Sunday, August 28, 2011

The Next Generation, Season 4: Night Terrors

The Next Generation, Season 4
"Night Terrors"
Airdate: March 18, 1991
90 of 176 produced
90 of 176 aired


The Enterprise is sent looking for the USS Brattain, a ship missing for three weeks. They find the ship adrift near a pair of binary stars. On board, they find the entire crew dead by their own hands. Some committed suicide, others were beat or shot. There seems to be no explanation for why the crew would turn on each other. Only one crew member survived, a Betazoid science officer, now catatonic. When they try to take the Britain away, its engine mysteriously fail. When the Enterprise tries to leave, the same thing happens. Now the Enterprise is trapped along with the Britain, and slowly, the same mysterious affliction that killed the Britain's crew begins to take hold on the Enterprise.

The aliens have told us they need Giant Butts to escape the rift. Send one over!

Saturday, August 27, 2011

Why I Love Star Trek, Essay #9: Andrew Katz

Why I Love Star Trek
By Andrew Katz

I admit often times loudly and proudly of my geek/nerd credentials. As a geek/nerd I believe that loving sci-fi is in my blood. Now in the interest of full disclosure I admit that if push came to shove it is the Original Star Wars (Episodes IV, V, and VII) that are closest to my heart. But I also know that Star Trek is also a love I have as well.

Growing up I occasionally remember watching tidbits of TOS here or there. I knew enough about it to know who Kirk and Spock and Bones were but that was about it. I can admit now that I even passed up on a chance to see The Voyage Home on the big screen.  My father took my brother instead.  If I had to pick a moment when I truly became a Star Trek fan it would have to be when I saw Star Trek VI: The Undiscovered County. For me this is probably my favorite Trek movie (I know it does not have enough Syfy). As a teenager and even now it has everything that I could want in a movie/franchise. It had jokes, action, but it also had a strong plot and interesting characters. Needless to say I was hooked. It was around this time that I started watching the Next Generation.

That is how I came to Star Trek but why do I love it? It has everything, the wanna be scientist in me, the wanna be explorer, the wanna be soldier, the list could go on. But I think for me a big aspect is escapism. Below is my favorite example.

Sunday October 8, 1995 my brother and I were watching the Yankees play the Seattle Mariners in the Division series. This was the first year in my conscious lifetime that the Yankees had made the playoffs. I was so excited, and when the Yankees finally lost (actually they got shafted) in the 11th inning thanks to a crappy call at first base I was devastated.  I was angry, I was depressed, I was exhausted (it was after midnight) but in no condition to sleep. The same was true for my brother. I flipped the channel and there was DS9 just about to rerun the first two Worf episodes. It was the perfect escape.  Never mind that I stayed up probably to about 2 am.  I don’t think there would have been another show that would have allowed me to ignore the fact that my hopes and dreams had just been crushed. Although Trek many times deals with issues that we here on 21st century Earth deal with on a daily basis (losing a baseball game to your rival), the fact that it takes place in the future and in space allows me to always escape (I know that the Yankees will never play a game against the Vulcans).

But what I also love about Star Trek for is its ability to use allegory to address real word issues and themes. Whether these issues are social or political I have always thought that Trek does a good job or presenting a nice liberal view on the situation. I thought it was fitting that DS9 years before Sept 11 looked at how a “democracy” deals with fighting a war where the enemy can be anyone. I have always appreciated how Trek has made me think.

On a geekier level my friends and I enjoyed discussing which country the various empires/aliens represented. Federation=USA, Bajoran=Jews/Israel, Cardassian=Nazi Germany/North Koreans etc.

But on a more basic level it is simply fun. Trek is well acted and the stories are interesting and yes can be funny! And even if not every episode has explosions and phaser fire there is enough action to satisfy my more basic action needs.

I don’t know what else to say about why I love Trek. Sometimes I just wish Star Wars worked as deeply and as well.

Thursday, August 25, 2011

The Next Generation, Season 4: Galaxy's Child

The Next Generation, Season 4
"Galaxy's Child"
Airdate: March 11, 1991
89 of 176 produced
89 of 176 aired


Geordi learns an uncomfortable lesson in distinguishing between expectation and reality when Dr. Leah Brahms, a woman he has secretly and anonymously admired for over a year, visits the Enterprise in person. He finds out that not only is a holodeck simulation a poor substitute for the real thing, but that when you idealize someone else, you rarely see things about them that are out of touch with your own desires. They must overcome their differences, however, to save the Enterprise from a space-borne organism with designs on the ship's power.

Geordi has always dreamed of pushing in Dr. Brahms' stool.

Monday, August 22, 2011

The Next Generation, Season 4: First Contact

The Next Generation, Season 4
"First Contact"
Airdate: February 18, 1991
88 of 176 produced
88 of 176 aired


Commander Riker is undercover on an alien world that is on the brink of achieving warp travel. He is injured, and in the hospital, the doctors discover he is an alien. This complicates an already delicate operation. Captain Picard must now find a way to rescue Riker and not destroy their delicate new relationship with a new species.

Take me to your wiener!

Friday, August 19, 2011

The Next Generation, Season 4: Clues

The Next Generation, Season 4
Airdate: February 11, 1991
87 of 176 produced
87 of 176 airedh


While experiencing some well-deserved downtime, the Enterprise falls into what seems to be a minor wormhole, rendering the crew unconscious. When they awake, several seemingly minor inconsistencies coalesce into evidence of a missing day, and an urgent mystery - what happened during their lost time?

Best guess: a ship-wide game of "Simon Says."

Wednesday, August 17, 2011

Netflix Awesomeness

So, I don't think it comes as a surprise that I've been watching a lot of TNG on Netflix lately. As if I needed another reason to love it, the episode descriptions have been roundly hilarious. It's almost like they were written in a foreign language and Google Translated into English. What boggles me is these certainly weren't, say the TV Guide blurbs just cut and pasted here. Someone wrote these anew, raising all kinds of questions. Here are a few of my favorites:
Rascals: Returning with three minor female crew members from the planet Marlonia, Picard's shuttle is disintegrated by an energy field.
That just seems cold. Calling them minor characters right there in the description? Harsh, Netflix. Harsh.
Conspiracy: After diverting to a secret meeting with an old friend and some of Starfleet's finest commanders, Picard finds the Horatio blown to bits.
That one speaks for itself.
Genesis: When a new torpedo guidance system malfunctions, Picard and Data go chasing after it into an asteroid field.
I like that one because it's like they pretty much only watched the teaser to write the summary.
JusticeAfter dropping off some colonists in a system near by, the crew visits a world of beautiful, healthy & tanned human looking people.
That one is probably my favorite, because it really is the most accurate description of the episode possible.

I haven't gone through them all, but if anyone catches one in TNG or any of the other series, let me know. These totally make my day.

Tuesday, August 16, 2011

The Next Generation, Season 4: Devil's Due

The Next Generation, Season 4
"Devil's Due"
Airdate: February 4, 1991
86 of 176 produced
86 of 176 aired


The Enterprise is summoned to Ventax II by a group of Federation anthropologists working there. Apparently, the Ventaxian society is in a state of near collapse because its people are convinced that the mythical Ardra, the Ventaxian equivalent of the devil, is coming to enslave them. Picard is skeptical, and seeking to diffuse a volatile situation when a woman claiming to be Ardra herself appears. Picard is doubtful that this woman is who she claims, but her powers are compelling, even if they aren't supernatural. Claiming to now own the planet and people of Ventax II, and even the Enterprise in orbit, Picard must find a way to free his ship and these people from the grip of a woman who can't possibly be what she claims. Or can she?

We're living in a powder keg and GIVING OFF SPARKS!!!

Monday, August 15, 2011

Poll: Best "Villains"

Well, we've just pod-casted and reviewed "The Wounded," which very capably introduced the Cardassians, and this naturally sets our thoughts towards the question of the "best villains" in Star Trek. Of course, by villains, we mean an antagonistic culture. I am of the opinion, and I think Kevin tends to agree with me, that single villains are generally a bad idea. They always end up seeming to chew scenery, or require incredible amounts of power or ability in order to be a real threat as a singular person. Antagonistic cultures, on the other hand, are much more realistic. Just like our own Cold War, or our current "war" on "terror" (whatever these terms are taken to mean), it is usually an opposing mindset or philosophy that presents the greatest and most animated conflicts.

I mean, just look at these creeps!

So, without further ado, here is a poll asking just these sorts of questions. Which antagonistic culture do you enjoy the most in Star Trek, any series or movie? And yeah, speaking of movies, I left the Son'a off the poll. They are objectively lame and need not be included.

Justify your choice in the comments!

Friday, August 12, 2011

The Next Generation, Season 4: The Wounded

The Next Generation, Season 4
"The Wounded"
Airdate: January 28, 1991
85 of 176 produced
85 of 176 aired


The Enterprise is fired upon by an enemy they thought they were on peaceful terms with, the Cardassians. It turns out the Cardassians are firing in retaliation for strikes upon their people by another Federation vessel, the USS Phoenix. The captain of the Phoenix, Benjamin Maxwell, was on the front lines of the previous war between the two powers. It is up to Captain Picard, and Maxwell's former tactical officer Miles O'Brien, to sort things out whilst simultaneously preserving a hard-won peace.

A war so bloody it resulted in orthodontic headgear for its veterans.

Wednesday, August 10, 2011

The Next Generation, Season 4: Data's Day

The Next Generation, Season 4
"Data's Day"
Airdate: January 7, 1991
84 of 176 produced
84 of 176 aired


Commander Data is a busy man. He has to help his friends get married, learn to dance at their wedding, and handle a possible Romulan threat to Federation security. It's all in all a pretty routine day for everyone's favorite android.

Try to make your smile read less "molester," Data... 

Monday, August 8, 2011

Poll: Regarding "Troi Episodes..."

Apparently, the Deanna Troi character is not a fan favorite. This isn't my personal opinion - I rather like her. But there is such a prevailing opinion that she is a weak character and that episodes focusing on her generally suck, that no less a source than lists a trope titled "Good Troi Episode." Their description:
In an ensemble show, you'd expect episodes which center around a poorly-used and poorly-received character to, themselves, be poorly-received. Usually you'd be right- but every now and then you have an anomaly. An episode centered around a poor character actually turns out to be a good episode.
Well, we've just reviewed "The Loss," and found it to be an adequate episode all around. But it got me to thinking - what do we and our viewers hold to be the best Troi episode?

I always liked this look better than the "boob dress."

In designing this poll, I went through my list of TNG episodes and determined whether there was a main character to the A story (many episodes focus on one character, though some do not). This is what defines a "Troi" or "Geordi" or whoever episode. The main action of the plot has to revolve around that particular character's growth or struggle. Thus, some episodes were really more Lwaxana episodes (that's a topic for another day...) than Deanna Troi episodes. "Menage A Troi" was the exceptional case, since it seems to focus almost equally on both of them. So after thus distilling the episode list, here is the poll:

What's the best "Troi Episode?"

Tell us what you think! Post a justification for your choice in the comments.

Sunday, August 7, 2011

The Next Generation, Season 4: The Loss

The Next Generation, Season 4
"The Loss"
Airdate: December 31, 1990
83 of 176 produced
83 of 176 aired


The Enterprise finds itself mired in a strange gravitational pull, being drawn inexorably towards a dangerous astrophysical phenomenon known as a cosmic string fragment. Stranger still, though, is the effect that this mysterious pull has on Counselor Troi - she loses the use of her empathic sense while within the effect. Will she ever regain her abilities, and will she be able to help the Enterprise out of its predicament?
Sorry, couldn't resist.

Thursday, August 4, 2011

The Next Generation, Season 4: Final Mission

The Next Generation, Season 4
"Final Mission"
Airdate: November 19, 1990
82 of 176 produced
82 of 176 aired


Captain Picard is heading to Pentarus V to mediate a dispute amongst the miners there. He asks Wesley to accompany him, as his last mission on the Enteprise before leaving for the Academy. Shortly after leaving the Enterprise, the mining vessel transporting them malfunctions, and along with its "captain" the three crash land in an arid desert. Meanwhile, the Enterprise responds to a distress call from a planet facing ecological disaster from an orbiting garbage scow leaking massive amounts of radiation. Will the Enterprise be able to save the planet? Will they do so in enough time to find Picard and Wesley?

"Sensors show that this guy is a twat, Captain."

Monday, August 1, 2011

The Next Generation, Season 4: Future Imperfect

The Next Generation, Season 4
Airdate: November 12, 1990
81 of 176 produced
81 of 176 aired


After his birthday party in Ten Forward is interrupted by a call from the bridge to form an away team, Riker finds himself waking up in sickbay. But the world goes topsy-turvy when Doctor Crusher refers to Riker as "Captain," and he finds both himself and the world around him having undergone 16 years worth of changes. Can the story of his lost time possibly be true?

Riker wakes up in a strange bed. Not again!