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  1. #81
    Author of 101 WWE Matches To See Before You Die Samuel 'Plan's Avatar
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    Q is certainly played more for laughs in Voyager, it's true. I do quite like the serialised format of his appearances in Voyager though, with the whole civil war thing and the need to create a new one because of what happens in Death Wish.

    I've officially started my run-through of Voyager again and just finished up with Season 1 this evening so thought I'd pop by and drop some thoughts. From the get-go I am happy to report that it's a much stronger season than I ever remembered! It's got the charming awkwardness a first season of almost any Trek show always seems to have as the core cast develop their chemistry and adjust to the specialised nature of the dialogue and what-not, but there are some really solid episodes in there, a couple that flirt with excellence (if slightly falling short of the mark ultimately) and there's a very pleasant surplus of character development!

    The season has its weak moments and its issues. Primary among them is one I think will prove a habit of this iteration of the franchise. Every episode tackles a theme like the best Treks so often do, but where TOS or TNG specifically might delve deep into the drama from a very human perspective, Voyager often gets distracted with a technological conundrum before it can reach the same point.

    A great example of this is the episode Emanations, which deals with ideas about the afterlife and the vitality of belief systems. Where something like TNG might have gone the whole hog on exploring that from the humanist perspective or the like, Voyager quickly gets distracted with the technological puzzle of how to locate and bring back the missing Harry Kim - which is destined to be less satisfying because the solution is as fantastical and abstract as the puzzle itself! So what could have been a classic bit of Trek quickly turns into a bit of beige post-modern Trekism.

    This sort of thing happens repeatedly - right as the show reaches the point where it can become a classic, it goes "Quick, we need some techno-babble and a technology isse!" It's a shame, because without that recurrent trait the first season of Voyager might have offered up a number of classics. There are some weaker episodes - the final episode is flat and ends abruptly, Heroes and Demons is extremely corny despite being an important early episode for the Doctor's arc and The Cloud is an absolute mess of an episode that can never seem to decide what it's actually wanting to be about.

    But then there are some real belters in there too, if flawed belters. Ex Post Facto starts as a stronger, more Hitchcockian take on TNG's A Matter of Perspective (though it ends a bit awkwardly with a conclusion that lets down the set-up). Faces is something of a spiritual sibling to TOS's The Enemy Within that deals with the same theme of the make-up of the soul, featuring an outstanding performance from Roxanne Dawson and providing the first glimpse at the Paris/Torres connection. Eye of the Needle is a terrific sombre reflection on the show's central premise with a twist at the end that feels very TNG to me. Prime Factors might have been a TOS episode in another life, even if it leaves some of its thematic exploration on the table, but that's another very strong effort, as is the paranoia-infused Cathexis and the angry Jetrel, which is a spiritual sequel (some might say weaker version of) DS9's Duet. Even those weaker episodes often have a sense of fun about them, or at least nudge some of the show's conceptual ideas - like the Maquis crew integration. Sure, it's not as deeply explored as it could have been, but it is paid some attention.

    I'd also add that many of the performances are hugely under-rated here. Torres has a great season as she progresses from the savagely angry outsider in Caretaker and Parallax to the role model in Learning Curve, via her experience in Faces. The Doctor - always outstanding - is typically so here, from his snappy first moments in Caretaker through every tense interaction with the organic crew that, in later seasons, he presents his view of; and it's a view not far off the reality! A shout out to Ethan Phillips as well, because I had forgotten - as, I think, has everyone else - just how much of a bite Neelix had before he became strictly comic relief later down the line.

    Overall, Voyager Season 1 is a season of Star Trek I can say I thoroughly enjoyed and will happily stand up for in future discussions! On to season two!

  2. #82
    Administrator Prime Time's Avatar
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    TNG season 3 rewatch continues. Here are some very quick thoughts.

    So I picked this back up after 'The Hunted'. Decent outing for Troi and a good one to check out if you like the ethical dilemma ones. You'll also get one of the appearances from James Cromwell here, possibly for the first time?

    Next up is 'The Higher Ground', probably best noted as the first big outing for Beverly Crusher after her return - but has some interesting moments about terrorism, back in a time where you could still muse about such things on TV (though it was censored here in the UK initially!)

    After that we hit Deja Q, which is a pretty decent Q episode - the one that sees him thrown out of the continuum because he's too much of a nuisance, and is dumped on the bridge of the Enterprise as a mortal human. One of the only episodes where his primary dynamic isn't really with the Captain, branching out here with Data.

    A Matter of Perspective comes next. I imagine this will have a bit of a weird feel in the current contemporary moment, because a woman accuses Riker of rape and he basically calls her a liar. And the way that the show is framed, you're obviously inclined to sympathise with him. So right now, that's going to feel odd for many. But if you can get past that it's a good, well put together episode - if a bit unessential. You could skip it without missing much.

    But then you're into a hugely important one in the show's history. Yesterday's Enterprise is an absolute belter. Trek time travel stuff at it's very best, playing off the first season of the show (and fixing it in some respects) and you'll need to watch it in order to pick up some of the nuances of later episodes. I was pleasantly surprised by how well this one held up. Big outing for Whoopi Goldberg as Guinan.

    The Offspring held up really well too - touching at times, a few giggles, and lots of philosophy coming at you thick and fast, so what could be a shoddy episode actually hits you in lots of different ways. And it's a vital episode for the Picard series, just as much as Measure of a Man (if not more so).

    Sins of the Father is an absolute must watch for anyone who is into the Klingon stuff (which includes me). This is really the episode that makes a lot of Worf's story for the rest of the series make sense. A must watch, even if you're trying to whip through the series as quickly as you could.

    Allegiance is of a type that might be called a very generic TNG episode, but it's a well-executed one. Very Picard heavy, and if you want a bigger, overarching reason to watch it, then it's got some bits that weigh in on the Picard/Crusher relationship. There's also some scenes that play in well if you're into the Hornblower, naval-esque quality to the show.

    Captain's Holiday - definitely worth a watch. Funny, more than anything though. Best known for seeing Vash for the first time and she'll come up again, so it's worth seeing for that and the laughs in the first half of the episode. Also get to see the actor behind Rom playing a different Ferengi.

    Tin Man - This is one of the more divisive episodes of the series. I come down on the side that this is competent but ultimately you can skip it without missing a lot.

    Hollow Pursuits is a big improvement. Introduces Reg Barclay, and how they deal with a struggling crewman. Big episode for LaForge. There's also some really funny bits mixed in with the main plot.

    This is where I left it so I've got about five more episodes left in the series (including the famous 'Best of Both Worlds, Part I')

    "The worst moron is the one too stupid to realise they're a moron."

  3. #83
    Administrator Prime Time's Avatar
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    Carrying on with the rewatch.

    'The Most Toys' was the next episode in season 3. You might find it a bit 'TNG episode of the week' in some ways, but it's very well done and Saul Rubinek is very memorable in his role. Strong showing for Data here and definitely worth a look, and worth thinking about alongside episodes like 'Measure of a Man' and 'Offspring', even if it doesn't have such obvious parallels for the new show.

    'Sarek' is obviously a big episode in the show's larger narratives. A good one to include if you're planning on a rewatch of the Unification two-parter at some point. You could easily turn the three into a nice little movie-length experience.

    'Menage a Troi' is a sillier one with a bit of titillation involved - it's probably the closest you're going to get to nudity on TNG, so for those interested in Deanna with her kit off this is about as good as it's going to get. But while the episode is largely a nice if fairly unremarkable watch, it becomes essential viewing just for the scene near the end with Picard, Lwaxana, and the Ferengi. Also worth playing 'spot the Voyager crew' under the make-up.

    'Transfigurations' is probably the most unremarkable episode of the series. I'm not sure I can find much reason to recommend watching it other than for the sake of completeness. For me, the weakest episode of Season 3. As with Season 2's 'Shades of Gray', there was a tendency to shoehorn these in at the end of a series.


    I'm not going to bore you by going into tremendous detail about 'The Best of Both Worlds' because if you know TNG at all, you know it's excellent. If you don't know them and are curious, watch them! You could always watch Q Who as a warm-up, but it's not strictly necessary. I would suggest carrying on and treating 'Family' as if it's a third act in the same episode, because it really is a continuation and doesn't work the way the rest of the show did in this highly-syndicated early period.

    'Brothers' is a very famous one and vital for the Data/Lore story. It's also the only episode of the series that gives a writing credit to Rick Berman, so it's interesting enough for that reason if you're really into the nerdy shit.

    'Suddenly Human' is a bit of a comedown from the first few episodes but is certainly still passable. The Troi/Picard relationship often doesn't get the love it deserves and there's one of their all-time great scenes together in this one. Other than that, it's really only notable for watching Picard trying to play the role of father.

    'Remember Me' is one of Dr Crusher's few episodes in this season. It's got a very Trekkie premise but I enjoyed it a lot. Definitely one for the people who enjoy the science-y concepts and the techno-babble, but if you're on board with that there's a lot to like here - and if you don't like that stuff you're going to find this show a hard watch anyway!

    'Legacy' was the start of a little run that was better than I remembered, and sees the crew go to the home planet of former crewmate Tasha Yar. Strong performances from Data and Riker in particular underpin this one, and there's actually a lot of good supporting performances too. Definitely worth a look, and you could throw it in with A couple of S1 Yar episodes, and Yesterday's Enterprise, in order to prepare the ground for some of the big two-part set pieces in season 5.

    'Reunion' was a lot better than I remembered it. I think I'd focused primarily on the Worf/K'ehleyr relationship in the past. Two things occurred to me this time - one is that's better than I remember, and I can see why Suzi Plakson was such a darling of the show that they cast a couple of different times and liked to bring back on the one hand. And two, the tensions around the Klingon political stuff is just off the charts, and it's an absolute barnstomer of a performance from Patrick Stewart. One of his best individual showings to date. Also notable as the first appearance of Gowron. All in all, it's the Klingon episodes that have been threatening to break into the top list from the previous page - this and Sins of the Father have exceeded my memories of them.

    After Reunion there's a bit of a drop off for 'Future Imperfect' - which is very 'TNG Episode of the Week' territory. It's very well carried off (barring the kind of 'wrap things up quickly' ending that can sometimes mar these episodes) and is a pretty chance for Riker to stretch himself a bit. You could skip it if you wanted to, but there's a lot to like here, not least a rare guest appearance from Andreas Katsulas.


    So there we go. I'm about 1/3 of the way into season 4. In the next few episodes, Wesley Crusher will leave the Enterprise, Troi will undergo a traumatic experience, we'll hit one of the episodes I listed on the previous page as one of my favourites, and a Starfleet Captain is going to threaten to go rogue. Lots to watch out for!

    "The worst moron is the one too stupid to realise they're a moron."

  4. #84
    Author of 101 WWE Matches To See Before You Die Samuel 'Plan's Avatar
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    You're driving home how unfamiliar I really am with TNG! Half these episodes I have zero recollection of, despite having almost certainly having seen them. I must get back to the rewatch once I'm done with Voyager. I do remember Sarek, which I've always really liked, and Menage a Troi too - not so fond there. I've never, ever liked Remember Me. Ever. Just gets on my nerves. Maybe because I've never liked Crusher?

    I myself am now past halfway of Season 2 of Voyager and I have to say that I think the black sheep rep is hugely unwarranted. While there is a lot of those 'TNG episode of the week' instalments that aren't bad, but don't really stand out in any way, there are a number of above average efforts with a strong focus on the relationships between the main cast and the relationship of the crew to their voyage home, and I've just recently hit a run of three or four absolutely outstanding episodes too. Won't go through the whole lot, but highlights are:

    The 39s - a very strong opening to the second season that sees the crew stumble upon an unlikely chance of creating a new home in the DQ. While the story is sort of all over the place, the outcome is a really moving scene for Janeway especially, and the angst of the entire story is palpable.

    Projections - this one was absolutely phenomenal, where The Doctor begins to see Reginald Barclay of TNG fame and is caught in a web of doubt as to whether he's the hologram, or everything else is. It's a really compelling muse on his own unlikely human nature and a powerfully thematic story in every regard. It almost goes without saying, but Robert Picardo's performance is tremendous, and it's such a rush seeing Barclay make his first of a number of guest spots on the show.

    Persistence of Vision - while it's a little odd in the sense that it lays foundations for some character relationship developments that are never really referenced again (bizarrely, Torres apparently has hidden romantic feelings for Chakotay that I'm not sure are ever really referenced outside of this one story) what's really wonderful about it is its conclusion. The villain doesn't get any notable comeuppance, the crew survive rather than win against the alien's imposed visions and we never hear of any motivation for what he does to them either. It's quite Iago, that way. It's got a nice muse in the concluding scene with Janeway and Torres too.

    Prototype - a really good Torres episode where she reawakens an android before the story takes a darker turn and reflects on the dangers of artificial intelligence. It's another commanding central performance from Roxanne Dawson (I'm really seeing Torres in an entirely new and far more appreciative light with this watch through!) and it's one of the earliest strongest reflections on the Prime Directive too - one that feels a little less orthodox than many of those that come before it in the other franchises.

    Meld - the first of a run of three utterly outstanding episodes, it's one of the possibly darkest episodes of Trek I can ever remember. When a Maquis crewman murders another, Tuvok quickly finds the culprit - Lon Suder - and conducts a mind meld when he fails to understand the man's motivations for violence. It triggers a devolution in Tuvok who begins to fall prey to those infamous Vulcan instincts and from there it's a parade of violence, murder and emotional conflict. Tim Russ is supreme in one of Trek's finest hours, and Suder is played suitable creepy by future Wormtongue actor Bran Dourif. I absolutely adore this one, and it's swiftly catapulted its way to the top of not just my favourite Voyager episodes, but favourite Trek episodes.

    Dreadnought - if Meld is a meditation on our violent nature, Dreadnought is a parable about the consequences of our violent actions. Voyager encounters a highly advanced Cardassian warhead that historically was reprogrammed by Torres and has now malfunctioned, targeting a DQ planet. Torres and the crew fight desperately to prevent it destroying half the targeted planet and the tension builds relentlessly in what becomes a breathless, Thunderbirds-like race against time to save innocent lives. That tension builds and builds and builds until a heart-pounding final five minutes where it looks like Voyager is going to go down as Torres fights to the final second to rectify what she comes to think of as a mistake. More thrilling than compelling, it's an excellent exercise in tension and takes the time to explore the interesting theme of unintended consequence and redemption - along with the inbuilt ideas of growth, maturity and the necessity of humanist responsibility.

    Death Wish - like Meld, this one - currently my most recently viewed - has swiftly entered my all-time, all-Trek favourites. A Q is released from captivity and wants to commit suicide, suffering from the immortality imposed upon him by a society bereft of ambition and the ability to grow. Not only is it pure Trek, exploring the issue of suicide in the form of a space courtroom drama, but it's deeply compassionate, deeply moving and features two heart-rending guest appearances courtesy of the two Qs - one new, the other familiar. That familiar Q, John De Lancie, is given entirely new life here too. It's not the playful Q of TNG that always ends as he starts, but a character that develops as a result of the narrative. I adored this utterly sublime slice of television and if you're a TNG fan it's an absolute must see.

    Of these highlights, though, I would say Projections, Meld, Dreadnought and Death Wish are the must see episodes for any Trek fan. Others are good. Even the weaker episodes offer up positives too. Non Sequitur is an important piece of character development for Kim. Twisted is one of the more creative resolutions to a Trek episode, and has some nice quiet character contemplations. Parturition and Tattoo give us glimpses at the evolving relationships among the crew. And through the entire season we've had the arcs of a returning Seska, the Kazon spreading misinformation about Voyager, Paris adjusting to life in Starfleet, we're seeing hints at deeper feeling between Janeway and Chakotay and the looming issue of exactly how Voyager gets home is never far away.

    I've always been a fan boy of Voyager but I tell you, rewatching it has been hugely enlightening. The show is of far stronger quality than memory is prepared to admit.

  5. #85
    Administrator Prime Time's Avatar
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    If you don't like Remember Me, it's fairly easily skipped. There are some details that play into the Wesley Crusher story in there, but while it's a rare outing for Bev in the leading role there's not really much of her story that has any long term consequences. As for not liking her... I tend to find she's very good in a supporting role but that episodes centred around her are amongst the weaker ones. But that's also true of Troi, so it could be that the series had more of a woman problem than DS9 and Voyager would have later.

    There is one bit I really like in 'Remember Me', when she's duelling with the computer and comes up with the question it shouldn't be able to answer. But other than that, it's a fairly run-of-the-mill TNG episode - nothing wrong but nothing special.

    Speaking of Voyager, enjoyed the last couple of read throughs. I've decided that I'm going to go back to Voyager once I get through TNG. I do still have to find the time to watch Enterprise again too, so all in all it's going to be a very Trek-heavy year!

    "The worst moron is the one too stupid to realise they're a moron."

  6. #86
    Administrator Prime Time's Avatar
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    Going to pick this up again with a look at the next lot of episodes in season 4.

    Before I do, I've noticed my using 'very-TNG' or similar phrases to describe certain episodes. I realise that isn't very helpful! So I thought I'd outline what I mean by that. What I call the 'typical' TNG episode is probably best described as some kind of 'space-time mystery', things unexpected that need solving that are only really thrown up by the technology that they are using, or by being that far out in space. Of course, there are several other types of episode with multiple examples, but that's what I think of as the bread and butter of TNG and if I describe something as being TNG, that's what I'm referring to.

    I picked things up with 'Final Mission', which is the last episode with Wesley Crusher as a series regular. That's enough to recommend it for some people, all by itself! I don't hate Wesley the way some people do, but I am of the opinion that the show is generally stronger without him, so I don't cry about it either. But it's a decent enough little episode that plays into a lot of the traditions of the western. In that respect and a few others it probably has more of the original series about it than a lot of TNG episodes. The subplot is quite intriguing for a superfan because there's something quite pleasing about seeing the crew dealing with a situation and just being pretty professional about it all. The jeopardy is in the speed at which they have to work, rather than the usual high tension. Minor character spotters will also note the first appearance of Ensign Allenby! It's not a favourite of mine but I can find more reasons to watch this than just because you'll wonder where Wesley went (wow, a lot of w words there) otherwise.

    Next up is 'The Loss'. If I needed an episode to prove to someone that Marina Sirtis wasn't just cast because she looks good in skintight futuristic clothing, this would be the episode that I'd turn to to make my case. She's truly great in this one. Troi losing her mental abilities becomes effectively a way into thinking about disability, something that not everyone on major TV shows was doing in 1990. It's mainly worth seeing for Troi dealing with the trauma of the loss (badly at times), but there's another big point to add into this - it's probably the final part of a wholesale moving of the Troi character by which they take her sci-fi stereotype, 'queen of serenity' figure, and make her a bit more relatable, and likeable. Watching some the comedy from season 3 and this episode so close together has brought that home a lot more.

    After that is 'Data's Day'. One of the only episodes anywhere in the franchise where the voice-over isn't from the captain, but is a letter from Data to Bruce Maddox. And that isn't just a gimmick - it's written very differently from pretty much any other episode, and I still think it's an absolute must-watch. It graduates from Data's observations on humanity, to his own worries (I am an Android, I do not experience worry) about dancing at the wedding (leading to the famous scene of him dancing with Dr Crusher, who gets to show off her skills for a change), through all manner of comedy - but there's also an uncomfortable undercurrent that dials up and up and eventually it overtakes all the rest and that the tension of the finish is superb. For someone who wants to see just the essential episodes, you'd still include this one - not least for the connections with Maddox that I've already mentioned, but also because it includes comments from Data on his crewmates, as well as the first mention of his cat Spot, and the first appearance of Keiko Ishikawa.

    The Wounded follows and this is generally a strong episode. It's really the first time that they let Colm Meaney act and to be fair he knocks it out of the park for the most part. The only real weakness is that Bob Gunton, best known for playing the Warden in Shawshank Redemption, is the Starfleet Captain that Picard has to chase, and though he and O'Brien are supposed to be old comrades I'm not sure it's always the most convincing. They have very different presences onscreen, I think it's fair to say. But that's a minor point. Acting good, writing good, and vital to the overall franchise as the introduction to the Cardassians. You also get to see Marc Alaimo as a Cardassian other than Dukat, in his first return to TNG since season 1.

    Devil's Due is something of a step down from the episodes we've been watching but there's still a lot to recommend it. Patrick Stewart is brilliant in it, and so is Brent Spiner. The two are ably supported by a suitably-sultry performance from Marta DuBois, as the devil from the title. The only real downside to this is that TNG has often had the accusation levelled at it that it treats faith as little more than superstition, and is a bit dismissive of it. Perhaps it's a legacy of this show being originally thought of as part of Star Trek: Phase II I could see people thinking that about this episode. But as 40 minutes of TV it's very well carried off, and there's some references to the Klingon afterlife for probably the first time (though so small that if you weren't feeling the episode you wouldn't be missing a lot).

    'Clues' was one of the 'very-TNG' episodes that managed to make it onto my list on the previous page, so I came to it wondering how it'd hold up. Very well, is my instinct on another watch. The whole premise revolves around a very Asimov-esque premise that Data can't lie, and yet Data seems to be lying to us. It's been suggested that this episode 'borrows' heavily from a Red Dwarf episode. I can see the parallels but I think that even if they have, TNG pulls it off more successfully. The only weakness with this one for me, if I was trying to recommend it, as that there's no real way it connects to the bigger stories. The best case I can make is it's a good one for watching the Picard/Data relationship developing. Still, it's worth watching just for the sake of itself, and seems to be highly rated quite widely.

    'First Contact' is next, which sees Riker hospitalised on a pre-Warp planet where the inhabitants don't look like humans and his disguise doesn't last long. This is a step down from most of the episodes we've seen in season 4 so far, in truth, but the politics of the planet are quite interesting and reasonably well carried off. There's a noteworthy but downright weird appearance by Bebe Neuwirth from Cheers/Frasier, in what I can only assume is a bit of a parody of the sexual fascination some of the show's fans have had with Spock and other characters. Saying that, I'm apparently in the minority in finding this all a bit strange as her showing is generally well-received. An interesting parallel with 'Who Watches the Watchers?' from earlier in the season, given their shared focus on studying pre-Warp societies.

    'Galaxy's Child' is a weird episode. There's a fairly one-note sci-fi plot that Patrick Stewart basically elevates to a higher level by playing it with the kind of emotional drama he'd bring to Shakespeare (and taking the show that seriously is, incidentally, why he's my fucking hero). But beyond that you've got the Geordi LaForge/Leah Brahms stuff. And that's not great in the first instance and ages worse. The best you can say is that it sort of gets him out of the weird position that the previous episode with Leah Brahms had left him in, and the two of them having a genuine friendship rather than the fantasy does make him a bit less creepy. But man, it's not at all convincing in how it gets there. It's not bad telly by any stretch but it doesn't really achieve what it sets out to do, and so it's one of the weakest of the series by some distance. Only really worth watching if you wanna see Leah Brahms for real and her story played out.

    'Night Terrors' picks things up a bit. Crusher and Troi get some of the kind of dialogue that neither of them really likes and some of those scenes can be a little weaker, but other than that this one was a revelation. The crew can't reach REM sleep and it causes them to start slowly losing their minds. There's a really great scene with Gates McFadden where her acting is brilliant and the whole thing is massively reminiscent of a horror film. That said, if you don't respond well to that kind of content there's not a lot here and it's not particularly popular - though I think the consensus on that is a little harsh. More to like than it's reputation implies, in my humble opinion. Quite fun to see Data in command briefly, too.

    'Identity Crisis' is one of the first episodes with Brannon Braga getting the writing credit, and he'd obviously go on to be one of the main guys behind Voyager and Enterprise, so that's interesting in and of itself. In truth, the episode is kind of something and nothing. LaForge gets the prominent role and after 'Galaxy's Child' it's good to see him interacting with people normally, this time with a Lt. Commander Leijten (who is at least a woman he can relate to on a human level from the start). I'd put this one near the bottom of the list, but there's still some fun in watching them trying to find out what has happened to their former crewmates who are disappearing....

    'The Nth Degree' is an improvement for me, but then I rather like the Reg Barclay episodes. Everyone's favourite holodeck addict is back and he gets effectively invested with confidence by an alien entity, with a whole range of results - some funny, some enthralling, some downright dangerous. Can't really go into too many more details without turning little plot details into spoilers, but for me it's an uptick on the previous episode.

    The most recent episode I've watched is 'Qpid'. All Q episodes are entertaining such is the skill of John de Lancie, but this is probably one of the weaker instances in the TNG outings. Basically it's the one most played for laughs. Vash appears, and so much like 'Captain's Holiday' we're in the comic mould. Q works pretty well there, and there's just about enough of the edge that comes elsewhere to get a pass. But it's a comedy episode. So if you find the comedy of the show funny, it's worth a watch, and if you don't, it's not (other than as the link between Vash's appearances in Season 3 of TNG and season 1 of DS9). Worf is a comedy highlight, for me.



    So there's some thoughts on another 12 episodes. Next time I check in I'll have probably run through the rest of season 4.

    "The worst moron is the one too stupid to realise they're a moron."

  7. #87
    Author of 101 WWE Matches To See Before You Die Samuel 'Plan's Avatar
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    The Wounded has always been a low-key favourite of mine, actually. I confess, though, that I've not seen it in a long time. I always remember feeling like they could've drawn from it that bit much more during O'Brien's run on DS9 - but I'm not a huge O'Brien fan generally anyway, so maybe I just didn't notice.

    Data's Day I've definitely seen but your description has definitely made me want to revisit it in a way I've never felt compelled to before! First Contact, on the other hand, is an episode I've never cared for. Neither is Devil's Due. I don't know why exactly. Just a bit...bland, I guess?

    I'm now onto Season 3 of Voyager on my side here, and Season 2 ended STRONG!

    Death Wish is followed by Lifesigns, which is a bit of a dull affair generally speaking, but an important stop in the Doctor's continued progression from adaptive hologram to aspiring life form as he falls in love with a Vidiian scientist during efforts to save her life. Nothing much to write home about though.

    Investigations is next. On its own terms, it's pretty lightweight stuff. But it is a very important set-up for the finale and plays heavily into three separate arcs that have been developing quite tightly over the course of the season. One of those is the apparent regression of Tom Paris back to how he was when we met him in Caretaker, eventuating here in his decision to leave the ship. That weaves in with a lightweight theme of the importance of journalistic independence as we follow Neelix investigating the mystery of an arc that's played out for most of the season now. The theme is drowned by the arc progressions and action but it's still a fun outing for Neelix and an important character milestone for Paris marking how his character has changed.

    Deadlock - I've always loved this one. It's the simplest of Trek plots - a scientific mystery needs solving to prevent chaos erupting - but it has an absolute whirlwind of an opening twenty minutes, there's a very real sense of jeopardy and danger, the crew take a number of huge hits and the drama is pretty unrelenting until you get to the halfway point. It's brave, bold, brash and I love it. A shame we never see much in the way of any fallout from the events that unfold, that I won't (re-)spoil here because it really is best watched with no or little familiarity, but it remains a personal favourite of mine nonetheless. Frankly, I think it had the potential of a feature-length effort.

    Innocence - prevents S2 ending on a wall-to-wall roll of top quality, but it isn't particularly terrible. Like with so many other low-key Voyager episodes it feels like a curious mix of TNG sensibility and TOS high concept. A fun revelation at the end provides the only really memorable element though. Pretty weak.

    The Thaw - another favourite of mine, but this time from among all of the shows. It's tonally pretty intense, visually can be quite unsettling and it stars one of the best one-off guest performances in all of Trek history for my money, with Michael McKean as The Clown. Janeway is on top form as captain with one of the most bad-ass stand-offs with the villain I can remember seeing from a Starfleet captain, sort of her very own Corbomite Maneuver, and the plot itself finds a great deal of frightening and disturbing weight in its idea more than in what it shows. Robert Picardo is sublime in his role as the party-crashing no-nonsense Doctor playing off of The Clown and the episode does a great job of gradually dishevelling Harry Kim too. Moments in this one are genuinely unsettling. I love it! Definitely a must-watch.

    Tuvix - I guess this one's a bit of an inversion of TOS's The Enemy Within as Tuvok and Neelix have their DNA fused by that age old Trek trick of a transporter accident. What results is a relatively pedestrian episode for the middle portion as the so-named Tuvix comes to terms with his being, proves his worth to the crew and navigates the complex issue of how to interact with Kes. The episode, however, becomes superlative as it arrives in its final half with the revelation that Tuvix doesn't want to change back and, further, charges Janeway with murder for forcing him to do so. The direction of the episode's climax ha weight, it's beautifully acted, brilliantly intoned and you can feel the gravity of the action and of the moment. It is through that the episode finds its comment on the nature of what life is and who has the right to take it. Stick through the first half because what you arrive at after is transcendent in my book.

    Resolutions - rounds off the second instance of S2 delivering a real powerhouse of a trilogy of stories, this time seeing Janeway and Chakotay marooned on a planet where they must stay lest a fatal virus they've contracted kill them. The crew depart with Tuvok in command (always a delight to see!) and where the episode finds its worth is in exploring the tension and relationship between the two senior officers of the show. As Chakotay seeks to make a home, Janeway obsesses on finding a cure. Dissension among the crew occurs on Voyager in the meantime, resulting in a really cool moment for Tuvok and a rare exploration of his relationship with Kim. Keen fans of the show will note how Paris is muted in his protest and Kim the outspoken one - demonstrations of their character growth, considering that, had these events occurred early in S1, it would likely have been the other way around. Kes gets a good standout moment too, as she confronts Tuvok in the Ready Room. Does it reach its full potential? Perhaps not. But as a character exploration, it proves to be a multi-faceted treat.

    Basics Part 1 - the first double-header since Caretaker and the S2 finale sees the crew receiving a distress signal from Seska and the son she claims is Chakotay's. With some pause for thought, the decide to investigate and pick up an apparently exiled Kazon goon in the process. Meanwhile, the murderous Lon Suder we last saw in Meld is adjusting to life in isolation with the help of the lingering Vulcan influence from that episode's events, and conveys to Tuvok his desire to 'do something for the ship.' Events conspire, Paris leaves the ship to retrieve Talaxian aid, the Kazon succeed in capturing Voyager and the crew are left stranded on a barren planet with only the EMH and the hidden Suder left on board. There's not much here in terms of theme or social commentary, but it instead focuses heavily on the now evolved relationships between the crew, their loyalty to one another and it moves in big strides to resolve the Kazon and Seska arc.

    Then, Season 3...

    Basics Part 2 - still the focus remains on arc resolution over theme or commentary, but by the time this second part is over the entire double-header proves itself a satisfying and very fun action romp, tightly written and paced to precision. It succeeds in balancing a series of different evolving threads - the infant Naomi Wildman suffering, Kes and Neelix getting captured by natives, Crewman Hogan being killed by a cave-dwelling creature, Paris escaping pursuit and convincing Talaxians to help, The Doctor and Suder essentially putting together 'Star Trek Does Die Hard' (which is IMMENSELY cool by the way!) - it comes together with the feel of a low budget movie quite honestly! Suder steals the show with a hell of a redemption arc and a stunning performance from Brad Dourif, the niggling Kazon are essentially defeated once and for all and, generally speaking, it may not be among the best feature length Trek episodes but damn, didn't I have a blast watching it through.

    Flashback - an apparently repressed memory threatens to end Tuvok's life after Voyager encounters a standard nebula, leading to a meld between him and Janeway that sees them venture back to his recollections of his first ever Starfleet assignment. Again, the episode itself has nothing of any real substance here. It emphasises the relationship between Janeway and Tuvok, which is nice given how often we hear of it but how little we see it in action, but the plot is really a device to celebrate what was then the 30th Anniversary. While DS9 revisited TOS's tussle with the Tribbles, Voyager instead nods the head to Star Trek VI: The Undiscovered Country, as Tuvok's first mission was indeed under Captain Sulu aboard the USS Excelsior during the events of that film. Reused footage, consistent aesthetic in the effects and multiple references to the TOS crew and events of STVI mean that, while hardly essential viewing, long-time franchise fans will get a bit of a kick.

    And that brings me up to date too!

  8. #88
    Administrator Prime Time's Avatar
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    Oh man, my Mrs has very strong feelings about Tuvix. She hates it, but not because she thinks it's bad if you follow me. But I'm definitely looking forward to revisiting some of Voyager having read through some of your thoughts here. It's amazing how much of it I only kinda half know.

    In TNG terms I haven't made much progress but I've got a few episodes to drop in.

    'The Drumhead' was where I picked up. It's one of those 'something rotten in Starfleet' episodes that are the bane of modern Trek, the sort of episode that mistakes darkness for complexity or depth. But this doesn't fall into those traps. A Klingon spy on the Enterprise leads to a judge coming on board and she's convinced that there's a saboteur on the station as well. When Picard opposes her less than honourable methods, she starts to go after him. It's a belter of an episode anchored by Stewart but it's also a big one for Michael Dorn as Worf. It also connects broadly to the overarching stories of season 4, so I'd call it a 'must watch' even if you're skipping through the series quite lightly.

    Next up was 'Half a Life', which is a Lwaxana Troi episode. The way it starts, you could be forgiven for thinking that this was going to be just the same as all the others - played for laughs. And to be fair, Picard in particular is hilarious in the way he interacts with her. But that's not what this episode is. It's sort of an early prototype for her DS9 appearances where they'll start with the comedy and hit you with deeper emotional weight. Lwaxana takes her fancy to a scientist who has come aboard, only to discover that once his experiment is done he will return to his planet to die at the prearranged age of 60. It's about how you treat the elderly on the one hand and how you approach cultural differences you disagree with on the other. But it's really all anchored by David Ogden Stiers as Timicin, who gives one of the all-time great guest performances. Easily top 5 across all the series for a one-off. Also keep an eye out for Michelle Forbes in the role that would see them decide to bring her back as Ensign Ro. I may have to reassess this when I get to seasons 5 and 7 but for right now I'm happy to call this the only Lwaxana TNG episode that's really essential. It doesn't overly connect back to anything else but it's damn good.

    'The Host' comes next. When I tell you it's a romance episode centred around Dr Crusher many of you will be put off, I'm sure! But it's probably most notable for introducing the Trill to the franchise, so it's worth a watch for that (even if it's pretty hard to square, subsequently, with what we hear about them in Dax's backstory on DS9). There's also an encoded anti-homophobia statement towards the end of the episode which would have been seen as more progressive at the time than the very 'safe' way to do it that it'll be viewed some 30 years later, I suspect.

    Most recently I saw 'The Mind's Eye', which I liked a lot more than I remembered! I always thought it was pretty decent but it improved on that this time around. It's probably the best episode so far where Geordi is a primary figure that gets to do more than just the technobabble. He's kidnapped by the Romulans and brainwashed to commit an assassination back on board the Enterprise. As well as Levar Burton getting to make a strong outing for once, Picard gets to be good, so does Worf, there's decent performances from the guest stars, Troi gets to be funny again, and it's actually central to the major story that has been developing since at least as far back as 'Reunion'. It's never going to crack the top ten list for anything other than a 'best of series 4', but it's solid in every respect and definitely warrants a look - the connections to the bigger arc just make it a lock.

    "The worst moron is the one too stupid to realise they're a moron."

  9. #89
    Author of 101 WWE Matches To See Before You Die Samuel 'Plan's Avatar
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    Love The Drumhead - that final speech from Picard is a real banger isn't it?

    So I've been wading through Voyager at a bit of a pace and am now nearing the ending of season 3. The hit and miss rate has stayed at a fairly even keel so far.

    The Chute - a real powerhouse of an episode, where Kim and Paris find themselves incarcerated in a brutal prison with chips implanted in them that gradually erode their capacity for self-control. It's a frayed nerve, great atmosphere, excellent production design and some really gut-punching scenes. Top marks.

    The Swarm - a huge step down, that sees a pretty generic Doctor-centred episode where his programme malfunctions and they have to use a Zimmerman diagnostic holographic tool to repair him. Feels like a simple excuse to let Picardo play two roles. Bland.

    False Profits - a real treat for TNG fans (looking at you Prime!) that picks up the story of the two Ferengi who get stuck on the wrong side of the wormhole featured in The Price. While there's no real meat in it, it's fun seeing that loose end get wrapped up across series, and it's as quirky a Ferengi story as you'll find. Neelix faking being a Ferengi feels irresistibly inevitable.

    Remember - not a classic, but a really strong episode nonetheless. When dignitaries of an alien culture visit the ship and demonstrate their ability to share minds with the crew, B'Elanna begins having potent dreams of a love affair which, as the episode progresses, turn out to be much more than they seem. Its social undertones are disturbing, ones that talk to a narrative tragically too common in our history, there's some musing on the Prime Directive and I guess it hugely appeals to me because it's ultimately an exploration of the importance of confronting history, no matter how ugly, but done in the unique way only sci-fi can allow.

    Sacred Ground - after Kes is injured attempting to enter the sacred temple of a spiritual race, Janeway opts to undergo a ritual trial to save her life. It's a character exploration of Janeway's world view, really, and of one of the benefits of spirituality, but in the end it proves to be pretty throwaway stuff.

    Future's End Parts I and II - another two parter, and one that gets some love from fans, though I profess to not necessarily sharing it. A series of events throw the crew back in time to 1996 where they have to prevent a devastating explosion occurring in their relative future. Contemporaneous shenanigans ensue (which importantly lead to The Doctor obtaining the mobile emitter that would see him finally able to leave sick bay) but it feels like a shortcut to use what were then modern day locations. As Trek time travel epics go, it isn't the strongest. Very anti-climactic too.

    Warlord - a fun showcase for Kes and Jennifer Lien to flex some acting muscle, as Kes's mind is overtaken by an alien warlord. Lien's performance is pretty great and the episode is notable for its implied homosexual flirting but, more wonderfully, Tuvok getting to undergo a black ops mission! It's another 'solid and decent' episode that won't blow anyone away but should entertain.

    The Q and the Grey - Q returns to Voyager in the fallout of Season 2's magnificent Death Wish to reveal that the suicide of Q from that same episode has resulted in a civil war within the Continuum between the forces of the status quo and the forces of change, led by Q in the memory of the dead Q and what he symbolised. While some of Q's antics in trying to seduce Janeway watch as deeply uncomfortable in this day and age, the use of the American Civil War as allegory throws up some lush costume design and it's a story that, again, allows John De Lancie's immortal character to be more than just a two-dimensional villain of the week. It's nowhere close to Death Wish, but still good stuff. A strong example once again of Voyager possessing considerably more serial storytelling than it gets credit for.

    Macrocosm - a true classic in my eyes! I almost wish it was strung out to a full two-parter, because I think it certainly had the potential. It also feels especially pertinent as the world locks down to fight Coronavirus. Janeway and Neelix return to Voyager from an away mission to find it overrun by a hostile macrovirus of flying, pernicious organisms. This results in a tense fight for survival as the captain has to retake the ship and defeat the virus almost single-handed! Janeway goes Rambo! It's awesome. A sterling performance from Kate Mulgrew, tremendous tension from the moment she and Neelix step back on Voyager, the lighting, score, use of flashback, it's a real tour de force of television production I think. Absolutely loved it. Essential Voyager viewing.

    Fair Trade - another good, perhaps slightly better than good episode where Neelix finds himself wrapped up in a series of increasingly out of control situations resulting from one lie after another, as he struggles to hide the face the ship has reached the edge of his knowledge about the Delta Quadrant. I love the setting for this one - a space station run by a ruthless manager on the edge of an expanse of space, that watches as a sort of Mos Eisley in space - and while there's no real commentary or 'point' it does feel rather like a meditation on the importance of honesty and the destructiveness of shirking responsibility. The set design is great too, with the space station looking grimy and genuinely lived in. A fun romp and an important character moment for Neelix.

    Alter Ego - a pretty blase piece in which Kim and Tuvok wrestle with an unusually attractive hologram that turns out to really be under the control of an alien on a blah blah blah. It's weak and not very interesting. Though it's a key moment in the development of Kim and Tuvok's relationship, you can, probably should skip it.

    Coda - this one starts off as a "seen it all before" time loop mystery but ends with some quite poignant television and a really great central performance from Mulgrew, who gets to show some real range - from righteous indignation to emotional vulnerability to defiant steadfastness. A beautifully touching moment with Kim, a teary Janeway watching on, is especially memorable and speaks strongly to the maternal role the captain as long since taken on in the series. So stick with it, and the payoff becomes worth it. Wonderful score on this one too.

    Blood Fever - Voyager does Amok Time! When Ensign Vorik - introduced as a background character some episodes earlier - begins to endure the Pon Farr it has unexpected consequences, coming to infect Torres during an away caving mission. This one's a corker for a number of reasons. Roxanne Dawson proves again why she might be the best actor of a talented cast, demonstrating serious range in a towering central performance. Alexander Enberg as Vorik is equally impressive, and Robert Duncan McNeil excels beyond his usual swagger as we see just how far Paris has developed - one imagines in S1 he might very well have taken advantage of Torres instead of seeking to protect her from the ravages of an imposed Vulcan blood fever. It's a lot of fun, a more complex variation on the purity of TOS' Amok Time and it also happens to end on a brilliantly executed Borg-flavoured cliffhanger.

    Unity - which advances on that cliffhanger but stops short of being a full truly Borg adventure. Chakotay finds himself stranded on a planet where he is nursed back to health by a group of settlers how turn out to be what ST: Picard has since christened "Ex-Bees". The revealing of their former and now disabled Borg Cube in orbit is lushly shot and there's a really wonderful hypocrisy sitting behind what it is the Ex-Bees want and, eventually, do. It's an episode that does something truly unique with the Borg, all without really featuring them too heavily, asking complex moral questions about the advantages and disadvantages, allure and practicalities of what the Collective is and what it does. I really loved this one and would recommend it to everyone, if only to see a different slant on an old enemy. That it's their introduction into this series too makes it especially cool.

    Darkling - an outstanding story for the Doctor that - sigh - does see his programme malfunction (again!) but results in a really fun Jekyl and Hyde style tale, where Picardo gets to play the bemused Doctor and a vile, violent darker version too. That's about as far as the plot goes really, and it does take some eyebrow-raising technobabble shortcuts along the way, but it's worth it just for the amazing Picardo's performance and a demonstration of the show not being afraid to be really quite disturbing and violent to create threat and menace. It's also a vital moment of growth for Kes.

    And for now, finally, the wonderful Rise - this one I have a lot of love for again. As Voyager fights to help save a planet from an asteroid bombardment, Tuvok and Neelix find themselves on a maglev space elevator with a ragtag group of collected locals, fighting perilous odds, frequent bad luck and the frayed nerves of those aboard in an effort to survive and get back to Voyager. There's a bit of a lame infodump at the end to explain away the not-very-interesting underlying plot, but it's the drama on the maglev that makes this one worth while. If you like a good disaster film, you should love this episode! It has all the usual genre ticks there - the violent dissenter, the traitor-among-friends, the unfortunate demise, the untrusted leader, the unlikely hero and so on. It also is the first and long overdue instance of the show really taking time to examine the relationship between Tuvok and Neelix.

    Brings me up to speed! Seven more left before I get onto season four, which I have historically thought of as the strongest of all seven, so I'll be interested to see if it holds up.

  10. #90
    Author of 101 WWE Matches To See Before You Die Samuel 'Plan's Avatar
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    Been steaming ahead recently, now up to Season 4 - so how about some more thoughts? Picking up with...

    Favourite Son - where Harry Kim begins to show signs of alien DNA and believes he has returned back to his true home world in the Delta Quadrant. Not much to say here. Bog standard stuff, nothing terribly exciting or dramatic and is more of Kim obsessing over notions of home. It's pretty clear at this point the writers seem to struggle with giving him meaty development the most. Which is a shame. I like Kim.

    Before and After - this one had the potential to be one of those top tier greats, as Kes finds herself living her life backwards from her death bed. We get glimpses at a future version of Voyager before finding ourselves back in the territory of earlier seasons. The problem is the attention to detail - or complete absence of it. Once you're done trying to figure out how it can be that Paris married Kes and had a daughter who grew to be a full adult before Kim married her and they had a child themselves, all the while nobody showing so much as a grey hair, let alone any ageing...and the time differentials with the kids and the growing.... It's all a bit weird and poorly produced. First glimpse of the Year of Hell though!

    Real Life - from the dregs of one episode to the heights of another! The Doctor creates a holographic family but when it all turns out to be unrealistic in its perfection Torres adjusts it to reflect the tribulations of a more dysfunctional unit. Eventually, this forces the Doctor to confront loss and grief for the first time. It's a beautifully written piece with a very moving performance from Picardo. It balances comedy with tragedy to incredible effect, leading to a truly upsetting conclusion. Remarkable Trek, this one, and possibly our strongest Doctor outing yet.

    Distant Origin - a second classic in a row. There's lots to love about Distant Origin and I don't want to re-spoil it for anyone. The writing is just supreme, though, and the way the episode concludes is equal parts devastating and inspiring. The Voth make for outstanding, complex villains - a shame they didn't recur.

    Displaced - and then we're back to more bog standard mystery of the week stuff, as the crew find themselves being gradually displaced by aliens who, shock, turn out to be duplicitous. Shenanigans ensue. Meh. There is some really good interaction between Paris and Torres though, as we continue to see their relationship getting built slowly from the ground up. That's something I have really loved seeing. They don't just fall in love. It's tough for them to get comfortable with one another, and we see bits of it every other episode.

    Worst Case Scenario - in which Torres discovers a holo-novel about a Maquis mutiny on board Voyager that gets the whole ship buzzing. It's fun, for a while, before Seska reappears to a groan-inducing degree and you want it to be over so we can all move on with our lives. It is fun seeing our characters outside of their usual comfort zones though. Tuvok and Paris have some good banter, Chakotay gets to be the villain for a while and the Doctor is able to revisit that sadistic side we saw in Darkling.

    Scorpion: Part 1 - and so we arrive at the coming of age for Voyager as the crew are finally confronted with Borg space. To me, this stands as the best Borg episode in Trek outside of The Best of Both Worlds, though it's a very different story. It finds an interesting new avenue with which to approach the Borg, introduces a new villain to the series based on what feels like a very original idea and the way the episode plays out is tense and action-packed. There is a particular stand-out scene between Janeway and Chakotay towards the end of the first part when the two argue about the best way forwards. Their relationship is central to this particular story, and contextualises just how more complex it became following the events of Season 2's Resolutions.

    Scorpion: Part 2 - we enter Season 4 with the resolution of the preceding season's cliffhanger. The varied set-pieces keep on coming and the tension gets ratcheted up even further as Chakotay is forced to take command for a brief period, and we get to witness his very different command style as he disobeys Janeway's standing order. We're introduced to Seven of Nine for the first time, so big things there, and the action is a lot of fun. The resolution also feels justified because work was done earlier in the season to set it up. As satisfying a conclusion to its story as TBOBW Part 2 was to its. The only real shame is that there's not much for the majority of the main cast to do outside of Janeway and Chakotay, as there was with Basics last season.

    Which brings me up to date!

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