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Star Trek: The Old Generation

(Not comics, but close enough).

Sick at home and feeling nostalgic, I watched the first episode of Star Trek: The Next Generation on Netflix.

USS Enterprise-D

I didn’t like this series when it was first aired. In fact it was a profound disappointment. I was an Original Series guy — and always will be — and this “new” Star Trek did not meet my space opera expectations. I watched an episode or two and checked out.

Re-watching this first episode again, almost thirty years (!) later, brought a few surprises.

It was remarkable how much like silly old Original Series Trek this really was. We had John de Lancie swanning around in an Elizabethan captain’s outfit, and a catastrophically bad stunt double standing in for Denise Crosby when she did a little Kirk-Fu on a courtroom full of fur-clad extras that might have walked off the set of The Omega Glory.

gotta love the fur!

The Enterprise was captured by something that looked very much like a shower curtain.

shower curtain

Add to this the usual planet-of-the-week shenanigans and you had a story that might have been as comfortable in 1967 as 1987, albeit one with a substantially larger budget.

But there was more, of course — the skillful introduction of a whole new cast of characters, and the re-introduction of the Enterprise (with more than a bit of ship porn, what with all the undocking and docking of saucer sections). The show also took pains to show us how it would differ from what came before, with its ask-questions-first-and-shoot-later captain, families on the ship, a more diverse crew, and not a Vulcan in sight.

It had been long enough that I’d even forgotten about DeForest Kelley’s delightful cameo.

McCoy the elder

In all it was quite a bit better than I’d remembered, probably because I’ve mellowed these last three decades, and am more willing to take my Star Trek where I find it.

There were things that rankled, of course, like a captain too eager to surrender, and a tiresome doe-eyed empath staring into the middle distance and telling us how much pain she was sensing.

I sense boredom

The ship’s bridge looked like the interior of a 1987 Chrysler 5th Avenue, and there were hints of elements that would hurt the Trek franchise in years to come (technobabble and the Holodeck, rocks upon which writers would later wreck themselves). But there were some real advantages, too, like the marvelous Patrick Stewart as Captain Picard, clearly the best actor to ever command a starship, and whom I realize was 47 when this series debuted … he seemed so ancient and distinguished to me then, and now I’ve got 47 five years in my rear-view mirror.

Ouch!

It was very entertaining, and a pleasant surprise. I’ll watch a few more. If there are now suddenly several seasons of mostly-unfamiliar Star Trek ahead of me, then that is a good thing.

Engage!

(and back to comics in my next post)

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About Paul O'Connor

Revelations and retro-reviews from a world where it is always 1978, published once a month or so at www.longboxgraveyard.com!

Posted on July 1, 2015, in Other Media and tagged . Bookmark the permalink. 6 Comments.

  1. Aside from a handful of episodes, the first two years of Next Generation were pretty bad all around. It’s almost a miracle that the show survived long enough to make it to Season three, when suddenly it started making some really dramatic leaps in quality.

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    • The consensus seems to be that the show found it’s footing when Ronald Moore joined the writer’s room in Season 3. I shall give myself permission to fast forward to S3 if I find my attention wandering.

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      • There are a few episodes from the first two seasons which I would recommend. Both “Symbiosis” and “Conspiracy” from the first year, despite certain flaws, have definite potential. It’s often argued that “The Measure of a Man” and “Q Who” are the two best episodes of the second year, and I’d have to agree with that opinion.

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        • I found a viewing guide that promises to deliver Next Generation in 40 Hours — I expect it will be my guide. Not sure if Symbiosis and Conspiracy are on the list, but Measure of a Man is there for sure …

          Is “Conspiracy” the episode where Star Fleet has been infiltrated by alien slug parasites? I have a vague memory of that, and always wondered if that plot went anywhere in the seasons that followed.

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  2. word_in_edgewise

    JEEZ, Paul – i’m 54 and cirling the senior menu at Denny’s. yer a wee sprout, yet! my tng was pondersome; i thought the performances rather stiff (it got a lot better), but your take makes me appreciate the early eps more for their gentle shoehorning-into wider territory. YOU DA MAN!!!

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