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Suffering Through TNG: It's time for your oral exam, Wesley!

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nacho:
Sounds like a disease.

So I started watching classic Star Trek episodes on CBS.com at work and it got me thinking about TNG.  I remember 1987 so clearly... There was so much anticipation for the show.  Previews and teasers (that mainly used all of the effects from Wrath of Khan) and the massive buildup for the new Star Trek.

Then it hit and somehow became a runaway success.  I don't know how that worked.  Perhaps just desperation for something new in the sci-fi genre after a considerable drought.  Television sci-fi's high water mark was in the 70's, and it had been receding ever since.  87 did start a new era... But the white-washed Federation and family-orientation of the show left most people still hungry, I think.  From exploring the boundaries of known space to a ship full of families and diplomats wandering around a seemingly tamed galaxy.

But, whatever.  I've decided to marathon it.  Working through season one now:


We open up with Encounter at Farpoint, the two hour premiere that barely makes sense.  Whiny aliens kidnap a super space jellyfish and use it to make a space station.  Meanwhile, Q makes his first appearance and puts the crew on trial. 

Q is one of my favorite villains from sci-fi, but his introductory story is remarkably painful.  The character wouldn't truly evolve into something enjoyable until the third season or so.  So Encounter at Farpoint is clunky nonsense that would never succeed as a pilot today.

Next up is The Naked Now, which even the critics, at the time, condemned as a misstep. Essentially a remake of the classic episode The Naked Time, where everyone gets a virus that makes them act drunk and crazy.  So we get our comedy episode immediately, and it does nothing but make us compare the show to the original.

Code of Honor feels like a Stargate episode...but we're a few years away from the Stargate phenomenon, so I guess we have to tip our hat to TNG.  All we take away from this episode is remembering how happy we were when Tasha Yar died her senseless death later in the series because, jesus, Denise Crosby would have been fine if she were naked all the time, but don't let her act.

nacho:
Finishing up the idiotic Code of Honor episode, where the vastly more powerful Enterprise tolerates some barbarian planet kidnapping Tasha Yar because (they learn after she's kidnapped) that it's tradition for the barbarian types to show mettle by kidnapping someone from their potential enemy and then forcing the enemy to ask kindly for the person's return.  So Picard goes along with this shit.  And, of course, there's an ulterior motive on the part of the barbarians and snore.....

Meanwhile, Yar is wearing her communicator the whole time...so why wasn't she beamed up the instant she was snatched?  It's policy to panic and cry instead of trying to locate the missing crew member?

See, the classic show could get away with this shit because you had dynamic characters.  TNG, especially in the first season, is overpopulated with dull-witted, two-dimensional characters.  Riker's a big nobody, Geordie isn't yet the chief engineer, Worf is also a sideshow character, Data's whole android thing is ham-fistedly written, Troi's position as apparent number three hardly makes sense... It's like they randomly populated the script at the last minute.  "No, wait!  We need to have a chick on the bridge!  Oh!  Oh!  And a black guy!!!"

nacho:
Haven.  Little did I know that there's an episode order debate with the first season... It was shown wildly out of sequence, as is clear from the log dates at the start of each episode.  The DVD's have put them back into chronological order.

Why'd the network fuck around with the airdates?  Because some of these episodes really suck...like Haven.  Which introduces Majel Roddenberry Barrett as Troi's precocious mother who falls for Picard.  The reaction is simple.  I just slowly twirled a corkscrew into my eyeballs.

nacho:
Where No One Has Gone Before.  The episode that introduces "The Traveler," who does nothing but fuck with the Enterprise and get really tired when he's needed to fix shit.  A recurring character for only three episodes, and ultimately responsible for Wesley Crusher's exit, which is why we're all thankful.  Wesley Crusher is the sci-fi genre's most hated character. 

The episode is slow and stupid.  The Enterprise, thrown 2 million light years away, enters into a fantasy universe where dreams come true.  Based on the discarded script for an unproduced classic series episode.  Most of the first two seasons draw from old scripts for the classic show, and the aborted "Phase II" project in the 70's.  For the second season, they had little choice.  That was during the big writer's strike, so it's an entire season of remade and discarded classic series episodes.

nacho:
God, I'm amazed this show made it past the first season.  Still women in mini-skirt uniforms, the bizarre scattering of unrealized secondary characters, fucking Wesley, a Chief Engineer of the week, 80's hair, the dental office waiting room stylings of the new Enterprise, the preachy, talky shit...

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