Viewing posts tagged TNG Season 5

“Time, professor.”: A Matter of Time

There's an episode of Star Trek: The Next Generation that has always been imprinted on me. In my mind, I see an image of Data and somebody else slowly moving about inside what appears to be some kind of alien spacecraft. The walls are all odd, geometric shapes coloured silver blue. There's a cool, yet dark, lighting to the scene. I think the episode is “A Matter of Time”, but I can't know for sure.

So now you've heard their story. It's time to tell the other side.

“A Matter of Time” is another of Rick Berman's rare solo contributions, and marks his first stab at a topic that seems to fascinate him and inspire a lot of his future creative work on Start Trek: The ramifications of time travel. In particular, what kinds of social norms and mores would crop up in a universe where time travel technology is commonplace. As it pertains to this story, Berman cites the “Mark Twain” feeling” of “what Leonardo da Vinci could have done with a calculator or Alexander the Great with a shotgun”. But while Professor Berlinghoff Rasmussen ...

“None have the right to impose”: Unification II


Last time on Star Trek: The Next Generation...
“It's almost facile, trivial, in fact, to read “Unification”. The fandom narrative is both obvious and trite: The unification of Star Trek and Star Trek: The Next Generation, or to be more precise, their fans. Collectively the first and second parts of a three-part 25th Anniversary gala celebration that will heal once and for all the acrimonious rift in Star Trek fandom that has existed since 1986, or so the story goes. In truth, this is all merely comforting platitudes designed to hide a reality deeply uncomfortable to Trekkers; that there is no such thing as a Star Trek fan. There are only fans of specific incarnations and philosophies of the meta-work, something that the looming premier of Star Trek: Deep Space Nine is only going to highlight all the more starkly." 
“And sure, Sarek has an incredibly memorable scene with Captain Picard, but all that does is reinforce the Captain's position in the narrative: It sets up that Jean-Luc is someone Sarek has a history with ...

“Whatever their hopes and longings”: Unification I




It's almost facile, trivial, in fact, to read “Unification”. The fandom narrative is both obvious and trite: The unification of Star Trek and Star Trek: The Next Generation, or to be more precise, their fans. Collectively the first and second parts of a three-part 25th Anniversary gala celebration that will heal once and for all the acrimonious rift in Star Trek fandom that has existed since 1986, or so the story goes. In truth, this is all merely comforting platitudes designed to hide a reality deeply uncomfortable to Trekkers; that there is no such thing as a Star Trek fan. There are only fans of specific incarnations and philosophies of the meta-work, something that the looming premier of Star Trek: Deep Space Nine is only going to highlight all the more starkly.


Those classical Star Trek fans, who knew everything about everything and everybody, are now so small a minority as to be statistically irrelevant. Perhaps things are beginning to swing back to the other pole these days in the age of Netflix and binge ...

“A sense of duty was my one intention”: The Game

Oh, hell no. Fuck this. Fuck everything about this.

It's never a good day when Wesley Goddamn Crusher shows up. Doubly so when he stars in a horrid piece of youth-hating reactionary drivel. It's bad enough he's back in insufferable early first season “Wesley Saves The Day by Out-Thinking the Ship Full of Trained Scientific Professionals” mode without the show then putting him in a plot reminiscent of a Bush-era After School Special.

“The Game” is about a bunch of aliens trying to hook the Enterprise crew on an addictive video game that's really a mind control device in disguise in order to spearhead an invasion of the Federation. And in 1991, at the height of Sonic the Hedgehog mania and the dawn of the fourth console generation, there's really only one fucking way to read that. Even though we've not quite arrived at the defining video game moral panic of the 1990s set in motion by Mortal Kombat and Doom, there was still mounting concern over the industry's rapid rise to prominence throughout the Long 1980s and “video game addiction” was certainly starting to ...

“It's all gone wrong”: Disaster

Well, the obvious joke to make is that the title is incredibly fitting.

But aside from being facile, that would also be a bit unfair. This episode isn't a complete hangar fire: It's got a cool setup and a few memorably defining moments for Captain Picard. A Star Trek: The Next Generation genre romp send-up of disaster movies had a lot of potential, even if it is still the sort of thing the Dirty Pair TV show could do way more intelligently in its sleep on an off day. There's a discussion to be had about how challenging this series is finding it to do just plain “fun” episodes every once in awhile, both due to external fan pressure to be “serious” and due to the fact that, frankly, I think this creative team is pretty poor at comedy (which is almost criminal considering the cast are comic geniuses). That's not the discussion for today though, because that's not the main problem. There are, however a *lot* of things conceptually wrong with “Disaster ...

“Heart of Ice”: Silicon Avatar

Time for another of our semi-regular “Everyone else hates this story but I like it” essays!

“Silicon Avatar” is an episode that, to my knowledge, does not have a terribly good reputation. To be fair, I don't get the sense it truly is outright hated; it's more like nobody really talks about this one all that much. Though that said, Brent Spiner doesn't like this outing, and Michael Piller said he was disappointed with the execution. I can't see the criticism myself: I'd hesitate to call “Silicon Avatar” a classic, but it's an incredibly solid effort and another very good “model average”. That is, this is the kind of story Star Trek: The Next Generation should be shooting for on a week-to-week basis. It works, and it doesn't horrifically betray the show's core values in any way. Which is kind of refreshing: We don't seem to get a lot of these in Star Trek.

But maybe that's telling. “Silicon Avatar” is, obviously, Moby-Dick in Star Trek again. What ...

“Deep and Confused”: Ensign Ro

Three words, heard only in hushed whispers. Deep Space Nine.

It would of course be unfair to say that Ro Laren and her namesake episode only exist to set up the forthcoming fourth Star Trek series. Star Trek can and will get that cynical, and it is true that Star Trek: Deep Space Nine was well into pre-production by this point. It had a name and a setting-a space station adrift near the formerly occupied planet of Bajor, a planet whose people and history are introduced here. It would probably be more accurate, however, to say that Bajor and Star Trek: Deep Space Nine were ideas developed concurrently. And while certainly the possibility was always there that Ro might get spun off as the lead of the new show, “Ensign Ro” itself is no backdoor pilot: This story, and its titular character, absolutely belong to Star Trek: The Next Generation, and with Michelle Forbes now officially onboard, the Enterprise family is finally complete (or, at least as complete as it's going to get on television at any rate).

Before we move on though, it may be worth it to take a ...

“We are all stories”: Darmok

Shaka, when the walls fell.

We have time again before the solar tide turns. What would you like to hear? I'll tell you the oldest story I know. Two women, alone on a beach, around a fire.

And then it began again. Leah walked with starlight. She makes her rounds across the sky every night, just as she always has, and you can see her if you gaze into the heart of the galaxy. Captain Picard came to her and asked if he might walk as she did, and the two set off together telling each other stories. Captain Picard asked Leah “Please tell me about the stars”. But Leah spoke in the language of dreams and memory, not of tongues, and couldn't rightly answer Captain Picard's question to his satisfaction. But Geordi La Forge, a wise and clever man who could see beyond into The Way Things Make Themselves Appear, understood Leah and spoke words to represent the things she had dreamed. “It's like the stories we were told long, long ago,” Geordi would say. “The stars are our ancestors, and they've seen all these things ...

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