Friday, April 10, 2009

Star Trek: The Next Generation

Having finished viewing all of the original Star Trek episodes, I moved on to the next series--Star Trek: The Next Generation. My tentative plan is to view the various series in the order they appeared. My work schedule had been a serious problem, lots of night classes, so I never got much of a chance to watch many of the shows. In fact, I discovered that I hadn't even seen all of the original Star Trek episodes when I went through them this time.

The DVD contained the first three shows: "Encounter at Farpoint," "The Naked Now," and "Code of Honor." My first impression was the incredible advances made in special effects in the twenty years since ST:TOS had ended. The bridge of the Enterprise was luxurious in comparison. However, they still had not installed seat belts, and the crew still went flailing about.

It was obvious that there was a clear attempt to bring in the fans of the original program when, in "Encounter at Farpoint," one saw a walkon by a aged and creaky, but still grumbling and querulous Dr. McCoy, who hadn't mellowed at all in the past twenty years. For those who haven't seen this episode, it is the story of Captain Picard's first coming aboard the Enterprise and his initial meetings with the crew, including First Officer Riker who insists his main task is keeping Picard on the bridge and not beaming down into dangerous situations. I wonder if that's a reference to Capt. Kirk's penchant for leaving his ship and getting into trouble in many of the episodes in ST:TOS. Q appears in this episode, and it is obvious that he was going to be a continuing problem for the crew of the Enterprise, a plot element that hadn't appeared in the first series. Wesley Crusher, son of the ship's medical officer, appears in this episode, and I was immediately reminded of Robert Heinlein's theory of child raising. It went something like this--after the child is born, put it in a barrel and feed it through the bunghole. When it reaches puberty, close the bunghole.

The second episode, "The Naked Now," also has a strong tie to the original series for it brought back a threat that had appeared in the ST:TOS episode, "The Naked Time." A fast-acting contaminant of some sort infects the crew and turns them into irresponsible drunks. Data does a computer search and discovers the incident involving the first Enterprise. The funniest line, in the first three episodes anyway, occurs when Data, who was also affected by the contaminant, paraphrases a soliloquy from Shakespeare's A Merchant of Venice, and echoes Shylock when he explains that he is human also for if he is "pricked, do I not....leak?"

The third episode had a familiar air about it as the Enterprise, on a mercy-mission, encounters an alien culture on a planet that has the only known source of a medicine needed to quell a deadly plague on another planet. Picard and the crew must deal with cultural issues before they can get the needed medicine.

Overall Comments:

Major advances in special effects are noticeable. Picard may be a more sedentary Capt. than his predecessor, Capt Kirk, and the powers-that-be are making a serious effort to draw in younger viewers with Wesley Crusher.

So far, aside from the new element of Q, a continuing villain (I guess he's a villain), the plots seem quite familiar. I really didn't see anything that couldn't have appeared in the original series.


  1. I was never a real fan of The Next Generation.

    There were some second level characters that show us though the series run that I did enjoy.

    I never actually watched it on first run, I only caught all of them later in re-runs.

    I did enjoy some of the series that followed The Next Generation, and you do have to give it credit for keeping the franchise alive to give us things like this latest JJ Abrahms movie, which might be the best Star Trek vehicle yet.

  2. Scott,

    I didn't watch many of them when they first came out either--work schedules and paper grading (bah).
    I think I already mentioned my favorite characters were Capt. Picard and Data. The others, excluding Wesley of course, were ok. Geordie and the Klingon were the most interesting of the others.

    I didn't get much of a chance to watch the later series, but I do remember the ST:DS9 was my favorite. I again was able to watch only a few shows, but I did find those the most interesting of the followups to ST:OS.

    Perhaps I will change my mind now that I am able to watch them in sequence on a more or less regular basis.

    I haven't seen the latest Star Trek movie. In fact, I've only seen a few of the ST movies--probably the first three. So, that's something else on my schedule.