Star Trek: The Next Generation Season 1
SPOILERS TOTAL. You've been warned.
Being the first episode of the series, and really relatively early in all of Star Trek considering how much came after, I won't nitpick about everything that seems a bit off 26 years later. But one thing that really stuck me as weird was when Counselor Troi said something like "I'm only half Betazoid. My father was a Starfleet officer." Those are totally unrelated things, unless we're either supposed to assume that every Starfleet officer is human (clearly not, though a disproportionately large amount) or male Betazoids are prevented from serving in Starfleet.
The Good: It's an OK idea to take a concept from the old series and bring it back, to see how it plays out differently.
The Bad: Given that this is only the second episode, the viewer isn't supposed to be very familiar with these characters yet. So seeing how they act when out of character doesn't mean much.
The Ugly: Seriously, who thought it was a good idea for the first episode after the pilot to have the crew acting stupid and sex-crazy? INCLUDING THE MACHINE!? It's a minor miracle that the Yar-Data hookup got put to dramatic use in The Measure of a Man next season.
Zach and I found it interesting that while the Enterprise crew had a plan in place so the fight to death wasn't actually to the death, nobody tried to save the guy in the audience that got scratched by the poison weapon. Also worth noting this is the episode the "I'm not entitled to ramble on about something everyone already knows." bit of the Picard Song comes from.
Considering how awesome the Ferengi became on DS9 it's really weird to look back at this early time when they were supposed to be a new rival to the Federation. But looking at it now, there's more of the later Ferengi there than I remembered. Though they're an unknown with supposedly equal tech to the Federation, they're still presented as cutthroat businessmen. Even when they're trying to diss the Federation to the old empire's guardian, they say great things like how refusing to provide advanced technology to backwards planets is squandering a business opportunity.
This is decent stuff. The weirdness of TOS or early TNG, but without TOO much of the stupid. The Traveler is an interesting character, and his talk to Picard gives a sensible in-universe reason for Picard to start treating Wesley like a member of the crew.
How were the two guest races even in the farthest consideration for Federation membership? They were both batshit crazy, and if they were at an advanced enough stage to join the Federation wouldn't they have their own ships that could transport them to Parliament?
The planet that cloth forgot. Considering so much of this episode is about the Prime Directive, how did they get in contact with these people? They don't seem too technically advanced, and wonder if the Enterprise crew are gods for being in orbit.
Maybe it's my lack of practical starship knowledge, but I don't really get the Picard Maneuver. So a quick jump at high warp makes it briefly appear like there are two ships? The one way I can see this working is by the warp beating the light coming from the original image. HOWEVER, surely starship sensors aren't limited to detecting things at lightspeed? Also, when Riker and Data were talking about potential defenses... well, if you know it's coming in advance, what's to know? Even if the trick is played properly and there appear to be two ships, you know it's the closer and newly appeared one that's the real one.
I like that the Ferengi daimon got ousted from command due to unprofitable behavior.
Q is really something that could only have come from early TNG, a time when everything was more TOS-like, and playful weird godlike entities fit right in. But he gets to evolve along with the rest of the show, which is cool!
Adult Wesley is interesting for a few reasons. I like that the older actor matches young Wesley's dopey expressions pretty well. Funny that they use a somewhat deepened Wheaton voice rather than using the older actor's voice. And also funny how in retrospect he looks nothing like an older Wil Wheaton. Though since Riker was trying to give gifts, maybe he wasn't going for that sort of accuracy.
They can't get in or out of the holodeck, and can't communicate... nobody tries beaming anybody in or out?
They finally succeed in fixing the thing and opening the door... and nothing? I mean, Wesley, Geordi, and several other guys were working right beside it. Nobody goes to the door and says "There you are, you're needed on the bridge!" or even notices the hologuys stepping out?
Interesting to note that at this point, a mistake in shutting off the program could mean all the real matter inside is vanished away, too.
Future baseball reference made to the London Kings, who would get more attention by Ben Sisko years later.
So they discover Data is the creation of a Dr. Noonien Soong... did nobody previously hypothesize that the guy who was Earth's leading cyberneticist and looked exactly like Data in his youth might've been involved? Though I guess at this point it hadn't been settled what exactly he looked like.
Not a two parter? Just felt as long as one to sit through? Okay.
I've got some problems with the basic conceits of this episode. A spacefaring species that has adapted to work with computers to an enormous extent, they're experts at making even Federation computer tech better... but they don't have a vessel with the computer storage of the Enterprise-D? You'd think that would be the area they WOULD outclass the Federation. Looking at it another way, though, how in the hell does the Enterprise-D have the storage space to hold all (or at least enough of all) the data stored by such a computer-heavy people? And weren't they trying to get the data onto the Enterprise to get it away from the effects of a nearby supernova? But once they hit Bynar orbit they seemed to just stay there.
The Bynars were really stumbling over their excuses at the beginning. They might as well have been adding "Yeah, that's the ticket."
It's got to be an awkward moment for Riker when his boss walks in on him kissing a hologram.
Picard sure jumps to "We'd better set the self-destruct." pretty quickly. He's right that it would be irresponsible to let the Enterprise end up in the wrong hands, but giving himself a max of 5 minutes to find out what's going on and do something about it seems a bit tight. There are other instances where the ship is taken over and that doesn't seem to be the first thing to come to mind.
I was pretty shocked to find out the admiral was only supposed to be 85. Dude looked older than McCoy did in the first episode, and he was in his 130s.
The Aldeans seemed... pretty stupid in how they handled this situation. They investigated the Enterprise at long range, but not enough to realize how pissed they'd be at having their children taken. So they risk poisoning any relationship with the Federation over a half dozen children? That ain't gonna help anything long term. Certainly the Federation could've helped them, even if their health problem wasn't a relatively simple fix that Doctor Crusher was able to take care of in the space of an episode. We have people now who act as surrogate parents or just donate genetic material to others. Surely there are some 24th century folks who'd be willing to give some sperm and help create the next generation of a fabled lost civilization. Surely there are some orphans out there who could use some help. Though maybe the Aldeans are just too picky--there were still a lot of kids on the Enterprise who apparently they didn't find worth grabbing.
I like that when the little girl "feels her music", it's music we've heard in a previous episode. Maybe this means the television composer is as talented as a child, or maybe it means she's a plagiarist. It's hard to say.
"How could it be alive? It's inorganic." Geordi said TO THE ANDROID.
A mysterious lifeform that's not even recognized as such, inadvertent hostilities started, mutual understanding and peace achieved... a very Star Trekky episode.
I like that the crystal thing's term for humans is "ugly bags of mostly water". Reminds me of the assassin robot from Star Wars: Knights of the Old Republic.
The whole shuttle scenario seemed pretty unbelievable. They were in orbit close enough to beam people to and from the planet, but not close enough to beam from a shuttle between the ship and the planet? They weren't close enough to use the tractor beam, but in a Galaxy class starship couldn't catch up to a malfunctioning shuttle in the ~minute they had to work with?
The whole Starfleet Academy entrance test thing has also always seemed a stretch to me, even when I watched it at a younger age than Wesley. Say what you will about his merits as a character, but he's very competent and knowledgeable--any sort of entrance process that has him failing seems totally bogus--clearly a lot of people a lot less qualified get in--and get to high ranks.
It is nice to see some continuity, with many events from earlier in the season referenced.
The transmitter allowing the bridge crew, and so us the viewer, to see what Geordi sees was pretty cool and informative. I don't think they used that again? From an in-universe standpoint, though, seems pretty impractical. Since Geordi's the only one who can interpret the fancy features anyway, wouldn't it be simpler to just stick a Google Glass on Riker? Or hell, they've got constant audio communication going on--modern tech could fit a tiny camera of some sort into the communicator, let alone 24th century tech.
The Klingons seemed very Star Trek III. I suppose it was only about 5 years later, and the biggest Klingon appearance since then, so it makes sense.
So the walkway around the warp core... glass? Not transparent aluminum, or plastic, or something else that wouldn't shatter when a guy falls on it?
Data says until now probably no outsiders have seen the Klingon death ritual. Considering that the Federation and Klingon have been allies for more than a day, and that death happens, that seems kind of unlikely. Hell, the time when they WEREN'T allies was probably as good a time as any to see a dead Klingon being handled by his peers.
Before they made him chief engineer, they really seemed to have some command aspirations for Geordi.
I like Riker's Lollipop.
This is episodic sci-fi done decently. An unusual sociological situation to show, our heroes unable to just patch things up perfectly, and their hands are wiped of it for next week.
Some practical questions about how they got in this situation, though. There was no Federation information about this system except that 200 years ago a society was near getting space flight, and they just mosey on in to study a star without either taking precautions about detection by the locals or investigating whether they're ready for contact?
And Macho Man Randy Savage as Armus.
Tasha's death is interesting for how uninteresting it is. I mean, death among main characters that doesn't get reset by the end of the episode is very rare in Star Trek, and usually when it happens it's under a pretty auspicious circumstance. Here, it's just the bad luck of being on an away mission that turns out as deadly as most of them have the potential to be.
This is definitely a very fanon type idea, but considering how imprecise the backstory of Armus is, I could imagine him being one of the lost Odo-type shapeshifters we'd later hear about on DS9.
I guess this is pretty much our first indication of Picard being a less perfect guy in his youth, though we see more of that later.
The time repeat/overlap scenes are cool, though there aren't many of them.
Maaaan it is not every day you see Picard and Riker graphically explode a guy's head with a phaser.
It is also not every day you get stop-motion animation on ST:TNG.
They kind of lampshade that there's no good reason for the cryo-facility to be that far out from Earth. Given that it's so weird, I'm surprised Data is the only one who had any curiosity about it.
Picard's reaction to their revival is a bit weird. He's like "They were already dead, how much worse could things be for them!?" Surely if their capability of revival is so much greater in the 24th century, so would they redefine what they really consider dead. Though they did consider the loser of the fight in Code of Honor dead, too, when obviously they patched her right back up.
I like the 20th century people's differing ways of reacting to their new surroundings. Sonny in particular was pretty quick to adjust, and was more accepting of Data as a person than a lot of 24th century people.
And there's Gul Dukat, Marc Alaimo, as one of the first TNG Romulans.