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Old 09-13-2017, 05:32 PM
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Default 30th Anniversary TNG Episode Discussion Marathon

The actual episode discussions don't start until the 28th, but I thought I'd start the thread and discuss the production history in advance.

A scan of the original series bible

Pertinent quotes:

Ship's Mission: To expand the body of human knowledge. To provide assistance as required to Earth/Federation colonies, commerce and travelers. To provide for Earth/Federation security. To seek out new life, new civilizations. To provide further understanding of the universe and humanity's place in it. "Who are we? Where have we come from? What are we about? And where are we going?"

Commerce? I thought money didn't exist! Don't you just love Gene's optimism?

Humanity's place? Don't you mean sentient life or humanoid life?

A large part of the success of the original Star Trek series is attributable to the fact that it was not a star and co-star series, but a family ensemble in which the continuing characters felt great affection for each other, allowing the audience to identify with and share that same feeling of affection.

Ha ha. Tell that to Shatner and Nimoy's agents. The bit about this is "not a star and co-star series" makes me want to make a jab at Discovery, but I will refrain.

[Picard] has an unspoken but deep father-son relationship with [Riker].

Ha ha ha. Boy did THAT change!

Data is an ideal Starfleet officer.

Another hilarious joke. There's no such thing as the "ideal Starfleet officer", and the journey is the point of his character.

While [Jack Crusher's] death wasn't Picard's fault, it was his orders that sent [Beverly's] husband there and she has found it difficult to forgive Picard, although further stories will see the two developing a strong mutual attraction.

Did Beverly ever show resentment or anger toward Picard on this point?

Believability is everything. It is the most essential element of any Star Trek story.

Ha ha ha! Oh, man, that's a good one. Did Brannon and Braga ever read this before working on Voyager?

The people must be believable.

Insert mutiny-against-Janeway joke here.

Too often, script ideas show characters bouncing from solar system to solar system, planet to planet, without the slightest comprehension of the distances involved or the technologies required to support such travel.

Insert "writers can't do math" joke here.

[What doesn't work are] stories in which our characters must do something stupid or dangerous, or in which our technology breaks down in order to create a jeopardy. Our people are the best and the brightest, and our technology is tried and proven. Likewise, our characters are very committed to their mission. Please do not have them abandoning or betraying same because they have fallen in love with a beautiful pirate princess.

Oh, the list we could write of episodes that violate these rules...

Log entries are ALWAYS introduced with a stardate.


I guess the concept of "supplemental" hasn't been thought up yet.

A transporter effect reverse angle will sometimes be used, which will be the optical effect as seen from the perspective of a person actually being beamed somewhere.

Did they do this before Reg had transporter psychosis?

[Costumes will be] much less "military" looking than in the recent Star Trek films, since 24th century technology centers on enhancing quality of life, clothing will be comfortable as well as attractive.

If anything, I thought that the early TNG pajamas were less comfortable than the Monster Maroons! As for "attractive", I beg to differ.

It is possible that one wall of the personal quarters may be a "holographic window" much like the holodecks.

That would be awesome! Too bad the budget wouldn't support it. I'd love to have a "window" with a holographic forest and stream past it, how about you guys?

In discussions with friends, [Picard] pretends to believe that France represents "the only true civilization" to appear on Earth; and it delights him when a witty companion wants to prove the same for England, Italy, or China.

This sounds more like Chekov and Russia, 'cause I only saw genuine belief in French superiority from Picard. "Mister Data, for centuries on Earth the French language represented civilization!"

[Riker] is called "Number One" by Captain and crew alike.

Did anyone other than Picard ever call him "Number One"?

Female friends seem to enjoy saying Bill.

Troi called him Bill twice, and it's a shame it wasn't used more often. It would've been interesting to have him run across an old girlfriend every so often who would make him uncomfortable by using Bill.

[Riker] regards Captain Picard with a mixture of awe and affection.

Awe? No, Wesley regards Picard with awe.

Riker also has some difficulty in accepting Lt. Commander Data as a crewman equal.

Was this present beyond "Encounter at Farpoint?"

Data (rhymes with "that-a")...

Ha ha ha. When Pulaski tried that he corrected her.

[Riker and Troi's] relationship remains unconsummated.

Interesting. Was this Gene's idea: if they haven't slept with each other yet it makes it more okay for them to sleep with other people without destroying all possibility of a reconciliation? I'm not going to comment on the morality of this one; I'd get hurt either way by this two-edged sword.

Tasha has a beau ideal too, which happens to be fifteen year old Wes Crusher. Deprived of her own childhood by the harsh life of her "hell planet" home, she treats this person like the most wonderful person imaginable. Wes is the childhood friend that Tasha never had.

Um, ew. And incidentally, I had to look up "beau ideal", it means the embodiment of perfection in something. Wes is the ideal Federation teenager? Ha ha ha.

Geordi's aboard specialty is the starship school for children.

Hmm, there are certainly narrative possibilities here that were never realized, aren't there?

[Beverly's] wit and intelligence (and VERY female form) have not escaped the Captain's eye either.

I thought Gene didn't want them to get together.

[Wesley] most definitely is NOT a nerd.

Ha ha ha, that's a good one, Gene. Tell me another.

Wes considers his mother as being impossibly "ancient."

We never saw this. Had this been the case, I wonder how he'd react to the birth of his half-brother Rene Picard fifteen years in the future.

Quite recently, for example, Klingon (there should either be an "Empire" or "homeworld" in there) joined the Federation and we have begun to see Klingon officers in Starfleet.

How many good stories would we have lost had Worf not been the only Klingon in Starfleet?

There are only two possible exceptions to the Prime Directive: when the safety of the starship is jeopardized or when it is absolutely vital to the interests of the Federation.

Odd. We're told several times that every Starfleet officer and Federation scientist will sacrifice their lives before violating the Directive and that we don't put Federation interests above it. There's a whole thread waiting to happen here discussing the implications, but I won't be starting it. I will say, however, that if a ship is going somewhere where lives may be lost in the name of the Prime Directive, there shouldn't be children on board. They're not mature enough to make this decision.

Any Captain who does find it necessary to violate the Prime Directive had better be ready to present a sound defense of his actions.

Who else wants front-row seats at Janeway's court martial?

STARFLEET IS NOT A MILITARY ORGANIZATION.

I'll just refer you to SFDebris' review of "Peak Performance" here. Suffice to say, this is a stupid statement to make.

Because the ship's computer is constantly monitoring the daily routines of our people, there will be many times when it will know exactly where to deliver the turbolift's passengers without their even having to say.

We never saw this, and for good reason. It'd be a logistical nightmare.

The phaser rifle is rarely seen, rarely used. It is powerful enough to kick Los Angeles into the ocean.

Wow. I wonder where they keep the warp coils to prevent the phaser wielder from being kicked the other way into the Atlantic!

[The ship's phasers] are quite capable of disintegrating another Constitution class vessel-or even a small moon, if necessary.

Wow. Too bad the Enterprise left before they could be installed; they would've been really useful against the Borg!
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Last edited by Nate the Great; 09-13-2017 at 09:04 PM.
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Old 09-15-2017, 03:26 PM
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You can definitely tell Gene thought highly of himself from how much he loved Wesley (Gene's middle name), though I also found it curious that early versions of TNG had Wesley as a girl named Leslie...
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Old 09-20-2017, 07:37 PM
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Quote:
Riker also has some difficulty in accepting Lt. Commander Data as a crewman equal.

Was this present beyond "Encounter at Farpoint?"
It was a character arc in TNG novel #1, Ghost Ship.
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Old 09-20-2017, 08:16 PM
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Well, I haven't read that one in years, although I still own it, so I'll take your word for it. Just out of curiosity, does Deanna use "Bill" in that one as well?
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Old 09-20-2017, 11:09 PM
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I haven't touched it for years either. There was a ghost ship to investigate and Riker had it in for Data at the beginning but not at the end, that's about all I remember.
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Old 09-28-2017, 02:34 PM
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September 28th, 1987, "Encounter at Farpoint"

This one is so long it'll have to be two posts

Fiver (by Zeke)
Memory Alpha
Transcript

Introduction

First are a few quotes from The Nitpicker's Guide, for a soon-to-be-obvious reason...

In the original The Nitpicker's Guide Phil says "My fellow nitpicker Cliff Cerce suggested I treat this episode lightly. He said that the pilot is always different from the actual series. His point is well taken. A lot of time can elapse between the completion of the pilot and the production of the series. Things change. That's understandable."

In Volume II he follows up "While I usually try to treat premieres gently, many members of the Nitpicker's Guild saw no reason for such a practice. I will leave it up to you to decide which of the following nits should be considered legitimate and which should fall into the "give them a little grace because it's their first time around the block" category.

Postscript: At the time only a few of the TNG staffers were TOS veterans. Even if none of the staff in today's productions are veterans *cough hire the Okudas cough*, Memory Alpha and the Star Trek Encylopedia exist now, you can't get away with that anymore.

The Episode:

PICARD: Our destination is planet Deneb Four, beyond which lies the great unexplored mass of the galaxy.

Too bad we're hardly ever going to explore previously unknown space. And in fact too bad we're hardly ever going to leave the known Federation.

TROI: Farpoint Station. Even the name sounds mysterious.

Yeah, who named it Farpoint anyway? *cough Deep Space Nine cough*

DATA: Inquiry. The word snoop?
PICARD: Data, how can you be programmed as a virtual encyclopedia of human information without knowing a simple word like snoop?
DATA: Possibility, a kind of human behaviour I was not designed to emulate.

I'm not going to beat this dead horse, but seriously Data should have every encyclopedia, cultural guide, etc. from every known world memorized, especially everything about Earth culture! I will try not to bring this point up again, but I had to mention it once.

Q: Knowing humans as thou dost, Captain, wouldst thou be captured helpless by them?

Yeah, I doubt the phaser has been invented that could hurt Q. Furthermore, even if pretending to be vulnerable to a phaser was part of his mind game: why? If you want to portray yourself as a supreme being worthy of passing judgement on these guys, don't say anything that would suggest that they can hurt you!

Q: But you can't deny that you're still a dangerous, savage child race.

One of the most infamous Q lines. You could argue that at least for spacefaring cultures "dangerous" is pointless, as anyone who can harness warp drive could be dangerous under the right circumstances even if all they do is use their ships in kamikaze runs. "Savage" is more complicated. According to Wiktionary there are two main categories of savage: barbaric/uncivilized and vicious/merciless/ferocious. The first one is probably true relative to the Q (at least according to Q arrogance), if a little meaningless since it would be just as applicable to all spacefaring races under the "dangerous" argument I just made. Vicious is where we could get into some interesting discussions. The two main categories are violent and immoral. Both of these are too complicated to discuss at the moment, so I'll move on...

PICARD: Records search, Data. Results of detaching saucer section at high warp velocity.
DATA: Inadvisable at any warp speed, sir.
PICARD: Search theoretical.
DATA: It is possible, sir. But absolutely no margin for error.

Either the saucer has warp sustainer engines similar to the torpedos that allow for it to coast to a stop or it doesn't. If it does I don't see a problem, if it doesn't the saucer will be destroyed as it leaves the stardrive's warp field. This is a binary question, "margin for error" really doesn't exist.

TROI: It it felt like something beyond what we'd consider a life form.
PICARD: Beyond?
TROI: Very, very advanced, sir, or certainly very, very different.

This is funny looking back at the development of the Q throughout episodes and series to come. We'll find that the Q have hobbies, mates, children, wars, differing philosopies, incarceration, etc.

PICARD: Can we assume you mean this will be a fair trial?
Q: Yes, absolutely equitable.

Join me in a laugh at Q's hypocrisy, then we'll move on.

TASHA: I grew up on a world that allowed things like this court. And it was people like these that saved me from it. This so-called court should get down on its knees to what Starfleet is, what it represents.

I do wish that Tasha hadn't left, she represented the rare human who didn't grow up with the freedom of the Federation. Compare her to Neelix (there's a rare sentence) as they fit the "complete outside" role. In both cases there was a lot more that could've been done with them, plotwise.

Q: Soldiers, you will press those triggers if this criminal answers with any word other than guilty. Criminal, how plead you?

I refer you to SF Debris's reply to this line. Ugh.

O'BRIEN: Know anything about Farpoint Station, sir? Sounds like a fairly dull place.
PICARD: We've heard that we may find it rather interesting.

Ah yes, the fan-made transcript. O'Brien didn't exist at this point as a named character, just as "Conn".

CRUSHER: Thank you. I'll take the entire bolt. Send it to our starship when it arrives. Charge to Doctor Crusher.

Can you imagine Beverly working at a sewing machine? It does make one wonder if there are properties of "real" cloth that can't be replicated perfectly, just like food and drink.

PICARD: I'm not a family man, Riker, and yet, Starfleet has given me a ship with children aboard.
RIKER: Yes, sir.
PICARD: And I don't feel comfortable with children.

And this is supposed to be a multiyear mission outside the Federation, right? I think Gene didn't think this through. If Picard accepts command of a ship full of children, I expect him to deal with children. Otherwise I'd have him reject the post in favor of someone who can deal with children.

CRUSHER: You've been blind all your life?
LAFORGE: I was born this way.
CRUSHER: And you've felt pain all the years that you've used this?

Couldn't they have had the infodump be with someone other than the ship's doctor? Beverly should already know all of this stuff! Have a scene where Wesley gushes over the things the VISOR can do, and Geordi responds that the price to pay is constant pain. Characterization for Wesley and no one looks like an idiot!

RIKER: Why a shuttlecraft? Why wouldn't he just beam over?
WORF: I suppose he could, sir, but the Admiral's a rather remarkable man.

Indeed he is, Worf. Indeed he is. I'll be covering the McCoy scene in the YouTube clips, let's move on.


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Zeke: It comes nateurally to him.

mudshark: I don't expect Nate to make sense, really -- it's just a bad idea.

Sa'ar Chasm on the 5M.net forum: Sit back, relax, and revel in the insanity.

Adam Savage: I reject your reality and substitute my own!

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Old 09-28-2017, 02:34 PM
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PART TWO

WORF: I will learn to do better, sir.
PICARD: Of course you will. We've a long voyage ahead of us.

Ha ha, future ambassador talking. Worf's character arc is one of the most interesting in the entire franchise if you ask me. Imagine throwing this Worf into the plot of "Parallels"!

TROI: A pleasure, Commander.
RIKER: Likewise, Counselor.
PICARD: Have the two of you met before?
RIKER: We have, sir.

The Troi/Riker thing was one of the more complicated relationships in the series, but I do feel that it was mishandled at times. I'll wait until Haven to go into depth on this.

ZORN: Captain, the Ferengi would be very interested in a base like this.
PICARD: Fine.

Given how much they wanted to push the Ferengi as enemies in the first season, I wonder why they didn't infodump a bit more concerning their culture. I can certainly think of other scenes that could've been tossed to make room for such a thing.

ENSIGN: And as you see, sir, it's pointing you that way.
RIKER: Thank you
ENSIGN: You're welcome, sir.
(She appreciates the sight as he walks away)

Yeah, Riker is our new Kirk. Too bad there was a reason he never hit on Rand, it's called a command structure. Riker can have relationships with aliens but no one on board, at least no officer.

DATA: No, sir. Starfleet class of '78. Honours in probability mechanics and exobiology.

Ugh. Given that we're going to cover Data's origin in depth later in this very season that '78 should never have gotten past the continuity people.

WESLEY: Mom, could you get me a look at the Bridge?
CRUSHER: That's against the Captain's standing orders.

First, Wesley visiting the Bridge shouldn't have been the first episode, save it for a later one. Second, you shouldn't need "standing orders" to cover "no civilians on the bridge unless they're needed for the mission at hand"; that's called a regulation.

PICARD: They're forcing a difficult decision on me, Counsellor.
TROI: But I doubt protecting the Bandi would violate the Prime Directive. True, they are not actual allies, but
PICARD: We are in the midst of diplomatic discussions with them.

What does Federation status have to do with the Prime Directive, and what does the Prime Directive have to do with these guys? Don't tell me that the Bandi don't have warp drive, but can make stations ideal for those who do.

RIKER: Just hoping this isn't the usual way our missions will go, sir.
PICARD: Oh no, Number One. I'm sure most will be much more interesting. Let's see what's out there.

Oh, indeed they will, but you'll have to wait a few years. Hehe.

The fiver:

Picard: Any thoughts on the upcoming mission, folks?
Troi: None of my own, but I can tell you yours.
Data: I'm not much of a thinker at this point. But if you need any synonyms, I'm your man.
Yar: I don't waste time thinking. Life is short. Really, really short.
Worf: No thoughts! Only violence!
Picard: It seems I've found myself on the voyage of the damned.

Ah yes, the pain of watching Season One.

Q: You left spacedock without a first officer?
Picard: Doesn't arrive until Tuesday.

Haha, obligatory Generations joke, moving on...

Picard: Welcome aboard, Riker. Your first duty is--
Riker: --to the truth.
Picard: Well, yes, but that's not what I meant. Your first assignment--
Riker: --was on the Pegasus.
Picard: Cut that out!

Gotta love callbacks. Or would that be callforwards?

Zorn: Whew! Saved by the belle.

Bad pun, but a good show.

Wesley: Wow, the bridge is so cool! Can I fly the ship? Pleeeeease?
Picard: What the--! Who is responsible for this atrocity?
Crusher: Um....
Picard: You! Beverly, I don't care if it takes me a year -- I'm getting you off this ship!
Crusher: Way to go, kid.

Sorry, Zeke, but this scene just doesn't work. Picard doesn't let irritation with Wesley affect his relationship with Beverly. And given how easily she came back, I imagine Picard didn't want her to leave for Season Two.

Picard: (over the comm) You'd better go get Zorn.
Riker: Gotcha. Phasers on kill.
Picard: By "get," I just meant "retrieve."
Riker: Nuts.

Ha ha ha. I think I used that "get" joke somewhere in one of my fivers, I wonder if I subconsciously remembered it from this fiver.

Troi: There they go. It's so romantic! They're intertwined for eternity like...like...like Chakotay and Seven.
Picard: Ewwwwww! Never say that again!

Doesn't fit the timeline, but I gotta agree with Picard.

Memory Alpha

* There was a lot of discussion about how long the episode would be: 60, 90, or 120 minutes. While I think that just the Farpoint Station stuff could've been one episode, it would've been a mistake. There wouldn't have been adequate time to introduce all of the characters.
* From early on Q was recognized as a Trelane clone, and the staff wanted to convince Gene to ditch him. I'll agree that there are similarities and eventually they managed to make Q sufficiently different. The big problem is how much Q fools around with the costumes and plays with the crew instead of doing what he came to do.
* Robert Justman says that the plot drags at times because there wasn't enough happening. Yeah, here are some additional things to do that would tie into the plot without feeling like filler (like the Wes-on-the-bridge) stuff:
** More interaction with the Bandi on Farpoint Station. Do they favor the Federation or the Ferengi? Do they respect Groppler Zorn? Has Zorn been acting strangely ever since the station was built?
** Toss out the extended saucer disconnect and reconnect in favor of more character material. Is Worf the first Klingon in Starfleet? How does he feel about this new era of peace? How do these people feel about the projected 20 year mission? How much more polishing does Riker think he needs before accepting his own command?
** Shuffle the scenes as follows: First quarter on Farpoint. Get the full crew on board. There's a mystery, Zorn is lying. Build up Picard as a legendary captain. They get beamed up for some emergency elsewhere, which turns out to be a ruse by Q to get them away from the station (second quarter). The third quarter is the trial, which includes Riker. The fourth quarter is the ending as presented.

Nitpicker's Guide

* Why did Starfleet ship McCoy out to the edge of nowhere for this inspection?
* Why is Data put on trial? He's not human, does the fact that he was made by a human enough?
* Multiple expressions of emotion and contractions by Data.

YouTube

* McCoy and Data.
* Manual docking. What a snore, talk about manufactured drama, not only do we know that the ship won't be damaged in the pilot, but we also know that Riker can't be allowed to fail, lest he lose credibililty in the eyes of the audience. The only impressive thing is that somehow Riker knows the needed angles, speeds, and distances without consulting his console. Can you really judge these things that exactly based solely on the viewscreen?
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Adam Savage: I reject your reality and substitute my own!

Hanlon's Razor: Never attribute to malice that which can be adequately explained by stupidity.

Crow T. Robot: Oh, stop pretending there's a plot. Don't cheapen yourself further.
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