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Tara
Tue, Mar 28, 2017, 8:28am (UTC -5)
Re: TNG S3: The High Ground

To clarify: (thought it was clear but okay): When I referred to black Americans migrating from south to north to escape Jim Crow and rural poverty, I was not speaking of escaping slaves but their descendants who had been Americans for generations and called Ameroca, not Africa, their home and homeland.

Most of us have very recent ancestors who were chased off their land by war, cruelty, discrimination - don't we? (I surely do.) it's happening today all over the world. Whether you're a Christian from Mosul or a south Sudanese running from war, you're losing your land and it isn't fair.

What makes the Palestinian situation unique is that they wee forbidden by the surrounding Arabs to start over like normal refugees and migrants. The other thing that makes them unique is that - due to the political machinations of the surrounding Arab nations - they have been manipulated to still seek Israel's destruction. Obviously this prevents peace. Israel could wipe out GaZa in five minutes but doesn't. GaA's government would wipe it Israel in five minutes if they ever found the means. They are quite up front about it! The regular folk just want decent lives but are constantly trained to see Israel and Jews as the problem . It's a useful tactic for Arab governments, including Hamas, but it hasn't helped anyone except the Arab dictator-class and imam-class at the top of the food chain.
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Tara
Tue, Mar 28, 2017, 7:55am (UTC -5)
Re: TNG S5: The Outcast

Outsider65: Your point is interesting and worth debating. Yes, Soren is more content after her corrective treatment than she was before it. All her angst at being different and all her longings for things she is denied have been erased. If citizens' happiness is the goal, forced corrective therapy is the act of a loving government.

On the other hand, the message I (and I think most viewers) take from the ending is that Soren was robbed of her individuality by the heavy hand of a State that had no respect for her right to be different. This is also the message of the glorious Twilight Zone ep referenced by William B above: "Number Twelve Looks Just Like You". ("Number Twelve" made it a bit more clear that the government's interest was to erase dissent. It's never clear to me what Soren's government is trying to do: enforce a religious ideal? Erase dissent? Or make their Sorens happy?)

Lots of stories center on this theme.

For example: I haven't seen "Stepford Wives" but I imagine it's the same idea. Would you rather be you and be full of usual human angst, or be a happy slave? One can fairly argue whether the majority of (middle class) women weren't happier when female roles were defined and limited and the prescribed feminine goals were achievable to many: marry, cook, have babies, get the laundry superclean. (A subset of middle class women were of course miserable because they had squelched dreams or abusive husbands/fathers, but perhaps the sum total of female middle class happiness was greater pre feminism? It's certainly possible.)

The various memory-wipe episodes can be debated in the same way. When Kern is mind wiped in some episode "for his own good", is it right or wrong? The same plot device occurs on Babylon Five - personality-wipe is a punishment/rehabilitation technique used on convicted murderers. And on "Angel," a beloved, suffering teen boy has his whole life rewritten and is inserted into a loving family - ensuring a better shot at happiness but robbing him of all his memories of two father-figures and everything he'd built, accomplished, striven for in his natural existence. In all cases, the individuals are happier - but is it ethical to change a person against her will? Is it ethical promised that she wants it? Is it ethical if she wants it solely because society discriminates and shames her current self?

I think most of us feel horrified at the idea of being robbed of our true selves. It's like the fear of death or of dementia. But maybe we shouldn't?

If you could be guaranteed, say, a hapoy lifelong stint of dementia or insanity (all your worries gone, cared for forever while living in an upbeat fantasy world of delusion), would you choose it?

I might, but only if my life were miserable - because I am too attached to my current dreams and goals and happy moments. On the other hand, if I were forced over the line into that upbeat fantasy world, would I want to return to my checkered and fraught current one? Probably not.
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Tara
Wed, Mar 15, 2017, 9:41am (UTC -5)
Re: TNG S1: Angel One

DLPB is clearly unaware of the vicious trickery Western women have been employing for the past half-century, to overturn the natural order of things - our genetic inferiority - through unfair means.

For thousands of years, it was a Known Fact that women are too stupid to attend university. Medicine was especially closed to them: it drew on a long tradition of strenuous study and noble sacrifice and long hours. Women were not only to stupid to understand the application of leeches and the compounding of lead pills,, they lacked the mental toughness and physical stamina for training. The poor deara were also too fragile to vote, too concerned with doilies and dollies to be educable, and incapable of firing a gun or flying a plane for the military. Marathon running was a danger to their fertility. And so on. The most brilliant minds - male, and trustworthy! - said so.

In just a hundred years, my sex has overcome all these fearsome genetic handicaps. We went from "too stupid for Harvard" to summa cum laude; from "too fragile for anything but nursing" to being at least half the graduating class of every medical school. We have figured out how to quit fainting all the time. Clearly - if the trend keeps up! - we are on a path to dominating the west.

The explanation for our miraculous mental and physical upgrade is obvious. Just ask Julian Bashir how he did it...

For proof: look at the women of lands not favored with rich western techniques of genetic upgrades! In the middle east (except westernized Israel), across Africa, in most of rural Asia and South America, females remain just as stupid and sheeplike as ever. They obey their husbands and fathers, spend their days slaving over stoves and children, put up with being treated like dogs or worse... Clearly that is all they're capable of! Statistics proves that the literacy rate for females is always less than that of males in undeveloped countries, and a woman always is paid a lower salary than a man who does the same job. What more evidence do we need of their natural inferiority?

Case closed!
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tara
Sun, Mar 12, 2017, 9:37pm (UTC -5)
Re: DS9 S3: Destiny

What Vii said about Cardassian males. Among other things, I love the way their uniforms come to a peak in the center of their chest. I don't know what's under there or why that slays my girlish heart so much, but there you have it.

Among female aliens: I find the Vulcans most attractive. Maybe that's just my taste for androgyny. YMMV.

On a related topic: I can't figure out why Wesley Crusher's GF on "The Game" is so widely adored (see the comments on that episode). I'm not a hater; I agree she's cute, but a million actresses are cute. I'm curious what her special appeal is. Off the top of my head, I'd give higher marks to Sonya Gomez, Minuet, Picard's wife Aline, the "Perfect Mate" metamorph, Vash, the Vulcan girl at Wes's Starfleet entrance exam, and probably a hundred others.
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tara
Wed, Mar 8, 2017, 7:31pm (UTC -5)
Re: TNG S1: Angel One

DLPB: " Back in the real world, women are outnumbered at MENSA, and in lists of geniuses, and chess champions, and at virtually all sports and human endeavours. Not sexism, not "glass ceiling", just stark reality that men and women are different. No amount of socialist propaganda can change it."

While I;ve agree with some of DLPB's opinions on other subjects, on this one he (I assume it's a he, though I could be wrong) makes me laugh. It is funny to see someone making sweeping pronouncements about intelligence, while revealing his own deficits in that sphere. He overlooks the confounding variables that screw up any attempt to judge male vs female intelligence by such means as "MENSA demographics" and "who's got the most Nobel prizes" and "which sex is most likely to produce a chess grand master." And if he can't figger it out, I won't bother to clue him in.

As far as athletic achievement, I concur. Human males are on average taller and stronger and faster than human females.
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Tara
Wed, Mar 1, 2017, 10:20pm (UTC -5)
Re: TNG S1: The Naked Now

I liked it when I first saw it as a kid. I thought it was a clever idea to expose the inner longings of the crew, to speed our understanding of them. Some of it worked decently (Tasha has a troubled past and has adopted a tough-girl exterior while secretly longing to be feminine and cared for.). Some of it didn't (Beverly has an inexplicable desire for the guy who brought her husband's body home. Wait - is *that* why she requested to serve on the Enterprise? She's had a ten-year crush on her dead husband's commanding officer? Why??)

Worst line in all Season One goes to Data:

After the Tsirkovski explodes, Data says, "Captain, what we have just heard is..... Impossible! That last sound was an emergency hatch being blown."

You might say it. I might say it. The word "impossible" is an acceptable hyperbole. But this is Data. He is so ultra-literal that he refuses to understand the phrase "needle in a haystack" until Riker clarifies "I should have said, a *proverbial* needle in a haystack." He is so precise with language that he finds it necessary to correct his commanding officer regarding the victims being "sucked out" vs "blown out" into space.

So when our Data describes a sound as being "impossible", it had damn well better be impossible. That was a truly crappy dialogue choice, and I have no idea how all the writers and actors let it pass without protest.

In other notes:

--Tasha looked pretty fine in her drunken midriff-baring get-up with the little curl on her forehead.

--Data didn't seem infected when Tasha approached him. I got the feeling he complied with her wishes because he thought it was part of his job. When propositioned by one's chief of security, a Starfleet officer must immediately disrobe and obey....

--As I remember, in the second Q episode Riker gives Geordi the gift of normal sight and Geordi immediately turns to Yar and says "You're as beautiful as I imagined." Was there an intention for a Geordie-loves-Yar plot early on? I got that vibe here when he puts his hands up to her face.

--What possessed Riker to think that a previous reference to "taking a shower in one's clothes" would shed any light on their current situation? Showering in one's clothes is not pathognomonic of any particular illness or toxic substance. (I did it myself once, cold sober, when preoccupied with a difficult new computer system being installed at my workplace. ). It signifies only nonspecific cognitive changes: confusion, poor concentration, impulsivity, etc. In 29 centuries of written records on earth, surely lots of clad showering incidents have been described?

-- Why does Worf remain unaffected through it all? I credit his Klingon constitution. A warrior does not give in to any intoxicant but blood wine!
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tara
Wed, Mar 1, 2017, 7:30pm (UTC -5)
Re: TNG S6: The Quality of Life

Apologies: I haven't rewatched the episode in years. I had forgotten that Data offered to try to save his crewmates by going in himself. I remembered it as a situation in which Picard and Geordie were sure to die without exocomp assistance, and Data said, "Let the exocomps decide if they want to help, And if they don't, then byebye to my crewmates."

(Which would have been a brave stand, and I think consistent with Data's nature. If he indeed thought the exocomps were sentient, then he should have treated them as no less important than his crewmates.)

Chrome: yes, I would have preferred to see two extras die, instead of the not-credible happy ending. Why didn't the writers do that? Because they wanted to give us Intense Nail-biting Drama. And because they didn't *want* to be stuck with the followup episode: Data's actions have caused the death of two people, the angry families blame Data, there's an investigation, blah blah blah. From a writer's perspective what they gave us is the best of all worlds: the stars are put in jeopardy! But then they are saved miraculously! There are no consequences for anyone! Everything goes back to how it was fifty minutes earlier!

Writers are gods: they create the universe and pull its strings. What I want is for them to create a believable universe. And I found nothing believable about the exocamps' choice.

As I remember - please correct me if I'm wrong - Data ends up asking the exocomps if they are willing to risk their little lives to save a couple of humans. And they agree! Thus, happiness reigns.

Okay: why would the exocomps agree, except that their helpless little strings are being jerked by the writers? The exocomps don't give a fuck about Picard and Geordie. They haven't gone to Starfleet. As they are recent creations, there's no reason to think they have religion, philosophy, love of handsome men in uniform, or any notions of the glories of self-sacrifice. Asked to risk themselves for some ugly bags of mostly water, they should have said "Hell, no. We aren't stupid."

The fact that they said yes suggested to me that (a) writers were pulling their strings, aka Lazy Plotting, or (b) they were merely bound by their early training: they'd been programmed as slavish tools and slavish toolhood was all they knew. It was no more their 'choice' to risk their dim brainwashed lives, than it was a woman's 'choice' in Old India to climb on the funeral pyre beside her dead husband. Less: because the exocomps were new and young and pretty much lived in their inventor's suitcase if I recall correctly. What the hell did they know of the world and their options?

I see a similarity and a contrast to Tosk in season one of DS9. Tosk ("I am Tosk. The hunted.") was a creature who had been raised to be killed on his home planet for the pleasure of the ruling class. Like the exocomps he had been 'programmed' to be used by his masters. For this reason, the DS9 crew had appropriate misgivings about letting him give his life in the hunt. Initially it was not at all clear he understood his choices. But Tosk, unlike the exocamps, could eloquently state his reasoning: he knew his situation; he knew his options; he was willing to die; he considered it a noble calling.

The exocamps, by contrast, are unfathomable and have almost no exposure to education or to the wide world, so their odd 'decision' to risk death for picard and geordie suggests programming and poor insight rather than nobility.

In sum: I think the writers pulled a fast one. They gave us a lazy jeopardy premise created for emotional manipulation, and resolved it with an unbelievable, and morally questionable, out. Picard and Geordie were saved and Data faced no consequences and TNG went on unchanged.

If I am mis-remembering the episode I apologize. But this is how it struck me at the time: lazy manipulative writing, more than anything.
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tara
Wed, Mar 1, 2017, 7:14am (UTC -5)
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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Tara
Wed, Mar 1, 2017, 5:11am (UTC -5)
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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tara
Thu, Feb 23, 2017, 6:55pm (UTC -5)
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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Tara
Thu, Feb 23, 2017, 3:57pm (UTC -5)
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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Tara
Sat, Feb 18, 2017, 4:09pm (UTC -5)
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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Tara
Sat, Feb 18, 2017, 5:16am (UTC -5)
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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Tara
Thu, Feb 16, 2017, 9:58pm (UTC -5)
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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Tara
Wed, Feb 15, 2017, 9:51pm (UTC -5)
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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Tara
Wed, Feb 15, 2017, 7:29pm (UTC -5)
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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Tara
Tue, Feb 14, 2017, 2:44pm (UTC -5)
Re: VOY S1: Learning Curve

@lldaf:

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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tara
Mon, Feb 13, 2017, 11:43pm (UTC -5)
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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tara
Mon, Feb 13, 2017, 10:57pm (UTC -5)
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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tara
Mon, Feb 13, 2017, 3:49pm (UTC -5)
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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tara
Sun, Feb 12, 2017, 7:59pm (UTC -5)
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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tara
Sun, Feb 12, 2017, 2:35pm (UTC -5)
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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tara
Sun, Feb 12, 2017, 12:46pm (UTC -5)
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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tara
Sat, Feb 11, 2017, 4:00pm (UTC -5)
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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tara
Sat, Feb 11, 2017, 1:53pm (UTC -5)
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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