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James04
Wed, Sep 9, 2020, 4:07am (UTC -5)
Re: VOY S4: The Killing Game

I couldn’t watch much of this. WW2 is still too recent, and casts too long a shadow. To make out of a catastrophe of that extent, in which tens of millions died, the setting for a ST story - set on a holodeck of all things - has the effect of trivialising the War. And that leaves a bad taste. Nazism was an all too real tyranny, with real victims - that I think is why the spectacle of the Hirogen cavorting around in German uniforms is troublesome, even offensive; the mixture of science fiction and reality does not work. The Nazi episode in TOS is holodeck-free, but no less embarrassing to watch..

The two episodes made the same mistake as many other holodeck episodes: they destroyed suspension of disbelief. They did this, by adding a layer of fictionality onto the fiction that is the Trekverse; not by adding more science fiction to a universe that was already scientifictional, but by adding a lot of what might be called “costume drama” to the scientifictional Trekverse. Using WW2 as the costume drama, when it was so obvious that those in the costumes were familiar starship personnel or their familiar opponents, was asking for too much suspension of disbelief. ST is not meant to be about dressing up as Nazis, Romans, gangsters or Anglo-Saxons: it is not a costume party. It is supposed to be science fiction.

Episodes with holodeck stories all too easily give the impression that the writers wanted a rest from science fiction, and therefore, since they were writing for a scientifictional series, tried to dress up the episode as something else. Barclay on the holodeck in TNG works, because his holodeck fantasies, however preposterous, are about people he knows from life on the Enterprise D - his holodeck life is organically related to his life as a member of the crew. And his fantasies reveal his personality. These holodeck episodes were not like that. There is no reason for Seven to be a chanteuse in WW2 Paris, or for the Hirogen to be Nazis. To present these characters in those roles, fits very poorly with what has already been told about them.
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James04
Tue, Sep 8, 2020, 7:54am (UTC -5)
Re: VOY S4: Prey

Janeway’s justification for helping the 8472 was ridiculous. What was needed, was a justification for not letting the Hirogen hunt the 8472. What Janeway gave, was an anecdote in defence of being compassionate to a deadly but wounded enemy. A defence of the moral goodness of being compassionate to a wounded enemy, is a valuable moral lesson; but it is no justification at all for not letting the Hirogen hunt the 8472. She missed - or evaded - the point entirely. Sometimes, compassion to one can endanger many. Sometimes, ‘the needs of the many outweigh the needs of the few - or the one’.

Janeway’s attempt to manipulate Seven into being compassionate was very poorly timed, and absurdly transparent. Seven’s “No !” was a welcome douche of common sense and prudence, When Seven opposes her unwisdom, Janeway defends her self-contradiction by (1) raising her voice (a frequent sign that the speaker is losing the argument, and knows it): and (2) resorts to special pleading. When she loses the argument, she switches ground again, and orders Seven to do what she wanted. The exchange was indeed “fascinating”.

That is not a criticism of the episode, but of the imprudence and illogic of a character in-universe. My sympathies were with the wounded Hirogen, and I thought Chakotay was needlessly aggressive to him. The 8472 was a very formidable enemy, as that species is seen to be in other episodes; and Janeway and Chakotay ought to have had the sense to listen to a hunter of 8472 who knew what he was talking about. Sometimes the nasty guy knows better than the good guys what he is talking about. Starfleet personnel can be too self-assured at times. The disaster of Wolf 359 should have cured them of that.

The episode is also a comment on the Prime Directive - if Janeway had bothered with it, the events of the episode would not have happened. The episode is a contradiction of Captain Archer’s behaviour in “Dear Doctor”, when Phlox and he choose to let a species die rather than give them the cure they need. The PD is an effective plot device - as a moral principle it is lousy, because it is treated so inconsistently. No wonder Janeway ignores it.

Seven is never afraid to talk back - for me, this is one of her most appealing qualities. Janeway should have acknowledged that Seven saved the ship from almost certain destruction. The episode is not one of Janeway’s best.

4 stars.
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James04
Sat, Aug 1, 2020, 7:53am (UTC -5)
Re: TNG S1: Encounter at Farpoint

This episode has a claim to being the worst Trek episode ever, and lacks almost all the absurdity that makes garbage like “Sub Rosa” tolerable. “Spock’s Brain” is more fun, and “Threshold” is not composed entirely of salamander- people; it has some good ideas. “Encounter at Farpoint” is a chore to get through. It is truly dire, as bad as the abysmal “Emissary”.

At least the holodeck did not grate in this episode as much as usual; perhaps because it had the charm of novelty. OTOH, the odious Q make a too-early appearance; the character is out of place in ST, whicb is supposedly a *science* fiction series - he (and his kind) belong far more in Star Wars. For some reason, Q is much less tiresome and insufferable in Voyager than in TNG - but a very little of the character goes a very long way.

No stars for this overlong and tedious mess.
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James04
Sat, Aug 1, 2020, 7:19am (UTC -5)
Re: TNG S4: The Nth Degree

It’s always nice to see a Barclay episode - even if that means dragging along some of that asinine holodeck tushery as well. To some extent, Reg functions as an Everyman, a stand-in for the ordinary person who would not know a Q from a Kazon.

Yet again, Counselor Troi is almost completely useless.
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James04
Fri, Jul 10, 2020, 10:05pm (UTC -5)
Re: TNG S4: Remember Me

TNG as it should be - sciencey, intricate, intriguing, *and no holodeck silliness*, and no preachiness either.

4 out of 4.
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james04
Thu, Jul 9, 2020, 12:47am (UTC -5)
Re: TNG S4: Brothers

Data gets away with activities bordering on mutiny. For all the fine talk about Data being sentient, etc., Picard shows he does not in his heart of hearts believe that, by letting Data off with what the episode shows are zero consequences. If Reg Barclay, or any other member of the crew, had done what Data did, they would have been thrown off the Enterprise & out of Starfleet quicker than you can say “The existence of Section 31 proves that Starfleet is a bunch of sanctimonious hypocrites”.

But Data is, after all, nothing but a machine, with no more moral sense or conscience than a bar of gold-pressed latinum. That this is Picard’s truest conviction on the matter, is absolutely proven by the absence of any penalty for behaviour which, in any other member of the crew, would (rightly) have been regarded as gravely criminal. ST cannot have it both ways - and its attempting to do so, does not say much for the moral pretentions of ST.

TOS managed its treatment of Spock much better, even if that series did have the advantage of comparative brevity. Making Data an android with plausibly human features was a mistake. Voyager handled the Doctor with much greater artistic tact than TNG managed. Data is allowed to become insufferable, a robotic and backward version of Picard at his preachiest - Voyager avoids this, by deflating the Doctor now and again, so that he is never allowed to make the blunders Data does; and by dividing his functions between the Doctor, and Seven of Nine. The Doctor is amusing. The relationship between the Doctor and Seven is amusing. The relationship between McCoy & Spock is amusing. Data’s attempts at humour are flat, not sparkling,

Usually, episodes show Data acting, and being treated as, a moral agent. In this episode, and some others, the mask slips.
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James04
Sat, Mar 28, 2020, 6:56am (UTC -5)
Re: TNG S1: Lonely Among Us

Creepy Beverly Crusher was funny - especially with how she spoke while under the influence.
And no-one caught on. Unbelievable.
I have difficulty in taking seriously a planet named Parliament. As world-building, that is weak.
Does Riker, calling him “history’s greatest consulting detective”, think Sherlock Holmes was a real person ?!?!?!?!? The folk on the Enterprise D may be far superior to us in technology, but they seem to have a rather tenuous grasp of the distinction between history & fiction.
Wes has no fashion sense whatsoever - that jumper looks like a sack.
And now, Bev has de-aliened and is talking normally to Wes. Leaving the alien to kill Singh. Every silver lining has a cloud. Why does Singh die of the alien, when Bev & JLP, who are also human beings, do not ?
How many Assistant Chief Engineers are there on the Enterprise anyway ?
Data as Sherlock Holmes is cringe-inducing. Thank goodness for Babylon 5.
Data , meet garbage compactor. If only.
Troi may be only half-Betazoid, but if she can sense a disturbance in the Force from other aliens, why not from this one ?
Darth Palpacard’s Force Lightning display was fun.

Not more than 1 and a half stars, I think. Intermittently amusing, but a thing of shreds and patches.
And now...the Eloi - sorry, Edosians.
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james04
Sun, Mar 15, 2020, 8:11am (UTC -5)
Re: TNG S1: The Naked Now

I am re-watching this in mid-March, so comparisons between the fictional mystery illness, and coronavirus, are almost inevitable - though a closer scifi analogy to CV might be the plague that wipes out an entire people in Babylon 5. (Which IMO is more watchable & more interesting than DS9 - but that is BTW).

It is very funny to see Wesley in full-on Obnoxious Brat Mode. His sort-of-inebriation makes him more tolerable than some of the times when he is not intoxicated.

The speed with which TNG Enterprise gets through its Chief Engineers is outdone only by the rapidity with which Voyager uses up its complement of 38 photon torpedos.
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James04
Sun, Oct 6, 2019, 8:57am (UTC -5)
Re: VOY S2: Death Wish

At last I know what I dislike about Q and his kind: they are totally egocentric. Self-obsessed bores do not make a good episode.

1 star, for a good beginning. The rest of the episode was lousy.
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James04
Mon, Aug 26, 2019, 12:13am (UTC -5)
Re: VOY S2: Projections

This was a good holodeck episode, “Ship in a Bottle” good. Not a silly holodeck episode, with Picard and co. dressed up as 18th-century Naval officers, and not twee, and much better than a Janeway holonovel episode. This was also much better in every way than the episodes exploring, about whether Data is human, because the exploration of the Doctor’s status arose entirely naturally from the logic of the events in the story and the series; it was not preachy, as so much of TNG is.

It was good to see Reg Barclay - we always see a great deal of the Bridge officers, and it was a pleasant change to see a lower-ranking character get some of the attention instead. On the whole, Voyager divides its attention between the Bridge officers, and the all-important lower ranks, rather well; better, perhaps, than TNG does.
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james04
Sun, Aug 25, 2019, 3:48am (UTC -5)
Re: TOS S1: The Squire of Gothos

One of my favourite TOS episodes. Far more alien, even eerie, than many that were more impressive in production values. And far superior to Q in almost every way. Trelane would have made a much better Q than Q. At times the episode had the tone and atmosphere of one of the more disconcerting Twilight Zone episodes. The lion’s share of the credit for that belongs to the excellent William Campbell, whose mercurial Squire was unpredictable, friendly, ingratiating, wheedling, incredulous, hurt, tantrum-throwing, and terrifying by turns.
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James04
Sun, Aug 25, 2019, 3:32am (UTC -5)
Re: TOS S1: Space Seed

A worthy forerunner to a very good film.
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james04
Sat, Aug 24, 2019, 4:53am (UTC -5)
Re: TNG S6: The Quality of Life

It was quite watchable……until the Tin Man’s re-hashed nonsense about the Gadgets of the Week being alive. Sorry, but they are not alive, and neither are is the TM. The TM is a sophisticated machine, nothing more, which gives the illusion of being more because it is the invention of script-writers who are more. Data is as genuinely tiresome as the well-hated Wonderboy was said to be.

The episode stopped being intelligent, and became tiresome. Machines with angst are funny, now and again, because they are ridiculous, but when the angst never lets up they become tedious. Data needs a convenient airlock - or better still, a trash compactor. Unfortunately, that does not happen in TNG. But human beings, unlike St. Rubbish-bin, are expendable.

And having a weird hairstyle like something from Cosmo does not an alien make. Ray Bradbury was able to make even things on Earth seem alien - a gift far too few script-writers in ST shared. TNG is all too often a soap opera in space.

Still, at least the nauseatingly twee Trevis and Flotta were not inflicted on the viewer. Mercifully, neither was the unbearable Q. But an episode does not become a good episode merely because detestable characters do not feature in it.

Two stars.
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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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