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L.I. Underhill is a media critic and historian specializing in pop culture, with a focus on science fiction (especially Star Trek) and video games. Their projects include a critical history of Star Trek told through the narrative of a war in time, a “heretical” history of The Legend of Zelda series and a literary postmodern reading of Jim Davis' Garfield.

6 Comments

  1. T. Hartwell
    December 11, 2014 @ 11:45 pm

    This is a really lovely essay, but can I just pop in and randomly comment on how beautifully absurd I find the opening of this episode? It's just the most oddly casual thing ever, where Riker and Picard are training in the phaser range and the premise of the episode is set up in the absolute most nonchalant way- "oh, Starfleet's suggested we send an officer of our own" "I think that's a good idea" "well, there's a Klingon vessel in the area", etc.

    Like, I seriously love it, and it lends such an interesting tone for the episode to follow (for several reasons this always feels like a sort of a 'vacation episode' for the show, where things are a little more low-key and lighter). Kinda wish more episodes were set up in that sort of fashion, to be honest.

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  2. Ross
    December 12, 2014 @ 2:58 am

    I have much of the same nostalgiac love of viewmaster, but I come at it very differently. As a child, I had a severely lazy eye (Surgery had long since more-or-less-corrected it by the TNG era), and probably as a result of that, I never really "learned" how to see stereoscopic 3D until much later (I can move my eyes independently with a bit of effort, so if I know I'm supposed to, I can force myself to see stereoscopic effects. Makes it really easy to see Magic Eye pictures, though it kinda hurts so it's hard to hold an image for more than a few seconds.), so I kinda never noticed that they were supposed to be in 3D. Instead, I came at it mostly from the perspective of a fascination with the weird and arcane home media formats of the era before home video became ubiquitous. Stuff like the Viewmaster and the Fisher-Price Movie Viewer, and filmstrips, and the weird little handheld 8mm loop players (I never actually saw one of those in person, just comic book ads for them. But I think I read once that a handfull of TOS episodes got converted to that format). And later, weird dithered loops on a gameboy or tricking a Texas Instruments graphing calculator into pretending it could do grayscale by mucking with the refresh rate.

    I had no idea that TNG made it to Viewmaster format. I always thought of Viewmaster as not really being a Thing by this point in history. Nifty.

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  3. Daru
    December 12, 2014 @ 6:47 am

    Lovely essay and nice to have the Viewmaster as a framing/viewing device for the episode – makes me so want to see the reel you speak of, sounds glorious. I do have a vague memory of owning a Viewmaster with some reels, or what I am not sure, but I know there was at least a Seven Wonders of the World one I owned that I cherished. It felt for me that I could really step inside and inhabit the little world in each view. Simple and beautiful technology.

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  4. Daru
    December 12, 2014 @ 6:48 am

    Really so very glad I have caught up with your essays in real time again now!

    Reply

  5. K. Jones
    December 15, 2014 @ 9:57 am

    I have less to say about Matter of Honor than I thought I would. The further exploration of Riker and Worf's friendship is strong. The Klingons here haven't yet become the caricatures they'll be later – they have agency and mystique. The culture shock is fun and not too bawdy or broad. The subplot with Mendon was pretty awful. Kargon the posturing old hawk, compared to Klag, who has a different experience and who can connect with Riker and grow past misconceptions. This is one of those rare Klingon episodes that exists between the old Yellow Peril mustache twirling villains and the overexposed, overhyped, people have weddings and learn the language Space Vikings with a fan-club we'll have later.

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