Utterly Star Trek Review

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Star Trek: The Next Generation 1.18 (Coming of Age)

Ward Costello(Admiral Gregroy Quinn)
Robert Schenkkan(Lt. Cmdr. Dexter Remmick)
John Putch(Mordock)
Robert Ito(Tac. Officer Chang)
Stephen Gregory(Jake Kurland)
Tasia Valenza(T’Shanik)
Estee Chandler(Oliana Mirren)
Brendan McKane (Technician #1)
Wyatt Knight (Technician #2)
Daniel Riordan(Rondon)

Writer: Sandy Fries

This is one of those episodes where there are two distinct plot strands that do not relate to each other at all (suggesting that neither is strong enough to carry the episode on their own).  The first is Wesley taking the StarFleet Academy entrance exam.  Whilst interesting, it really could not carry the episode.  Wesley goes through various tests, including the psyche test, which tests his greatest fear.  Whilst he does rather well, he does not get in on this occasion.  It is the first of a number of episodes where the carrot of Wesley leaving is dangled tantalisingly in front of the audience only to be cruelly snatched away. 

This plot has one of the worst effects on this series – there is a corridor where Wesley has an altercation with a chap with webbed fingers.  The continuation of the corridor is a blatant photograph, and it looks utterly shit, not worthy of this series.  (As I recall, the happens once more, much later, perhaps even season seven, and it is worse!)

I also don’t like the fact that only one person from this test can get into StarFleet.  Surely they wouldn’t turn someone away who did really well just because they didn’t come top?  It’s silly.

The other plot strand is the arrival of two people aboard the Enterprise – Picard’s old friend Admiral Gregory Quinn and his assistant Dexter Remmick.  Quinn tells Remmick that there is something wrong on the Enterprise and Remmick is to find it.  Remmick sets about this task with glee, bossing people around both above his level and below him.  We get to see a lot of questions that seem to be aimed at tearing Picard apart – the questions are loaded and also make reference to several episodes that we have already seen.  It is done very very well and unlike the previous strand it would certainly have carried the show had it only been part of the story.  And for most of the episode we really don’t know what the hell is going on – why is Quinn seemingly out to discredit Picard?

The only point where the stories meet is when a friend of Wesley’s (who is upset because he has not made it to the StarFleet entrance exam) steals a shuttle to run away, the whole operation to rescue him when the shuttle breaks down and is about to lose its orbit is witnessed by Remmick (Picard even tells him to stop interjecting or he will be removed from the bridge).  Picard saves the day in a moment that genuinely makes you punch the air (not because you care whether Wesleys irritating friends dies or not, but because Picard has one over on Remmick).

Remmick questions everyone, and even goes below the belt when he tries to upset Beverly by referring to the fact that her husband died under Picards command.  Naturally, she blows him out.  Picard eventually loses his rag and demands to know from the Admiral what the hell is going on.  Remmick reveals that he can find nothing at all wrong aboard the ship.  Quinn finally reveals that there is some form of conspiracy within StarFleet and wants to recruit Picard into keeping an eye out for signs.  Actually, he wants to promote Picard and put him in the Academy, which Picard says no to.  (He also says he doesn’t do politics, which is rubbish, as we get to see in some superb Klingon episodes down the line!)

This is the first time we have had a dangling plot thread on any Star Trek apart from the movies, and whilst it is resolved fairly quickly (this season in fact) we do get to see a lot more later.  Although a lot of the time The Next Generation, like the original series, is standalone episodes it is the ability to successfully create plot strands that feature in multiple (if not consecutive) episodes that makes, for me anyway, this show superior to the original.

This is the first time we have seen the real potential of this show.  If only the whole episode had concentrated on the investigation/conspiracy plot, it would have been utterly superb.

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


July 31, 2008 Posted by | admiral quinn, benzite, lt. cmdr. dexter remmick, starfleet academy, stolen ship or shuttlecraft, vulcans | | 2 Comments

Star Trek: The Next Generation 1.17 (Home Soil)

Walter Gotell(Kurt Mandl)
Elizabeth Lindsey (Louisa Kim)
Gerard Prendergast (Bjorn Benson)
Carolyne Barry (Female Engineer)
Mario Roccuzzo(Arthur Malencon)

Writers: Karl Geurs, Ralph Sanchez, Robert Sabaroff

This is the other episode from Season One that was never released as part of the original UK Rental VHS set – they released 24 out of 26 episodes.  As with the other, you can see why they didn’t bother.  Good it ain’t.

The Enterprise crew visit a planet where some Terraformers are converting what is basically a rock into a biosphere capable of sustaining human life.  In the first ten minutes or so we are given a quite detailed account of how this process is supposed to work (I would almost argue too much detail).  Then as soon as we know what these guys are up to, one of the scientists is killed by what appears to be a faulty laser drill.  It then attacks Data.  The race is on to find out what is going on.

Of course, naturally the crew assume that one of the remaining terraformers must be the saboteur who reprogrammed the drill.  They quickly find some kind of life form that lives in the salt water that is being killed by the terraforming process.  They beam a sample up to the Enterprise, and it gets bigger, resists analysis, starts communicating via the computer and breaks through the quarantine seal and takes control of the ship. 

The story is very dull indeed.  The life form refers to humans as “ugly bags of mostly water.”  The voice is embarrassing.  They start referring to the life form as a “micro brain”.  They find out that it uses energy from the lights to reproduce.  So they defeat it by turning the lights off, talk it down and beam it back down to the planet.  The terraformers have to find another planet to mess about with.

I am trying to find something positive about this mess of an episode.  It takes them ages to try and beam it back down to the planet – one of the first things I would have tried as soon as it looked as though they might not be able to control it.  The episode only lasts for forty five minutes. If feels like hours!

Crew Deaths: 0
Total Crew Deaths So Far: 1
Score: 3/10

July 28, 2008 Posted by | inorganic life form, ship/station taken over | | 2 Comments

Star Trek: The Next Generation 1.16 (When the bough breaks)

Wesley and another annoying Enterprise child.

Philip Waller (Harry Bernard)
Ivy Bethune(Duana)
Jerry Hardin(Radue)
Brenda Strong(Rashella)
Paul Lambert(Melian)
Amy Wheaton (Tara)
Jeremy Wheaton (Mason)
Jandi Swanson (Katie)
McKenzie Westmore (Rose)
Dan Mason(Accolan)
Vanessa Bova (Alexandra)
Jessica Bova (Alexandra)
Michele Marsh (Leda)
Connie Danese(Toya)
Dierk Torsek (Dr. Bernard)

Writer: Hannah Shearer

This is another extremely clunky episode from this very very average first season of The Next Generation.  A planet called Aldea (which is a myth rather like Atlantis) appears out of nowhere – it seems that they have hidden behind a cloaking device.  Now, they are ready to be found as they cannot reproduce anymore and they want the help of the Federation.

Rather than asking for medical help though, they decide to just take a selection of children from the Enterprise, including Wesley Crusher.  They are not cruel to them (apart from the fact of their kidnap) and they want to nurture their latent talents (one finds out that he has a gift for art, another for music and so on).

The problem with this episode is that there is no real threat.  The Aldeans are not nasty people, just deperate, and you know that at some point everything would get sorted out.  So when you watch this you don’t really care because you know exactly what is going to happen.  Even when they throw the Enterprise across space as a minor demonstration of their power you know by the end everything will be okay.

Add to all of that, you have “The Custodian”.  The whole planet is run by a computer, so the citizens of the planet don’t have to do anything.  It is not all powerful and it does not rule them, so it is not quite a crappy classic Trek supercomputer.  And by the end we find out that the shield that has protected them is what is causing them to be sterile, and the Enterprise children will also be unable to reproduce. 

Also, this is the first of a handful of appearances by Jerry Hardin (Deep Throat in various X-Filesepisodes) and I also noticed for the first time that two of the other Enterprise kids are played by the younger siblings of Wil Wheaton (Wesley Crusher).  None of this makes the episode any better though!

Everything gets talked down nicely and the Enterprise gets their kids back, including Wesley.

Very poor and rather dull.

Crew Deaths: 0
Total Crew Deaths So Far: 1
Score: 3/10

July 25, 2008 Posted by | cloaking devices, disease/sickness, super computers, thrown through space | | 2 Comments

Star Trek: The Next Generation 1.15 (Too Short a Season)

Michael Pataki (Karnas)
Clayton Rohner (Admiral Mark Jameson)
Marsha Hunt (Anne Jameson)

Writer: Michael Michaelin

Another fairly dreadful first season episode for The Next Generation.  The basic plot is that an old, ill admiral (Jameson) is needed to negotiate a peace treaty.  So he can complete these negotaitions he has taken an overdose of a drug that is supposed to reduce his age.  (In fact, he even took the dose he actually bought for his wife as well).  Throughout the course of the episode he gets younger and younger until the drugs kill him.  This is a rubbish plot, and the fact that the ageing makeup isn’t that good really does not help, especially as he is actually played by an actor in his mid twenties and his wife is played by someone who is as old as he is meant to be.  And the actor carries himself like a young man pretending to be a young man.  It really isn’t a very convincing performance.

So, as the Admiral gets better and younger Beverly is suspicious – the disease isn’t one that you are supposed to recover from.

And of course the idiot is not really in the right condition to do the negotiations when the Enterprise does arrive at the planet, it all turns out that the person who called him to the planet to negotiate (Karnas) is actually the person who has the hostages, and the whole thing has been a set up to get Admiral Jameson to the planet – Karnas wants revenge for something that happened in the past.

It all ends with Jameson beaming downand dying in front of Karnas (although at first Karnas does not beleive it is him, as he looks so young!) 

Then the first season of TNG was released on rental VHS in the UK, (before the good old BBC picked it up three years after it started!) all but two episodes were released.  For some unfathomable reason, this was one of the two.  (That was sacrasm, by the way.)

The plot is crap.  The acting is crap.  I can’t be bothered to go into any more detail apart from one word: avoid.

Crew Deaths: 0
Total Crew Deaths So Far: 1
Score: 2/10

July 24, 2008 Posted by | disease/sickness, reverse aging, terrorism | | 2 Comments

Star Trek: The Next Generation 1.14 (11001001)

Katy Boyer (Zero One)
Jack Sheldon (Piano Player)
Gene Dynarski(Cmdr. Quinteros)
Carolyn McCormick (Minuet)
Alexandra Johnson (One Zero)
Iva Lane (Zero Zero)
Kelli Ann McNally (One One)
Ron Brown (Drummer)
Abdul Salaam El Razzac (Bass Player)

Writer: Robert Lewin, Maurice Hurley

This episode is so simple, in fact almost nothing happens in it, yet somehow it is great.  Riker in particular does well out of this episode – there aren’t all that many episodes that give him a lot to do, but this one does.

The premise is simple: the Enterprise is in a starbase having it’s first upgrade, including an upgrade on the holodeck.  Many of the crew leave for some shore leave (as much of the ship has to be shut down to facilitate the upgrades) – for example Worf and Tasha go and play a game called Parisee Squares (a game we hear about a lot but don’t see) and Riker spends the first fifteen minutes getting the brush off from everyone as they all have other things to do, and he is pretty much the only person left on the ship apart from Picard, Wesley and the upgrade team (four Binars).  There is a really nice scene in the upgraded holodeck where Riker creates a fantasy woman in a Jazz bar in the 1950’s, and plays a bit of trombone.  Picard joins him.

Suddenly, the antimatter containment field starts to collapse and so they evacuate the Enterprise.  The sequence where the ship is abandoned and sent out into space so the explosion is away from the starbase is bloody excellent, you get a real sense of how big the crew is.  Riker and Picard are on the holodeck, but nobody can contact them.  As soon as the ship gets away from the starbase the magnetic field repairs itself.  It turns out that the Binars have stolen the Enterprise because something is going to wipe the computer on their planet.  The Binars copy their computer onto the Enterprise computer, and then when it is wiped they restore it using the Enterprise backup.  When asked why they didn’t ask for help, their answer was simple and perfectly logical for a binary race: “you might have said no.”

It’s simple, it’s great.  Minuet (Rikers fantasy woman on the holodeck) is such a complex computer character that Riker kind of falls for her, and is upset when she is wiped from the holodeck memory.  As we get to find out in a few years time, he liked her so much he pretty much thought of her as a real person!

Crew Deaths: 0
Total Crew Deaths So Far: 1
Score: 8/10

July 22, 2008 Posted by | live music, minuet, painting, parisee squares, self destruct, ship/station taken over, stolen ship or shuttlecraft | | 5 Comments

Star Trek: The Next Generation 1.13 (Angel One)

Leonard Crofoot (Trent)
Patricia McPherson (Ariel)
Sam Hennings (Ramsey)
Karen Montgomery (Beata)

Writer: Patrick Barry

Right.  Time for me to ‘fess up.  I have had a break from this blog for a while – something I will do from time to time so I don’t have to feel bogged down by it.  But why now, you might ask?  Well, the honest answer is that I took some time off because I dreaded watching this episode.  And why?  Because it’s an absolute stinker.

The premise is that the planet Angel One has opposite sexual charactersistics to what we are used to – the females are dominant, bigger and rule the planet (they will carry young though) and the men are smaller, and dress in revealing clothes.  The Enterprise is there to find out if there are survivors from a Federation freighter that crashed there seven years ago.  Meanwhile, on the Enterprise Wesley and some of his friends go down with a virus that quickly spreads throughout the whole ship.  Picard gets ill (as does Worf, and indeed most people apart from the Doctor, obviously) and Geordi ends up in charge of the ship.

Riker dresses as a native male (and looks like a total tit) and sort of goes on a date with the ruler of the planet.  (Well, they go back to her place and shag).  Eventually they find the survivors and it turns out they are male and high up members of the Angel One government are screwing them and even have families with them.  Eventually it is decided that the survivors should be executed, but of course it doesn’t happen (although there are tense moments when the the Angel One leaders say they will forgo the executions if the men are beamed to the Enterprise, but they cannot due to the virus).

I see what they were trying to do here, but it just doesn’t work.  Perhaps this is because I am male, perhaps a female would better appreciate what this episode is trying to do.  Personally I just found it tacky and embarrassing, perhaps that is the analogy that the writers were trying to draw on about the treatment of women (in the past and perhaps not quite so far in the past).

We also get mentions of Romulan activity along the Neutral Zone, and although we don’t get to see them it is the start of the build up to the end of the season. 

There is too much chest hair and in this episode – both Picard and Riker have a fair rug on them.  But of course, the Angel One men have shaved chests, pushing the female analogy further.  (Meaning shaving conventions, not specifically chest shaving!)

Crap.  Utter crap from start to finish.

Crew Deaths: 0
Total Crew Deaths So Far: 1
Score: 2/10

July 21, 2008 Posted by | disease/sickness | | Leave a comment