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Star Trek: The Next Generation – The Defector (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 Defector is the script that earned Ronald D. Moore his place on the writing staff of Star Trek: The Next Generation. The writer had contributed the first script produced by Michael Piller, The Bonding, but it was his second pitch – improvised in the heat of the moment – that cemented Moore’s place with the franchise. He would stay on The Next Generation until it finished, before moving on to Star Trek: Deep Space Nine and eventually Star Trek: Voyager, although he departed Voyager quite quickly.

Although Moore retains the credit on the finished episode, apparently – like so many third season scripts – the final draft of The Defector was a collaborative effort involving the whole writing staff. The episode, the first instalment of The Next Generation to air in the nineties, turned out surprisingly well. Indeed, The Defector is one of the strongest episodes of a very strong season.

A defective defector?

A defective defector?

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Star Trek – Romulans: Pawns of War by John Byrne (Review)

To celebrate the release of Star Trek: Into Darkness this month, we’ll be running through the first season of the classic Star Trek all this month. Check back daily to get ready to boldly go. It’s only logical.

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

Where were the Klingons? That seems to be one of the most frequently asked questions when a modern writer re-visits the early part of the first season of Star Trek. It makes sense. The Klingons are the franchise’s flagship aliens, and their long-term relations with the Federation mark one of the show’s earliest examples of continuity. The Organian Peace Treaty from Errand of Mercy is mentioned once or twice, but it informs a lot of the appearances of the Klingons in the classic Star Trek, as the warriors are prevented from engaging in direct warfare with the Federation.

However, when first introduced in Errand of Mercy, towards the end of the first season, the Klingons have just declared war on the Federation. However, it seems like this has been expected for a long time. Kirk speaks of the Klingons like old enemies. Kor knows that captain of the Enterprise by name. There’s a sense of a pre-established history, which makes their appearance towards the tale-end of the season all the more perplexing. Apparently they have been there all along, even if we haven’t seen them before.

John Byrne’s Alien Spotlight issue might have been themed around the Romulans, and the collected edition might be Romulans: Pawns of War, but it seems more devoted to exploring what exactly the Klingons were up to behind the scenes between their appearances on Star Trek.

Cry havok, and let slip the dogs of war...!

Cry havok, and let slip the dogs of war…!

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Star Trek – Charlie X (Review)

To celebrate the release of Star Trek: Into Darkness this month, we’ll be running through the first season of the classic Star Trek all this month. Check back daily to get ready to boldly go. It’s only logical.

It really is incredibly difficult to divorce Star Trek from the sixties. I know that this has become something of a (very obvious) theme in these daily reviews, but Charlie X is the kind of Star Trek episode that could only have been produced for television in the sixties. It isn’t necessarily the presence of a single factor, it’s more the package as a whole. While the general concept (“The Day Charlie Became God”, to quote Roddenberry’s succinct synopsis from his 1964 Star Trek Is… pitch) could easily be adapted for any of the spin-offs (and Hide & Q clearly plays on the same idea), the execution is so firmly anchored in the sixties that it’s very hard to separate and parse.

Part of it is the weird use of coloured lighting on the mostly grey Enterprise sets, something that Inside Star Trek suggests was down to the fact that NBC was owned at the time by RCA, a major manufacturer of colour television sets. Part of it is the somewhat confused sexuality that is a weird mix of liberated and outdated. Part of it is the fact that the show features an impromptu musical and dance number. The idea of Charlie X might be fairly simplistic, but the execution is very clearly and very distinctively Star Trek.

Screaming to the Evans...

Screaming to the Evans…

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