Before he gave his life to the service of the Church, the Reverend Peter Organ dedicated his passion to spaceships, sticker albums, orcs and laser-swords. Now married with two children of his own, he’s yet to find a cassock which covers the geek completely, and wonders how he’s going to explain his Warhammer collection to the Bishop…
So, the great Star Trek: The Next Generation re-watch begins! For the background to the re-watch see last week’s column. Each episode is going to get rated from 1 monkey (as bad as a Wesley jumper) to 5 monkeys ("I am Locutus of Borg"). Will I make it through the first season? Time will tell...
Encounter At Farpoint
Featuring: Q, space jellyfish, and we get to meet the soon-to-be beloved crew of the Enterprise for the first time. Oh, and Wesley.
Very strange experience watching the pilot. There is much that is familiar, with the characters that you've grown to know so well over the course of the seven series, but they’re all rather different. Picard is a lot more stuffy, the other characters generally seem rather more stupid (at one point Worf aims a phaser at the viewscreen displaying Q’s image!), and it’s only Data that seems much the same as he is at series end, with Brent Spiner really hitting the ground running. Oh, and Wesley Crusher is as annoying as he always was, but let’s not dwell on Captain Cardigan.
Patrick Stewart does a brilliant job of lending proceedings some gravity, but he’s struggling against some very strange plot decisions for a pilot. There’s precious little introduction, with us joining the ship and the beginnings of the crew mid-transit. Clogging most of the first half of the story up with a boring trial sequence was very daft, and the fact that Q then disappears for most of the rest of the story was strange too, with the viewer forgetting about him once the Enterprise gets to Farpoint. Too often things drag, with long and not always well-written dialogue scenes clogging things up.
Q is also very different in this to later appearances, far less comic, with an annoying tendency to speak in thees and thous for no good reason. On the up side, the designs look great considering the age of the show, and I’ve never had a problem with the "beige" bridge; looking distinct from what came before and after. The effects scenes still look good too, with some nice model work, and the touching scene with McCoy is a nice hand-over moment, though it would have made more sense at the beginning of the story.
All-in-all I'm not sure ST:TNG would have gone to a full series if that pilot was made today, but it still has a certain charm to it, though a lot of it may be due to its nostalgia value rather than any merits the actual story has.
Riker: "Just hoping this isn't the usual way our missions will go."
The Naked Now
Featuring: Fully functional Data and a hand-me-down plot that doesn’t quite fit. And Wesley saves the day.
The Naked Now sounds like porn film, & it does have its blue moments (off-screen, obviously). Just as the pilot made the strange decision of introducing half the characters in a protracted court scene, this story decides to present the crew we’re still not familiar with in a state of... well, pissed-ness via the Tsiolkovsky virus. What’s worse, the show’s writers have decided to remind us of a rather good Original Series episode by borrowing the virus from The Naked Time. If they wanted to avoid comparisons with their mighty predecessor they’re going a mighty strange way about it, and unsurprisingly this story suffers as a result.
It doesn’t help that this is the original Wesley Saves The Day tale (of which I am led to believe there were not so many as I remember - I hope to be able to confirm that!). Quite how the infected twerp manages to sober up in order to rescue the crew, whilst everyone else is clearly under the influence (except Worf, who’s got some great asides in this one), is beyond me. On the upside the pacing is good, with events rattling on and tension building, Stewart puts in another great performance and the effects are well done again (I remember getting very excited at seeing that the Tsiolkovsky was the same class of ship as the Grissom from Star Trek III).
It boils down to being a bottle show which presumably enabled them to afford building the Sickbay set, but it’s still an odd choice for a second episode.
Yar: "It never happened."
Code of Honor
Featuring: Yar being kidnapped by the leader of a primitive race, then getting forced into a duel to the death. And lots of talking.
Oh dear - this is where things go a bit shite.
Code of Honor seems more like a sub-standard Original Series episode, complete with poorly disguised dubious racial stereotypes, naff sets (complete with clearly visible studio walls), crummy costumes (why is Yareena fighting in a tinfoil bodysuit?) and naff moral at the end. My main problem with this story is the fact that it is so slow though. Many, many talky scenes leading up to a fight 35 minutes in; the only relief is the first really nice bonding scene between Geordi and Data, and the android getting a dressing down from Picard (in his broad Yorkshire accent) for dissing the French language.
A mostly dull episode then, and the fact that it ends with Wesley at the Ops post in his crappest brown cardigan, despite not even being in Starfleet is a further kick in the teeth.
Picard: "I'm sorry, this is becoming a speech."
The Great Star Trek: TNG Rewatch continues next week!
The Great Star Trek: TNG Rewatch continues next week!