Captain's Blog pt. 32: Next Generation (Season 6)

Can't believe we're already at Season 6. How time flies. 

Not much background info for you this time around, except that Patrick Stewart filmed most of seasons 6 and 7 while concurrently staging a one-man show of A Christmas Carol, later made into a movie (which to my shame I've yet to see.) Which meant a year's worth of double shifts - had to be some tense moments on both sets, with that schedule.

I'll try and keep the supplemental info to a minimum this time around. The further I get into this series, the more I keep running into the same trivia and tidbits at a variety of sites, so maybe there's not much use in reproducing it all here. As a friend of mine wrote me this morning, when dealing with Trek, it's more of a matter of curating info/ other analyses than digging up anything new - and there's only so many personal memories and associations I can reasonably expect anyone to give a crap about. ("About which to give a crap" is a funny phrase. I chose not to use it, despite the bad grammar.)

So, let's just jump right in. Season 6 is, like 5, a very strong collection of episodes, although I'm definitely "meh" on these first two:

23. Acquiel

22. Man of the People
Another "Violate Counselor Troi" tale

Not terrible episodes but ones at which I roll my eyes when I see them coming round again on cable. "Aquiel," in particular, seems to be in near-constant rotation on BBC America.

Things improve a little with 21. Face of the Enemy.

But still not one of my personal faves.
20. Realm of Fear

19. The Quality of Life

18. True Q Notable for:
Nice 'doo, Counselor.
And this guest turn by Olivia d'Abo, first cousin of Bond Girl Maryam D'Abo
17. Descent (pts. 1 + 2) EDIT: I forgot to mention Stephen Hawking's appearance, here:

Should be included on any credible list of "TV's greatest moments."
16. Frame of Mind I loved this one at the time, but it hasn't aged well with me. I hesitate to call it a bad episode, but I prefer the fifteen that follow on this list.

This is still a pretty cool effect, though.
15. Rightful Heir

14. Suspicions

13. Relics This episode is a proper farewell for Scotty, after the Groundskeeper Willie-ness of The Final Frontier and The Undiscovered Country. (And he doesn't come off all that well in Generations, either.) 

12. A Fistful of Datas This is a light bit of fun for Spiner and Dorn, it seems, but it's still a fairly strong Worf episode. He gets some great lines, and Spiner clearly enjoys the opportunity to go outside of his Data routine.

And as predictable a choice as it may be, I enjoy seeing the Enterprise fly off into the sunset.

11. Chain of Command (pts. 1 + 2) This is a pretty solid two-parter with David Warner and Patrick Stewart squaring off against one another in a 1984 scenario, and a performance by Ronny "Dick Jones / Cohagen" Cox as Captain Jellico that people are still arguing about two decades later. My only real objection to it is the rather flimsy set-up. As Phil Farrand notes, "Is Picard really the only person who can comment intelligently on Theta Band emissions? (He's mentioned as) 1 of only 3 starship Captains with Theta Band experience, but is this the type of mission that Starfleet feels must be led by a Captain? Isn't it just a grenade-throwing mission?" Of course, if he isn't leading the mission, then he can't be captured, and all the "There are four lights" stuff couldn't happen, so... (Behind the scenes-wise, Patrick Stewart was constantly clamoring for more traditional-action type sequences for Picard, so that probably figured into the decision to get him into commando mode.)

 Pt. 1 Directed by Winrich Kolbe, Written by Brannon Braga.
Pt. 2 Directed by Dan Curry, Written by René Echevarria
At Deep Space 9, Worf investigates reports that his father is still alive, while an engineering accident causes Data to experience a vision of Dr. Soong. Worf's investigation takes him to a Romulan prison camp, where he teaches the Klingon children there about their culture.

René Echevarria: "It was an unusual episode in that the 2 stories were very unconnected, but thematically they were. The scene where Worf tells Data about finding out the truth about the vision of his father is very powerful. (...) I thought it was lovely when Worf realized he was talking about himself, and it tied the two stories together and sent Worf on his journey."

 Brannon Braga: "The bird in Data's vision gave a great performance. It's one of our best guest stars ever."

Michael Piller: "(Worf realizes) there is something good in this society, and that he'll lose this woman when he can't shake his own prejudice. It's a price has to pay for his character and his code... I think it's wonderful when people act in heroic ways that turn back on them."

Directed by Adam Nimoy, Written by Brannon Braga
Aboard a runabout, Picard, Data, LaForge, and Troi encounter time distortions; they also discover the Enterprise, frozen in time, seconds away from destruction.

Brannon Braga sought to out-do his previous effort "Cause and Effect" by providing an even more unusual time-travel story: "This is 'Cause and Effect' times ten. Time is not only looping, it's moving backwards, accelerating and stopping, and moving backwards. (...) I wanted to do this as 'man against nature' or 'man against time.' What The Abyss was to deep-sea diving, this would be to deep-time diving."

It went through subsequent revisions that toned down the idea of the "time bends," but it's still a first-rate temporal mystery.

Directed by Jonathan Frakes, Written by Joe Menosky and Ronald D. Moore
Picard tries to finish his old archaeology teacher's monumental last mission: solving a puzzle that leads Humans, Romulans, Klingons and Cardassians to the secret of the origin of all humanoid life in the galaxy.

Moore has stated that he'd considered but intentionally did not specify that the Ancient humanoids were the Preservers from TOS "The Paradise Syndrome." (Not to mention DC Fontana's Year Four for IDW. Though that was written much later, I just like bringing it up, because it's must-read material for TOS fans.) "But this could very well be them and be internally consistent." I agree, and this was what I thought at the time, so I was happy to discover this Moore quote.

Salome Jens' first appearance in this boring-as-hell humanoid design that I was sick of almost immediately. I couldn't believe my eyes when I saw it resurrected yet again (probably for a purpose never realized) for the Sphere Builders in Enterprise. Granted, there are a couple of differences. Not enough.
Picard makes a big deal about being given the Kurlan naiskos in this episode, but later, in Generations, he casually discards it amongst the wreckage.
Berman didn't think too much of the episode: "Conceptually, it's very interesting (but) I always had some problems with the whole idea of these prehistoric creatures who are the fathers of us all. It's not Roddenberry-esque, it's very 60s-Roddenberry-esque." (Which is probably to say it is Gene L. Coon or DC Fontana-esque.)

I've never been altogether straight on how linking pics of protein sequences can alter a tricorder built billions of years later, but hey! It's a cool enough idea and results in a thoughtful episode with some nice moments, among them Picard's ending remarks with the Romulan commander and the Klingon's bit with Data (as well as his furious disappointment at the New Age-y-hologram that turns out to be all there is to the mystery.)

Directed by Levar Burton, Written by René Echevarria and Michael Medlock
The Enterprise finds a second Will Riker - created by an energy surge during "our" Riker's beam-out, eight years previous - on a planet that Riker helped evacuate on one of his first missions.

FUN FACT: The original title for this story was "Too Many Rikers!"
Of all the split-type/ double stories in Trek - all of Trek - I think this is the most well-realized. The double isn't a flawed or variant but younger version of our Number One, and watching him navigate life in the shadow of his older self - especially with Troi - is fun. Frakes does a fantastic job dramatizing the discomfort of the situation, and you end up rooting for Thomas Riker as "our" Riker struggles not to judge himself / feel threatened. (The name his duplicate chooses. In the novel Imzadi, Riker's middle name was given as "Thelonius," which is admittedly much cooler.)

EDIT: I meant younger/ older as to how they act or more specifically interact with one another. Wil assumes the elder role, and Tom the younger. But, as pointed out in the first comment, this is not what the episode intends, so I should probably clarify. I was unclear. Death to Ming! (That's an oblique "Fall on your sword" reference for those of you playing along at home.)

There's a lot of psychotherapy in this one. The set-up helps if you're passingly familiar with such things as psychic-toilet/ self-sabotage, etc. Not essential, but it helps enjoy the goings-on. (As all these split-self Treks do.)


The episode is also notable for not unifying or otherwise killing off Tom Riker. A spin-off show of Tom Riker and Giant Spock from "The Infinite Vulcan" sadly never materialized.  He appears again in DS9. (Tom Riker, not Giant Spock.)

Nichelle Nichols visiting the set and chatting with Dr. Mae Jemison, real-life astronaut extraordinaire, who has a cameo as "Palmer."
Directed by Robert Weimer, Written by Ron Wilkerson and Jean Louise Matthias
Picard begins a romantic relationship with the strong-willed lieutenant of Stellar Cartography, but he can't deal with having to order her into dangerous situations.

Wendy Hughes has been in tons of stuff, but many of her more memorable performances are a bit on the NSFW side, so we'll stick with screencaps from the decidedly-SFW episode itself.
On one hand, this isn't the most compelling romance I've ever seen (and its resolution by episode's end with the whole "Meh, I just can't deal with you being in danger" thing seems a bit pat.) On the other, it's a quiet episode, and Nella and Picard have many nice moments. It's just fun to see this side of Picard every so often.

Says Ronald Moore: "I liked the relationship with Nella and wanted it to continue aboard the Enterprise-D, but that view was in the minority. I thought that she matched up well with Picard and that we should've just played it out over several episodes."

That would've been cool. (Stellar commentary from McMillan.)

Directed by Cliff Bole, Written by Morgan Gendel
On an evacuated Enterprise, Picard plays a deadly game of cat-and-mouse with terrorists who want to steal expensive toxic waste from the warp core as a lethal beam sweeps the ship.

That's one of Memory-Alpha's weaker plot summaries. "Deadly toxic waste" and "lethal beam" are factual enough but somewhat misleading. It also neglects to include the terrorist subplot on the planet surface, as well as the words "Die Hard on the Enterprise."

Which it certainly should.

Says Morgan Gendel: "I was thinking of barnacles attached to the hull, and how in olden days they had to dry dock and scrape those off. (Transposing the idea to a starship) I did some research and read about baryon particles. I thought, you know, this is all made-up stuff, so I'm going to say that traveling at warp speed, every million miles you'd need to have the baryons removed. I was also thinking of tape degaussing. At the time, a lot of stuff was on videotape and you had to degauss the tapes to reuse them. I put the two ideas together and thoght, well, you probably have to take everybody off the ship - and I got from there to the Die Hard thing."

The bits with Data and his "useless small talk program" are great.


And we see Picard perform a Vulcan nerve pinch on Tim Russ, who would of course go on to be Commander Tuvok on Voyager.

At one point, Data mentions that he's found that humans prefer a body temperature of 21 degrees Celsius. Uhm, what? I think he meant to say room temperature, don't you? As Phil Farrand notes in his Nitpickers entry for this episode, "Only dead people prefer a body temperature of 21 degrees Celsius."

If someone ever makes a video or audio mash-up of Patrick Stewart saying "my saddle" and "balsamic vinagrette" looped for hours, I'll buy it.
Directed by Adam Nimoy, Written by Allison Hock, Ward Botsford, Diana Dru Botsford, and Michael Piller
Captain Picard, Ensign Ro, Guinan, and Keiko O'Brien are turned into children by a transporter accident (NOTE TO STARFLEET: WEAPONIZE THE TRANSPORTER BEFORE SOMEONE ELSE DOES) but retain their adult memories, resulting in different reactions from each. When rogue Ferengi hijack the Enterprise, the young crewmembers, along with Alexander, lead the revolt.

I hated this episode when it originally aired. The Ferengi take over the Enterprise? What? Kids jumping on beds? Alexander with the remote-control car trick? No no no no no... But over time, it began to grow on me. It started by coming to appreciate the young Picard's (actor David Birkin, previously seen in "Family") performance, particularly his response to Counselor Troi about heading to Starfleet Academy. "And be Wesley Crusher's roommate?"

"Did you touch my stuff?"
The idea of children accomplishing something the adults can't do/ being underestimated is nothing new, of course, but the young performers do a good job with their parts, and it's probably Alexander's highlight in all of TNG.

Actually, given all that happened to Brian Bonsall after TNG, it was probably the actor's real-life highlight, as well.
A nice reboot/ recall of TAS "The Counter-Clock Incident." Ro in particular comes off as an even cooler character once we see this decidedly more innocent version of her. The bits where Picard realizes no one will take him seriously - something adult Picard probably forgot all about, at this stage in his career - are especially good.

Adam Nimoy directing David Birkin.

Incidentally, Worf - who was a crackshot with an Old West revolver in "A Fistful of Datas" - manages to miss a Ferengi with a considerably-more accurate (one would think) phaser from about ten feet away.

Directed by Robert Weimar, Written by Brannon Braga, Jean Louise Matthias, and Ron Wilkerson
Enterprise crew members report that they go to sleep but wake up exhausted. A mysterious subspace pocket forms inside a cargo bay, and they realize they are being visited by beings from another dimension.

If "Starship Mine" is the Die Hard of the series, this is the X-Files of the bunch. Alien abduction, on the Enterprise! Day frickin' seized.

Brent Spiner was highly impressed with Data's poem, "Ode to Spot." "I couldn't believe it because not only did it rhyme, but it's technobabble and it also had something to say. It had a really sweet point of view towards the cat." I agree.

The aliens are never seen again, which is a detail I rather enjoy. Just the whole idea of these creepy, mysterious, clicking dudes probing our crew for reasons unknown is kind of cool,  and the way the tables are turned makes for a fine hour of both tv and Trek. A very satisfying episode (even if Picard rather glosses over the death of the one crewman at story's end.)


Directed by Alexander Singer, Written by René Echevarria
Professor Moriarty returns, only this time he gains control of the Enterprise in his quest to leave the holodeck.

"Elementary My Dear Data" (where Moriarty first appears) is not a particularly strong episode for me, but the actor they got to play Moriarty sold the role so well I enjoyed it nonetheless. I remember thinking at the time that if the story/ script wasn't up to his performance. They solved these problems with "Ship in a Bottle."

Incidentally, the Cheers / TNG connections continue... here's Daniel Davis as Norm's boss in "The Peterson Principle."
Both Moriarty and his holosuite galpal are the main attraction here. Stephanie Beacham is fantastic as the Countess Regina Bartholomew, and her and Moriarty's chemistry is touching and well-displayed.

Stephanie Beacham has been in tons of stuff, probably most familiar to old-timers American audiences from Dynasty. She needs to play Janeway's sister or best friend in whatever Murder, She Wrote-esque Janeway spinoff awaits us in our golden years.

Also? Iris McKay.
The ending of this story - where Moriarty and Bartholomew go off to travel the stars, assuming they are free but in actuality trapped inside a little box sitting on Barclay's desk - is great. Very "meta" for the whole Trek experience, when you think about it. (It also sets up a criminally-never-to-be-realized TNG: THE WRATH OF MORIARTY movie.)

One last thing: the scene where Picard and Data realize they've been interacting with a holographic Geordi is particularly good, but I was unable to find a proper screencap. But keep an eye out for it on your next re-watch. Levar Burton plays it perfectly.

And finally:
Directed by Les Landau, Written by Ronald D. Moore
After being attacked on an away mission, Picard dies and meets Q in the afterlife. Q offers him the chance to change a crucial moment in his history and prevent the mistakes he made in his youth. Discovering that correcting previous mistakes is akin to pulling on a piece of string that unravels the tapestry of his life, Picard requests he return to his injured body and live out the rest of his life as is.

Yes, it's the It's a Wonderful Life episode, something of which Piller was particularly wary: "When a series gets tired, they do It's a Wonderful Life. I don't think we ever solved my problems with it in terms of getting a fresh slant. I felt that it was one of those Christmas-type episodes where the direction and the performance were sort of flat. Some of the scenes seemed to be very talky to me. It did not have the power and the impact on that it seems to have had on other people. I'm delighted that it was a meaningful experience for a lot of people and made them think about their own lives because that's what Star Trek is trying to do. They should accept themselves rather than wish they had done something else."

That last point nails exactly how and why this episode resonates so much. I guess I saw it at a pivotal moment in my own coming of age. To this day I think of this episode often, particularly when assessing previous mistakes and regrets. And I secretly judge people by how well they've learned this particular lesson. (But more by their taste in movies.)

Picard's utter failure at playing a convincing 20 year old is a source of much humor in the first half of this story.
As for the rest of what Piller wrote, I can't argue that, as a trope, this sort of thing can come off poorly. Particularly in episodic tv. But when it's done well, as it is here (I can't disagree with Piller enough about the performances and direction - both are just about perfect) it's a moving experience and one that speaks to us very clearly and powerfully. Also, the relationship with Q and Picard - so pivotal to the end of the series/ the resolution of their character arcs - is given a dimension here that has been missing. Picard is more than Q's plaything; Q has a genuine interest in Picard's spiritual evolution/ psychological reconciliation. I'm not the biggest fan of Q, but the series would be poorer without him, if only for this and for "All Good Things."

Picard realizing how he has compromised himself.
Picard once he gets the joke.
"Tapestry" takes Picard's somewhat-throwaway dialogue to Wesley from "Samaritan Snare" about how he got an artificial heart and imbues it with some of the best Picard characterization there is.


  1. I'm increasingly surprised by how many episodes in the later seasons I remember. I have been under the impression that I almost stopped watching NextGen after a gradual drifting from it somewhere in season 3 or 4. That can't be the case, because your rundown of seasons 5 and 6 are full of instances of me going "oh yeah! I remember that!"

    Picard's romances, in most cases, always feel really awkward to me. The lone exception is in We'll Always Have Paris with Michelle Phillips. It seems to completely gel for me in that episode: she's age-appropriate, and there seems to be real chemistry and emotion. The exchange they have which starts out playful and morphs into muted, yet naked, pain, on Phillips' character's part just rings so true to me that it still has the power to rivet me. It was such a high point for me that all subsequent romantic plots pale in comparison.

    I must be misremembering Second Chances. Wasn't the Riker duplicate the same age, and was isolated all those years so he didn't have the same level of command experience as the original Riker? I do know the episode wormed its way into my memory, as it's one that crosses my mind occasionally when thinking about NextGen or duplicates. It does deal with the subject in a much more intriguing way than is usual on TV or in movies.

    The Chase bugs me for the main premise: somehow seeding basic DNA on planets billions of years ago can result in the simultaneous evolution of humanoids as the end result? Given all the sheer chance involved in our evolution, including the unlikely development of humans into the form we're in, or just the development of life on Earth at all, makes it tough for me to swallow this idea. It's a bridge too far, concept-wise. There are a number of science fiction books that deal with the idea of humanoids and how they simultaneously evolved to look basically similar that deal with it in a way that seems reasonably plausible - Larry Niven's Pak are a good example of a progenitor race "seeding" the galaxy that has some logic to it. But, it's a damned ambitious concept for Trek to take on, so I have to give it credit for audacity. By the way, the Star Trek: Vanguard series of books deals with something thematically similar.

    1. All we get in "The Chase" is the tail end of a complex mystery, so for me, it's fairly defensible. It's a bit of the "hey, we just don't know the steps involved" sci-fi trope, and well within safety limits for this helmsman.

      Tom Riker is indeed the same age as Wil Riker. I guess I confused the issues with "older/ younger," which I suppose was unclear, my bad, just meant to distinguish them, and to characterize the postures each adopted to one another. I love that episode.

      I don't mind Michelle Phillips in We'll Always Have Paris, but she comes in last on my list of favorites of Picard's love interests. (Which is: Anij from Insurrection by a mile, followed by Nella in Lessons, Vash from Captain's Holiday/ Q-pid, then Michelle Philips from We'll Always Have Paris.)I think it's the actresses themselves that I respond to, with these; I just find Michelle to be kind of blah vs. the dynamics and strength of the other ladies. I like Picard's memory of it all in that episode, tho; that's a great Picard episode.

      Glad to hear your TNG memory-well is deeper than remembered. Instead of saying "Oh yeah I remember that," I picture you slowly starting to chant "I... am... Ki-rok..." until you thrust yourself forward and dramatically yell at the screen.

    2. p.s. I guess I'm forgetting Picard's wife from "The Inner Light," who certainly seemed like a nice lady, but she'd probably be in last place in my personal rankings. If she counts.

    3. That's an interesting "if." Viewed in one way, Picard spent far more time with her than with any of the rest; viewed from another, he spent far little, and arguably none whatsoever.


  2. The sight of Worf in a cowboy hat still makes me chuckle.

    I've never quite been able to figure out how I feel about "The Chase." On the one hand, it is an awesomely large idea; on the other, it is a weirdly reductive one. It makes the galaxy seem both larger and smaller at the same time, and I don't quite know how I feel about it.

    I remember being disappointed that the Picard/Nella plotline didn't continue, but I remember being even more annoyed that they didn't simply do the same story with Picard and Crusher.

    "Rascals": now there's an episode that should have been complete and utter garbage, but was actually quite good. It all comes down to the casting, too; the kids were actually pretty good, so they seemed plausible.

    "Tapestry": awesome.

    1. Glad to hear you're a "Tapestry" fan, as well.

      When you say do the same re: Picard/ Beverly, do you mean for that episode or just in general?

      I always found it a little odd that they moved them together over the course of the series and then let it drop altogether in the movies. From a production standpoint, of course, it was so the male lead could have romantic interests. But it was the wrong decision, I feel. (As much as I love Anij from Insurrection.)

      Re: "The Chase," for me the episode is sold more on two of the moments I mention (which, of course, if they don't have similar impact, I can see not being justification enough:) I love the idea of solving a Pyramids/ Pires Rei type galactic mystery, then getting the answer they get, and the Klingon/ Cardassian response. That the Romulans and Humans were more thoughtful about it (or at least the commander-representations of each species) struck me as so cool at the time. I always felt the Romulans would come around to the Federation's way of thinking. (Or the Fed's to their's.) I imagine the alien race as hundreds of times bigger than any of the Empires / Federation in question, and this as their "Inner Light" solution, but with an added Easter Egg.

      Jeff mentioned Larry Niven's book, which I haven't read and can't comment on (though Niven is certainly pretty great so I'd expect I'd love it.) But in a way, I like that the answer brings more questions, in "The Chase" and seemingly makes no sense. It just rings true to me, as an Earthling looking at our own prehistory, so the idea of transposing/ widening it to the galaxy is very appealing.

      Granted, it may be appealing to you (both) but just not the execution. Understandable. It works for me, but I don't know if I'd hall-of-fame it.

    2. No, the execution of "The Chase" is mostly very good; it's the very concept that gives me pause. And like I say, my left hand thinks it's awesome; it's my right hand that is unconvinced. I'm stuck between them.

      As for the Picard/Crusher thing, I guess I mean the series moreso than the episode, but there's really no reason why they couldn't have eliminated the romance between them by doing it in an episode like "Lessons." It just seems really underserved, and what's sad is that the reason for that is almost certainly that somebody with a producer's title probably didn't think Gates McFadden was sexy, and figured a Picard/Crusher romance would hurt the show's ratings by virtue of not bringing enough sex appeal to the table.

      What's even sadder is that they were probably right.

    3. Swapping in Beverly in "Lessons" and ending the romance that way (or after a couple of episodes, per Ron Moore's idea) works for me. It doesn't even have to effect "All Good Things," which is even better. (They tried it, they broke up, they reconciled, they divorced.)

      It's crazy to think there are people who make these decisions based on who's hot or not hot enough, and "we've got to have the Captain able to get laid with no attachments AT ANY MOMENT or we will LOSE the audience!" But, you're more than likely right.

    4. And yeah, it's definitely sad.

      I wonder if Patrick Stewart had anything to do with it? Wanted to be free to explore bigscreen romances? It seems less, I don't know, sleazy/ marketing-driven, coming from him.

    5. It might well have come from him. And tv production was in general averse to ongoing plotlines in those days, so it made a certain amount of sense to avoid an ongoing romance.

      When the inevitable reboot happens, I hope they take some of this stuff into consideration. I think there's a lot of good material there to be mined. And don't take that as an indictment of Next Gen; I adore that show. It's just easy to get glimpses at what an even better version of the show could theoretically have been.

    6. * effect/ affect. (My comment, above. Grrrr.)

      Well, now you've opened the door and we have to cast the reboot... though, in this case, the actors the powers that be would cast in the role likely aren't even actors yet, so we'd be casting Watchmen circa 1988. (As Wizard Magazine seemed to do all the time: I remember Burt Reynolds was a popular frontrunner for The Comedian. Can you imagine? I'd almost pay any amount to see that. And be immediately disappointed, but good God. This also opens the door for a heretofore unseen role for Dom DeLuise as Night Owl.)

      At any rate, it IS probably inevitable, but I hold out some small candle of hope that NextGen, Voyager, Ds9 and Enterprise will somehow escape the reboot sweeps, or be subsumed into the ongoing reboot-Trek stuff in some way I can't quite imagine but doesn't just recast/ reimagine everyone. I assume someone from at least one of the casts will be involved in the 50th anniversary Trek movie coming our way.

  3. I have lots of ideas for how a TNG/DS9/Voyager reboot could happen, but first...


    That gets a massive hell-yes from me. And just think, on some level of the Tower, it actually happened!

    Actually, I find now that in the face of that awesomeness, I really have very little to say about a rebooted Next Gen. I think I'd like to see it stick closer to some of Roddenberry's ideas, including the whole delineation of duties between captain and first officer. The show handled that aspect relatively well; I'd just foreground it a bit more. As well as some of the relationships. I'd introduce Ensign Ro earlier, and maybe she ends up on the rebooted version of DS9 and maybe she doesn't.

    I got all kindsa ideas, actually...

    1. BBC America played "Ship in a Bottle" tonight. I'd like to think even Evelyn was into it (when she wasn't scrambling to attach the remote and the lamp and whatever else was nearby.)

      If they ever do make another TNG movie, I'd absolutely love for them do a Khan-style sequel to this one. No one would go for it but me, probably, and I can just hear the Trek Nation raging against the idea.

      Such a great episode, though. I might even like it more than "Tapestry." But I'll stand by my rankings.

      Until the inevitable Captain's Blog Re-Boot Alternate Timeline, coming in 2028.

    2. The Moriarty stuff always struck me as being prime material for being revisited in a movie. So you can mark me down as a supporter of the idea, for sure.

      I like all four of the Next Gen movies to one extent or another, but boy, did they REALLY fail to take advantage of most the series' best ideas.

    3. Having just rewatched "Ship in a Bottle" again, I would say that I thinked it's a mixed blessing that there was never a Moriarty movie. Because in some ways, this episode is the perfect ending to his story. I guess you COULD do a Khan-style story in which he finds out he's been duped and then wreaks havoc, but part of me feels like even if he were to realize Picard had hoodwinked/bamboozled him, he'd respect the ingenuity and spirit with which it had been done.

      It also feels like -- dare I say it -- really dangerous territory to go much further down the road of being able to actualize holographic "characters." It would present unbounded story potential, true. The downside is that it would present unbounded story potential. I tend to feel story needs at least SOME restrictions in order to be able to flourish.

      In any case, "Ship in a Bottle" is fucking great.

    4. What's your opinion of the hologram stuff with the Doctor on Voyager? Too far? I like the way it's handled in, say, "Bride of Chaotica," but I think that yeah, much like the holo-deck, it's an idea that only works with the right writers.

    5. I like the Doctor quite a bit, but that's as much due to Robert Picardo as anything. I have a hard time accepting the notion that AI of that nature is actually possible. AI, sure; but not AI that is, for all practical purposes, human. It'd be something ... else.

      But within the confines of a tv show, I'm mostly okay with it, I guess. They never did properly wrestle with some of the implications, however. As presented, they could use it to resurrect and immortalize a person after their death. Hard to imagine that genie being let out of the bottle and there not being some serious issues.

    6. I think about that nowadays with stuff like digital holograms of dead people, etc. How much longer before it's used as blackmail? "You'd better not forget me in your will, old man, or you'll be spending eternity in the most degrading porn imaginable..." (Or whatever fate-worse-than-death could be used as leverage.)

      Or in the other direction - i.e. I promise to safeguard the non-desecration of your physical likeness for a small fee, etc.

      But yes: the holographic doctor/ "photonic lifeforms" etc. all provided some fun moments, but they (like the holodeck) had to back off a little bit. I generally like the episodes where they walked right up to the edge of this stuff, tho, like "Ship in a Bottle" or "Emergence" from TNG, or "Bride of Chaotica" or the "Spirit World" ones from Voyager. (Much maligned, but I like them.)

    7. I mean, look ... I don't want to traffic in crudities here, but ... there's no way people in the TNG future aren't using the holodeck to resurrect dead people and fuck 'em. I will never, ever, ever believe that wouldn't happen. "This year, I will take on all the Bond girls," says Reg Barclay, and makes it so.

    8. Without a doubt.

      I always thought that was the real reason Riker got so mad at Barclay in that one episode. He didn't like knowing he and Broccoli had that in common.

    9. "Ensign, if I find out you've used my Minuet program, there will be consequences!"

      The idea, I guess, is that in the Roddenberry future, everyone has evolved to the point where it wouldn't even occur to a guy like Riker to use the holodeck to make time with simulacra of actual people he knows. As storytelling, I can buy that.

      But the mind shudders to think of the uses to which Roddenberry himself might have put such a device.

  4. I watched "Aquiel" tonight. Not much of an episode. One of the Klingons is played by Reg E. Cathey (Norman from "The Wire"), which amused me when I noticed it in the credits. But otherwise, it's mostly an excuse for Geordi to be a dipshit, which is a thing that TNG did entirely too frequently.

    It's also one of the most glaring examples of a character being an alien for no good reason. Aquiel behaves exactly like a human, except for a lame plot point -- itself a lame red herring -- involving a psychic crystal love-aid thing. So to accommodate that, she's an alien; and to prove she's an alien, she has dumb knobs on her forehead.


    Not unwatchable; but definitely lame.

    1. "Acquiel" blows. Your comment on Geordi made me chuckle, as he seems to be retconned into an awesome TNG character. I like Geordi fine, but the Geordi-solo episodes were almost never must-sees. I wonder if Wesley will ever be retconned into a totally kickass character.

    2. He will if I ever get put in charge of producing a TNG reboot. Which, let's face it, seems unlikely.

    3. Poor Wesley. For what it's worth, I love "The Game."

    4. I think Wesley is a basically good character; I think Wil Wheaton is a basically bad actor. Correct that imbalance, and you've got something.

      But "The Game" is okay, for sure. It's one of the ones that gets crapped on more than it deserves to.

    5. Yeah, you're right. It's Wil Wheaton that's the obstacle, not Wesley so much.

      I guess I like a few different Wesley episodes. "The Game" more than most, but "The First Duty" is a great one, too. Probably even better than "The Game," I guess.

      Maybe I should rank all the Wesley episodes? Crikey. Have I gotten to this damn point? No.

    6. Oh, I think that'd be pretty interesting, actually.

  5. I watched "Face of the Enemy" tonight. Boy is that a boring episode. The TNG Romulans are perhaps the biggest waste of time there was on that show.

    1. Agreed. (And then there's NEMESIS! I love the Berman/ Braga / Piller era but good lord you're right: they never got the Romulans.)

      Well, "Unification" notwithstanding, which is a great couple of episodes. Still, the innovations they gave to the species and their ships were just unnecessary.

      And beyond that, yeah, "Face of the Enemy" is just boring.

    2. I can't even get fully onboard with "Unification." I mean, there's some cool stuff -- Picard and Data with the Klingons, Picard and Data with Spock, etc. -- that makes them good episodes, but I don't feel great about the franchise's greatest character being consigned to live on Planet Blah for the remainder of his canonical life.

      "Unification" is an all-time classic compared to "The Face of the Enemy," though.

    3. That doesn't bother me so much. (Better fate than Kirk, at any rate!) I can understand your reaction, though.

      What is your favorite of the TOS-cast future timeline scenarios? Mine's probably Scotty.

    4. Yeah, that's probably mine, too. Kirk's is awful; so Spock did at least avoid that.

  6. I watched "Tapestry" tonight. Yessir, that's a hell of an episode. Certainly the best of the season, and top -- 10? 15? -- for the series overall, most likely.

    I couldn't agree with you more about how different the Picard / Q dynamic is in this episode. You get the feeling that Q genuinely does care about Picard, though he finds it so satisfying to needle him that it's never really come through. I don't know that "All Good Things..." works without "Tapestry." Q was frequently used as a mere device for fun, but without him, as you say, the series simply would not be what it is.

    DeLancie is great here, as is Stewart, who's maybe at his best during the scenes when he's despondent over the humdrum life he's become trapped in.

    My only complaint about the episode is that at the beginning, everyone sure does seem nonchalant about Picard dying. If he were actually dying, they'd be frantic and energized; here, they are flat as a board.

    Otherwise, though, it's a classic.

  7. Having rewatched "Frame of Mind" this week, I think I'd agree that it hasn't aged particularly well. I still kind of dig it, though, and can distinctly recall being blown away by it when it first aired.