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Allan Summerall
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Joined: 27 June 2012
Location: United States
Posts: 366
Posted: 07 December 2017 at 3:05pm | IP Logged | 1 post reply

I watched this when it first aired & at the time, I was a huge Riker fan. I thought the way the show was going forward as a series at the end of part 1, was making Picard, now Locutus, a villain with Riker as Captain of the Enterprise and Shelby as First Officer. The time between this episode & part II was filled with many evenings of debates among friends as to whether or not they would actually shake the show up by doing so. Good episode to be sure.
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Greg Kirkman
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Joined: 12 May 2006
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Posted: 07 December 2017 at 9:33pm | IP Logged | 2 post reply

In terms of "illusion of change" episodes, this one is certainly one of the best ever!
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Greg Kirkman
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Posted: 08 December 2017 at 1:56am | IP Logged | 3 post reply

"The Best of Both Worlds", Part 2.


This one suffers only because of the incredible buildup and cliffhanger provided by Part 1. It really works best in the context of a complete, two-hour story, rather than as a single episode. And, in the best serial cliffhanger tradition, said cliffhanger is easily resolved in the first minute of the episode: the Enterprise-D's deflector blast is totally ineffective, since the Borg possess all of Picard's knowledge.

I've neglected to mention the four-foot model of the Enterprise-D, introduced last season as a smaller and more maneuverable alternative to the six-foot model built for the pilot. It's a little wonky and less impressive than the big model, but there are some good shots of it, in this episode. The episode's visual effects are really outstanding, for their era.

It's certainly interesting to wonder about the alternate universe where the status quo was not restored by the end of the episode. If TNG were made in today's world, Captain Riker probably would have stuck around, and Picard would have been either lost to the Borg for good, or killed when their ship exploded. 

While it may seem like a bit of a cop-out to have everything go back to normal, there IS a difference to be found. A deepening of Picard and Riker's characters, and their relationship. The single best moment in the episode is the last one. All is seemingly back to normal, but Picard hesitates that telltale beat as he's about to drink his tea, and walks over to look out the ready room's window. For all intents and purposes, he was essentially raped by the Borg, and its a sign of the evolution of dramatic TV that the producers of TNG knew that they couldn't just let that slide. Hence, we got the very next episode, which specifically existed to deal with the fallout. 

That's what makes the ending work, I think. If everything went back to normal, and the next episode picked up as if nothing had happened, then the show would have struck a very sour and false note, and people who'd waited all summer to see the resolution of the two-parter would probably have felt ripped off, if the story had no lasting consequences for the characters. After all, the great strength of TNG had proven to be its characters, by this point.

And, of course, DS9's pilot episode and FIRST CONTACT ended up being built around the events of this two-parter, and so it became a vital touchtone for the entire Berman-era of TREK.
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Greg Kirkman
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Posted: 09 December 2017 at 1:47am | IP Logged | 4 post reply

"Family".


A very unusual episode, in that it has no sci-fi plot, and no starship action. It's essentially an epilogue to "The Best of Both Worlds", and it serves the express purpose of showing Picard recover from his ordeal. As noted, this was deemed necessary, since the production staff felt that having a business-as-usual episode after the two-parter would have felt unrealistic, considering everything that had just happened to the characters.

So, this episode stands as a sort of middleground between how TV used to be--episodic--and how it is now--serialized. It's also a really good, low-key episode, and serves to show just how humanized Picard has become, by this point. He's completely different from the stern old man we met in the pilot, three seasons prior. And, his breakdown in the mud is one of Stewart's finest acting moments in the series.

The storyline with Worf's adopted parents is also fun, and I can't help but wonder if Ron Moore (who wrote this one, and knocked it out of the park) established them as being Russian as a nod to the Klingons being stand-ins for the Soviets, back during TOS.

Wesley's mini-story with his late father is nice, too, although it feels a little underdeveloped, given its minimal screentime.
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Greg Kirkman
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Posted: 11 December 2017 at 12:28am | IP Logged | 5 post reply

"Brothers".


A great and very memorable episode (written by Rick Berman), mainly due to Brent Spiner's trio of wonderful performances as Data, Lore, and Dr. Soong. The first third moved along at a rapid and tense pace, as Data goes rogue, and proves the inherent danger of having him in a position of authority aboard a starship. I mean, c'mon--he's pretty much a friggin' Terminator, what with his super-strength and ability to mimic voices. Anyway, the opening is very exciting and well-done.

Revealing and Dr. Soong and Lore to both be alive was a very clever move. Mid-to-late TNG had a knack for taking story elements from the much-maligned first two seasons, dusting them off, and doing interesting things with them. Lore was too good of a character to be disposed of after one ho-hum, "evil twin" episode. And, our never getting to see Dr. Soong also felt like a missed opportunity. 

This episode greatly broadens the depth backstory for Data by providing him with a strange and unexpected family reunion. All of this gives TNG a stronger sense of continuity and growth than TOS ever had. And, as I've previously noted, TNG really does sit smack in the middle of the gradual transition of dramatic TV from done-in-ones to full-blown serialization.

The subplot with the Potts boys feels a bit on-the-nose and forced, in terms of being a parallel for the main story, although it does provide the necessary "ticking clock" element to keep the story tense throughout.


The main draw, through, is Brent Spiner and his three roles. It's remarkable how well it all works. A good chunk of the episode literally comes down to two (then three) Spiners talking to each other, and it's great stuff. It's not a stretch to say that Spindee is the second-best actor in TNG's main cast, and it's great to see him strut his stuff with emotionless Data, eccentric Soong, and duplicitous Lore.
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Rob Ocelot
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Joined: 07 December 2008
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Posted: 11 December 2017 at 2:36am | IP Logged | 6 post reply

I would pay Brent his full fee + a food allowance to see that untold episode of Lore's rescue by Pakleds.

It just aches to be told!
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Greg Kirkman
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Joined: 12 May 2006
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Posts: 14369
Posted: 12 December 2017 at 1:29am | IP Logged | 7 post reply

"Suddenly Human".


A thoughtful and sensitive episode, the first (co-)written by Jeri Taylor. This one's basically "Charlie X" combined with questions of Stockholm Syndrome and culture clash. It puts Picard into an uncomfortable position, since he still doesn't get along with kids. We learn that this pretty much boils down to the fact that he sacrificed his childhood and childhood friendships because of his drive to join Starfleet.

The episode turns into a child-custody case between opposing cultures, with the result being that the child is best-served by staying in the environment he was raised in. It's not exactly a downer ending, and it provides an interesting take on the hubris of people who think they know what's best for a child they don't really know, which is probably an underlying truth in many child-custody cases.
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Greg Kirkman
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Joined: 12 May 2006
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Posted: 13 December 2017 at 1:08am | IP Logged | 8 post reply

"Remember Me".


A fun mystery story that feels very TWLIGHT ZONE-ish, with Dr. Crusher freaking out more and more as people disappear around her. This one is a nice showcase for Gates McFadden, and features the welcome return of Eric Menyuk as the Traveler (from "Where No One Has Gone Before"). Bringing him back is a nice bit of continuity, especially since he wasn't in the script. The sci-fi plot of disappearing crewmen was originally developed for "Family", then expanded into its own episode, with the Traveler brought in the resolve it.

It's a simple episode, but an effective one. It moves by very quickly, despite being essentially a talky bottle show.
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Greg Kirkman
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Joined: 12 May 2006
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Posts: 14369
Posted: 14 December 2017 at 12:13am | IP Logged | 9 post reply

"Legacy".


This being the 80th episode of TNG, there's a mention of Camus II during the opening, as a reference to the 79th and final episode of TOS, "Turnabout Intruder". It's a nice way for TNG to acknowledge moving past the number of episodes produced by its parent series.

Anyway, I really like this one a lot. As has been the pattern with the third and fourth seasons, we again look back to an unexplored element from the first season--namely, Turkana IV, the failed colony that Tasha Yar escaped from. This sort of continuity-mining is happening more and more often, and shows TNG subtly moving away from the usual episodic format to more of an ongoing continuity. Episodes like this also give that rocky first season an importance and weight it might not otherwise have.

I find myself wondering why the Federation never intervened to stop the violence at the colony. Yes, it's said that the colony severed ties with the Federation, but this isn't a Prime Directive scenario. It's also still a colony of human beings, not aliens with a radically different culture and laws.

The engine of this episode, of course, is the crew still being haunted by the death of Tasha, and their desire to see a part of her live on through her sister being exploited. Data serves as the viewpoint character for this storyline, but, due to his android nature, there's an interesting twist. This is essentially a story about a man meeting the sister of his dead lover, and developing confusing feelings for her. Except...Data is an emotionless android, with a childlike view of everything, and so Ishara's betrayal actually seems almost crueler because of it. It's like she's taking advantage of a naive child, instead of a grown adult who is vulnerable from the loss of a lover.

Indeed, there's been an ongoing discussion in the MISSION LOG Podcast as to whether or not Data actually has emotions, but simply doesn't realize it. I think any number of episodes--including this one--lend credence to that idea. Roddenberry's concept for Data was that he was a metaphor for the human condition: he's forever striving to become human, which is an impossible goal, but it's the journey and what he learns from it that matters. Well, the flipside is that Data may very well have emotions, but doesn't know it, and so he's constantly looking for something he already has. The whole "there's no place like home" thing. Maybe he's been more human than he thinks all along.
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