Episode 23 – Star Trek: the Next Generation


Space…the final frontier…

Mike and Casey reserve a table in Ten Forward and share a pot of “tea, early grey, hot” with Greg Hatcher of Comic Book Resources’ Comics Should Be Good! blog and game designer Ryan Chaddock. Our continuing mission: to launch a class-5 probe into the Neutral Zone, and to discuss the classic science fiction series, Star Trek: the Next Generation.

We discuss how it added to the Trek mythos, the tug of war over the show’s themes and writing, and how the classic series stands the test of times as a piece of optimistic science fiction in a current age of popular dystopias and the “grim and gritty” storytelling in genre film and television.

Make it so!

“End Credits” from Star Trek: First Contact by Jerry Goldsmith

Previously titled: “Oh, God. Not Another Troi Episode!”

17 thoughts on “Episode 23 – Star Trek: the Next Generation

  1. Oh, yeah, it’s an extra-special treat when RvtM deals with Trek.
    And right off the bat, I have to say that I completely and utterly share Mike’s high point: Patrick Stewart as Picard all the way. And I swear before he mentioned it, I was thinking of that episode, “The Drumhead,” as one of the finer showcase of Picard’s awesomeness (that, and “There are *four* lights!!!”). Casey, by the way, makes a good case for Riker – I’d never thought of him as an everyman analog, but it actually makes sense.
    Personally, I’d say a low point is that episode at the beginning of season 2, “The Child.” That immaculate conception thing with Troi just seemed really creepy and wrong to me, reminding me a little of that whole distasteful story-line involving Ms. Marvel in Avengers #200 (Greg and Mike will know exactly what I’m talking about). And since Greg mentioned those TOS-based fan series, the Phase II/New Voyages adaptation of that same script – itself adapted from the original Phase II script from the late ’70s – was just done so much better.
    As for the TNG movies, I agree with Greg about Insurrection – I really don’t get all of the hate for it I’ve seen online (my own rankings: 1. First Contact (naturally), 2. Insurrection, 3. Generations, and … there wasn’t a fourth movie was there? Tell me that was just a bad dream…). I also agree with Greg about this new series that’s been announced: it should definitely be set in the ‘real’ Trek universe, and not in rebooted fan-fiction Abramsverse, but I doubt that’s going to happen.
    Anyway, if you ever do an episode on Voyager, I’m volunteer for a spot on the panel…

      • I’m totally unsure if Edo is my personal favorite for RvtM fan, or Bethany. I think we should do an Amok Time style battle to the death to settle this.

        • Aw, so nice of you to say that Casey, but I concede the favorite RvtM fan to Bethany, because that the outcome of that battle is a foregone conclusion (I’d already be on my knees conceding defeat before she even had the opportunity to swing her lirpa).

  2. There are other roles in Klingon society besides warriors. They’re just not held in as high esteem as the warriors. There was a Klingon chef on DS9, Archer had a Klingon lawyer whose parents were both acedemics (school teacher and biologist). There was also the Klingon scientist who had a hand in producing the human looking Klingons in TOS. Also, notice that the Klingons almost never update their starships. They do have science, it’s just slow because its overshadowed by the warriors. Stealing tech from subjugated races, balances it out a bit too. Kang’s wife Mara, was a science officer, but she talked like any other Klingon:
    “We have always fought. We must. We are hunters, Captain, tracking and taking what we need.” Science and badass don’t have to be mutually exclusive.
    We kinda do the same thing. Sports icons and millitary are respected (deservingly or not) Everyone else is a nerd. It’s the nerds who maintain the science.

  3. I can’t believe you cut Deanna Troi out of the photo at the top. That’s some HARDCORE Troi hatred there, fellas.

    I was going to mention this but forgot, but honestly after the first couple of years she got quite a bit more interesting. It was just the first couple of years of “I sense… something…painfully OBVIOUS to the rest of you who have your eyes open” moments that were so grating.

    • Weirdly, I didn’t intentionally exclude Troi. I use the same size dimensions for all our episode images, so I often have to shrink and crop stuff to hit that specific height and width.

      It’s really hard to find a cast photo of the TNG crew that isn’t really wide. And this was the image I found that was the narrowest. I cropped it to put Picard in the center.

      That said, the episode where Troi goes undercover as a Romulan is actually very good. So they’re not ALL bad…

      • Normally the cinematographers on TNG go out of their way to keep Troi in shot, and especially when there’s some cleavage to be had.

        Mike’s just doing his best to reclaim Picard as the sexiest cast member.

        • Completely unnecessary in my opinion; not even Troi’s cleavage can outshine Picard’s sexiness – just like the manly, strapping and (mostly importantly) bearded Riker and Worf cannot surpass his badassery.

      • I attended the Atlanta Fantasy Fair, in 1991 and Marina Sirtiss was a guest. She mentioned how she was getting tired of sitting around saying, “Captain, I believe they are hiding something!” and wanted to go on an away mission. She said she finally got a script where that happened and she actually got to do some physical stuff and save Ryker. Then, when it’s time to film, the scenes had been rewritten and she was back on the ship.

        She was hilarious at her speaking engagement and the writers were really missing the boat about playing to her talents. She was also sexy as hell, in a little mini-dress and heels. I was speaking with artist Joe Staton when Sirtis and escorts walked past, on the way to her talk, and we both stopped talking and drooled as she strode past. I think we were both thinking, “Why doesn’t she look like that on the show?”

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  5. I never really warmed to Next Generation, for a few reasons. The first was it debuted during my senior year of college and I was pretty busy. I caught the pilot and felt a bit underwhelmed. It seemed like there was a lot of sitting around, having discussions. Also, Picard was rather grumpy. I loved Patrick Stewart from previous work; but, thought, “Man, I hope they don’t stick with this!” I didn’t get to sample many more episodes, as my workload was heavy and I was about to enter active duty military service. That also kept me from catching later episodes, though I sampled them here and there. The problem was I couldn’t watch it regularly and missed a lot of stuff. It made it hard to warm to the characters. I enjoyed some episodes, but others made me not want to watch the show. I also preferred a bit more action than I saw in the episodes I viewed and some of it seemed rather pompous. Since I didn’t watch whole seasons, I didn’t get a lot of evidence to dispel those notions.
    I do think the quality was good and it had good episodes; but, I also felt Patrick Stewart really carried the show, from an acting standpoint. Maybe it was because he got the best material; but, he also elevated the bad stuff, which much of the supporting cast did not. They did have their moments though, and I never hated the show. It just wasn’t what I wanted in my Star Trek. I still much prefer it to the later series.
    I don’t mind its optimistic view of the future; but, I felt it was unrealistic in its utopianism and, like I said, a bit pompous about it. By contrast, I really loved Babylon 5. I’m not a Trek vs B5 person; but, B5 presented a lot of similar ideas, of people striving towards better things, bringing peace and working towards a better universe; but, it also presented the reality that its not an easy thing to achieve, especially in just 300 years. You still have the basic problem of people being motivated by fear and B5 reflected that more, to me, than Trek regularly did. B5 showcased both the good and bad sides of characters, gave them noble moments and pitiful ones. Characters started as the seeming villain and became heroic, and others lost their way, while trying to do what they thought was best for their people, even if it meant making compromises that came with dangerous consequences. I think the real difference was that B5 was primarily the vision of Joe Staczynski and was mostly written by him; so, it reflects that vision. Star Trek often seemed like it had multiple personalities; Roddenberry’s ideas, the network’s, and the various showrunners and writers.

    With all of that said, I can’t quibble with any of the points made in the podcast. My experiences are more like Greg Hatcher’s; I grew up with Star Trek in reruns, Gold Key comics, and the Bantam books, plus the Filmation cartoon. Star Trek TMP was a huge disappointment; but, Trek II was everything I loved about the original show. I wanted to like Next Gen and was excited for its debut; but, I was really let down with the pilot and what little I saw of that first season. It got better; but, it was never “my Trek.” Had I come to it fresh, with little past Trek history, I probably would have enjoyed it more, as I often viewed it in comparison with the past.

  6. Oh, yeah, just remembered, since ST/Renegades came up: man, I wanted so, so much to like it, but ended up being mostly disappointed (with both the concept and a lot of the stiff acting by some of the cast). However, I admit that if new episodes are produced, I’ll watch them…

  7. I am sorta surprised that the topics of the weirder stories did not make it here, Like the Christmas comic (it seems there is something resembling Christmas in the future) where the team up with several grinches to find Santa, or the team ups with the X-men or Doctor who. But then again, I just tilt my head that existed in the first place so whatever I Guess.

  8. I gotta disagree with Mike on one point, which was recreational time.

    Yes, the majority of people in the future seem to be engaged in hardcore PBS activities with the exception of Ben Sisko, but there’s another exception to this.

    Tom Paris.

    Maybe it was overlooked because he’s the closest thing TNG has to a bad boy, but recall that he spent all his holodeck time shooting pool, setting up a bikini resort (and it’s kinda implied that he and Harry Kim didn’t just flirt with the babes there), repairing holographic hotrods (which seems one of the strangest but also most purist hobbies) and larping Flash Gordon.

    Paris may have been a bit sleazy and manipulative sometimes, but he would be someone you could hang out and nerd out with and not worry that he was looking down at you.

    • Yeah, I thought of Paris and awesome preoccupations as well, but I think the guys didn’t bring him up because he’s from Voyager, not TNG…

      • True, but Sisko got callouts for his sports nerddom so the door was open.

        Re-watching the show now I’m really starting to see why Mike was worried that the Enterprise crew might look down on him (and indeed the rest of us). Although I like to think I’m smarter than a Pakled, Riker’s patronising attitude towards them and his smug superiority complex really rankled me. It was almost as bad when the Enterprise encountered the 20th Century people in cryogenic storage.

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