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James G
Wed, Jul 15, 2020, 12:13pm (UTC -5)
Re: TNG S4: The Host

Yet another one I hadn't seen before - looks like most or all of the rest of the fourth series will be new to me.

I hope that whoever wrote this abomination was either provided with the appropriate psychiatric care that he or she evidently badly needed, or weaned off their drug habit.

I must admit though that I became morbidly fascinated as well as repelled, as the episode wore on.

A few thoughts. Isn't it extraordinarily unethical for Beverley to tonk Riker's body while he's unconscious in it? Isn't it even more unethical of the weird ambassador slug to use it for that? Reminds me of that episode of Red Dwarf where Rimmer borrows Lister's body and then proceeds to abuse it hedonistically.

And what happens to the minds of the hosts, when they submit to being taken over by parasites? How could a relationship like that between two species even have started?

I don't get why the Transporter wouldn't have worked, and this nonsensical plot element adds nothing to the story except an easy excuse to have the shuttlecraft attacked.

The conclusion is hilarious. Interesting though that they both let go of their relationship a lot more quickly and less emotionally than when the parasite slug creature was inhabiting Riker. Troi's persuasive words on Ten Forward don't count for much when Beverley is confronted by a lesbian lifestyle.

Anyway - really quite vile but it functions as a bad taste parody of the worst kind of pulp science fiction, albeit unintentionally.
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Wed, Jul 15, 2020, 7:05am (UTC -5)
Re: Star Trek: Lower Decks

I take issue with the idea that science and philosophy are niche topics, at least on the level that Star Trek presents them. Maybe that was true in the 1960s and the 80s, and so there were (especially in the 80s) a slew of movies and show ridiculing nerds and nerd culture. At this point in time, from my interactions with youth in my teaching experience, I can say with some confidence that being a 'nerd' or into such topics as science and philosophy is no longer something to be ridiculed, in fact the idea of 'cool' is increasingly associated with being genuine. You can see this come across in the fact that teen movies are no longer mean-spirited road trip journeys and college jocks hooking up with girls, but invoking more the underdog with a passion for singing or musicals or tapdancing, following through with it and discovering their true self.

I wish this was true of when I was growing up, but I see a lot more positivity and acceptance, possibly due to the fact that it is no longer baby boomers raising kids, the fear instinct and drive towards material success no longer pushes parents to instill in children values like obedience and conformity but rather encourages exploration of unique talents and desires. From post-millennial generations I don't think there is much bitterness against either someone having an interest in certain topics, or a feeling that they or someone else should have more of an interest in them.

All of this is aside from the fact Star Trek is still barely above pop-culture science and philosophy. At best, it's a college level freshman's discussion, and at worst it's purely for entertainment purposes with no higher value.
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Wed, Jul 15, 2020, 1:07am (UTC -5)
Re: VOY S6: Unimatrix Zero, Part I

As much as a unified collective without a leader is something I would dear more, introducing a central character that could control them, does make sense imo. There is no way all those Borg drones would be able to do much of anything without at least the one person telling them what to do.

What would make a compelling story though, imo is how the queen came to be and what makes her so special.
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James G
Mon, Jul 13, 2020, 10:48am (UTC -5)
Re: TNG S4: Galaxy's Child

I don't think that there's a suggestion that Brahms is of lesser authority than LaForge. I think it's the other way round. But he has her at a disadvantage in the sense that he knows her, more personally than is usual for someone whom she is entitled to regard as a stranger.
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Fri, Jul 10, 2020, 10:05pm (UTC -5)
Re: TNG S4: Remember Me

TNG as it should be - sciencey, intricate, intriguing, *and no holodeck silliness*, and no preachiness either.

4 out of 4.
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James G
Thu, Jul 9, 2020, 3:22pm (UTC -5)
Re: TNG S4: Half a Life

I've been ploughing through TNG from the beginning for the last 18 months or so at a rate of about five episodes a month. A couple of weeks ago, while skimming through an episode guide, I noticed that 'Half a Life' was looming on the horizon, a few episodes in my future.

So I quickened my TNG viewing schedule a bit, to time it to land on my 60th birthday. Today.

I do remember watching this one before, some time in the mid '90s. Probably on one of the UK satellite channels.

I like this one quite a bit in many ways, actually. Nice to see the late David Ogden Stiers in something other than M*A*S*H, and he shows his versatility here in a nicely understated, hugely dignified performance, a far cry from Major Winchester. I've seen him in very few other TV shows or films, come to think of it. The only other thing I can think of is an episode of 'Rhoda'. I believe he was actually in his late 40s when this was filmed.

I'm not a fan of the Lwaxana episodes as a rule - I don't find the character at all believable or interesting and the joke wore thin in the first one she appears in - but here at least, we see a different side of her after the initial overbearing / annoying act gets rolled out again.

It's quite a nice idea. I did find it unsettling in the present circumstances, by which I mean being 60 years old as of today. It's a hard thing to get used to as it is. I can barely believe it, quite honestly. So the theme of this story, and especially its conclusion, made me feel disturbed; perhaps even a little angry.

I would have liked to have had some sort of acknowledgement that a year on another planet isn't necessarily the same duration as an Earth year, given that it's a unit of time that's central to the story. But that's a nit-pick.

Right, I'm off to take an overdose for the good of human society.
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Thu, Jul 9, 2020, 12:47am (UTC -5)
Re: TNG S4: Brothers

Data gets away with activities bordering on mutiny. For all the fine talk about Data being sentient, etc., Picard shows he does not in his heart of hearts believe that, by letting Data off with what the episode shows are zero consequences. If Reg Barclay, or any other member of the crew, had done what Data did, they would have been thrown off the Enterprise & out of Starfleet quicker than you can say “The existence of Section 31 proves that Starfleet is a bunch of sanctimonious hypocrites”.

But Data is, after all, nothing but a machine, with no more moral sense or conscience than a bar of gold-pressed latinum. That this is Picard’s truest conviction on the matter, is absolutely proven by the absence of any penalty for behaviour which, in any other member of the crew, would (rightly) have been regarded as gravely criminal. ST cannot have it both ways - and its attempting to do so, does not say much for the moral pretentions of ST.

TOS managed its treatment of Spock much better, even if that series did have the advantage of comparative brevity. Making Data an android with plausibly human features was a mistake. Voyager handled the Doctor with much greater artistic tact than TNG managed. Data is allowed to become insufferable, a robotic and backward version of Picard at his preachiest - Voyager avoids this, by deflating the Doctor now and again, so that he is never allowed to make the blunders Data does; and by dividing his functions between the Doctor, and Seven of Nine. The Doctor is amusing. The relationship between the Doctor and Seven is amusing. The relationship between McCoy & Spock is amusing. Data’s attempts at humour are flat, not sparkling,

Usually, episodes show Data acting, and being treated as, a moral agent. In this episode, and some others, the mask slips.
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James G
Wed, Jul 8, 2020, 4:01pm (UTC -5)
Re: TNG S4: The Drumhead

The third episode in a row that I hadn't seen before. I must have a think about what I was distracted by in the early '90s when these were shown on the BBC. Anyway - brilliant. Impossible to believe that the wise, thoughtful and determined Picard in this story is the same Picard I saw 24 hours earlier, swinging through a castle window in a Robin Hood costume to rescue Maid Marian.

Really a splendid moral message about prejudice, suspicion, paranoia, justice and ethics. Patrick Stewart is really in his element here.

Surprised to see Jean Simmons in this; her performance reminds me a bit of Judi Dench. Not completely natural early on but by the time she's losing it at the climax she's acting out of her skin. Bravo.

Loved it.
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James G
Tue, Jul 7, 2020, 4:08pm (UTC -5)
Re: TNG S4: Qpid

I was surprised to find a Q episode that I hadn't seen before, but it's an awful one. The Star Trek franchise is littered with these excuses to perform period dramas. I'm not really a fan of them. The whole appeal for me is to have an escapist glimpse into the future, albeit an imaginary one.

But the premise of this Robin Hood drama is witless in the extreme, the crowning stupidity being Picard's plan to rescue Vash just by breaking in on his own with a sword and getting her. I didn't find the jokes, like Troi shooting Data with an arrow and Worf breaking the lute, particularly funny. The whole thing is literally a farce.

I've been to Nottingham many times and the castle a few times; I lived about an hour from there. Would have been nice to hear the local accent, but the lady who is ordered by "Marian" to take a message to the forest sounds like she's from London.

But my pet hate with all Q episodes is the way he's treated by Picard. Granted he's irritating but he also has a wealth of knowledge and power that could benefit humankind and the Federation immeasurably. In this one he literally arrives offering a favour, but he's just asked to leave immediately.

Anyway. I've seen most of the TNG episodes but this one is a new low for me.
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James G
Mon, Jul 6, 2020, 2:55pm (UTC -5)
Re: TNG S4: The Nth Degree

I'd never seen this one before this evening. On the original broadcast run on the BBC in the early '90s, I may have got bored by this time. Terrific episode. The old super-computer-goes-megalomaniac story is a very well worn trope in science-fiction, and is used at least once in the original series - but here it's blended very cleverly with an existing character story. And there's a lovely twist, in that it turns out to be benevolent this time.

Really wonderful performance by Schultz here. He reminds me a little of Michael C Hall, with a similar intense other-worldly quality in his performance.
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James G
Sun, Jul 5, 2020, 4:20pm (UTC -5)
Re: TNG S4: Identity Crisis

Watched this one a few hours ago and I don't believe I'd ever seen it before. The edgy, creepy feel works really well here and I liked the idea it's based on. The woman who plays Leijten really acts out of her skin. Superb performance. I like to nit-pick though so here goes.

There's a scene where Data is assembling some improbable device, and he does it much like a human would, announcing that it will take two minutes. But in at least one other episode (in the first series I think) he's able to perform manual tasks at extreme speed.

When Riker and the others arrive on the Holodeck (it's always Holodeck 3, why?) Riker orders a search. Why not just end the program to clear all the scenery out of the way?

Anyway - a good one.
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James G
Sat, Jul 4, 2020, 4:24am (UTC -5)
Re: TNG S4: Night Terrors

I'm not a fan of this one. It's not creepy or clever enough to work very well in a Twilight Zone sort of way, but it doesn't have much else going for it. The solution to the puzzle seems poorly thought-out and implausible, in a genre where implausible is the norm.

Guinan seems unaffected by the inability to dream affecting the rest of the (organic) crew. Odd that she's allowed to keeps an energy weapon behind the bar and even discharges it on board the ship.

I found Picard's hallucination in the lift (that's possibly "elevator" for some readers) quite powerful. I sometimes have those out-of-control lift dreams myself. Sometimes they accelerate upwards out of control, sometimes they move sideways.

Here's a nit-pick - when Picard steps out of the lift onto the bridge, there is no gap at all in the carpet between the bridge and the lift. Yet later in the episode, you can see that there's a gap in the carpeting between the bridge and his ready room. Later still, as Data orders him to bed, there's a gap between the bridge carpet and the lift carpet! No, it's not an important point.

Sometimes the future technology imagined when TNG was made looks improbably old-fashioned, like those tablets they carry around that are two inches thick. But the device that Beverley has in her hand in the mortuary looks like an iPad or Android tablet. A device like that would have seemed ultra-cool and futuristic in the early '90s; now it looks mundane.

I don't really like the way that the Enterprise turns out to have a function to dispense hydrogen. Feels like rather convenient lazy writing, a bit like more or less every scene involving a sonic screwdriver in Doctor Who.

Anyway - this one just about scrapes an "OK" from me.
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James G
Tue, Jun 30, 2020, 1:23pm (UTC -5)
Re: TNG S4: Galaxy's Child

I quite like this one, but there's a rather high cringe factor. The notion of space creatures is quite interesting, though it's been done in a few TNG episodes. I quite liked the space creature plot.

But the Geordi / Leah story is risible. She describes Geordi's behaviour toward her as "peculiar", but actually it's downright creepy, especially as he has her at a disadvantage the whole time. She quite understandably goes off on one after finding her likeness on the Holodeck, and understandably feels violated - but that predictable happy ending where she decides she likes and respects him comes far too easy.

I love the way Data turns and says "I believe it is dead, sir" in that matter-of-fact way, when the creature is phasered to death.

The CGI renditions of the space creature seem impressive for the late '80s, though they look a bit rubbish on a decent monitor in the present day. Or have they been redone since then? Not sure.
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James G
Sat, Jun 27, 2020, 8:03am (UTC -5)
Re: TNG S4: First Contact

This one and 'Who Watches The Watchers', to which it is thematically similar, are my favourite episodes of the whole TV franchise. I especially love the moment when Troi and Picard make a softly-spoken First Contact, in Mirasta's laboratory. What a moment in the history of her civilisation. She is about to take her world out into the Universe, but the Universe comes to her first. it gives me goosebumps.

A nice allegory of bigotry and distrust between different cultures, especially vivid when an already seriously incapacitated Riker is physically attacked following his attempt to escape at the hospital.

We learn that first contact with Klingons was made 'centuries ago'; I'm not sure how well that fits into the established timeline.

The hospital staff nerd with a thing for sex with aliens joke is done quite well, I found it quite entertaining. I've always thought that the regularity of sex with other species in Star Trek was a bit odd, given that it can attract a custodial sentence in the present day. I would think it was a bit awkward for Riker and his partner here, though. There must have been some anatomical diffculties to overcome.

The Malcorians are on the verge of Warp speed travel, but Mirasta and Durken seem awestruck by the view of their own planet from orbit - almost like the young woman from the primitive society in 'Watchers'. Would the chief scientist never have visited a space station? Even 20th Century Earth had them!

The benevolent hospital doctor reminded me a little of Phlox.

Sometimes I think that the Star Trek franchise should be a bit more imaginative. Almost always, male and female aliens have recognisably Earth male and female hairstyles, respectively.

There are CGI people wandering around on the surface of the planet from the aerial views we see of the Malcorian world. They look a bit like wispy stick drawings, but maybe they looked OK on a 1980s TV.

Anyway - a brilliant episode.
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Thu, Jun 25, 2020, 12:03pm (UTC -5)
Re: ENT S2: Cogenitor

How so? Prohibitions, dozens of sub-orders, interpretation of those sub-orders and then exceptions to those orders. Captains aren't just sent out with the guidance to not interfere.
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Thu, Jun 25, 2020, 6:13am (UTC -5)
Re: ENT S2: Cogenitor

Jason R - Doesn't the "wisdom" of the Prime Directive rely on the notion that we humans know exactly the circumstances which decide whether we interfere with another species or not? The Prime Directive says we know what's best, and it is we who decide, in advance, for the universe. If that doesn't qualify as sanctimonious arrogance of the highest order, then I don't know what does.
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James G
Wed, Jun 24, 2020, 12:32pm (UTC -5)
Re: TNG S4: Clues

I like this one. It's a nice mystery and a clever, unusual idea. My only real complaint is that Picard comes up with a solution to the problem in about 30 seconds, on his feet. None of the usual careful deliberation, or discussions around a table with the senior personnel.

In one of the other fourth series (that's 'season' in LeftPond) episodes, it's claimed that Data is incapable of lying. Actually I've just checked, and it's literally the previous episode. That's not a proposition that holds up too well in this one.

I enjoyed the scene in Dixon Hill's office, but how is it that Guinan - an alien - can be so culturally American, not just human, in every mannerism? But the stockings are a lovely touch.

I could have done without the old 'taking over one of the crew's bodies' plot device. It's overdone in the whole franchise and I think unnecessary in this particular story.
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James G
Sat, Jun 20, 2020, 3:57pm (UTC -5)
Re: TNG S4: Devil's Due

I must have seen this one once before this evening, because I distinctly remember Work taking exception to the appearance of the Klingon devil monster that looks a bit like a Predator. But apart from that I hadn't remembered a thing.

It's not awful but it's weak. And it's certainly over-theatrical with the excessively vampy female protagonist gambling with Picard for his body and soul, and Data playing the courtroom judge.

I don't buy that Data isn't capable of a bit of judicious (and judicial) dishonesty. Surely a Starfleet commander has to use a bit of subterfuge occasionally. Reminiscent of the old canard that Spock can't lie, when in fact he deceives people every third episode.

I thought Marta Dubois did what she was asked to very nicely though, and I'm sad to see that she died two years ago.
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James G
Sun, Jun 14, 2020, 10:38am (UTC -5)
Re: TNG S4: The Wounded

Just watched this one. Although I saw most of them 30 years ago, I had no memory of this one at all. I think I may well have been watching it for the first time.

It's intriguing until the last ten minutes or so, then it sort of collapses on itself. It doesn't conclude satisfactorily.

It's very odd to me that Maxwell is received so politely and casually aboard the Enterprise, when he's gone rogue and killed hundreds of Cardassians. It's even odder that he's allowed to return to command his starship and its crew, even under escort - and his subsequent actions are extremely predictable.

Considering what Maxwell has done and the unauthorised carnage he's caused, Picard seems a bit too quick to defend him to Gul Macet at the episode's conclusion, and too dismissive of Macet's disdain. If anything, Macet is extremely restrained in the circumstances.

That peculiar moment between O'Brien and Troi, when the Cardassians come aboard. For a moment I wondered whether she'd detected him having lustful thoughts about her. The look she gives him fits perfectly.

The Enterprise's long range scanners are remarkable. They accurately detect and plot ship movements and photon torpedo discharges during the first exchanges between the Phoenix and the Cardassians at a location so remote that it's 16 hours, 44 minutes away at Warp 4.

I think it's an OK episode. It doesn't live up to the promise of the first 20 minutes.
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Sun, Jun 7, 2020, 2:09pm (UTC -5)
Re: PIC S1: Broken Pieces

"Star Trek never explains everything that happens on screen (nor should it). If Star Trek: Picard were a novel, we'd have a higher expectation for cohesiveness of all the main and tertiary characters. But in television, it's common that explanations for tertiary characters and events are discarded in exchange for tighter pacing and, more generally, time devoted to the main story."

I'm not sure the show has the right to make that excuse: when you choose to spend time on irrelevant events like Raffi's visits to her son, Rios' soccer skills and sexual interest in Jurati, as well as Riker's pizza exploits, over the bare minimum of explanation for key character points and motivations, you deserve at least a certain amount of criticism. Or perhaps those were in the interest of 'tighter pacing' too?
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James G
Sat, Jun 6, 2020, 7:17am (UTC -5)
Re: TNG S4: Data's Day

I like this one. Any episode that's prominently Data-themed is necessarily a good one. The Romulan espionage story is clever, though very understated here.

This one does highlight a flaw in the very idea of Data, though. He's very often shown to be curious about things, not understanding ideas that are simple and everyday to humans, and always having to ask. In this one, his people skills are so lamentably awful that he cheerfully tells O'Brien that his wife-to-be has called off their marriage, assuming he'll be happy about it because it's what she wants.

And yet we're supposed to accept that this synthetic person with limited empathy with and understanding of humans is a senior officer to hundreds of personnel aboard the Enterprise, and occasionally in charge of the whole ship.
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James G
Sat, Jun 6, 2020, 7:03am (UTC -5)
Re: TNG S4: The Loss

Another thought - it's curious to me that in the 24th Century, things are still counted by the dozen. Geordi refers to "half a dozen photon torpedoes".
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James G
Thu, Jun 4, 2020, 12:56pm (UTC -5)
Re: TNG S4: The Loss

Not a fan of this one. I find Troi a bit over-emotional and over-earnest, and I didn't like the way she snaps at other members of the crew, even her captain. She wouldn't just storm out of a meeting; it's not professional. Downright insubordinate really, especially in front of other officers.

And the basis of the episode, with the 2D creatures and the cosmic string, just didn't grab me at all.
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James White
Mon, Jun 1, 2020, 6:53pm (UTC -5)
Re: PIC S1: Et in Arcadia Ego, Part 2

Sorry, 16 year old son.
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James White
Mon, Jun 1, 2020, 6:52pm (UTC -5)
Re: PIC S1: Et in Arcadia Ego, Part 2

Omicron - what can you do? It depends on what you're willing to do. I don't have an answer for all people. I really don't. To Booming's point, some sort of advocacy against out of control debt accumulation, the funding of science/research, the maintenance of our relationships with allies, etc. My 6 year old son is offering Brookings, CSIS and two other advocacy groups his time (uncompensated) to do some research. The various experts are listed. Pick one and reach out to them.

Write some article, white paper, Op-Ed, whatever. Put your voice out there. Most of you are extremely intelligent. Do something.

Volunteer. Take some food to people that need it. We volunteer with a local farm to deliver food to especially vulnerable people that lack the means to pay for it (without subsidies, food stamps, etc.)

Protest. Tell politicians to go fuck themselves. Stand for something. Not on a ST website. Wherever.

Why do I come here? I really don't know. At first, it was a whim. Now, I realize many of you are some of the most thoughtful and decent people out there. So, yes, I'm telling you that you have more to offer than bitching on this site.
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