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James G
Sun, May 24, 2020, 9:31am (UTC -5)
Re: TNG S4: Final Mission

I'm OK with this one. I didn't remember ever seeing it before I watched it today, and there can't be many of those. I was entertained.

On the plus side, there's a nice portrait of Riker in command - decisive and perpared to take risks. The plot is fairly original. But it never seems to reach a satisfactory conclusion - we don't find out who put the force field on this desert moon, or why.

I found Wesley's emotional monologue to Picard just a bit too mawkish, and he chews the scenery a bit. He is also ridiculously disrespectful to Dirgo, a man whom Picard generally treats with tact and respect. Doesn't matter that Dirgo is obviously a dick. Ensign Crusher should maintain the dignity and decorum that comes with wearing a Starfleet uniform.

I liked the creepy sci-fi horror feel of the ominous fountain defender, especially when it mummifies Dirgo.

Really minor quibble this, but all the ridiculous flashing lights on Wesley's tricorder - in 2020 when handheld tech is so commonplace as to be mundane, it really seems preposterous. I can't imagine what they're for. Has sci-fi moved past making objects futuristic by adorning them with flashing lights now, 30 years later?
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James G
Sun, May 17, 2020, 4:08pm (UTC -5)
Re: TNG S4: Future Imperfect

I quite like this one. Wouldn't have been a bad idea even on the basis of the first plot twist, but the second twist is very clever (albeit the details don't bear thinking about too much).

Once again the away team beams down with the same thin clothing they wear in Forward Ten, and they only find out that the levels of toxicity in the atmosphere are acceptable after they get there.

There's a really interesting scene in this one where Deanna asks Riker what he wished for - he hesitates and she whacks him on the arm, and after he replies the ensuing laughter is so natural that I suspect it's a blooper that they decided to keep in. I don't think the whack on the arm was scripted, I think she was irritated because he seemed to have forgotten a line! But it works really nicely. Frakes might even have ad-libbed that line.

The ageing makeup works quite well. Subtle.

Anyway - not one that bears close scrutiny but enjoyable.
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James G
Sat, May 9, 2020, 10:12am (UTC -5)
Re: TNG S4: Reunion

It's a decent one, but it's pretty flawed. The bomb going off doesn't add a lot to the plot and the Romulan involvement is very underplayed. Worf's son's non-reaction to his mother's death is ridiculous.

Worf slaughters one of the candidates for ultimate ruler of the Klingon Empire, and gets away with a reprimand.

Not bad, not really a good one.
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James G
Thu, Apr 23, 2020, 11:38am (UTC -5)
Re: TNG S4: Legacy

This would be a bit of a filler episode except for the sheer, unmitigated, eye-popping hotness of Beth Toussaint, which transforms it into a "must watch".

In terms of the plot it's pretty formulaic, constructed from familiar elements - the warring faction on the planet trying to manipulate Picard & crew to their advantage, a phaser shootout in underground tunnels and even a poker game.

I must say, for an insurgent guerrilla group the Coalition fighters have immaculate wardrobes and hairdressing at their disposal. One of my Star Trek pet peeves is that away teams always beam down in the same uniform, whatever the task or conditions - and this one is no exception. Ishara goes into combat wearing a powder blue catsuit.

I think I'd probably seen this one before but I can't actually remember it.
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James G
Thu, Apr 9, 2020, 4:54pm (UTC -5)
Re: TNG S4: Remember Me

I'm not fond of this one. I'd seen it once before, in the '90s and the only thing I remembered was Beverley asking the computer about the nature of the universe.

I'm usually quite keen on alternate dimension / parallel universe type sci-fi and this one gets off to a promising start. But when the 'traveller' turns up the whole idea turns out to be silly. Beverley manages to think up a new universe, helped by what amounts to a sort of unintended feature of the warp drive, provoked by an experiment.

A couple of thoughts. Everyone in Beverley's universe seems very slow to conclude that she's the one at fault. O'Brien is examined, the Enterprise is searched, Picard agrees to take the ship back to a star base for diagnostics before they decide that she's suffering from a delusion, even though it's the only plausible explanation from their point of view.

It's certainly handy that Beverley likes to think out loud, isn't it? And she seems to solve the puzzle, based on what she knows and is able to find out, ridiculously easily.

In both universes, Wesley's experiment is ridiculously dangerous. Does he just get away with it?
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James G
Sun, Apr 5, 2020, 10:04am (UTC -5)
Re: TNG S4: Suddenly Human

Odd episode, this one. Not that interesting. It works I guess as an allegory of those biological vs adoptive parent stories that sometime occur in real life, sometimes involving abducted or stolen children - there was one in the news a couple of years ago. But I didn't find it very interesting until there's a standoff between the Enterprise and the Talarians, at the end - and then only mildly so.

It's weird that the kid tries to murder Picard, but gets away with it completely. Even stranger that there's no hard feelings at all, and even a touching moment between Picard and his would-be murderer at the conclusion.
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James G
Sun, Mar 29, 2020, 9:16am (UTC -5)
Re: TNG S4: Brothers

I had misremembered this one. I had thought there were two Lore TNG episodes, in the second of which Lore becomes even more threatening and has, ultimately, to be dismantled permanently.

But Lore does nothing much more harmful or perilous than stealing Data's emotion chip and throwing out a few snarky insults, and I was still waiting for the story to hit its stride when the end credits came up. It really does feel to me like an episode that ultimately goes nowhere interesting.

Nonetheless, Data going into his ingenious full-on mutiny mode is highly entertaining. And Brent Spiner's three-way acting is remarkable, especially when you consider that he must have been reacting to someone speaking his own lines in those scenes. Bravo.

Isn't it odd that Sung doesn't recognise Lore, even when he's poking about in his brain? I guess he must have used exactly the same parts for both of them.

And yes, the contrivance of the poisoned child, and the parallel theme about brothers is a bit hard to take.
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James G
Sun, Mar 15, 2020, 12:01pm (UTC -5)
Re: TNG S4: Family

Not really my sort of episode, this one. It's not really in the Star Trek tradition of tension, peril and drama. But I respect it for what it is.

One thing that I do find interesting about this episode, the thing I remember it for most, is the family home in France. There's absolutely nothing futuristic about it. It looks like the early part of the 20th Century. Picard's "laptop" stands out like a sore thumb there. It might have seemed appropriately 24th Century-ish when this episode was first screened, but it looks ridiculously dated now so even that's a bit anachronistic.

Nice to see Jeremy Kemp in TNG. Superb actor. Died in July last year, sadly.
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James G
Sun, Mar 15, 2020, 7:19am (UTC -5)
Re: TNG S4: The Best of Both Worlds, Part II

I'm grateful for Stef's comment above, because I well remember watching this two-parter in the UK when it was first shown, then talking about it at work the next day. A colleague and I agreed that it was considerably stronger than any of the Star Trek films. But I had no memory of which of the two parts we were discussing, or of there being a long gap between the first and second parts. Mystery solved, in the UK they were shown on the same night.

Very strong on action and tension. Perhaps the plot isn't as interesting or involved as some TNG stories. But it's gripping, certainly.

One thing that slightly takes the shine off. For me one of the principles of the Borg idea is that they have huge redundancy built in to everything. But they are dependent on the link with Picard, only a short time after they've assimilated him. "Cutting him off would be like asking one of us to disconnect an arm or a foot", Beverley says. "If one of them jumps off a cliff, they all jump off", Riker assumes. What then of the numerous Borg operatives phasered to death earlier in both episodes?

I assume the two parts were filmed at the same time, despite being parts of two different series - can't see any continuity problems.
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James G
Sun, Mar 8, 2020, 4:42pm (UTC -5)
Re: TNG S3: Transfigurations

I was mildly entertained, but it's a poor episode really. It hinges on a notion of a species who are fairly ordinary humanoid transforming into god-like creatures capable of faith healing, transporting people and illuminating themselves like a Christmas Tree, apparently by power of thought.

It's just too far-fetched, even for sci-fi. The crew of the Enterprise quite often encounter these aliens with improbable mystical powers, of course. Most memorably Q, but also Kevin in 'The Survivors', who wipes out a species of billions in a moment of rage. How could the Federation, dominated by ordinary beings like Humans and Vulcans with no superpowers (I'm not counting the neck pinch) be so successful and powerful in a galaxy where powers like this exist?

I don't like any of the mystic voodoo nonsense in any incarnation of Star Trek, really. Even Deanna's empathic powers annoy me.
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James G
Thu, Mar 5, 2020, 5:11am (UTC -5)
Re: TNG S3: Menage a Troi

I really don't like this one. Ferengi + Lwaxana is a sort of hamfisted cringe comedy double whammy, for me.

Also - how many times do we have to have these excuses for Patrick Stewart to perform Shakespeare? He does it very deftly of course, but would Picard?

The technobollocks involving Riker contriving a sort of drum pattern from sub-space interference is laughable.

The promotion scene at the end is nice, but doesn't quite manage to save it.

Possibly my least liked episode from the first three series.
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James G
Sat, Feb 22, 2020, 7:46am (UTC -5)
Re: TNG S3: Sarek

Phenomenal episode. No perilious technobollocks or standoff against alien despots, just a clever, original idea brought beautifully to life by some remarkable acting.

A couple of niggles - Riker turns up at 10 Forward where there's a large scale brawl breaking out - surely his first instinct would be to bellow at them to stop? Like when Pike turns up at a bar fight in one of the movies. He'd take charge, instantly. Instead he just wanders through it, until he gets chinned himself.

Also, when Riker and Picard fight (verbally) on the bridge it's notable that Picard apologises, but Riker doesn't.

Finally, the mind meld thing - can't help thinking that Picard's emotional state might have been appropriate during the mind meld, but not for an hour afterwards. They sort of conveniently rewrote the manual for that one.

Nonetheless, inevitable niggles aside - a really good one.
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James G
Mon, Jan 27, 2020, 12:57pm (UTC -5)
Re: TNG S3: Hollow Pursuits

Brilliant episode, this one. Very clever. A really terrific performance by Dwight Schultz.

The only complaint for me is that the drama and suspense at the end relies on a tried and tested formula; the 'ship in grave peril with only minutes to find a technical solution' chestnut. Apart from that this episode is a welcome and original diversion from the usual tropes. Some strong humour, as well.

I hadn't seen this one for many years and was watching the scene where Riker, Troi and Geordi turn up on the holodeck through my fingers. I was half expecting them to find the holographc Deanna with her underwear round her ankles, up against a tree.
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James G
Wed, Jan 22, 2020, 12:38pm (UTC -5)
Re: TNG S3: Captain's Holiday

I was adequately entertained, but I wouldn't watch it again. There's a lot wrong with this one. The fact that Picard being key to one of the pivotal moments of history is dealt with in such an unassuming way. The way that the archaeologist woman just calmly reveals the precious object to Picard near the end, and even hands it to him. Also, although this is just personal preference - the tedious sexual / romantic undertones.

Oh yes, and the Ferengi never improve a TNG episode.

The time travel aspect raises more issues than it's worth.

That memory disk looks a bit like a mini CD ROM, doesn't it? Quite contemporary when this episode was made.

Finally on a related note, and this isn't a serious criticism really, but - old books in the 23rd Century? I don't take them on holiday in the 21st, myself.

Still - I enjoyed the eye candy.
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James G
Mon, Jan 13, 2020, 12:56pm (UTC -5)
Re: TNG S3: Allegiance

I don't mind this one. An average episode, but it held my attention and entertained me decently. I thought the replica Picard element was quite interesting and well done.

Perhaps the aggressive alien with the huge knife and tusks was a less than subtle touch. Something a bit less obviously menacing could have been more sinister.

Where was the toilet, in the cell they were being kept in? As I recall at least one of the captives had been there for days!

I was amused that the replica Picard warned Riker that he was risking his career when the alternative appeared to be losing his life with the rest of the crew, to the pulsar. Interesting that the real Picard was prepared to mention a Starfleet secret to the impostor cadet. A very powerful technology that the captors have; they can assimilate an adversary's thoughts and knowledge in a moment.

Average - but OK.
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James G
Mon, Jan 6, 2020, 6:33pm (UTC -5)
Re: TNG S3: Sins of the Father

This one really shines for me - it's a highly dramatic script with lots of emotional content about comradeship, honour and betrayal but everyone seems to act out of their skin. Very impressive.

Quite an intriguing plot too, with a nice twist. If I have one criticism though, it's this - is it really so easy on the Klingon homeworld to get out of being executed, by "discommendation"? And how can a society so enamoured with honour and justice accept such a solution?
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James G
Thu, Dec 26, 2019, 6:16am (UTC -5)
Re: TNG S3: The Offspring

Brilliant episode this one, albeit one I was reluctant to revisit, after about 25 years - because I assumed I'd find the emotional scenes at the end a bit of a difficult watch. It wasn't that bad.

Really a bravura acting performance by the woman who plays Lal. Odd that Data, incapable of love, should choose the Hindi word for "beloved" for her name.

This episode makes a bit of a feature of Data's inability to use contractions, which I've always found laughable. An amateur programmer could write code to reliably perform contractions of source text on a 1980s home computer.

I was interested to learn that Lal's brain is capable of 60 trillion calculations / second. A mere 30 years after that episode was written, we already have hardware that can do 10 trillion calculations / second. That's not a criticism, of course. Just an example of the unpredictability of technology.

I guess this episode is in part a thematic rerun of 'The Measure of a Man', to which it refers obliquely. It concerns the same question of an android's rights as a sentient being, though that is not the centrepoint of the plot in this one.

Interesting that the term "human" is used as a sort of catch-all term for the sort of emotional / character development that Data and Lal aspire to, when other species also have these characteristics. Guinan, who does more than anyone in this story to guide Lal toward being more "human" and also has them in abundance, isn't human at all.

Anyway - not my favourite but a really good one, one of the memorable, classic TNG episodes.
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James G
Sun, Dec 22, 2019, 11:29am (UTC -5)
Re: TNG S3: Yesterday's Enterprise

One of the three or four great TNG episodes, for me. Very memorable. That said though, when you think about it - the premise is quite odd, isn't it? Picard agrees to erase the last 22 years of history as he knows it, on the advice of the lady who collects the glasses in the ship's bar (the real oddity of course is why someone of Guinan's wisdom and perception does that job in the first place).

What's really striking isn't how different the two timelines are: it's how similar, 22 years after they diverged. Why, Worf and Tasha apart, are exactly the same people in the same jobs on the Enterprise, in such different circumstances?

What's that sticking out of Captain Garrett's head, as she lies dead on the bridge of her ship? It looks like a miniature starship toy.

Denise Crosby acts out of her skin in this one. In all honesty I don't remember her being a particularly good actor in the first series. Must have worked on her craft in the intervening couple of years.

Anyway. Definitely one that rewards the necessary suspension of disbelief.
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James G
Mon, Dec 16, 2019, 1:20pm (UTC -5)
Re: TNG S3: A Matter of Perspective

Not a fan of this one. The technobollocks is silly. And Apgard's suit is worse than his haircut. Unless I'm imagining it there's a TOS story in which the computer reconstructs a crime scene, implicating one of the main cast (Scotty I think?)

Anyway - the basic plot idea is sound, but the implementation is based on a paper-think technology gimmick.

Interesting to see the CRT screens on the space station. Those flat screen colour displays on the Enterprise seem mundane and ordinary now, as do the touch screen interfaces. But in the late '80s / early '90s when the show was made, they were strictly sci-fi.
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James G
Wed, Dec 11, 2019, 2:03pm (UTC -5)
Re: TNG S3: Deja Q

I really like this one. It does require the massive suspension of disbelief that all 'Q' episodes ask of their audiences. But it's worth it. The comic performances from de Lancie and Spiner are spot on and the writers came up with some delicious dry dialogue.

A few thoughts anyway:

That line about changing the gravitational constant of the Universe. That would have have devastating consequences in billions of star systems in billions of galaxies, for the sake of one planet and its satellite. I don't like to think that Q has that power. Something a bit more modest and imaginative might have been a better bet (and he does of course fix the problem at the end of the episode - we can assume, I hope, that he hasn't made a fundamental change to the celestial mechanics of the totality of the cosmos).

Q's hair looks a little shorter in some of the scenes. Bit of a continuity gaffe.

Every time Q turns up, it's "oh jeez not you again", yet he is possessed of powers and knowledge that might transform the human experience for all eternity.

Still. All that said, it's a belter of an episode.
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James G
Thu, Dec 5, 2019, 3:53pm (UTC -5)
Re: TNG S3: The High Ground

Not a big fan of this one but I do like it. Thematically quite similar to 'The Hunted' which precedes it and quite a lot less silly in some ways. It works on a crude level to explore the old "one man's terrorist" chestnut.

I smiled at the notion of a united Ireland by 2024, about four years from now as I type, as casually mentioned by Data. In the Star Trek universe the republican terrorist campaign ultimately won peace and unification in Ireland apparently. That's not what happened in the real world where it set those causes back at least a generation.

I quite like the way that it's a bit dark. People get killed and ultimately there's no happy ending, despite Riker's optimistic parting shot. Kirk would have solved all of that society's problems in half an hour.
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James G
Wed, Dec 4, 2019, 12:43pm (UTC -5)
Re: TNG S3: The Hunted

Not a big fan of this one. The plot takes a few liberties. How did Danar come to have such expert knowledge of Starfleet technology, even knowing how to power a transporter with a phaser? The hide & seek part of the story is overlong. The whole thing is reminiscent of '60s sci-fi, with stunt doubles engaging in punch-ups (Mission Impossible, Land of the Giants, and (yes) Star Trek).

Danar is just a bit too unconvincingly invincible. He leaves trails of unconscious security personnel in his wake, like an alien Jack Bauer. Despite this he looks more like a geography teacher, though he acts well.

Still - not bad. I was entertained but it's not a classic.
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James G
Sun, Dec 1, 2019, 5:43am (UTC -5)
Re: TNG S3: The Defector

Clever one. I like this one a lot. The only criticism that this one provokes really is a very general one - the Enterprise is sometimes claimed to be a science and exploration vessel, but there's an armed conflict with some interstellar foe or other every other episode. I think I'd prefer Federation starships to be represented as military vessels. No kids on board. The writers mostly use them in that sense anyway.
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James G
Thu, Nov 28, 2019, 3:37pm (UTC -5)
Re: TNG S3: The Vengeance Factor

Not a fan of this one. The cheesy romantic bits are awkward in any Star Trek story, and even though here they do add something to the drama when Riker is forced to take lethal action, I still find them a bit of a drag.

But is he? Is there no way for anyone present to stop Yuta from coming into contact with her intended victim, short of vaporising her with a phaser? Is there no-one who can overcome her physically even when she's stunned (twice)?
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James G
Wed, Nov 27, 2019, 12:32pm (UTC -5)
Re: TNG S3: The Price

Sort of a so-so episode for me. Nothing much wrong with it but the romantic aspect is a bit hard to take and some of the scenes between Troi and Ral are off-the-scale cheesy. Participation by the Ferengi never improves an episode. It stretches my credulity too far to accept that a species as immature and petty could have mastered science and technology sufficiently to become a warp-capable civilisation.
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