Sunday, July 19, 2009

Star Trek: The Next Generation Introduction

Yesterday, I finished covering all episodes of the original series and as promised (or threatened, depending on your perspective0) I will begin covering Star Trek; The Next Generation. It will be a much more significant commitment than reviewing TOS. There are 175 or so episodes of TNG, depending on whether I combine two part episodes into one review, which will take well into January under the best of circumstances. But I am eager to give it a shot.

Covering TOS first was a two-fold litmus test. One, I wanted to see if I could stick with a daily grind for the better part of three months. Two, I was stagnating for content and hoped TOS would prompt would prompt a lot of ideas about politics, philosophy, ethics, religion, history, etc. The first part was a roaring success, although I will admit I watched episodes and wrote quite a few of the reviews in groups of two or three rather than do them every single day. Nevertheless, I proved I could handle a regular schedule, so I am ready to take on something bigger. The second was a bit more disappointing.

I had seen every episode of TOS a handful of times prior to this project. Up until now, I have always watched for the entertainment value and took for granted its reputation for being a socially conscious show. When I took a scalpel to each episode to see what made it tick, I discovered its reputation may not be as well deserved. I am willing to chalk that up to the issues it dealt with being a matter of history for me. One of the reasons I am willing to do that--and one of the reasons I have a stronger penchant for 24th century Trek--is that I feel more involved with the issues involved in subsequent Trek.

In short, I expect more out of TNG. I am a contemporary of the show. It came on the air in 1987 when I was ten and road off into the sunset in 1994 when I was a junior in high school. I came of age while watching. When it drew off current events and social issues, I had been reading about them in newspapers and magazines, watching them on the news, talking about them in school, and living them in my own life. There are already several episodes on my hit list I am already salivating about sinking my claws into even though I will have to wait until October or November to do so. I think TNG is going to fill my expectations for content better than TOS.

Those of you who thought I was too harsh on TOS should brace themselves for a bumpy right, at least for a while. There was a pattern throughout the series. The first two seasons was severely up and down, the third stared a steady rise, the fourth through half of the sixth seasons are some of the best science fiction to hit television, and then the show stuck around a season too long. There are some gems scattered about, but that is pretty much the pattern to follow.

Before I sound too preachy, I do have a bigger affection for TNG than TOS. I appreciate TOS for its place in science fiction history, but I think TNG is a more enjoyable show. My favorite series is still DS9, but TNG is right up there. It has its flaws, mind you. There is an even more rampant humanist philosophy in TNG, particularly in the early going before Gene Roddenberry devoted more time to cashing the checks than running the show, it took a long time for the characters to shine, their relationships were often disturbingly peculiar, and it often embraced some moonbat liberalism, but overall, it was afun show I am looking forward to watching again with a more critical eye.

Just to address any future speculation, I have no idea yet if I will cover other trek. My favorite series is DS9. I liked it even before the Dominion War storyline took the show into the stratosphere because of how it dealth with historical allegory and religion, two pet interests of mine. Covering Ds9 would involve a lot of fawning. Covering VOY would be the exact opposite. The writing was awful, the social commentary unreasoned, and now that I have seen Ronald D. Moore do the over all plot better on Battlestar Galactica, I question the value of spending six months on the show. The less said about ENT, the better. I cannot name an episode of the series I would want to sit through again and I have only watched most of the last three seasons. Besides, it would take until June 2011 to do all that. One hopes I will have discovered something better to do than blog by then. But you never know.

What we do know is that TNG reviews start tomorrow with “Encounter at Farpoint.” Not exactly an illustrious beginning, but those are the breaks.

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