Sunday, June 30, 2013

Best of Star Trek TNG---The Drumhead

"The Drumhead" was the 21st episode in the 4th season and written by Jeri Taylor. It was directed by Jonathan Frakes (Commander Riker) and starred screen legend Jean Simmons as Ret. Admiral Norah Satie.

The story begins with the questioning of a Klingon science exchange officer who is being accused of sabatoge of a dilithium chamber in engineering. He is found guilty of exchanging secret information with federation enemy Romulus, but the engineering team, lead by Geordi and Data, proves that the explosion was an accident by faulty parts used in a routine maintenance.

During the trial of the Klingon, a medic, who had given medical injections to him, was questioned about how well he knew the exchange officer. He only knew him in sick bay and in Ten Forward, but in a social gathering. However, the admiral's Betazoid assistant senses he's hiding something crucial and an investigation begins into his personal life.

The medic, named Tarses, is now undergoing a public hearing and he, on advice of acting council William Riker, refuses to answer questions about his Romulan heritage. This encourages the admiral to continue investigating the entire crew, to weed out conspirators with the go-ahead of Starfleet command.

Lt. Worf is all too eager to assist her in this effort and Captain Picard has a one-on-one talk with him about the dangers of suspicion turning into paranoia. He tells Worf this reminds him of a "drumhead" used on the battlefield where officers would gather and dispense quick judgments and severe punishments without an appeal.

Picard then tries to stop any further interrogations of the crew by telling the admiral he will do whatever he can to fight her on it. She responds by putting him on the witness stand at another public hearing with an admiral from Starfleet security in attendance. She grills him on the Romulan spy who passed herself off as a Vulcan ambassador and questions whether or not he is fully recovered from his incident with The Borg.

As part of his defence and as an objection to the hearings, Picard quotes the admiral's own father, a man she idolizes, by saying ""With the first link, the chain is forged. The first speech censured, the first thought forbidden, the first freedom denied, chains us all irrevocably." With this, the admiral loses it and yells "I've brought down bigger men than you, Picard!" and rails about him dirtying the name of her father.

The Security admiral from Starfleet leaves the proceedings and later calls a halt to them completely.

I like this episode because it is well acted and gives us thought about today's political climate regarding "the war on terror" and our reaction to acts of violence such as illegal searches, wiretapping, and the censorship of important public information by the government.

Best of Star Trek TNG---Remember Me

"Remember Me' is the 5th episode of the 4th season and written by Lee Sheldon.

Dr. Beverly Crusher welcomes aboard an old mentor who tells her about aging and how he misses his wife who died of illness. She sees him to his quarters and goes to see Wesley in Engineering.

Wesley is working on a warp bubble experiment and causes an energy glitch. He looks up to find his mother no longer standing there.

Then the doctor is going to see her old mentor Dr. Quaice. She sees he is not in his quarters. When she asks the computer for his location, the computer states that there is on one by that name on board. She questions the crew about his whereabouts, even Chief O'Brien, who beamed him aboard. No one knows about his visit to the Enterprise. Data scans computer records to find no record of a Dr. Quaince anywhere.

As the doctor continues her inquiry, she discovers from the crew that there are only approximately 200 people on board, 800 less that originally. Slowly, more and more people go missing until it is only she and the captain left. Beverly tries to get him to remember his crew, including her son Wesley, who went missing as she was talking to him about the experiment he was working on. The captain finds nothing unusual about the two of them being the only ones on board exploring the galaxy.

As they sit on the bridge, the captain disappears as well, leaving her alone on the ship. Through this, she encounters atmospheric disturbances at random places on the ship, including on the bridge where she is almost sucked through a vortex.

Meanwhile; Wesley, Picard, Geordi, and the traveler (who first appeared in "Where No One Has Gone Before") is back to help get Beverly through the warp bubble before it collapses. The traveler explains that Beverly, when she got trapped in the bubble, may be living out the reality she created for herself when she first entered the bubble.

Back in the bubble, Beverly is realizing it is she who is trapped in this alternate universe and it's slowly collapsing. She connects the dots as it were---remembering Wesley's experiment with warp fields and what she was thinking at the time of the glitch. She asks the computer what is the nature of the universe and it replies that it's' a field of energy surrounding the ship. She knows she must get back on the other side fast.

Wesley, with the help of the travelor, are recreating the experiment and both phase out as Beverly finds another atmospheric disturbance and runs through. She is relieved to see Wesley and asks the captain how many people are onboard ship. He responds 1014, including her guest Dr. Quaice.

This episode was exciting on two levels---watching Wesley trying to get his mother back and Watching Beverly trying to get back to her real universe.

Saturday, June 29, 2013

Worst of Star Trek TNG---The Perfect Mate

"The Perfect Mate" was a dreadful episode, not because of any mystery, suspense, or violence, but because it seemed like it could have been written by a teenage girl with a penchant for romance novels.

An ambassador arrives on board the Enterprise with valuable cargo. That cargo, after it is brought out of stasis prematurely by a couple of sneaky Ferengis who tricked their way onto the ship, tells the Captain that she is the gift for the Chancellor of a planet involved in peace negotiations with the ambassador's planet.

The woman will psychologically bond with her intended mate. Trouble is, she attempts to seduce every man she comes in contact with, which is why she was supposed to be kept in stasis until the wedding ceremony. The ambassador tells her to stay in her quarters and not to mingle. Good advice...but...

Dr. Crusher isn't too crazy about the idea as a woman being a gift for some man, which to her, makes the Enterprise like a transport for slave trading. Picard agrees and decides to talk to the woman, named Kamala, that she should be a free agent and be allowed to leave her quarters---but with a chaperon. Picard enlists Data for that task, who is immune to her charms.

And now the plot complication; the ambassador has a run-in with the Ferengi who are trying to bribe him into a purchase of the metamorph, AKA gift for the chancellor. The ambassador attempts to leave with the threat of telling the captain about their bribe. He is pulled back and is accidentally knocked unconscious, rendering him unable to perform the duties of the reconciliation ceremony.

Now, the captain must take his place and gain help from the metamorph who, surprise surprise, bonds with him instead.

The episode ends with the captain giving away the bride and seeing the ambassador, recovered from his injuries, off the ship.

During this nauseating 45 minute too long show, we are treated to dialogue about how wonderful Jean-Luc Picard is because he made Kamala realize how fulfilled she is now for having met him and that she learned about duty and responsibility from him and she will marry the chancellor for the good of her people. She has maintained her empathic abilities and will know how to please her new spouse but will retain the gifts and knowledge she learned from Picard.

I had to keep telling myself "easy stomach, easy" while watching this insipid monstrosity.

Best of Star Trek TNG---Brothers

"Brothers" was written by Rick Berman and was the 3rd episode of the 4th season. There are three conflicts in this episode:

1) a boy went into hiding after he was lead to believe he killed his brother in a prank gone wrong. The boy ate a plant that contained toxic parasites and (for some inexplicable reason) the boy needs to be treated at a starbase hospital.

2) Data is responding to an internal homing device implanted by his creator Dr. Soong and creates a scenario that gets the crew off the bridge where he proceeds to take control of the ship and override commands from the captain in engineering.

3) Data's evil twin Lore is back, brought to the same location from Dr. Soong's homing device.

While the Enterprise crew works to get the ship's command controls back from Data's lockout sequence code, they know time is running out for the boy slowly dying from the parasitic toxins and must get him to the starbase treatment center within 36 hours.

Meanwhile, the Data and Lore reunion with their creator Dr. Soong isn't going that smoothly. They discuss Lore's past disturbing  behaviors and why he had to be disassembled in the first place. Despite that, Soong is more trusting in Lore than he should be. He announces the reason he recalled Data to his work lab is because he had developed an emotion chip for him. He is also very old and sick and must rest before performing the implant procedure.

This gives Lore the opportunity to shut Data off and get the implant himself because, as he tells Soong, "you owe me, old man." He throws the tired old man across the room, gravely injuring him.

The Enterprise crew has figured out a way to beam to the planet and retrieve Data and get the lockout code. Soong refuses to go with them and he and Data are left to say good-bye in the short time they have left before the ship heads off to the treatment center.

Despite it's plot flaws, I enjoyed this episode and it was great having Lore appear again. Brent Spiner has a triple role here; as Data, the evil twin Lore, and the old Dr. Soong. The performances were so good that it was like watching three different actors.

Worst of Star Trek TNG---Justice

In "Justice" the away team that consists of Riker, Troi, Worf, Yar, and Wesley (to see if it would be a good place for children to go on vacation), encounter half clothed humans called Edos who, according to Geordi, "make love at the drop of a hat." "Any hat," Yar contends.

As the away team are on the planet, an object appears in space (NOTE: this object also resembles the space station in "Conundrum") and releases a transparent bubble-like projectile which enters the ship and knocks out Data, scanning his memory banks.

Meanwhile, Wesley found some young teens to play ball with and ends up falling backwards into a greenhouse. Simultaneously, Yar, in talking to the Edos, is told that they have no police enforcement because they depend on mediators to determine if someone dies. Every infraction, no matter how slight, is punishable by death.

So, the two things that make this race of beings so creepy is their free love mixed with the death penalty--for falling into a bed of flowers!

Now Picard is struggling with what this entity in the sky knows, particularly about the prime directive, and not allowing the Edos to execute Wesley. He beams down to the planet to negotiate Wesley's release but needs to know for sure it's safe with that overprotective entity in the sky watching over them.

After some drama involving Dr. Crusher and Picard, the thing blocks the away team's signal to the Enterprise but then allows them, with Wesley, to beam back to the ship when Picard explains to it that no law can be absolute and that justice is an exercise in exceptions.

This episode was just annoying and badly scripted. It was like watching a PG-13 version of a 1950's Playhouse outerspace adventure.

Friday, June 28, 2013

Worst of Star Trek TNG---A Matter of Time

"A Matter of Time" was the 9th episode of the 5th season. It featured Matt Frewer has a man who suddenly appears aboard the bridge and states he's a traveler from the 26th century.

From the get-go, this visitor is extremely annoying and offers little information about himself all the while getting excited about insignificant things such as the arrangement of Captain Picard's statuettes on a table in his ready room.

One thing ridiculous about this episode, besides the obnoxious visitor, is that the captain seems to accept at face value that he is who he claims to be and allows him to roam the ship and give out questionnaires to senior staff about their thoughts on their modern technology. He can also be seen stealing ship's equipment such as tricorders and the doctor's diagnostic tools. He also has the annoying and nervous habit of constantly looking at his futuristic watch, insisting he only has so much time.

Meanwhile, Geordi in engineering is busy trying to come up with a way to stop the planet, that's orbit they are in, from freezing over from dense volcanic ash in its atmosphere. Picard tries to enlist the advice from the time traveler in how to proceed with the experiment and whether or not it will work. The traveler, who calls himself Rasmussen, refuses to help and uses the excuse that he could jeopardize future events.

The experiment to restore the planet's atmosphere and save its millions of inhabitants is successful and Rasmussen makes his exit to the shuttlebay and finds the crew waiting for him. He allows Data to enter the craft he arrived in with the understanding he can have a look around. There he attempts to abduct Data and take him with him back to the 22nd century where he's actually from. He reveals he's an inventor and has plans to use the stolen technology to make a profit. What he doesn't realize that the crew is on to his game and has deactivated the devices, rendering them useless.

Data comes out of the craft with Rasmussen. The craft, being on a time schedule that Rasmussen was following, suddenly disappears to the future while Rasmussen is now stranded in the 24th century and escorted by security to await justice.

This episode was irritating. Most guest aliens and humanoids on the show are pleasant additions to the storyline, or at the very least tolerable. This one was a downright nuisance.

Thursday, June 27, 2013

Best of Star Trek TNG---The Offspring

I remember I wasn't too impressed with this episode the first time I saw it in it's first run. Maybe now that I'm older I can appreciate the subtle messages here, including how one deals with loss. We learn that even Data, who is not capable of great emotion, deals with grief in his own way.

The episode is "The Offspring," written by Rene Echevarria and directed by (the first episode directed by) Jonathan Frakes.

After attending a cybernetics conference, Data has embarked on a secretive lab experiment. He finally reveals it to staff members Troi, Geordi, and Wesley. He reveals his new creation--an android named "Lal."

In the beginning, Lal is unfinished--an androgynous android whom Data will allow to choose its own gender and species.

Lal decides on human female and after her transformation, begins the learning process. In the meantime, Captain Picard is not too pleased. He wants to know from Data why he was not consulted on this first. Data's argument is if humans are not made to consult the captain whenever they create new life, why should he be made to?

Data gets to work schooling Lal in human behavior basics such as talking, blinking, and even drinking.

Starfleet command gets wind of this new Data-like prodigy and an admiral Haftel comes aboard ship to take Lal to a facility where he feels Lal can best be served. When Lal is interviewed by the admiral, she insists she wants to stay with her "father" aboard the Enterprise.

Then the unexpected happens. She feels afraid and confused and goes to the lab where she was programmed to do in case of malfunction.

The admiral observes as Data works to repair her circuity that is melting down in a cascade failure. He works hard to no avail.

The admiral comes out of the lab and informs the crew that Data worked fast and hard to repair Lal but the damage was too extensive and she wouldn't last long. The admiral is on the verge of crying while saying this, showing him to be not the cold hearted human as he first appeared.

This part actually had me in tears on the second watching. They say good-bye. Data, unable to say and mean "I love you," Lal says she will feel it for both of them.

Date reports for bridge duty and informs the crew that he has downloaded Lal's positronic memory in his so she will live on within him.

Today, I can appreciate this as a beautiful story about love and loss, and of course, the question of who should determine who has human and parental rights.

Best of Star Trek TNG---The Defector

"The Defector" was written by Ronald Moore and was the 10th episode of the 3rd season.

A Romulan ship is in hot pursuit of a rogue scout ship manned by a lone Romulan heading out of the neutral zone and into federation space. The scout is heavily damaged and the occupant is injured and after the pursuit ends at the front of federation space, the Romulan is beamed aboard.

He claims to be a lowly logistics clerk, but reveals later he is a Romulan admiral named Jarok who once lead a fleet in a battle with the federation. He says the Romulan Empire is planning another war with the federation and gives them information he was given when reassigned to a remote outpost. He relays this information and confides in Captain Picard that he is doing this to preserve his children's future and to save the Empire which otherwise may not survive another war.

The planet to which Jarok tells the crew is the homebase of the Empire's strategic base is actually a dead rock with no lifesigns or tactical base. Picard and Jarok come to realize it was a ruse to test Jarok's loyalty by the Empire. Romulan ships decloak and demand the Enterprise surrender for violating the  neutral zone treaty and acting with military aggression. Then three Klingon vessels appear decloaked, ready to do battle with the Romulans. They were summoned to the same destination by Worf as a means of protection and giving the federation a tactical advantage.

The Romulans back off and head back to their territory. Meanwhile, Jarok is back in his quarters. He commits suicide but leaves behind a letter to his family in hopes that one day it will be delivered to them.

This episode was exciting from the beginning and was well-acted and written. Along with the Enterprise crew, we too are in doubt of Jarok's sincerity until that moment on the bridge when confronted by the dead planet and the Romulan ships. Many good points were made about war, including the need to preserve, through peace, a future for our children. As Jarok tells Picard, his daughter may grow up to view her father as a traitor, but at least she will grow up.

There is also funny dialogue where Geordi explains to Data what he meant by "catching the Romulans with their pants down."

Tuesday, June 25, 2013

Best of Star Trek TNG---Contagion

"Contagion" was the first episode I watched with clear reception (during it's first run in syndication--and without cable or satellite) and I was very impressed with the special effects, particularly the beginning when the Yamato explodes and debris hits the Enterprise shields. I exclaimed "Wow!" After having seen all the original Star Trek and their fake rocks and fake-looking animated viewer screens graphics, this was a dramatic change.

The episode was written Steve Gerber and Beth Woods and is the from the second season. In a way, this one reminds me of an original Star Trek episode titled "All Our Yesterday's" where Kirk and Spock meet the keeper of a library, named Mr. Atoz, (Mr. A to Z ?) who has recorded disks of their ancient history. Their world is on the verge of extinction because of a supernova and the planet's inhabitants enter a time portal to one of these previous civilizations to escape the destruction.

This episode has such a time portal via the Iconians. Their advanced but alien technology sends a probe to the Yamata and tries to merge with its technology and proves to be incompatible and causes a breach in the ship's plasma core and the ship explodes.

The Enterprise investigates while undergoing its own malfunctions brought about by the downloading of logs from the Yamato. One highlight of the episode is when Geordi takes the turbolift and goes for the ride of his life as it maneuvers at rapid speed back and forth, up and down, causing him to be thrust about the turbolift like a bouncy ball.

To complicate matters, the Romulans are interested in the Iconian planet and its technology and come head to head with the Enterprise, accusing the federation ship of violating the neutral zone. They too are having system failures because of the Iconian technology.

Picard leads an away team, consisting of Worf and Data, to the planet and its center of technology. The powersource opens up a gateway to other worlds, including the Enterprise bridge. The team decides to destroy the technology rather than let it get into Romulan hands to use it as a weapon. Worf takes Data through the porthole to the bridge after he becomes damaged by getting shocked by the powersource.

Data regains full functionality by using a self correction system. This gives Geordi the idea to perform a complete system shutdown of the ship. Picard ends up on the bridge of the Romulan via the porthole at the moment of the destruction of the Iconian technology center. The Enterprise beams him back as the Romulan ship is on the verge of self-destruction.

Monday, June 24, 2013

Best of Star Trek TNG---Time's Arrow

"Time's Arrow" was a two part episode--the last in the 5th season and the first of the 6th season. This is one of my favorite episodes and my favorite 2-parter. Teleplay was written by Joe Menosky (Part I)
Michael Piller (Part I) and Jeri Taylor (Part II) and based on the story by Joe Menosky.

The episode is fun and creepy at the same time. The character of Samuel Clemens, played by Jerry Hardin, is a nice and amusing aspect to the show and provides comic relief  in contrast to the aliens who are invading 19th century Earth to drain the neural energy from humans for food.


The Enterprise is recalled to Earth after a team of scientists discover strange artifacts that are believed to be 500 years old. One of these items is Data's head, hence the reason for the ship's journey back to Earth.

Counselor Troi senses a human presence in the area and experiences strong emotions of pain and suffering. The crew conducts experiments using sensor frequencies and finds an alien race that is doing something to the humans. Data is most adept at seeing these aliens and is thrust through a time portal in the time period of the artifacts; 19th century San Francisco. Guinan talks the captain into going with the away team because if he doesn't, they will never meet.

The crew builds another phase converter and goes through the time portal and their next task is to find Data and stop the aliens, who we learn are absorbing life energy from humans as a means of food. Their victims are people who no one is surprised at their deaths---the old, the sick, and the poverty stricken. The deaths are passed off as cholera.

Meanwhile, Data is busy working to blend in with the new society. A citizen assumes the stranger is a Frenchman and thus Data passes himself off as one. He joins a poker game and uses the earnings to get himself a room in a hotel that's bellhop is the future-famous novelist Jack London. Data enlists the help of London by giving him money in exchange for purchasing items that will help in building a phase converter. London brings Data back a newspaper where Data sees Guinan's picture and a headline announcing her hosting a reception for Samuel Clemens, AKA Mark Twain. He attends the reception and explains to Guinan his purpose for being there. The conversation is overheard by Clemens.

Clemens busies himself with a local reporter and tells him that people from the future are up to no good and plans to gather evidence against them. He sneaks into Data's room, with the help of London, and discovers his "invention" and takes the transceiver part of it and hides in the closet when Data comes back with Guinan. Data and Guinan hear him drop the part when Data tells Guinan that it is made of highly toxic material.

The Enterprise crew, meanwhile, are now dressed in period clothing in a boarding house and hounded by a landlady demanding rent. Picard does his best to ward her off to stall for time and convinces her they are an acting troupe rehearsing for a play and can pay her after the show begins. Then they go to a hospital ward and Geordi detects through his visor residue patterns of the aliens. They set up detectors to pick the aliens out and a couple of them show up and are thwarted by the crew before they can kill more patients. They meet Data who is driving a horse drawn carriage.

Guinan meets Picard for the first time. The crew discuss ways to stop the aliens and go back to the future when they are interrupted by Clemens who once again threatens to expose them. The aliens show up for their conduit (a device designed to resemble a cane with snake head) and Data gets caught in the surge and literally loses his head. Clemens sees the porthole left by the aliens and runs through it, ending up in the 24th century. They go back to the Enterprise with Data's headless body. Clemens greets Worf with "a werewolf?"

On the ship, Clemens talks to Troi about what Earth is like in the 24th century while Geordi is busy putting Data back together again. They meet up and Clemens apologizes for misjudging them and what they were trying to accomplish.

The alien, who missed the portal, tells Picard that the weapons the Enterprise plans to use to destroy their plot will only enhance the time distortion. This will destroy the Earth itself. Picard manages to send a message to the crew in the future via Data's positronic circuitry and the plan to fire photon torpedoes at the alien habitat are stopped in time. They reconfigure the weapons and Clemens is sent back to the past to relay a message to Picard from Geordi---use a certain frequency wave on his phaser which will activate the conduit and allow Picard to return.

Best of Star Trek TNG---Yesterday's Enterprise

“Yesterday’s Enterprise” was a third season episode written by: teleplay—Ira Steven Behr,Richard Manning,Hans Beimler,Ronald D. Moore and based on the story by Trent Christopher Ganino and Eric A. Stillwell.

The Enterprise is monitoring an anomaly in space—-some sort of time distortion. Then out of this area of space, the Enterprise C class emerges. Then we see the Enterprise D crew transform into different looking uniforms and the bridge of the ship is more dark and less spacious. Chief of Security Worf has been replaced by Tasha Yar, the crew’s first security chief.

Captain Picard hails the other Enterprise and that crew slowly learns they have traveled in time—22 years into the future. They were responding to a distress call on a Klingon outpost when they were attacked by Romulans and then entered the rift.

Meanwhile, Picard’s old friend Guinan senses something is wrong. She tells the captain that she doesn’t know exactly how things are different, but knows they are and that the Enterprise in the other timeline is a ship of peace, not war. She concludes that the Enterprise C must go back through the rift. Picard is reluctant to force them to do this because they would be heading toward certain death. Picard has a meeting with his senior staff and they are not willing to do this either, certainly not for the reason based on someone’s intuition only.

Picard tells Captain Garrett of Enterprise C that their presence brought with them 22 years of war that could otherwise be prevented if they go back. Tasha Yar learns from Guinan that they never even met in the previous timeline and that she shouldn’t even be here because she had been killed and it was a senseless death. Captain Picard allows Yar to go and help the C ship go back through the time rift after Garrett is killed in an attack by a Klingon vessel.

I liked this episode because it was very much like a space adventure with a lot of tension, action and human drama without getting too melodramatic. It was well-written and acted.

Sunday, June 23, 2013

Worst of Star Trek TNG---The Icarus Factor

"The Icarus Factor" is the soap opera in space episode. Commander Riker's father comes aboard the Enterprise to see his son off to command The Aries. Both men are carrying a lot of baggage from days gone by. Dr. Pulaski, an old flame of Kyle Riker's, reminds Will to jettison the baggage before taking his new command post. Troi confronts Kyle about he and his son's past competing with each other and it's time to let it go.

They have it out in a type of jitsu match with implements that resemble broom sticks with Star Wars like sound effects. Old feelings come out during the match including Riker's contentions that it should have been his father who died instead of his mother. The father admits his failings as a father but also tells Will he loves him. They reconcile. Nice ending to a sappy story line.

The highlight of the episode is Worf's ascension ceremony in the holodeck. He walks through a gauntlet of Klingons stabbing him with pain sticks while railing in Klingon dialect.

Saturday, June 22, 2013

Best of Star Trek TNG----Fistful of Datas

“A Fistful of Datas” was written by Robert Hewitt Wolfe and Brannan Braga. It’s the 8th episode of the 6th season. This is a fun episode and with many laughs.

Geordi is performing an experiment with Data to test if Data could be utilized as a backup and repair for the ship’s computer in case of a malfunction. Meanwhile,

Worf’s son has written a holodeck program, with the help of Mr. Barclay (who doesn’t appear in this episode, only mentioned) based on Earth history of the old West.

Pretty soon, the ship’s replicators are producing cat food. Data had been working on “nutritional supplements for Spot.” Musical compositions are playing tunes produced by Data and plays are being replaced by poetry written by Data. On the holodeck, Troi joins Worf and Alexander as the mysterious stranger who rode into town. They’ve arrested a gun slinger named Eli. In retaliation, Eli’s father abducts Alexander, looking for a trade.

Trouble is, Eli’s dad, who introduces himself to Worf, is the spitting image of Data. The supporting players also become twins of Data, including Eli. The safety protocols on the holodeck are off and the Data-like characters posses Data’s traits of speed, strength, and ability, meaning the gun slinger has quick reflexes.

Data’s behavior begins to meld with the characters from the old West. He tells his cat to “vamoose varmint” and uses phrases like “I reckon” and having the work done “in time for supper.”

Troi determines that they need to play out the scenario on the holodeck before the computer ends the program. It’s up to them to stay alive during this time. Worf manages to create a temporary shield using materials in the holodeck program and survives the shoot out with the gun slinging Data.

Back on the ship, Geordi and Data realize that Data’s brain and the computer have swapped memories and work on repairing it. Worf, Alexander, and Troi see the holodeck program through and it fortunately ends before Worf needs to give barmaid Annie, now another twin of Data, a kiss for all her help.

This episode was funny and suspenseful, but in a good way. Brent Spiner gets to do a bit more here than his usual mechanical mannerisms of moving and talking. It’s a real treat for his fans.

Worst of Star Trek TNG---Masks

“Masks” is from the seventh season. The Enterprise scans a comet which contains within its core an ancient library with knowledge of a technologically advanced civilization.

Through the scan, the device floating in space that contains the library probes the ship and merges with its technology, transforming the ships matter into artifacts and possessing Data with multiple personalities of the civilization's god-like beings.

Picard figures that the best way to get the ship back from the alien’s influence is to learn more about the relationship between the beings primary symbols; one is named Masaka (the queen) and the other Korgano (male).

He enlists the help of Data to access the personalities that have invaded him. We learn that Masaka needs her temple built and there she will await Korgano.

Picard has the remaining bridge crew access more information about Korgano and the program is downloaded. It is a mask similar to the one Data made in sculpting class when the ship first encountered the alien. Using his knowledge of ancient rituals and symbols, Picard, now wearing the mask of Korgano, approaches Masaka (Data) in the newly created temple. They exchange words about Masaka going to sleep for rest while Korgano takes over, then in turn the chase (sun and moon rising and setting) can begin again. With this, the Enterprise is restored to its natural state, as is Data.

I found this episode boring and ridiculous, not on the same par as episodes like “The First Duty” and “The Measure of a Man.” This was a script left best for fantasy and mythology rather than science-fiction.

Best of Star Trek TNG---Conspiracy

“Conspiracy” is the next to last episode of the first season. The teleplay was written by Tracy Torme.

While most episodes are full of mystery or suspense, this one is downright creepy. Think of it as a tv version of “Alien.”

Captain Picard receives a message on a subspace channel by fellow captain Walker Keel. He has Picard meet him and a couple of other starfleet captains on a remote planet where he tells Picard about unusual behaviors and orders by other starfleet officers and command. Picard is warned to watch his back as he boards his ship.

Picard enlists Commander Data to use his unique talent to review Starfleet logs for the past six months. Data does notice a pattern and concludes that there seems to be an attempt of overtaking and controlling a certain area of space. By who or what is the question.

Picard then has no choice but to inform the remaining bridge crew of why he is diverting the ship’s previous rendezvous at Pacifica and heading toward the command post on Earth. He feels he must warn them of a possible threat.

When he arrives, he is met with 3 admirals, including Quinn who we were first introduced to in “Coming of Age.” Also here is Commander Remmick from same episode. They invited Picard to dinner while Quinn requests to beam aboard the Enterprise for a tour. Picard agrees but tells Riker privately that he wants him to stay aboard until the dinner to observe Quinn. Picard is suspicious because of his lack of memory concerning their last encounter.

Quinn has brought aboard a creature that resembles a scorpion without the curled up tail. He tells Riker he has a “superior form of life” he’d like Dr. Crusher to see. Riker says he will have his science officer look at it and that’s when the fun begins.

Quinn insists it’s for the doctor and Riker finds himself thrashed around the quarters and his attempt at defense has no effect on Quinn. Worf and Geordi enter Quinn’s quarters and too are thrown about. Geordi is thrust through the doors and Dr. Crusher shows up with her phaser and puts Quinn unconscious.

Meanwhile, Picard is treated to a meal of live larvae like worms. He is repulsed and backs up only to find Riker standing there, telling Picard to sit back down. An admiral checks the back of Riker’s neck to see if the protrusion in which the invading creature breaths is visible behind the neck. Riker explains that the invader, which was meant for the doctor, is in him but it couldn’t be helped.

Dr. Crusher discovered the creature during an examination of Quinn and applied the same type of worm like protrusion on Riker to fake the possession.

Riker and Picard are told that putting phasers on kill was the only way to get rid of the host in the body. Riker, about to enjoy his “meal” shoots his phasers at the dinner hosts. The invaders leave their hosts through the mouth. Riker and Picard follow one to what we find is the mother host, inside the body of Remmick. They are forced to kill Remmick along with the queen host in a rather gruesome fashion.

The show ends with a chilling report from Data; Remmick was sending signals from Earth that appear to have been a homing beacon to the fellow invading hosts.

Thursday, June 20, 2013

Worst of Star Trek TNG---The Child

“The Child” was the first episode of the second season. An entity enters Counselor Troi’s womb and goes through the birth process in a rapid rate. She gives birth to a fully developed baby within 36 hours of the start of her pregnancy.

The senior staff have a meeting to discuss the situation, lead by the newly arrived Dr. Pulaski. Troi tells the staff she will have the baby. Meanwhile, the medical lab has dangerous viruses that need to be contained, but they are rapidly mutating and will break through their containment with a few hours, killing everyone on board the ship.

Troi’s baby, who she named Ian, is now the equivalent of an 8 year old. He is busily learning human experiences, even allowing himself to be burned in a hot bowl of soup. Being half Betazed like his mother, he senses trouble on the ship and realizes he’s the cause and returns to his original form and leaves the ship and floats back into space. The viruses are contained with no further growth. Troi grieves for her loss.

Not THE worst episode, but certainly one of them. What I didn’t like was that the entity entered Troi’s body without permission and then leaves her to grieve it’s loss. It’s like the biblical story of the virgin birth. Mary, mother of Jesus, didn’t have a choice. Deanna chose to have the baby because of her telepathic ability and was able to sense it wasn’t dangerous. Not dangerous, at least until the type of radiation the entity was giving off began harming the ship and causing the viruses to multiply. Rather than use it’s ability to change it’s shape and appear as an adult and introduce itself and ask to observe the humans, it decides to violate a woman’s body without her permission.

Best of Star Trek TNG---Q Who

While the Q episode “Tapestry” was one of the worst episodes (in my opinion) “Q-Who?” is one of my favorites. Despite his penchant for mischief and just plain annoyance, Q is amusing and almost likeable—-and right in this episode.

Captain Picard leaves for his quarters to change his uniform after a young ensign in engineering spills hot choco on it. He steps off the turbolift and finds himself on a shuttle craft with Q.

Q has a proposal for him—-make him a member of the crew and he in turn will teach them about everything he knows about the universe.

A tempting offer for sure, but because of Q’s past misdeeds against the crew, Picard doesn’t trust him and assures him that they are ready to encounter whatever is out there without his help.

Q immediately proceeds to show them otherwise. Guinan is familiar with, not only the Q Continuum, but the area of space in which Q sends the ship hurling.

This is our introduction to the Borg and Guinan warns the captain to turn around. Picard, against Guinan’s best advice, decides to explore the region with disastrous results.

In later episodes, as well as the film “First Contact,” the Borg are assimilators, not merely the gatherers of technology and destroyers of inferior races as they are depicted here.

Q’s objective was to show the crew, mainly the captain, that they aren’t ready and that they need someone like Q to help them.

Picard realizes, after admitting to Q that “we need you,” that what Q really provided them was a “kick in our complacency.”

Wednesday, June 19, 2013

Worst of Star Trek TNG---Tapestry

The premise of “Tapestry” is to teach Picard that if he chose to play it safe through his life, he would not be the man he is today.

Q is brought back again for this lesson. A lesson I find redundant and not necessary, for Jean-Luc Picard is already a starship captain who had a tendency to be reckless and rowdy in his youth and yet became the man he is.

We learn for the first time that Picard has an artificial heart and it’s failing him after an energy blast by a hostile alien. (edit: actually the first episode to mention it was "Samaritan Snare) Then he wakes up in bed in his cadet days with Q laying beside him, announcing to Picard that he is dead and gives him a chance to relive his life and avoid the incident, a confrontation with an alien race called the Nausicans. A spear is driven through his heart, thus having his life saved via an artificial heart.

Picard chooses to relive those days and avoids the confrontation while alienating his friends at the Academy. He wakes up in sick bay and sees he’s no more than a low man on the totem poll junior lieutenant.

Picard realizes that he’d rather be dead than have this life. Q restores his current life with artificial heart in tact.

Why was this show about an already accomplished man like Picard? Such a waste of time and so unnecessary.

Best of Star Trek TNG---The First Duty

What is the first duty of every officer? According to Captain Picard, it’s to the truth.

“The First Duty” was an episode in the 5th season, written by Ronald Moore and Naren Shankar, that featured the return of Wesley Crusher who is now a Starfleet cadet.

Four cadets were injured and one killed in a flight exercise. The four surviving cadets must undergo hearings to determine what went wrong. Their testimony doesn’t jive with the satellite photo showing their ships not in the diamond formation as Crusher testified, but in a pattern not specified by any normal maneuver.

Captain Picard has Geordi and Data working on a simulation and using Crusher’s flight recorder to determine exactly what went wrong. Geordi is puzzled that Crusher’s hatch was open and determined that is done in an emergency if the plasma is heated. Picard realizes the cadets were attempting a banned maneuver, called a Starburst, that had previously cost the lives of five cadets who attempted it.

Picard orders Wesley to his ready room and gives him a lecture about honor and duty. It is effective. Wesley admits the truth to the board and has his grades erased from that academic years, putting him behind schedule. Their squadron leader is expelled from the academy.

The team leader was played by Robert Duncan McNeill who later played Tom Paris on Voyager.

I liked this episode because it is well written, acted, and we get to see the mystery unfold along with the Doctor and Captain. One of the best of the series!

Best of Star Trek TNG---Cause and Effect

Written by Brannon Braga, this episode is one of my favorites. It’s “Cause and Effect.” The Enterprise is caught in a time loop caused by the area of space they are in.

I remember the first time I saw it, I was puzzled and intrigued by the ship’s destruction at the beginning. Back from commercial, the captain is once again making a log entry talking about the expanse in space. We see the crew go about their business and leisure.

Dr. Crusher first makes the audience aware that something is amiss when she experience deja vu, or something like it. She plays a game of poker, treats Geordi for dizziness and hears voices chattering in her quarters at night.

After a staff meeting with senior officers, we are brought to the bridge where there’s a time distortion and another ship appears from the distortion. Riker suggests opening the shuttle bay hatch to move out of its way when their systems lock. Data suggest using a tractor beam to push the ship out of their way. Picards agrees.

Wrong decision, Data!

Once again, the crew, after massive reports of deja vu-like memories, decide to send themselves a message to avoid the catastrophe of repeating the loop again and avoiding the Enterprise destruction. Data inserts a message in his positronic memory to use Riker’s suggesting of avoiding the collision.

Each loop was a bit different as the crew, bit by bit, realizes they are caught in a time distortion and works to get out of it. This makes the episode fun without being monotonous.

Best of Star Trek TNG---Home Soil

“Home Soil” was the 18th episode and written by Robert Saboroff.

The Enterprise crew arrives at a dead planet where a team of scientists are performing terraforming experiments to bring life back to the planet. The team leader is reluctant to have an away team visit and we later learn that it’s because he suspects that the planet may have life, even intelligent life, inhabiting it afterall.

When of the scientist crew is killed when attempting to use the water hydraulics drill system that would put water in the ground. Data is almost killed when investigating the incident, saying that the lab machine anticipated his movements when recreating the experiment and it shoots deadly fire lasers.

Later, Captain Picard has the remaining surviving scientists meet in the observation lounge where he gets them to confess that they suspected intelligent life but ignored it and proceeded with their terraforming work.

One of the life forms is captured in a glass concealment container in the sickbay and begins exhibiting signs of intelligence and ultimately communicates with the crew telling them that the terraforming experiments were killing them.

The life form is reunited with its other like forms on the planet and the terraforming experiments abandoned.

I liked this episode because it shows how the federation and Starship crew respect all life forms and allow them to exist while giving up a life time science goal of inhabiting the planet for their own use.

Worst of Star Trek TNG---The Game

“The Game,” episode 6 of the 5th season. The show starts out with Riker on Reisa enjoying the flirtations of a female who hides his communicator and then introduces him to a game in which the wearer puts on headset with two scopes that point toward the eyes. The object of the game is to put the 3-D disk into the funnel. Once successful, the gamer gets a jolt of a stimulate and then moves on to the next level.

Riker than brings this game onto the Enterprise and the crew becomes addicted. Troi, Dr. Crusher (who has just welcomed Wesley back onto the ship for a visit) and Riker sabotage Data in sickbay and then Riker introduces the game to Geordi.

Crusher tries to introduce the game to Wesley, unsuccessfully. Instead, he goes on a dinner date with a young Ensign who tells him about this game that the engineers are playing. They brush it off as a fad„ but intelligently decide to examine it before playing it. Smart move as usual, Wesley!

Wesley decides to bring it up to the captain. Safe move, right? You’d think. But stupid Jean-Luc has already been playing it.

This is the first stupid thing. Captain Picard would normally want something tested out first, especially if it came from a planet that’s games are of unknown origin. But nope, he’s addicted just like the rest! Showing once again that Wesley is the grown-up in this episode (just like he was in Datalore).

Second thing, Wesley and the young Ensign manage to enter sickbay after it’s been quarantined off.

Now the alien ship, captained by the woman Riker was playing around with on Reisa, give commands to Picard and the bridge crew. Their scheme is to take over the Enterprise and the federation.

In an exciting action sequence, Wesley is pursued and chased by Riker and other crew members as Wesley is figuring out how to fix Data and bring the Enterprise back on track. He is captured in the crawl spaces and forced to wear the game device. Like something right out “A Clockwork Orange,” his eyes are forced open to watch as the disk goes in the funnel.

Then it’s Data to the rescue, activated and shining a strobe light into the eyes of the bridge crew, snapping them out of it and they realize what they were about to do.

Wesley says good-bye to his Ensign friend, played by Ashley Judd.

If this were a real life scenario, Commander Riker would probably be court-martialed for what he’d done and stipped of his command. This is one episode that should not have been produced. An otherwise brilliant bridge crew are reduced to trance-like idiots while the young Wesley saves the day.

Best of Star Trek TNG---The Ensigns of Command

“The Ensigns of Command” was another winner written by Snodgrass. It also features Commander Data, who shines in this episode by displaying an array of thought processes and expressions (hate to say emotions).

He is summoned to a planet that is heavily blanketed in radiation. The colonists have somehow managed to adapt and Data is sent down to the planet to start evacuation procedures to remove the colonists. The planet was given to an alien race called the Sheliak and they want the humanoids removed before they remove them (eliminate them) themselves.

Captain Picard has the task of bargaining with the Sheliak to give them more time to evacuate the colonists because there are so many of them and the radiation is interfering with their transporters.

Meanwhile, Data is trying to convince the colony leader to evacuate and has to come up with creative and innovative ways of doing this with the help of a female colonist who becomes infatuated with the android.

Like most ST TNG episodes, this one has two stories in one and they come together beautifully. There is a third part as well—-Geordi and Chief O’Brien are busy trying to reconfigure the transporters to work with those radiation levels. They ultimately fail after several attempts but in time for the Sheliak to agree to a longer period of time for the evacuation Picard was successful in using the treaty the Sheliak had with the federation to get them to agree. The agreement contained language that allowed third-party arbitration in a dispute. Picard chose "the Grizzellas." They would be glad to weigh the arguments once they came out of their six month's hibernation.

The highlight of the episode was when Data gave the colonists a demonstration of the destruction they face if the Sheliak are allowed to eradicate the colonists themselves by using a reconfigured phaser to stun some armed colonists and shoot some of their built structures. “These are just things” Data tells them, and convinces them they wouldn’t survive a fight with the Sheliak.

Best of Star Trek TNG---The Measure of A Man

One of the best of the series is an episode of the second season called “The Measure of a Man” written by Melinda Snodgrass.

A cyberneticist wants to dismantle Commander Data to see how he was constructed. Data refuses to be part of this experiment because there is no guarantee that he will be reconstructed the same or what effect it will have on him. He chooses to resign from Starfleet instead.

A JAG officer decides Data can’t resign and a trial determining Data’s sentientence ensues with Captain Picard acting in Data’s defence. Commander Riker is forced to act for the cyberneticist in accordance to the law.

What it comes down to is who and what determines what life is. Data meets at least two of the requirements for sentientence and Picard asks the court if what they intend for Data is to be used as a new breed of workforce catering to those deemed superior, much like the slave labor used on Earth.

The JAG officer, acting as judge, decides that Data is more than a mere machine and has rights. Data is reinstated with full rank and tells Dr. Maddox that he refuses to undergo the experiment.

Worst of Star Trek TNG---Shades of Gray

“Shades of Gray” was a clip show (one highlighting clips from past shows) that was put together by the writers strike and originally aired in the summer of 1989.

It’s understandable why this episode was done, but it doesn’t make it any better. Commander Riker gets infected by a microbe on a planet that they are doing a survey on. This microbe invades and grows and attaches itself to Riker’s nervous system, heading for the brain.

Dr. Palaski discovers that certain endorphins effect and can even eradicate the microbes and while Riker is plugged into electrodes, he has flashbacks in dreams that are the clips from previous shows highlighting fights with aliens and emotional interactions with other crew members.

If you’ve seen the previous episodes, seeing clips out of context can get boring. It was the final episode of season 2.

Tuesday, June 18, 2013

Worst of Star Trek TNG--Lonely Among Us

While I’ve got time on my hands, I’m putting together a best and worst of the Star Trek TNG series. FYI, Netflix has all the series on instant play for those that don’t own the series on DVD (or VHS in my case).

One of the worst of the first season was an episode called “Lonely Among Us.” It contains the expendable crew member scenario where one of the ship’s main engineers is electrocuted by an entity that found its way into the ship’s circuitry.

Right after this, the bridge crew, including Counselor Troi, are amused by Data’s new found love of Sherlock Holmes. He sports a pipe and tries in a British accent to unravel the mystery of this thing in the system. What? No tears for the crew member that was killed? He wasn't even rushed to sickbay in an attempt to revive him. Worf reports “he’s dead” and that’s that.

The episode’s saving grace is the side story involving the Selay and the Anticans, two alien races that can’t get along but hope to join the Federation. It’s apparent at the end of the show that they won’t become friends anytime soon when the Anticans, who eat live meat, dine on one of the Selay delegates for supper.

Another cool moment is when Picard gets shocked by the entity as it blinds the bridge crew and sets sail with Picard’s body as it’s capsule, in tow.