Sunday, June 7, 2009

TNG 1x12 The Big Goodbye

WTF – Two great eps in a row, they must be kidding! Nope they aren’t The setup is a bit lame, they’re waiting to send some sort of greeting to this insectoid race in their native language to establish relations, and if Picard gets it wrong they’ll all be blown to bits (nice!)

Rather than be preoccupied with this at all, Picard decides to try out the holodeck! Yes the Holodeck, remember when it was nice and shiny and new and seemed like a great story idea, well this was the episode folks. Picard finds that some of his favourite detective novels are stored as programs on the holodeck, He goes in and is completely smitten with what is basically a realistic RPG video game!

He then decides to take Dr Crusher, Data and the ship’s historian (what ship wouldn’t have a historian really!) Dr Whalen on an adventure through the 1920s. It’s a lot of fun actually, the crew marvel at the details and how realistic it all is.

Then unseen alien of the week scans the Enterprise prior to the big meet, unfortunately their scans upset the delicate programming in the Holodeck and the safety switch is turned off. What does this mean exactly? Well for one thing bullets become real, revealed in a frightfully good scene where a gangster shoots Whalen and Dr Crusher claps and cheers like a kid watching an exciting movie. It’s a brilliant moment that absolutely makes the episode, it simultaneously conveys that they are thrilled with the recreation of ancient history and at the same time are clueless as to how dangerous their predicament has become.

After they realise that Whalen has been shot for real it becomes a race against time, They’re all locked in the holodeck, Wesley and Riker work furiously to get them out, the Aliens that will be furious if Picard doesn’t give them the word-perfect greeting are getting pissy having to wait and the fictional Gangsters holding Picard & Co hostage have guns which are suddenly very dangerous.

4 Stars a fantastic episode only let down by all the alien action being off screen, it’s a minor let down but keeps it from being a 5.

Best Moment
If Whalen getting shot wasn’t enough, at one stage Wesley's attempts to hack the holodeck program turns Dixon Hill’s office into a snowstorm!

Wednesday, April 1, 2009

TNG 1x11 Hide & Q

Now we’re talking! Back to Q, the Enterprise is… ahh who cares what they were doing, they run into Q and he starts messing with them big time and then offers his powers to Riker!

I love this episode – it’s hits all the right notes from the get go, Q shows up and wham off we go to freakyworld, where the air is green and vicious animal things wearing confederate uniforms open up a can of whup-ass using their laser-bayonets!

Yes it’s every bit as weird as it sounds, along the way Picard and Q have a big Shakespeare quote-fest, Tasha gets sent to the penalty box with the possibility of blinking out of existence, and everyone gets a glass of lemonade!

After all this Q gets to the point and offers Riker unlimited powers, Riker resists until Q starts putting his crew in harms way resulting in a grisly fate for Wesley & Worf (that’s the third attempt on Wesley’s life in the first third of Season 1!) Riker bites and then offers everyone a gift, something they’ve always wanted.

He lets Geordie see, gives Worf a Klingon beeyatch to hang with, makes Wesley big (like really, unnaturally big) everyone says thanks but no thanks and then Q shows up for the piece de resistance – as a monk! Picard eventually tells him to get f#$&%d and there you have it. The most fun way to fill 44 minutes that this series has so far devised!

Really weird moment #4
OK the whole ep is weird – but what’s with the adult Wesley, where was the casting department that day??? Don’t really look much alike to me!

4 stars. Not perfect but the best ep so far!

Fave Moment: “Are these really your friends brother…”

Thursday, March 12, 2009

TNG 1x10 The Battle

The Ferengi get a much better outing here, so much so that this should have been their introduction (for me it was I didn’t see The Last Outpost until 1993)

The episode gives some history on the Captain. 10 years prior the ship he was serving on (the Stargazer) was attacked by an unknown enemy, killing his captain and forcing the rest of the crew to abandon ship.

It turns out the enemy of that battle was the Ferengi who have arranged to return the Stargazer to Starfleet, while it appears that the Ferengi are being generous and diplomatic their leader Bok is actually plotting revenge using some kind of freaky mind control device to manipulate Picard.

What works
There are some nice moments in this, the Ferengi are much more menacing than their first outing. Picard is made the focus for the first time and his backstory is quite engaging and a lot of people forget this episode was the origin of the ‘real’ Picard Manoeuvre.

What doesn’t
Two words: Wesley Crusher.

First of all, they’re able to find The Stargazer adrift in space because Wesley was “boosting the range of the long-range sensors” this is just dumb for numerous reasons, the kid is only a handful of weeks into his stint as an acting ensign, given he hasn’t been to the academy I would imagine that his job at this point entails training, observing and listening to his superiors – not modifying complex machinery, secondly The Enterprise is how many months old? Not many – why on earth does anyone need to improve the operation of a brand new piece of equipment?? Thirdly its not like they wouldn’t have discovered the ship anyway – the Ferengi obviously wanted them to find it, so this whole plot point is a waste of time.

But it doesn’t stop there – the Ferengi are controlling Picard with these glowing bowling balls causing Picard a constant headache and a tendency to forget what year/ship it is. Late in the episode Wesley sees a brainwave scan from Picard and picks up that the pattern matches a weird transmission coming the Ferengi ship – now that’s a whole world of wrong, putting aside that it should take medical training to be able to interpret medical scans such as C.A.T. Scans, E.K.G.s and the like but here you have supposed professionals who made to look like fools by the precocious kid running around the ship! It’s just silly.

The other major criticism I have is the ship’s log subplot where the log shows Picard attacked the Ferengi without provocation – IMO they were to quick to resolve this when it was actually one of the more interesting aspects of the story – it should have been left for the final act.

Finally – The Picard Manoeuvre: Apparently the trick with it is that the ship appears in two places at once and you cannot figure out which one to fire at, wouldn’t you reference the point the ship started at and then fire at the other point? Seemed simple to me but that could’ve been due to the special effects which probably didn’t properly convey what the writers may have been going for.

3 Stars – overlooking the Wesley Crusher moments which detract from the show the rest of it motors along nicely, hits a few bumps with the woolly Picard Manoeuvre theory but generally is among the better first season installments.

TNG 1x09 Haven

Being a man, I was mostly bored with this weak romantic tale of a man betrothed to Troi and instead choosing a blonde rock goddess from a passing plague ship.

There are interesting aspects to the story, The plague ship is one, a species suffering such a virulent disease that other races have hunted them down to extinction to stop the spread of that virus, that’s a show in itself, unfortunately it saddled with a bad sitcom story involving the two squabbling and overbearing mothers.

Ah yes the mothers, this is the episode which introduces us to Lwaxana Troi, mother to Deanna Troi and very high up the Betazoid food chain in terms of her status. Indeed the Betazed people are portrayed here as having some sort of a class system or monarchy with Troi being betrothed from a young age, this staunch traditionalist stance not only runs counter to the behaviour of Mrs Troi but is also contains the patently offensive notion that Human parents (those of Wyatt Miller – the betrothed one) would consent to such an arrangement in the supposedly advanced 24th century!

Even more offensive is that Deanna shows absolutely no resistance to the idea, or to giving up her career (so early in the series – surely you jest!). At least Riker fires up and then spends the rest of the episode pouting in the holodeck!

It does have a few funny moments, one in particular provided by the gentle giant Mr Homm, Lwaxana’s binge drinking valet who serves to make most of her episodes bearable to the wider audience!

Weird moment #3
How could I go without mentioning the talking box! The talking box FFS, For those who haven’t seen it – they beam up a talking box which gives a big speech then spits out some junk jewellery! What, like a Gorilla Gram wouldn’t suffice?

Overall 3 stars, it’s watchable, contains some good parts and some bad parts but never really gels together into a cohesive whole, if the plague ship had come a bit earlier perhaps it would’ve been better but as it is it’s almost an afterthought tacked on as a deux ex machina in order to break off the marriage and hit the reset button accordingly!