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Star Trek: The Next Generation – The High Ground (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 High Ground is a rather earnest issue-driven episode of Star Trek: The Next Generation, dealing with one of the big issues of the day: international terrorism. However, the moral ambiguity of terrorism was a decidedly more contentious and controversial issue in early 1990 than the plight of Vietnam veterans explored in The Hunted or the Cold War politics of The Defector.

The High Ground is an allegory for the Troubles in Northern Ireland at a point in time where the Troubles were on-going. 1990 saw a number of high-profile terrorist actions conducted by the IRA. They bombed the London Stock Exchange in July. Using an explosive device, they murdered Sergeant Charles Chapman in May. Nobody has ever been prosecuted for his death. In February 1991, the IRA launched a mortar attack on 10 Downing Street. So this was the context in which The High Ground aired.

And, to be fair, there’s something admirable about the show’s willingness to engage with a controversial issue, even if the end result leaves a lot to be desired.

Holding hands around the universe...

Holding hands around the universe…

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Star Trek: The Next Generation – Booby Trap (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.

Booby Trap is a bit of a mess. The writing credits for the episode, featuring four different writers credited with getting the idea from basic story to finished script. This wasn’t at all unusual in the show’s third season – consider the writing credits for Yesterday’s Enterprise – but it gives an indication of the chaos unfolding behind the scenes on the third season of Star Trek: The Next Generation.

It’s Michael Piller’s second credited script, and his first writing credit since he took over the writers’ room. (Although he did, along with Melinda Snodgrass, do a pass on Ronald D. Moore’s script for The Bonding.) As such, it is written with a very clear idea of where Piller wants to take the show, one that shines through a somewhat uneven and all-over-the-place plot, which often feels like several different scripts blended into one.

Building on what came before...

Building on what came before…

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Star Trek: Deep Space Nine – Rivals (Review)

Star Trek: Deep Space Nine is twenty years old this year. To celebrate, I’m taking a look at the first and second seasons. Check back daily for the latest review or retrospective.

Rivals doesn’t work. However, while the second season has produced a string of noble failures, Rivals fails for a very simple reason. It’s a comedy episode without any comedy. It’s a guest-star focused episode which centres on a hopelessly miscast Chris Sarandon. Sarandon is an Oscar-nominated actor, and he should be something of a casting coup for the show. This second season has already featured Louise Fletcher, Frank Langella and John Glover – so it seems fair to acknowledge that the casting people were on a bit of a roll.

However, due to a reheated script and Sarandon’s lack of interest or engagement, Rivals winds up feeling stale. There is potential here, but it’s squandered as the writers forget the first rule of a good comedy episode. They forgot to bring the laughs.

I feel a similar way...

I feel a similar way…

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Non-Review Review: Star Trek – Generations

This August, to celebrate the upcoming release of Star Trek: Into Darkness on DVD and blu ray, we’re taking a look at the Star Trek movies featuring the original cast. Movie reviews are every Tuesday and Thursday.

There are lots of problems with Star Trek: Generations. It feels too much like a two-parter from the television show. It tries to fit in a laundry list of demands from the studio. It wastes Malcolm McDowell. It decides that the only part of the original series deserving a send-off is James T. Kirk, and then pushes him off-screen for an hour before dragging him back into the movie to kill him off in the most ironic and anti-climactic manner possible.

Yet, despite these considerable flaws, Generations also has a lot to recommend it. Although the script occasionally feels a little overcooked, the themes concerning mortality lend it a serious amount of weight. Director David Carson demonstrates that he can work wonders on a tiny budget. Cinematographer John A. Alonzo finds a way to shoot familiar sets in a way that makes them look incredibly beautiful. None of these strengths can fully compensate for the very fundamental flaws with the seventh Star Trek cinematic outing, but they do mitigate them somewhat.

Generations isn’t a great Star Trek film, and it isn’t even the best odd-numbered Star Trek film, but it is far from an unmitigated disaster. Well, except for the way it treats Kirk.

Riding the wave...

Riding the wave…

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