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Peter Martin
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Posted: 09 November 2017 at 6:10am | IP Logged | 1 post reply

I could have sworn Picard did a little tug on his uniform in The Measure of a Man. 
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Greg Kirkman
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Posted: 09 November 2017 at 10:12am | IP Logged | 2 post reply

According to video evidence--




--there were indeed a few Maneuvers performed during the second season. Guess I missed 'em. Personally, I only count the ones which involve the revised uniform's separate jacket!
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Greg Kirkman
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Posted: 10 November 2017 at 1:01am | IP Logged | 3 post reply

"The Survivors".


Another solid episode, and a nice little mystery with a melancholy ending. This is another What Would Kirk Do? episode, I think. The reveal of what's actually been going on with the titular survivors is both poignant and horrifying, but Picard's reaction to it--which boils down to "we don't have any laws to deal with this, so you just go back to the planet and keep living out your fantasy"--feels a bit rushed and lacking. 

I think Kirk would have had something more to say than that!
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Peter Martin
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Posted: 10 November 2017 at 3:35pm | IP Logged | 4 post reply

LOL, that Picard manoeuvre video is beyond the call of duty, but like any good instalment of TNG it features a credit for Peter Lauritson :)
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Greg Kirkman
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Posted: 11 November 2017 at 12:41am | IP Logged | 5 post reply

"Who Watches The Watchers?".



I'd argue that this is one of the most essential TNG episodes, in ways both good and bad. If you were compiling a list of episodes which best represented the overall style of TNG, this one should probably be on it. 

A weird choice to depict the Mintakans as "proto-Vulcans". What, is this supposed to be a non-human example of parallel planet development, or was it just cheaper to do the makeup, that way? Bonus points for guest-starring the great Ray Wise, though. Nice to see Vasquez Rocks, too.

This episode lends itself to meaty discussions regarding the Prime Directive, and is another great What Would Kirk Do? episode. Again, we see Picard willing to let someone die in order to follow the Directive, but he eventually ends up carefully exposing the nature of his ship and crew in order to minimize and control the cultural contamination which has already occurred.

Points for acknowledging Dr. Pulaski's memory-wipe technique from "Pen Pals", and showing that it won't work, this time.

I also have to say that this episode friggin' flew by, which goes to show that it's well-constructed, in terms of the ethical dilemma and the drama. Some episodes can be a bit plodding, but this one moves at a rapid clip. I enjoyed it quite a bit.
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Greg Kirkman
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Posted: 13 November 2017 at 12:50am | IP Logged | 6 post reply

"The Bonding".


Here we have another important turning point in TNG's evolution--the introduction of a young writer named Ronald D. Moore, TOS uber-fan and a very talented guy. It's rather amazing to think that his decade-long involvement with TREK came by way of the spec script that become this episode. 

This is a very smart and sensitive examination of grief, and you can feel the story's confidence from the very start. We immediately get into an examination of the oft-overlooked aspect of having families aboard the Enterprise-D, and the ramifications of the death of a single random crewman. We see Troi actually doing her job on a day-to-day sort of level, by researching the background of the Aster familiy, and preparing to provide grief counseling to young Jeremy. We also see Picard quite reasonably questioning the presence of families aboard his ship, and Riker paraphrasing Spock's line (from "The Immunity Syndrome") about history potentially being less bloody, if humans were more empathetic regarding deaths beyond their own friends and loved ones.

This is just a nicely written, very thoughtful episode, and it tackles an important element of the human experience the proper care. I enjoyed it a lot. It feels like a big step up from fluff like "Justice" and "The Outrageous Okona", y'know?


As an aside, I can't see young Gabriel Damon and not think of him as the  muderous, foul-mouthed, delinquent drug dealer in ROBOCOP 2, which somewhat colors the impact of his appearance, here.
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Greg Kirkman
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Posted: 14 November 2017 at 1:48am | IP Logged | 7 post reply

"Booby Trap".


Another solid episode, and the first real spotlight episode for Geordi. I'd previously neglected to mention that Ron Moore's script for "The Bonding" was rewritten, since the idea was that Jeremy Aster was to recreate his mother on the holodeck, but TNG's producers didn't want to do yet another holodeck episode. So, the non-corporeal alien angle was worked in.

Well, here we have yet another holodeck episode. The overarching story of the crew trying to escap the titular trap is interesting, and the sequence with Picard piloting the ship through the debris field is really well-done. Lots of lovely model shots and escalating tension as the ship is carried along by momentum and occasional, minimal thruster firings. Very cool sequence.

Of course, the heart and soul of this episode is Geordi's love story. The holographic simulation of Dr. Brahms is, for all intents and purposes, a representation of the Enterprise-D's engine system, itself. She's a sort of literalization of an engineer's (figurative) romantic involvement with his ship. With that in mind, this particular story concept would have been especially interesting to do as a TOS episode, with Scotty as the focus.

Anyway, it's more than a little contrived in that the simulated Dr. Brahms goes out of her way to be amorous toward Geordi, despite such behavior not being a specified parameter of her program. I mean, she gives him a backrub, and eventually kisses him! That sort of behavior wouldn't be the computer's logical extrapolation of a personnel and/or psych file, would it?

I also can't help but reflect upon the fact that this episode has Geordi, a Black man, going on a failed date with one White woman, and then falling for (and kissing) a simulation of another. Just goes to show how far things had come since that risky interracial kiss in "Plato's Stepchildren", 20 years earlier.

I also find myself reflecting on just how well TNG depicts that positive future which has inspired so many, and how much it contrasts with thr grim and nihilistic DISCOVERY. TNG isn't concerned with pandering or jamming social-justice agendas down viewers' throats. First and foremost, it's concerned with science-fictional, character-based storytelling. The morals and metaphors are often woven in subtly, and from multiple viewpoints. TNG presents a likable group of characters of all ages, races, species, genders, and background, working together for the common good. You really do get the impression that racism and sexism and whatnot is not a concern, in the 24th century. While Roddenberry's insistence on no conflict between the characters may have gone a bit too far, the basic notion of a future in which people are mostly civilized and respectful to each has a heck of a lot of merit.

Unlike with DISCOVERY, there's not a sense that the producers of TNG were trying to assemble a Burger King Kids Club based on a checklist of minorities and social issues to address (Black female lead! Asian Captain! Gay guy! Autistic girl!). Each TNG character is treated as valued and equal, both in-universe, and by the writers and actors. The characters' backgrounds, races, genders, and, in Geordi's case, handicap, are not their defining characteristics. It's a total non-issue. They're simply presented as people.

This is absolutely how it should be done. Make positive statements about diversity and equality by not making a big deal out of it. By not shouting from the rooftops. All of that surface stuff shouldn't be important. Uust tell honest stories about people--regardless of race/gender/whatnot, and the rest will come. In these troubled and increasingly-divisive times, I really find myself inspired anew by rewatching TNG. 

As I kid, I got into TREK because of the fun sci-fi and action stuff. As time has gone on, I've really come to appreciate that all-important (and oft-cited) message of optimism about the future, and just how far ahead of its time it really was. We may never get there, but we desperately need that ideal to strive for. There's no question in my mind that the STAR TREK future is the one I'd want to live in. Who wouldn't?

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Rob Ocelot
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Posted: 14 November 2017 at 9:08pm | IP Logged | 8 post reply

Of course, the heart and soul of this episode is Geordi's love story. The holographic simulation of Dr. Brahms is, for all intents and purposes, a representation of the Enterprise-D's engine system, itself. She's a sort of literalization of an engineer's (figurative) romantic involvement with his ship. With that in mind, this particular story concept would have been especially interesting to do as a TOS episode, with Scotty as the focus.

It does put a different spin on that scene in "The Trouble With Tribbles" :-)

Anyway, it's more than a little contrived in that the simulated Dr. Brahms goes out of her way to be amorous toward Geordi, despite such behavior not being a specified parameter of her program. I mean, she gives him a backrub, and eventually kisses him! That sort of behavior wouldn't be the computer's logical extrapolation of a personnel and/or psych file, would it?

I would say the computer was doing what it was programmed to do -- follow Geordi's specifications and also anticipate what he would want based on his psych profile.  Keeping in mind this system is designed to be a tool for both training and entertainment then "knowing your customer" makes the holodeck experience more immersive.  I'm sure bridge crew in key or sensitive positions would have to undergo regular psych evaluations -- and those evaluations would become part of your Starfleet record, for better or worse.   Geordi may have expressed his women troubles to Troi, who then had to dictate a log to the computer.

It's worth pointing out that devoid of context or clarity Geordi's request to see a simulation of Brahms may have confused the computer, and it chose an appropriate 'situation' from a number of stock programs, some of them potentially erotic (albeit a slow-burn soft porn kind).

"Booby Trap" is one of the few TNG episodes where it's sequel completely changes the tone and tenor of the original story -- it's only in light of the utter mismatch between the Brahms simulation and her real life counterpart that Geordi's actions in the original episode come off as especially creepy.  If this episode had stood alone I think we'd view it a little more innocently.  Even Geordi's dismissive (and frankly hypocritical) attitude of Barclay's use of the holodeck in "Hollow Pursuits" reflects back on this episode in negative ways.

edit: not to mention that "Galaxy's Child" ups the creepiness ante where the holo-Brahms is describing herself to her real life counterpart.  It's clearly intended for the simulation to be talking in a double-entendre fashion in a very "holosex program #38" sort of way.  Yet more fuel to the theory that the computer filled in the missing information with parts of an erotic program.





Edited by Rob Ocelot on 15 November 2017 at 7:15am
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Greg Kirkman
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Posted: 15 November 2017 at 1:19am | IP Logged | 9 post reply

"The Enemy".


Another solid, Geordi-centric episode, which builds tension and moves at a good clip. The single best of part of the whole thing is Worf refusing to donate his blood, and allowing the injured Romulan to die. It's a shocking and glorious defiance of exhausted TV cliches, although Michael Dorn and members of the production staff opposed it, at the time. It adds interesting shadings to Worf's character, and to Picard's as well. The scene where Picard allows Worf his freedom of choice is a real standout. I can't quite see the Picard of the first season having the same conversation with Worf, which speaks to the depth and nuance that the character has developed. Picard is a man who will not necessarily circumvent one person's freedom of choice for the sake of the greater good.


As an aside, I have yet to mention the cinematography of the third season, which is much more interesting and dynamic than in the first two. There was a change in director of photography, between seasons, and it shows. The show looks more visually-interesting and cinematic, now. More rack-focus shots, more complex lighting, more interesting camera moves and setups. Very nice. Not that the cinematography was bad, before, but it was more static and more flatly lit. This new style has more life and mood to it.
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Rob Ocelot
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Posted: 15 November 2017 at 9:10pm | IP Logged | 10 post reply

Greg, while I was doing some more research for "Booby Trap" I came across an interview with Susan Gibney where she mentioned there was a third Leah Brahms episode planned and a possible option as a recurring character  - both were scuttled because Gibney became pregnant.

I was also surprised to find that she had originally auditioned for both Troi and Yar, and screen tested multiple times against Lindsay Wagner and Kate Mulgrew for the part of "Nicole" Janeway.
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Shaun Barry
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Posted: 15 November 2017 at 10:08pm | IP Logged | 11 post reply


Lindsay Wagner???  First I ever heard of that!

I might have watched VOYAGER more often, if she'd been the lead instead.




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Greg Kirkman
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Posted: 15 November 2017 at 10:30pm | IP Logged | 12 post reply

I knew that Genevieve Bujold was originally cast as Janeway, and filmed a few scenes, but I, too, was unaware that Wagner was in the running!


Also, I was amused to recently learn that John Champion, co-host of the excellent MISSION LOG Podcast, had auditioned for the role of Wesley Crusher, so it was certainly interesting to hear him interview Wil Wheaton for the Podcast.


Anyway, I would certainly have enjoyed seeing a third Brahms episode. I recall enjoying the second, but haven't rewatched it, yet. I remember the premise, of course, so that couldn't help but influence my recent viewing of "Booby Trap". As the gents on the afforementioned MISSION LOG noted in their review, knowing in advance what is to come makes rewatching "Booby Trap" somewhat awkward, since we know Geordi is making a terrible mistake.
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Greg Kirkman
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Posted: 16 November 2017 at 12:47am | IP Logged | 13 post reply

"The Price".


A fairly "meh" episode, but it has some good moments, and is a nice showcase for Marina Sirtis, who gives Troi a vulnerability we haven't really seen, 'till now.

Matt "Serenity now!" McCoy guest-stars, and I was secretly hoping he'd write "dork" on the Ferengi commander's chest with sunscreen. The late, great Kevin Peter Hall also appears in this one. And, when I heard that one of the negotiators was named "Mendoza", well, this came to mind, since that name always triggers the association:


This episode is rather surprisingly erotic, although it's not exactly scandalous, even by 1989 standards. Troi is charmed by Ral and immediately jumps into bed with him. Troi and Crusher do their sexy yoga workout. And, in a blink-and-you'll miss it joke, one of the Ferengi hits on a crewwomen in Ten-Forward by holding his hands about a foot apart, and saying, "I don't get any complaints".

More importantly, this episode lays a lot of groundwork. Troi's love of chocolate makes its first appearance. The concept of the galaxy being divided into quadrants makes its first appearance. We see STAR TREK's first wormhole, and the eventual series premises of both DS9 (a stable wormhole) and VOYAGER (being stranded in the Delta Quadrant) make their first appearances.

It was rather brilliant to bring back the two lost Ferengi in VOYAGER, nearly a decade later. Wouldn't it have been interesting if Geordi and Data had been lost, only to reappear when Voyager ran into them, years later? We're teased/threatened with the notion of Geordi being stranded in the Delta Quadrant with only Data to talk to, after all. That would make for an interesting series unto itself! 
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Rob Ocelot
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Posted: 16 November 2017 at 1:17am | IP Logged | 14 post reply

The list of Janeway auditioners is pretty eye opening.

Pretty much a who's who of female 70's, 80's, and 90's geek/Sci-fi

Lynda Carter
Lindsay Wagner
Erin Gray
Nicola Bryant
Kate Jackson
Linda Hamilton
Claudia Christian
Tracy Scoggins
Susan Gibney
Chelsea Field
Patty Duke
Nigel Havers (!!)
Gary Graham (also auditioned for Ben Sisko, and later was cast as Soval)

I've left Genevieve Bujold off the list because as far as I can tell, she skipped the audition process and went right to the screen test based on her impressive career in film (and dare I say it, I think the STAR TREK producers wanted her specifically to bring some 'class' to the STAR TREK name, much like their casting of Patrick Stewart..   To say this flopped miserably is an understatement, she's like a deer in the headlights in the test footage.  Bujold was also unprepared for the fast pace and tight schedules of making weekly TV. 

Bryant and Gray have appeared recently in STAR TREK CONTINUES (which I'm sad is ending, but at least they got 11 episodes)

Gibney also auditioned for Seven of Nine.  Seems like she was at a STAR TREK casting call every other week. ;-)  She showed up on DS9 too.

Ok, back to TNG...




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Rob Ocelot
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Posted: 16 November 2017 at 1:30am | IP Logged | 15 post reply

It's perhaps no coincidence that the quality of the TNG scripts hit their peak in the third and fourth seasons -- at exactly the times the production office was still accepting unsolicited spec scripts.  A lot of the creative forces behind the subsequent TNG-era series got their feet in the door during this period.   As soon as the door slammed shut on spec scripts TNG started to dip quite drastically.

A friend of mine who had worked for STAR TREK in other media  (Hi to BigMo if you're reading this!) submitted a spec script that was a clever sequel to "The Doomsday Machine" but was ironically rejected with the explanation that it was too technical and needed less technobabble.   Oh well. :-)


Edited by Rob Ocelot on 16 November 2017 at 1:31am
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Brian Hague
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Posted: 16 November 2017 at 3:37am | IP Logged | 16 post reply

Apparently, there was never a script from any outside writer that was viewed as correct right out of the box. Being re-written was a virtual guarantee on Trek, no matter which iteration it was. TNG employed Andre Bormanis, who had ties to NASA, as their science consultant.

Mark Altman & Edward Gross's "The Fifty Year Mission: The Next 25 Years" tells a funny story about Bormanis approaching Terry Farrell at a cast party and admitting that his job on the show was to insert all of the technobabble into her dialogue. Farrell, who is quite tall, reportedly picked him up by his lapels and began violently shaking him, shouting, "You asshole!" before putting him down, laughing. She went on to have a nice conversation with him, explaining that it was extremely difficult for actors to focus on their work with the other actors when given all of that nonsense to wrap their mouths around. Technononsense in solo scenes was fine. Trying to relate to someone else while taking into consideration all of the other technical factors such as lighting, blocking, and so forth was a bear. 

I wonder if the show rejected a number of overly-technical scripts which while in keeping with the image they projected were nevertheless viewed as taking over the job of their own writers and consultants. They could supply any necessary technobabble, thank you. You just focus on the story.

I've long known about Lindsay Wagner's auditioning for the role of Janeway and often longed for the degree of empathy and deep feeling she would likely have brought to the role. The producers instead wanted a more authoritarian voice for the role and Mulgrew, with her patrician, New England-style performed admirably in the role. Unfortunately, that same sense of remove that informed her sense of command also kept her from connecting effectively on an emotional, story level. She was so very crisp and bristol-fashion, in perfect Starfleet mode at all times, I really wanted to see what Wagner would have done to convey some sense of loss or real concern over her crew and their predicament.

A point that many interviewed for the book make clear is that Genevieve Bujold was also determined to really act the role of a space traveler and would take moments to simply close her eyes and imagine herself out there in the vast unknown, shouldering their responsibilities, and then say her line rather than adopting the swagger, stage presence, and authoritative voice of stage actors like Shatner, Stewart, and Mulgrew. Her sense of command was quiet, with nothing whatsoever to prove, and could possibly have made for an interesting film performance, but was not in keeping with the dynamic, active captain the producers felt the audience wanted to see. It's true that she was not going to work from a television pacing and production standpoint, but I do think the results would have been interesting if she had.


Edited by Brian Hague on 16 November 2017 at 3:45am
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Ted Downum
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Posted: 16 November 2017 at 9:30am | IP Logged | 17 post reply

Very much agreed, Brian, about both Lindsay Wagner and Genevieve Bujold.

Some of the other names on Rob's list make for intriguing what-ifs. I think Erin Gray would have made a terrific Starfleet captain; same with Linda Hamilton. Claudia Christian was one of the few actors on Babylon 5 who consistently turned in a non-cringeworthy performance, so I wonder what she could have done with a bigger role.

As for Patty Duke...I can't quite get my mind around that one. The late Ms. Duke was a fine actress, but somehow I find it hard to see her on Star Trek.



Edited by Ted Downum on 16 November 2017 at 9:34am
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Rob Ocelot
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Posted: 16 November 2017 at 10:28pm | IP Logged | 18 post reply

Claudia Christian was one of the few actors on Babylon 5 who consistently turned in a non-cringeworthy performance, so I wonder what she could have done with a bigger role.

It would have been interesting timing.   VOY premiered in January 1995, and B5 would have just wrapped it's second season.   If Claudia had landed the role of Janeway then JMS would have likely written her out of the B5 story in a way similar to how they wrote her out at the end of B5 season 4.  Christian also later auditioned for Seven of Nine along with Gibney (and probably many of the same actresses who were trying for Janeway).

For Scoggins the Janeway auditions would have been well before her involvement in B5 (though I wonder if she had also originally auditioned for the part of Ivanova, given that these same actresses were repeatedly vying with each other for these top roles in the 90's) and also before her appearance as a Cardassian on DS9 later in 1995.   Like Gibney, it appears Scoggins got an episode on DS9 as a consolation prize.

For that matter, it's puzzling why STAR TREK didn't take advantage of Andreas Kastulas more often in roles other than occasionally playing Tomalek on TNG.  He definitely had the acting chops to pull of different aliens, much like Mark Alaimo.  Perhaps there was something in his B5 contract that precluded him taking more roles.


Edited by Rob Ocelot on 16 November 2017 at 10:29pm
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Greg Kirkman
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Posted: 17 November 2017 at 1:26am | IP Logged | 19 post reply

"The Vengeance Factor".


This snoozer is basically a riff on "The Conscience of The King", but really has very little going for it, in terms of emotion or drama. Also, did Riker really have to disintegrate Yuta? Couldn't he have just hit her with heavy stun-fire until she went down? And, since her virus-weapon was victim-specific, surely everyone else in the room could have physically overpowered her without putting their own lives in danger. Killing her seemed rather unnecessary and forced.


Anyway, for me, the most notable part of this episode would be he guest stars. There's another ROBOCOP 2 connection, with the appearance of Stephen Lee (who played the unfortunate Officer Duffy in that film). And, we have Nansy Parsons, who played Beulah Balbricker in the PORKY'S movies. We already had the gent who played Tommy Turner in "Coming of Age". Maybe she's still looking for him...

Did I go into this thinking that TNG would end up being a big PORKY'S reunion? Not really, no. Ain't life grand?
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Brian Hague
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Posted: 17 November 2017 at 9:59am | IP Logged | 20 post reply

It's a shame they couldn't bring Valeris back then as well.

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Greg Kirkman
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Posted: 17 November 2017 at 11:04am | IP Logged | 21 post reply

Cut to Picard and the Bridge crew hearing a dog-like howling over the intercom, coming from Riker's quarters.


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Greg Kirkman
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Posted: 18 November 2017 at 1:35am | IP Logged | 22 post reply

"The Defector".


The first TREK of the 1990s, and another winner from Ron Moore. This one is a really good and compelling episode. Sort of a TNG version of "Balance of Terror", what with the threat of impending war with the Romulans. It also has a very TOS-ish, melancholy ending. Lots of interesting little twists and turns, too. The Shakespearian elements of the story apparently came from Patrick Stewart, who gets a lot of meaty scenes to play with, as well as getting to do some actual Shakespeare (and playing someone other than Picard) in the opening scene.

There's also a nice, subtle moment: When the events of "The Enemy" are alluded to, Dr. Crusher eyes Worf for a moment. Great touch.

This is top-notch TNG, with a fast pace, lots of nice little character moments, and a proper mystery/ethical dilemma for the crew to deal with. What a change from much of the past two seasons! A huge step up from something like "The Neutral Zone".
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Rob Ocelot
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Posted: 18 November 2017 at 3:56pm | IP Logged | 23 post reply

The Romulans have this wonderful passive-aggressive philosophy of diplomacy that always forces their opponents to make the first move (whether they know it or not!) with the result that the Romulans feel justified in their overreactions to these encounters.   

This philosophy clashes quite harshly with the Federation's policies of openness and provides good fodder for stories in TNG.   It's an especially gratifying bookend this era that Sisko manipulates the Romulan government into joining the war against the Dominion in a covert way that aligns pretty well with these Romulan diplomatic methods.  

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Greg Kirkman
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Posted: 20 November 2017 at 12:05am | IP Logged | 24 post reply

"The Hunted".


A very solid and enjoyable episode, with a number of good chase/suspense sequences. This is basically RAMBO by way of TNG, and the metaphor for a government turning its back on war veterans isn't exactly subtle. That said, it works quite well, although the ending doesn't feel quite right. Memory Alpha indicates that the final scene was originally going to be more elaborate, but had to be truncated due to time and budget concerns. Picard literally beaming out of the conflict is presented as a sort of clever moment, but feels a bit off, somehow. Rushed, maybe. And perhaps Picard is a little too smug in assuming he knows how the standoff will end.

This episode also marks the first mention ever of Jefferies tubes, and guests-stars the great James Cromwell, as well as Jeff McCarthy (another ROBOCOP 2 veteran). Good stuff.
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Rob Ocelot
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Posted: 20 November 2017 at 8:43pm | IP Logged | 25 post reply

Greg, are you reading the Memory Alpha notes before or after your episode viewings?

Hopefully you are watching these 'cold'!
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