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Star Trek: Voyager – Author, Author (Review)

Author, Author is a deeply cynical piece of Star Trek.

Author, Author is arguably as bleak as anything that Star Trek: Deep Space Nine ever produced. It is a story about how shallow and how self-centred the primary cast of Star Trek: Voyager can be, but also a showcase of how little the Federation has actually evolved in the twelve years since Star Trek: The Next Generation tackled the same themes in The Measure of a Man. Indeed, with production wrapping up and the series winding down, Author, Author seems to acknowledge the flip side of the “end of history.” There is no sense of material progress. Things have not improved. Things have not changed.

Doctor Demented.

Author, Author literalises this within its own narrative. Author, Author suggests that little has changed in the Federation’s worldview since The Measure of a Man, while also insisting that nothing will change in the immediate future. Author, Author acknowledges that The Measure of a Man was a desperate punt of a thorny issue, but also frames its own narrative as exactly the same kind of punt. The closing scene of the episode places any long-term consequences of the story four months in the future. In doing so, it places them squarely outside the purview of Voyager in particular and Berman era Star Trek in general.

The only problem with all of this is that Author, Author often seems entirely unaware of how unrelentingly cynical and bleak it is.

Write on!

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Star Trek: The Next Generation – The Ensigns of Command by Melinda Snodgrass (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.

One of the benefits of the internet age is the wealth of material that it makes available with comparative ease. Interviews are widely distributed, clips are circulated, and it’s often not too hard to find primary or well-sourced secondary materials available with a simple search. As such, it’s a lot easier to pry into the history and legacy of cult film and television than it has ever been before. Leaping back in Star Trek: The Next Generation more than two decades after it originally aired allows the viewer more insight than they would ever have had back then.

The third season of The Next Generation is widely (and rightly) regarded as one of the strongest seasons in the history of the franchise. Only the first two seasons of the original Star Trek, a few more seasons of The Next Generation and couple of years of Star Trek: Deep Space Nine can claim to compete on a level of quality and consistency with this twenty-six episode rejuvenation of the series that had faltered in its first two years.

Watching The Ensigns of Command, it’s hard to fathom how deeply troubled the production was. The episode was plagued by problems from scripting through to post-production. Writer Melinda Snodgrass has made no secret of her dissatisfaction with the episode. Although her name appears on the finished script, the episode had been heavily re-written. Snodgrass has made her original script available on-line via her website, and it makes for an interesting glimpse at what might have been.


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