ST:TNG Blog Project – episodes 4-8

ST:TNG Blog Project – episodes 4-8

STTNGbanner

(Don’t forget to pop over to Andy’s blog and check out his reactions/thoughts to these episodes)

It is funny to sit back and look at the evolution of popular television. I remember reading Everything Bad is Good For You and the book discusses how complex television has become over time. I feel like ST:TNG is definitely from that older era, when major story arcs were mostly the realm of soap opera and mainstream TV was still relatively stand alone when it came to episodes. There are little bits of character development, but nothing on the scale of, say, Buffy – which wouldn’t premiere for another 10 years.

Anyway – on to the good, and the bad (though nothing as awful as ‘Code of Honor’, that still holds the spot of worst episode so far)

S1:E6 Where No One Has Gone Before
This might be the first episode to actually have an effect on the rest of the series. Up until now, Wesley has been around but sort of just popping up for no reason, always on his own, not with the other kids. In the finale for this episode, we get an explanation as The Traveler tells Picard that Wesley is pretty much a genius and Picard should nurture his genius.

The way The Traveler describes himself to Picard made me think of Doctor Who. Just roving through time and space, popping in to see neat stuff, only bothering to pay attention if you interest him. (Clearly someone else agreed that this crossover should happen – IDW published a comic a few years back)

S1:E7 Lonely Among Us
This was one of those episodes with way too much going on and far too easy a resolution. We had the whole deal with the two alien species on board trying to kill each other and then the bonus of the weird alien energy ball that hops on board and knocks people out, eventually taking over Picard and turning him into energy. And then…it just sorta…is done.

Very forgettable, though it is interesting how often Picard is in peril in this series so far! Especially since Riker swore in the first episode to NOT let him put himself in peril. (yes, all I can think of right now is Monty Python and the Holy Grail with Lancelot and Galahad arguing outside Castle Anthrax…)

S1:E8 Justice
For some reason, I remembered this episode. I’m not sure if I caught it as a rerun or if something about Wesley’s situation bugged me and then stuck with me. I didn’t remember all the details, just how unfair it was that Wesley was in trouble (though I didn’t think he was apologetic enough after falling into that flower bed…I mean, dude, at least say “OMG I AM SO SORRY!!!!” he’s just sorta “oh whoops, my bad”…not that he should DIE because of that but still).

The idea of this episode is good – discussing the evolution of law and justice and enforcement, but it was hard to focus on because omg the outfits. WHY!?!?

justice_hd_099

V-Neck SHORTS??? No. Just…no.

Also, why does anyone think it would be a good idea to take shore leave on a planet full of horny alien people??? At best, Enterprise leaves and in 9 months (?) there are lots of little Starfleet babies on the planet and at worst, their genitals might match up to human parts, but what if they are filled with ACID? Or herpes??? Just…no.

S1:E9 The Battle
Picard backstory yay! So this is where the term “The Picard Maneuver” comes from?! My family always used that term to refer to anytime someone tugged down on their shirt (once they get out of the stupid onesie uniforms in later seasons, you’ll see Jean-Luc constantly rising from his captain’s chair and immediately making this adjustment as he steps forward).

Short version: Soldiers do sad things, it haunts them. Revenge is not only bad (and best served cold) but there is no profit in it. Actually, this was one of the better episodes. We learned a bit about Picard’s past, that he is relatively famous in Starfleet and has had at least one previous command.

My only pet peeve was Picard acting so nonchalant about his headache and then Crusher telling him (the audience too) that headaches are just not a thing anymore. But Picard and Riker just seem to be like “oh a headache” yet if Crusher is telling the truth, they should both be FREAKING OUT at the tiniest hint of a headache.

There are 26 episodes in this first season. TWENTY SIX! I’m riding my exercise bike every time I watch an episode so even if they are painful, at least I’m getting in shape, right?

Advertisements
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 Amazon.uk 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.

reviewings: Gilmore Girls

There was much rejoicing last month when it was revealed that Gilmore Girls would finally be available streaming on Netflix. October 1st has come and the show is now up and ready to be watched.

I have set up a community on Livejournal for weekly discussions with folks on there and I plan to post my thoughts here as well.

I plan to start my rewatch the first week of November, doing two episodes each week so I leave time for all of my regularly scheduled programs. Anyone else going to revisit the Firefly Inn?

movie thoughts: Veronica Mars (2014)

Here we go! #veronicamars #veronicamarsmovie

So, as I think all of you know, I backed the Veronica Mars movie on Kickstarter. I had watched the show religiously when it initially aired and I was excited by the prospect of seeing Kristen Bell on the big screen in a role that would take advantage of all of her talents.

Leading up to the movie’s release, I decided to rewatch the series since I hadn’t seen it since it was on TV, even though I had purchased the DVDs almost 7 years ago. If you read those posts, you know that the show did not fair as well during the second viewing. Or, at least, I realized things about the show that I didn’t notice the first time through. Mostly that it doesn’t have the character development that I made me love shows like Buffy, Firefly, or Gilmore Girls. Watching season 1 – 3 over the course of 2 months made it very clear – Veronica Mars is not about characters growing or changing, it’s about solving mysteries. At it’s core, it is a noir detective series that just happens to take place in a high school instead of a black and white city.

With these confusing feelings in my heart, we started up the movie right after watching the final four episodes of Season 3. Here are my thoughts:

***SPOILERS BELOW*****

The Good

  • The gang was all there! It was so great to see all of our main characters back, but especially Kristen and Enrico because I still think they have one of the best father/daughter dynamics in a tv show ever.
  • Even better was seeing all the side characters, like the semi-stoner guy or the Principal. Nice that they were able to track them down. And Cliff. I adore Cliff.
  • SCHMIDT! LEO! That scene was great, especially when he asked her about the FBI LOLOL!
  • It felt like a long episode of the TV show and that was perfectly fine. The mystery was relatively solid, with enough little twists to keep you guessing.
  • Banter! Pop culture references!
  • Silly voices! Secret identities! Accessories!

All in all, I was happy with the majority of the broader strokes of the film. But then little things started to bug me…

The Bad

  • They should not have made Piz and Veronica a couple if they were just going to break them up. Were they supposedly together for 9 years? If that is true, then that break-up was shitty on her part. Thomas should have just made them friends, maybe had a quick sentence about why it didn’t work out and moved on. Wallace and Mac could have still flown him out, there could still be sexual tension but at least Veronica wouldn’t look like a horrible person.
  • Weevil’s ending sucked. Why would he throw away his happy life with his wife and child and suddenly become a biker gang leader again? Just, no. How about he could be the example of people that can escape Neptune’s grasp and that it is possible?
  • Sorta disappointed we heard nothing about what happened with the Sheriff election that ended Season 3.
  • I wish Veronica’s career story had not been so integral because it sorta made me sick her throwing away everything. And the idea that she didn’t go to the FBI academy AND spent a ton of money on law school only to throw it all away to go back to Neptune made me sad…

See, here is where I can’t figure out if the problem is the movie or the problem is between me and the genre. I don’t really do a lot of noir detective stories. Heck, I don’t even watch a lot of detective shows period. Talking with about what defines that genre, I would say that Veronica Mars fits the bill – the idea of no escape, being trapped, a guess a kind of fatalism? Defeatism? I have grown to prefer character that fight back and watching Veronica throw away a life she had for NINE YEARS and decide to go back to being a P.I. in Neptune just made me too sad. But that is noir. It’s dark and you’re trapped and you do what you gotta do to stay alive.

Couldn’t she have gone with Logan to wherever he was stationed and solved crimes there? See the world, Veronica! It ends with her smirking but all I could envision was Keith feeling so sad that he had let his daughter down, that she was trapped again.

So while it was probably the only ending that worked for Veronica Mars, it was not the ending I wanted for Veronica Mars, if that makes sense.

All in all, a 3 star movie for me. I’ve only watched it once and I’m not sure if I want to watch it again right away. I almost think I need more space between me and the film to try to get the woulda-coulda-shoulda plot lines out of my head and go back to it with an open mind. The whole show was not what I remembered, confusing the aging of characters for development. It’s a detective show, through and through, and this movie is a good detective story. It’s just too bad the characters had to take such abuse.

rewatch: X-Men (animated series)

Friend and I were discussing the upcoming “Days of Future Past” and talking about the X-Men movies series and which comics we had read and inevitably this made me think of my first exposure to these characters – the 1990s Saturday Morning cartoon!

Time to go back to the classics. #xmen #90s #nostalgia

I must have been aware of the X-Men and the general idea behind the show. I can’t remember how or why I started watching. Probably to fill time between when one show ended and MST3K would start up on Comedy Central (which would stretch my “Saturday Morning” viewing well into the afternoon unless Mom yelled at me). I do remember really enjoying the show and knowing that it was far more mature than the other Saturday morning shows (Garfield and Friends, Tiny Toons, even TMNT were not quite this level).

On a whim this week I did a search in the library catalog and we actually owned the DVDs! I checked them out and this morning I started my rewatch.

Night of the Sentinels just STARTS. I was really surprised by the lack of introductions. We are just dropped into Jubilee’s house as her foster father confesses to her mother that he has registered her as a mutant. Then the Sentinels drop by to grab her (as the giant robot chases Jubilee to the mall we hear as mall child scream “MOMMY! BUY ME THAT!” LOL). Jubilee is hiding in an arcade, which is hilarious to be because I’m pretty sure by the mid-90s, most arcades were gone. But maybe not. Also, Storm and Rogue are shopping in the mall in PLAIN CLOTHES which just weird to see. Gambit, on the other hand, is wearing his Gambit outfit but he is a smoooooooth BAMF and he is flirting with the girl at the game store.

Anyway, the Sentinel chases Jubilee through the mall. Storm uses her powers, no only to cause some weather in the mall, but to also change her shopping outfit into her X-Men uniform. Rogue, sadly, does not have these powers and must fight in her little pink red dress. I’m sorta hoping this never happens again because it just looked weird. Also, Rogue should not wear pink, it did not work with her hair or anything, I dunno.

So, they save Jubilee and take her back to the school and they do a really quick bit of exposition. It was amazing how much this paralleled the start of the first X-Men movie, though you would need to switch out Jubilee with Wolverine.

Jubilee eventually gets away again and heads back to her home. There is a hilarious moment when she is running through the city and we can CLEARLY see the GIANT Sentinel foot next to the building she runs past. This cracked me up and really gave it that “kid show” feel for a moment, but considering she was running to find her family to save them from these giant monsters, maybe it was good to throw in a light moment.

Of course, she gets captured for reals this time and dragged off to the HQ of the Mutant registration people. The X-Men just happen to head that way to try to destroy the registration center. Storm and Morph (a female version of Mystique minus blue skin) BURN the physical files while Beast goes into the computer to delete them. When the door looks like it is going to break down, Storm ZAPS THE MONITOR and says they don’t have enough time. I’m pretty sure destroying the monitor would do nothing to the files within. Great job Storm.

Most of the team manages to get away but Beast is captured and Morph is apparently KILLED! WOW! Did not expect that in a kids cartoon. They don’t show up, they just show all the characters saying his name, bowing their heads, and tearing up about 3 different times. Wolverine, who tries to be a badass, is really broken up about it all. After having a fight with Cyclops about leaving them behind, Cyclops decides to try to find the Sentinel warehouse and blow it up so Wolverine comes along. They lure the Sentinels out and one attacks Cyclops and it’s a pure 90s showdown with the Sentinel saying “Surrender Mutant!” and Cyclops says “Of course…NOT!!!!!!” and zaps him with his laser eyes…Yep. He says “NOT!” Only thing that would have made that moment better would been if he had said “SYKE!!!!!!!”

Then we see the President – OMG THIS MUST BE THE FUTURE BECAUSE THE PRESIDENT IS A WOMAN! — the President cancels the Mutant Registration because of how the X-Men reacted to it, saying that the men in charge must of given them a reason to be afraid. Wow. Wish all politicians were so in tune.

I feel like the animation probably didn’t age as well as it could have. I’m wondering how much of it was still hand drawn vs computerized at this point. I felt like Cyclops’ body proportions kept shifting from He-Man to slender. It might be that blue spandex is not flattering no matter how you wear it. I think Wolverine’s mask’s “ears” also varied in size from scene to scene. Though I suppose this might be faithful to how the old comics looked.

I’ve ordered “Days of Future Past” as a trade to read before the movie comes out, but now I’m also curious to compare how it translates from comic to cartoon since that is episode 11/12 of this disc.

tv rewatch: Veronica Mars (2004-2007)

Veronica Mars Rewatch

Veronica Mars. I tuned in when it originally aired on TV, donated to the movie Kickstarter, and drooled over the SDCC coverage…but when the heck was the last time I actually watched the show?

Yes, while I adored VM when it was on, even went to far as to buy the DVDs, I don’t think I’ve ever sat down and watched the entire series through a second time. With the movie set for release next year, I figured this was the best time to sit down and relive the magic…or see how the show looks 10 years later. (Plus, I have two friends that need to be turned into Marshmallows by the movie premiere).

1. PILOT (extended): My DVDs only have the “extended cut” version of the pilot and that is the only way I have ever seen it. I can’t remember when I started watching Veronica Mars but I feel like I saw season 1 on DVD, not in real-time. But of all the episodes, this is probably the one I have seen the most as I have tried to hook new viewers. It’s hard for me to focus on the actual episode because while I’m watching all I can think about are the stories to unfold.

As pilots go, it’s pretty solid but you can still feel that uneasiness of the cast and writers. No one is quite sure who they are yet (except for maybe Enrico, who IS Keith Mars). There are SO MANY mysteries to set up in that first 45 minutes – Lily’s murder, Veronica’s rape, the disappearance of Veronica’s Mom and, to a lesser extent, why Duncan dumped her so abruptly. PLUS introducing us to a rather large cast of characters while giving us backstory about the murder investigation and how that changed Veronica’s world. It’s a very packed 45 minutes.

It does have some very important moments – this is the episode that gave us the “Veronica Mars: She’s a marshmallow” line and the dealings with Weevil and his gang carry over for the rest of the season, allowing Veronica to easily move between the world of the 09ers and a street gang. And, of course, BFF Wallace is introduced and it’s hard not to like him right away.

2. Credit Where Credits Due: Everyone seems a little bit more comfortable in their skins in this episode though the writers are still struggling to catch up the audience on Veronica’s backstory, especially the Veronica/Duncan plot and her relationship with bad-boy Logan. Ugh, and Paris Hilton. Why? Nothing dates this show more than her appearance. Luckily, this is her final episode.

Not sure how the newspaper teacher could be quite so oblivious to Duncan and Veronica’s previous relationship, no matter how new to the school she is. Veronica is a little too snarky towards her from the start, but again you can tell the writers and Kristen Bell are still massaging her character. She can only be so jaded…but how jaded?

This episode is all about loyalty and betraying trusts – we have Duncan and Veronica awkwardly reconnecting, Catlin (Hilton ugh) betraying Logan, and Weevil’s cousin trying to pin the credit card fraud crime on Weevil’s grandmother then on Weevil. Veronica confronts her father about his on-going investigation in the Lily Kane case. And then the photo of Lily running the red light…it’s a tangled web of intrigue!

My favorite scene is with Veronica and her Dad when the go to the hotel to try to get the information on who rented a room. I also love the little moment in the diner when Keith tells Veronica to take off her hat – a sweet Dad moment. I love their dynamic, probably one of the best father/daughter relationships ever on TV.

3. Meet John Smith: I remember this episode blowing my mind the first time I saw it. It was really well paced and the mystery had enough twists on it’s own plus we had Veronica’s story and Duncan’s story, which are finally maturing in the characters we will come to know later. Re-watching, I had forgotten about Duncan’s own issues and it was good to show him struggling with the depression that came from dealing with his sister’s murder and the fact that, deep down, he knows it has not been solved.

I was never a fan of Troy. I’m still counting down the episodes until he leaves. Which is funny because I liked him in X-Men! Still, Veronica trying to get over Duncan and move on with Troy leads to some cute scenes. When she pulls away at the last moment as he leans in to kiss her, you do feel for the guy. But she trusted her gut, and it was the right thing to do.

Again, best moments in the episode are still Keith and Veronica. When she comes in late after her date and he asks her how it went, she comes back with “the sex was great” and he deadpans “that’s not funny” and she makes that great *thinking* face and says “Pretty sure it was.”

Later on, after Keith overhears Veronica talking with her client about how if his father left the family he is probably better off without him and Keith peeks in on Veronica later to try to defend her mother and Veronica comes back with “The hero stays, the villain is the one that leaves.”

Then there is that final scene, when Veronica thinks she has finally found her Mom and Kristen shows us the emotion she can convey. After 3 episodes of Veronica being stalwart and stone-faced, seeing her start to crumble as she asks her aunt where her mother is and why would she leave…breaks my heart.