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James G
Wed, May 12, 2021, 5:19pm (UTC -5)
Re: Star Trek: Nemesis

Very stylish film. Superbly choreographed, dramatic action scenes. Very clever, very theatrical macabre touches. Powerful special effects. Genuinely superb acting, especially on Patrick Stewart's part. The Shinzon character is powerful and nicely sinister. There's some really clever dialogue, especially between Picard and Shinzon.

But this is a film that never amounts to the sum of its parts. I first watched it in the company of a bottle of Scotch about 17 years ago. I started to zone out, and I've always wondered if that was because of the alcohol or the film. I was entirely sober tonight, and it definitely the film. It really tested my attention span. The action scenes are over-long, over-indulgent and unnecessary and they robbed the film of some of its focus. i don't think the plot was that interesting or coherent.

I didn't like the scene with the buggy. Why everyone was so excited about it I have no idea, it looked much like a 20th century motor vehicle, which is of course exactly what it was. The dive off the cliff into the shuttlecraft really represents the whole film quite nicely - it's all spectacle and style and little substance.

I guess B4 was a nice idea. Great shame to kill off Data at the end, though. He made it through seven TV series and four films. Couldn't they have let him live another ten minutes?

Picard performs his own one man special forces mission again, he does this a few times in the TNG canon and it always comes across as dumb.

Well - finally that's the end of the TNG odyssey I started in 2018. Took me a long time to get round to the last film, but job done now. Bit of a shame that it bows out like that, really.
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James G
Sun, Mar 14, 2021, 11:39am (UTC -5)
Re: Star Trek: Insurrection

So I worked through the seven TV series, then I started to watch the TNG films. Then this one was next up, and it took me a long time to get round to it. Having seen at the cinema when it came out, I just didn't have any real enthusiasm for it.

As it turns out I enjoyed it a bit more than I expected. But not much more. I think it's overlong. It's an idea that would have stretched to a one hour TV episode that, for me, would have been average at best.

My main problem with it though is the idea it's based on, this notion of a natural fountain of youth. Even for sci-fi, it stretches credulity too far. It would change the whole history of humanity. It would surely be reproduced synthetically eventually and then the whole fabric of human (and Klingon, etc etc) life and society is changed irrevocably. It's best not to touch huge concepts like this, they raise too many questions and problems.

It's also sort of hard to support the notion that, since their world could indeed benefit billions, this small settlement of 600 people should just be left alone. Especially when they aren't indigenous.

I found it odd that a society that has, in Picard's words, "rejected technology" should be able to diagnose the fault in Data's positronic gubbins. Why do they learn that sort of thing?

I don't really like Data going off the rails and attacking Starfleet, even as a consequence of damage from being attacked. It really undermines his character.

There's a certain sentimental whimsy in the way the main characters are played that I suppose is inevitable after over ten years, especially since this must have been the first time for a few years that the cast was back together. And interestingly they're starting to look a bit middle-aged, especially Brent Spiner.

But my main dislike is the long, drawn out, dramatic action movie conclusion. It just didn't grab me.

Anyway, it's not that bad. But to be honest it felt like a bit of a chore sitting through it. My recollection is that Nemesis is a bit better so I'll do that one soon.
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James G
Sat, Jan 30, 2021, 5:32pm (UTC -5)
Re: Star Trek: First Contact

So - I finished my long odyssey through the telly TNG a few weeks ago, and now I arrive at the second feature film, First Contact. Before this evening, I last saw this at a cinema in London 26 years ago and damn, where did all those years go. I'd quite like to have them back.

Anyway I remember that I liked it a lot, but I'd forgotten how good this is. I think I can remember the remaining feature films well enough, though I will watch them again in the coming weeks, to say that First Contact is the pinnacle of all things TNG.

Like Generations, it benefits from the extra time and money spent on the production and direction, but even more so this time. There's a wonderful big screen feature film mood. Everything works perfectly - the enhanced photography, the more ambitious sets, the dramatic direction. No doubt the darkness of the sets was intended with a darkened cinema in mind but it really reinforced the mood. I found the new Enterprise very stylish.

And there's even some Reg content.

I'm very pleased that the Borg idea gets the more involved cinema treatment. There some very nice horror here - the gruesome details of the assimilation, and the scenes with Data's human skin grafts. The kiss between Data and the Borg Queen. Their dialogue. Really quite chilling.

Patrick Stewart is brilliant in the scene where his need for revenge has got the better of his judgement. So intense. At one point there's a haunted look in his eyes.

I loved the external Enterprise scene as well. Tense and clever, but - it's not clear to me exactly how the Neal McDonough character gets assimilated so quickly, or whey they even bother when they're obviously busy with other priorities.

I was really surprised when the "To Hell with our orders" remark turned up, from Data. I could have sworn that was from the beginning of 'Insurrection'. I remember disliking it when I saw it, because I'd expect Data to be a stickler for the rules.

There are definitely some flaws and question marks. That's true for every TNG episode, but I will explore some of them here anyway.

First off - the basic idea.

How does a civilisation living around bonfires and prefabricated huts in this post-war ramshackle society manage to construct a warp-drive capable spacecraft out of a missile? It's really a stretch. The community at the missile complex look like drop-outs, don't they?

And how, when it's evident that the Vulcans are already capable of warp travel and interstellar flight when they visit the ramshackle post-war Earth populated by near-vagrants, does Earth come to dominate the Federation over the next century or two?

I also wondered why they didn't notice a Starship in orbit when they come to pay a visit, but never mind.

There's a lot less preparation and caution on the Vulcans' part for their first contact than the Federation bothers with in the TNG TV episode of the first name. No preliminary surveillance, and careful private meeting with the chief scientist. No formal overtures to whoever's in charge. They just rock up and start having a few drinks at the bar. But that's not a criticism, just an observation.

This is not a criticism of this film in particular, but - the Borg are a curious opponent. They apparently haven't yet assimilated a species that has taught them not to ignore their enemies unless they are directly under attack. But I like the Borg concept a lot. I'd love to see an origin story of the Borg. It strikes me that they owe something to the Cybermen from the 1960s Doctor Who. There's a cracking origin story for the cybermen, in which their world, once a sister planet to Earth, is expelled from orbit - and their people resort to using cybernetic enhancements to cope with their new, harsh conditions. Perhaps the Borg were something like normal, well-meaning humans, using technology to adapt - until it got out of control.

I didn't quite buy the idea of organising a hologram program for the purpose of attacking Borg drones with a weapon first used in the 1920s, especially given how ineffectual the crew's phasers are in that application, but it's a nice excuse for a glamorous 20th century scene.

Marina Sirtis has a pretty small part in this one. No offence, Deanna fans, but I can't really complain about that. At least her hairdo is nicer than we're used to.

I suppose Geordi's bionic eyes are a natural development.

My biggest problem with the plot really is the same problem I have with all the time travel stories .. they never really withstand scrutiny. In this one, if you think about it, the Borg get as many goes as they like at conquering the post-war Earth. They could do it 100 times until they get it right. Also, the slightest change that happens in the 21st century world could affect the future dramatically, like the wings of a butterfly that cause a hurricane.

Is that actually Brent Spiner in the final scene on the bridge? It doesn't quite look like him. I wondered if some other actor was standing in for him for some reason, though it's definitely his voice.

The CGI for Data's facial human skin, and for the exposed parts is really well done. Much better than the prosthetics in the TV series.

Anyway - this was, without a doubt, a superb film. A definite, visually and dramatically compelling step above the TV series and for me, the ultimate TNG experience.

I watched this on Amazon Prime. Because my browser doesn't support HD for Prime, I rented the SD version - but I was pleasantly surprised to find that it was actually near-HD. It looks an awful lot sharper than Voyager does on Netflix, for example. But I guess it's as much about the source.
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James G
Sat, Jan 16, 2021, 4:33pm (UTC -5)
Re: Star Trek: Generations

So having completed my, er, trek through the entirety of the seven TNG TV series a few days ago, this seemed the obvious next step. I hadn't seen it since I went to see it at a cinema in 1993.

I liked it more than I expected, actually. I was not overly fond of it at the time. But coming straight off the back of the TV series, I appreciated the extra money spent on the production. The direction is a lot different, the incidental music more dramatic. Everything seems darker, presumably because it was intended to be seen in a darkened cinema. The scenes in Picard's cabin especially take place in a very moody gloom. The whole thing is slower-paced, but that's not necessarily a bad thing.

Giving Data a personality in this one was a brilliant move. Brent Spiner puts in a brilliant comedic performance, and Riker's facial reactions to his new-found sense of humour on the bridge were hilarious.

Scotty's part is really well-written - he comes across as a wise old fox who's seen and done it all, and he has a lot more stature and dignity here than he did in his TNG TV cameo.

I've always held the view that the Trek movies seem to take place in a different universe than the TV series, almost though they're written and directed by people who don't quite get the idea. And nowhere is that more apparent than in the frequent references to "Tuesday" on the Enterprise-B. I don't remember ever hearing a character in any of the Trek TV series referring to something so mundane as a day of the week.

Malcolm McDowell is downright brilliant in this. A beautiful blend of thuggish menace and patrician English class. I can't imagine a more suitable actor to play a self-serving mastermind villain with an undercurrent of sadistic cruelty.

I really liked the set pieces. The watery holodeck scene, the Enterprise "crash landing", although I sort of doubt that the crew would survive it. The scene on the Klingon Bird of Prey as the torpedo sizzles in across the void from the Enterprise, visible on the viewer. The xplosions on the bridge were possibly a bit overdone, though. Perhaps that was meant as an homage to the original series, where something on the bridge would blow up every week as the crew rocked from side to side in their chairs.

I wasn't overly keen on the scenes on the planet surface, where Soran has deployed his weapon. The chain and the handrails and the walkway seem a bit 20th century to me, especially when the chain link fails. And the weapon itself .. it's supposed to collide with a star in a matter of seconds? But as it's launched it looks a lot like a 20th century chemical rocket, all a bit low tech. There should have been some sort of CGI beam or a huge flash representing it going to warp in a fraction of a second. Or something. Anything but a big firework going off.

But here's my big problem with this film. What the Smeg is the Nexus? This is never really explored. How did it come to exist, how does it work? There's not even a half-hearted Technobollocks attempt to explain it. How does Guinan lead Picard from his own illusion to Kirk's? How does Picard get to have a second go at preventing the weapon being fired? And if that failed, presumably he'd have a third, or a fourth .. etc?

Picard's wife should have been Beverly really. Missed a trick there.

As for the scenes with Kirk and Picard, there's a nice contrast between their personalities, never more apparent than when Kirk declares that "the Galaxy owes me one". And that underlined the wisdom of not trying to repeat Kirk's character for TNG. Picard is anything but Kirk II, and the series is much the better for it. Kirk's grudging, almost sarcastic order to "take us out" of space dock on the Enterprise-B is Kirk at his most Shatneresque.

This is of course, the story in which Kirk finally meets his end. And I think that was probably a mistake. For one thing it's a bit of a kick in the teeth for all the fans,a nd for another - Kirk has beaten death so many times in his career that it's actually hard to process the idea that he could be killed just like that, not emotionally, but dramatically. He's so indestructible that it barely seems real.

Anyway - flaws aside it does have a lot going for it. The additional money was mostly well spent and there are some bravura performances from Spiner, McDowell, Doohan and Stewart.

I was well entertained.

Shame Netflix doesn't have this; I watched it on Amazon Prime and apart from costing me a few quid it also didn't support HD in Firefox (under Linux). Netflix works beautifully.

But watching in SD didn't really detract from the fun. We were happy enough to have this sort of thing on VHS tapes back in the day.
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James G
Mon, Jan 11, 2021, 3:17pm (UTC -5)
Re: TNG S7: All Good Things...

Brilliant. I couldn't imagine a more fitting finale to the whole series. I well remember watching this back in 1994, but I'd forgotten how good it was.

I started watching them all through again in March 2019, never having watched any of them for years, many years in some cases (and never in others). I definitely feel that my Star Trek TNG Odyssey had a good send-off this evening - and since some of the episodes in the last couple of series have been pretty awful, I'm glad about that.

I watched this in January 2021, not much less than 27 years after it was shown - so there was a certain resonance for me in that the "future" events here were supposed to have taken place 25 years after the crew were "all together on the Enterprise", in Picard's words when he meets Geordi. Then again 'Nemesis' was supposed to have taken place 9 years after the last events of the TV series, but anyway - interesting to see how everyone had aged in real life compared to their artificially aged characters. I have to say that Future Riker doesn't look a lot like Frakes in the present day, but there's only so much you can do I guess! And that's not a complaint, although I did laugh when the old boy appeared on screen.

They could have made Geordi's hair a bit whiter. Age is kind to him. But you know what they say - the black don't crack.

Er, anyway - I was truly, properly drawn in to this one and the 90 minutes flew past. But as much as I was intrigued and immersed in the story, I was touched by the way it worked as a sentimental conclusion to the whole TNG TV journey - never becoming too mawkish or cloying. Even the Worf / Troi / Riker subplot didn't annoy me.

Tasha looks a few years older than she did in the first series of course, but at the same time she'd started to look delightfully milfy by 1994, so I could certainly forgive that. And I was really happy to see her included here. I suppose it's a shame that Wesley couldn't have had another run out.

The scenes in which Picard, as a new captain, appears to his new crew to be more or less incompetent are embarrassing, aren't they? And of course he does get them killed. But in a very good cause, of course. And I enjoyed the tension of the new crew wondering if their new captain was actually up to the job.

The idea of bookending the whole 7 series with the Q courtroom conceit was brilliant - really gives emphasis to the finale as a retrospective. And I loved the way Q put that dramatic emphasis on the word 'trek'.

And I loved seeing Earth at the time of the very dawn of life. I often think about that moment when the protein, or RNA molecule, or whatever, formed. And I wonder where it happened. Might even have been in my back garden.

Beverley asks for "milk, warm, with a dash of nutmeg". But she doesn't say "cow's milk". It would have been quite funny if the replicator had given her dog's milk.

It lasts longer than any other milk, dog's milk. No bugger'll drink it. Plus of course the advantage of dog's milk is that when it goes off, it tastes exactly the same as when it's fresh.

A couple of nit-picks, though. I don't really buy the idea of anti-time healing people's injuries and reversing pregnancies, while life appears to go on as normal, clocks tick, conversations take place in the usual linear fashion, etc, etc. There was no real need for it as a plot device and it was nonsensical.

It's odd that Riker is prepared to blow up Klingon warships just to help out his old captain. Really? He's supposed to be a Starfleet Admiral.

But I readily forgive the flaws because this was a colossal 90 minutes of telly. Wonderful.

Well I think I'll watch them all again in ten year's time, but for now - adios.
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James G
Sun, Jan 10, 2021, 8:56am (UTC -5)
Re: TNG S7: Preemptive Strike

Didn't think I was going to like this one a lot - although I like Ro, I wasn't really that interested in the story. But as it unfolds .. the moral ambiguity is very well done. Are the Maquis really the bad guys? And the bond between Ro and the old man develops really nicely.

The attack by the Cardassians on the Maquis base, or settlement or whatever it is underlines this beautifully - it seems obvious that Ro should resist it the Cardassian attack with lethal force. Until you remember that they're supposed to be on the same side.

Criticisms? Well, Ro infiltrates the Maquis extremely successfully and very quickly. It's all a bit too easy. But I guess you only have 45 minutes to play with. And the notion of penetrating a Galaxy Class Starship's shields with another craft seems preposterous.

Still - slow to start but the drama intensifies quite substantially in the last 15 mins. A very good one.

Seems a fitting conclusion for the Ro character. I liked Riker's response to her, as well. I would have expected him to snarl "you won't get away with this, lieutenant!" but he knows she's chosen her destiny, and bids her a resigned farewell.

Picard's reaction too, at his desk, is priceless.
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James G
Thu, Jan 7, 2021, 4:53pm (UTC -5)
Re: TNG S7: Emergence

As it happens, I really like this one. I well remembered an episode with imaginary characters digging coal that I'd liked from way back when, but when that episode with Data having dreams turned up, I thought that must have been it.

As I watched this, it occurred to me that it felt like an episode from one of the first couple of series. Which in turn made me think that maybe the earlier stories are a bit more imaginative.

I didn't really like the idea that the new ship's intelligence saved the ship from being blown up in a sudden unexpected instant. Bit over-dramatic. I thought Deanna was taking a bit of a risk going into the Holodeck the first time, given that someone had already been shot in there.

An in the end, it's a bit bizarre, isn't it? The Enterprise becoming self-aware and giving birth to an intelligent object? And I still don't quite get how it manufactures the colourful plumbing around the various parts of the ship.

Despite all this I really liked the Holodeck imagery / conundrum and I think this is one of the better Series 7 stories.

Picard's comments at the end about mission records and experiences being honourable .. I think that's a sentimental commentary on the entirety of TNG, as it draws to a close.

Just two left .. I think I started this TNG-athon in March 2019. I'll miss it.
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James G
Tue, Jan 5, 2021, 10:55am (UTC -5)
Re: TNG S7: Bloodlines

Well - I quite liked this one. Quite engaging and interesting, I thought. The guy who plays Picard's pseudo-offspring reminds me of a cheesy and annoying Jim Carrey, but I guess he's supposed to be like that. I was relieved that he wasn't banging a holographic Deanna in Holodeck 4, when Picard turned up.

He looks a bit older than 23, and it turns out the guy who played him was ten years older than that.

Anyway .. a couple of things wrong with this episode. Firstly, the idea that the Enterprise is so easily vulnerable to an attack by a rogue Ferengi. And secondly - Picard performing his own one-man special forces away mission with a phaser.

Still - not bad.
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James G
Sat, Jan 2, 2021, 12:49pm (UTC -5)
Re: TNG S7: Firstborn

If anything, I'm even less fond of Klingon culture than Alexander, and I groaned when I realised that this was going to be a Klingon episode, with all the attendant scenery-chewing and overwrought, aggressive nonsense about being a warrior, honour and the rest of it.

And I found the story really dull. I was bored, and I stopped paying attention. I have no idea why the Enterprise was pursuing the two sisters, or what mining had to do with it. I'm sure it's all in there but I don't really care, so please don't bother to explain.

But I was won round, partially, in the last 10-15 minutes. I loved the twist at the end. Fascinating, and clever. But at the same time I was pretty bored for a good 30 minutes, so I can't really overlook that, therefore this is not a good one, for me.

This idea of time travel being possible in the Star Trek doesn't really withstand close scrutiny, when you think about it. In some of the original series episodes it's shown as being routine. In one or two of the films it's shown as being possible, but difficult. But to my mind, a world in which it's possible to travel through time both ways would be absolutely chaotic. The Romulans would be forever sabotaging things by preventing them from happening. Pretty much every problem the Federation is faced with could be fixed in a similar fashion.

Picard would turn up from a few days in the future to have a diplomatic chat to himself about sending Sito on that mission in 'Lower Decks'. He'd stop himself being captured by the Borg. The possibilities are endless.
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James G
Wed, Dec 30, 2020, 2:27pm (UTC -5)
Re: TNG S7: Journey's End

Strange episode. I was fairly intrigued but I can't say I particularly like it. I was irritated by Wesley being petulant and teenager-ish, which somehow didn't quite mesh with the more mature double-chin Elvis thing he has going on in this one.

The idea of a pre-industrial-with-phasers native American outpost in space seems odd. So is the notion that the Federation would sell them out so easily, although I liked the ultimate solution.

But most of all this preposterous notion of Wesley being able to supernaturally pull himself out of time. What? And his mum happily waves him off to visit "other planes of existence" at the end as if he was going off on a holiday to the seaside with his mates.

And actually the whole notion of galactic powers like the Cardassians and the Federation carving out pieces of the galaxy between them as their own territory is questionable, when you think that there are species out there with god-like powers. I'd love to see what would happen if a Cardassian commander annoyed Q.

No, I didn't like it.
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James G
Mon, Dec 28, 2020, 4:10pm (UTC -5)
Re: TNG S7: Genesis

Really an awful episode. The notion that some sort of virus could cause any single creature to devolve in the manner depicted here is laughable, even of "introns" are a real thing.

I quite enjoyed watching things unravel initially, but it turns into an absolute farce. And the solution is even more laughable than the problem, with everyone returned to their original form completely intact and no worse for wear. I sort of like the idea of the crew being saved by a retro-virus made from Nurse Ogawa's personal body fluids, though. But it all happens so suddenly.. one minute Data is asked to unleash the retro-virus, next scene - everything restored to normal.

I thought Picard seemed unusually calm when confronted by the spectacle of what had happened to his ship and its crew. Even Riker with a bigger skull and smaller brain doesn't bother him unduly.

Anyway - just nonsense. Very slow, as well. Awful.
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James G
Mon, Dec 21, 2020, 8:17am (UTC -5)
Re: TNG S7: Eye of the Beholder

Interesting one. I liked it. Quite clever, and a nice twist on a murder mystery even if the notion of empathic echoes, or whatever, doesn't bear a great deal of critical scrutiny.

I like the different sides to Riker that we see in this one - in a good mood in 10 Forward, and earnestly trying to save someone from suicide.

I probably wasn't paying enough attention but the solution to the mystery was slightly lost on me. When we see Mark Rolston, he's playing a character who's been dead for 8 years, and exists only in Deanna's hallucination? I think that's it.

Unfortunately, as far as I can make out - the Deanna / Worf relationship wasn't a hallucination.

One odd thing - Beverley refers to Deanna as "Troi" when only herself, Deanna, Riker and Worf are present - all friends.

Anyway very good, slightly confusing perhaps but probably because I wasn't paying close enough attention.
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James G
Sun, Dec 20, 2020, 3:33pm (UTC -5)
Re: TNG S7: Masks

This one really dragged. It never gets into gear. It's far too whimsical to be engaging. it's like a weird dream of a TNG episode.

This idea of a space probe somehow managing to take over an Android - presumably its firmware is compatible - then transforming huge chunks of a starship - it stretches credulity too far, for a plot that's just too out there.

I have to give it credit for being imaginative and stylish but it's far too bafflingly silly to be effective. Especially in the solution - Picard winging a preposterous dialogue with the Masaka character that magically fixes everything.

Thematically similar to The Inner Light, but whereas that's one of the very best TNG stories, this is one of the worst.
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James G
Sun, Dec 13, 2020, 10:49am (UTC -5)
Re: TNG S7: Thine Own Self

I like this one a lot. I thought it was going to be a Prime Directive episode, but it's not, really. Nonetheless it's a quite an engaging story.

Some problems with it : Data recovers his faculties sufficiently to be able to make a microscope, explain the many organic compounds in wood, analyse tissue samples and so on, but not enough to remember what "radioactive" means.

And is there really an effective home-made cure for radiation sickness? I was expecting the whole village to be beamed up to sickbay. Maybe to a pre-industrial scene in a holodeck where they could be restored to health by some invisible regenerating beam.

And I don't like the subplot at all. I just don't see Deanna as a commander. It's not what she does, so why? I especially didn't like the notion that she's senior to Data at the end of the episode, but I think that's just sloppy writing.

One nit-pick - Beverley restores Data to health in sick-bay. "Positronic net online .. subprocessor relays in place .. neuro-electrical systems enabled", she says. But she's supposed to be a physician, not a cybernetics engineer. Maybe LeVar Burton called in sick that day.

The prosthetic used for Data's exposed sub-dermal technology really does look like it's stuck on the side of his head. I suppose CGI would make a better job of that, these days. But why does his head have to be full of flashing lights? In 1960s science fiction, nothing shouted FUTURE TECHNOLOGY like a set of flashing lights. Every fictional computer had them. But surely by the 1990s that was a bit passé.

Anyway.

On the plus side - the alien village society is depicted nicely, with kind, compassionate people as well as the usual distrustful hostile pitchfork brigade. Lovely to see Mrs Godsey from The Waltons turn up in a TNG. I've just read that she (Ronnie Claire Edwards) died a few years ago, that's a shame.

Really found this quite charming and engaging, an intriguing story that unfolds nicely apart from the Deanna subplot, which admittedly is crap. I'm not really keen on Beverley taking command either but thankfully that's a minor element of this episode.

Good one.
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James G
Thu, Dec 10, 2020, 11:32am (UTC -5)
Re: TNG S7: Lower Decks

This is a strong one. Very few criticisms to make about this one. Very nice to have an insight into Starfleet from a point of view of people progressing their careers. A bit different. And I like episodes that are predominantly set on the Enterprise.

It's good to see Geordi, Worf, Riker and Beverley from a command perspective, to see how they manage people.

I was a little surprised that Lavelle got promoted. I thought the scene in which he's anxious to talk about the shuttlecraft leaving the Enterprise was intended as where we see that he doesn't have the self-discipline for a higher rank.

And I wasn't sure about Ben. We don't see him in any other episode so having a new character, especially one who's pally with Riker, parachuted in for this story feels a bit contrived.

But what really gives this story its power is that the brave young woman is killed, especially since Picard sent her to her death. Very good.
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James G
Sun, Dec 6, 2020, 9:00am (UTC -5)
Re: TNG S7: Sub Rosa

Scotland in space, eh? Or at least the American, romanticised notion of Scotland. Not much like inner city Glasgow, anyway.

What an absolute load of old crap this episode is. A vain attempt to blend a creepy romantic ghost story with science fiction, via the medium of technobollocks. The plasma-based candle. The notion of the "organic host".

I quite liked the spectacle of Beverley vaporising the ghost-creature with a phaser. Good special effects. I liked the moral question-mark at the end, when she admits that the lifeform made her grandmother happy.

But that moment when the body in the coffin comes to life. Like a hilarious parody of a Hammer Horror. Buttock-clenchingly awful.

More importantly it's just ridiculous that Beverley would go along with a relationship with an "anaphasic lifeform".

I'm going to say the Robin Hood episode is still the worst TNG ever, though.
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James G
Thu, Dec 3, 2020, 10:47am (UTC -5)
Re: TNG S7: Homeward

A Prime Directive story! I like 'em.

And I really enjoyed this one. I hadn't seen it before. I have to wonder though if the writer even understands the notional purpose of the Prime Directive? I mean - what level of interference in a planet's society could be more harmful than all of its sentient life being wiped out in a catastrophic ecological disaster? Natural causes or not, that's really going to put a crimp on the normal development of their culture and society.

And there lies my problem with this episode. Picard is so obviously in the wrong, and Nikolay so clearly right. But the script never forces Picard to face up to this.

There's a wider point regarding the Prime Directive in any case - there's nothing stopping the Ferengi, or the Romulans, or even the Q from interfering in underdeveloped cultures, so there's a question mark over how effective it is anyway.

There's a really powerful moment when the crew on the bridge witnesses the apparent death of life on the planet, before it transpires that some of it has been saved. Yet it seems so callous just to watch this without lifting a finger, then leave.

The other big problem is the convenience of the Holodeck malfunction. A more imaginative solution was required, I think.

And when the young man leaves the Holodeck - it seems so hypocritical that Deanna tries to calm him, and emphasise that he is among friends, when they were going to let him choke to death on the surface of his planet, mere hours earlier. Why not just kill him with a phaser? End of problem. What's the difference?

And speaking of hypocrisy, Beverley asks Data "how do we even know they'll be able to survive?" when they arrive at a choice of new home planet. Why do you even care?

Despite all of this, I really enjoyed this one. The dynamic between Worf and his brother is excellent, and I don't normally like Worf episodes.

I didn't know Penny Johnson Jerald, of 24 and Orville fame, had ever been in the Star Trek franchise, but I recognised her straight away.

I note that some other commenters have happened upon the same solution that probably occurred to at least 90% of viewers - just make the Holodeck guests unconscious and put them in stasis for a bit. Much less hassle.

Really very good. Probably not quite up there with Who Watches the Watchers? but not far off.
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James G
Mon, Nov 30, 2020, 12:36pm (UTC -5)
Re: TNG S7: The Pegasus

Superb episode. An intriguing sci-fi concept; that of 'phasing' through solid material. A moral ambiguity over Riker's actions and character that actually brings him into conflict with Picard. Some devious secrecy at Starfleet. And a bit of tension with the Romulans.

Interesting to see a black Romulan. It makes sense, lots of planets could have regions with different climates in which the local humanoids develop different skin colour and characteristics. See also: Tuvok. You could even argue that Worf is a black Klingon, but I think the prosthetics are laid on a bit thick to describe any Klingon as "white" or "black".

I suppose it raises the question though of why we don't see more of them, but anyway. Not important.

It's fantastic to see the Enterprise pot-holing in the asteroid, I loved that. And the confrontation with Picard, in which the Captain fully exerts his authority on his first officer, even concluding their conversation with a curt "Dismissed!" is terrific. The first few minutes set us up quite nicely for this, with Riker comfortable enough to poke fun at Picard at "Captain Picard Day".

I can't really buy the cloaking device just getting plugged into the ship's systems with a bit of fibre-optic cable then taking the whole structure of the ship out of phase, but you have to overlook some of the detail to go along for the ride. I don't get how thrusters interact with the universe you're out of phase with, either.

Also - I thought the ending was a bit of a cop-out. Riker comes out of the brig (surely being confined to quarters would have done), Picard gives him a few kind words and I assume that's the last we'll hear of it. But I guess he conducts himself properly throughout the events of the episode, even if he didn't as a younger officer.

I could also have done without the Riker injury scene, in which he says to Beverley "I knew what I was supposed to do and I didn't do it". Obviously intended to be allegorical but far too obvious. And thoroughly disposable.

There should have been some astringent dialogue with the Romulan captain after the Enterprise decloaks.

Still. Really one of the best TNG episodes ever, probably in my top 10.
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James G
Fri, Nov 27, 2020, 1:38pm (UTC -5)
Re: TNG S7: Parallels

As is so often the case, there's really a lot wrong with this one. But as is less often the case, it handsomely rewards the necessary suspension of disbelief.

Firstly: the comedy is strong here. Worf's comment in his log that "several competitors were maimed". Data's offer to investigate his first "coupling" with Deanna. Worf's comment about the "acceptable risk" when Deanna points out to him that her mother would in effect become his stepmother. His reaction to Deana kissing his neck.

What's wrong with it? Well the different universes are too similar. In many or most of them, the Enterprise won't exist at all, neither will Worf. And it's really his consciousness that's shifting between these alternative realities, not his constituent atoms. Otherwise his constituent atoms might find themselves in an empty region of space, and he'd die quite quickly.

Anyway as I said there's no point obsessing the flaws. Best just to play along and if you do, it's quite a fascinating and compelling idea.

I don't really see Worf and Deanna as a couple, though.

Interesting to see that Wesley has put a bit of weight on in the other universe. I was amused to see Data getting the information he did from the Tricorder. It has a few flashing lights and a tiny screen. A Samsung phone looks considerably more sophisticated.

The icing on the cake is the spectacle of the various Enterprises appearing in the same Universe. And the crazed Riker from the universe in which the galaxy has been overrun by Borg. Genius. The CGI looks surprisingly poor when his ship is destroyed, though.

But - why would all of these Enterprises turn up? Did they all just happen to be in exactly the same region of space in their respective realities, or what? It makes no sense to me.

Still - very, very good. Best one so far in the seventh series, I think.
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James G
Thu, Nov 26, 2020, 1:24pm (UTC -5)
Re: TNG S7: Inheritance

One postscript to that - I was reminded of the Series 3 episode 'The Survivors', in which a being with god-like powers recreates a replica of his dead wife.
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James G
Thu, Nov 26, 2020, 1:21pm (UTC -5)
Re: TNG S7: Inheritance

Interesting one. I liked it.

I was amused that the phaser repair of the planet's molten core is available to be performed "almost immediately" when Pran Tainer gives the nod. No debate in the planet's parliament, no consultation with local officials, no planning, no initiative to raise public awareness of what's going to happen, no risk analysis, just ZZZAPPP - a massive energy beam ploughing kilometres deep into the surface of the planet on the authority of a geologist.

I also don't quite buy that a single inventor could create an android like Juliana - so sophisticated that every bodily function is replicated exactly; so perfect that she believes she's human herself. Maybe a huge 24th Century corporation or a team of scientists and technologists.

I was amused that Beverley examines Juliana then declares "she should be awake". She's a physician, not a cyberneticist. How would she know? Sloppy writing. Geordi should have had that line.

And the interactive hologram doesn't quite work for me - it's almost an analogue of Juliana; intelligent enough to interact with Data and respond like Soong. Too clever. But I loved the "don't rob her of that, son" moment.

Hadn't seen that one before. It's a good one despite its flaws.
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James G
Mon, Nov 23, 2020, 5:17pm (UTC -5)
Re: TNG S7: Force of Nature

A poor one, this. If the subplot about Spot is a clever allegory of the main theme, it went over my head.

Just so much of it is superfluous .. the encounter with the Ferengi, the cat, Geordi's competitiveness with the engineer on the Intrepid.

It occurred to me while watching this evening, though not the first time I saw it in the '90s, that it's an analogy on the use of fossil fuels. But this idea that Warp travel, understood for three centuries (really?), is gradually destroying the very fabric of the Universe undermines the whole premise of the entire Star Trek franchise. It is the basis of space travel at the necessary speeds to make the whole idea work.

Also - in a galaxy as huge as ours, some of those civilisations would have had Warp Drive for thousands, or hundreds of thousands of years. Some of them might have overcome this problem long before Cochrane's first flight.

Finally, here's a thought - next time Q turns up, instead of doing the impatient rolling-of-eyes thing, just ask him very nicely to fix it.

A clunker, this one.
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James G
Sat, Nov 21, 2020, 10:03am (UTC -5)
Re: TNG S7: Attached

Well - I liked this one. A bit. It reminded me of a TOS episode, with the Enterprise visiting a dysfunctional planet with two hostile factions, except of course that Kirk would have restored diplomatic relations there in about half an hour.

Really quite an effective portrait of a paranoid society, I thought. Obviously inspired by cold-war era Earth, although why the planet has to be named after its two opposing societies I don't know. Imagine if we lived in a world called AmericaSovietUnion, or EastWest.

Anyway .. there are some problems with this episode. Imagine two high-profile prisoners being kept under maximum security at some prison in the US, or China, or anywhere. All they have to do to escape completely is get the code, or the key to their cell door. I don't think so.

And the gas explosions in the tunnel - what a cheap bit of script fluff.

The telepathic implants are a nice idea. Will the federation exploit this technology for some useful purpose? Or is it just a throwaway plot device that will get forgotten about?

There's a bit of sonic screwdrivery when Beverley defeats a forcefield with a tricorder. I enjoyed the idea of the electronic map on the hand-held device. In the early '90s when this episode was shown that would have seemed as futuristic as phasers, now it's called Google Maps.

Why can't the Enterprise find Picard and Beverley on the planet's surface using sensors? Perhaps I missed something. Usually there'd be some ridiculous technobollocks excuse. And normally Riker would have sorted out an Away Team in about 3 minutes so I'm not sure why that wasn't considered.

I could have done without the sentimental cheese between Picard and Beverley at the end.

Didn't like it much. Didn't dislike it much.
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James G
Fri, Nov 20, 2020, 1:00pm (UTC -5)
Re: TNG S7: Dark Page

Oh no, I thought. Not another Lwaxana episode. But this one is nothing like the usual ham-fisted comedy frivolity.

I must admit though after the first 25 minutes or so, I was expecting to come here and dismiss it. I just didn't feel that the question of Lwaxana's well-being was really that suspenseful or interesting.

However, at least it's something a bit different from having to save the Enterprise from malignant invisible space creatures. It revisits the subconscious / dream theme that's been explored a few times in recent earlier episodes, but with a different twist.

I didn't quite buy the "telepathic bridge" idea, involving someone from an entirely different species.

But as this wonderful episode unfolded, reaching a touching, emotional climax - I realised that 'Dark Page' is one of the finest stories in the entire franchise. Majel Barrett acts out of her skin in this one.

I was reminded of the episode of M*A*S*H in which Hawkeye loses his mental health after seeing something he can't process. The very last one, actually. He can only recover from it by facing up to it.

Bravo. Loved it.

By the way to address Elmo's question above : Deanna does have an American accent. Granted Marina Sirtis is British and she might not be doing it 100% properly but she does her best, and it sounds nothing like her native English accent.
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James G
Thu, Nov 19, 2020, 5:09am (UTC -5)
Re: TNG S7: Phantasms

I liked this one, quite a bit. It does require a greater-than-usual suspension of disbelief, but it rewards it.

The Enterprise's holodecks seem sometimes just to be an excuse for TNG to present 20th Century period pieces, but at least the Freud scenes were short. I didn't quite get the scenes with the young lady in engineering fawning over Geordi and they seem to have nothing to do with the plot, unless I'm overlooking some subtle allegory. I also don't get why Geordi wouldn't encourage it, she's delightful.

It's a bit of a stretch to think that an Android might work something out in his subconscious that he's not able to recognise consciously. It also seems to me that this episode has uncovered something of a serious flaw in Data's operation. He's susceptible to "waking dreams" that can induce him to stab other members of the crew with a lethal weapon. Just bizarre. At the very least, the episode should have resolved that problem. Even as a response to a very serious situation, it's hardly appropriate to carve up the ship's counsellor in an elevator.

Brave of Deanna to hand Data a cake knife at the end.

A lovely comedy touch in this one. "Tell him he's a pretty cat". A scene which exploits the contrast in Worf and Data's characters nicely. Totally illogical for an Android to ask a Klingon to express that to a cat. But funny.

At the conclusion, Picard says that he'd never "sacrifice" the safety of the ship, by rushing to the Admiral's dinner. I think the script must have said "compromise" and he got his line wrong. Either that or poor writing. Perhaps I should be a script editor.

And finally - yet another quasi-magic space creature. The universe seems to be teeming with them. At least they didn't inhabit someone's body and start talking to the crew. Nonetheless - am I missing something or do they just get killed at the end, there? Where's the usual Star Trek respect for life in all its forms? I'd have expected a bit of hand-wringing at the very least.

Anyway - a bit bonkers but original, amusing, intriguing and fun. Good one.
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