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Star Trek: The Next Generation – Unnatural Selection (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.

It’s really strange that this is our first Pulaski-centred episode. It’s even stranger that it’s the shows only Pulaski-centred episode, given she’s a new character being inserted into an established ensemble. It’s even stranger-er that the episode doesn’t really seem to have much to say about Pulaski apart from the fact that she is the show’s new doctor – and she’s a bit of an idiot. Which is not necessarily what you want when you’re trying to endear a new character to the audience.

Then again, Unnatural Selection is a pretty good indicator of where Star Trek: The Next Generation is right now. The show hasn’t quite figured out that it’s a good idea to anchor character-centric stories in the character upon which that intended to centre. It’s one of the most successful aspects of Michael Piller’s approach, and part of what really revitalised the writing in the show’s third season. As it stands, Unnatural Selection seems to be a story about medical stuff, so it gets to focus on Pulaski. Who is really just sort of there.

I can see this getting old fast...

I can see this getting old fast…

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Star Trek: The Next Generation – Loud as a Whisper (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.

At the very least, Loud as a Whisper has its heart in the right place. At least of most of its run time. Essentially an issue-driven (and guest-star-driven) show that is determined to prove to the audience that a disability need not define a person, it’s a little undermined by a subplot where Pulaski and Geordi discuss the possibility of making the Chief Engineer “normal” again. However, once you get past the earnestness of it all, Loud of a Whisper seems a little clunky as television drama, with all manner of potentially interesting ideas that are never really explored. The result is a massively disappointing story that feels a bit like a clumsy after-school special.

What goes around...

What goes around…

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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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Star Trek: The Next Generation – Angel One (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.

Any time I worry that I might have been too kind on Datalore, watching Angel One tends to set me straight relatively quickly. Watching Angel One feels like somebody in the writers’ room said, “I really liked the racism in Code of Honour! Can we do that again, but with sexism?” It’s very difficult to imagine to imagine how the script got into production without somebody raising red flags about it. While a lot of the racism of Code of Honour arose from the decision to cast the Ligonian characters as black, sexism in hardwired into the DNA of Angel One, making it one of the most unfortunate scripts in a long line of unfortunate scripts.

I believe in Angel One... something crappy in every season of TNG...

I believe in Angel One… something crappy in every season of TNG…

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Star Trek: The Next Generation – Haven (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.

Haven is… not as terrible as I thought it would be. There have been select episodes I’ve been dreading on my re-watch of this awkward first season. I was right to fear Code of Honour. I had perhaps been a tiny bit too harsh on The Naked Now. I am quaking at the prospect of watching Angel One and Too Short a Season again. However, Haven wasn’t nearly as bad as I feared that it would be. Don’t get me wrong, it’s filled with plot holes and it is as dull as anything, but it’s not actively that bad. If it sounds like I’m damning with faint praise, then I probably am.

Safe Haven?

Safe Haven?

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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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