Utterly Star Trek Review

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Star Trek: The Next Generation 1.12 (Datalore)

Cast:
Brent Spiner (Lore)
Biff Yeager (Lt. Cmdr. Argyle)

Writers: Maurice Hurley, Robert Lewin, Gene Roddenberry

As they are passing, the Enterprise visits Omicron Theta, the planet where Data was found.  They visit the exact spot where Data was found, and Geordi sees something the original people who discovered Data never saw – an entrance into a base.  There, they find a laboratory and another android like Data.  They beam the components up to the Enterprise, and put the android together.  He is Lore, the android made before Data.  His behaviour is a little strange, but when Lore deactivates Data and swaps places with him he contacts the crystalline entity that killed the colonists.  Wesley realises that there has been a swap (although as usual people don’t listen to him straight away) and eventually (just as the entity starts attacking the Enterprise) Wesley convinces Beverly that he is right, they find Data, reactivate him, and stop Lore.  He is beamed into space.

This episode is a bit of a cliche – the moment that we saw Lore it was obvious that at some point they would swap places.  But Spiner plays boths parts so well he is a joy to watch.  There are many scenes that are just the two of them together, and they are really interesting to watch.  The episode is a little predictable, but the performance more than makes up for it.

And once again we have an episode where Wesley Crusher has worked out what has happened ahead of everyone else, and nobody takes him seriously.

This also features the second and final appearance by Chief Engineer Argyle.  We see at last one more Chief before Geordi takes over Engineering.

The only bit of this episode that is bloody stupid is the assertion that Data cannot speak using contractions (can’t instead of cannot etc) but Lore can.  Talk about creating a rod for your own back!  Data has on occasion used contractions in the past, and he will again, but for f**ks sakes, in the one episode where it is vital you don’t balls it up, what is the first thing Data says when asked if he is okay just as they have beamed Lore off the ship?  He says “I’m fine.”   Aaaaaargh!  Cretins!  Is this some subtle message telling us that actually Lore is the one that has survived?  Sadly, it is nothing that clever, just a silly cock up in the script department (or possible in Spiner’s performance, though I somehow doubt that).  A stupid end to an otherwise okay episode.

Crew Deaths: 0
Total Crew Deaths So Far: 1
Score: 7.5/10

June 20, 2008 Posted by | androids, chief engineer argyle, doubles or duplicates, family members, lore, space creatures | | 1 Comment

Star Trek: The Next Generation 1.11 (The Big Goodbye)

Cast:
Mike Genovese (Desk Sergeant)
Lawrence Tierney(Cyrus Redblock)
Harvey Jason (Felix Leech)
David Selburg(Whalen)
William Boyett (Dan Bell)
Gary Armagnal(Lt. McNary)
Rhonda Aldrich (Secretary)
Erik Cord (Thug)
Carolyn Allport (Jessica Bradley)
Dick Miller (Vendor)

Writer: Tracy Tormé

The Enterprise is about to meet up with a race that is so picky a simple mispronunciation of the greeting in their language could lead to war.  To relax, Picard plays a fictional 1940’s detective from San Fransisco(Dixon Hill) but when the alien race arrive early and probe the Enterprise, the probe causes the holodeck to malfunction trapping Picard, Beverly, Data and a historian crewmember (Whalen) on the holodeck with all safety settings turned off.  Whalen is shot, and the crew find they cannot leave the holodeck.  As gangster Cyrus Redblock holds them at gunpoint, Wesley and Geordi race to open the holodeck without it resetting and wiping every pattern inside it, including the crew!  Of course they succeed, get Whalen out in time and Picard strolls straight onto the bridge and delivers his greeting perfectly.

Malfunctioning holodecks become a bit of a cliche down the line – we get episodes based on that idea on all three Star Trek shows set in the 24th century.  This is the first one, and as such it stands up rather well.  Picard goes in for a few minutes to get a taster for it just before the staff meeting about the forthcoming rendez-vous, and his enthusiasm for the realism of the setting is quite infectious.  He is so fired up about it it is funny to watch.  Picard soon became the lynch-pin of the show – he was the reason that people tuned in every week, and I think this is the first time that it became clear why.  His performance in this episode is quite wonderful.

We get the usual Star Trek fair of people in a time they don’t understand, and most of that is done pretty well as well.  And the scene where they walk through the doors of the holodeckand onto a street complete with vendors and vehicles is done brilliantly.  Okay, so they probably built a small chunk of Enterprise corridor set on the location, but who cares how they did it: it works wonderfully.

The final comment I want to make on this episode is this shows the bond between Picard and Beverly more strongly than it has been shown before – we got hints in The Naked Now but here they plan to go back to Dixon Hills office by themselves – they are clearly put out by Data and Whalen’s insistence of going with them.

So, a well told story with some great acting.  Not a classic, but big step in the right direction.  This is the first time the series really started to come together for me – when we start to realise just how capable some of the leads are.  Long may it continue.

Crew Deaths: 0
Total Crew Deaths So Far: 1
Score: 7/10

June 19, 2008 Posted by | dixon hill, holodeck malfunction | | Leave a comment

Star Trek: The Next Generation 1.10 (Haven)

Cast:
Carel Struycken(Mr. Homm)
Majel Barrett(Lwaxana Troi)
Robert Knepper (Wyatt Miller)
Nan Martin (Victoria Miller)
Robert Ellenstein (Steven Miller)
Anna Katarina(Valeda Wrenn)
Danitza Kingsley (Ariana)
Raye Birk(Wrenn)
Armin Shimerman (The Gift Box)
Martha Hackett(Talerian)

Writer: Tracy Tormé, Lan O’Kun

It turns out that Deanna had a marriage arranged for her ages ago.  She had forgotten about it – as had her family – but the Miller family turn up and want her to make good.  When she meets Wyatt Miller, something is not right – she is not the person Wyatt expected.  The families argue about the format for the wedding – traditional Betazoid (naked) or human (clothed).  Deanna’s Mum (Lwaxana, played by Majel Barrett) wants the traditional Betazoid wedding.

Meanwhile, on the planet they are in orbit of (Haven) they have picked up the signal from a ship carrying a plague.  The people of Haven are demanding that the Enterprise shoot it down.  The Enterprise talks to them – and Wyatt recognises one of the women aboard as the person he has been dreaming about all his life so he breaks the quarantine and beams across, and he can never come back.  Although as a Doctor he can help find a cure.  So Deanna doesn’t get married.

It isn’t very good.  Bits are great – Majel Barrett is great as Deanna’s overpowering mother Lwaxana, and some of the scenes where she embarrasses Picard are priceless.  The character comes back many times – both on this show and Deep Space Ninebut I don’t think she ever finds her man.  The best scene in the whole episode is the meal where her valet, Homn, has to strike a gong whenever she eats a mouthful of food.  There are also a lot of arguments between the two wedding parties – the scene is played for laughs and it works, even if the episode doesn’t.

By the nature of it, this episode also explores the relationship between Riker and Troi – he is clearly a tad jealous of the impending marriage.

But for all the positive character stuff the main plot is weak and you know that the wedding won’t happen the moment Troi says that she must leave the Enterprise after she marries.  So another very average episode from a very average opening season.

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

June 18, 2008 Posted by | arranged marriage, disease/sickness, family members, lwaxana troi, mr homn | | Leave a comment

Star Trek: The Next Generation 1.9 (Hide and Q)

Cast:
John de Lancie (Q)
William A. Wallace (Older Wesley)
Elaine Nalee (Klingon Survivor)

Writers: Gene Roddenberry, C.J. Holland

This episode is so crap I won’t go into too much detail of the “plot” but basically Q turns up, shows an interest in Riker, gives Riker the powers of the Q, and eventually Riker decides he doesn’t want them.

So, it’s a weak premise.  When I started watching this series, I really didn’t like Q.  Eventually they work out what to do with him – in fact, from his next appearance onwards.  But in this he is just a pathetic, immature cretinous turd.

The scenes on the world where they are attacked by, and I quote the episode, “vicious animal things” are just embarrassing.  And then when Riker has his Q powers he starts to change straight away.  Of course someone with those abilities would change over time, but there is no way he would start being disrespectful to Picard that early on.  And the scenes where he gives everyone their greatest wish are just awful.  He gives Worf a mate (the first Klingon we see in this show other than Worf, although she probably doesn’t count as she doesn’t really exist!)  He also makes Wesley ten years older (yawn) and gives Geordi his sight back (and we get a second hint that he fancies Tasha, the first being in The Naked Now).

There are some good ideas – when the Enterprise arrives at the scene of a disaster and they find the body of a small girl just too late – it could have been good, with Riker holding back on using his powers due to his promise to Picard, but it came across as just damned cheesy.

Q’s reason for all of this sort of makes sense – the Q continuum believes that one day man may be a more powerful race than the Q and they want to make Riker a Q so they can understand them.  But the execution is embarrassingly bad.  Even the spectacle of Wesley being run through with a bayonet is not enough to rescue this drivel from the sewer.

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

June 17, 2008 Posted by | klingons, q, super beings | | 1 Comment

Star Trek: The Next Generation 1.8 (The Battle)

Cast:
Doug Warhit(Kazago)
Robert Towers(Rata)
Frank Corsentino(DaiMon Bok)

Writers: Larry Forrester, Herbert Wright

Years ago, Picard destroyed an alien vessel, but his own ship, the USS Stargazer, was crippled in the battle.  The crew abandoned ship and were rescued, but the ship was never recovered.  The Ferengi have now found it, and present it back to Picard.  However, they are also controlling his mind and they manipulate Picard into thinking that he is back at that battle and that the Enterprise is his adversary.  Picard uses the same maneuver that he used to win the original battle (the Picard Maneuver, which involves a high warp jump that makes the ship appear to be in two places at once) but as the Enterprise knows it is coming they managed to capture the Stargazer in a tractor beam and prevent it from attacking.  They talk Picard into destroying the device the Ferengi Captain is using to plant suggestions in Picards mind and everything is okay.

This is actually a really nice idea for an episode, and it is pretty well delivered as well.  It is nice to see a more old fashioned bridge in the Stargazer (a redress of the Enterprise bridge sets from the first four movies) and the Ferengi are not half as irritating in this episode.  Wesley appears for the first time in his hideous Acting Ensign uniform – luckily, someone realises how horrible it is and it gets replaced next season.

The Ferengi are developed a little further – at the end the Ferengi Captain is arrested as his plan against Picard is deemed “unprofitable” by his own people – it seems it was an act of revenge due to the death of Daimon Boks own son in the original battle.

The only bit that annoys me is the fact that the device that controls Picard is brought across with all of his other belongings from his quarters on the Stargazer.  By Worf, future head of security.  Didn’t someone think to check the stuff before they beamed it across?  Surely even Worf would have thought that there was something slightly suspicious about a big glowing orb.  Oh well!

Crew Deaths: 0
Total Crew Deaths So Far: 1
Score: 7/10  

June 16, 2008 Posted by | daimon bok, disease/sickness, ferengi, flashbacks, inside another stafleet ship | | 1 Comment

Star Trek: The Next Generation 1.7 (Justice)

Cast:
Brenda Bakke (Rivan)
Jay Louden (Liator)
Josh Clark (Conn Officer)
David Graves (Edo Boy #2)
Eric Matthew (Edo Boy #1)
Brad Zerbst (Nurse)
Richard Lavin (Second Mediator)
David Q. Combs (First Mediator)
Judith Jones (Edo Girl)

Writer: Ralph Wills, Worley Thorne

An away team beam down to the planet Edo to assess the place for shore leave.  Since it has already been determined as safe by another team, Wesley beams down as well.  Although there are very few laws, and very little law enforcement (bascially a random zone is monitored daily) Wesley unfortunately breaks a greenhouse in an active zone and is sentenced to death.  They are out of contact with the Enterprise, which has made contact with a being that sees itself as the protector of the planet below.

Eventually contact is restored and Picard talks his way out of Wesley’s execution.  They are allowed to leave by the creature in space.

This episode is naff.  The people of the planet are all scantily clad and the suggestion is that they spend most of their time shagging.  There are a couple of nice moments amonst the silliness (Worf’s assertion that he cannot make love to a human woman as they are too fragile is funny) and I also really like the way that Picard sends Geordi to a window to “have a real look” at the vessel thing outside.  Also, we see a character on the bridge played by Josh Clark who may very well be Carey, a character we see from time to time on Voyager.  He is not named, so there is nothing here to say that it isn’t him.

Unfortunately, this episode is just an excuse to show flesh, and perhaps to reinforce the existence of the Prime Directive – it takes so long to rescue Wesley because Picard won’t just take him, he has to do it in a way that is within the law of the Edo (and that doesn’tm piss off their God, the thing in orbit).  We also see the first site to site transport, when God gets upset when they bring an Edo onto the Enterprise.

Not great, but a nice performance from Patrick Stewart save it a bit.

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

June 13, 2008 Posted by | formless creature, primitive cultures | | 1 Comment

Star Trek: The Next Generation 1.6 (Lonely Among Us)

Cast:
Kavi Raz(Lt. Cmdr. Singh)
Colm Meaney (O’Brien)
Marc Alaimo(Antican Delegate)
John Durbin(Ssestar)

Writers: Michael Halperin, D.C. Fontana

The Enterprise is taking two warring races to a peace conference on the unlikely names planet Parliament.  En route, the ship flies through a cloud, and a life form from that cloud becomes trapped in the sensor circuitry.  It moves from person to person – via Worf, Beverly and then Picard.  He sets the course back to the cloud and beams out as energy only.  The entity then leaves him and they are able to beam him back using the pattern in the pattern buffer of the transporter.

If it sounds dull, believe me it is actually duller.  They spend ages talking about whether Picard is fit for command, and Beverly doesn’t even relieve him when the being actually admits that it is not Picard!

The aliens (the ones at war, the Anticans and the Selee) are bloody awful – they would not have looked out of place in 70s Doctor Wholet alone this.  It is nice that Colm Meaney makes a cameo as unnamed character that it is fair to assume is O’Brien, but is is a very quick moment – we won’t see him now until next season.

We get to meet yet another of the Engineering staff – this time Assistant Chief Engineer Singh (although they refer to Argyle but we don’t see him).  Singh is also the first Enterprise crewmember to die in the show.

We see Wesley on the bridge again in hiw own clothes, although the awful acting ensigns uniform must be on the way soon.

In short, this is crap.  Avoid.  Like the plague.

Crew Deaths: 1
Total Crew Deaths So Far: 1
Score: 2/10

June 12, 2008 Posted by | chief o'brien, formless creature, mind control | | Leave a comment

Star Trek: The Next Generation 1.5 (Where no one has gone before)

Cast:
Eric Menyuk (The Traveler)
Stanley Kamel(Kosinski)
Charles Dayton (Crew Member)
Biff Yeager (Lt. Cmdr. Argyle)
Herta Ware(Yvette Gessard Picard)
Victoria Dillard (Ballerina)

Writers: Michael Reaves, Diane Duane

A warp engine specialist (Kosinksi) and his colleague (The Traveler) board the Enterprise to do some adjustments to the warp engines to make them more efficient.  Wesley watches the Traveller work and suggests some amendments to the warp field settings.  When the ship goes into warp they travel 2.7 million light years in a matter of moments.  Wesley comments to the Traveller, saying that the equations suggested that Space and Time and Thought were not the separate things that they were understood to be.  Kosinksi is not able to explain why it happened, and when they try to go back they end up somewhere so far from conceivable space it is not even charted – Picard says it is over a billion light years from our own galaxy!

Everyone soon realises that the speed was more due to the Traveler than Kosinksi (the fact that he almost phased out of existence) – the Traveler has the ability to use the power and energy in thought to help them travel.  They are in a place where thought shapes reality – Yar sees her cat, Worf his Targ (vicious Klingon Dog thing) and Picard his mother.  So the return journey is simple provided that everyone thinks of home, and they make it back easily even though the Traveler phases out of existence.

This is the best episode yet – Menyuk is very good as the Traveler, and Wesley is actually not irritating.  It turns out that The Traveler travels to meet geniuses – and Wesley is one such, with the knowledge of time, energy and propulsion.  He tells Picard this in confidence, and that this talent needs to be nurtured, which means that Picard ends up making him an acting Ensign with bridge duties.

This is a bottle show (I don’t know if it was done to save money) but it works rather well.  We spend quite a lot of time in engineering, and we introduced to, and I quote, “one of our chief engineers” – a line presumably added to cover the fact that we have a different Chief to three episodes ago.  This is Chief Argyle (it was nice to hear a Scottish lilt in the voice of the Chief Engineer again) but at this point it must have been obvious that at some point they were going to have to put a permanent character down there.

It is also obvious that we will see the Traveler again at some point – not that that is a bad thing, but I remember being suprised that it was not until season four.  Oh, and nobody has died yet!

Crew Deaths: 0
Total Crew Deaths So Far: 0
Score: 8/10

June 11, 2008 Posted by | chief engineer argyle, family members, the traveler, thrown through space | | 1 Comment

Star Trek: The Next Generation 1.4 (The Last Outpost)

Cast:
Armin Shimerman (Letek)
Jake Dengel (Mordoc)
Darryl Henriques (Portal)
Mike Gomez (DaiMon Taar)
Tracey Walter (Kayron)

Writers: Richard Krzemien, Herbert Wright

The Enterprise is following a Ferengi vessel that has stolen a power converter or something.  The vessel stops near a planet and then the Ferengi vessel appears to overpower them.  Whenever they try and escape the Ferengi ships appears to counter it with an opposing force great enough to keep them there.  Eventually the Ferengi contact them to surrender, and Picard realises that they are both trapped.  Then eventually agree to beam down to the planet below to try and work out what is going on.  Sadly, although they leave together they all arrive at different places on the surface.  The Ferengi attack and incapacitate those that have found each other, but not for long – when Worf wakes up he goes a bit mental and soon Yar turns up and they are no longer prisoners. 

Then a portal thing opens on the planet inviting them to join the T’Kon empire, and a guardian appears.  He has been unware of the passage of time for thousands of years, and he does not know that his Empire has gone.  The Ferengi try to make out that the Enterprise was there to loot the remains of the T’Kon empire.  But because they act like children the Portal realises that they are talking rubbish and sets everyone free – just in time as the Enterprise is running out of air and heat.

Okay, this is not a great episode but it does start to set the scene for things to come.  The first thing I noticed was that when communications went down at the start of the episode when Picard needed a report from Engineering, he sent down Geordi, which is nice.  I cannot remember if this happens a lot, but at least we know that Geordi has an engineering background, and that Picard knows about it.  However, once there, he and Riker come up with a plan to break free and don’t involve the Chief Engineer!  Cheeky – and a bit rubbish.

This is supposedly the first time the Federation has come into contact with the Ferengi – they were meant to be the main villains in this series, but thankfully they ended up being used as comic relief as scary they are not.  Armin Shimmerman (who later plays DS9‘s resident barkeep Quark) appears as one of the Ferengi in this episode.  The basic set up of them as traders is established in this episode, although the ones we meet are military, so they don’t mention Gold Pressed Latinum once!

We do get to see the first real use of the briefing room as a place to review information and make decisions as a team (even though Riker has to chase out a couple of kids first!) and I think this is also the first time we hear Picard say “make it so” when Riker suggests beaming a box of chinese finger puzzles over to the Ferengi ship as a parting shot!

So, not great but not terrible.  And still no deaths in the crew (the size of which has yet to be established, but as I recall is well over one thousand including all of the families aboard).

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

June 10, 2008 Posted by | ferengi, first contact | | Leave a comment

Star Trek: The Next Generation 1.3 (Code of Honor)

Cast:
Lorine Mendell(Diana Giddings)
Jessie Lawrence Ferguson(Lutan)
Michael Rider (Transporter Chief)
James Louis Watkins(Hagon)
Karole Selmon(Yareena)

Writers: Michael Baron, Kathryn Powers

The Enterprise goes to a planet that is not as advanced as the Federation to get a vaccine that will prevent a nasty disease.  The leader of this world, Lutan, kidnaps Tasha Yar.  He then tells Picard to visit them and he can have her back.  Only he doesn’t want to – Lutan decides to make her his first wife, which means his current first, Yareena, can challenge her to a fight to the death!  And she does!  Apparently the women own all the land – if Yareena wins she stays married to Lutan so he still has access to it, if Tasha wins it moves over to him!

They fight, Tasha wins, Yareena is poisoned and both Tasha and Yareena beam up to the Enterprise.  As soon as she dies her lands pass to Lutan, and he gives Picard all of the vaccine that they need.  Then they all beam up to the Enterprise and although Yareena died, Beverly bought her back to life.  Now, at the moment of death her marriage dissolves (although somehow her right to the lands does not, which makes no sense at all).  So she keeps the lands, and gets a new husband.

This episode is a very poor effort, even for season one.  In fact it is so crap it would not have looked out of place in season three of the original series.  The subject matter and even the direction and incidental music really sound as though they belong in the original series, not this one.  I am unsure what purpose it fulfils – we get to find out a little more about Tasha’s background – last time we heard mention of rape gangs, in this episode Tasha states that she was used to having to use vicious weapons to protect herself.  But although it is her episode, we don’t see a lot of her.

Wesley Crusher is finally allowed on the Bridge by Picard (only after Beverly pleads with him) and he is even allowed to operate one of the bridge stations for a while.

We see the start of the friendship between Data and Geordi in this episode – Data has made Geordi a razor that is apparently super efficient.  And once again Spiner steals the show – although not very important to this episode, there is an excellent scene where he tells Geordi a joke.  The way he delivers it – advancing on Geordi in an almost threatening way – is deeply funny and possibly the only good bit in the episode. 

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

June 9, 2008 Posted by | disease/sickness, poison | | Leave a comment