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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 2.1 (The Child)

01a-3Cast:
Diana Muldaur (Dr. Katherine Pulaski)
Colm Meaney (Miles O’Brien)
Whoopi Goldberg(Guinan)
Seymour Cassel (Lt. Cmdr. Hester Dealt)
R.J. Williams(Ian Andrew Troi)
Dawn Arnemann (Miss Gladstone)
Zachery Benjamin (Young Ian)
Dore Keller (Crewman)

Writers: Maurice Hurley, Jon Povill, Jaron Summers

Aaargh!  What the hell is going on?  Worf and Geordi have changed job (and uniform), as has Beverly – in fact she has moved off the Enterprise, and Wesley is supposed to be going with her!  She has been replaced by a McCoy clone called Katherine Pulaski.  Also, we have a bar called Ten Forward complete with a barkeep that we have never seen before, Guinan.  Wesley has been put in a slightly less horrible costume, and we can see less of Riker’s face as he is hiding behind a beard.

Okay, so it made sense that Worf would officially take over the Security job (he has been acting head of security since Tasha died towards the end of last season) and Geordi also has a lot more to do now (again, he quite often did some engineering bits last year so it is not a total bolt out of the blue, at least we don’t get a different chief every other week!)  Oh, and they have made Worf’s makeup better.

But that is quite a lot of changes for a viewer to take in, and it does feel like we are shedding cast what with Tasha leaving three episodes ago and now Beverly – hell, at least we got a goodbye scene for Tasha, although it was horrible.  There are more changed between this episode and the last than at any point on the old series.

Any why the hell didn’t Wesley go with his Mum at the same time she left?  It doesn’t make sense – unless the stress of moving home and the stress of having that little git around whilst she did it would have just tipped her over the edge – I can see the conversation now: “Captain, please look after him for a few weeks, or I will end up killing myself!”

As for the episode – well, this was apparently a script for the aborted Star Trek: Phase II series.  Basically, a formless creature floats into Deanna Troi (and even I was suprised when I first saw this about which orriface it is suggested the form enters her by) and she has a baby.  Meanwhile, some specimens that are needed to cure a plague start growing when they shouldn’t and threaten to infect the whole Enterprise.  It turns out that the baby (which grows rapidly and is a young man by the end of the episode) is releasing a kind of radiation that causes the plague sample to grow, so the child kills itself (not by stabbing itself or jumping into the warp core, he just kind of switches off).  It turns out that it was just a creature that wanted to understand humanity by being one!

Oh, and Guinan talks Wesley into staying.  Bitch.

Crew Deaths: 0
Total Crew Deaths So Far: 4
Score: 6/10

September 12, 2008 Posted by | accelerated ageing, chief o'brien, disease/sickness, formless creature, guinan | | Leave a comment

Star Trek: The Next Generation 1.23 (We’ll always have Paris)

parisCast:
Michelle Phillips(Jenice Manheim)
Lance Spellerberg (Chief Herbert)
Jean-Paul Vignon (Edouard)
Dan Kern (Lt. Dean)
Isabel Lorca (Gabrielle)
Rod Loomis(Dr. Paul Manheim)
Kelly Ashmore (Francine)

Writers: Deborah Dean Davis, Hannah Shearer

This is a funny bugger of an episode.  It is basically a meeting between old lovers – Picard and the now married Jenice Manheim.  The twist is that her husband is doing these strange experiments that lead to odd time anomalies.

And that’s it.  There’s no real threat, there’s no chance of this couple getting back together, nobody dies.  Really it’s a character piece with a time anomaly thrown in!

The time anomaly scenes are fun – I especially liked the moment where Riker, Picard and Data walk into a lift, and when the doors open the past versions of themselves are outside the lift having the conversation they were having when they entered the lift – and then they interact with themselves.

Then later in the episode, as Data has to put antimatter into the anomaly to close it properly, there are suddenly three of him and they don’t know which one exists in the correct time frame to insert the antimatter.  Then one of that Data’s exclaims “it’s me” with no explanation as to how he knows.

Also, the vision of the Paris of the future was not that great.  I looks as though it got flattened at some point and rebuilt from scratch – only the Eiffel Tower seems to have survived.  And the person who ran the cafe was rather happy for Picard to take in the view without ordering anything.  It would have been more realistic for him to say “order something or piss off!”

I don’t hate this.  It’s okay, but nothing special.  And very difficult to say much about!

Crew Deaths: 0
Total Crew Deaths So Far: 4
Score: 5/10

September 3, 2008 Posted by | anomaly (spacial/temporal), asteroid, disease/sickness, doubles or duplicates, exes, time travel | | Leave a 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 1.16 (When the bough breaks)

Wesley and another annoying Enterprise child.

Cast:
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 | | 1 Comment

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

Cast:
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 1.13 (Angel One)

Cast:
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

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 1.8 (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