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Star Trek: The Next Generation 1.22 (Skin of Evil)

tasha-skinofevilCast:
Brad Zerbst (Nurse)
Walker Boone (Assistant Chief Engineer Lynch)
Mart McCesney(Armus)
Ron Gans(Voice of Armus)
Raymond Forchion(Lt. Ben Prieto)

Writers: Hannah Shearer, Joseph Stefano

This episode is a mixture of the surprisingly well done and the completely bloody awful.  As anyone reading this knows (and if they don’t where the hell have you been for the last 21 years!) this is the episode in which Lt. Tasha Yar is brutally killed by a shitty blobby black oil slick thingy.

Armus itself (the black oil thingy) is rather badly realised – when it moves it looks like very bad early CG or a dreadfully awful bit of hand animation.  In fact, you will be pig sick of the “effects shot” of it absorbing/leaving the shuttlecraft by the end of the episode.  The idea, however, of a literal “skin of evil” that is abandoned on a planet so that the race that left it there are no longer afflicted by those emotions and behaviours is a good one.  During one of the conversations you get between it and Troi you realise that this thing takes a sadistic pleasure in inflicting pain.  And the only two good bits in the episode are the actual death of Yar (rather suddenly quite near the start – if you were expecting something big deal don’t – it’s very sudden and actually rather well done.   In fact, it is so sudden if you did not know she was going to die you probably expected her to be bought back from the dead before the end).  I also liked the scene where Riker was absorbed into the oil slick, and indeed the moment where he is spat out – that is actually quite scary.

However, the resolution, that Troi bores the energy out of it, enabling her to be beamed away (okay, that’s not what they actually say happens, but it is how it comes across on screen) is bad, and the final, mawkish scene on the holodeck is enough to make one sick, as Tasha says goodbye to all of her mates.  Cue vomit!

So, a surprising episode.  Surprisingly bad for a show where a cast member is killed.  There will not be many more of these, and the others are done much better!

Crew Deaths: 1 (Tasha)
Total Crew Deaths So Far: 4
Score: 2/10

August 30, 2008 Posted by | death of regular character, formless creature, post death message | | 1 Comment

Star Trek: The Next Generation 1.21 (Symbiosis)

Cast:
Richard Lineback(Romas)
Merritt Butrick(T’Jon)
Judson Scott(Sobi)
Kimberly Farr(Langor)

Writers: Robert Lewin, Hans Beimler, Richard Manning

This episode is based on an interesting idea (so interesting, in fact, apparently Denise Crosby asked to be in this one, even though the episode in which she died had already been recorded!)  However, as usual with promising episodes from this early on in the series, it is delivered rather badly.

The Enterprise rescue some people from a ship which is about to crash.  When they are unable to help them fix it and the ship burns up, they sacrifice some of the crew to beam a container with a drug in it.  It all turns out that the two planets in this system have a symbiotic relationship (hence the title).  One lot produce a drug which is the cure to a plague that the others are suffering from.  But it turns out to be a narcotic and the symptoms that the addicts think is the start of their deaths is nothing more than withdrawal symptoms and the plague does not exist.

This episode contains two actors from The Wrath of Khan– Merritt Butrick (who played Kirks son David, and Judson Scott who played Khan’s Lieutenant).

The idea is sound, the delivery is very dull.  Coupled with the fact that both races have an ability to electrocute each other with their bare hands and you are left with a silly, inconsequential story with almost no merit.

A nice idea, wasted.

Crew Deaths: 0
Total Crew Deaths So Far: 3
Score: 4/10

August 26, 2008 Posted by | disease/sickness | | 1 Comment

Star Trek: The Next Generation 1.20 (The Arsenal of Freedom)

Cast:
Vincent Schiavelli (Peddler)
Marco Rodriguez (Capt. Paul Rice)
Vyto Ruginis (Chief Engineer Logan)
Julia Nickson(Ensign Lian T’Su)
George de la Peña(Lt. Jnr. Grade. Orfil Solis)

Writer: Maurice Hurley, Robert Lewin, Hans Beimler, Richard Manning

The Enterprise investigates the missing USS Drake and they go to the planet Minos.  They receive a broadcast (which appears to be an advert for weapons manufacture).  The Drake was visiting the planet because all of the population have gone missing.

They beam down.  Crusher and Picard fall down a big hole, and the others (Tasha, Data and Riker) are chased by a probe that gets more and more difficult to destroy each time it appears.  Also, a massive version of the same probe attacks the Enterprise (of which Geordi is now in command).  Eventually Picard comes across the control centre of the machines (conveniently in the same hole he and Crusher fell down) and agrees to buy the weapons that are being demonstrated, which shuts the demonstration models off in the nick of time.  It turns out the people of Minos were destroyed by their own creations…

It is not very good, this one.  The opening moments where they get the transmisson of the advert come straight out of The Hitch Hikers Guide to the Galaxy(although not as good) and the level of coincidence reach stupid levels when it is revealed that the killer drone things are controlled from where Picard and Crusher come from.  And the set of the exteriors on the planet is the worst kind of crap soundstage.

There is some good.  There are some nice character moments for Geordi (who takes command, and has a row with yet another chief engineer) and also a bit of back story for Beverly (who was living in a colony where there was a major disaster when she was young).  But all in all the actual story is rubbish and it looks very, very cheap!

Crew Deaths: 0
Total Crew Deaths So Far: 3
Score: 4/10

August 25, 2008 Posted by | destruction of a starfleet ship, planetary population destroyed | | 1 Comment

Star Trek: The Next Generation 1.19 (Heart of Glory)

Cast:
Vaughn Armstrong(Captain Korris)
Charles Hyman(Lt. Konmel)
David Froman(K’nera)
Robert Bauer(Kunivas)
Brad Zerbst (Nurse)
Dennis Madalone (Ramos)

Writers: Maurice Hurley, Herbert Wright, D.C. Fontana

Three Klingons are found aboard a shot up freighter just inside the Romulan Neutral Zone.  They are beamed so safety aboard the Enterprise just as the ship finally explodes.  (And note, this another reference to the Romulans who we have still not seen on this show).  The Klingons do their best to work on Worf and get him on side by appealing to the Klingon side of his nature, trying to tell him that the peace between the Federation and the Klingons is making the Klingon heart wither and die.  It turns out the freighter they were on was attacked by another Klingon vessel.  Then the Klingon Command gets in touch with the Enterprise and alert Picard to the fugitive status of his “guests”.  The Klingons try to take hostages but are soon put into holding cells, but they have weapons concealed in parts of their clothing which they assemble and use to escape (killing two security guards).  One of the Klingons also dies but the Captain makes it to engineering and threatens to shoot the dilithium chamber which would destroy the ship.  Worf shoots him dead.

This is the first time we get to hear the details of Worf’s back story – the attack at Khitomer, his adoption by human parents.  This will be gone into in a lot more detail as the series goes on – later on in the run Worf’s father is accused of betraying Khitomer and causing the attack.

It is also the first decent Klingon episode, and these guys come across as the proper death or glory type chaps who we know from the films.  We have had only one member of crew die in the series so far – and that was an accident – but here these guys kill two security guards in cold blood.

There are a couple of dodgy points – the moment the two surviving Klingons reveal the truth about their background, Worf should have reported it immediately to someone and he did not.  Also, there is a moment of truly shockingly bad acting from Denise Crosby – Picard orders her to the transporter room, and she does not move until he says something else.  She waited for him to complete his line, when actually if it was a real situation you would not have known the second part of the comment was coming and Tasha would have set off for the transporter room as soon as Picard told her to leave.  I’m surprised the director did not pick up on this, it looks truly shit.

But these are minor points.  It is not a complex story, but the acting is good and the story solid.  You appreciate for the first time that there is more to the Klingons than you might think, that the alliance is not perceived as a good thing by all of them.  It’s a good introduction to this race on this show, and more is coming!

Crew Deaths: 2
Total Crew Deaths So Far: 3
Score: 7/10

August 12, 2008 Posted by | klingons | | 1 Comment