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Greg Kirkman
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Posted: 20 November 2017 at 9:19pm | IP Logged | 1 post reply

I look at Memory Alpha's trivia after I watch each episode.Remember, though, I've already seen most-if-not-all of these episodes. That being said, it's been a very long time since I've seen some of them, to the point where I've forgotten how some episodes end. Which makes the rewatching process more exciting!

Edited by Greg Kirkman on 20 November 2017 at 9:19pm
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Greg Kirkman
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Posted: 21 November 2017 at 1:31am | IP Logged | 2 post reply

"The High Ground".


A so-so episode that doesn't really have a strong message, aside from terrorism being bad. Maybe not even that, since it's said that the 2024 reunification of Ireland was--will be?--achieved via terrorism. Reading up on the trivia, it seems that none of the writing staff were happy with this one, and Melinda Snodgrass was particularly upset that her Revolutionary War parallel was forcible rewritten to reflect the terrorism of the IRA.

On the plus side, the sequence with the terrorists attacking the Enterprise-D is quite good, and we get one of those "If we're not going to make it, then there's something I need to tell y--" moments with Crusher and Picard.
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Greg Kirkman
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Posted: 22 November 2017 at 12:35am | IP Logged | 3 post reply

"Deja Q".



This is a heck of a fun episode. The jokes start flying as soon as Q appears, and the humor really works. Juxtaposing Q (immortal-turned-human) and Data (android-wanting-to-be-human) was an inspired story idea, and it also works really well. 

Not much else to say about this one, except that it is the source of the oft-used "Picard facepalm" meme.
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Rob Ocelot
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Posted: 22 November 2017 at 6:51pm | IP Logged | 4 post reply

"The High Ground"

Probably the most remarkable thing about this episode is the discussion between Picard and Data about the effectiveness of terrorism   From what I remember, Data comes to the conclusion that terrorism actually does work!   It's a very odd stance for STAR TREK which generally preaches peaceful diplomacy and non-violent solutions -- or at least keeps the application of force a last resort.   It's an interesting contrast to the DIE HARD approach (starring Picard!) of "Enemy Mine" a few season later.

With most of the TNG writing and production being USA it's quite understandable those involved may not have been completely familiar with the sensitive politics of Ireland, and thus cause offence or actually encourage more violance.  It's easy to take a nonchalant viewpoint when this type of violent activity isn't happening in your back yard or on a daily basis close to you.  Just think if the "The High Ground" had been written a decade later...


Edited by Rob Ocelot on 23 November 2017 at 5:23pm
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Brian Hague
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Posted: 22 November 2017 at 9:10pm | IP Logged | 5 post reply

This was the beginning of an infuriatingly asinine period in the history of Trek's writer's room. Aside from the unforgivable insensitivity of the 2024 Ireland crack, they would soon be bubbling over with enthusiasm over conflict-inducing Ensign Ro who had terrorism in her past & future and would begin giggling themselves silly over the Maquis, who, after all, were just like US, simple farming folk, so we could all see how they'd take up arms and start murdering people, right? For political reasons, of course.Tom Riker would join the good fight on the side of the Maquis. Kira Nerys was a former (?) terrorist. Odo was kind of in on it. Why, half the crew of Voyager would just as soon have blown the ship to hell and back if it weren't their only ride home. Well, for an episode or two they were like that, anyway. Then, y'know, Janeway's inherent splendidness just kind of won them all over. 'Cause she's so spiffy. The parallels to Palestine and Israel were flying fast and furious on DS9...

It was a little like Stephen Moffat's whole trip with "Have you hugged a murdering, emotionally-troubled psychopath today? Psychopaths are soooooo interesting!! Much better than actual people."

Except on a much larger scale. This was the start of the period where I flat-out hated the Trek franchise and all the happy, giggling little terrorist-huggers who wanted us to really stop and think for a minute about how, really, terrorism could be a beautiful, super-productive thing...


Edited by Brian Hague on 22 November 2017 at 9:14pm
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Greg Kirkman
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Posted: 22 November 2017 at 10:34pm | IP Logged | 6 post reply

I can't help but wonder if that was basically the response to Roddenberry's utopian future and strict edicts regarding no conflict between the characters.

Sort of how the fans-turned-pro took over the comic industry, and things quickly went grim and gritty.


Nowadays, of course, we've shifted to grim and stupid.
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Greg Kirkman
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Posted: 23 November 2017 at 12:27am | IP Logged | 7 post reply

"A Matter of Perspective".



A clever little courtroom story/murder mystery, with the STAR TREK-ish hook of the characters being able to see "live" performances (via holodeck) of what would ordinarily be depicted as flashbacks. The final reveal of whodunnit is dependent upon technobabble, but I think the holodeck angle makes it work much better than it would have through expository dialogue alone. "Show, don't tell", and all that jazz. All in all, the script is clever and well-conceived, but the actual execution feels lacking.

The great Mark Margolis guest-stars, and he has another TREK connection, in that his role of BREAKING BAD/BETTER CALL SAUL's Hector Salamanca (who is wheelchair-bound, mute, and communicates via ringing a bell for "yes" and "no") was directly inspired by the crippled Captain Pike in "The Menagerie".


...and, this episode is the source of the oft-used "Riker facepalm" meme.
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Michael Roberts
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Posted: 23 November 2017 at 12:59am | IP Logged | 8 post reply

This was the beginning of an infuriatingly asinine period in the history of Trek's writer's room. Aside from the unforgivable insensitivity of the 2024 Ireland crack, they would soon be bubbling over with enthusiasm over conflict-inducing Ensign Ro who had terrorism in her past & future and would begin giggling themselves silly over the Maquis, who, after all, were just like US, simple farming folk, so we could all see how they'd take up arms and start murdering people, right? For political reasons, of course.Tom Riker would join the good fight on the side of the Maquis. Kira Nerys was a former (?) terrorist. Odo was kind of in on it. Why, half the crew of Voyager would just as soon have blown the ship to hell and back if it weren't their only ride home. Well, for an episode or two they were like that, anyway. Then, y'know, Janeway's inherent splendidness just kind of won them all over. 'Cause she's so spiffy. The parallels to Palestine and Israel were flying fast and furious on DS9...

----

The Maquis never really bothered me. Yeah, they had some parallels to the PLO, but the Cardassians were clearly Nazis, which made the Bajorans post-WWII Jews. Which is to say there was never any clear analog for the Maquis, so I didn't feel they were saying one thing or another about real-world terrorism. But the Cardassians were definitely Nazis.

It's clear that starting with DS9, the writers and producers kept wanting to find ways to break out of Roddenberry's "No conflict among Starfleet crew" rule:

DS9: Not everyone is Starfleet, so there'll be conflict.
Voyager: The Maquis aren't really Starfleet officers, so there'll be conflict.
Enterprise: T'Pol/The MACOs aren't part of Starfleet, so there'll be conflict.

And with the exception of a few story arcs, the promise of a conflicted crew were not kept.
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Brian Miller
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Posted: 23 November 2017 at 11:14am | IP Logged | 9 post reply

I love those memes so much. 

Edited by Brian Miller on 23 November 2017 at 11:15am
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Rob Ocelot
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Posted: 23 November 2017 at 5:27pm | IP Logged | 10 post reply

The great Mark Margolis guest-stars, and he has another TREK connection, in that his role of BREAKING BAD/BETTER CALL SAUL's Hector Salamanca (who is wheelchair-bound, mute, and communicates via ringing a bell for "yes" and "no") was directly inspired by the crippled Captain Pike in "The Menagerie".

Now that I wasn't aware of at all.  That's awesome!
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Greg Kirkman
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Posted: 24 November 2017 at 1:27am | IP Logged | 11 post reply

"Yesterday's Enterprise".


Well, here we are. This one is widely regarded as one of the best--if not the best--TNG episodes, and I agree. It's a remarkable episode that hits all the right notes, and cleverly uses both the history of TNG and the overall franchise as a foundation. Perhaps the most amazing thing is that it started as a spec script which ended up being gangbanged into a teleplay by five(!) of TNG's staff writers. 

So many bits of TREK lore click together perfectly. We get an examination of the beginnings (pre-STAR TREK VI, that is) of the Federation-Klingon alliance. We finally learn about NCC-1701-C (which, alongside 1701-B, was previously a blank spot in TREK history, with only Andrew Probert's early design for what would become the Ambassador class--seen on the wall of 1701-D's observation lounge--to indicate its existence). And, most importantly, we get the return of Denise Crosby as Tasha Yar, who's finally given a meaningful death.

The reveal of Tasha is brilliant, and was surely a big shock for first-time viewers, back in 1990. Before the timeline changes, we get a very specific shot that shows Worf at his station. Picard, blocking Worf out of frame, turns to speak to him, and the camera then racks focus on Worf. A minute later, the same blocking is repeated to reveal Tasha in Worf's place. It's used yet again at the end of the episode to reveal Worf back at his post, and the timeline restored. The original plan was to not use a visual effect to indicate the time-shift, and this camera trick would certainly have worked well enough on its own to indicate the change (beyond the obvious lighting and uniform differences between the two timelines). Love its elegant simplicity.

I also like the Enterprise-C design, which is sort of a blend between the Galaxy and Excelsior classes. Captain Garrett is a likable character, and her death is something of a punch in the gut. 

I noted awhile back that I actually kinda like the fact that Tasha's death in "Skin of Evil" was meaningless and mundane. There was a certain realism to it, in that regard, rather than a contrived and over-dramatic death scene. That being said, her death didn't sit well with a lot of people, and so this episode set out to to correct that. Crosby is great in this, and she gets a nice, meaty role. Whoopi Goldberg also gets some great stuff to play with, and her big scene, with Guinan trying to convince Picard that she's right about the timeline being wrong, is my favorite in the episode. 

I also love all of the subtle (and not-so-subtle) changes to distinguish the warship Enterprise-D from the one we know, such as Picard and Riker's chilly relationship, and the use of general announcements on the ship's intercom instead of commbadge communiques. Troi is nowhere to be seen, and neither is Worf (which explains the fun little opening scene of the episode--it was the only chance we'd get to see him in this one, after all). My only real gripe is the baffling error at the end, with Geordi still wearing his alternate-timeline uniform in Ten-Forward. That's a really obvious thing for everyone to have missed during filming, but there it is.

This is unquestionably top-notch TNG, and arguably one of the best and most memorable episodes in the entire franchise. It's never dull, has a simple-yet-interesting premise, hinges on strong characterizations/performances, and broadens the backstory of TNG. It also uses the past three seasons' worth of stories and emotional connections to considerable advantage. Love it.
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Brian Hague
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Posted: 24 November 2017 at 10:19am | IP Logged | 12 post reply

Alternate timeline Geordi was clearly able to perceive minute distortions in the temporal wavelengths surrounding the Enterprises-D and C over the course of the episode, and deduce what was taking place. Rationalizing that a return to the original history would effectively erase him from existence, he was able to rig a quantum-phase-shift accelerator through a subsidiary power conduit in the ship's warp drive assembly and cloak his particle signature from any temporal changes taking place in the space around him. He thus replaced "our" Geordi in the "normal" timeline and has carried on in the role unnoticed ever since. 

Edited by Brian Hague on 24 November 2017 at 10:38am
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Bill Collins
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Posted: 24 November 2017 at 10:49am | IP Logged | 13 post reply

The High Ground was not shown in the U.K. by the BBC
originally,i think it was quite a time later before Sky
aired it.
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Greg Kirkman
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Posted: 24 November 2017 at 11:19am | IP Logged | 14 post reply

Alternate timeline Geordi was clearly able to perceive minute distortions in the temporal wavelengths surrounding the Enterprises-D and C over the course of the episode, and deduce what was taking place. Rationalizing that a return to the original history would effectively erase him from existence, he was able to rig a quantum-phase-shift accelerator through a subsidiary power conduit in the ship's warp drive assembly and cloak his particle signature from any temporal changes taking place in the space around him. He thus replaced "our" Geordi in the "normal" timeline and has carried on in the role unnoticed ever since. 
+++++++++

Works for me.
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Rob Ocelot
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Posted: 24 November 2017 at 8:20pm | IP Logged | 15 post reply

Love it. 

As do I.  

It's the episode where TNG fully hits it's stride -- probably the most influential episode of TNG, if not the entire post-TNG era for story ideas next to "The Best of Both Words" (Orci cites it was a big influence on the plot mechanics of the reboot STAR TREK film).   It shapes all of the subsequent episodes involving Romulans, including the introduction of Sela Yar ("Redemption") and even the Spock appearance in "Unification".  It's a heavy influence on ST:VI and also has resonance in the episode where Worf goes looking for his father.  It's the first hint of Guinan's time sensitivity which comes to the fore in GENERATIONS (and likely "Time's Arrow" as well).   It's influence is even felt (IMO) in "Tapestry".

Whew!

Made all the more remarkable by the sheer number of writers working on a hodge-podge of two different spec scripts.  On paper it should have never worked -- it's plot outline reads like the basis of many a bad fan fiction story yet it's elements all come cohesively together.   A triumph for not just STAR TREK, but for sheer seat of the pants last  minute television scripting in general.  

*It's a nice subtle touch that no one in the alternate timeline questions Guinan's presence (an entertaining bartender) on a military ship.  She's just *there* in much the same way she just appears in Season 2 and no one questions why the Captain's "friend" is the new bartender.  She just is.   Presumably the military-timeline Picard asked for her be on board the Enterprise, perhaps not knowing why he felt he needed her there -- much like his prime-universe counterpart.    Perhaps blending in by altering the perceptions of those around her is yet another undocumented talent of the El-Aurians.  Even Q's reactions to her in "Q Who" are odd -- and he refers to her as a "creature of distraction".

*Our forum namesake might chide me over this bit of  "What were the Avengers doing during the Galactus Trilogy?" type of thinking but it is interesting that Q doesn't get involved here or even plays peripheral to events..   I'd be willing to bet some earlier versions of the script had Q in it instead of Guinan.   Can you imagine a semi-depowered Q being a hero trying to influence Picard to restore the timeline?  Or maybe the events of "Farpoint"  happened differently or even at all so Q never took an interest an humanity.  One of the reasons why I think "Tapestry" owes a lot to this story, not just in the uniforms and "old Starfleet" attitudes but in Q showing us an alternate timeline Picard that's a polar opposite to his persona here -- almost completely neutered.

*It's also one of the few WWKD situations where I think Picard and Kirk would have done the exact same things.  Right down to Picard's response to the Klingons order to surrender.  "That will be the day" indeed.   I'm kind of glad they didn't follow through with the surrender order coming from an alternate timeline Worf.

*This is possibly TNG's most effective use of the Romulans, precisely because they *don't* actually appear, but their influence is felt at the fringes.   I've always felt that later writers have duiluted the impact of the secretive Romulans by putting them in mostly-goofy plots and making them almost faceless in the cadre of nosepiece-of-the-week aliens.  It's ironic then that the Klingons in DISCOVERY now inhabit the exact niche the Romulans occupied -- right down to the cloaked ships, centuries-long isolationism and backstabbing politics.

*I believe this is the first mention of Archer IV, which influenced the retroactive naming of Starfleets 'first' Enterprise captain.  Ain't retcons grand? 
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Greg Kirkman
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Posted: 25 November 2017 at 12:55am | IP Logged | 16 post reply

"The Offspring".


Another fan-favorite, and the first of many episodes to be directed by Jonathan Frakes (which explains Riker's absense from the first half of the episode, and the fact that Riker's only real contribution to the story is being kissed by the guest-star). 

This one is basically a story about the state threatening to take away a special-needs child. On a more fundamental level, it's a furtherance of the themes established in "The Measure of a Man", and shows an important step in Data's ongoing journey of discovery. And, interestingly, Data verbalized the whole thematic point of his character, as intended by Roddenberry: While he'll never actually become human, his constant striving toward that goal is what his life is all about, which serves as a thematic microcosm for humanity itself. It's about the journey, not the destination.

The episode has a lot of heart and humor to it, and I found myself rather shocked, in that I actually misted up during those last few minutes. You could look at Data and Lal as mere toasters playing at being human, but the emotional reality of the episode is full of pretty strong stuff, in regards to what it means to be a parent (and especially one with a special-needs child). A very sensitive and moving story, underneath the sci-fi exterior.


...oh, and this episode is also the source of the oft-used "Picard double-facepalm" meme.


Edited by Greg Kirkman on 25 November 2017 at 11:47am
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Greg Kirkman
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Posted: 25 November 2017 at 1:00am | IP Logged | 17 post reply

It shapes all of the subsequent episodes involving Romulans, including the introduction of Sela Yar ("Redemption") 
+++++++


An interesting subtext of the episode is the idea that the Romulans--despite not appearing at all in the story--are eagerly waiting to take advantage of the war between the Federation and he Klingons. They could basically just bide their time, and then step in to defeat the winner of the war, whose resources would surely be depleted.
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Rob Ocelot
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Posted: 25 November 2017 at 7:55pm | IP Logged | 18 post reply

An interesting subtext of the episode is the idea that the Romulans--despite not appearing at all in the story--are eagerly waiting to take advantage of the war between the Federation and he Klingons. They could basically just bide their time, and then step in to defeat the winner of the war, whose resources would surely be depleted.

Hence my mention of the Romulans being more effective when they are not seen on screen but felt.  :-)

I'll also point out that this wait-and-see-who-wins strategy is exactly what the Romulans later chose to do during the Federation's war with the Dominion -- at least until their hand was forced and they sided with the Federation.
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Rob Ocelot
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Posted: 25 November 2017 at 8:09pm | IP Logged | 19 post reply

He thus replaced "our" Geordi in the "normal" timeline and has carried on in the role unnoticed ever since. 

I can just imagine the regular Geordi unknowingly switching places and arriving on the war-timeline Enterprise D.

"Oh shiiiii....."
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Greg Kirkman
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Posted: 26 November 2017 at 11:31pm | IP Logged | 20 post reply

"Sins of The Father".


Another important turning point for TNG, and an episode which feels much bigger than usual. This one deliberately set up story threads to be followed up on at a later date, and almost feels as if it should have been a two-parter, despite being neatly wrapped-up. I suppose that's a testament to how involving and well-done it is. It's a great episode from top to bottom, and marks the beginning of Ron Moore (here taking two separate spec scripts and fusing them into one overarching story) digging into Klingon culture in ways never before seen.

There are a number of brilliant twists. At first, it seems like this will just be a flip-flop rehash of "A Matter of Honor", with a Klingon officer coming aboard the Enterprise-D and eventually learning to mingle with the human crew. But, oh, wait--Zig! The Klingon is actually Worf's long-lost brother (well-played by Tony Todd), on a mission of grave importance to their family.

The episode then takes a hard left turn into the internal politics of the Klingon Empire. We get our first glimpse of the Klingon homeworld (which, in the fanon of that day, was still referred to as "Kling", right?). We get that Emmy-winning set of the Great Hall, and meet K'mpek (played by Charles Cooper, fresh off of his Klingon role in STAR TREK V). We get Picard The Advocate. We get our first "It is a good day to die!". 

So many bits of lore which would be expanded upon in future episodes and series. 

And, of course, the episode makes another sharp turn at the end--Zag! Worf accepts dishonor for the sake of the Empire, in the process proving his honor and strength of character. As has been noted, Worf's status as an orphan raised by humans caused him to go hardcore on the Klingon stuff as overcompensation. Here, we have the friggin' leader of the Klingon High Command telling Worf to tone down the whole honor thing and do what's best for the Empire, which is a very interesting moment. 

Worf is basically more Klingon than Klingon. And, as with Spock, there's a certain irony in that the character who is the poster-boy for his species in the minds of STAR TREK fans is actually overcompensating for feelings of inadequacy. Spock--who is only half-Vulcan--goes hardcore Vulcan so as to compensate, just as Worf--raised by "weakling" humans--goes full Klingon.
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Rob Ocelot
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Posted: 27 November 2017 at 7:00am | IP Logged | 21 post reply

TNG was firing on all cylinders in the 3rd season, wasn't it?

Even the weaker episodes would put most series 'best' episodes to shame.   

A combination of a well-gelled cast, an enthusiastic production team, and a great influx of new and interesting ideas from outside submissions (something STAR TREK later curtailed to it's detriment) honed by a newer legion of staff writers.

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Greg Kirkman
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Posted: 28 November 2017 at 1:45am | IP Logged | 22 post reply

"Allegiance".


A fun, straightforward, low-key episode. I found what is supposedly the "B" story (Picard's replica aboard the ship) more interesting that the "A" story (the real Picard trying to escape his captors). This episode really is a showcase for Patrick Stewart, and he does a marvelous job of playing the Picard replica. His more outrageous behavior aside, he's subtly "off", all of the time. Stewart acts the heck out of this episode, with the best stuff being the subtle stuff. Although, seeing him sing, dance, and attempt to put down Riker's mutiny is also fun.

The whole thing with the replica trying to romance Dr. Crusher and then throwing her out of his quarters--in the most polite way possible--works really well, too. Interesting to see that Crusher actually feels comfortable with where their relationship has gone, despite hints of more going on beneath her ever-professional demeanor.
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Greg Kirkman
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Posted: 29 November 2017 at 1:19am | IP Logged | 23 post reply

"Captain's Holiday".



A fun little episode written by TOS fan Ira Steven Behr, and you can feel that vibe in terms of the warm interactions between the crew. There's even a little homage to "Shore Leave", as Crusher tries to get Picard to go on vacation. There are a lot of chuckles in this one, and Vash makes a fine femme fatale for Picard.

And, of course, this episode is basically a response to Stewart's request be allowed to have more action and lovin'. The shift from the first two seasons is really obvious, now. Before, Picard was the stuffy old man in charge of the ship, with the young and eager Riker always going planetside. By the third season, the dynamic changed, in that Picard is going on away missions, and acting more like a series lead. He's more proactive, and less of a cerebral authority figure. And, because Stewart is so good, it totally works.

This episode also marks the first appearance of Risa (a planet that Roddenberry was doubtless very interested in exploring). Ever the enthusiastic horndog, Riker mentions it to Picard as if he doesn't expect Picard to have ever heard of it. Despite this, ENTERPRISE revealed that it was a Starfleet vacation spot even back during Archer's time. 

We also get the first TREK appearance of Max Grodenchik, who would go on to play Rom in DS9. TREK seems to have a habit of recasting actors based on the makeup they wore in their first appearance, as with Mark Lenard and Armin Shimerman.
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Greg Kirkman
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Posted: 29 November 2017 at 11:41pm | IP Logged | 24 post reply

"Tin Man".


An entertaining episode with a lot of neat ideas, but it never quite comes together. Harry Groener turns in a really interesting performance, though. He compellingly portrays what the experience of being telepathic/empathic from birth would surely be like, and veers from rage to despair and back again. 

The idea of a living spaceship that's become suicidal is really interesting, too, but the story's resolution feels a little flat. It's also fitting that the visual effect of V'GER transcending our dimension is reused for Tin Man's attacks, since Tam and Tim Man's union is reminiscent of Decker merging with V'GER at the end of THE MOTION PICTURE.
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Tim Cousar
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Posted: 30 November 2017 at 10:59am | IP Logged | 25 post reply

If I remember correctly, Picard accented his pronunciation of "Tin Man" in an odd way.
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