Saga of the Jasonite

The continuing adventures of that eternal man of mystery…


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Star Trek episode reviews: Hero Worship and Violations

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Hero Worship

I’ve finished my reviews for episodes 11 and 12 of season five: Hero Worship and Violations. Despite my best efforts, I can’t seem to do more than two episodes a month these days.

Hero Worship is a good episode to watch. The Enterprise encounters a mostly-destroyed ship in the middle of a black cluster and Data saves a 12-yr old boy. Like any 12-yr old boy who’s survived the deaths of everyone on a ship, not to mention his parents, he emulates Data. A being with no emotions at all. Meanwhile the Enterprise unsurprisingly finds itself in trouble yet again! It’s a layered telling of a sensitive subject, and is one of those Star Trek episodes that ages exceptionally well.

This is the second episode that Patrick Stewart directed, and is another hit. You may not know that it was during the shooting of this episode that the cast were informed of Gene Roddenberry’s death. Check out this and lots of other stuff in my full review.

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Violations

In contrast to the above episode, Violations sucks to watch. This episode goes from moderately uninteresting to downright uncomfortable with rapidity! The Enterprise is doing a bunch of napping–I mean mapping–and they are transporting some Ullians, which refer to themselves as ‘telepathic historians.’ While they say they want to build a library of memories for every civilization in the galaxy, what we actually end up seeing is the psychic rape of several crew members: Deanna Troi (literally), as well as Will Riker and Beverly Crusher. It’s one of those episodes you wish you could forget, but I have to review it.

For those remotely interested in behind-the-scenes tidbits of this episode, we get to see Gates McFadden’s real hair in this episode during her flashback scene. Recall that for most of the series she had to wear a wig that was pretty much the same color. Evidently the writers wrote a flashback scenario for every cast member, and I wish they’d used the one they wrote for Ensign Ro! Find out more details about this and some others things in my full review, if you’d like.

Next up to review are The Masterpiece Society and Conundrum. Hopefully they’ll be sooner rather than later!

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Star Trek episode reviews: A Matter of Time and New Ground

A Matter of Time

My reviews are complete for episodes nine and ten of season five: A Matter of Time and New Ground. Life has gotten in the way a bit, but I’ve managed to barely keep things from going longer than a month between posts.

A Matter of Time is an episode I usually look forward to seeing when it’s on the air, or if I get a hankering to watch the whole series again. It’s a rare bright spot of levity and light in a very serious fifth season. A professor from nearly 300 years in the future appears and tells them he’s there to document them and ask some questions, while denying answering any questions of his own. His visit happens to coincide with a rescue mission to help colonists on a planet that have just had an asteroid crash onto it. Professor Rasmussen has a lot of fun teasing the crew with various comments peppered throughout the show, while things get more and more dire on the planet. Something seems off with the ‘professor’ and learning more about him and his true aims are enjoyable and the twist is one I didn’t see coming.

What you may not know is that Matt Frewer was a backup choice to play Rasmussen. Originally Robin Williams was set to play him! Unfortunately his commitment to play in the great masterpiece of a film Hook *rolls eyes* prevented him due to scheduling conflicts. Oh what might have been! Meanwhile Marina Sirtis used the bridge set to film a little promo of her own for a university. Learn more and watch a video of the promo on my full review.

While the previous TNG entry is a delight, New Ground is an episode I have to suffer through. The Enterprise is participating in the testing of a new kind of propulsion system, the soliton wave. While orbiting the planet starting the experiment, Worf’s mom pays a brief visit and drops off his son, Alexander, permanently! The focus of this episode is not on the ridiculous soliton wave–which promptly goes awry like just about every bit of new tech on TNG–but rather on a father and son learning how to relate to one another. This forgettable and uninteresting episode comes up short of its goal of entertainment, though it’s not outright terrible.

It’s hard not to notice that they’ve cast a new actor to play Alexander, Brian Bonsall. Anyone who watched Family Ties would recognize him as a Keaton kid. He does do a good job, even if we have to deal with the albatross that is Alexander taking up space on the show for six more episodes after this appearance. For those paying attention to continuity, however, Alexander should only be about three years old here, as he was born at approximately the time the Booby Trap episode takes place. For a full explanation of this mutant fast-growth strain of Klingon, as well as why he’d have been better utilized on DS9, click here to check out my full review.

Next time I’ll be summarizing my reviews of Hero Worship, a pretty good episode, and Violations, a virtual gang rape of an episode.


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Star Trek episode reviews: Unification I and Unification II

Unification I

That worked out well, didn’t it? The Unification two-parter just happened to be episodes seven and eight of the season, so I get to include them both in this post. My pace is slightly faster this month, as I keep plowing through season 5.

“Plowing through” is the right term when talking about Unification I. It starts off provocatively, with a grainy photo of Spock on Romulus, and talk of a possible defection. The problem with this episode is that despite it’s incredible promise (Spock is actually on TNG?!), not a lot happens except setup, so it’s not that exciting. It’s not like Best of Both Worlds or Redemption, where wonderful things happen in part one. Not only does the audience never believe that Spock would defect, he doesn’t even make an appearance until the last 10 seconds. Sarek is the highlight of this episode for me.

It’s actually pretty incredible that Leonard Nimoy would agree to be on TNG. This episode was released just a few weeks after Gene Roddenberry’s death, and there is a nameplate that appears in the first minute of Unification I. I’m not sure why it didn’t air for The Game, however, as that episode also aired shortly after his death. You may (or may not) recognize the Klingon captain as Stephen Root, from Office Space and NewsRadio fame! Check out this and other trivia on my full review.

Unification II

Unification I is–dare I say it?–unsurprisingly followed up by Unification II! This episode is a bit of a step up from part one, because we actually get to see Spock in action. He also quickly reveals his purpose: the potential reunification of the Vulcan and Romulan races, which Star Trek aficionados will know were originally one people. There’s a reference to the Star Trek VI film, which would be released in theaters just a few months after this episode aired. It turns out those dirty Rommies have tricked Spock however, and not only are they betrayed but the entire purpose has been to facilitate a Romulan takeover of Vulcan. We even get a surprise appearance from Sela!

One thing I didn’t know, is a major purpose of this two-parter was simply to promote Star Trek VI. In fact, while Leonard didn’t get paid much above scale as an actor for his appearance he secured a promotion to executive producer for the upcoming movie, so he was happy. This is the last time we’ll see Sela, which is a shame because I thought she could be a good adversary that would pop up more often. Denise herself will only appear one more time, in the series finale. Overall this two parter has always been something of a disappointment to me, or at least underwhelming, however nice it is to see Spock one last time. Still, Relics alone is better than both of these episodes put together. Check out more tidbits and analysis at my full review.

The next two episodes up for review are A Matter of Time and New Ground, one of which is good, the other not so good.


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Star Trek episode reviews: Disaster and The Game

Disaster

Wish I could say I’ve accelerated the rate at which I write reviews, but life has been a bit tumultuous lately. Not to fear, I will finish! In the meantime I’ve at least written two more, the fifth and sixth episodes of season five.

Disaster kicks us off with a disaster, as the Enterprise runs into a quantum filament. Quantum filament, really? This is a fish out of water episode for most of the crew: Picard is trapped in a turbolift with children, Troi is put in command on the bridge, Worf is stuck in Ten Forward with the injured and the pregnant, and has to deliver a baby. There are other vignettes too, and virtually all of them work.

Any Dr. Quinn, Medicine Woman fans out there may recognize Marissa as Erika Flores, who portrayed Colleen Cooper for the first three seasons. What you may not know is this episode was a bit of a test run, to see the kind of chemistry O’Brien and Ro had, since they were wanting to get her on DS9. She later turned them down. Check out my full review for a lot more content.

The Game

Following this is The Game, where prodigal son Wesley Crusher returns for a guest spot. He’s back briefly from Starfleet Academy. Yep, he’s back home with his family…who are out to get him! This episode is full of sentiment at Wil Wheaton’s brief return, which is nice. What’s not so nice is the plot, which involves an addictive, mind-controlling video game that the entire crew of the ship (even Ashley Judd, in her last appearance) gets infected with, before everyone gets saved by Data and a strobe light.

Ashley Judd has her first on-screen kiss, and everyone’s favorite ensign does the honors. Marina Sirtis has her infamous “chocolate scene” in this episode, which is almost pornographic. *heh* You may not know that Marina had to spit out the chocolate after every take, because she was afraid she’d gain weight. Check out my full review for some other tidbits and nitpicks on this episode.

Thanks for visiting! Next up for review are Unification I and II, which involves possibly the most anticipated guest star of all: Spock!


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Star Trek episode reviews: Ensign Ro and Silicon Avatar

Ensign Ro

Slow but steady, I’ve completed two more reviews for season five. The episodes I’ve done are Ensign Ro and Silicon Avatar. Not exactly outstanding episodes like the previous two. One is definitely worth watching, the other is definitely optional.

Ensign Ro introduces us to…*drumroll* Ensign Ro! She’s a member of a new race in the Star Trek canon: a Bajoran. A troubled ensign that an admiral had to get out of prison so she could go on a mission to help the Enterprise hunt down terrorists, Ensign Ro has got attitude to spare; but we learn she is also in over her head, and not everything is at it seems.

Between The Wounded and Ensign Ro, the Cardassians and Bajorans were set for a show that would be debuting the following year, Deep Space 9. The producers liked Michelle Forbes’s performance in Half a Life so much they offered her a recurring role on TNG, and eventually the part that she turned down on DS9, which went to Nana Visitor. Check out my review for a lot more content.

Silicon Avatar

Silicon Avatar is about the return of the Crystalline Entity, the deadly but beautiful life form that annihilated the colony on Omicron Theta, where Data and Lore were created. Riker, Data and Beverly are on a planet along with a Starfleet team preparing a planet for colonization when it attacks! Barely surviving, once the Enterprise arrives they get an expert and begin tracking it down. Unfortunately the expert, Dr. Marr, has an agenda of her own. The episode starts out great but slides into mediocrity.

This episode title doesn’t help anyone understand what the episode is actually about. Star Trek: The Next Generation (and maybe Star Trek in general) is sort of famous for having inaccurate, vague titles but this one is flat-out nonsensical. The producers finally said it actually was meant to convey “a repository of knowledge”, referring to Data! Does anyone think that?? Click here for my review, where I give a breakdown of how things start out and where they went wrong with this episode, as well as more trivia that no one else has.

Thanks for taking a look at my blog! Next I’ll review Disaster and The Game, a bit of a mixed bag in both cases.


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Star Trek episode reviews: Redemption II and Darmok

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Redemption II

After something of a long wait, the first two episodes of season five are complete! This time around it’s Redemption II and Darmok, two standout episodes of the entire series. Redemption II is a worthy denouement and Darmok is simply an episode for the ages.

Redemption II is the 100th episode and is all about the Klingon Civil War, which we jump in to right from the first. There is so much plot in this episode it’s bursting at the seams. Frankly they could have made this a three-parter with all the plot threads they needed to tie up, but it’s a great ride.

Denise Crosby tells the story of how she came up with the idea for Sela, and Dan Curry talks in depth about how he made the effect for the surface of sun, and they’re both pretty interesting. Multiple characters from this episode appear in later DS9 episodes as well. Check out my review for all the details.

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Darmok

Darmok is an episode that had been percolating for years. Initially hated by Rick Berman, Michael Piller saw its real value and gave it to Joe Menosky to adapt, and he turned it into one of the best Star Trek episodes ever made. It’s all about an incomprehensible species that kidnaps Picard down to a planet to an apparent duel with their captain, but turns into something entirely different. It’s one of those episodes that’s hard to write a synopsis for, but every Star Trek fan should see.

This episode debuts Picard’s new captain’s jacket, the two-piece with a gray undershirt that I ended up liking. We also see the first appearance of Ashley Judd as Ensign Lefler. She’s really cute, but evidently as the actress got older she got weirder too, oh well. Check out these and other behind-the-scenes curiosities in my review.

That wraps up the long-overdue blog entry. Next I’ll review Ensign Ro and Silicon Avatar, a decent episode and a weird one. Hopefully I’ll get to them soon!


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Star Trek episode reviews: In Theory and Redemption

In Theory

I’m happy to declare that with this post I’ve finally finished reviewing the fourth season of Star Trek: The Next Generation! Consider that I published the season four overview page on July 11, 2016 and the first episode review of season four on July 22nd of the same year. This has been a labor of love for me for over a year. At least it happened quicker than season 3, which I started in 2013 but didn’t finish until 2016!

The two reviews I’ve just completed are In Theory and Redemption, episodes 25 and 26 of season four. One is a good episode, the other is a great one. In Theory is enjoyable but often overlooked, while Redemption is one of the most celebrated episodes in TNG.

In Theory is all about Data’s love life. He gets a girlfriend who’s frankly on the rebound and ultimately gets the shaft like we sort of assumed he would, but it’s a really enjoyable ride getting there. This is one of the funniest episodes in the series, as we watch Data do his level best to be a good boyfriend, with about as much success as you’d expect. There is a plot B, but nobody cares about it.

Speaking of plot B and the “dark matter deformations,” not even the writers wanted to do it but they were required to do something with the ship. Ronald Moore said that on TNG, they could do quite a bit with the characters on the show, but they always had to include something about what the ship was doing, which wasn’t the case on DS9. Check out my full review for more.

Redemption

Redemption is an episode that’s been a long time coming. Starting back in season 3 with Sins of the Father, and later with Reunion, we were hoping there would come a day when Worf would get back his family’s honor. For my money this is the second best cliffhanger in Star Trek, and just an outstanding episode. Picard is asked to finish arbitrating Gowron’s succession as leader of the High Council, only to discover that Duras’s sisters have plotted to challenge him by advancing Duras’ son to the same position. All heck breaks loose because the house of Duras has so much power that if Picard doesn’t acknowledge his legitimacy there will be a Klingon civil war. Worf gets caught up in all of it, and his brother Kurn, and…let’s just say it’s a great episode that has something for everybody, culminating with the final camera shot on a Romulan that looks a lot like Tasha Yar!

Redemption was originally intended to be the season three finale, but it got pushed back because everyone was excited about the Borg. Justifiably so! Ronald Reagan visited the set while they were shooting this episode,  and the cast and crew celebrated this being the 100th episode–even though it’s actually the 99th. How do I reconcile this? Check out my full review for this and other behind the scenes info.

No one is more ready than me to move into season five and review not only Redemption part II but also the whole rest of the series. I’ll get started soon on the season five overview–always a lot of work–so follow my blog to read it the day I post it!