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Star Trek: The Next Generation – Yesterday’s Enterprise (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.

Yesterday’s Enterprise is one of the best-loved pieces of Star Trek ever produced. Its inclusion is a given in absolutely any “best of” poll being run for Star Trek: The Next Generation or even the franchise as a whole. A rather thoughtful piece of high-concept science-fiction exploring the importance of the right people in the right time, Yesterday’s Enterprise is proof that The Next Generation has truly come of age. After two years of wandering in the wilderness, the show has finally found its feet.

Of course, the production of Yesterday’s Enterprise was quite traumatic. The story and script went through multiple iterations between the original pitch and the version presented on the screen. The episode was written by pretty much the entire writing staff over the Thanksgiving weekend, racing against the clock to get it finished. Due to scheduling issues with Denise Crosby and Whoopi Goldberg, it was filmed in late December instead of early January.

As with so much of the third season, there’s a sense that the episode was held together by chewing gum and rubber bands. However, also like most of the third season, that sense only comes from those delving into the behind-the-scenes stories. Looking at the episode itself, this was a show on the top of its game.

The battle bridge...

The battle bridge…

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Star Trek: The Next Generation – The Price (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.

Well, the streak had to end some time. After seven episodes ranging from “flawed but still interesting” to “pretty great”, the third season of Star Trek: The Next Generation hits a bit of a snag. The Price is the weakest episode of the show’s third season to this point, and confirmation that the writers really have no idea how to write for Deanna Troi. It’s still the best episode to focus on the ship’s half-Betazoid counsellor, but being better than Haven or The Child is hardly an accomplishment for the ages.

All that glitters...

All that glitters…

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Star Trek: The Next Generation – Survivors by Jean Lorrah (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 Skin of Evil.

Writing tie-in fiction is tougher than a lot of people seem to think it is. There’s a notion that you’re playing in somebody else’s sandbox, and that you’re confined and restricted by what has and what has not appeared on screen, knowing that your work will always be secondary. As such, I can’t imagine how tough it must have been for Jean Lorrah to write Survivors. Only the fourth tie-in novel for Star Trek: The Next Generation, it was released in January 1989, around a quarter of the way through the show’s second season. Given the time it would take to edit and publish a paperback, it seems that Lorrah likely had to have the novel ready quite early in the life of The Next Generation.

It’s one thing to try to accurately capture the voice of well-defined characters on a long-running show, but it must be infinitely more difficult when writing based off sketchy early episodes that aren’t always consistent in their own characterisation.

tng-survivors

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Star Trek: Deep Space Nine (Marvel Comics) #3-4 – The Cancer Within (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.

Poor Doctor Pulaski. She seems to have just disappeared from the canon. First season casualty Tasha Yar seemed to haunt to the show, returning for Yesterday’s Enterprise while her daughter become a recurring foe from The Mind’s Eye onwards. Even Wesley popped back every once in a while following his departure from the series. Pulaski, on the other hand, remains something of a phantom.

Barring an audible reference to her made in the background during the Star Trek: Voyager finalé Endgame, she disappears from the franchise without so much as a peep at the end of Shades of Grey.  She isn’t even referenced by name in the first episode of the third season to air (Evolution) or the first produced (The Ensigns of Command). While Beverly Crusher’s return is used as a plot point for Wesley, we only get the most fleeting of references to Pulaski in Who Watches the Watchers?

While this can easily be explained by the complex relationship that Diana Muldaur seems to have with Star Trek: The Next Generation. She has suggested the atmosphere on set was decidedly unfriendly, so the fact that Pulaski doesn’t return should not be that much of a surprise. What is interesting is the general apathy that the expanded universe seems to have for Pulaski. While even guest characters seem to get their own back stories and development in novels and comics, Pulaski is treated as a decidedly minor character in the Star Trek canon, reduced to guest spots and small appearances.

I like my family reunions generic and bland...

I like my family reunions generic and bland…

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Star Trek: The Next Generation – Datalore (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.

If you absolutely, positively, positronically have to do an evil twin story, then I guess that Data is the best character to use. Datalore is hardly the finest or strongest episode of the first season. It’s riddled with plot holes, it feels overly contrived, it punishes the viewer for actually paying attention to the set-ups and plot devices, and it is awkwardly paced and sluggishly delivered. That said, it does offer some real stakes and an opportunity for Brent Spiner to ham it up a notch. So, while we’re not in “classic” (or even “good”) territory here, it’s certainly more watchable than a lot of the episodes around it.

That is not saying much.

The threat is crystal clear...

The threat is crystal clear…

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Star Trek: The Next Generation – Hide & Q (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 have a confession to make. I quite like the first half of Hide & Q. Don’t get me wrong, the ending of the episode ruins any goodwill that sequence built up, and the opening section of the story isn’t exactly amazing – it’s just crafted more competently than any episode since Where No One Has Gone Before. I think part of the reason I enjoyed that first half of Hide & Q so much more than most of the recent episodes is because it accomplishes something that Star Trek: The Next Generation has been trying to do since The Naked Now, and with much more success. It manages to channel the original Star Trek.

Okay, the first half wouldn’t make an exceptional episode of the original Star Trek. It wouldn’t even make a great episode of the original Star Trek. It would, however, make a somewhat passable episode of the original Star Trek. Which is, sadly, more than enough to put it quite ahead of most of the other episodes in this first season so far.

Caught in the net…

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Star Trek: The Next Generation – Code of Honour (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.

Remember how yesterday I said was hesitant to throw around adjectives like “worst” or “mind-numbingly” or any other similar sounding pejorative term? I was doing that so that when I did string them together to form a sentence or a description, it would carry a bit more weight. After all, Star Trek: The Next Generation didn’t have the strongest first season, as I keep noting apologetically in these opening paragraphs. However, Code of Honour is pretty dire by any measure, and it remains one of the low watermarks of the troubled first season.

Yes, I did type “one of”, but that doesn’t make Code of Honour any easier to manage.

Not quite steps to greatness…

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