Saga of the Jasonite

The continuing adventures of that eternal man of mystery…


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Season Six Overview is Here!

Season Six

Season Six

Due to some fortuitous factors, I was able to complete my season six overview in one day. One day! I believe that’s a first. Click the above photo or right here to read my full season six overview. I’ll provide some excerpts and summaries below.

More than one writer and actor on TNG considers season six to the best season they ever did. Usually by season six of a television series the decline is quality is starting to become apparent, but not here.

Season six was a season of some trepidation, at least initially. This was the year that the contracts for all the principal actors was up. This was the year a new Star Trek spinoff was slated to begin. Gene Roddenberry, the great bird of the galaxy, was dead. Would this be the last season for TNG? Would this new series be any good at all? The question of whether TNG would continue was not officially settled until April of 1993, when Rick Berman–the showrunner now–announced that there would be a TNG movie coming out by Christmas of 1994, following the seventh and final season of The Next Generation.

It was high times to be a Star Trek fan. In January of 1993 Star Trek Deep Space Nine began, and ushered in an unprecedented age, an era in which there were two Star Trek shows simultaneously on the air. The ratings for DS9 was a syndication-high of 18.8 for the season. Meanwhile, TNG’s numbers were so strong that they beat the World Series in 1992! There began to be actual camps to teach folks Klingon! The studio-estimated sales of all Trek products up to that point hit $2 billion, and the majority of the over-100 Star Trek novels written at that point were New York Times bestsellers.

Season six is overall one of the very strongest in terms of the number of high quality episodes. The Next Generation wasn’t a spring chicken anymore, but fans were shown that a series in its sixth season could still churn out some of the very best writing, acting and directing on television.

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Star Trek episode reviews: The Inner Light and Time’s Arrow

At long last! After more than a year’s work, season five of Next Gen is complete! I was hoping to get it finished last week but getting your house painted tends to get in the way. In any case, welcome to the announcement of the last two reviews for the fifth season.

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The Inner Light

The Inner Light is, frankly, my favorite episode of all time. Bar none, this is one I look forward to the most, and still has the greatest emotional effect. The Enterprise encounters a probe in space. It tethers itself to Picard via some sort of invisible beam, and he passes out. Waking up on a planet he’s never heard of, he lives the next 30 subjective years of his life living the family life, before we discover what it’s all about.

This episode won all sorts of different awards, including the Hugo; a distinction only four episodes in Star Trek history have won. You may not know that Patrick Stewart’s son actually played his on-screen son in this episode, or that by the end of the episode Patrick was wearing 16 pounds of make-up, which had to be applied starting at 1am! Check this out and read my full review to learn more.

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Time’s Arrow

Time’s Arrow is the season-ending cliffhanger for season five. The Enterprise is recalled to Earth, where a scientist takes Picard and Data to some uninhabited caves since the 19th century and shows them Data’s severed head. A lot follows: time-traveling human-killing aliens, Data playing poker in the 1800s, Mark Twain, Guinan, and it ends with most of the rest of the crew stepping into a time portal.

Time’s Arrow was not slated to be the season-ender. In fact there wasn’t a two-parter planned at all. The producers got wind that with the wind-up of Deep Space 9, a lot of fans were thinking TNG would end after season five. They ordered a cliffhanger to let the masses know TNG would indeed continue! On that note, DS9 fans will be able to spot Marc Alaimo in this episode as well. Check out other tidbits, along with a lot more in my final full review for season five.

I’m leaving for vacation tomorrow, and plan on taking a few more weeks off before starting season six. Thanks for all my readers who stuck with me through the 26 episodes and 15 months it took me to get my reviews out. I will continue!


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Star Trek episode reviews: I Borg and The Next Phase

Two more reviews are ready to go! I’m doing my best to power through the end of season five. I figure I’ve been working on this season for too long now, and I’m just ready to finally be done with it. Bad weather, a sick family and a sick self have slowed me down a bit, but my goal is to be finished in two more weeks.

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I Borg

I Borg is a terrific episode that manages to somehow do the impossible: make the Borg more relatable. The Enterprise crew find a lone survivor of a crashed Borg scout ship and bring him on board. A plan is hatched to use it to infect the rest of the Borg with a virus that will annihilate them, but Geordi and Beverly start to have second thoughts as they see doubt, vulnerability and an emotional presence in him. First Guinan, and then even Picard have to wrestle with their conscience as they know a full Borg ship is on its way.

Jonathan del Arco, who portrays Hugh, was one of those that auditioned for the role of Wesley Crusher. I can see how he may have a been a finalist, given the finely wrought performance he turns in. The title has reference to Asimov’s I, Robot, which I thought was a cool touch. Check out my full review for lots more info and feel free to leave your own comments if you like.

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The Next Phase

The Next Phase is in the same league as I Borg. The Enterprise responds to a distress call from a Romulan scout ship about to explode, and saves them. It comes at a cost, however: the apparent deaths of Geordi and Ro. What really happened is that they became insubstantial, invisible and unnoticeable to everyone but each other, thanks to the Romulans and their experimental phasing cloak technology. There is a lot happening in this episode, and it’s all good.

The effect of having Ro and Geordi walking through solid objects as well as people was extraordinarily difficult and lengthy at the time. It was supposed to be a bottle episode to save money, but ended up being one of the most expensive episodes of the season due to the effects. The technology in this episode is indirectly related to the wonderful seventh season episode The Pegasus, as an astute viewer will understand. Michelle gave an interview where she named this episode as a turning point for her character as well. Check this out and other cool stuff in my full episode review.

That’s all for now. Thanks for all those exercising patience with my blog entries, I hope the faster pace is more palatable. Next time I’ll be posting my review for the final two episodes of season five (at last!): The Inner Light and Time’s Arrow.


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Star Trek episode reviews: The Perfect Mate and Imaginary Friend

Luckily for me I was able to write two reviews in as many weeks! I hardly ever have the time to do that, so I’m getting this post out as quickly as I can. I’ve just completed reviews of episodes 21 and 22 of season five, The Perfect Mate and Imaginary Friend.

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The Perfect Mate

The Perfect Mate is a solid episode that features practically the first appearance of Famke Janssen ever, alongside her co-star Professor X–I mean Captain Picard. The premise of this episode is simple:  Kamala (Famke) is a metamorph, an empath able to become the exact sort of woman any man wants simply by being around them, and has been raised to be the mate of the ruler of a neighboring world, with whom they have been at war for a long time. Is it ok for her to be given as a gift to a man she’s never met, or should the Enterprise intervene?

You may not know that Kamala’s makeup was the primary inspiration for the Trill makeup on DS9, not the actual Trill from The Host. Check out the story behind this, as well as Famke’s story about Patrick Stewart giving her the best acting advice she’s ever received in my full review.

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Imaginary Friend

Imaginary Friend is a definite step down, and is one of the worst episodes of season five. The Enterprise is investigating a unique kind of nebula, but who cares about that, this story is all about a young girl who has an imaginary friend. An energy alien comes on board and poses as the friend, and we all have to follow the alien in disguise manipulate a young girl and plan to destroy the ship.

There’s not a lot of behind-the-scenes info to be had here, other than listing all the previous episodes where we have energy aliens invading the ship. At this point it’s an over-used trope that leads to maybe the most forgettable and boring episode of the season. This is the first time we learn about Geordi’s parents, who will come into play later on, and did you know a certain writer chose this script instead of doing a Q episode this season? Learn who the culprit was, as well as spotting a scene where Patrick’s goofing off in this episode was captured on camera by reading my full review.

That’s it for this time. Next time I’ll be reviewing I Borg and The Next Phase, two very enjoyable episodes to watch. Hope to post them soon!


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Star Trek episode reviews: The First Duty and Cost of Living

Last time I was back on track, this time I’m behind again. I guess having a second child and keeping a practice up and running takes more time than I thought. Throw the holidays into the mix and I suppose it was inevitable I get behind. Still, there’s no better way to start off a new year than with a new post about two episode reviews I’ve completed! This time I’ve reviewed episodes 19 and 20 of season five, The First Duty and Cost of Living.

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The First Duty

The First Duty is an exceptional episode that features another guest appearance by Wil Wheaton as Wesley Crusher. The setting this time is Starfleet Academy, and there’s been a fatal accident. Wesley is covering something up, Picard discovers what it is, and Wesley is forced to make a difficult choice between the truth or his friends and fellow cadets.

The First Duty features Ray Walston, Wil Wheaton, and Robert Duncan McNeill who would go on to play Tom Paris on Voyager. Robert compares the character he played in this episode and the one he plays on Voyager, and I reveal the secret reason he wasn’t allowed to reprise Locarno. Check out both in my full review.

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Cost of Living

Cost of Living is a huge step down from the previous episode. The Enterprise picks up some metal parasites, and Lwaxana comes on board and announces she is getting married! Unfortunately it’s to a prudish, Victorian-age dude who is probably the worst fit in the galaxy for her. She bonds with Alexander, and he and Worf are having some friction. Everything turns out for the best, and it’s not that interesting.

This is the fourth of a total of eight episodes that the character of Alexander Rozhenko is used, and after the fifth season he’s hardly ever seen at all in TNG. This episode won two Emmys: Costume Design and Makeup, and was nominated for a third, Hair styling. I’d also forgotten there’s a dancer in this episode who does a good impression of the Orion Slave Girl dance from way back in The Cage. Get full details of my thoughts, and share yours, in my full review.

 


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Star Trek episode reviews: The Outcast and Cause and Effect

I feel like I’m back on track now. I’m getting more sleep now that our baby sleeps through the night (mostly). I did want to make an apology though. I routinely encourage those who visit my site to leave comments if they like, whether on these overviews or on the full episode review pages. However, starting in the fourth season I have not enabled comments on any of those pages! Rest assured this has been resolved, and every review page now has the ability to leave a comment. Please let me know if I have missed any! Alright, here come reviews for episodes 17 and 18 of season five, The Outcast and Cause and Effect.

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The Outcast

The Outcast isn’t the most exciting, or even the most interesting of episodes. The androgynous J’naii race feature here, and the Enterprise is ostensibly helping them find and rescue a missing shuttlecraft with two crew members inside. Really though, it’s about Riker and a J’naii having a forbidden love *yawn*.

The Outcast, is of course, about homosexuality, or I suppose, any sexuality other than heterosexuality. There isn’t much behind the scenes info here, except for LeVar Burton. He really wanted to grow a beard. The producers said fine, we’ll try it once, and let him have it in this episode. Then they said no, it isn’t working. He does get a little bit of stubble on two subsequent episodes, but he won’t see a full beard again until Insurrection. Click here, or the photo above to access my full review.

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Cause and Effect

Cause and Effect is about seven orders of magnitude more awesome. The teaser is probably the best ever: within a minute the Enterprise blows up and everyone dies! Other than Mass Effect 2 I’ve never seen such a thing, and I love it. The crew are caught in a time loop–okay a “temporal causality loop”–for the entire episode, and each time the ship is destroyed. How do they learn about it? Poker!

Poker features more prominently in this episode than any other, and it’s amazing. It’s also amazing that they are able to keep the audience’s attention in filming essentially the same event over and over again. You may not know that instead of just filming the ship and overlaying it with an explosion, they actually blew up a model of the Enterprise. According to the writer, network affiliates were flooded with calls that something was wrong with the broadcast because they kept getting the same footage over and over again! Check out more trivia and behind the scenes info by reading my full review.

That’s it for this time. Next post will be covering the excellent The First Duty, followed by the questionable Cost of Living.


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Star Trek episode reviews: Power Play and Ethics

Thanks for bearing with me over the delay between my last post and this one. I’ve been distracted a bit by my wife and I having an addition to our family:  a new baby girl! Don’t worry, ultimately this has not stopped me from reviewing episodes 15 and 16 from season five, Power Play and Ethics.

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Power Play

The doldrums of the last three average-ish episodes is delightfully disrupted by a genuinely good episode in Power Play! Responding to a distress call brings the Enterprise to a turbulent moon which Riker, Data, and Deanna shuttle down to, only to barely escape with their lives with help from O’Brien. But they’re not alone! It’s not long before Data, Deanna and O’Brien try to take over the ship! The ghost of Christm–I mean an old shipwrecked vessel inhabit their bodies, and we end up with a hostage situation for most of the episode, and it’s great fun to watch.

Babylon 5 aficionados should recognize the redhead in this episode as Patricia Tallman, who portrayed Lyta Alexander on that show! Marina Sirtis tells a well-known story of performing her own stunt on this episode, and practically breaking her coccyx as a result. It was all for nothing, as the shot of her lying on her back is so distant it could’ve been anybody! Check out this as well as  other cool stuff on my full review.

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Ethics

The next episode, Ethics, is a definite step down. In fact we’re right back to average and below-average episodes again for a bit. The plot of Ethics is pretty straightforward: Worf gets hit hard in the back by a heavy container and is paralyzed from the waist down. To Worf, this means he needs to kill himself, and he asks Riker to help him. A “neurological specialist” beams on board to see if there’s anything that can help Worf, but she’s a bit of a loose cannon ethically.

There’s not a ton of behind-the-scenes tidbits here, which suits this somewhat unenjoyable episode just fine. There are multiple references to other episodes, and even a parallel on a DS9 episode that you can learn more about, as well as what I did enjoy about this episode in my full review.

That’s it for now. I’m not really looking forward to reviewing the next episode, The Outcast, but Cause and Effect is spectacular, so stay tuned!