Blessed Are The Geek


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…


The Great Star Trek: TNG Rewatch - now with even more Wesley!

Yes, the rewatch continues, and I'm hitting the equivalent of a marathon runner’s "wall". I barely made it through the next two episodes, and I can only hope I'm now past the worst of season one. As before, each episode gets 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...

 

When The Bough Breaks

The crew discover the fabled lost world of Aldea, hidden thanks to a cloaking device. The inhabitants are unable to reproduce, so kidnap some children from the Enterprise (take Wesley, please take Wesley!).

Another Wesley-heavy episode sadly, and this particular instalment also throws in a bunch of other cringe-worthy child performers. Some of the adults don’t do the world of acting any favours either, with Dr Crusher being a big offender; her every line delivered in the same breathless tone of voice. The biggest problem with this story is that it's boring. There’s rarely any sense of threat, the dialogue is more by-the-numbers than a dot-to-dot, the "aliens" don’t look any different from the humans, and, worst of all, there is very little spaceship action.

Only Jerry Hardin (aka Deep Throat from The X-Files) as the Aldean leader is worth watching, and that’s only because you keep expecting him to break into drawl he used later in the series as Samuel Clements. The idea of the kidnapped children going on hunger-strike should have been played a lot darker, giving the story some real drama, but by that point you’ve already lost the will to live yourself.

So boring there are no memorable quotes.

 

 

Home Soil1

The Enterprise is checking up on some terraformers with whom communications have been erratic. Director Mandl is not happy with the crew looking into their business, and then an engineer is killed in mysterious circumstances ("No! Not the laser drill2!") and a strange new form of life is discovered which in turn threatens the ship.

The dullness continues. A new form of life is discovered, but it’s rendered as a small pin-prick of light for most of the episode, which later reproduces into two lights - woo! As with the last episode, most of the story involves people standing around talking each other to death, and generally being less charismatic than garden soil.

Walter Gotell (General Gogol from the James Bond films) as Mendl is vaguely interesting to watch, but the script is far too unimaginative and po-faced, and he and the regulars are given little to get stuck into. By the end you’re desperate for Dr McCoy to make another cameo and proclaim "It’s life Jim, but not as we know it." Oh, and one matte painting and a few redressed Enterprise sets do not an interesting terraforming base make.

Worf: "But is it alive?"

Computer: "Probability: Positive."

Worf: "I wasn't asking you."

 

 

Coming of Age

Wesley (rejoice - another Wesley story!) is taking tests to enter Starfleet academy. Meanwhile Admiral Quinn, an old friend of Picard’s, beams aboard with an investigator, Lt Commander Remmick, suspicious about previous decisions made by the Captain.

Compared to the last two episodes this is something of an improvement. There are times when Wil Wheaton seems to be getting the hang of this acting lark, and despite his natural ability to get the answers to everything rubbing the viewer up the wrong way as ever, you do feel for Wesley when he takes the dreaded psych-test, an event which is brought to screen with a sorely needed dollop of drama. It’s great to see some proper alien races for a change too, with our first Vulcan of the new series  and the well-realised Mordock, complete with cool smoky-breathing doo-hickey.

The B-plot doesn’t really work, and it’s damning that the show’s only way of injecting dramatic tension amongst the crew is by bringing top brass in to be obnoxious. It’s a nice but rare continuity touch that events will pay off in a later story (though you wouldn’t know that at the time), and the theme of something rotten inside Starfleet would be utilised far more dramatically in DS9. The bottom line is that you know Picard will never leave the Enterprise since Patrick Stewart’s got top billing, plus why would he quit to be in charge of the academy when we know he’s not comfortable around youngsters?

Oh, and characters punching the air when things go well should be sent to the Gulag Rura Penthe.

Olianna: "It’s good thing you’re cute Wesley, or you could really be obnoxious." Permission to vomit?

 

 

At this point I needed a shot in the arm to keep going, so decided to watch what I knew was a rare Season 1 gem.

 

Heart Of Glory

Investigating a disturbance in the Neutral Zone, the Enterprise discovers a damaged Talarian freighter with life-signs on board that turn out to be... Klingons (get in!). 

Klingons to the rescue! It’s as though the series writers went out to see one of the Star Trek movies and suddenly realised what they should have been aiming for. And there is a lot borrowed from the first few films on display - Klingon outfits, ships, and language and, most welcome of them all, the Jerry Goldsmith Klingon musical theme. Even the Talarian freighter is a reused model from Star Trek III.

It’s not all recycling though, as we are introduced to the Klingon Death Howl, their fighting tactics ("Cowards take hostages. Klingons do not."), and learn a lot more about Worf’s backstory. This episode really highlights how sparsely he had been used as a character up to this point (down to the fact that he was a late addition to the regular cast during the planning stages). Despite knowing how loyal to the Federation Worf will become, thanks to later seasons and series, Michael Dorn gives this his all, making you almost believe that he’ll side with the renegades.

All the actors playing the Klingons manage to portray the burning intensity of the warrior race with complete conviction, and the episode ends with you wanting to see much more of the pasty-headed dudes. If I knew what the Klingon for "made of win" was, I’d use it.

Riker: "You don’t think Worf would allow them access to the Battle Bridge?"

Picard: " I think, Number One, we cannot assume anything."

 

 

 

1. Or Night Soil, as I've re-christened it.

2. Not to be confused with the Mind Probe.


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The Great Star Trek: TNG Rewatch continues next week... if Peter hasn't lost the will to live.