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Star Trek: The Next Generation 2.11 (Contagion)

270px-STContagionCast:
Colm Meaney (Miles O’Brien)
Carolyn Seymour (Sub Cmdr. Taris)
Thalmus Rasulala (Captain Donald Varley)
Folkert Schmidt (Doctor)
Dana Sparks (Tactical Officer)

Writers: Beth WoodsSteve Gerber

The USS Yamato (the sister ship of the Enterprise, also a Galaxy class ship) is destroyed by a virus that also infects the Enterprise.  The source of the virus appears to be the planet Iconia, an ancient, almost mythic race.  The planet is in the Romulan Neutral Zone, so Picard orders them to go there.  When they arrive, the Enterprise starts to suffer system failures – transporters, life support, replicators and so on.  Picard beams down to the planet, as a Romulan ship catches up with them.  However, the Romulans are also suffering from system errors that cripple their ship as well.

Picard, with Data and Worf on Iconia, solve the riddle of the Iconians – it was said that they travelled the stars without ships, and Data discovers the gateways they use to do this.  Worf and Data move back to the Enterprise through a gateway as Picard sets the self destruct (to stop the Romulans getting the technology).  He leaps through the gate and appears safely – on the Roluman ship!

This is actually a highly enjoyable episode.  The destruction of the Yamoto (and all hands) at the start is quite shocking, considering the ship has the same mix of families and crew as the Enterprise herself.  The Romulans are nice to see – their ships are still breathtaking – and the Captain of their ship is played by the awesome Carolyn Seymour, who was Abby Grant in the original BBC Survivors TV series (she also appears later in this series, once as a Romulan again and another time as another alien.  She can also be seen in a couple of episodes of Voyager).  She is a great actress, and gives some gravity to the situation.

The system failures aboard the Enterprise are quite scary, although they are overcome rather easily – they do something we have all done when our computers have a virus – turned it all off and reloaded all the software.  Although it happens pretty quickly, so we can assume that the Enterprise doesn’t use Windows!

The end, where the Iconian base is exploding around Picard, and he faces either dying or going into one of the gateways and ending up who knows where, is rather tense, although again it is rather convenient that he ends up on the Romulan vessel.

But, all in all, an engaging story with nice humour and some good performances.

Crew Deaths: 0
Total Crew Deaths So Far: 5
Score: 7.5/10

May 18, 2009 Posted by | chief o'brien, cloaking devices, destruction of a starfleet ship, iconians, romulans, system failures | | 5 Comments

Star Trek: The Next Generation 2.10 (The Dauphin)

dauphinCast:
Colm Meaney Miles O’Brien
Whoopi Goldberg Guinan
Paddi Edwards Anya
Cindy Sorenson Animal Anya
Jennifer Barlow Ensign Gibson
Mädchen Amick Anya as Teenage Girl
Peter Neptune Aron
Jamie Hubbard Salia

Writers: Leonard MlodinowScott Rubenstein

After a pair of excellent episodes, The Dauphin is a bit of an anticlimax.  It’s not that it’s horribly bad, like most of the first seven episodes of the season, but it’s not that great either.

It’s a basic plot.  The Enterprise is taking the next ruler of a planet from a planet (Salia) where she has been hidden until she is ready to rule.  Her only company on this world has been her protector, an old woman called Anya.  Anya, it turns out, is a shapeshifter and will do anything to protect Salia – even if the threat is relatively minor (for example, she orders a crewman with a mildly contagious disease to be killed).

Meanwhile, Wesley and Salia seem to like each other.  Wesley, not having had much experience with the opposite sex, goes around asking people for advice on how to approach her, and this gives us two of the best scenes in the episode.  The first is when Worf describes Klingon mate attraction techniques (complete with roar) and seems to get rather carried away.  The second is when Riker uses Guinan to demonstrate his chat up lines, but they both get so carried away they ignore Wesley who leaves in disgust.

We do not initially know that Anya (and later Salia) are shape shifters, but it is not a major shock.  Anya is very well played, and although she is a small woman you seriously get the impression that she could take on Worf.

The scenes between Wesley and Anya are quite nice, but it is still not all that substantial an story for the character.  Wesley is hard to use well, and they very rarely manage it.

So, an average tale, made slightly better by the couple of humorous scenes in the  middle.  It is something this show can sometimes do very well.

Oh, and in case you don’t know, the episode title is a French historical allusion – in France, the Dauphin was the title given to the heir apparent of the throne of France from 1350 to 1791, and from 1824 to 1830.  See, you learn something from this!

Crew Deaths: 0
Total Crew Deaths So Far: 5
Score: 6/10

May 17, 2009 Posted by | chief o'brien, formless creature, guinan, monsters, shape shifters | | 4 Comments

Star Trek: The Next Generation 2.9 (The Measure of a Man)

180px-brucemaddoxCast:
Colm Meaney (Chief O’Brien)
Whoopi Goldberg(Guinan)
Amanda McBroom (Philippa Louvois) 
Clyde Kusatsu (Admiral Nakamura)
Brian Brophy (Bruce Maddox)

Writer: Melinda Snodgrass

This is the second episode in a row that is something special.  It has a very basic story: a scientist who is an expert of the works of Data’s creator, Noonian Soong, wants to break Data up to find out how he works.  The problem is that there is no guarantee that Data will work when out together again.  Data refuses to undergo the experiment, so Maddox (the scientist) claims that Data cannot refuse as he is the property of Stafleet.  The rest of the episode is a hearing about whether or not Data has rights.

It sounds dull, but it really isn’t.  There are some wonderful scenes.  The one where Riker finds out some information from the computer that gives him an egde in the case (he is forced to act for Maddox against Data) is awesome.  He looks pleased for a moment, then the realisation crossed his face about what he might be about to do.

The scene in Ten Forward where Guinan gives Picard a hint if how he should defend the case is also brilliant.  The scene between Patrick Stewart and Whoopi Goldberg is amazing.

And the moment where Data reveals to the hearing that he was intimate with Tasha Yar is amazing – the look on the face of Louvois (the Judge Advocate General) is a picture, and for me is the turning point of the case.

It is a simple courtroom drama, wonderfully scripted and acted.  The premise sounds dull, but you have to see it to believe how good it is.  Many fans think it is one of the ten best this show ever did, and whilst I would not go quite that far, it’s certainly close!

Crew Deaths: 0
Total Crew Deaths So Far: 5
Score: 9/10

February 5, 2009 Posted by | admiral nakamura, chief o'brien, crew poker, guinan | | 1 Comment

Star Trek: The Next Generation 2.8 (A Matter of Honor)

tng-2-8Cast:
Colm Meaney (Miles O’Brien)
Laura Drake(Vekma)
Peter Parros (Tactics Officer)
Brian Thompson(Klag)
Christopher Collins(Captain Kargan)
John Putch(Ensign Mendon)

Writers: Burton ArmusGregory AmosWanda M. Haight

As I was saying, I was watching this rubbish show known as Star Trek: The Next Generation Season 2.  Then I watched this episode, and it literally turned everything on it’s head.  So far the episodes have been dull, childish, unoriginal, badly written drivel.  This one is literally the opposite.  It is interesting, adult (in one moment perhaps more adult than they would get away with today) and the plot, whilst simple, actually makes sense.

It is literally like watching a different show.  The Klingons, who have only really featured in one episode of this show before this, come across as a very real race.  No silliness, just characters that come across, as Riker described them, “brave and unique” – if a little slow to grasp the obvious, in the case of their Captain.

The adult moments both come in the dinner scene.  As Riker eats with the Klingons, it is suggested that if he finds their food too hard to eat one of the females could breast feed him, and he even suggests a threesome later with two Klingon women.  It is funny, but not in a silly slapstick way.  It shows adults with a real sense of humour, and as such – especially for this show – it is very refreshing.

It is nice not to be aboard a ship with such clean lines as the Enterprise.  The design of the Klingon ship is much like we are used to, but it is nice to spend some time there.  You do start to warm to the Klingon characters (even though the Captain is a bit of a twit).

Even the stuff on the Enterprise is quite good.  Oddly, both Geordi and Deanna do not appear at all (and the episode is so interesting you don’t really notice that they are not there).  The opening scene (where Riker and Picard talk about the inter species exchange program) is just like a normal conversation between two adults.  And that’s why this episode works so well – all of the characters are believable, even Mendon (although I think Worf was quite close to beating the crap out of him at one point).

Luckily, this upturn is not limited to just this episode, and there are some more decent ones on the way quite soon.

Crew Deaths: 0
Total Crew Deaths So Far: 5
Score: 8.5/10

January 4, 2009 Posted by | benzite, chief o'brien, cloaking devices, klingons, phaser range | | 2 Comments

Star Trek: The Next Generation 2.7 (Unnatural Selection)

292px-katherine_pulaski_prematurely_agedCast:
Colm Meaney (Miles O’Brien)
J. Patrick McNamara(Captain Tagget)
Patricia Smith (Dr. Sara Kingsley)
Scott Trost (Transporter Ensign)
George Baxter (Child from station)

Writers: Mike GrayJohn Mason

Oh for the love of God!  Seriously, if I were a fan of Star Trek and I was watching this season the first time it ran, I think this episode would have just about killed my interest.  There has not been a really good episode yet in this season – this is the seventh dreadful episode in a row.  Season One was not the greatest, but it never got this bad. 

For one, the format changes just have not worked.  As this episode proves, Doctor Pulaski is just no replacement for Beverly Crusher (something even the production team seemed to pick up on as she didn’t even get a mention in the main credits).

Basically a genetic research base tries to create a race of superbeings (children) but their immune systems are aggressive and cause the normal people around them to age.  Pulaski stupidly wants to risk beaming one onto the Enterprise, even though clearly that will put them all at risk (the way they found out about this was when they found a Starfleet ship with a dead crew, all from premature aging).  Actually this is a simplification – at the start of the episode we don’t know that the children cause the illness, and Pulaski wants them beamed onto the Enterprise so they can survive when their parents die.  To prove that being around them is safe, she beams into a shuttle with one and gets infected and starts to age.  Sadly, she doesn’t die.

From this point the episode is tedious.  She ages, as do the people at the research base, and then when it looks like all is lost she finds a cure, and everyone returns to their proper age.  Dull, predictable nonsense.

It’s a shame, because anybody who gave up as a result of this one missed an absolute gem.  The next episode doesn’t fix everything, but it is rather good.  Doesn’t make this drivel worth sitting through though!

Crew Deaths: 0
Total Crew Deaths So Far: 5
Score: 1/10

December 1, 2008 Posted by | accelerated ageing, chief o'brien, destruction of a starfleet ship, disease/sickness | | 1 Comment

Star Trek: The Next Generation 2.6 (The Schizoid Man)

gravesCast:
Barbara Alyn Woods(Kareen Brianon)
Suzie Plakson(Lt. Selar)
W. Morgan Sheppard (Dr. Ira Graves)

Writers: Richard ManningHans BeimlerTracy Tormé

In this episode, a dying scientisit downloads himself into Data.  Secretly.  However, everyone eventually works it out because of the way he is behaving.

I mean, what a dreadful episode.  The premise is just not thought through.  There are some quite nice moments between Data and Ira Graves before he dies, but once Graves inhabits Data’s body it really goes downhill.  Surely nobody could be so arrogant as to think that Data’s strange behaviour would not be noticed by his crewmates?  Wouldn’t a better option been to have swtiched him off, kidnapped him and do the swap away from everyone?  Or even better, give the whole dready storyline a miss and give us something decent?

One good thing worth mentioning is the amazing Suzie Plakson, making her Trek debut in this stinker of an episode.  Her character – a Vulcan Doctor called Selar – grabbed the imagination of the Trek fans and the character, who only appears in this episode, makes her way into many of the books, in the same way M’benga did in the original series.  And her performance clearly impressed the producers, as she comes back later this season as a rather important Klingon woman.  She also turns up in Voyager way down the line as a female Q.

But, good as she is, she can’t save this episode.  It is really, really shit.

Crew Deaths: 0
Total Crew Deaths So Far: 5
Score: 1/10

November 1, 2008 Posted by | body swaps, disease/sickness | | 2 Comments

Star Trek: The Next Generation 2.5 (Loud as a Whisper)

st-tng_loud_as_a_whisperCast:
Colm Meaney (Miles O’Brien)
Marnie Mosiman (Woman)
Randy Oglesby (The Scholar)
Leo Damian (Adonis)
Richard Lavin (Warrior #1)
Chip Heller (Warrior #2)
John Garrett (Lieutenant)
Howie Seago (Riva)

The idea behind this episode is quite a nice one – Riva, a deaf man (and also mute) who has become a negotiator in peace treaties – speaks (presumably via telepathy) through a group of three people called his “Chorus”.  Each member of the chorus represents a different aspect of his personality.

Whilst on an especially tough mission (one in which Riva was asked for) the two factions start a firefight and the chorus are killed, leaving Riva with only sign language to communicate with.  Data is, of course, proficient, but Riva turns this disadvantage into an advantage and stays on the planet with the warring factions, the idea being that he will teach them sign language so they can continue with the negotiations.

So, if the idea is so good (which it is) why is this episode so bad?  Well, it’s not the concept, it is the delivery.  I don’t know if there is deliverate religious iconography here, but Riva resembles a bit of a stereotypical image of Jesus, from his facial hair down to his clothes – well, what Jesus would have looked like if he had been around in the late eighties, anyhow.

And the direction does not help.  You cannot help but feel that the chorus should not be getting close ups, they should always be in the background of Riva’s shots – the scene in the conference room is especially badly done.  The only scene where they get it right is the one where Troi and Riva have dinner, and you have one of the chorus (the one that represents shagging) out of focus in the background of the shot.  And he leaves soon anyway!

The deaths of the Chorus are sudden, and a bit rubbish.  Oh, and the “exterior” of the planet looks dreadful – it was probably the legendary “planet hell” soundstage full of rocks, bad lighting and a horrific backlit background.  This is the sort of rubbish that should have ended with the old series, but we keep seeing in on TNG and it never fails to unimpress.

It’s a shame that this is so awful – it’s actually a rather original idea for an episode, and with better casting (the actor who played Riva was actually deaf, a PC act that perhaps damaged the episode.  Controversial…) better direction and better set design (such as setting the meeting on the planet indoors to avoid another visit to planet hell) it could have been much better.

But it wasn’t.

Crew Deaths: 0
Total Crew Deaths So Far: 5
Score: 3/10

October 1, 2008 Posted by | chief o'brien | | Leave a comment

Star Trek: The Next Generation 2.4 (The Outrageous Okona)

stokonaCast:
Whoopi Goldberg(Guinan)
Bill Campbell(Captain Thadiun Okona)
Douglas Rowe(Debin)
Albert Stratton(Kushell)
Rosalind Allen(Yanar)
Kieran Mulroney(Benzan)
Teri Hatcher(Lt. Bronwyn G. Robinson)
Joe Piscopo (The Comic)

Writers: David Lansberg, Lance Dickson, Les Menchen, Burton Armus

I can only be blunt.  I bloody hate this episode.  This is probably the main reason that I have been sluggish watching the last ten episodes or so, because I knew this damned thing was on the horizon.

It almost literally has no redeeming features.  There are two plot strands, and they are both as annoying as hell.  The first is about a ship Captain called Okona who two planets are demanding as a prisoner (the Enterprise have rescued him and repaired his ship) – one because he is a thief, the other because he has fathered the child of the daughter of the leader of the planet.  This one can believe, because Okona spends his first couple of hours having sex with various female crew members (including a very young looking, pre Desperate Housewives, indeed pre Superman Teri Hatcher).  You just want to smack Okona and send him on his way, yet every member of the Enterprise crew he runs into seems to find him really witty and charming.  No!  He’s a tit!

That’s bad.  If anything, the other storyline is worse.  Okona comments on Data’s lack of ability to understand humour, which Data talks over with Guinan.  She decides he is not funny at all (well, not when he’s trying to be) so suggests a comedy course on the Holodeck.  So he meets a comedian, tells some rubbish jokes, makes the audience wants to die with shame and embarrassment, and generally makes you wonder why you are watching this drivel.

It all resolves itself fairly predictably.  The plots are dreadful – this is literally the worst episode so far, and luckily it means that things can only get better!

Crew Deaths: 0
Total Crew Deaths So Far: 5
Score: 0.5/10

September 17, 2008 Posted by | guinan | | 1 Comment

Star Trek: The Next Generation 2.3 (Elementary, Dear Data)

292px-sherlock_holmesCast:
Biff Manard (Ruffian)
Alan Shearman (Lestrade)
Daniel Davis (Moriarty)
Richard Merson (Pie Man)
Diz White (Prostitute)
Anne Ramsay(Engineer Clancey)

Writer: Brian Alan Lane

What the hell were they thinking when they put this thing together?  It must have gone something like this: Data episode (as he’s so popular): check.  Holodeck episode: check.  Dressing up: check.  Totally unbelievable storyline: check.

Because that is the problem.  Geordi merely asking the computer to create an adversary capable of defeating Data should not have resulted in a being that was able to take over the ship.  Period.  There would be protocols in the system to prevent that from happening.  So the whole concept of the episode is rubbish.

Then there’s the false start where Geordi walks out because he is fed up of Data guessing what was going on with the original case.  Surely he would have raised his concerns of even programmed the holodeck himself – otherwise he must have realised that exactly this would happen.

Then there’s Pulaski still making viewers hate her by being a bitch towards Data.  She must have realised by now that Data is more than the sum of his parts because a) she has worked with him a couple of times now, and b) HE’S THE BLOODY SECOND OFFICER OF THE FLAGSHIP OF THE SODDING FLEET.

And also there’s that ludicrous bit where they take the bit of paper containing the drawing of the Enterprise off the holodeck.  Duh!

In fairness, if the episode had ended with the twist that the bit they thought was real was all part of the program then this might have worked.  But as it was it did not, it was simply very annoying.  Okay, the guy who played Moriarty played him well (so well they do bring him back at a later date) but this episode is really the worst sort of hokum.  Avoid.

Crew Deaths: 0
Total Crea Deaths So Far: 5
Score: 2/10

September 15, 2008 Posted by | holodeck malfunction, live music, moriarty | | 1 Comment

Star Trek: The Next Generation 2.2 (Where Silence Has Lease)

nagilumCast:
Colm Meaney (Miles O’Brien)
Charles Douglass (Ensign Haskell)
Earl Boen(Nagilum)

Writer: Jack B. Sowards

This is a very unusual episode.  It has only one plot – many episodes have two things going on that somehow get linked, but this one concentrates fully on the one story.  The Enterprise finds a hole in space, and accidentally ends up inside it trying to get out.  The try flying out the way they came, going to maximum warp and hoping to fly out the other side… they try loads of stuff and basically it doesn’t work.

They encounter a Romulan vessel that turns out to be an illusion, they beam across to the USS Yamato (their sister ship, which also appears to be there but also turns out to be an illusion) and then they are tantalised with openings back into the real universe than vanish as soon as they set course for them.  In the end, they discover an entity called Nagilum that is effectively holding them prisoner in this void.  He kills a member of the crew just to see how much the human body can cope with, and asks Pulaski to demonstrate reproduction.  (Ugh, Troi would have been marginally better!)

Picard decides to destroy the ship (to prevent Nagilum studying human death, which he guesses will use between a third and half of the crew) so Nagilum sends duplicates of Troi and Data to talk him out of if, which of course doesn’t work.  They end up being set free.

Pulaski is still an odd character – she has taken a dislike (or at least an indifference) to Data who is at this point the most popular character on the show – last show she made a bit deal of pronouncing his name wrong (Daa-ta instead of Day-ta) and this time she questions whether or not he knows what he is doing when called upon to magnify an image on the viewscreen.  It is very hard to like her.

Oh, and there is this odd sequence on the holodeck with Worf at the start.  Has nothing to do with the story and shows him fighting monster things.  They do turn up again a number of times – presumably to justify the cost of the costumes and set in this episode.

This is just an odd episode.  It starts with Picard walking out of his ready room looking lost (perhaps he had a few too many in Ten Forward the night before) and just goes nowhere.  Hard to like, hard to have any opionions about at all really.

Crew Deaths: 1
Total Crew Deaths So Far: 5
Score: 3/10

September 13, 2008 Posted by | anomaly (spacial/temporal), chief o'brien, doubles or duplicates, inside another stafleet ship, self destruct, super beings, worfs holodeck exercise program | | 3 Comments

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