ST:TNG Blog Project – episodes 4-8

ST:TNG Blog Project – episodes 4-8

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(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!?!?

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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?

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.

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.

Sisters
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!

Zootopia
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?).

Brooklyn
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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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?

#movies watched in August

#movies watched in August

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August was a month of rewatches. Some of the movies survived the repeat viewings and others…well, I found out why I had forgotten about them in the first place!

Phineas and Ferb the Movie: Across the Second Dimension — Everything you would want out of a Phineas and Ferb special – jokes for all ages, references for hard core fans, lots of action and adventure. And all of your favorite characters featured TWICE! Totally a blast and I found myself laughing out loud more than once.

Guardians of the Galaxy — This is the shot in the arm the Marvel Universe needed. After a year of sequels to Super Hero franchises, Guardians of the Galaxy crashes the party with a band of losers, lead by the hilarious and likeable Chris Pratt and a furry version of Bradley Cooper.

You need no prior knowledge of the Marvel Universe to enjoy this movie. You just need to be prepared to have a good time. James Gunn manages to keep the focus on story but still pack in plenty of action sequences. The special effects were seamless, especially with Groot and Rocket. The dialogue is quick and witty and it will be quoted for years to come. The soundtrack is an awesome mix

A League of Their Own — Rewatched this for the first time in probably 10 years last night. Was in the mood for a baseball movie…and maybe in the mood to get a little teary eyed. It worked. Seriously, the scene with Marla and her Dad that’s like 20 minutes in? Holding them back.

It’s not a perfect movie, it’s a bit long but it’s trying to represent the time period as best it can…then again it’s also clearly trying to stay within the realm of a PG rating so it’s very CLEAN. I’m sure things were even worse for the girls.

Also…I was thinking if the applied the same standards that they did for these women back then to our sports stars today, maybe it would be a GOOD THING! I think maybe of these professional players need chaperones and behavioral training.

Phineas and Ferb: Star Wars — how could I NOT love this? You could tell the writers of this series are huge fans of the Star Wars movies long before this special, sneaking nods, winks, and entire lines into Phineas and Ferb episodes. Now they got to take their characters into the galaxy far far away and play in that Tattooine sized sandbox. Instant classic for Star Wars fans of all ages.

Airplane II: The Sequel — I wondered why the only thing I remembered about this movie was the bit with William Shatner…that’s pretty much the only part worth watching. This actually had too much plot, even though it was the exact same plot as Airplane! Too many repeat jokes and not enough belly laughs.

Wayne’s World — Some of the jokes are pretty dated, but it’s still got some great comedic moments. The ‘Bohemian Rhapsody’ scene will never be beat. And how can resist the Scooby Doo ending? It’s a classic and THE best SNL movie ever made.

Enemy — Maybe the most frustrating movie I’ve seen in awhile. I spent this entire film thinking “what the hell is going on?!?!?!” and then the movie ended and then it ended and I was like “What the %&!&@! just happened!?!?!”

But, in the end, the more I think about it, the more I like it. It felt like a Twilight Zone episode, or a short story…or maybe the most elaborate Rorschach test. Show it to your friends and see what THEY think it was about.

Rise of the Planet of the Apes — My first rewatch since seeing this in the theater back in 2011. Still a fantastic, well put together action movie. Andy Serkis is AMAZING as Caesar and his acting really elevates this film. Probably James Franco’s best role too.

This is the only “reboot” or “prequel” that I can fully endorse. So well done, with enough nods to the originals for hardcore fans and plenty of story for those of us who only vaguely remember the original movie.

I’ve said it before and I will say it again, this movie is so much better than it had any right to be. Above and beyond what I expected, even upon repeat viewings.

The Naked Gun: From the Files of Police Squad — Like most comedy movies of this genre, it was a movie of the moment. With throw back jokes to the original series and even more gags that related to the mid-1980s, it’s not as funny as it once was. But it still has some great moments.

Want a good site for tracking your movies ala GoodReads? Check out my personal favorite: Letterboxd

Movies watched in May

May was a month of rewatching and revisiting. I guess sometimes you crave the familiar, things from long ago that you vaguely remember watching and want to see again.

The Emperor’s New Groove (2000)
This is the closest thing to a Warner Bros. cartoon that Disney has ever done. So random and ridiculous, I love it! Not your typical Disney fare, but still highly enjoyable, especially for older kids who get sarcasm.

 

 

 

 

The Secret Life of Walter Mitty (2013)
This was a nice movie. And I mean that in the best and worst ways. Even though I knew exactly what I was going to see, it didn’t make it any less enjoyable. Not really the kind of movie I would watch again, but a nice film for an evening together.

I think the cast elevated this film beyond what it was. Ben Stiller was perfect as rundown Walter. Kristen Wiig was good in a relatively straight roll for her. And the rest of the movie is full of familiar faces, even if you don’t remember all their names. The locations are gorgeous too, really made me want to go to Iceland. A good rental for a warm spring evening when you just want something light.

 

Fantastic Mr. Fox (2009)
This movie is perfect. I’ve watched it so many times now and every time I just love it more. The stop-motion animation is beyond amazing, even more so after you watch the special features and marvel at how much work goes into a few seconds of film. The script is full of this dry humor, superbly acted by an amazing voice cast. This may be my favorite George Clooney role of all time. It has moments that will resonate with kids, teens, and adults. And it is HIGHLY quotable.

It’s **does hand wavy motions** different.

 

Singin’ In the Rain (1952)
It’s still good, what more can I say? It’s hard for me not to just stare during each dance sequence and watch Kelly’s feet fly around (even though I will always have a crush on Donald O’Connor). I watched it a LOT when I was a kid and now I own it on blu-ray and I still love it (though the whole “Gotta Dance” sequence is just so random. Clearly an excuse for Kelly to showcase some different dance styles…so why was I complaining?)

 

 

The Breakfast Club (1985)
I watched it in High School and was underwhelmed by it. I wanted it again last night and was still not in love with it. I think that because I never belonged to any of these groups in high school, the story doesn’t resonate so well with me. I didn’t hit this level of angst until later in life. Also, I was a bit surprised by how many “gonna rape ya!” jokes Judd Nelson’s character makes towards Molly Ringwald’s. I had forgotten all of that and it sorta put me off the “Let’s Pair Everyone Off!” ending.

Ferris Bueller’s Day Off is my favorite John Hughes movie.

 

Airplane! (1980)
So bad, so good. I even got a few more of the references this viewing! This is my childhood (which is funny because most of the jokes went right over my little kid head). I miss movies this goofy. Some of the jokes are so subtle and quick that if you’re not paying attention, they fly right by. Some are not very PC anymore, but how can you not laugh at the whole Saturday Night Fever dance scene! Surely, you can’t be serious!

 

 

The Hunger Games (2012)
What can I say about Hunger Games that hasn’t been said? I loved the book series and I’ve been pretty happy with the movies. We rewatched this because someone had just read the book for the first time and wanted to compare. It’s a good translation onto the big screen, but there is so much in the book that makes The Capital that much worse. But they made the right call not including it in a movie that is already over 2 hours long.

 

 

Poltergeist (1982)
This movie has so many little problems. There are some clunky edits, some of the scenes don’t flow right (especially at the end when they had been packing moving boxes all day yet there still seems to be a LOT in the house). I feel like the story still holds up really well. I still get goosebumps during several scenes. And since it has the Steven Spielberg connection, everything turns out all right in the end. JoBeth Williams is my favorite part of this movie, I think she plays Mom very well. Part of me wants to remake this movie and fix some of the issues and another part loves it for all it’s flaws (and also all the Star Wars toys in Robbie’s room…)


Willow (1988)
This movie came out when I was 7 and I think we must have seen it in the theater. I’ve loved it ever since. Yes, it’s bubbling over with fantasy tropes but it’s heart is in the right place. Before I knew the magic of Lord of the Rings or the darkness of Game of Thrones, Willow was my first real venture into live-action fantasy.

FYI Warwick Davis’ commentary has to be one of the best solo commentary tracks I have ever listened to. Such a delight. If you own the DVD/Blu-Ray, I highly recommend giving it a listen.

 

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What did you watch in May? Did you make it to the theater or revisit any favorites? Let me know in the comments or link me to your post!