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Star Trek: The Next Generation – Ménage à Troi (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, here we are again. We almost made it. Two episodes away from the series finalé and… boom! Lwaxana Troi episode. Sometimes you just can’t catch a break.

Still, this is the point where we reflect on how far the show has come in a season. Ménage à Troi is hardly the best episode of the season, but then Lwaxana episodes rarely are. We need to compare like with like, to get a sense of how far the show has come along. It’s not enough to say that Star Trek: The Next Generation is a better show when it made Ménage à Troi than it was when it made Manhunt or Haven, but it’s close.

Ménage à Troi is a problematic episode, much like Manhunt and Haven are both problematic episodes. There’s a weird awkward dated quality to the show’s attempts to do relationship humour – a vaguely unsettling sexist undertone about how confident older women are inherently hilarious and its great fun to see them involved in embarrassing relationships. Unfortunately, Ménage à Troi continues that trend.

Two Ferengi walk into a bar...

Two Ferengi walk into a bar…

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Star Trek: Deep Space Nine – The Forsaken (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.

Following on directly from If Wishes Were Horses…, The Foresaken combines another bunch of familiar Star Trek clichés into a plot that fells like it has been elsewhere. To be fair, the “malfunctioning computer” plot is a plot that lends itself to a Star Trek setting, and the key is the execution of that most familiar set up. The franchise has done it quite well in the past. I’m fond of Star Trek: The Next Generation‘s foray into the subgenre with Disaster. Even Star Trek: Deep Space Nine would do a number of later episodes working quite well from this starting point – Civil Defense and Starship Down ranking quite highly.

The problem with The Foresaken, then, isn’t the fact that it falls back on a bunch of familiar Star Trek clichés, but it fails to use them to tell an especially compelling story.

Oh, what a world!

Oh, what a world!

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Star Trek – Crew 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.

Majel Barrett Roddenberry was the first lady of the Star Trek franchise, in more ways than one. She was married to Gene Roddenberry and remained a part of the franchise after his death. She guest starred on the shows occasionally, continued to lend her voice to the computers and offered the occasional interview to the press. Although her actual influence on the television shows was relatively minimal (and she was occasionally prone to protesting various plot developments including the Dominion War on Star Trek: Deep Space Nine), she did remain involved in Star Trek until she passed away in 2008.

However, she was also involved from the start. She had the recurring role of Christine Chapel throughout the original television show, and appeared in the unaired pilot, The Cage, as Christopher Pike’s first officer. Identified only as “Number One”, this almost made her the literal “first lady” of Star Trek. I’m surprised that Number One hasn’t been used more often as a character, with her appearances in tie-ins generally restricted to her time on board Pike’s Enterprise.

John Byrne’s miniseries might have the title Crew, and feature supporting roles for Christopher Pike and Mister Spock, but it is very much the story of Number One. Published a year after her death, and dedicated to her memory, Crew feels like a fitting farewell to the actress responsible for one of the franchise’s earliest and most intriguing supporting characters.

Fate protects fools, little children... and ships named Enterprise.

Fate protects fools, little children… and ships named Enterprise.

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