Wednesday, June 27, 2012

The Next Generation, Season 7: Bloodlines

The Next Generation, Season 7
"Bloodlines"
Airdate: May 2, 1994
173 of 176 produced
173 of 176 aired

Introduction

The Enterprise is accosted by a Ferengi probe that delivers a shocking message - Jean-Luc Picard has a son, and his old nemesis DaiMon Bok intends to kill him. Now Picard must determine whether the former is true and whether he can stop the latter.

I'm going to cut that vest off of you and beam it back to Wesley Crusher PIECE BY PIECE!!!



Writing

Matthew: This story starts out pretty well. It has a nice terse teaser, which of course ends on quite a shocker - Picard has a son. We get a nice continuity reference to DaiMon Bok, and we're off and running. The big question of the episode is: running to where? This is the problem - I think this episode is muddled, unfocused, and inconsequential when all is said and done. The family theme is an interesting one, but it is rendered somewhat meaningless by the end of the show. I liked seeing Beverly give Picard advice on parenting, but it ended up being for naught. Perhaps if the show had done its reveal sooner, the story could have explored Picard as a surrogate father, as opposed to a real one.

Kevin: I do like hauling out a pretty decent season one story, and it presents a novel problem for Picard, who is not comfortable with children, and you figure has resigned himself to the idea he isn't going to have any and then life throws him a curve. I think it would have been fun to explore Picard's regret more at ultimately not being a parent. Maybe we could have mentioned his experience in "The Inner Light." This is the second time an ersatz family life has been dangled in front of him and then pulled away. That might start to get to me.

Matthew: There are several real head-scratchers throughout the story. Doesn't subspace beaming cause irreversible biological damage, and hasn't Picard already gone through it? How in the heck did Bok discover Picard's two decade old, brief sexual relationship of one or two weeks? How in the heck could Bock have resequenced Jason's DNA, a procedure which presumably takes more than a few minutes, without his knowledge? It seems like he would have had to be in on it, but the episode is pretty explicit that he was not. That may have been a better story, going to some interesting dark places by preying on Picard's love of family history (also noticeably AWOL).  It just doesn't hang together very well absent Jason's being in on it.

Kevin: The mechanics of the plot were soap operatic, and not even in an enjoyable melodramatic way. Bok is out of prison because....because. That's why. Matt, I agree fully with the problems with the DNA re-sequencing story. And this is like the four hundredth time that a Ferengi national has used Ferengi ship and personnel to attack not just the Federation, but the Enterprise. At what point does this create a problem for the Ferengi Alliance? Never, apparently.

Matthew: On the plus side, there was a nice tension that built throughout the show, as we try to discern what is true and what isn't. That's why I wish there had been something more interesting spun off of the events of the story. I do like investigative plots, and this one was interesting enough. More detective-story detail would have been useful. And why didn't Troi counsel Picard? 

Kevin: I liked the idea of Picard being given a son who he did not relate to, especially given his history, but I did not like the way the character was written. Particularly when he was hitting on the security guard, it read as a redux of Outrageous Okona. Both for the character and the show in general, this annoys me. It makes all the female security guards that falls for the rogue look incompetent and easily distracted, and I am annoyed that "unattached adult expressing sexual interest in another (apparently) unattached adult is supposed read as him being a shady person. Lastly, how many "love of Picard's life" does he have. We have Jenice Manheim, Phillipa Louvois, and he still needs to have time to pine for Beverly. Maybe working in one of the previous relationships could have been fun. If nothing else, getting Amanda McBroom back on screen for a K'Ehleyr-style "I didn't tell you about you kid" story would have been awesome.

Acting

Matthew: I don't think he's a bad actor necessarily, but I really didn't like Ken Olandt in the Jason role. For one thing, the actor is way too old to play 23 convincingly, even on a hardscrabble planet. He was too unctuous and slimy when propositioning women. His diffidence towards Picard didn't come off well, either. Lee Arenberg was good as Bok, however, and I wish the story had given him more screen time. 

Kevin: I like this Bok more than the original, but that may be more for the changes in how Ferengi are played between then and now.The script handed him soap opera villain, but he did his best, and his scenes of popping in and out of the Enterprise were pretty creepy. Olandt didn't do much for me as Jason either, though I suppose I find it more a writing problem than an acting one.

Matthew: Ah, Gates McFadden. We're only going to have 7 more chances after this to praise her. So here goes. I loved the notes she gave off in scanning Picard's son, and giving him advice. You could tell her character had mixed feelings, and wished that her relationship with Picard was deeper. Well, Gates, we wish it were, too (I'm looking at you, Nick Sagan, who also wrote the irritatingly unresolved "Attached!").

Kevin: Agreed.

Matthew: Patrick Stewart was good. I believed his emotional evolution throughout the story. His performance after the twist reveal was good, too, and I wish we could have seen more of those scenes.

Production Values

Matthew: The holodeck cave was only adequate. The Ferengi probe was pretty mundane, too. Really, this was a bottle show when it all comes down to it. We saw a bit of a Ferengi office, and a portion of a Ferengi ship, but 44 out of 45 minutes were on the Enterprise.

Kevin: The cave was pretty lack luster, and I wonder why. Why not just get Seltris III out of storage or something?

Matthew: Jason's hair and wardrobe were... not good. I get that it's the early nineties. But does his hair have to be so poofy? He looks like he raided Wesley's vest closet while he cavorts around the universe with the Traveler. And the less said about the climbing outfit, the better. Maybe Kevin liked it...

Kevin: Well the hair is right out of an episode of Saved by the Bell. As for the climbing outfit, I do like a man in a tight jumpsuit, but the padding was weird and really unflattering.

Conclusion

Matthew: This started out with promise but settled into a 2. A lame resolution and a casting misfire on the guest actor gave this a very unsatisfying feel. Some nice performances by our leading couple salvaged things a bit. It's kind of the opposite of the previous episode, "Firstborn." That show has its story flaws, but they were more than made up for by its stellar guest casting. Both stories are underdeveloped, but one clicks much better on the strength of the acting.

Kevin: I almost hate to give the episode a 2. It's a neat idea, and a bit of continuity service, and their hearts were all in the right place, but I am seriously starting to think the senioritis I identified as the problem in First Born may be a deeper problem here in the home stretch. Ron Moore and Brannon Braga have both talked about how grueling working on "All Good Things..." and "Generations" was, and it may be safe to say that these last few episodes have suffered. That makes a total of 4 from us. 

No comments:

Post a Comment