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Star Trek: The Next Generation – The Child (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.

Let’s play make believe for a second here. Let’s imagine you are producing a television show that had a very rocky first season, but seemed to be making steps in the right direction. This was a show already respected for its depiction of social issues like racism or drug use…

However, despite that, the first year of the show had some major gender issues. Your writers and actors had been pointing out that some of the episodes in that first year could be considered sexist. Of the three actresses in you regular cast, two left. One became the first regular on a Star Trek show to die in the middle of the season, and you had to write the first episode of the second season to write out the other actress who had been having some trouble with a male producer.

Now, keeping all that in mind, let’s carefully consider what to do with the remaining female lead character. If you are producing the second season of Star Trek: The Next Generation, you choose to have an alien impregnate that character without consent, use her body as incubation chamber, exploit her maternal instincts and then make her watch what she believes to be her own child die. More than that, you make sure that the female character is completely superfluous to the script itself, and that nobody seems to care particularly about her.

Don't worry, Troi. Face of the Enemy is less than half a decade away...

Don’t worry, Troi. Face of the Enemy is less than half a decade away…

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Star Trek: The Next Generation – Season 1 (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.

Well, the video and sound quality on the blu ray are excellent. I feel the need to state that here, first, before I delve into the season as a whole. I jumped on board the recent high-definition re-release of Star Trek: The Next Generation, and the work done here by the production team is astounding. As I trawled through every episode from Encounter at Farpoint to The Neutral Zone, I was amazed and impressed at how much care had gone into restoring and renewing the show for high-definition. I can’t imagine how painstaking the work was – re-editing the original film stock, remastering old effects, remixing the sound. The team have made a believer out of me, and I am on board for pretty much any restored Star Trek boxset that CBS sees fit to release. (I can’t wait to see Deep Space Nine updated.)

I think it’s important to acknowledge the work that went into producing a set that looks and sounds fantastic. It made returning to the show a joy, even when I was (frequently) reminded of just how rocky that first season was.

tng-arsenaloffreedom4

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Star Trek: The Next Generation – The Neutral Zone (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.

Watching The Neutral Zone, it’s hard not to feel that the first season of Star Trek: The Next Generation should have wrapped up with Conspiracy. At least that would have represented a bold step forwards, even if it wasn’t the direction that the show would ultimately take. In contrast, a lot of The Neutral Zone falls back into the trite, patronising arrogance that we’ve seen our crew demonstrate repeatedly over this first year, treating three refugees from twenty-first century Earth as an excuse to lord their superiority over the viewers at home. It’s a rather strange direction to take, and it certainly doesn’t make for good television. Which feels like a bit of a waste, given that the B-plot is actually quite workable.

"We're back."

“We’re back.”

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Star Trek: The Next Generation – Arsenal of Freedom (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 suppose that Arsenal of Freedom could be worse. At its heart, it’s the sort of issue-driven story that the classic Star Trek did so very well. The original Star Trek was fond of constructing clever (and not so clever) explorations of the issues of the day, giving the audience a relatively simplistic morality play about the dangers of certain vices and the risks that they might pose to a civilised society. Later on its run, Star Trek: The Next Generation would handle its own morality plays with just a bit more nuance and sophistication, favouring deliberate and considerate probing rather than its predecessor’s endearing brashness. Like so much of the first season, Arsenal of Freedom feels like it is an attempt to capture the flavour of those sixties episodes.

At least, though, the show concedes that time has passed, and that social mores have shifted. The social issues of the day are no longer hippies (The Way to Eden) or simplistic racism (Let That Be Your Last Battlefield), and Arsenal of Freedom is a “message show” for the eighties. It is a morality tale about the dangers of unchecked capitalism and the risks of weapons development. It’s clumsy, awkward and a little forced, with The Next Generation not quite suited to this particular form of heavy-handed moralising, but it could be a lot worse. Which, I suppose, is something.

Looks like we've got a Minos problem here...

Looks like we’ve got a Minos problem here…

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