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james04
Sun, Jun 10, 2018, 9:00am (UTC -5)
Re: TNG S6: True Q

OK except for the last 5 to 10 minutes. Q is either a bully, or completely amoral - either way, a repulsive character. The ending was completely the wrong one. 2.5 stars seems fair. It was a pity to see the same trope being trotted out, as when Riker was tempted to become a Q, of testing characters by letting something happen that they would want to correct.

Q has the same failing as the Greek gods, only more so: because he do anything, Q has no capacity for, and no understanding of, tragedy - his existence is fundamentally frivolous, because it is totally devoid of risk; and it is not based on goodness, but on egotism; so ultimately, it is hollow and selfish. That sounds pretty much like Hell to me. To be bamboozled into choosing that kind of existence, rather than the friendships Amanda could have had, turns the end of the episode into something very like one of the grimmer Twilight Zone episodes.
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james04
Sun, Jun 10, 2018, 5:57am (UTC -5)
Re: TNG S6: Lessons

4/4. The two main leads did not put a foot wrong. This was an excellent example of TNG at its best.
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James04
Tue, May 29, 2018, 2:26am (UTC -5)
Re: TNG S1: Skin of Evil

Not a horrible episode, so......2.5 stars, I think. Basically, not quite good enough to get 3 stars, but watchable, interesting, involving, and, unlike some, it did not drag.
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James04
Sat, May 26, 2018, 7:44pm (UTC -5)
Re: TNG S7: Attached

A flawless episode - 4 stars out of 4.
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James04
Sat, May 26, 2018, 11:09am (UTC -5)
Re: TNG S7: Dark Page

The lullaby sequence surprised me that it wasn’t “Warm Kitty, Soft Kitty” - I must be confusing The Big Bang Theory, which is always worth watchiing, with TNG, which is sometimes tedious and psycho-babbly - like this episode. TBBT is always fun, and far too many episodes of TNG, like this one, are not fun, but a chore.

I know what’s wrong with this episode: much too much of it felt, and even looked, like a consultation with a doctor. It was too obvious that the actors were people acting - disbelief went unsuspended. I think this is probably why I dislike of the holodeck scenes: they set out to destroy all possibility of suspension of disbelief. And this episode was marred by the same staginess.

Two stars seems fair: the episode is not unwatchable garbage with no redeeming features whatsoever, but it is dull and (I believe the word is) over-acted.
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james04
Thu, May 24, 2018, 10:05pm (UTC -5)
Re: DS9 S1: Captive Pursuit

After a shaky start with parts of “Emissary”, I find DS9 grows on one. This was a good episode. I just wish that the usual colour scheme of the station was not so muddy brown - the blue of the uniforms of Bashir and Dax, and the vivid, Starfleet-like red worn by Tosk’s pursuers, were a genuine relief. (The colours of the uniforms in TNG also left something to be desired - mustard-brown, purple and black clash). It was good to have an episode in which O’Brien was so much to the fore, and there was real tension in the uncertainty about what Tosk would decide to do. This episode deserves its 3 stars. I don’t - yet - see why Jake Sisko is such a hate-figure in parts of the fandom; later, perhaps.
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james04
Tue, May 8, 2018, 10:16pm (UTC -5)
Re: TNG S1: Justice

1 star is more than enough.

The ending was especially off-putting, with the smug Starfleet types doing a runner, and violating the justice of the Edosians, without bothering to explain why their own justice should take precedence over it. There was the seed of an intelligent debate here, but nothing could come of it. Wesley should have been executed. That would have been a hard choice for Picard, it would have satisfied the logic of the Prime Directive, & it would have provided a plotline for possible future use. Other members of Starfleet die - so why should he be spared ? It would have shown that Redshirts are not the only mortals on Enterprise, and that actions have consequences.

As that scene in fact developed, it left the impression that the Federation can stomp over other cultures’ laws and sensibilities because the pygmy Eloi - sorry, pre-warp aliens - cannot stop it doing so. The vaunted Prime Directive is merely a figleaf to cover the moral nakedness of Starfleet, for its application is not governed by any discernible principle. One was unpleasantly reminded of US military interventionism at its most sanctimonious. Hypocrisy and smugness are no less nauseating from Starfleet 350 years from now than they are from present-day politicians. The obvious moral of this intellectually tawdry episode is the very cynical one that might makes right.
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james04
Thu, May 3, 2018, 5:42pm (UTC -5)
Re: VOY S7: Author, Author

A big old 4 stars. This episode was everything a ST Voyager episode should be.
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james04
Sun, Apr 29, 2018, 12:32pm (UTC -5)
Re: VOY S7: Prophecy

1. Why is Neelix talking about having “served over 300 meals” ? 204 Klingons + 150 Voyager crew = over 350 meals, at least. That is a lot more than “over 300” would suggest. Those replicators must have been working overtime.

2. Why is Janeway endangering her crew by beaming aboard more Klingons than she has crewmembers ?

3. Neelix, yet again, has all the tact and consideration for Tuvok of a Hutt (OK, different ‘verse, but anyway).

4. Why secular folk like Klingons, whose gods are dead, would have hopes of a saviour, is anyone’s guess. Maybe this Klingon sect has a different theology ?

5. I can’t decide whether this episode is mocking certain Jewish or Christian beliefs, or pillorying the abuse of those beliefs for selfish ends, or alerting attention to the manipulation of religion for selfish ends, or a bit of all three.

Since ST is fond of issues-driven episodes, it is only to be expected that religion, that plays so prominent a part in US culture, should come in for some attention. The uncertainty of tone is a pity nonetheless, seeing as other programmes - The Simpsons, South Park - have been able to explore this topic without this uncertainty. Maybe cartoons are a better medium for exploring certain issues than more “realistic” drama ?

6. A Klingon with what appear to be three (adamantium ?) claws ? Hmm...OK. Since he is aggressive, fair enough.

7. BLT’s semi-quotation from “Starship Troopers” was fun.

2.5 stars, I think.
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james04
Sun, Apr 29, 2018, 7:32am (UTC -5)
Re: VOY S7: Repentance

Oh, dear. Oh, dear. Oh dear, oh, dear, oh, dear, oh, dear. Agh !

Seven, Seven, Seven, usually I agree with you, and you are definitely one of my favourite characters - but, when you are wrong, boy, are you wrong ! Keep to science - which you are a whiz at - but, leave ethics to others. It isn’t your forte.

Janeway, I appreciate that you are a humane person, which is a good thing to be; but sometimes, you really need to Mind Your Own Bee’swax, and not be an interfering prig.

Where to start ?

1. OK, so Iko has some redeeming features. But that is the point. A very nice person who goes wrong only by committing one murder, is as truly guilty of murder as a genocidal tyrant who kills millions over many years. It is immaterial to the reality of having incurred the guilt of committing murder, that the one-time murderer is in all other respects a very nice and good person. The fact of his having committed murder, suggests that his good qualities may after all not be as good or solid as they seem to be. The reality of his being a murderer cannot be hand-waved into non-existence by an appeal to his having unmurderous characteristics. So it is perfectly fair to expect the otherwise good person to pay for what he has done.

2. A second very dubious proposition: if Iko’s murderousness has a medical basis, he is not a murderer.

This is equally false, and for a similar reason. It tries to hand-wave away moral responsibility and guilt, by pointing to physiological factors. IOW, it evades the moral issues, by trying to explain them away as issues of physiology. But in that case, why punish anyone ? If serial murderers have health problems, it is absurd to punish them - for the argument abolishes moral responsibility, by explaining it as malfunctioning physiology.

Why reward people, when their seeming goodness is apparently to be ascribed to nothing more than a socially convenient interplay of the sub-atomic particles of which their physiology is made ? They are lucky, not good.

The mistake is to treat one factor in human action - physiological well-being - in human actions - as the only significant one. Issues of health influence moral responsibility, and can diminish or increase one’s *capacity to be responsible* ; but they cannot replace responsibility. Moral responsibility, if it exists at all, has moral significance for how people behave. Seven and Janeway failed to consider the possibility that maybe Iko’s brain physiology made him more, not less, responsible for his actions, and therefore, more and not less guilty.

Such comments are about human ethics - but Voyager presents us with no others. We Terran viewers are invited to make moral judgements about the behaviour of Vaadwaur, Klingons, Romulans, Cardassians, Ferengi, Borg, Ocampans, Brunali, and many others - but always on the basis of Terran ethics of some sort. If a race is alien, why should the optimistic liberal humanism of ST’s creators be relevant to it ? Maybe, for aliens to execute murderers and seeming murderers is an act of supreme civic virtue, which it would be monstrous negligence of said aliens to omit. But does ST ever consider that possibility ? Insofar as its writers fail to do so, they are reducing aliens from being genuinely “other”, to being Rubber-Headed Aliens of the Week.

This episode was well-presented, but let down by its morally-confused message. Since its message was its heart, the episode had feet of clay. 2.5 stars seems fair.
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james04
Sat, Apr 28, 2018, 1:33am (UTC -5)
Re: VOY S6: Spirit Folk

@Del_Duio:

I think they are a good use of the holodeck. Chaotica is barely distinguishable from Ming the Merciless, but given the genre and its ostensible date (1930s ?) that makes sense. Chaotica, Arachnia, and the rest are wildly unlike “real life” - they are very obviously fictions, and are meant (by Tom Paris and by the writers) to be. The Fair Haven and WW2 and many other holodeck characters are too “like life” for their own good, or for their stories’ good. The result is, that Chaotica and Co. avoid “breaking genre”, whereas the more “lifelike” holodeck characters do break genre; which creates ambiguity as to what exactly they are intended to be.

Chaotica and Co. work as science fiction within the science fiction that is the feigned reality of Voyager. The other stuff does not stay scientifictional enough to work properly within that feigned reality.

@wolfstar: Agreed, it isn’t “just sci-fi”.

The problem is not that the sciencefiction is romantic SF, or psychological SF, or adventurous SF, or comic SF, or horror SF, or mystery horror SF, or the other kinds you mention; the problem is that the weak holodeck episodes - a few holodeck episodes are good - forget to be SF. They try to become something different, with just a splash of SF to anchor them in the Trekverse. But they become something else: 1900s Ireland, 1930s Chicago, 1500s Italy, a 19th-century holonovel, a children’s book, or whatever it may be.

Flotter and Trevis are characters in Naomi Wildman’s reading, who have nothing scientifictional about them, other than their placement in the experience of a girl whose own relation to the SF that is the Trekverse results from her being the daughter of a Voyager crewman. F and T are not firmly enough integrated into the Trekverse to be convincing characters - they could turn up in other ‘verses, and not be out of place. The same lack of convincing integration is a problem for the weaker holodeck episodes - but not for the Captain Proton sequences. Those are well-crafted, convincingly integrated, and don’t get in the way of their broader context in the Voyager “quadrant” of the Trekverse.

A conceptual category of stories, like ST, can accommodate a great variety of genres, and can combine them in creative and memorable ways. That is not the problem. The problem is when the overarching category that is ST is poorly served by sone element of the ‘verse that it binds together as a narrative universe, And that is the problem with the poorly integrated holodeck episodes (and with some othets).

I hope that all makes sense :)

Thanks, both of you, for the comments :)
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james04
Fri, Apr 27, 2018, 11:59pm (UTC -5)
Re: VOY S6: Good Shepherd

3 stars. This was a nice essay in character observation, that did not allow itself to rely too heavily on explosions and action. The premise is not about those, though they have their place in a different kind of story. A mainly psychological episode, that looks at why people act as they do rather than at their external actions, isn’t going to be to everyone’s taste, and can be very tedious if handled badly; but this was well-plotted, with credible characters.
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james04
Fri, Apr 27, 2018, 4:45pm (UTC -5)
Re: VOY S7: Critical Care

Caustic, funny, and insightful. 3.5 stars. I particularly liked the scene with Neelix, Tubok and Gar.
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james04
Thu, Apr 26, 2018, 2:43am (UTC -5)
Re: VOY S6: Life Line

Doc + Reg Barclay (+ Counsellor Troi) = winner episode. 4 stars.
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james04
Thu, Apr 26, 2018, 2:23am (UTC -5)
Re: VOY S6: Fury

A confused (and confusing) mess, with no discernible purpose. “Threshold” was much better. 1 star.
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James04
Tue, Apr 24, 2018, 12:39am (UTC -5)
Re: VOY S6: Spirit Folk

Another episode to skip, after seeing about 10 minutes of it. My basic gripe about it is, that (apart from the irritating folksy Eye-rish tweeness), it and other holodeck episodes are an escape from the scientifictional genre of the story. I watch ST, and therefore, Voyager, because I enjoy science fiction; I don’t want to be fobbed off with something a zillion miles removed from science fiction, or, at most, only very tenuously connected to it. So episodes largely about WW2, or Ireland, or Renaissance Italy, or 1930s Chicago, feel like cheating - they feel like stories that count as science fiction only because they are parts of an episode in a scientifictional series.

The holodeck is in effect being used as an excuse for Voyager (and not just Voyager) to take a little holiday from being a scientifictional series. ST should not have to do this - it suggests a failure of imagination.
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james04
Sun, Apr 22, 2018, 2:51am (UTC -5)
Re: VOY S6: Barge of the Dead

That Tom Paris calls B’Elanna a “born-again Klingon”, in a way that shows his remark is intended as less than complimentary, suggests that Evangelicals will be not unfamiliar in the 24th century. If their function as figures of fun has been adopted by some later group after their extinction, that cannot be inferred from canon.

Gods can be killed - though whether this is a credible concept, depends on what one understands by the concept of godhood. Mesopotamian religion has several deities being killed, such as Tiamat and Kingu, who were killed by Marduk in the best-known of several Mesopotamian myths of creation. Horus is killed by Set in Egypt, and most of the Norse Aesir are killed at Ragnarok. So the myth about Ko[r]tar is not in the least implausible. It seems to be a mixture of Etruscan, Greek, Mesopotamian & Norse elements. The writers are to be congratulated on their ingenious mixing of familiar ancient motifs to produce something new. Gods who need to be refreshed by sacrifices (conceptualised as their meals) can presumably - in principle - undergo death.

What made Gre’thor ? Maybe, the Klingon gods, before, or even after, they were killed. Without knowing a lot more Klingon mythology, one can only make informed guesses using analogies from real-world ideas. The details of all these things are not incoherent, so much as fragmentary. A Klingon mythographer or theologian would presumably be able to fill in the masses of missing detail. Maybe Gre’thor is made out of the bodies of dead gods. Myths are characteristically resistant to harmonisation and systematisation, so one cannot expect a harmonious and internally self-consistent picture of the Klingon afterlife here. B’Elanna perceives it only in broken flashes, as might be expected of someone with a busy life like hers.

The sight of Gre’thor’s gates looks uncommonly like illustrations of the description the gates of the city of Dis in Dante, Inferno, canto 9. 7That the idea of killing gods seems implausible, is perhaps a testimony to how deeply Western culture has been saturated with Jewish & Christian ideas.

I found this episode rewarding to watch, because of its various narrative elements, which made it thought-provoking. As I have never had much of a head for the sciences, the scientific problems in this episode don’t spoil it for me, as they might for others. The last 5 or 6 minutes seemed not really to lead anywhere very much, but they were interesting for their echoes of earlier moments in the episode.

3/4, I think. A good episode in many ways, though not exceptional. And there was no reliance on holodecks.
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James04
Wed, Apr 18, 2018, 4:51pm (UTC -5)
Re: VOY S5: Once Upon a Time

Detestable as holodeck episodes so often are, this outdoes them. Flot and Trev would be vastly improved by being obliterated. Where is Colonel Quaritch when he’s needed ? Or is the Avatarverse cloaked in utter inaccessibility ?

I like Voyager, a lot. But while Little Miss Half-Ktarian is tolerable even in generous doses, Itchy and Scratchy IN SPACE !!!! are puke-inducing. If Captain Planet were a Totally Right-On space vegetable, he would be as they are.

Having a good message - “Folk need one another, and need to realise that they depend on one another, so they really ought to drop all the narcissism, tribalism & chest-thumping” - does not make up for having a weak-as-water plot, shallow characterisation, and (yet again) more lazy Deus ex Holodeckery. One is used to wretchedly-confected Evangelical art like “Left Behind”, which sacrifices aesthetic value to the requirements of its message - but it is very disappointing that ST makes the same blunder. If a story is garbage as a piece of craftsmanship, it is sloppy and insulting to broadcast it, regardless of how good the message may be.

Neelix did something to prevent the episode being totally unwatchable, but not enough to rate the episode more than one star. There are worse episodes than this, so this one does not quite deserve zero, notwithstanding the efforts of Butthead and Bevis.
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