounter at Farpoint is very effective. Q has been very hit or miss (cough Qpid cough), but it works here. In fact they come perilously close to breaking the fourth wall (‘we’ve watched you these past seven years’, ‘your trek through the stars’), but avoid falling flat on their face.

329 down, 408 to go.

Trekathon 328: The Collaborator (DS9)

March 29th, 2012

It’s everyone’s favourite SF theme, elections for a religious post.

Overall the structure of this episode is quite clever, and it manages to avoid a lot of the cliches the ‘investigation’ plot often has. It felt a bit light on, like there wasn’t quite enough story to fill the hour.

The best bits are Vedek Winn and Vedek Bareil in conversation. The writing of her ‘almost respectful, but actually aggressive’ approach is just great. I’m never quite sure if she’s bad, or if she’s just misunderstood. She’s certainly very clever…

The worst bits are Bareil’s ‘visions’, which really add very little to the episdoe.

328 down, 409 to go.

Trekathon 327: Preemptive Strike (TNG)

March 28th, 2012

The Maquis and the Cardassian DMZ are back. That’s four episodes now, must be a thing.

At last, a good episode of TNG. It’s been a while, as there’s been one of the worst runs the show has ever experienced lately. This is the last regular episode of the show, and yet we spend the vast majority of the screen time with a guest star. It’s a very odd choice. Picard has a couple of great scenes, but everyone else seems to just have the contractual minimum number of scenes this week.

What I liked most here is the example of what you can achieve with a bit of serial, rather than episodic, story telling. The bits and pieces of the story here have been built up over six or seven other episodes, across two series, and it’s still easy enough to follow. It’s a pity that it took until this point for TNG to really try it.

327 down, 410 to go.

Trekathon 326: Crossover (DS9)

March 27th, 2012

293 episodes later, it’s time to back to the Mirror universe.

Outside of Tribbles it’s hard to think of a more beloved story to return to than the mirror universe, although a couple more goatees would have been nice. Everyone gets to have a whole bunch of fun chewing the scenery as the evil (or, at least, less good) version of themselves. Sure, that can go a bit overboard (cough Leather Kira cough), but mostly it’s great. For instance, Odo is chilling as a version of himself that hardly seems any different at all…

The only question coming out of watching this episode is ‘why didn’t they do this sooner’. Just imagine the fun of an evil Picard, but I guess we’ll just have to go without.

326 down, 411 to go.

Trekathon 325: Emergence (TNG)

March 26th, 2012

The Enterprise evolves into another life form.

It’s another strange symbolic episode, only this time with an even less enjoyable ending as rather than resolve the problems on their own logic it’s external technobabble that saves the day. It was nice to see the Holodeck back as it’s been a while.

But there was never any interesting character moment in the entire show. It was entirely a procedural, A then B then C plot. Other than a brief moment at the end there isn’t even any discussion of the implications of the Enterprise systems becoming self aware. Wouldn’t it have been a lot more interesting if those strange programs on the Holodeck knew the crew, and assigned them roles based on their perceptions of them.

325 down, 412 to go.

Trekathon 324: The Wire (DS9)

March 25th, 2012

‘Plain and simple’ Garak has a complicated medical problem.

Fantastic stuff. Not much I can add really. It takes the pieces set up earlier in terms of Garak’s mysterious past, and while it looks like resolving everything ends up opening up as many questions as it answers, and then some. And has the courage to be ambiguous in the ending.

324 down, 413 to go.

Trekathon 323: Bloodlines (TNG)

March 24th, 2012

Picard’s son is threatened by the Ferengi. Hang on a minute…

Strange that there’s been a kind of family trilogy here – Crusher’s son, Worf’s son, and now Picard’s ‘son’. It wasn’t a huge surprise to see that he wasn’t really his son, but the development of the relationship worked pretty well. A lot of that rests on Patrick Stewart’s acting. Even Dai Mon Bok worked fairly well, one of the more convincing Ferengi villains in TNG.

But it just doesn’t ‘pop’. The story was just a bit flat, and the resolution a bit too ‘reset button’. The parts of a good episode were here, it just didn’t come together on the day.

323 down, 414 to go.

Trekathon 322: The Maquis (2) (DS9)

March 23rd, 2012

The fight against the Maquis continues, although it’s a bit more complicated than that.

Unusually for a Trek 2-parter, this episode actually delivers. It all gets messier than before, but there’s a nice story told, particularly the parts involving the enigmatic, and always slightly suspicious, Gul Dukat.

But the thing I liked the most was the ending, where it was made perfectly clear that this wasn’t going to be a nice simple ‘reset button’ ending – there are troubles in this world far from the centre of the Federation, and they can’t be solved in the course of a 60 minute TV show.

322 down, 415 to go.