Saturday, June 8, 2013

Review: Star Trek: The Next Generation (1987-1994) [01-09]

Season 1! Show me whatcha got, late 80's television!
"Encounter at Farpoint" (6/10)
A new crew pilots a flashy new ship in a new century and already they are answering for humanity's crimes.
-- It is striking how well they captured the feel of the Original Series while upping the ante in terms of style, and even trying to retroactively tighten the continuity by having fauntleroy Q cover a score of previous all-powerful beings. In addition to properly conveying the function of newly introduced technology, races and characters, we get two plots for the price of one, both preachy as fuck! Good start.

"The Naked Now" (6/10)
Crew members act strangely after encountering an eerily familiar sickness GEE I WONDER WHAT'S HAPPENING and solve it with some barely effective quarantine procedures. Mmm, bottomboob... Rapegangs?
-- Like the Pilot episode, it captures the feel of the original series very well, only hotter (ha!). There's even a close up in the cold (ha!ha!) open that is very heavily reminiscent of the old show. Somewhere in the second half I decided that I liked it, though it's a bit early for a diversionary episode, innit? And could this be where the vaguely pornish feeling of Trek began?

"Code of Honor" (5/10)
Time for us to receive a heavy-handed lesson in cultural and sexual tolerance. It's the white guilt episode!
-- It has one of those sloppy, offscreen setups meant to give the illusion of high stakes, like in "The Galileo Seven," and justify Picard's inability to resolve the situation quickly. Throughout it, I was trying to imagine the characters as a barbaric lizard race, to see if that made it more interesting. More, it made me think that a leader of a warp civilization wouldn't pull the 'our ways' card on an outsider. But for the sake of an awkwardly-filmed death match. That's Trek for ya.

"Haven" (5/10)
A plague ship approaches a planet and the Enterprise has to figure out a way to stop it before it reaches transporter range. But that's only the B Plot, the A Plot is a bunch of irritating shit about an arranged marriage.
-- Definitely with "Code of Honor" on the bottom spectrum of 5's so far. We don't know enough about Riker and Troi to care that they aren't able to be together and the family behavior is too over-the-top and specific to the show to be relatable. That and the camera lense is smeared with vaseline and makes me sleepy.

"Where No One Has Gone Before" (6/10)
An arrogant fucker's con turns real and Wesley Crusher's importance is exaggerated, eventually turning him into a horrible narcissist. Ohhhh... RAPEgangs... I get it.
-- Did Rob Bowman film this episode inside of a volcano? Not that I'm complaining, I'm just shocked that it was allowed. A nice, slow build around a mysterious set of circumstances (that aren't fully explained by the end, right?) and what would have been a much better setup to Star Trek: Voyager than that stupid fucking Caretaker or whatever. Weirdly, I got a Monster Squad vibe when Picard rescued that Red Shirt from his Mulder-ish fear of fire. No thumbs-up?! Aw.

"The Last Outpost" (5/10)
The Enterprise and a Thiefy Vessel are conned by a wizard on a nearby planet, showing us that we really aren't that far from the Original Series in terms of a premise gone silly.
-- I can see a smarter script inside this episode somewhere, one that doesn't boil the elements down into something so utterly simplistic, one that doesn't make Picard seem highly irrational but somehow correct in the long run, and one that doesn't totally shortchange the Ferengi in what I imagine is a leftover element from an "Arena" remake. Bah.

"Lonely Among Us" (6/10)
Two delegates from opposing races attempt a peace treaty while the Enterprise complicates matter. Maybe don't pass through the strange energy cloud while on so important an assignment?
-- They should have buried the lead, and let us believe that the traitor was from one of the two delegate parties. Data starts acting like Sherlock Holmes, f'fuck's sake, hows about involving us in the mystery? Ah well, there's enough suspense to fuel the episode to completion. Transporter fixes everything!

"Justice" (5/10)
Things go sideways on Planet Orgasm, where they filmed Biodome, when Australian Law clashes with Aboriginal Law and an all-powerful mediator forces the Enterprise to think the situation through a little bit. Riker... ISN'T a sex addict... right?
-- Leave it to Wesley Crusher to break the simple Keep Off the Grass rule. This sort of thing is exactly what Picard was such an asshole about a few episodes back. Anyhow, it's better than "Code of Honor." I like that we tackle some heavy legal issues: criminal ignorance, capital punishment and h'whatnot, but the conclusion is a real bummer and does not cast Picard in a particularly flattering light. A powerful ship is forcing them to reconsider rescuing Wesley outright, but since no magical medical cure is at stake Picard ultimately gives the middle finger and beams off the planet, citing 'special circumstances' as a part of life. Great. I'm sure Tasha Yar really appreciates that fight to the death she had to do. And people know about this planet yet somehow word doesn't get out about their strict-ass laws and weird religion? Okayyyy.

"The Battle" (5/10)
The Enterpise takes part in an obvious Ferengi deception and the inevitable ensues. They apparently rescued Rob Bowman from that volcano.
-- Hmm, I see that our Captain has been taken over yet again by a brainfucky. Is this going to be The Next Generation's version of the cellular double? If that's the case, a keyphrase or constant mutilation is no good. Gotta be some solution, though... a router helmet? Some sort of empath more useful than Troi? I'll work on it. This show already has a real problem at constructing a mystery. It's more concerned with showing us Starfleet procedure than involving us in a compelling story. Telling it entirely from Picard's perspective would have been awesome! Alas.