Trekaday: Final ratings from 1966 to 2005

Posted on December 26th, 2023 in Culture | No Comments »

This is every episode I watched ordered by star rating. Episodes with the same star rating can be assumed to be equally good.

5 out of 5 stars
  • TNG S07E25 All Good Things…
  • TOS S02E01 Amok Time
  • TOS S01E14 Balance of Terror
  • TNG S03E26 The Best of Both Worlds
  • TNG S04E01 The Best of Both Worlds, Part II
  • DS9 S05E15 By Inferno’s Light
  • TNG S05E18 Cause and Effect
  • TNG S06E11 Chain of Command, Part II
  • TOS S01E28 The City on the Edge of Forever
  • DS9 S02E23 Crossover
  • TOS S01E25 The Devil in the Dark
  • TNG S06E14 Face of the Enemy
  • TNG S04E02 Family
  • DS9 S06E13 Far Beyond the Stars
  • ENT S03E20 The Forgotten
  • TNG S05E23 I Borg
  • ENT S04E19 In a Mirror, Darkly, Part II
  • DS9 S05E14 In Purgatory’s Shadow
  • VOY S05E04 In the Flesh
  • DS9 S06E19 In the Pale Moonlight
  • TNG S05E25 The Inner Light
  • TNG S02E09 The Measure of a Man
  • VOY S04E25 One
  • DS9 S04E10 Our Man Bashir
  • TNG S06E04 Relics
  • DS9 S06E06 Sacrifice of Angels
  • TNG S03E23 Sarek
  • TNG S06E12 Ship in a Bottle
  • TOS S01E22 Space Seed
  • TNG S06E18 Starship Mine
  • TNG S06E15 Tapestry
  • TOS S01E24 This Side of Paradise
  • DS9 S05E06 Trials and Tribble-ations
  • TNG S05E08 Unification II
  • DS9 S04E03 The Visitor
  • DS9 S04E01-2 The Way of the Warrior
  • TOS MOS02 The Wrath of Khan
  • TNG S03E15 Yesterday’s Enterprise
4.5 out of 5 stars
  • DS9 S03E26 The Adversary
  • TOS S01E18 Arena
  • ENT S03E18 Azati Prime
  • TNG S06E16 Birthright, Part I
  • VOY S07E07 Body and Soul
  • DS9 S02E05 Cardassians
  • TNG S06E10 Chain of Command, Part I
  • DS9 S05E22 Children of Time
  • ENT S03E12 Chosen Realm
  • DS9 S03E07 Civil Defense
  • ENT S04E05 Cold Station 12
  • TNG S05E14 Conundrum
  • TOS S01E10 The Corbomite Maneuver
  • VOY S05E18 Course: Oblivion
  • ENT S03E19 Damage
  • VOY S05E15-16 Dark Frontier
  • VOY S04E03 Day of Honor
  • TNG S03E10 The Defector
  • TNG S06E26 Descent
  • TNG S07E01 Descent, Part II
  • TOS S02E06 The Doomsday Machine
  • DS9 S01E19 Duet
  • TNG S02E20 The Emissary
  • DS9 S05E24 Empok Nor
  • VOY S07E25-26 Endgame
  • TNG S05E03 Ensign Ro
  • TNG S04E15 First Contact
  • TNG MNG02 First Contact
  • DS9 S05E13 For the Uniform
  • TNG S06E21 Frame of Mind
  • TNG S04E08 Future Imperfect
  • TNG S07E05 Gambit, Part II
  • VOY S04E02 The Gift
  • TNG S04E22 Half a Life
  • DS9 S04E19 Hard Time
  • DS9 S04E04 Hippocratic Oath
  • VOY S04E26 Hope and Fear
  • DS9 S03E03 The House of Quark
  • TOS S02E18 The Immunity Syndrome
  • ENT S03E05 Impulse
  • VOY S05E07 Infinite Regress
  • TOS S03E05 Is There in Truth No Beauty?
  • DS9 S02E26 The Jem’Hadar
  • VOY S04E18-19 The Killing Game
  • VOY S05E11 Latent Image
  • VOY S06E24 Life Line
  • DS9 S04E08 Little Green Men
  • DS9 S02E20 The Maquis, Part I
  • VOY S02E16 Meld
  • TNG S04E24 The Mind’s Eye
  • TOS S02E04 Mirror, Mirror
  • VOY S04E12 Mortal Coil
  • TNG S03E22 The Most Toys
  • TOS S01E04 The Naked Time
  • VOY S05E01 Night
  • TNG S04E19 The Nth Degree
  • TNG S07E12 The Pegasus
  • TNG S07E24 Preemptive Strike
  • VOY S04E16 Prey
  • ENT S03E13 Proving Ground
  • TNG S02E16 Q Who
  • ENT S02E23 Regeneration
  • TNG S04E05 Remember Me
  • DS9 S06E02 Rocks and Shoals
  • VOY S04E01 Scorpion, Part II
  • TNG S06E24 Second Chances
  • DS9 S03E05 Second Skin
  • ENT S01E15 Shadows of P’Jem
  • DS9 S05E02 The Ship
  • DS9 S02E03 The Siege
  • DS9 S07E08 The Siege of AR-558
  • TAS S01E14 The Slaver Weapon
  • DS9 S04E07 Starship Down
  • VOY S06E02 Survival Instinct
  • ENT S04E21 Terra Prime
  • DS9 S05E19 Ties of Blood and Water
  • TNG S06E25 Timescape
  • DS9 S04E23 To the Death
  • ENT S03E08 Twilight
  • TOS S02E24 The Ultimate Computer
  • ENT S04E13 United
  • VOY S03E17 Unity
  • ENT S01E22 Vox Sola
  • DS9 S06E11 Waltz
  • DS9 S07E25-26 What You Leave Behind
  • DS9 S02E22 The Wire
  • VOY S04E08 Year of Hell
4 out of 5 stars
  • VOY S02E01 The 37’s
  • TOS S03E23 All Our Yesterdays
  • ENT S01E07 The Andorian Incident
  • DS9 S05E01 Apocalypse Rising
  • DS9 S02E13 Armageddon Game
  • DS9 S05E09 The Ascent
  • ENT S04E06 The Augments
  • DS9 S07E15 Badda-Bing Badda-Bang
  • VOY S06E03 Barge of the Dead
  • TNG S01E09 The Battle
  • DS9 S06E04 Behind the Lines
  • TAS S01E01 Beyond the Farthest Star
  • TNG S06E17 Birthright, Part II
  • VOY S06E12 Blink of an Eye
  • ENT S04E04 Borderland
  • VOY S05E12 Bride of Chaotica!
  • TNG S04E03 Brothers
  • TOS S02E22 By Any Other Name
  • DS9 S05E26 Call to Arms
  • TNG S03E19 Captain’s Holiday
  • ENT S02E02 Carbon Creek
  • VOY S06E19 Child’s Play
  • DS9 S07E14 Chimera
  • DS9 S02E02 The Circle
  • ENT S01E11 Cold Front
  • DS9 S04E13 Crossfire
  • TOS S01E09 Dagger of the Mind
  • TNG S05E02 Darmok
  • TNG S04E11 Data’s Day
  • DS9 S03E09 Defiant
  • TNG S03E13 Déjà Q
  • DS9 S03E21 The Die is Cast
  • VOY S02E17 Dreadnought
  • VOY S05E02 Drone
  • TNG S02E03 Elementary, Dear Data
  • TNG S03E07 The Enemy
  • TOS S01E05 The Enemy Within
  • TNG S03E02 The Ensigns of Command
  • TOS S03E02 The Enterprise Incident
  • DS9 S07E23 Extreme Measures
  • ENT S01E23 Fallen Hero
  • DS9 S03E23 Family Business
  • DS9 S06E05 Favor the Bold
  • TNG S06E08 A Fistful of Datas
  • VOY S03E02 Flashback
  • VOY S07E09 Flesh and Blood
  • DS9 S04E22 For the Cause
  • VOY S07E21 Friendship One
  • VOY S03E09 Future’s End, Part II
  • TOS S01E16 The Galileo Seven
  • TNG S07E04 Gambit, Part I
  • VOY S05E13 Gravity
  • DS9 S03E14 Heart of Stone
  • TNG S05E11 Hero Worship
  • TNG S03E21 Hollow Pursuits
  • TNG S01E18 Home Soil
  • DS9 S02E01 The Homecoming
  • DS9 S04E11 Homefront
  • TAS S02E05 How Sharper Than a Serpent’s Tooth
  • TNG S04E18 Identity Crisis
  • VOY S07E02 Imperfection
  • ENT S04E18 In a Mirror, Darkly
  • DS9 S04E05 Indiscretion
  • TAS S01E07 The Infinite Vulcan
  • DS9 S06E18 Inquisition
  • VOY S07E06 Inside Man
  • DS9 S07E16 Inter Arma Enim Silent Leges
  • DS9 S07E10 It’s Only a Paper Moon
  • TOS S02E10 Journey to Babel
  • ENT S02E19 Judgment
  • ENT S04E09 Kir’Shara
  • VOY S01E16 Learning Curve
  • DS9 S05E03 Looking for par’Mach in All the Wrong Places
  • TNG S07E15 Lower Decks
  • VOY S03E12 Macrocosm
  • TAS S01E08 The Magicks of Megas-tu
  • TOS S01E01 The Man Trap
  • VOY S02E11 Maneuvers
  • DS9 S02E21 The Maquis, Part II
  • TNG S02E08 A Matter of Honor
  • VOY S06E14 Memorial
  • VOY S04E14 Message in a Bottle
  • ENT S02E03 Minefield
  • DS9 S02E08 Necessary Evil
  • TNG S05E10 New Ground
  • TNG S05E24 The Next Phase
  • ENT S03E09 North Star
  • DS9 S05E04 …Nor the Battle to the Strong
  • ENT S04E11 Observer Effect
  • TOS S02E13 Obsession
  • VOY S06E08 One Small Step
  • DS9 S04E12 Paradise Lost
  • DS9 S03E11 Past Tense, Part I
  • DS9 S02E18 Profit and Loss
  • VOY S04E06 The Raven
  • DS9 S04E06 Rejoined
  • VOY S05E24 Relativity
  • TOS S01E21 The Return of the Archons
  • DS9 S04E14 Return to Grace
  • TOS S02E20 Return to Tomorrow
  • VOY S04E05 Revulsion
  • TNG S06E05 Schisms
  • VOY S03E26 Scorpion
  • DS9 S03E01 The Search, Part I
  • DS9 S07E02 Shadows and Symbols
  • VOY S07E11 Shattered
  • ENT S03E07 The Shipment
  • TNG S05E04 Silicon Avatar
  • ENT S03E10 Similitude
  • ENT S01E14 Sleeping Dogs
  • DS9 S05E21 Soldiers of the Empire
  • ENT S03E14 Stratagem
  • VOY S03E04 The Swarm
  • TOS S01E23 A Taste of Armageddon
  • DS9 S06E26 Tears of the Prophets
  • DS9 S05E08 Things Past
  • VOY S05E20 Think Tank
  • TOS S03E09 The Tholian Web
  • DS9 S06E01 A Time to Stand
  • VOY S05E06 Timeless
  • TNG S05E26 Time’s Arrow
  • VOY S06E04 Tinker, Tenor, Doctor, Spy
  • TOS S01E19 Tomorrow Is Yesterday
  • DS9 S07E06 Treachery, Faith, and the Great River
  • DS9 S02E25 Tribunal
  • TOS S02E15 The Trouble With Tribbles
  • TOS MOS06 The Undiscovered Country
  • TNG S05E07 Unification I
  • VOY S06E26 Unimatrix Zero
  • TOS MOS04 The Voyage Home
  • TNG S01E06 Where No One Has Gone Before
  • TNG S03E04 Who Watches the Watchers
  • VOY S07E16 Workforce
  • VOY S03E25 Worst Case Scenario
  • TNG S04E12 The Wounded
  • VOY S04E09 Year of Hell, Part II
3.5 out of 5 stars
  • DS9 S03E06 The Abandoned
  • ENT S04E14 The Aenar
  • TAS S02E04 Albatross
  • TNG S03E18 Allegiance
  • TNG S01E21 The Arsenal of Freedom
  • VOY S06E18 Ashes to Ashes
  • DS9 S05E05 The Assignment
  • TNG S07E08 Attached
  • ENT S04E08 Awakening
  • ENT S04E12 Babel One
  • VOY S02E26 Basics, Part I
  • VOY S03E21 Before and After
  • DS9 S05E23 Blaze of Glory
  • VOY S05E14 Bliss
  • TNG S03E05 The Bonding
  • DS9 S04E26 Broken Link
  • DS9 S01E06 Captive Pursuit
  • ENT S02E12 The Catwalk
  • DS9 S06E16 Change of Heart
  • TOS S02E03 The Changeling
  • DS9 S07E20 The Changing Face of Evil
  • TNG S04E14 Clues
  • VOY S03E15 Coda
  • VOY S04E11 Concerning Flight
  • TNG S02E11 Contagion
  • ENT S03E23 Countdown
  • VOY S05E10 Counterpoint
  • DS9 S07E09 Covenant
  • TNG S01E13 Datalore
  • DS9 S01E08 Dax
  • TOS S03E07 Day of the Dove
  • ENT S02E04 Dead Stop
  • VOY S02E21 Deadlock
  • ENT S01E13 Dear Doctor
  • ENT S04E20 Demons
  • ENT S01E24 Desert Crossing
  • DS9 S03E15 Destiny
  • TNG S05E05 Disaster
  • VOY S03E24 Displaced
  • DS9 S05E16 Doctor Bashir, I Presume?
  • VOY S05E26 Equinox
  • TOS S01E26 Errand of Mercy
  • TNG S03E01 Evolution
  • VOY S01E07 Eye of the Needle
  • DS9 S03E25 Facets
  • ENT S02E24 First Flight
  • ENT S01E10 Fortunate Son
  • ENT S02E16 Future Tense
  • VOY S03E08 Future’s End, Part I
  • VOY S06E20 Good Shepherd
  • VOY S06E25 The Haunting of Deck Twelve
  • TNG S01E20 Heart of Glory
  • ENT S04E03 Home
  • TNG S07E13 Homeward
  • TNG S03E11 The Hunted
  • DS9 S07E01 Image in the Sand
  • DS9 S03E20 Improbable Cause
  • DS9 S01E20 In the Hands of the Prophets
  • DS9 S02E04 Invasive Procedures
  • VOY S01E15 Jetrel
  • TNG S06E19 Lessons
  • DS9 S03E13 Life Support
  • VOY S06E21 Live Fast and Prosper
  • VOY S04E23 Living Witness
  • TNG S01E07 Lonely Among Us
  • TNG S04E10 The Loss
  • TNG S05E09 A Matter of Time
  • TNG S03E24 Ménage à Troi
  • TOS S02E09 Metamorphosis
  • TOS S01E08 Miri
  • TOS S01E06 Mudd’s Women
  • DS9 S01E11 The Nagus
  • TNG S01E03 The Naked Now
  • TNG S01E26 The Neutral Zone
  • TNG S04E17 Night Terrors
  • VOY S04E21 The Omega Directive
  • TAS S01E03 One of Our Planets is Missing
  • TOS S01E29 Operation: Annihilate!
  • TOS S03E03 The Paradise Syndrome
  • VOY S02E07 Parturition
  • DS9 S03E12 Past Tense, Part II
  • VOY S06E10 Pathfinder
  • TNG S02E21 Peak Performance
  • TOS S02E17 A Piece of the Action
  • TAS S02E01 The Pirates of Orion
  • DS9 S02E17 Playing God
  • TNG S05E15 Power Play
  • VOY S01E10 Prime Factors
  • DS9 S01E15 Progress
  • VOY S03E11 The Q and the Grey
  • VOY S07E19 Q2
  • VOY S04E10 Random Thoughts
  • TNG S06E02 Realm of Fear
  • DS9 S06E21 The Reckoning
  • TNG S05E01 Redemption II
  • VOY S03E06 Remember
  • VOY S07E24 Renaissance Man
  • VOY S07E04 Repression
  • VOY S02E12 Resistance
  • TNG S04E07 Reunion
  • VOY S06E06 Riddles
  • VOY S03E19 Rise
  • DS9 S04E18 Rules of Engagement
  • TOS MOS03 The Search for Spock
  • DS9 S03E02 The Search, Part II
  • DS9 S02E09 Second Sight
  • ENT S02E07 The Seventh
  • DS9 S02E16 Shadowplay
  • ENT S02E01 Shockwave, Part II
  • TNG S03E17 Sins of the Father
  • DS9 S06E25 The Sound of Her Voice
  • DS9 S06E09 Statistical Probabilities
  • ENT S02E14 Stigma
  • TAS S01E06 The Survivor
  • DS9 S07E22 Tacking Into the Wind
  • DS9 S07E04 Take Me Out to the Holosuite
  • ENT S01E06 Terra Nova
  • TAS S01E11 The Terratin Incident
  • ENT S04E22 These Are the Voyages…
  • DS9 S07E18 ’Til Death Do Us Part
  • TNG S07E16 Thine Own Self
  • DS9 S03E19 Through the Looking Glass
  • VOY S01E04 Time and Again
  • TNG S02E13 Time Squared
  • TNG S06E01 Time’s Arrow, Part II
  • TNG S03E20 Tin Man
  • TNG S06E06 True Q
  • VOY S02E24 Tuvix
  • VOY S07E01 Unimatrix Zero, Part II
  • DS9 S01E12 Vortex
  • VOY S04E13 Waking Moments
  • DS9 S07E21 When It Rains…
  • TOS S01E03 Where No Man Has Gone Before
  • DS9 S02E14 Whispers
  • TOS S03E14 Whom Gods Destroy
  • TOS S03E11 Wink of an Eye
  • VOY S07E17 Workforce, Part II
  • TAS S01E02 Yesteryear
  • ENT S03E24 Zero Hour
3 out of 5 stars
  • TNG S01E15 11001001
  • DS9 S04E17 Accession
  • DS9 S07E03 Afterimage
  • DS9 S02E12 The Alternate
  • ENT S03E02 Anomaly
  • DS9 S01E05 Babel
  • VOY S03E01 Basics, Part II
  • DS9 S05E12 The Begotten
  • TAS S02E02 Bem
  • VOY S03E16 Blood Fever
  • TNG S03E06 Booby Trap
  • ENT S02E21 The Breach
  • TOS S02E25 Bread and Circuses
  • ENT S01E01-02 Broken Bow
  • ENT S03E11 Carpenter Street
  • VOY S01E13 Cathexis
  • ENT S02E15 Cease Fire
  • TOS S01E02 Charlie X
  • ENT S01E09 Civilization
  • TOS S03E21 The Cloud Minders
  • VOY S02E10 Cold Fire
  • DS9 S02E24 The Collaborator
  • VOY S06E16 Collective
  • ENT S02E08 The Communicator
  • TNG S01E25 Conspiracy
  • ENT S03E22 The Council
  • TOS S01E20 Court Martial
  • ENT S04E10 Daedalus
  • TNG S02E10 The Dauphin
  • ENT S02E13 Dawn
  • TOS S02E12 The Deadly Years
  • VOY S02E18 Death Wish
  • ENT S01E21 Detained
  • DS9 S07E24 The Dogs of War
  • VOY S02E04 Elogium
  • TNG S07E23 Emergence
  • DS9 S01E01-2 Emissary
  • TNG S01E01-2 Encounter at Farpoint
  • DS9 S03E04 Equilibrium
  • VOY S06E01 Equinox, Part II
  • TNG S05E16 Ethics
  • ENT S02E26 The Expanse
  • DS9 S03E22 Explorers
  • TAS S01E15 The Eye of the Beholder
  • VOY S01E14 Faces
  • DS9 S07E13 Field of Fire
  • TNG S04E09 Final Mission
  • ENT S04E07 The Forge
  • DS9 S01E17 The Forsaken
  • TNG S04E16 Galaxy’s Child
  • TNG  MNG01 Generations
  • TNG S03E12 The High Ground
  • VOY S07E23 Homestead
  • VOY S04E15 Hunters
  • TNG S07E10 Inheritance
  • TNG MNG03 Insurrection
  • TNG S01E08 Justice
  • ENT S02E06 Marauders
  • TNG S07E17 Masks
  • TNG S03E14 A Matter of Perspective
  • TOS S01E11 The Menagerie, Part I
  • TOS S01E12 The Menagerie, Part II
  • TOS MOS01 The Motion Picture
  • DS9 S07E07 Once More Unto the Breach
  • DS9 S06E14 One Little Ship
  • DS9 S02E15 Paradise
  • VOY S01E03 Parallax
  • TNG S07E11 Parallels
  • DS9 S01E03 Past Prologue
  • DS9 S07E17 Penumbra
  • TNG S06E09 The Quality of Life
  • DS9 S04E24 The Quickening
  • DS9 S05E10 Rapture
  • TNG S06E07 Rascals
  • TNG S04E26 Redemption
  • TNG S06E23 Rightful Heir
  • DS9 S02E07 Rules of Acquisition
  • DS9 S04E20 Shattered Mirror
  • TOS S01E15 Shore Leave
  • ENT S01E16 Shuttlepod One
  • DS9 S06E03 Sons and Daughters
  • TOS S03E06 Spectre of the Gun
  • TOS S01E17 The Squire of Gothos
  • VOY S01E11 State of Flux
  • TNG S06E22 Suspicions
  • TOS S03E17 That Which Survives
  • DS9 S06E24 Time’s Orphan
  • TOS S03E24 Turnabout Intruder
  • DS9 S06E22 Valiant
  • VOY S07E15 The Void
  • VOY S06E09 The Voyager Conspiracy
  • VOY S03E10 Warlord
  • TOS S03E20 The Way to Eden
  • DS9 S06E17 Wrongs Darker Than Death or Night
2.5 out of 5 stars
  • DS9 S04E16 Bar Association
  • TNG S01E12 The Big Goodbye
  • DS9 S02E19 Blood Oath
  • TNG S07E22 Bloodlines
  • ENT S01E08 Breaking the Ice
  • DS9 S05E18 Business as Usual
  • TNG S06E20 The Chase
  • TOS S01E13 The Conscience of the King
  • TNG S05E20 Cost of Living
  • TAS S02E06 The Counter-Clock Incident
  • VOY S07E05 Critical Care
  • ENT S02E18 The Crossing
  • DS9 S05E11 The Darkness and the Light
  • VOY S03E23 Distant Origin
  • ENT S03E16 Doctor’s Orders
  • DS9 S01E18 Dramatis Personae
  • VOY S07E03 Drive
  • TNG S04E21 The Drumhead
  • TOS S03E12 The Empath
  • ENT S03E06 Exile
  • TNG S05E19 The First Duty
  • TOS S02E11 Friday’s Child
  • VOY S06E23 Fury
  • ENT S03E17 Hatchery
  • VOY S01E12 Heroes and Demons
  • VOY S07E18 Human Error
  • TNG S02E14 The Icarus Factor
  • VOY S02E02 Initiations
  • VOY S02E22 Innocence
  • TNG S07E03 Interface
  • VOY S02E20 Investigations
  • TAS S01E16 The Jihad
  • VOY S05E21 Juggernaut
  • TNG S01E05 The Last Outpost
  • TNG S04E06 Legacy
  • TNG S07E02 Liaisons
  • DS9 S01E04 A Man Alone
  • TOS S03E16 The Mark of Gideon
  • DS9 S02E06 Melora
  • TAS S01E05 More Tribbles, More Troubles
  • VOY S04E04 Nemesis
  • VOY S05E08 Nothing Human
  • ENT S01E20 Oasis
  • TNG S03E16 The Offspring
  • TNG S05E17 The Outcast
  • VOY S02E08 Persistence of Vision
  • VOY S02E03 Projections
  • DS9 S03E16 Prophet Motive
  • VOY S02E13 Prototype
  • ENT S01E18 Rogue Planet
  • DS9 S02E10 Sanctuary
  • TNG S02E06 The Schizoid Man
  • VOY S04E07 Scientific Method
  • DS9 S03E24 Shakaar
  • ENT S01E26 Shockwave
  • DS9 S05E17 A Simple Investigation
  • DS9 S04E15 Sons of Mogh
  • DS9 S07E19 Strange Bedfellows
  • TNG S04E04 Suddenly Human
  • TNG S03E03 The Survivors
  • DS9 S04E09 The Sword of Kahless
  • DS9 S03E17 Visionary
  • TOS S01E07 What Are Little Girls Made Of?
  • TOS S02E02 Who Mourns for Adonais?
  • DS9 S06E07 You are Cordially Invited…
2 out of 5 stars
  • VOY S05E23 11:59
  • TOS S01E27 The Alternative Factor
  • TAS S01E13 The Ambergris Element
  • TNG S06E13 Aquiel
  • DS9 S01E13 Battle Lines
  • DS9 S04E25 Body Parts
  • ENT S02E17 Canamar
  • VOY S01E01-2 Caretaker
  • TNG S02E01 The Child
  • DS9 S07E05 Chrysalis
  • VOY S03E03 The Chute
  • VOY S01E06 The Cloud
  • ENT S02E22 Cogenitor
  • TNG S01E19 Coming of Age
  • TNG S07E07 Dark Page
  • VOY S03E18 Darkling
  • TNG S04E13 Devil’s Due
  • VOY S05E17 The Disease
  • DS9 S03E18 Distant Voices
  • VOY S06E07 Dragon’s Teeth
  • ENT S03E21 E²
  • TOS S03E13 Elaan of Troyius
  • VOY S01E09 Emanations
  • VOY S05E03 Extreme Risk
  • TNG S07E18 Eye of the Beholder
  • VOY S03E13 Fair Trade
  • VOY S03E05 False Profits
  • DS9 S05E20 Ferengi Love Songs
  • ENT S01E03 Fight or Flight
  • TOS MOS05 The Final Frontier
  • TNG S07E21 Firstborn
  • TOS S03E08 For the World Is Hollow and I Have Touched the Sky
  • TNG S05E06 The Game
  • TOS S02E16 The Gamesters of Triskelion
  • TNG S01E11 Haven
  • TNG S01E10 Hide and Q
  • DS9 S06E20 His Way
  • ENT S02E20 Horizon
  • TNG S04E23 The Host
  • TOS S02E08 I, Mudd
  • TNG S05E22 Imaginary Friend
  • DS9 S05E25 In the Cards
  • TNG S04E25 In Theory
  • TNG S07E20 Journey’s End
  • DS9 S05E07 Let He Who Is Without Sin…
  • TOS S03E18 The Lights of Zetar
  • VOY S07E12 Lineage
  • TAS S01E04 The Lorelei Signal
  • TNG S02E05 Loud as a Whisper
  • DS9 S06E10 The Magnificent Ferengi
  • TNG S06E03 Man of the People
  • TNG S05E13 The Masterpiece Society
  • DS9 S04E21 The Muse
  • VOY S06E22 Muse
  • ENT S02E05 A Night In Sickbay
  • VOY S07E08 Nightingale
  • VOY S02E05 Non Sequitur
  • TAS S01E09 Once Upon a Planet
  • DS9 S01E09 The Passenger
  • TOS S02E21 Patterns of Force
  • TNG S02E15 Pen Pals
  • TNG S05E21 The Perfect Mate
  • VOY S01E05 Phage
  • TNG S07E06 Phantasms
  • TOS S03E10 Plato’s Stepchildren
  • TNG S03E08 The Price
  • TOS S02E19 A Private Little War
  • VOY S07E14 Prophecy
  • DS9 S01E07 Q-Less
  • TNG S04E20 Qpid
  • VOY S02E25 Resolutions
  • DS9 S06E08 Resurrection
  • TNG S02E12 The Royale
  • VOY S03E07 Sacred Ground
  • TNG S02E17 Samaritan Snare
  • TOS S03E22 The Savage Curtain
  • ENT S02E09 Singularity
  • VOY S05E22 Someone to Watch Over Me
  • ENT S04E01 Storm Front
  • TNG S01E22 Symbiosis
  • VOY S05E09 Thirty Days
  • VOY S02E15 Threshold
  • TAS S01E12 The Time Trap
  • TNG S01E16 Too Short a Season
  • TNG S03E25 Transfigurations
  • VOY S02E06 Twisted
  • ENT S01E25 Two Days and Two Nights
  • ENT S01E05 Unexpected
  • VOY S04E22 Unforgettable
  • TNG S02E07 Unnatural Selection
  • TNG S03E09 The Vengeance Factor
  • VOY S06E13 Virtuoso
  • VOY S04E20 Vis à Vis
  • VOY S05E25 Warhead
  • TNG S01E17 When the Bough Breaks
  • TNG S02E02 Where Silence Has Lease
  • DS9 S06E12 Who Mourns for Morn?
  • ENT S03E01 The Xindi
1.5 out of 5 stars
  • ENT S01E19 Acquisition
  • ENT S04E15 Affliction
  • VOY S06E05 Alice
  • VOY S02E14 Alliances
  • TOS S03E04 And the Children Shall Lead
  • TNG S01E14 Angel One
  • TOS S02E05 The Apple
  • ENT S02E25 Bounty
  • ENT S04E16 Divergence
  • VOY S06E11 Fair Haven
  • TNG S07E09 Force of Nature
  • TNG S07E19 Genesis
  • ENT S03E15 Harbinger
  • DS9 S06E15 Honor Among Thieves
  • DS9 S01E16 If Wishes Were Horses
  • TNG S02E19 Manhunt
  • VOY S07E22 Natural Law
  • TNG MNG04 Nemesis
  • TOS S02E23 The Omega Glory
  • VOY S05E05 Once Upon a Time
  • TNG S02E04 The Outrageous Okona
  • DS9 S07E11 Prodigal Daughter
  • TOS S03E19 Requiem for Methuselah
  • DS9 S02E11 Rivals
  • ENT S01E12 Silent Enemy
  • TNG S01E23 Skin of Evil
  • ENT S04E02 Storm Front, Part II
  • DS9 S01E14 The Storyteller
  • VOY S02E23 The Thaw
  • VOY S06E15 Tsunkatse
  • TNG S05E12 Violations
  • TOS S02E14 Wolf in the Fold
1 out of 5 stars
  • VOY S03E14 Alter Ego
  • VOY S07E20 Author, Author
  • ENT S04E17 Bound
  • TOS S02E07 Catspaw
  • TNG S01E04 Code of Honor
  • VOY S04E24 Demon
  • DS9 S07E12 The Emperor’s New Cloak
  • VOY S01E08 Ex Post Facto
  • ENT S03E03 Extinction
  • DS9 S03E10 Fascination
  • VOY S03E20 Favorite Son
  • VOY S05E19 The Fight
  • ENT S01E17 Fusion
  • TOS S03E15 Let That Be Your Last Battlefield
  • VOY S02E19 Lifesigns
  • DS9 S03E08 Meridian
  • DS9 S01E10 Move Along Home
  • TAS S01E10 Mudd’s Passion
  • TAS S02E03 The Practical Joker
  • DS9 S06E23 Profit and Lace
  • ENT S03E04 Rajiin
  • VOY S03E22 Real Life
  • VOY S07E13 Repentance
  • VOY S04E17 Retrospect
  • VOY S06E17 Spirit Folk
  • ENT S01E04 Strange New World
  • TNG S07E14 Sub Rosa
  • VOY S02E09 Tattoo
  • TNG S02E18 Up the Long Ladder
  • ENT S02E10 Vanishing Point
  • TNG S01E24 We’ll Always Have Paris
0.5 out of 5 stars
  • ENT S02E11 Precious Cargo
  • TOS S03E01 Spock’s Brain

No rating

  • TOS S02E26 Assignment: Earth
  • TNG S02E22 Shades of Gray

Trekaday #114: Star Trek Nemesis

Posted on October 25th, 2023 in Culture | No Comments »

Star Trek: Nemesis (1.5 out of 5 stars). Insurrection was a disappointment at the box office. There are various numbers floating around the internet but the budget would have been somewhere in the region of $60m. A $117m worldwide gross meant that it might just have scraped into the black, but would probably show as profitable overall once it came out on DVD. A long way from the big money First Contact had made. Unwilling to continue with the same team, Paramount went looking for fresh blood. In as writer was John Logan, then best known for Any Given Sunday and especially the multi-Oscar-winning Gladiator. In as director came Stuart Baird, whose CV in the main chair was pretty thin, but who had worked as editor and second unit director on same acknowledged classics including the original 1978 Superman. He had also never seen a single episode of the show. Well, you could say the same about Harve Bennett and Nicholas Meyer and Wrath of Khan had turned out pretty well. And besides, John Logan was a fan (maybe too much of a fan…?), Rick Berman was still there, overseeing things, Brent Spiner had contributed some story ideas, so we were probably in good hands. And I remember the advance word on this one being really thrilling. Berman had missed his chance to put out a new science fiction movie in the iconic year 2001, but surely the extra twelve months would guarantee success.

The movie we got is… poor.

All the usual problems are there – it’s the Picard and Data show with five other guys just sort of hanging around the place (including Worf, whose return to the Enterprise is never explained). Afraid of being stodgy and slow-moving like The Motion Picture, it’s full of irrelevant “action beats” which are meant to attract the Die Hard or James Bond audience, but it can’t be just a simple chase movie, so we have a plot which ties itself in knots with doppelgängers of both leading men for entirely different reasons, countdowns to certain doom, and so many things which we’ve seen done better in prior movies – Data’s sacrifice is a reprise of the death of Spock in Khan, finding his head recalls adventures with Mark Twain from the telly show, his having a brother is obviously familiar, Picard goes through old photos like he did in Generations, the Bassin Rift is another version of the Briar Patch (or the Badlands, or the nebula from Khan), and the whole climax is a rip off of the end of Star Trek II, with a much less interesting villain, except when it feels like the end of the previous film, with Picard alone on board the enemy ship trying to stop it from doing the thing. That’s the drawback of hiring people who don’t know Star Trek. They don’t know when they’re falling into well-worn grooves.

Once again, we start with the telly cast in their white togs, enjoying some downtime – in this case celebrating Will and Deanna’s wedding. Neither of them actually gets a line – in fact only Data and Picard speak at all in the first half of the scene. Whoopi Goldberg shows up, and contributes nothing of meaning – the point of the second half of the scene is apparently to hear Brent Spiner singing. Yay. Wil Wheaton filmed a cameo as Wesley Crusher, but it ended up cut. He’s not the only one getting short shrift. Troi and Crusher are in the pre-mission briefing and never speak. In fact, Beverley Crusher gets 11 lines in the whole movie – barely more than Admiral Janeway who appears on a viewscreen and sends the Captain Picard off to meet the main plot.

Remember Jean-Luc Picard – the cultured and curious diplomat who led his crew thoughtfully and compassionately through high-minded adventures for seven years? You can still see him if you squint at the bewildered family man in Generations, the traumatised soldier in First Contact, or the lonely romantic in Insurrection. Here, he’s been replaced entirely by a juvenile thrill-seeker who likes fast cars and gadgets, makes dick jokes to publicly humiliate his bridge officers, and whose idea of respecting the Prime Directive is strafing the locals from the back of his 4×4. Picard is such a lynch-pin of the show that you undermine him at your peril, and there’s almost nothing of him left here. Much of Brent Spiner’s time meanwhile is spent pulling faces and doing silly voices as “B4”. Hope you like that because (along with Picard’s dick jokes) that’s your lot as far as humour goes in this movie.

This all looks good, with decent CG spaceships, strong make-up (mainly, Dina Meyer’s sallow complexion seems to stop at her jawline) and a pounding Jerry Goldsmith score, but the new bridge has a cramped and awkward feel with the first officer’s chair miles away from the captain, and the helm and ops stations hemming in the officers in question. And the character of Shinzon pretty much dooms the whole sorry affair. Tom Hardy has never been worse, and the notion that he was cloned from Picard proves completely irrelevant (people keep telling Picard they’re not the same), and would have been even if Hardy had been able to do a better job (or if they’d got Patrick Stewart to play both roles).

His early scenes negotiating with Picard go nowhere. We know he’s the bad guy because we saw the opening scenes of the slaughter of the Romulan senate. And Picard seemingly does too, because he doesn’t do anything Shinzon wants him to. Good thing too. Then he’d be a dummy as well as reckless and coarse. Compare this to Star Trek VI, where a Starfleet captain sets aside his personal feelings in order to broker a risky peace with the Klingons. Here, a lying Romulan fails to convince a rigid Starfleet captain to attempt a lasting truce with the Romulans. Who comes out of that looking good? And does Shinzon think that dream-raping Troi (another familiar and deeply ick image from the TV show) will increase his stock with Picard? If not, why the hell’s he doing it?

How is the Enterprise able to detect a form of radiation thought impossible? Why does Shinzon invite Picard to tea, let him return to his ship and then transport him back to exactly where he was against his will? In fact, why does any of this happen, because after ten minutes, Picard escapes and gets back to the Enterprise. Why does Shinzon refer to B4 as “bait” when Picard’s trip to Romulus was ordered by Starfleet and has nothing to do with their recent discovery of bits of android? In fact, what does Shinzon want, full stop? How does blowing up the Enterprise with Picard on it help him get the blood he needs to survive? And what does any of that have to do with the coup he organised?

I liked this one even less than Star Trek V. William Shatner’s attempt is a mess, and very very dumb in places, but it feels like Star Trek. This one feels like a straight-to-DVD knock off, in which characters run down space corridors firing guns with both hands. When it tries to be exciting, it’s deeply silly, and when it tries to be dark, it’s just sour – a very far cry from the franchise’s trademark optimism about the future. Brent Spiner’s performance (when he stops playing B4 like a Looney Tunes character) is pretty much the only thing worth watching.

Fans stayed away in droves. It’s the only Star Trek movie not to make a profit, reviews from the mainstream media were unkind, and fans lambasted its lack of understanding of what had made the TV show work. It killed off the adventures of this crew on the big screen. Most of them were never seen in any further Star Trek stories until Star Trek Picard began in 2020 (and the big reunion in 2023). And Star Trek wasn’t seen in cinemas again until JJ Abrams reinvented Kirk and Spock in 2009. You can see why I didn’t want Volume I to end here. Even Stuart Baird never directed another movie.

Trekaday #098: Juggernaut, The Changing Face of Evil, Someone to Watch Over Me, When It Rains…, 11:59, Tacking Into the Wind

Posted on July 24th, 2023 in Culture | No Comments »

VOY S05E21 Juggernaut (2.5 out of 5 stars). Unusually, we spend the whole of the teaser on another ship, belonging to Galactic pollutors the Malon. They are struggling with crew dynamics, hull integrity and the need to buy a birthday present – a feature of parenting which is apparently pan-universal. Voyager to the rescue but there are only two survivors. But their crippled and toxic vessel is still a danger to shipping requiring an away team to go and shut it down, which descends into a pretty standard-issue hunt-the-monster runaround. Meanwhile Torres seems to have regressed to a petulant 14-year-old version of the character, written by an inexperienced 16-year-old. All she does is chuck her toys out of the pram and then complain when a grown-up asks her nicely to pick them up. Roxann Dawson does what she can but even by Voyager’s low standards this isa pretty poor version of this-is-the-story-we-tell-with-this-character. By contrast, it’s amazing how far Ethan Phillips has come. Neelix who was once endlessly irritating comic relief is now able to modulate smoothly between enthusiasm, anxiety and even leadership when that’s required. Starfleet protocol when exploring a contaminated vessel appears to involve no masks, radiation suits or breathing apparatus and plenty of choking and spluttering. Seven is barely present which automatically costs this episode half a star, although I’ll give it back for the quiet emotion of Torres’s Sonic Shower of Exfoliating Trauma at the very end.

DS9 S07E20 The Changing Face of Evil (3.5 out of 5 stars). Following two episodes in which nobody seemed the least bit concerned that Dax and Worf were missing believed dead, O’Brien and Bashir greet them happily with tales of how nobody talked about anything else while they were gone. But the bigger news is that the Oculus Quest aliens have attacked Earth, and the race is on to discover their Kryptonite. Luckily, Damar is there, sowing seeds of dissent, Yojimbo-style. Dukat and Kai Winn remain in their holding pattern. They want access to a Bajorn Book of the Dead, but the pages are blank, so nothing happens. Solbor unmasks Dukat but Winn is too far gone, so she doesn’t alter course, and nothing happens. The pages of the book get filled in but – oops – no time for anything to happen now, it’s the end of the episode.

The Defiant takes on the Breen and – in the first sign that we’re actually moving to the climax – is summarily destroyed, leaving Sisko and his crew in escape pods. But when Damar acts agains the Founders, things really feel like they’re starting to ramp up – even though most of our main characters are stuck standing around and watching events unfold. I can barely even remember what Jake looks like and Odo, Kira and Quark get maybe three lines each, while all O’Brien and Bashir do is re-litigate the Battle of the Alamo. Even Sisko is just commenting from the sidelines. The only reason we see any more of the Worf and Dax is that in possibly the least convincing love affair in the franchise (and that’s a highly-contested prize), Ezri has decided that Julian Bashir is The One – the same Julian Bashir whose clumsy advances Jadzia spent two toe-curling seasons rebuffing. Nobody touches Sisko’s peppers.

VOY S05E22 Someone to Watch Over Me (2 out of 5 stars). Tom Paris is enjoying a candlelit dinner with Torres and babbling about cars as usual. Seven’s anthropological study of their “mating rituals” causes the Klingon to lose her gagh and she more or less tells her “you know, this means war”. Both the Doctor and the Captain suggest that she put herself at the centre of her research programme. Thankfully, this will not be inflicted on the rest of the crew, instead the Doctor borrows Tom’s Season 2 pool room Holodeck programme for a simulated “first contact”. This is all pretty run-of-the-mill stuff which we’ve seen versions of in the show’s past. Data had basically this exact plotline in Season 4 of TNG. Holodeck dry-runs give way to music lessons, at which point I began to question just which show I was watching. How much does your high concept science fiction adventure series have to be underrunning by before you resort to three different renditions of the same sappy song? Only Jeri Ryan’s hilariously underplayed look of horrified amusement at the Doctor’s antics kept me watching. Later, the Doctor takes off her glasses and tells her “Why, Miss Of Nine – you’re beautiful.” She dances with her chosen beta-male on their date and almost breaks his arm. I assume this is meant to be amusing, but it feels badly dated, it dumbs down a fascinating character, and it never makes me laugh – or even smile.  The twist – that the real story is the burgeoning relationship between the Borg and the Hologram – is clearly telegraphed, but actually that helps more than it hinders. True, it’s easy to see coming, but that also means that it seems less random and stupid when it finally arrives.

In what feels like a left-over TNG storyline grafted on to Voyager, Janeway has to get her dress uniform on to welcome a visiting alien delegation who have all kinds of mildly exotic preferences and rituals. The ambassador immediately breaks all the rules, gets wasted and Neelix has to scramble to conceal the fact from his boss as if this was an episode of Terry and June. He’s restored to health and then his boss says he wouldn’t have minded what he got up to anyway. Wa-wah. Janeway is shunted off to the alien ship with such haste that I wondered if she was directing (but, no, Robert McNeill is). Gossip travels faster than warp speed.

DS9 S07E21 When It Rains… (3.5 out of 5 stars). Thanks to the Founders’ novel military strategy of leaving alive as many witnesses as possible (especially those who feature in the show’s opening credits), the Federation now has plenty of intelligence regarding Breen weaponry, and O’Brien has found a possible weakness – at least where Klingon ships are concerned. One of my frustrations with this climactic arc has been how little our main characters are involved, and the pivotal Cardassian rebellion against the founders is a great example – it’s all about the relationship between Damar and Weyoun. These are fascinating characters, but they aren’t the ones I’m most invested in.

Having Kira (and Odo and Garak) despatched to go and teach Damar about guerrilla warfare then is a big improvement, putting a main titles character in the thick of the action, and Sisko is fully aware of the irony. Kira even puts on a Starfleet uniform for the first time. But Kira’s tutoring is incredibly basic – not quite on the Father Ted explaining the difference between cows that are small and cows that are far away, but close. Yes, Damar, mounting a resistance against the Cardassian-Dominion alliance will mean attacking Cardassians, since they are members of the Cardassian-Dominian alliance which is what you are resisting.

While not poring over a sample of Odo’s “goo”, Bashir is busy misunderstanding Ezri’s attitude towards him, which I guess counts as a plotline for a main titles character, but O’Brien and Quark are largely stuck as Someone For Bashir To Talk To, and Sisko just pops up to issue orders once in a while. Gowron is also here for the endgame, and even finds ten seconds to completely forgive Worf for everything and welcome him back into the Klingon fold. Who knew it would be so easy? Maybe least successfully, Dukat and Winn have yet another scene in which they do nothing but explain the status quo to each other, until finally Dukat has the good grace to let the Book of the Dead blind him, which feels like their plotline is finally staggering forward, even if it isn’t exactly clear yet what this means or how it will affect the other plot strands.

VOY S05E23 11:59 (2 out of 5 stars). Like the insufferable nerd that he is, Neelix is full of fascinating facts about the Millennium Gate and the Great Wall of China. Some of them are even true (reflective solar panels sound like the epitome of pointlessness). This gives way to Janeway reciting family history at him for presumably many minutes. Sadly, the story isn’t anything like as interesting as it needs to be to divert viewers who tuned in wanting bonkers space adventures, centred as it is on the old cliche of the one resident who won’t sell to Mega Corp Inc. In an unwelcome touch of nostalgia, the holdout doesn’t like computers, and the millennium eve obsession means that this was hopelessly dated within months of its transmission. Other members of the senior staff tell their own stories but they aren’t deemed interesting enough to be recreated. Parts of the story Janeway grew up knowing are contradicted by records in Voyager’s database but it’s hard to know why I should care.

DS9 S07E22 Tacking Into the Wind (3.5 out of 5 stars). The Kira Nerys School of Terrorist Resistance is in session, but she’s having to keep some of her pupils back after class. Despite their obstinate foolishness, the Cardassians are winning some small battles – even if that means doing Starfleet’s dirty work for them. But Odo has the pox (in fact he’s patient zero) and now Garak knows this as well – as does Kira, who didn’t need to be told. We check in with Bashir and O’Brien simply to reiterate what we were told last time (no recap at the beginning of the episode, and maybe this is why). In other words, all the characters who had a storyline at the end of the last episode remain in their holding patterns and all the characters who didn’t still don’t. Finally, Sisko brings Worf off the subs bench in an attempt to put the suicidally reckless Gowron back in his box, but at first it seems his role is just to give a stricken general a pep talk. He ends up taking a bit more of an active role, but quickly hands the conch of agency back to Martok.

Of more interest is Kira’s conflict with Rusot who believes that her reason for volunteering her services is to kill Cardassians, and whom Garak suggests Kira murder while she still breathes. But the deepest emotional story belongs to Damar, whose family have been wiped out by the Dominion. It’s a strong moment between him and Garak and Kira, even if, again, it comes at the expense of decent material for the supposed stars of the show. Jake is entirely absent, as he has been for most of this climactic arc, so is Quark, and Dax makes only a token appearance. The mission to nick the Breen weapon is tense and well-handled and gives the episode a strong ending, but it feels a bit as if this final epic arc could have lost a couple of instalments quite easily. Also MIA are Winn and Dukat, which is strange.

Trekaday #094: Star Trek Insurrection

Posted on June 28th, 2023 in Culture | No Comments »

NGM03 Insurrection (3 out of 5 stars). Michael Piller had saved Star Trek once. Could he save it again?

The “Creative Consultant” on DS9 and Voyager, who had turned the ship around back in 1989, was asked to write the screenplay for the third Next Generation film and nobody knew the show and the characters better than he did. His original pitch was a riff on Heart of Darkness and The Magnificent Seven with Picard as a lone figure, desperately defending a benighted group of settlers from a seemingly-invincible foe. As loving retold in his amazing (but unpublished) book on the subject, following endless fretting about what the studio wanted, what the studio thought fans wanted, what Patrick Stewart wanted, what Rick Berman thought Patrick Stewart wanted, what Brent Spiner wanted, what director Jonathan Frakes wanted, and finally what the studio wanted, again, we got… this.

It’s a curious film and one which keeps sliding off my brain. I watched it first on a plane – hardly ideal – and I kept falling asleep half way through and having to go back and find what I missed. When I finally had it on DVD and watched it all the way through, it still struck me as piecemeal and inconsistent. Not maddeningly sloppy the way that Generations is, but light years away from the focused thrill ride of First Contact. The usual criticism of Insurrection is that it feels like an overlong episode of the TV show, and reading Piller’s book, you can see how that happened. His huge movie-sized idea of a story was drawn back into the gravity well of the TV series. But most TNG two-parters have been hugely entertaining, so if Insurrection is just a 100 minute episode of Star Trek: The Next Generation, well I can think of a lot worse things to watch on a rainy Saturday afternoon. Let’s give it a spin.

The opening is very unusual for a Star Trek film – all bucolic calm and cheerful domesticity. Star Trek films tend to open with death and destruction (Motion Picture, Wrath of Khan) or catching up with the gang (Search for Spock, Voyage Home, Generations). The calm-before-the-storm is a perfectly fine way to start a story, but not a particularly interesting one. Nor is the revelation that this community is being covertly studied all that shocking or surprising, being familiar from TV episodes like Who Watches the Watchers, while Data-goes-rogue-in-a-pre-Warp-society is a re-run of Thine Own Self. Even the “Briar Patch” is just the nebula from Wrath of Khan with a new name. Part of the problem is that the B’aku society is so blandly generic. TNG figured out what a pre-Warp civilisation in the 24th century would look and feel like and has stuck to it, even though this is going to the backdrop for this whole movie. Even Michael Westmore hasn’t been inspired to give them three noses or six ears or whatever.

Another problem with this opening is that it’s all played from the point of view of people we haven’t met, don’t know and don’t care about. So this feels simultaneously low-stakes and confusing. But, anyway – Data blows the gaff on whatever this is, for as-yet unknown reasons, and reveals himself while beating up and revealing his comrades. Darn it, if only the Federation had some kind of magical technology that could “lock on” to him and instantly “transport” him out of there. Oh well. One for the boffins to keep working on, I expect.

Now we catch up with the gang, but the supposedly amusing hijinks of Picard’s diplomatic quickstepping feel like the plot is losing momentum, not gaining it, for all the script’s hurried enthusiasm to make this veteran crew feel like first-year cadets who are complete beginners at this kind of ambassadorial function. And now it turns out that the Enterprise is two days away from the plot (and the flagship of the fleet is not equipped to enter the region in any case, although the unspecified properties of the “Briar Patch” are never particularly relevant as it turns out).

Adding a bit of class is F Murray Abraham as Ru’afo, who also gets some nifty makeup effects, but who is bossing Admiral Dougherty around (Anthony Zerbe, familiar from the James Bond film Licence to Kill, and he weirdly gets the same death scene there as here) like he’s the Federation and Starfleet are his soldiers. Adding-the-backstory-on-the-hoof can make for propulsive storytelling, but it can also lead to bewilderment, as here. Who are these people? What are they doing? And why – other than the still-inexplicable involvement of Data – should I care?

Inside and out, the Enterprise has never looked better, with the bridge striking a nice balance between the beige comfort of the TV version and the shadowy gloom of Generations. But the whole set up is unnecessarily confusing, laboriously moving our people into place instead of having them there from the beginning, telling the story from odd viewpoints, rarely getting me terribly invested in what is happening, and Patrick Stewart hamming out HMS Pinafore doesn’t help matters much.

The next phase of the story kind of undoes a lot of what was set-up over the previous half-hour. The society which must not know of the existence of the Federation turns out to be post-Warp not pre-Warp after all. Data is put back in his box. The fact that it took the Enterprise two days to arrive was never relevant – it could have been an hour and things would have turned out just the same. And once the decoy village was built, there seems little purpose in continuing to wander around in secret, calling into question the continuing need for the “duck blind” at all. Rather than be present and see what happened to cause Data’s malfunction, we have to learn about it after the fact, when we already know the outcome. And what we discover is yet another lift from a TV episode, this time Homeward with its Holodeck simulation of familiar surroundings. (And it’s surprising to say the least to discover that the computer on this super-secret installation will obey voice commands from literally anyone. Still, I’d find Patrick Stewart’s commands hard to ignore too.)

When it finally comes to light, the MacGuffin turns out to be that the planet is an orbiting fountain of youth, thanks to some exotic “metaphasic radiation” – which like most radiation affects the cells in the bodies of adults differently than it affects the cells in the bodies of children (“Don’t ask me to explain it,” growls Admiral Badguy). Given that this is a series which gave us a 137-year-old McCoy in its pilot episode, it’s an odd thing to choose as the fulcrum of the rest of the plot. Anyway, rather than work with the inhabitants, and send scientists to study the radiation, the Federation in its wisdom has decided to partner with Galactic “thugs” the So’na and take control of the planet in total secrecy. This undermines Star Trek’s traditional sunny optimism for no very good reason, but now at least – nearly half-way through the film – we understand who the badguys are, what they’re trying to do, and what we need to do to stop them. This is all that remains of Michael Piller’s original pitch: Picard standing against the Federation to protect the 600 inhabitants of the village.

It all comes down to Picard’s captain’s yacht vs Salieri and the rest of his flat-faced gang. I’m just not sure I want the Federation to be the badguys in my Star Trek film – and if that is what I’m going to get, I’d like the stakes to be a bit higher than the fate of one small collection of twee adobe huts. The revelation that the So’na and the Ba’ku are the same species likewise is only of conceptual interest – it never hits with any emotional resonance, because we don’t know these people. They can tell us that they recognise each other, but I don’t feel anything. Similarly, a small collection of subplots listlessly orbit the main story without feeding into it in any meaningful way (Data and the moppet, Picard’s banal love story, Troi and Riker getting it on), and then they are all unceremoniously discarded for that whizz-bang ending. Only LeVar Burton’s little speech about sunsets has any real power.

Everything looks great, with very decent computer effects, dramatic camerawork and lighting from Frakes and cinematographer Matthew F Leonetti. Patrick Stewart and especially Brent Spiner are excellent (with the rest getting a little more screen time than is typical, but still no real input into the plot – unless Riker getting a shave counts as character development), but after the great success of First Contact, this is a major disappointment, and the silly jokes which plague the script don’t help, from Data’s assessment of Riker’s smooth jaw, to his use as a flotation device, to Worf’s irrelevant puberty, to the “toning” experienced by Crusher and Troi. Three stars reflects both the fact that this is a slick, well-produced product with strong performances and also how much I enjoy seeing the rest of the crew rally around the Captain, even if the justification is both weak and slightly sour. The most effective material in the whole film is probably the space battle in the Briar Patch. It’s in no way new, goodness knows we’ve seen space battles before, but it has an energy and a desperation which the rest of the film sorely lacks – especially, the ersatz Death Star ending with its laborious countdown and endless flitting between ships (and where the bright blue windows make it look as if the effects team forget to put the stars in). Using the Holoship trick against Ru’afo is cute too.

There are a handful of brief mentions of the Dominion, but this doesn’t feel at all as if the Federation is at war. Once again Worf is onboard the Enterprise for no adequately explained reason. He reports late to the bridge (presumably because he was never formally transferred to this ship and so was never rostered). The title was one of about a dozen which were considered. Why “Insurrection” was chosen is something of a mystery, as no insurrection (violent uprising against a ruling power) is ever depicted.

How long will it take the Enterprise to get everyone home without their warp core, bearing in mind it took them two days to get there at presumably maximum warp?

Trekaday #091: Image in the Sand, Shadows and Symbols, Afterimage, Night, Take Me Out to the Holosuite, Drone

Posted on June 15th, 2023 in Culture, Uncategorized | No Comments »

DS9 S07E01 Image in the Sand (3.5 out of 5 stars). In some ways, it’s convenient that it was Terry Farrell who quit. Probably only Odo and Worf were genuinely irreplaceable. Losing Sisko would have been tough, but Kira could have stepped up to run the station. We could have got a new doctor, Rom could have taken over the bar, O’Brien and Kira we could have worked around. Obviously, Deep Space Nine works without Worf, but his connection back to 1987 is difficult to replace. And having a Changeling on the station was obviously needed for the final stages of the Dominion War to have personal as well as Galactic stakes.

But the nifty thing about Dax is that, just as Curzon gave way to Jadzia, so Jadzia can give way to Ezri, and we can have a whole new angle on this interesting bit of science fiction biology. It’s just a shame that it curtails the Worf/Jadzia relationship so decisively. Nicole de Boer doesn’t appear until the episode’s end (which seems tactful) so we’ll discuss her next time.

In the inter-season gap, various things have changed. Major Kira is now Colonel Kira, and she has a new all-business hairdo. She’s in charge of the station in Sisko’s continuing absence (and she calls Admiral Ross “Bill” now). The invasion of Cardassia has ground to a halt (according to Worf, who is drowning his sorrows in Vic Fontaine songs). Sisko is back on Earth, seeing visions of a woman’s face peeking out of some sand dunes, and she turns out to be a figure from his dad’s past.

It’s a slow-burn, this episode, rather reminiscent of TNG’s excellent Family, all people talking miserably in rooms, rather than the epic space battles we were treated to at the end of the last season. It’s almost a relief when a creepy guy in a red hood slices Sisko’s belly open. But the rich characters make a check-in episode like this worthwhile, even if it doesn’t start us off with a bang.

DS9 S07E02 Shadows and Symbols (4 out of 5 stars). There’s no “Part II” caption, but this continues nearly seamlessly from where Image in the Sand left off, and here’s where we meet Ezri for the first time, learn her backstory and start deciding whether we like her or not. Well, she’s no Terry Farrell, but the producers have clearly decided to head in a very different direction. If Jadzia was an old head on young shoulders, Ezri is a blur of personalities, still coming to terms with fundamental facts about her biology, with none of the support that was offered to her predecessors. She turns to Sisko for help, and you can see immediately how much it helps him to have someone to help. So, off they go together, to seek the Wizard. I’m less impressed when she starts barfing on the runabout. It would be a shame to replace one of the most capable, experienced members of the team with a little girl character who’s nervous about everything and space in particular.

Quark volunteers to join Worf’s mission to get Jadzia into Sto’Vo’Cor. I confess I don’t entirely understand how this works, or if – as mentioned by other characters – whether Klingon Valhalla is going to be Jadzia’s idea of a good time. How does Worf risking his life guarantee someone else’s place in the afterlife? Of more interest to me is Kira negotiating to get those Romulan weapons off Bajor’s moon, even if it means setting up a blockade.

Dax is right, Sisko is getting stranger. And in a quite brilliant flourish, his story is partly told through the eyes of his 1950s alter-ego Benny Russell. This is very fine stuff, expertly melding mysticism, character drama, science fiction adventure and meta fiction in a very complex way – and the crosscutting between this and Kira’s brinkmanship adds tension to both strands. Only the Klingon story thread is a let-down, and even that has a strong ending. However, it can’t be denied that the chief function of this episode is to undo much of the exciting developments from the end of last year, which gives me a queasy feeling. Are we going to start yo-yo-ing back and forth instead of forging on to new situations? Meanwhile: “Worf, we have to talk.” Er, yes.

DS9 S07E03 Afterimage (3 out of 5 stars). Weird times for Ensign Ezri Dax who walks around the station, and even examines the Bajoran wormhole doom box where Jadzia met her end, and has clear memories of all these places despite never having been there before. As Kira says, it’s a lot to get used to. She also claims she isn’t staying on the station. We’ll see about that. When Worf appears over her shoulder at Quark’s, the Ferengi comments drily “I bet the two of you have a lot to talk about,” which is pretty soggy scriptwriting, as that’s almost exactly what Ezri said right to his face last episode. The Klingon’s initial fury at seeing Ezri is a powerful evocation of grief but risks making the proud Klingon seem petulant and immature.

Garak is being kept far too busy by Starfleet Intelligence to make silly costumes for O’Brien and Bashir. He’s also more tetchy than usual and eventually he suffers from a claustrophobic attack and – lo! – Ezri Dax is a counsellor-in-training and Sisko thinks she might be just what Garak needs. I still struggle to connect Nicole de Boer’s lisping lost-little-girl performance to the assured swagger which Terry Farrell brought to Jadzia. She’s appealing enough as a performer, but definitely a downgrade in terms of capability and, I fear, story possibilities. Her attempt to counsel Garak out of his claustrophobia by sharing stories about her space-sickness at first only ends up with Garak feeling claustrophobic and her feeling space-sick.

Of all people, it’s Julian Bashir who forms the strongest bond with the newly-promoted Lt Ezri Dax, who – somewhat inevitably – ends up as station counsellor. And that’s the job of this episode, which it does smoothly but rather unsurprisingly.

VOY S05E01 Night (4.5 out of 5 stars). The Republic serial opening with Kim as Flash Gordon and Paris as King of the Rocketmen (aka Captain Proton) is a supremely confident way to kick off the episode, and the series (as is the Doctor’s colourful intrusion into their monochrome fantasy). It’s certainly more fun that that dreary pool hall, the tiresome luau, or the only fitfully interesting Florentine workshop. In the real world, Voyager is trudging through eerily empty space with no stars, planets or ships to be seen. Another concept which feels both very Star Trek and uniquely Voyager, which is all to the good.

Taking the tedium of the featureless stretch hardest is Janeway, who has retired to her quarters, seemingly forever, leaving Chakotay to run the ship with his usual bland efficiency. Brannon Braga and Joe Menosky’s script likewise keeps Kate Mulgrew off screen for much of the early running as crew morale continues to plummet. When we do catch up with Janeway, she’s mired in introspection and self-doubt, re-living the decision she took in The Caretaker which put two crews in this dire situation.

When a sudden power drain hits the ship, just before the third act break, it’s almost a disappointment. But it’s on theme, as the featureless blackness of space earlier seen through the windows gives way to familiar rooms and corridors shrouded in darkness. And hiding in the darkness is an intruder of some kind. So this does end up as yet more Zagbars vs Zoobles, but it forces Janeway to confront the benefits and drawbacks of her leadership style in a “Captain my Captain” scene which teeters on the brink of cheese, but just – and I do mean just – manages to avoid toppling over. Overall, this is a very imaginative and effective season opener, Voyager setting out its stall as the flagship series, on the big network, and unencumbered by years of necessary continuity.

DS9 S07E04 Take Me Out to the Holosuite (3.5 out of 5 stars) Sisko greets the visiting Vulcan coldly. After waving their medals at each other, the rivals decide to settle their differences via a Holographic baseball game. I don’t share Ron Moore’s enthusiasm for the most American of sports, but I do like Sisko cutting corners, treating rules as guidelines and acting from the gut (just as much as I like seeing Picard following the book, finding loopholes instead of ignoring inconvenient statutes and articulating detailed reasons for his actions). It possibly hasn’t occurred to the grinning station commander as he beams at his senior staff that there isn’t one American human among them, but the Irishman, Anglo-Indian, Bajoran, Klingon, Trill and Ferengi agree to give it a try and begin studying up. It’s complex stuff, full of confusing and unfamiliar terminology. Thank goodness they aren’t playing cricket.

It’s nice seeing Ezri included as part of the crew without issue. Sure, it’s quick, but there are only so many episodes left and we spent much of the last two (and almost all of the last one) dealing with the fact that she was here and Jadzia wasn’t. If she’s going to be an outsider for much longer, it’s going to get repetitive. But the antics of watching the mismatched crew struggle to achieve any kind of competence, together with rum-te-tum music from David Bell to tell us how amusing it all is, does test my patience over this kind of length. I know sports movies and I know how they go. This one is fine, and it’s nice to see our characters as a gang of friends, but it’s not really what I’m here for.

After one brief establishing shot, Sisko elects to have the computer delete the holographic (and expensive) spectators for most of the rest of the match.

VOY S05E02 Drone (4 out of 5 stars). The Doctor and Seven of Nine are working together on a stellar surveying mission. Seven doesn’t understand why the Doctor is included and neither do I. It all goes tits-up and an emergency beam-out is required, which damages (and Borg-ifys) the Doctor’s mobile emitter. This is the kind of junk science which I have come to actively look forward to from this show. Maybe it’s a kind of Stockholm syndrome, but the drawback with a Serious Science Fiction Series like Deep Space Nine is that every so often, I catch myself looking at the absurdity of all these actors furiously emoting away in these ridiculous rubber heads and then the gravitas they’re going for just seems stupid. The beauty of Voyager is that it’s ridiculous all the time, by design.

Torres is trying to diagnose the emitter (when the Doctor isn’t hassling her for updates) and it Borgifys a passing red-shirt. This is a very nifty use of the creatures, as its shiny tendrils spread out through the science lab, like fronds of an alien man eating plant (see Doctor Who’s “The Seeds of Doom”, or for that matter Little Shop of Horrors).

The tendrils become a nursery and the nursery becomes an incubator and the product is a beefy Borg drone, which Janeway wants to keep around. Alas it summons other Borg, which leads to a lot of snooty-bang-bang action, followed by the Reset Button of Inevitable Tragedy. We’ve been here before of course, not just with Hugh Borg but also Data’s daughter, the broken changeling which Odo tried to nurse back to health and so on. But even if it’s easy to see the scaffolding, there is power here, not least because the performances of J Paul Boehmer as “One” and especially Jeri Ryan are so spectacular. Strong start for Season 5. Just in case you were confused, Drone is the episode with One in it and One is the episode I gave five stars to. Speaking of things being confusing, Torres gives the order to Paris “All stop. Keep our distance.”

Trekaday 056: Crossover, Preemptive Strike, The Collaborator, All Good Things…

Posted on November 22nd, 2022 in Culture | No Comments »

DS9 S02E23 Crossover (5 out of 5 stars). Bashir is continuing his mission to annoy everyone on the station into being his friend, and today it’s poor Kira’s turn to listen to him prattle on about music, do drama school breathing exercises and mansplain English idioms. Suddenly everything goes skew-whiff and they find themselves in the Mirror Universe.

I have two things to say about the Mirror Universe. The first thing is that it makes no sense whatsoever. The Mirror Universe with the precise and limited differences from the one we knew which we say in TOS would have given rise to a far more divergent one than the one we get here. Certainly none of the Earth people we’re familiar with would ever have been born. However, that’s a very dull thing to worry about. The fun of a mirror universe is seeing our regular characters all with goatees and eyepatches.

The other thing to say is that – especially in a post-Discovery landscape – it’s slightly amazing that we never travelled to the Mirror Universe in TNG and that we almost got to the end of Season 2 of DS9 before we saw it again. Anyway, now it’s here and it’s glorious. Nana Visitor slinks over to her other self in a uniform that’s painted on and sinks her teeth into the scenery. She gets to lay out the plot, which connects directly to Kirk’s adventures in Mirror Mirror. Spock’s mission of peace led to an alliance of Cardassians, Bajorans and Klingons taking over this part of the galaxy and subjugating the humans. The delicious twist here is that Mirror Kira is a pacifist (at least by the standards of this world) and Our Kira hopes to learn her warlike ways. Nana Visitor does a wonderful job of sustaining the scenes with herself and the video effects are top-notch, as is the wonderfully gory death of Mirror Odo at Bashir’s enthusiastic hands.

Mirror O’Brien tries to jump universes too, and with memories of Thomas Riker, I wondered if he might succeed. Actually it’s Mirror Sisko who turns out to hold the key to their return, and he promises to look after Mirror O’Brien. This is a brilliant continuation of what TOS began, a wonderful showcase for the cast, and if I know DS9, it’s the beginning, not the end.

Those Mirror Universe Klingon goons have auto-transporters too.

TNG S07E24 Preemptive Strike (4.5 out of 5 stars). The issue of the Cardassian Demilitarised Zone continues and – hey! – Ro Laren didn’t decide to stay as a child. She’s back in the fully-adult person of Michelle Forbes and it’s a treat to see her again – at the absolute last minute. Federation ships are firing at a Cardassian ship. This is essentially TNG cos-playing as DS9 – a feeling strengthened not only by all the Cardassians, including Gul Evek, but also the presence of Forbes, who was offered DS9 and turned it down. TNG’s identity asserts itself more thoroughly as Picard drinks tea with Admiral Nechayev. While chronicling the early years of TNG, I amused myself considerably noting the wild variations in uniforms which Starfleet’s top brass turned up in. Now, things have settled down and we have not just one uniform, but one Admiral. Natalija Nogulich took one TV job once and it turned into a three-year association with the franchise. It’s also nice to see elements of their relationship developing from episode-to-episode. This of course is all a set up for Voyager (to the extent that Voyager will remember about the Maquis from its second episode onwards) but we weren’t to know that in 1994.

The solution is to have Ro Laren infiltrate the Maquis. As a Bajoran in Starfleet, she’s conflicted about helping the Federation to help the Cardassians. It’s deep, nuanced material, and that she does it out of personal loyalty to Picard is very satisfying. What follows is about the warmest, most humane depiction of a terrorist gang fighting dirty to bring down a dominant power that you’ll see this side of Star Wars. It’s hard to know what outcome I want, and that’s exciting. The stakes really are more about Ro Laren’s soul and less about the Maquis-Federation-Cardassian conflict. It’s thrilling stuff, and the ending is grim perfection. Really the only thing which hurts this is that I know we aren’t going to see how the story continues from here: Michelle Forbes never returned to the franchise.

DS9 S02E24 The Collaborator (3 out of 5 stars). It’s Vedek Bareil’s turn to look into the Flashback Box of Dutch Angled Dream Imagery and he sees a vision of his hanged body cut down by Major Kira. During some post-coital exposition, it transpires that Bareil is in the running to be the new Bajoran Kai and that Kira has a vote, even though if he wins, she’ll see a lot less of him.

Smarming around the station is the deliciously malevolent Louise Fletcher as Vedek Winn. She doesn’t seem certain of the difference between “infer” and “imply” so you know she’s a wrong-un. Pretty soon, she’s buttering up Sisko and seems mysteriously open to Bajor joining to the Federation – if that’s the will of the prophets. A public appearance of the two of them would not be appropriate until the vote for Kai is concluded, of course, since Winn is Bareil’s chief competition.

Elsewhere, a Bajoran collaborator turns up on the station and is promptly arrested by Odo. Kubus Oak wants to end his exile and return to Bajor, which Kira denies but which is approved by Winn. This is pretty dense politicking and it needs to tap into our core characters and their relationships more than it does early on, if it’s to be truly engaging. Too much of this is people with latex heads telling stories about people we’ve never met with silly names. We never saw the Kendra Massacre which everyone is referring to, so we have to take the characters’ word for it that it matters.

Winn’s plan is to use Kubus’s testimony to smear Bareil and take the Kai-ship for herself, and she recruits Kira to find out the truth about who was responsible for what. One problem is that this one is all Kira, Odo and then tertiary characters like Winn and Bareil. I appreciate the depth of DS9’s bench of characters, but that doesn’t mean I don’t want to check in with the regular cast once in a while. There are fleeting scenes with Quark and O’Brien, but there’s next to nothing for Dax or Bashir or even Sisko. Jake is still MIA, of course.

The best episodes of DS9 use the ever-present political situation to examine our characters and put them under unique pressures, but without sacrificing strong adventure storytelling. This isn’t one of the worst episodes by any means, but a lot of it feels like “Last time on Deep Space Nine” rather than a story unfolding in front of us right now. Because this is Deep Space Nine, Winn – who’d certainly twirl a moustache if she had one – is the one who comes out on top. It is the will of the prophets. I just hope next time they will us a more exciting story.

TNG S07E25 All Good Things… (5 out of 5 stars). On paper, this is one is absolutely insane. Picard in three time zones, one of which is the world of Encounter at Farpoint. O’Brien is back. Yar is back. Q is back. (Only Wil Wheaton doesn’t make the party.) There’s a Federation ship with an odd number of warp nacelles, and the initial creation of life on Earth hangs in the balance. Nothing about this should work, and if attempted at any other point in the show’s history it would likely be an awkward near-miss at best and a colossal dumpster fire at worst. But final episodes play by different rules, and watched knowing it’s the finale, I can’t help but immediately surrender and allow myself to be intoxicated by its nostalgic charms.

There’s masses of plot to get through, even in 90 minutes, so we skip the first time jump and just have a panicky Picard asking Troi what date it is and who’s the president. As he’s explaining what’s been happening, he is translated to a French vineyard, years in the future and a middle-aged Geordi with bionic eyes is reminiscing about all that technobabble he used to spout. (He’s married to Leah Brahms which is just a little ick.) Other episodes, like Parallels and the very similar Future Imperfect, have given us glimpses of our characters in different times or different versions of now. Once we see Geordi, we’re eager to know what has happened – or will have happened – to the rest of the cast too. And once we see Tasha (who is still chief of security, Jean-Luc), we’re eager to know who else will turn up from the show’s past.

Everyone gets their moment to shine: Data is reclining in cat-riddled leather armchairs at Cambridge, Crusher is doing medical research on board her own ship, Riker comes riding to the rescue and Worf is governor of a Klingon colony – and everyone gets back into their old togs and hairdos for the pre-Farpoint scenes. Only Troi is mysteriously absent from the future, having died off-screen. Jonathan Frakes makes a clean-shaven appearance in the past thanks to some old footage. How fortuitous that he was down on Farpoint Station! His is the only old-aged make-up not to be convincing. For some reason, he looks like a 14-year-old playing Methuselah in the school play.

The reason for all these shenanigans? It’s not a very good one: the trial of humanity begun by Q never ended. That basically means the writers, using Q as their instrument, can take us anywhere and anywhen they wish. Of particular note is Brent Spiner’s pitch-perfect impersonation of Brent Spiner c. 1987. Easier to miss is his more relaxed rendition of Data in the future, complete with occasional contractions. He truly is a remarkable actor.

Quite apart from the fact that, by design, the three timelines don’t affect each other, this is so self-evidently a birthday party in televisual form that the biggest plot hole (the three identical ships firing tachyon pulses are two Enterprises and one Pasteur) is simply a wildly uninteresting concern. Of far more interest is watching Patrick Stewart in the old uniform look out at a bridge crew who have no idea what this new bald captain is all about and asking them to take a leap of faith. It’s wonderful stuff, delivered with such delicacy and lightness by an absolutely world-class performer. Almost anyone else would have taken the opportunity to grandstand. Stewart knows that he doesn’t need to push. It’s all there, waiting for him. Bravo.

It concludes with a scene almost unparalleled in its sappy sentimentality. Picard joins the poker game. Very likely deliberately, Picard’s acceptance by the rest of the crew, albeit late in the day, mirrors Stewart’s early conflicts with his fellow actors. He saw them as horsing around and being unprofessional. They saw him as a stiff-assed theatre actor who took himself far too seriously. They changed him much more than he changed them. The poker game was also the last scene shot for Star Trek: The Next Generation. I’ve seen this episode something like six times and I still had a lump in my throat.

We aren’t saying goodbye to this crew completely, but this is the last television episode with them as the regular cast (although everyone will make guest appearances in Picard), it’s the last appearance in the franchise of Denise Crosby, the last appearance of Commander Tomalak, and it’s the last time Patrick Stewart says “Space, the final frontier.” So, let’s raise a glass, and send them on their way. The sky’s the limit, indeed.

TNG Wrap-up

  • Seasons 1 and 2 of TNG flailed around, trying to discover how to make the Enterprise-D Then it flew. And Season 6 was – to my surprise – my favourite by some margin. Season 7 isn’t chaotic in the same way as those early seasons. It feels tired, more than anything. Too many episodes were half-assed remixes of overly-familiar elements. There was almost nothing new in Firstborn, or Inheritance or Emergence.
  • That doesn’t mean it didn’t sometimes swing for the fences, but too many of those big swings were epic failures like Sub Rosa or Force of Nature. Sometimes I was able to laugh along with these more outré episodes, as with Masks; sometimes I wasn’t, as with Genesis. The big early two-parter showed that the sometimes solemn and definitely-not-goofy-like-TOS-was nineties show could be fun and silly too, but the rest of the season couldn’t sustain the momentum.
  • Unlike many shows that go on for a series too long, TNG did manage to keep its cast together. The deep affection we have for this crew after seven years and 170-odd episodes counts for a lot, and episodes which lean into this like Attached, The Pegasus and Parallels are the best, although there are no five-star masterpieces this year – until the very end.
  • Troi continued to grow into her role both as an officer, and a character on the show who can do more than intone “I sense evasion, Captain.” But while Crusher got her best episode in years, she also got her worst, and her character development stopped years ago. Poor LeVar Burton, one of the strongest actors in the cast judging by the pilot, got next to nothing, and his big episode this year is a complete turkey.
  • Jonathan Frakes, Brent Spiner and Michael Dorn all continue to do great work, whether leading episodes or playing support and after all this time Patrick Stewart still gives the impression that he loves turning up to work every day.
  • Average score for Season 7 is 3.00, comfortably ahead of Seasons 1 and 2 but clearly bested by Seasons 3-6. The overall average for TNG is 3.30, just nudging ahead of TOS with 3.23.

Trekaday 055: Journey’s End, The Maquis, Firstborn, Bloodlines, The Wire, Emergence

Posted on November 18th, 2022 in Culture | No Comments »

TNG S07E20 Journey’s End (2 out of 5 stars). The Enterprise picks up “a member of the family”, Cadet Wesley Crusher who’s in his own quarters now. Wil Wheaton has matured into a fine actor by this stage, and his chemistry with Gates McFadden is clear to see. He also gets some nice scenes with Geordi who’s been MIA lately. Meanwhile, Picard is fretting over a meeting with Admiral Nechayev, planning to sweet talk her with tea and canapés. It works. She’s there to discuss the new border with the Cardassians, the establishment of which requires that a colony of “North American Indians” be moved from the planet they settled. “There are some disturbing historical parallels here,” intones Picard, spelling it out for those snoozing at the back.

So, we have Picard forced to be a dick to indigenous people while at the same time, teenage Wesley slouches around engineering, being a dick to Geordi, snapping at his mother and so on. Eventually, he is forcibly meditated by the Native Americans, but it only make him more of a dick and he inflames the situation on the planet. About half the running time of this episode is people explaining to other people (all of whom know this already) that it would be better not to have to move the colonists. Moody teen Wes then quits Starfleet, on instructions from his hallucinatory dad. Just as everything on the surface goes to shit, Wesley is reunited with The Traveller from Season 1 and vanishes in puff of narrative convenience.

The Native American storyline is a dreadful idea, implemented without grace. Wesley’s storyline is a better idea, awkwardly bolted on to the other strand, which only drags it down. The best thing about this episode is Richard Poe as Gul Evek. We’ll be seeing him again.

DS9 S02E20 The Maquis, Part I (4.5 out of 5 stars). Well, here’s something that would have caused the Great Bird to choke on his millet – terrorists in Star Fleet uniforms blowing up innocent Cardassians. It’s a strong opening to an episode with a title which means more now than it would have done in 1994. The Maquis are going to feature in DS9 and TNG and (sort-of) become important for the premise of Voyager. It’s also the first part of a two-parter, this time acknowledged as such on-screen, as opposed to the trilogy which opened the season. As befits such a key episode, all of the top brass get their names on the “story by” credit.

Meanwhile Felix Leiter Cal Hudson (in the old uniform) pays a call. In something which helps this all to feel like one big universe, he’s overseeing the demilitarised zone established over on TNG last week, and dealing with the same colonists that Picard tangled with. But Felix thinks the Federation gave away too much territory to the Cardassians. Also making a welcome return appearance is Gul Dukat, as smoothly evasive as ever, hiding in the shadows while professing to be Sisko’s friend. This kind of double-dealing and subtle politicking is rapidly becoming my favourite thing about this series, and one of the things that I can’t readily get on sunny, optimistic TNG. Cardassians and Federation colonists are scrapping (the budget only allows us to the see the ships as icons on a scanner screen) to Dukat’s evident frustration. There’s a real sense through the middle of this episode of a diplomatic solution falling apart. There were flickers of this in Journey’s End but it was swamped by that patronising Indigenous Americans stuff, and the grafted-on Wesley Crusher storyline.

Quark meanwhile is forging a meaningful business relationship with a Vulcan gunrunner, further adding to the general atmosphere of distrust, unease and peace balanced on a knife-edge. And when Sisko gets back to the station, he finds a fiery Major Kira waiting for him. This is amazing stuff, where everyone has a point of view, where we care about the characters and the relationships, where it isn’t even clear what the right thing to do might be. Bashir wants to know if Sisko is prepared to fire on Starfleet vessels. Sisko doesn’t respond. Wow.

There are 285 Ferengi Rules of Aquisition. Cardassians are famous for their photographic memories. Gul Dukat has seven children.

TNG S07E21 Firstborn (2 out of 5 stars). TNG did a lot for the Klingons, transforming them from generic badguys into a fascinating culture with a clear identity (as late as Star Trek III, the Klingons and Romulans were thought to be basically interchangeable). But as noted, I’ve never found their beliefs, rituals, honour codes and principles all that interesting, despite the consistently excellent performance of Michael Dorn. Here, he starts off rehearsing a big speech, as if he’s a lawyer going over a big closing argument. Alexander has “allowed himself to be distracted by foolishness” (and water balloons). Naturally, Worf wants him to become a warrior. Alexander couldn’t want anything much less. I’m with Alexander.

The Enterprise makes a special detour to Maranga IV where we’re forced to watch Worf and Alexander participate in a dreadful musical theatre display, twirling bat’leths like they’re in a particularly bad interpretive dance show at the Edinburgh Fringe. It goes on seemingly forever and it sets the tone for the rest of this episode which I rather struggled to get to the end of. It’s not actively incompetent in any, I just don’t care about what happens next. And given my affection for these characters, that’s rather surprising. Even mention of the Pakleds doesn’t divert me.

Eventually it turns out that the weird creepy Klingon guy who’s taking such an interest in Alexander is Alexander-from-the-future. Given that the last time we delved into Klingon lore, we were faced with someone claiming to be K’ahless who was instantly denounced by Worf as an imposter, I was fully expecting the rousing climax of this story to follow a similar line. Instead Worf just tells this vision of his future “Smell ya later,” and goes back to playing with his definitely real son. It’s all very odd, and oddly flat.

Possibly with an eye on the upcoming TNG movie, the Duras Sisters pay us a return visit. And continuing the close interlocking of the two shows (this week on DS9, they’re dealing with the mess Picard left them last week on TNG) Quark also puts in an appearance on the Enterprise view screen.

A huckster tries to take Alexander’s money for the chance to see a holy relic. Do Klingons have money even though they’re part of the post-money Federation?

DS9 S02E21 The Maquis, Part II (4 out of 5 stars). And of course, it’s Felix who’s the traitor – pretty much following the Star Trek movie rules – which makes Sisko even more conflicted. His uniform’s been feeling a little tight lately, but nobody wants peace more than the Maquis. Sisko isn’t convinced, and so because Felix is a sensible insurrectionist, he phasers all three Starfleet snoopers to death on the spot. Roll credits.

When we rejoin the action, it becomes apparent that murderous, death-procuring Felix is actually an old softie, because Sisko, Kira and Bashir just stroll back on to the station as if nothing had happened. That’s a remarkably sloppy start to the second part of what was such a fantastic opener. Continuing the cross-fertilisation between this show and TNG, Admiral Nechayev is on the station, looking askance at Odo, and letting slip that she knows all about the Maquis and their blood-soaked ways.

“It’s easy to be a saint in paradise,” observes Sisko, “but the Maquis do not live in paradise.” It’s a strong speech – on the nose, sure, but clear-eyed and passionate. In a fascinating twist, Sisko now comes riding to the rescue of Gul Dukat, even when John Schuck’s Legate Parn tries to throw him under the bus. When we check in with the Cardassian politician, the Vulcan Maquis is trying to mind-rape him – without success. Marc Alaimo is superb here, managing that excellent trick of gnawing on the scenery without sacrificing subtlety. In my enthusiasm for seeing as much of Andrew Robinson as possible, I’d quite forgotten this amazing addition to the wider world of the show. In barely forty episodes, this show has made Federation space feel vastly more familiar, richer, more complicated.

This is a fine episode, apart from that stumble at the beginning. It’s got great material for Quark, Odo and Kira and series-best stuff for Sisko, and while it resolves its main conflicts, it leaves us in a far more complicated situation than we were two weeks ago. Even Felix leaves to Maquis another day (although that’s the last we see of Bernie Casey).

Vulcans are a species that appreciate good ears.

TNG S07E22 Bloodlines (2.5 out of 5 stars). An enraged Ferengi holograms his way onto the bridge, swearing revenge. And if that wasn’t soap opera enough for you – he’s planning to murder the son Picard never knew he had! But daytime soaps never had actors of the quality of Patrick Stewart, who finds the emotional core of this clichéd nonsense, and – with able support from Jonathan Frakes – he makes me believe every word of it.

Strong performances can only help a slack script so much, however, and the threat to the life of Picard fils seems very theoretical for most of the episode. Safe on the Enterprise, he and the Captain share stories, wander about, chat to other crew members. It’s all very relaxed and stress-free – not really what I want when I turn on my TV space adventure show. Even Picard seems impatient for the plot to kick in, growling “Why doesn’t he do something?” The lad collapses at one point but he recovers during the ad break, so don’t worry.

The warmly-crusty-old-dad-reaches-out-to-tearaway-son dynamic is more after-school special than anything else. Will this define Picard’s attitude to family from now on? I doubt it. There’s only three episodes of the entire series to go. One extra half star for the bald gag. This is the same DaiMon Bok who tangled with Picard in The Battle from way back in Season 1, but he was played by a different actor. Perhaps “Bok” is a code name passed from Ferengi to Ferengi? Also – where the hell is Geordi? He’s been MIA since Interface, lucky to get six bland lines per episode. He’s the Tasha Yar of Season 7, and here like there, it’s a waste of a fine actor.

DS9 S02E22 The Wire (4.5 out of 5 stars). More Garak action, and he’s in need of medical attention, which he declines to accept from his best bud Bashir. They’ve been having weekly lunches for a year now. Eventually he collapses and Bashir discovers a doohickey in his head. The Obsidian Order is taking an interest in the situation – even the Romulan Tal Shiar can’t compete with them for intelligence gathering. His skull whoosit makes him immune to torture by flooding his system with endorphins (nasty) and before he lets Bashir help him, Garak insists on filling in some of his back story. Surprise, surprise, he isn’t just a simple tailor. This is beautifully played by both actors, Alexander Siddig keeps getting better, and Andrew Robinson is superb. I also appreciate that there’s no music over this conversation, just the low hum of the space station. The words are enough.

One individual helping another through withdrawal isn’t terribly new, but previous attempts to tackle drug use in this franchise have been simplistic and naive. This feels real, specific and it’s harrowing stuff. Peeling back the layers of a secretive character like this is always a risk – often mysteries are far more interesting than answers – but the revelations are so shocking, the emotional arc so well charted, and the reset button so delicately deployed, that not only do we not feel that that we’ve learned more than we wanted, we can’t even be sure by the end that we learned anything at all. “They’re all true, especially the lies.”

What’s missing is an equivalent arc for Bashir, who remains the principled, Star Fleet officer, prioritising patient care, that he’s always been. Also worth mentioning is the other guest star – Andrew Robinson is almost matched by the excellent Paul Dooley as the retired head of the Obsidian Order, who has his own line in avuncular psychopathy.

The story in the classic Cardassian novel The Neverending Sacrifice gets a little redundant after a while – but, ugh, that’s the point, you philistine. Bashir gets to say “I’m a doctor, not a botanist.”

TNG S07E23 Emergence (3 out of 5 stars). The Jean-Luc Picard School of Melodramatic Stage Acting is once again in session on the Holodeck. Data is grappling with Prospero, and then suddenly the Orient Express bearing down on them at full speed. Further glitches follow and next time they investigate the Holodeck, the crew finds a bizarre collage of seven different programs following a kind of dream logic in which elements of the fantasy have real world analogues. Based on very little, they eventually deduce that the ship’s computer is becoming sentient – something it must have been very close to already given its sophistication and language abilities. We also get a bit of location filming, which is always nice. But this feels tired, rehashing dream logic, Holodeck fantasy and the-nature-of-personhood material from older episodes, and shedding no new light on very familiar characters. Among other silliness, it seemingly never occurs to Troi to take even one step away from the building which is collapsing in her face. And Geordi continues to get nothing whatever to do. “Something weird is going on,” he deduces after 25 minutes of everything being completely batshit crazy.

Trekaday 054: Shadowplay, Masks, Playing God, Eye of the Beholder, Profit and Loss, Genesis, Blood Oath

Posted on November 11th, 2022 in Culture | No Comments »

DS9 S02E16 Shadowplay (3.5 out of 5 stars). Even at this stage, over halfway through Season 2, DS9 is still largely stuck telling stories in which Star Fleet types in a runabout go through the wormhole and find the planet of the Zagbars or those in which a delegation of Zoobles turns up on the station, bringing a plot with them. Or in other words, stories in which an away team beams down from the Enterprise to a strange planet, or those in which a bunch of people in foam latex beam on board the Enterprise. I thought the whole point of this frontier town set-up was that we would be telling different kinds of stories, stories in which we can’t warp away from situations at the end of the episode. That hasn’t been reliably the case so far.

It’s Dax’s turn for a field trip through the wormhole. Odo doesn’t understand the point of gossip (or romantic coupling). Even after seven lifetimes, Dax can’t conceive of anyone other than a woman fancying Odo who isn’t even humanoid, let alone male. Once they beam down, Odo and Dax end up tangling with, of all people, Kenneth Mars (Franz Liebkind in The Producers), underplaying by his standards but still giving much more of a sitcom performance than anyone on this show since Wallace Shawn. The mystery they’re there to solve only takes about 20 minutes of airtime, and doesn’t need any more than that. It turns out that the huge machine giving off strange readings and the odd disappearances are – would you believe it? – related. The rest is all standard-issue Blade Runner can-a-machine-feel stuff.

Hey, everyone, Jake is on the station! And at 15 he’s in need of a job (something which everyone needs in a post-scarcity economy). In three episodes we’ve gone from his grades are excellent but he needs some advice from O’Brien, to he’s failing his exams and needs tutoring from O’Brien, to he knows nothing about engineering so it’s silly to suggest that he be apprenticed to O’Brien. I’m not saying the writers aren’t particularly interested in Jake as a character, but it does seem as if not everyone is paying very close attention. Cirroc Lofton’s inexperience is still showing, but Colm Meaney makes him look good, like all really fine actors can do.

In a third strand, Vedek Bareil from the opening three-parter is on the station. This I do like – filling out the universe of the show by creating a deeper bench of recurring characters, and not letting us forget about past conflicts, hard-won victories, or unresolved grudges. His scenes with Kira are – again – not very rich in drama, but I do appreciate the detailed character work. This is a sit-back-and-let-it-happen episode, rather than an oh-no-what’s-going-to-happen one, but that’s okay once in a while, and this cast is really growing on me now. Shame that Dax was just along for the ride, otherwise this might have tipped over into four-star territory.

Garak is referred to but does not appear. Odo has himself beamed up by computer once more. He doesn’t even stand up to do it.

TNG S07E17 Masks (3 out of 5 stars). Troi introduces kids to expressionism, but struggles to persuade Data to create something abstract. The rogue comet similarly looks nothing like an actual comet but is a very nice piece of visual effects work that does conjure comet-like feelings. Perhaps inevitably, it puts the whammy on the Enterprise. Pretty soon, Troi’s quarters, Data’s sculptures and the main computer all go Aztec-y.

Well now, look, this is all very silly, but I kind of have to let them have this one, I think. We’re in the back end of what everyone knows is going to be the last season. I had a go at Parallels for being a run-of-the-mill episode full of things we’d seen before, which just got us one episode closer to the end of the run. You can’t say that of Masks, which, sure, is the usual uh-oh-there’s-something-oogie-on-the-ship template but which looks like nothing we’ve seen in the previous 160-odd episodes.

Brent Spiner, a flamboyant actor forced to underplay for seven years, goes for broke here, progressively adorned with more and more Mayan-ish symbols, lolling on the warp core, prostrating himself before Troi, and babbling about “Moussaka”. As absurd and nonsensical as this is, everyone (except Spiner) plays it admirably straight, and the production design backs up the energy of his (over) acting with more and more ziggurats, foliage, livestock, hieroglyphs and tchotchkes. Hardly a classic, but I’d rather watch this than something which was just dull like, say Phantasms, and it still feels like Star Trek, in the way that the truly ghastly Sub Rosa didn’t. But the show better not try this too often.

DS9 S02E17 Playing God (3.5 out of 5 stars). A potential new Trill host is on the station, anxiously babbling exposition at Bashir, and trembling in anticipation of meeting feared mentor Dax, who is renowned for rejecting hopefuls from the programme. As is so often the case, at this stage, at any rate, the script doesn’t serve anyone other than Quark with any particularly characterful dialogue in the rather low-key teaser, but Terry Farrell is really growing on me now, and is managing to imbue even these bland lines with a charmingly world-weary swagger. Given that her character is basically a one-line description of her species, that’s quite an achievement. Geoffrey Blake as Arjin is rather stiffer, and it’s hard to tell to what extent that’s deliberate.

On a sightseeing tour of the Gamma Quadrant, Dax and her charge bring back some “subspace seaweed” which they then forget about while having an awkward lunch. In this B-plot the seaweed turns out to be a “proto-universe” which is a fairly ridiculous idea, that doesn’t really create the kind of scientific wonder or fascinating moral dilemma that I assume was hoped-for. This is only required to create a means by which Arjin can show Dax what he’s made of, and you can see the rivets where the two stories have been hammered together. That A-plot is really good though, and makes a much better job of using the unique symbiotic properties of the Trill to tell a good story about this Trill, her baggage, and her issues.

The C-plot deals with, of all things, voles infesting the station. Even when centred on O’Brien and Kira (and who doesn’t want to see more of Nana Visitor and Colm Meaney?) this doesn’t generate much in the way of interest.

TNG S07E18 Eye of the Beholder (2 out of 5 stars). We open in the middle of an emergency, and you know it’s serious because the camerawork is all Dutch angles and tilt-down shots. The perpetrator is a spoon-faced Lieutenant experiencing a personal crisis. To my profound surprise (not least because Worf surely could have phaser-stunned him) he leaps into the plasma discharge and is vapourised. Hell of a teaser.

Worf and Troi are given the task of sifting through the dead Kwan’s personal effects to try and recreate his last few days. Odd pairing you say? Keep watching… Troi investigates and gets weird ghost-echoes of a Bad Thing That Happened when the Enterprise was first constructed. Crusher has a drug which will make the echoes easier for her to bear, but for some unfathomable reason, this will take an entire working day to replicate.

Meanwhile, Troi – who we have seen time and again going through crew evaluations with Riker – has to pore over ship’s records to track down Lt Pierce, played by Mark Rolston, who played nothing but scumbags during the 1990s. Back in Troi’s quarters, there’s another 30-minute delay – which gives them just time to start making out. Yes – with only about half a dozen eps to go before the end of the series, television’s least likely couple is finally making it official. Worf even makes her breakfast – the big softie.

Their “union” is seemingly upended when, immediately after a private meeting with Lt Mysteriously Telepath Scumbag, Troi believes she sees Worf getting it on with another woman. Having phasered him to death, it takes only a few words of encouragement from Mr Creepy for her to trot off to the all-purpose suicide gantry of doom. Or in other words, it was all a dream.

For the second (possibly the last?) time, the Enterprise is given permission to break the eco-speed limit. Yawn.

DS9 S02E18 Profit and Loss (4 out of 5 stars). One of the things you can do with an ensemble cast is pick one of them and push them through a familiar plot, in the hope that the combination of two known quantities will result in something fresh. On that basis, how does “Quark’s old Cardassian girlfriend drops by” sound as a pitch? That’s the A-plot for this episode in which a trio of Cardassians run aground at the station and Sisko promises to get them on their way as soon as possible, but not before one of them belts the Ferengi bartender around the chops, saying “I told you never to speak to me again.” This is Mary Crosby, Denise’s aunt, as Natima.

Much more excitingly – Garak is back! I remember this series fondly not least for the deep bench of secondary and tertiary characters, which we haven’t seen all that much of in these first two years, but any time Andrew Robinson is on screen, I am a happy viewer. Even better, this isn’t one of those two-or-three-plots-potter-along-in-parallel episodes of DS9. Garak’s input into the agendas and safety of the visiting trio is crucial and his multi-layered conversation with Quark is fascinating and beautifully played by both actors.

It does seem weird to see Quark declaring his love for Natima, apparently with all sincerity, but we’ve seen enough of this character to know that there’s more to him than a simple desire for latinum, and Armin Shimerman is such an excellent performer that this all works beautifully. What I’m less enamoured of is the Casablanca pastiche which gets in the way more than it adds. It’s the details of this conflict and these characters that I’m here for. Luckily, they’re both very strong.

TNG S07E19 Genesis (1.5 out of 5 stars). Has anyone in this franchise ever had a worse treatment than Gates McFadden? Among a seriously top-heavy cast introduced at the beginning of the first season, she doesn’t do noticeably worse than, say, Jonathan Frakes or Marina Sirtis. She gets more to do than Michael Dorn and she’s often paired up with series star Patrick Stewart, which seems like it should help. Then, she misses the second season entirely, due to some kind of personal beef on the part of one of the producers, so while Worf, Riker and especially Data are really starting to be established, her place has been taken by some other doctor. When she comes back, she’s playing catch up, and by the time the show hits its stride, we’ve learned far more about all the other regulars, and when stories do centre her character, they generally mis-use her. The only really good Crusher episodes are the excellent Remember Me and the flawed but fascinating Attached. McFadden is never less than watchable, but not even command responsibilities can give the character any more depth, unlike with Troi who really flowers in the last two seasons. And then, what do they give her as a goodbye present? This absolute dog of a script to direct.

At first, things seem promising, with a return visit from Dwight Schultz as Barclay, who’s been Googling his symptoms instead of going straight to sickbay. But after some fairly rote and uninteresting domesticity, we get stuck into yet another a-whoosit-on-board-makes-the-crew-go-nutso story but one which doesn’t tell us anything interesting about who these characters are – although I’m sure the cast will have been pleased that all those animal studies classes at drama school are finally paying off. Weirdly, even though McFadden is directing, the script initially goes to some lengths to write-out Picard and Data, rather than Crusher (she does get written-out eventually). That’s another reason to find this a less compelling episode, missing as it is the show’s two MVPs for much of the run-time. Like Masks, this is complete nonsense from beginning to end. Unlike Masks, it appears to have absolutely no idea how ridiculous it is, and coming so soon after Masks, it feels even more repetitive. The direction in the final spooky sections is pretty good, it’s just a shame that the main story is so over-familiar, the premise so silly, and the solution so unconvincingly easy.

DS9 S02E19 Blood Oath (2.5 out of 5 stars). Three Original Series Klingons swing by the station with the new bumpy-forehead makeup (“we do not speak of it”). Turns out that they palled around with Curzon Dax, eighty-odd years ago. Now they’re back to wreak revenge on “The Albino”. Trouble is, this all rests on events and relationships established off-screen and generations in the past, so all we have to connect us to the present is Terry Farrell and she isn’t given a whole hell of a lot to work with here. She gets a nice scene with Nana Visitor which explores their different takes on the nasty business of killing. But we awkwardly cut away from that to the sight of a jovial Klingon cackling in Quarks. That’s this episode all over. It grapples with some big themes but it doesn’t quite seem to know what to do with them. It just hopes that the barely-recognisable sight of three actors from The Old Show will be enough. It isn’t really.

Trekaday 053: Homeward, Armageddon Game, Sub Rosa, Whispers, Lower Decks, Paradise, Thine Own Self

Posted on November 4th, 2022 in Culture | No Comments »

TNG S07E13 Homeward (3.5 out of 5 stars). Worf’s turn to have an old face from the past show up unexpectedly, and the second time in three episodes for the Klingon security chief to be the focus. He’s given a swift surgical makeover to pass as a native of the planet Boraal II and finds his brother, played by Paul Sorvino, equally doing his best to fit in. The moral dilemma here is that this pre-Warp society is facing space annihilation and the Prime Directive won’t allow the Enterprise to help. This seems a fairly clear-cut case of “hang the regulations and roll up your sleeves,” which makes the subsequent handwringing and eyebrow furrowing feel a bit synthetic. It’s also hard to sympathise with the captain who has clearly made the wrong call, and the resulting escapade involving a Mission Impossible-style deception on the Holodeck is more than a little ludicrous. What makes this work at all is the detailed playing of the family relationship by Paul Sorvino and Michael Dorn. If you’re going to enjoy this one, it’s vital to focus on that, and think about just exactly how the Holodeck works and what it’s doing as little as possible. “I’m not here to work out the issues of our childhood,” Sorvino growls at one point. Wanna bet, mate? Also – Penny Johnson (Gerald).

DS9 S02E13 Armageddon Game (4 out of 5 stars). We’re pairing Bashir and O’Brien again, in the hope that some kind of Legolas and Gimli-style rapprochement can be achieved, or at least we’ll start to shade in a few more details in especially the doctor’s character. Putting them in a life-or-death situation works rather better than having them playing space squash, even if that’s quite a well-worn trope. In other well-worn-trope news, the Zagbars and the Zoobles have buried the hatchet but need Federation help to destroy their stock of biological weapons. These one-time-only alien cultures are always tricky to pull off, and the details are barely sketched in here, which is why is a relief that the majority of the run-time is spent with characters we do know and do care about.

There’s also some nifty plotting here. It’s hard to be terribly caught up in anyone’s grief when we know that our heroes are alive and well, but it’s cool that’s Keiko who spots the clue which leads to the deception being uncovered, and very cool that the supposed clue was not a clue at all and she just doesn’t know her husband as well as she thinks she does. This episode is really only worth a 3.5 but I bumped it up a whole extra half star because I liked that detail so much. The rest of it is competent, well-played by Siddig and Meany especially, and slightly prone to cliché (“Tell my wife…” “You’ll tell her yourself.” And “It’s been an honour serving with you.”) but the stakes are well ramped up, Sisko’s trick with the runabout at the end is fun and there’s some decent Dax material. Solid, if unremarkable stuff.

TNG S07E14 Sub Rosa (1 out of 5 stars). I didn’t really remember much about this one, but somewhere in the back of my mind, I had the faint memory that it’s supposed to be really, really shit. We open at a funeral, reasonably well mocked-up in the studio, with Crusher in her dress blues intoning about departed grandmothers, apparently a purveyor of medicinal teas, whatever they may be. Someone walks past her. SMASH TO TITLES.

This planet is cos-playing as Scotland. Picard notes that it feels like the Highlands, and his host tells him that’s because the corner stones of the buildings were brought from Edinburgh, 150 miles away from the Scottish Highlands. The casting of Shay Duffin also suggests that the producers think that the Highlands are in Ireland. Come back James Doohan, all is forgiven.

Duffin’s haggis-chewing performance relates to dire warnings regarding the lighting of a candle in her grandmother’s house, while Geordi and Data in orbit try to make sure it doesn’t rain tomorrow. But what exercises Dr Crusher is not the old man violently ranting at her, but her centenarian grandmother’s bedroom antics with her toy boy, Ronin. And before long, she’s asleep in bed while her nightie is tugged off her shoulder with fishing wire. Far from being alarmed at the intrusion, Beverly couldn’t be more delighted at this molestation. This all seems to be new territory for her. One wonders how Wes was ever conceived.

Poor Gates McFadden, so good in the recent Attached, is helpless in the face of this nonsense, gasping and contorting as the sexy spectre spooks her, yo-yo-ing back and forth between terror and lovesick girlish glee from scene-to-scene, with no explanation. It all builds to Nana Crusher’s zombie corpse coming back to life and zapping Geordi and Data, as if things couldn’t get any sillier. Jonathan Frakes was behind the camera for this one, but Orson Welles couldn’t have saved it.

DS9 S02E14 Whispers (3.5 out of 5 stars). In an unusual framing sequence, O’Brien, alone on a shuttle, needs to set the record straight about the last 52 hours – a very exact figure, following which he muses “I’m trying to remember the first time I noticed things were wrong…” Keiko and Mollie are being off with him over breakfast. He’s been researching a people called the Paradas (who have an emotion-related odour) but when he gets back, Sisko keeps giving him busywork to do. Convinced that he’s the victim of an Invasion of the Bodysnatchers-style conspiracy, O’Brien ends up fighting his way out, and it’s always fun to watch this kind of human-vs-the-automated-systems adventures.

A bit like The Alternate, this is partly an exercise in playing the story from the wrong, or at least an unusual, perspective – but here it works rather better because we’re with O’Brien and we know and care about him. As with those silly M Night Shyamalan films though, it means we’re denied access to the agonising decision-making process that led to letting the deception play out. But as a way of ringing the changes in a 45 minute TV episode, it’s a worthwhile experiment and a fun mystery as it unfolds. It also works better in the gritty DS9 context than it would in the optimistic TNG environment. You wouldn’t believe for a second that Picard or Geordi or Troi had actually turned to the dark side – but Sisko or Odo or Quark? Sure.

TNG S07E15 Lower Decks (4 out of 5 stars). Michael Piller’s insight was that this show wasn’t the adventures of Captain Picard, and some other guys. It was an ensemble and it would be by making the best possible use of that ensemble that they would make TNG work. Centring an episode on tertiary characters could be seen as an extension of that same philosophy, or as a needless risk. But if you can’t take a risk half through your final season, when can you? And it worked gangbusters with Ro Laren (and O’Brien, but that was a long time ago now).

Thus, this is the Enterprise from the point of view of four junior crew members. Hedging their bets a little, one of these is Nurse Ogawa, who’s been part of the furniture for years now. Another is Sito whom we met in The First Duty, and Picard helpfully has her recap the events of that episode. It also helps that the other two are basically Baby Will Riker and What If Spock But Impulsive. There’s also Barman Ben who plays for as many teams as he possibly can. Some of this is cool – it’s more fun than frustrating to be only getting glimpses of what would be the A-plot of any other episode. Other elements are less compelling – I absolutely couldn’t give a shit about Ogawa’s love life. And we often get to see our main cast from another perspective which is always interesting.

The every-useful poker game gets picked up and redeployed here, and paralleled with the senior staff’s game, in a nifty cross-cutting sequence. Everybody keeps splashing the pot, and string raising, as usual, but it’s fascinating that this action adventure space series wants to spend 15 minutes on people discussing their personal relationships and career prospects and even more amazing that it works! Less successful is the double-beat of first Worf and then Picard using fairly thin deception on Sito to teach her to stand up for herself. It’s laborious and predictable and it feels smug. On the other hand, the mission she’s sent on is very exciting, and well-worked-out, especially given the short amount of time available, and – oh, that ending!

On Bajor, they don’t say “a fly on the wall” but they do have spiders. The boys are wearing the variant uniform with the visible seam down the front.

DS9 S02E15 Paradise (3 out of 5 stars). Another O’Brien episode. Jake will be up to his elbows in thorium grease. Last week, his grades were stellar. Now he needs tutoring to get out of the bottom third. O’Brien and Sisko are surveying the Gamma Quadrant and find a nice-looking planet. But when they beam down, none of their gadgets are working. I note that they’ve arrived in a runabout of which they were the only occupants, so beaming back again is going to be an automated process. Okay, so that’s a thing in Star Trek now. How come I never noticed this before? “Joseph” recognises the Star Fleet uniforms. He and his mates have been living in a technology-free utopia for ten years. This is a real throwback to TOS episodes such as the similarly-named The Paradise Syndrome from Season 3, complete with anti-technology sentiment.

The problem here is a tricky one. It’s basically planetary quicksand. Anyone beams down will find it impossible to communicate with anyone in orbit. How can they get off the surface if they can’t send a signal? It turns out of course that as well as being Luddite farmers, the isolated group of farmers are also vicious disciplinarians whose punishment for trivial crimes is being shut up in a River Kwai style cage. That combined with the one-dimensional zealotry of Gail Strickland’s Alixus makes this episode a good deal less nuanced than it thinks it is. Sisko and O’Brien just stiffly glower their way through this. Kira and Dax on the rescue runabout are rather more fun, but this is pretty thin stuff all round. There’s also something rather sinister about O’Brien saying “I can do it so it won’t hurt at all” before concussing poor Joseph.

TNG S07E16 Thine Own Self (3.5 out of 5 stars). Crusher is taking her turn on the bridge and the Enterprise is picking up Troi, who wants to know about the doctor’s command qualifications, and is thinking about taking the exam herself. Meanwhile, on the planet below, Data – who was meant to have no contact with the inhabitants – staggers into the main square, breathing hard and with his hair mussed. It’s quite a striking sight. The local doctor diagnoses him as an “ice man” and as Data has lost his memory, he can’t correct her. Troi meanwhile blows up the Enterprise on the Holodeck and Riker gives her some tough command love. I find I’m not vastly invested in either of these plotlines. I have little doubt that Data will find his way home, and I trust that the B-plot won’t be about what a massive loser Troi is. Maybe part of my lack of engagement is due to the near-total absence of Picard (Patrick Stewart was in London doing a play). It’s certainly not bad, it’s just a bit lifeless. Brent Spiner is as good as ever, and the makeup effects when half his face is sliced off are pretty great – although, does Star Fleet have the technology to repair him, given Dr Soong left no notes? After some pretty decent science, Data’s anti-radiation compound is a magic potion which works at any dosage, large or small, with no risk of side-effects.

Trekaday 052: Second Sight, Inheritance, Sanctuary, Parallels, Rivals, The Alternate, The Pegasus

Posted on October 28th, 2022 in Culture | No Comments »

DS9 S02E09 Second Sight (3.5 out of 5 stars). Jake’s back! Cirroc Lofton’s actually really good here, I just don’t know what the purpose of the character is, or what makes him different from any other teenage American boy, let alone why he gets to be in the opening titles and Rom, Nog, Dukat and so on don’t. Grieving for Jake’s mother, Sisko starts a weirdly intense conversation with a random on the promenade – who proceeds to vanish into thin air.

Next morning, Sisko switches up his morning brew and Kira – who knows she’s in a science fiction show – gives it this whole “Who are you, and what have you done with Sisko?” but actually he just fancied a change, and he has his hands full with the latest in a series of Star Trek crackpot engineers. This one plans to jumpstart a star and is brimming with jovial confidence, whereupon up pops the commander’s imaginary friend again. I wonder if these two plot strands are connected? Lo! The mad scientist’s wife turns out to be Sisko’s dream girl. The interplay between Sisko and Dax here is fun, doing much to shore up their relationship, and the mad scientist is veteran American actor Richard Kiley, who knows how to fill a set with his ebullient personality.

It transpires that the two identical women are aspects of the same person: one is a sort of parasitical psychic projection of the other. This is all a bit too complicated to feel resonant in any interesting way, and is the kind of thing that could have easily happened on the Enterprise – and it’s been a while since I had that complaint. So, this is a serviceable bit of space-problem-solving but fairly thin compared to some earlier episodes, and all of the intrigue fogs up the Sisko-in-love strand which then is rushed through without the time it needs to really register.

Oddly, faced with a medical crisis, Dax proclaims that there’s nothing to be done and nobody even thinks to call actual doctor Julian Bashir. The crew of the ship carrying out the experiment are all in the old uniforms. Star Fleet really needs to invest in some remote-controlled shuttles.

TNG S07E10 Inheritance (3 out of 5 stars). The Enterprise is solving a planet’s tectonic problems from orbit – same day different shit. But one of the people they are working with is Dr Soong’s wife – Data’s mum. When Data was first constructed, he had to teach himself things like motor skills. Mysteriously, Dr and Mrs Soong then wiped his memory, which left him with these abilities intact. I think his interactions with Juliana are meant to play like an indulgent relative embarrassing a young man by discussing his youthful indiscretions with a new romantic interest, but it never really resonates. And obviously there is more to her story than it seems, or what will acts 3-5 consist of? But this is all rather talky and dull, despite the best efforts of charming Fionnula Flanagan and dependable Brent Spiner, who plays these scenes with his usual delicacy and precision. When the revelation comes – very late in the day – we get another version of the debate about personhood, but nothing that Philip K Dick hasn’t handled already handled with a good deal more grit and vinegar than this rather anodyne hour of television. Also, the more of these androids show up, the harder it is to believe that Dr Soong left no notes whatsoever which would allow other researchers to duplicate his work.

DS9 S02E10 Sanctuary (2.5 out of 5 stars). Kira has installed a Bajoran musician in Quark’s who sounds like he’s playing the Deep Space Nine theme, an in-joke on the level of the Indian flute player in Octopussy. That doesn’t get us off to a great start and – oh joy! – this is Berman-Trek examining gender roles again. To pad out an episode which clearly doesn’t have enough story, the matriarchal Skrreeans (who have stupid hair and stupider spelling) fox the universal translator for the first 15 minutes, after which they don’t and the issue never comes up again. Naturally, instead of the cold, desolate planet that the Federation has picked out for them, they want to settle on Bajor, and eventually a problem regarding where to home millions of refugees ends up with one joyriding kid who isn’t allowed to land. This episode is likely to be remembered as the one with Andrew Koenig (son of Walter) in it, or possibly the one where we started paying attention to these tricky-sounding “Dominion” coves, but it’s all a bit silly and overwrought and the gender politics is high school stuff, when it isn’t actually The Two Ronnies and “The Worm That Turned”. Elsewhere, Jake is getting it on with a Dabo girl. You go, Jake.

TNG S07E11 Parallels (3 out of 5 stars). Worf was triumphant at the bat’leth competition (although there were a few maimings). It’s his birthday and he is on his guard against “an unexpected social gathering”. Riker assures him that he hates surprise parties too – so of course he gets one. It’s very smug, and very silly, and I watched it all with a big grin on my face. Troi is going to be Alexander’s godmother, which makes her Worf’s step-sister and Lwaxana his step-mother. Michael Dorn is just great here, and this lovely scene does enough – barely – to set up what’s coming.

Pretty soon, Worf starts getting confused. We’ve seen quite a lot of these somebody returns from a mission and has issues with their perception of reality stories (Crusher in Remember Me, Riker in Frame of Mind, Data in Birthright, Troi every other episode). Sometimes these have even involved creepy cake, so this gets off to a weak, over-familiar start. This is also the beginning of the Worf/Troi pairing – one of the odder couplings in Star Trek, and for that matter television, history, and one which is swiftly forgotten as soon as Worf jumps ship for Deep Space Nine.

This would love to be Yesterday’s Enterprise (the budget can’t make the battle with the doomed alternate Enterprise really play) but it comes off as a crossword puzzle to be solved (with the judicious application of technobabble). It doesn’t mean anything. Yesterday’s Enterprise is about sacrifice and is a tribute to an actor who didn’t get her due (and the un-lampshaded appearance of Wil Wheaton here doesn’t count). Parallels is 45 minutes of professionally-made television that gets us one show nearer to the end of the series, with only the Worf/Troi scenes giving us anything more – and that relationship is nuts, as I’ve said. It’s fine while it’s on, has its share of surprises – “Geordi’s dead,” is a pretty good act-out – but doesn’t add anything new. There doesn’t seem to be a Klingon word for “jolly”.

DS9 S02E11 Rivals (1.5 out of 5 stars). Quark is basically a slightly more successful version of Space Arthur Daley, not that I imagine Michael Piller ever watched even a second of Minder, but that show worked by taking a ripe performance of a sitcom plot and giving it a bit of Thames TV drama production value. That could have worked here as well, but the sitcom plots needed to be a good deal more inventive and the guest cast a lot more on their toes. A conman needs to be smoothly convincing and charismatic, but Chris Sarandan – who I’ve seen be excellent in other things – looks stiff and awkward throughout. Elsewhere on the station, Bashir and O’Brien are playing space squash at which Bashir is an expert and O’Brien a beginner. Bashir trying to let O’Brien win doesn’t work, and so what we have here are Space Competitive Dads, a plotline which doesn’t fill out the doctor’s thin characterisation or allow Colm Meany to show his class. The two plots converge and the machine which produces statistical flukes puts me in mind of another sitcom, this time the long-running comedy show Red Dwarf which features a luck virus in one of its best episodes. That kind of silliness works there, and feels completely at odds with this show, making this awkward episode one of my least favourites in quite a while.

DS9 S02E12 The Alternate (3 out of 5 stars). There’s a risk inherent in setting up a character whose backstory is a mystery, because backstories are empathy-generation devices and if you make a character’s backstory mysterious, you make it harder to get to know them. The benefit is that you create a mystery to be unravelled, and you also keep your options open as the series progresses. It also makes a difference whether the backstory is a mystery to everyone or only to the audience. We didn’t know much about Worf at first, but gradually we pieced together how a Klingon came to be serving on bridge of the Federation’s flagship. Data’s backstory was a mystery to the characters as well as the audience, but again, the writing team on TNG did pull off a coherent explanation of how he came to be – just about.

This is the first time we’ve looked deeply into Odo’s history, much of which is not clear to him either. The vehicle for this is a reunion with his “dad”, James Sloyan as Dr Mora Pol, who mentored Odo when he was first discovered, but a lot of this is just fairly standard issue: uh-oh-we-brought-something-nasty-back-from-the-away-mission-and-now-it’s-trying-to-kill-us plotting, when actually it’s the relationship between Mora and Odo that’s of interest. When Odo seemingly goes rogue and has to be hunted down, that’s exciting, but I can’t help thinking that the point-of-view is off. We aren’t with Odo and don’t know what he’s going through – and he’s the one we care about. We’re with Dr Mora who we don’t know (don’t really trust) and don’t care about. There are other stumbles as well – Mora actually says “Dear god, what have I done?” at one point.

There’s also some stuff about Jake (hello Jake!) studying Klingon opera for homework. Sure. Whatever. And I’m struck by the revelation that Ferengi chop up their dead and sell the bits, which makes much more sense than the nonsense about death rituals which we were spun in TNG S06E22 Suspicions. Lastly, when the transporter was first mooted for Star Trek, several writers feared that being able to operate the device at will and be instantly whisked out of danger would make creating high-jeopardy plots almost impossible. Hence, the need to have a bloke operating the controls, who has to hear your request for transport over the radio, lock on to your co-ordinates and so on (not to mention all the episodes in which one or other of those things doesn’t work for some technobabblish reason or another). Here, Odo just announces “Computer, energise” and off they go. How long have they been able to do that, then?

TNG S07E12 The Pegasus (4.5 out of 5 stars). We open with “Captain Picard Day” and the beguiling sight and sound of Jonathan Frakes giving us his Patrick Stewart impersonation which is rather good fun. But this light-hearted opening is setting us up for a rather darker story which digs into who Commander Riker is, and – crucially – who he was when he served on the Pegasus under now-Admiral Pressman (Terry O’Quinn from off of Lost). There’s some lovely character work here, as Picard and Pressman share their command philosophies and we learn why Picard picked Riker as his number one, despite never having met him before he assumed command of the Enterprise in Encounter at Farpoint.

What all this builds to – slowly but not laboriously – is the revelation of just what the hell is the secret that Pressman is so desperate to conceal, that may still be on board his old ship. Hitchcock was never much interested in just what the thing was that the characters were pursuing, and his flippant term for it – MacGuffin – reflects that. But George Lucas recalls that finding a good MacGuffin for an Indiana Jones film was enormously difficult and without that, the whole project was in trouble. Here, I felt a certain anxiety, unable to remember just what it was that we had been closing in on all this time.

I needn’t have worried. Finding out that the Federation had signed a treaty agreeing not to develop cloaking technology, but that that’s just what was on the Pegasus, makes perfect sense and raises the stakes brilliantly. Now reassured that the details of the story are slotting into place, I can relax and enjoy the character work between Riker, Picard and Pressman, all of which works wonderfully well. Season Seven of TNG is not many people’s favourite, but, let’s be clear, this is no TOS Series Three. There are more duds this year, it’s true, but there are some gangbusters episodes and this is one of them. Not much to be seen from Geordi this episode – LeVar Burton he was taking his second turn behind the camera, following the excellent Second Chances.