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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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Star Trek: The Next Generation – Time Squared (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.

Time Squared is an intriguing little episode, if not entirely satisfying. Like The Royale before it, it features the Enterprise stumbling across a phenomenon that it can’t explain. Also like The Royale, the episode presents an existential horror to the crew. Time Squared is significantly stronger as a character piece, forcing Picard to confront a potential future version of himself that he can’t reconcile with his own expectations and self-image. Unfortunately, the open-ended mystery of the episode lacks the bizarre charm of the unresolved questions dangling at the end of The Royale.

"I never noticed before, but the Captain has pretty spectacular bone structure..."

“I never noticed before, but the Captain has pretty spectacular bone structure…”

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Star Trek: The Next Generation – The Measure of a Man: Extended Cut (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.

This is a rare treat.

The Measure of a Man is generally regarded as one of the best episodes that Star Trek: The Next Generation ever produced, and a crown jewel in the entire Star Trek franchise. As such, it’s a prime candidate for this sort of lavish restoration treatment, with the blu ray collection featuring not only the televised version of the episode, but a special extended edition.

This extended edition was the version originally filmed and edited together, until the production team realised that it ran almost a quarter-of-an-hour over the slot allocated to the show on syndicated airing.

tng-themeasureofaman23

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Star Trek: The Next Generation (DC Comics, 1988) (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. This is actually supplementary to the first season of the Next Generation, specifically the episode Encounter at Farpoint.

When Malibu comics launched their Star Trek: Deep Space Nine comic in 1993, the first season of the show had concluded. Due to licensing issues, Marvel Comics published the first Star Trek: Voyager tie-in comic in late 1996, after the show’s second season had concluded. The notoriously dodgy Gold Key Star Trek comics did run alongside the classic television show, but at least waited until 1967 to begin getting the details horribly wrong.

So publishing a tie-in to Star Trek: The Next Generation in early 1988 was an ambitious move by DC comics. By that point, the show’s first season was an ambitious prospect. The six issue miniseries was launched as part of a big publicity push at the start of The Next Generation, with editor Robert Greenberger explaining in the afterword to the first issue that Paramount had approached them “sometime early this year” to write the series.

This means that the comic was being written before Encounter at Farpoint was even finished. In the letters section in the second issue, Greenberger concedes, “As I write this, it’s mid-September and Star Trek: The Next Generation has yet to debut anywhere in America.” It’s no wonder that Michael Carlin’s series wound up so inconsistent and so decidedly strange. While it’s an interesting demonstration of just how firmly Paramount were pushing their new show, it’s hardly a triumph of tie-ins.

These are the voyages...

These are the voyages…

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Star Trek: The Next Generation – Elementary, Dear Data (Review)

To celebrate the twenty-fifth anniversary of Star Trek: The Next Generation, and also next year’s release of Star Trek: Into Darkness, I’m taking a look at the recent blu ray release of the first season (and a tiny bit of the second), episode-by-episode. Check back daily for the latest review.

If you needed more evidence of the improvement of Star Trek: The Next Generation between the first and second seasons of the show, Elementary, Dear Data certainly provides it. Like Where Silence Has Lease directly before it, Elementary, Dear Data works so well because it takes a couple of ideas hinted at and teased in the first season and then develops them just a little bit further.

There’s a sense that the universe of The Next Generation is slowly expanding. While the first season treated our main characters as masters of all they surveyed, Elementary, Dear Data hints that the universe still has more to teach them and that they have a lot to learn.

Unfortunately, the trend would not continue into the next episode, but Elementary, Dear Data proves that the writing team (and the cast) are learning to play to the show’s strengths and that the pieces are all positioned to allow for a solidly entertaining hour of television.

Things take a turn for the better...

Things take a turn for the better…

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Star Trek: The Next Generation – Skin of Evil (Review)

To celebrate the twenty-fifth anniversary of Star Trek: The Next Generation, and also next year’s release of Star Trek: Into Darkness, I’m taking a look at the recent blu ray release of the first season, episode-by-episode. Check back daily for the latest review.

Skin of Evil is a mess of an episode. It’s a whole bunch of concepts thrown together, and executed in the most ridiculous and banal manner possible. There’s a lot of the disparate elements of Skin of Evil that could easily work if handled properly. Most notably, the idea of a character dying in the line of duty rather than as a hero is a fascinating one, and the eponymous monster could be an interesting twist on the “god-like beings” we seem to stumble across once every couple of weeks in the Star Trek universe. However, Skin of Evil winds up feeling the one thing it should be impossible for an episode like this to be. Despite all the different stuff happening involving all the different characters: it’s boring.

A slick operator...

A slick operator…

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Star Trek: The Next Generation – Heart of Glory (Review)

To celebrate the twenty-fifth anniversary of Star Trek: The Next Generation, and also next year’s release of Star Trek: Into Darkness, I’m taking a look at the recent blu ray release of the first season, episode-by-episode. Check back daily for the latest review.

I think Heart of Glory is, ironically, one of the first times that Star Trek: The Next Generation is consciously trying to force its way out of the shadows of its illustrious predecessor. Episodes like The Naked Now and Justice felt like hold-overs from the classic sixties Star Trek, with little acknowledgement that the world (both inside and outside the show) had dramatically changed in the two decades since Star Trek appeared. I used the adjective “ironically”, because Heart of Glory actually sees the return of one of the most classic Star Trek aliens, and one of the most recognisable pop culture extraterrestrials.

The series bible famously stated the show had no real interest in going back to the Klingons, but Heart of Glory suggests that following up with the funky foreheaded aliens might have been the smartest thing that the first season did.

I am Klingon, hear me roar!

I am Klingon, hear me roar!

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