Tuesday, November 8, 2011

Star Trek The Next Generation (Season 1a)

Season 1b-->

Star Trek the Next Generation has a unique place in television history. In a time when new networks were increasing and audiences had many more programming to choose from STNG took first run syndication to new levels of success. At the same time it promised to bring back the sort of television that explored issues and ideas seldom dealt with in the sitcoms and commercials posing as cartoons in the eighties.

That being said, we had to get through the first couple of seasons. Most of the first 13 episodes are a mess where no one really knows what they are doing:

Episode 3 “The Naked Now”
Early on we might expect some retread of the original series, but a remake? Only it did not quite measure up. Here it is as if they said the only thing we can add to Trek is stuff the censors wouldn’t let us do in the 60s. The thinking here is not subversive—just sophomoric.

Episodes 7 “Lonely Among Us” and 9 “The Battle”
The writers have not decided who the characters are yet. They get a lot of grief for the terrible way they handled Wesley the whole series. Thankfully, they will not stick with this characterization of Picard.

Episode 11 “Haven”
Once they get around to presenting ideas, they forget that ideas presented as interesting are only interesting if explored.

Episode 5 “The Last Outpost”
This attempt to be philosophical and “deep” is both too blatant and shallow.

Episode 4 “Code of Honor”
Embarrassing for its inept and culturally insensitive attempt to comment on cultural insensitivity.

Episode 12 “The Big Goodbye”
The audience had not seen the full potential of the Hollow Deck until now—apparently the people of the 24 Century hadn’t either. Still this is a good addition that will be used a lot better in episodes to come.

Then there were the episodes with promise:

Episode 1/2 “Encounter at Farpoint”

Introduction to the first (and most important) new element to the Trek universe: Q. A race of extra-dimensional alien beings that have god-like abilities. The one we meet will reappear several times in the course of the series and be used to explore many ideas. Here he/they put humanity on trial for generally being evil. The episode is used to show that in the future envisioned by secular humanist Roddenberry, humans will have overcome all greed, hate and injustice. (Of course future episodes will thankfully contradict this, otherwise what stories would there be to tell? Then there is the nice tie-in with the very last episode of the series, but more on that at another time.)

Episode 6 “Where No One Has Gone Before”

What if matter, energy and thought were interchangeable? In stories they are, but here they present the idea that the next step in evolutionary development will be the ability to alter the universe with thought alone. Only a writer would think of that!

Episode 8 “Justice”

This episode is remembered most for its costumes (or lack thereof.) However it does attempt to explore religious ideas and the idea of law as it relates to faith. The concepts are initially interesting, but ultimately rushed to an unsatisfactory conclusion. It seems that true justice cannot be blind, but instead a law is only as good as its exceptions.

Episode 10 “Hide and Q”

Q returns to play with the crew, this time by seeing what will happen if a human is given omnipotence. Riker is overcome with the desire to use the power for good, but of course the incredibly mature crew knows that the only way to enjoy your wishes is to get than some other way than as a gift, which is to say not at all in most cases. Either way, they are once again too developed to fall for Q and he is bested again. This show really does get better, trust me.

Episode 13 “Datalore”

The most interesting character of the series is given a deeper dimension when we see just how wrong his fabrication could have been. Data’s brother will prove a more interesting adversary in the future. Here he is easily found out by the resident wunderkind. Unfortunately, the plot demands that every adult in the episode act uncharacteristically stupid and deaf to the obvious truth to manage the required run time.

1 comment:

  1. Oh Captain Picard...you have the most beautiful voice EVER!


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