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Star Trek: The Next Generation – The Best of Both Worlds, Part I (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.

So we’re here. It’s the end of the third season of Star Trek: The Next Generation, the season where the show really kicked into gear. After a decidedly uneven first and second seasons, where moments of brilliance blended with hours of tedium, the show had really pulled its act together. Even the weakest hours of the season where still competently produced, the average quality increased significantly and the stronger episodes just hit it out of the park.

The Best of Both Worlds is really just the cherry on top. But it’s one hell of a cherry.

He's looking right at us...

He’s looking right at us…

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Star Trek: The Next Generation (DC Comics, 1989) #47-50 – The Worst of Both Worlds (Review)

This November and December, 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.

We’ll be supplementing our coverage of the episodes with some additional materials – mainly novels and comics and films. This is one such entry.

The Worst of Both Worlds, as the name implies, is an excuse to revisit one of the pivotal moments of Star Trek: The Next Generation. (Go on, guess which one!) Unfortunately, it’s not quite up to the task – a failing down to both to the scripts from Michael Jan Friedman and the artwork from Peter Krause. It winds up feeling like an interesting idea, given a rather lackluster execution, working best as a study of the impact that the show’s third season cliffhanger had on the franchise.

A time warp...

A time warp…

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Star Trek: Strange New Worlds VI – The Beginning (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.

We’ll be supplementing our coverage of the episodes with some additional materials – mainly novels and comics and films. This is one such entry.

The Borg are, quite possibly, the most significant addition to the Star Trek mythos since the Klingons. They are one of the few modern pieces of Star Trek lore that will be instantly recognisable to a broader audience. They have featured, in some way, in all four of the Star Trek spin-off series. They are constantly rumoured and suggested as a viable antagonist for the rebooted film series. The Borg are a pretty big deal.

And yet, like so many pop culture villains, they seem less threatening the more we know about them. One of the more frequent complaints about the use of the Borg in Star Trek: Voyager was that it made the aliens more familiar, more understandable, more relatable. Continuing to build off the premise of the Borg Queen in Star Trek: First Contact, the Borg became an alien species that Janeway would reason and negotiate with, in stark contrast to Q’s characterisation of the collective in Q Who?

Although Star Trek: Enterprise did manage to turn the Borg’s fascination with mankind into a causal loop, televised Star Trek never managed to produce an origin story for those cybernetic monsters. Ever ready to fill in a perceived blank in the canon, the expanded Star Trek universe has actually proposed a number of origins for the Borg.

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Star Trek: The Next Generation (DC) Annual #2 – Thin Ice (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.

We’ll be supplementing our coverage of the episodes with some additional materials – mainly novels and comics and films. This is one such entry.

Riker is a character caught between a rock and a hard place. According to the series bible, Riker was imagined as one of the “dual lead characters” for the show and clearly envisioned as an impulsive and brilliant Kirk to Picard’s more rational and stoic Spock. However, it didn’t quite work out that way, for a number of reasons. For one thing, the writing on the early years of Star Trek: The Next Generation tended to be a bit more sterile and bland, so Riker was never really allowed to step too far out of Picard’s shadow.

Instead, we got lots of characters talking about how ambitious Riker was, without seeing it for ourselves. It’s implied that Riker’s career led him to separate from Troi, something Peter David ran with in Imzadi. Everybody is constantly telling everybody else how Riker desperately wants to be a starship commander. And yet, when it come to the actual characterisation of Riker on the show, none of this shines through.

Due to the constraints imposed on the early years, interpersonal conflict was impossible in early Next Generation scripts, putting Riker in a paradoxical position as a character. We’re repeatedly told how ambitious and career-orientated he is, but none of that shines through.

Dead space...

Dead space…

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Star Trek: Deep Space Nine – The Never-Ending Sacrifice by Una McCormack (Review)

Star Trek: Deep Space Nine is twenty years old this year. To celebrate, I’m taking a look at the first season. Check back daily for the latest review or retrospective.

We’ll be supplementing our coverage of the episodes with some additional materials – mainly novels and comics and films. This is one such entry.

More than any of the other Star Trek spin-offs, Star Trek: Deep Space Nine lends itself to narratives running in parallel to the main plot. Part of this is due to the conscious world-building the show engaged in, creating an expansive supporting cast populated by citizens of countless different worlds that were developed into more than just “planets of the week.”

There’s also the rather epic scale of events depicted in the show, with only The Best of Both Worlds offering a glimpse of events on a scale similar to those of Deep Space Nine. The show’s setting helps as well; even with the Defiant and occasional trips to other worlds, most of the show was focused on life on the station, suggesting a maelstrom of activity in the wider universe.

The Never-Ending Sacrifice takes advantage of these factors to offer a compelling narrative running in parallel to the events of Deep Space Nine, spanning from Cardassians through to the Pocket Books relaunch. It’s a rich and expansive tale which feels like a genuine epic, taking the opportunity to glimpse events of the season through a set of alien eyes.

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Star Trek: Deep Space Nine – Emissary (Review)

Star Trek: Deep Space Nine is twenty years old this year. To celebrate, I’m taking a look at the first season. Check back daily for the latest review or retrospective.

Star Trek: Deep Space Nine is a phenomenal piece of television. It’s often a bit overlooked because of its unique setting. After all, the words Star Trek evoke space ships and new worlds – “new life forms and new civilisations.” As such, a Star Trek series about a space station feels counter-intuitive. “To boldly sit” is the hardly the most dynamic premise. And yet, despite that, there’s a very serious argument to be made that Deep Space Nine is the crowning accomplishment of television Star Trek. It’s certainly the last great attempt to boldly push the franchise forward, with Star Trek: Voyager and Star Trek: Enterprise feeling just a tad regressive and conservative in comparison.

Indeed, Deep Space Nine represents a massive narrative leap forward from the success of Star Trek: The Next Generation, which remains one of the greatest science-fiction shows ever produced. For better or worse, Emissary makes it quite clear that Deep Space Nine is not an attempt to copy its direct predecessor, even if some of the other episodes in the first season might back-pedal a bit. In fact, it’s surprising just how well the pilot for this strangest of Star Trek shows holds up, suggesting a firmer grasp of its own identity than a few of the subsequent episodes could claim.

A Commanding presence...

A Commanding presence…

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Star Trek: Terok Nor – Day of the Vipers by James Swallow (Review)

Star Trek: Deep Space Nine is twenty years old this year. To celebrate, I’m taking a look at the first season. Check back daily for the latest review or retrospective.

We’ll be supplementing our coverage of the episodes with some additional materials – mainly novels and comics and films. This is one such entry.

Star Trek: Deep Space Nine comes with back story. A lot of back story. In fact, the opening scene of Emissary establishes the show in the context of The Best of Both Worlds, Part II, introducing a lead character whose tragic origin is rooted in an encounter that we had only fleetingly glimpse in Star Trek: The Next Generation. Due to the setting and nature of the show, history and continuity were major parts of Deep Space Nine‘s identity, and a large part of what set the show apart from its predecessors. (And successors, for that matter.)

Although the Klingons would dominate the show’s fourth season and remain a presence throughout the show’s run, and the Romulans might occasionally be glimpsed lurking in the back ground, the series largely focused on two alien races that had been introduced in The Next Generation. The Cardassians had been introduced in the show’s fourth season, in The Wounded, and the Bajorans first appeared during the fifth season in Ensign Ro.

Officially part of The Lost Era series of novels designed to flesh out the history of the shared Star Trek universe, the Terok Nor trilogy exists as a bridge into Emissary, something of an extended history lesson that contextualises the events of Deep Space Nine by providing an account of the Occupation of Bajor, an atrocity that only ended shortly before Emissary actually began.

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