Star Trek: The Next Generation revisited

Just a few thoughts on TNG

Flagship of The United Federation of Planets, USS Enterprise (NCC-1701-D)

Not sure why I started rewatching. It’s possible I’ve seen more than you, but I am in no way more than a casual viewer – 7 seasons with like 22 eps each is just intimidating (like “West Wing,” which I did for one season and abandoned). It’s a pretty wonderful show, however. Comparing such a thing to the Star Wars films is futile (like resistance). I find that I liked Star Wars as a child and Trek as an adult – Trek encompasses so many beautiful ideas and often references great works of literature and history, at the very least. Joseph Campbell may love Star Wars, but I don’t know if I am capable of such sentimentality… good vs evil is just so adolescent. I’d also like to add that the mentality behind Star Wars is one which feels it has all the answers one needs to navigate through this life. There is a path and righteousness. Star Trek has no such conceit. One journeys into the unknown, one remains open-minded, one never stops learning, risking oneself, forming new relationships (another benefit of serialization). Trek is politics, discovery, the ship and its captain… and as one who spends much of his time imagining, naturally I’ve thought of myself at sea, love the sea, love ships at sea, think the sea is virtually the perfect general metaphor. But no – space is perfect. Honestly, the idea, at least, for this series is wonderful and there is a tremendous amount of potential (which was skimmed, but that’s network TV 4 u). I watched very little of Deep Space Nine, just what I randomly caught on TV, but it seemed just fine. Watched a trifle of Voyager, but by then more Trek serials were unquestionably superfluous (DS9 had already tested that boundary).

I’ve been focusing on the Borg, naturally. Do you know how The Borg entered the series? s2ep16 (already 41 hour long eps into the series!!). The nigh-omnipotent being, Q (John De Lancey) – who was the first ever “strangeness” the crew of the Enterprise encountered on their maiden voyage in the series’ first episode – is irritated at humanity’s hubris and suggests to Picard that the enemies he’s dealt with in the past are inconsequential trifles compared to the wonders that exist in deep space. So Q sends the Enterprise infinitely far from home, into Borg space, where there are immediately sized up. Over a short period of time, Picard and the others realize they are impotent in the face of such an enemy, incapable of even escape.

Q: “You can’t outrun them, you can’t destroy them. If you damage them, the essence of what they are remains. They regenerate and keep coming. Eventually you will weaken. Your reserves will be gone. They are relentless!”

Q the Cat

Q saves them in the last instant, to prove his point. Picard is a bit humbled, and gets extremely serious and Captain-y knowing that the Borg are now aware of humanity’s existence, and will inevitably arrive. Note: it is regrettable that Q is a transparent plot device.

Q: “Con permiso, Capitan. The hall is rented, the orchestra engaged. It’s now time to see if you can dance.”

Next occurrance: 32 hour-long episodes later (!!! This is why I love serials), in the two-part season 3 finale. A Federation colony disappears, as well as several Romulan colonies, and then the Federation confirms it: the Borg are in Federation Space. They have arrived. Q is not present in these episodes, so no false hope distractions. Picard immediately becomes sternly serious. The end of human existence is no longer a distant fear, but an immediate threat, staring him in the face.

Picard: “We have engaged The Borg.”

The Enterprise encounters the Borg and maneuvers until Picard is forcibly taken from the ship. An Enterprise Away Team transport themselves onto the Borg Cube, and find Picard – altered into a Borg. The team has no hope but to beam back to the Enterprise, where the Borg hails the ship. Picard appears on the monitor and speaks for the Borg Collective, demanding immediate surrender as the Borg will assimilate humankind into their ranks. The crew looks on, horrified, stunned (network TV stunned – I would’ve done excessive, teary melodrama), and the second-in-command tells Riker that their ace-in-the-hole is ready, but it would destroy the Cube, Picard, and the Enterprise. The score reels and screams, and the camera dollies to Riker’s face and he prepares his move – then stonily utters, “Mr. Worf… Fire.” Screen cuts to black: “To be continued.” It’s an excellent cliffhanger (or perhaps has the potential to be so). Sadly it’s filled with TV-coverage-infused-direction and soap-opera acting (most notably from Frakes and Sirtis), but it’s still highly pleasing (potentially).

No need to go into more detail. “To be continued” entails Picard’s rescue and the cool destruction of the Borg Cube. Clearly.

Perhaps my primary complaint about the show as a whole is that most of the show – or at least virtually every important scene – takes place on the bridge, and the set they use for that bridge is so dull it makes me want to die. It is an empty space with a few shoddily thrown together stations for Data and [other crew member] to sit at. The space itself looks like a stage that has had the most minimal effort put into it. This bridge should be the most impressive and stately looking space we’ve ever seen… it’s the Federation’s flagship, the command center, for chrissake… the look of this room has so, so much potential, and it looks like the set from a crappy soap opera. Oh well. At this point, I’d like to believe that this is not such a serial.

The following is a list in progress:
Star Trek: TNG, Ranked

s5e25 The Inner Light
s2e16 Q Who?
s3e26 The Best of Both Worlds
s4e15 First Contact
s5e02 Darmok
s5e18 Cause and Effect
s1e07 The Battle
s3e04 Who Watches the Watchers
s7e15 Lower Decks
s5e03 Ensign Ro

s1e02 The Naked Now
s1e01 Encounter at Farpoint
s1e05 Where No One Has Gone Before
s1e22 Skin of Evil
s4e05 Remember Me
s3e06 Booby Trap
s5e14 Conundrum
s4e19 The Nth Degree
s1e24 Conspiracy
s5e09 A Matter of Time
s6e20 The Chase
s5e06 The Game
s4e02 Family
s5e15 Power Play
s6e21 Frame of Mind
s2e02 Where Silence Has Lease
s6e15 Tapestry
s1e12 Datalore
s6e25 Timescape
s6e10 Chain of Command
s4e14 Clues
s2e12 The Royale
s7e11 Parallels
s7e25 All Good Things

s2e21 Peak Performance
s1e14 11001001
s2e07 Unnatural Selection
s2e15 Pen Pals
s1e20 The Arsenal of Freedom
s3e15 Yesterday’s Enterprise
s3e01 Evolution
s4e13 Devil’s Due
s5e12 Violations
s3e03 The Survivors
s5e26 Time’s Arrow
s2e17 Samaritan Snare
s2e09 The Measure of a Man
s4e21 The Drumhead
s6e04 Relics
s4e12 The Wounded
s4e17 Night Terrors
s1e11 The Big Goodbye

s1e9 Hide and Q
s3e13 Deja Q
s5e23 I, Borg
s4e08 Future Imperfect
s6e24 Second Chances
s5e19 The First Duty
s2e04 The Outrageous Okona
s2e13 Time Squared
s2e01 The Child
s2e03 Elementary, Dear Data
s2e06 The Schizoid Man
s5e20 Cost of Living
s1e17 Home Soil
s3e19 Captain’s Holiday

Would you believe I’ve never seen a single episode of the original Star Trek series?

Oh, hell. While I’m at it, let’s rank the entire Star Trek film franchise. Combined with budgets and worldwide grosses as per…

1 Star Trek: The Motion Picture (1979)
Cost: $35 million
Domestic gross: $82

2 Star Trek II: The Wrath of Khan
Cost: $11 million (jeez)
Domestic gross: $78

3 Star Trek VI: The Undiscovered Country
Cost: ?
World gross: $96

4 Star Trek (2009)
Cost: $150 million
World gross: $385 million

5 Star Trek IV: The Voyage Home
Cost: ?
Domestic gross: $109

6 Star Trek: First Contact
Cost: ?
World gross: $146 million

7 Star Trek: Nemesis
Cost: $60 million
World gross: $67 million

8 Star Trek: Insurrection
Cost: $58 million
World gross: $112 million

9 Star Trek: Generations
Cost: $35 million
World gross: $118 million

10 Star Trek III: The Search for Spock
Cost: ?
Domestic gross: $76 million

11 Star Trek V:The Final Frontier
Cost: ?
Domestic gross: $52 million