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James G
Mon, Oct 26, 2020, 1:21pm (UTC -5)
Re: TNG S6: Frame of Mind

Psychological thriller eh? I hadn't seen this one before and I didn't see it coming. It's genuinely unsettling and really quite clever; the tension and intrigue and mystery builds superbly. I was reminded of The Prisoner, and some of the later UFO episodes.

That's a real 'wow' moment when Riker fires the phaser on himself and we see that the reality we thought we recognised was just another layer of the illusion. Hitchcock would have been proud.

A few niggles though - the ending is a bit anti-climactic and perfunctory. The emergency transport is a bit too easy. Frakes acts out of his skin here, but should we really see Riker acting as well as he does, in the play? Frakes is an actor, Riker isn't.

And on a Starship with a number of serviceable holodecks, why would you have a set constructed and dismantled by a stage crew?

Anyway - not really the sort of thing I watch TNG for but nonetheless superb for that. Bravo.
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James G
Sun, Oct 25, 2020, 5:01pm (UTC -5)
Re: TNG S6: The Chase

Just discovered from reading comments above that the Cardassian woman was Linda Thorson! Tara King herself, my favourite Avengers girl.

Also I recognised the Romulan commander as Maurice Roƫves, an actor from my own neck of the woods (the NE of England). I've just found out that he died this year, sorry to see that. I don't think he gives the most natural performance here.
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James G
Sun, Oct 25, 2020, 4:54pm (UTC -5)
Re: TNG S6: The Chase

I give credit to the writer for the ideas in this one, but I'm afraid I couldn't really buy them. In fact, I disliked the whole premise. I like my sci-fi to be imaginative, but presuming to rewrite the history of the cosmos so that the very existence of life on Earth is redefined is too much. And including one of the most historic moments in the history of the Galaxy into any one episode is overdoing it.

And besides - we do not owe our form as upright primates with two arms and two legs to the DNA present in the primordial soup. We are descended from creatures that existed since then that look nothing like humans. Google "ancestor of all placental mammals" to see what I mean. We became like we are because of adaptations that arose as a reaction to our environment, it wasn't programmed in from the beginning. Ants, fish, snails and lizards are also descended from the same, first living cells.

Furthermore I think this episode contains the most monumental technobollocks ever witnessed in the whole Star Trek franchise, when Beverley introduces a bit of dead lichen to her Tricorder, then a now-complete four billion year old computer program rewrites the Tricorder firmware to turn it into a hologram projector. It's absolute, barking nonsense.

It's a shame that Picard has to be the (potential) foremost archeologist of his time, or whatever Galen implies. Can't we be satisfied with him being a brilliant Starship captain? No need to overcook his character.

A few mitigating factors on the plus side - the dialogue between the Klingon and Data when they do the arm-wrestling in particular is quite funny.

But nope, it's frustrating because there's a clever idea in there, but it's badly done. it just needed to be scaled down a bit and made more realistic.
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James G
Sat, Oct 24, 2020, 9:31am (UTC -5)
Re: TNG S6: Lessons

I found this one quite slow and dull, until the last 20 minutes or so, and then I was won over. The tension builds quite powerfully toward the conclusion, with the storm approaching over the planet's surface - and I was as affected by the tension over the potential consequences to Picard's relationship, as to the lives of the colonists and the perimeter teams.

And the ending is beautifully acted, and poignant. That it's the end of their relationship doesn't need to be spoken.

I enjoyed the reference to The Inner Light. I thought we were going to make do with just the flute and a brief mention of where it came from, so I was pleased that Picard explained it in detail.

Picard states that there are no regulations about relationships with other officers, but surely there would be a rule against having a relationship with someone in your line of command. Even in an investment firm, where no-one is likely to send anyone else into lethal danger, it's impossible to have a partner in the same reporting chain. It's impossible for anyone whose boss is further up the food chain to get a salary increase or promotion without it causing resentment among their colleagues.

I don't really get how someone as talented and committed a pianist as Daren obviously is would have time for Starfleet and stellar cartography.

The foldout piano is quite cute, but I don't think a proper pianist would put up with a touch keyboard for long. It's about a bit more than just hitting the right notes. I do believe you can actually buy those, now.

Good one.
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James G
Fri, Oct 23, 2020, 6:52pm (UTC -5)
Re: TNG S6: Starship Mine

Well - I guess it probably was inspired by Die Hard, but it reminded me more of Under Siege. However where Seagal was an electrifying, imposing presence in that sort of role, Patrick Stewart isn't. The fight scenes were just boring.

I liked the basic idea though. The deadly beam passing slowly through the ship. Nice idea. But having it stop at the very last moment was something of a hackneyed old cliche.

I enjoyed the Data small talk gag. Another one to showcase Spiner's comic talents. I didn't really buy Geordie's visor being turned into a magic unconsciousness bomb. Ridiculous.

A pretty forgettable one, I'm afraid.
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James G
Wed, Oct 21, 2020, 1:52pm (UTC -5)
Re: TNG S6: Birthright, Part II

I watched both halves of this sub-par two parter (two-sub-par-ter?) over the last couple of days, and comments here apply to both.

I was never a fan of Deep Sleep 9, and only ever saw a couple of them. I assume the Bashir content in this one is intended as a sort of trailer for the new series; it adds nothing. I sort of liked the Data 'dream' story, but not that much really.

The remarkably humane Romulan open prison on the remote planet is just bizarre. It's hard to know what to make of it. Is the ageing Romulan, married to a Klingon no less, some sort of saint, to have achieved such harmony between these two bitter enemy races? He is after all their jailer in a real sense, and in charge of Romulan soldiers who are ultimately shown to be prepared to use lethal force.

Why do the Romulans even bother with this? Just to indulge an old soldier? And why would the captive Klingons accept this fate so readily? I don't really buy the excuse that their honour had already been lost so anything goes. If the Klingon woman who married Tokath felt so strongly that her honour had been stolen, why would she do that? Let alone the consideration that Tokath was one of the attacking force who supposedly carried out a massacre against her people.

I'm always surprised at the ease with which, in the Star Trek universe, species from different planets can reproduce. It seems phenomenally unlikely to me that a Romulan could get a Klingon pregnant (or even want to in all honesty; those cranial ridges aren't the most feminine feature). Worf's remarks to the mixed-race girl about her parentage are actually quite hateful, although he apologises later. And falls in love with her, quite suddenly and with no real development in their relationship having been apparent. As if the writer couldn't help squeezing another cliche in.

So I'm afraid this one is quite poor. It's just too incoherent and nonsensical. It looks to me like the Data plot was considered inadequate to sustain a whole episode, so they stretched out a pretty risible story about a Romulan prison planet for Klingons to accommodate it.

One last thought - how does the alien that Worf pays to take him there even know about it? But maybe I wasn't paying attention properly. It seems to me though that information like that could be more valuable (and therefore lucrative) to the Klingon government than to Worf. Either way it's not a very secure secret. Perhaps he should have been killed off in an accident.

Dire episode.
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James G
Sun, Oct 18, 2020, 1:48pm (UTC -5)
Re: TNG S6: Tapestry

Something a bit different. I profoundly dislike the idea of Q due to its apparent reliance on the supernatural, yet paradoxically, I always enjoy the Q episodes. This one has the interesting twist that while Q may be as thoroughly irritating and patronising as usual in his manner, he's actually doing Picard a big favour.

Quite a low key episode but I guess you can't have the Enterprise in grave danger or a face-off with the Romulans every time.

The old Starfleet uniforms are horrible, aren't they? And the dynamic between young Picard and his friends is a little bit overcooked.

Still - I liked it.
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James G
Sat, Oct 17, 2020, 4:34pm (UTC -5)
Re: TNG S6: Face of the Enemy

There's a lot to like about this one. It's very interesting to see the internal politics of the Romulans, and I found the revelation that they have a sort of Gestapo, feared throughout the military and civilian population alike, darkly, deliciously sinister.

I also liked that the Romulan captain is a bit more complicated and three-dimensional than your usual Romulan villain. I started to wonder whether she might defect after it transpired that her father had been killed as a traitor. The dynamic between Deanna and the captain reminds me, initially, of Ferraday and Jones in 'Ice Station Zebra' - it's Ferraday's ship, but Jones has effectively been put in charge due to the secrecy and criticality of the mission. But then of course it descends into outright hostility.

Speaking of traitors - DeSeve. Again, a moral ambiguity that I really liked. He's clearly betrayed the Federation even though he's trying to be useful, yet he's not really shown as a villain. It's good that we're introduced to the idea that someone might defect to the Romulans for moral reasons. A Federation traitor could easily have been painted with the villain brush, or the writers might not have wanted to entertain the idea of a Starfleet ensign committing treason in the first place. It's a detail that makes the TNG universe that bit more interesting and nuanced.

When Deanna is asked for the access codes for the Starfleet sensor nets I assumed that the whole thing was a setup to get them off her, a bit like Riker in 'Future Imperfect' (although that turns out to be something else entirely, of course).

The Romulan captain looked so familiar, but I couldn't work out where I'd seen her - so as soon as I'd finished watching I did a bit of judicious googling to find out. Not only was she Mirasta Yale from 'First Contact', but none other than the famous Carolyn Seymour! Carolyn played a character called Abby in a mid-'70s BBC show called 'Survivors' as well as a few other memorable parts 40-odd years ago. I never recognised her when I saw 'First Contact', perhaps partly because she affects an American accent in that one. In this one because she's supposed to be a bit evil, her usual English accent is encouraged. None taken.

I thought the conclusion was a bit easy and lame, quite honestly. And I don't think Marina Sirtis (or Deanna if you like) was a good choice for a badass Gestapo figure. Maybe Ro would have worked better. Or even O'Brien. But it's a very enjoyable episode.
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James G
Wed, Oct 14, 2020, 12:31pm (UTC -5)
Re: TNG S6: Aquiel

I didn't mind this one. It wasn't a good one, but it wasn't one of the awful ones either. It does have a lot to commend it - it's quite an original idea, and I didn't see the twist of Aquiel being alive coming.

What I did see coming was the twist that the dog was the alien monster. I was already scratching my head about why they'd bothered with it, given that it was totally unnecessary to the plot. So the moment we found out that one of the organisms from the relay station was the villain: it's the dog.

And that made the conclusion a bit anti-climactic. Even if I hadn't seen that coming, it seems to wrap up a bit quickly.

There's a bit of the usual Klingon aggression and bravado, but not too much to be annoying. I notice that the Klingon vessel arrives opposite the Enterprise exactly 'level', as if they were ships meeting at sea. Just once it would be nice if two space vessels encountered each other sideways on, just to acknowledge that the universe doesn't have an up, or a down.

The fully-formed hand rising out of the tomato puree is ridiculous, really.

Why does Aquiel have to be an alien? Apart from the ritual with the object on the bed and the mention that she's telepathic, she seems not only to be culturally entirely human in her mannerisms and behaviour, but culturally entirely human American.

At least sometimes the Star Trek franchise makes an effort. Klingons are believably non-human. Far too aggressive and overbearing. Vulcans, too. Cold, analytical, emotionless. The Ferengi. Not much human about their demeanour.

But far too often all you get is a bit of facial prosthetics and that's it. Ensign Ro is a perfect example. There's nothing other-wordly about her at all. And it's the same with Aquiel. What, I wonder, is supposed to be the evolutionary reason for those fleshy bumps to appear on her species' foreheads? Perhaps in distant times her ancestors liked to head butt a lot.

Anyway it was original and mildly entertaining. Quite nice to have Geordi falling for a person he knows only from a set of recordings, I like that that aspect of his character was reinforced.

But pretty forgettable.
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James G
Sat, Oct 10, 2020, 2:43pm (UTC -5)
Re: TNG S6: Ship in a Bottle

I like this one a lot. It's nice to have a Reg episode that isn't about Reg's personality defects. And it requires a lot of suspension of disbelief. But it does reward that.

The guy who plays Moriarty is really very good, and Stephanie Beacham, perhaps best known to American and British viewers alike from Dynasty (although I remember her best from an ITV drama called 'Connie' personally) puts in a very good shift.

Really quite an imaginative and clever story this, with a clever twist when we discover that Picard, Reg and Data never actually left the Holodeck.

However - it's really a stretch to imagine that the computer's Holodeck technology is really as powerful as this. If it can create a self-aware, conscious person as clever and ingenious as Moriarty, it could create a couple of brilliant first officers, or science officers, or .. etc (actually I suppose that Voyager does explore this idea). Every crew member's cabin could be a miniature Holodeck, so they could appear to have 20 times the space they really have; perhaps even a 5 storey house as living quarters. Maybe the whole Enterprise could be a fraction of its usual (apparent) size, but still have a spacious holographic bridge, engineering sectiom, residential decks etc etc.

And the idea that the Holodeck's own Holodeck can be programmed to create realities independent of its parent. Far out.

The left hand / right hand thing didn't really work for me - seems a very coherent program bug.

And there's one odd moment when the transporter console reads "transport log 721", when the computer claims it is displaying log 759.

Nice that Picard refers to the Simulation Hypothesis at the end, there. Despite being a bit far-fetched even for the Star Trek franchise, a thought-provoking and entertaining episode.
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James G
Thu, Oct 8, 2020, 5:00pm (UTC -5)
Re: TNG S6: Chain of Command, Part II

Watched both parts tonight, and I'll comment on the whole shebang here.

What makes this one quite special is the psychological edge to the tension between Picard and Madred. I don't think I've seen anything as chilling as Picard's captivity in the whole of TNG. I can't imagine the Romulans or even the Borg being so chillingly, creepily sinister in similar circumstances. Madred's calmness, his very civility, underlined by the scene with his daughter - and the space that this two-parter gives the dialogue to breathe - make those scenes very powerful.

And of course so does the lovely homage to 1984, reinforced by Picard's comment at the end that he was ready to believe that there were five lights.

David Warner is excellent in this, and of course his Englishness makes him just that touch more evil, doesn't it? None taken.

It's a great shame then that this story has some rather obvious flaws. Firstly - did we really need the action film aspect to the first part? And if the Federation really needs a three-person elite special forces team to infiltrate a secret base behind enemy lines and destroy stuff, are two of them really going to be Jean-Luc Picard and Beverley Crusher? I didn't buy the excuses, sorry.

Also, not a major point by any means but that bit where Beverley tells the Ferengi that she'd be "very grateful" - what an absolute cringe. That whole business of getting where they need to go on a Ferengi cargo ship - it's not very well thought out.

More importantly - Riker and Geordi overcome an entire fleet of Cardassian war vessels with a shuttlecraft and some magnetic mines? Easy as that, eh? Sloppy writing. The mines are shown as being in the crew compartment; what do they do, just sling them out of the back door?

I enjoyed the tension between Riker and Jelico. Not as intense as Madred vs Picard of course, but nicely done. The cliched version would be that Jelico ends up endangering the lives of the crew and ends up being relieved of his command, but this story is much more subtle. Jelico is not all bad, in fact he's quite effective in some ways. Maybe there should have been a scene where there's at least a moment of grudging respect between Riker and the temporary captain; if that's what we got with Jelico's parting comment it was a little too brief.

Anyway - just for the psychological drama of Picard's captivity, a good one. But I wish they'd put a bit more thought into it.
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James G
Tue, Oct 6, 2020, 1:19pm (UTC -5)
Re: TNG S6: The Quality of Life

After the enjoyable whimsy of A Fistful of Datas, proper sci-fi TNG. A superb episode.

I really liked the way the story developed, and the idea of the machines becoming sapient. It reminded me in a way of the old TOS episode in which a newly developed command computer takes over the Enterprise.

The story appears to take a wrong turn with the emergency on the space station - I was far more interested in the idea of the sapient machines - until it turns out that it's a premise for a very interesting ethical dilemma around the same subject.

And I think it is a very genuine ethical dilemma - whether Picard and Geordi are his friends is not the point. Would it be OK to send three human strangers to their deaths, to save his comrades? Three slaves?

The micro-replicator that the exacomps have seems a bit far-fetched. Why can't Data equip himself with one, so he never has to go looking for a screwdriver?

The way the alien engineer woman comes round at the end seems a bit easy. And what happens to the exocomps now? Data is no longer alone in the world and the Federation has the capacity to create similar, conscious life. But I expect we never hear about them again.

Nonetheless, a very thought-provoking and absorbing episode. Possibly the best in the sixth series so far.
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James G
Mon, Oct 5, 2020, 1:31pm (UTC -5)
Re: TNG S6: A Fistful of Datas

Just how many excuses did the Star Trek franchise find to indulge itself in historical Earth period pieces? That was the question I found myself asking as I realised what this one was going to be about. And I expected to be writing some fairly snarky comments here.

I don't really think people watch Star Trek to watch a pseudo-Western. They want to find escapism in distant space, in the future. Not 19th Century America (or is it the 19th Century? It's never obvious to me, though I note that the revolver was invented in the 1830s).

But - if you turn up at an Indian restaurant and they offer you pizza, after your initial irritation, the question becomes - how good is the pizza? And as it happens, despite my expectations, I liked this one a lot. It's not a thought-provoking moral tale. It's not high drama. It's not (really) particularly suspenseful. But what it is, is a lot of fun.

I don't actually like the Worf character but Michael Dorn gets some marvellous deadpan comedy out of this episode. Bravo. And of course Brent Spiner puts in a brilliant shift as the villain(s) of the piece. Even Marina Sirtis does a good job.

It's a little odd that none of the four crew playing protagonists in this Western drama are human, and strange to think that a Betazoid and a Klingon child would have a particular interest in the affairs of Deadwood.

A couple of thoughts. I've often thought it perverse that an Android with a powerful computer brain would interact with the ship's systems by typing and talking to them, so it was nice to see the idea of an interface explored briefly.

Does Worf indulge a touch of compassion for the holographic Frank Hollander when he spares his life at the end?

And when you think about it, a Holodeck technology that can propel bullets at the proper speed to injure someone is pretty phenomenally unlikely, isn't it? Wouldn't it leave a dent in the holodeck wall if it missed?

Even so, a splendid episode. This one entertained me thoroughly. I can't wait for the sequel in the seventh series, no doubt entitled For A Few Datas More.
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James G
Sat, Oct 3, 2020, 11:22am (UTC -5)
Re: TNG S6: Rascals

Well - there's a lot wrong with this one.

Firstly - this whole idea of sudden ageing and unageing, as we explored only a few episodes ago, is ridiculous. I could just about accept it if Q caused it (because: magic) but as an effect of some physical phenomenon - sorry, no. How do the wrinkles disappear, and the skin tighten? Who exactly has cut and styled the hair that appears on Picard's head?

Secondly - the kids who play the usually-adult characters are not great actors. I thought the Picard kid was the worst of the lot, to be honest. And to have a character usually made so real and natural by a brilliant actor become so wooden and stiff - the kid was doing not much more than waiting his turn to read out the lines - is particularly hard to take. The young lad just was not capable of expressing the earnestness, the lifelike thoughfulness. I'm not surprised to note that he didn't pursue a career as an actor. He wasn't one.

I thought the Guinan kid did alright, she was a believable Guinan. The Ro girl as well.

Thirdly - how easy is it for a few renegade Ferengi to take over the Starfleet flagship? I'm not having it.

One nit-pick that struck me; Picard calling Riker "Number One" is seen as a mistake, but Riker has already called him Jean-Luc. Surely the name Jean-Luc must be well-known to Ferengis everywhere by now.

The solution to the problem of being taken over by Ferengi pirates, involving crawling through conduit tunnels (I was reminded of 1960s dramas like Mission Impossible where people used to escape by crawling through ventilation ducts every week) was boring.

A poor one.
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James G
Thu, Oct 1, 2020, 3:30pm (UTC -5)
Re: TNG S6: True Q

There's so much wrong with this one, but despite its flaws, I really liked it.

To start with : Q. Omnipotent, or near-omnipotent beings make no sense at all. How do they wield these powers - magic? The original series has plenty of it I admit but I just don't like supernatural powers in sci-fi.

And how could a human-dominated Federation of Planets amount to anything in a galaxy where beings powers like that exist?

On a similar note, the way that Picard addresses and relates to Q, a being against whom he is utterly defenceless and who has the capacity to grant any wish he might think of, is stupid. As soon as Q turned up, Picard should have been asking for help with the Polluted Planet. And would you mind making our warp engines 10 times more efficient? Thanks!

Despite that, I was delighted to see Q pop up in this one, simply because I enjoy the character.

The backstory for the girl who becomes a Q doesn't sound entirely convincing, I must say. And why would the Q need to summon up a tornado to perform the execution of her parents? Surely with a snap of a Q's fingers, they could simply vanish out of existence, or never have existed.

But - the girl accepts her powers with considerably more grace and humility than Riker did, when he had a go at being a Q in the first series (or was it the second?).

I thought the bit where Q talks to his superiors in the Continuum was hilarious, intentional or not. Reminded me of Mork and Mindy.

The conclusion surprised me - I would have put money on the girl choosing to become mortal. But like Kal-El in Superman II, it would have been a mistake.

Despite my misgivings, it plays out nicely. Interested to see that the Q girl is a British actress; I watched an interview with her from 2012 out of curiosity.

A good one.
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James G
Wed, Sep 30, 2020, 2:28pm (UTC -5)
Re: TNG S6: Schisms

After an excellent run of episodes, a poor one. This really did not work for me. It occurred to me that this is probably the very last TNG episode you'd show to someone unfamiliar with the franchise.

It's just downright bizarre, and the conceit it's based on is a huge pile of technobabble nonsense.

It starts off with something that about half of all TNG episodes suffer from; Geordi or Data making a "modification" that the engineers who built and designed the warp engines, the sensors, the shields and the rest of it somehow never thought of.

Then the "anomaly"; this monstrously dangerous rift in the fabric of the universe that shouldn't exist (or whatever it is). Picard, Data, Geordi and the others stand there looking at it like it's a bit of mould on the bathroom wall.

How could Data be affected in the same way as the rest of the crew, when the aliens are apparently using some sort of neural sedative to render their victims unconscious?

The funniest part is the holodeck computer's hilariously specific response to "make this a metal table". It's as though about 20 minutes of the participants describing what they wanted was edited out. All it needed was "wait .. I remember now .. it was like a dentist's chair! Computer, make this a dentist's chair".

Speaking of the computer, why can't it raise an alarm when two crew members go unaccounted for, instead of waiting to be asked?

I was delighted to see two Philips head screws in the helm console, but I googled this and apparently they were removed in post-production from the original video. In the HD versions restored from film (I watched this on Netflix), they didn't bother.

The aliens were nicely creepy, I must say that.

I found myself hitting the rewind button quite a few times when I realised that I'd stopped listening to the dialogue. I stopped paying attention a few times. This one is just not engaging, it doesn't gel, it doesn't work.

i would award a small degree of credit for the conclusion though. Nice to see an episode end unresolved, in a way. The crew are safe, the danger has passed, but we don't end up knowing much about the other-universe aliens, and they're still out there.
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James G
Tue, Sep 29, 2020, 12:07pm (UTC -5)
Re: TNG S6: Relics

A good one, despite its faults. A nice, sentimental diversion. I think the Scotty character is possibly a little overcooked at times in this one but the conceit that allows us to see him 75 years after his time is quite clever.

The Dyson Sphere story that is a background to all of this is also quite original, and builds the suspense nicely toward the conclusion, with the Enterprise trapped.

Odd though that a 75 year old ship can hold the doors open with its shields, when the Starfleet flagship can't punch a hole through them. I suppose the difference between material strength and motor strength.

The dialogue between Data and Scotty about the Aldebaran whisky is priceless. "It is .. green".

The reference implying that Kirk was still alive in Scotty's present day - he's on his way to retirement - is unfortunate.

When we see Scotty's ship on the surface of the sphere, it looks curved, even up relatively close. Yes, sphere surfaces are curved, but this particular sphere would be millions of times flatter than the surface of the Earth.

The ending is a bit weird - he's just going off into the unknown in a shuttlecraft? It would make more sense to return him to his own time, but he doesn't seem that bothered to have been flung 75 years into the future.

This is a general observation about TOS + movies vs TNG but when you think about it, the technology and culture isn't really all that different between them. There's a lot in the present day (2020 as I type) that would seem extremely alien to people in the 1940s, but we never really get a sense of that in Star Trek.

The scene where the Enterprise escapes through the closing doors sideways is real class - proper entertainment.

Anyway - self-indulgent maybe, a bit overly sentimental for some perhaps, but I liked this one a lot.
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James G
Sun, Sep 27, 2020, 1:29pm (UTC -5)
Re: TNG S6: Man of the People

There are some obvious cliches in this one. I'm not a fan of the mystic voodoo empathic nonsense, but a lot of Trek episodes are plagued by that. Also - this notion of rapid ageing and unageing, quite popular in science-fiction but especially the Star Trek franchise - is very silly. It's doubly silly when you see a woman's hair not only restored to the previous colour but also the previous style, over a few minutes.

But if you can get over all that - it's very watchable.

Many male viewers will have appreciated seeing a somewhat different side of Deanna in this one.

There's a hint of darkness in Beverley's demeanour when she appears to take a small measure of satisfaction from Alkar's death.

I found the story adequately coherent, and there were solid performances all round. After an awful start with part two of the dire mess that is Time's Arrow, another winner for series six.
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James G
Sat, Sep 26, 2020, 2:06pm (UTC -5)
Re: TNG S6: Realm of Fear

I do like a Reg story, and I really enjoyed this one. The techno-nonsense aspect of the plot is really just a vehicle for the main plot trajectory of Reg being neurotic, conquering his fear, then solving the puzzle and saving lives - and I think it works really well. Dwight Schultz is a very effective performer in this role.

Of course there are problems with it. Deanna doesn't seem to have her empathic abilities in this one; she comes across as having no more insight than a human. How could Reg keep what he describes as "mortal terror" from her? She even asks "is there something you're not telling me?"

And how can you be sentient enough to recognise bizarre space creatures while your brain molecules are being dispersed?

Reg's hair style is more or less a combover. Surely if you're sufficiently bothered about being bald, there must be some sort of cheap and easy hair transplant technique by the 24th Century?

I was interested that the dead burns victim was shown so graphically; surprising for family TV in the early '90s, or even now.

Anyway, very good. After an awful start, this episode gives me hope for the sixth series.
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James G
Wed, Sep 23, 2020, 12:47pm (UTC -5)
Re: TNG S6: Time's Arrow, Part II

Comments here apply to both parts.

I was really looking forward to this one - the idea of Data's head being discovered in San Francisco was fascinating and intriguing. In practice, the whole story turned out to be, for me, an overlong dog's breakfast of fanciful nonsense. It's comfortably one of the worst-conceived ideas of the whole Trek canon, so why it was singled out to be padded and stretched out to a two-parter is beyond me.

Now - I know you have to suspend your disbelief a bit in science fiction. Especially in time travel stories. But Christ on a Bike, there's so much wrong with this.

This idea that the aliens are invisible because they are living in a fractionally different time - why? You'd just see them as they were a fraction of a second previously. There's no character development for the villainous aliens at all. Why is it even necessary for them to be visiting 19th Century Earth from the 24th Century? Their own time could just as easily be the 22nd Century, or the 26th, or even the 13th!

Star Trek period pieces always bore me I'm afraid but the Mark Twain character makes this one unbearable.

There's a curious feature in this story in that Crusher appears to speak a lines intended for Geordi: "I haven't been able to determine if our phaser energy can generate a stable field". Similarly for some reason early on in the first part, Geordi turns out to be an expert in cellular fossils, and their origin.

I think it's just really sloppy writing.

There's some real, awful technobollocks around this idea of "synchronic displacement".

We're supposed to accept that Data's head is over 500 years old now, for the rest of the canon.

I quite like the idea that Guinan was in 10th Century San Francisco, even though it's a bit of a coincidence. She continues to live for another five centuries or so before she turns up on the Enterprise. I sort of like that. But at what point in this timeline do the Borg attack her planet, and leave the rest of her species wandering like nomads? She already seems to have that existence.

Data tells us that there is "no way to prevent it", on the subject of his severed head. You just can't change destiny. But Guinan refuses to tell Riker what he should do, on the basis that you can change it. The whole 'First Contact' movie is based on the idea that you can. Who's right?

I wondered if Data building some sort of improbable technology from 19th Century bits and pieces was an homage to Spock doing similar with 1930 tech in City On The Edge Of Forever.

Anyway the various plot holes and logical faults are not really the problem here. It's just not engaging or interesting, it's not coherent and all the fanciful flamboyant tripe like the old bugger with the cigar and Picard's acting troupe, and the old Irish landlady are grindingly boring.

For me the worst episode of the 5th series, and - hopefully - of the 6th.
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James G
Wed, Sep 23, 2020, 12:15pm (UTC -5)
Re: TNG S5: Time's Arrow, Part I

I watched the first of this two-parter a few days ago, and the second part just now. I really didn't like it. But I'll summarise my thoughts about both parts in the comments for the concluding part.
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James G
Sat, Sep 19, 2020, 8:17am (UTC -5)
Re: TNG S5: The Inner Light

I'd seen this one once, before, but I'd forgotten how mind-scaldingly brilliant it is. I must have, because until this afternoon I've considered First Contact and Who Watches the Watchers? to be my favourite TNG stories.

This is so affecting. The masterstroke of this one is that Picard comes to accept and embrace his new life. He even has children that he can't imagine being without, and the moment he suggests a nursery to his wife was a real jaw-dropper for me. One can imagine that in a TOS story, Kirk would have fought against his illusion until he found some way out of it, probably by blowing up a computer somewhere.

There are of course some problems with this episode. I'm loath to write about them because despite them, this TNG story was absolutely fantastic telly.

But anyway -

The civilisation on the doomed planet seems quite simple, almost even agrarian. No dramatic cityscapes with pointy towers, no replicators, or transporters, etc.

They do have missile technology, we learn, but only just. How do they build a probe capable of identifying a passing space vessel then beaming a 30-year 3D reality into a starship captain's brain?

Picard must bring knowledge of his life in Starfleet to his new life. There must be a definitive way, via understanding perhaps of technology they don't have, to establish that he is Not Of Their World. Yet over time he seems almost to accept that his former life was a delusion .. or does he? It's never quite clear.

Surely after losing his new life, the old one would almost be as hard to accept, all those years later, as his life as Kamin was, when he wakes up on the doomed planet. One can imagine him raging against it .. no .. NO this is just an old dream! But he adapts very quickly.

It occurred to me that to make a man lose his wife, friends and children, real to him albeit actually an illusion, is actually an abuse. But then again - even in the illusion, they are doomed by their planet's star. Perhaps that's the point. Millions of the planets inhabitants lost their lives and families.

It crossed my mind that a nice touch might have been for someone to retrieve the program from the probe, and extract its data to make a holodeck program from it. But on further consideration - no. The finality and the loss of that society makes the story more emotional.

Anyway. That last scene, with Batai and his family gently explaining to Picard the meaning of the apparent last few decades of his life is really haunting.

Bravo.
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James G
Fri, Sep 18, 2020, 6:15am (UTC -5)
Re: TNG S5: The Next Phase

Well, I thoroughly enjoyed this one. But more than any other TNG episode I can think of, it requires a concerted suspension of disbelief. You have to be prepared to overlook a lot of nonsense, but if you do, it's worth it.

I was slightly bothered at first that I was able to see Ro, as a viewer, when she was supposed to be invisible. But I got over that. However - if she and Geordi are out of phase with the universe as we know it, how come it only works one way? Why can she see the rest of the crew, the ship etc etc.

And if Ro and Geordi can't physically interact with the known material world, how is the shuttlecraft able to convey them across to the Romulan vessel? How does it propel their mass? We do actually see her touching objects on the Bridge - her chair and the console - when she first goes there, and there's no sense that she's unable to feel them.

I loved it when the Romulan gets pushed out into space; I was hoping that was going to happen. But I'm not sure how he, Geordi or Ro are able to breathe even when they're on the Enterprise. How are they getting air into their lungs? How does the normal-world oxygen get into their out-of-phase bloodstream?

Observant viewers will have noticed that, to provide the illusion of movement, the stars outside the shuttlecraft window are shown to drift slowly past. But it would have to be moving at many times the speed of light for that to happen.

The Romulans never get their come-uppance in this one, and that's a shame. Not even a snarky word or two from Picard before the Enterprise departs.

It occurred to me that the out-of-phase technology would be a phenomenal tool for espionage.

I didn't really like the way the Romulan ship was shown to be in a state of disaster, with little bonfires on the bridge. And it seems odd that the Enterprise away team turns up without any sort of breathing equipment into an environment like that.

I thought that Geordi might have tried to send a message with his bursts of disruptor fire under Data's nose in Engineering - some sort of code or pattern.

Riker offers to give the Romulans a computer core from "30 or 40 years ago", unless I misheard. Why would the Enterprise be carrying old technology like that? Really odd, I thought.

Anyway - despite all of the above, I was highly entertained.
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James G
Thu, Sep 17, 2020, 11:53am (UTC -5)
Re: TNG S5: I, Borg

After a run of poor episodes, a very good one. I think the most interesting aspect of this one for me is that Picard and Guinan, normally the wisest and most humane of characters, are the most hawkish. Some of Picard's justification for his intention reminds me of comments made by Dubya and Rumsfeld during the laughable "War on Terror"; not a good look. if thou gaze long into an abyss, the abyss will also gaze into thee.

I noticed that Guinan addresses the captain as "Picard" in this one; she may collect glasses in Ten Forward but there's no-one in the ship that she doesn't converse on equal terms with. I liked that. And the scene when she confronts "Hugh" is phenomenal.

I quite liked the idea behind the "virus" intended to infect the Borg collective consciousness. It's not really plausible, but at least it's ingenious - much better than just the abstract notion of a computer virus. It reminded me of an old sci-fi horror film from the '70s - either Demon Seed or Colossus, I forget which - in which someone tries to stop the despotic computer by making it calculate an insoluble mathematical problem. As I recall the computer insists on having the culprit shot in view of one of its cameras. But I digress.

There are some problems with this episode, of course. Perhaps most conspicuously - would the Borg really care much about one missing drone? Why? It's a society with massive redundancy and resiliency built in, so why would they go looking for Third of Five if he hadn't been found at the crash site?

Picard takes pains to hide from the approaching Borg cube's sensors in the chromosphere of a star, yet he's sending abundant knowledge of their existence back with "Hugh". Not only that, but Geordi is literally standing around when they turn up. Surely the Borg have some way to analyse and draw conclusions from information like that.

Even so - one of the best of the fifth series so far.
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James G
Sun, Sep 13, 2020, 10:09am (UTC -5)
Re: TNG S5: Imaginary Friend

The latest in a run of mediocre episodes, I'm afraid. I suppose this is TNG's attempt at mild horror.

This notion of weird conscious entities that enter starships like a little glowing light - there are a few Star Trek stories like this - it's just too fanciful and metaphysical.

Is it reasonable to assume that a normal child could accept his/her imaginary friend becoming real, and visible? I don't think so.

Finally, it's preposterous that the entity creature defends its actions on protecting / defending Clara, a few minutes after it threatened to kill her.

Pretty dull.
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