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Star Trek The Next Generation appreciation thread


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#1 of 235 OFFLINE   Nelson Au

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Posted June 24 2008 - 03:53 PM

I did a search for threads on Star Trek The Next Generation and didn’t see anything on the level of the usual discussions here about Star Trek TOS and DS9. So if there’s interest, I’m starting a TNG one. I have the entire TNG series on DVD purchased back in the day they first came out. I’ve seen several of my favorite episodes many times, but I have not done a sequential viewing since the first aired and since I bought the DVD sets six years ago.

Recently, I was open to re-viewing the first season of Star Trek The Next Generation from discussions about the music of Star Trek TOS on a TOS thread. I wanted to check out Fred Steiner’s effort for one episode of The Next Generation and I decided to keep watching.

If there’s interest, perhaps we can have a discussion about the series somewhat rocky start and eventually finding it’s own footing. I remember it very well, watching Encounter at Farpoint in 1987. So far, I’ve re-watched most of Season 1, 2 and all of 3.

I forgot a lot of little things that changed after the first 2 years. I remember that Riker was promoted by Roddenberry as the Kirk-like character who went on all the away missions and got the girls. Which he did. Data had a tendency to go on about something as he realizes what the definition of a slang word or task is. And this season had the beginnings of Worf’s use of short and descriptive comments; “Nice house, good tea”.

The first half of the first season is rough. And I am surprised by how bad the effects look! Some bad stuff was an attempt to do a Chief Engineer that tried to redo Scotty. A lot of the early stories were very much in the mold of TOS, morality plays like Justice and Angel One to the discovery stories that Humans aren’t so bad after all with The Last Outpost. Where No One has Gone Before was interesting in that it sets-up Wesley as a special person. I liked this episode, it sets into motion Wesley getting the attention his abilities warranted and marks Picard’s change of character from a guy who hates kids to someone with more affinity for kids in later seasons. I know a lot of people hated Wesley because he always saved the day, but he didn’t do it that often.

Some other early stand outs for me is Too Short a Season and The Big Goodbye where we start to see how the Holodeck can become a crutch later on for contrived situations. Too Short a Season I liked for the story and motivation of Admiral Jameson. Datalore also stands out as a good story for developing Data’s history and origins.

I particularly like a lot of the second half of the season. 11001001 is a great episode, we see Riker loosen up and I liked Carolyn McCormick! Good idea for the Bynars and the need to restart their planet. Home soil is a strong episode too, a modern version of Devil in the Dark. Sure the micro computer’s use of “ugly bags of mostly water” was lame dialogue, but I liked the story.

Coming of Age I felt was a real turning point for the series. We see that Wesley wasn’t perfect and the start of the storyline of Remmick and Admiral Quinn. Heart of Glory was a great start of the Klingon storylines that continues to develop their culture later on with the Duras, K’Mpec, Gowron and K’Lar storylines of season 2 and 3.

The Arsenal of Freedom was a fun episode that I’m fond of because of the adventure aspects and we see the ship in the hands of Geordi and a very bad actor playing the Chief Engineer who fights to take over command. Geordi and the green crew prevail! Skin of Evil is interesting as it’s a dark episode with a sad ending as Tasha dies from a really bad tar pit creature. Conspiracy was a really great episode and tied up the events from Coming of Age. I suppose you cn say that it seems preposterous that Starfleet could be that easily overtaken, but it’s a fun episode. And seeing other starship captains conspiring together to sort out the conspiracy is really cool. Makes you wonder at the end if the writers had more in mind, or did the chaos of the writers revolving door at the studio lose a storyline or did it eventually become about the Borg as the final episode, The Neutral Zone alludes to. This is a fun episode that I am also fond of for the fish out of water aspects and the first contact with Romulans that is an intelligent meeting trying to resolve the mystery of the missing outposts.

By the end, Patrick Stewart starts to really get his footing for Picard as do the others. But he seems to change the most in my mind as he’s so loosey goosy in the beginning. Brent Spiner is also a standout through out the series for how he so deftly plays Data.

The second season was an interesting continuation of the same kinds of stories from the first. The replacement of the doctor with Diana Mulduar was more interesting for me to see this time as I enjoyed how they make her essentially McCoy. I enjoy how she treats Data as nothing but a soulless machine to eventually coming to respect him at the end.

But more on the second season if this thread survives. One final thought about the whole reason this thread started, the music was much more lively then I remembered it, though at times electronic sounding early on, it is true as a poster pounted out in the TOS thread, the Ron Jones scores are very emotional, but they're right too for the stories. Too bad he left. Also, the first two seasons really use the Star Trek Alexander Courage fanfare till the series matures into it's own in the third year and used less or not at all IIRC.

Fun stuff and this re-viewing really makes me appreciate the series more as it's a pleasure to see the show grow and improve over two or three episodes viewed in each day!Posted Image

#2 of 235 OFFLINE   RickER

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Posted June 24 2008 - 04:01 PM

Nelson, great idea, and a wonderful post.

The fist season, and the last season, are hard for me to watch. Oh, they have great episodes to be sure. but the first was finding its feet, and the last was running out of ideas. Not to mention, the hack Rick Berman was in charge, but already moving on to his next Trek paycheck. Cant wait to read more, and add my 2 cents when i am more awake! Posted Image

#3 of 235 OFFLINE   Ockeghem

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Posted June 24 2008 - 04:10 PM

Nelson (and Rick),

Agreed. This is a great idea. I love TNG. I can usually find something positive to write about with every episode. I'm a huge fan of Season Two, and I love many episodes from the first season.

I promise to contribute more tomorrow, also when I am more awake! Posted Image

#4 of 235 OFFLINE   Nelson Au

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Posted June 24 2008 - 06:41 PM

Great! An enthusiastic start. I forgot to add another couple of thoughts about the first season. A line made by Riker regarding Data trying do a painting reminded me, that a blind man and a kid flies the ship, and a cybernetic entity is a bridge officer that gives orders. And I forgot to mention poor Deanna Troi and her bun hair. Luckily she got to look more glamourous in the second season and got to wear more flattering costumes! And of course, she didn't have to say how she "feels" or "senses" great hostility or deceit. And I recall early comments about the new Enterprise D that it feels like a flying hotel or cruise ship. Such luxury and pastel colors! I look forward to all your comments guys, thanks!

#5 of 235 OFFLINE   Sam Favate

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Posted June 25 2008 - 12:05 AM

Great idea for a thread, and a nice companion to our DS9 discussion and ongoing TOS threads. While the first two seasons are uneven, I think they have some real gems in them, which many people miss by dismissing the first two years. "Measure of a Man" is one of the best of the entire series, and I also enjoy "The Big Goodbye," "A Matter of Honor," and of course, "Q Who." But I think the addition of Michael Piller (and a writer named Ron Moore) in the third season was a turning point. The show looked, read and felt more mature in the third season and it really became essential viewing. I am not a fan of Jeri Taylor, who I think softened the show too much in her time on it. The show focused much too much on Worf as a father and began to have a touchy-feely quality to it, something we never saw on DS9 (which makes it the stronger show). I am also not a fan of Brannon Braga and his overuse of the "what is reality?" storyline. IMO, the combination of Taylor and Braga significantly weakened the show in its final seasons. Still, the show remains one of my favorites and is among the very best science fiction shows ever on TV. The cast is outstanding, and Patrick Stewart's Picard remains one of the best leading characters in all of TV. Sadly, the movies didn't live up to the show. While I enjoyed First Contact (despite its continuity flaws), the other TNG movies are among the worst of all Star Trek films, particularly Nemesis. The film division never did right by such a great show.

#6 of 235 OFFLINE   Ockeghem

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Posted June 25 2008 - 02:08 AM



#7 of 235 OFFLINE   todd s

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Posted June 25 2008 - 05:03 AM

I have been meaning to re-watch both this show and Babylon 5 again. I too agree that season 3 is when the show really took off.
Bring back John Doe! Or at least resolve the cliff-hanger with a 2hr movie or as an extra on a dvd release.

#8 of 235 OFFLINE   Nelson Au

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Posted June 25 2008 - 07:11 AM

Nice post Scott! I look forward to more of yours and others comments. I have started with Season 4 and plan to say a few things about Season 2 highlights. Definitley a few jems there too.

#9 of 235 OFFLINE   Greg_S_H

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Posted June 25 2008 - 09:08 AM

I watched the show almost all the way through a few years before the DVDs came out, but the station stopped showing them early in season 6. I then bought the season sets and have watched it all the way through once. It was fun to do, and I like the show, but I don't feel as compelled to go back and watch it again like I did with DS9. I would enjoy it if I sat down and watched it, but that show has really made the other spinoffs pale in comparison. Without getting into specific episodes, the one thing I do want to say early on is that I think people go overboard with the Shades of Gray hate. It's just a clip show. Sure, they could have just skipped the episode, but at least they tried to dress it up with a bit of a framing device. If it failed, it's because every clip show fails--especially for people who know the episodes backwards and forwards. But, for people to call it the worst episode on the entire run? I would reserve that for any number of the aforementioned Braga reality-benders. Probably some Joe Menoskys as well. I think he wrote all of the very few DS9 episodes I hated.

#10 of 235 OFFLINE   Ockeghem

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Posted June 25 2008 - 09:08 AM

Nelson,

I think Measure Of a Man and Unnatural Selection are my favorites from Season Two. The destruction of the Lantry was quite moving for me, as was Dr. Pulaski's caution throughout that episode. While the doctor on the planet seemed somewhat arrogant (and desperate, as she should have been), I was very impressed with Pulaski's humility during the crisis and when her text was mentioned as still being the standard in the field. I also thought the resolution to her aging problem was brilliant. It may seem somewhat passe now, but back in 1988-1989, it was fresh. Posted Image

#11 of 235 OFFLINE   RickER

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Posted June 25 2008 - 10:07 AM

I have a question. Why did they replace Crusher with Polaski, and then bring back crusher. I have never heard the inside scoop. I always preferred Crusher. Besides i always had a thing for red heads! LOL

#12 of 235 OFFLINE   Ockeghem

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Posted June 25 2008 - 10:23 AM

Rick,

The only piece of information I have heard that I believe has some merit is that Gates McFadden was pregnant. I've heard various other rumors over the years. Incidentally, I did like Diana Muldaur as Dr. Pulaski (esp. the TOS tie-in); however, I really liked Dr. Crusher a lot, so when she came back I was quite pleased. Besides, she attended a university only miles from where I used to live. Posted Image

BTW, I believe Diana Muldaur may be the only character to have played three different roles in which she was a doctor in each: Dr. Miranda Jones, Dr. Ann Mulhall, and Dr. Katherine Pulaski. Posted ImagePosted Image

#13 of 235 OFFLINE   Nelson Au

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Posted June 25 2008 - 10:50 AM

The story I've read is that someone felt that Dr. Crusher's character wasn't gelling the way they had hoped with the idea that she has this hsitory with Picard. Plus I think they wanted to see more heat between the Doc and Picard. But the other story was that Roddenberry didn't like her or how the character fit in and he always liked Diana Muldaur, so he got her to come in to replace Gates McFadden. Those are not very nice stories, but I wouldn't be surprised. Plus I've read that after the first season, Marina Sirtus' character was in danger of being written off too. But in the end, the fan's prevailed and got Gates back on. I was at a convention in Los Angeles and Mr. Roddenberry himself made the announcement that Gates was returning to the roar of the crowd! What I found interesting is that Diana Muldaur wanted her screen credit to read as Special Guest Star as Whoopie Goldberg did rather then part of the cast. Perhaps she knew her time wasn't permanent or in case she wasn't going to stick around. I wouldn't say I didn't like Dr. Polaski, she added that McCoy vibe to the second year and provided some interesting conflict for Picard. But on the whole, I was glad to see Gates back and with Wesley. Scott, that's true, Diana Muldaur must be one of a single handful of actors to come back to Star Trek in various roles, it'd make a good trivia question!

#14 of 235 OFFLINE   RickER

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Posted June 25 2008 - 10:57 AM

I didnt think it was because McFadden was pregnant, cause she was during the show. They used the old trick of her lab coat, or her standing in front of a desk, and so on to cover it. I wouldnt be shocked if it was a Roddenberry squabble. I also heard about Troy being on the chopping block. Her character got better with time, along with everyone else. I didnt even mind Wes.

#15 of 235 OFFLINE   Bryan^H

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Posted June 25 2008 - 11:30 AM

Watching it for the first time all the way through. I'm about halfway into 4. I really enjoyed the first three seasons(I knew I would, I love the show) and four is OK so far. It's sad to hear that season seven starts to run out of gas. IMO TNG could probably last 20 seasons, as long as they had good writers. Maybe the writing staff wanted to move on as well. I've heard many things about Berman. Many people say he's the guy who ruined Trek. But I do like Voyager, and Enterprise kind of grows on you if you give it a chance.

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#16 of 235 OFFLINE   Dale MA

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Posted June 25 2008 - 11:40 AM

I'm currently watching all of TNG on DVD, I've seen a few episodes here & there before but never the complete series in the correct order. I was always a big fan of TOS but watching the TNG on DVD is just fantastic, it's starting to edge out TOS on my favorites list. I'm on S3 at the moment, I must say I was sad to see Doctor Pulaski leave the series as I hate both of the Crushers and I thought she was a great addition to the crew, I thought Gates McFadden acting was pretty bad in S1 but I must say that I've found her to be much better in S3, maybe she brushed up on some acting lessons or maybe the writers gave her better material in S3? Edit: Just noticed you guys where already talking about this above!

#17 of 235 OFFLINE   Stephen_L

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Posted June 25 2008 - 01:07 PM

As a fan of TNG from the start, the first year was pretty rough and had a number of problems. Troi was a mistake and only became tolerable later in the series. Her touchy-feely remarks were pointless and often comical; her appearance seemed inappropriate on the command deck. (She always looked better late in the series when she wore a Star Fleet Uniform instead of the 'evening gown') Initially all the characters seemed bland, uniformly nice and noble. Worf with his aggressive, violent disposition stood out early on and was a welcome relief from all the niceness. I especially liked Pulaski and Ro (and Commander Shelby for her brief stint) when they appeared because while they were highly skilled professionals they had prickly personalities, created friction and spiced up character interactions. Another mistake early on was the absence of threatening villains. In the first season, the Ferengi were the new enemy du jour and they were the most comical, least frightening villains imaginable. The Romulans were okay, but things really picked up when the Cardassians and especially the Borg were introduced.
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#18 of 235 OFFLINE   Ockeghem

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Posted June 25 2008 - 02:48 PM

Agreed. It's something I've always liked as well, and we can thank Capt. Jellico for that. Posted Image

Incidentally, I agree about the aliens, too. But I think the Ferengi had more of an edge (relatively speaking) in the first season of TNG than they had later. I have no idea why, though.

#19 of 235 OFFLINE   Lou Sytsma

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Posted June 25 2008 - 03:04 PM

Interesting reading guys thanks. TNG irked me then and it still irks me today. Too much political correctness, the female lead characters were not interesting - especially Troi, way too much TrekBabble talk and worst of all it made space exploration boring or seem like an office job. Any interest I had in watching the show rested squarely in Patrick Stewart shoulders, as he undoubtedly was the best actor in a Star Trek series. Spiner and Dorn were interesting to a lessor degree but the rest of the cast held no interest and Frakes - as nice as he seem in real life - as Riker was a big dramatic blank spot through out the series. Yesterday's Enterprise is a damn fine Star Trek and SF story. That and The Inner Light were awesome. And an appearance by John De Lancie as Q was always welcome. Barclay was fun to watch too, even if it meant a bump in Troi's screen time. I realize they wanted to distance themselves from obviously copying the dynamics of the original crew, especially on the bridge scenes, but the lack of a dedicated science officer on the bridge for an exploration vessel is something that never sat well with me and one which I feel was a bad decision and omission for the TNG series. They might as well have called a spade a spade and made Data the science officer anyway as he fulfilled that function far more than he ever did in his designated role as navigator.
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#20 of 235 OFFLINE   RickER

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Posted June 25 2008 - 04:13 PM

Lou, i could be wrong, but i thought they did call Data the science officer? I might be dreaming that, however.
I hated how toward the end, they had a disregard for military command structure. I have never been in the service, but i know an ensign who is a helmsman, for instance, would take command of the ship before a MEDICAL DOCTOR, even if she out ranks the helmsman.
My favorite episode of the series, Yesterday's Enterprise. And my vote for worst...toss-up between MASKS, and the one where everyone de-evolves. Hated both. As a matter of fact i would sit through Spock's Brain or The Way to Eden for the rest of my life, before id watch either of those 1 more time. Posted Image




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