Star Trek: The Next Generation, Season 1 Disc 4

Celebrating Star Trek’s fiftieth year by rewatching the Star Trek show I grew up with, The Next Generation, on Blu-Ray and sharing the odd thought on the episodes as I watch them.

1.15 11001001

Probably the best episode of the series so far.  It’s kind of dumb how Picard and Riker, captain and first officer of the Federation’s flagship and therefore among the best that Star Fleet has to offer, allow themselves to be distracted by a sexy hologram as the rest of the ship is evacuated. But this episode at least had interesting ideas.

Is there a single word for someone who literally falls in love with a video game character, as Riker pretty much does here?  I suppose there must be, but if not, someone is probably going to have to invent it in the near future.

1.16 Too Short a Season

I’ve always found Star Trek’s old person make-up very disturbing (when they take a young actor and apply prosthetics to age them), more so than any of the aliens or other stuff.  At first I thought it was just not enjoying being reminded of my own mortality, but now I know that I am in fact immortal, I realise it’s actually a kind of uncanny valley effect.  The faces are just so stiff, and way the actors typically move just not quite natural, not to mention the croaky rasp actors always do to sound old.

Anyway, this episode did have an interesting idea with an old man trying to correct a mistake he’d in his youth.  The problem is that Jameson is such an unlikeable character throughout, making one stupid decision after another, not to mention being selfish and horrible to his wife, so… I don’t care what happens to him.  His wife is the only person I feel at all bad for in all this, because she married an absolute jerk.

1.17 When The Bough Breaks

This episode really annoyed me, and weirdly not because of any of the kids who are in it.  It’s just that the whole conflict at the centre could have easily been avoided if the characters had any intelligence.  When the Aldeans explain that they’re sterile and dying so need children to help them regrow their civilisation, all Riker has to say is:

‘Well, okay, obviously we can’t give you the children on our ship, but, the federation is vast and there are lot of orphans out there in need of homes and families.  I’m sure if we contact our leaders we might be able to work out some sort of deal.’

To which the Aldeans would have said:

‘Oh.  That’s… that actually makes sense,  To be honest, we expected you to just outright refuse.  In which case, we would have just kidnapped seven random children from your ship and sent you on your way.’

‘You… you thought you could repopulate your entire planet with just seven people?’

‘Yeah… does sound pretty dumb when you actually say it out loud.’

I think Troi does mention something about other species maybe being able to contribute, but everyone just ignores her because she’s Troi.  And I suppose if all that had happened, the Enterprise crew might not have found out as quickly that it was the planets cloaking device that was causing the population to become sterile.  But when your drama just relies on characters being idiotic and not thinking at all, it’s just bad writing.

1.18 Home Soil

A sentient grain of sand threatens to take over and destroy the ship.  It’s like Deanna Troi looked into Anakin Skywalker’s mind, found his worst nightmare, and… made an episode of a TV show about it.  It’s not bad, actually.  Could have been executed a little better, but at least there’s some interesting ideas and a little bit of excitment in the episode when Data is trapped in the room with the laser drill.

1.19 Coming Of Age

Two plots for the price of one!  In one of them, an Admiral Quinn orders Lieutenant-Commander to annoy the hell out of the Enterprise crew by interrogating them about Picard and the decisions he’s made.  This will all become important in a later episode.  Also, they really do need better security on this ship.  I don’t care how much humanity has evolved in a few hundred years: children and teenagers will still be children and teenagers.

In the other plot, Wesley Crusher has to go up against three other top candidates applying for Star Fleet Academy, as apparently they’ll only admit one of them each year, which doesn’t seem like the most ideal system.  Apparently, there’s this ‘psych test’ everyone has go through, in which the candidates are forced to face their greatest fears and are assessed on how they cope.  Eventually Wes is shown to a room for this test, and left alone there until an alarm sounds and he runs out to find the building suddenly empty, apart from two guys who are trapped… and Wesley, who’s supposed to be a genius (remember, he’s saved the Enterprise several times already, working out things that even the adults who have had all their training failed to), doesn’t immediately see that there’s something fishy about all this?

It’s a stupid test.  It seems more like the kind of experiment psychologists used to do, like electrocuting babies whenever they were shown an image of Santa.  Not because there was anything valuable to learn by doing that, but because one of them thought it would be funny.

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