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.

Advertisements

what I’ve been watching…

We are all caught up on Parks and Rec now. OMG THE FEELS! I can’t believe there are only 13 episodes left.

I have to say, those six seasons may have had a few rough spots. but overall it is a fantastic show. It’s smart and funny and poignant and omg I am going to cry SO HARD when that finale airs for the same reason I was a mess when the Angel finale aired. I won’t just be mourning the end of the show itself, but the end of a place a on TV where I felt I belonged, writers that got me. Are there any other shows on TV right now that are on the same wavelength???

I’ve been watching Gilmore Girls, then writing up discussion posts for and then utterly failing to comment on my own posts!!! **sigh** But I really am enjoying being back in Stars Hollow. I keep meaning to get my thoughts down but…Xbox.

We started watching the anime Noragami, which is streaming on Netflix. It’s about a “stray god” and his search to find some worshippers. It’s relatively light, though you can sense a certain darkness waiting around the corner. I’m not a huge anime watcher but I’m really enjoying this one. We also started Kill la Kill last week but our friend Mathew wants to watch that with us, so we have to wait until Thursday to continue that one. It feels like the sibling of FLCL, though slightly more linear. ONLY slightly.

2015 is going to be an epic TV year. P&R finale, Justified finale, Hannibal returns, Community returns and, of course, Game of Thrones will be back!

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?

[Holiday Viewing] Psych: The Polarizing Express

It used to be that I saved all of my holiday tv shows, specials, and movies for the day before Christmas, but now I’ve amassed such a collection of shows that I feel the need to start watching a bit earlier. Tonight, we watched one of my new favorites from Psych, Season 5, episode 14 – The Polarizing Express.

xmaspsych

If you’ve never watched Psych, go on Netflix right now and start…I will wait…**hums theme song**

Seriously though, it’s a fantastic show with a great cast that is a perfect blend of comedy and mystery, with more random 80s/90s references than you can shake a fake psychic detective at. It may not be high art, but it’s quality television that you could eat a bowl of popcorn (or a pineapple) while watching and feel good about yourself afterwards.

In this episode, Shawn has managed to mess up and has been caught on film while searching a suspects house without a warrant (or police knowledge). While at home, wallowing in his embarrassment (though still pretending to not care), he falls asleep in front of the TV and soon finds himself in a dreamland where he imagines what life would be like in Santa Barbara if he had never come back. Aaaand since he just watched “Bad Santa” the night before, his dream guide is Tony Cox (“Marcus”) which makes it all just that much funnier.

It’s actually a really clever episode and I found both the silly “It’s a Wonderful Life” homage and the actual mystery engaging. It’s a good one to watch early, before we’re in the thick of the holiday, since the whole mystery aspect isn’t as Christmas-y as most shows.

tv shows I did not expect to like: Archer

Archer on FX

Not knowing anything about ‘Archer’ (the description on Netflix leaves something to be desired), I assumed it was just another spy show, a James Bond clone. I’m not even sure I knew it was animated, but I had no idea it was a comedy.

A friend had me watch the first episode, and it was funny enough, but I set it aside to watching some other things. Thank goodness it was still on streaming a few months later. I decided to give it another try after reading people raving about the fourth season.

I can’t quite pinpoint why I love this rude, crude, and sometimes downright vile show. I think the fact that, even at it’s strangest moments, ‘Archer’ (the series, not the man) has it’s heart in the right place. I love all the characters, love the running gags (which span SEASONS), but I think the thing that has endeared it to my little geek heart the most are the super-random references that Archer (the man) will make to comic books, sci-fi and fantasy shows. He’s this badass who mocks everyone slightly nerdy, yet he clearly has this other layer that has read tons of X-Men comics and watched Stargate.

The show is vulgar and I’m never sure who I should tell about it because of that. The humor is twisted and it catches me off guard, actually making me laugh out loud.

And I didn’t even mention the fantastic cast. You’ll recognize a lot of them on sight, even if you don’t know there names. And SO MANY GUEST STARS.

If you’re a fan of ‘Venture Brothers’, this is something you should be watching. If you’re a fan of over-the-top comedies that manage to mix high brow and low brow humor into a single one-liner, you should watch this. But don’t say I didn’t warn you!