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Rob Ocelot
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Posted: 13 October 2017 at 9:05am | IP Logged | 1 post reply

Riker's beard saved TNG's second season. :-) 
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Steve De Young
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Posted: 13 October 2017 at 1:57pm | IP Logged | 2 post reply

Rob, Marina Sirtis has spoken at conventions about how she had a very definite sense that she was going to be fired during TNG's first season, suspicions that were confirmed to her by Majel Barrett years later. Crosby's quitting the show in effect saved Sirtis's job. 
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One interesting note.  Sirtis and Crosby were originally cast in the opposite roles.  How that happened, I dunno, because I just can't picture Sirtis as a security chief/action-oriented character.  But part of that may be just how engrained she is in my brain as Troi.
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Greg Kirkman
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Posted: 14 October 2017 at 1:00am | IP Logged | 3 post reply

"Where Silence Has Lease".


Very much a "bottle" episode, but a very entertaining one. This one has a strong TOS vibe, as we see the crew encounter a strange phenomenon in space, and work at figuring out just what's going on. Of course, the original Enterprise had encountered a "hole" in space during "The Immunity Syndrome", a fact which has somehow been forgotten by TNG's era, since Data can find no records of any similar occurrence to what the Enterprise-D is facing.

The actual plot of this episode is rather ho-hum, with an unsatisfying resolution, but the strength of it is in watching the characters interact and try to work their way through the mystery set before them. The actors are clearly comfortable in their roles, now, Patrick Stewart most notably. Rather than Picard merely being the grumpy old man in charge, Stewart's natural charm and dry humor have really started to infect the character, making him much more appealing and likable.

Worf has become much more prominent, and the opening sequence (with he and Riker literally battling Skeletor, and Worf going full Wolverine-berserker-mode) is fun. This episode also features another of TNG's most memorable moments, for me: when Worf cracks up aboard the false Yamato--"The ship only has one Bridge. ONE BRIDGE!".

Speaking of the Yamato, her stated registry of NCC-1305-E (which would later be changed) provides the interesting hint that the Enterprise isn't the only starship whose name and number are famous enough to be carried down through the generations. The "E" also means there have been more Yamatos than Enterprises. Or not, since, as noted, the number was later changed to a standard five-digit, TNG-era registry. 

All in all, I like this one a lot, despite it clearly being a bottle show, and not having a particularly deep or complicated plot. Bonus points for Earl Boen appearing as the voice of Nagilum, and for Haskell's sudden death, which is a pretty creepy (and well-acted) moment, and lends weight to an otherwise rather slight episode.
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Greg Kirkman
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Posted: 15 October 2017 at 10:49pm | IP Logged | 4 post reply

"Elementary, Dear Data".


Well, there's already been a fair amount of recent talk in this forum about certain issues raised in this episode. Suffice it to say, the notion of a holodeck character actually becoming self-aware and threatening the crew is a shaky one, at best. 

That being said, this is a fun and entertaining episode which comes down to a premise which drives the plot well enough for 45 minutes, but does not at all hold up to close scrutiny. The idea that the computer could create a self-aware holodeck character, even accidentally, raises all sorts of problematic questions. Muddying the waters even further is the fact that the camera lingers on Moriarty--watching La Forge call up the computer arch--before La Forge orders the computer to create a foe capable of defeating Data.

And, thanks to the trivia section for this episode at Memory Alpha wiki (which I consult after watching each TNG episode), it seems that the original ending to this episode was even more absurd. Picard realizes that Data was able to take the holographic drawing of the Enterprise-D out of the holodeck, which means that the rules have all somehow been broken, and Moriarty CAN leave the holodeck. So, Picard lies to Moriarty about his ability to exist in the real world, but saves his program, as in the final episode. Gene Roddenberry objected to Picard's trickery, and so that bit was removed.

It also apparently took four years to do a sequel to this episode because Sir Arthur Conan Doyle's estate demanded a usage fee from TNG's producers, who had mistakenly believed that Sherlock Holmes was a public domain character at the time this episode was produced.

Story problems aside, this one is still a lot of fun. We're really getting into the Data/La Forge friendship, now. Spiner and Burton play off of each other very well, and the episode moves by at a rapid clip, as a result. 
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Rob Ocelot
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Posted: 16 October 2017 at 5:12am | IP Logged | 5 post reply

Muddying the waters even further is the fact that the camera lingers on Moriarty--watching La Forge call up the computer arch--before La Forge orders the computer to create a foe capable of defeating Data.
 
It's never stated who originally created the Holmes holodeck simulation and it's implied that Data or Geordi chose it from a list of preprogrammed scenarios.   '11001001' implies there were more holodeck scenarios and characters besides Minuet created to keep the senior crew members busy. The way Minuet observes and adapts to Picard hints she may have been originally created to keep Picard busy and Riker had accidentally stumbled onto her.   Like Minuet, Moriarity observes and adapts to his environment -- like he was created specifically for Data in mind (ie. Data's 'bait' in case he was left on the ship) and remained there accidentally after the incident with the Bynars.   So, the Moriarity holodeck program may have already been 'self-aware' long before Geordi unknowingly gave it permission to access the ship's computer.

I know the episode probably wasn't conceived in this way but I look at it as one of the few TNG instances of a happy accident that happened to dovetail nicely with previous episodes -- sort of like how 'Yesterday's Enterprise' was such a hodgepoge mess of ideas and writers on paper but ended up being an almost perfect episode onscreen.
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Greg Kirkman
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Posted: 16 October 2017 at 8:57am | IP Logged | 6 post reply

Here's the thing, though--Minuet was created by the Bynars to distract Picard and Riker, but she was gone by the end of the episode, presumably due to the Bynars removing the capability of the holodeck's programming to create a pseudo-sentient, fully-interactive character.

The holodeck simulation of Moriarty should have been a standard holodeck character. Geordi specifies a Sherlock Holmes mystery in the style of Doyle, with himself and Data playing the roles of Watson and Holmes, respectively. However, Moriarty clearly notices Georgdi call up the arch so that he can revise the program by asking the holodeck to create a foe capable of defeating Data. 

It's at this point that, on the Bridge, Worf notices a strange power surge, which is presumably the computer shifting power to the holodeck in order to fulfill the directive. The episode makes it clear that Geordi accidentally caused the Moriarty program to become self-aware by phrasing his order incorrectly (by asking for a foe who could defeat data instead of Holmes).

So why those lingering shots of Moriarty watching Geordi call up the arch? 
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Steve De Young
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Posted: 16 October 2017 at 9:14am | IP Logged | 7 post reply

We're really getting into the Data/La Forge friendship, now. Spiner and Burton play off of each other very well
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This is Exhibit A of why I think the TNG movies didn't work.  The one constant in the TOS movies, even the bad ones, was that the character dynamics, particularly between Kirk, Spock, and McCoy, remained intact.  So at worst, you got a visit with old friends.  After Generations, all of the character dynamics that had been built up for 7 years on TNG got ditched, in order instead to try to recreate the Kirk/Spock relationship with Picard and Data, which relationship didn't exist on the show.  Geordi then ends up getting basically sidelined.  They shoved Riker and Troi back together to give them something to do and add some romance, despite that not being at all where their relationship was headed on the show.  Worf hung around for comic relief (which, to be fair, was often his function on the show).  Crusher was just sort of there, and her history with Picard was ignored so that Picard could romance a pretty alien in Insurrection.  Without any of those relationships from the show left intact, the TNG movies basically had to rely on their plot to sell them.  First Contact had a pretty strong plot, and so it worked out alright, but the others....
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Greg Kirkman
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Posted: 16 October 2017 at 9:24am | IP Logged | 8 post reply

Exactly. In the movies, there's action-hero Picard (a mischaracterization), Data as his sidekick...and then the rest of them.
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Michael Roberts
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Posted: 16 October 2017 at 11:04am | IP Logged | 9 post reply

After Generations, all of the character dynamics that had been built up for 7 years on TNG got ditched, in order instead to try to recreate the Kirk/Spock relationship with Picard and Data, which relationship didn't exist on the show.

-----

That's because Picard is living out his fantasies in the Nexus. 
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Rob Ocelot
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Posted: 16 October 2017 at 4:22pm | IP Logged | 10 post reply

That's because Picard is living out his fantasies in the Nexus. 

LOL, the more I read this and think about it the more it actually makes some sense of the mess the TNG movie era is.   Picard as action hero. Data as his snappy sidekick with occasional foul mouth.  Riker is forever a bridesmaid, er... First Officer and stuck with his ex.  Geordi is the weak link Trojan horse (he gets hax0red in GENERATIONS), and as stated above "the rest".  I'm sure Dorn and McFadden got decent paycheques just for showing up.  Even Dwight Schultz got some $$.   Everyone gets an "A".
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Steve De Young
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Posted: 16 October 2017 at 5:56pm | IP Logged | 11 post reply

Picard as action hero is in actuality probably Stewart being enough of a box office draw as the movies were being made that he could dictate terms.  According to the writers on the TNG Blu special features, both Roddenberry and Stewart were constantly haranguing them to 'get Picard laid'.  I think it goes all the way back to when Stewart first had to audition with a hairpiece.  Roddenberry had a much more virile sort of hero in mind for the captain of a starship, and Stewart despite...everything...seemed to think he could pull that off.
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Shaun Barry
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Posted: 16 October 2017 at 9:07pm | IP Logged | 12 post reply


"Code of Honor"

Much is made about how ultimately offensive this one is, and it is--very!

However, another thing that struck me on this first viewing of mine, in 10 or 20 some-odd years, is how stiff and unnatural the dialogue is in this episode.  Maybe you could make an exception for the alien race, but even the Enterprise crew sound like bad facsimiles of human beings!

I don't think there's a single believable line in the entire episode.  Awkwardly written, all-around.





Edited by Shaun Barry on 16 October 2017 at 9:13pm
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Michael Roberts
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Posted: 16 October 2017 at 9:19pm | IP Logged | 13 post reply

Roddenberry had a much more virile sort of hero in mind for the captain of a starship, and Stewart despite...everything...seemed to think he could pull that off.

----

Hey, he's in his late 70s and has a wife almost 40 years his junior, so he has something. Plus he has the power to make women's clothes fall off so that he can see everything. 
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Greg Kirkman
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Posted: 16 October 2017 at 9:47pm | IP Logged | 14 post reply

Code of Honor"

Much is made about how ultimately offensive this one is, and it is--very!
++++++

Oh, it's bad. The full story hasn't come out, but it seems that the episode's director casting all Black actors for the guest aliens (who were not scripted with any particular ethnic casting suggestions) may have led to his dismissal/quitting/whatever. It's a really, really uncomfortable episode.

I have a feeling this is the one McFadden is referring to when she mentions speaking out against racist content in early episodes as a reason for her firing, at the end of the first season. 


So, Shaun, I take it you're fully-immersed in watching these on their original broadcast dates, now? Hope you're enjoying yourself, and sorry to have gotten so far ahead. It would be more fun if we were in sync, but I have to keep going at the one-a-night/six-a-week pace so my DVR doesn't fill up!
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Shaun Barry
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Posted: 16 October 2017 at 10:39pm | IP Logged | 15 post reply


(I'm old, married, and have 3 kids... I gotta take things slow.  Binge-watching anything--be it modern or classic shows--just ain't in the cards for me!)

:)



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Michael Roberts
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Posted: 16 October 2017 at 11:08pm | IP Logged | 16 post reply

I have a feeling this is the one McFadden is referring to when she mentions speaking out against racist content in early episodes as a reason for her firing, at the end of the first season. 

----

The entire cast shits on this episode.

It's funny because I have no memory of this episode, even though I must have seen it when it originally aired. For years when I heard about how horrible and racist "Code of Honor" was, I kept thinking they were talking about "Justice" (the one where Wesley is sentenced to death for accidentally destroying some plants) and wondering what the big deal was. 
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Brian Hague
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Posted: 17 October 2017 at 12:33am | IP Logged | 17 post reply

The morning star/cestus fight on the jungle gym boggles the mind. How could anyone think while filming that they'd accomplished anything worthwhile? The guys building the "set" must have known what a piece of garbage it was. The people lighting it must have seen how awful it was going to be. The actors certainly look embarrassed to be there. What the hell was anyone thinking? The entire episode reeks of denial from first frame to last.

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Brian Hague
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Posted: 17 October 2017 at 12:43am | IP Logged | 18 post reply

One element of "Justice" that stands out was that every character from the simplistic aliens on out in every direction knew what the solution was from moment one and could not quite credit Picard's bizarre insistence that everything be played out diplomatically, with some sort of belief that the system of legal absolutes they all foolishly lived under could somehow be made... not absolute in this case. 

Everyone knew they were just going to beam Wesley out of there and said so. It just took Picard all episode long to acknowledge that yes, that was what he was going to have to do.

It's very nearly a parody of TNG's diplomatic solutions to problems. It would have been a funnier one if he hadn't beamed Wesley away and simply let the wannabe-Edo kill him with Picard bellowing to the glaring command crew, "What could I do? My hands were tied! What?"

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Greg Kirkman
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Posted: 17 October 2017 at 1:21am | IP Logged | 19 post reply

"The Outrageous Okona".


The single most memorable thing about this episode would be the uncredited appearance of a very young Teri Hatcher as the transporter chief romanced (among others) by the titular Captain Okona. The second most memorable thing would be Data receiving comedy lessons from Joe Piscopo (...was this considered a bit of stunt casting, at the time...?).

Other than those two notable bits, this is about as slight and bland an episode as you can get. Data's quest to understand comedy (which is, in theory, the "B" story of this episode) takes up a rather shocking amount of the runtime, and the actual thrust of the plot--such as it is--comes nearly halfway into the runtime. 

Okona himself is sort of a TNG version of Harry Mudd. A kinder, gentler Mudd for the 1980s. Okona charms every guy in sight, beds every gal in sight, and is generally charming. Did I mention that he's charming? All that charm distracted me from mentioning that he's charming.


Edited by Greg Kirkman on 18 October 2017 at 9:06am
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Greg Kirkman
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Posted: 17 October 2017 at 1:27am | IP Logged | 20 post reply

It's very nearly a parody of TNG's diplomatic solutions to problems. It would have been a funnier one if he hadn't beamed Wesley away and simply let the wannabe-Edo kill him with Picard bellowing to the glaring command crew, "What could I do? My hands were tied! What?"
++++++++

I'm throwing the challenge down to anyone who'll take it on: It would be interesting for someone to go through every single TNG episode and reimagine the stories with Kirk in place of Picard. What would Kirk do in all of those TNG episodes? How would he deal with problems like the Edo, Planet Africa, and Captain Okona? 

I mean, the topic of Picard's virility has already come up. Can you imagine Real Man's Man James T. Kirk dealing with the serious masculine competition of Okona coming aboard his ship and charming his crewwomen?

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Greg Kirkman
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Posted: 18 October 2017 at 12:02am | IP Logged | 21 post reply

"Loud as a Whisper".


I like this one quite a bit, mainly for the interesting concept of Riva's chorus of interpreters. Actor Howie Seago, who is deaf in real life, pitched the episode to serve as a sort of public service message on people with hearing impairments, but this doesn't exactly come across as a Very Special Episode, which is a good thing. Seago also turns in an engaging and emotive performance without uttering a single word, which is impressive.

This episode feels like another transitional step toward TNG finding its identity, since the episode is all about character moments and diplomatic relations, presented in a thoughtful and sensitive way. At the same time, the notion that Troi--TROI--would potentially take the reluctant Riva's place as mediator instead of Picard (whose formidable negotiation/mediation skills would feature prominently in later seasons) shows that we're still not quite there, yet.

I suppose now is as good a time as any (especially given that the episode calls attention to the parallels between Riva and Geordi) to praise Levar Burton for working behind that VISOR for all those years. After all, an actor's eyes are a vital tool in crafting an on-camera performance, and Burton (who has very expressive eyes) was deprived of that tool on all but a very few occasions. The fact that he managed to make La Forge into a likable and engaging character speaks to his ability to act with his voice and the rest of his face and body. Not an easy task.
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Brian Hague
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Posted: 18 October 2017 at 7:09am | IP Logged | 22 post reply

Kirk to Okona: "I want you to leave my crewmen alone. I want you to leave my crew women alone too. (To Yeoman Ross) You're not to dance with him. I don't like it."

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Darren Ashmore
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Posted: 18 October 2017 at 9:17am | IP Logged | 23 post reply

Or to paraphrase Kirk from 'The Trouble with Tribbles':
"I want him off my ship, I don't care how you do it but I want him off my ship"
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Brian Hague
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Posted: 18 October 2017 at 6:09pm | IP Logged | 24 post reply

It's worth noting that Billy Campbell, Okana and later Disney's Rocketeer, was in the running to be cast as Riker.

Edited by Brian Hague on 19 October 2017 at 12:54am
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Shaun Barry
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Posted: 18 October 2017 at 9:31pm | IP Logged | 25 post reply


Guy, guys... you're forgetting the most obvious one:

"Get off my ship, mister!!"

And yes, fisticuffs would have ensued between Kirk and Okona!



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