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!

TNG 1x08 Justice

This is more like it, this is not the greatest of Treks, to be sure, but there’s some neat ideas, a lot of skimpy outfits and superior being No #3.

Just a short rant – the Prime Directive is supposed to prevent interference in Less Developed cultures and worlds. It is later established that there is a golden rule that the Feds will not contact a world until they have the means to venture out into space at warp speed, that’s a pretty reasonable rule. So why the hell are we on this Edo planet huh? I don’t see any spaceships zipping around. All the people there seem a bit simple yet they’re not bothered in the slightest by Aliens coming down to visit, until one of them gets to go up in the spaceship, then they’re a bit freaked out. The fact that this thorny conundrum even arises is proof that this script was developed very early in the piece. Even as a 15 year old I knew something was up with Captain Picard invoking the Prime Directive as his reason not to save Wesley, they should’ve invoked it not to go down there in the first place!

Once we overlook that though – we get a good episode. Easily the most sexed up episode of Trek that I can recall the crew beams down to the 24th century equivalent of a Hedonism tour – except there’s no naked old people – which is a definite plus. Tasha, Riker & Worf beam down and they take Wesley too in order to morally corrupt the young man, who seems impervious to moral corruption “I’m with Starfleet… we don’t lie!”

While Riker grills Worf on his sex life (one of the funniest scenes of season 1) Wesley plays ball with some other teens (whatever happened to problem teenagers, these kids are the kind that go to Christian Studies camp!) anyway – he trips over some flowers and bam! In run the cops.

About the same time, Yar has learned about their hosts’ justice system, one punishment for any crime – death! Any crime, felony, misdemeanour or trespass and it’s death row for you.

And it’s death row for Wes too, as he trampled new plants, that not even a crime in most places I know, but on the Edo world that’s an instant jab with a sharp needle. This marks the second time in 4 weeks that someone is trying to euthanize Wesley Crusher!

The rest of the episode ponders the question of capital punishment complicated by the fact that a ghost like machine thing appears in orbit of the planet and starts messing with the Enterprises communications. It is left to Picard to plead to the god thing to let them bend the rules and leave without punishing Wesley.

Yes, it’s a good episode, it’s a tad ham-fisted in it’s approach (ie: making it’s point by illustrating an extreme) but it has an actual allegorical message, a first for the new show and although they do ‘interfere’ with the Edo society they do so in a pretty benign way, leaving them with an impression on how things can be different rather than forcing change upon them.

The only detractors here are the God Machine which isn’t fully developed and no explanation given as to why they can visit this ‘primitive’ planet in the first place.

3 Stars, not quite great, but quite good nonetheless.

Wednesday, March 11, 2009

TNG 1x07 Lonely Among Us

And so much for good television. As a kid I didn’t mind this although even I could tell the episode’s resolution was trite. The idea is this – the Enterprise is ferrying some ambassadors to the wonderfully named Pacifica for peace talks, however the two races (lets call them the Dog Men and the Lizard Men) are at each others throats, they’re also suspected of sabotaging the ship when things start to go haywire.

Of course they’re only suspected because everyone in the crew seems too stupid to realise that something from the “energy cloud” they all stopped to look at had gotten into the ship and was alternately possessing either crewmen or the ships computer.

Data proves to be one of those annoying types who likes to do “fun” things at work like Dress Ups and so he dons a Sherlock Holmes cap and a pipe in an effort to improve his lacklustre mystery solving skills.

Eventually this “energy being” possesses Captain Picard and it’s love at first sight! Picard declares that they’ll be beaming out into space “ENERGY ONLY” and will go on a great journey of exploration together!

Excuse me for one moment while I puke!

Anyway he does it! Despite this being the stupidest sci-fi idea since Spock lost his brain, Picard disappears, only to reappear in the ships computer (he spells the letter “P” so it must be him!) after the marriage didn’t work out, now in order for the writers to top their own stupefying premise they magically “restore” Picard by using the pattern that was last in the buffer, combining it with his “energy” that is still in the computer. Give me strength!

Total Affront
This episode is a total affront to common sense writing, a perfectly good B story involving the Anticans & the Selay (the Dog Men and the Lizard Men for those keeping score at home) is marred by a ridiculous A story about Picard getting it on with an energy creature and deciding to end his life (as we know it) only to have the crew bring him back via the magical transporter. Pathetic.

1 star for the B story – no stars for the main plot, the mystery is unmysterious and the final act defies logic.

Monday, March 9, 2009

TNG 1x06 Where No One Has Gone Before

A big improvement, for a lot of reasons, let me list them.

First of all the special effects are really neat, eye popping in fact and some of the things that happen (the guy trapped in the fire, Picard stepping out into space) are really cool ideas.

Kosinski, Stanley Kamel is watchable in most everything he’s in, here he plays an arrogant hard-ass, quite a contrast to the rest of the crew and the way he ticks off Riker real quick is a bonus.

The Traveller, discounting the dodgy nature of his interest in Wesley for a moment, you’ve got an interesting alien, the first since Q in fact.

The whole concept of thought as reality is the first high concept from the series and good one too!

Finally Wesley gets a job, a dream job. I don’t care if you are a Wesley hater, I was teenager at the time of seeing this and I thought it was cool!

Weird Moment #2
This is one is just strange, Picard sees his mother making tea in the hallway and without stopping to think if it’s an illusion, asks said apparition about the meaning of life!!! Okaaaay and this is the captain!

I don’t have many but how is it that the Traveller is supposed to be so much faster entering “complex equations” into the computer when he only has three fingers on each hand? (and stumpy ones at that!)

Apparently this was the first ever assignment for Maurice Hurley (an uncredited rewrite) and it almost got him the sack! He turned in a second re-write which is the product you see here. An account by one half of the original writing team is online here…

This is also the first appearance of Biff Yeager who plays Lt Cmdr Argyle, current chief engineer of the ship (told you those other guys were fired!)

TNG 1x05 The Last Outpost

A little better although one moment which weirded me out big time, more on that in a moment. This is the introduction of the Ferengi

Basically the Ferengi swoop in steal some machinery from a Fed Base and are pursued by the Enterprise until they reach this weird planet (that’s not the weird bit) which snares them both like a spider web, draining their power.

At first each side thinks the other is responsible, this is the first meeting of Ferengi & Humans and it hasn’t got off to a very good start they eventually realise that something on the planet has trapped them and both crews get down there to investigate finding an ancient security system of a long extinct star empire. (read: superior being) Riker makes his case to the superior being and he lets them all go. Yay

It’s a good episode but it takes forever to get going, you could virtually just cut out the first two acts and have them all down on the planet and you’d have a much better show, there are also lots of dumb questions which arise like…

Why has nobody ever seen a Ferengi yet they know of their existence?
I mean usually it’s the other way around right? In Encounter at Farpoint, Zorn makes some threat to go shop his operation to the Ferengi, why didn’t someone there ask if he could set up a meeting, surely first contact with the Ferengi is a higher priority than Farpoint station??

Why do the Ferengi need to steal?
Given that here they are presented as a blatant manifestation of corporate greed, why would they need to steal something. Even people who say that big corporations rob you blind at least admit they do it to your face.

Laser Whips???
Didn’t these guys watch Indiana Jones, long range weapon beats short range everytime (except in Star Wars!) I notice after this ep they were never seen again.

Cheeky Monkey’s
Also never seen again, the Director of the episode, what was the reaction I wonder when they watched the dailies featuring dudes with massive ears jumping around like those monkeys in Thailand who steal your wallet? (or in this case your T9 energy converter!) Just goes to show there’s a really fine line between alien and camp.

I’m sorry – there’s still a French flag?? Picard gets into a big slanging match over whose flag is better, France or Americas, it’s just dumb, this is called padding people.

Chinese Finger Traps!
A lot of countries represented today – I liked this better, although other reviewers are right it is a weak joke that Data gets caught in the stupid thing, the device is a neat mirror of the shows plot, the two ships get caught in a trap and Riker gets them out by offering no resistance! Very nice and unusually subtle.

Weird Moment #1
I’ll be tallying these up as the series progresses but this really was too much, the ship’s life support is failing, it’s getting hotter and the air may eventually run out, Dr Kevorkian, err Crusher, discussed euthanizing her son (that’s Wesley) to spare him the pain of dying WTF!!!???? Did I hear this right?? We’re four episodes in and she already wants to kill the poor boy, perhaps she logged onto or something and they got to her – who knows! Whatever your feelings towards Wesley this is just a really appalling moment.

Good idea, some really good moments between Riker & Portal and some shockingly bad moments from everyone else. In four episodes we’ve had two plagues, two life support failures and two god-like beings not a good look…

TNG 3x04 Code of Honor

WTF??? This episode is just dross, lets rely on that old crutch, the killer plague and we have to go to this backwards planet to get the vaccine, fine, then lets throw in that other Star Trek crutch, parallel worlds, then lets make it not only boring but also offensive by throwing as many racist stereotypes as we can find into the mix.

I feel sorry for the guest actors and the regular cast on this one, reports from the set indicated that the cast were at odds with the director for the majority of filming. Commiserations to Denise Crosby who really drew the short straw with this spotlight episode. Two episodes in and it feels like poorly written re-treads of bad original series episodes, not a good look.

Whatever jeopardy there is rendered pointless by a magical “no consequences” ending which sees Dr Crusher literally revive the female protagonist from the brink of death, it’s logical – but it feels convoluted and way too pat.

NO STARS: Don’t even bother to watch, I can’t give you that hour of your life back!

Tuesday, March 3, 2009

TNG 1x03 The Naked Now

An old trek premise is revived with little success or interest.

Apparently Gene Roddenberry thought this story was a good template to allow us to learn more about the characters, hence why he chose it as the first regular instalment.

Only problem with this is we don’t learn anything about the characters, nada, zilch! For example Geordie claims he is having “wild thoughts” yet we don’t actually hear what this means, when he said it I thought maybe he’s gonna jump Lt Yar, but no that was left for Data! In fact if it weren’t for Data & Tasha this episode would have fully sucked, but Data sexing up Tasha was a true series highlight so chalk one up for the good guys there.

The opening was well done and they clearly had a lot fake ice left over Encounter at Farpoint so they decided to freeze a whole ship worth of people – turns out they’d been fooling around with the thermostat a little too much!

The main jeopardy here is provided by Wesley who has eschewed his Rappin’ Ronnie Reagan tapes for a Captain Picard Remix, he uses this to fool the dopey Assistant Engineer (Jim Shimoda – better known as one of Al Bundy’s NO MA`AM crew on Married with Children) barricading himself in Engineering and making a dog breakfast of the computer which is left to an intoxicated Data to sort out – still sporting a hard on from his encounter with Tasha and unable to think straight, he does manage to save the day and probably get two engineers fired in the process!


Uh no – the basic problem here is the premise is decent, everyone essentially gets drunk and acts crazy, rather than try and peek beneath the veneer of the characters the writer instead decides to play up the screwball side of things making the main focus the jeopardy plot.

A far better alternative would be to hold onto this for half a year and then unleash it as a game changer – use the honesty to screw up Picard & Crusher’s friendship (make it her reason to leave for Starfleet Med), break in some revelation about Worf or Troi or even Geordie – but no all this potential is wasted in favour of some cheap thrills in engineering.


2 stars – One for Production Design and TOS references and the other for Data & Yar.

TNG 1x01, 1x02 Encounter at Farpoint

The Enterprise on it's first mission to investigate a world offering Starfleet use of a technologically advanced starbase with almost magical properties.

They are interrupted by a malevolent and powerful superbeing, the Q, who accuses the human race of greiviously savage crimes and demands that their expansion throughout the galaxy be put to an end.

In short the pilot worked, although it's loaded with a clunky "mystery" B story, the A story with Q hits a home run very quickly by pushing all the right trek buttons and showing an insight into the human condition.

A mind boggling amount of 'future history' is provided here with allusions to an actual atomic war and it's after affects transforming large swaths of the population into destitute and uncivilised.

It is in short, shocking, especially after Picard protests that even in the late 20th century we had already started to make rapid progress, Q pulls the rug out from under his argument with his reference to drug dependant militias and kangaroo courts.

This whole sequence is one of the reasons Roddenberry was able to sell his vision, in the 60s of course, you only had to watch the news to see the turmoil and unrest in society, in the 80s the problems (for the west) were much more distant and the times were much more peaceful, on it's own Roddenberry's vision of utopia probably wouldn't hold much stick with the general audience, so he pulled a masterful stunt and gave us one of the most horrible depictions of the future ever seen in sci-fi. Remember that one of Star Trek's tropes has been it undeniably positive outlook on the human future, in opposition to almost all other sci-fi which paints a much bleaker vision (think Blade Runner, Soylent Green, 1984 etc) with this Roddenberry told his audience, it's gonna get worse before it gets better, after that moment, I for one was fully invested.

The introductions of the crew were also handled well with a few exceptions, but overall the idea of splitting the crew into two halves worked well and gave each character some decent screen time.

The scene between Data and Dr McCoy, absolutely legendary and totally unexpected, McCoy was almost unrecognisable under that makeup, but once he spoke you knew it was him.

The Holodeck, who else wanted a holodeck after this? With the advent of the Nintendo Wii, video games appear to be moving in that general direction, after seeing this I was motivated to try out that VR game with the pterodactyl that you have to shoot, not as good as the holodeck folks!


Most any time Troi opened her mouth, ditto for Yar. Sirtis was trying too hard to emote whereas Crosby was just trying too hard full stop, it didn’t help that the dialogue written for both women was awful. Troi was written as Captain Obvious telegraphing every new twist in the story, whereas Yar was given an unholy amount of exposition and when she wasn’t bitching about her past she was making wild nonsensical suggestions on how to defend the ship! Worf was given absolutely nothing to do other than stand there and look angry but it turned out to be a good thing – Worf was big mystery for the first season of this show, we didn’t even know what the hell his role on the bridge was! But it also made him more intriguing I think!


A solid first outing and one that attracted me from the get go – we can almost certainly attribute this to the first 10 minutes as after that it starts to drag and gives a truer indication of the show’s first season, a solid if not spectacular beginning.

3 stars (the appearance of Q and Admiral McCoy brings this up from an unspectacular two)