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Greg Kirkman
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Posted: 18 October 2017 at 11:59pm | IP Logged | 1 post reply

"The Schizoid Man".


A ho-hum-yet-entertaining mashup of "What Are Little Girls Made Of?" And "Turnabout Intruder". The best thing about it is seeing Brent Spiner flex his acting muscles, going from a subtly off-model Data to an egomaniacal villain. 

Good performances and character moments in this episode. It almost feels like a season one episode (it's very "Datalore"-ish, given it's similar "evil Data" premise), but one made with season two's production values and performances. 


Oh, and Dr. Selar.
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Greg Kirkman
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Posted: 20 October 2017 at 12:22am | IP Logged | 2 post reply

"Unnatural Selection".


Basically a TNG version of "The Deadly Years", with the transporter solution from "The Lorelai Signal" thrown in at the end. As with a number of recently episodes, you can feel the show straining to become legitimately good. The actors are all ready to go, and the style has been established. It's just the scripts which need work and maturity, at this point. 

The episode takes pains to really try and establish Pulaski's character, but it never quite does the job satisfactorily. And, of course, her established distaste for using the transporter (reaffirmed, here) and her constant ribbing of Data feel too blatantly like a ripoff of McCoy's schtick. Which they are. 

The aforementioned use of the transporter to cure those afflicted with the aging disease raises a whole bunch of questions and possibilities which aren't ever explored. The use of the transporter as a quick and easy way of solving the problem comes across as lazy writing more than anything else.

The overall story is rather ho-hum, and features genetic engineering experiments which would later be retroactively established as having been deemed illegal after the Eugenics Wars, which makes this episode something on an anomaly.

This episode also features the first TNG reuse of the Reliant model from STAR TREK II: THE WRATH OF KHAN, as well as finally giving Chief O'Brien a name and more than a bit part!
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Greg Kirkman
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Posted: 20 October 2017 at 11:21pm | IP Logged | 3 post reply

"A Matter of Honor".


This is a very fun episode, and my only real criticism is that the Kilngon Captain's belligerence and eagerness to attack a Federation ship based on a paranoid hunch feels more than a little forced. That being said, this episode does a lot with the idea of stepping into another race/culture's shoes. 

This episode isn't very heavy, plot-wise, but it moves along at a rapid clip, thanks to all of the interesting social and character dynamics being presented. It's also our first real glimpse at TNG's version of Klingon culture, outside of the renegades seen in the first season's "Heart of Glory". It also hints that Worf, not too unlike Spock before him, is particularly orthodox in his adoption of his culture's values and traditions. Riker is genuinely surprised to see that the Klingons laugh and have a sense of humor, which are trait that Worf rarely shows.

The episode has two notable guest-stars, in the form of the late, great Chris Latta (stand-up comic and voice actor, most famous for voicing Starscream and Cobra Commander in the original TRANSFORMERS and G.I. JOE cartoons, and who is credited here as "Christopher Collins"), and Brian Thompson. It also marks TNG's first use of the Klingon Bird-of-Prey model originally built for STAR TREK III. 

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Greg Kirkman
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Posted: 22 October 2017 at 10:32am | IP Logged | 4 post reply

Found an interesting series of articles on Galoob's failed line of TNG toys. I remember having the Riker figure, when I was a kid.

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Greg Kirkman
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Posted: 22 October 2017 at 11:51pm | IP Logged | 5 post reply

"The Measure of a Man".


Well, here we are. One of the best episodes of the show, and arguably the point where TNG really started to become TNG. This episode blazed a trail for the show in several key ways. It's the first appearance of the crew playing poker. It's a character-driven story, rather than a "sci-fi plot of the week". And, it's really the first time that Patrick Stewart has had a chance to portray "Picard The Advocate", which is perhaps the role which best defines the character.

Indeed, I'd argue that this is the episode where Picard finally gels as a character. His chat about with Guinan in Ten-Forward, where he comes to the revelation about slavery that forms the basis for his courtroom argument, is, for me, the moment when Stewart really and truly "found" Picard. It's Picard-as-enlightened-civil-rights-advocate.

That all being said, this episode borrows more than a few elements from "Court Martial", yet it really does transcend any criticisms for doing so, due to the strength of the new material surrounding those elements. The drama and the philosophy of the script are well-presented, and the episode flies by. I understand that an extended cut of the episode was created for the Blu-Ray release, and I'd be interesting in checking it out.

And, of course, there's the episode's central question: Is Data a sentient being with rights? The episode offers valid arguments for and against. Of course, a question like this can't really be explored unless it were happening in reality. After all, the fictional character of Data is played by a human actor, which sort of slants the argument in one direction for the audience, and inherently takes the matter beyond the characters merely anthropomorphizing a toaster. In reality, how close to human would an android have to be to raise these sorts of questions? We're certainly a long way from that point.
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Brian Rhodes
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Posted: 23 October 2017 at 11:23am | IP Logged | 6 post reply

Spot on.

I didn't feel much chemistry between Picard and the JAG officer, but otherwise, it's a really strong episode.



Edited by Brian Rhodes on 23 October 2017 at 11:23am
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Shane Matlock
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Posted: 23 October 2017 at 6:55pm | IP Logged | 7 post reply

"The Measure of a Man" is one of those early episodes that I can still remember pretty well while a lot of the other ones have faded from memory (though I'm sure much would come back on a rewatch as is often the case). The Data-centric episodes tended to be favorites of mine in general, but this was a really good one. 
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Shaun Barry
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Posted: 23 October 2017 at 7:59pm | IP Logged | 8 post reply


"The Last Outpost"

An even bigger snoozer than I'd remembered... what a bunch of yap-yap-yappin'!

Couldn't even finish it.



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Greg Kirkman
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Posted: 24 October 2017 at 12:56am | IP Logged | 9 post reply

"The Dauphin".

A fairly unremarkable episode, aside from it noticeably continuing the trend of character-based episodes, rather than being plot-driven. This time, Wesley falls in love. My favorite part of this episode would be the various characters giving Wesley romantic advice, with my favorite line of the episode being Worf's "Go to her door. Beg like a human.". 

I suppose now is a good time to talk about Wesley. There's certainly an argument to be made that Wesley was Roddenberry's pet Mary Sue character, I still think the idea of the character is interesting. I think his failure to really connect with a lot of fans came down to execution. Instead of focusing on the dramatic aspects of Picard dealing with the awkward baggage of the Crushers being aboard his ship, during that shaky first season, the writers too often resorted to "supergenius Wesley saves the ship" plots. The inherent awkwardness of being on a ship commanded by the man who'd ordered his father to his death, and whom his mother possibly had romantic feelings for could have lent itself to some solid human drama.

While the character was not exactly well-received, I like Wil Wheaton quite a bit. He's certainly gotten a lot of humorous mileage out of recounting the stories of his time on TNG. I recently watched a video of him performing his "William F***ing Shatner" act, which recounts the story of how he first met Shatner on the set of STAR TREK V. And it's hilarious. 

I really should also revisit Wheaton's humorous written reviews of various TNG episodes, too. 
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Rob Ocelot
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Posted: 24 October 2017 at 5:27am | IP Logged | 10 post reply

The yin and yang of Season 2.

The season that gave us THE MEASURE OF A MAN, the Borg, and Riker's Beard (practically a character in and of itself) also gave us....

Pakleds.
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Greg Kirkman
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Posted: 24 October 2017 at 9:02am | IP Logged | 11 post reply

"We are smart!"
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Peter Hicks
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Posted: 24 October 2017 at 11:43am | IP Logged | 12 post reply

"The Measure of a Man".

I quite liked this episode, but as a friend of mine observed when it first aired, it seems unlikely that Starfleet would make Data part of their ranks, in fact a fairly senior officer, but never determine his legal status as a person vs a machine. If Data was only a machine, it would be very difficult for humans beneath him in rank to accept his orders.
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Greg Kirkman
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Posted: 24 October 2017 at 12:12pm | IP Logged | 13 post reply

There's also a contradiction in that, earlier in the second season, Pulaski says that Data's Starfleet file lists him as "alive".

"The Measure of a Man" is a great episode, but it's somewhat contrived in its basic premise.

Also, setting aside the fact that the episode gives Riker a good role to play, the boys on the MISSION LOG Podcast made the excellent point that this episode could have really done something with Pulaski by putting HER in the position of having to prosecute Data. In the actual episode, the conflict comes from Riker having to set aside his friendship with Data and do the job that's been assigned to him. But, think of how interesting it would have been to see Pulaski--who has questioned Data's sentience from the start--now being put into the position of having to legally question it, and perhaps having ambivalent feelings about doing so.

And, oddly enough, she appears in the opening poker game, then pretty much disappears from the episode. You'd think Riker would at least have called her as a witness for the prosecution.
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Brian Rhodes
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Posted: 24 October 2017 at 12:25pm | IP Logged | 14 post reply

If Data was only a machine, it would be very difficult for humans beneath him in rank to accept his orders.

This was played with in Redemption Part II, with the guy that wouldn't initially follow his orders because he was an android. And that was long after the ruling.
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Greg Kirkman
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Posted: 24 October 2017 at 11:38pm | IP Logged | 15 post reply

"Contagion".


Another great episode, and one co-written by none other than Steve Gerber. This one does a great job of building tension right from the start, and is peppered with precise uses of humor and characterization. There's also an intriguing mystery plot involving an long-gone alien culture. The episode generates plenty of tension and drama, thanks to the ticking clock of the Enterprise-D's computer being overwritten by the Iconian program, and through little moments like Geordi's wild turbolift ride.

The episode literally starts with a bang. The destruction of the Yamato is a shocking moment, and a fantastic--and horrifying--visual effect, with the saucer being blasted off of the battle section before its skin burns away, Hindenberg-style. It's immensely effective. Picard subsequently skimming though the late Captain Varley's logs is also a great and tense little sequence.

This episode also introduces Picard's passion for archaeology, and marks the first time he orders "Tea, Earl Grey, hot." from his replicator. Although, ironically, the malfunctioning replicator doesn't give him what he asks for!

Perhaps most of all, I was struck by Riker giving the solution to the Iconian software to the Romulan ship so that the Romulans could save themselves from destruction, when there was no need to do so. It wasn't a surprise so much as it was refreshing, given modern TREK's tendency to let enemies die, or actively pick fights/kill them. "Love thy enemy" is very much in the spirit of true STAR TREK. Taking the high road is how our guys should operate. It was nice to see.

Easily one of the best and most satisfying episodes, thus far.
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Brian Hague
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Posted: 25 October 2017 at 3:47am | IP Logged | 16 post reply

"Contagion" was one of the few TNG episodes I thoroughly enjoyed, as it had a real TOS flavor to it. That sense of action and adventure are present, and the characters move well in service of the story. Kirk has offered to save the bad guys before, so I thought that touch at the end was very much in keeping with the spirit of the franchise. Also, fannishly, I couldn't help but think that the episode would tie in nicely with "The Land of the Lost."


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Greg Kirkman
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Posted: 25 October 2017 at 11:06pm | IP Logged | 17 post reply

"The Royale".


All the great AMIGO pictures had one thing in common: three wealthy Spanish landowners who fight for the rights of peasants. Now, that's something everyone likes. It's a 'people' idea. It's a story a nation can sink its teeth into! Then, came THOSE DARN AMIGOS. A box office failure. Nobody went to see it, because nobody cares about three wealthy, Spanish landowners on a weekend in Manhattan. We strayed from the formula, and we paid the price!


This is TNG's "weekend in Manhattan" episode, and a boring riff on "A Piece of the Action". And guest-starring WALKER, TEXAS RANGER's C.D. Parker. 
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Greg Kirkman
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Posted: 27 October 2017 at 1:06am | IP Logged | 18 post reply

"Time Squared".


An interesting concept for an episode, but the execution is lacking in any real excitement, and the ending feels like a cop-out. Of course, the original plan would have been to reveal, a few episodes down the line, that Q was responsible for the time-warp. As it stands, the ending is abrupt, doesn't make sense, and the story ends rather unsatisfactorily, as a result.

On the positive side, we get to see Patrick Stewart acting alongside--and killing--himself! The doubling effects for the two Picards are nicely done.
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Greg Kirkman
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Posted: 28 October 2017 at 12:05am | IP Logged | 19 post reply

"The Icarus Factor".


This is an unusual episode, in that it's focused almost exclusively on the estrangement between Riker and his father, with Worf's sense of isolation as a B-plot. The character development and backstory for Riker is nice to see, but there's not a whole lot going on, in terms of stakes. And, they end up physically fighting it out in a rather lackluster and clunky martial-arts sequence. Not exactly the best of TNG, here, since there's no actual science-fiction plot, and not much in the way of action or adventure. It's just a personal story about Riker.

On a related note, this marks at least the second time that Riker has turned down a command of his own, but it won't be the last. The bottom line, of course, is that he'd have to be written out of the show if he really accepted one, and so any number of excuses would end up being contrived to keep him aboard the Enterprise-D. And, as with the TOS crew, this basically extended to the entire cast, who all remained in pretty much the same ranks and positions aboard two Enterprises over a period of 15 years. Heck, Worf even left DS9 on several occasions just to keep the band together for sake of the movies.



Anyway, seeing Worf's friends setting up his Age of Ascension rival was a pleasant reminder of one of TNG's great strengths: seeing people of all backgrounds and species coming together as friends and family, and respecting each other's cultures and values. And, John Tesh makes an uncredited cameo as one the holographic Klingons who jabs Worf with a painstick.
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Jack Bohn
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Posted: 28 October 2017 at 8:46am | IP Logged | 20 post reply

Echoes of "Time Squared" can be seen on Picard's face during "Cause and Effect". No, it doesn't work as a puzzle story, but TV writers probably aren't set up to write puzzles along the line of "Neutron Star", so it might as well be a game by Q or Nagilum.
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Steve De Young
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Posted: 28 October 2017 at 1:48pm | IP Logged | 21 post reply

who all remained in pretty much the same ranks and positions aboard two Enterprises over a period of 15 years.
-----------------------------------------------------------
This isn't completely true.  Especially in terms of the series (the movies, like the TOS movies, did sort of maneuver everybody back around to get them back in the same spot...).  Both Geordi and Worf received significant promotions both in rank and role over the course of the seven years of the series.  Wesley went off to the Academy and received a commission.  Data received two promotions.  Troi went through the process of becoming a commissioned officer in the command chain in the latter seasons.  So there was a fair degree of movement even in the senior staff on TNG, though they were, as you point out, mostly kept on the ship (O'Brien and Wesley being notable exceptions).
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Greg Kirkman
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Posted: 28 October 2017 at 6:13pm | IP Logged | 22 post reply

That's why I said "pretty much". Aside from Geordi and Worf getting new jobs, early on, and Wesley/Worf/O'Brien leaving, pretty much everyone did the same thing for nearly two decades. The promotions didn't change their job titles and duties.
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Greg Kirkman
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Posted: 29 October 2017 at 10:47pm | IP Logged | 23 post reply

"Pen Pals".



This episode has interesting ideas and moments, although it never quite comes together in a satisfactory way. The cynical description would be, "Picard is guilt-tripped into acting to save a planet, and then lobotomizes a little girl", but it's not quite that simple.

We end up with an interesting discussion of the Prime Directive (and TNG's specific take on it), and the episode is a prime candidate for the "What Would Kirk Do?" treatment. The characters all make valid points during their discussion. Does "non-interference" include condemning a planet to a natural death when it's within a ship's power to save the inhabitants? Is preventing a planet's destruction interfering with its natural development?

TOS was very much about doing the "right" thing, by helping people who needed help. Saving a planet from destruction would surely not have been deemed interference with the social development of said planet. TNG opens up a big can of ethical worms, in terms of interference causing a circumvention of fate, and/or leading to unintended consequences. 
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Greg Kirkman
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Posted: 30 October 2017 at 11:53pm | IP Logged | 24 post reply

"Q Who?".


Here we have a major turning point in TREK history: the introduction of the Borg. This may arguably be the point when TNG truly became TNG, since the Borg finally filled the role of iconic villain race that the show had been looking for, over the past season-and-a-half.

This is a great episode. Well-written, and full of good character moments and tension. John De Lancie is in fine form as Q, and we get some interesting hints regarding his past history with Guinan (as well as a number of clues about her past). 

We are also introduced to the adorable Ensign Sonya Gomez, who, unfortunately, would only appear one more time, after this. She comes across as a sort of proto-Barclay character.


The Borg are positively sedate in this episode, at least when compared to what they would later become. They don't attack upon contact, and assimilation of other life-forms isn't even on their agenda. They're treated more as cybernetic locusts who consume technology, and what would later be termed "regeneration alcoves" serve here as interfaces to their collective consciousness. That all being said, this episode still builds them up into a formidable foe, and teases the likelihood of future encounters. 

Of course, we all know that the Archer had already encountered the Borg, a century before. Right? At the very least, this episode confirms that the Borg were responsible for the missing colonies and whatnot along the Romulan neutral zone, from the episode of the same name. So, they were clearly already familiar with the Federation, prior to encountering Picard and crew. Also, the Enterprise-D is tossed a mere 7,000 light-years away (and said to be two years from Federation space), and not exactly into the depths of the Delta Quadrant, as Voyager later would be.


I've read that the Borg and their schtick bear a certain resemblance to DOCTOR WHO's Cybermen, but I can't speak to that, as WHO is not in my wheelhouse. I do find myself wondering if this episode's title is a sly reference to a possible inspiration for the Borg, though.


Edited by Greg Kirkman on 31 October 2017 at 11:34am
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Greg Kirkman
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Posted: 31 October 2017 at 11:16am | IP Logged | 25 post reply

HOW DID I NOT KNOW THAT THE ACTRESS WHO PLAYED GOMEZ ALSO PLAYED THE THREE-BREASTED HOOKER IN TOTAL RECALL?!?!
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