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Tue, Dec 6, 2016, 6:14pm (UTC -5) | 🔗
Re: TNG S3: A Matter of Perspective


Very few rape acquittals lead to perjury charges against the accuser. Bad for the 'wanting women to actually report real rape without fear of jail time' business.

Does it happen on occasion? Certainly, but just like any crime, charging someone with murder, rape or perjury is one thing...proving it is another and could just make an ugly situation worse for all sides (or just be such a waste of time and resources it's not worth the bother).

From a lazy 3 second Google search using "rape accuser perjury jail":

"Unfortunately, the topic of rape is so touchy that many are unwilling to do anything about a false claim. Some prosecutors side with the false-accuser even after the evidence clearly reveals that the claim is false, believing it could be an honest mistake, a difference of opinion regarding consent, or a cry for help from someone suffering in other ways at the hands of the one they wrongfully accused. Moreover, prosecutors and law enforcement do not want actual rape victims to fear possible criminal sanctions for reporting legitimate rapes if it later becomes impossible to prove the case. As a result, very few false claims are ever prosecuted criminally."

Yeah yeah, don't believe what some schmuck posts on the evyl intarwebs. But this passes the smell test for basic common sense in my world. Of course this is Trekverse, not the real world. They've always played fast and loose with law, technology and consequences of same due to the episodic nature of it. I give them some allowances for entertainment value, but I admit this was stretching it quite a bit.

As far as the episode itself - The holodeck gimmick was neat. Frakes had fun. The rest....meh. 2 stars. Passable, not overly noteworthy or cringeworthy for me anyway.
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Thu, Oct 20, 2016, 12:58pm (UTC -5) | 🔗
Re: TNG S2: Loud as a Whisper

In a different kind of episode the Troi-Worf 'moment' of professional misconduct could serve as an interesting jumping-off point to study the profound cultural differences that would exist between a species of isolated individuals, and a species of empaths & telepaths.

It's almost impossible to fathom how the nature of privacy, social boundaries and even 'self' vs 'other' would develop in a race of beings who can read the true thoughts and feelings of the person their dealing with (and visa versa).

Lwaxana kind of embodies this friction whenever she steps on board the Enterprise, and ironically it's Deanna who has to remind her how different the social and behavior standards are among humans -- Which is a long way of saying that the good Counselor definitely should have known better in this episode.

Thankfully she does seem to redeem herself as the episode develops.

But setting aside previous character precedent (and a lack of discretion and common sense on Troi's part), one could imagine just how jarring it would be for a Betazoid to adjust themselves to an emotionally 'blind/deaf/dumb' culture. I suppose in a Betazoid culture, a reaction like Worf's would be immediately evident to everyone...including Worf. He would never think to 'hide' his feelings on this issue, he wouldn't even try.

If you are an open book to others, you would have to become an open book to yourself as well. Honestly and openly dealing with your emotional foibles, hangups, prejudices, anxieties and so forth would be 'de-rigeur' as there's no hiding from the judgement of others.

I guess a very stretched parallel is the development of monolithic Social Media in today's 'always connected' society. Virtually everything anyone thinks on a given topic can be transmitted instantly to a huge number of people, who in turn transmit that information to their circle of friends, etc, until everyone 'knows' about a given topic, incident, misdeed, etc. At least in 140 characters or less. How are you feeling at this moment? In the past you may tell a co-worker in the cubicle next to you can 'Share your thoughts' to half the planet with a few clicks of a virtual keyboard.

Along with that has come an erosion of our boundaries of what information is private and what is public (much to the benefit of certain corporation's bottom lines). Young people today are growing up in a more 'Betazoid' style world where everything is shared, and is expected to be shared, with everyone else. In many cases whether you like it or not (the Internet never forgets...).

Of course many members of 'older' generations look at this development with a mix of confusion and horror. Boundaries are being broken or at least mutated in ways we could hardly imagine even in 1989.

Full disclosure, I've always had a bit of a soft spot for Troi and I try to avoid dumping on the character every time she tells Picard she's 'sensing something', or 'doesn't think so-and-so is being totally honest'. She's an underdog type and I try to root for her, despite her frequent 'hicups'.

Ultimately I think the incident in this episode was just the writers trying to shoe-horn in another joke "Worf is a bad-ass warrior who cares little for 'peace'. And did we mention he's Klingon? Rawr!" Hamfisted and a disservice to Troi, unfortunately.

Hmm maybe Lwaxana, a full telepath and hillariously oblivious to Human social standards, should have been made the ship's counselor so we'd have awkward moments like this every episode. The crew would lose their minds, and Lwaxana would be there to provide a running commentary as it happened....
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Mon, Sep 26, 2016, 9:33pm (UTC -5) | 🔗
Re: TNG S1: Angel One

Of course silly me I forgot Jammer uses the 4-star rating standard. So make it 1.5 / 4 stars on that scale. Not quite scraping the bottom of the barrel for the various and sundry merits I managed to dig up. :)
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Mon, Sep 26, 2016, 9:24pm (UTC -5) | 🔗
Re: TNG S1: Angel One

Re-watching Season 1 and was somewhat dreading the appearance of this episode. I remembered the main premise and plot points (specifically the 'surprise twist' relationship between Ariel and the leader of the survivors). I remembered in my youth being somewhat aghast and offended at the 'tables being turned' nature of the Matriarchal society. In 'prepping' for the show by reading Jammer's review and subsequent comments my dread was only amplified. I came close to just hitting 'delete' on the PVR and giving it a pass. But felt I owed it to nostalgia and mild case of OCD to 'complete' my S1 trip down memory lane.

So I just finished watching it, and I'm somewhat shocked to find that I wasn't as offended by the viewing as I expected. Yes, overall the quality of the script, plot contrivances and premise are largely absurd. But I find myself looking at the episode in a kinder light (or at least with more forgiveness) for technical and performance reasons.

I see some real progression in the acting choices made by the TNG crew. Riker/Frakes fares very well I thought (I'll expand on his role shortly). I also appreciated Brent Spiner's continued refinement of the 'Data' persona we will all learn to love in seasons to come (still in a groove after Datalore I suppose). Troi, Geordie and Worf also seem to be a bit more comfortable in their skins (albeit Worf has a minimal role, as usual, but his command advice to Geordie was a nice touch). Stewart doesn't have much to do other then act sick and indulge in his 'get off my lawn' persona to Wesley.

McFadden still seems to me a bit awkward, like she doesn't yet know how her character is supposed to relate to the rest of the crew. Or she to her fellow actors; particularly Picard/Stewart. I like the character, and I like McFadden as that character...but there's something holding her back from 'fitting in' quite yet.

Yar / Crosby also remains awkward, but not in a way that indicates much room for growth or improvement to be brutally honest. I don't know all the gory details of how she was feeling about her position on the show at this point, her (or the producer's) estimation of her acting abilities, or the quality of the scripts she was given. But this episode is, unfortunately, a marker to me that things just aren't working out.

To the plot itself - Surprisingly I wasn't nearly as offended or off-put by the whole gender-bender Matriarchal thing as I remembered from my viewings years ago. I think it was handled somewhat 'gingerly' by all concerned. We're still in the 80's here, so I guess there's only so far they would go to try and throw their male viewership for a loop.

Certainly it had it's share of 'men are brainless' lines and condescension sprinkled here and there to remind us of how 'backward' their society was. All in silly good humour for the most part. But overall they didn't hammer the gender vs gender thing as much as I thought they would (definitely not as ham-fisted and unbearably self-righteous as it would be if written by modern hacks).

This can be largely attributed to how Riker handles things (and is handled *cough* by the planet's leader). I was impressed that he really tried not to rock the boat with regards to their customs. It would be easy to come in guns blazing and spend the episode preaching to all in earshot how misguided they all are. All of the Away team seem to be in sync with Riker and Data's Prime Directive conclusions (even if they don't make much sense from a real world law point of view). At least we are spared the usual 'school lesson' a senior officer has to give a junior, who should know better.

Now add in the fact that both the main female leaders from this planet fall hard for the first 'strong alpha male' type that happens along, and much of the gender politics behind the plot gives way to Season 1's infamous 'sexcapades in space' routine.

Anyway, I won't defend the plot, the stricken-crew cliche, multiple countdowns, one-note planetary political system, another band of survivors refusing to leave, etc. This is definitely a Season 1 episode and lacks much of the refinement in script and plot we would see later on.

But I'll give this 2/5 stars for not beating me over the head with the women vs men thing. For growing comfort, if not growth, by the actors in their roles (Crosby excluded, alas). A fine outing for Riker in most respects. And a marked improvement in some technical aspects of lighting and camera angles (no annoying fish-eye shots of Stewart's nose for example...ugh).

Definitely better times ahead, but there was enough here to keep it off the bottom rung of Season 1's worst offenders for me.
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Tue, Mar 8, 2016, 2:30am (UTC -5) | 🔗
Re: TNG S7: Homeward

I think Luke and others clearly highlight the main problem with the episode: Just plain bad writing that clearly violates the established personalities of Picard and other crewmembers. His snippet of dialogue from "A Matter of Time" is pretty damning evidence here.

I can't bring myself to hate the episode as vehemently, perhaps. I just see it as a failed idea and terrible interpretation of the Prime Directive, and Picard's character.

I believe there is no shadow of a doubt that Starfleet would have enough experience with this exact scenario to have a clearly established set of procedures guiding Picard's hand here. Obviously the PD should not apply in it's usual sense when there is no future left for an entire planet full of life. There really should be little left to interpretation or discussion, ethically speaking, amongst whatever starship was on scene:

If a planet and it's native species (intelligent or otherwise), faces certain annihilation for reasons outside their own making - Any and all available Starfleet vessels would be authorized, and indeed obliged, to save and/or preserve as much of the planet's native species, culture and history as possible. All life, no matter how primitive, has something to offer the Galaxy simply by 'being'.

Life in the universe is (one imagines) just too precious to let go to waste like this. Now, how Starfleet and it's ships and crews react would depend on the situation.

If time and resources permitted, maybe there would be guidelines for 'Holodecking' a genetically diverse enough portion of a species, as we saw crudely implemented in this episode. Or putting them in stasis, or beaming them to a colonization vessel, whatever. Perhaps all they could do is beam up as many 'samples' of animal and plant DNA as possible...building a kind of genetic library (or museum) of whatever the planet had evolved at the time. In the worst case, maybe all they could do is deploy a few dozen satellites to take detailed imagery of every square foot of the planet before the disaster hit. A final 'printscreen' of everything on the surface of the planet for study by galactic historians, anthropologists, etc. Ideally a combination of the above would be put into effect.

Doing something - anything - that preserves, in actuality or in memory, who and what lived on a planet before it was wiped clean is better then simply doing nothing.

I'm pretty sure both Starfleet and the PD would be mutable, and moral, enough to see through the dogma and realize the value of preserving life in all it's forms as much as possible.

It's the old 'cannot see the forest for the trees' syndrome. It's one thing not to interfere in the internal workings of a planet's biosphere and all it's complex intra-species relationships. Fine, we get that. If the planet evolves a species that wants to nuke itself, and any other creatures they share the planet with, into oblivion...then you must stand aside and let their own self-defeating nature run it's course.

But something as world-destroying on this scale is another thing entirely. Just sifting through the rubble of what was and saying, "well isn't that a shame" isn't good enough. Pretty sure enough ethicists would exist in the Federation to say 'look, we can't save everyone, but if we have the resources we need to make a decent attempt at helping doomed planets in some small way'...if for no other reason then to affirm that, in our insatiable trek for new life and new civilizations, we hadn't forgotten to take our very souls along for the ride.
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Thu, Feb 4, 2016, 10:10pm (UTC -5) | 🔗
Re: TNG S5: The Inner Light

This is a moving and thoughtful episode in all the ways previous (and frankly better) reviewers above me have stated. Taken at face value, it does deliver a very moving story.

*sigh* However, coming back to it now after...geez has it been over 2 decades?...I find myself, sadly, agreeing with and sympathizing with virtually everything Luke had to say about this. I can't not think about the violation that's occurring here, even though I know it's not the way to approach this deep, soulful episode.

I really find myself disagreeing with the premise that a dead race can just steal someone else's life, hijack it, for their own ends. There had to have been a better way.

Of course it's about the journey Picard takes, the endearing moments, illuminations, and riches of emotion and joy he's given as he lives Kamen's life. I get that. (as an aside, I suppose if a slavering drooling 3 armed, 2 headed spacefaring lizard-species found the probe the appearence of the Kataan-um-ites? would have changed to match? Or is this coincidentally yet another genetically perfect match for humanity lost amongst the stars. I'm sure his daughter would have been equally as fetching with two heads and scaly skin to the right Kamen).

Anyway, I kept putting myself in Picard's shoes. As soon as he saw the necklace around his 'wife's neck, I would have lost my *bleep*. It would be full on Kirk-mode. "The game's over, you hear me! (shouted out loud to presumed invisible overseers). I'm not playing whatever it is you want me to play." A fistfight with the village elders would surely have ensued.

Being forced to live a life you know is not yours...I just can't reconcile that in my head. Especially when you know it's an alien species, a wife who's not your wife, a cultural history that's entirely not your own. There has to be a better way. If Picard had lost his mind and gone on a killing spree would the 'simulation' have ended? It seems to rely entirely on his going along with the charade in order to 'work'.

But all that's just my knee-jerk reaction now, after years have passed and maybe some kind of jaded cynicism has set in. It's unquestionably a thoughtful, touching, well conceived and well executed episode for what it's trying to say. You just have to ignore the profound injustice of it all.

I try to tell myself that he 'lived' his life literally in the same way we, as the viewers, saw it. In bite sized pieces and giant leaps forwards in time. With 'memories' of his life and children growing up sort of taken for granted. Basically the way Inception describes dreams: You always start in the middle of the action or sequence, you never really know or care how you got there. Picard just skipped ahead and his subconscious just went with the flow. Now my hair is different, ok. Now I have kids, fine. Now I have grandkids, seems reasonable. The probe and his subconcious act to 'fill in the blanks' with false memories and emotions to provide continuity.

That's what I tell myself to try and make it all feel less...horrific. But I know deep down that's not what happened, so my misplaced anger over what's happening wins out. He really did have to life 30 some odd years as a different person, then 'wake up' and try to put his long forgotten life back together...Now an old soul in a younger man's body. The Picard both he and WE knew was taken from us and in the span of 30 minutes replaced by someone else. He was forced to 'grow up' in a way I didn't really want him to. But that's on me I guess...not the writers of the story, or the Kataanoids.

3.5 / 4 stars taking the episode at face value, which I'm prepared to do (I'm not huge on the numerous cheery family/musical sequences either I guess, though less put off then Luke in that regard).. But I can never watch it again and feel emotionally drawn to it the way it want's me to be...or the way I was when I first saw it as a younger man. My brain recognizes the depth of meaning, emotion and heart present as he picks up the flute and starts playing at the end. But my heart can't go along for the ride any more. That's entirely my loss I guess. More is the pity.

(Would like to have seen how the 'killing spree' version of Kamen played out though)
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Wed, Jan 20, 2016, 5:44pm (UTC -5) | 🔗
Re: TOS S1: The City on the Edge of Forever

I can only agree with Greg that one's enjoyment of TOS may hinge greatly on whether, at one point, TOS was the *only* Trek in existence for you. There was only one Captain, one First Officer, one Doctor, Transporter Chief/Engineer, etc. It's the only look we had into a sustained, continuing, Sci-Fi universe on television.

It's critical to put TOS in it's time and place, both technologically, artistically, socially and within the 'sci-fi' genre. This is a show being made at the same time as Adam West's Batman. Most Sci-Fi consumed by the public was kids stuff, or involved over-the-top 'ray gun and rubber suit' shenanigans. The Hippie movement and it's purportedly 'enlightened' approach to social/civil issues was still the thing of young adults. Television was in the iron grip of the 'Establishment' industry suits, with their Establishment ideas of what 'the TV viewing audience' wanted to see...or more importantly was capable of appreciating. Sci-Fi was not high on their list of serious considerations.

Star Trek, at least Seasons 1 & 2, at least tried to bring us something akin to serious sci-fi storytelling. Again, if you remember a time when all there was, was Capt. Kirk, Bones, Spock, Klingons were irredemably evil, and women in short skirts is what passed for Feminism...Star Trek strayed into some relatively uncharted waters both thematically and socially. You can tell many of those involved behind the scenes must have been some of the few, scattered 'underground' genre fans, growing up on classic Golden Age sci-fi of the 30's, 40's and into the 50's. To try and put topics that only the pulp magazines would normally address onto national TV was gutsy. Sometimes they succeeded, sometimes 'the Suits' and Ray Guns won out.

As a youth the bumpy, sometimes noble, sometimes comic or juvenile adventures of the Enterprise offered a steady diet of a wonderful future world to sink my imagination in to. Even as a 'young' 43 year old -- meaning I came to TOS through syndication in the late 70s and early 80's -- I cannot remember seeing anything else like it regularly on TV. Not until 1987 of course.

So TOS, it's crew, it's monsters of the week, matte backgrounds and wonky science, is still very my 'my' Trek. I did eventually adopt TNG as it's upstart sibling, once it got over it's teething issues. (I still remember the wonder and chills I got hearing their new-and-improved Transporter sound effects. So modern sounding!). The stories could be bolder, more clearly drawn, more aware of modern audience education, age range, and so forth (although Rodenberry's 'philosophy' of future world perfection, clearly drawn morality tales, etc was still present, and was still both a boon and a curse at times).

But like so many others, Bones, Spock and Kirk remain the 'holy trinity' of Trekdom or whatever you want to call it. And whatever misadventures they got up to back in the 60's are always going to be all right with me. So yes, chalk a lot of my love up to nostalgia. So be it.

Oh, and City on the Edge of Forever was a pretty darn amazing episode. It had good characterization, dialogue, and a real hum dinger of a climax on what's usually a 'happy ending' style show. If any episode of TOS deserves 4 stars it's this one.

It's one of those episodes where it's really fruitless to bother with the nuts and bolts of how the Guardian works, time paradoxes and so forth. The thrill is all down to the human dilemmas presented. The Guardian itself is as much a force of nature as a constructed piece of technology can get. It's an idea. A presence lurking everywhere in both past, present and future. One of the greatest Monsters of the Week Trek ever came up with, in it's own way.

I love how they leave the planet, but the Guardian is still there, waiting. In a very oblique way they leave this powerful entity/machine the same way Picard and Co. would leave Kevin on the planet of 'The Survirors'. Sometimes there's simply no other choice but to just 'get the hell out of there', and leave 'new life and new civilizations' very much alone.
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Thu, Jan 7, 2016, 10:44pm (UTC -5) | 🔗
Re: TNG S5: Silicon Avatar

I feel at the end of the day they had to try to communicate with it, if for not other reason then intelligence gathering. If there are more of these 'Entities' out there, what will be the official Federation response? If other CE's behave as this one did and indiscriminately move from planet to ship to planet consuming all life, then are they to be regarded as galactic 'pests' and killed on sight? Crystalline RAID? That doesn't sound much like Star Fleet's mandate to 'seek out new life and new civilizations'. Presumably some attempt at 'understanding' must go along with 'seeking out'. And without more of an attempt at communication, or even observation, they will fail in that noble goal if it's a shoot first policy.

So we have a story based on 2 main threads. The emotional and psychological journey of Dr. Marr seeking closure, redemption and/or revenge WRT her son. Which was done quite well, if a wee bit heavy-handed at times (imo). Accompanied by the, apparently, contentious moral dilemma of 'should they or shouldn't they' shoot on sight.

Arguments over whether germs, viruses, sperm whales or Crystalline Entities have a 'right to life' are not really applicable I think. When confronted with a clear and present threat (such as the Entity about to attack a ship or planet), Picard's mandate and moral authority would be absolutely clear. Riker does raise an interesting argument of course. But I think Picard does maintain Star Fleet's high-minded mandate to pursue all avenues of understanding alien life, when possible.

So I think from a strategic as well as moral perspective, destroying the Entity just as they had made 'first contact' in a way was a mistake. It's entirely possible no meaningful progress would be made in understanding one another, and it would have moved on towards it's next food source. Picard would then have had no other choice but to blow it out of the stars.

Now whether hesitating as they did would have led to the creature 'escaping' and consequently the Enterprise effectively 'enabling' it to annihilate another planet is pure conjecture and subject totally to the whim of screenwriters and producers, not logic or scientific debates of photon strength, warp speeds, etc. No question it was a huge risk to take. But that was the point I suppose - To present an almost un-winnable moral quandary: Star Fleet's 'highest ideals' vs the pragmatic needs of self-preservation and defence of Federation citizens.

That the rest of the Galaxy is a safer place for Dr. Marr's actions is unquestionable, but it doesn't mean that something wasn't lost in the process, as Data surmised.
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Thu, Dec 3, 2015, 7:08pm (UTC -5) | 🔗
Re: TNG S4: First Contact

Wathced the rebroadcast of this episode yesterday on Space channel. This was definitely an episode that stood out for me when it was first broadcast back in '91. I remember enjoying the 'reverse perspective' technique that placed the viewer in the shoes of a Malcorian. Seeing our stalwart Enterprise crew as 'the aliens' was fairly novel.

If I were to rate the show now from my older, perhaps more cynical, perspective. I think it would land at about 3 of out 4. It gets high marks for giving us a (mostly) likable alien culture and letting me identify with them. I enjoyed learning about how the Federation and Starfleet handle such delicate and trans-formative encounters. First Contact surely represents the core of Starfleet's 'quest for new life and new civilizations. It's good to see it given center stage for a full episode.

I take a point off mostly for the rather heavy handed way the 'Security advisor' could single-handedly decide the fate of an entire well as the rather stereotypical nature of another mono-culture Alien species with one absolute ruler speaking on behalf of everyone. I also simply could not buy the central conceit that this species is so heavily xenophobic despite having advanced astronomic, astrophysical and medical capabilities. That they think the universe exists solely for the benefit of the Malcorian species seems improbable given they've had to (presumably) work to unify their culture, politics, religion, traditions, and so forth. You would think most of the really primitive tribalism would have been purged out long ago.

Despite the unsubtle portrayal of the security official's 'beliefs', and perhaps some questionable antics regarding Riker*, there was too much good to be had in the high-concept nature of the main story arc. The reasoned and intelligent discussions between Picard and Durken were the standouts here.

A solid and enjoyable hour of Trek, no question about it.

*Personally I had no issue with the Riker 'hospital room' scene. It was played for laughs and seemed to be in keeping with the 'meta' or 4th wall breaking story beats: "I slept with an Alien!" is pure tabloid rag materiel. The discussions of weather balloons, and other reflections of our own Earthly 'conspiracy theories' regarding Alien crash landings and so forth. Riker didn't seem to mind much. Although it appears sex with a local doesn't buy you more then 2 or 3 hallways worth of freedom...
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