ST:TNG Blog Project

ST:TNG Blog Project

I feel like the quality is improving. I’m still not blown away by the stories and the show kinda feels trapped by the 45 minute time limit with some episodes rushing to a conclusion, but the character development is getting stronger. Picard’s backstory in The Battle told us more about our new captain. And now we get to learn a bit more about Riker and Data:

S1:E10 Hide and Q

I was surprised this episode happened so early in the show! As I have said before, Q is one of my favorite antagonists. He’s just such a lovable jackass. Here he is, back again, convinced he knows how to corrupt Riker and, to his credit, he almost does if it wasn’t for the voice of reason of Captain Picard talking him down from the slippery slope of absolute power. As conundrums go, trying to decide if you should keep the power over life and death would be a hard one, especially for a Starfleet Commander.  This is probably the best episode with a big idea so far.

S1:E11 Haven

This episode is most notable because it is the introduction of Deanna Troi’s mother, Lwaxana. She is a staple in the series, showing up to torture Picard, though in a complete different way than Q. We also get lots of great Troi/Riker and if you weren’t shipping these two yet, this episode makes it pretty clear that the show writers want these crazy kids to get together. This is the goofiest episode yet, the main plot is forgettable, and the only parts that stay with you is how ridiculous Lwaxana is.

S1:E12 The Big Goodbye

And so begins a long line of “How is the holodeck even a thing?” episodes where something random goes wrong, allowing the Holodeck to hold crew members hostage and endanger them by putting them in a time period closer to our own, when humans were still “savages”. To “relax” Picard decides to play his favorite noir detective, Dixon Hill (think Sam Spade but without the copyright infringement).  We find out that the Enterprise has a “20th century expert” on board and that women in the future don’t apply their own makeup (Beverly is fascinated by the woman checking her face in the police station.)  Oh, and again, if you weren’t sure if you should ‘ship Picard/Crusher, this episodes makes it pretty clear that, yeah, the writers are going to make that a thing eventually.

S1:E13 Datalore

THIS might be one of the best episodes so far, though the ending suffers from the classic “OMG THE SHOW IS ALMOST OVER DO SOMETHING!” but otherwise, great character stuff for Data. The Enterprise goes to visit the planet where Data was found and discover another android body. They decide to assemble the body and meet Data’s “brother” – Lore.

I would like to subtitle this episode – “Phrasing and Synth Music” because it had some awful music and some great lines that made me giggle, such as:

“Does he have all the same parts as you?”

“How do we turn him on?”

“He has a child’s body but we have found him to be much more.”

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But it also had some great moments, like when Data tells Dr. Crusher that he can be shut down by pressing a special button on his back. He swears her to secrecy, noting “If you had an off switch Doctor, would you not keep it a secret?” (This, of course, plays into the plot later).

We also find out that Data earned his Starfleet uniform with 4 years at the academy and has been working for at least 15 years since then. Gotta respect that because I’m sure Starfleet would have given him an honorary degree if he had asked.

This is also the episode that brought us this often used/abused quote:

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Which, honestly, seemed really uncalled for!  And even worse when his own mother chimes in! First, really rude of Captain Picard to use such language toward ANYWAY, but especially a kid who is learning how to be a Starfleet member. Wesley does lose his shit later, pointing out that if he was an adult, they wouldn’t speak to him that way (which is 1000% true).

Anyway, I really enjoyed this episode and all 4 of these were a lot of fun. Now I need to distract myself with some other shows while Andy catches up. 🙂

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book thoughts: UNWHOLLY by Neal Shusterman

UnWholly (Unwind, #2)UnWholly by Neal Shusterman

My rating: 5 of 5 stars

When I heard Shusterman was writing a sequel to UNWIND, I cringed.  It was not supposed to have a  sequel.  I was concerned that Neal had fallen upon hard times and his publishers were just trying to milk his award-winning book book for more…

WOW, was I wrong.

UNWHOLLY was fantastic.  I haven’t read a book that kept me on the edge of my seat in a long time.  We find out about the aftermath of the Happy Jack Harvest Camp showdown and how it effected the rest of the world.  And we finally get some insight into how Unwinding came to be.  We meet up with favorite characters from UNWIND but we meet several new ones. 

The book cover is devoid of color, a boy’s face in shadow, and it fits – this story is all about navigating gray areas and trying to bring the truth to light.  What makes it all so eerie is how plausible it still seems.  How easily something that sounds horrific can become the status quo.  How history is written by the victors.  And how easy it is to bury the truth.

If you’ve read UNWIND, you NEED to read UNWHOLLY. 

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book thoughts: The Declaration by Gemma Malley (2007)

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Gemma Malley

“If the chance to live forever came with a price, would you opt in or out?”

That’s the tag line on the cover of ‘The Declaration’ by Gemma Malley, a science fiction novel for young adults.  

In the future, Longevity drugs have made it possible for people to live forever. But, the Earth has finally reached a population limit, so no one is allowed to have children unless they opt out of of the “eternal life”.  Of course, there are still people that attempt to have children.  These children are taken away and called “Surpluses”.  They are trained to do the most menial jobs around and told their are worthless, using up resources that only the Legals have a right to.  Anna is a Surplus.  She has accepted that her parents were law breakers, bad people who had no right to create her, and now she must do her best to make up for existing.  Then Peter arrives and claims to know the truth about Anna’s parents…

While it sounds like a solid plot line, I felt the book could have been put together a lot better.  It is told in third-person limited point of view and switches between characters throughout the story.  But I felt we stuck with Anna so long in the beginning that by the time we switched to another character, it was a bit jarring and forced.  Plus, the plot device of Anna’s forbidden journal (Surplus’ are not allowed to own anything) slowed things down a lot because her journal entries were usually just re-tellings of sequences we had just read about a few pages before.  It seems like that should have reworked that because it really slowed down the advancement of the plot.

Do you ever get the feeling that a bunch of authors went to a workshop together and then wrote novels right after that? I really think I might have enjoyed this book a bit more if I wasn’t such a big fan of Scott Westerfeld’s ‘Uglies’, had not just finished (and LOVED) ‘Unwind’ by Neal Schusterman, and had not just read Ishiguro’s ‘Never Let Me Go’ (which I read because Joss Whedon said it inspired ‘Dollhouse’). Because if you put all those books into a blender, you get something not quite unlike ‘Declaration’. Compared to those books, ‘The Declaration’ falls short in style and substance.But what really ruined it for me was the ending. I won’t spoil it but it was pretty lame and I was hoping for so much more. Apparently this is book 1 in a series (wow, let me have a heart attack and die from the not-surprised).  

It was okay, but I don’t think I’ll be rec’ing it to anyone.

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movie thoughts: Moon (2009)

Do you like Sam Rockwell?  I mean REALLY like Sam Rockwell?  Because if you don’t, you probably won’t like ‘Moon’ because Sam is it (well, Sam and Kevin Spacey as Gerty the Computer). 

‘Moon’ is a story set in the future.  To solve our energy crisis, we figured out a way to harvest power from the Moon.  But someone has to be up there to monitor the equipment.  Sam has signed a 3 year contract with the company.  He has been living on the moon, his only companion a computer called “Gerty”.  He has 2 weeks left before he can return home.  But something is not quite right….

And I’ll stop there.  If all of the reviews of ‘Moon’ seem vague to you, it’s for a reason.  No one wants to say too much and spoil any part of this movie.

I thought Sam Rockwell did a great job considering he was all on his own.  He’s come a long way from ‘Guy’ (Galaxy Quest).  

I’m not so sure about the re-watchability of this movie though.  I don’t think I would view it a second time, but the first time through was interesting and it drew you in.  But after it was over, it was over and that was that.  

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Battlestar Galactica : The Plan (2009)

So, if you’re a fan of Battlestar Galactica, you know that the Cylons were created by man, they evolved, they rebelled, and then they came back and attempted to wipe out the human race.  At the start of each episode of Season 1 and Season 2, viewers are reminded of this fact and are assured that the Cylcons have a plan. 

Unfortunately, The Plan movie does little to shed light on the story you probably wanted to know more about – the final five and their origins.  Instead, what we get is the story of the Brothers Cavill, intercut with a collection of clips from various episodes from those early seasons. 

I felt like this was a big opportunity wasted.  What could have been a chance to delve deeper into the final five and their characters before the attack on Earth, is just a clip show.  First I was annoyed by the amount of clips in the show, then I quickly found myself LONGING for them because they were the only time anything actually happened.  And for the last half the show, I kept thinking “wow, I’d rather be rewatching these episodes rather than this mess”.

There were glimmers of other ideas, of little things that could have made for a more interesting story, but since they seem determined to only show us moments that could be tied into clips from other episodes, we never got to find out more about the Cylons.  We were just stuck with Cavill. 

And, like the Caprica straight-to-dvd episode, the “un-aired footage” from The Plan will mostly consist of naked people.  Ellen Tigh drinks in a bar where the waitresses are topless, and we have a VERY random scene in the co-ed bathroom on board BSG with lots of man butt and side boob. 

For me, what makes the early seasons of BSG so great is their metaphor to what was going on in our society at the time.  The terrorist attacks, the fear, choosing sides etc..  This special takes the mystery out of so many of those moments and confuses things. 

I’m so happy we rented this and did not pay for it.  Like the Star Wars prequels or the 7th Harry Potter book, I had a better idea for what this special could have been, and seeing what they ended up creating leaves me very disappointed.  I will not be buying this on DVD for our collection because it does nothing for the story or the mythos of BSG. 

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book thoughts: Candor by Pam Bachorz (2009)

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Pam Bachorz

Bachorz, P. Candor
Egmont, 2009. 249 pages.
$16.95 ISBN 978-1-60684-012-2

Respectful space in every place.
Academics are the key to success.
Never keep secrets from your parents.

These phrases sound like something the average teen would hear on aregular basis as adults try to influence their behavior.  Whilechildren may not immediately obey these words, they do listen.  Butwhat if they had no choice but to listen?  What if these messages werenot coming from their parents’ mouths, but instead being deliveredsubliminally, every second of every day? 

In the town of Candor, that is exactly what life is like.  Well-to-dofamilies move in, hoping that the messages will help mold theirchildren into something “better”.  It only takes a matter of daysbefore the child starts to spout these phrases.  Once cherished items,like skateboards, art supplies, and M&Ms, are thrown in the garbageby their owners.  The town is quiet, safe, and seemingly perfect sinceall of its citizens must obey the Messages.

Oscar Banks is the son of Candor’s creator.  As the Messages will tellyou, he is a superior person.  He does well in school, participates inextracurricular activities, and even has a perfect girlfriend, Mandi. But no one knows the real Oscar.  He was in Candor from the start, andhe’s managed to figure out how the Messages work.  He can’t avoid themcompletely, but he has created a set of special messages just forhimself, to help him remember who he really is.  He also createsmessages for kids that are willing and able to pay his high fee to getout. He has managed to build his own little world inside right underhis father’s nose, and no one knows about it but him. 

Then one night, Oscar meets a mysterious girl.  She’s clearly new intown, still wearing her dark clothes and a collection of earrings. She’s also snuck in a can of orange spray paint.  He is amazed by thespirit this girl possesses and is drawn to her.  He slips her a musicCD, filled with special Messages to keep her from changing into abrainwashed Candor teen.  He doesn’t tell her that, of course.  Whowould believe that they were being controlled by subliminal Messages? Plus, he hasn’t quite figured out what he wants to do with her – shouldhe smuggle her out of Candor and out of his life?  Or should he keepher in the town so they can be friends…or more? 

Pam Bachorz’s Candor is a society that feels eerily plausible. Oscar Banks narrates the story in a natural voice, explaining to thereader how the Messages and the town work as a whole.  Oscar starts outsomewhat self-centered (as anyone in his situation might be, since heis the only teen not repeating the Messages) but as the story goes on,he begins to realize a bit more about himself, Candor, and the what theworld outside must be like.  He starts to see how much of a personalitycan really be suppressed by the Messages, and how far his father willgo to keep the town safe and sterile.

Candor would be a fitting book suggestion for a fan of Scott Westerfeld’s Uglies series- the bubbly Pretties and the Candor teens have a lot in common.  Buteven if they are not familiar with that series, readers will enjoy thiswell-written, fast-paced (and other hyphenated words) story.

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book thoughts: Unwind by Neal Schusterman (2007)

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Neal Shusterman

After the Heartland war, a decision was made – abortion would become illegal.  BUT when a child is between the ages of 13-18, they are eligible to be Unwound – a procedure that takes every part of the child and allows it to be distributed to someone in need.  So the child is technically still living.  Just not as a single human.

That is the main plot of Neil Shusterman’s disturbing YA novel Unwind. Like Scott Westerfeld’s Uglies series, this book takes an issue and does what all good sci-fi should do – takes it to an extreme.  It doesn’t beat you over the head with what is right or wrong, but it does get you caught up in a story, with characters, but at the same time, your brain begins to think about the deeper themes and questions behind the story.

In Unwind, three teens runaway while on their way to the unwinding facility – Connor, whose parents scheduled him to be unwound after some bad behavior in school, runs away the night before.  Risa, an orphan, was scheduled by the state after they realized they could not afford another mouth to feed.  And Lev, a tithe, a sacrifice that is family had decided to make before he was born, raised knowing that he would be unwound.  Fate throws these three together and the book is the story of their adventure through this future world.

Unwind sucks you in from page 1 and doesn’t let go until its over. It is an intense story, and I found myself needing to put the book down and walk away for a bit.  But it is the kind of book you want to read with your friends because you’re going to want to discuss it.  Schusterman is careful not to preach  any sort of agenda – he is just playing with a scenario that feels all too plausible in a twisted way. 

If you’re in the mood for some well written science fiction that has a good blend of action, suspense, and pseudo-science, pick up this book!

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