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James04
Sat, Mar 2, 2019, 6:49am (UTC -5)
Re: TNG S3: Deja Q

Q is an obnoxious jerk, and a very little of him goes a very long way. For a supposedly omnipotent being, he does very little with his powers. The episode would have been much better without Q, or at least without the silliness that is seemingly inseparable from the character.
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james04
Wed, Jan 23, 2019, 5:09pm (UTC -5)
Re: TNG S5: A Matter of Time

The Rasmussen character has the most punchable face in all ST. Which is saying something. I really like the scene in which Punchbag-face tries being cocky and annoying once too often, only to have Picard shout at him with unmistakeable, but well-controlled, anger. I find it troubling that the bridge crew accept Rasmussen so readily, and tell him so much.

I thought the end wrapped the whole thing up nicely. 2.5 stars.
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james04
Wed, Jan 23, 2019, 4:07pm (UTC -5)
Re: TOS S2: The Doomsday Machine

One of the very best episodes in TOS, and in all of ST. 4/4
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james04
Mon, Jan 21, 2019, 2:24pm (UTC -5)
Re: TNG S5: Silicon Avatar

“Except it had been communicated with in previous episode with Lore. And communicating with a rampaging death sentence is not hip. It's a threat and you wipe out a threat of this magnitude - not try to get to know it while it poses an immediate danger.”

I agree with that. Picard had the right idea, but his timing was off. If an enormous, dangerous, deadly space-entity thas has recently killed thousands is after your ship, trying to negotiate with it is irresponsible. Negotiate with it by all means, but only once it can do no harm. Then is the time for dialogue - but not while it is free and able to kill. Dialogue with an entity that can do no harm because it is no longer a danger allows one the freedom to destroy it, if need be, without requiring that as the only safe course of action.

It might conceivably have been an infant, that had to eat in order to grow. And killing it could have been very unwise, if it had had parents to go all Mummy Bear on its behalf. Those questions could, perhaps, have been answered, had it not been killed.
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james04
Sun, Jan 20, 2019, 8:42am (UTC -5)
Re: DS9 S1: Move Along Home

Move Along Home is the Sub Rosa or Threshold of DS 9. 1 star - just to be generous.
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james04
Fri, Jan 18, 2019, 8:17am (UTC -5)
Re: TNG S1: Justice

@Peter G:

Thanks for replying.

“but the flaw in the episode isn't that the Federation stomped on local law. ”

It is however one of the flaws. The Federation has no right to come in and impose their laws on a planet and a people not under their lawful rule, to which they are strangers. They should have complied with the Edo’s laws.

This could have been a good episode, exploring the tension between the two, but it was mishandled, so the exploration, which could have been very creative, was incompletely realised.

As for the responsibility you refer to - in a better version of this episode, it could have been explored. The defence you make for Wesley might not convince the Edo.
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James04
Mon, Jul 23, 2018, 4:02am (UTC -5)
Re: DS9 S1: The Storyteller

The Dal’rok is plausible enough, if one remembers the Id Monster from “Forbidden Planet”. What takes rather more swallowing is the appearance of the Dal’rok - it resembles a cross between the Michelin Man and a scrambled egg. Its appearance was about as unthreatening as could well be imagined.

2 stars, I think. The B plot with Jake, Nog and Varis was much better handled. The inclusion of Odo was a nice touch.
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James04
Tue, Jul 3, 2018, 3:40pm (UTC -5)
Re: TNG S6: Chain of Command, Part I

Supplemental log: 4 stars out of 4. The choice of Picard for that mission rather than Data seems wrong, but not sufficient to cost the two-parter anything. Two-parters always seem to be strong episodes.
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James04
Tue, Jul 3, 2018, 3:31pm (UTC -5)
Re: TNG S6: Chain of Command, Part I

Commander Riker acted very unprofessionally in getting into a stand-up row with Captain Jellico. That set a bad example, and showed a lack of self-discipline, and a want of respect for the Captain. Objecting to an order that seems inhumane or imprudent or otherwise uncalled-for becomes wrong, once the Captain has made it clear that the objection has been dismissed and that his decision stands. What is the point of a chain of command, if the Captain’s final decision is, after all, not final ? Someone has to have the final word: a starship is not a democracy. If obedience to an order that is not illegitimate is made to depend on the approval of those commanded, obedience to authority is at an end; what is the point of joining Starfleet, if one’s obedience to orders is to be contingent on whether one agrees with them ? Riker goes a long way to trashing Captain Picard’s glowing testimonial to him, and that is very sad. (I suspect the inclusion of the testimonial was meant to show that Riker’s objections would be justified; if that is what the writers intended, they managed to undermine the point they were hoping to make.) Riker’s behaviour when the Captain visited his quarters seemed very off-hand; a Captain deserves respect because of his rank, whether one likes him or not. A First Officer should know that.

If Riker had simply been doing his duty of questioning questionable orders, he would not have been so emotionally involved in objecting as he did. The Captain acted properly in relieving him. And showed admirable self-restraint when Riker criticised him - and very unfair criticisms they were too. OTOH, the Captain and Geordi got on very well.

Captain Jellico clearly had the ability to shrug off losses of personnel without being emotionally crippled by them. That may seem callous of him, but I like it, a lot. I liked his direct, no-nonsense, no frills approach. It is a refreshing change from TNG’s reigning assumption that bad stuff can always be reversed. As some previous episodes in series 6 have shown, this is not always possible. Sometimes, bad or idiotic things with grievous results cannot be changed or put right. That kind of realism is welcome. We are a world away from an early episode like “Justice”, which had to betray its own logic to end as it did. (Maybe the Tar Baby Kills Tasha Yar episode was an attempt to retrieve the illogic of “Justice”.) Picard survived his ordeal - but only through credible means that did not pressing the Reset button or the use of other implausibilities.

The Captain’s decision is tough on Picard, but losses of personnel cannot be ruled out if Starfleet plays that kind of double game. The Federation should have delayed signing a peace treaty until it had established that the Cardassians were not up to something. The duplicity shown by the Federation is a spectacular own goal. OTOH, the Cardassians have no right to complain of Federation spying when their own behaviour includes using torture. If the Federation’s behaviour is a lot less whiter than white, that of the Cardassians is a very dingy grey.

Starfleet should not have sent Captain Picard to Centris III. Sending Data, an android incapable of succumbing to torture, would seem to be a better choice. Especially as his powers of assimilating and co-ordinating info far exceed that of a human or human-like being. Data withstood even assimilation by the Borg; it is scarcely credible that the perverted ingenuity of the Cardassians could have been more successful against him.
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James04
Sun, Jun 24, 2018, 5:33pm (UTC -5)
Re: TNG S4: Suddenly Human

I thought this was very funny, and it increased my respect for Captain Picard. First Troi quizzes him, then she leaves him in the lurch so he can act as the boy’s substitute father: that was harsh. I don’t think a Starship captain should have to shoulder that kind of responsibility, when he has an entire crew to look after; especially when the crew is a thousand strong. Worf should have been been Jono’s substitute father, rather than Picard, as others have already said.

2.5 stars.
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James04
Sat, Jun 16, 2018, 3:17pm (UTC -5)
Re: TNG S2: Loud as a Whisper

That scene where Troi reveals what was on Worf’s mind, may have been there to act as a foil to the scene, also on the Enterprise, where Data vocalises the thoughts of Riva. Worf and Riva are, after all, very different characters.

The place given to Data, and to Riva’s reactions to him, show how Data is growing as a character, and proving, yet again, how versatile and important he is. Troi is clearly secondary to him in this episode. Whatever its flaws may be, some important things happen in it. The episode also provides some “personal growth” for Riva.

I think this episode is a lot better than it’s given credit for being. 3 stars out of 4 seems about right.
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james04
Sun, Jun 10, 2018, 9:00am (UTC -5)
Re: TNG S6: True Q

OK except for the last 5 to 10 minutes. Q is either a bully, or completely amoral - either way, a repulsive character. The ending was completely the wrong one. 2.5 stars seems fair. It was a pity to see the same trope being trotted out, as when Riker was tempted to become a Q, of testing characters by letting something happen that they would want to correct.

Q has the same failing as the Greek gods, only more so: because he do anything, Q has no capacity for, and no understanding of, tragedy - his existence is fundamentally frivolous, because it is totally devoid of risk; and it is not based on goodness, but on egotism; so ultimately, it is hollow and selfish. That sounds pretty much like Hell to me. To be bamboozled into choosing that kind of existence, rather than the friendships Amanda could have had, turns the end of the episode into something very like one of the grimmer Twilight Zone episodes.
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james04
Sun, Jun 10, 2018, 5:57am (UTC -5)
Re: TNG S6: Lessons

4/4. The two main leads did not put a foot wrong. This was an excellent example of TNG at its best.
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James04
Tue, May 29, 2018, 2:26am (UTC -5)
Re: TNG S1: Skin of Evil

Not a horrible episode, so......2.5 stars, I think. Basically, not quite good enough to get 3 stars, but watchable, interesting, involving, and, unlike some, it did not drag.
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James04
Sat, May 26, 2018, 7:44pm (UTC -5)
Re: TNG S7: Attached

A flawless episode - 4 stars out of 4.
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James04
Sat, May 26, 2018, 11:09am (UTC -5)
Re: TNG S7: Dark Page

The lullaby sequence surprised me that it wasn’t “Warm Kitty, Soft Kitty” - I must be confusing The Big Bang Theory, which is always worth watchiing, with TNG, which is sometimes tedious and psycho-babbly - like this episode. TBBT is always fun, and far too many episodes of TNG, like this one, are not fun, but a chore.

I know what’s wrong with this episode: much too much of it felt, and even looked, like a consultation with a doctor. It was too obvious that the actors were people acting - disbelief went unsuspended. I think this is probably why I dislike of the holodeck scenes: they set out to destroy all possibility of suspension of disbelief. And this episode was marred by the same staginess.

Two stars seems fair: the episode is not unwatchable garbage with no redeeming features whatsoever, but it is dull and (I believe the word is) over-acted.
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james04
Thu, May 24, 2018, 10:05pm (UTC -5)
Re: DS9 S1: Captive Pursuit

After a shaky start with parts of “Emissary”, I find DS9 grows on one. This was a good episode. I just wish that the usual colour scheme of the station was not so muddy brown - the blue of the uniforms of Bashir and Dax, and the vivid, Starfleet-like red worn by Tosk’s pursuers, were a genuine relief. (The colours of the uniforms in TNG also left something to be desired - mustard-brown, purple and black clash). It was good to have an episode in which O’Brien was so much to the fore, and there was real tension in the uncertainty about what Tosk would decide to do. This episode deserves its 3 stars. I don’t - yet - see why Jake Sisko is such a hate-figure in parts of the fandom; later, perhaps.
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james04
Tue, May 8, 2018, 10:16pm (UTC -5)
Re: TNG S1: Justice

1 star is more than enough.

The ending was especially off-putting, with the smug Starfleet types doing a runner, and violating the justice of the Edosians, without bothering to explain why their own justice should take precedence over it. There was the seed of an intelligent debate here, but nothing could come of it. Wesley should have been executed. That would have been a hard choice for Picard, it would have satisfied the logic of the Prime Directive, & it would have provided a plotline for possible future use. Other members of Starfleet die - so why should he be spared ? It would have shown that Redshirts are not the only mortals on Enterprise, and that actions have consequences.

As that scene in fact developed, it left the impression that the Federation can stomp over other cultures’ laws and sensibilities because the pygmy Eloi - sorry, pre-warp aliens - cannot stop it doing so. The vaunted Prime Directive is merely a figleaf to cover the moral nakedness of Starfleet, for its application is not governed by any discernible principle. One was unpleasantly reminded of US military interventionism at its most sanctimonious. Hypocrisy and smugness are no less nauseating from Starfleet 350 years from now than they are from present-day politicians. The obvious moral of this intellectually tawdry episode is the very cynical one that might makes right.
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james04
Thu, May 3, 2018, 5:42pm (UTC -5)
Re: VOY S7: Author, Author

A big old 4 stars. This episode was everything a ST Voyager episode should be.
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james04
Sun, Apr 29, 2018, 12:32pm (UTC -5)
Re: VOY S7: Prophecy

1. Why is Neelix talking about having “served over 300 meals” ? 204 Klingons + 150 Voyager crew = over 350 meals, at least. That is a lot more than “over 300” would suggest. Those replicators must have been working overtime.

2. Why is Janeway endangering her crew by beaming aboard more Klingons than she has crewmembers ?

3. Neelix, yet again, has all the tact and consideration for Tuvok of a Hutt (OK, different ‘verse, but anyway).

4. Why secular folk like Klingons, whose gods are dead, would have hopes of a saviour, is anyone’s guess. Maybe this Klingon sect has a different theology ?

5. I can’t decide whether this episode is mocking certain Jewish or Christian beliefs, or pillorying the abuse of those beliefs for selfish ends, or alerting attention to the manipulation of religion for selfish ends, or a bit of all three.

Since ST is fond of issues-driven episodes, it is only to be expected that religion, that plays so prominent a part in US culture, should come in for some attention. The uncertainty of tone is a pity nonetheless, seeing as other programmes - The Simpsons, South Park - have been able to explore this topic without this uncertainty. Maybe cartoons are a better medium for exploring certain issues than more “realistic” drama ?

6. A Klingon with what appear to be three (adamantium ?) claws ? Hmm...OK. Since he is aggressive, fair enough.

7. BLT’s semi-quotation from “Starship Troopers” was fun.

2.5 stars, I think.
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james04
Sun, Apr 29, 2018, 7:32am (UTC -5)
Re: VOY S7: Repentance

Oh, dear. Oh, dear. Oh dear, oh, dear, oh, dear, oh, dear. Agh !

Seven, Seven, Seven, usually I agree with you, and you are definitely one of my favourite characters - but, when you are wrong, boy, are you wrong ! Keep to science - which you are a whiz at - but, leave ethics to others. It isn’t your forte.

Janeway, I appreciate that you are a humane person, which is a good thing to be; but sometimes, you really need to Mind Your Own Bee’swax, and not be an interfering prig.

Where to start ?

1. OK, so Iko has some redeeming features. But that is the point. A very nice person who goes wrong only by committing one murder, is as truly guilty of murder as a genocidal tyrant who kills millions over many years. It is immaterial to the reality of having incurred the guilt of committing murder, that the one-time murderer is in all other respects a very nice and good person. The fact of his having committed murder, suggests that his good qualities may after all not be as good or solid as they seem to be. The reality of his being a murderer cannot be hand-waved into non-existence by an appeal to his having unmurderous characteristics. So it is perfectly fair to expect the otherwise good person to pay for what he has done.

2. A second very dubious proposition: if Iko’s murderousness has a medical basis, he is not a murderer.

This is equally false, and for a similar reason. It tries to hand-wave away moral responsibility and guilt, by pointing to physiological factors. IOW, it evades the moral issues, by trying to explain them away as issues of physiology. But in that case, why punish anyone ? If serial murderers have health problems, it is absurd to punish them - for the argument abolishes moral responsibility, by explaining it as malfunctioning physiology.

Why reward people, when their seeming goodness is apparently to be ascribed to nothing more than a socially convenient interplay of the sub-atomic particles of which their physiology is made ? They are lucky, not good.

The mistake is to treat one factor in human action - physiological well-being - in human actions - as the only significant one. Issues of health influence moral responsibility, and can diminish or increase one’s *capacity to be responsible* ; but they cannot replace responsibility. Moral responsibility, if it exists at all, has moral significance for how people behave. Seven and Janeway failed to consider the possibility that maybe Iko’s brain physiology made him more, not less, responsible for his actions, and therefore, more and not less guilty.

Such comments are about human ethics - but Voyager presents us with no others. We Terran viewers are invited to make moral judgements about the behaviour of Vaadwaur, Klingons, Romulans, Cardassians, Ferengi, Borg, Ocampans, Brunali, and many others - but always on the basis of Terran ethics of some sort. If a race is alien, why should the optimistic liberal humanism of ST’s creators be relevant to it ? Maybe, for aliens to execute murderers and seeming murderers is an act of supreme civic virtue, which it would be monstrous negligence of said aliens to omit. But does ST ever consider that possibility ? Insofar as its writers fail to do so, they are reducing aliens from being genuinely “other”, to being Rubber-Headed Aliens of the Week.

This episode was well-presented, but let down by its morally-confused message. Since its message was its heart, the episode had feet of clay. 2.5 stars seems fair.
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james04
Sat, Apr 28, 2018, 1:33am (UTC -5)
Re: VOY S6: Spirit Folk

@Del_Duio:

I think they are a good use of the holodeck. Chaotica is barely distinguishable from Ming the Merciless, but given the genre and its ostensible date (1930s ?) that makes sense. Chaotica, Arachnia, and the rest are wildly unlike “real life” - they are very obviously fictions, and are meant (by Tom Paris and by the writers) to be. The Fair Haven and WW2 and many other holodeck characters are too “like life” for their own good, or for their stories’ good. The result is, that Chaotica and Co. avoid “breaking genre”, whereas the more “lifelike” holodeck characters do break genre; which creates ambiguity as to what exactly they are intended to be.

Chaotica and Co. work as science fiction within the science fiction that is the feigned reality of Voyager. The other stuff does not stay scientifictional enough to work properly within that feigned reality.

@wolfstar: Agreed, it isn’t “just sci-fi”.

The problem is not that the sciencefiction is romantic SF, or psychological SF, or adventurous SF, or comic SF, or horror SF, or mystery horror SF, or the other kinds you mention; the problem is that the weak holodeck episodes - a few holodeck episodes are good - forget to be SF. They try to become something different, with just a splash of SF to anchor them in the Trekverse. But they become something else: 1900s Ireland, 1930s Chicago, 1500s Italy, a 19th-century holonovel, a children’s book, or whatever it may be.

Flotter and Trevis are characters in Naomi Wildman’s reading, who have nothing scientifictional about them, other than their placement in the experience of a girl whose own relation to the SF that is the Trekverse results from her being the daughter of a Voyager crewman. F and T are not firmly enough integrated into the Trekverse to be convincing characters - they could turn up in other ‘verses, and not be out of place. The same lack of convincing integration is a problem for the weaker holodeck episodes - but not for the Captain Proton sequences. Those are well-crafted, convincingly integrated, and don’t get in the way of their broader context in the Voyager “quadrant” of the Trekverse.

A conceptual category of stories, like ST, can accommodate a great variety of genres, and can combine them in creative and memorable ways. That is not the problem. The problem is when the overarching category that is ST is poorly served by sone element of the ‘verse that it binds together as a narrative universe, And that is the problem with the poorly integrated holodeck episodes (and with some othets).

I hope that all makes sense :)

Thanks, both of you, for the comments :)
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james04
Fri, Apr 27, 2018, 11:59pm (UTC -5)
Re: VOY S6: Good Shepherd

3 stars. This was a nice essay in character observation, that did not allow itself to rely too heavily on explosions and action. The premise is not about those, though they have their place in a different kind of story. A mainly psychological episode, that looks at why people act as they do rather than at their external actions, isn’t going to be to everyone’s taste, and can be very tedious if handled badly; but this was well-plotted, with credible characters.
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james04
Fri, Apr 27, 2018, 4:45pm (UTC -5)
Re: VOY S7: Critical Care

Caustic, funny, and insightful. 3.5 stars. I particularly liked the scene with Neelix, Tubok and Gar.
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james04
Thu, Apr 26, 2018, 2:43am (UTC -5)
Re: VOY S6: Life Line

Doc + Reg Barclay (+ Counsellor Troi) = winner episode. 4 stars.
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