This year is the fiftieth anniversary of Gene Roddenberry’s Star Trek. Even if you’re not a fan of the show, or of sci-fi in general, chances are you’ll have heard of Kirk, Spock, Scotty, Klingons, as they’ve become so ingrained into our culture. While I don’t have the original series on Blu-Ray, I do have The Next Generation, which is the generation I grew up with. So I’m rewatching it and just posting my random thoughts on each episode.
Continuing my celebration of Star Trek’s fiftieth year by watching my Next Generation Blu-Rays. I’m going to go through the episodes a little more slowly than Season One, but now let’s get into this thing:
So season one of The Next Generation was… well… there’s no way to say it nicely – It was big stinking pile of Atari Jaguars. Despite that, the networks decided to defy Vulcan logic and went ahead with season two. And it’s not off to a great start to be honest.
I’m sure most Trekkies are aware that ‘The Child’ was actually a script for the aborted series ‘Star Trek: Phase II’ that was adapted to TNG. Troi is visited by a mysterious alien entity that just happens to have been floating around the ship while she’s asleep, finds herself pregnant, decides to go ahead and have the baby which is born after just a couple of days and continues to grow at an accelerated rate for a few more days, then dies. It turns out, violating women’s bodies is how these aliens learn about other species, but it’s presence is putting the ship in danger so it turns into energy and floats off on its merry way. You’d think all of this would have had a deep impact on Troi, perhaps even left her a bit traumatised. But no – completely forgotten by the next episode.
Of course, that’s partly just down to the way TV was made back then. You kids these days have grown up with boxsets and Netflix, but back then you didn’t really have arcs and stories that would unfold over an entire season of a show (Deep Space Nine was the first show that wasn’t a soap opera I can remember doing that). In those days, each episode was made to stand on its own so that anyone could jump into a series at any point and pick up what was going on without having seen any previous episode. And at the end of each episode everything typically reset, restoring the status quo. Of course sometimes characters referred to things that had happened earlier, but in general their circumstances never changed very much.
That said, this episode was forgettable but there are a few changes between Seasons 1 and 2 worth noting. Geordi La Forge is now officially the chief engineer (let’s just hope Wesley doesn’t f*** it up for him), Worf is chief of security, and Doctor Crusher has left. Yes, Wesley is living by himself now and having a party in his quarters every night.
Figured I would just post a selfie of me watching Star Trek, just so you can see what a Trekkie really looks like. We don’t all go around dressed as Klingons or wearing really ridiculous pointed ears. Some of us resemble children’s drawings of giant disembodied faces.
Anyway, the Enterprise encounters a mysterious hole in space which Data says is a phenomenon never before encountered by a star ship, apart from all of the times that they have. The ship is then swallowed and they find themselves being experimented on by a mysterious entity.
This is a ‘bottle show’, that is a show that takes place all on existing sets, namely those of the Enterprise, thus saving the production time and money (even when they visit what they believe is the U.S.S. Yamato it’s obviously just the same bridge set). And as far as bottle shows go, it’s not too bad.
Worf at one point also inadvertantly says the same slogan William Riker uses to motivate himself every morning, ‘ ONE BRIDGE! ONE RIKER! ONE BRIDGE!’ He’s just waiting for the old man to kick the bucket, but ideally not take the rest of them with him as he was close to here.
See, The Doctor in Doctor Who can easily travel through time and visit BBC costume drama sets whenever he wants. Although time travel has been used quite often in Star Trek, it’s a little harder for them than wibbly-wobbly-timey-wimey, so when they want to do costume dramas, they usually go to the holodeck.
So yes, another holodeck episode like The Big Goodbye in season one, but I like this one a lot more. I think that’s mainly because of Daniel Davis playing famous fictional evil genius Professor Moriarty. Despite him being an evil genius, I actually do feel for him a bit as he starts to become aware and to realise he is a character written as a villain, but why can’t he be more?
This all came about because of Doctor Pulaski taunting Geordi and Data, claiming that Data couldn’t solve an original Holmes mystery because he’s just a machine (despite the fact we’ve seen him solve original problems before), prompting Geordi to tell the Holodeck to create an opponent capable of defeating Data (similar to how Moriarty was originally created, as Arthur Conan Doyle invented him to kill off Holmes as he was tired of the character). So once again we see that video games in the future actually can kill you when they glitch, and the customer support is useless so it’s up to the users to fix the bugs themselves.
I’m sure it’s been mentioned a lot of times before, but it seems like with Pulaski and Data the writers were trying to recreate the dynamic between McCoy and Spock in the orginal series. But it doesn’t work, as Spock was half-human and obviously understood McCoy’s ribbing enough that he could jab back, whereas Data doesn’t and so Pulaski just comes across as plain mean.
But you know, it’s to hard to think of new things to say about a show that’s nearly thirty years old. Did anyone notice that the holographic paper didn’t disappear when Data left the holodeck with it? Of course we all did. It does raise some questions, like what happens if you eat food and drink on the holodeck, but you know I’m sure already knows the answer to that. I’m just gonna sleep until I can watch the next episode.
This episode is just… it was hard to get through. So the Enterprise helps this Captain Okona, who is obviously meant to be a sort of puckish rogue straght out of an Errol Flynn movie. And sure enough, trouble soon find him and the crew of the Enterprise are caught in the middle of it. Captain Picard does some amusing restraint when trying to deal with the feuding, but that’s one of the very few highlights of this episode.
In addition, there’s another plot going on with Data trying to learn about comedy from a really unfunny comedian. There no safeguards on the holodeck to prevent jokes from dying. He’s also helped by Guinan, who I’m not sure I mentioned had joined the crew. She only appeared before in The Child IIRC, and is played by Whoopi Goldberg from off of that film, Jumpin’ Jack Flash. I think that’s the most famous thing she’s done other than this.
And yes, Teri Hatcher also appears in this episode operating the transporter, from off of Desperate Housewives and, who can forget, Lois & Clark: The New Adventures of Superman?
I liked this episode. There were a few little things I found cheesy and wish were elaborated on more, but overall I thought it was decent. The Enterprise has to transport Riva, who is we’re told a very successful negotiator. So successful that he’s practically revered and worshipped by a number of sentient beings in the galaxy. He also happens to be deaf and mute and so communcates through a ‘chorus’ of people he’s telepathically linked to. The crews mission is simply to transport him to a wartorn planet so he can negotiate a peace.
I can’t really think of any really famous and celebrated mediators from real history, but perhaps there should be. And like I said, there are a few cheesy and even quetionable moments, such as when Picard seems to think that when a deaf person can’t understand him the thing to do is just talk more loudly into his face. I’m also curious about Riva’s chorus. What do they do wwhen Riva is sleeping? Do they have lives and personalities of their own? Will one of them have to be in the room when Riva and Troi inevitably…
Ah… well, guess it doesn’t matter then.
Yes, Riva’s chorus is killed on the planet he had come to negotiate peace on. In the end, after being convinced by Troi to stay and help the wartorn world, he’s left there on his own. Without backup. With no technology to help him, and among aliens who don’t understand sign language yet and don’t know what’s going on. Obviously we’re left hopeful that Riva will succeed in getting them to talk, and none of them becomes confused and frustrated enough to draw a phaser again. But there is never any follow up to this episode.