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MusicalTurtle
Fri, May 22, 2020, 11:34am (UTC -5)
Re: PIC S1: Et in Arcadia Ego, Part 2

I am ... conflicted, I think would be the most appropriate word. It feels like this was the end of an extremely long and meandering prelude to the actual adventures the characters will have (I don't have an opinion either way as to whether it will be any better next season, but that's just how it feels).

Picard's death felt extremely hollow and a waste of screen time because I already knew the show was coming back and there was no way they could kill off the title character. I don't feel much of a connection for most of the new characters, only Dahj/Soji, (dislike for Narissa, Narek and Oh,) and I adore Kestra. I quite liked Jurati until she murdered Maddox ... I dunno. I think the unnecessarily strong language and the gratuitous gore and violence pulled me out of the story and I couldn't immerse myself in it after that. And I'm someone who usually gets emotionally involved and cries very easily (I cry at The Brittas Empire, for goodness' sake!) That lack of connection and complete disbelief that Picard could be truly dead meant I was not moved in the slightest. Data's death however did made me cry (once I'd got past my utter confusion about what was going on - where did that quantum simulation come from?! It occurs to me that it could possibly have been a detail I've forgotten from Nemesis, but it's such an important detail that if that were the case, it should have been mentioned at some point by someone in Picard. Perhaps it was and I still missed it.)

The whole season felt like an extremely long setup for not much payoff, and it felt disjointed - programmes nowadays are much more complex than they used to be, and they need to be, to stand up to binges and multiple rewatches, but I don't think it needs to be so complex that the viewer feels they need to watch it two or three times just to actually understand what was going on. I feel like I've missed how everything related together, but I shouldn't *have to* watch it again just to 'get it'. And honestly, right now I don't particularly want to watch it again.

There were parts I enjoyed, and as a standalone it feels like episodes 9 and 10 were pretty okay - but as an ending to this story they were anticlimactic, for sure. I really wanted to love this show, but alas.
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Skeptical
Fri, May 8, 2020, 7:43pm (UTC -5)
Re: TNG S3: The Most Toys

Gaius' comment led to me rereading the long and circular debate here. And after thinking about it more, I blame the episode for it. It just doesn't do a good job of presenting what it's supposed to.

Forgive me for simplifying things here, but Peter's (and others) position seems to be that the theme is Data going beyond his normal ethical programming in the end. Perhaps one could say it is akin to the Asimov novels. There, the first law of robots is "don't harm humans", but eventually they evolved a zeroth law, "don't harm humanity", which can occasionally supersede the first law. Here, Data does something similar, according to this side of the comments when he shoots at Fajo. His position is not about self defense, but a greater defense of his ideals. And the evidence is the initial conversation between the two that Chrome quoted, the "I cannot allow this to continue", Data lying to Riker, and the last conversation between Fajo and Data with the "I am only an android" line being practically ironic.

Meanwhile, my position (and others) is that Data's actions in shooting Fajo do not rise to the occasion of being beyond normal procedures. Data was kidnapped and held captive against his will, and then was essentially in a hostage situation when Fajo started threatening the rest of his crew. Data shooting Fajo would be considered a legitimate act based a logical moral code.

And unfortunately, I think we're both right. Given the theme of treating Data as an object, and Fajo's outright taunting of Data at the end that he won't shoot him, it seems like this moral quandary was an important issue in the writers' minds. That they wanted it to be about what Data COULD do in such a situation. The discussion on self defense, the question about Data gloating at the end, all of it seems to be about whether or not Data could make the big decision. So I can see where Peter and Chrome are coming from (except the Data lying to Riker bit; that one is just executive meddling...).

But if that was the writers' intention, then they failed. Because in 106 comments, no one has yet come up with a plausible solution that doesn't involve either A) Data remaining kidnapped, B) Fajo killing another crewmember, or C) Data killing Fajo. So while Fajo taunting Data at that point about how he won't kill him seems to clearly point to that being the theme, it doesn't hold the emotional impact it could. After all, how is it a great leap forward for Data to decide to kill him if it was the only logical solution? If it is just self defense, what's the point?

So is the "I cannot allow this to continue" line referring to something greater than the immediate threat? The vague wording there does seem to suggest that's true. But the situation suggests it doesn't. And while the thought that Data has evolved from an innocent cherub to someone who can be judge, jury, and executioner is a sobering and serious one, worthy of an episode, does this situation really warrant it? Yes, Fajo is a sociopath. But outside of the events of THIS episode, what has he done? We know of nothing besides theft. Other than Data, he doesn't collect people, so he's not a slaver. Other than Varria, we have no knowledge of him being a murderer. Yes, Varria's odd statement about his punishments does seem to imply something worse, but we don't entirely know. All the actions that do seem execution-worthy were events surrounding Data. And thus, remain wrapped up in Data's own personal situation. So again, the "this" seems smaller in scope than what may have been intended.

So ultimately, if the writers did intend something akin to what the other side of the comments suggest, then they failed to set up the situation appropriately to allow it to have the emotional impact. Because I (and undoubtedly others) see nothing unusual about Data pulling the trigger in that situation. And if it wasn't the writers' intention, why did they focus so much on talking about Data's use of self defense?

It IS possible that there is a different theme. Exploring how Data would react to a situation that most anyone else would respond to in an emotional manner is interesting enough. And Fajo is an interesting enough foil to that plot. Ultimately, Fajo treats Data as a thing, as an object he can control. But Data patiently outsmarts him, and in the end Fajo loses his control of others. And Fajo's assumptions of who Data is, of his thing-ness, is his ultimate downfall when his assumption turns out false on Data's willingness to engage in self defense. So that theme is present too. But looking back at it, I ultimately agree that it is hidden beneath the question of Data shooting. And ultimately, I think that story ended up stumbling.

So while this episode is certainly a good one, I think it is a bit too muddled for its own good.
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MusicalTurtle
Fri, Mar 6, 2020, 9:21am (UTC -5)
Re: PIC S1: Nepenthe

To add to my comment about watching on Amazon, interestingly enough they are all rated a 12 despite the swearing (I guess that's why it's not littered with four-letter words, but I really would have preferred it without their weekly quota of one f-bomb) and despite the violence, possibly because we don't see blood - except for the one with the eye scene of course, which is a 15. So even the ratings aren't much of a guide for what to expect.
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MusicalTurtle
Fri, Mar 6, 2020, 9:16am (UTC -5)
Re: PIC S1: Nepenthe

Hooray, Star Trek with genuine feelings! Actual Humanity! And I think their interactions do work despite their previous working relationships because they are there in a social situation rather than a command structure - they no longer work together so they don't need to maintain their professional 'distance' (calling each other Captain or Commander is just from habit) especially with Troi and Riker not needing to see Picard so clearly as their superior. I also think All Good Things set the stage for more camaraderie, as Picard now saw that he needed to show his appreciation and be a bit more open with them, rather than maintaining the distance he had up until then. I haven't seen the films for a long time but I like to think it's plausible, anyway, at least in the less life-and-death times and the more mundane missions.

Eh, Hugh's death was disappointing but at least made a little bit of sense in amongst the action. The scenes on Nepenthe did have me in tears - perhaps aided by my sleepless night last night so I'm more emotional anyway, but whatever, I enjoyed it even more than last week. I felt like these were real humans, with the added depth that the professional code of conduct on the Enterprise didn't quite allow (i.e. Roddenberry's insistence on no conflict amongst our main cast) and if I could have this type of Trek every week I would be overjoyed!

One thing about having to watch it on Amazon Prime, none of the episodes come with content advisories or previews for the following week, so I'm really having to take it as it comes. So the eye scene in That Episode was an absolute shocker, but then the Rikers this week were a wonderful surprise! I adore their daughter too, she's great!
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MusicalTurtle
Sat, Jan 25, 2020, 6:18pm (UTC -5)
Re: PIC S1: Remembrance

I still don't have the brainpower to read through all the comments so I don't know if anyone has said it, but the twin thing didn't feel like something we were supposed to know and understand. It was the scientist who said it, in telling Picard - she knows why because she's worked on this stuff. He just didn't ask about it (or, hasn't yet; they will have to explain it at some point, hopefully along with a bit more about how positronic cloning is supposed to work).

Last night I had a dream which included Bruce Maddox from something between MoAM and Picard, but with him looking like a sightly older version of Reginald Barclay. It was ... odd. But in my real life thoughts about Maddox, I rather like that he's gone from someone the audience is not supposed to like to presumably someone the audience will very much like for having continued Data's line, in a way.

Btw from the moment Dahj activated, I just knew she was Data's daughter - no idea how at that point, of course, but I was absolutely certain of it. It would be wonderful if somehow she is based on Data's research / experiments that led up to making Lal, but I don't know if that would work with the positronic cloning. I really did appreciate that there is a physical resemblance to Lal though, which I thought was very appropriate.
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MusicalTurtle
Fri, Jan 24, 2020, 2:49pm (UTC -5)
Re: PIC S1: Remembrance

Oh thank TPTB that so far it's not Discovery-esque! (By the time I realised I really didn't like DIS, I was engrossed in the plot so had to force myself to watch it through to the end of the first season. However if it hadn't been called Star Trek, I'd not have persevered beyond the first few episodes in the hope it would get better.) Some of the visuals showed that it's a product of the same era, but beyond that it simply felt like modernised Trek to me. A fitting ... update, I think would be the word. It's not a modern version of TNG but it's certainly still the same universe (and felt informed a bit by DS9 in a way, that the Federation and Starfleet are not perfect even though they'd like people to think they are).

In The Ready Room they mentioned that Picard was made for fans and new viewers alike. I think they got it right; for the casual viewer I think there was enough explanation that having watched TNG or any other Trek was not a prerequisite, but of course being a fan gives a deeper understanding and appreciation of the characters and references.

Count me incredibly relieved! Let's hope it continues to stay true to Trek.
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MusicalTurtle
Sat, Jan 11, 2020, 8:03pm (UTC -5)
Re: VOY S7: Lineage

I take it Michael from 2010 would have HATED Farscape!

Anyway, this has to be one of my favourite episodes - I do enjoy character work as some of the Fi with the Sci, and this was very well done in my eyes, and very ... I think 'authentic' is the word I'm looking for. It's entirely realistic that pregnancy and the thought of a new life would trigger suppressed trauma to (re)surface.

The one thing that shocked me was B'Elanna tampering with the Doctor, especially after all the holographic rights already dealt with (including way back to whenever he was given autonomy) but it felt in-character and plausible. I did appreciate that she truly felt remorse over it, and the Doctor was very gracious in his response to it but again plausibly so (I thought, anyway).

Man, season 7 overall is shaping up to be pretty much how it ought to have been from the start. Some of the episodes have had interesting shot choices which made even otherwise quite flat or banal episodes a bit more interesting. Ah well, no point lamenting there wasn't more of this quality now, it's best just to appreciate the good we *did* get. (Admittedly it is easier to say straight after a sterling episode such as this than after some of the worse episodes.)
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MusicalTurtle
Sat, Jan 11, 2020, 11:21am (UTC -5)
Re: VOY S7: Critical Care

Oh dear. 20 years later and people are dying in the US because they can't afford vital medication. In the UK there is uncertainty over the future of the NHS - which is overstretched and a bare minimum anyway; they're pretty good at keeping you alive but quality of life is not a priority. Not all of Star Trek's "message shows" are done well, but there are some I wish we could plonk government officials down in front of them and make them watch!

A bit scary that some people seem to think the NHS and similar systems were the subject of this though; the only vague parallel I could see was the difference between public and private healthcare but that's a very tenuous analogy, and people aren't routinely deprived of medical care because of their [financial] status in society. Occasionally individual fatal mistakes are made, but they are not systemic flaws!


Overall, I really rather enjoyed this episode. I agree there is the question of what really would happen in the long term, but I think the implication was that given a new choice to actually treat patients who needed it, the doctors would go with that, even if it meant playing the system to do so. How well that would work on the long term is debatable.
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MusicalTurtle
Wed, Jan 8, 2020, 1:23pm (UTC -5)
Re: VOY S6: Ashes to Ashes

Oops, forgot the footnote ^

*it practically was her native language after being reanimated and completely immersed, living as a Kobali.
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MusicalTurtle
Wed, Jan 8, 2020, 1:16pm (UTC -5)
Re: VOY S6: Ashes to Ashes

I don't have the brainpower to comment on the episode as a whole, or to read all the comments, but I just had to say:

What the HELL is wrong with a person speaking their native* language?!?!?! Who cares, as long as she can do the job?! I get that they're used to the universal translator making alien languages irrelevant, but ... seriously!! Maybe a quick glance would have been fine as it's something they're not used to, but staring is just ridiculous and unnecessary.

The Borg kids were fun; I really like the girl's feistiness.
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MusicalTurtle
Wed, Jan 8, 2020, 1:01pm (UTC -5)
Re: VOY S6: Spirit Folk

Y'know, the Doctor being hypnotised was one bit that (kind of) made sense to me, having being integrated into the Fair Haven programme.

I didn't particularly enjoy the original Fair Haven episode but I definitely preferred it to this.

*sigh* and this season had been doing pretty well on the whole.
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Skeptical
Mon, Jan 6, 2020, 6:16pm (UTC -5)
Re: TNG S2: Unnatural Selection

Don't worry Jason, it was only a half-serious callout on my part. But it does seem like the trend recently is that everyone should love Pulaski or at least respect the character (while, of course, the trend back in the day is that everyone should hate Pulaski). The truth is in the middle. She's not an overly atrocious character, but the character is flawed, and with only one season (and a shortened one at that), there just wasn't enough time for those flaws to be smoothed over.

As an aside, I'm not as much of a fan of the Kirk-Spock-Bones dynamic as its legendary status might suggest. There were way too many times that Bones was being contrarian just for contrarian's sake, and it hurt his character. He was fine in serious scenes with Kirk, and he was fine in lighthearted back-and-forths with Spock, but in the serious scenes with Spock he often looked just dumb (I think it was Gamesters of Triskelion where it just got too annoying for me). It hurt his character there too. So trying to ape Bones leaves a double-negative impression for me; one for being unoriginal and one for Bones himself sometimes being a weak character.
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Skeptical
Mon, Jan 6, 2020, 5:10pm (UTC -5)
Re: TNG S2: Unnatural Selection

Sorry Jason and Sen-Sors, but I must disagree. Calling anyone who disagrees with your opinion as sexist isn't fair. There are plenty of other reasons to have a negative opinion on Pulaski and/or a more positive opinion on Crusher.

- It wasn't JUST her antagonism towards Data that put people off; the very first impression of her is disrespecting Picard by ignoring protocol when she came on board the ship. So she starts off antagonistic towards BOTH of the beloved Trek characters. And while the Data bit may just be an attempt at cloning McCoy, the second was just uncalled for. She's a senior professional, she should REALLY know better than to blow off the captain like that. It's not a good look.

- Likewise, there was a bit of "try-hard"ness to the way the writers tried to push her character. There seemed to be a lot of pushing her to extremes on both ends. She's a luddite who hates transporters. But she's also the only person who can save Picard's life! She's antagonistic to Data. But she loves Klingon tea ceremonies! She was never really given a shot to just naturally blend in. You can say she has a strong personality, but it was more like the creators were forcing her to the front every chance they could get. It's like Wesley Part II. A genius kid could have been a good character, and in Seasons 3-5 he is a pretty good character, but the overt Mary-Sueness of his Season 1 basically killed any chance of making him likable. It's not quite the same with Pulaski, but it's still pretty in-your-face. (I think Ezri suffered from a similar situation as well)

- To piggyback on that, she only had one season. It sometimes takes time to settle in and become a natural character. Heck, Season 1 Picard is downright unpleasant, and obviously his character improved tremendously. Yes, some characters can hit the ground running like Ro, but maybe if Pulaski had stayed on she could have mellowed more, and more people would like her. But we'll never know.

- Crusher played a unique role in all of Trek, being the only main character that was also a mother. Trek has been outright hostile to family life at times (practically every main character is at odds with their family), but TNG was, in part, supposed to show that families and Starfleet could co-exist. Having a positive family unit in the main cast is a good idea. Or do you think motherhood isn't an important attribute? NOW who's the sexist one? =)

- And not character-related, but Diane Muldaur's voice is kinda grating. Sorry, but TV is an audio and visual medium, and these things are still important, no matter how much we might like to consider ourselves intelligent critics and say it's irrelevant. How often do people say they could sit and listen to Patrick Stewart read the phone book? Well, this is the opposite of that. And yes, Stewart's voice IS a legitimately positive aspect to Picard's character, so Muldaur's voice can be a negative aspect. And no, this isn't sexist either. I would say Auberjenois' voice did give me a negative impression of Odo as well (a minor one, of course... there are many other problems I had with his character).

So no, it's not fair to just call it sexist. Besides, it's a ridiculous claim to begin with. You do realize that women like watching handsome guys too, right? Are they being sexist if a hot guy is replaced by an ugly one?
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MusicalTurtle
Sat, Dec 21, 2019, 1:19pm (UTC -5)
Re: VOY S4: Retrospect

I took 'violated' to mean in the non-sexual way, e.g. if a doctor performs a procedure without consent that's a violation of an individual's right to decide (I forget the wording - but basically consent being important in all areas of life, not just sex). Of course the implications of this particular violation were wider than the effect it would have on the individual (Borg technology, yikes!) and I really thought they needed a part 2 to establish what exactly was going on.

The memory block was recent, so who put it there?
Was there a random drone some on the trader's planet?
What happened in those two hours - could modifying the weapon really have taken that long? (And did Tom Paris really not think to check in during that time?!) Why can't Seven remember more than a few minutes of working with the weapons?

It's the memory block that gives this far a more scientific basis than repressed memories in the real world. They couldn't prove Korvin's guilt BUT in order to prove his innocence for themselves they needed a part 2 to find out what exactly was going on despite his death. They needed to for Seven's sake if nothing else - and that way they wouldn't have been abandoning her like they said they wouldn't. Those memories got there somehow, that memory block got there somehow - maybe a creation of malfunctioning Borg tech or some other sci-fi explanation, it's more than just unreliable human memory.

I liked the idea of our heroes being on the wrong side of a judgement call, but the writers messed it up by putting in the memory block which was never dealt with. That's what made the Doctor so certain; without it the episode would have been believably ambiguous.

Seven was not at all at fault; I was incredibly disappointed that Janeway started out saying 'I have no doubt you believe what you're saying' and then ending by glaring at her after Korvin died. If she had no medical basis to believe the memories were accurate yet went spreading her account far and wide, yes she'd have been somewhat guilty in driving him to flee and end up dead. But as it was written, she had sound reason to believe these memories were accurate and expected the investigation to corroborate them - and we don't see her spreading anything beyond those who needed to know on Voyager either.

I appreciated the ending with Janeway and the Doctor, a bit deeper than 'and they all went on their merry way' like most episodes are. It wasn't perfect, but made a change and was fittingly downbeat after the events of the episode. Would have made more sense if they'd found the actual explanation for the memory block and memories though!
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MusicalTurtle
Thu, Dec 19, 2019, 7:29pm (UTC -5)
Re: VOY S4: Year of Hell, Part II

I commented on Part I that as a standalone it works really well (I no longer have the brainpower to analyse the plot enough to find holes in it, and a lot of commenters are insightful enough to find and share possible reasons for things) when putting aside one's frustration that ultimately it doesn't affect anything in the overall canon of Voyager. But other than the addition or subtraction of new characters, what does?!

I will have to watch it again in order to fully appreciate the episodes, but when I realised how everything was reset, I actually felt like the writers almost acquitted themselves - it was a much more organic solution than most resets, and almost felt inevitable from within the story. I was feeling frustrated knowing that it would all not really happen, but was pleaantly surprised when the 'how' began to unfold.

Nice touch that history took a different course this time too, not that it entirely made sense of course, but sort of made it feel worth it beyond letting Voyager survive.
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MusicalTurtle
Thu, Dec 19, 2019, 7:09pm (UTC -5)
Re: VOY S4: Year of Hell, Part I

Ah, Year of Hell, a.k.a. Voyager's writers have fun playing at DS9 but can't *quite* let go of the reset button.

I liked blind Tuvok (hooray for correct guiding and accessibility tech! [tactile interface]) and the dynamic between him and Seven was just perfect.

Neelix as security officer was a nice touch - you know things are bad when Neelix gets to put on a uniform!

To be honest, the very first time I watched it was as a teenager and I was glued to the screen, I couldn't believe they'd survive it - at that point the ending was actually a relief. Now it's frustrating, though that is for the next part. To be honest I've seen it a couple of times since but I still didn't remember how everything reset so I didn't skip it, but I didn't pay close attention like I normally intend to for rewatching. It's a good couple of episodes to examine what happens character-wise under extreme circumstances, and for that alone I may rewatch with more attention next time. So it does have some merit as a standalone piece, but in terms of the overall canon it doesn't do very much (whereas if the DS9 writers had been in charge, it most certainly would have had some kind of effect on the overall canon, even if they did still reset. Glimmers of those characterisations in other circumstances, probably with specific echoes of happenings in the episode even if it didn't really happen.)
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MusicalTurtle
Wed, Dec 4, 2019, 4:41pm (UTC -5)
Re: VOY S1: Prime Factors

Wow, I need to give this ep a second chance. Last time I attempted to watch Voyager was in between either Stargate, Farscape, or DS9 and I didn't get very far in the series, however I got to this episode, watched enough that I remembered what happened, and skipped it. Really, really disliked the lead alien - it was bad enough they he was creepy but I got the impression he was almost trying to force them to stay (the kind of character I wouldn't have been surprised if he sabotaged the ship to stop them leaving) and I just couldn't make it through the episode, so in my proper rewatch this time skipped it again. I'll have to come back to it when I can cope with Gath a bit better, and try to see the episode beyond him.
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MusicalTurtle
Wed, Dec 4, 2019, 4:10pm (UTC -5)
Re: VOY S1: Phage

"It's just beyond silly to think a disease that eats their cellular structures physically can be overcome by grafting harvested organs from aliens. Yikes. Total turn off."

It's not overcome, they have to keep replacing organs as the Phage attacks them - I thought that was the point? As for how the species survived, it's clear they even harvest skin (or so I thought from the patchwork grafts, unless that's the remnants of their skin instead?) so surely they just kept replacing every organ system as it fails.

The stored organs could have been spare from when they harvested from corpses.

Janeway made the moral choice, but she should have decided to hold them on principle until a resolution to Neelix' situation was found - she would have shown there would be at least some consequences rather than just allowing them to go free.
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MusicalTurtle
Mon, Dec 2, 2019, 10:45pm (UTC -5)
Re: VOY S1: The Cloud

VOY was the first Star Trek I followed when it was shown daily on a Freeview channel, though I missee episodes here and there. Then came TNG, and a long time later, DS9. I've rewatched TNG over and over (love it) and have seen VOY a few times through, but after a long Trek break for Stargates SG1 and Atlantis a few times through each, followed by Farscape, then returning to Trek with DS9, coming to VOY is ... different. I already know the lack of continuity or consequences are infuriating, but I wanted to watch it again because it was my favourite for so long at the beginning. I wasn't sure where to start but saw Quark of all characters in the thumbnail for the Pilot so just had to start there after all!

I'm watching with allowing myself the option to skip bits where I know what happens and have no interest in seeing it again (did the same with a partial second DS9 rewatch too) but so far I've only skipped bits of the Time episode. This episode I did not remember, and I thoroughly enjoyed it! I know by the end of the series the Doctor was my favourite character, bur I couldn't remember if he grew on me or how soon I started enjoying his character - right from the off, it turns out :D

Really enjoyed the character work in this, and "That's Starfleet for 'get out'!" made me chuckle. I always thought Neelix was supposed to be annoying - like Bashir at the beginning of DS9 - but obviously he doesn't develop anywhere near as well as Bashir. Always thought he had a good heart though, even if he didn't show it in the best way. I'll be interested to see how I feel about him in time (though his deception in the Pilot was a big mistake - I can only think that Janeway let him stay because he got them onto the planet which was necessary for the rescue. A bit of a stretch though.)

The holoprogramme was cringeworthy, and I was very surprised to see it in action so early on. I'm not sure if this is worse than Bride of Chaotica - actually I think it is, because it takes itself seriously as a place to relax!?! Whereas BoC is obviously just for laughs. I don't recall whether Sandrine's gets any better but I suspect not.

Those were quite disjointed thoughts - in short, aside from the majority of the holodeck scenes this was a very enjoyable episode for me.
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MusicalTurtle
Tue, Nov 26, 2019, 6:34pm (UTC -5)
Re: DS9 S6: The Sound of Her Voice

The twist at the end was a good way for the crew to not have to beat themselves up for not getting there in time. I like the point upthread that maybe a month or so would have been less of a plot hole, and that as she'd been out of the quadrant she was a pre-Dominion mindset. I'm not sure if that latter point even came through in the episode though - it fell a bit flat for me too. It certainly had unrealised potential, which is a bit frustrating, but viewing it as an almost standalone/filler episode it was okay.
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Skeptical
Wed, Nov 13, 2019, 6:52pm (UTC -5)
Re: TNG S3: The Most Toys

Peter and Chrome, I know the comments have gone round and round on this issue, but I must object. Data's action to fire was NOT about preventing crimes in the long-term future, but about preventing an IMMINENT crime. Fajo told Data to return to his cell or he would kill another crew member. That was an imminent threat (backed up by the fact that he just killed a different one). Submitting under that threat would still be kidnapping, so it's a crime. If Data left, he would be guilty by omission of allowing someone else to die immediately. It's effectively a hostage situation (ie, a current situation), rather than vague threats about the future.

That's why I don't think this was a huge stretch to his ethical programming. It's SOP in a hostage situation that the hostage takers' lives are forfeit if they threaten the hostages and if the hostage takers can be killed without harming the hostages. That's the clearest analogy to Data's situation. He should have had no problem, relatively speaking, in killing Fajo. In fact, he should have even less qualms than a human, who might intellectually understand that it's the proper course of action in a crisis situation but might balk at the emotional side.
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Skeptical
Wed, Nov 13, 2019, 6:39pm (UTC -5)
Re: VOY S4: Hunters

Proteus, just because I am not a strong author does not mean I should blindly accept all stories from anyone who is marginally better at it than me. Yes, the Voyager writers are better than I am at making good stories. But so are thousands of others. So why can't I be picky?

I don't have the time or energy to go through all characters, but let's just look at Kim for a moment. And for the record, I'm not a nitpicky, hate everything type of person. I did think the Seven/Kim "romantic" subplot was a pretty good idea. I don't mind that he is the straight man, as it were. But there are still severe problems with his character.

Star Trek has a long-standing tradition of having two technobabble characters. The "royal smart one" (as SFDebris puts it) is in charge of providing exposition on the weird stuff they encounter and coming up with the solution to it (Spock, Data, Dax), while the engineer is in charge of saying what's wrong with the ship and how to fix it (Scotty, LaForge, O'Brien). Torres is obviously the engineer here. But that makes Kim, the other technobabble character, the Royal Smart One. Except Spock is a superintelligent Vulcan, Data is a superintelligent android, and Dax has a dozen lifetimes of experience. Kim is fresh out of college. There's nothing wrong with being fresh out of college, but you put those people in entry-level jobs, not Chief Science Officer. Chekov had a vague bridge job that made sense as entry-level. Wesley just had to punch coordinates into SpaceGoogle Maps, which works as entry-level. Nog's role was also nebulous, so still entry-level. But Kim is given the job of Ops (nebulous, but we know that superintelligent android Data had the job before) and is seen as a Senior Staff, despite being entry-level.

This gives his character a sense of unbelievability. Sure, presumably the real ops officer died in Caretaker and Kim had to fill in, but we never got a sense of his character within that. He never felt like a n00b in his job, even though he really is. Even worse, because he is not believable as a Royal Smart One, he didn't really get that job either. If anything, Janeway (who had a background in science, and thus is believable as Royal Smart One) had that role in the first half of the show. And obviously Seven (with Borg experiences, believable as Royal Smart One) got the job after that.

Which means, well, what's the point of Kim? It's one thing to say he's the straight man, but this isn't a buddy show or a comedy. It's very much a procedural show similar to cop shows or whatever (obviously more variety though). And in procedural shows, each person has a specific role to perform. But now there's three technobabble characters, and Kim's the least believable, least valuable of the bunch. What, exactly, does he do here? He never grabbed the niche of Royal Smart One because he's not believable at it, and he never grabbed the niche of being the kid (at least in the "work" part of the show, he obviously grabbed it in the "character" part of the show) since he was given such a prestigious position. It made his character superfluous. That's why many people think he should have been the one to go during Scorpion. Seven is believable both as the Royal Smart One and as the kid, and you also would still have Kes as the kid as well. It would have made for smoother storytelling overall rather than trying to justify Kim's presence.

Or, in summary, Kim's procedural role (Royal Smart One) is at fundamental odds with his character role (the newbie), which makes him an unrealistic character. I mean, sure, there was Wesley, but they had to shill him up as a Mozart-esque genius just to get us to barely tolerate him. Kim doesn't even have that.

Next, about him being the straight man compared to the weird character traits. Yes, that's fine. You can have a character like that. But the problem is, that's not his only character trait. The other one was being the kid as I alluded to previously. And the problem was the writers were inconsistent with how well they had him grow out of being the kid. Because let's face it, being the kid is MEANT to be a transitory character trait over time. Personally, I think they (and Wang) did do a better job on this than a lot of people think, but it still was inconsistent.

In NCIS, the character of McGee was brought on to the show as a second straight man (other than being nerdy, he was basically competent, serious, decent, and "normal") in the 2nd season. He also acted as the newbie. So y'know, Kim. Except the newbieness was shrinking dramatically by Season 4 and essentially gone by Season 6. As he gained experience, he stopped being a newbie! He became more confident, more self assured, less gullible. Again, Kim did grow a little bit, but there were many times where he would snap back and be just the kid again. He never truly grew.

Also, even if Kim is the straight man, it doesn't mean the straight man can't be interesting. You described him as being the boy scout. But you know who fits that role even better? Jean-Luc Picard. He is essentially the Roddenberry Ideal made flesh. He is the ultimate straight man. And he was a billion times more interesting than Kim ever was. Sure, the odds were stacked in his favor by being captain rather than a utility man, but still... Picard made TNG what it was. Patrick Stewart made Picard who he was. Maybe it's not fair to compare Wang to Stewart, but the reality is that Kim faded into the background while Picard burst into the foreground (and considering when TNG started they were hyping up Riker as the big deal, the ascendance of Picard in TNG was not a foregone conclusion).

And regarding the promotion bit, well, I agree that it SHOULDN'T matter on a ship that has no real opportunities for advancement. The problem is that the show did seem to think it mattered. Tuvok got promoted. Paris got demoted and repromoted. And yet Kim was the perpetual ensign, DESPITE running a critical department. It made no sense.

OK, I know I said I wasn't doing everyone, but Chakotay's reaction was perfect? So, 10 minutes after finding out that his friends and colleagues all died a brutal death, he... inquires as to the availability of Janeway's pants? That's perfect??? No grief at all?
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MusicalTurtle
Sun, Nov 3, 2019, 6:31pm (UTC -5)
Re: DS9 S5: Trials and Tribble-ations

Wonderful fun! I've not seen any of TOS so I genuinely have no idea where the original footage starts and stops, other than scenes with the original main characters are obviously original. Maybe I'd have enjoyed it even more if I were a TOS fan but as it was, I *thoroughly* enjoyed it.

Memory Alpha mentions O'Brien mistakes Shatner's stunt double for Kirk :D it also explains how meticulous they were with recreating the sets, even down to examining parts with a magnifying glass! A labour of love on the entire technical side too, such as using the same type of film as the original for the scenes set in the past. I already loved it from my previous watch-through but finding out the background elevated it even further in my estimation.
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Skeptical
Wed, Oct 30, 2019, 3:27pm (UTC -5)
Re: TNG S6: Man of the People

I don't care about how JFK will be remembered, but I do take issue with Rebecca's claim that this episode deserves to be praised just because it brought up an important issue or whatever. I've said it before, but if all you're looking for in fiction is to present issues important to you, I'd be happy to prostitute myself out to whatever position you want and write a book for you. Of course, my skills in writing fiction approach zero, so these would be terrible books, but hey, who cares? "Sure, it has its problems, but it tackles a much more interesting human problem than the usual “attacked by aliens” or “warp core breach” plot. " So 3 stars for my crappy fiction!

I mean, take Jackie for instance (as an aside, I find it humorous that Rebecca didn't choose the more recent Hillary Clinton as an example, since it's MUCH more obvious she's power-obsessed and thus doesn't really fit as a "victim"). She COULD have exposed JFK's infidelities and filed for divorce, but didn't. Oh, Rebecca might say, there was societal pressure and blah blah blah, fine, whatever. But the 24th century DOESN'T have that pressure (especially since Betazed is generally presented as at least slightly matriarchal). Troi is SUPPOSED to be a strong, independent woman. So doesn't analogizing her to other people ruin her character? Besides, this isn't even a marriage, Troi knew this guy for, like, a week; how much societal pressure can build up in that time frame?

That's the sort of reason why most of us call this a bad episode regardless of how important the message is. There's only 3 options here:

1) Troi was too weak or cowed to defend herself against Alkar's assault. This would fit the analogy Rebecca wants, but goes against her character that's been built up for 6 years. So it's inconsistent writing of character, which is a flaw in the story.

2) Troi was unable to comprehend what happened to her. This is rather incredulous, since you think you would notice aging 20 years in a day. And she is clearly in a strong enough mental state to perform her therapist duties, even if her persona has changed. Since it strains credibility that she can function semi-normally without noticing the rapid aging, this is poor plotting, ie, a flaw in the story.

3) Troi was physically powerless to stop Alkar's assault. Again, this is somewhat incredulous given her ability to do other stuff, but let's say that Alkar was basically controlling her mind. This does not gel with what we are told, meaning it too is inconsistent and a flaw in the story. But just as importantly, JFK was NOT controlling Jackie's mind, so even if this is the case then the episode fails as an analogy. As I said previously, I have no love for JFK or Clinton, and thus might be predisposed to accepting a story critical of them, but even I think mental slavery is a bridge too far in comparing their sins. So if the intent is to draw attention to real-world issues, then this becomes a flawed analogy, and thus also a flaw in the story.

Regardless of what happened, the story as presented was flawed! Hence why most of us criticize it. Heck, I agree with Rebecca that watching Troi dress down Janeway was a "highlight" of the show. But that was meant to show something was WRONG with Troi. And yet for people like me, it came off as Troi becoming a BETTER character, meaning it didn't do it's job. So it TOO was flawed!

And that's not even touching the magic de-aging at the end, which is extremely lazy. I mean, yes, character or plotting flaws are more important flaws than technobabble flaws, and you have to be willing to take stuff with a huge grain of salt in the Trek world, but they didn't even TRY to paper over how absurd that is!

Given the very real flaws of the story as presented, what good is it if it raises issues?
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Skeptical
Fri, Oct 25, 2019, 5:25pm (UTC -5)
Re: TNG S3: Yesterday's Enterprise

A quick and perhaps not well thought out counterpoint, Peter:

Perhaps it is actually S1 Tasha that is what her true nature should be, someone who can be prone to emotional moments (not as bad as S1 portrayed since S1 was terrible, character-wise, all around). I could see the cold, serious, "heavily on her guard" nature from YE as simply being a continuation of her life from the failed colony instead. In YE, she moved from one war zone to another. Thus, her cold demeanor is simply her being in survival mode, and she never grew out of it.

One could even argue that, combining S1 emotional Tasha to YE cold Tasha, we have an argument that the Trek utopia had a positive impact on her. In S1, she is no longer cold and weary, but rather can relax and act naturally due to her new and improved environment. Perhaps she is able to still take her skills learned on her planet and use them for security (ignoring how incompetent Starfleet security is in general...) but without the crippling fear of home can do it without repressing herself.

Enh, or it's just bad writing in S1... Hard to say what Tasha's true character would have been based off how bad it was. Remember, Picard was a grumpy old man throughout the entire season!
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