Blog Project: Star Trek: The Next Generation

Blog Project: Star Trek: The Next Generation

My friend Andy cannot resist an amazing blu-ray deal so when had Star Trek: The Next Generation on sale for some obscenely low price earlier this month, he ordered it. I had been wanting to rewatch TNG for awhile, so we are taking this opportunity to team up and watch the show, blogging our thoughts and reactions 30 years later.

A little background for me: TNG was a HUGE part of my childhood. I have lots of happy memories of Saturday nights, getting Pizza Hut on the way home from church (my parents were big fans of the 5 o’clock mass) and sitting at the table in front of the tv in the basement, happily watching and eating together. We never really had a show like that again, that kept us all entertained, that brought us together, and I remember the emotions of watching the series finale and knowing that this was more than an end to a TV show…

So it has been interesting watching these episodes, produced in 1987, watching on an HDTV screen in 2016 (well, bouncing between my TV and my iPad, and realizing how much my life has started to mirror the Star Trek technology, especially when I start watching by asking Cortana to launch the Netflix app on my Xbox). I’m not sure I will be able to blog in-depth reactions to every episode – there are seven seasons worth! But I want to at least give a mention to them and see what memories, if any, surface while watching.

S1:E1/2 “Encounter at Farpoint”
I remember this episode pretty well but I think that is because it was rerun the most and I’ve tried to start the series over before and become distracted. Plus, Q. Q is one of my favorite characters in the series and a lot of the episodes I remember have Q in them (and Barkley…but we’ll get to him later!).

I think this is a pretty solid pilot. They manage to introduce everyone without making it feel like a line-up. And there are a lot of characters on this show – we have a whole crew of people! And the plot of the first half of the premiere, with Q putting them on trial for the crimes of humanity, gives the audience a chance to catch up on the history between 1987 – The Original Series (TOS) – to TNG.

The second half we meet Riker and Wesley, who I think are written to be the audiences eyes. Riker is new to the Enterprise, Wesley was there for the kids. I love the hint we get of Riker and Troi’s previous relationship, calling him “Imzadi”. If I had to trace back in fandom and find my first “ship”, I’d say it was Riker/Troi and Picard/Crusher. Not the most imaginative, but they were the first show relationships I was invested in and wanted to happen.

The end of the episode sets up the series – that Q will always be watching and judging and they have plenty of time to prove if humans are worthy.

S1:E3 “The Naked Now”
The next two episodes felt like homages to the original series, which makes sense. Unbeknownst to me at the time, TNG met with some push back from TOS fans, plus I’m sure the network wasn’t sold on the idea of a science fiction show. Sci Fi shows are expensive and never seem to get as big of a following. This episode was supposed to be similar to “The Naked Time” from TOS, which I’m sure writers hoped would appease the TOS fans, but had the opposite effect of making it look like TNG was just going to copy+paste episodes.

S1:E4 “Code of Honor”
And if “Naked Now” hadn’t been trouble enough, this episode is very problematic, even more so 30 years later. Again, it feels like a throw back to TOS, with the ridiculous “fight to the death” challenge. It is hard to watch this episode now, with a planet population by black people who talk with slight accents and who act uncivilized, making comments about Tasha being head of security and a woman and all other kinds of things that make your eyes roll back into your head.

For some reason E3 and E4 focus a LOT on Tasha Yar. I suppose have a woman as Head of Security was a big deal for this reboot and they were really proud of it, but in “Naked Now” she ends up getting brainwashed by the virus and running around in a skimpy outfit, trying to seduce Data and in “Code of Honor” she is made to fight to the death with another woman.

S1:E5 “The Last Outpost”
This episode was a little more straight forward, with the introduction of the Ferengi. I was excited to see proto-Quark because isn’t he one of the best things on DS9? I have a few thoughts on the Ferengi but I want to see a few more episodes with them before I come to any conclusions.

One thing that Andy and I have already talked about – it seems the best TV shows have some of the worst first seasons. Watching TNG, I was reminded of the first season of one of my favorites shows of all time Parks and Recreation. P&R has a terrible first season (in fact, I didn’t watch it when it originally aired because I was so turned off by the first few episodes). They are trying way too hard to be The Office and 1) we already had that show airing on the same channel and 2) we were ready for something new.

Right now, TNG feels like it is trying really hard to be TOS. But that’s not what the people of 1987 wanted – they already had TOS. They knew those episodes by heart. They didn’t want lessons from the 60s, they needed stories about the 80s, stories about our future. So I expected these first few episodes to be bumpy and awful. Thank goodness CBS kept it going. Nowadays shows barely get a chance (**coughFIREFLYcough**) before they are cancelled. I can’t wait to get to the classic episodes, but I want to watch the whole series, see how the characters grow and change and evolve over the seven seasons. And I can really only appreciate that if I watch them all again.

Make it so.

WWW Wednesdays – August 3 2016

WWW Wednesdays – August 3 2016

A weekly meme revived by Taking on a World of Words.

The Three Ws are:

What are you currently reading?
What did you recently finish reading?
What do you think you’ll read next?

Currently Reading:

I’m about halfway through two non-fiction books right now – Becoming Maria: Love and Chaos in the South Bronx by Sonia Manzano a.k.a. Maria from Sesame Street. It is her autobiography and I am listening to it on my drive to work, which means it is lasting a long time since my commute is all of 15 minutes. She reads the book and I think that adds a lot more since she is telling the story. It is not quite what I expected, a very different kind of autobiography, she is telling it from her point of view as a child/teen so you don’t get any nostalgia or side notes about how life in the 1960s New York City compares to life today. It is all very matter of fact, the way a kid would tell their story.

The other is the latest by Mary Roach – Grunt: The Curious Science of Humans at War. She tries to keep it as light as she can, but when it comes down to it, even though she is avoiding talking about weapons and the actual act of fighting, so much of the science around war is about survival and even discussions about sweating eventually lead to a conversation about horrible ways to die while in the line of duty. It is still fascinating, and I think she tries her best to inject some humor where she can, but it is hard to separate the reality of what happens to these soldiers after she talk with them about diarrhea while on a sniper mission.

Recently Finished:

Filmish: a graphic journey through film by Edward Ross was a fantastic primer on film and film history and film studies. When I first picked up this book, I wondered why Ross didn’t just make a documentary, but then as I read through, I realized it would have been impossible for him to get the rights to all the films he cites in the book. If you love movies, if you love that art of movies and love to sit and think about a film long after the screen has gone dark, this quick read is one you won’t want to miss.

Up Next:

I have SO MANY BOOKS on my desk at work and my temptation is to always reach for the graphic novels first because they take less time to read. I never factor into this equation that I have EVEN MORE graphics on request so by the time I finish these, a new one will be on my desk, pushing the prose novels down the line yet again.
Last month I read Relish by Lucy Knisley and I really enjoyed it so I requested French Milk, one of her earlier publications. It appearedon my desk today, on special loan from another library system so it gets bumped to the top of the pile.

I have been a big BKV fan since I read Y: The Last Man so many years ago and I was so thrilled to see We Stand On Guard on the new book cart at the library, so I immediately snatched it up.

So what are you reading?

What I Read In July

Been awhile since I did one of these! Sorry for abandoning this poor blog! I’m going to try to get back into the habit of posting here. Lots of good books, movies and television I’ve been enjoying.

GrootGroot by Jeff Loveness
My rating: 5 of 5 stars

Who would have thought that a comic book with Groot as the main character would have so many feels?? Great story, fantastic art, and some touching moments. ❤

View all my reviews
The Art and Making of Hannibal: The Television SeriesThe Art and Making of Hannibal: The Television Series by Jesse McLean
My rating: 4 of 5 stars

I love and adore this show SO MUCH. If you are a fan of the ‘Hannibal’ series and always wanted a closer look at the “death tableau” left behind by the season one and two killers, you will probably enjoy this book a little more than I did. I had to use my hand to cover up the images while I read the text as I am a total wuss and easily grossed out.

That being said, the book is a nice addition to your collection if you are a Fannibal BUT if you are a Fannibal, you have probably watched all the special features on your blu-rays and you know pretty much everything that is written in the book. I didn’t find many surprises in here and since it only covers the first two seasons, I found myself wondering what the actors and writers would say about where Season 3 went and thoughts on a (hopefully) fourth season arc.

It’s a nice coffee table book, though you wouldn’t want to leave it out for anyone uninitiated to flip through, because of the graphic images and spoilers.

View all my reviews
Highly Illogical BehaviorHighly Illogical Behavior by John Corey Whaley
My rating: 3 of 5 stars

I almost want to give this book an extra star for all the pop culture references, but at the same time I want to subtract that star for that very reason – I’m wondering how many 17 year olds out there would identify with the ST:TNG obsessed kids in this book. And with the throw away lines about ‘Community’ and ‘Adventure Time’, I worry that it is already dated only a few months after being released.

I did enjoy the book though, I liked the story a lot. I actually think it would make a good discussion title for a high school book club – talk about all the different issues each of the kids faces and how they are handling them etc.

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Relish: My Life in the KitchenRelish: My Life in the Kitchen by Lucy Knisley
My rating: 5 of 5 stars

Love books like this – snippets of memories, totally fun, it’s pretty much like reading a personal blog. It made me hungry and I’m definitely going to try a few of the recipes she included!

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Camp MidnightCamp Midnight by Steven T. Seagle
My rating: 4 of 5 stars

Great read for the older elementary and early middle school set, all about fitting in and finding your place but not in a heavy handed eye-rolling kind of way.

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What did you read this month?

What I watched in July

What I watched in July

Hot summer days means more movies than the rest of the year. Sitting in the nice cool basement of the house with the lights low is the only way to beat the heat. Nice mix of first time viewings and rewatches here.

Show Me a Hero
Historical dramas are tough, even when you are doing a miniseries and especially when you are dealing with more than just one person’s story. But I do applaud the filmmakers behind this miniseries for trying their best and creating an engaging enough piece that I just watched the whole thing over the course of a few days.

The saddest/scariest thing is that these issues still exist in our country, these attitudes still prevail in the way we think about low-income housing and the people who use it. Even though it takes place in the late 1980s and early 1990s, if you told me this was happening in 2016, I would not have blinked an eye, except to hold back the tears.

I saw this movie in theaters and had a lot of fun laughing with a crowded room of people. I don’t feel like it was quite as good the second time, maybe because the shock value had worn off of some of the gags, but I still found myself giggling a lot. You cannot deny the power of Poehler/Fey! And who knew that John Cena was so freakin’ hilarious!

If you get this on blu-ray, make sure you watch ALL THE OUTTAKES! There are some great moments with Fey and Cena. That man has a career in improv if that whole wrestling thing doesn’t pan out.

Finding Nemo
Had to rewatch this classic before heading out to see the sequel. It still holds up well and I love it to pieces. Everyone is cast so perfectly.

Finding Dory
While I was blown away by the sequels to ‘Toy Story’, Pixar’s recent returns haven’t left me as enamored. It was fun to go back and hang out with Marlin, Nemo, and Dory again while making some new friends but this one didn’t quite hit the same level as Nemo for me. But it was close and much better fair than anything else in the theater at that moment, especially for families!

This movie was so well done on so many levels. It managed to stay light and fun while dealing with some very real issues of prejudice and stereotyping. Using animals might seem cute, but it also gave a great way to show inequality and other obstacles while managing not to be heavy handed (pawed?).

So, after watching a movie like ‘Zootopia’ that was relatively edgy for family fair, I found the well-reviewed ‘Brooklyn’ to be the safest movie I have seen in a long time (yes, that INCLUDES Finding Nemo and Dory!). While the movie was well acted and well directed etc. there is just absolutely nothing new. No surprises, nothing bad happens to this naive Irish girl who makes it on her own in the U.S.. It just made me want to watch ‘An American Tail’…which I think might have had more controversial issues in it!

A League of Their Own
We ran this at the library and had lots of “Oh that is such a great movie!” comments when I told people about it. It really does hold up pretty well. One of the best sports movies I’ve seen and I still find it inspiring.

Willy Wonka and the Chocolate Factory
It had been a LONG time since I had watched this one. It is so freakin’ weird. I still prefer it to the mess that was the Tim Burton movie. Though there is something hilarious about watching Charlie attempt to force Grandpa Joe to take his money to buy tobacco. Still, classic. I love Gene Wilder.

10 Cloverfield Lane
I still can’t decide if I love or hate the last 20 minutes of this movie. The rest of the movie was great, edge of your seat tension, waiting to find out what would happen next.

Also, whoever designed the DVD box art should be fired. The back of the box contained MANY spoilery images! COME ON!

The Sure Thing
I hadn’t seen this one since my John Cusack obsession in 1999 was in full swing (thanks to Grosse Pointe Blank, one of my all time favorites). Andy mentioned it on his blog a few months ago and let me borrow the blu-ray. I feel like it holds up really well, even if it is a bit cliche. I know I was laughing out loud at a few moments.

Ghostbusters (1984)
CLASSIC! Still funny. Though the effects look extra cheesy on a blu-ray LOL. But that doesn’t matter because no one watches this movie for the ghosts, it’s all about the guys.

Voltron (2016)
Not a movie, this is actually a new NETFLIX series, only 11 episodes though and surprisingly solid! Great voice acting and the story was engaging. I had never seen any of the original show so I have nothing to compare it to on that front.

Ghostbusters (2016)
This was such a pleasant surprise! I won’t lie, I assumed it was going to be bad. Not because of the all female leads, but just because I felt the odds were against it. I’m not a huge Paul Feig fan and tend to find his humor too gross. BUT he managed (along with Katie Dippold) to keep this movie about as clean as the original (in other words, most of the dirty jokes will fly over the kids heads). On top of that, they managed to create a fresh, new world with new characters rather than just trying to copy+paste the original into 2016. I left the theater with a big ol’ grin on my face, already thinking of things I hoped would be in the second movie. Best surprise of the summer!

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