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Star Trek: The Next Generation Patrick Stewart as Captain Jean-Luc Picard Jonathan Frakes as Commander William T. Riker Brent Spiner as Lieutenant-Commander Data LeVar Burton as Lieutenant-Commander Geordi La Forge Michael Dorn as Helmsman and Chief Security Officer Worf Gates McFadden as Chief Medical Officer Beverly Crusher Marina Sirtis as Counselor Deanna Troi Wil Wheaton as Ensign Wesley Crusher Denise Crosby as Security Chief Tasha Yar Diana Muldaur as Chief Medical Officer Katherine Pulaski Colm Meaney as Transporter Chief Miles O'Brien Whoopi Goldberg as Bartender Guinan Season 1: Sep 28, 1987 - May 16, 1988 - Executive Producer: Gene Roddenberry 1.1 and 1.2 - "Encounter at Farpoint" - Sep. 28, 1987 - Directed by Corey Allen (Buzz Gunderson in "Rebel without a Cause," Primetime Emmy Award Winner for Outstanding Directing for a Drama Series for "Goodbye, Mr. Scripps" on "Hill Street Blues," Primetime Emmy Award Nominee for Outstanding Directing for a Drama Series for "Jungle Madness" on "Hill Street Blues"), Written by - Teleplay: Dorothy Fontana (Writer of 10 episodes of "Star Trek"), Story: Gene Roddenberry (Creator of "Star Trek") Featuring John de Lancie as Q (TV Executive in "The Fisher King," Donald Margolis in "Breaking Bad"), Michael Bell as Groppler Zorn (Voice of Chas Finster in "Rugrats"), DeForest Kelley as Dr. Leonard "Bones" McCoy (H. Norbert Willis in "The Clover Throne" and Bob Harcourt, Jr. in "1800 Days to Justice" on "Route 66"), Cary-Hiroyuki Tagawa as Court Bailiff (Chang in "The Last Emperor") [Star Trek or not, this Pilot was *rough* - both in terms of the acting (Troi was awful, Q functioned not only as a God-like being, but also as some sort of "nanny chorus," telling us what we didn't need to be told, and Data was seen grinning on more than one occasion (remember how awful Spock was, at first, in the original series - he was grinning too)). My biggest problem here wasn't the plot; it was the condescension of Q, telling the viewer what they're about to figure out for themselves - that is elementary-school TV. This was largely a very interesting plot, but the writers spoiled it for the viewers. I do wonder just how much the creators, e.g., Gene Roddenberry, had in mind when it came to essentially building the entire series around Q - could Roddenberry possibly have envisioned the glorious final episode before the series even began? Nah ....] 1.3 - "The Naked Now" - Oct. 5, 1987 - Directed by Paul Lynch (Director of "Prom Night"), Written by - Teleplay: Dorothy Fontana (2), Story: John D.F. Black (Co-Writer and Associate Producer of "The Naked Time" on "Star Trek") Featuring Brooke Bundy as Sarah MacDougal (Leah in "Firecreek," Elaine Parker on "A Nightmare on Elm Street 3: Dream Warriors"), Benjamin W.S. Lum as Jim Shimoda (Kim Mei Clerk in "Another 48 Hrs.") ["The Naked Time" was George Takei's personal-favorite episode on "Star Trek," as he got to have fun prancing around the decks, shirtless, as a swashbuckler. That episode was written by John D.F. Black, and because of that, he was given credit for having written the story for this episode, a "parallel" version written for The Next Generation. In case anyone has forgotten, this is the one where "Data Does Dasha" (sorry, Tasha, and not to be confused by a porn movie with a similar-sounding name) - him being an android, one can only imagine his thrusts-per-minute - Tasha looked pretty tired when she emerged from her quarters. The Pilot featured a cameo by McCoy; this episode has a verbal reference to Kirk - this was undoubtedly to "ease seasoned viewers into" this new and very different series - it seems like a wise and prudent decision. The "Acting Captain Wesley Crusher" scene may have been the beginning of the hatred for Wesley hijacking the series (according to people who didn't like him; to me, his "precocious genius" got a bit annoying, but never went so far overboard that I couldn't stand him, plus he redeemed himself as the series progressed).] 1.4 - "Code of Honor" - Oct. 12, 1987 - Directed by Russ Mayberry (Director of "Unidentified Flying Oddball") and Les Landau (Assistant Director of "Leadbelly"), Written by Katharyn Powers (Writer of "The Longest Drive" for "The Quest") and Michael Baron (BS Degree in Organizational Systems Management from California State University, Northridge) Featuring Jessie Lawrence Ferguson as Lutan (Calder in "Prince of Darkness"), Karole Selmon as Yareena (Homeless Woman #1 in "The Soloist"), Julian Christopher as Hagon (Prison Truck Guard #1 in "X-Men: The Last Stand") [A very poor episode in the weakest season of the series, "Code of Honor" features bad writing, bad direction, and acting that should have - and could have - been stronger. I can't remember the last time I had to hunt this deeply for something else - anything else - the directors, writers, and actors did outside of "The Next Generation," and it's a shame that *this* has to be the episode with the most primitive black stereotypes in this normally equitable series (Ferengi stereotypes notwithstanding). Just look at what I found for the three guest stars - other than Jessie Lawrence Ferguson, it's downright embarrassing to even cite their other acting achievements, especially when all three people did a perfectly decent job in the episode. Karole Selmon is absolutely lovely, and was fine in her role; yet ... "Homeless Woman #1?" Ugh. For one of the writers, Michael Baron, I couldn't find *anything* else he did, so I simply listed his degree, and then when I researched Cal State Northridge, I couldn't even find the degree. Interestingly, Patrick Stewart is in "X-Men: The Last Stand," and I'm wondering if his influence helped Julian Christopher get his role (Prison Truck Guard #1? Ugh). I'm not very politically correct, but this episode makes even me cringe, and I'm wondering if it should have ever been made in the first place. I don't know of a good way to put this, so I'll just come out and say it: Denise Crosby has too much air time in these first three episodes. The most laughably bad moment in the episode? When millions of people are about to die, Tasha is about to engage in a fight to the death, the Enterprise is in a gravely acute diplomatic crisis with the Ligonians, and Riker - who is acting captain - has just finished making a silent soliloquy about the gravity of the situation. Then, the turbolift doors in the bridge open, and Wesley Crusher is standing there, grinning. Riker greets him as if he were working the registration desk at the Four Seasons in Fiji, smiles warmly, and says, "Care to lend a hand? Sit at ops," as he waves Wesley onto the bridge, gets onto the turbolift himself, and exits the scene with this young child strolling over to the control panel, unattended. Are you kidding me?] 1.5 - "The Last Outpost" - Oct. 19, 1987 - Directed by Richard A. Colla (Director of "Olly Olly Oxen Free"), Written by Richard Krzemien (Writer of "Kentucky Rye" for "The New Twilight Zone") Featuring Armin Shimerman as Letek (Stan the Caddy in "The Caddy" on "Seinfeld"), Jake Dengel as Mordoc (Pee Wee in "Ironweed"), Tracey Walter as Keyron (Lamar in "Silence of the Lambs"), Darryl Henriques as Portal 63 (Life Reporter in "The Right Stuff"), Mike Gomez as DaiMon Tarr (Auto Circus Cop in "The Big Lebowski") [Note: After these first 5 episodes (I'm calling the pilot episodes 1-2), I don't know how this show survived the rest of 1987. I don't think I'd ever seen any of these except for "The Naked Now," and they are all ... just ... largely ... bad. I've actually forgotten, at this point, why I ever liked this show so much. Leigh, I'm very much looking forward to watching the entire first half of Season One (which hasn't been terribly fun), and then purchasing Wil Wheaton's book - it should be the perfect quick read for me when I'm finished. I do think "The Last Outpost" is the second consecutive episode where TNG has reinforced negative stereotypes about a human ethnicity of people (with the Ferengi, you can pick your ethnicity, but they're surely being mocked as "short little mercantile, conniving opportunists who won't hesitate to cheat others"). I don't remember how I initially reacted to the Ferengi appearing on the view-screen as giants, but it certainly echoed, and was influenced by, "The Corbomite Maneuver" in The Original Series, except that Balok was just a wonderful person - the type of guy you'd enjoy sharing a glass of tranya with. My problem, in general, with the Ferengi is that the series makes them just a little too easy to hate, and there's no complexity to them at all - they're defined in black-and-white, shallow, and (I guess the current term among Millenials is, "basic"). Also, it's somewhat painful to see them jumping up, down, all-around while Riker is trying to have a discussion with Portal 63. Sure, they've now been established as a race of entities you'll hate upon their very mention, but isn't that just a little too convenient? Looking back, after having watched every episode (I've written this summary at different times), I don't remember a single moment of honor among them.] 1.6. "Where No One Has Gone Before" - Oct. 26, 1987 - Directed by Rob Bowman (4 consecutive Primetime Emmy Award Nominee for Outstanding Drama Series for "The X-Files"), Written by Diane Duane (Writer of the "Young Wizards" novels) and Michael Reeves (Daytime Emmy Award Winner for Outstanding Writing in an Animated Program for "Batman: the Animated Series") Featuring Stanley Kamel as Kosinski (Dr. Charles Kroeger on "Monk"), Eric Menyuk as The Traveler (Carney in "Der Roachenkavalier" on "Hill Street Blues"), Herta Ware as Maman Yvette Picard (Rosie Lefkowitz in "Cocoon"), Biff Yeager as Chief Engineer Argyle (George in "Edward Scissorhands") [When Troi, Ryker, and Argyle go to meet Kosinski and The Traveler in the transporter room, the cinematography, lighting, and camera angle is all wrong (see the first picture above). In the "Awkward Scene of the Episode," when The Traveler says to Wesley Crusher, "Something troubles you with the way this is configured?" there is silence, as Crusher sits there nodding for four full seconds which seem like an eternity. This episode clearly borrows something from "2001: A Space Odyssey," as the Enterprise is jettisoned one-billion light years away, in an unknown part of the universe which features fantastic lights outside the ship (see the 3rd picture), and where ideas come to life in the form of terrifyingly real characters from times past. Wesley is introduced to the viewers by The Traveler as a Mozart-like genius, to be nurtured (but not informed) by Picard - this sets the stage for him being a Boy Wonder in future episodes. Kamel overacts as the annoyingly arrogant Kosinski, both while intractably cocky, and also while reduced to a blubbering "I didn't mean to do that," before he gets largely elbowed out of the episode - why he wasn't taken into quarters, I'm not sure.] 7. "Lonely Among Us" - Nov. 2, 1987: 8. "Justice" - Nov. 9, 1987: [Note: In "Justice," Worf's comment at 5:58 on Amazon, "Nice planet," was the first laugh-out-loud funny moment I've ever had in any Star Trek episode, from either series. I want to take shore leave on this planet. This series is improving, markedly.] 9. "The Battle" - Nov. 16, 1987: 10. "Hide and Q" - Nov. 23, 1987: 11. "Haven" - Nov. 30, 1987: [Note: Some of these recent episodes were panned by some reputable online sources; I, on the other hand, remember again why I like TNG after watching them. In "Hide and Q," Worf proved himself to be one of the great heroes of the series. Leigh, I assume Majel Barrett will redeem herself later in the series? There's nothing, nothing at all, to like about her in this episode.] 12. "The Big Goodbye" - Jan. 11, 1988: [Note: Does anyone know why there was such a gap between episodes 11 and 12?] 13. "Datalore" - Jan. 18, 1988: [Note: This is the final episode covered in Wil Wheaton's book, so if you've made it to here, buy the book.] 14. "Angel One" - Jan 28, 1988 - 15. "11001001" - Feb. 1, 1988: [Note: It's not the first season that's bad; it's only the first few episodes - the critics are wrong, and I'm loving this. In this highly structured, almost military environment, a logical person might assume that, at this point, the wonky holodeck might become prohibited, but, meh, to heck with logic.] 16. "Too Short A Season" - Feb. 8, 1988 - 1.17 - "When the Bough Breaks" - Feb. 15, 1988 - Directed by Kim Manners (Director and/or Producer of 132 episodes of "The X-Files" (xx)), Written by Hannah Louise Shearer (Writer of "Q-Less" on "Star Trek: Deep Space Nine") Featuring Jerry Hardin as Radue (Deep Throat on "The X-Files" (xx)), Brenda Strong as Rashella (1980 Miss Arizona, Sue Ellen Mischke on "Seinfeld" (xx), Mary Alice Young on "Desperate Housewives," Ilene Stowe on "Fear the Walking Dead"), Jandi Swanson as Katie (Jenny Drake on "Baywatch"), Paul Lambert as Melian (Washington Post National Editor in "All the President's Men"), Ivy Bethune as Duana (Evelyn Tuttle on "Father Murphy") [I get the concept of cloaking a planet visually by bending light rays, but ... isn't there this other force called "gravity?" Regardless, Riker is positively thrilled at the possibility (and realization) of finding the mythical planet Aldea, something akin to Atlantis. "When the Bough Breaks" is an unheralded, but extremely strong, episode with a fine writer in Hannah Louise Shearer, a talented director in Kim Manners, and the sometimes-hilarious, always-alluring presence of Brenda Strong (who guest-starred with Armin Shimerman in the very funny episode, "The Caddy," on "Seinfeld" (Strong is in the first photo up above). You'll see, in the first ten minutes of this episode, that it stands above the norm, and that the slow-starting first season is (and has been) fully on-track - there is beauty, mystery, intrigue, and especially after the uninvited visit to the Enterprise, Hitchcockian suspense, animated by the telepathic powers of Counselor Troi (you get a glimpse here of how effective Troi becomes in later seasons, after getting off to such a clumsy beginning). A subtly hilarious moment occurs right after a little girl named Alexandra disappears - the next scene shows a girl playing a musical instrument, and when she disappears, the instrument simply tips over: This is absolutely a "You have to see it to appreciate it" moment, but if it doesn't slip by you (and it easily could), you might find it laugh-out-loud funny - there's obviously a stagehand holding the instrument who forces it to tip over. It is remarkable just how much Wesley has aged since Episode 1 - he has clearly entered puberty, and has gone from being a boy to a young man in just a few, short months. I'm not certain, but this episode seems to contain a very early reference to the lethal potential of climate change - how many dramas can you think of that mentioned it nearly thirty years ago?] 1.18 - "Home Soil" - Feb. 22, 1988 - Directed by Corey Allen (Buzz Gunderson in "Rebel without a Cause," Emmy Award for Directing "Goodbye, Mr. Scripps" on "Hill Street Blues"), Written by: Teleplay - Robert Sabaroff (Writer of "The Immunity Syndrome" on "Star Trek"), Story - Robert Sabaroff, Karl Geurs (Director and Co-Writer of "Pooh's Grand Adventure: The Search for Christopher Robin"), Ralph Sanchez (Writer and Executive Producer of "Boxcars") Featuring Walter Gotell (Second Officer of the Königin Luise in "The African Queen," Oberleutnant Muesel in "The Guns of Navarone," Hans Lasser in "The Hi-Jackers" on "The Saint" (xx), Morzeny in "From Russia with Love," General Gogol in six "James Bond" films), Elizabeth Lindsey (Miss Hawaii, 1978), Gerard Prendergast (Erik Slade on "Summer"), Mario Rocuzzo (Angelo in "The Locket" on "All in the Family" (xx), Andrew in "Goodbye, Mr. Scripps" on "Hill Street Blues" (xx)), Carolyn Barry (The Metron in "Arena" on "Star Trek" (xx)) 19. "Coming of Age" - March 14, 1988 - 20. "Heart of Glory" - March 21, 1988 - 21. "Arsenal of Freedom" - April 11, 1988 - [Note: "Get Off My Train!"] 22. "Symbiosis" - April 18, 1988 - 23. "Skin of Evil" - April 25, 1988 - [Note: RIP, TY.] 24. "We'll Always Have Paris" - May 2, 1988 - [Note: That's Michelle Phillips from "The Mamas and The Papas."] 25. "Conspiracy" - May 9, 1988 - [Note: My first question: The "homing beacon sent from earth comment at the very end ... what did that imply? It sounds ominous, but nothing seemed to pan out from it in later shows that I'm aware of, so ...? (Answers will be Spoilers)"] 26. "The Neutral Zone" - May 16, 1988 - [Note: And that's a wrap for season one.]
Deep Space Nine (DS9) follows TNG in the Star Trek television franchise, and precedes Voyager and Enterprise (which is in fact a prequel). You might say that the DS9-era represented the high water mark of the franchise, as TNG had proved both a financial and critical success, and the associated films were chugging along nicely. In terms of story, DS9 was deeply impacted by both the Battle of Wolf-359 and the Cardassian Wars. The show's lead character, Benjamin Sisko lost his wife at Wolf-359, an event that haunts him throughout the series. And the eponymous space station's position as a former Cardassian stronghold and subsequent strategic location near a wormhole to the gamma quadrant provides much plot fodder. I think DS9 is largely seen as quite successful, with many fans preferring the later episodes to the earlier ones. About ten years ago I bought season one on DVD and wasn't that impressed with the first ten episodes, but I'm ready to give it a second chance. I'd be interested in running through each episode much like Don did with TNG, but more towards the style I used in the Spooks forum. Please let me know if you are interested. I like using letter grades, along with a quick synopsis and analysis. But I'm flexible on the exact system used. I do think some rating mechanism is useful though. This is a point of contention between me and Don, but I'm hoping we can work something out. My position is that some sort of empirical score, while somewhat artificial, is still quite useful to quickly discern a general difference or similarity of opinion between us. You could read two analyses and still not be quite sure.
I've had this weird "thing" lately where I've been watching SE1 EP1 of classic American television shows - I guess I was so ignorant, for so long, that this is sort-of like taking a post-WWII pop culture course. *Everyone* but me at Clemson used to gather round the TV and watch "The Andy Griffith Show"; before last week, I had never before seen a single episode (my friends also called me a "Yankee"). The one thing that stood out to me in "The New Housekeeper" is six-year-old Ron Howard. I almost always find whiny children on TV to be incorrigible brats, but Howard - who was certainly whiny in this episode - somehow managed to be cute. I'm still not sure what it was about him that made me not detest him, but he was a real talent, even at age six.