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Peter H
Sat, May 25, 2019, 5:54pm (UTC -5)
Re: Star Trek: First Contact

I always have in the back of my mind that this is the "good" TNG film, but I always forget just how good it is.

What I really love about it is how well it balances all its different plot threads, characters, action and themes into a very well-crafted, efficient and functioning whole. The coming together of all the different strands at the end of the film feels so effortless and natural, you're not even aware of the craft of it.

Suspension of disbelief watching Trek is always a necessity, and this film requires that you ignore the perposterousness of the time travel plot (which surely could have been instigated by the Borg well away from Earth, and thus avoiding its foil by the Enterprise crew), as well as accepting the Borg Queen's troublesome contradiction of established lore. What I found most hard to accept about the Queen was her desire to find a companion: this seems an unlikely social goal, particularly for being who is made of many voices. It just flies in the face of what we've seen of the Borg before.

But no matter: what I do appreciate is that the inclusion of the Queen as antagonist serves the movie dramatically, even if it defies logic, and while the time travel plot makes no sense the move zips along so efficiently that only a hardened nitpicker would even think about it.

Special credit goes out here for Patrick Stewart, who turns out what's become my favourite performance of Picard. He gets a lot of screen time and a lot of character work throughout the story. The scene where Lilly goads him into losing control is genuinely shocking, and it shows a real willingness on the part of the writers to show our leader as less than perfect. I always felt that TNG's utopian ideals were a bit of an unrealistic portrayal of our species, despite the fact that the humans of the 24th century were explicitly intended to be our best selves. Picard's hollow remark about "evolved sensibility" is especially clever in this context.

As an aside, I tried getting a non-Trekie to watch this film once and the whirlwind of plot in the first 20 minutes completely overwhelmed him. Incidentally he completely understood Star Trek VI and what it was about with no prior Trek knowledge (and actually while I'm at it he mostly understood and loved Galaxy Quest too). It's not a mark against this film, however, as I think its efficiency is very much to its credit.
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Peter H
Sat, May 25, 2019, 8:32am (UTC -5)
Re: TNG S3: The Best of Both Worlds, Part I

Just given this episode another rewatch and it still delivers in every way. Not much I can add to what's already been said.

The real stand out part of the production (beyond the splendid VFX) is the score, which is utterly extraordinary. It's surely the very best of the entire run of Trek (with perhaps the exception of Star Trek 2 and 3).

I can't see this episode being nearly as effective without the score, which really viscerally captures the mystery, doom and excitement befitting of what is a potential extinction-level event for humanity.
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Peter H
Sat, May 25, 2019, 5:37am (UTC -5)
Re: TNG S3: Yesterday's Enterprise

Re watched this again today, and again it's fabulous. I think I was too harsh about the battle at the end; it is actually pretty damn exciting (especially for this time in Trek's history where extended ship to ship combat sequences are really rare).

Other things I love: how Picard very quickly and decisively comes around to the correct course of action. He may not know how it will play out, but he knows it makes sense, even if it's based on Guinan's intuition. He totally shuts down Riker's (reasonable) objections; his mind is made.

The arc with Tasha Yar is brilliant. On rewatch of series 1 I found her to be a pretty insubstantial character, with not the best acting from Denise Crosby. Here she totally sells her character as a tough, pragmatic warrior. For all Crosby's previous shortcomings her scene requesting a transfer from Picard was spot on.

On the whole the Tasha story really grounds the whole thing, giving us something deeply personal to invest in rather than pure focus on the temporal shenanigans. I'm glad this episode paved the way for more of Crosby; particularly when she reprises her role in All Good Things. It just made that episode complete for me.
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Peter Howie
Sat, Apr 27, 2019, 5:16pm (UTC -5)
Re: ORV S2: The Road Not Taken

I'm bored with the Mercer/Grayson romance.
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Peter H
Sun, Apr 21, 2019, 5:42pm (UTC -5)
Re: DSC S2: Such Sweet Sorrow, Part 1

Could they not have just kept firing on the Discovery? Are its shields suddenly impenetrable?

Terrible, terrible episode. Worst of the series by a long shot. Hated all the endless speeches, technobabble and the glorification of Michael.

(Loved the Enterprise interior design though - that was awesome!)
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Peter H
Fri, Feb 1, 2019, 2:53am (UTC -5)
Re: TNG S6: Relics

As I've become older this episode has become more poignant for me. I'm hot off of rewatching Star Trek II and III, so this episode is like an intersection of nostalgia for me.

James Dooghan steals all the scenes he's in, and brings all the energy we remember to the role. I loved his dialogue, and all the casual cursing (which, apart from Picard's shock merde in the first season, and some out of place lines in the movies) is not very TNG.

What I liked a lot less was the routine jeopardy plot, which felt like a random bunch of scenes that could have been from any episode stitched together. The Enterprise seems disabled one moment, then is able to just fly free the next? Why not orbit further from the star to avoid its effects if the thrusters are working? Grrr, I'm nitpicking again. It's a shame this aspect of the show disappoints over the years, but there it is.
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Peter H
Thu, Jan 17, 2019, 7:23am (UTC -5)
Re: DS9 S3: The Adversary

Maybe this episode was a bit more exciting at the time, but it's aged very poorly. A very perfunctory outing, with shades of "The Thing", that never really manages to excite due to the rather inept attempts to capture the rogue Changing.

I think what annoyed me most is that this is, to my memory at least, the third outing where the Defiant gets sabotaged mid voyage. It's become quite a tedious trope, especially as it's only the Defiant's first season on the show.

Two stars.
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Peter H
Mon, Jan 14, 2019, 10:37am (UTC -5)
Re: DS9 S3: Explorers

This has always been an episode I've felt like skipping past, but I'm glad I didn't as it's such a great character piece. Both A and B stories worked for me and built on established history for each of the players.

My only nitpick is that the solar sail ship idea seems so implausible. Without inertial dampeners Sisko and Jake would have been a smear on the wall the moment the ship went into high warp (see The Expanse S3 for a more realistic examination of this theme!). But who cares, it's still an enjoyable story anyway.
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Peter H
Sun, Jan 13, 2019, 5:26am (UTC -5)
Re: Star Trek (2009)

I love this film unreservedly, and went to the IMAX cinema to see it a total of four times, something I've never done before or since.

It's a very well paced, exhilarating adventure (that strangely I feel no real desire to nickpick).

Star Trek once again shows its versitity by reinventing itself as action packed popcorn flick. This film might not truly what Trek is about to most fans (it isnt to me), but gosh if it doesn't all work and thoroughly entertains in the process. Four stars from me!
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Peter H
Tue, Jan 1, 2019, 7:48am (UTC -5)
Re: DS9 S3: Prophet Motive

Gosh, I'm a sucker for Ferengi episodes, and I loved this one.

The Ferengi can't be taken seriously as a race, and are little more than cartoon antagonists at this stage of Trek history... and yet, I still love em. This is a lighthearted romp that had me giggling throughout, especially thanks to all the splendid Ferengi performances which were, as always, on point.

Like Jammer, I felt the scenes with the wormhole aliens / Prophets were the highlight. I loved the consistency with "Emissary", especially with it's references to "the game" and linear time.

The Bashir B story was a bit pointless, but I still found myself enjoying it nonetheless.

A solid 3 stars!
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Peter H
Wed, Nov 28, 2018, 4:54am (UTC -5)
Re: Star Trek: Nemesis

I have fond memories of this film. When it was released I was aware that it had mediocre reviews, but I saw it anyway - on a date, with a handsome young man to boot - and thoroughly enjoyed it. I've always enjoyed it on subsequent viewings too, taking it as a bit of a fun action flick.

I watched it yesterday and, well, time has not been kind. Maybe I was in an especially critical mood but I found it sorely lacking. I watched the Undiscovered Country a just few days ago, and it just fares very poorly in comparison.

So here are my nitpicks:

* An insurgent slave race is able to develop a gigantic dreadnought , more powerful and massive than any other starship in use by the major races (Dominion and Borg, excepted), completely in secret. Even with supposed help from Romulan allies (why would they?) this is beyond credible.

* Positronic signals. When has Data, Lore or any other android emitted ominous sensor readings from light years away? (Possibly explained by the Sovereign Class Enterprise's advanced sensors)

* Pacing. Gosh it really takes a long time to get going. I can see why they cut a lot of scenes out of it. By the time Enterprise reaches Romulus and they start dialogue with Shinzon it really starts to drag.

* That awful, awful scene where Shinzon explains his origin and we get a slow mo shot of him as a kid in the Reman mines. I cringed all the way through that.

* Dichotomy between Picard and Shinzon: the idea is plausible, but it's still one of many plot contrivances in this film which I found a bit hard to believe. As an attempt to create a motivation and character for the antagonist it's not all bad, but still feels a bit artificial to me. This is not a fault of the actors, and Stewart still really sells it.

* Why on earth is Geordie hanging around on the bridge and not repairing the warp drive from Main Engineering?

* "Shields at X percent!" is definitely getting old. It was nice to get visual indicators on shield graphics this time though. I would also like add to that any line that involves boosting power to any given shield area, or just simply saying "full power to shields" is not interesting, and even redundant.

* Stellar Cartography got a major downgrade from Generations. I guess the Sovereign Class is smaller after all.

* Awful Star Wars stormtrooper-style firefights. We're told how fearsome the Remans are during the Dominion War, but this lot are clearly the B Team that got left behind.

* Reman fingernails . Yes, I know your control console buttons have enormous spaces between the keys, presumably to accommodate them, but it's still gross.

Things I liked:

* The Enterprise crew figuring out B4's deception and taking advantage of it. I've seen this film a few times now, and I completely forgot that they were in on this one.

* Fantastic visual effects, best ship-to-ship combat involving the Enterprise of the entire series run.

* Instead of crew endlessly realing off damage and status reports, as in most Star Trek combat, the Enterprise actually fires back. Repeatedly. This is what space combat should be like!

* The goofy scene where Troi hunts down the Viceroy through her empathic link. Total cheese, but I kind of loved it. (Incidentally, the light shining on Troi's eyes reminded me of that ghastly film where Madonna seduces a gay man. They do this in *every goddamn scene* of that film, presumably to give Madonna the look of a classic movie icon. This scene in Nemesis is how you do it right).

* Troi first given the helm to set a collision course with the Scimitar and then later given command of the bridge. I will always love this!

Other stray thoughts:

* Battle lulls: I've never seen anyone comment on this, but I've always found it odd in Star Trek how ship to ship combat suddenly ceases, to give the characters a good chance to have a natter about something. It struck me as odd when it happened in DS9's Way of the Warrior, and has happened in many other episodes. I accept that It's fully necessary to accommodate the plot.

* First contact was released, what, 20 years ago? That's like half my lifetime. Does anyone else still think of the Enterprise E as being the "new ship" like I still do? lol
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Peter H
Sat, Nov 24, 2018, 10:08am (UTC -5)
Re: TNG S5: Unification

There's so much to like about this episode. Everything with Spock is a real treat, and really ties in nicely with the insights he has in the Undiscovered Country. The scene with Sarek was an absolute joy, but completely heartbreaking.

What I could never get over is the implausibility of the invasion plot. A few thousand troops could overpower a planet with millions? The Vulcans are hardly toothless; pacificts they may be but they're not so unwise as to not be able to defend themselves.

More troubling is the idea that Vulan could be taken over without major repercussions. Sela waves this away with a "we're prepared for that", but in fact this would immediately lead to all out war with the Federation.
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Peter H
Fri, Nov 23, 2018, 7:50am (UTC -5)
Re: TNG S5: Darmok

Now, I'm normally one to nitpick in Star Trek and, yes, the metaphorical language concept seems utterly unsuited to efficient communication. But here's the thing: it doesn't matter! This is definitely one of those occasions where disbelief must be suspended. The episode is so earnest and commited to its concept that it deserves to be taken on its own terms.

This episode displays the quintessential spirit Star Trek, and as such remains one of my all time favourite episodes of any of the shows. I wholeheartedly agree with Elliot's impassioned defence of this episode above. I couldn't have put it better really.
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Peter H
Thu, Aug 30, 2018, 6:00pm (UTC -5)
Re: TNG S4: Night Terrors

Finally, an anomaly of the week episode I found thoroughly compelling. Very effective tension building throughout: the first dream sequence, as another commenter put it, was "deliciously creepy". The Crusher morgue scene I had no memory of from the first time round, really got to me for some reason; in that situation I'd be utterly horrified.

I'm prepared to forgive the main "we need hydrogen" nitpick, as this is clearly symbolic telepathic communication. It's quite plausible that an abstract concept of hydrogen is being communicated and interpreted Troy's (somewhat basic) mind.

3 stars from me!
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Peter H
Sun, Aug 26, 2018, 12:07pm (UTC -5)
Re: TNG S4: Remember Me

I loved all the build up in the first half of the episode and, equally, I loved all the bits towards the end where Beverly solves the mystery on her own. It's nice that Beverly gets to star in an episode for a change, and it's great that it showcases the best qualities of the character; her connection to her crewmates as well as her problem solving skills.

What utterly tanks the episode for me is all the mumbo jumbo with the Traveller. This is perhaps a product of the time, as well as Roddenberry's utopian vision of mankind, but all the talk of "unlocking potential" smacks of narcissism about the nature and capabilities of the human race.

I'm prepared to suspend disbelief on a great many improbable and likely impossible phenomena presented in Star Trek, such as telepathy and faster than light travel. What I am not prepared to accept is the absurdity that external reality can be shaped by our thoughts. No amount of enlightenment will ever allow us to manipulate space and time with our minds. We are tied to the material plane, and no amount of magical thinking espoused by philosophies such as the Traveller's will change that.

Otherwise, this is a solid and enjoyable romp ;)
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Peter H
Sat, Aug 25, 2018, 5:59pm (UTC -5)
Re: DS9 S2: Crossover

Well what a surprise! I nearly skipped over this one, having less than fond memories of MU episodes. Most notably I hated the recent arc in Discovery, finding it far too long and very far fetched.

The beauty of this episode is that it efficiently packs a lot of interesting characters and entertaining sights into a small space of time, and then resolves itself before you can think though how totally improbable it all is (seriously, such a radically altered timeline could never churn out a set of parallel characters in the MU for each and every one of Trek's shows that features it) Very little space wasted here. Thoroughly entertainining all round.
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Peter H
Sat, May 5, 2018, 3:42am (UTC -5)
Re: Star Wars: The Last Jedi

All I could think through the whole film was: why could the fleet of star destroyers not send out waves of fighters to take down the Resistance frigate? They started out with just such an attack... and then stopped?
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Peter H
Mon, Apr 30, 2018, 3:52pm (UTC -5)
Re: TNG S4: Family

I thought this was a rock solid episode, and goes a long way to counter some of my previous criticism of the show as being too rooted in physical peril to resolve character conflicts. This storytelling style will remain a backbone of the show, but this episode proved that Trek could be more.

Again, like so many above me, I thought this was a waste of an episode as a child, but as an adult it now it feels essential companion piece to Best Of Both Worlds.
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Peter H
Sat, Apr 28, 2018, 2:33am (UTC -5)
Re: TNG S3: Transfigurations

I got about 15 minutes into this one, then realised Best Of Both Worlds was next and realised I'd had quite enough.
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Peter H
Fri, Apr 27, 2018, 6:12pm (UTC -5)
Re: TNG S3: Sarek

Poor Michael didn't even get a mention when Picard-as-Sarek was listing all those he had loved in his life! ;)
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Peter H
Fri, Apr 27, 2018, 4:52am (UTC -5)
Re: TNG S3: Hollow Pursuits

The more I rewatch this show the more I feel that it's straightjacketed by its genre conventions, which sacrifice interesting drama for rote ship / crew in peril action.

I was really enjoying this episode right up until the point that the technobabble problem and subsequent solution revealed itself. Past that point I just switched off and started playing with my phone, waiting for the episode to come to its inevitable conclusion.

I know this show can do better, and it's great when A and B stories successfully meet, but this was not one of those times.
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Peter H
Wed, Apr 25, 2018, 3:26pm (UTC -5)
Re: TNG S3: Yesterday's Enterprise

One of the things that I really objected to in the recent Discovery trip to the Mirror Universe was how nearly every character had some kind meaningful counterpart in such a radically different setting, where the course of history would have been so different. I was even given to question how ruthless empire could even produce functionally identical ships with such optimistic / whimsical names such as Discovery, or Shenzhou (Divine Craft). Of course the Mirror Universe has always functioned this way throughout Trek, but until Discovery it never hung around long enough for me to start questioning its plausibility.

It seems quaint discussing how the Enterprise ship and crew could be so similar given such a radically different course of history. However, in this episode it didn't trouble me at all; the adjusted aesthetics sold it to me and the story was solid enough that I didn't care about even thinking the details through. I found this version of the "present" entirely believable.

I've always been a bit disappointed by the action at the end, I have to say. Much like the battle in Generations, the crew seem more intent on reporting the details of how the ship is getting battered, instead of bothering to return fire!
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Peter H
Mon, Apr 23, 2018, 12:54am (UTC -5)
Re: TNG S3: Who Watches the Watchers

All these intelligent comments and not one remark about Riker's glorious boots! I wasn't sure if I was horrified or a bit turned on by that prto-Vulcan meets Dick Whittington ensemble :D

I also found all the scenes of Troi, Riker and the Mintakans running around chasing after each other simply *hilarious*.

These points aside I thought this was a pretty solid Trek outing. I was a bit confused as to how such a supposedly sensible people free from superstition could so quickly cast all that aside, but I'm willing to forgive that for the sake of the plot. All the scenes of the Mintakan leader on the Enterprise were Trek gold for me; Picard's admiration for her was also very warming.

I've had my doubts about the Prime Directive over the series run so far. We've seen how putting it aside can do good (Penpals) so it's nice to be reminded of why it's so necessary.
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Peter H
Sun, Apr 22, 2018, 5:40am (UTC -5)
Re: TNG S3: Evolution

...actually, 4 if you count that episode with the pissed-off crystal in the first season that call humans "ugly sacs of mostly water"! Although that wasn't really an AI but a silicon-based lifeform, so I guess it doesn't count after all. Nonetheless it's probably why this episode feels so familiar, as it's a bit of a rerun of that. Fortunately this intelligence is much more reasonable.

On a plus note it looks like the CGI has got an upgrade; the external shots of the Enterprise look better than ever.
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Peter H
Sun, Apr 22, 2018, 5:34am (UTC -5)
Re: TNG S3: Evolution

I can think of at least 3 episodes in TNG where there's an emergent AI that develops in the Enterprise's computer or equipment. It's a wonder all organic life hasn't been wiped out given how ubiquitous this phenomenon is in the 24th century.
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