So I just got done watching a four month marathon of Star Trek: The Next Generation for probably the fifth time in my life. I know, I know. I’m now the court jester of the Trekies everywhere, but for some reason I just had an urge to go back and watch this iconic show from my childhood. I’ll be honest, I still enjoyed this fifth time through.
I did have a running critique of the show in my head which is easy to do when you watch it in fast succession like I did instead of the weekly installments when it first came to television. Here’s some of the things I found:
- Picard was initially an enormous jerk off. I’m sure they were trying to get away from original Trek’s fun-loving Captain Kirk, but he was a full out jerk face during the first season or two. This is shown in great detail during the first episode when Riker first shows up to meet his new captain. Picard has his back turned to him the whole time while demanding his new “Number 1” reattach the saucer section manually. Apparently a manual reconnect is super tough since everyone was nervously looking around and sweating while this was going on. Luckily this would all change and Picard would get rid of that stick in his backside by season 3.
- The NCC-1701 D, this brand new Galaxy-class Federation Starship, looks like it was constructed by Winnebago. I’m serious! Go back and look at the background. There’s carpet on the walls. Everything, and I mean EVERYTHING is khaki. The captains chair just needs a steering wheel with a suicide knob and we’d be good to go. There are tiny sinks in every room where the largest bed is easily a twin. There are a boatload of windows where there essentially doesn’t need to be any and it has a hitch for towing things (the tractor beam). I’ll be frank and say the NX-01 from Star Trek: Enterprise looked higher tech then this bucket of bolts. Although it could be argued that the technology went backwards a bit as we see with the Kirk era Constitution-class starship with its gumdrop buttons where the computer sounds were supposed to be loud bangs and whirs. It also cracked me up that Kirk’s crew never had anything labelled. They just all seemed to know exactly what each switch and flashing thing stood for.
- Let’s continue discussing the ship since it always seemed to be a plot device. For whatever reason, this brand new Winnebago-class Starship was put together by MacGyver. How many times can something so awesome break? If it wasn’t the shields failing at the first subspace fart it was the warp core overloading. In the first few seasons the only two people who seemed to know what the hell they were doing to fix the problem were Geordi and Wesley Crusher. Apparently they took kitchen physics at the MacGyver Institute for Ship Design because they always seemed to know what stupid circuit had fried and how to bypass it with a simple calculation and adjustment with a Tachyon something or other. Later in the series this job would fall mostly to Data, who I will discuss soon.
- Data. Like the ship, this robot was constantly causing problems. Once he hijacked the ship because he was programmed to respond to some beacon. Another time he was deactivated allowing his crazy brother Lore to roam the ship after him. Another instance has him siding with his brother and the Borg because Lore found a way to give him emotions like crack. Another time he broke the Prime Directive because he decided to talk to some alien girl via ham radio. All of that having been said, Data was an awesome character played by an excellent actor.
- Troi. Unlike Data, she didn’t have a deactivation button. Too many times I found myself fast forwarding Deanna Troi’s empathic monologues because I was about to wretch. And for whatever reason the writers really liked to use this character a lot! Is the ship’s counselor really THAT important? Did Kirk have one of these? Did Voyager? Did Deep Space 9? Did anyone!?
TNG was wacky in some of its stories, but overall it was a great series with some iconic episodes. The characters were great and the 7 seasons proved to be invaluable for the franchise. It is high time that a new Star Trek television series get underway. 3+ years to wait between the new JJ Abrams Star Trek movies just seems too long a time.
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