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Star Trek: The Next Generation – The Outrageous Okona (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.

Well, I’m not sure if you can call two solid episodes in succession a “streak” or a “roll”, but Where Silence Has Lease and Elementary, Dear Data were two hours of television that demonstrated how far the second season of Star Trek: The Next Generation had come since its rocky first season. However, it appears that the two very good episodes in a row did not represent a sudden change in direction and did not assure consistency. The Outrageous Okona is a bad episode, by just about any measure. It’s not necessarily as offensive as Angel One or Code of Honour, but it is quite painful to watch.

Unlike a lot of the bungled “message” shows in the first season that contained misjudged ideas or offensive elements, The Outrageous Okona is merely a terribly written and unfunny mess of an episode that simply gnaws at the viewer.

He works best Solo...

He works best Solo…

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Star Trek: The Next Generation – Conspiracy (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.

Conspiracy stands out from the first season of Star Trek: The Next Generation. In fact, it stands out from pretty much the majority of the Star Trek canon, feeling distinctly unpleasant and unnerving throughout. It is not just the gore – which remains one of the most weirdly graphic scenes in Star Trek history, to the point where it was edited out of the original BBC broadcast of the show.

There’s something more unnerving and uncomfortable about Conspiracy, as it represents the first time we’ve really seen the Federation and Starfleet so thoroughly corrupted and subverted. Sure, we’ve had rogue officials, obfuscating bureaucrats and meddling administrators, but Conspiracy represents a thoroughly cynical examination of some of the core concepts that Star Trek takes for granted.

It isn’t indicative of what The Next Generation would eventually evolve into, even seeming considerably darker than Star Trek: Deep Space Nine normally delved, but it does represent something bold and new, something that we never would have seen in the original Star Trek. I think that is what makes it such a fascinating episode in this rocky first season, even ignoring its sizeable flaws.

A can of worms...

A can of worms…

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Star Trek: The Next Generation – Coming of Age (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.

Coming of Age is interesting, if only because it is one of those rare instances where an episode’s B-story is far more compelling and interesting than the primary drama unfolding. Coming of Age is apparently about Wesley’s entrance examination to Starfleet Academy, which seems to have quite high standards for an organisation that let Riker and Yar into its ranks, but that teenage academic story feels a little trite and cliché.

Far more interesting, however, is the strange investigation conducted into the crew of the Enterprise at the behest of Admiral Gregory Quinn, who makes a dramatic impression by suggesting to Picard, “I have reason to believe there may be something very wrong on this ship.”

Evidently he has been watching the first season as well.

Picard off-guard...

Picard off-guard…

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Star Trek: The Next Generation – The Big Goodbye (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 actually enjoyed The Big Goodbye on a lot of levels. It’s not a great Star Trek episode, but I don’t think that the first season of Star Trek: The Next Generation produced a great episode. Even those episodes I do not actively hate are still significantly flawed. The Big Goodbye has more than its fair share of problems, but it does several things right. It never pretends to be more than it is, and it allows Patrick Stewart to do a lot of the heavy-lifting. Stewart is effectively charged with selling the episode to the audience, and he does a tremendous job. The result is something quite similar to the eponymous holonovel – something diverting and entertaining, but hardly profound or essential. Given the quality of the surrounding episodes, “diverting and entertaining” seems like just what the doctor ordered.

Over the Hill?

Over the Hill?

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Star Trek: The Next Generation – Lonely Among Us (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.

Lonely Among Us actually embodies quite a few of the problems with these early episodes of Star Trek: The Next Generation. While it’s hardly the worst episode of a season, it is certainly not among the stronger episodes. It’s a story that doesn’t really have a centrally defined conflict, and plays into the worst of the smug “humans are special” subtext that pervades episodes like The Last Outpost. At one point, possessed!Picard observes, “The search for knowledge is always our primary mission.” Based on episodes like this and The Last Outpost, it seems more likely the ship’s primary mission is lording it over alien cultures they deem inferior.

However, more than that, Lonely Among Us simply lacks a compelling narrative drive to make it entirely worthwhile. The ideas here aren’t half-bad, but the execution is downright dull.

Has Picard’s judgement been clouded?

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Star Trek: The Next Generation – The Last Outpost (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.

You know, a lot of people would argue that Star Trek is about understanding. That it’s about embracing and respecting cultures, even when they hold values different than your own. Sometimes that is to a fault, like in the last episode (Code of Honour) where Picard allowed his Chief of Security to engage in a fight to the death to avoid violating local custom. (Which he then violated by reviving the loser.) However, it appears that such open-mindedness only applies when you look and act appropriately human enough.

If you are a Ferengi, then your culture shouldn’t be respected and acknowledged. It should be mocked and ridiculed.

He’s all ears…

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Star Trek: The Next Generation – The Naked Now (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 stand by my original observation that it was a smart idea to set Star Trek: The Next Generation a century after Star Trek. After all, Gene Roddenberry’s original Star Trek was over two decades old by the time that Encounter at Farpoint aired. Twenty years is a long time in entertainment – it can feel like a century. The world had changed since Star Trek appeared, and setting the story in a brand new world with strong (yet not strangling) ties to the beloved original series allowed the best of both worlds.

However, the problem with the first season of Star Trek: The Next Generation is that it doesn’t quite realise this yet. It’s busy trying to do “Star Trek”, even though times have changed. The Naked Now, the second episode of the series, is the perfect embodiment of this problem. Star Trek: The Next Generation should have been establishing its own identity, rather than trying to simply emulate its predecessor.

Flying off into the sunset…

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