Thursday, December 16, 2010

The Next Generation, Season 1: 11001001

The Next Generation, Season 1
"11001001"
Airdate: February 1, 1988
15 of 176 produced
14 of 176 aired

Introduction

The Enterprise puts in for repairs at Starbase 74. The Enterprise is due for routine maintenance and the upgrade of several of its systems. The repairs are being overseen by a quartet of aliens called Bynars. They work in pairs and exist is perfect sync with each other and the massive computer on their homeworld. Their unique connection with their computer allows them to effect repairs faster than any human could. While the rest of the crew leaves the Enterprise to explore Starbase 74, Commander Riker goes to the holodeck, where the Bynars have already affect some amazing work. There he meets Minuet, a woman who, hologram or not, seems too good to be true. Who is this mysteriously holographic woman? And what other plans have the Bynars made for the Enterprise?
My nether-regions are as realistic as you want them to be...



Writing

Kevin: This is easily in the top quartile for the first season, and a personal favorite of mine for the series overall. The idea of a computer dependent society is one that the franchise has explored before, but I really liked this outing. It was fun to see a people with at least a generally positive relationship with their technology rather than becoming mindless zombies to Landru, or what have you. I understand their over-reliance on their computers hobbled them during the crisis on their homeworld, but it's not like a purely organic society would have an easy time handling a supernova, so I didn't see that as quite the dismissal of their way of life that a speech from Kirk would have done in TOS.

Matthew: I found this sci-fi take on the theme to be fairly prescient, especially for 1987-8. The Bynars aren't controlled by their computers, they are just too dependent on them to withstand a natural disaster. 1987 wasn't really like this yet. But today's industrialized world? Even just a decade or so of intense solar flare activity would cause some serious shit. Forget about it. Madness!

Kevin: I loved the interactions between both Minuet and Riker and separately Minuet and Picard. One of the biggest pitfalls for centering an episode on the attractiveness of your female guest star is that if she doesn't actually come off as appealing, a central plot point is lost from the word go. However, they really succeed here. I found Minuet to be genuinely appealing, and not just physically. She behaved like someone who was interesting and alluring, and it makes Riker's attraction to her credible. I think they will oversell it in later episodes referencing this moment, but in the episode itself, the chemistry is genuine and entertaining.

Matthew: Those scenes were good. But there were some other scenes that weren't so good. Riker, for instance, thinks the Bynars are "perfect" for the refit task, even though (he has just said) he has no experience with them. Then, suddenly, he doesn't trust them, just as arbitrarily. That's just bad writing. His feelings for Minuet progressed WAY too quickly. Boners? Yes. Real emotions? Hell no! When he says at the end that it would take a long time to "heal," I was imagining Troi sending him a Betazoid telepathic death-ray. Come ON.

Kevin: A few nitpicks. Why does the Enterprise auto-destruct allow for only a five minute countdown? More importantly, Picard getting stuck on the holodeck was an accident, but it required two people to unlock the files on the computer. I suppose you could argue that the pair view themselves as an autonomous unit, so trapping one autonomous unit of another species would be enough, but that still not quite satisfying. Maybe there was another snare for Picard that they lucked into not needing, but some explanation would have been nice. And why does Minuet go away, even down to the physical form? Should the improvements still be there? Or if it was just a program for one time use, who turned it off?

Matthew: As far as my story nitpicks, those that weren't covered by you, I always wondered why Starfleet or the Federation hadn't done more about the supernova. I mean, Byanus is a planet that has amicable relations with the Federation, has computer experts helping refit the flagship, etc. Why the heck isn't Starfleet 1. Aware of the supernova (A SUPERNOVA! Perhaps the most violent event in the galaxy, with the brightness of a thousand suns...); 2. Doing anything about it? I also was perplexed over why there was a male computer voice for self destruct, and a female one for the holodeck. Why in the hell would the "real" Minuet disappear, by the way? The Bynars seem like real dicks for making her self-destruct after her mission was completed.

PS: What in the heck is a "personal relaxation light?" Would having used it made Picard less of a douche, and prevented him from just barging in on Riker's personal sex program without knocking?

Acting

Kevin: As I discussed above, I thought Riker and Minuet had tangible chemistry and it really sells a critical part of the episode. Carolyn McCormick (the shrink from Law and Order) did a great job. She played sexy without resorting to any of the cheaper manifestations of flirting, and she did a good job of infusing the character with a distinct personality, even separate from her goal to help the Bynars. I liked her, and as a result I shared some of Riker's sadness at her absence.

Matthew: In addition to chemistry with Frakes, her chemistry with Stewart was good as well. Their "French" flirting was very good. And I agree, despite the script problems which rendered Riker's character arc a bit unbelievable, Frakes did a yeoman's job selling it. Maybe it's the televised melodrama experience, maybe it's the baby-faced pre-beard leading man looks, but Frakes can act infatuated with the best of them.

Kevin: I also really liked the Bynars. They remind me for obvious reasons of the Talosians in appearance, and they use the same trick of using petitie women with voice modulators to appear androgynous, and it's as effective here as it was in The Cage and Menagerie. I also like Commander Quinteros. The eagle-eyed viewer (or person who reads Memory Alpha a lot) will recognize the actor, Gene Dynarski as Krodak, a Gideon council member from Mark of Gideon, and Ben Childress, one of the miners in Mudd's Women.

Production Values

Kevin: The jazz club was pretty good, but probably someone else's set piece. I liked the look of Minuet, and I liked the other models they got to stand there for the intermediate attempts. It mirrored what Riker was looking for and it lent credence to the computer's enhanced ability to create what you are really looking for.

Matthew: I think the neon sign with plastic backing was anachronistic. But hey, the set was nice. It does kind of call into question the computer's storehouse of information. Wouldn't it, like a computer game, have somewhat generic sets for the random dates and locations you could throw at it?

Kevin: The shot of Starbase 74 is a clear reuse from The Search for Spock, and I don't mind it except for the fact that it seems to imply the original Enterprise is of a comparable size. I suppose it's possible the Starbases are also proportionally bigger, but that doesn't quite makes sense either. Still, the shot of the Enterprise docking was cool. I also liked that during the evacuation, they showed people leaving through the airlock. It's one of those little touches that makes the universe more credible as they would of course free up transporter space by using other means of egress, and it's a testament to how prepared the crew, Starfleet and civilian, is to respond to a crisis. How likely is they would need to evacuate the ship while docked in a Starbase? Not very, but here we are with an orderly evacuation when it happened. It's the little stuff like that that makes the Enterprise feel like a real place. I also liked the airlock/gangplank set. It was low key, but it worked.

Matthew: Everything in the Spacedock for me was golden. It's a great re-use of materials which, despite being cheap, really ramps up the "feel" of the show. I can't imagine ever complaining about a re-use of movie materials, as long as it looks relatively seamless, which it did here. I also thought we got to see lots of neat corners of the ship, which is usually the case on "bottle shows" like this, especially when the ships are nearly deserted.

Conclusion

Kevin: I am going with a 4 on this one. This is one I'm always happy to watch. A few headscracthers about the too neat solution keep this from a 5, but there's something nifty about the ideas here that is undeniable, and some actual chemistry between the people who were written to have chemistry really helped this one along.

Matthew: I may have sounded a bit harsh on this episode, but this was because you waxed rhapsodic about its high points. The criticisms I raised, in my opinion, are what brings it down to a 4 instead of a 5. It is entertaining from start to finish, and it's one of the first real investigations of what the holodeck is actually for, namely a sex simulator. So I am in agreement, for a total of 8.

1 comment:

  1. HD Highlights from the Blu-Ray:

    1. A positively stunning rendition of the Enterprise docking with Starbase 74. This film of the spacedock model looks better than the transfers of STIII and IV by a wide margin. This is one of the two or three best shots of the season in HD.

    2. The Bynars' costumes have a very detailed silver threading which shows up quite well in HD.

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