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Star Trek: The Next Generation – Brothers (Review)

This January and February, we’ll be finishing up our look at the second season of Star Trek: The Next Generation and moving on to the third year of the show, both recently and lovingly remastered for high definition. Check back daily for the latest review.

Brothers is Star Trek: The Next Generation getting back to business at usual. Well, not quite usual, but close enough. Following the monumental season-bridging epic that was The Best of Both Worlds and the breathing space afforded by Family, Brothers is a good old-fashioned science-fiction adventure story revolving around one of the show’s most popular character and really written to satisfy a laundry list of Star Trek tropes and conventions.

Although its notable for maintaining a thematic consistency that is threaded through the fourth season, and also for affording Brent Spiner to play three different roles, the most striking aspect of Brothers from a production point of view is the fact that it is written by Rick Berman. Berman had been serving as producer on the show since Encounter at Farpoint, but this was his first scripting contribution. He’d only write one more episode of The Next Generation before the show went off the air.

Given Berman’s production style, it feels strangely appropriate that Brothers is so carefully and meticulously structured and constructed.

"Let's put a smile on that face..."

“Let’s put a smile on that face…”

Rick Berman is a controversial figure for a number of reasons – most of which have to do with the decline of the franchise in the early years of the twenty-first century. As the senior producer working on Star Trek: Voyager and Star Trek: Enterprise, Berman takes a lot of the heat generated by those two spin-offs. There are a wealth of legitimate criticisms to be made about Berman, but the root of the problem that fandom has for Berman stems from his conservatism.

As a veteran television producer, Berman was stuck in a particular mode of making television. He liked episodic adventures. He didn’t like to carry over arcs. He didn’t like to tinker with a formula that was successful. He was wary of being provocative for the sake of being provocative. He had an understanding of how the medium of television worked in the late eighties and nineties, and it took him far too long to adjust to the fact that the model began to shift in the nineties.

All according to design...

All according to design…

These are all complaints that can justifiably be made about Berman. They really can’t be ignored when talking about the grand sweeping history of Star Trek. However, Berman’s critics tend to overlook one important fact about the man. Rick Berman’s vision was pretty much perfectly in line with the franchise when it was at the height of its popularity in the early nineties. Rick Berman is just as pivotal a figure in the rejuvenation and success of The Next Generation as Michael Piller was.

Piller was a more interesting and dynamic creative force, and one interested in really pushing the boundaries of what Star Trek could be. It’s easy to see why he tends to take the lion’s share of the credit for salvaging The Next Generation. At the risk of being cynical, it also helps that Piller was essentially forced out of the franchise at the point where things really began to go downhill. Michael Piller only oversaw two seasons of Voyager. He may have been in charge of Star Trek: Insurrection, but he was completely outside the blast radius of Star Trek: Nemesis.

The not-so-prodigal son returns...

The not-so-prodigal son returns…

That’s not to suggest that Piller doesn’t deserve credit for revitalising The Next Generation, but making the point that Berman’s contribution is worth noting. Berman was a producer who really pushed The Next Generation towards the model of late eighties and early nineties television. This made him something of a popular hate figure among fans, particularly when he’d try to consciously get away from cheesier aspects of the original Star Trek. (The music is the most obvious example.)

Berman’s production philosophy is a large part of why The Next Generation felt more like a well-oiled syndicated machine in its third and fourth seasons, as opposed to the chaotic mess of those first two years. For better or worse, Berman shifted the show away from the classic Star Trek aesthetic that was recognisable in the first two seasons and towards something a lot more standardised and serious.

What a piece of work is Data...

What a piece of work is Data…

Again, like Berman’s general philosophy, there are strengths and drawbacks to this approach. The most obvious strength is that the fact that Berman’s ruthless attempts to push The Next Generation out of the shadow of its predecessor forced the series to determine its own identity. The most obvious weakness is that it did remove a lot of the show’s distinctive “character.” The music became a lot more bland and the sets were never allowed to be quite as atmospheric and stylised as they had been in early adventures like Hide & Q and The Arsenal of Freedom.

Then again, without Berman, the franchise would never have managed to tap into the early nineties zeitgeist as thoroughly as it did. It’s unlikely that there would have been one spin-off, let alone three. It’s unlikely – for better or worse – that we would ever have had that hyper-saturated Star Trek season between 1994 and 1995, with one show coming, one show going, another continuing and a movie released. Whatever the quality of the Star Trek released that year, that was a production peak unfathomable when The Next Generation was first rumoured.

Ear we go...

Ear we go…

The relationship between Rick Berman and Star Trek will get more complex in the years ahead, but Brothers is notable as Berman’s first script for the series. Discussing it in the documentary Relativity, he explains that he had always planned to write for the show, but had simply never found the time:

I had done a lot of writing prior to coming to Los Angeles. I had worked on and done a lot of writing on The Big Blue Marble series and some other things that that I had written. The job I had, overseeing the scripts and giving notes, being in charge of production, being in charge of casting, and all of the editing and the post-production, was so time-consuming that I very rarely visited the set. Which was, in retrospect, a mistake. And when I did manage to free up a little time, I wrote one episode, and then the next series I wrote another episode.

It’s quite telling that the gap between the third and fourth seasons was the first point in the show’s run that Berman actually had time to write a script. The gaps between the first three seasons had been quite traumatic and difficult, with the show in turmoil behind-the-scenes. Coming off the success of the third season, everything seemed much more relaxed, despite the fact that most of the show’s writing staff had quit. (The fact that losing so many writers was not a big deal also says something about how traumatic the early years of The Next Generation must have been.)

Rule of thumb: never trust Lore...

Rule of thumb: never trust Lore…

Before delving into the episode itself, it’s interesting to look at Brothers as a Rick Berman script. Because it really feels like a Rick Berman script. Berman’s writing seems like it follows the same philosophy and outlook that drives a lot of his production work. The episode is remarkably structured. It’s a decidedly back-to-business episode, which makes a great deal of sense. We’ve had an earth-shattering two-parter and an introspective character piece. So it makes sense to get back to the business of doing something that could be termed a “normal” Star Trek story.

The episode is fairly simple. Berman doesn’t over-complicate the plot. Instead of lots of little things happening simultaneously, the plot is driven by events leading into one another. We’re introduced to the Potts brothers to provide a convenient ticking clock that raises the stakes of the episode. Then Data goes rogue and the crew try to stop him. Then Data has a family reunion with his creator and his evil twin on the surface of the planet. Things go wrong, and then the Enterprise crew manage to take back some of the ship, and then the Potts’ plot is resolved.

The ship is on automatic pilot...

The ship is on automatic pilot…

It’s a very clear and very linear progression. Sure, we occasionally get a short scene of the problems on the ship just to remind us of what is going on, but the bulk of Brothers is an efficient storytelling engine. Parts are introduced logically and clearly introduced to the audience, their plot and thematic function made apparent, and then we move on to the next object and so on and so forth. Berman’s script isn’t particularly showy or ambitious. It lacks the ambiguity of Moore’s work or the humanity of Piller’s writing. However, it’s decidedly efficient.

Consider, for example, the introductory sequence where Data hijacks the Enterprise. This is a lovely sequence for a number of reasons. First of all, it provides some nice action beats in an episode that is going to be mostly character-driven. It’s a pretty juicy hook for the audience members watching at home, and it just propels the episode forward at an incredible speed. It grabs the attention and keeps the audience watching.

It's a jungle down there...

It’s a jungle down there…

It also serves the dual purpose of foreshadowing Lore’s arrival. The opening sequence demonstrates just how terrifying Data would be as an adversary, before the episode introduces us to his evil twin brother. If an amoral Data can effortlessly wrest control of the entire ship from the show’s central cast, imaging how much damage an amoral version of Data could do. It’s a very clever and effect way of conveying the necessary information to the audience.

The sequence is also interesting because it’s an example of The Next Generation trying to keep up with contemporary technological fears. Like Contagion before it, Brothers seems to allude to the increasingly public profile of computer viruses, particularly those that could infest a host computer by stealth. The script is particularly interested in computer mechanics. Both Soong and Geordi make reference to the importance of file names or executable instructions, which is very technical and specific language for a prime time hour-long drama in 1990.

One for the books...

One for the books…

In July 1990, as Rick Berman was drafting the episode, the term “malware” was first used. One of the more high-profile computer infections at the time included 4K, also known as Stealth. In Executive Guide to Computer Viruses, Charles Ritstein estimated that as many as 4% of contemporary computer virus infections were variations of that malware, which would wait in the computer until it was the right time to act. Data behaves quite similar to a computer infected by malware – all of a sudden acting in an unpredictable or erratic manner. In fact, one suspect he needs to get his anti-virus checked.

Brent Spiner does great work with this sequence, skilfully reminding the audience that Data is more of a machine than we might like to think. His performance is striking – what’s so terrifying about seeing Data doing all this is the fact that he is so calm about it. Data doesn’t speak unless he needs to. He never smiles. He doesn’t relish hijacking the Enterprise, it’s just a means to an end, a means that he exploits mechanically and ruthlessly.

Data's behaviour here is totally out of the blue...

Data’s behaviour here is totally out of the blue…

The entire opening act is great fun. In particular, Jonathan Frakes has a bit of fun playing a perpetually frustrated Riker. None of the rest of the cast are particularly happy about the hijacking, but Frakes plays it as if Riker really has had enough of this nonsense. There’s a wonderful amount of sarcasm in his delivery (“the only way we knew we’d come out of warp was by looking out a window”) and a healthy amount of exhausted fatalism (“great… just great”). There’s also a wonderful sense of his frustration as he informs the recovered Data that they’ll “discuss it later.” Not that we ever get a sense that they did, but still.

So Berman knows what he is doing. Occasionally, Brothers is frustratingly efficient. Watching the episode, Berman’s writing is so efficiently utilitarian that it becomes distracting. The Potts brothers don’t eat up any more screen time than strictly necessary, which is a good thing of itself. However, it makes their use seem a little heavy-handed. It draws attention to how ridiculous it is to keep the antidote to a particular poison on a planet light years away from the place where the deadly fruit grows.

Riker gets the shaft again...

Riker gets the shaft again…

Berman overplays the thematic overlap a little bit, with Crusher’s final line to Data seeming particularly on the nose. When Data remarks how the two brothers seem to be getting along, Crusher explains, “They’re brothers, Data. Brothers forgive.” Gee. I wonder how that can be applied to this particular episode. The Next Generation is hardly a subtle television show, but it does feel like the show has wandered into “a very important lesson” territory.

Similarly, Berman’s ruthless efficiency also draws attention to some of the episode’s contrivances. Soong just conveniently gets tired before performing that vitally important operation that will finally give Data all that he has ever wanted? He leaves Data alone with his evil twin, and then forgets to check for Lore before engaging in this risky procedure? It feels just a little bit too convenient, a way for Berman to reach an effective conclusion from a storytelling perspective in the most logical and straight-forward manner possible.

Often Wrong's got a broken heart...

Often Wrong’s got a broken heart…

However, it’s worth noting that these problems are far from fatal flaws. After all, they are merely a result of Berman being a little too efficient in his approach to scripting for The Next Generation. The problem lies in how Berman tries to execute these ideas, rather than the ideas themselves. Berman has a great premise, a good hook, some nice plot points. His way of connecting them all just feels a little too direct, in places.

This is important, because it underscores a very important fact about Berman. Berman is a professional. He is a very good professional. Berman’s writing is structured and logical, adhering to the first principles of storytelling and character development. Brothers recommends itself on the strength of Berman’s approach to the character of Lore, which isn’t particularly novel but is still leaps-and-bounds ahead of how the character appeared in Datalore.

"We're fifteen minutes into the episode! I'm sure Worf will solve the problem!"

“We’re fifteen minutes into the episode! I’m sure Worf will solve the problem!”

In Datalore, the character of Lore is nothing but Data’s evil twin. He is even identified as such in the promotional trailer for the episode. (“Now! Data’s evil twin plots to destroy the crew!”) He’s evil for the sake of being evil, a generic doppelganger who is outwitted by the ship’s quick-thinking fifteen-year-old wunderkind, who manages to save the day when the adults refuse to listen to him. In sort, as wonderfully campy as Datalore might be, it’s still a pretty crappy piece of television and a laughable piece of drama. (I write that despite loving Spiner’s one-dimensionally creepy Lore.)

Brothers manages to take Lore and turn him into something more interesting, without straying from that root concept. Lore is still Data’s evil twin. He’s still creepy. He still swaps places with Data, fooling other characters. However, Berman is a strong enough writer to appreciate that none of that makes Lore an especially interesting character in his own right. It make make a convenient adversary or an endearing gimmick, but it’s not enough to hang a character around.

Never look a gift android in the mouth...

Never look a gift android in the mouth…

So Brothers actually gives Lore a bit of character and a bit of development. Sure, he’s still a manipulative and murderous sociopath. Indeed, Lore’s arrival is one of the blackest gags The Next Generation would ever do. Worf announces that a Paklad vessel with “no life signs” has arrived in the system, before Lore beams down in a Pakled outfit from Samaritan Snare. Although never articulated, the implication is clear. Those dim-witted scavengers played by chubby men who spoke very slowly had beamed Lore on board to scavenge him. He then proceeded to brutally murder them and steal their ship.

However, Lore is a lot easier to understand here. Allowing him to rage against Soong does a lot to make him more understandable. He is, after all, an android. He was programmed. There is a point where you can argue that his behaviour is not necessarily his own fault. “Why didn’t you just fix me?” he asks Soong. “It was within your power to fix me.” Lore’s existential angst is understandable, even if it doesn’t excuse his violence and sociopathy. It’s hard not to pity Lore in the same way that one pities Frankenstein’s monster, a horrendous creation that never asked to exist.

Looking for a steer on this...

Looking for a steer on this…

In a way, Brothers is something of a spiritual successor to one of Gene Roddenberry’s most archetypal Star Trek plots – the rogue computer desperately searching for its creator. Roddenberry used the story in the second season of the classic Star Trek, with Nomad searching for his origins in The Changeling. Roddenberry was so keen on that story idea that he not only recycled it for the aborted Star Trek: Phase II pilot, In Thy Image, but he also reworked it for the plot of Star Trek: The Motion Picture.

Data’s single-minded attempt to reach his creator at the start of the episode can’t help but evoke V’ger’s rampage towards Earth. Both events have serious consequences – V’ger destroys several ships, and Data almost kills a sick kid. And both journeys are ultimately spiritual in nature – they are about finding the creator and getting a chance to figure it all out. In all cases of the story in classic Star Trek, Roddenberry’s secularism shines through. There is no reason to be found. Even if the creator existed, he is long gone.

The good son...

The good son…

Brothers is really that same religious allegory pushed to its logical conclusion. Data and Lore can find their creator. However, he’s not some religious figure. He’s just a sick old man who isn’t prepared for what the universe has in store. Soong created life in his own image, but the episode makes it quite clear that he is not a god in any way, shape or form. He doesn’t factor on Lore receiving his signal. He can’t tell which of his children is which. Ultimately, at the end of the episode, he dies.

Finding Soong doesn’t magically grant Data’s wish to become more human, at least not in any way driven by Soong himself. Soong doesn’t even get to play the role of the Wizard here. He can’t grant the tin woodsman a heart with a gesture. (Or even a quick surgery.) Any progress that Data makes as a result of his brief contact with Soong comes from Data himself. Data’s awareness of himself increases. He doesn’t get the emotion ship. He doesn’t heal the rift with his brother. He doesn’t even get the information to help him construct a more stable positronic net so he might attempt to have another child at some point.

"It's alive!"

“It’s alive!”

Returning to Data’s evil twin, there is an ambiguity to Lore’s conduct in Brothers. Sure, he murders his father and deactivates his brother at the end of the episode, but he’s also quite happy to head on his way when he first encounters them. When he discovers that Soong is dying, he seems genuinely concerned for his father. “Wait a minute,” he insists, immediately moving back to his father. “Wait a minute. What do you mean, you’re dying? You look fine. You’re not that old. You look fine. What is this? Some kind of a trick?”

There’s a strange vulnerability to Lore in that moment, as if he’s somehow worried that his father and brother might be conspiring to get one over on him. His paranoia seems genuine, rather than a mere affectation, making him all the more pitiable. There’s just enough sincerity there to suggest Lore really loves his father, but without softening the character too much. Did he always plan to murder Soong after the procedure, or was it a result of the emotional “high” he was experiencing? Brothers is wonderfully open in its handling of Lore, trusting the viewers to make up their own minds on the character.

An un-Soong hero...

An un-Soong hero…

Brothers is an interesting episode because not only does Rick Berman provide the script, but Rob Bowman directs. Bowman had been one of the most dynamic and proactive directors on the show’s first two years. He remains one of a handful of directors to really make an impression on The Next Generation. There’s a wealth of directorial talent working on the show, but Robert Bowman and David Carson are really in a league of their own. Bowman elevated a lot of his dodgy first season scripts, and is probably the primary reason Datalore wasn’t as bad as it should have been.

Of course, when Bowman got the right material he was amazing. Bowman’s work on the second season included two of the strongest three episodes from that run – Elementary, Dear Data and Q Who? Bowman infamously went over-budget and over-time on both of those productions, costing the show a lot of money. There’s an argument to be made that it’s Bowman’s fault that show had to produce Shades of Grey. (And, to be fair to Bowman, he did produce that one on a tiny budget and in only a handful of days.)

Quaran-teen?  (Okay, he's a bit too young for that to work, but still...)

(Okay, he’s a bit too young for that to work, but still…)

It’s tempting, therefore, to blame Bowman for Shades of Grey. After all, the episode is pretty universally reviled. It often features among lists of the worst episodes of the franchise. It was such a sour experience that the producers vowed never to have to do something like that again. I can understand the desire to blame Bowman for that, even if I don’t necessarily buy into it. After all, thanks to Bowman I can watch Elementary, My Dear Data or Q Who? any time that I want. I never have to watch Shades of Grey again.

Still, this production reality likely contributed to the show distancing itself from Bowman. The director did not return for the third season. Indeed, Brothers is the last Star Trek episode directed by Bowman, which is a massive loss to the franchise. Bowman would go on to enjoy an impressive career outside of Star Trek. He was one of the driving directors on The X-Files, earning the right to helm that show’s first feature film, The X-Files: Fight the Future. Bowman remains active on television, currently working on the television show Castle.

Everything is ship shape...

Everything is ship shape…

Unfortunately, as Rob Bowman confesses on the Relativity documentary, his return wasn’t entirely smooth. He concedes that he was a little combative in his dealings with the studio about the filming arrangements for Brent Spiner:

If I remember correctly, it was, “Let him be that same character for the whole day and I’ll shoot over doubles. And then another day, let him be that other character, the whole day.” I said I was going to leave, that I wouldn’t direct the episode if they didn’t do it the way that I said to do it. I’m sorry it got to that. I would never do that now. There’s other ways to communicate. Hopefully today we’d do it the same way, but I was not very mature about it, I’ll say that.

It’s a shame, because – once again – Bowman is simply a superb technical director. There are a number of amazing shots and sequences in the episodes using special effects to triple the amount of Brent Spiner on display.

A chip off the old block...

A chip off the old block…

Spiner himself is absolutely wonderful. His performance as Lore is a lot more restrained and nuanced than it was three years earlier. Perhaps that’s down to the script, but it may also be down to Spiner growing as a performer. However, it’s his work as Soong that is incredibly impressive. Apparently the show had been considering actor Key Luke for the role, but Spiner talked them into giving it to him. In hindsight, this is probably a good thing. Key Luke is a great actor, but there would have been the risk of turning Soong into an Asian stereotype – both a mad scientist and philosophical old trickster.

Instead, Spiner portrays Soong as a tired and pathetic old man. Soong has absolutely no regard for how Data and Lore came to his lab. He doesn’t bother to ask about the Enterprise or the Pakled ship; thus overlooking a dying kid and his son’s brutal slaughter of an entire crew of hapless idiots. Instead, Soong is so focused on himself and his own work that he summoned his children across the cosmos to an audience with him. He didn’t ask them. He didn’t contact them. He compelled them, with no real consideration of anything beyond his own work. It’s really not too difficult to see how he might have accidentally created a sociopath.

Oh, brother!

Oh, brother!

While Spiner plays Soong as a quirky rebel confronting his own mortality, there’s also something deeply sad about the old man. He’s so paranoid that he has lived out his life in isolation. He’s so desperate to atone for past mistakes that he readily wakes his sociopathic creation to try to make things right. Above, I mentioned the plot contrivance that gets Soong off stage for Lore’s evil swap-a-roo, but the scene works surprisingly well. “I’m tired,” Soong remarks. “I need to rest, first. I’m tired.” It’s hard not to feel sorry for the guy, living alone with his guilt and remorse, watching his body slowly betray him.

At the same time, the ending of Brothers does feel a little convenient and contrived. When the Enterprise team beams down, it seems strange that they’re willing to leave Soong on the planet. Not only do the crew seem ready to leave Soong to die, but the script completely skirts over the consequences of what happened. Soong hijacked the Federation flagship, risking lives. You don’t ask him to come on board once you find him. Similarly, it feels weird that Starfleet would allow Data to just keep working on the bridge of the ship, given how efficiently and terrifyingly he hijacked the vessel.

Riker isn't the least bit phased...

Riker isn’t the least bit phased…

Then again, this is very in keeping with Berman’s style. His script is self-contained and clearly intended as such. It is written so there can be no real lingering threads beyond Lore himself. Data doesn’t get an emotion chip, so his journey toward humanity doesn’t make a significant leap forward. He might encounter his father for the first time, but his father dies at the end of the episode, so there’s nothing that can really be carried over for the show going forward. There’s no status quo shift for anybody, despite the fact that the very premise of the episode suggests that there must be.

There are a few bum notes. Some of the dialogue is a little cringe-worthy, particularly Crusher’s use of the old “then don’t raise your arm like that” gag, despite Gates McFadden’s rather game delivery. It doesn’t help that the dialogue is followed by the two characters bluntly spelling out the entire point of the joke. Willie Potts tries to deduce the meaning, “So, if I get dizzy standing up…” Crusher doesn’t even wait for him to piece it together himself. She clarifies, “Then don’t stand up.”

Data switches things up a bit...

Data switches things up a bit…

Still, for all that, there’s some genuinely insightful stuff here. Soong is another old genius who hasn’t yet realised that his time has passed. As such, he can’t help but evoke Sarek from the third season, a stand-in for Gene Roddenberry. Soong is obviously much further along his illness that Sarek, but that reflects Roddenberry’s deteriorating health. So the scene in which Data and Soong discuss philosophy feels a little important, as Soong tries to coax Data into explaining why the past is so fascinating.

“What’s so important about the past?” Soong muses. “People got sick, they needed money. Why tie yourself to that?” Given how Roddenberry’s pitch for The Next Generation was a society where illness and materialism had been fully defeated, Soong’s comments seem quite pointed. It’s not too hard to imagine Roddenberry having the same conversations with writers insisting that the audience needed to relate to the characters trapped in this drama.

The dream outlives the dreamer...

The dream outlives the dreamer…

The conversation then shifts to the connection between the past and the future – a multi-layered topic for The Next Generation. It was a show that had to connect with modern audiences while set in the far future, but it also had to connect to its predecessor while trying to forge its own identity. Soong even explicitly uses the word “continuity”, which has its own weighted meaning in the context of Star Trek.

Gene Roddenberry was dying, and it seems like the production team knew it. As such, it’s hard not to see Brothers as Berman meditating on that just a little bit. Like Soong, Roddenberry as a mad genius capable of idealistic brilliance; but he was also a writer capable of making very serious and fundamental mistakes and errors. Data and Lore are yin and yang, the perfect representation of Soong’s legacy – but also of Roddenberry’s own legacy within the franchise.

Well, he always was the breakout star anyway...

Well, he always was the breakout star anyway…

Roddenberry would always be the man who created Star Trek, and whose vision informed a lot of what the show was. Roddenberry could see the franchise as the very best of what it was, and his vision of a better future resonate with a lot of people. At the same time, Roddenberry was also the source of a lot of the franchise’s more difficult moments. Some of his ideas and scripts were abysmal. Some were even offensive. In the context of Star Trek, Roddenberry could be excessively protective of his vision, at the expense of others (often dismissive of their contributions) but also in terms of the best interests of the show itself.

So, really, Brothers feels like the ideal show for Berman to have written. In so many ways – from the subtext to the structure – it’s hard to imagine a script that more effectively evokes Berman’s philosophy of Star Trek. As such, it’s a very solid piece of work that is very easy to like, but also one that remains a little restricted and hemmed in by the boundaries Berman imposes himself.

Read our reviews of the third season of Star Trek: The Next Generation:

13 Responses

  1. As I watch through the show for the first time, I’m saddened to reach what is (for now) the end of your TNG reviews. They have become a wonderful digestif for me at the end of each episode that helps aid against each one blurring into one another, something I find to be an unfortunate side-effect of binge watching. I look forward to watching DS9 with with your reviews as a companion for the same reason. It remains to be seen if I’ll have the patience for Voyager (that one has 7 seasons too!? Lordy.)

    Either way, keep up the great work you do here, Star Trek-related and otherwise.

    • I’m sorry Liam. I do hope to get back to it at some point. Although I need to finish my Voyager reviews first.

      • I’d like to second that. Your reviews are the first thing I read in the morning after watching an episode the previous night (going through all ST eps in order). I will miss them (until I get to the other series). Thank you for all of the effort and thought.

      • Thanks Mark. It means a lot to me. I’m as disappointed to anyone that I haven’t had a chance to finish them as I’d like to.

    • I’d say about 6 episodes of Voyager a season should do-there’s pretty much no continuity, so you can just watch the best episodes. DS9 though-past Season 2, I’d say watch it all.

      • Maybe the fourth season of Voyager? I think it’s (easily) the show’s best season. And you can just jump on in from the cliffhanger at the end of the third season?

  2. I would also like to add my voice to the no doubt massive and irritating choir of voices clamouring for the return of TNG reviews.
    I mean no exaggeration when I say that this series has been, like all of your other work, some of the greatest, most insightful criticism and analysis I’ve ever read, of Star Trek and film in general. You’ve made a tremendous impact on the way I think about film criticism, Star Trek, The X-Files, Doctor Who, thematic analysis in general, the works!
    I for one can’t wait for the return of TNG once you’ve finished Endgame and wrapped up Voyager.
    However, I won’t press you to a ridiculous degree; I don’t wish you to sacrifice quality of product for the sake of time. Just wanted to express my appreciation. Keep up the great work, you have an undeniable talent!

    • These voices are never irritating! People have generally been really polite, and the truth is that I’m frustrated myself that I haven’t had time to commit to this. So don’t feel bad at all about it.

      I really want to live in a world where I have the time to do all the stuff that I want to do right now, and I am deeply touched – honestly, no exaggeration – that people feel they gain enough from my writing that they want more of it. I’m always surprised anybody reads this stuff, let alone that people enjoy it. So thank you very much.

  3. Echoing the above comments… When I realised halfway through Picard that I wasn’t going to enjoy it as much as I wanted to, I began rewatching Next Gen. Obviously current events have given us more time to binge-watch. I have become addicted to reading your reviews after watching an old episode again, and even when I disagree slightly, they are always, without exception, incredibly thoughtful and well-written. I especially appreciate and enjoy the links to supplemental material that you provide, and look forward to more one day. All the best!

    • Thanks Chris. I’m sorry about not being able to finish them. But I do have complete DS9, Voyager and Enterprise reviews?

      • It’s interesting how the only Trek reviews you haven’t finished are those of the most popular show.

        Life happens! I hope you manage to finish these one day, though. They’re so good.

  4. I’ll echo the others who have commented here that I felt a sense of loss when I finished watching the next episode, ‘Suddenly Human’, and didn’t have your insightful commentary to look forward to! I hope that you do come back to TNG at some point, since I’ve enjoyed your reviews while watching TOS and the other 90s Star Trek shows, and TNG up to this point 🙂

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