Guys In Pajamas Looking at Viewscreens and Sitting In Chairs
January 7, 2015 4:35 AM   Subscribe

I get it. The show is impenetrable, watching the whole thing takes 178 hours. It’s also extremely silly — nearly every episode has a moment when grown men in pajamas throw themselves around in their chairs
But I want to make the case Star Trek: The Next Generation (TNG) is important and worth your time in 2015, and I want to suggest about 40 hours of Star Trek viewing that will cover all of the great episodes.
posted by MartinWisse (219 comments total) 92 users marked this as a favorite
 
I was watching the episode the other day where Worf becomes unstuck and travels through all the universes. Borg universe Riker's beard is the most magnificent moment of the entire seven serieses.
posted by dng at 4:55 AM on January 7, 2015 [27 favorites]


Looks like the gems are covered, although I would trade Tin Man (wow, what a great cinematic score) for Allegiance in Season 3, The Wounded for Data's Day in Season 4...and what about Journey's End and Preemptive Strike in Season 7?...gosh I can't believe I still remember the episode titles ;)
posted by wallawallasweet at 4:58 AM on January 7, 2015 [1 favorite]


It’s also extremely silly — nearly every episode has a moment when grown men in pajamas throw themselves around in their chairs.
It's a good thing this standard of silliness doesn't get applied to, say, the NFL: "Every game has dozens of moments where grown men in spandex jump on top of each other because they want to stop the progress of an oblate ball." Standards of "silliness" in entertainment are really arbitrary.
posted by kewb at 5:02 AM on January 7, 2015 [59 favorites]


The Wounded for Data's Day in Season 4...

The Wounded is my personal favorite from STTNG. I have to wonder if that episode was what snagged Colm Meaney the job on DS9, because he and Bob Gunton (i.e. the sadistic warden from Shawshank) are excellent.
posted by AlonzoMosleyFBI at 5:04 AM on January 7, 2015 [5 favorites]


Found this list last week and so far it's been working quite well — the advice to skip the entire first season was excellent.

Incidentally, didn't Greg Nog write up a "best of" list of TNG episodes in a comment some time back? I'd like to see that again.
posted by DoctorFedora at 5:05 AM on January 7, 2015 [1 favorite]


I do not exaggerate when I say that this post has made my week. Thanks, MartinWisse.
posted by minervous at 5:06 AM on January 7, 2015 [2 favorites]


That beard is a good example of SF predicting the future.
posted by BinaryApe at 5:06 AM on January 7, 2015 [20 favorites]


It's a good thing this standard of silliness doesn't get applied to, say, the NFL

If you don't know at least one female fan who watches football to see the guys butts in tight spandex you are doing it wrong.
posted by localroger at 5:14 AM on January 7, 2015 [2 favorites]


The Next Generation movies are dumb and bad, with the exception of First Contact, which is dumb and exciting.

The truest sentence of 2015, and it's only January.
posted by Pater Aletheias at 5:15 AM on January 7, 2015 [18 favorites]


I really like the first half of the first film, but then they get to Picard's Victorian Christmas in heaven and the writers just seem to give up until the end.
posted by dng at 5:17 AM on January 7, 2015 [6 favorites]


I can't believe I still remember the episode titles

I watched TNG religiously when it was on, but one big irritant for me with the show was the episode titles. I mean, with TOS you had titles like "City on the Edge of Forever", "Let That Be Your Last Battlefield", "Whom Gods Destroy", and so on. (As a personal bonus for me, there are also a few Shakespeare-derived titles like "Dagger of the Mind" and "Conscience of the King".)

Then you get to TNG, and while they had a few memorable titles, there were long stretches where everything was The Noun, especially in the first few seasons. "The Battle". "The Chase". "The Offspring". "The Bonding". "The Price". "The Defector". "The Hunted".

It was tooth-grindingly annoying.
posted by Mr. Bad Example at 5:20 AM on January 7, 2015 [10 favorites]


See I find that interesting because the new Abrams Trek kind of sum up the new pulp scifi mindset to me. Bad plots and terrible acting, with a return to weak female characters and misogynist male leads, plastered over with amazing but complex fast moving special effects that are almost impossible to process in real time in a single sitting. The TNG movies feel like extended versions of season-2-quality episodes while the new movies don't feel like they belong in the trek universe at all (yes yes, reboot and all that).
posted by Poldo at 5:20 AM on January 7, 2015 [10 favorites]


Also I think this is the truest sentence in the article:

All Good Things… might be the most satisfying series finale of any TV show, it’s a masterpiece

It's always been amazing to me that the writers concentrated all their efforts on the film and worked on that for months and months and months and it's just so staid, and then supposedly knocked this out in a weekend just to get it done and it's perfect.
posted by dng at 5:20 AM on January 7, 2015 [29 favorites]


If you don't know at least one female fan who watches football to see the guys butts in tight spandex you are doing it wrong.

I was in a bar the other week and they had some football game on with no sound, and I was struck by how much time the camera spent focusing on the players' asses. At some points a good third of the camera time was Ass.

I find Star Trek to be the most insipid and uninteresting show ever, but my spouse loves it so I have picked up a certain amount of exposure just by osmosis. The best comparison is probably Doctor Who (which I also find unwatchable), where the terrible production values and cheesy scripts somehow become part of what inspires so much fervent love across decades of viewing.
posted by Dip Flash at 5:25 AM on January 7, 2015 [3 favorites]


I find Star Trek to be the most insipid and uninteresting show ever (...) The best comparison is probably Doctor Who (which I also find unwatchable)

We can never be friends. We probably shouldn't even be in the same room.
posted by Ursula Hitler at 5:28 AM on January 7, 2015 [39 favorites]


Wait--someone did a best-of list for TNG and left out "The Wounded"? You are fucking kidding me.
posted by Halloween Jack at 5:28 AM on January 7, 2015 [4 favorites]


had to post this scene (from "The Wounded")
posted by wallawallasweet at 5:38 AM on January 7, 2015 [4 favorites]


Whoops! A football is a prolate spheroid, not an oblate one. Fortunately, all we have to do to fix the problem is shift the spatial axis and reverse the polarity of the neutron flow.
posted by kewb at 5:38 AM on January 7, 2015 [29 favorites]


We can never be friends. We probably shouldn't even be in the same room.

There are conversations we have agreed to never have at home, and my opinions on Star Trek are one of them.
posted by Dip Flash at 5:43 AM on January 7, 2015 [3 favorites]


> I was in a bar the other week and they had some football game on with no sound, and I was struck by how much time the camera spent focusing on the players' asses. At some points a good third of the camera time was Ass.

It's too bad the sound wasn't on. You missed all the announcers' unintentional double entendres about penetration in the backfield, pounding it up the middle, releasing inside, man on man coverage, etc., etc., etc.
posted by The Card Cheat at 5:45 AM on January 7, 2015 [6 favorites]


I find Star Trek to be the most insipid and uninteresting show ever...

No gagh for you, then.
posted by Thorzdad at 5:46 AM on January 7, 2015 [12 favorites]


I think that there will be entire college courses dedicated to the relative failure of the Star Trek: The Next Generation film franchise.

And it's a goddamn shame that it's just basically over. They did their weird JJ Abrams reboot with TOS that I enjoyed and the original universe that was created and expanded with DS9 and Voyager is just dead.

That CBS doesn't have one series idea for Star Trek going forward is a crime.
posted by inturnaround at 5:46 AM on January 7, 2015 [9 favorites]


Metafilter: a prolate spheroid, not an oblate one.
posted by dances_with_sneetches at 5:48 AM on January 7, 2015 [9 favorites]


TNG starts to hit its pace in season three. Yesterday’s Enterprise is one of the best episodes of Star Trek. Sins of the Father is a great Ronald D. Moore episode that sets up Worf’s story for the rest of the series. The Best of Both Worlds is TNG’s best cliffhanger, and Deanna Troi finally gets a regulation uniform.

Troi didn't get a proper uniform until season 6. Nerd cred REVOKED
posted by Librarypt at 5:53 AM on January 7, 2015 [8 favorites]


I just came here to say that I think men's pajama pants should have stirrups so they don't slide up to your knees while sleeping.
posted by bricksNmortar at 5:53 AM on January 7, 2015 [14 favorites]


Max Temkin, the author of this post, is a pretty unusual guy, I guess. I am having a hard time reconciling "co-creator of the Cards Against Humanity game" with "lover of Star Trek: The Next Generation."
posted by Slothrop at 5:57 AM on January 7, 2015


That seems very easy to reconcile for me.
posted by obfuscation at 6:01 AM on January 7, 2015 [32 favorites]


All Good Things… might be the most satisfying series finale of any TV show, it’s a masterpiece

I watched a lot of TNG, and enjoyed it immensely and without shame, but this is one hell of a bold statement.
posted by Aya Hirano on the Astral Plane at 6:13 AM on January 7, 2015


A bunch of us (mostly) MeFites in DC have been going to weekly TNG screenings at a local nightclub/bar. It's one episode a week starting with the pilot and going from there.

I think this is the best way to watch the show: all the way through so that you get to know the characters and so that the impact of the really good episodes is even stronger, at least right now since it's only the beginning of S2 and it's still pretty uneven. And also with drinks, and with a crowd that are big enough fans to occasionally laugh, cheer, and make jokes, but subdued enough to resist the temptation to "Mystery Science Theater" their way through every episode. I am personally really enjoying it.
posted by capricorn at 6:14 AM on January 7, 2015 [14 favorites]


That CBS doesn't have one series idea for Star Trek going forward is a crime.

The thing about Star Trek is that it's one of the most successful niche franchises of all time, but that doesn't mean that it's actually as huge as fans tend to think it is.

Don't believe me? Here's a list of the biggest movie franchises. Note that Star Trek is thirteenth. It is behind Twilight, it is about to be behind Hunger Games, and it will likely get passed by Iron Man, which is a franchise inside another franchise. And that's only counting domestic box office. You order that list by worldwide box office, and Star Trek falls to twenty-fourth.

And there's a reason that none of the TV series after the first one were on real networks. The two that were on UPN consistently declined in the ratings season-to-season.

CBS probably gets pitched Star Trek series ideas constantly. Then they look at the 5.9M viewers that Enterprise got as the tentpole of UPN in its best (first) season and realizes that CBS has no original scripted programming that gets that low even today, when network viewership is at historically low numbers. Hostages got more eyeballs for CBS.
posted by Etrigan at 6:14 AM on January 7, 2015 [6 favorites]


For as much as I love TOS and the first four movies, I've never been able to generate much love for TNG or any of the following shows. I've gone back and tried to rewatch a few highly rated episodes like Inner Light or I, Borg and just couldn't get interested but I can still go back and watch even the worst of the original 79 TOS episodes and enjoy them. Maybe it's the color scheme.
posted by octothorpe at 6:15 AM on January 7, 2015 [3 favorites]


had to post this scene (from "The Wounded")

That scene made my little Hibernian heart all squee.
posted by EmpressCallipygos at 6:16 AM on January 7, 2015 [1 favorite]


I find Star Trek to be the most insipid and uninteresting show ever...

My friend Gul Madred has a simple question for you:

"How many lights do you see there?"
posted by Fizz at 6:19 AM on January 7, 2015 [24 favorites]


Fizz's quote deserves a clip.

And as a lagniappe, and to also acknowledge how much the cast dug each other - here's a clip from a reunion they did at a convention, and someone asked Stewart to quote that line - and then he invited a couple others in the cast to take turns imitating his delivery.
posted by EmpressCallipygos at 6:23 AM on January 7, 2015 [5 favorites]


Also yeah I'm not too happy with the reboot movies so far (casting is brilliant though) but everything is going to change and be amazing now because Justin Lin is the new director. I demand a car flinging itself out of the USS Enterprise.
posted by capricorn at 6:24 AM on January 7, 2015 [5 favorites]


Okay obfuscation, you've piqued my curiosity... What similarities/crossovers do you see between Cards and TNG?
posted by Slothrop at 6:25 AM on January 7, 2015


I don't see any need for similarities or crossovers, but it doesn't seem the slightest bit strange that someone geeky enough to throw themselves into designing card games would also be the kind of geeky to be really into sci-fi television.
posted by 256 at 6:29 AM on January 7, 2015 [3 favorites]


I watched TNG with gleeful nerdly enthusiasm until I realized that it was set in a future in which genetic engineering had eliminated homosexuals. Then I got bored and wandered off. Then I tried to watch Voyager, but it's in an even less fabulous universe, so I got bored and wandered off. Then I tried to watch DS9, but earrings and baseball are stupid, and in a universe without homosexuals, Louise Fletcher isn't funny at all, so I got bored and wandered off. Then, because Scott Bakula is hot, I watched one episode of Enterprise in spite of the worst theme song in the history of bad television theme songs ever for all time in all possible universes, said, quite loudly, "Oh, fuck you, fucking Rick Berman with your fucking stupid fucking loser show for fucking idiots," and happily watched a rerun of Cleopatra 2525 instead. Even with hot Bakula and a dog, I couldn't make it all the way through another episode.
posted by sonascope at 6:29 AM on January 7, 2015 [7 favorites]


I'm not really a Star Trek fan, but I would watch Captain Worf. Probably will never happen, with the failure of Enterprise and J.J. Abrams ruining the property.

I tried to watch Voyager, because the premise was so good, but it was awful. I use to wonder what it would have been like if that show had been done right, but that's what BSG is.

TNG is 90% stupid, but it's hard not to like the characters. So, when you get the few non-stupid plots, those episodes are really, really good.
posted by spaltavian at 6:33 AM on January 7, 2015 [3 favorites]


...gosh I can't believe I still remember the episode titles

Your use of the word "gosh" is the giveaway.
posted by fairmettle at 6:41 AM on January 7, 2015 [5 favorites]


I love everything he loves about TNG, and I can't argue with almost all of his list. Personally, I found little to recommend "Time's Arrow;" I thought it was a big old platter of silly with a side of silly fries. And it seemed to me like the only point of "Descent" was to set up the "First Contact" movie, and was that really a good thing? Other than those two, though, he hit all the highest notes.

Season one may not have been the best, adventure-storytelling-wise, but I thought it was valuable for exposition and universe-building. By the time things really took off, I already had a strong emotional investment in the main characters, the universe they lived in, their mission, and their philosophy. Maybe some video-editing type could cut it into a faster-paced prologue movie or two.
posted by The Underpants Monster at 6:47 AM on January 7, 2015 [1 favorite]


I would watch Captain Worf

I would if he had his perky up-do dentist office receptionist bouffant or his Louise Brooks flapper bob, but once they gave him the Gary Stu ponytail so that his spittle-flecked bobbysoxers would spend more of their IT department income on reproduction bat'leths to further their fantasy of secretly being noble warriors instead of just schlubby guys in jokey t-shirts, just—eww.
posted by sonascope at 6:49 AM on January 7, 2015 [4 favorites]


That CBS doesn't have one series idea for Star Trek going forward is a crime.

I'm still holding out for The Rikers in Space.
posted by The Underpants Monster at 6:51 AM on January 7, 2015 [5 favorites]


Okay obfuscation, you've piqued my curiosity... What similarities/crossovers do you see between Cards and TNG?

I was going to say "on the one hand, CAH is based on casually otherizing & 'ha ha but not me' humor written by a liberal, privileged white straight dude and TNG is all about claiming to be inclusive and egalitarian and utopian to the point there's that whole episode where they're confused by getting a cold" but then I remembered "Code of Honor".
posted by The Bridge on the River Kai Ryssdal at 6:51 AM on January 7, 2015 [1 favorite]


Ctrl-F, "rascals"

Alright, this guy's ok. Off to read article.
posted by sparklemotion at 6:53 AM on January 7, 2015 [2 favorites]


I find Star Trek to be the most insipid and uninteresting show ever...

Well, I have to say, thank god for Star Trek. Those scratchy reruns of TOS were the ONLY thing I could latch onto as a kid growing up in the 70s in the Ozarks. Star Trek was my sine qua non and allowed me to survive knowing there were greater possibilities out there for philosophy, creativity, and so on than what I was seeing in the world around me. It gave me hope for the future that has colored my whole life.
posted by jabah at 6:53 AM on January 7, 2015 [26 favorites]


Darmok on the couch, watching Netflix.
posted by drezdn at 6:56 AM on January 7, 2015 [66 favorites]


I'm still holding out for The Rikers in Space

I'll give you a new Trek I'd love to see: Focus a series on Wesley Crusher.

Not the 15-year-old wunderkind everyone hated. A 50-year-old Wesley serving as the engineer on some trash freighter plying the edge of the Federation. Life hasn't worked out just as he expected it to for Wesley, but he's not going to sit on a planet and explore himself. He's still exploring the galaxy, and without a starship's massive firepower to back him up.

I find Star Trek to be the most insipid and uninteresting show ever...

I think that puts you on the short list to direct the next movie.
posted by tyllwin at 6:57 AM on January 7, 2015 [41 favorites]


I'd love to see what HBO or AMC could do with a free hand to make their own Star Trek.
posted by Drinky Die at 6:58 AM on January 7, 2015 [6 favorites]


Captain Janeway is objectively the best captain in all of the Stark Trek properties.
posted by angerbot at 7:03 AM on January 7, 2015 [6 favorites]


All Good Things… might be the most satisfying series finale of any TV show, it’s a masterpiece

Second most. M*A*S*H holds the first place position and always will, yea unto the end of time.

Funny that Yesterday's Enterprise got mentioned. The day of the finale, CityTV aired the show in the SkyDome here--Toronto's huge stadium. Right before the finale, they aired the fan favourite episode, which apparently won by a landslide, if I remember right; Yesterday's Enterprise.

In retrospect it's rather fitting: even Yar got to be around for the finale in a big way, kinda.

And I've been saying for years that the best way to do a new Star Trek show is:

Opening shot, Earth from space. Zoom in slowly towards San Francisco. As the camera gets closer to Starfleet Academy, a VO starts; Admiral Janeway, Commandant of the Academy, welcoming the new class to their studies.

Do it JMS style; script out a four-year story, with trapdoors for actors who have to move on or whatever. End the series with graduation. Then spend a couple of years writing a movie, that picks up five years later when everyone's starting their careers.

I'll give you a new Trek I'd love to see: Focus a series on Wesley Crusher.

I would watch the shit out of that, and I suspect Wil Wheaton would love the shit out of the whole prospect.

Captain Janeway is objectively the best captain in all of the Stark Trek properties.

You forgot the word 'second' in that sentence. Nobody beats Picard.

First Contact

We don't mention that filth around here. All of the TNG movies have sucked Guy Fieri's balls.
posted by feckless fecal fear mongering at 7:04 AM on January 7, 2015 [9 favorites]


but then I remembered "Code of Honor"


"Hey, you know how we modeled our entire society on the opening scene from Coming to America? Whose idea was that again?"
posted by TheWhiteSkull at 7:05 AM on January 7, 2015 [2 favorites]


I honestly don't know anyone who likes Star Trek TNG who doesn't also like Cards Against Humanity (with the caveat that, gameplay wise, it does get less fun as you've played it more and more, even with the expansions).

I think that to enjoy playing CAH, you need to have an optimism about people (at least the people who you are playing with) that allows you to actually believe that playing a card about eating babies doesn't make a person into a baby eater. I get that some folks can't do that, and so they don't like CAH and that's fine. But that optimism is a big part of what makes TNG such a joy to watch. The future will be awesome.
posted by sparklemotion at 7:05 AM on January 7, 2015 [1 favorite]


Max Temkin, the author of this post, is a pretty unusual guy, I guess. I am having a hard time reconciling "co-creator of the Cards Against Humanity game" with "lover of Star Trek: The Next Generation."

Until you wrote that I thought this post about Star Trek was by Max Tegmark.
posted by escabeche at 7:06 AM on January 7, 2015


TNG premiered the year after I graduated from college, and I still remember sitting in our crappy apt in Los Angeles with my two closest friends, so alienated in law school I wanted to die, and so hungry for Trek we would've watched Spock's Brain every day for a week...

We were predisposed to love TNG because it was Trek and because it had Patrick Stewart (with whom we were acquainted, and in love, because he had done two shows at our University during his one-man tour days)... We liked the first ep, putting humanity on trial and all that, and frankly just weren't in the mood to be critical.

I remember also the day some years later when TNG and DS9 were showing back-to-back, and we turned to each other and our 4th geek friend said, "Hey, you guys, wasn't that DS9 way better than the TNG?" And we were like, omg, yes. Kira had just torn her own heart out by obeying Federation orders instead of siding with Bajoran Brian Keith...

TNG cast clearly *loved* each other, but from that point on, I only watched it out of loyalty and the occasional amazing episode. DS9 won my heart and soul (despite the occasional terrible episode) and seemed miles better than TNG, on average.

Although sometimes I think it all came down to that terrible sterile 80s lighting and decor on the new Enterprise.

tl;dr, thanks for another chance to rediscover the best of an awesome TV era.
posted by allthinky at 7:06 AM on January 7, 2015 [3 favorites]


Captain Janeway is objectively the best captain in all of the Stark Trek properties.

The captain that condemns her crew to being stranded on the grounds of the prime directive, then repeats this over and over for years, then finally craps all over said directive to get the surviving ones home?

And who is also wrong in every conversation she has with 7 of 9, despite it not being written that way.

I think I may have watched too many episodes, given I didn't really like it.
posted by biffa at 7:08 AM on January 7, 2015 [9 favorites]


Guys! Guys! Every captain is the best captain for their own series.

Now go out and play; it's supposed to be really cold tomorrow.
posted by allthinky at 7:11 AM on January 7, 2015 [4 favorites]


See, I thought Janeway was great because that's how I'd imagine an actual spaceship captain to be - an authoritarian; not everyone's sage/drinking buddy/confidante.
posted by Aya Hirano on the Astral Plane at 7:12 AM on January 7, 2015 [3 favorites]


All of the TNG movies have sucked Guy Fieri's balls.

I caught Nemesis on TV the other day and was sadly reminded that Tom friggin Hardy played the villian in that sorry film. We all have to pay our dues, I suppose...
posted by AlonzoMosleyFBI at 7:13 AM on January 7, 2015 [2 favorites]


TOS and the first four movies

My wife's great-uncle had a bit part in Star Trek IV, and I swear every time I flip past it on the TV it's his scene. My mother-in-law says it's clearly him speaking to us from Beyond.

Anyhow, I really love TNG, even though the majority of it is just godawful. It's the boundless optimism of the thing--I still reserve the right to believe in a Star Trek future, even if every day it seems less likely--that really makes it work, for me. The Future is a place we want to be, it's a thing we need to want to create. That's what's so beautiful, to me, about TNG.

That, and so-bad-they're-great Holodeck episodes. I will not apologize for loving those.
posted by uncleozzy at 7:13 AM on January 7, 2015 [4 favorites]


CAH is based on casually otherizing & 'ha ha but not me' humor written by a liberal, privileged white straight dude

At the risk of derailing this thread forever: CAH is a mirror that reflects the people who play it. If you are experiencing it this way, find new friends. I have played it with people who are not liberal, not white, not straight, and/or not dudes and never found it "casually otherizing" except the one time I played it with a huge racist.
posted by capricorn at 7:17 AM on January 7, 2015 [5 favorites]


My girlfriend watched the entirety of TOS with me not that long ago, and after season 3 expressed some skepticism about watching the entirety of TNG, asking whether there was maybe some list of the 50 best episodes or something. This is perfect.
posted by Steely-eyed Missile Man at 7:19 AM on January 7, 2015 [1 favorite]


The captain that condemns her crew to being stranded on the grounds of the prime directive, then repeats this over and over for years, then finally craps all over said directive to get the surviving ones home?

That would be actually really interesting, and realistic, if they had explored that a little more. They always played around with the idea of "these rules only work from a position of unassailable power", but never had the courage to actually make any difference with the crew. Basically you only get the captain feeling guilty.

That show could have been really good if they had been willing to have any consequences whatsoever. They knew it too, which is why you had some really good stories that amounted to "What If" episodes. (The mutiny simulation, that year that was erased by time travel villains, that other human ship stuck out there that did what humans would actually do.)
posted by spaltavian at 7:21 AM on January 7, 2015 [2 favorites]


Kids today are so fucking spoiled for choice. In the 80s, this was the only remotely intelligent TV show on (outside of PBS specials). Otherwise it was wall-to-wall cookie-cutter sitcoms and cheesy action shows and no Netflix or internet to relieve the boredom. If you got a VHS tape of a good movie, you could watch it over and over, but buying tapes was expensive.

And things were still better than the 70s had been.

Watching TNG and then finding other people who watched it was one of the few ways to connect with people who actually thought about something besides Jesus or sports or gettin' drunk.

I'm not bitter; I love how much good stuff is out there now, and how easy it is to connect to people who think the way I do and care about the things I care about. I see all the flaws TNG has (especially when I try to watch it with my media-saturated kiddo). Next to BSG or Orphan Black or even new Who, it's a bit staid and ponderous and dated.

But I will always love it for the sake of that 15-year-old girl desperate for something worth watching.
posted by emjaybee at 7:21 AM on January 7, 2015 [54 favorites]


My favorite episode is when Captain Picard baked those cakes in the shape of ladies going to the bathroom.
posted by dr_dank at 7:21 AM on January 7, 2015 [12 favorites]


All of the TNG movies have sucked Guy Fieri's balls.

That gives me an idea for a Star Trek movie where Guy Fieri is the captain of a spaceship that flies around every week in search of the galaxy's best diners, drive-ins, and dives. "Check it out, brah! This replicator only serves hot sauce, and it's rigged to go off whenever you order anything!"

But then he goes crazy, like Captain Ahab (except in space). He starts violating the Prime Directive to eat at unsanitary greasy spoon diners on planets without replicator technology. But what he really wants is an authentic whale burger. This is cool because it sets things up for Star Trek IV.

Guy Fieri travels back in time by flying around the sun (or whatever), and there is an awesome scene where he tries to kill Earth's last whale from his spaceship, which looks like a Camaro. His whole crew is like, "Are you mad, brah?"

Except he doesn't kill the whale. The whale rams his spaceship and allegorical coffins fly everywhere as Guy Fieri's spaceship's antimatter reactor drive (or, again, whatever) explodes in a scientific way that merges the whale's consciousness with the Voyager space probe, thereby also setting up Star Trek I.
posted by compartment at 7:29 AM on January 7, 2015 [22 favorites]


In my third year of university I lived in a house that, almost alone amongst my circle of friends, had cable, so a bunch of people would usually come over and watch TNG when new episodes were on. Being a social sort I'd usually join them even though I never really had any strong feelings about the show one way or the other. I probably saw 15 or 20 episodes, but in my memory they all just kind of run together in a jumble of reaction shots, dated haircuts, corny jokes and people having conversations, usually with Whoopi Goldberg, in the...bar? restaurant? on the Enterprise.
posted by The Card Cheat at 7:29 AM on January 7, 2015 [1 favorite]


That, and so-bad-they're-great Holodeck episodes. I will not apologize for loving those.

I recently caught the one where Lt. Barclay is introduced as a nebbishy loser in engineering who's all intimidated by his job and gets caught up in living out these elaborate Marty-Stu fantasies on the holodeck, and I would love to see the blooper reel from all the holodeck scenes.
posted by EmpressCallipygos at 7:31 AM on January 7, 2015 [2 favorites]


TNG was by far my favorite show as a kid in the early 90s. And my favorite episode for the longest time was The Next Phase, so I'm glad it made this list. As a kid I just really digged it, for whatever reason, probably for the same reason all the Q episodes were my next favorite. I recently rewatched the whole series on Netflix and was glad to find I still enjoyed a lot of it, as quaint as it seems now compared to all the stuff that's come out since. But I really had no idea how awful Sub Rosa was when I was 11.
posted by bananana at 7:35 AM on January 7, 2015 [1 favorite]


> But I will always love it for the sake of that 15-year-old girl desperate for something worth watching.

Kids These Days have NO IDEA how bad TV used to be. Check out the 1987 Emmy Awards (the year TNG started): apparently L.A. Law was as good as it got back then.
posted by The Card Cheat at 7:38 AM on January 7, 2015 [5 favorites]


I'll give you a new Trek I'd love to see: Focus a series on Wesley Crusher.

Not the 15-year-old wunderkind everyone hated. A 50-year-old Wesley serving as the engineer on some trash freighter plying the edge of the Federation. Life hasn't worked out just as he expected it to for Wesley, but he's not going to sit on a planet and explore himself. He's still exploring the galaxy, and without a starship's massive firepower to back him up.


OMFG, get out of my head! I've ALWAYS thought that would make an awesome series! He's got all the brains he ever had, but he's so maladjusted from his upbringing and from all that time he spent wandering God-knows-where with the weird aliens that he's not the shining star everybody expected him to be. But he didn't stay with the weird aliens, because he decided that being human was the most important thing, even though it's hard and he's not always great at it. I always imagined him on a small science vessel rather than a freighter, but still, not a shiny big flagship or state-of-the-art space station. Wheaton could act the HELL out of that.
posted by The Underpants Monster at 7:42 AM on January 7, 2015 [11 favorites]


I would love to see the blooper reel from all the holodeck scenes.

I for one pity whatever janitor ensign had to mop up the holodecks on Voyager.
posted by feckless fecal fear mongering at 7:43 AM on January 7, 2015 [2 favorites]


...and J.J. Abrams ruining the property

The initial reboot met my low expectations very well, and I was hopeful that, having assembled the cast and set the stage, the second movie would go on to do something really unique and interesting. But instead Abrams decided to remake the best TOS movie, except stupidly instead of smartly, and throw in impossible feats of engineering (the Enterprise underwater!) as well as making the theme Kirk-is-immature-and-unprepared-for-leadership-until-events-make-him-grow-up just like in the first movie, meaning that character basically learned none of the stuff we thought he had.

At this point, the only way to go is Star Trek: The Search for Spock, where Kirk wakes up in a seedy bar, passed out drunk on Romulan ale, and goes looking for Spock because he was the designated driver and has the car keys. 98 minutes of him wandering around starting fights and being creepy to women until he finds Spock who drives him home and has him officially demoted to Enterprise janitor.
posted by Pater Aletheias at 7:44 AM on January 7, 2015 [15 favorites]


Guy Fieri travels back in time by flying around the sun (or whatever), and there is an awesome scene where he tries to kill Earth's last whale from his spaceship, which looks like a Camaro.

Sounds like the sequel to "Actual Cannibal Shia LeBoeuf."
posted by The Underpants Monster at 7:44 AM on January 7, 2015 [1 favorite]


This post led me to Riker Googling, which is pretty damn good.
posted by aerotive at 7:45 AM on January 7, 2015 [15 favorites]


and throw in impossible feats of engineering (the Enterprise underwater!)

you mean like the goddamn fucking stupid building the Enterprise ON EARTH in the first movie? god that was so fucking dumb
posted by feckless fecal fear mongering at 7:46 AM on January 7, 2015 [4 favorites]


OMG, Capricorn, that's something my wife and I might actually leave Maryland for!
posted by wintermind at 7:46 AM on January 7, 2015 [1 favorite]


I get it. The show is impenetrable, watching the whole thing takes 178 hours. It’s also extremely silly — nearly every episode has a moment when grown men in pajamas throw themselves around in their chairs[.]
I can't imagine being actual friends with anyone who might think this way. A little later the word "twee" is used with regards to the Federation and its post-scarcity economy. I think that's the kind of thing the kids "can't even."
posted by ob1quixote at 7:51 AM on January 7, 2015 [5 favorites]


I'm curious if it would cost more or less to make a Star Trek today. My impression is that TNG was super cheap to produce because it's mostly a handful of Enterprise sets, some caves, and some cheap fx. It didn't matter that it was niche because it wasn't expensive to produce. Today the cheap fx could presumably be done cheaper digitally, but they'd have to be much nicer looking (and HD) for 2015 audiences. I think cost could be a reason that it hasn't been resurrected.
posted by a dangerous ruin at 7:56 AM on January 7, 2015


I've ALWAYS thought that would make an awesome series! He's got all the brains he ever had, but he's so maladjusted from his upbringing and from all that time he spent wandering God-knows-where with the weird aliens that he's not the shining star everybody expected him to be


I'd watch yours too!

Yeah, I think it only works if Wesley is still super-smart, and likeable enough, but just self-sabotaging. And who wouldn't be? At 15 with no Academy training, he gets put on the bridge of the Federation's best ship, commanded by a Captain who thinks of him as a protege and has a thing for his Mom? Surrounded by people who tell him he's a genius? What kind of Cadet or Ensign do you think he's going make?

I was just thinking that if Crusher had slipped one more step and used up all his favors years ago, maybe a little less Star Fleet in the series opened up some storylines. "We're not going to call Star Fleet to look at this derelict. We need the salvage money," or "Prime Directive? Technically, this ship is of Ferengi registry. What Prime Directive?"
posted by tyllwin at 8:01 AM on January 7, 2015 [7 favorites]


Dip Flash: I understand you! I tried so hard to like Doctor Who. You people have no idea how hard I tried. It is a terrible, campy-but-not-funny, mind-bogglingly stupid show. I am more mystified by its popularity having watched some of it than I was when my only source of information about it was my friends' constant TARDIS references.

I feel the same about Star Trek: The Original Series and what I saw of TNG season 1 before giving up because it was just too silly. However, I did go with my husband and brother-in-law (both huge Star Trek fans) to a movie screening of "The Best of Both Worlds," which was excellent. Because of that, I've got an awareness in the back of my mind that there's definitely more to TNG than campy, dated special effects. There's a there there. I'm willing to give this viewing guide a chance.

I am having a hard time reconciling "co-creator of the Cards Against Humanity game" with "lover of Star Trek: The Next Generation."

I am having a hard time reconciling that Daniel Quinn quote with the rest of the article. That's just such an odd author to drop into an article about how great the shiny, technological Star Trek future is. Like, did he not read any more Daniel Quinn than those three paragraphs he quoted?
posted by Anyamatopoeia at 8:02 AM on January 7, 2015 [2 favorites]


Also these two were left off the list but deserve honorable mentions:
Phantasms has one of my favorite scenes from the whole series.

Booby Trap has another one of my favorite scenes from the whole series.
posted by bananana at 8:08 AM on January 7, 2015 [6 favorites]


My impression is that TNG was super cheap to produce because it's mostly a handful of Enterprise sets, some caves, and some cheap fx.

The next generation was one of the most expensive ever TV show produced at the time, I think, with each episode costing about $2 million dollars or so to make. Those were expensive sets and expensive effects and expensive haircuts and beards.
posted by dng at 8:09 AM on January 7, 2015 [12 favorites]


expensive haircuts and beards.

Worth every goddamn penny.
posted by Etrigan at 8:18 AM on January 7, 2015 [17 favorites]


In addition to the clip from "The Wounded" that wallawallasweet posted already, I'd also offer this one. It's an amazing bit of writing, even though the set-up is pretty simple--just two guys talking in a bar--because of what it does for the franchise as a whole. Star Trek had previously shown Starfleet officers who had been essentially broken by their experiences--Matt Decker, Garth of Izar, Ronald Tracey--but they were obviously over the rainbow and insane in the membrane. O'Brien, on the other hand, seems to be doing pretty well, as opposed to his former captain Benjamin Maxwell, who seems very much in the vein of the TOS officers, but here he shows just how badly he was permanently damaged by his experiences. And it's just a thing that he has to live with, all the time, every day; he's not going to flip out and become a megalomaniac or a loose cannon, but that wound will never really go away. He's never going to get back to being the guy who wouldn't check the setting on a phaser because he'd simply assume that it was set to stun, not disintegrate.

I've called "The Wounded" the unofficial DS9 pilot before, but thinking about it, Benjamin Sisko is also very much in that mode; his experience with the Prophets in "Emissary" have given him some measure of peace with his past, but as with O'Brien, the damage that he suffered in war (in his case, the Battle of Wolf 359) isn't something that he works through and leaves behind, it becomes an intrinsic part of his character.
posted by Halloween Jack at 8:22 AM on January 7, 2015 [12 favorites]


My impression is that TNG was super cheap to produce because it's mostly a handful of Enterprise sets, some caves, and some cheap fx. It didn't matter that it was niche because it wasn't expensive to produce.

This describes Babylon 5. B5's creator once remarked something to the effect that his budget for entire season of B5 was the same as a budget for a single episode of Star Trek: Deep Space Nine.
posted by AndrewInDC at 8:22 AM on January 7, 2015 [2 favorites]


Wow, I had no idea it was so expensive. I guess it is understandable with expense of traditional fx.
posted by a dangerous ruin at 8:25 AM on January 7, 2015


Yeah, from here it's hard to imagine that TNG cost that much, but at the time, it was the first time space had looked really big on TV.
posted by allthinky at 8:29 AM on January 7, 2015 [1 favorite]


I contend that the episode "The Inner Light" is one of the best hours of science fiction television of all time, bar none. Pure brilliance.
posted by dbiedny at 8:32 AM on January 7, 2015 [11 favorites]


Am I missing something here? Is The Most Toys really not on this list?
posted by beerbudget at 8:36 AM on January 7, 2015 [2 favorites]


sigh, TNG was like, so awesome when I was a nerdy teenager. I would watch it, in rapt attention, totally hot for Deanna Troi and having very confusing feels for Picard and Riker...

I may have to watch all these.
posted by Annika Cicada at 8:44 AM on January 7, 2015 [1 favorite]


When I found out my wife had never really seen any Star Trek I took a similar approach of cherry-picking the episodes I remembered as either the best (and I fondly remember my surprise when I discovered The Inner Light was as beloved by all as it was by me), or were iconic in pop-culture terms. Generally those two criteria overlapped.

TOS was much stronger a show, over less time, so that IIRC I just as much TOS to watch than I could cull from all seven seasons of TNG; the crazy pulp fun of the 60s gives the original an energy you just don't see in TNG.

I think I had just under two dozen TNG episodes that I thought were truly damn good--that were bits of remarkable television. There's plenty of watchable stuff, but I don't think "watchable" is much of a criteria for spending time. The lack of much in the way of continuity and character growth in particular was extremely painful. DS9, which at least had the former, was a much better show, and Babylon 5, which had both, was superior to all of it.
posted by Palindromedary at 8:51 AM on January 7, 2015 [1 favorite]


Season one may not have been the best, adventure-storytelling-wise, but I thought it was valuable for exposition and universe-building. By the time things really took off, I already had a strong emotional investment in the main characters, the universe they lived in, their mission, and their philosophy. Maybe some video-editing type could cut it into a faster-paced prologue movie or two.

Watching it through at the weekly screenings capricorn mentioned, it's amazing how many concepts (Holodecks, the Ferengi, Worf's struggles with his dual Klingon/Human heritage, Wesley being annoying as shit) and recurring characters (Lwaxana Troi, Q, Lore) were introduced really early on, often in terrible episodes that no one cares about now. They clearly had all of the pieces for something great but took 2/3 of a season to figure out how to even start putting them together to make enjoyable television, and at least another full season after that to do it consistently.

It's an interesting question how much of that slow build-up is necessary. I feel like the recent trend (at least in science-fiction movies and TV) has been to strip it down as much as possible and hit the ground running. I can see the merits of that, but, to take one example, Battlestar Galactica had plenty of problems with narrative and pacing, and maybe a little more time spent actually developing concepts that wouldn't pay off for another season or two instead of just jamming ideas in as the writers thought of them might have helped.
posted by Copronymus at 9:09 AM on January 7, 2015 [2 favorites]


Riker Googling is the funniest thing I've read in a long time. I'm cry laughing at my desk.
posted by Annika Cicada at 9:29 AM on January 7, 2015 [3 favorites]


I find Star Trek to be the most insipid and uninteresting show ever

Haven't seen the new Dr. Who I take it?

I really didn't get into this show until season 3. Seasons 1 and 2 had a high quality fan fic feel to them (like the new Doctor Who) but once Roddenberry let go of the reins (so I'm told) it improved a lot.

Still don't care for how it was shot. Too bright, very little atmosphere.

I'd agree with others that the movies were terrible and back to fan fic mode.

Deep Space Nine remains my favourite Trek.
posted by juiceCake at 9:32 AM on January 7, 2015


Kids These Days have NO IDEA how bad TV used to be. Check out the 1987 Emmy Awards (the year TNG started): apparently L.A. Law was as good as it got back then.

The fact they gave an award to another televised awards show is especially hilarious and terrible. I'm not sure how often this happens (I suspect it's happened quite a few times) but each time it does a creative producer cries Iron Eyes Cody style.
posted by Mr.Encyclopedia at 9:49 AM on January 7, 2015 [1 favorite]


Then, because Scott Bakula is hot, I watched one episode of Enterprise in spite of the worst theme song in the history of bad television theme songs ever for all time in all possible universes,

I recently tried watching Enterprise myself, and oh my god, this is so true. What were they smoking when they came up with that opening? It's like, if I were trying to make something that was cliched and dated, I'm not sure I could come up with an opening that was so terrible on so many levels.
posted by dyslexictraveler at 10:00 AM on January 7, 2015 [2 favorites]


Anyhow, I really love TNG, even though the majority of it is just godawful. It's the boundless optimism of the thing--I still reserve the right to believe in a Star Trek future, even if every day it seems less likely--that really makes it work, for me. The Future is a place we want to be, it's a thing we need to want to create. That's what's so beautiful, to me, about TNG.

Thank you, uncleozzy, for summing this up so nicely. This is exactly why I still love this show. My spouse loves BSG and I tried it but the unrelentingly depressing tone of it is just too much for me.
posted by bijou243 at 10:06 AM on January 7, 2015 [1 favorite]


As requested above: Greg Nog's 2009 post on what to watch when you want to check out TNG.
posted by apartment dweller at 10:12 AM on January 7, 2015 [5 favorites]


A 50-year-old Wesley...

Holy fuck, don't scare me like that. For a moment I was like? "What? Wil Wheaton is fifty? But that means I'm only slightly less than fifty." He'll just turn 43 this year, which is much better. I think.
posted by ZeroAmbition at 10:33 AM on January 7, 2015 [1 favorite]


That CBS doesn't have one series idea for Star Trek going forward is a crime.
posted by inturnaround at 8:46 AM on January 7 [5 favorites +] [!]


Epony-something!

No, the fiftieth anniversary of Star Trek is about eighteen months away. While -- as we learned above -- Star Trek is perhaps not in the first rank financially of franchises, it is a bid deal for Paramount; apart from Transformers, their other franchised successes are pretty much moribund (Shrek, Indiana Jones), or so irregular that they barely qualify as franchises (Mission Impossible), or in deep vaults awaiting a reboot, I suppose (Lara Croft, Beverly Hills Cop, Crocodile Dundee), or indeed sputtering after multiple reboots (the Jack Ryan series). They distribute the Marvel films, but I am sure they would like to bring home more bacon than shipping Thor: The Lost World provides. By this summer Enterprise will have been off the air a decade and any lingering miasma should be dissipated. I would be entirely unsurprised to see Star Trek returning to TV by fall 2016.
posted by ricochet biscuit at 10:35 AM on January 7, 2015 [3 favorites]


The thing about Star Trek is that it's one of the most successful niche franchises of all time, but that doesn't mean that it's actually as huge as fans tend to think it is.

Niches make money.

Don't believe me? Here's a list of the biggest movie franchises. Note that Star Trek is thirteenth. It is behind Twilight, it is about to be behind Hunger Games, and it will likely get passed by Iron Man, which is a franchise inside another franchise. And that's only counting domestic box office. You order that list by worldwide box office, and Star Trek falls to twenty-fourth.

In a world that is franchise obsessed, I don't find these numbers as compelling as you do. When everything released now is a franchise, that means that 13 and 24 are still pretty big deals.

And there's a reason that none of the TV series after the first one were on real networks. The two that were on UPN consistently declined in the ratings season-to-season.

And people aren't going to watch a show they don't like regardless of its pedigree. They tried Enterprise and found it lacking. Whereas with Voyager, it ran for 7 seasons. Most shows, TNG included, decline in viewership over time.

CBS probably gets pitched Star Trek series ideas constantly. Then they look at the 5.9M viewers that Enterprise got as the tentpole of UPN in its best (first) season and realizes that CBS has no original scripted programming that gets that low even today, when network viewership is at historically low numbers. Hostages got more eyeballs for CBS.

The CW (partially owned by CBS) and Showtime (wholly owned by CBS) have no scripted series that get more than 5.9 million viewers per week. I think if you launch a Star Trek series on Showtime, you make money because people will subscribe to Showtime. It doesn't even have to have as many episodes as it did on network television.
posted by inturnaround at 10:56 AM on January 7, 2015 [4 favorites]


And let's be fair...Star Trek is most at home on television. In a movie, what was a thoughtful show becomes all action and what makes Trek truly Trek gets lost in the shuffle save for a few examples. It's no mistake that the movies with the biggest Trek ideas (II, IV, VI, First Contact) were the biggest successes before the "reboot".
posted by inturnaround at 11:02 AM on January 7, 2015 [4 favorites]


My son just turned ten, and of course we've seen Star Wars (OT) plenty of times, and he's very familiar with the entire Star Wars universe thanks to friends, legos, books, etc. But I suddenly realized that he had practically NO Star Trek knowledge, so we recently started watching TNG from the beginning, one episode a night. Even though the first season is one of the weakest, he is already totally hooked. My favorite observation that he's made so far:

"It seems like Troi not only senses people's emotions, but actually feels them. So if somebody told a lame joke and someone else thought it was funny, she'd have to laugh, too."
posted by ericbop at 11:14 AM on January 7, 2015 [17 favorites]


They tried Enterprise and found it lacking.

That is an absolutely masterful use of understatement. Kudos.

I would be delighted if HBO or Netflix picked up Star Trek and did a 10-episode series. Depending on reaction, do another one--maybe the same characters, maybe new ones, maybe a new stage in the story.
posted by feckless fecal fear mongering at 11:26 AM on January 7, 2015 [1 favorite]


(new around here)

I really loved Frame of Mind--it's so weird and mind-fucky and dark, in a way that few TNG episodes are, and I think the contrast really adds to its moodiness.

I also saw Best of Both Worlds in a theater (which was so great), with a friend who hadn't seen much Star Trek before; they're pretty compelling just on their own.
posted by n. moon at 11:37 AM on January 7, 2015 [2 favorites]


It's almost a shame BOBW happened the way it did, because it would have made a fantastic movie.
posted by feckless fecal fear mongering at 11:40 AM on January 7, 2015


I think that there will be entire college courses dedicated to the relative failure of the Star Trek: The Next Generation film franchise.

Paging Professor Plinkett, please put down those pizza rolls and aim your Rascal towards the classroom.
posted by robocop is bleeding at 11:49 AM on January 7, 2015 [4 favorites]


BOBW would definitely have made a great movie--but it was also an awesome end-of-season cliffhanger!
posted by n. moon at 12:06 PM on January 7, 2015


I would be delighted if HBO or Netflix picked up Star Trek and did a 10-episode series. Depending on reaction, do another one--maybe the same characters, maybe new ones, maybe a new stage in the story.

How about Star Trek from another POV, entirely Klingon or all Vulcan or Gorn or anything but what we've had up until now (not that I don't appreciate the quality we've been witness to). I'd just like something unique and different. And I'm willing to bet that many other fans would too!
posted by Fizz at 12:07 PM on January 7, 2015 [2 favorites]


"Many other fans (of a show that has been off the air for ten years)" is not the kind of audience that gets producers' and advertisers' toes a-taping, unfortunately.
posted by ricochet biscuit at 12:09 PM on January 7, 2015


I'd love to see a House of Cards style political backstabbery story set at Starfleet HQ or something. Focus more on the story and less on inverted tachyon beams.
posted by feckless fecal fear mongering at 12:11 PM on January 7, 2015 [4 favorites]


feckless fecal fear mongering: "I would be delighted if HBO or Netflix picked up Star Trek and did a 10-episode series. Depending on reaction, do another one--maybe the same characters, maybe new ones, maybe a new stage in the story."

The setting really lends itself to limited series, especially if you're going to set stuff post-Voyager (and not in the new reboot canon).

Utopia Planitia: Hyper-competitive young engineers trying to get their designs into the new flagship find their high-flying ambitions derailed as the sheer quantity of work that has to be done to rebuild the fleet after the Dominion war becomes apparent. Lingering paranoia about Dominion spies and news of a new high-tech Breen ship design have everyone on their toes.

Cardassia Prime: The new post-war political reality is hard for some old-guard Cardassians to adapt to, and a reformer faces dangers at every turn as she tries to ensure the new Cardassia does not become the old Cardassia.

Borg: Nearly two decades after Voyager's return from the Delta quadrant, old friends Seven of Nine and the Doctor are reunited on a project to design the next generation of truly-sentient holographic people, who will be equal citizens in the Federation. But the arrival of a beaten-up Borg cube filled with ex-drone refugees from the Unimatrix Zero civil war divides their resources and provokes in the general population renewed suspicion of artificial life forms.
posted by ArmyOfKittens at 12:14 PM on January 7, 2015 [22 favorites]


I'd love to see a House of Cards style political backstabbery story set at Starfleet HQ or something. Focus more on the story and less on inverted tachyon beams.

They could call it Deep Space Nine: The Next Generation.
posted by drezdn at 12:15 PM on January 7, 2015 [2 favorites]


ArmyOfKittens is now THE BOSS OF STAR TREK FOREVER.

I would watch all of those.

I dunno, drezdn, DS9 kinda lost me. B5 did what it was trying to do so much better.
posted by feckless fecal fear mongering at 12:16 PM on January 7, 2015 [1 favorite]


Anyhow, I really love TNG, even though the majority of it is just godawful. It's the boundless optimism of the thing--I still reserve the right to believe in a Star Trek future, even if every day it seems less likely--that really makes it work, for me. The Future is a place we want to be, it's a thing we need to want to create. That's what's so beautiful, to me, about TNG.

I agree with this, and another part of the appeal for me is that TNG as I remember it is a resolutely moral show, yet one without any kind of final appeal to religion or God (allow me to side-eye BSG for a bit here) as opposed to the wonder of the universe. It's a world where the main characters are interested in exploring the natural world, and yet at the same time, deeply concerned with doing the right thing.

(As sonascope mentions the lack of queer people is disappointing, but Roddenberry was coming around as early as 1991. 1991! Sadly he died before he could act on it, and I think Berman totally wimped out in the years following. There were vague nods after that, but nothing as revolutionary as the Kirk-Uhura kiss. Interesting to think about what might have been, though.)
posted by en forme de poire at 12:19 PM on January 7, 2015 [5 favorites]


BOBW would definitely have made a great movie--but it was also an awesome end-of-season cliffhanger!

I have never anticipated anything on TV as much as part 2 of BOBW. And I lived through the opening of Al Capone's vaults.
posted by Pater Aletheias at 12:21 PM on January 7, 2015


ISTR the first episode with a Trill touched on queerness--not a problem at all for the Trill, but a bit of a hurdle for Dr Crusher. And the genderless species with the bit about the one person who had a gender (they were Beardosexual for Riker) and then got re-educated. It was pretty heavy handed, as most ST moralizing is, but there was definitely an enormous sense of "You is what you is" from the Federation side, and a sense of tragic loss by the end of the episode.
posted by feckless fecal fear mongering at 12:22 PM on January 7, 2015 [7 favorites]


"I'd love to see a House of Cards style political backstabbery story set at Starfleet HQ or something. Focus more on the story and less on inverted tachyon beams."

Who Killed the Non-Explodey Control Console?: A documentary-style fictionalized account of the complex set of events around the development and demise of the modern LCARS console that is not rigged to explode in its user's face upon first contact with an enemy.
posted by AndrewInDC at 12:27 PM on January 7, 2015 [4 favorites]


I was just thinking that if Crusher had slipped one more step and used up all his favors years ago, maybe a little less Star Fleet in the series opened up some storylines.

And all the Bruce Maddox-types at Daystrom don't trust him because he won't share all the cool stuff he saw with the weird aliens - either he doesn't remember it now that he's back in this universe full-time, or there's some damn good reason why not, but there's no red carpet for him in the scientific community.
posted by The Underpants Monster at 12:33 PM on January 7, 2015 [2 favorites]


Who wouldn't be beardosexual for Riker? But yeah, I was sort of classifying that as a "vague nod" - there's stuff that to an audience today would absolutely read as queer (like the "born this way" speech she gives), but I think there's an unfortunate aspect to the script that can be read as "heterosexuality, the most natural state of being, mounts a brave stand against PC repression! and also reparative therapy totally works." Apparently Jonathan Frakes actually thought they totally wimped out by not casting a man in that role, which I'm kind of inclined to agree with.
posted by en forme de poire at 12:37 PM on January 7, 2015 [3 favorites]


en forme de poire: "Who wouldn't be beardosexual for Riker?"

Even Riker is beardosexual for Riker. (warning: not safe for anyone)
posted by ArmyOfKittens at 12:42 PM on January 7, 2015 [11 favorites]


Right after Christmas, I was reminded once again why my wife is the bestest mate evar.
Honest...This is TNG-related

I had gotten a couple of fleece pullovers for Christmas and, while I really liked them and they felt great, they were cut a bit too trim for my...um...midsection. I wore one around the house one day, just to see if I might grow to be okay with the fit. Alas, no.

So, when explaining my discomfort with the fit, I told her I was walking around all day, constantly doing the Picard Maneuver. She started laughing and we both did the "tuck" at the same time.

Whatta gal.
posted by Thorzdad at 12:43 PM on January 7, 2015 [7 favorites]


I'm a little disturbed that neither this list nor Greg Nog's has Second Chances on it. If I only get one chance to stuff some TNG into my girlfriend's senses, by god Tom Riker's coming along for the ride.
posted by Steely-eyed Missile Man at 12:50 PM on January 7, 2015 [2 favorites]


AoK, that is brilliant

(Also reminds me of this)
posted by en forme de poire at 12:50 PM on January 7, 2015 [3 favorites]


OMG, Capricorn, that's something my wife and I might actually leave Maryland for!

yessss join usssss
disclaimer: DC MeFi is definitely not a cult
posted by capricorn at 1:02 PM on January 7, 2015


"The Outcast" worked as intended for me, but I'm willing to believe that it's because I was viewing it from within my own idiosyncratic bubble of experience and privilege.

I totally bought the J'naii as androgynous; in fact, until I just looked up the cast list, I was certain that they had been played by a combination of male and female performers. Then again, I've both done and been exposed to a lot of theatrical cross-dressing, so my suspension of disbelief in that area is probably pretty high. (People left our recent all-female Shakespeare production saying, "Wait, they were all women? Even... ?")

It didn't occur to me until today that anyone might read an endorsement of heterosexuality over non-heterosexuality in the switcheroo. It read to me as the classic sci-fi technique of "How would YOU like it if YOUR normal was weird to somebody ELSE?" You know, like the "Eye of the Beholder" episode of The Twilight Zone.

I also totally didn't believe the reparative therapy ACTUALLY worked! I thought it only "worked" in the sense that it "works" today - the person who receives it either goes into denial or makes a decision to live as if it HAS worked in order to fit in and avoid any further trouble. I read it as a sacrifice on Soren's part to spare getting Riker involved in an interplanetary incident.

But, as I said, I have the luxury of seeing things that way because of the life I've been allowed to have. And Frakes is right; it would have been super-cool to have cast a male actor as Soren.
posted by The Underpants Monster at 1:10 PM on January 7, 2015 [4 favorites]


I would be delighted if HBO or Netflix picked up Star Trek and did a 10-episode series. Depending on reaction, do another one--maybe the same characters, maybe new ones, maybe a new stage in the story.

This would be a fantastic thing. My only reservation would be with how so many dramas on HBO lean so heavily on relatively explicit sex and a whole lot of pretty graphic violence. To me, such overt stuff would ruin a Star Trek series. Yes, there's violence of a sort in ST, but it's never been on the order of graphicness, or as unrelenting, as it is in so many HBO dramas. I'd hate to see that done to ST.
posted by Thorzdad at 1:11 PM on January 7, 2015


My idea for a new Star Trek series extrapolates from an earlier idea that I think someone may have actually posted here. It would be set roughly a century or so after TNG/DS9/Voyager, and take place at the end of a period of disorder and fragmentation.

With its success against the Dominion, the Federation reached its zenith. A series of crises followed, with the Klingon empire overextending itself trying to both expand into Breen territory while holding onto a number of captured Cardassian worlds; Cardassia trying to regain some of its previous possessions; the Federation gradually being overcome by war-weariness while trying to impose punitive measures upon the Breen (who prove to be more resilient than anyone expected); Vulcan, Bajor and Ferenginar entering periods of withdrawal and introspection; and general economic instability amongst a number of non-aligned cultures as the aftershocks of war continue to be felt. Then the destruction of Romulus triggers another grab for territory, followed by an even larger war, and general collapse throughout the Alpha quadrant. The Klingon Empire dissolves into various warring houses, Cardassia is nearly destroyed (again), and the Federation is unable to maintain either its own territorial integrity, or its hegemony over a number of independent systems.

The series begins near the end of this period, with the Federation slowly beginning to recover. I sort of picture the premise as being similar to Justinian's attempts to reunite the eastern and western empires- Starfleet has just begun to regain some of its previous capacity, and has begun expeditions to parts of the former Federation that had been cut off from contact during the wars. Part of this program of reunification involves a new flagship, the Enterprise NCC 1701-H (both F and G having been destroyed during the earlier conflicts).

This would bring the new series closer to TOS, with a proper four-year mission to explore, recontact, and protect. While they will not be boldly going where no man has gone before, they will be encountering a radically changed spatialpolitical landscape: tiny Klingon and Cardassian principalities, wandering fleets of Romulan refugees, mixed crews of pirates and freebooters, independent human planets (some of them enthusiastic about reestablishing the Federation, others less so), militant Bajoran monks, etc. Similarly, the political character of the Enterprise's crew would be different as well (perhaps even with a touch of the mirror universe). The Prime Directive is no longer the final word in Federation law, but rather a matter of political conviction, or even faith. The captain of this new Enterprise might be very enthusiastic about the Prime Directive, but the first officer (perhaps a Vulcan who finds adherence to the directive illogical in the face of certain expediencies) less so. There could be other crew members who find themselves similarly conflicted- perhaps a Klingon from a wealthy house outside the rump Federation, who is torn between rival factions within her own family, and her loyalty to Starfleet. Meanwhile, are darker forces gathering on the edges of the old Federation? Is it the Borg again? Or the Dominion? Something else entirely?

Also, there would be militant order called the Daughters of Duras. Founded by Lursa and B'Etor, it would consist of Klingon war widows who have vowed to renounce both house and empire. They mostly run protection rackets.
posted by TheWhiteSkull at 1:36 PM on January 7, 2015 [19 favorites]


"The Outcast" worked as intended for me

I think that's totally fair, and my opinion might also be different watching it today as opposed to when I was a teenager (I haven't seen it in quite a while). I hear you about the "your normal is someone else's weird" switcheroo, too. I just think there was enough stuff mixed in and toned down to make the queerness "plausibly deniable" that it ultimately kind of muddied the message, compared to what could have been.
posted by en forme de poire at 1:38 PM on January 7, 2015


Jonathan Frakes agrees with you.
posted by Steely-eyed Missile Man at 1:40 PM on January 7, 2015 [1 favorite]


My only reservation would be with how so many dramas on HBO lean so heavily on relatively explicit sex and a whole lot of pretty graphic violence.

I dunno, Star Trek: Space Wangs could be kind of fun, if not safe-for-nerdy-kids.
posted by feckless fecal fear mongering at 1:45 PM on January 7, 2015


drezdn: Darmok on the couch, watching Netflix.
Gillette, pirating "The Interview".
posted by IAmBroom at 1:47 PM on January 7, 2015 [6 favorites]


TheWhiteSkull, you say that your idea sounds like it would "bring the new series closer to TOS," but that actually sounds more like Firefly as well.
posted by EmpressCallipygos at 1:47 PM on January 7, 2015 [2 favorites]


AND IT SOUNDS AWESOME
posted by EmpressCallipygos at 1:47 PM on January 7, 2015 [2 favorites]


angerbot: Captain Janeway is objectively the best captain in all of the Stark Trek properties.
Did you misspell "objectionable"? Because I'd rather serve on a Ferengi cargo ship under Captain Neelix and First Mate Harry Mudd than Janeway. At least they might accidentally issue commands that helped get the ship home.

I will speak of this no more. That series never happened. And thus, no prequel-sequel series.
posted by IAmBroom at 1:53 PM on January 7, 2015


My idea for a new series is one in which the ship's engines are powered by Wesley's pulsing brain. Also it is in the far future or something I don't know. But Wesley's brain
posted by dng at 1:54 PM on January 7, 2015 [1 favorite]


And of course, Starfleet is now run by Patrick Stewart and Ian McKellen, who spend most of the day bumming around San Francisco posing for humorous selfies in silly hats.
posted by The Underpants Monster at 2:08 PM on January 7, 2015 [4 favorites]


Fizz: How about Star Trek from another POV, entirely Klingon or all Vulcan or Gorn or anything but what we've had up until now (not that I don't appreciate the quality we've been witness to). I'd just like something unique and different. And I'm willing to bet that many other fans would too!
feckless fecal fear mongering: I'd love to see a House of Cards style political backstabbery story set at Starfleet HQ or something. Focus more on the story and less on inverted tachyon beams.
This... is a better combination than the day that guy with the paint tripped and stuck his chocolate bar into that electrician's open peanut butter jar. (Only old people will get that.) (Don't worry, it's not funny to them, either.)

Klingon/House of Cards/Game of Thrones! Hell, they made the succession of the Klingon leader stretch over several episodes, successfully... Add some Klingon kleavage, some rippling Klingon muscles, shaggy beards are in right now anyway....

God damn, if you insist Klingon nipples are bright yellow, you could get away with zillions of boob shots just because "they're wearing pasties" (like the strip clubs in stupidly conservative locals).
posted by IAmBroom at 2:09 PM on January 7, 2015 [1 favorite]


Oh, but the whole cast in heavy makeup every day! The budget! The complaining!
posted by The Underpants Monster at 2:13 PM on January 7, 2015 [1 favorite]


First of all I would like to chime in on the theme that when TNG kicked off its run television was a real wasteland. Good dramas were few and far between. Once the series hit its stride it was a real oasis from the banality the networks were parading to sell laundry detergent and automobiles. My wife and I used to pine for it all week, working ourselves up even for reruns. For whatever faults the show had in, at its time it was one of the few things people with a brain and geeky tendencies could watch.

Star Trek on HBO? So we're talking Tricia Helfer as Captain Tightpants? It'd be a damn sight better than that Ascension piece of shit SyFy ran a few weeks ago.
posted by Ber at 2:37 PM on January 7, 2015 [4 favorites]


The Underpants Monster: the whole cast in heavy makeup every day! The budget! Th
CGI. Done.
posted by IAmBroom at 2:44 PM on January 7, 2015


So an animated show?
posted by Steely-eyed Missile Man at 2:46 PM on January 7, 2015 [2 favorites]


They should be TOS Klingons. No more makeup problems!
posted by Elementary Penguin at 3:07 PM on January 7, 2015 [3 favorites]


My suggestion for a new star trek series, other than captain worf, would be something like workaholics. Beavis and butthead in space.

Set it somewhere in the TNG timeline, but make it a bunch of loser ensigns always getting in trouble and doing stupid shit, and everyone else on the ship and the captain/first officer hate them. Maybe the engineer or some random other senior staff person likes them.

They're constantly getting in trouble for pranks, stupid misogynistic/other bigoted shit, etc. Make the punchline be that no one gets their jokes because all that stuff is so outdated. They only get it because they're obsessed with 20th/21st century media.

That, and so-bad-they're-great Holodeck episodes. I will not apologize for loving those.

I can't give you an episode number, but there's one where Riker is about to get to second base with an alien lady who came out of a huge ball of energy in a cargo hold(that some ferengi disturbed, causing it to form in to her).

When he realizes he can't do that, and leaves her room, someone confronts him. He says "i'll be in the holodeck".

So i guess that's how they crank down in the 24th century.

It's too bad the sound wasn't on. You missed all the announcers' unintentional double entendres about penetration in the backfield, pounding it up the middle, releasing inside, man on man coverage, etc., etc., etc.

One of the best bands of all time, in my opinion, released a song about this.
posted by emptythought at 3:16 PM on January 7, 2015


WRT queerness in Star Trek, I'm surprised that no one's mentioned "Rejoined." For some Trekkies who have wanted to see canon LGBT characters in Trek for a while, Jadzia and Lenara getting together doesn't count, because they want to see human same-sex pairings; it's a little disturbing that we never see evidence that they exist in the 22nd through 24th centuries. I'd like to think that it's reassuring that, regardless of what people think of Jadzia/Lenara, the same-sex nature of it really isn't remarked upon, which I'd assume is because of it being considered utterly unremarkable. (In the episode summary linked above, there are quotes from the cast and crew insisting that it isn't "really" about lesbianism. Because, you know, Trek hasn't ever dealt heavily in sci-fi allegories. Uh-huh.)
posted by Halloween Jack at 3:36 PM on January 7, 2015 [1 favorite]


Fact or Faaaked: Mythbusters, Gamma Quadrant Edition, hosted by former Romulan senator Vreenak.
posted by AndrewInDC at 3:37 PM on January 7, 2015 [3 favorites]


CGI. Done.

Well, Jack Huston's digital gueule cassée makeup in Boardwalk Empire was pretty amazing, wasn't it? I guess it could be done, if you got just the right team of artists. I'd have to see it to be convinced.
posted by The Underpants Monster at 3:38 PM on January 7, 2015


They only get it because they're obsessed with 20th/21st century media.

Please no. Few things in televised sci-fi are as tooth-gratingly obnoxious as Garibaldi's obsession with cartoons or Paris' obsession with whatever it was, Pleasantville.

I would be very happy if the putative new Trek didn't have a holodeck at all.
posted by feckless fecal fear mongering at 3:40 PM on January 7, 2015 [4 favorites]


Also worth noting, while not outright queerness, they were totally ok with seemingly male(or male bodied? or trans?) people wearing the TOS style skirt uniform in TNG.

I remember being pretty surprised when i first saw that.

also FFFM i wasn't really serious, i was just being a smartass. TheWhiteSkulls idea is way better than my non-serious one and honestly really good.

I'd hope if they make a new show, they have the gonadular integrity to do stuff like have them show up at a new planet, and then someone there gets in to the whole "but how are you a woman, we scanned you and you're male!" and then the federation peeps are all like "uh that's not how it works in our society bub" and gets in to the whole space TERFs thing, and the first officers flirting with aliens revealing that he's openly gay(I would say she, but that would be total nerd jackoff BS), etc.

Also it would be really awesome if in TheWhiteSkulls universe, the captain of the enterprise is Jake Sisko.

I also can't decide if the Roddenberry box and the creativity needed to still do interesting stuff while technically staying within it is part of what made good TNG great, or whether it should be avoided.

Mostly though, i think people are expecting a hell of a lot from a show that's essentially from the 80s, with regards to a lot of things. I have sympathy for the "TOS was arguably more progressive even looking at both now" arguments though.
posted by emptythought at 3:48 PM on January 7, 2015 [3 favorites]


I dunno, drezdn, DS9 kinda lost me. B5 did what it was trying to do so much better.

Hunh. I had heard this for many years and finally undertook to watch it in its entirety about three years ago. I had actually in the 1990s been anticipating the show and watched the pilot with great but rapidly diminishing interest. The tipping point was probably where the 23rd-century commander explains to his first officer that the idea of various races meeting here to engage in dialogue by likening it with "the old United Nations." To me, this is exactly like having a modern drama about international trade have a CEO explaining to her board about how they are operating just like the Hanseatic League.

Anyway, enough time had gone by that I thought I would give it a shot. JMS is much-celebrated as a writer and I concur that he has a big-picture sense of grand story arcs that few other show runners do. On the other hand, he is Lucasian in his dialogue. And try though I might to see past the awful writing, the indifferent-to-erratic casting, the every-flat-surface-needs-a-Cosby-sweater-motif art direction, the occasional clumsy stabs at humour, the instantly dated special effects and the preening portentousness that underlay every episode, I could not finish the series. There was a brief run in the fourth season where it got quite good (if rushed while they crammed the final two year's plots into one season) but ultimately it stands somewhere around SeaQuest DSV in my estimation.

So, "did what it was trying to do so much better"? If this is what B5 was trying to do, then surely nothing in DS9 can compare with it.
posted by ricochet biscuit at 4:48 PM on January 7, 2015 [2 favorites]


Few things in televised sci-fi are as tooth-gratingly obnoxious as Garibaldi's obsession with cartoons or Paris' obsession with whatever it was, Pleasantville.

Amen. And never again have a 24th century person obsessed with baseball, unless it's a history-obsessed person whose tastes are clearly shown to be outside the mainstream. Though it would be interesting to have certain baseball phrases left in the language, and the characters use them without any thought as to their original meaning.

What I would want for a new Star Trek series is for the new show to have a showrunner who is obsessed with the Culture, and has personal ethics low enough that she would be willing to file off the serial numbers and steal many of Banks's ideas outright.

The Federation feels like a fetal or infant version of the Culture. Set the new series 500, 1000, 10000 years past the 24th Century. Center it around Starfleet as the Federation's version of Special Circumstances. The Prime Directive is still around as the letter of the law because of cultural inertia, but is completely ignored. Intelligent ships with a small human crew go where no one has gone before, and meddle where no one has meddled before.

The portrayal of the Federation core culture (no pun intended) would also be interesting. Show the Borg to be mere amateurs by comparison as the Federation has assimilated everything it touches. Elements of every society and nation, from Klingons to Romulans to Vulcans to Borg to Cardassians to Ferengi, is combined in a hedonistic, and sometimes stressful, society. This would allow plots involving conservative Klingons who just want to go back to the land (and back to the raiding hordes), and super-cold Vulcans who don't think the Federation goes far enough and have set up their own remote and completely alien hivemind. And just the ordinary people forced into the Federation "for their own good" whose primitive (by comparison) cultures are not finding integration easy.
posted by honestcoyote at 4:52 PM on January 7, 2015 [5 favorites]


he is Lucasian in his dialogue

You are amongst friends, feel free to use 'shit' for brevity.
posted by biffa at 4:53 PM on January 7, 2015 [3 favorites]


I don't know, uncleozzy, perhaps the current trends are consistent with an unfolding Star Trek future. Recall that it began pretty grimly, starting with the eugenics wars in the 90s, and the third world war, and whatever the hell was going on with all of that poverty when the DS9 crew went back in time to San Francisco. Before things got better, they got a whole hell of a lot worse. Seen through that lens, it seems like we're on our way.
posted by Verg at 5:06 PM on January 7, 2015 [2 favorites]


Did somebody call for a holodeck janitor?
posted by dr_dank at 5:15 PM on January 7, 2015 [1 favorite]


My spouse loves BSG and I tried it but the unrelentingly depressing tone of it is just too much for me.

BSG did the opposite of TNG, in that it got worse as it proceeded rather than improving. The last two seasons in particular are beyond awful.

Which was doubly disappointing for me since Moore was one of the main writers, and his work together with the others on DS9 made it the best Trek series in my opinion, and it got much better as it went along. BSG was worse than Voyager.
posted by juiceCake at 5:19 PM on January 7, 2015


It's been a long time since junior high, and I really hoped I'd put the urge to shout "your favorite episode sucks" far behind me. . . but. . . Measure of a Man? Seriously?

It may not actually be the worst episode in the series, but it's certainly in the running. If it were set in a remote US military base in the 1980s, it could have made for a compelling short story. But, in the context of everything else that exists in the Star Trek universe (or even just the bits explicitly covered in earlier TNG episodes) it's absurd.

For crying out loud, we're told in the pilot that it's obvious a planet isn't ethically suitable to join the federation because they've been denying human rights to a magic space jellyfish. Seems like the Federation would have come up with some general guidelines during the past two hundred years for deciding who gets rights.

Are we really meant to believe that the Starfleet legal system is so thoroughly backward that reasonable people could entertain the arguments we're shown? That laws that govern a federation consisting of hundreds of species has never before considered the question of whether or not a being is sentient? That when it finally decides to do so, such a question would be settled by a single judge with no further legal recourse and then litigated by randomly selected untrained officers?

I'd be pretty shocked if a court today found "he has an off switch" a compelling reason to deny rights to a petitioner. Or, for that matter, if it were swayed by a defense that amounts to "woah, man, have you ever thought about consciousness? Like, what is it, anyway?" But, in the context of everything else we're told about both the Federation and Starfleet, it's silly. We're not just introduced to a couple people who are evil and stupid here. That part is plausible. We're instead presented with a system that's profoundly stupid and has no mechanisms in place to keep evil people in check, and yet we're meant to believe that all the demonstrably smart and ethical characters we've come to know are both embedded in and content to obey that system.

I'm all for more conflict in Star Trek, and more exploration of the relationship between the civilian Federation and Starfleet, but this was a cheesy, ham-handed way to get there. For an example of how to do it right, consider Preemptive Strike, which ought to appear on any best-of list.

Now, I could be talked into liking a version of the episode where Data is declared a non-person and - freed from his Starfleet oath - immediately seizes control of the ship and heads out in search of a civilization that will grant him asylum.
posted by eotvos at 5:36 PM on January 7, 2015 [6 favorites]


I still don't understand why when the Dominion attacked, they didn't just replicate 5 billion Datas (Datum?) to deal with them. Give each one a phaser and a cutting torch and just fling them out the windows at the baddies. Or just wire them directly into Defiant class ships. Or hook Data up to that holodeck device that made him super powerful and cede the Federation over to him as a dictator until he and his army of 5 billion wipe out the Dominion. Then give each Data a plot of space on the other end of the wormhole.
posted by robocop is bleeding at 5:43 PM on January 7, 2015


robocop is bleeding: Presumably, the idea is that you can't replicate a Data. They've shown lots of things they can't replicate for whatever reason, and it seems like if they could trivially make androids like that, they would have done that rather than make the EMH in time for Voyager.
posted by thegears at 5:48 PM on January 7, 2015


If they can beam a Data, they can replicate a Data. I can understand the ethics of not making 1000 Rikers (no chair would be safe!) but 1000 toasters? The eventual Data Uprising would be horrible for Starfleet, of course, but would be a great boon to Brent Spiner's career.
posted by robocop is bleeding at 5:52 PM on January 7, 2015 [1 favorite]


Amen. And never again have a 24th century person obsessed with baseball, unless it's a history-obsessed person whose tastes are clearly shown to be outside the mainstream.

Given that baseball as an organized sport has already lasted 150+ years, I'm willing to buy that a significant number of people find it interesting 300 years hence.
posted by AndrewInDC at 5:56 PM on January 7, 2015


Except it'll have been renamed blernsball by then.
posted by dng at 6:02 PM on January 7, 2015 [6 favorites]


robocop is bleeding: "If they can beam a Data, they can replicate a Data."

When it comes to the canonicity (it's a word) of technology in Trek, I operate under the rule of three: if it's used in more than three episodes in a given show, it's real; otherwise it's just a silly thing they put in for a bottle episode because they couldn't afford any more effects shots or accents for Data.

I have no idea whether or not the transporter accidentally replicated people more than three times, but since the writers seem to assume 99% of the time that's not something they have access to, presumably the episodes in which it did happen are just dreams. Which makes Tom Riker a wonderful beardmare.
posted by ArmyOfKittens at 6:02 PM on January 7, 2015


On the subject of dreams, all the character interaction in Voyager was real but all the plots were holofic, put up on the Delta quadrant equivalent of Archive of Our Own. Total kudos: 47.
posted by ArmyOfKittens at 6:04 PM on January 7, 2015 [2 favorites]


If I remember correctly, the idea of Data's uniqueness was his sentience, not his artificial intelligence. Sort of a "the whole is more than the sum of its parts" kind of thing, which is why they wanted to take him apart for closer study. Maybe that doesn't carry over in a transporter.
posted by AndrewInDC at 6:07 PM on January 7, 2015


In the episode where it turns out Data's mother is also a robot but no-one ever knew! it seems that transporters can't even tell if you're made of meat or metal. And presumably aren't equipped with even the most rudimentary set of bathroom scales.

So I wouldn't trust them to replicate anything particularly well.
posted by dng at 6:12 PM on January 7, 2015


eotvos: Ditto for pretty much everything you say, but also remember that one of the things that was established several times in TOS was that AIs are dangerous; whether you're talking about standalone androids or planet-controlling mainframes, they vary mostly to the degree that they resemble Skynet--some of them don't want to kill all meatsacks, they just want to domesticate them. So, there's ample reason for not trusting them, and the Federation is willing to ban AIs (or at the very least severely limit their use and rights) because of that precedent, just as they ban genetic engineering (except to correct serious congenital defects) because of Khan. Which makes it weird that they would have admitted Data to Starfleet, or even let him out of the lab in the first place, but then again there was a lot about TNG that wasn't thought through very well; besides "Roddenberry's Box", his willingness to ignore the precedents that he himself had set twenty years earlier is one reason why it was obvious that his creative powers weren't what they once were, and why he was pushed off the show. "The Measure of a Man" would have been great if Data hadn't been a Starfleet officer; he could have done most of what he'd done in previous episodes anyway, with the understanding that he was essentially a unique but expendable piece of equipment, and a nice background thread would have consisted of Picard's growing discomfort as he becomes aware that a) Data really is a sentient, autonomous being, which b) makes him a slave owner. (Almost all AI narratives boil down to either Pinocchio or a slave rebellion; the third main trope, that AIs evolve to the point that organic beings are more or less their pets, is IMO the unspoken truth of the Culture.)

robocop is bleeding, nope, beaming and replicating are technically not the same thing; IIRC, the rationalization is that something as complex as a living being with a unique set of memories would take up too much computer memory to store its "matrix" indefinitely, and never mind that Scotty saved his life by doing exactly that in "Relics". Look, it's all space magic anyway (consider, for example, the Heisenberg compensator); the only reason that Trek has transporters is that Desilu Studios didn't give them a big enough budget to do shuttle landings every week in the pre-CGI sixties.
posted by Halloween Jack at 6:13 PM on January 7, 2015 [6 favorites]


Halloween Jack: "never mind that Scotty saved his life by doing exactly that in "Relics"."

I'll give them that because isn't it stated onscreen that Scotty rerouted a fucktruck of power into the pattern buffer to achieve that? And even then it only saved one of them.

iirc the issue is that patterns degrade really super quick unless you can constantly feed them, but I am only a small nerd and have not checked the wiki
posted by ArmyOfKittens at 6:17 PM on January 7, 2015


What I would want for a new Star Trek series is for the new show to have a showrunner who is obsessed with the Culture, and has personal ethics low enough that she would be willing to file off the serial numbers and steal many of Banks's ideas outright.

I'd much rather just see HBO buy the rights and make a few miniserieses out of it.

The Federation feels like a fetal or infant version of the Culture.

I've said before that it's not so much the fetal version as the bizarro or nightmare version, reversing just about every moral and aesthetic decision the Culture made. All they have in common is that they're both space opera about a post-scarcity civilization. Hell, they have at least as much in common with Idir as with the Culture.

For crying out loud, we're told in the pilot that it's obvious a planet isn't ethically suitable to join the federation because they've been denying human rights to a magic space jellyfish.

Space jellyfish are organic and natural.

Seems like the Federation would have come up with some general guidelines during the past two hundred years for deciding who gets rights.

They did. To have rights, you have to be an organism and, at least if you're human, not be genetically engineered or descended from someone who's genetically engineered.

Are we really meant to believe that the Starfleet legal system is so thoroughly backward that reasonable people could entertain the arguments we're shown?

I believe it. The Federation hates and fears AI, with Data as the sole exception. I'd swear they mentioned at least once that Enterprise-D has crap in the computer core to keep the system from becoming self-aware. Just like Idir.
posted by ROU_Xenophobe at 6:17 PM on January 7, 2015 [3 favorites]


If not Data, then Lore. Lore copies his memories and plugs them into the replicated husks he's created. All the Lores take over a planet then begin to murder each other as each claims to be Lore Prime. A Lore Hierarchy is eventually established and the Loreture heads out into the galaxy in giant ships that look like Brent Spiner's head (Zardoz Class!).
posted by robocop is bleeding at 6:38 PM on January 7, 2015


I wanna see a series based around the Andorian Imperial Guard being integrated into Starfleet. The Humans are busy fighting the war with the Romulans so the duty of diplomacy falls to Shran. He probably has some humans in his crew are always going on about diplomacy when Shran just wants to vaporize Gorn.
posted by Ray Walston, Luck Dragon at 6:43 PM on January 7, 2015 [1 favorite]


It may not actually be the worst episode in the series, but it's certainly in the running. If it were set in a remote US military base in the 1980s, it could have made for a compelling short story. But, in the context of everything else that exists in the Star Trek universe (or even just the bits explicitly covered in earlier TNG episodes) it's absurd.

First of all, I disagree strenuously. Measure of a Man is pretty definitively the first decent TNG episode, and I say that as someone with a degree of affection for Conspiracy in the first season.

However, this comment has conjured up images of USMC Major Picard concluding his Stratfordian monologue to the hastily assembled DARPA court martial that Johnny Five is Alive!
posted by figurant at 6:48 PM on January 7, 2015 [2 favorites]


Set the new series 500, 1000, 10000

There are several references in the Culture novels that the books we read -- and they span quite an epoch, as Consider Phlebas occurred in the 12th century by our calendar, Use of Weapons is roughly contemporary (as the side story with Sma on Earth in 1977 shows) and Excession obviously at least a couple of centuries in the future -- but anyway, as I was saying, the Culture has been spacefaring for somewhere between 12,000 and 15,000 Earth years.

Which is an interesting span of time because it's roughly about how long we've had agriculture, and it's been long enough to lose almost all of our history despite having writing for nearly all of that time.

The Federation is truly in its infancy compared to any of the civilizations, even the primitive ones, in the Culture novels. It might become the Culture, but Banks implies it took thousands of years for the gestalt to truly gel. The Federation only becomes the Culture when it can respond to a threat like the Idirans or the Borg without running home to authoritarian roots.

The Culture avoids that by having authorities so vast and unquestionably beneficial that nobody questions them or even really considers them authoritarian despite their godlike powers. If the Federation can't make AI more powerful and easily duplicable than Data, then they have a way to go.
posted by localroger at 8:01 PM on January 7, 2015 [3 favorites]


Consider Phlebas occurred in the 12th century by our calendar, Use of Weapons is roughly contemporary (as the side story with Sma on Earth in 1977 shows) and Excession obviously at least a couple of centuries in the future -- but anyway, as I was saying, the Culture has been spacefaring for somewhere between 12,000 and 15,000 Earth years.

Sma is exceptionally long lived. If I recall correctly, Surface Detail occurs 800 years after Use of Weapons, and Zakalwe is implied to be waiting for her to show up at the end of that book. So the fact that Sma visited Earth in 1977, doesn't mean that Use of Weapons is contemporary.

But wait, the Wikipedia entry has a timeline.

/derail
posted by His thoughts were red thoughts at 8:24 PM on January 7, 2015


"It seems like Troi not only senses people's emotions, but actually feels them. So if somebody told a lame joke and someone else thought it was funny, she'd have to laugh, too."

This is the most wonderful observation to have come out of this whole thread; please tell your son that he rules
posted by Greg Nog at 8:39 PM on January 7, 2015 [9 favorites]


/derailfilter Zakalwe is a heretic on the whole immortality thing and my take on their dinner at the end of the universe Surface Datail was that he might have finally gotten into her pants corrupted her.

In any case the other novel timelines are very obviously written more in centuries than millennia, most of them quite specific. I don't see any way that Use of Weapons isn't contemporary within a century or so of today.
posted by localroger at 8:54 PM on January 7, 2015



I don't see any way that Use of Weapons isn't contemporary within a century or so of today.

There is actually a definitive answer to this. In the book, Sma dates her poems with regard to the Khmer Rouge 'Year Zero', ie, 1975. The poem at the start of the book, Zakalwe Enfranchised, is dated Year 115. So you're correct.

posted by His thoughts were red thoughts at 9:04 PM on January 7, 2015


I recently pulled together a list of the the top-rated episodes of The Next Generation, Deep Space Nine, Voyager and Enterprise based IMDB ratings. I'm currently working my way through the list and it's working well (I'm not sure the Enterprise ratings look credible but I'll see).

You can take a look at the spreadsheet on Dropbox if you like.
posted by tinlids at 9:22 PM on January 7, 2015


I love TNG for a lot of weird reasons. I don't think it was till I was an adult that I realized how much of that damn show I watched growing up.

The thing about it is: the premise doesn't make a hell of a lot of sense. I don't mean the setting, the sci-fi, the future, or replicators and holodecks.

I mean it just makes no goddamn sense that a bunch of high ranking military personnel would just constantly leave the ship to go explore aliens. Colin Powell didn't parachute into Iraq with some k-rations and an uzi, he gave a power-point presentation.

Its especially funny that they would continue to be the default away team when at least one of them gets brainwashed in every episode. Or that every time they meet a more primitive people, they send the unfeeling android from engineering (instead of, oh i don't know, an ambassador) who has the 100% track record of going on a rampaging killing spree in that situation. I also like that they have a counselor as part of the core crew of piloting a giant spaceship.

But all the same, I still find myself binge watching or running it in the background. Its the only show of the "conference rooms in space" variety that ever stuck with me, but I love Jonathan Frakes Giant Soap Opera Head, and the hair of Troi, and Roddenberrys horny wife always fucking up Deannas shit or trying to bang Picard or Q just fucking with them for no reason.

I love the stiff and weird and totally alien understanding of normal relationships (there is ONE couple that has a standard relationship on the whole damn Enterprise, and they are rewarded by having terrible things constantly happen to them), and Riker giving his whore-mongering a break to pretend like he and Troi have something.

My current favorite netflix glurge is Murder, She Wrote. The holodeck has nothing on JB Fletcher playing virtual reality.
posted by lkc at 9:26 PM on January 7, 2015 [4 favorites]


I mean it just makes no goddamn sense that a bunch of high ranking military personnel would just constantly leave the ship to go explore aliens. Colin Powell didn't parachute into Iraq with some k-rations and an uzi, he gave a power-point presentation.

Personally, I always wondered why the chairs on the bridge don't have seat belts, given the frequency with which they are attacked. But I guess they need the freedom to dive away from all those exploding consoles.
posted by His thoughts were red thoughts at 9:34 PM on January 7, 2015 [2 favorites]


Its especially funny that they would continue to be the default away team when at least one of them gets brainwashed in every episode.

I'm now reminded of Scalzi's Redshirts
posted by wallawallasweet at 10:47 PM on January 7, 2015


The thing about Star Trek is that it's one of the most successful niche franchises of all time, but that doesn't mean that it's actually as huge as fans tend to think it is.

Niches make money.


My intent was not to imply that Star Trek is a moribund franchise or that it's incapable of making money. I just wanted to point out that "That CBS doesn't have one series idea for Star Trek going forward is a crime." overvalues it. Sure, they would make money. But you made it sound like A) it would be much more of a slam dunk than it is, and B) CBS's refusal to just slap any Trek onto TV is a damning indictment. There's an argument to be made that they're doing the brand a favor by not just tossing any damn thing out there while the Abrams reboot is still something of a work in progress.
posted by Etrigan at 4:08 AM on January 8, 2015


Actually, other than Captain Worf, I think a mini-series about Section 31 (or some similiar space-CIA) would be pretty cool. James Bond and some Romulan spy battling to influence the Klingon Empire, which may not even realize it's a puppet. (I'm thinking of the Klingons as the "sick man of Europe space").

Also, a story line about genetic engineering that's more nuanced than "just say no".
posted by spaltavian at 6:25 AM on January 8, 2015 [1 favorite]


A trek-inspired reality show: Brent Break - Follow the creepy lady from Trekkies as she stalks Brent Spiner and reports his movements to a dedicated team of SpinerFem researchers.

Episode 1: Brent greets the cleaning lady while getting the mail.
posted by dr_dank at 7:23 AM on January 8, 2015


Actually, other than Captain Worf, I think a mini-series about Section 31 (or some similiar space-CIA) would be pretty cool. James Bond and some Romulan spy Elim Garak battling to influence the Klingon Empire is what I think you meant to say.
posted by TheWhiteSkull at 8:23 AM on January 8, 2015 [4 favorites]


a.k.a. Tinker Garak Soldier Spy.
posted by TheWhiteSkull at 8:24 AM on January 8, 2015 [8 favorites]


So I generally found TNG to be the best Trek series, precisely because of that bold and relentless optimism that has been mentioned upthread. But after just rewatching Yesterday's Enterprise, I realize how much as an older and more cynical person I appreciate seeing the cracks in the veneer of Federation-moral-perfection

(SPOILER ALERT:) Alternate-universe Picard is convinced to send the Enterprise-C back less because it will restore the timeline and that's good than because the Federation is losing to the Klingons, badly, and this might change that. It's something that makes Picard seem all the more human, toying with breaking the Temporal Prime Directive for the chance at a better now/future.

Similarly, In the Pale Moonlight is one of the DS9 episodes I respect the best, for showing us the less-principled but more-human side of Sisko, as shown in his last monologue of the episode.
posted by thegears at 8:57 AM on January 8, 2015 [1 favorite]


while the Abrams reboot is still something of a work in progress

It's not. They tried, they suck Fieri's balls, please kill it with fire
posted by feckless fecal fear mongering at 9:00 AM on January 8, 2015 [2 favorites]


I mean it just makes no goddamn sense that a bunch of high ranking military personnel would just constantly leave the ship to go explore aliens. Colin Powell didn't parachute into Iraq with some k-rations and an uzi,

The simple answer is that Starfleet isn't a military orhanization as we think of it - at least not an analog of the military organizations we have today. It performs whatever military tasks the Federation requires, but they're not its primary purpose (even though it's retained historically military hierarchy and terminology).
posted by The Underpants Monster at 9:16 AM on January 8, 2015 [6 favorites]


The Underpants Monster: It performs whatever military tasks the Federation requires, but they're not its primary purpose (even though it's retained historically military hierarchy and terminology).

This was especially telling when the Defiant was introduced on DS9. Here's a ship that was the complete opposite of every other: fast, heavily armed, spartan, no science labs, holodecks, families, etc. They had to officially designate it as an escort vessel lest it be labeled what it really was: a warship.
posted by dr_dank at 9:27 AM on January 8, 2015 [3 favorites]


I love the stiff and weird and totally alien understanding of normal relationships (there is ONE couple that has a standard relationship on the whole damn Enterprise, and they are rewarded by having terrible things constantly happen to them),

Yes, the weirdness of familial relations is a hallmark of Star Trek. Miles and Keiko are the only time in five series and forty-odd regular characters that we see a stable marriage or any sort of reasonably happy family on an ongoing basis. There are a few marriages which tend to end in swift death for the non-regular, or else happen at the end of the run so we can call it a happy ending. A catalogue of characters would reveal a while lot of orphans, widows and widowers, and people who have not spoken to their parents or siblings in decades (or more cheaply, people who have not spoken to or ever even mentioned a close family member until that person turns up for eighteen minutes of screen times and then dies).
posted by ricochet biscuit at 10:31 AM on January 8, 2015


The simple answer is that Starfleet isn't a military orhanization as we think of it - at least not an analog of the military organizations we have today. It performs whatever military tasks the Federation requires, but they're not its primary purpose (even though it's retained historically military hierarchy and terminology).

The frequent "We're not really military" parts of Star Trek always annoyed me (as well as the constant "That's not what the Jedi do!" refrain from the Star Wars prequels). And then I spent a year with the U.S. Army running economic infrastructure redevelopment in southern Iraq, and it made more sense. Sometimes, you use the tools you have.
posted by Etrigan at 10:48 AM on January 8, 2015


@TheWhiteSkull
I don't know if this was on purpose, but your proposal almost exactly mimics the original conception of Gene Roddenberry's Andromeda. I mean, the show kind of became Magic Space Hercules after the first two seasons and was rarely great even before, but the ideas were there.

ROU_Xenophobe: I believe it. The Federation hates and fears AI, with Data as the sole exception. I'd swear they mentioned at least once that Enterprise-D has crap in the computer core to keep the system from becoming self-aware.

Yeah, my favorite thing about AI in Star Trek is that their computers are capable enough to become sentient just by asking them to (as basically happened with Moriarity), but no one ever takes advantage of this.
posted by Wandering Idiot at 11:00 AM on January 8, 2015 [2 favorites]


The Underpants Monster:
Yeah, but even if its not a traditional military, the top 3 ranking officers of a giant spaceship with thousands of other people on it should not be the _first_ people on the ground in unknown, possibly hostile spaces.
posted by lkc at 11:10 AM on January 8, 2015


You could do a show that was more "realistic" that way by having the main characters be relative nobodies while the captain etc are basically recurring extras. Kinda like The Wire, say, where the higherups in Balitimore PD are mostly just these gods that must be appeased and that don't appear all that often.

Of course, a realistic space navy show would mostly consist of watching people do paperwork and clean stuff.
posted by ROU_Xenophobe at 11:29 AM on January 8, 2015 [1 favorite]


Yeah, but even if its not a traditional military, the top 3 ranking officers of a giant spaceship with thousands of other people on it should not be the _first_ people on the ground in unknown, possibly hostile spaces.

The Enterprise D (TNG) only carries about a thousand people (1,014 if you want to go further than is necessary down this rabbit hole), of which many are civilians and families. So it's not thousands.

Also, the top 3 ranking officers do not go on away missions. It was a plot/character point established in the pilot that Riker (2nd in command) felt that it was inappropriate for the Captain to go on away missions, and so the Captain doesn't.

There's also plenty of established "desk jobs" at higher ranks than Captain who don't go on space adventures all the time and just hang out on Earth or other planets or stations doing the job of keeping the federation working. Of course, most of the ones we see are idiots, because it makes for interesting Plot when our valiant crew has to deal with enemies without at the same time as stupidity within.

It seems like maybe you're conflating Kirk's Enterprise from TOS, which was a smaller, more swashbuckling ship/crew in a younger/more action-oriented federation, with the more mature Enterprise of TNG. Kirk and his antics would make a lot less sense in the TNG world, which is why when he got pulled into it, he died.
posted by sparklemotion at 11:37 AM on January 8, 2015 [2 favorites]


the top 3 ranking officers of a giant spaceship with thousands of other people on it should not be the _first_ people on the ground in unknown, possibly hostile spaces.

...which is a criticism raised from the beginning of TOS and eventually incorporated into the "away team" concept and the delegation of a lot of away missions to the First Officer beginning with TNG. (Arguably, this was behind making Riker -- and his conceptual predecessor Decker -- a younger, seemingly more macho character, to complement the intentionally more thoughtful and philosophical Picard.)

But really, this is a suspension of disbelief issue. We're not there for the grunts, and it took a number of seasons before they even did an episode focusing on them (Lower Decks). I find it hilarious that you're apparently implicitly capable of accepting the transmission of living matter and associated consciousness via the transporter, but not who goes on the away missions. Obviously the stars of the show will be given things to do, and it's more enticing to the audience for them to be the senior officers. That's the way TV works, deal with it.

It performs whatever military tasks the Federation requires, but they're not its primary purpose

Roddenberry was quite clear on numerous occasions that Starfleet is a paramilitary organization.
posted by dhartung at 10:43 PM on January 8, 2015 [3 favorites]


I find it hilarious that you're apparently implicitly capable of accepting the transmission of living matter and associated consciousness via the transporter, but not who goes on the away missions.

That's because of the very, very old storytelling maxim: You can ask people to believe the impossible (magical transporting technology! Whoopi Goldberg being worth more than a laugh!) but not the improbable (sending a bunch of your top-ranked officers--and in the ST universe we are asked to believe they get there by merit, remember--into almost-certainly dangerous situations).

Teleporters and replicators and warp drive (and lightsabres for that matter) are handwavium. We accept them as silly components of the world, because hey it's fantasy and what the hell.

What we don't accept is stupid.
posted by feckless fecal fear mongering at 10:57 PM on January 8, 2015 [3 favorites]


I wish the budget had been there for shuttles so that transporters would never have happened. Then again, we wouldn't have Relics or Tom Riker so...
posted by Steely-eyed Missile Man at 7:43 AM on January 9, 2015


Transporters weren't about the FX budget. TOS had episodes with shuttlecraft. Transporters were about getting the characters to the scene of the action quickly and without a lot of boring redundant staging. Gene Roddenberry knew it wasn't very realistic to expect such a machine to work without a receiving booth, but they specifically didn't want shuttle trips taking up an entire act of every episode.
posted by localroger at 9:47 AM on January 9, 2015


Decided to do a rewatch along with this guide. Have to say the idea of Troi as the right hand of the Captain, a totally empathetic person as a contrast to Spock is really interesting. You can see what they were going for in the early scenes of Farpoint. It's too bad it didn't quite work out.

Also like that they are calling 20th Century Americans childish barbarians right from the start.
posted by Drinky Die at 10:16 AM on January 9, 2015 [1 favorite]


And there totally is a dude in the skirt uniform. The recommendation to watch the pilot is definitely right on. It sets the tone in a lot of ways.
posted by Drinky Die at 10:24 AM on January 9, 2015 [1 favorite]


they specifically didn't want shuttle trips taking up an entire act of every episode

I'm skeptical. They wouldn't have had to show the shuttle trip any more than they had to show everyone taking the turbolift, i.e. only when they wanted them to have a private conversation on the way to somewhere or whatever.
posted by Steely-eyed Missile Man at 10:28 AM on January 9, 2015


As much as I loved The X-Files, I always spent part of every episode wondering what they talked about on their way to the crime scene, why all the exposition talk didn't take place on the airplane from DC to Oregon instead of after they got there, etc. I used to wish they'd have a jokey bottle episode that was just Mulder and Scully in planes, trains, and automobiles, talking about the things that had just happened where they had been, and what they were going to do when they got where they were going. The transporters on Star Trek eliminated all that wondering.
posted by The Underpants Monster at 11:41 AM on January 9, 2015 [1 favorite]


John de Lancie as awesome as recalled. Beardless Riker as awful as recalled. Wesley as Wesley as recalled, never hated him back in the day (I was a geeky kid so that sort of wish fulfillment was targeted at me) but he is definitely...something. First "Make It So" noted. Picard wins best captain just for having the best catch phrase.

Admiral Bones to Data, "I don't see no points on your ears, boy, but you sound like a Vulcan!"

"No sir, I am an android."

"Huh. Almost as bad."

Holodeck established in the pilot too. Well done sequence establishing something that separates TNG from TOS. Funny that when Data marvels at how easily Riker whistles, his delivery sounds a lot more like the delivery Spiner later used for Lore than what he settled into for Data. It's a little disturbing, from that perspective.

Riker: "Nice to meet you, Pinocchio."

And then Wesley pratfalls into the creek and remains wet outside the holodeck. Establishing also that none of the holodeck stuff would ever make any damn sense.

This is a very well written script in my view, you can tell they wanted to to make this show a great one that lived up to the reputation TOS had earned. They didn't quite hit greatness from the start, but they definitely laid the groundwork with their ambition.

Riker: "Captain, if he's not open to evidence in our favor where will you go from there?"

Picard: "I'll attend to my duty."

Riker: "To the bitter end?"

Picard: "I see nothing so bitter about that."

Ending reveal is of a very Star Treky sci-fi concept, a being that feeds on energy and can shape it into matter that is being held prisoner by the people on the planet below. A lot of what I liked about TNG was grappling with truly alien (beyond head makeup) creatures like this one or the Crystalline Entity.

Troi: "A feeling of great joy and gratitude...from both of them."

I almost want to skip right ahead to All Good Things since it is such a good companion to the pilot, but I'll stick with the guide.

Picard: "Let's see what's out there, Engage."
posted by Drinky Die at 12:05 PM on January 9, 2015 [2 favorites]


I'm skeptical.

David Gerrold spends several pages on this exact topic in his book about making The Trouble with Tribbles. He directly knew all the original people who were responsible for it.
posted by localroger at 12:06 PM on January 9, 2015


Okay, I know this is a TNG thread, but:

As much as I loved The X-Files, I always spent part of every episode wondering what they talked about on their way to the crime scene, why all the exposition talk didn't take place on the airplane from DC to Oregon instead of after they got there, etc.

I have a hunch that if they were having their typical debate about "No, Scully, it's totes a chupacabra" vs. "here's the science 101 explanation for why a chupacabras are SO not a thing" while on the plane, they'd probably get some weird looks from the passengers around them and more than a few people would be quietly flagging down stewardesses to warn them about how there were crazy people in Row D and they had some guys from the psych unit of a hospital standing by to grab them when they got off the plane once and Skinner had to bail them out probably and oh god i've just started writing a fanfic, haven't I?
posted by EmpressCallipygos at 12:10 PM on January 9, 2015 [2 favorites]


Skin of Evil strikes me as mostly a bad episode. I've seen it before, but to be honest in my original fanhood during the syndication era I never saw the episode. To me, she died during Yesterday's Enterprise. The references to her death besides that I assumed referred to a death that occurred off screen. It really isn't notable beyond that she dies in this episode. It's a supremely cheesy Star Trek villain of the week. Considering how the plotlines worked out later, it would have been so much better if she had been killed or captured by Romulans or Klingons or even Ferengi. Give Picard some reason to hate somebody that he has to grapple with over the course of the series.

His borg hate absolutely MAKES "First Contact". Hate is out of character for Picard, but that's what makes it so powerful.

Notable character defining moment, Worf refuses the invitation to join the followup away team even though you can tell he wants to violently destroy the asshole oil slick. "The object here is not to engage the creature in battle. The goal is the safe return of Counselor Troi and Lieutenant Prieto. I can best accomplish this at the tactical station."

It's interesting how much the "Imzadi" stuff pops up in S1 and then fades into the background until the books and stuff. If they ever remake TNG (and they SHOULD) I'm sure the relationship stuff will be much more front and center. Crusher/Picard, Riker/Troi, Data/Yar or maybe even Geordi, eh? And for TOS, Chekov/Sulu, of course. Those two actors were totally prepared for a storyline that never got around to happening but would have been awesome and ahead of the times.

I'm not the only one shipping that, right? I can't be. Takei is internet famous enough that he must have been shipped with everybody by now.

DS9 should have retconned the oil slick into a lost founder, just based on a lot of what they say of him being separated from his species.
posted by Drinky Die at 12:57 PM on January 9, 2015 [4 favorites]


"Hailing frequencies closed sir."

Oh Jebus what awful last wor...

"Au revoir, Natasha."

Oh damn it, *wipes away allergy related eye wetness*.
posted by Drinky Die at 1:03 PM on January 9, 2015 [2 favorites]


The Neutral Zone opens up very exciting, presaging all the fun Romulan related episodes to come. They also have a Futurama thing going on, unfreezing people to cure them of their Boneitis.

They have a homemaker (some sort of construction job), 80s stock guy, and a singer.

"Might as well give them the dough instead of leaving it to my ex-wives!"

Troi is still the right hand at this point in the episode. She gives Picard a psychological profile on the Romulans. They won't punch first, they are experts at the counter-punch.

Unfortunate time traveler who wants to talk about baseball is one show too early. It takes a lot to bore a man who has a good Martini.

Offenhouse: No offense meant, but a military career has never been considered to be upwardly mobile. I must contact my lawyer.

Picard: Your lawyer has been dead for centuries.


And now Troi finally goes from the right hand to wrangling the misfits the crew picked up. Still entertaining, but I don't think it's what was originally planned. She was supposed to be more than ship's therapist.

20th century guy asspats Dr. Crusher. I doubt Bones had to deal with that as often.

L.Q. Clemonds: What's this "Neutral Zone"?

Data: It is a buffer between the Romulan Empire and the Federation.

L.Q. Clemonds: Why does that make me nervous?

Data: I do not know.

L.Q. Clemonds: Well, we won't be inviting these Romulans to our party, will we?

Data: No, that would not be...appropriate.


Then something something Romulans, the beer is overtaking my ability to post insight now. Good night!
posted by Drinky Die at 2:34 PM on January 9, 2015 [1 favorite]


It's interesting how much the "Imzadi" stuff pops up in S1 and then fades into the background until the books and stuff.

But it never completely goes away. Even the word gets trotted out into the occasional conversation. And whenever Lwaxana comes on board in a matchmaking mood, it gets pulled out of the subtext back into the text, even if it's only long enough for Deanna to protest too much.
posted by The Underpants Monster at 2:37 PM on January 9, 2015


"A Matter of Honor" I remember this episode fondly from my original fanhood. Look at that glorious beard! This is Riker truly arriving, and a lot of the best Klingon stuff being established.

Picard drops, "Get off my ship, slacker!" while they play phaser Duck Hunt. But really, Riker volunteers, "Because nobody has done it before."

Riker: "It's been my understanding that one of the duties of the first officer of a Klingon vessel is to assassinate his captain?"

Worf: "Yes, sir."

Riker: "Wouldn't that bring about chaos?"

Worf: "Of course not."

Riker introduces the audience to Klingon cuisine, as he quaffs a pint of synthol beer. I think it's probably like Indian food, as long as you have a nice lager at hand it doesn't matter what you order, it will always be delicious.

Damn, now I want some Palak Paneer.

Love the tense and half angry intro of the Klingon commander, a good way to present a belligerent race that the federation is now at peace with in the show's timeline.

We also have the alien Ensign Mendon who doesn't know what the hell is going on with the chain of command and tries to hide the issue he finds until he solves it to teach us a lesson about cross-cultural differences in approach to problems. It's a good lesson, and another reason this episode has stuck with me so long. Mendon's experience mirrors Riker's from a different perspective.

"They are inquisitive. They would like to know how you would endure."

Riker: "Endure what?"

"Them."

Riker: "One...or both?"

*laughter*

I like Wesley in this ep, helping out his friend and explaining that one mistake isn't the end of the world. The writers put a lot of the optimism in these early episodes into Wesley to be voiced.

"If you had told those secrets about the Enterprise I would have labeled you a traitor and killed you where you stood. But instead, you will die with us. You will die like a Klingon."


And the best part is that Riker lets the captain slap his ass off the bridge so he can re-establish his authority. All around great episode.
posted by Drinky Die at 3:42 PM on January 9, 2015 [5 favorites]


Why is Allegiance on this list? I dozed off because it was boring. Did I miss something?
posted by Drinky Die at 7:59 PM on January 14, 2015


"The Wounded" is amazing. It is added to the list in the FPP now, it seems it wasn't earlier? My favorite scene is O'Brien practically begging Keiko to explain to him why he shouldn't still hate the Cardassians without wanting to admit to her he does. And she is right, capers are weird.

Picard: You don't care for the Cardassians.

O'Brien: Oh, I like them fine. It's just...Well, I know them. You learn to watch your back when you're around those people.

Picard: Ben Maxwell has just sent more than 600 of them to their deaths.

O'Brien: I don't know what to say, sir. But he must have had his reasons.

Picard: *sighs* I think, when one has been angry for a very long time one gets used to it, and it becomes comfortable like...like old leather. And finally, it becomes so familiar that one can't even remember feeling any other way.

The captain that later has a total hate on for the borg in First Contact.

And then it turns directly to the anti-war message. O'Brien was forced to kill for the first time because he was tossed a phaser set to maximum in the middle of a brawl while he was defending women and children.

"It's not you I hate, Cardassian. I hate what I became because of you."

And then, the conversation everyone who argues for peace has had. I love that Star Trek TNG put this view in the voice of the authority figure, instead of the smelly hippy caricature it's often applied to in media.

Maxwell: You're a fool, Picard. History will look at you and say, "This man was a fool."

Picard: I'll accept the judgment of history.

O'Brien uses transporter wizardry to transport over to persuade Maxwell to back down, his better nature overcoming his demons. A pained Maxwell gazes out at the Enterprise from his ready room waiting for him, great shot.

Maxwell: What the hell has happened to this war?

O'Brien: Sir, there is no war.

And as O'Brien talks him down, it is revealed the song he had been singing earlier while he served Keiko dinner was one sung by a mutual friend who had died in the Cardassian attack. They sing it together.

Maxwell: I'm not going to win this one, am I Chief?

In the end, Picard dresses down the visiting Gul because it's clear Maxwell was right there was something going on and Picard knew it all along. Picard's dedication to preserving the peace means he lets it go. TNG is often viewed as utopian, this is a point towards more realism. This sort of thing happens in diplomacy all the time. Yes, you have proven to be an asshole. No, that doesn't mean we should go to war with you if we can avoid it.

Other random thought, Nebula class ships had such a cool design. In my "Captain Drinky Die" daydreams I command one. They won't give me a command anymore though, not after that incident with the Admiral's daughter and the Romulan Ale.

This episode, like all the Bajor/Cardassian episodes is making me pine for another DS9 rewatch. Don't think I'll ever get sick of that show. Just wish there was a good followup series.
posted by Drinky Die at 9:04 PM on January 14, 2015 [4 favorites]


Redemption Part 2 is one of my favorites of all time. Clearly in the top tier of Data episodes. Not gonna write too much here because it's on the list of "episodes on this list I've already watched a billion times so I'm not gonna bother to closely watch," but,

First Officer Guy: Frankly, Sir, I don't believe in your ability to command this ship. You're a fellow officer and I respect that but no one would suggest that a Klingon would be a good ship's counselor or that a Berellian could be an engineer. They're just not suited for those positions. By the same token, I don't think an android is a good choice to be captain.

Data: I understand your concerns.

Data: (Somehow this has to be in bold and all caps, despite Brent's typical totally unemotional delivery)

REQUEST DENIED.
posted by Drinky Die at 11:23 PM on January 14, 2015 [1 favorite]


Oh, man, Darmok. The first thing to notice as a repeat viewer is the alien captain is basically a Picardian style badass. He went down this path knowing it could mean war with a great power if it went wrong, but like Picard he thought the chance for peace and diplomacy was worth serious risk. He had faith in his men, and respected the Federation enough to have faith in the crew left behind on the Enterprise when they snatched the Captain. It cost him his life, but was worth the risk. This is why I love this show.
posted by Drinky Die at 12:45 AM on January 15, 2015 [3 favorites]


Disaster:

Cute, but also boring and mediocre.
posted by Drinky Die at 1:33 AM on January 15, 2015


"The Next Phase"

Boring, forgettable. Next is "The Inner Light"

I don't have anything to add here, you know it is the best.
posted by Drinky Die at 2:56 AM on January 16, 2015


It's really amusing working through these episodes at the same time as you marathon American Dad. So much of what Stewart does with the voice acting there would be so amazing if he was doing it live action instead.
posted by Drinky Die at 2:16 AM on January 17, 2015 [3 favorites]


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