Saturday, September 5, 2009

Star Trek: The Next Generation--"Evolution"

Now we head into the third season. This is when Tng really starts its uphill climb to culminate with the Borg invasion of the Federation, which is probably the best cliffhanger on television. Forgive me, Dallas fans, but the identity of J. R.’s would-be-killer is no where near as important as an assimilated Picard leading an invasion of Earth.

I am going to give a lot of credit to Michael Piller here. He took overas executive producer in the third season andwrote some of the best episode. I do not think his arrival and the show’s increase in quality were unrelated. But I have to be honest, too. Many of the low points of the second season were rightfully blamed on Maurice Hurley and Tracy Torme. Both of them are absent from here on out. Their presence is not missed. If you think I am being harsh about Hurley and Torme, they went off to create Baywatch and Sliders respectively, so someone out there likes them.

Oh..Pulaski is gone! Beverly crusher is back! I cannot forget that marked improvement.

A couple of serious piints of improvement are evident. For one, there is a lot more character development going on. The third season is when the show hits its stride by centering each episode on a different character while maintaing even quality. TOS had a tough time with that, choosing to emphasize on the Big Three while either awarding ignoring secondary character mediocre episode or ignoring them altogether. Tng had a case of that early on, too. Much of the first two seasons felt like a rehash of Tos without the charm of the Tos main players. Kirk, Spock, and McCoy were the saving race of TOS. Early Picard, Riker, and Data? Not so much. That changes as the characters come into their own.

Thereis much more action with better villains, too. No more oilslicks, sentient light bulbs, LAPGA lesbians, tribesmen straight out of a ‘30’s movie serial, or drunken irish clones. Wefinally get to see the Romulans comes into their own and, of course, the Borg. Even most of the one off villains are a step above what we have experienced thus far.

All that said, “Evolution” is just okay. Not bad, but not memorable, either. It supposedly has some nice character development for Wesley, but since he is the catalyst for the conflict, I cannot say he is much more than the usual geeky screw up. He is back under his mother’s wing, too, which does not help much.

The plot features nanites for the first time. We will see them quitea bit in the future. Data will eventually get attached to the little buggers and serve as their advocate, a la “The Measure of a Man,” in the future. We will eventually learn the Borg use nanites in assimilation. Ironic, considering nanites were going to be usedas aweapon against them until time ran out.

Many steps were made to paint nanites as being living, sentient beings. In this episode, Stubbs, a scientist, has to apologize to them so they will stop sabotaging the ship. Then they are ceded their own planet. It is kind of odd, but I cannot think of any serious complaints about it. Therefore, I have to give it a watchable score.

Tomorrow’s episode starts the uphill trend in earnest.

Rating: *** (out of 5)

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