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phaedon
Sat, Apr 27, 2019, 7:23pm (UTC -5)
Re: DSC S2: Such Sweet Sorrow, Part 2

DISCO is a train wreck. This season was the worst, but I can't look away. I still can't figure out how they found Tig Notaro. The Sphere is the most ridiculously glossed over Macguffin of all time. All-seeing mom doesn't see the Red Angel stuck in a time loop? When Po showed up, I felt like I was watching Star Trek: NCIS. I will absolutely blow my colon if they bring Picard on for Season 3.
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phaedon
Sat, Jun 23, 2018, 3:38am (UTC -5)
Re: TNG S2: Up the Long Ladder

Now that the autopsy's over, I would add "Madam, have you ever considered a career in security?" is probably one of Worf's funniest lines in TNG.
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phaedon
Sat, Feb 17, 2018, 10:20am (UTC -5)
Re: TNG S7: Masks

I can appreciate childhood sentimentality, but this episode is an epic turd. Let's get the most obvious problem out of the way. Asking the Data character to put on this minstrel show in a way that doesn't contribute to his overall arc of becoming more emotional is just a travesty.

The silent red alert bridge scenes is some of the worst writing I've seen on TNG. "I'm not going to permit this ship to be turned into an alien city!" Yikes. And it's true, it looks like they ran out of money to pay the extras.

I don't mind Picard as an archaeologist, but in the other episodes where this interest has come up, there is a very explicit tension between that way of life and the one he leads as Captain of a starship. Which makes for interesting television. Here he is clicking buttons and materializing unknown objects on a hunch, inserting himself into an alien mythology on a hunch (wtf), and overruling very sensible objections from his crew. At one point he literally says, "Anybody got any better ideas?"

Also, a killer archive. Come on. For a split second, Ihat looked like he had the makings of an arch-nemesis, sitting on the warp core and all, but it's a steep downhill from there.
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phaedon
Mon, Jan 22, 2018, 12:00am (UTC -5)
Re: TNG S4: Future Imperfect

I actually "enjoy the act of watching this episode" quite a bit, problems be damned. In fact, I don't care for people who compulsively bring up "plotholes" to take down an otherwise entertaining episode.

But... let's be real, this is the exception.

The idea that Riker would buy having a kid and getting promoted to Captain all on the very same ship is on its face hilarious.

Secondly, the Romulan alliance is so completely unnecessary. It's only purpose seems to be to make Riker lose his mind.

Thirdly, this idiotic alien, apparently needs to play a human boy that badly, that the illusion he creates is to fast-forward time to play that role? Of all the things?

Think of what power this moronic little turd has. The simplest mind-rape would be to create the exact same Enterprise and play one of Riker's colleagues, like Data. Still tons of fun.

Or if you wish, insist on playing the boy, but mind-rape Riker all the way to Risa, so that he isn't constantly running into colleagues and comparing his environs. He would eventually buy this "amnesia" diagnosis over time, a la Inner Light.

Last but not least, how in the world did the alien come up with the idea that Minuet had to be dead? You literally pulled a character from Riker's memory - everyone else alive and well - and then killed her? Your own mom? Think about it. That is some serious cray-cray.

So this is a Riker-centric, more likable version of what happens to Troi in "Violations," and the theme of the episode really turns into "damn, my son needs therapy." I wouldn't be surprised if the writers were aware of this, personally I think they had a little bit of a knack on incorporating contemporary social issues into the show.
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phaedon
Sat, Jan 6, 2018, 11:26am (UTC -5)
Re: TNG S7: Gambit

I could watch an entire series based on Data stepping into command. One of the things that makes the first two seasons of TNG eminently rewatchable (even moreso than seasons 3 and 4) are the more pronounced interpersonal conflicts of the crew. Worf should be more out of control than he is. You see a lot of that type of writing abandoned when Pulaski is shown the door.

Brent Spiner's ability to act like a robot, and display human guile, patience, and a complete tactical awareness of complex emotional situations while in command, is a beautiful thing to watch.

A Klingon and a robot hashing out their friendship in the ready room. That is some top shelf Star Trek right there.
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phaedon
Mon, Jan 1, 2018, 6:40pm (UTC -5)
Re: TNG S4: The Loss

I mean this is a hilariously bad episode.

The Enterprise is one hour away from being torn apart so, you know, the tin can's working on it down in Observation.

Also, lines like "I feel as two-dimensional as our friends out there." Yikes.

The part that irritates me the most is the massive Troi uppercut Beverly eats in the early part of the episode, only to completely disappear afterwards. I am watching TNG for what, the 50th time through, and I finally get it. Season 2 was great and Pulaski was a better doctor.
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phaedon
Sun, Oct 8, 2017, 5:37pm (UTC -5)
Re: TNG S3: Yesterday's Enterprise

That is so cool one of the writers stopped by.

Now that I'm watching Season 3 again (good Lord when will it end), the moment that really stood out for me was Yar's plea to stay with the Enterprise C. (Also, Stewart's performance in the episode is nothing short of unbelievable.)

Anyway, back to Yar. Every time I see that one scene where she sits down with Picard, I am immediately reminded of "Million Dollar Baby." (Imagine, this episode of TNG aired 15 years before.) A couple of similar elements at play. Notably, the warrior seeking a meaningful death.

But let's talk about Guinan a second. She takes over the role of the "outsider," very similar to the role that Clint Eastwood plays in many of his movies, in that she (and she alone) ultimately knows or does the Right Thing, however her actions or thoughts cannot be fully explained, or moreover she operates in a way that is considered morally unjustifiable/reprehensible by society/normal standards. The cop that has to go outside the law to capture the serial murderer. The coach that takes his boxer off life support and helps her die an honorable death. The bartender psychic (still serving drinks on a warship, eh?) against all reason insisting this is the wrong timeline and sending her colleague to a certain death. This is, in a sense, a form of assisted suicide. Picard is very clear that she is going to die. I love that scene so much. "Lieutenant!... Permission granted."

"People die every day, mopping floors, washing dishes. You know what their last thought was? I never got my shot."
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phaedon
Thu, Jul 6, 2017, 3:00am (UTC -5)
Re: TNG S7: All Good Things...

I'm going through this strange thing where I can't stop binge watching TNG. I can state unequivocally that I have a very strong emotional attachment to TNG, and almost none to TOS or DS9. At every turn, I am impressed by the writers' ability to make science fiction work in the episodic format, in a way that impacts the viewer, primarily by making the protagonists so relatable, instead of say, involving itself in overwhelmingly complicated intergalactic matters. I think that this formula is the hallmark of TNG, as it matured over the seasons into a great show.

What really stands out for me on this viewing of "All Good Things" is the absolute omnipotence of Q and consequently the "total human experience" he chooses to provide Picard with. That is to say, the writing is so unbelievably seamless from Picard's point of view, that it in effect conceals the fact that Q is in complete control of it. I have seen the TNG crew in some pickles before, but never this sophisticated expression of being taught a lesson about the meaning of life from within by an alien race. Q is God, and he totally spreads his wings in this episode. It begs the question why he chooses to do this, but of course, it's the finale, and that's all she wrote. So utterly powerful, such a correct way to end the show, and yet the ramifications of such interference go undiscussed, because the payoff is so suitable. And it is, after all, a situation perhaps we all find ourselves in. What choices do we really have in life, and how do we know if we're doing the right thing.

But I think it's not fair to call Q God because he is more nuanced than that. To the bitter end, Q is there, taunting Picard with "Two down, one to go" as one Enterprise explodes after the other. I think a good mythological analogy for Q is the Sphinx. The gatekeeper. Who keeps her minions in a state of terror. Providing Picard with a riddle he has to solve, or otherwise the demise of all humanity.

So I think there's a reason that Picard doesn't inform his crew of the big picture with the early Enterprise, and the bigger question of why three Enterprises are needed to create the anomaly. Which brings us to the riddle of the Sphinx, and the three stages of man. Each Enterprise expressed a different dimension of Picard's relationship with his crew, and the first Enterprise was about duty, faith and sacrifice. This is an important theme that was of course slam-dunked in "Yesterday's Enterprise" and I'm sure it's no coincidence that Yar is in both episodes ("You heard the captain! Battle stations!").
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phaedon
Sat, Feb 11, 2017, 6:08pm (UTC -5)
Re: TNG S7: Preemptive Strike

One thing that blows me away about this episode is how Ro is essentially Picard's greatest love in all of TNG. That one episode where Picard has a relationship with the science lady doesn't even remotely stack up to the level of emotion presented in "Preemptive Strike."

That scene in 10 Forward in the beginning of the episode where Picard makes for the door and then hails her to the Bridge, only to surprise her in the hallway, is really intense. You would think it was a fluke, if it were not for the last scene of the two of them together, nudging foreheads in the bar, pretending to be romantically involved while Picard whispers that he will have her court-martialled for betraying the mission. An incredible double-entendre.

Riker has to put the report on the table for the final shot. The only other time I remember a camera swinging around a character like that was the cliffhanger in "Best of Both Worlds." In a way, it's really the end of the series. And it ends in tactical failure and heartbreak.

Just stunning. 2017 and I'm still watching.
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phaedon
Wed, Feb 1, 2017, 2:34pm (UTC -5)
Re: TNG S6: Birthright, Part I

James Cromwell, nearly unrecognizable? LOL. Let's not insult the man and go with unrecognizable.
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phaedon
Sat, Jan 21, 2017, 2:43pm (UTC -5)
Re: TNG S3: Yesterday's Enterprise

This episode is nothing short of an episodic masterpiece.

A couple of things to note. The dynamic of the ship's bartender overriding the captain based purely on intuition sets the tone for the entire episode. Secondly, Guinan's intuition is revealed early on in the episode; this makes Guinan one of the best implementations of the "magical support character" trope, as the episode's protagonists have an entire act to wrestle with their decision. The dutiful decisions the crews make and that this temporal rift triggers is the real focus on the episode.

1. Thoughtful captain of a starship willing to bet the entire Federation on a friendship, against every instinct in his body
2. Ship's crew willing to return a fight they will definitely lose
3. Sacrificing the few for the many
4. Loved ones, dying together, in battle
5. Dying an honorable death versus an empty death
6. Engaging in tactical maneuvers that essentially sacrifice the D for the C, on faith

Obviously a lot of this has Shakespearean roots. I have grown to admire the screenwriting of TNG and am not a fan of "one glaring problem" criticisms. For an episodic, the amount that is on the line, and the way out, is stunning. Guinan's "this isn't right" is literally the only piece of reality that the viewer of an episodic series can hold on to.

Once you buy into this device, you realize this episode is about human self-sacrifice and faith as a means of salvation when at every turn there is an easier way out. And ultimately it gets you from one episode to the next. Incredibly self-aware stuff. Best of TNG.
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phaedon
Sat, May 7, 2016, 1:10pm (UTC -5)
Re: TNG S4: Remember Me

Listen, if you want to make fun of this show, please stick to "Wesley is the worst" and "Beverly and Wesley make the worst mother-son TV combo of all time." Because that is completely true.

Aside from that, these shows are basically (cringe) 30 years old, and they reflect some of the social attitudes and public conversations people were having that day.

So for example, you have a "warp bubble" in which one "creates their own reality," "close your eyes Wesley and see past the numbers" and 30 years later basically half your family is either in a Tony Robbins workshop or loved Power of Now. And of course Stephen Hawking biographies are winning Oscars. But whatever, right?

Same goes for "Suddenly Human" and some of the family/domestic violence issues it deals with, for example disciplining your child physically, and same goes for "Brothers," where people were seeing computers for the first time compete with humans, but what made us human was our "emotions." Somebody comes along and says "I didn't care for the sick baby brother subplot" in that episode like they are some kind of genius. I think the writing of TNG is completely lost on certain people.

I may as well throw in the fact that it is refreshing to watch a TV show from the 90's depict a professional female solving problems using her brain. Beverly was having the sh*t gaslit out of her in this episode. 4 stars.
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phaedon
Wed, Apr 27, 2016, 6:23pm (UTC -5)
Re: TNG S3: The Defector

The opening with Data's performance of Shakespeare.. only to be revisited in Picard's showdown with Tomalak, where Picard, with a smirk, quotes Henry V, "If the cause is just and honorable, [my crew is] prepared to give their lives." This was lost on me as a child. This episode could've just as well been called "King's Company."

Stunning episode all around. Powerful, small performances especially by Troi and Data. That shot of Troi trying to figure out if the defector is telling the truth or not. Data being asked to record this moment for history. Just incredible!
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phaedon
Wed, Apr 13, 2016, 5:37pm (UTC -5)
Re: TNG S2: Pen Pals

"What I am saying is that I find it reprehensible that the "morally superior" Federation knowingly allows entire species to become exist when they had the chance to save them in a non-interventionist way. Should they be scorned if a species dies and they could do nothing? No, of course not. But to know that millions if not billions of people are suffering and dying and do nothing is tantamount to destroying them themselves."

This is a naive utilitarian argument. Species live in ecosystems, and alongside other species. A decision to "save a species" could have detrimental effects on an ecosystem that is attempting to correct itself; it could preclude the evolution of ten other species of greater value. All of these presumes perfect execution by Starfleet Command, which of course is far from a given. This is a more sophisticated utilitarian argument, showing that is just as easily argued that "you better stay out of it."

Ultimately, to intervene, or choose not to intervene but possess the power to do so, is to play God. What nobody points out here is that Data ultimately makes the most human decision, and everybody else, with the exception of the doctor, uses "reason" to conclude that they should stay out of it.

This is a really important episode both for Data and Wesley. Without any direct conversations, Data is teaching Wesley how to act like an officer. But it's also an important episode for Picard. He steps into his role as a leader in this episode, you can see it in his eyes in his eyes, when Data confronts him and as he sips his tea. It's also conveyed in the following scene.

Commander William T. Riker: One of the reasons you've been given command is so you can make a few right decisions, which will lead to a pattern of success and help build self-confidence. If you don't trust your own judgment, you don't belong in the command chair.
Wesley Crusher: But what if I'm wrong?
Commander: Then you're wrong. It's arrogant to think that you'll never make a mistake.
Wesley: But what if it's something really important, I mean, not just a mineral survey? What if somebody dies because I made a mistake?
Commander: In your position, it's important to ask yourself one question: what would Picard do?
Wesley: He'd listen to everyone's opinion and then make his own decision. But he's Captain Picard.
Riker: Well, it doesn't matter. Once Picard makes his decision, does anyone question it?
Wesley: No way.
Riker: And why not?
Wesley: I'm not sure.
[Riker is ordered to the Captain over comm]
Riker: When you figure it out, you'll understand command.

I really enjoy TNG. It's easy to judge it in hindsight, now that we know it for what it is. Pity we spend time talking about universal translators.
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phaedon
Thu, Aug 27, 2015, 4:44pm (UTC -5)
Re: TNG S7: Lower Decks

Brilliant episode. Death. One of our own. Sacrifice. Friendship versus command. The wisdom of Starfleet leadership. What makes the Enterprise special in cold space is that it has a beating heart.

The Gik'tal really touched me. "But perhaps the next time you are judged unfairly, it will not take so many bruises for you protest."

Stand up for yourself. And give people second chances.
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phaedon
Sat, Dec 20, 2014, 4:01pm (UTC -5)
Re: TNG S5: Conundrum

You know, it's 2014 and I'm watching TNG again and this time, I feel like I'm watching it for the first time. I read the reviews here and sometimes I decide to skip an episode based on a poor rating.

But I've decided to take a stand on "Conundrum" of all episodes. It really has sunk in how much resentment there is towards TNG both in the reviews and some of the comments. I think that this is exactly the type of episode that makes or breaks you as a TNG fan - whether you can see past the episodic nature of the show, and even the "plotholes," to enjoy how the writers mix things up for the characters.

Quite frankly, it's episodes like this that drive home what the show is all about - it's not just "Best of Both Worlds" with a bunch of crap stuffed around it. It really does a disservice to the memory of the show to focus so overwhelmingly on the "plausibility" of the episode, which is so overwhelmingly outweighed by other, more character-driven, considerations in this episode - namely, nobody, including Data, knows who they are, or what their stations are. Their skills intact - but their identities unknown. The Prime Directive lurking underneath for Picard, and the alien mistaking Worf for a bloodthirsty Klingon - his parents are human, after all. Riker - who finally gets unleashed as a bit of a lady's man - sort of gets his ass handed to him at the end.

There is of course absolutely no discussion of this in "the review" - simply focusing on the absurdity of the alien. I have to say it's tremendously disappointing. And it reads mostly strongly in these trivial episodes, like someone who didn't really like TNG is just sloughing through it.
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phaedon
Thu, Dec 18, 2014, 11:51pm (UTC -5)
Re: TNG S4: Night Terrors

I'm really enjoying revisiting TNG for some reason. Bit of trivia:

The ship's name is correctly spelled "USS Brattain" --- even though it's misspelled on the hull of the ship itself. You can see a screen grab of the typo here:

www.mundostartrek.com/imagenes/biblioteca/brattain.jpg

This happens around 5 minutes into the episode. A few minutes later, Beverly and Picard review the Captain's Log from the Brattain and the entry is stamped "USS Brattain - NCC-21166."

Hope you found that interesting!
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