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Greg Kirkman
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Posted: 26 December 2017 at 1:00am | IP Logged | 1 post reply

"Galaxy's Child".


...and here's an episode that is perhaps much more relevant today that it was in 1990, given the rise of the Internet. The story brilliantly explores the consequences of "Booby Trap", and examines the line between fantasy and reality. It's remarkably prescient, in that Geordi basically fell in love with what is essentially an online avatar of a real woman, only to be disappointed when he finally meets the real thing. On the flipside, Dr. Brahms is horrified to learn that she's been cyberstalked by a man she's never met, who basically fell in love with her Spacebook profile page.

We of course already know that Geordi's a decent guy, and that he didn't engage in creepy relations with Dr. Brahms' holographic avatar, but, man, the whole thing is still deeply uncomfortable and awkward. Mortifying, even. Complicating things is the fact that the real Dr. Brahms is pretty much a cold b****, at least initially. Her gradual thawing and mending fences with Geordi is a nice conclusion to the episode, but there's no friggin' way that happens in a real-life version of these events. She'd write Geordi off as a total creep, and perhaps even report him to Picard and/or Starfleet. 

That being said, this again raises questions regarding the legal and moral ramifications of recreating living people on the holodeck. There have been implications in the past that Riker has recreated real people to get his jollies, after all. And, it seems that anyone at anytime can either enter an in-progress holodeck program, or freely access any program created by someone else. Would Dr. Brahms have a legal recourse if she had definitive proof that Geordi had created a holographic blowup-doll in her likeness? It's not like people in today's world are arrested for taking personal liberties with magazines and Internet photos/videos in the privacy of their homes. I would hope that the rules aboard a pseudo-military starship would be a little stricter regarding that sort of thing, though.

A really solid and thought-provoking episode, with some great performances. I never cease to be amazed by how engaging LeVar Burton is, despite his eyes always being obscured. And, it pains me that Susan Gibney never became a regular on any of the spin-off shows, despite her auditioning for any number of parts. Her performance here is almost the polar opposite of what she did in "Booby Trap", and yet it all works.
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James Woodcock
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Posted: 26 December 2017 at 5:19am | IP Logged | 2 post reply

Greg, I donít know if you ever read the Hulk two part series FUTURE IMPERFECT. There is a scene in there where future Hulk orders a woman to have sex with current Hulk. Hulk accidentally refers to her as Betty and she says that is now her name and proceeds to have sex with the helpless Hulk.

A very disturbing scene that is not played for laughs.
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Greg Kirkman
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Posted: 26 December 2017 at 10:53am | IP Logged | 3 post reply

Greg, I donít know if you ever read the Hulk two part series FUTURE IMPERFECT. There is a scene in there where future Hulk orders a woman to have sex with current Hulk. Hulk accidentally refers to her as Betty and she says that is now her name and proceeds to have sex with the helpless Hulk.
++++++++

I absolutely have. And it's not just one woman, it's many, ordered to "help" the Hulk by the Maestro, who is "killing him with kindness". Pretty sick stuff.

Also, I've not read the story, but I'm aware that Nightwing--Dick Grayson, one of the most iconic DC characters--was also the victim of female-on-male rape. 

It's a rarity, but it absolutely happens, both in fiction and in reality. Yet, it's often shrugged off. If Wonder Woman or the Black Widow became a rape victim, you can bet it would be headline news and a cause for major controversy, and would mark those characters forever. Yet, a lot of people either have no idea or have simply forgotten that characters like the Hulk and Nightwing are victims of rape. It's a disturbing double-standard. 

In the case of Riker, the combination of Roddenberry's looser views on sexuality, Riker's healthy libido, and the scene being played for laughs somehow make "First Contact" an easy watch...but, the more you stop and think about it, the more unsettling it is. It works in context, but the "fridge logic" of it is pretty disturbing.

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Rob Ocelot
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Posted: 26 December 2017 at 12:13pm | IP Logged | 4 post reply

In the case of Riker, the combination of Roddenberry's looser views on sexuality, Riker's healthy libido, and the scene being played for laughs somehow make "First Contact" an easy watch...but, the more you stop and think about it, the more unsettling it is. It works in context, but the "fridge logic" of it is pretty disturbing.

Last week when I was doing my yearly mandatory policy reviews for work I noticed a new addition to the 'Workplace violence/harassment' module: Subjecting your co-workers to stories or boasts of your sexual escapades and conquests is now considered a form of harassment/bullying.  Life was so much simpler when you labelled that person a "blowhard asshole" and got back to the work at hand, but I digress.

However the "FC" situation with Riker does get me thinking.  It's pretty much an open secret among the bridge crew (and likely the rest of the ship) that the human first officer has a preference for sex with alien species, the more exotic and alien the better.   I'd go as far to say that his reputation precedes him and that actually serves to quietly sift out those who would likely avoid him (ie those he'd find dull in bed) and those who are sufficiently curious or like-minded.   It's a very subtle form of intimidation for anyone who has to work with him.

So why is the first officer of the fleet flagship doing covert monitoring duties and not someone whose actual job is doing these things?**  Why risk a valuable officer in a potentially hostile situation?   Maybe Riker volunteered and everyone else stepped aside and let the guy who likely has an alien porn collection go down and 'blend in'.

The situation is played for laughs precisely because Riker confronts his equal and opposite -- and it rightly scares the crap out of him.  I bet that nurses co-workers will be rolling their eyes for years at her "I shagged an alien" stories in the lunchroom.  That's the power of a well-manicured bad reputation.  :-)

**Yeah, if it was anyone else but a member of the bridge crew you'd lose the WTF-ness of the cold open
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Greg Kirkman
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Posted: 26 December 2017 at 12:43pm | IP Logged | 5 post reply

It should also be remembered that Riker is essentially TNG's riff on James Kirk, and that he occasionally serves as a sort of meta-commentary on the general public's perception of Kirk--a horndog who constantly beds alien babes, and whose reputation precedes him.

The double-standard is such that Riker would probably get flack for seducing an alien babe to achieve a goal, but his own extortion by one is played for laughs. 

I'm also reminded of the AMERICAN PIE films, which were recently playing on TV. Jason Biggs' virginal character is seduced by Alyson Hanngan's, and then he wakes up alone the next morning, and says "I was used! Cool!". If the genders were reversed, the "love 'em and leave 'em" treatment would surely be shown as an emotionally damaging experience for the woman, with the guy deflowering her and then just running off. Of course, the sequel walked this all back, with Jim calling Michelle out on the whole thing, and it then proceeded to have them develop an actual relationship. But that's a separate matter.


Edited by Greg Kirkman on 31 December 2017 at 12:14pm
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Joe Boster
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Posted: 26 December 2017 at 4:13pm | IP Logged | 6 post reply

Yes, many things come off differently in the context of modern day sensibilities for good or ill. Perhaps Riker is more of a riff on Gene himself. Given all the stories about Gene's tastes and desire to tell others about them. Free love and all that.It's not just Riker. Many guest stars get in on the action as well. 


I don't know, I would supposed the male rape identity is rather like Christian persecution. When one is in such a dominating position it's hard for it to sound like more than whining.
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Michael Roberts
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Posted: 26 December 2017 at 5:49pm | IP Logged | 7 post reply

Still, there's no way it would be done, today.

----

I don't know. THE ORVILLE mostly got away with Dr. Finn having sex under the influence with her stalker. There was way more squick going on there. I think the scene in "First Contact" would still work today as long as it was clear that the idea was coming from Riker.

In terms of sexual consent and Riker, I find the season 4 episode "The Host" more problematic. Crusher is fretting over carrying on a relationship with the Trill being temporarily hosted by Riker, and it's never discussed whether Riker would be OK with Crusher sexing his body. And Troi, of all people, is egging her on. WTF?

STARGATE: UNIVERSE broached the same subject. The only form of communication between the lost in space starship and Earth was a device that could swap consciousnesses between people on the ship and people on Earth. The people on Earth who volunteered to swap consciousnesses signed a waiver saying that they were OK with what was done with their bodies while someone else had control. Maybe Riker signed a waiver?
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Greg Kirkman
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Posted: 26 December 2017 at 7:12pm | IP Logged | 8 post reply

I don't know. THE ORVILLE mostly got away with Dr. Finn having sex under the influence with her stalker. There was way more squick going on there. I think the scene in "First Contact" would still work today as long as it was clear that the idea was coming from Riker.
++++++++++++++

I'm not so sure. Consenting relations while under the influence (remember, neither of them was aware that there WAS an influence, at that point--Dr. Finn had seemingly decided to give in to Yaphit's advances of her own free will) are one thing. A stranger agreeing to help a prisoner escape only in exchange for sex is another. "Drunk" consent vs. sober extortion. Which is worse? I'd vote for the latter.

+++++++++++++

In terms of sexual consent and Riker, I find the season 4 episode "The Host" more problematic. Crusher is fretting over carrying on a relationship with the Trill being temporarily hosted by Riker, and it's never discussed whether Riker would be OK with Crusher sexing his body. And Troi, of all people, is egging her on. WTF?
+++++++++++++++

I have yet to rewatch that episode, of course, but I do remember being weirded out by it.
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Greg Kirkman
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Posted: 27 December 2017 at 12:49am | IP Logged | 9 post reply

"Night Terrors".


A so-so episode with some good ideas and moments. I can certainly attest to the effects of sleep deprivation, so this one hits home, on that level. There are a few genuinely creepy moments (such as Dr. Crusher hallucinating that the corpses are all sitting upright in the morgue, and Worf preparing to commit ritual suicide), but it's a rather boring episode, overall. The nightmare sequences with Troi flying around are pretty painful to watch, too. That said, it's still fun to see everyone playing their characters as increasingly sleep-deprived, paranoid, and zombie-like.

Also, I'm a bit surprised that the remastering team didn't take the opportunity to use CGI to fix the famous error in this episode, with the Brattain's exterior (a reuse of the ever-reliable Reliant model) being labeled "Brittain".
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Greg Kirkman
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Posted: 27 December 2017 at 11:33pm | IP Logged | 10 post reply

"Identity Crisis".


I like this one quite a bit. It's not the deepest or most complex episode of TNG, but it's very well-produced, and is very successful in terms of the dread and creepiness in its tone. The makeup effects are really good and clever, too, including the use of the black light effects. The ideliable image of this episode--burned into my brain, when I saw the episode in first-run--is the featureless simulation of the shadow-casting creature in Geordi's holodeck simulation.

Assuming it's not an error, there's also the subtle indication that Geordi's transformation also gives him his sight back.

I'm an easy mark for transformation stories, and this one works on every level. The notion of a genetic ticking time-bomb acquired years ago on an away mission is really neat, too. A favorite episode from my youth, which still holds up very well.
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Ted Downum
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Posted: 28 December 2017 at 2:47pm | IP Logged | 11 post reply

I had forgotten that the 3rd/4th seasons had a nice little run of Geordi-centric episodes. And rightly so: a compelling character played by an excellent actor.

I enjoyed it when Geordi came back as the captain of the Challenger (?) in whatever alternate universe/future Voyager episode that was. Methinks he actually would make a good starship captain.
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Greg Kirkman
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Posted: 28 December 2017 at 3:37pm | IP Logged | 12 post reply

I had forgotten that the 3rd/4th seasons had a nice little run of Geordi-centric episodes. And rightly so: a compelling character played by an excellent actor. 
++++++++

Yeah, it's a credit to LeVar Burton that Geordi didn't just end up as "the blind guy" or "'the unlucky in love' guy". He brought an intelligence and likability to the character which makes episodes that focus on La Forge particularly enjoyable. 

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