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Star Trek: The Next Generation – The Ensigns of Command (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.

The Ensigns of Command is a Data-centric script from Melinda Snodgrass, the writer responsible for The Measure of a Man. It was the first episode produced in the show’s third season, even if it was the second to air. As with so many third season episodes, The Ensigns of Command was beset by behind-the-scenes difficulties. These issues plagued the episode through all stages of production – from the script through to post-production.

It is a wonder that The Ensigns of Command turned out watchable. While it certainly can’t measure up to Snodgrass’ earlier Data-centric story, it is an intriguing character study that benefits from a focus on character and an understanding of Star Trek: The Next Generation works. While far from an exceptional or defining episode of The Next Generation, it’s a demonstration of how far the show has come that even an episode as troubled as this could look so professional and feel so satisfying.

A fun shoot...

A fun shoot…

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Star Trek: The Next Generation – The Ensigns of Command by Melinda Snodgrass (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.

One of the benefits of the internet age is the wealth of material that it makes available with comparative ease. Interviews are widely distributed, clips are circulated, and it’s often not too hard to find primary or well-sourced secondary materials available with a simple search. As such, it’s a lot easier to pry into the history and legacy of cult film and television than it has ever been before. Leaping back in Star Trek: The Next Generation more than two decades after it originally aired allows the viewer more insight than they would ever have had back then.

The third season of The Next Generation is widely (and rightly) regarded as one of the strongest seasons in the history of the franchise. Only the first two seasons of the original Star Trek, a few more seasons of The Next Generation and couple of years of Star Trek: Deep Space Nine can claim to compete on a level of quality and consistency with this twenty-six episode rejuvenation of the series that had faltered in its first two years.

Watching The Ensigns of Command, it’s hard to fathom how deeply troubled the production was. The episode was plagued by problems from scripting through to post-production. Writer Melinda Snodgrass has made no secret of her dissatisfaction with the episode. Although her name appears on the finished script, the episode had been heavily re-written. Snodgrass has made her original script available on-line via her website, and it makes for an interesting glimpse at what might have been.

tng-theensignsofcommand22

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Star Trek: The Next Generation – Pen Pals (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.

Pen Pals is a pretty mediocre episode of Star Trek: The Next Generation, one with a lot more potential than the episode actually delivers upon. Centring around Data’s unilateral decision to violate the Prime Directive and the consequences stemming from that decision, there’s a sense that Pen Pals might have been a lot more incisive in earlier version – a lot more willing to ask tough questions about the rules and regulations that our heroes uphold.

Sadly, Pen Pals instead ends with a massive cop out and an unwillingness to really commit to any big idea or to interrogate any of the show’s core concepts.

Everything burns...

Everything burns…

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