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Sun, Oct 14, 2018, 6:00am (UTC -5)
Re: TOS S1: What Are Little Girls Made Of?

It's interesting to me that Chapel's primary dramatic function for most of the series was to be in love with Spock, who was emotionless, and then here it's revealed that her fiance wants to replace humanity with emotionless androids. And these are the two men that Chapel chooses to love.

This says something about her, though I'm not sure just what.
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Sun, Oct 14, 2018, 5:56am (UTC -5)
Re: TOS S1: Miri

There are a lot of complaints in the review and thread about the planet, but don't forget just how early in the run of TOS this episode was. 50+ years later, we're all used to seeing planets where everyone looks and acts human, and everyone knows what a class-M planet is.

But viewers of the day were new to it all. This was the first episode in all of Star Trek where the crew meets human-looking aliens, and only the second episode (or third, if you count "The Cage") where they meet aliens of any sort, besides Spock of course. So the "duplicate of Earth" planet does have a purpose, it's lampshading the fact that these "aliens" are basically just humans. Eventually, of course, this would go from a curiosity to a trope, and they stopped bothering to try to explain it. But here, it was still necessary to explain.
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Fri, Aug 2, 2013, 2:42am (UTC -5)
Re: ENT S4: The Augments

The Dr. Soong from TNG can't be the same person as this one, as they have different first names, and humans don't live quite long enough. In TNG, McCoy has one foot in the grave, and he hasn't even been born yet at the time of this episode, when Arik is already somewhat old.

But considering all the evidence:
1) Arik and Noonien Soong look identical, are both mad geniuses, and both seem to have the same tragic flaw of not quite being able to believe that their "children" could really be evil,
2) Arik doesn't seem to be married or have any biological children, and might be too old for it,
3) Noonien Soong considers Data and Lore his children, and artificial procreation to be completely reasonable for him,
4) The Soongs in general are pretty weird,
5) Arik Soong is a geneticist.

I think the best conclusion is that Noonien is a clone. The technology exists in the time period ("Up The Long Ladder") and, even if Arik decides that cybernetics is the way to go in the future, he's not going to just forget all his biology.

Given the long lifespans of humans in Trek, Noonien's advanced age in TNG, and Arik Soong's talent for biology (and presumably life-extension), it's possible that Noonien could be a first generation clone of Arik, or maybe there are one or two intermediates.

Is there a novel that explores the Soong family tree? If so, what conclusion did it draw about the line from Arik to Noonien?
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Tue, May 21, 2013, 5:05am (UTC -5)
Re: Star Trek Into Darkness

"Most important, him being Khan is absolute negligible. In fact, the narrative would have worked better if he would have been an original antagonist created from scratch."

There are actually a lot of good choices that were missed. Captain Garth, Commodore Decker or Gary Mitchell all would have been better choices than Khan here, although only Garth could have plausibly had magic blood.

"It has no meaning if we know that he'll be resurrected ten minutes later. This COMPLETELY undermines the emotional resonance of the scene."

Exactly. Spock's death in TWOK worked because NOBODY, including the writers, knew he was going to be resurrected later. When Picard was assimilated by the Borg, Patrick Stewart's contract was up in the air and it was totally plausible that he might not be coming back. When the Enterprise, no bloody A, B, C or D, was destroyed in TSFS, it at least stayed destroyed until the end of the next movie, and there was no guarantee there would actually be a Star Trek IV.

This is more like when Tom Paris turned into a lizard. Some magic medi-babble and he just gets better. Did anybody believe he was going to stay dead? Not for a minute.

Unfortunately, the circumstances where this works are mostly outside the writer's control, and don't come around all that often. You've either got to be prepared to *really* kill your main characters, or you've got to get your emotional impact from somewhere else. Otherwise it just feels cheap.

And I agree that *this* version of the characters have not "earned" the kind of friendship that they are trying to portray. In 2009, Kirk and Spock could barely stand each other.

The thing is, I really like these actors and this take on the characters (except Simon Pegg, because Scotty was never a comic relief character... except in Final Frontier, and we all know how THAT turned out). I wish the reboot-trek had been done as a TV show, with the same cast. But then... "The casting was great but everything else was terrible," that's pretty much everything JJ Abrams has ever done.
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Sat, Apr 20, 2013, 2:03am (UTC -5)
Re: TNG S7: Masks

In good Trek episodes, the characters solve a problem, and in so doing they reveal something about the human condition or at least about themselves. When there's no problem to solve, you're going away from the formula - which means the episode is going to be unusual, either in a good way or a bad way.

To me, this episode is like "The Inner Light"'s evil twin. In both cases you have an ancient alien society that has left a cultural archive which the Enterprise happens to discover. Neither episode has a real problem to solve (I don't consider deciphering the alien symbologism to be a real "problem"). Everyone is basically just waiting for the magic alien gadget to finish. Is symbologism a word? It is now!

But in that episode, it's done by showing us what amounts to an alternate-universe version of Picard. Not only do we learn what Picard would have been like in a very different situation, we also learn what the people of the ancient society are all about. We see them caring for their families and building their future, even though we know they are all doomed. They aren't that different from us, really.

This one doesn't really involve any of our actual characters. It uses Data's body, but not actually Data. And we don't really learn much about the alien culture. We only see it in such disconnected pieces that it's hard to get much of a feel for it, and we don't really get to know any individual characters either, certainly not to the level that we get to know the individual ancient Kataanians. We only really learn about one myth. I'm not even sure if any of the various personalities here are supposed to be real, or if they're all mythological.

You might also compare this episode to "Darmok," because both of them are basically an incomprehensible muddle until the crew manages to piece together the outlines of an alien myth. I think the difference again comes down to characters. Darmok has them, and even without real communication, you learn about the Tamarian captain and what their society considers important.

Anyone who's been in a foreign country and managed to make a friend without knowing the local language can probably relate to "Darmok." This episode is more like getting lost on the way to physics lab and finding yourself in the midterm for a comparative religion class.
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Sat, Feb 23, 2013, 9:25am (UTC -5)
Re: TNG S3: Allegiance

Although this isn't itself a particularly memorable episode, I have to note the similarity to the Twilight Zone episode "Five Characters in Search of an Exit," which is largely summed up by its title. Four of the five characters are trapped in a featureless room, when a soldier arrives and attempts to get them to work together to escape.

That episode ends with a twist which is pretty weird even for the Twilight Zone (the five characters are actually dolls, and the featureless room is actually a bucket in which toys are being collected), but I have to wonder if the writers of this episode had seen that one and were, in some way, inspired by it.
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Fri, Dec 21, 2012, 4:11am (UTC -5)
Re: TNG S1: The Neutral Zone

@Paul: "Season 1 is so bad it's good! Elixirs of youth, invisible weapons that destroy whole civilizations, drunk crew destroying the ship!"


You've pretty much just described three of the last five movies.
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Fri, Dec 21, 2012, 4:08am (UTC -5)
Re: TNG S1: The Neutral Zone

I liked this episode. Not perfect certainly, but better than 1.5 stars (compare "Skin of Evil" or "The Outrageous Okona" - also rated 1.5, and those are just bad episodes).

The A and B stories don't have much to do with each other, but they usually don't. Ideally they'll show similar themes, like how Wesley and Picard both deal with their future in "Coming of Age," but here there's not as much. I guess they both cover elements from the past coming forward and becoming relevant again, but the connection is not strong.

I felt the real problem was that Picard's characterization was off. I can understand his irritation with the timing given the Romulan situation, but knowing Picard's interest in history, I would expect him to show more of an interest in the 370 year old humans, Romulans or no Romulans.

As a result of the crew not attending to them properly, they spend most of their time virtually confined to quarters until Ralph figures out how to get them out. Picard should have assigned Troi to deal with the old-timers and Data or Worf to research the Romulans, giving more time to the acclimation and ideology conflicts and less to exposition about stuff everyone already knows.

Despite all this, the old-timers still aren't totally wasted. Their purpose is to illustrate the differences between the attitudes of the 20th and 24th centuries and how much society would change during that time. Claire and Sonny have straightforward reactions that make sense. While not particularly exciting, they both show aspects of humanity that are actually timeless. Claire cares about her family (and establishes the sense of continuity that is one of the aspects of family most often stressed on TNG). Sonny demonstrates adaptability and shows us that even in the 24th century, people will still want to have fun. (One thing about TNG - the most fun they ever seem to have is performing Shakespeare - I think they could use a Sonny). He is almost slyly poking fun at the overall stuffiness of Trek, maybe showing some ways that modern-day life is actually better. Ralph shows the most contrast - like a less annoying version of "Time's Arrow's" Clemens. He even engages Picard in a debate over the nature of destiny, and wins. With Ralph, you see some ways humanity has improved over time, but also that something may have been lost, that humans are a little too accepting of fate and need a little challenge and encouragement to really do their best. One of the weaknesses in most utopian visions, Roddenberry's included, is that, when life is just so easy, what really DOES motivate people? Ralph forces Picard to try to answer this question. Unfortunately, the episode just doesn't spend enough time on these issues.

I find that in general, I like the first two seasons of TNG more than most people, and I'd give this episode a solid 2.5 stars, 3 if it had been paced a little better.

If nothing else, I think this episode deserves credit for inspiring "Futurama," whose "freezerdoodles" look exactly like these cryocanisters, whose power-outages gag echoes the explanation here of why they are in space, and the episode "Futurestock" which appears to be based on Ralph (or perhaps simply draws from the same stock 80's financier character).
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Fri, Dec 21, 2012, 1:53am (UTC -5)
Re: TNG S4: Devil's Due

This is an episode that would have been much better if it had appeared in TOS. There are other such episodes, but most of them happened in the first two seasons. Look at all the recycled TOS elements:
* The Enterprise meets God, who turns out to actually be an alien with some techno-gadgets ("Who Mourns for Adonais," "Catspaw")
* The planet the Enterprise visits lays claim to the ship based on some irrelevant ancient law ("A Taste of Armageddon")
* The alien's plans are thwarted when the alien falls in love with the captain (many episodes)
* The Enterprise visits a planet that believes in a preposterous religion (many episodes)

I seem to remember reading, perhaps in the Star Trek Chronology, that this actually WAS a leftover TOS script. With Kirk in place of Picard and Scotty unraveling the techno-mystery (Data and Spock being mostly interchangeable as the judge), I think the episode would have been much better - I can just see Scotty reveling in figuring out Ardra's tricks, while Kirk's superior sense of humor would have made the use of the alien gadgets to turn the tables much more enjoyable.

Unfortunately, we're deprived of any scenes actually showing Ardra's ship, and it's always a waste when a courtroom episode doesn't provide an opportunity for a nice facepalm. I guess the budget for alien ships (and facepalms) was all used up.
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