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Star Trek: The Next Generation – The Dauphin (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 Dauphin ends what looked like the beginning of a winning streak for the second season of Star Trek: The Next Generation. Both A Matter of Honour and The Measure of a Man represented a significant shift in gear for the show – a demonstration of just what The Next Generation was capable of at the top of its game. The Dauphin, in contrast, is a decidedly generic little episode.

It doesn’t help that it’s a character episode devoted to Wesley Crusher as a teenage protagonist on the Enterprise. Wesley was always a character who posed a bit of a problem for the show. There were times when bad writing and Wheaton’s less-than-nuanced performance saw the character threatening to turn The Next Generation into a plucky teenage science-fiction adventure series. Watch the boy genius save the ship while the trained professionals around him are useless!

While A Matter of Honour teased a way of making Wesley work in the context of the show, The Dauphin falls back into familiar traps. It’s a poorly-written teenage romance with some awful dialogue and two rather wooden leads, using familiar Star Trek trappings.

A rocky relationship?

A rocky relationship?

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Star Trek: Deep Space Nine – The Nagus (Review)

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

The Nagus starts what turns out to be an annual tradition for Star Trek: Deep Space Nine. It introduces the concept of a “Ferengi” episode, where once (or twice) a year, the show would take time out from other on-going concerns to focus on the state of affairs in the Ferengi Alliance. In a way, it’s quite like what Star Trek: The Next Generation did for the Klingons, taking an episode every once in a while to delve into the alien culture and offer a bit of exploration of a species originally created as a two-dimensional cardboard stand-in for a philosophy the franchise found unappealing.

Starting with Heart of Glory, The Next Generation developed Klingons from “those bad guys with the ridges” into a fully functioning and multi-faceted culture, largely driven by writer Ronald D. Moore from the third season. Deep Space Nine did largely the same thing with the Ferengi, largely spearheaded by producer Ira Steven Behr. Although, given the fact that the episodes concerned amoral capitalists instead of imposing warriors, Deep Space Nine opted for comedy as the genre of choice when developing the Ferengi.

He's got the lobes for business...

He’s got the lobes for business…

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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 – Encounter at Farpoint (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.

It is very hard to believe that it has been a quarter of a century since Star Trek: The Next Generation first appeared on our screens. It is actually quite nice that Paramount and CBS are using the opportunity to give the series a bit of a visual overhaul, going back to the original films and special effects and updating them for high definition. This is not the same approach adopted by George Lucas with his remastering of the original Star Wars trilogy.

Instead, the aim of these high definition re-releases is to bring what was already there up to modern standards, rather than to retroactively re-do the special effects. The project is being overseen by the wonderful Mike and Denise Okuda, and Mike has argued that this restoration is a very bold endeavour, suggesting, “it’s the largest – as far as we know – the largest project of its kind that has ever been attempted.”

And I am proud to support it. In a large way, my interest in this high definition release is in large part grounded in recognition of the scale of the work involved. Because, let’s face it, the first season of Star Trek: The Next Generation is a solid contender for the worst year of Star Trek ever produced for television.

“Let’s see what’s out there…”

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