Friday, January 14, 2011

Bad Writing: Comicbook Movie Supervillain Plans

What's the most basic description of the plot of a comicbook superhero movie? Villain has evil scheme, hero must stop it. Right? Well it turns out that so many of us assume this going in that we don't really pay attention to what's really going on. I mean, as long as the hero wins and evil is vanquished, right? Turns out screenwriters have a really hard time coming up with good schemes for the hero to foil, but hope that as long as there's a lot of fighting, you won't notice.


SUPERMAN (1978)

Hero: Superman

Villain: Lex Luthor

The Plan: Lex Luthor has bought up all the desert land on the eastern side of the San Andreas Fault, and will sink everything on the western side into the sea by detonating two nuclear missiles, thus turning his worthless land into priceless beachfront property (and killing millions).

What's Wrong?: This is a pretty clever plan -- if you're a real estate mogul. In fact, minus the missiles and the killing millions part, I'm sure most of the desert land in California has been bought up in anticipation of the eventual earthquake that will sink LA and San Fran into the ocean. But this is LEX LUTHOR we're talking about here! Archvillain of Superman, a hero who is invulnerable, can fly, breathe in space, shoot lasers out of his eyes, see through anything, etc etc etc. In the comics, Luthor has had plans like teaming up with intelligent alien robots to conquer the world, assume absolute control of Metropolis by controlling hi-tech military weapons, unleashing an unstoppable alien supersoldier to kill Superman and replace him with a controllable clone, convince Superman to give up the battle purely through conversation, kill Superman by overloading his body with solar energy, and saving the world from the ultimate god of evil in the universe. So, y'know, the real estate scheme kinda pales in comparison.

How does the hero stop it?: Deal with one missile, go back in time, deal with the other one.


SUPERMAN II (1980)

Hero: Superman

Villain: General Zod

What's the Plan?: Take over the world.

What's Wrong?: There's no reason for Zod to want to take over the world. This is a character who was imprisoned and exiled from his homeworld for essentially being Hitler -- a military fascist who wanted to control everything in the interest of security. He ends up on Earth with superpowers, and takes over the world for the power, but he has no investment in Earth, a world of weaklings who have nothing to do with him. It's like making a movie about a guy who wants to own the Ferrari corporation and ends up running a Kia dealership.

How does the hero stop it?: He doesn't. Superman has sex with Lois Lane and Zod takes over the world. Then in the last minute he lures all the villains into a trap at his place and returns control of the world to the President of United States (that's how that works? Right?)

SUPERMAN III (1983)

Hero: Superman

Villain: Ross Webster

What's the Plan?: Make a lot of money, by developing a computer that will enable him to corner key economic markets (coffee, oil).

What's Wrong?: Webster isn't even a villain from the comics for one thing, and for another, he's just a corporate CEO. So again we have the problem of "why is this Superman's problem?" The only reason Superman even gets involved is because a side effect of the R&D process for the supercomputer creates an evil duplicate Superman that fucks up the real Superman's life. Superman fights Evil Superman and then decides to wreck Webster's day and his supercomputer. But Webster is in fact doing nothing wrong, unless capitalism is illegal in America.

How does the hero stop it?: Smashes Webster's supercomputer. Which, y'know, doesn't really prevent him from building another one.

BATMAN (1989)

Hero: Batman

Villain: The Joker

What's the Plan?: Take over the mob. Poison everyone with cosmetics. Then hold a parade. Then murder everyone who comes. Then seduce Kim Basinger.

What's Wrong?: Do any of the above things have anything to do with each other? Essentially no motivation is ever given to the character. He kills the mob boss who screwed him over and takes over the mob, but everything else is just random. I suppose the writers were trying to show that the Joker is a creature of impulse, but in the best Joker stories his schemes always made a twisted kind of sense, at least to him.

How does the hero stop it?: He doesn't. Well, at least until the last 10 minutes of the movie. He sits in the Batcave and lets Joker get away with everything until he realizes he's the same guy who killed his parents. Batman does eventually destroy the factory pumping out the poisoned cosmetics, but only after its been in stores and sold for months and many have already died. Batman does eventually get rid of the poison gas balloons at the parade, but only after the gas has already been released and killed nearly everyone at the parade. The only phase of the plan he actually stops is he saves Kim Basinger, mainly because he already had dibs on that.

BATMAN RETURNS (1992)

Hero: Batman

Villains: The Penguin and Catwoman

What's the Plan?: The Penguin is going to reform his image with Max Shreck's help, so he runs for Mayor. Then he decides to kill the first born child of everyone in Gotham. Then he decides to kill everyone in Gotham. Meanwhile, Catwoman just wants to fuck up Max Shreck's day, maybe kill him.

What's Wrong?: Once again, Tim Burton applies the shotgun approach to villain planning, with a series of events that don't really relate to each other.

How does the hero stop it?: In the Penguin's case, its the opposite of the first movie. Proactive Batman sabotages Penguin's campaign, rescues the kids, and sabotages the killer missile penguins (yes) at the end of the movie. But while he's doing this, he forgets entirely about Catwoman, who blows up Shreck's department store, murders Shreck, and gets away scot free.

BATMAN FOREVER (1995)

Heroes: Batman and Robin

Villains: Two-Face and the Riddler

What's the Plan?: Develop a 3D tv that sucks people's brain waves and transmit it into the Riddler's brain. Get rich and become supersmart. Two-Face is involved under the promise of figuring out Batman's secret identity through mind-reading.

What's Wrong?: There's really nothing illegal in this plan, other than not telling people about the brainwave suckage. It's like making Mark Zuckerberg the villain of a movie for the crime of inventing Facebook. Oh wait.

How does the hero stop it?: He doesn't. Batman doesn't actually get involved until Riddler decides to steal Bruce Wayne's girlfriend cause she's Nicole Kidman back when that meant something. So Batman shows up and wrecks his day. Oh and kills, sorry "fails to save" Two-Face for the crime of murdering Robin's parents.

BATMAN & ROBIN (1997)

Heroes: Batman, Robin, and Batgirl.

Villains: Mr. Freeze and Poison Ivy

What's the Plan?: Mr Freeze is going to build a giant freeze ray gun and threaten to freeze the city unless they give him the money he needs to cure his wife's rare fatal disease.

What's Wrong?: He completely forgets the ransom part. Just straight up starts freezing the city without offering any demands.

How do the heroes stop them?: Smashing everything and stealing the cure to the disease so they can save their butler.

BLADE (1998)

Hero: Blade

Villain: Deacon Frost

What's the Plan?: Summon a vampire god who will turn the entire world into vampires.

What's Wrong?: If everyone's a vampire, what do they eat? The movie shows them storing humans in freezers, but just because I got some beef in the fridge doesn't mean I can stop slaughtering cattle.

How does the hero stop it?: Some mystical mumbo-jumbo about how he's The One or something? Then a swordfight.

X-MEN (2000)

Heroes: The X-Men

Villain: Magneto

What's the Plan?: Make a machine that turns all the world leaders into mutants, thus making them stop persecuting mutants. When informed machine will actually kill them, turn it on anyone. After all, dead world leaders can't persecute mutants either, right?

What's Wrong?: Y'know what really got the US to leave the Middle East alone? 9/11.

How do the heroes stop it?: Stabbing a little girl.

SPIDER-MAN (2002)

Hero: Spider-Man

Villain: Green Goblin

What's the Plan?: Erm...fuck up Spider-Man's day, apparently?

What's Wrong?: Initially Norman Osborn becomes the Green Goblin to get revenge on the Board of his company, who have locked him out. He does this by murdering all of them. Then he finds out Peter Parker has stolen his son's girlfriend, and that Peter Parker is Spider-Man and kidnaps the girlfriend and threatens her life. So basically he would've gotten away scot free if he hadn't kidnapped MJ.

How does the hero stop it?: He doesn't, really. He jumps out of the way and lets Norman kill himself. And rescues MJ.

HULK (2003)

Hero: The Hulk

Villain: The US Army

What's the Plan?: Capture the Hulk, thereby preventing an unpredictable monster from inadvertantly causing massive property damage and killing thousands of innocent people.

What's Wrong?: Waitasecond... so why is the army the villain?

How does the hero stop it?: Smashing stuff and running away.

SPIDER-MAN 2 (2004)

Hero: Spider-Man

Villain: Dr. Octopus

What's the Plan?: Prove his fusion reactor works by building another one after the prototype failed

What's Wrong?: Ock would've gotten away scot free if -- yep, he hadn't kidnapped MJ, which he only does because Spider-Man interferes (interferes, mind you, not stops) with him stealing some money he needed to buy some parts for his machine, after which he discovers Spidey's secret identity and kidnaps his girlfriend to... teach him a lesson, I guess?

How does the hero stop it?: He doesn't, really. He jumps out of the way and let's Ock kill himself. And rescues MJ.

BATMAN BEGINS (2005)

Hero: Batman.

Villains: Ra's al Ghul and The Scarecrow

What's the Plan?: Flood Gotham City with fear gas, and watch it destroy itself.

What's Wrong?: Ra's wants to destroy Gotham because he feels this is the only way to end the cesspool of corruption the city has become. Why not steal a nuke and bomb it? Why the elaborate fear scheme? This only suits Scarecrow, whose only plan ever in any story involving him is essentially "spray fear gas, watch results". Even if Ra's had succeeded, the city would just gone nuts, prolly the state would've declared martial law, cleaned things up and eventually the city would still be there, all corrupt like before. Like New Orleans after Katrina.

How does the hero stop it?: Blowing up a train.

FANTASTIC FOUR (2005)

Heroes: The Fantastic Four

Villain: Dr. Doom

What's the Plan?: Absolutely nothing.

What's Wrong: THIS IS MOTHERFUCKING DR. DOOM WE'RE TALKING ABOUT HERE! Even if you have no clue who he is, it's there in the FUCKING name! DR. DOOM! And all he does in the movie is eventually, very very slowly, gain some super powers, and decide that the best course of action is to dress up in a ridiculous costume and start testing them out by wrecking downtown. This is the greatest villain in the Marvel universe, supposedly one of the smartest people on the planet.

How does the hero stop it?: Standard hero fisticuffs.

SUPERMAN RETURNS (2006)

Hero: Superman

Villain: Lex Luthor

What's the Plan?: Grow a new continent, which Lex will own land rights to, killing billions when the mass of the continent displaces the ones already there.

What's Wrong?: LEX LUTHOR. Smartest man on Earth. Criminal Genius. And the plan is toss a crystal in the ocean and create a continent that is just big ugly rock formations? This is not using our potential, guys.

How does the hero stop it?: Picking the continent up and throwing it into space. Seriously guys, he's Superman. Can we get a challenge, please?

SPIDER-MAN 3 (2007)

Hero: Spider-Man

Villains: New Green Goblin, Sandman, Venom

What's the Plan?: New Green Goblin wants to kill Spider-Man, Sandman wants to rob banks to get money to pay his daughter's hospital bills, Venom wants to kill Spider-Man.

What's Wrong?: Guess which two villains team up to kill Spider-Man? That's right, Sandman and Venom. Wait, what? In fact, Sandman has no reason to go with Venom's plan except that Spider-Man once stopped him from stealing money. He would've never been stopped if Venom's plan hadn't involved... kidnapping MJ.

How does the hero stop it?: He doesn't, really. For one, New Goblin straight up changes his mind and abandons supervillainry before doing anything. Then Spidey apologizes to Sandman who flies away. Then he jumps out of the way and Venom basically kills himself. And he rescues MJ. (Sandman's daughter presumably dies of whatever her disease was, it's never resolved).

THE INCREDIBLE HULK (2008)

Hero: The Hulk

Villain: The US Army (and the Abomination, who works for the US Army)

What's the Plan?: Capture the Hulk, thereby preventing an unpredictable monster from inadvertantly causing massive property damage and killing thousands of innocent people.

What's Wrong?: Waitasecond... so why is the army the villain?

How does the hero stop it?: Smashing stuff and running away.

IRON MAN 2 (2010)

Heroes: Iron Man and War Machine

Villains: Justin Hammer and Ivan Vanko.

What's the Plan?: Compete with Tony Stark's company in the weaponized mech industry. Oh, and kill him for being the son of a guy who exploited and then ousted a communist.

What's Wrong?: Well, Hammer's not really doing anything wrong. He's kind've of dick, but basically all he does is hire a guy to build him some robots to sell to the US Army. Oh, and help arm War Machine to take out Iron Man when it becomes clear that Tony is a crazy loose cannon and a danger to national security. As for Vanko, his whole plan only makes sense if you buy that the son must bear the sins of the father. Which is kind've weak.

How do the heroes stop it?: Leaving thousands of people to die at a killer robots expo, while saving their own asses.

Monday, January 3, 2011

Star Trek: Deep Space Nine Season 2 Review


A Collection of Episode Reviews Originally Posted on the MI6 Forums Between September 20 and November 11, 2010

"The Homecoming"/"The Circle"/"The Siege"


BAM! Now THAT'S how you open a season! DS9 season 1 was enjoyable and going along great, with two great final episodes, but THIS arc has been the first time I really sat up and paid attention. I mean for Star Trek, at this point, this is really bold stuff.
And the casting coups?! Richard Beymer? Stephen Macht? Mother frakkin' FRANK LANGELLA? It just brings an excellent gravitas to the whole situation.
I wish we'd seen General Krim again after this. He was a fine character.
Everyone on the show gets great moments. Quark and his latinum, slowly having to become one of the people fighting for the station. Bashir, stepping up into a combat role and becoming comfortable with that. That scene with Dax and Kira in the fighter is definitely the first time I've felt connected with Dax as a character. And Sisko here is just great. All of the characters, regular and recurring, get their moments. Really the only one missing is Garak, otherwise the entire gang established to this point is here.
It's really just powerful, edge of your seat stuff.
I enjoyed it, is what I'm getting at, and it certainly kicked the ass off the first three episodes of TNG Season 7, even if "Descent Part 2" was pretty good.

"Invasive Procedures"
I like Lionel Luthor's performance in this and I think it's really interesting the way the show plays with the idea of where Dax ends and Varad begins, and how that joined personality works. Avery Brooks is terrific especially.
I like how Quark redeems himself, but I still think he got off too light -- I mean Kira's ready to take him down once and for all and then all is forgiven?
Still, and interesting episode all around.

"Cardassians"
But this one was way better. Garak, Gul Dukat, Bashir, The O'Briens, racism, oh man this whole episode was just fantastically done. I mean, every scene just played to the hilt. I mean, wow, DS9 just hitting them out of the park and we're only just starting season two! But yes, this is a fantastic episode about racial prejudice but backed up with great plotting and firm character interaction. Too well.

"Melora"
And then there's this episode. "We should do a show about handicapped people!" said the PC brigade. Actually to be fair it turned out a pretty good episode. Not great, but not terrible either. I do think it's a little annoying to spend an entire episode devoted to a character who we'll never see again though.

"Rules of Acquisition"

The second of the annual Zek visits, this episode is multi-layered and fun, having elements of comedy and drama to it. It's very enjoyable, and sets up many soon-to-be important plot threads, both with the Ferengi... and elsewhere. Wink One thing that bothered me is that right when the Gamma Quadrant part of the storyline was getting interesting, it's dropped. I wanted to see if Zek ever made contact with the Karemma!

"Necesary Evil"

Another DS9 classic. Great film noir flashback structure, great performances, just great all around. Sometimes I wish we'd gotten more of these "back in the Terok Nor days" stories, they're really quite riveting. Really anything to see more Marc Alaimo. Like maybe an episode where we flash back to Kira's past and actually SEE her doing all this resistence fighting we keep hearing about. But nevertheless, this is an excellent episode that reveals much to Quark/Odo/Kira's past, but also provides excellent character development to their present, including hints that Rom might not be as dumb as we thought.

"Second Sight"

And just when I was thinking "y'know, it's been a while since we had a Sisko episode" BLAM! Sisko episode. Pretty good one too. Also, Gideon Seyetik is officially the "Most Interesting Man in the Universe".


"Sanctuary"

As much as I liked the idea they were trying to get at with the Skreeaa (space gypsies), and the episode was interesting, and I liked the downer ending -- it was the ordinary day on the station type scenes that I enjoyed the most. The flustered day Kira is having before the Skreeaa arrive. The conversation between Jake and Nog about Jake scoring a date with a dabo girl is top notch. I like Jake and Nog. I really do. I like the entire cast. They really sell this episode. This would be a monstrously dull episode on TNG, but the cast and characters of DS9 make it work -- Quark's intolerances, Odo's suspicions, all the little touches. It makes a mediocre episode worth sitting through. Also -- more DOMINION references!

"Rivals"

Apparently no one really likes this episode. I don't see why! I love it! It's fun, funny, and just plain works. Quark vs. Martus, and more importantly Bashir vs. O'Brien! It's just great. I love these characters, I love this show, this episode was gangbusters.

"The Alternate"

Odo as the Id Monster from "Forbidden Planet". Essentially. Mora Pol is interesting, but ultimately too much time is spent on the monster and not enough on really delving into what went on all those years ago between them and what the ultimate source of the pain in that relationship is. The best scene is probably the one in Odo's office where Mora confronts Odo and Odo loses it and becomes the monster. It's a good episode with some good material, but it just misses its own potential.

"Armageddon Game"

The first "O'Brien Must Suffer" episode. Everything about it is great. From the character interaction between O'Brien and Bashir, to Sisko's hunt for the truth, heck even Keiko gets great scenes in this episode. A stand out second season installment.

To think where TNG was at this point. This show just rocks!

"Whispers"

A fantastic episode and exploration of the nature of paranoia -- no, the entire world is NOT engaged in a conspiracy against you, YOU'RE the one who's off. And it works all the better because it's O'Brien, the character who is our "rock". Which is why the "Let's Torture O'Brien" episodes work, really.
Everything about it is brilliant, except maybe the very ending, which is a little rushed. Replicant O'Brien should've fought that revelation more, instead of just quietly accepting it and dying. Otherwise good.

"Paradise"

Another great episode and along with "A Taste of Armageddon" and "The Measure of a Man", this is a "THIS is what Star Trek is about" episode. Yes, living the simple life is great -- but so is technology. Technology is not evil, it has not stolen man's ingenuity, it IS man's ingenuity. I love Sisko in this, he is the best. Ever.

"Shadowplay"

A good episode that is essentially an underdeveloped but interesting A-story with two good character B and C stories. They should've explored the old man in the A-story more, and exactly what the Dominion did to him, but oh well. The B-story is good Kira/Bareil/Quark moments and the C-story brings us the great moment of "Not everyone wants to be in Starfleet, guys".

"Playing God"

The Jadzia stuff is the best, obviously. The ethics of the protouniverse could've been gone into in better depth, but honestly we've heard this argument before on Trek. Then there are the voles. I was honestly annoyed we didn't actually get an end to that plot -- they just existed to get the protouniverse loose and then not actually dealt with. However, I do like that it was used to innocuously introduce Gul Evek. The way the Maquis storyline was built up and cross connected between TNG and DS9 was actually quite well done, and better executed that the series it was designed to build up towards.

"Profit and Loss"

Some parts of this episode work, some don't. It ends up averaging out as a pretty good episode. I buy that Quark would have a love for this woman, the part where if fell apart was when the woman finally admitted she loved him back. And some of the romantic dialogue was pretty bad. But Garak? Garak is always welcome/awesome.


"Blood Oath"

The best Klingon episode since "Rightful Heir" [TNG] and probably better than it. It really is the fact that its three TOS Klingons that makes it work. It helps connect the TOS portrayal of Klingons to the more congenial TNG versions in a very satisfying way. I'm not talking the make-up difference, but the actual difference in portrayal between "evil, scheming villains" and "honourable warriors". The fact that they got the original actors was such a bonus, and each of them still felt true to their original TOS character while still incorporating all the new jazz about honour and glory. Finally, this is a great episode for the development of Jadzia, really pushing her far beyond the sort've meek, sedate character she was in Season 1.

"The Maquis, Parts 1 & 2"

When the cliffhanger hit, I was almost surprised there were more episodes in the season set. It felt like the season finale, like the kind of thing TNG does (but that DS9 is so wonderfully above). There are so many cool elements in this episode that work. Sisko and Hudson, Sisko and Dukat, Kira being used to comment on the Maquis -- heck, even the moral questions the Maquis raise about Federation policy are great. The two-parter works the intrigue in part one, and has some great slam bang action sequences in part two, which includes I think the first time Trek ever did anything like a "space fighter dogfight" type scene. It's too bad all this fantastic, great set-up goes utterly to waste on the series it was designed for.

"The Wire"

This episode is to Season 2 as "Duet" was to Season 1 -- two interesting characters, in a room, with great dialogue and development for both. Another episode where everything works -- it helps that Bashir and Garak are pretty much my favourite characters. And this episode opens so many great doors: The Obsidian Order, Enabran Tain, etc. To utilize a metaphor Sisko would appreciate: they hit this one out of the park. I especially appreciate that there's no attempt at a comedic B-plot to dilute the central drama.

A greating showing of four superb hours of DS9. How bizarre that the quality can be so high here, and yet be dropping so fast on its parent show TNG.


"Crossover"

TNG always avoided referencing TOS. They copied one episode in their first season, got slammed for it, and thereafter only ever pulled out cameo appearances in time for sweeps week. But DS9 references TOS twice in one season, just a few episodes apart! As cool as TOS Klingons were, this - the second trip to the mirror universe after the classic "Mirror, Mirror" [TOS] - is among the most fun I've had all season. And it's clear the actors are having a ton of fun as well. Bashir blows up Odo! All around it's a great time -- and for a parallel universe episode, it's got a refreshing lack of technobabble, which always helps.

"The Collaborator"

And we turn our eyes to Bajor for the first time since it seems the opening trilogy of the season. The episode isn't as riveting as some others this season, but it does move forward the Bajoran intrigue in new and interesting directions. Namely, our favourite love-to-hate character Winn becomes the Kai. Which is great because frankly Bareil is boring. It would've at least added some dimension to him if he HAD been the collaborator, but I still enjoy the twist that it was Kai Opaka.

"Tribunal"

DS9 as written by Franz Kafka, I suppose. An entire episode spun from Dukat's single line in "The Maquis" about the Cardassian legal system. If it wasn't so horrifying, it'd be funny. Another entry in the "O'Brien Must Suffer" genre as well. Good stuff.

"The Jem'Hadar"

Oh, sh*t. Hey, guys, how're we gonna defend the entire Alpha Quadrant against an overpowered enemy race who can shoot and transport through our shields, turn invisible, and don't give a damn about their own lives? Especially when all we got is a 20 year old Cardassian space station and 3 runabouts? Fuuuuu--
Great episode. Really raises the bar and suddenly makes Deep Space Nine THE Star Trek show to watch. No longer TNG's little sibling, it had to step on its own. Yes we've been building up VOY's Maquis like they're gonna be the big thing, but Voyager gets lost in the Delta Quadrant so nothing that happens there really matters. Meanwhile, DS9 has stepped up to the plate by suddenly expanding itself beyond mere Bajoran/Cardassian intrigue. So excited for season 3.

Favourite episode of Season 2: "The Wire"
Least favourite episode of Season 2: "Playing God"

Favourite character of Season 2: Garak/Dukat/Sisko
Most improved character of Season 2: Jadzia
Least favourite character of Season 2: Nog

Star Trek: The Next Generation Season 7 Review


A Collection of Episode Reviews Originally Posted on the MI6 Forums Between September 14 and November 16, 2010

"Descent"
Parts I & II

Now that's a cool cliffhanger! I love the sense of impending dread that moves through the whole episode. What has happened to the Borg? Who is leading them? And why is anger the only emotion Data can feel?
And then Lore pops out! And Crusher's stuck in command! And Data's gone evil! And Hugh must lead the resistence!
All in all its a fantastic, exciting, high production quality episode that still manages to be an excellent character growth show for Data.
One of the strengths of the episode is the way it builds on things from the show's past -- going into the final season you need to start recgonizing and embracing your past, tying up loose strands so that things feel culiminated. Hugh, the Borg, Lore, metaphasics, the emotion chip, etc. This episode is the first time I felt Lore really worked as a villain. It felt like he'd finally come into his own. Before he was just this sort've goofy, hackneyed, evil twin character.
All in all, I wish they'd let Data install the emotion chip in this episode. Just so we could expand and explore new facets of Data going into the final season. As is, he puts it in during the first movie, we have a few laughs, and then find out in the other movies that he can turn it on or off and remove it and then they barely deal with it and its implications ever.
I mean, what if Data fell in love? Developed a grudge? Became obsessed? All those cool emotions that could be discovered and examined anew through his eyes.

Season 7 of TNG is sort've insane. It was the first time a Trek show had ever known going in that this was its last season. So while some of the episodes are tying up storylines and loose ends, others are just plain batshit crazy. It's like the policy went from "Rick won't go for it" to "Rick doesn't care". All of the wacky ideas that would've been instantly rejected earlier get play. Space pirates for example were an automatic no in all previous seasons -- here they get a two-part episode. And let's not forget how utterly bizarre they allowed Joe Menosky and Brannon Braga to get this year.

Anyways,

"Liasions"

This is a fun, if pedestrian episode. If anything I had a better time with the B-plot of Worf and Troi escoring ambassadors on the ship than the A-plot of Picard trapped on the planet with psycho girl. Too bad I could predict every beat of the story before it happened.

"Interface"

This episode has a really neat concept -- which is the probe interface system and the logic of using Geordi for it. And the way it's shot is dramatically clever, giving us a chance to see LeVar Burton's eyes! And it's set up very smart too, with the teaser that gradually reveals it to us.
And the episode itself is great, giving us Geordi's parents, and a really sucessful effort at fleshing him out, showing how good Burton is when saying something other than technobabble.
Everything is going along great until the last few minutes when the entire episode resolves itself far too easily. It literally all wraps up in the last two or three minutes, with no consequences and everything turning out swimmingly.
It's a great episode ruined by a **** resolution.


"Phantasms"

A great follow-up to the "Data's dream" subplot last season. The episode is fun and quirky and off-beat for TNG and there's really not much else to say. Its a fun exploration of Data's "subconscious" and I like the jabs at Freud. Although, this isn't the first time we'll be visiting weirdo surreal imagery this season of TNG.

"Dark Page"

Like the very next episode! While it shares the same "surreal imagery from the subconscious" gag, its altogether a far better episode because it finally gives depth and dimension to the relationships of the Troi family. I was glad of the depth given Mrs Troi in last year's "The Forsaken" (DS9) but this episode finally gives her something really significant to play, and therefore gives Deanna a great scenario to play off of also. It almost justifies seven years of tortuous Lwaxana episodes! Majel Roddenberry is just great as Lwaxana here, it must be stressed. The only issue I have is that the resolution happens a little too quickly, and that we never see the traumatic event at the heart of the episode, which weakens it in my opinion.


"Attached"

It took them seven years to do this episode?? This episode is SO good! Stewart and McFadden have great chemistry, the scene around the campfire that finally airs the past between Picard, Beverly and Jack is great! This character growth was needed way before the last season, and then of course it's NEVER followed up on again! Is Star Trek, outside of DS9, just a big continuing case of lost opportunities? Damn.

"Force of Nature"

The "warp speed is causing the ozone hole" episode. Everything about it makes me angry. It's poorly written/plotted, its full of platitudes, its unsubtle, and all in all its just poorly executed. And of course the "warp 5 speed limit" was pretty much ignored after this season.

"Inheritance"

Just when you thought the "Data's family" stories couldn't be mined any further -- hey! Here's his mom! Actually this episode ends up being pretty well done, sometimes even moving, but its sort've a massive "so what?" at the end of it.

This is the final season of TNG? Yeesh. DS9 was doing "It's Only a Paper Moon" by this point in their final season.

"Parallels"
A great, fun episode, but I felt more could've been done with the alternate universes and infinite Enterprises. My favourite alt is the "Borg won BOTBB" one, with hobo-bearded Riker shouting "THE BORG IS EVERYWHERE!"

"The Pegasus"
Ron Moore has written a lot of good TNG episodes before this, but this is like BLAM! There's a lot of early, prototype BSG sort've scene sitting around here. I think this episode was strong enough to be a two-parter, actually, seeing more of the ramifications of this episode. But still! This is great.

"Homeward"
Aka "Insurrection: The Episode" -- only better because we get character development between Worf and his foster brother and Michael Dorn gets to have more expressions than "grumpy" thanks to the lack of forehead make-up. But this is a very well-done "Prime Directive" episode.

"Sub Rosa"
Maybe its just been a while, but I don't TNG has been this bad since Season 1. And Season 1 was even better than this most of the time, I think. This is just the worst episode I can even recall -- it's more than terrible, its practically unbearable. It's sort've "Wolf in the Fold" meets "Catspaw" meets Romance novel. Yes, it gives Gates McFadden more to do than she's had in a while, and I actually like Gates quite a bit when they give her material to play -- but this material here is just uninteresting drivel. AGGGH! (Apparently I hate it because I'm a guy. But seriously -- 19th century ghost stories and romances in Star Trek?)

"Lower Decks"
And then there's this episode, which is the best thing ever. I mean I would love to see more episodes like this. So cool. Too bad that we never see any of these people again, other than Ogawa. If O'Brien hadn't been transferred you know he would've been hardcore in this show. But this is probably the second best episode of the season behind "Pegasus".

"Thine Own Self"

Data as Frankenstein, and Troi's promoted over him. Kay.

"Masks"

WTF. WTF FTW, though. I loved it. I'm a Communications major and this plus "Darmok" are great episodes coming at it from that background. I like Joe Menosky weird high concepts way more than Brannon Braga weird high concepts.

"Eye of the Beholder"

Troi as the psychic detective I guess. Erm, okay I suppose. Best scene is Worf failing at asking Riker's permission to date Troi.

"Genesis"

A fun, creepy episode propelled by high concept near-plausible science and great make-up that is ultimately meaningless in the final analysis. As fun and well produced as it is, episodes like this add nothing to the show, the characters, or anything else -- and this is the final season, so what are we doing here?

"Journey's End"

Well, here we give Wesley Crusher a "fitting send-off". We pretend like we had a planned arc for him all along since first season, but really Ron Moore just wanted to **** everyone off, play against expectations, and get rid of the kid. Not that Nemesis payed any attention to that. Anyways, aside from closing the Wesley Crusher arc, this episode opens the Maquis arc -- a complicated and well-done cross-over storyline evolved through the final episodes of TNG and the developing episodes of DS9 simply so that the entire show of VOY could have a premise to ignore.

"Firstborn"

Speaking of closing character arcs, here we put a modicum of closure on the Worf/Alexander arc. This episode is particularly interesting when we consider where Worf and Alexander end up by the finale of DS9 (again, Nemesis **** it up). This episode is sort've like if "Yesteryear" [TAS] was told from kid Spock and Sarek's POV. I like it.

"Bloodlines"

The best thing to do in the final episodes of any show is dreg up old forgotten characters from the first season who haven't even been mentioned since and have them come back, while also introducing new characters who will disappear at the end of the episode and never return or be mentioned ever again.

"Emergence"

Basically this episode is a mish-mash of ideas from other episodes. The ship gaining sentience, the ship giving birth, the holodeck becoming independant of ship functions, etc etc etc. It's all done in a neato high concept way from the masters of tech weird (Brannon Braga) and symbolic weird (Joe Menosky) but is this really the third last episode of the show that resurrected Star Trek?

"Pre-emptive Strike"

This is a really good episode, and an important chapter in the ongoing Maquis saga that has been very skillfully weaved between TNG and DS9, but I feel that it would have altogether more meaning if
a) if weren't returning Ro to the show after a nearly two year absence just to lose her again and
b) if we were at least re-introducing her so that she could be a regular on VOY.
But with the way things pan out we're supposed to care about the betrayal of a cast member we haven't seen at all since early sixth season and then will never see again.
But the drama was well done and it helps us see things from the Maquis point of view more, countering the more villainous portrayal from DS9. It's important that we sympathize with them because some of the main VOY characters will be Maquis, and this conflict will of course figure heavily into the new show and not be dropped two or three episodes in.


"All Good Things..."

Having heard Ron Moore's original idea for this episode, I'm still convinced this is probably the best series finale TNG could've gotten. Tying Q back in with the pilot was exceptionally brilliant, and the time shifting enables us some great juxtapositions of where these characters were in Season 1 with where they are now, as well as the writers having fun extrapolating them into a future they already know is false. Even though the time travel doesn't make sense, I still enjoy it immensely because the stakes are so high, plus the idea of something done in the future adversely affecting the past is very cool. And I really like Q in this one. This episode makes me feel that it was a major mistake to bring Q back on VOY because it never had anything to do with the themes present here, it was always just for silly gags and inconsequential nothings. I love the omnipotent, omnipresent devilgod seen here, calling Picard an "obtuse piece of flotsam." Finally, I don't think TNG could've had a better final scene than this one, with Picard joining in on the poker game. Definitely ranks as a far better finale than TOS, TAS, VOY or ENT's.

But totally schooled by DS9's finale. Wink

As for TNG, I have to admit that after seven seasons I actually did come to like the characters and their interactions and they became one of the reasons I kept watching the show. But even after seven years they still never connected with me like how the TOS cast or the DS9 cast connected with me after even one season. For the most part I still feel that the TNG characters were defined a lot by their job and their hobbies -- Riker is first officer and plays the trombone kinda stuff. It took a long time for them to become well rounded people, and even that was more of a side effect of just seeing them reacting to events for seven years rather than a conscious effort by the writers. I think of all of them I would say I had the best idea of who Picard and Worf really were as people -- Data was well explored but how far exactly along he was in understanding humanity would always fluctuate wildly depending on who was writing him.

Best Episodes.

The Measure of a Man 2x09
Q Who 2x16
The Defector 3x10
The Best of Both Worlds 3x26, 4x01
The Wounded 4x12
The Drumhead 4x21
Darmok 5x02
Unification 5x07, 5x08
The First Duty 5x19
I, Borg 5x23
Chain of Command 6x10, 6x11
Tapestry 6x15
The Pegasus 7x12
Lower Decks 7x15
All Good Things 7x25

Star Trek: Deep Space Nine Season 1 Review


A Collection of Episode Reviews Originally Posted on the MI6 Forums Between July 21 and September 14, 2010

"Emissary"


A fantastic series premiere. Sets up everything you need to know for the show's premise. Introduces all the characters. And does it in a way that's still dramatic, entertaining, and thought-provoking. One thing I really like about "Emissary" is that all of its plot is important to the story of the series, unlike "Encounter at Farpoint" which if you remove all the introductory bits is still just another episode.

"Emissary" gives us things that we have to live with for the rest of the series; aside from the station and its crew we have the Kai on Bajor, Gul Dukat, the wormhole, the Gamma Quadrant, and the Prophets. Even though they risked slowing down the whole show, I think Sisko's explanation of linear time to the Prophets (specifically the baseball speech) is one of my favourite Star Trek scenes of human/alien interaction. I think anyone who thinks DS9 was some sort of horrific violation of Gene Roddenberry's Star Trek vision needs to look at that scene, because to me that speech is Roddenberry's vision through and through.

All around its just a crackling good episode, and a great set-up to a new Star Trek show that promised right off the bat to be very different from still-running TNG or TOS before it. Definitely the best Trek pilot IMO.

Character Rundown:

Commander BENJAMIN SISKO: Here's the things I already like about Sisko -- he doesn't frak around, he takes charge of situations, and he has emotions. He's a real person. You can feel how much he loves his son, how much he grieves for his wife -- you can see when he's angry, hurt, lonley, remorseful, etc. It's refreshing after the subdued performances of the TNG cast for five and a half seasons.
Constable ODO: Odo's a real mystery at this point. He's a shapeshifter with a mysterious past who wants to know more about himself and is forced to live among humanoids -- its interesting, but something about it reminds me a lot of Data and Spock. I really dislike how his character looks in the pilot, but I like that -- like Sisko -- he clearly doesn't frak around and gets sh*t done.
Lieutenant Junior Grade JULIAN BASHIR, MD: Julian's a hoot at this stage. I love his overconfidence, his arrogance, the fact that he opens his mouth at the wrong time. It's, again, a refreshing change from the "perfect Starfleet officer" stereotype.
Lieutenant JADZIA DAX: Of all the characters in the pilot, Dax comes off the least interesting. K, she's a Trill, a joined species, but the implications of that aren't really addressed. She's definitely hot, but she plays her part the most low-key, the most like a standard Trek character reading off a console about quantum flux variables and so on.
JAKE SISKO: After the horrors of Wesley Crusher and Alexander Rozhenko, I just couldn't understand why Trek was putting YET ANOTHER KID on a show -- but I like Jake already because he acts like a real kid, not some braggart know-it-all or constantly whining loser.
Senior Chief Petty Officer MILES O'BRIEN: I already knew O'Brien was awesome from TNG. I'm looking forward to an entire series with the Irish salt-of-the-earth, man-of-the-people Mr. Fixit.
QUARK: Quark's awesome. The first really great, truly prime Ferengi character. Which is a huge feat because I've thoroughly hated the Ferengi in all of their previous appearances. But I already love Quark.
Major KIRA NERYS: Kira is frakking great. Tough as nails, doesn't take sh*t ex-terrorist army officer. F*ck Ensign Ro, I think Kira makes a way better first officer character because her allegiance is to Bajor, not the Federation.

I am SOOO excited to finally be starting my DS9 run!!!

"A Man Alone"

Already I like DS9 much more than TNG. A great example is this episode. A plot summary alone makes it sound like not much -- a murder is commited, Odo the prime suspect. But the way its done is leaps and bounds beyond something like "A Matter of Perspective" from TNG season 3. We have genuine conflict between Odo and Sisko, we have a love triangle between Sisko, Bashir, and Dax, we have Keiko trying to find purpose and open a school, we meet new characters, learn more about established ones, and dig deeper into the world of the show, all within the confines of a rather standard murder mystery episode. Great stuff.

"Past Prologue"

While I like the Kira/Sisko/Tana Los conflict in this episode, I think that it might be the least interesting thing about it. I loved seeing the beginnings of Bashir/Garak and I even enjoyed the Duras sisters cameo and I really like how quickly the writers picked up on Odo/Quark -- within the first four episodes (including the next one) I've really come to love those scenes already. I love Sisko, and how little sh*t he takes from anyone. I love the moral ambiguities here, the questions of allegiance, the way this episode puts Kira through her paces. At this point, "someone from Kira's past shows up and challenges her convictions" isn't a cliche.

"Babel"

On one level, this kind of techie disease mystery is a TNG type thing. But its the way the characters react and deal with the dilemma that puts this a step above and beyond. O'Brien is great here, as is the Jake/Sisko relationship, and above all I LOVE Quark in this episode. "Energizing!" I laughed soo much. Just fantastic stuff -- and Bashir does good work, but in the end doesn't miraculously solve the problem; Kira has to kidnap a scientist to do it. Just fantastic.

Already in four episodes I love this show more than TNG. And already I can tell you why: the characters. The only one I'm not into at this point is Dax. I love Bashir, he's too good. Sisko, Odo, and Kira are awesome and strong-willed. Quark's the best. O'Brien is solid. And we've already got a larger supporting cast than TNG: Kai Opaka, Gul Dukat, Garak, Rom, Nog, Morn, etc.

I already love watching DS9, and it's only gonna get better from here.

"Captive Pursuit"

Another pretty good episode, especially since it focused on O'Brien and O'Brien is the man. I like Tosk quite a bit, its a bit of a shame we never saw any more Tosk when we went through the wormhole to the Gamm Quadrant, although I understand the Hunters are supposed to be members of the Dominion? In addition to O'Brien, I just love all the little character moments we get with Sisko, Odo, and Quark. This cast is really alive in a way far more than the TNG cast were by their sixth episode.
The make-up work was great, but the costuming for the Hunters comes off a little silly looking. Other than that, a good episode with some fun foreshadowing.

"Q-Less"

While there are some good moments in this episode (mainly involving Quark and Bashir as always), things mainly fall flat. Q does not work in the DS9 formula, for precisely the reason that the main thing Q does well is bounce off Picard. Sisko just doesn't put up with the crap Q serves up. Its awesome when the Commander punches him in the face, but it also ends any real connection Q could have with the DS9 crew. Basically this episode wants to get TNG viewers onboard with the presence of Vash and Q, but basically just serves to demonstrate how wildly different the two shows really are.

"Dax"

So far in the show, Dax was the only character I hadn't connected with. Sisko kicks ass and takes names, Kira has a troubled past, Odo runs the Promenade with an iron fist, O'Brien fixes things and is Irish, Bashir just wants to get laid, Quark just wants to get paid. But so far all Dax did was spout technobabble and act annoyingly serene, like a horrible mix of Data and Guinan. So this episode, scripted by TOS master scribe DC Fontana, was a welcome bit of character development. Not a lot though, really, but a nice first step. And trial episodes are almost always good on Trek for some reason.

"The Passenger"

A pretty pedestrian plot with an easy to see twist not helped by the fact that Bashir acts like he's mildly retarded when possessed instead of this big criminal mastermind. "Open... a... channel..." The best part of the episode was the conflict between Odo and Primmin. I know Primmin sticks around for a bit, but it should've been longer. Ideally, he should've been Eddington, and had Eddington around longer before he went Maquis. But I actually like Primmin. I like conflicts like the Odo/Primmin one where I like both people in the conflict. It's more interesting that if one person is obviously a huge douchebag.

"Move Along Home"

I actually like the premise of this episode, and some of the ideas. But the execution is just awful! Especially the acting. I don't know how or why, but the performances here were just dreadful.

"The Nagus"

Bits of this episode are fun, mostly stuff like Quark revelling in his new status, and Rom/Nog/Jake getting some screentime again after an extended period, but Wallace Shawn plays Zek just a little... too OTT for my tastes.

"Vortex"

Interesting episode in light of what we later discover about Odo's people. For now the tease is fine. This is a good episode for exploring Odo, although it seems like at this point in the show the writers are latching onto Odo and Quark as characters to write for, to the detriment of other characters in the show.

"Battle Lines"

Now this is just a classic Star Trek episode. Using a science-fiction concept, the idea that war is pointless and futile is examined and explored. Opaka's death was a major shocker, and the development that held for Kira was well done. I also liked Bashir being put in a dangerous and high stress situation for once, and enjoyed the way Sisko dealt with the warring factions, much different than how Picard would do it. All in all a fine episode.

"The Storyteller"

The best thing this episode does is put Bashir and O'Brien together, resulting in the natural odd couple pairing of the upper class English gentleman and the Irish man of the people. I really enjoy the way they bristle off each other -- it's just a fun pairing.
As for the episode itself, well, to be honest the whole Sirrah thing is a neat idea, but the execution was pretty gay, for lack of a better term. The subplot on the station with Jake and Nog was okay, but not super memorable or anything.

"Progress"

As much as I liked the story being told with Kira and the old man on the moon, and the work it did with the relationship between Kira and Sisko in particular, it's an old hackneyed story -- the old man who doesn't want to leave his house even though the gov't needs him to so they can build a new [noun]. So while its well done and the guy playing the old man was great -- I love that he's totally playing Kira the whole time -- it just doesn't do it for me cause its such a cliche.

Meanwhile, the self-sealing stem bolts plot with Jake and Nog was fun and engaging and I enjoyed it far more, especially with Jake turning out to have better business sense than Nog. It was cute.

"If Wishes Were Horses"

This was a very TOS like episode -- a fun, silly, fantasy romp where the crew interact with fantasy characters becaus some mysterious aliens want to learn about humanity. And in a way its a portent of a quality of DS9 that TNG lacked: the capacity to have fun like TOS. DS9, despite its reputation as "the dark Star Trek" really did embrace the idea of going on romps like TOS used to every once in a while, and it seemed appropriate for the characters, who even enjoyed it. On TNG, they tried it occasionally but the characters were always too stuffy to ever have real fun with it and it never really worked.
The only thing I disliked was there was a ton of useless heavy technobabble in the third act that neither added to anything nor ultimately served any purpose.

"The Forsaken"

Initially I cringed when Lwaxana Troi showed up. I'd made it through an entire season of TNG without her and then she ambushed me on the good show. But I ended up really liking her this time around. The combination of her and Odo ended up working really well, much better than any TNG effort. It's the contrast of the woman who is overly flamboyant to hide how she really feels with the man whose overly bottled up to achieve the same goal. The scene with her wig and him turning liquid was actually quite moving.
Also, I love the development we get for Bashir in the meantime -- I feel like his rescue of the ambassadors is a big step forward for his character.

"Dramatis Personae"

Compare this to TNG's "Power Play" from the previous year. Same basic idea, but this is a far, far superior effort. One thing I liked is that the alien possession conflict actually grows out of the real crew's personalities and conflicts -- it's just that more subtle so that maybe you're not sure what exactly's happening for an additional act. It plays better and ends up revealing more about the characters in response, as opposed to just making them do OOC stuff for the sake of it.

"Duet"

What can I say about this episode that hasn't already been said? Clearly the best of the season, playing to the clear strength of exploring the Bajoran/Cardassian conflict with a heavy emphasis on Holocaust allegory. It's just fantastic on all sides. One thing that I don't believe is noticed that often in the light of the Kira/Marritza scenes is how fantastic Odo is in this episode. He's just the man.

"In the Hands of the Prophets"

Another great episode, not as good as "Duet", but a superb capper to the season -- really giving the feeling of "look what we've accomplished, what we've built in this time." Winn marks the intro of a fantastic villain character, and the conflict with the school was really inevitable. I love what this episode does for Sisko and Kira, and indeed all the characters in how it makes them re-evalutate their place on the station. And I love religion vs. science stories, almost as much as witch hunt stories.

Best Character of Season 1: Sisko
Most Improved Character of Season 1: Bashir
Best Episode of Season 1: Duet

Star Trek: The Next Generation Season 6 Review


A Collection of Episode Reviews Originally Posted on the MI6 Forums Between July 20 and September 14, 2010

"Time's Arrow, Part II"


A pretty lackluster conclusion to a pretty lackluster cliffhanger. While I enjoyed how well the time travel was done re: Data's head, and Mark Twain's inclusion afforded a nice scene with him and Troi addressing the militarism of Trek vs. Roddenberry's pacifist views, the episode falls flat because the alien threat is so vague and ill-defined. So you're telling me there are these aliens from another planet who need to eat our life force to survive (and only ours, substitutions are impossible) and decided that the easiest way to get it was invent time travel and 500 years into the past to get it? How does that make any kind of evolutionary sense??? And then we completely, totally and for all time stop their threat by photon torpedoeing one spot on one planet? Was that all the aliens? Did Riker commmit genocide and wipe out the whole species?? The problem is that the aliens were an excuse to do time-travelling fun, and thus ended up poorly written, leading to a very weak conclusion to the story.

"Realm of Fear"

Barclay episodes are always fun and this one is no exception. Dwight Schultz' performance is usually really great to contrast with the main cast. The only thing that doesn't work for me here are the "transporter monsters". For one thing, they are clearly cheesy muppets and aren't really that scary at all. For another -- why did the science crew look like creepy monsters while trapped? It doesn't make much sense.

"Man of the People"

This is probably the worst episode of TNG I have ever seen. Maybe it's just because Seasons 1 and 2 were so long ago and I don't remember them that well, but I can't really remember watching an episode of the show this bad. I was counting down the minutes until it ended. Just terrible. From the cliche set-ups of "Troi falls in love with visiting ambassador" and "warring factions must negotiate a peace talk" to the fact that its just terrible on all levels. The worst piece of boring, uninvolved tripe I've ever seen. When Beverly said she was going to kill Troi I hoped the death would be permanent. I'm truly sick of her character. Ugh.

"Relics"
The first really stand-out episode of season 6, and almost entirely thanks to the draw of James Doohan. In the early days of TNG, they refused to bring anything back from the old show for fear of seeming like they were leaning on it rather than standing on their own. Once they were through fourth season they felt they had proved they were doing just that, and were comfortable bringing Spock on. But the Spock episode was still a TNG episode, just with the Spock character featuring in a (pardon the expression) logical manner. This episode, this episode plays entirely off of TOS nostalgia, TOS references, this IS standing on the shoulders of TOS for ratings.
And it still works. Because for some reason the Man Out of Time story is a powerful story, because Moore does some good stuff with the concept of how old is too old to be useful.
But, as trevanian pointed out -- the Dyson Sphere concept is WOEFULLY underused.

"Schisms"
The best scene in this episode is the scene where they recreate their experience on the holodeck. That scene sticks with me. For the rest of it, the kind of eerie tension and sense of "off-kilter" weirdness the script wanted is undone by the general shooting style of TNG, which was left intact. The scenes where we are finally in the alien lair and far too well-lit and fall flat because they don't feel threatening. Finally, the ending, the way we resolve the problem, is too tech. Which brings me to the perfect point to finally discuss this:
I started noticing the technobabble in TNG getting out of control around midway through season 5. Before that it was fairly reasonable and I could always understand what they were trying to do. Now, each episode reaches a point in the final act where instead of talking to the aliens or reasoning through the problem, or giving a speech about morality or otherwise doing anything clever, we just have Geordi "reverse the polarity of the graviton field emitter, creating a reverse tetryon wave that will counteract the phase inverters, causing a resonance frequency that should knock out the subspace beam reactors," etc etc etc. and boom problem solved. We never learn anything about these aliens -- who they were, what they were after. We never confront them, either hostilely or with conversation. We just tech the tech and warp away. And a lot of the episodes end that way now and it feels meaningless and hollow. I can't even follow it anymore, have no idea what it means any more, even from the context! It's just a bunch of babble, and when Geordi starts speaking it I tune out -- I know in five minutes the problem will be solved and the episode over so I just stop paying attention. Its a bad habit the show's gotten into. A very, very, bad habit. It's frankly ruining the show for me.

"True Q"
Basically "Hide and Q" only much better done. The ending still cops out a bit though. The best things about this episode are twofold:
1) Getting Q away from jokes. Bringing him back to being threatening, powerful -- ABOVE Picard and the rest quite literally. Not playing games in Nottingham (fun as they were). I love the quiet malevolence behind the line "the jury is still out on that one", re: humanity's trial.
2) Q commenting on the show so far. Crusher being shrill, Picard's speeches being the only reason to watch, etc.
Amanda Rogers was a great character too, wish she had shown up again or been remembered at all during the Q arc on Voyager (that whole arc btw is based on a premise that this episode renders inaccurate)

"Rascals"
Somehow, an episode with two ridiculous premises (crewmembers turn into children and take back the Enterprise from the Ferengi) ends up being exceptionally well done, well explored, and good fun. Ron Moore actually does a great job exploring what this transformation means for each of the characters affected (Picard, Ro, Guinan, and Keiko) -- it really sells it. I was surprised that I enjoyed this one so much.

"A Fistful of Datas"
Worf, Troi, and Alexander team up for a Western homage episode with a holodeck malfunction plot. Oh joy. Yaaaaaaawn.

"The Quality of Life"
I was looking at my watch throughout this episode. It feels like we've gone through all of these motions before; the misguided scientist, proving a life-form's sentience, etc etc. It just fell flat. The only scene I really really liked was the opening poker scene.

And why? Because it showed our cast as real characters, not just mouthpieces for exposition. See, I like all of these people (except maybe Troi) when they are allowed to be people! Beverly betting all the men to shave their beards off is a great moment and makes me like Beverly -- but she's a bore when she's talking about running tissue sample scans.

Wish the producers would've allowed LeVar to rock the beard, after it appears in two episodes here thanks to his wedding at the time, as I recall. But I guess with the VISOR and the beard that kind've takes up most of his face, don't it?

I like the TNG characters (with the exception of Troi, and Alexander). But the show's plots feel like they are running out of gas.

"Chain of Command Parts I & II"

Maybe its just been a long time since I've seen a good TNG episode, but I think this may be the best TNG episode I've ever seen. Certainly the best since "Ensign Ro". Its the level of threat, the level of tension, the fact that the stakes are high and a bunch of technobabble from Geordi isn't going to fix it. Its just two hours of great television.

I like Jellico. I get the feeling I'm not supposed to, but I love they way he put the crew through their paces, shook up their comfortable routine, and starting running the Enterprise like a naval vessel. I like that's not just some ******* -- that he's a captain concerned with doing his job (gaining prestige is not his goal) and he puts up his son's pictures in the ready room and stuff like that. And I cheered when he ordered Troi into a standard uniform.

But of course the standout point of the episode is Gul Madred vs. Jean-Luc Picard, or more accurately David Warner vs. Patrick Stewart. The interrogation/torture scenes are just some of the best TV I've ever seen -- I love the intelligent writing and the great performances and the fact that the show didn't back down from showing, if not real torture, the real psychological affects of torture. I prefer that to most shows nowadays which don't skimp on the blood and gore, but show an unrealistic reaction where the hero just boldly resists all the way through and the nterrogator never uses guile or changes methods.

"Chain of Command" made me sit up and enjoy TNG again, enjoy these characters again. Of course I watched the DS9 pilot right afterwards. Wink

"Ship in a Bottle"

We finally return to the character of sentient hologram Moriarty after everyone learned that the Conan Doyle estate had just been **** off at Paramount for the terrible Young Sherlock Holmes movie and had no problem with Star Trek at all.
And we do him far greater justice than we had in season 2. This episode actually explores the interesting quesitons the previous one took for granted and used only as plot devices. The holodeck within a holodeck had me making INCEPTION jokes, though.
I like the use of Barclay here -- makes me feel like his adventures with Trek's biggest sentient hologram, the Doctor, on VOY weren't totally random.


"Aquiel"

So this is supposed to be the worst episode of sixth season, eh? It's actually pretty good for the first act or so -- the murder mystery Laura homage, the not-that-great Starfleet officer Aquiel, I was enjoying it. Where things fell apart was in having Geordi continue to be head over heels with this girl and consummate the relationship after he finds out she's a liar and a poor officer and a murder suspect and etc. etc. That felt unnatural. And the ending was a total cop-out: rather than deal with the ramifications presented by any of the three suspects being murderers, instead its the magical space alien so that everyone can go home and be fine. Meh.

"Face of the Enemy"

BEST. TROI EPISODE. EVER. A fantastic fish-out-of-water story for her, plus Romulan intrigue! Such a good episode (I'm a sucker for Romulan intrigue). The best thing about the show was getting a peek at "the other side" -- day to day life aboard a Romulan Warbird. I actually was annoyed whenever we cut back to the Enterprise -- especially since the Federation defector character had a hideous case of manboob in the one-sy they had him in. Finally, my only real complaint about this episode would be the production design of the Romulan interior -- really? Light pastel colours and bright lighting? Ugh, it looked terrible. But Carolyn Seymour was sooo good as Commander Toreth. Pity we never got a real recurring Romulan villain (after attempts with Tomalak and Sela). However, mad props to this episode for continuing the Spock storyline, even if we don't actually see him.

Birthright, Part I

Ah, the big DS9/TNG cross-over episode. Maybe we'll see Picard and Sisko flare up again? Geordi fall for Jadzia? A battle of the two bartenders?
Ah, no. Bashir inadvertantly helps Data to dream. Huh.
Actually this episode is pretty good. I really like the dream sequences, indeed that entire B plot, because it moves Data closer to humanity. I've always felt that we should've seen actual real progress in that regard with Data, that by the end of the show he would be far more human than at the start. But I guess they got comfortable with the character of Data, the way fans reacted to him. Anyways, I like moving him forward, though I honestly cringe when they still have Data babbling on about the tech of it all when there are more significant metaphysical elements to consider.
The best scene in the entire episode is the Ten Forward scene between Data and Worf that ties the whole thing together. Its wonderfully done.

Birthright, Part II

Part II is a good episode, and clearly the story they set out to tell in Part I, but it lacks Part I's resonance, possibly because its just Worf, and the Data plot isn't continued. But Worf's plot is still good. Its odd, because I agree with Worf and like Worf and his motives here, even though what he's essentially doing is taking a peaceful, integrated society and tainting it with his racism and hatred. It's like Anti-Star Trek. But I still agree, largely because the younger generation was lied to and denied a choice -- and truth and choice are the important things.

"Starship Mine"

Fun "Die Hard on the Enterprise" episode that nevertheless is devoid of substance. Although it's neat to see where "First Contact Picard" comes from, lol.

"Lessons"

Picard falls in love, again. Although this time they did give him an interesting and more believeable love interest, albeit a bit less fun than Vash. It would've been nice if Nella Daren had stayed on as a character for a bit, but the end of the relationship has a certain inevitability about it. She does make an interesting contrast with Beverly, both are science division redheads for one, although by this point in the show the sexual tension between Picard and Beverly is so cooled that you can believe that they're just friends who share afternoon tea or whatever. It is nice to get a call-back to "The Inner Light" and the flute however, and maybe see a hint of how that impacted Picard.


"The Chase"

Now THAT was an episode of Star Trek! Seriously, Roddenberry dies and THEN TNG does an episode like this? This episode IS Roddenberry practically. It feels like an episode TOS would do, only without all the silly campiness of TOS. It felt like TOS done TNG-style. It was good. So good. Just odd that the massive ramifications of this episode are never really followed up on. At all.

"Frame of Mind"

This was another really cool episode -- the best way to describe it would maybe be "Chris Nolan does an episode of TNG". In retrospect, I'd say INCEPTION ripped them off Wink . But seriously, it's a great show for twists -- is Riker crazy? What is real? What's going on? It's a great big fun risky episode that's not like the standard TNG show and I like that. It's as if with DS9 on the other channel they starting realizing they needed to do new things and shake TNG up if they wanted to keep viewers there. It pays off.

"Suspicions"

However, this one fell kinda flat for me. It's another attempt to do something different -- Beverly solves a murder mystery in an episode told in flashback with detective voice-over. But it just doesn't work. I'm not sure why, but I just never felt any drama or suspense in what was going on -- maybe because of the flashback format, maybe because TNG has never really done a convincing murder mystery story, I'm not sure.

"Rightful Heir"

They could show this episode in religious studies classes. I like the message it ultimately imparts: it doesn't matter whether Jesus actually walked on water, or when or whether he's coming back -- what matters is the teachings he gave us and the principles he invoked. All in all I like the episode for its examination of Worf's faith, strengthening of Gowron's character, and the fact that it actually changes things with the addition of the figurehead Kahless emperor, rather than hitting the reset button.

"Second Chances"

This is a super fun episode and honestly one of my favs. I wish more had been done with the Thomas Riker character other than just two episodes. Apparently so did Frakes: He wanted Will to die in this episode, and Thomas to be his new role, coming aboard as conn officer with Data getting the promotion to first! But yeah, there's some great stuff here about seeing things in yourself you're not comfortable with, and having to confront your past mistakes.

"Timescape"

Is this where it begins? Braga's last script was the excellent "Birthright" two-parter. Is this where his obsession with pointless high-concept temporal quantum flux anomaly shows begins? I mean, it does not bode well when the most interesting part of the episode is the eventless teaser that is just fillled with fun character moments for the crew (Riker trying to feed Spot, etc) and the main episode is just dull and lifeless and I just plain don't care.

"Descent" Parts I & II

Now that's a cool cliffhanger! I love the sense of impending dread that moves through the whole episode. What has happened to the Borg? Who is leading them? And why is anger the only emotion Data can feel?
And then Lore pops out! And Crusher's stuck in command! And Data's gone evil! And Hugh must lead the resistence!
All in all its a fantastic, exciting, high production quality episode that still manages to be an excellent character growth show for Data.
One of the strengths of the episode is the way it builds on things from the show's past -- going into the final season you need to start recgonizing and embracing your past, tying up loose strands so that things feel culiminated. Hugh, the Borg, Lore, metaphasics, the emotion chip, etc. This episode is the first time I felt Lore really worked as a villain. It felt like he'd finally come into his own. Before he was just this sort've goofy, hackneyed, evil twin character.
All in all, I wish they'd let Data install the emotion chip in this episode. Just so we could expand and explore new facets of Data going into the final season. As is, he puts it in during the first movie, we have a few laughs, and then find out in the other movies that he can turn it on or off and remove it and then they barely deal with it and its implications ever.
I mean, what if Data fell in love? Developed a grudge? Became obsessed? All those cool emotions that could be discovered and examined anew through his eyes.


The sixth season was uneven, but definitely came back from the drop in quality that plagued the majority of season 5. I think a lot of the season was adventurous and creative, sometimes paying off and sometimes not.

Star Trek: The Next Generation Season 5 Review


A Collection of Episode Reviews Originally Posted on the MI6 Forums Between June 24 and July 07, 2010

"Redemption II"


A great second-parter to the previous season's cliffhanger, although its packed a little tight -- maybe there should have been a part three. However, I gotta love seeing a good political galactic intrigue episode, with the Enterprise engaging in actual military actions instead of the usual "bringing a vaccine to a planet run by an omnipotent cloud-like being" type stuff. Also, Sela is too cool. Good episode.

"Darmok"

From a Klingon Civil War to an episode that would make Roddenberry proud. I really like this episode and its unique way of showing communication breakdown in the Star Trek universe. Also Picard gets a snazzy new jacket.

"Ensign Ro"

And then Admiral Cain shows up and the show is awesome. Swinging to a totally opposite character in finding their replacement for Wesley, TNG suddenly delivers an episode with moral grey zone. A fantastic episode that of course lays much of the groundwork for DS9. I wish Ro had gone from a recurring character in Season 5 to a full regular in Season 6 and 7. Unfortunately a series of ridiculous events conspired to make that not a thing. But we have the episodes we have.

"Silicon Avatar"

This felt like a third season episode. I suppose it was neat to follow up on the Crystalline Entity and the notion that Data carries the memories of the dead colonists from Omicron Theta, but the Moby Dick angle is not only something everyone's riffed on; its something Trek has done several times! At least once in every series practically! Ultimately the show felt weak and subpar.

"Disaster"

Now THIS was an episode! TNG meets Poseidon Adventure! Worf and Keiko in Ten-Forward is hilarious, Riker and Data is a team-up we haven't really seen since the early seasons, Picard finally gets over his dislike of children (a rather odd "character flaw" that belonged to the stuffy and odd season 1 characterization of Picard), and of course the Troi/O'Brien/Ro stuff was the highlight. Now, I frakkin hate Troi, she's such a useless character, but I loved how this plot brought to light that a) oh right, she's an officer! and b) just how useless she was. Meanwhile, the conflict between O'Brien and Ro was great, demonstrating the different ideologies. My only complaint is how fast Ro apologizes to Troi, its literally a sudden 180.

"The Game"

The best thing in this episode was the Lefler/Wesley chemistry -- Judd and Weaton really worked well together and I wish we'd seen Lefler in more episodes after this one and her previous appearance. Weaton is actually good in the scenes where he's not spouting technobabble -- Wesley's likeable here as a young man in love (much better handled than in season 2's "The Dauphin"). However, the main plot about the Ktarian brainwashing game was a bore and missed an opportunity to address the idea of games addiction -- but I guess that really wasn't a topical issue in 1991. (I think the closest Trek's ever gotten to an episode on that is either "Hollow Pursuits" [TNG] or "It's Only a Paper Moon" [DS9])

"Unification I"

Possibly the best opening hour of a two-parter so far. Honestly even if it's all just set-up for Part II, its spectacular set-up. The scene between Picard and Sarek is gangbusters; one of TNG's best. Everything in this episode crackles. One thing I've noticed is that Season 5 got a big budget increase because the SFX sequences are impressively energetic with new shots filmed and used instead of the same old stock stuff. The battle scene in this show is a good example. Finally, another great TNG cliffhanger to end the show.

"Unification II"

As I've come to expect from this show, Part II did not live up to Part I. However, still a great episode with great guest performances from Nimoy and Crosby. One thing's clear though -- as an actor, Leonard Nimoy is a clear level above every single other person in the episode, Patrick Stewart included. I'm really disppointed in the Star Trek franchise in a whole that Spock and Sela on Romulus was never picked up on again -- where was Sela in the Dominion War? Where were either of them in Nemesis? We never saw Spock again until Abrams needed him to get fan sympathy for his terrible movie.

"A Matter of Time"

A funny episode, well done, if exceptionally light. But I like Matt Frewer in basically everything.

"New Ground"

Ugh, give me my life back. That was terrible. Aside from the terrible child actor playing Alexander, aside from extended scenes with Troi, and aside from an utterly pointless/go-nowhere A plot -- the only good thing in this episode was character development for Worf. TNG is starting to settle into a formula that I'm starting to hate: a B plot involving development for a regular, an A plot that involves some random task that's solved by technobabble, and nary a connection between them. If the main plot is about a new propulsion method, it should be a Geordi episode. There is really no connection between the two in this show, or the previous one -- any mission/situation could've put Alexander in the necessary jeopardy. Ugh, and I have six more Alexander appearances on TNG to sit through, and only six more episodes with Ro Laren!

"Hero Worship"

Basically "The Bonding" only the kid likes Data instead of Worf. Some fun moments, but mostly a yawn.

"Violations"

Clearly the staff had bought some new lenses and wanted to try them out for the wacky dream sequences. Of all the crew whose past to dig into, they went with Troi/Riker/Beverly? The only one that was really interesting was Beverly's -- finally seeing the moment when Picard brought Jack's body to her. But apparently they had scenes planned for the whole cast -- I for one would've used the Ro/Garon II flashback instead of the rather lame Riker scene.

"The Masterpiece Society"

This episode had some interesting things in it to say about genetic engineering -- but largely it was another yawn. It felt like an episode from third season. I think the show is getting tired.

I'm very disappointed that we've only seen Ro once since her introduction; especially since that introduction was so strong. She was purposefully introduced to add new life and a new angle to the cast and the show, and yet was woefully underused -- we could've used her in episodes like these to break up the monotony and spark discussions in the briefing room. Even the episodes aren't Ro-centric she should still be there acting as contrarian in staff meetings and entering in course headings the rest of the time -- these nameless Ensigns are starting to annoy. But without her, the show just feels like its getting old.

Also, maybe its just me, but season 5 seems remarkably Troi heavy so far -- and Troi remains probably my least favourite character on the show. So these episodes are a pain to sit through.

"Conundrum"

This episode is of a type that would become common on VOY, but here it feels fun, intriguing, and well done. The concept of brainwashing soldiers into war by altering their memories is itriguing, and the crew having to figure out for themselves who they are was enjoyable, such as Worf assuming he was the Captain and the Riker/Ro/Troi triangle. All in all a fun episode.

"Power Play"

There was a lot of action and excitement, and it was fun seeing Sirtis, Spiner and Meaney get to stretch a bit acting wise, but ultimately this story was a GNDN -- goes nowhere, does nothing. Totally forgettable.

"Ethics"

I actually didn't mind this one -- I do think it handled its topic well, but I think there really wasn't enough time given to a fair discussion of BOTH experimental medicine AND assisted suicide. Still, I think it was an all right episode. Just a little annoying because I know the next episode won't address Worf recovering at all, and I doubt the fact that Worf has an artificial spine will ever be brought up again.

"The Outcast"

So halfway through Season 5 apparently the writers realized things weren't going well and left for a retreat at Micheal Piller's Mexican getaway house. This is the first episode after they returned. It is (in)famous as the episode where Trek finally addresses, or fails to address, homosexuality and gender identiy, albeit in an alegorical way. While I agree with Jonathan Frakes that the episode would've worked better if the character he fell in love with was played by a male actor, I don't think the episode is a complete failure. I think it is intelligently written and heartfelt, and I think the point of the issue it addresses most effectively is the idea that these people can be "cured" with therapy, and whether or not they are deviants or sick. I think that whole point is in fact very eloquently addressed. I do, however, find it distressing that at the end of the day nothing was shown to be done about the situation. While we all knew Riker's relationship would end in tragedy, usually Trek would end the show by at least showing that the first seeds towards ending prejudice have been sown, whereas here no progress happened at all. Still, I certainly don't think the episode was half-hearted; maybe just less successful than it could have been.

"Cause and Effect"

I think that, without a doubt, this is Trek's best "temporal anomaly" episode -- before such things became annoyingly cliche on VOY. The whole thing is well written and well directed and just fun to watch. And of course it has the best teaser of all time with the Enterprise exploding, and a great ending with the Kelsey Grammer cameo.

"The First Duty"

This is one of the best episodes of TNG of all time, in my opinion. From finally seeing Starfleet Academy (and Boothby) to the ethical dilemna presented, to the great speech Picard gives about telling the truth, its just an all around fantastic episode. And hey look, Tom Paris! Wink

"Cost of Living"

From one of the best of the best to an episode that pairs Lwaxana and Alexander. This episode may be one of the most terrible, forgettable pieces of crap ever.

"The Perfect Mate"

Episodes with Picard in love are always interesting because he's not a ridiculous womanizer like Riker and Kirk, so its cool when they can find a woman you can believe he'd be with. And of course Famke Janssen is always great.

"Imaginary Friend"

So, there are these children and families on the Enterprise, and that's an interesting idea. But every time the writers try to do something with it, it ends up terrible. This episode is better than most if only because Clara acts like a real child instead of some ludicrous caricature of one. As for Alexander, I want it made clear here:

Alexander Rozhenko is far, far, far worse than Wesley Crusher. At least Wesley worked to better himself and got an episode like "The First Duty". Alexander is just a whiny, whiny, whiny little brat.

"I, Borg"

A perfect Trek episode and probably the only follow-up you could possibly do to "Best of Both Worlds". Just everything works in the show, but I especially like the scenes with Patrick Stewart and Whoopi Goldberg. I seem to recall there was a BSG episode with a similar premise (send a Cylon back to a regen hub with a virus and kill all of them) but I forget if Adam went through with it.

"The Next Phase"

A fun adventure episode with Geordi and Ro and plenty of action and excitement and even some character development for Ro, who comes to face her own mortality.

"The Inner Light"

It won a Hugo as I recall, and I think some Emmys too? Deserved. Great episode. Patrick Stewart is just fantastic.

"Time's Arrow"

The tease of Data's head buried on Earth since the 19th century is great. Data once he's time travelled back is great. Finally getting some answers about Guinan is great. But the cliffhanger is the weakest cliffhanger in TNG history. "Ah! a portal! Let's walk through it." TO BE CONTINUED! Meh.

Star Trek: The Next Generation Season 4 Review


A Collection of Episode Reviews Originally Posted on the MI6Forums Between May 05 and June 17, 2010

"The Best of Both Worlds, Part 2"


Usually when I watch this episode I feel it loses momentum in the third act. This time I enjoyed it much more. It really is just as well written as part one, with some prime classic stuff. I think the main problem is that while it's brilliant to order the Borg to "sleep", the fact that the ship for no reason auto-destructs afterwards is too easy. The Enterprise should've destroyed them. Picard should've been on the bridge, Borg implants still hanging from his face, and ordered "fire!" But I guess Rick wouldn't go for it. I always lol at Shelby's line about Riker having his pick of assignment, and hoping she'd serve under him again -- by 2374 she's Captain of the Sutherland and he's still in the same post.

"Family"

Surprisingly Rick did go for this, after much cajoling apparently. I like all of it, although it does feel somewhat light. I guess its just odd seeing these elements of emotion and relationship after three years of them being virtually ignored. The Picard plot is the strongest, Worf's is amusing at best, and Wesley's is just... there. It's really too bad we never saw Roberre again.

"Brothers"

I guess cause they couldn't fit Data into the previous episode. I like how for a show that resisted doing serial storytelling, all this episode has is the middle part in a serial. Lore returns, Data meets his father, Lore steals the emotion chip and escapes. There's no resolution, it's just a way of saying "Lore's still out there, with an emotion chip meant for Data". But it was still a good episode. First written by Rick Berman, eh? Hey, trevanian, you seem to have all the backstage gossip -- who did the rewrite? I can't believe Berman's this good on his own.

"Suddenly Human"

The whole episode I couldn't help but think that Picard's harumphing about what the Talarians did to Jeremiah is so wrong, and THERE'S WORF RIGHT THERE. Still, a well written and performed episode.

"Remember Me"

The best parts of this episode is the showcase for Gates McFadden, the humour, and the character interactions. The worst is the "use the Force" Wesley subplot with the Traveler. I just didn't buy that. And it was a little heavy on the technobabble.

"Legacy"

I think its hilarious that Tasha gets more character development in this episode, three years after her death, than she ever did when she was on the show. I did really like Ishara Yar. They should've brought her on as a fulltime crewmember. Especially if they'd kept her in that jumpsuit.

"Reunion"

The next part in TNG's Klingon saga has a lot going on. First appearances of Alexander and ghawran (and the vor'cha attack cruiser), and the deaths of K'Ehleyr and DuraS. Big moments for Worf and Picard. I really like how we never find out who actually poisoned qImpeq -- we assume it was DuraS because we don't like him, but it just as easily could've been ghawran. But we're stuck with ghawran because Worf murders DuraS. All in all a great episode with lots of consequences; building on previous storylines and offering possibilities for more. In some ways I wish K'Ehleyr hadn't been killed -- Suzie Plakson was undeniably sexy and charismatic in the role -- but it served an integral and needed story purpose.

"Future Imperfect"

This is a fun episode at times, but of course its all such a cop-out. I actually thought the fake-out revelation if it being a Romulan plot was a better idea than the eventual revelation of the kid. It's a good turn for Frakes as Riker, but its all meaningless; and a similar story was done much better in sixth season (I think) in "Frame of Mind".

"Final Mission"

Hurray! Wesley's gone! This episode has some great production values and great scenes but ultimately I didn't like that the way Wesley solves the problem was meaningless tech nonsense and that we never learned the secrets of the intelligence they were combating. However Wheaton and Stewart do some marvelous work here and it ends up being one of the best Wesley episodes so far -- right when he's finally gone.

"The Loss"

I actually quite liked this episode. It finally gave some much needed three-dimensionality to Troi. I liked seeing her actually counsel people, I liked the scene between her and Guinan -- essentially addressing the overlap in characters, I liked the stuff with her and Riker keeping that relationship alive, all in all it was a great way to show her personality. I heard they toyed with taking her empathy away permanently, but I'm glad they didn't. I think the writers were finally beginning to figure out how to use it at this point, and without it she's kind've a bitch. I also really liked the pseudo-science in this episode, with the cosmic string and the flatlanders.

Two things hit home for me in this episode. One was "wow, Wesley's gone." I didn't so much miss him as just find it... odd that he wasn't there. I wasn't as overjoyed to get rid of him as I thought I'd be at this point. He'd become a welcome character. I did like that the same replacement officer was seen in "Final Mission" and "The Loss" -- Ensign Allenby. She seemed cute and smart and I was annoyed to learn she does not appear any further. I wish they'd had a regular recurring extra in that seat, like an O'Brien: not a regular, but at least not some random new person each week. The other item that hit home was that I have grown to really like the TNG characters. I feel I know and understand them. I don't find them boring or bland. They're not as good as the TOS characters, but I feel by this point attached to them like I have always been to the TOS characters.

"Data's Day"

This was just a great episode. Great premise, to show things from Data's point of view, great character development all around with good scenes with Beverly and Geordi, and of course O'Brien's marriage to Keiko. Also the Romulan subplot was cool and well done. Just overall a well written, memorable, great episode.

So far I just love how season four has gone.

"The Wounded"

Such a prime episode! Cardassians, Miles O'Brien, Nebula-class ships, Ben Maxwell, basically a mild Heart of Darkness Trek-style. Just great. My only quibble is how easily O'Brien gets over his racism against the Cardies. Then again, it probably took the writers a lot of fighting to even allow him to be racist as long as he was -- and it had to be O'Brien, they might've initially wanted it to be a regular and that was flat out of the question. Still, I really like his "it's not you I hate, but what you made me become" speech. Just all around a great episode.


"Devil's Due"

Speaking of "feels like classic Trek", here's an episode based on an unproduced 70s script. Honestly, it just feels out of place and backwards in TNG as its progressed to this point. There are huge plot holes and facepalm moments that might've glossed over fine in TOS, but seem asinine here. And the entire "seduce Picard" subplot just doesn't work -- cause he's NOT Kirk! It was fun, but fluff, and ultimately says nothing.

"Clues"

This is a strongly written, well presented, well produced episode that suffers only because for all intents and purposes it might as well have never happened. But I think this is the only time TNG pulls that, unlike VOY which hit reset on over a dozen episodes.




"First Contact"

A straight up no holds barred awesome episode. First contact with an alien species from the alien POV. Just prime. Tons of great moments, too, from the alien prime minister and Picard to Riker having to bone the alien nurse to escape. Just a great episode.

"Galaxy's Child"

A good follow-up to "Booby Trap", certainly a natural idea to want to meet the real Leah Brahms. Would've been maybe neat to see her a third time to round it out, maybe in seventh season have her come back having divorced her husband and wanting Geordi, but Geordi's moved on and doesn't want her as a switch. But instead we got a mention in an anti-time future in the finale. Meanwhile, the CGI in this episode is acceptable until it moves, then its hilarious.

"Night Terrors"

A terrible, paceless, train wreck of an episode. The idea of going crazy without REM sleep was cool, but the whole thing was pulled off way too poorly. The whole thing felt like something from TNG Season 1 or 2, not Season 4. The first real clunker of the season, for sure. Also, I don't like how we see Miles and Keiko get into a fight, but we don't see them reconcile later. For some reason that bothers me.

"Identity Crisis"

Another pretty terrible episode. I found myself asking "what's the point?", "what's it about?" So Geordi turns into an alien and then turns back. What's the theme? What are we addressing? Did our characters learn anything? Nope, just a bad sci-fi plot. Very much a kind of episode I associate with VOY.

"The Nth Degree"

Now THIS was a great episode! I love TNG Barclay! Really fun and cool, reminded me both of 2001 with the runaway computer and "Where No Man Has Gone Before" (TOS) with the human evolving past humanity. A great story and great acting performances.

"Qpid"

Best episode ever? No. But certainly one of the greats. Sometimes its good to just let loose and have fun, and this show definitely shows why. I love that when the episode starts you have no idea its going to end up where it eventually does. Some of the best Q/Picard humour of the series, and definitely some classic Worf moments of course. This episode cracks me up every time I see it.

"The Drumhead"

Barring any episode of TNG I haven't seen (I have a feeling "Chain of Command" will do it, for example), this is my favourite episode. I've seen it many times before now and its always great. For some reason I'm always a big fan of McCarthyism/witch hunts/freedom vs. security style stories. Of course, this episode has a whole ton of similarities to the first season BSG episode "Litmus". Just one is obviously done the BSG way, and one the TNG way. While I found Adama's solution to the witch hunt to be more emotionally satisfying, I think I admire Picard's more -- I'm a sucker for Patrick Stewart delivering well written moralizing speeches about civil rights and such. One minor quabble I had when I watched it this time was that Picard identifies Satie and her methods as a problem too quickly, I think it would've made better impact if he went along with her a bit longer; since now it appears like he's jumping on her too soon, as if he expected this to happen.

"Half a Life"

Wow! A Troi's mom episode that didn't make me want to kill myself (no pun intended). I really liked Majel Roddenberry's performance here, and also really liked the guest appearance from David Ogden Stiers as Timicin. Truly a touching performance. And of course there's Michelle Forbes' minor appearance that is so strong it won her the role of Ensign Ro next season.

"The Host"

So, it introduces the Trill but the way they are depicted is vastly different from the DS9 version -- and not just in appearance. I think the best thing in this episode was getting to know Beverly more as a character, seeing her as a person rather than just a doctor or a mother. I think the best scene of the episode was the one in Ten Forward between Troi and Beverly where they discuss the men in their life. Very good character development in that scene.

"The Mind's Eye"

So this was a fun little Manchurian Candidate knock-off done fairly well for the 50 some minutes they had to do it in. I've always liked sneaky Romulan plots and it all worked quite well here. I've actually been impressed with the way TNG has built up this Klingon/Romulan intrigue plot in the background of Season 4 -- not impressed compared to a show like DS9 or BSG or whatever, but impressed for TNG. Also, I liked the unnerving ending that implies that Geordi will not automatically be all right after this incident (even though he's of course fine by next week).

"In Theory"

A really fun "Data tries Dating" episode that only fails because its A plot and B plot never really meet up -- in fact, the A plot (about the Ent-D investigating a "dark matter nebula" <--- not a thing) suddenly becomes a Picard show at the last minute in a very surprising and uncharacteristic turn. Meanwhile, the Data storyline is much better done than the sci-fi one and was a great time to watch. Also, the Enterprise looks SO cool when only lit with its own lights!!


"Redemption"

A cracking season finale bringing the ongoing Klingon plot to a head. I really like the writing and performances here, great stuff all around. The true ending of the episode feels like the scene where Worf leaves the ship -- but they had to add the Denise Crosby ending so there would be a suitable cliffhanger. Of course, it doesn't live up to last seasons' cliffhanger, but its still very exciting in its own right -- something that couldn't be said of the woefully mediocre season 5 cliffhanger.