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Tue, Aug 20, 2019, 12:48pm (UTC -5)
Re: TNG S6: True Q

"Trek repeatedly has an episode with a character accepting their nature in some way, about how even if they don't like their people's culture, it's part of who you are and they are your people and I feel that gets uncomfortable after certain point, even if few other stories go against it."

Ah, but I wonder if Amanda really didn't like being Q or if she was just put off by Q being his obnoxious self. It seems like that scenes where she could really use her powers to do things beyond human imagination where scenes Amanda really enjoyed herself. Being a human was stifling to her, even if that was understandably hard to accept given that her life up until a certain point was a human one.

"I don't really get why it being ensemble should mean it shouldn't focus on any part of the ensemble though."

I'm just curious because you keep on deferring to a Michael Piller mandate about main character development needing to occur in an episode for it to be good, but I'm at a bit of a loss as to how it would work in this episode. I brought up Crusher, Picard, and Q who have pretty sizeable roles as it is. I don't know what else this episode would need to do for those characters to make it work in the Michael Piller "let's tie everything to our leads" sense. I can imagine a few scenarios that might include the main cast better, but I'm not sold they would work in this particular episode. I don't mean to say Michael Piller is a hack or anything, but by the same token I don't want some interview of his to become the Sine qua non of TNG.

"Try me over on Enterprise reviews, I'm much more invested in my belief Night in Sickbay is a crime against humanity :-)"

I haven't seen it, or most of Enterprise really. I always hear bad things about the show even from *fans* of it. My limited exposure to the show makes me think it might be fun in a campy "let's see some silly sci-fi" type of way.
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Tue, Aug 20, 2019, 10:30am (UTC -5)
Re: TNG S6: True Q

Perhaps I'm just too moved by DeLancie and d'Abo's performance, but I don't see the need for it to be about the main crew. On the contrary, TNG has an ensemble cast where there isn't a single protagonist, so there's no need for the story to be mainly about any of them for it to work. Also, take account that it's season six episode so the viewer is pretty familiar with the main cast. If this episode focused more on Beverly Crusher's workday, for example, it might be downright boring.

"This isn't part of my problem with the ep, but I actually feel the whole "can't escape your nature" gets progressively more uncomfortable the more times Trek gives that lesson."

I'm not sure where you're going with this.
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Mon, Aug 19, 2019, 1:44pm (UTC -5)
Re: TNG S1: Coming of Age

@Peter G.

"And we likewise don't get to see "Starfleet may not be for him", because he seems to thrive on the environment and sincerely admires the process and the instructors. The 'moral' at the end with Picard seems to be that even gifted people can fail, and they just need to try again."

I think we do see a glimpse of this isn't for him as Wesley was more interesting in helping a struggling alien companion (Mordock) and the other girl than winning the competition. I imagine the academy is very competitive and Wesley is already showing signs that he doesn't want to cut someone off to get ahead. I see this as a softness that might be *fatal* in a military officer who makes difficult decisions which hurt others all the time. I agree with you about Picard's lesson, but it could be that the lesson was correct for someone like Picard but *not* Wesley (We see this pattern again when Picard messed up at the academy and had to repeat a year, which again was something Picard could do but Wesley couldn't).

Of course this is a charitable reading of a messy season one episode with full hindsight in mind, but I do think later seasons try to take full advantage of the good material in these early messy episodes.
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Mon, Aug 19, 2019, 12:53pm (UTC -5)
Re: TNG S1: Coming of Age

@Peter G.

I always understood Wesley failing as a case of "even geniuses can have trouble when it comes to performing routine tasks". Maybe the test was *too easy* for Wesley and he just didn't put his heart into it like Nog would've had to.

I think Wesley failing works in the scheme of Wesley's arc, as it's a hint of things to come. Wesley typically engages in behaviors that break the mold of a Starfleet Officer, like performing a Kolvoord Starburst which cadets "shouldn't" do. Later during peace negotiations with the Cardassians, Wesley pretty much disrupts that whole endeavor as he sees the treaty as wrongly oppressing the truly powerful - spirituality - which perhaps only a being like Wesley can comprehend. At any rate, Wesley just isn't good at Starfleet and following its rules, even if he's much more advanced in other ways.
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Mon, Aug 19, 2019, 12:42pm (UTC -5)
Re: TOS S2: Amok Time

@Peter G.

I agree with what you're saying, it's just jarring that they dropped a lot of this stuff later. I think Sarek was more of a "special case" however, because he was subject to a rare illness whereas in most cases Vulcans can keep their minds whole up until their death, as I understand it. The Pon Farr ritual is much more routine for Vulcans, and it seems only Vulcans can really tolerate its savagery as McCoy and Kirk basically cheat their way out of the ritual's outcome. Notably Spock is actually thrilled they cheated the system, perhaps suggesting he's not so enamored with Vulcan tradition either.
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Mon, Aug 19, 2019, 11:10am (UTC -5)
Re: TOS S2: Amok Time

What's interesting here is the Vulcans are depicted as somewhat brutal savages when it comes to social rituals. There's arranged marriages orchestrated by political status rather than romance, and there's battles *to the death* over who gets to mate with who. Are these the same Vulcans we see in "The Search for Spock"? It's almost as if they took this template for Vulcans and applied them to Klingons later because it's hard to believe that Vulcans would be capable of such savagery.

Still, none of this later retconning hurts the episode itself. Mostly I can get on board with how well Nimoy guards his emotions yet shows them indirectly to his dear friends, Kirk and Bones. The ending is very predictable in terms of story, but the acting of Nimoy, Shatner, and Kelley makes the screenplay really shine.
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Mon, Aug 19, 2019, 10:54am (UTC -5)
Re: TNG S6: True Q

@Strejda

It sounds like you didn't like the guest character this time but in the episodes where you did like the guest character you didn't mind when TNG focused on a guest character.

Personally I quite enjoy this one. There's something poetic about being unable to deny one's own nature. There's also an interesting metaphor about a post-graduate with unlimited potential not having that full potential realized on a starship. The Enterprise is great and all, but Starfleet can't be the end-all, be-all for everyone in the universe.
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Sun, Aug 18, 2019, 7:04pm (UTC -5)
Re: VOY S5: In the Flesh

The episode itself gives no details but Janeway theorizes that they may have stolen info from the Borg. Maybe I’m missing something here, but the episode’s premise sounds like it’s built on quicksand.
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Sun, Aug 18, 2019, 3:56pm (UTC -5)
Re: VOY S5: In the Flesh

Yanks, it’s a matter of details. You may remember TNG’s “Future Imperfect” where machines could read Riker’s mind and create a “future” for him but it was riddled with holes, as would seem likely from simulating something the simulators know nothing first-hand about.

Nor am I being unfair to Voyager, as I made the same criticism about TOS’ “Patterns of Force” copying Nazism. However, I think even Patterns makes more sense as they had someone from Earth with historical expertise who should understand and be familiar with the Nazis.
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Sun, Aug 18, 2019, 12:41pm (UTC -5)
Re: VOY S5: In the Flesh

Right, we don’t know what fluid space is and is easy to conclude the writers themselves don’t know. The wormhole on the hand, is very well established over multiple episodes including the pilot. So the Dominion comparison is invalid and Rahul’s criticism is fair.
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Sun, Aug 18, 2019, 4:18am (UTC -5)
Re: VOY S5: In the Flesh

“‘Anyhow, the weakness of the episode is the lack of credibility of the 8472's plan to impersonate Star Fleet to such a degree from like 60,000 light years away.’

The Dominion Changelings wave hello.”

Of course The Dominion had a stable wormhole so, yeah.
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Fri, Aug 16, 2019, 2:33pm (UTC -5)
Re: TNG S3: The Offspring

@Top Hat

Data may mean “she can use contractions [freely]”. That would still be grammatically correct and convey that he struggles with them.

Out of universe, in interviews Spiner said he’d always hated the contraction bit for Data, so him slipping them in can be seen as a form of peaceful protest. It is pretty dumb, if you’ve taken even beginners’ programming you’d understand that the function for a computer using contractions is really simple.
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Fri, Aug 16, 2019, 11:51am (UTC -5)
Re: TNG S3: The Offspring

Actually this episode fixes the contradiction for us. The line in this episode is that Data hasn't "mastered" contractions yet, which means he can use them, but only on a limited basis unlike Lore and Lal who use them freely.
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Wed, Aug 14, 2019, 10:30am (UTC -5)
Re: ENT S3: Impulse

I don't think Scott Bakula is particularly good casting either. I watched Quantum Leap as a child and couldn't get that image of him being an Earth time jumper out of my head. Instead of trekking across the cosmos, the dude just looks like he should be out in Nebraska building a baseball field for dream players to play on while Ziggy tells him his time isn't up yet.
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Tue, Aug 13, 2019, 1:57pm (UTC -5)
Re: TNG S4: The Wounded

Peter G. wrote:

"So the only question in this episode is whether it's morally right to play the bad cop and get the information proving their activities, or to be like Picard and sue for peace almost at any cost. I don't want to call Picard naive in this case, but I've said before that if Picard had been in charge during Chain of Command things would have turned out poorly for the Federation. We should be thankful for men like Picard to reign in bullies and pragmatists, but at the same time we should be thankful for Jellicos and Maxwells who have the guts to go in and get the job done."

I think both TNG and DS9 leave it open to interpretation whether the pragmatic approach gets the job done. I mean sure, Maxwell was right here, but his actions may have escalated a relatively small problem that could've gone away on its own as the people got comfortable with peace. Despite these pragmatists getting their hands dirty because Picard won't, war still breaks out again with Cardassia. Thus, you have to wonder if being dirty didn't cost the Federation more in the long run.

And to be fair, you could argue that not taking action sooner like Maxwell wanted led to more war. There's no way to know for sure - the writers don't give us the info and leave it up to the viewer. One interpretation is that war was inevitable, another is that the hawks on both sides sabotaged any chance for peace.

I think what makes a lot of this story still relevant is we see these kinds of petty skirmishes with the Russia and Europe/USA to this day. You have to wonder what the best way to handle this is and whether we need a Maxwell or a Picard or maybe someone *completely different* to help stop the cold aggression.
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Mon, Aug 12, 2019, 12:42pm (UTC -5)
Re: TNG S2: Elementary, Dear Data

Sorry for the typos, Internet Explorer is apparently *my* virtual opponent today.
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Mon, Aug 12, 2019, 12:36pm (UTC -5)
Re: TNG S2: Elementary, Dear Data

I mostly like this one too and I agree with William B and Springy's analysis that the beginning "game" part of the episode where with the characters decided they want something challenging and engaging pairs well with Morality becoming a living being that actually challenges the Trekkian notion of lifeform. Muldaur, Spiner, and Burton are all great in this one and it probably sells itself on performance and costume alone.

That said, I don't think episode does resolve Pulaski's challenge very well. Did Data solve the Holmes' mystery? It feels more like Picard had to solve it for everyone. And if that's so then the takeaway appears to be that Pulaski was right; Data isn't human enough to take on an original challenge yet. And - don't get me wrong - that conclusion by itself wouldn't be such a bad thing, but somehow I don't feel like that's the conclusion the writers were going for.
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Sun, Aug 11, 2019, 10:13am (UTC -5)
Re: TNG S6: True Q

@Stredja

“I can't remember where I've read it, but I've heard one of the first rules Michael Piller laid down when he became a showrunner was that each story has to be in some way about one of the main characters.”

I’d like to see the source for that just out of curiosity, but I think that’s more of a guideline than a hard and fast rule. “The Defector”, for example, is mostly about Admiral Jarok but it tells a gripping story about Cold War tensions. And to this episode’s credit, we do learn that Q still works for the Continuum’s interests and also that the trial for humanity isn’t over. Those developments make a good setup for the Picard and Q characters in the finale.
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Fri, Aug 9, 2019, 10:36am (UTC -5)
Re: TNG S2: The Child

@Springy

It's interesting, I often pass over this episode but reading your comments makes me think that this season tends to talk about "What is life and death?" and "What is the nature of life?" quite often. Feels like season two had quite the group of philosophers on board its writing team. :-)
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Thu, Aug 8, 2019, 11:36am (UTC -5)
Re: TNG S5: The Perfect Mate

@Peter G.

That's a good point with Bulldog. The show itself largely diminished Dan Butler's role on the show after season 3 or so perhaps because such behavior elicited a negative response from some viewers. Though, the character's kind of interesting case, because he's almost pathologically bad at handling women and I wonder if Ross isn't reporting him to HR out of pity. Another layer to all this is that Dan Butler's a gay man, so his role as Bulldog is kind of like farce wrapped in another farce.

Anyway, sorry to interrupt the discussion with the side-note. I'm just a big fan of Wings, Cheers, and Frasier. :-)
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Thu, Aug 8, 2019, 11:05am (UTC -5)
Re: TNG S5: The Perfect Mate

@Peter G.

"As it happens, I'm doing a watch-through of Frasier now with my wife, and we're occasionally dumbstruck as the casual sexism that passed for 'comedy' in the early 90's. Like guys in an office slapping a lady's butt, which is supposed to be taken as "oh, that guy!" or the casual sexual harassment of people in the office constantly referencing her sex life in pejorative terms. So yeah, I'm down with re-evaluating 90's stuff from a modern perspective to see how it's aged."

Wait, people were slapping women on the butt without objection in Frasier? You know, Frasier often looks at things from Martin's time (the 1950s), but as far as I can remember it always couches those quirks from 1950s culture with a sense of "that's not how things work now, Dad". Moreover, Frasier is a show that presents strong successful women on a weekly basis. Lifetime (the women's network in the USA) aired the show regularly after its run in the 2000s and it was lauded by many women's groups for its positive portrayal of the working woman. So, I mean say what you will with 2019 values, but Frasier was way ahead of its time *in terms of feminism*.

The rub in looking back at these old shows with a wagging finger is that you need to put the show into historical context (which I think is your larger point, Peter). TOS and TNG may have had their problems with gender, but remember that without them pioneering progressive ideas there would never be a Voyager with a female captain, let alone Discovery with a female lead. I hope you all can meter your discussions with a little perspective. I know Jammer does.
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Wed, Aug 7, 2019, 1:01pm (UTC -5)
Re: TNG S1: Conspiracy

@Springy

I never thought about this episode considering what's inside each character that's important. One sort of unexplored angle - to me, at least - is that we see Remmick again reprising his role as the abiding toady. This seems like it might be a continuation from "Coming of Age" where, under orders, he dutifully audited the Enterprise for security breaches. The problem is though, is that it seems like Remmick did a 180 in the previous episode, and was no longer interested in just the nuts and bolts of Starfleet. It turns out that he really wanted to be with a good team that took Starfleet to another level like on the Enterprise-D. So inside, Remmick was a decent guy - just following obnoxious orders.

Now it turns out that probably sometime in between that episode and this one that Remmick was invaded, but I wonder why he was chosen? It's not really a matter of just desserts for the audience now, is it? Are they trying to show that even the most dedicated members of Starfleet interested in protecting it were being turned by the Conspirators? I'm not quite sure.
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Tue, Aug 6, 2019, 5:14pm (UTC -5)
Re: TNG S5: The Perfect Mate

Peter's reference to the day's of yore is closer to the writers' intent here. Kamala's arranged marriage for peace is similar to Henry VIII of England offering his sister to Louis XII of France for a peace treaty. Henry's sister has no agency; she's simply carrying out the marriage because she must obey Henry VIII and - perhaps she knew that someday this would be her fate because it's part of being royal Countess. Kamala's tragic duty mirror's the Countess' in this scenario.

The stripper analogy is clumsy because it suggests that Kamala is performing services for *her own gain* - that she's trained to handle many men and earn personal income from it. That's not at all what's happening in this episode.

I'm not sure where the notion that Kamala is lying came from; it comes off as an inexplicably cynical head-canon for the episode. If Kamala's last conversation with Picard was a big fat lie it essentially guts the entire piece - we can't take any part of the climactic dialogue seriously.

This a story by American writers from 1992 we're talking about. They understand that forced arranged marriage is *not a good thing*. As has been stated, it's more likely the writers wanted to show us that despite knowing that Kamala's role is an unjust one for her, there is dignity in self-sacrifice. Being forced to sacrifice is wrong; but choosing to sacrifice, as Kamala ultimately does, is something we can respect.
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Tue, Aug 6, 2019, 11:48am (UTC -5)
Re: TOS S2: Metamorphosis

@Peter G.

I like that idea as it plays well to Cochrane's curiosity and disgust as he adapts to the wonders of space. Much of Trek discusses how space will change the way we live and think. If things become too extreme and different for humanity though, we may find that like Cochrane, it will be a change that is impossible to accept. Indeed, Bedford becomes incidentally ill from spending too much time in the struggles of space. There needs to be a sort of well-guided compromise of human and alien values for this exploration to work. This speaks much to the idea of using the "carrot" as Bones suggested to get the companion to both learn from us as we learn from her.
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Tue, Aug 6, 2019, 10:45am (UTC -5)
Re: TNG S5: The Perfect Mate

The stripper analogy is wrong and in bad taste.
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