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Wed, Mar 1, 2017, 7:14am (UTC -6)
Re: TNG S7: Lower Decks

I love this one. Love it, love it. And, let my say again, I really enjoy Jammer's reviews and all the comments. Especially Greg's take, which didn't occur to me. It's brilliant and dramatic and deeply cynical and yet undeniable: under the shine of Starfleet and the bright optimism of 'seeking out new life', there's a pervasive dark underbelly, as in all militaries, that everyone draws a polite doily over.

A few other thoughts:

-- I liked Ben and preferred him to Guinan here, as he fits in well with the younger set. It's illuminating to see an example of the civilian infrastructure on the starship. Ben's everyone's friend and doesn't take orders or call anyone 'sir'. Yet he's agreed to a dangerous gig: he rides along and he'll die with the rest if the ship blows up. It's interesting. It did leave me wondering how many civilians serve on board. Don't forget, they've got the best barber in Starfleet!

-- To JadziaDaxMD: My understanding is that Beverly is Ogawa's boss not because a doctor should be a nurse's boss, but because Beverly is the head of the medical department, the same way a pathologist is head of a clinical lab. In a bigger medical department I suppose Ogawa would have reported to a director of nursing - but on the ship, with only one doctor and a thousand or so healthy people to care for and brilliant machines that do most of the work, I would guess the whole medical department aside from Crusher consists of fifteen or so medical support staff like Ogawa. So Crusher is the de facto boss of them all.

It certainly would have been nice if Ogawa were shown to have her own expertise, which would explain why she got the plum job on the Enterprise. (Like, she's done research in trauma care or specialized in diseases of non-human humanoids). That would also establish her cred as equal-but-different, which I agree is the right relationship between nurses and doctors.
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Wed, Mar 1, 2017, 5:11am (UTC -6)
Re: TNG S6: The Quality of Life

Rosario took the words out of my mouth (years ago): best thing about this episode is Jammer's review of it. I am in awe of the reviewer's scalpel.

It would have been far more credible if the deus ex machina ending had not been tacked on. Picard and Geordi should have been allowed to die by Data's hand. That was the logical and expected outcome of his decision but the episode was too chickenshit to follow through,

I don't mean that I want to see the main characters die - obviously, as an engaged viewer I love me my Picard. Even the poorly-characterized Blind Engineer Guy has wedged himself Into my heart. But the final plot-cheat by which Data's choice has zero consequences and all's well that end's well, sinks this ep for me.

The most interesting part of the episode is the thing Jammer points out: to humans , both within TNG and in the meta-world of TV watchers, Picard and Geordie simply matter emotionally a whole lot more than some little robot-beasts. To Data, who does not assign emotional weight to any sentient lives, ethics is stripped to its bare and clean essentials: Picard's life is no more important than a single Exocomp's, and to force an Exocomp to die for Picard is as ethically incorrect as enslaving Picard and forcing him to die rescuing an Exocomp.

Can you imagine the follow-up scenes after Picard and Geordie died? Everyone in the crew, all those emotion-driven humans, would look on Data with horror. All this time they (and we) thought he was "just like the rest of us" . They even fought to save his life in "Measure of a Man". And in return his wiring is such that he repays them in this fashion. Suddenly "just Data being Data" would be exposed in a new light. He really *doesnt* have feelings toward the rest of us. And that makes him supremely virtuous and committed to Starfleet's ideals... And it makes us loathe him.

Data has incorruptible ethics and honor without emotions, and all we humans have corruptible ethics and questionable honor *because* of our emotions..

I suspect the final ending of that plot would have been: Picard and Geordie are buried, the whole (emotion-driven) crew ostracizes and despises Data as a murderer, and the (emotion-driven) human leaders of Starfleet court-martial him as a traitor and condemn him to serve life (i.e., eternity) in the stockade

Poor Data, bewildered by human emotionality, would slowly rust behind bars while forever (rightly) protesting his innocence, but would be incapable of sorrow or rage. Meanwhile we and the Enterprise crew would be traumatized by grief, rage, and guilt until we die.

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Thu, Feb 23, 2017, 6:55pm (UTC -6)
Re: TNG S5: A Matter of Time

Jason, now you've got me trying to re-imagine a Troi that's empathic but interesting.

All I can come up with is someone like the male guest star in "The Price" - a hard-edged character who enjoys her powers and doesn't pussyfoot about their importance. Empathic skills make her a good counselor for troubled crew members - but when the Enterprise goes up against outsiders in games of brinksmanship or diplomacy, she is devious and brilliant and Picard relies on her.

She might have been fun as a slightly manipulative character. Not evil, exactly, but not above using her natural-born assets - all of them - to get what she wants.

The mistake was in making her one hundred percent saccharine and an unrelenting collection of sweetly feminine stereotypes: not just easy on the eyes, but all about the feeeelings and otherwise a blank slate with no interests but chocolate and love affairs. (Her only tempering trait is the childish petulance she shows with her mother... another sadly trite 'quirk' that does nothing for the character and speaks poorly of the writers.)
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Thu, Feb 23, 2017, 3:57pm (UTC -6)
Re: TNG S5: A Matter of Time

Another fun Troi game is to count up how many episodes she's enjoyable as a character. "Hollow Pursuits" is the only one that comes to mind.

And then subtract a half-point for every episode in which her only contributions are stupid-obvious: "I feel pain!" "I sense dishonesty," "Commander Riker's memories are now erotic" , etc.

Subtract a full point for every episode in which she stars as an annoying emoto-chick: this includes at least three boyfriend-centered episodes and the "I lost my powers, woe is me" episode and the Ferengi kidnapping episode. And didn't she also get violated by the mind-rapist alien?

Minus ten points for teaching us how to massage, tongue, and caress a bowl of chocolate ice cream in "The Game".

What's hilarious is that the only times Troi is bearable is when she's possessed by an alien or forced to pretend she is one. If she had any insight into her own wasted life (and if she had the requisite courage), she should have moved to Romulus permanently as a Tal Shiar mole. It would have helped her grow as a person.
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Sat, Feb 18, 2017, 4:09pm (UTC -6)
Re: TNG S2: Pen Pals

I am shocked.

Shocked by the teaser, in which Deanna Troi was allowed to have a. friendly conversation with a colleague, like a normal person deserving of one minute of character development. The conversation was unique in that it didn't involve the engrossing topic of boyfriends (unlike The Price, the Icurus Factir, the Scottish Ghostie).!!

Okay, we didn't actually learn anything new about her, but it was a refreshing treat. (Except that it made the generally crappy portrayal of the Troi character stand out in sharper relief. )

I do not think Troi got another normal conversation during the entire run of the show.... The possible exceptions being when she was a Romulan or possessed by an alien.
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Sat, Feb 18, 2017, 5:16am (UTC -6)
Re: TNG S2: The Icarus Factor

Nice ideas, mangled. This is a character-themed episode I should have loved, had the execution been less lazy.

Riker senior v junior: Argh, so much potential for exploration of Will's background and character. The Pulaski/dad angle (Pulaski showing Will another POV) was smart and added a lot. But the dad/son relationship was utterly jumbled.

At various points we are told conflicting things. Dad was selfish and not interested in raising a kid ("I hung in there for thirteen years; if that wasn't t enough for you, too bad!") but conversely he was controlling (""wouldn't let me catch my own fish"), We see that he is proud of Will's rising career (he has come here to bury the hatchet, and early scenes show his warm attempts to do just that), but Troi alleges that he is secretlly over-competitive with Will (there is no evidence of this, or of her assertion that he has a reputation for false humility, or of Will's comment about his egotism.) The writers are just throwing random character traits against a wall, like a splatter painting.

(It doesn't help that Icarus was actually a young excitable hothead who died because he didn't listen to his cautious and wise and loving father. Riker junior actually flies low and close to home instead of soaring off to the Ares, so there's nothing Icarus about him at all. Maybe the writers meant to call it "The Oedipus Factor"? In which case Will should have flirted with Pulaski a bit.)

Worf vs himself: The Worf stuff was also a good idea wrecked by poor execution. For me, it failed because the ritual was not what it was described as. One of the humans explains that Worf is supposed to confess his deepest feelings while under duress from the pain sticks. But what Worf actually says in the gauntlet is "The best thing in life is to crush your enemies, see them driven before you, and hear the wailing of their women!!"

These are not his deepest feelings, though they may have been Conan's. It's his superficial jingoistic me-so-Klingon BS. His deepest feelings are isolation, loneliness, longing to be the perfect warrior, fearing that his choice of a career in Starfleet makes him weak or un-Klingonlike. Or possibly his deepest feelings are his embarrassing love for his adoptive parents and his human friends on the Enterprise.

General impression: the germs of good ideas were there, but the characterization was murky and contradictory. Result: an interesting mess that could have been as good as "Family." But in no way was.
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Thu, Feb 16, 2017, 9:58pm (UTC -6)
Re: TNG S2: The Measure of a Man

I enjoyed the episode for what it was: a solid conflict, dramatic scenes building to a satisfying climax, sharp dialogue (I especially like "And now - a man will turn it off.") , a strong guest star, a warm portrayal of shipboard camaraderie.

But I remain unconvinced by the arguments made by both "lawyers".

Riker's approach is especially troubling. It seems to me that he is presenting not a rational argument but an appeal to emotion - and the emotion he is going for is "Eww! Data looks human but his body does weird stuff! ."

It is uncomfortable to realize that Riker could have put on the same show with, say, a quadriplegic on a ventilator; "Watch me stab her hand with a fork while she feels nothing. Watch me turn off her ventilator: she doesn't even try to breathe. Watch me push her out of her wheelchair and onto the floor - see how unnatural she looks as she topples." He could trot out any circus geek - say, England's congenitally deformed "Elephant Man" - and make roughly the same argument and draw the same gasps of amazement.

This approach is especially odd as Starfleet recognizes the sentience of many alien beings (some of whom may have super-strength, or removable body parts, shape shifting abilitie and other freakish attribites.).

Picard's arguments are less disturbing but also seem to involve plenty of pulling on heartstrings,. "He's got medals just like a human. He even had sex once! ". These tidbits tickle our sense of recognition (rather like the "smile" on a dolphin)) and maybe make the judge more inclined to anthropomorphize Data's android ass. But they don't actually prove anything.

To the extent that trials are about manipulating the opinion of the jury' (or judge in this case) by means fair or foul, they both Picard and Riker did very well. But their off-topic antics blew so much smoke over the proceedings that the question of Data's sentience was somewhat obscured by theatrics.

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Wed, Feb 15, 2017, 9:51pm (UTC -6)
Re: TNG S3: Transfigurations

I remembered this one fondly from my first viewing years ago. I originally enjoyed the mystery of John's identity and the quiet romance and the glowy ending. And Worf's death.

This time around, knowing where it was going, it was likable but bland. It's still one of the only tolerable Beverly-themed episodes... Probably because she spends only forty-five percent of the epiaode acting intensely concerned about stuff. Usually she only quits being intensely concerned when someone turns her into a dog.

I didn't notice any issues with the costuming until after I watched it and came here to the comments. Then, on Grumpy Otter's recommendation, I rewound twice.
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Wed, Feb 15, 2017, 7:29pm (UTC -6)
Re: TNG S3: Menage a Troi

I hated this episode less this time around than I did twenty years ago. But only slightly less.

Lwaxana actually shows redeeming traits: she cuts down the Ferengi would-be lover in an early scene (winning Worf's approval and mine); she is later fairly composed, brave, and self-sacrificing during the kidnapping.

If only the writers had ditched the lame comedy for something more profound: a plot about a silly and apparently useless woman who reveals surprising facets under fire. For that plot, thought, she would need a more worthy adversary. And no degrading dumb sex.

I was all set to give it a grudging two stars until the embarrassing final scene of Picard hamming it up like an idiot. I would rather watch Shades of Grey twice back to back with my eyelids taped open. Hands down. The worst 90 seconds of TNG thus far.
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Tue, Feb 14, 2017, 2:44pm (UTC -6)
Re: VOY S1: Learning Curve


Heartily agree! Do you think the "cheese" reference was a wink from the writers: "we are cheesy and we embrace it" ?? That would be fun!

I would score it a little higher but that's just because I have a weak spot for Rocky and "Officer and a Gentleman".

On a non trek topic: your English is terrific, idioms and all, and just imperfect enough to be charming. May I ask: what's your first language?
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Mon, Feb 13, 2017, 11:43pm (UTC -6)
Re: TNG S3: The Most Toys

I admire the episode but I could only love the first eighty percent of it. Fajo's villainy and petulance, and Data's implacable explanations of why he is not enjoying captivity and what he plans to do about it, are fun and brilliant. However, the final scenes drive me crazy.

I am unable to figure out Data's motivation for firing the disruptor, dodging Riker's implied question, visiting Fajo in the brig, and saying at the episode's close, "I am only an android." Usually when a character is left open to interpretation, I can come to my own conclusions. With Data, I just can't. There are no clues to why he does what he does. Maybe that's the genius of the episode - but for me it's just maddening and unsatisfying.

Partly I'm maddened because it's obvious what emotions Data *should* be feeling and isn't. His use of the disruptor should be accompanied by vengefulness and rage. His visit to the jailed Fajo should include gloating. His closing words, "I am only an android," should be either an ironic and triumphant mockery of Fajo's earlier taunts, or an expression of wistful Pinocchio-like sorrow. But he presents only a poker face no matter how emotional his situation.

My irritation with the episode's closing scenes offers a glimpse, maybe, of the difficulties people must have in being around Data. This goes largely unexamined on TNG. What did Lal feel when she realized as she lay dying that the father she loved felt absolutely nothing for her? What did Data's girlfriend feel in 'In Theory' when she wanted/hoped for affection and love from a man who remained aloof? Both "The Offspring" and "In Theory" skirt those questions because they present Data as the central character of interest, the one with whom we are called to sympathize. (In 'The Offspring' Lal cries because she loves her father and is dying - not because she's heartbroken that he doesn't love her back. And in 'In Theory', we see though Data's eyes, and whatever pain or sadness the girlfriend feels at Data's aloofness is two steps removed from our experience as audience.)

What TNG shows us throughout its run is the affection the crew has for Data: ("For a man with no emotions, he sure did inspire them in others.") But in real life... wouldn't it be alienating and even infuriating to see a person remain coolly emotionless no matter the circumstance?
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Mon, Feb 13, 2017, 10:57pm (UTC -6)
Re: TNG S3: Sins of the Father

Although I loved the episode, I was sad and disappointed to see the inner workings of the High Council. I had seen Klingons always through Worf's eyes and, like him, had loved and believed in the idealized version of 'what it means to be Klingon': I had thought that fierce honor and honesty and courage were the hallmarks of the species. I had imagined that no Klingon warrior would lower himself to dishonest human-style political games. It was disillusioning to see the greatest warriors of the Empire are shown to be as devious and dishonorable as... as we are.

The episode poses the question: is it possible to run any government without allegiances between the K'mpecs and Durases who prop each other up in the name of stability? Does a solid lasting government depend in part on hiding the occasional scandal from public eyes, maintaining order via backroom deals, and sacrificing a few innocents along the way?

I am afraid there's an underlying truth that one cannot have government without having politicians. Not even on Qonos.
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Mon, Feb 13, 2017, 3:49pm (UTC -6)
Re: TNG S3: Sins of the Father

I have many thoughts about this one.

First: my main plot complaint. The servant Kah-lest was - along with Worf - the lone survivor of Khitomer. It was sensible for Picard to look her up. But honestly, what would a servant be likely to know about her master's secret doings? If Worf's father were a traitor, presumably he would have been smart enough to contact the Romulans in private, well out of view of his random servants. He would have been smart enough to mislead his household with false clues: "Oh I suspect that someone around here - NOT ME! - is a Romulan spy!" The Mogh nanny would hardly be in a position to prove or disprove her master's surreptitious activities.

The servant's testimony is therefore extremely thin and screams "Plot device! Poorly thought out plot device!" (Another plot device: she knows Picard is the Cha-dich the instant he shows up. How did she know such a thing? I hardly think Council business appears on Klingon CNN.)

I try hard to forgive this thin-stretched stuff but only because I like the episode so much that I want it to succeed... And because the elderly servant's knife-throwing heroism and Picard's subsequent, "My appreciation, Madam" are oh so cool.

American nannies sometimes take first aid and CPR classes to augment their resumes. One wonders if knife-throwing expertise is similarly de rigeur for Klingon servants.
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Sun, Feb 12, 2017, 7:59pm (UTC -6)
Re: TNG S4: Galaxy's Child

I haven't seen this episode since I was in my early twenties. Though there's a lot in TNG (especially the first two seasons) that infuriates my feminist soul, the Geordi/Leah stuff didn't bother me at that time. (Maybe it would now.) It seemed reasonable to me that he would have high hopes about her and imagine the two of them hitting it off at a romantic dinner. It was reasonable of Leah to interpret his behavior as creepy - especially the holo-Leah - but we know his inner life so we know he *wasn't* creepy. Just awkward and a doofus.

I was - and still am - thrown by how hostile Leah was when she came aboard. "So you're the one who's been fouling up my engine designs." Why did she say that? Surely she understands that the designs are put to real-world use and are patched up on the fly by engineers.
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Sun, Feb 12, 2017, 2:35pm (UTC -6)
Re: TNG S3: Allegiance

Someone needs to tell me why one of the imprisoned aliens was wearing on his head a scale model of the Sidney Opera House.

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Sun, Feb 12, 2017, 12:46pm (UTC -6)
Re: TNG S5: Ensign Ro

I'm disheartened by some of the commentary above and heartened by other commentary. "Ro equals badass chick equals stock character" hold up only if one views all non-demure females as identical.

To move it to the male sphere: According to Nick P, the mercenary Jayne from 'Firefly' (for those who sadly missed the show: he's male; he beds hookers and names his fave gun 'Vera' and doesn't have an honorable bone in his body) and the Klingon Worf are the identical 'stock badass male character'. Oh gosh, how can TV audiences be presented with these two identical characters? What a cliche!

In reality, Worf and Jayne (yay Jayne!) are a million miles apart. They both serve as muscle on a starship. Aside from that you'll be hard pressed to find similarities.

Comparably: Ro and the other 'stock female bad-asses' that Nick P seems to object to (let me guess: River Tam and Buffy and the Terminator 2 female lead and Kira Nerys and Ellen Ripley in "Aliens" - gee that's five! - are all vastly different from each other. Reducing them down to "they aren't demure, therefore they are all the same stock character" is Nick P's problem.

As for "I've never met a woman like that" -- well, you've probably never met a guy as urbane and commanding and Renaissance as Picard or as physically heroic as Jack Bauer. Part of what TV does is reflect back at us our idealized wishes for the dramatic, exciting, way-cooler selves we could be, and the much more thrilling lives we could be living.

Ro Laren is me, if my common earthwoman problems (taking the fall for a mistake my boss made; being hated and gossiped about at certain points in my life, preferring athletics and toughness to knitting and Barbies, having trouble with authority, having a somewhat crappy upbringing, having a chip on my shoulder) were transposed into a much more glamorous and universe-shaking context.
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Sat, Feb 11, 2017, 4:00pm (UTC -6)
Re: TNG S5: Ensign Ro

I took Guinan to be some kind of semi-magical 'She Who Sees Through Deceptions' character. It's never occurred to me to be bothered by it because it's decently explained by her being from a mysterious alien tribe.

Maybe because she has a fairly loose relationship with linear time ("Yesterday's Enterprise" and "Time's Arrow") she has a feel for the fact that what is seen and known and viewed as 'true' today, will be revealed in a different light tomorrow. And this lets her psychologize her way into the hearts and minds of people like Ro and Picard in the midst of their crises.

(Though interestingly, in Ensign Ro she says it was she who once turned to Picard for help. I've never been able to come with even a theory as to what those circumstances might have been. Maybe she was a homeless beggar and he rescued her by offering her a job in his ship's bar? Best not to think about it too much, I think.)

Now that you bring it up, it is a trifle convenient to create a character with mystical intuition who can then be called upon to propel plots in whatever direction the script demands.
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Sat, Feb 11, 2017, 1:53pm (UTC -6)
Re: TNG S5: Ensign Ro

BTW I have always imagined that there was a lot more to the story of the doomed away-team mission that landed Ro in prison.

Maybe her commanding officer gave an unclear order, then after the tragedy he put all the blame on her. It would have been her nature to take responsibility rather than trying to make excuses or point the finger back at him. Plus she would have had no one in her corner: she's simply the kind of person who always gets crucified in the court of public opinion because she's an unpopular loner.

Or: the away team was under orders to do covert reconnaissance on a hostile planet and not engage the enemy, but when a sudden threat arose, Ro's instinct was to react fast with a daring move intended to protect everyone. It went terribly wrong.

I like to think she would have drawn a lighter sentence and be viewed more charitably if she *had* been willing to defend herself. But she was too upright and noble to offer excuses or plead for leniency. So rumors flew and, people being people (even in the 24th century and even in Starfleet), everyone eagerly believed the worst of her and gossipped with delight.
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Sat, Feb 11, 2017, 11:17am (UTC -6)
Re: TNG S5: Ensign Ro

Jason R.

Yes, as far as I can tell the backstory of the Bajorans was changed when DS9 went into production. In 'Ensign Ro' they are stateless people, impoverished and exiled from their homeland and scattered in refugee camps - I took them to be something like the Jews of the diaspora. I think the DS9 writers realized that if they were going to have a space station orbiting Bajor, and conflict between Bajorans and Cardassians, it would be a much richer set-up to imagine Bajorans on Bajor suffering occupation and cruelty, being freedom fighters like Kira, etc.

I agree that the admiral's motivation is badly written. The Gul is also too talky. I used to have the episode on VHS and I always FF'd through their scenes.

As for Guinan getting under Ro's skin so easily: I was fine with it. I saw Ro as having a shell of defensive hostility because of her past and because she knew everyone in Starfleet despised her... but under that shell, she was pretty desperate to give her own side of the story and explain that she wasn't the treacherous villain everyone took her for. Her motives were honorable.

(Her honorable soul is shown in the exchange with Guinan: "They say you didn't defend yourself at your court martial.".... "What was to defend? I didn't follow orders. Eight people died." We don't know if she was even fully culpable for the disaster; we do that she blamed herself and fell on her sword.)

Guinan was outside of Starfleet; she showed a deep interest in Ro and touched her by seeing through her crap ("If you'd wanted to be alone, you would have stayed in your quarters"). Most of all, she made it clear she believed Ro was a decent person. With everyone else on the ship despising her and believing the worst of her when she was just trying to do the right thing, Ro reached out to Guinan like a drowning woman clutching a life preserver.
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Fri, Feb 10, 2017, 10:35am (UTC -6)
Re: TNG S6: True Q

They played it cute, when they coulda played it sharp.

When I read the review and the comments, as always, I find them all so bright and insightful that I agree with every one of them. (It's the same in every episode review. Damn, Jammer and this show attract smart people.)

But in the end I'm most with Mike. The word I'd use to describe Amanda is "generic". Or "nice." And I guess I get it: the writers were going for a story about an ordinary teen suddenly gifted - or cursed - with extraordinary powers. But an ordinary teen should still be portrayed as a unique individual. (TV examples: 'Buffy the Vampire Slayer', 'My So-Called Life,' 'Firefly,' off the top of my head.)

She's generic, and the situations she's put in are all yawners: She saves Riker from a falling barrel; she quickens a dull lab experiment; she wants a starlit date with the hunky first officer. The final test is "Can she resist the urge to be altruistic and noble?" Blech. It's bland. It's sweet. If it's meant to explore humanity's limits and human temptations, it does a poor job. "Oh dear, I am just so damn altruistic, I can't let a whole planet die! I will now abuse my omnipotence because I can't help saving folks." Right: the big danger with an omnipotent human is that she might screw up the universe with random acts of kindness.

I know that we're supposed to be evolved past pettiness and bad behavior in Roddenberry's vision, but since the TNG characters so obviously aren't, I would have voted for a more realistic examination of what happens when a human - a teen human at that - can suddenly get everything she wants.

I'd have liked her to have a recognizable personality as, say, an ambitious junior Shelby or a big-dreaming inventor or artist who creates problems by changing the world to suit her ideas and wants. I would have freaking loved to see a less family-friendly 'date' with Riker, in which he returns to consciousness to find his shirt off and his body being creepily used in ways he didn't consent to - resulting in him torn between beating the crap out of her or pressing assault charges or trying to make her see that people aren't suddenly her playthings.

(Well, okay, they now ARE her playthings - that's the problem. Can Riker convince her that his rights should be respected over her desires, when she's ascending to godhood and he's still just a paltry mortal?)

I would have liked to see a growing sense of threat; the Enterprise crew getting scared to death of the newborn monster in their midst. She's far more dangerous than Q. Q is distantly curious about humans and wants them to amuse him a bit, so he pokes at them when he's bored. Amanda, a brilliant orphan with the full palette of normal drives and desires, surely wants humans to provide her with a whole lot more than that.
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Thu, Feb 9, 2017, 7:56pm (UTC -6)
Re: TNG S2: The Schizoid Man

The plot was predictable but enjoyable -- a solid base hit for the second season.

Data's eulogy of ... well, of himself.... was possibly the most hilarious moment in all TNG. Sometimes when I'm alone, I grin uncontrollably just thinking about it. Sometimes when I'm not alone, I make the mistake of thinking about it and I grin uncontrollably again. Then people ask me what the hell I'm thinking about. And I'm kind of at a loss for how to explain it.
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Thu, Feb 9, 2017, 6:36pm (UTC -6)
Re: TNG S2: Manhunt

And Peremensoe: the Odo scene in the elevator on Ds9 was great. Actually, it was the moment that made me wish Lwaxana had been more of a person and less of a caricature from the beginning. Even zany aunts and dancing clowns take off their wigs sometimes - and more importantly, even when they're wearing their wigs and cavorting around, they've got reasons for it. They have to still be people underneath the wacky makeup.
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Thu, Feb 9, 2017, 6:27pm (UTC -6)
Re: TNG S2: Manhunt

Thanks for the responses... and, I will say, especially Peter G.

"Majel Barrett having a good time on the set" makes sense. Maybe it's a character largely designed by her and intended to showcase the actor's own personality and sense of humor and acting strengths. In the meta-universe, if I pull myself out of TNG's own world and just watch like a woman on the sofa looking for entertainment, I can be fine with that. If the actor had fun being Lwaxana, and the other actors had fun playing off her, then okay. Good for them.

The role of taking the piss out of the Federation and their smug perfection was a really important one - beautifully played by Q, and also by the outsiders Ro and Barclay and the "Lower Decks" set and the occasional alien race ("The High Ground", maybe?) through whose eyes we see the regulars as a bit more questionable and tarnished than the Official Narrative presents them. You make me want to watch the next Lwaxana episode with a more open mind to see if she's part of the same lineage.

As to her telepathic abilities and their misuse... I've never thought about that. She was so goofy that it was never completely clear to me whether her mind-readings were accurate or invented, and whether she reported them accurately or otherwise. I kind of settled on the idea that she could vaguely sense strong thoughts but that her own big personality trumped accuracy in reporting. Thus, she sensed Picard responding to her sexually in sort of a normal-man way - "Mmm, nice curves in that dress" - and could also read his follow-up thought of "Oh God, but this bloody woman is as annoying as ever!" And then she always chose to somewhat vengefully embarrass him by announcing to everyone present the first thought, but not the second.

So basically: broad comedy, and actors having fun, and I'd do best to check my brain at the opening credits and go with the flow... That helps, actually.

And, all the yesses to the shout-out to Babylon Five! Where telepaths were a serious matter and a force to be reckoned with. (Until season five, when that Byron guy showed up and combed his mane and made annoying speeches.)
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Thu, Feb 9, 2017, 3:11pm (UTC -6)
Re: TNG S3: The High Ground

Lots of odd comments about Israel/Palestine. I shouldn't dip my toe in this acid pool, but.... aw hell, I'm gonna.

First, as to the Palestinians being rooted out of their 'homeland'. It wasn't exactly their homeland, any more than, say, Chicago can be said to be the homeland of Chicagoans. It was a stretch of land administered by the Brits, and "Palestinians" weren't a discrete ethnic denomination; they were simply the Arabs who owned homes and land on that stretch of territory. Certainly it meant as much to them as your home, neighborhood, region, and olive grove does to you, but it wasn't 'their homeland' in the way that say, Armenia is the homeland of Armenians or Kurdistan is the homeland of the Kurds or Japan is the homeland of the Japanese.

The Arab people started off in Arabia (now Saudi Arabia) and spread themselves by military conquest over the next five centuries. That's why they lived in 'palestine' and that's why they possess 99 percent of the Middle East and North Africa: They moved in and took over all that rich land because, while the humble Jews were studying Torah and counting coins and generally minding their own business, the Arabs were out with their horses and scimitars killing for their beautiful Allah. (Damn, if only the Jews had been out killing for Yahweh, they'd be widespread and have thirty or forty countries too. What a shame they weren't into that kind of thing. To the killers and conquistadors go all the spoils.)

So you could say the whole of the middle east (ie, all the lands conquered by Mohammed's Arabs) is the homeland of hte Palestinian Arabs, . Or you could stretch a point and say that Arabia proper (their land of origin circa the seventh century) is their homeland. But you really can't draw a circle around the particular Arabs who happened to be living on the British mandate in 1948 and say, "They lost their homeland," any more than you can say that American blacks "lost their homeland" when they migrated from the violently racist south to the somewhat friendlier north to escape lynchings. They lost their homes, yes. Not their homeland. All America is their homeland. They may rightly be embittered that violent racism forced them out of Georgia or Mississippi, but that's a bit different.

Next point: The main reason the locals were displaced in the naqba is that they were losing a war that THEIR OWN SIDE started. Originally they were offered land of their own, to administer on their own - something they'd never had before, something that would have been a huge step toward self-determination for them. They said no. Or rather, their cousin Arabs in the surrounding countries, standing pat on their own land, said no on their behalf. "No, we don't want our cousin Arabs to have a country of their own where British land once was. Not if it means we'll be legitimizing the claim of dirty Jews to a piece of land next door."

(Side note about Arab anti-semitism predating the formation of Israel. Mohammed, after making nice wiht the Jews, later came to blows with them, defeated and exiled them, and told his followers that they had tried to assassinate him much as they had assassinated Isa (Jesus, a prophet of Islam. In the British Mandate, Jews were emigrating to live alongside their Arab neighbors for a while before WW2. Once they moved in, it was just as much "their land" as it was the Palestinian Arab's land. (Just like your immigrant neighbor gets to call America "her land" after she leaves her previous land to make a new life here. ) The Palestinians responded to their new Jewish neighbors with hostility. This reached its nadir in a vicious massacre that featured rape, scalping, burnings, and the mass murder of Jewish schoolchildren. This occurred during a several-day riot that took place - I think in 1932 - in multiple cities at the same time. The attacks in the various cities were coordinated, so it wasn't just a few thugs in one place with a grudge against Jews. Anti-semitism was in fact so entrenched among the local Arabs that in WW2 the Palestinian religious leader backed Hitler. I give these historical facts as background to what happened next.)

What happened next was that the surrounding Arab countries forbad their stateless Palestinian neighbors from saying yes to a country of their own. The Jews said yes, however. So Israel was created while the local Arabs stood around, looking to their powerful Arab neighbors for help. The help they got, was that their powerful Arab neighbors decided to solve the problem by declaring war on the Jews of Israel - Jews who had just limped into the region, fresh from their holocaust experience, and would presumably be easy to massacre down to the last man woman and schoolchild. No problem!

The Arab countries were greatly surprised when the tide of battle eventually turned against them.

They lost the war. Several hundred thoussand of the local Arabs ran from their homes during and after the war due to fear that the Jews - who were now their enemies and who no longer trusted them, due to the war their cousin Arabs had started - would massacre them. They ran from their homes. They became refugees. Just like hundreds of thousands of people had run from their homes during WW2 and in the breakup of India and elsewhere, hundreds of times in recent centuries. An upheaval, but not a shocking one in the view of history.

The Arab governments - who had started the war and caused all the trouble - then DENIED their Palestinian-Arab cousins the right to resettle freely in the Arab world.

Compare this to the separation of India/Pakistan. Hundreds of thousands died in the Muslim-Hindu riots. There was the same religious hatred between the two groups, the same blood-feud feeling, and an even larger mass migration that involved MILLIONS of people losing their homes due to religious violence and riots and persecution. Yet today the descendants of that mass migration all have their own homeland. None of them are called "refugees." And while there's strife and competition between India and Pakistan, the situation is far calmer than the situation between Israel and the Arab world. The Muslims who ran for their lives from India, homeless and persecuted, were welcomed into the new Pakistan. The Hindus who ran from the recently-invented Pakistan were welcomed into India's new borders.

The Palestianians - displaced in a war the Arab side started - could have and should have been welcomed as settlers into the other 99 percent of the ME that was owned/run by their cousin Arabs. (Who, I say again, had STARTED the war in the first place.) Then they would have had a Pakistan/India situation with Israel. There would be an uneasy peace and skirmishes, but no stateless refugees.

So: Why were the Arab countries so heartless to the Palestinian Arabs who (I repeat) lost their homes in a war ARABS started? Why do nations like Syria and Lebanon to this day llock up the descendants of Palestinian Arabs inside refugee camps, refuse them equal rights, and generally treat them like shit? Why are the great grandchildren of Palestinians who fled their homes in 1948 STILL called 'refugees' and discriminated against by their Arab governments, while those same governments make speeches at the UN about how awful it is that Israel is mean to Palestinians?

The Arab countries did this with cynical intelligence. They wanted to keep their displaced Arab cousins miserable and homeless and violent and desperate, so that Israel could always be accused of being Evil, and so it would remain an ever-threatened, never-accepted pariah state. Remember, the Jews had just defeated their antisemitic asses in a war they started. The best strategy they could come up with was to use their displaced Arab cousins as pawns and weapons.

This is not a secret. I married a Muslim guy, a Syrian Arab. He is quite frank that this is the reason Palestinian Arabs are not welcomed into other Arab countries.

The difference between him and me is, he thinks this is all quite reasonable. He states quite calmly that this is a good thing: Generation after generation of Palestinian Arabs should remain homeless and rejected and discriminated against within Arab lands, so that Evil Israel and the Evil Jews remain hated by the 1.7 billion Muslims who vastly outnumber them in population, land, countries, and wealth. Because if Palestinian Arabs were ever allowed to settle down and live good lives in Arab lands, well then, Israel would be getting off scot-free with its Evilness! He has no guilt over this. Who does he blame for the crappy conditions of Palestinians - in Syria, in Lebanon, in the west Bank?

Jews, of course. It's all the fault of the Jews.

Imagine if Pakistan's government in 1947-48, in order to stick it to India's government, decided to close their border against a million displaced, harassed Muslims from India who'd just lost their home villages in the Hindu-Muslim riots. Turning them back at the border, the Pakistan government would say to them, "It's awful what those Hindus have done to you. Simply terrible. Well, no, we won't give you a home or any kindness or hospitality. We'll send you back to your burnt villages to sicken and starve and suffer in perpetuity. But look! We'll give you weapons to kill as many Hindus as you can. We'll make grand speeches to our citizens about how the Hindus are enemies of Allah. We'll stand up in the UN and vote, all us forty or so Muslim countries together, to censure the one Hindu country endlessly. We will force you to huddle in the mud rather than giving you a home, but hey, it's for a good cause! We're going to use your misery as a dagger against the Hindus so that they can never know peace."

The analogy is weaker than it should be, becuase the Hindus number many hundred million. They have a big ol' home country with largely protected borders (ocean). They had never been persecuted all over the world. They hadn't just survived a holocaust. And they held dominion over a lot more land than a little crust on the edge of the Med. Perhaps that's why the Pakistan government didn't try this cynical strategy on the fleeing Muslims of India.

Israel, on the other hand: looked and continues to look like a small and vulnerable target. Those Jews - who unlike Muslims and Christians were never bright enough to go out conquering and murdering for their God - number just a few million and have only one tiny country to their name. They'll be easily destroyed one of these days. And when that day comes, most Muslims of the world will say, allahu akbar.

Then they'll be left with governments just as screwy and violent and corrupt as they are now. And one less scapegoat to blame it on.
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Thu, Feb 9, 2017, 12:30pm (UTC -6)
Re: TNG S3: Yesterday's Enterprise

And, lastly: thanks to you both for explaining it to me :)
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