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Neil Lindholm
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Posted: 23 February 2018 at 1:37am | IP Logged | 1 post reply

That would have been a great scene. Too bad they didn't film it. 
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Greg Kirkman
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Posted: 23 February 2018 at 12:43pm | IP Logged | 2 post reply

Holy crap! I just read that J.C. Brandy was only 17 years old when she played Marta in "Tapestry"!

Edited by Greg Kirkman on 23 February 2018 at 1:47pm
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Rob Ocelot
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Posted: 23 February 2018 at 11:40pm | IP Logged | 3 post reply

I love "Tapestry".

I'm pretty much sure this wasn't intended by Ron Moore, but the events of "Tapestry" take on a different level of meaning when viewed in context with "All Good Things...".   

"Tapestry" is Q warming Picard up for the difficult decisions he has to make in the finale; decisions that need to take into account multiple perspectives across space, time, dimensions, and parallel realities -- things that normally don't factor into the day-to-day decisions made by humans.

In "Tapestry", Picard is given the opportunity to change something and experience the results firsthand.   There's also a choice presented for self-preservation versus an end to existence.   This is a small taste of what a being with god-like powers would experience -- when you can see all the eventualities of every decision, and all their knock-on effects projected across multiple timelines.  A lesser being would be paralyzed with indecision and probably try to make 'safe' decisions (and even no decision would be a 'safe' one).  Picard makes a choice with information few humans are privy to -- both sides of the coin.  There's also some resonance with Picard's experience in "The Inner Light" as he's lived a (virtual) lifetime within his own -- and there he settled with decades of safe choices only to be thrust back into his old life.

At some point I imagine humanity in the STAR TREK universe evolves beyond their present state into something similar to (if not a rival of) the Q Continuum.  Q sees that eventuality, or a possible future where that eventuality comes to pass -- which sparks his curiosity and interest in humanity.  Q already knows how events in the future (eg. "All Good Things...") play out -- or possibly play out -- and he seems to be steering Picard to make the 'right' choices.

For the rest of the series and into the movies we gradually see Picard taking the less safe paths and doing more daring things.  It's an interesting change for the character.
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Greg Kirkman
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Posted: 24 February 2018 at 1:09am | IP Logged | 4 post reply

“Birthright, Part I”.


Not my favorite TNG two-parter, as it’s a bit too on-the-nose in places, such as Worf and Data both having daddy issues at exactly the same time, with Data inadvertently inspiring Worf to go and search for his father. That being said, I do always like scenes where Data and Worf chat, since they’re the two non-humans (half-human Troi aside) and “outsiders” of the cast.

This is also the obligatory “let’s do a low-budget crossover with DS9 to help promote the new show” episode. Still, it’s fun to see Dr. Bashir hanging out with Data and Geordi. We also have a fun guest-starring appearance by an unrecognizable James Cromwell.

Overall, I find Data’s storyline more interesting than Worf’s, and it’s nice to finally see Brent Spiner playing a representation of Dr. Soong in his youthful prime. The idea that Soong also implanted a dream program to be triggered at a specific point in Data’s development (prematurely triggered, here) is pretty neat.

All in all, an entertaining episode, but Worf’s story suffers for serving mostly as setup for Part II, and it feels a bit padded. 
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Greg Kirkman
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Posted: 24 February 2018 at 1:10am | IP Logged | 5 post reply

You make good points about the Picard/Q dynamic, Rob. It all stacked up into a rather happy accident. 
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Greg Kirkman
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Posted: 26 February 2018 at 12:21am | IP Logged | 6 post reply

“Birthright, Part II”.


I prefer this to Part I, in large part because it brings some interesting shadings to Worf’s character. The situation is prime for a guy who tries to be More Klingon Than Klingon, since the prisoners’ children are totally unaware of the heritage which Worf is so obsessive about. That all being said, it’s really interesting to see that Worf won’t even entertain thoughts about dishonor if it means being able to see his father alive.

There’s also the interesting subtext of Worf’s prejudice against the Romulans getting in the way of his budding romance with Ba’el. Once he finds that she’s the biracial (Klingon and Romulan—what a combo!) child of an enemy, he can’t even hide his disgust. Throughout TNG, Worf has always been the one character to push the boundaries of Roddenberry’s philsophy of tolerance and brotherhood, and his racial bigotry here is a really interesting twist in the story. 

This episode basically eschews the standard TNG format, and focuses on Worf’s devotion to bringing the truth to the children, and, if necessary, becoming a martyr. Lots of good stuff for Michael Dorn to play, here, too. 
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Greg Kirkman
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Posted: 27 February 2018 at 12:18am | IP Logged | 7 post reply

“Starship Mine”.


...a.k.a. “DIE HARD on a Starship”.


Derivative though it may be, this is a highly entertaining episode. It’s always nice to see the ship and crew doing something off the beaten path, and having everyone evacuate for a standard particle sweep is a neat idea. It also allows us to see the ship with main power offline and emergency lighting only, which is a fresh look for the sets. The intercom announcements in the teaser feel very TOS, and reminded me that TNG just didn’t do that sort of thing very often—it’s always person-to-person via combadge.

Lots of humor in the opening scenes, before the shift to action-mode, as Picard goes full McClane against the not-terrorists. We also have an appearance by a pre-VOYAGER Tim Russ, whose character gets neck-pinched by Picard.

My favorite moment in the episode would be Picard’s reaction when he hears Satler’s death scream, and slows his walk for just a moment to acknowledge that he lured this man to his death. Wonderful acting moment from Stewart.

My second favorite moment would be the image of Picard huddling against the windows of Ten-Forward—the extreme bow-end of the ship—as he calls for the sweep to stop. The sweep itself makes for a very effective (and deadly) “ticking clock” for the story.

All in all, a light and action-oriented episode, but still a lot of fun. And, hey, if you’re gonna steal, steal from the best!
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Greg Kirkman
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Posted: 28 February 2018 at 12:30am | IP Logged | 8 post reply

“Lessons”.


One of the luxuries that TNG earned during its lengthy run was the chance to do offbeat and character-driven episodes, rather than the standard “sci-if plot of the week”. This episode is the type you’d never have seen in TOS: A story about Picard getting involved with a member of his own crew, and all of the consequences of that, in terms of Human Resources and whatnot. The sci-if plot is nominal, and only factors in during the final act to bring resolution to the emotional arc, and make Picard single again for the next episode.

I found myself quite engaged by this one. Patrick Stewart brings shadings and vulnerability to Picard that we’re never see. It’s therefore appropriate that “The Inner Light” is heavily referenced, since that episode is very Picard-centric. 

Just as we would never have seen Jim Kirk fall for a member of his crew (both due to his character, and to the storytelling restrictions of TOS and 60s TV in general), we also never would have seen this happen the Picard of the first few seasons. By this point in TNG’s run, Jean-Luc Picard is arguably an entirely different character than the one conceived by Roddenberry and introduced in the pilot.

All in all, a very sensitive and touching episode. Lots of nice little moments, too, such as Crusher’s obvious jealousy and Riker’s obvious discomfort with Picard’s romance. Despite the near-total absence of what could be considered a “STAR TREK” plot, I’d go so far as to say this might be one of the best episodes of the season. The show has earned the opportunity to do a full-on interpersonal drama, at this point.
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Jason Scott
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Posted: 28 February 2018 at 7:04am | IP Logged | 9 post reply

I do love Starship Mine. Patrick Stewart is obviously having a whale of a time getting out of his stuffy uniform and doing the one man action bit. Even the little subplot with Data and the showoff bragger of useless facts, that we've all met at parties, is a fun diversion. And I love the coda that feels very TOS!
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Greg Kirkman
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Posted: 28 February 2018 at 10:08am | IP Logged | 10 post reply

A lot of shows start running out of steam after a half-dozen seasons, and, while TNG was past its prime by that point, you can see that Stewart and the others are still having fun with the material. Stewart seems even more comfortable and relaxed in the role of Picard than he ever has, in these past few episodes.

I think a part of that comes down to the fact that the writers WERE willing to try more offbeat and character-driven stories in the later seasons. Stewart must’ve been very happy to play DIE HARD and then have a full-on romance, since those were the two elements he’d wanted more of in previous seasons (“More fighting, more ****ing”).
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Greg Kirkman
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Posted: 01 March 2018 at 1:32am | IP Logged | 11 post reply

“The Chase”.


I have mixed feelings about this one. The beginning is very solid and interesting, what with all of the personal stuff regarding Picard and Galen’s relationship. Then, it turns into a fun and fast-paced mystery episode, until it finally ends with a weird anticlimax. 

Yes, the speech that the ancient being’s projection gives about all of the different species working together is very much in the TREK spirit, but there’s something disconcerting about Picard and crew essentially discovering the origin of human life (...and Klingon life and Cardassian life and...), then going back to their usual business for the next episode. As with TREK’s attempts at finding God in “The Way To Eden” and THE FINAL FRONTIER, attempting to answer the Big Questions of human existence in a TV series are inherently doomed to failure. Sooner or later, the audience is going to turn off the TV, go about their daily lives, and still not really have answers to those questions. 

The science is also wonky, especially the plot device of the completed DNA sequence reconfiguring a tricorder to serve as a holographic projector, which presents a very, very, very specific message. I also presume that part of the motivation behind this episode was to help explain why so many TREK species are humanoid. Co-writer Ron Moore has also indicated that the species which seeded the galaxy could very well be the Preservers, from “The Paradise Syndrome”, which is a nice idea.

Frankly, I would have preferred that the story focus on the Picard/Galen relationship, rather than dropping the intimate character stuff in favor of a shaky plot and overacting Klingons.

Also, thanks to RedLetterMedia’s GENERATIONS review, I can never again see the Kurlan naiskos without thinking about how Picard—so utterly in awe of it, here—casually tossed it aside whilst going through his wrecked ready room at the end of that film. 
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Rob Ocelot
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Posted: 01 March 2018 at 3:47am | IP Logged | 12 post reply

"The Chase" also IMO marks the point at which STAR TREK alien makeup took a nosedive (heh) and became very unimaginative and samey.   

It's no secret the TNG era producers had their favorites among the actors who were the aliens-of-the-week but it seemed like less effort was being made to hide this fact, almost to the point of laziness.   Compare the almost unrecognizable James Cromwell from just a few stories previous, the fantastic Bolian makeup, or any of Marc Alaimo's various roles to the rather uninspired look of Salome Jens in "The Chase" -- which they then promptly recycled into the similarly uninspired female Changeling role in DS9 (yes, I know the look was created for Odo but for a race of shapeshifters it seems kind of dumb for them to look so similar).   Even the original Trill makeup sucked so bad they swapped it for that of another alien-of-the-week (for the better, but it really sticks out like a sore thumb continuity-wise).

It's ironic then that in a episode thinly disguised as a way to explain the lack of effort, imagination, and/or budget for the look of the aliens they trot out the probably three best examples of humanoid alien designwork (Klingons, Romulans, Cardassians).   It's a bit of a missed opportunity that we didn't see any Andorians in TNG (outside of that one holodeck appearance).  They would have been a good fit for this story.
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Peter Hicks
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Posted: 01 March 2018 at 10:03am | IP Logged | 13 post reply

The Onion at one point had a headline that "Next Week's Star Trek Aliens Will Have Totally Different Forehead Ridges".
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Greg Kirkman
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Posted: 02 March 2018 at 1:45am | IP Logged | 14 post reply

“Frame of Mind”.


An enjoyable episode which depends primarily upon all of the layers within layers of delusion, and Jonathan Frakes’ tortured performance. Nice to see Riker get a meaty role, since a lot of recent episodes have focused on Picard. It’s been a while since we’ve had a Riker-centric episode.

We again see Gates McFadden’s theater background bleeding over into her character, as Dr. Crusher serves as director of the titular play. In a similar vein, it’s fun to see Frakes acting as Riker acting as the protagonist of the play, only to then become his character, as his mind conflates elements of both the play and his real life.


Edited by Greg Kirkman on 02 March 2018 at 1:45am
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Greg Kirkman
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Posted: 03 March 2018 at 1:16am | IP Logged | 15 post reply

“Suspicions”.


A very entertaining little whodunnit, and one which features a properly-written “strong woman” genre story (and it even passes the Bechdel test). I just can’t help but think about how far this sort of thing has backslid in any number of modern genre films and TV. Dr. Crusher had been long-established by this point, of course, but this episode is very successful at featuring her as the strong-willed heroine of her story. The strength of the story comes from her and her beliefs, her mistakes, her successes. Crusher’s characterization and decisions are more compelling than the overall mystery, and that’s why the episode works. She also seems particularly eager to perform autopsies, given her similar behavior in “Man of The People”. Huh.

Also nice to see Guinan play a small-yet-important role in the story, especially considering that this is her final appearance in TNG proper.


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Rob Ocelot
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Posted: 03 March 2018 at 2:21pm | IP Logged | 16 post reply

Goldberg's "I don't play tennis.  Never have." line is note perfect.  

Guinan was never 'just' a bartender. :-)
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Rob Ocelot
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Posted: 03 March 2018 at 3:22pm | IP Logged | 17 post reply

There's a bit of a means-justifies-ends ethical question still unanswered in "Suspicions".

Crusher may have been right in the end but she still performed an autopsy on Reyga against both familial and cultural wishes.   It's also noteworthy is that Reyga's autopsy didn't contribute any new information to the investigation.  The Enterprise morgue(s) would be off-limits crime scenes.   Picard would have been duty bound to confine Crusher to quarters to prevent her from contaminating the investigation any further.  We see no long-term repercussions from Beverly's behavior, disciplinary or social among her peers. 

For better or worse this episode is a 'Beverly bottle show'.   She's allowed to be both the instigator of the problem and it's solution precisely because it's "her turn".   I'm all for strong female roles but all too often writers simply take a male-centric dynamic and flip it without considering the polar opposite is just as damaging.  The best way to combat sexism is not to overpower it with more sexim of the opposite flavor.  Sure, there's no shortage of maverick lone-wolf stories with a male protagonist (even Picard gets his DIE HARD due earlier this season) but the better way to unwrite this type of story is to not write it in the first place rather than attempt to chip at it from the other end.

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Greg Kirkman
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Posted: 03 March 2018 at 5:19pm | IP Logged | 18 post reply

Mind you, the episode isn't necessarily a great--or even particularly good--one, but I do really like seeing McFadden at front-and-center as she displays Crusher's tenacity and force of will. It doesn't feel too Mary Sue-ish, aside from the (necessary) lack of permanent consequences for her. This isn't like Michael Burnham constantly being praised, let off the hook, and serving as the key player in every story.

I also just found out today that the episode was originally written for Geordi, which makes a heck of a lot of sense, in retrospect. It certainly explains why Crusher would suddenly be hanging out with shield-physics scientists.

Edited by Greg Kirkman on 03 March 2018 at 5:20pm
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Greg Kirkman
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Posted: 04 March 2018 at 11:35pm | IP Logged | 19 post reply

“Rightful Heir”.


I’d forgotten that Ron Moore wrote the teleplay for this episode, and I’d also forgotten how good it is. This is very much a deep-dive into questions of faith and religion, perhaps more so than any STAR TREK story had ever done, up to this point in the franchise’s history. 

Nice to see that the events of “Birthright” had a long term effect on Worf. Over the course of this episode, he goes from believer to skeptic to agnostic to hardcore believer to atheist to agnostic. And the episode doesn’t resolve his arc. It doesn’t give him the answer he’s looking for. He finds a solution to the immediate problem of Kahless’ clone, but his own personal faith is still in doubt. Michael Dorn really knocks this episode out of the park, and it’s a testament to how far both character and actor have come, over the past six seasons.

Of course, Kahless—aka Klingon Jesus—looks and acts nothing like the character played by a Robert Herron in “The Savage Curtain”. And, I very much doubt that he could do a pitch-perfect Lincoln impression.

“Help me...Worf...Help me...Picard...”

I also find the image of Worf doing his hippie-stoner meditation-vision thing (with an open flame in his quarters, no less) to be one of the most memorable in all of TNG. Dorn is goes nearly cross-eyed in that scene, and it’s simultaneously intense and hilarious.
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Greg Kirkman
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Posted: 06 March 2018 at 12:56am | IP Logged | 20 post reply

“Second Chances”.


Essentially TNG’s riff on “The Enemy Within”, this one avoids the standard “evil twin” tropes, and instead provides a sensitive and emotional look at Riker and Troi’s relationship. By using a sci-fi plot device to have them confront the Riker of years past, the episode basically makes an complex emotional dynamic into a concrete reality, which is a neat little trick. As opposed to Jim Kirk confronting his evil half, Will Riker confronts the man he once was, and is deeply unsettled by it.

Lieutenant/Thomas Riker is the road not traveled, the Riker who didn’t have all of the formative experiences which shaped him into the Commander Riker we know. He’s been living in a sort of emotional stasis, with his love for Troi keeping him going during his lonely exile. Seeing Troi confront her long-buried emotions (and having a new sense of hope regarding the relationship) is very interesting, as is learning just how and why Riker and Troi’s relationship initially ended. 

Jonathan Frakes shines, here. His performance as Commander Riker is tense and moody, and you can sense the conflict bubbling within. He’s clearly unnerved over being presented with a version of himself who didn’t put his career over love, and so he’s surely second-guessing his own choices, as a result. Frakes’ performance as Lieutenant Riker is subtly different, and feels closer to the Riker of the first season, which makes a lot of sense. 

The episode also marks the directorial debut of LeVar Burton, who does a great job with all of the complicated Riker-twinning shots, as well as drawing out subtle and earnest performances from the actors.


About the only complaint I have comes after the fact, in that I seem to recall Thomas Riker showing up in DS9 as a bad guy allied with the Maquis. Sure, he’s not the same guy as Will Riker, but that creative choice felt off to me, at the time. The episode necessarily shuffles Thomas off at the end, but there are a lot of interesting moral/ethical/legal questions which come up as a result of two Rikers now existing. It would have been nice to see further exploration of those issues, rather than bringing Thomas back as...sigh...the “evil twin” masquerading as Will Riker. And her I thought that this episode had proved that TNG had moved beyond that trope. The first season had “Datalore”, a standard “evil twin” story, whereas “Second Chances” provided a much richer, more emotional, and more mature type of plot.
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Steven McCauley
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Posted: 06 March 2018 at 7:39am | IP Logged | 21 post reply

I remember reading that the writers toyed with the idea of William Riker dying and Thomas Riker living.  That would have been an interesting dynamic to explore.
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Greg Kirkman
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Posted: 06 March 2018 at 10:45am | IP Logged | 22 post reply

Yes, I forgot to mention that. Lieutenant Riker would have taken over for Data, who would have become First Officer. That would have been an interesting, late-in-series twist to shake things up, but they decided to keep the classic dynamic for the upcoming GENERATIONS.

I also neglected to mention the can of worms opened up by the blatant demonstration of the transporter’s until-now only implied ability to create actual duplicates of people!
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Rob Ocelot
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Posted: 06 March 2018 at 6:35pm | IP Logged | 23 post reply

I think it would have been more effective if Thomas Riker had been clean shaven.   Might not have been doable with TNG's tight production schedule, as you'd shoot all the Will Riker scenes first and the Thom scenes afterward.    Fake beards look even faker if you focusing on them.

I agree with the weak follow up on Thom in DS9.

I even remember one of my attention-span challenged friends who, true to form, wasn't paying attention while watching the episode asking "Why's Riker bad?"

I've expressed before how I think one of the weak points of the later TNG seasons is every cast member finding some long lost relative or going looking for a lost family member.   Heck, they even refer to Thom Riker as a brother.
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Greg Kirkman
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Posted: 06 March 2018 at 7:21pm | IP Logged | 24 post reply

I think it would have been more effective if Thomas Riker had been clean shaven.
+++++++++++

Yeah, that's something else I forgot to mention!
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Peter Martin
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Posted: 06 March 2018 at 7:50pm | IP Logged | 25 post reply

Man, I really don't remember a lot of these episodes. Tapestry, though, is one that really sticks in my mind as a favourite. Might have to revisit Second Chances.
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