I will fight you with a bat'leth to defend the episode “Spock's Brain”
December 13, 2014 11:43 AM   Subscribe

 
A quick look says the playboy article is better than the io9 one.
posted by Another Fine Product From The Nonsense Factory at 11:48 AM on December 13, 2014 [2 favorites]


"Threshold" was ungodly bad but I did enjoy it a lot more than some of the less awful Voyager episodes we've watched. My husband and I laughed about it for hours afterwards. (And I got him a Mutated Tom Paris action figure for Christmas, shhh.)
posted by chaiminda at 11:48 AM on December 13, 2014 [1 favorite]


For shame, putting Data as Sherlock Holmes so low on the list. If you're tired of Data and Geordi shouting "Footfalls!" you're tired of life.
posted by knuckle tattoos at 11:49 AM on December 13, 2014 [6 favorites]


Man. DS9's "The Wire". Awesome episode. Every once in a while I have to go back and watch that big scene between Garak and Bashir. Andrew Robinson just nailed it Every Damn Time in that series.
posted by AlonzoMosleyFBI at 11:55 AM on December 13, 2014 [12 favorites]


You can get IMDB viewers opinions on these.

Original
The Next Generation. (Wow, Shades of Gray, 3.3, in agreement with Playboy)
Voyager
Deep Space Nine
Enterprise
posted by dances_with_sneetches at 11:58 AM on December 13, 2014 [1 favorite]


Fair haven should have been far further down the list than it actually was. Also, Janeway "fighting" the [thing she was "fighting"] was quite hilarious to watch. Equinox as #100...? Distant origin at 82.....??

Hold me.
posted by Solomon at 11:59 AM on December 13, 2014


To a different man, the experience would not have had the same impact. Miles O'Brien, for example, was already a relatively simple family man, and thus would not have changed much. He also would have recovered simply by resuming his loving relationship with his real wife and child.

But Picard... he gave all that up to sit in the big chair. It's lonely on top. He'd never admit it, but it is. "I always believed that I didn't need children to complete my life. Now, I couldn't imagine life without them." That poor bastard.

Cried like a baby the first time. Cried like a slightly older baby the second time. If Picard cannot grieve for the loss of the life and family he never got to have, then I shall do it for him.
Damn.
posted by Foci for Analysis at 12:05 PM on December 13, 2014 [5 favorites]


A spatial distortion runs havoc on the set. No one can find a bathroom. When things eventually right themselves, Neelix serves cake.

I like the Playboy episide descriptions a lot.
posted by Artw at 12:06 PM on December 13, 2014 [3 favorites]


I'd like to see a list of episodes like this based on how much you would drink playing Beer Trek (we used to call it Bar Trek).
posted by Rob Rockets at 12:10 PM on December 13, 2014 [2 favorites]


Be nice if the Playboy article was searchable or had an "all on one page" link.

But putting "Miri" below "The Lights of Zetar" or "Friday's Child"? Hell, there isn't much that belongs below "The Lights of Zetar", it's simply unwatchable.

Big ups for pushing back against the received wisdom about "Spock's Brain", though. It's actually a rather fun episode.
posted by George_Spiggott at 12:10 PM on December 13, 2014 [2 favorites]


Fair haven should have been far further down the list than it actually was.

Oh god. Lucky Charms level Oirish bullshit. Utterly terrible.
posted by Artw at 12:11 PM on December 13, 2014 [1 favorite]


I think I'm the only person who actually likes "Move Along Home".
posted by Mister Moofoo at 12:15 PM on December 13, 2014 [2 favorites]


It would make my bottom 5, for sure.
posted by Artw at 12:17 PM on December 13, 2014 [1 favorite]


60% of the top 10 DS9 episodes on IMDB have one thing in common: "Jake Sisko (credit only)." I wonder how that compares to Jake's rate of appearance over the whole series.
posted by knuckle tattoos at 12:17 PM on December 13, 2014 [1 favorite]


Hmm, looks like that fits the average (71/173 episodes, 41%, have Jake Sisko). Guess it's just my personal anti-Jake bias at play here.
posted by knuckle tattoos at 12:20 PM on December 13, 2014


Move Along Home has Dancing!Kira. Its only redeeming virtue.
posted by Solomon at 12:27 PM on December 13, 2014


Surprised the Voyager finale made it so high on the list (#83 if you're counting), as it feels like a microcosm of Voyager's entire run: it rejects the reality of having to survive on your own through uncharted territory for decades, and substitutes a feel-good scenario where everything comes together perfectly and no one has to suffer or do hard work or anything. I suppose it is one of the best Voyager episodes for at least hinting at the hardships of survival (also see Equinox at #100), whereas the rest of the series tends to run screaming towards TNG territory every chance it gets.
posted by chrominance at 12:37 PM on December 13, 2014 [1 favorite]


To the Atavachron!
posted by thelonius at 12:46 PM on December 13, 2014


Voyager was at it's best when it accepted it's own premise, which it only seemed to do if it had a reset button available to mash down on immediately afterwards.
posted by Artw at 12:47 PM on December 13, 2014 [7 favorites]


Star Gate Universe had some solid tries at making the same premise work but ended up being just as reset heavy - it did do some clever things with the inevitable time travel bollocks though. </nontrek>
posted by Artw at 12:49 PM on December 13, 2014 [1 favorite]


This has served to remind me of how much I like some of the horrible Star Trek episodes, mostly because they are horrible.
posted by helicomatic at 12:55 PM on December 13, 2014 [1 favorite]


'In the Pale Moonlight' doesn't even crack the top 50? For shame.
posted by googly at 1:08 PM on December 13, 2014 [8 favorites]


The Playboy list isn't bad, but I wouldn't put Yesterday's Enterprise nearly that high. The alternate timeline stuff is fun but the actual drama in that episode--Guinan managing to convince everyone to do totally senseless (in context) things just because she has a really strong feeling about it--is weak as hell.

Interesting that the top 4 are all alternate timeline/time travel episodes.

The Menagerie got totally shafted (io9 doesn't even put it in the top 100?!). Maybe because it's so much more postmodern than any other Star Trek, I guess it sticks out like a sore thumb. But I love how it deconstructs the standard sci-fi theme of fighting your way out of pleasurable illusions, demanding reality and freedom at any price, by literally splicing in an earlier episode of the very same TV series which (mostly) presented that theme at face value! And then right at the end we see that even in the original episode, the woman in the cage had chosen to stay there because of her disfigurement. So the whole episode, idealism and pessimism are at each other's throats, and finally idealism just gives up and says "fuck it, even I'm not that naive". The whole thing is just brutal.

I was interested to see their take on The Ensigns of Command since that's one of my favorites. Funny, it never occurred to me to think of it as a metaphor for Israel. If it is, I don't think it's a very good metaphor, since the colonists never interact at all with their enemies and don't even seem entirely convinced of their existence.
posted by equalpants at 1:18 PM on December 13, 2014 [1 favorite]


Haven't even gotten into either list yet, but WRT "Fair Haven", it isn't the franchise's most egregious case of Oirishness--that would be TNG's "Up the Long Ladder" with their Space Oirish. At least with "Fair Haven", you could rationalize it as Janeway's deciding to bang a hologram straight out of a romance novel so that she wouldn't cause problems among Voyager's relatively small crew by dating one of them.
posted by Halloween Jack at 2:17 PM on December 13, 2014


"Move Along Home" is pretty terrible (especially, I imagine, if you had to watch it in the original run and couldn't immediately skip to the next episode), but I can't believe "The Game" (that TNG episode where everyone gets addicted to the game about throwing frisbees into tornadoes, which I always assumed is supposed to be an Episode With Something To Say About Society?) is apparently the 124th best Trek episode overall.
posted by The Bridge on the River Kai Ryssdal at 2:56 PM on December 13, 2014


Remarkably, the list is 100% correct.
posted by mazola at 3:54 PM on December 13, 2014 [7 favorites]


(that TNG episode where everyone gets addicted to the game about throwing frisbees into tornadoes, which I always assumed is supposed to be an Episode With Something To Say About Society Angry Birds?)

Fixed.

(And before anyone points out that the episode predates the App, let me remind you this is the same franchise that correctly predicted what day of the week the Apollo 11 launch would take place.)
posted by radwolf76 at 3:55 PM on December 13, 2014 [3 favorites]


What Tribbles are at 34? Well maybe I'll try some of these NG episodes, I'd never got into it, was not really watching tv around then, but I picked one at random recently. It had some issue traveling through an asteroid belt that was too narrow or something. Ok fine, then there was this conversation between Picard an that first officer about giving up control of the ship to the computer, just had a huh moment, when wouldn't the ship be controlled by computer? Just put me off, maybe one of the under 500 eps...
posted by sammyo at 4:03 PM on December 13, 2014


'Inner Light' is waaay over-rated. It's fan fiction. Picard is this tough, resolute man. Committed to the values of Star Fleet. He's sacrificed interpersonal relationships. He's sacrificed family. This is part of what makes him a great character. He has a focus few of us can muster. He's willing to do what others can't.

Then the writers say "Hmmm. I feel bad about Picard not having a family. Lets do something just barely inside the canon. He should have his cake and eat it too!"
'Inner Light' undermines Picard's character.

Not to mention that's he's been compromised by an alien probe*. That would warrant at least a few months of debriefing at Star Fleet command. Any rational military org would put him under some serious scrutiny.
Plus, he's the ONLY witness to a dead civilization. It seems a horde of anthropologist, archeologists and researchers would want to talk to him.

I think it's a good episode. It's fun to watch. It really sparks the imagination. I just don't think it advances the character of Picard.

*This happens after Picard is assimilated by the borg. It seems getting hijacked by aliens is no big thing in Star Fleet.
posted by hot_monster at 4:12 PM on December 13, 2014 [1 favorite]


Some running commentary on the Playboy list:

- “And the Children Shall Lead” makes sense as commentary on any sort of thing that parents are afraid is corrupting their children: sex education, rock and roll, liberals, even Star Trek itself with its interracial kissing and cross-species breeding. Ham-fisted in its approach, but that was TOS' third season for you.

- Chakotay-centric episodes of VOY will probably dominate the lower reaches of the list because they were based on an inherently bogus, New Agey view of Native American spirituality propagated by a dude named Jamake Highwater, who was about as much an Indian as Garak.

- The main reason for Q being in VOY was that De Lancie and Mulgrew are friends IRL. That didn't inspire the writing staff to write good episodes for them, though.

- The main romance in "Meridian" is with Jadzia, not Kira. (Kira's in the B-plot, having trouble with an alien (played by Jeffrey Combs, who would go on to play many recurring roles as other aliens) who wanted to paste her likeness onto a hologram that he could screw, which probably happened a lot more often than anyone in the 24th century would want to admit. (Look up Leah Brahms and you'll never look at Geordi the same way again.)) Maybe the writer of this should have looked at Memory Alpha when he was writing this?

- If he's having problems with sentient holograms, then he must have a problem with Voyager's Doctor, which means I will probably have a big problem with this list.

- I knew I'd flip the table sooner or later, so I might as well do it in the mid-500s, where he seems to already be bored, having gone well past the quote-endquote worst episodes and a long way from the top ten (which, expectedly, are pretty trite choices), and sticks "Emissary" here for no particular reason. I don't even want to know where the other shows' pilots are.
posted by Halloween Jack at 4:38 PM on December 13, 2014 [1 favorite]


Eh, I'll defend Inner Light. Part of Picard's sacrifice of interpersonal relationships is that he's afraid of intimacy, even though he yearns for it. We see this a few times in his interactions with Crusher, and especially in the episode where Vash comes to visit. Devotion to duty is convenient for him because it's a socially-acceptable way for him to avoid confronting his fear.

But then he gets dumped on this alien planet, where he has no leadership position, and he already has a wife and a close friend, and he pretty much has to get over it and embrace intimacy. He has a chance to start over with a clean slate. So he does, and has a great life. But it's also tragic at the end because suddenly he's Picard again and everything he worked for is gone. He has the memories, but is that enough? Is the Picard role enough for him anymore?

...so I think it's pretty interesting. But I agree, it didn't end up having nearly enough impact on his character--the show just kind of moved on as if nothing had happened. By all rights the experience should have really fucked him up.
posted by equalpants at 4:44 PM on December 13, 2014 [13 favorites]


"It seems like getting hijacked by aliens is no big thing in Starfleet"

I've heard it argued that Starfleet does not take the Captain's logs of front line officers entirely seriously. Partly because Starfleet admirals are notoriously incompetent, partly as a psychological self defence against the Lovecraftian horrorshow its ships are discovering (think about how many different KINDS of omnipotent reality benders Kirk encounters).
posted by justsomebodythatyouusedtoknow at 5:11 PM on December 13, 2014 [8 favorites]


hmm. I never considered how Inner Light would compromise Picard's character, but hot_monster's argument is compelling.

This makes me wonder if Inner Light would make more sense if some other member of the crew were the one to live an entire life in an alien civilization.

The problem is, that episode rests to no small degree on Patrick Stewart's acting chops. And while the rest of the TNG crew range from competent to good, I'm not sure many of his castmates could have pulled it off.

Hmm.

Maybe Gates McFadden. Dr. Crusher has a lot of family-related angst, and McFadden's a compelling screen presence . . . hmm.
posted by erlking at 5:13 PM on December 13, 2014 [1 favorite]


Do they ever make clear exactly how much of The Inner Light Picard reports back to Starfleet? There was a while where I kinda half-entertained the headcanon that he never tells anyone anything about it, and just keeps the whole story entirely to himself until that romance with the pianist in like season seven.
posted by Greg Nog at 5:22 PM on December 13, 2014


if Inner Light would make more sense if some other member of the crew were the one

Previously: The Inner Light, Riker version
posted by Greg Nog at 5:23 PM on December 13, 2014 [4 favorites]


Pretend Native American episides really are a hazard of early 90s rewatches - see also The X Files.
posted by Artw at 5:25 PM on December 13, 2014 [4 favorites]


he's afraid of intimacy

Yeah. I kind of forgot about this until you brought it up just now. 'Inner Light' I suppose, could be the 'final frontier' for Picard. But it didn't change him in a way that he could accept intimacy in the future.

the show just kind of moved on as if nothing had happened

LOL. This is a problem with Trek all around. Let's imagine a captain's log shall we....
Captain's Log: Monday. We discovered a species that changes the way we view time, space and ourselves. Our culture and technology will never be the same again.
Captain's Log: Tuesday. Business as usual. Nothing to report.

that episode rests to no small degree on Patrick Stewart's acting chops

A similar episode to 'Inner Light' is 'Far Beyond the Stars' which I like, but Avery Brook's "It's reaaaaaal," is a bit much.
posted by hot_monster at 5:31 PM on December 13, 2014 [3 favorites]


71) “Inquisition,” Deep Space Nine, Season 6
Gene Roddenberry's vision takes another kick to the gut as we meet Section 31.


YESSSSS

My go-to explanation for why DS9 is my favorite series is that TOS and TNG propose the conditions for a future utopia, and DS9 spends most of its time asking how that utopia fails. So Section 31 is one of my favorite things the series introduces, both because it brings up the idea of a secret society operating without democratic supervision AND because everyone who finds out about it is just fucking GOBSMACKED and feels INSANELY BETRAYED that this has been going on since the beginnings of the UFP. Agghhh I love it so much
posted by Greg Nog at 5:43 PM on December 13, 2014 [17 favorites]


A bit off topic, but speaking of Riker and The Inner Light, there is an Adventure Time episode called Puhoy that is basically The Inner Light with pillow people, and they cast Jonathan Frakes as the adult Finn.
posted by tau_ceti at 5:50 PM on December 13, 2014 [3 favorites]


Fascinating.
posted by spock at 6:01 PM on December 13, 2014 [6 favorites]


What, nothing from TNG Season 8? These lists are not serious.
posted by contraption at 6:07 PM on December 13, 2014 [1 favorite]


My go-to explanation for why DS9 is my favorite series is that TOS and TNG propose the conditions for a future utopia, and DS9 spends most of its time asking how that utopia fails.

I'd nudge that a bit further, because TOS and TNG, for all of Roddenberry's insistence that humanity would essentially have no serious problems of their own, would show instances in which people could be amazingly awful. In TOS, you had one of Kirk's friends fake his own death in order to get Kirk courtmartialed (and, coincidentally, we find out that the bridge crew is being videotaped as a matter of course); the only thing you can get the death penalty for is visiting the wrong planet; I'm not sure where to even start with this one. TNG has Starfleet holding a hearing regarding whether to vivisect a decorated officer, and yet another courtmartial on bogus premises. I think that DS9 pushes this about a half-inch further; given everyone's insistence that the Federation is basically perfect, despite evidence to the contrary (Eddington even calls Sisko out on this directly, during his big kiss-off), how could there not be a Section 31?
posted by Halloween Jack at 7:55 PM on December 13, 2014


By the way, I recommend the profane but very funny Star Trek pastiche Willful Child written by Steven Erikson - yes, the guy who wrote all of the grimdark fantasy. It is really targeting for Trek fans, and concentrates on the adventures of the bridge crew, rather than epoynomous Redshirts in the other Star Trek sendup written by our own Charlie Stross.

The audio book is especially hilarious.
posted by blahblahblah at 7:59 PM on December 13, 2014


Captain's Log: Monday. We discovered a species that changes the way we view time, space and ourselves. Our culture and technology will never be the same again.
Captain's Log: Tuesday. Business as usual. Nothing to report.


In my headcannoj, one of the major tasks of the 26th century TimeFleet is removing the effects and knowledge of disruptive technologies and discoveries. Interstellar teleportation? Android duplicates? Subspace decaying? Their eternal mission is to go back and fix these things and then remove all knowledge of them before they prevent the proper future from happening.
posted by happyroach at 8:09 PM on December 13, 2014 [1 favorite]


"Hard Time" is number 16 on the Playboy list, but it ought to be higher; in my estimation it's the best thing they ever did on DS9. Makes me cry every goddamned time.
posted by koeselitz at 12:58 AM on December 14, 2014 [1 favorite]


"One Small Step" (Voyager) isn't on either list. This is by far my favorite episode of Voyager but it always seems to get overlooked. I just love it because it's them looking back on and acknowledging the difficulties of early space travel.
posted by Librarypt at 6:03 AM on December 14, 2014


60% of the top 10 DS9 episodes on IMDB have one thing in common: "Jake Sisko (credit only)."

And yet my favorite episode of DS9 and, on most days, Trek as a whole, is a Jake Sisko episode "The Visitor". Now Cirroc Lofton did share the episode as Jake with Tony Todd, but it is just such a wonderfully human story told through the lens of science fiction.

The problem is Jake is that they kind of had no idea what to do with him early on. The writers got better with that as the series progressed. His writing set him apart from a Wesley Crusher.
posted by inturnaround at 6:50 AM on December 14, 2014 [3 favorites]


I won't pretend "Move Along Home" is a masterpiece, but I thought it was a fun episode, far better than its low ranking on the Playboy list suggests. If George_Spiggot can defend "Spock's Brain" as a fun episode, I'll do the same for "Move Along Home."
posted by DevilsAdvocate at 7:38 AM on December 14, 2014 [3 favorites]


Also, nice to see some of the Enterprise third season episodes (plus the second-season finale, "The Expanse" which sets up the third season) in the top 100. Enterprise as a whole is not my favorite Trek, but if I were asked to pick my favorite single season of Trek, I might well say Enterprise S3.
posted by DevilsAdvocate at 7:44 AM on December 14, 2014


Move Along Home is self consciously trying to be a "fun" episode - that gives Spock's Brain a considerable edge over it.
posted by Artw at 7:47 AM on December 14, 2014


I like Move Along Home. In checking out the ranking of that episode, I see that they're ranked Masks below that episode, however, which is a farce. Masks is great.
posted by vibratory manner of working at 9:17 AM on December 14, 2014 [1 favorite]


Sub Rosa should also be *way* lower on the list. That episode is one of the worst TNG episodes.
posted by vibratory manner of working at 9:23 AM on December 14, 2014 [5 favorites]


Redshirts in the other Star Trek sendup written by our own Charlie Stross.


I think you meant our own John Scalzi.

Much love to Charlie Stross, though. I love me some Laundry.
posted by Fleebnork at 9:49 AM on December 14, 2014


I've got a soft spot for Tsunkatse if only for the absurdity of having 7 of 9 fight the rock. Also it being a bright spot of Jeffery Combs in an otherwise barren series.
posted by Ferreous at 3:49 PM on December 14, 2014


Move Along Home is self consciously trying to be a "fun" episode - that gives Spock's Brain a considerable edge over it.

I would have said that MAH has a considerable edge over SB precisely because the former is supposed to be a "fun" episode. If you're arguing that SB is "fun" because it was meant to be a serious episode, that sounds like edging dangerously close to So Bad It's Good territory. Which is fine if you like that sort of thing, but for me personally, I'm rarely able to ironically enjoy things which others claim are So Bad They're Good.
posted by DevilsAdvocate at 8:34 AM on December 15, 2014


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