Posted in Television

Rob Watches Star Trek – The Value of Failure

***What happens when I, a 30-something-year-old fanboy, decide to look at the Star Trek franchise for the first time with an open heart? You get “Rob Watches Star Trek.”***

SERIES: Star Trek: The Next Generation
TITLE: S1:E19. “Coming of Age”
STARRING: Patrick Stewart, Will Wheaton, Jonathan Frakes
GUEST-STARRING: Ward Costello, Robert Schenkkan
WRITER: Sandy Fries
DIRECTOR:
Mike Vejar
ORIGINAL AIR DATE:
March 14, 1988
SYNOPSIS:
As Wesley takes his Starfleet entrance exam, the Enterprise is the subject of a mysterious investigation.

New Around here? Check out the “Rob Watches Star Trek” archive!

By Rob Siebert
Fanboy Wonder

I’ll admit, despite insisting that I don’t mind the Wesley character, I did groan a little when I realized this episode was largely about him. Young Will Wheaton did have a very punchable face…

This is another “Mary Sue” episode. That’s a damn shame. As it actually could have been really good if the impetus wasn’t there to make Wesley seem so damn perfect. 

The show sees Wesley attempt to pass the Starfleet entrance exam, and ultimately fail. Though he doesn’t fail due to any fault of his own. At least not as far as the viewer can tell. Over the course of the episode we see him being effortlessly smart, generous, kind, and brave. It largely seems that the only reason Wesley doesn’t pass is because he chose to help another candidate during a crucial moment.

I like stories that take a hard look at failure. Not just because I’ve tried and failed a bunch of times myself, but because failure has a lot of value. Our failures shape who we are every bit as much as our successes. Sometimes more. An episode where this apparent young prodigy gives it his all but ultimately comes up short, thus learning to cope with failure, might have been really compelling. Not to mention make for some nice character development.

The episode tries to play that tune. But ironically, it fails. Instead or seeing him struggle, we see Wesley emerge as the likely winner from the start. His only flaw (if any) is that he’s too kind for his own good. Toward the end there’s an attempt at a teachable moment in which Picard tells Wesley he failed at his first attempt at the Starfleet exam as well. But it falls flat. Because Wesley didn’t really fail, did he? He made a sacrifice, thus causing his own failure. It doesn’t add up.

Running parallel with the Wesley plot is a clumsy one about the Enterprise being investigated, which leads to Picard being offered a job as the head of the Starfleet Academy. The only interesting thing that comes out of it is the conversation between Wesley and Picard. The notion of the ultra-strict captain being offered a teaching position seems like a bad fit at first. But the scene where Picard counsels Wesley about failure shows that, despite certain inclinations, he can in fact be a good teacher. That’s an important quality for a leader to have. So it made for some nice insight into Picard.

But overall, this one was a stinker. As is much of season one at large. That’s a big disappointment, as I’m still waiting for this show to live up to all the hype…

Email Rob at primaryignition@yahoo.com, or check us out on Twitter.

Posted in Television

Superman & Lois, “The Perks of Not Being a Wallflower” Review

SERIES: Superman & Lois
TITLE: S1:E3 – “The Perks of Not Being a Wallflower”
STARRING: Tyler Hoechlin, Bitsie Tulloch, Jordan Elsass, Alexander Garfin, Inde Navarrette
WRITER: Brent Fletcher
DIRECTOR:
Gregory Smith
ORIGINAL AIR DATE:
March 9, 2021
SYNOPSIS: Jordan tries out for the football team, while Sarah clashes with Lana.

By Rob Siebert
Fanboy Wonder

Here’s what I liked about that “Kent family plays with paint” sequence: Right after Clark races off to do Superman stuff and everything has stopped, there’s that half-second before we cut to the next scene where Lois goes back to playing with the boys. It sends the message that Clark dashing off is something that happens all the time, and she’s used to it by now even if the boys aren’t.

Three episodes in, and I’m not really feeling social anxiety from Jordan, as the show’s premise suggested. Based on my experience with social phobia, he’s not so much anxious as he is angsty. And that’s more or less any teenager at some point, right?

Tyler Hoechlin is giving off serious dad vibes as Clark. Maybe it’s the hokey, “Aw shucks” nature of the Clark Kent character. But Hoechlin is making it work. 

How much you wanna bet that Lana’s husband, Kyle, becomes a supervillain at some point? Or maybe Sarah? Maybe both?

“Everything you do is a mistake,” said the teenage brat to friggin’ Superman.

When she got attacked during this episode, I was initially inclined to say Lois should carry a weapon of some kind. Then I realized, what better weapon could you have than a direct line to Superman? Sure as hell beats a gun, or a knife, or whatever the hell she could be carrying.

Jonathan is a good brother. That’s refreshing to see. It would be easy to pit the two brothers against each other constantly. But the show makes him a lot like his dad. That’s good writing, in my book.

This was a good parenting episode, and a good episode for Lana in particular. It provided her with some much-needed depth as a quietly suffering wife and mother.

Email Rob at primaryignition@yahoo.com, or check us out on Twitter.


Posted in Television

Rob Watches Star Trek: When Aging Turns to Caricature

***What happens when I, a 30-something-year-old fanboy, decide to look at the Star Trek franchise for the first time with an open heart? You get “Rob Watches Star Trek.”***

SERIES: Star Trek: The Next Generation
TITLE: S1.E16. “Too Short a Season”
STARRING: Patrick Stewart, Jonathan Frakes, Gates McFadden, Marina Sirtis, Brent Spiner
GUEST-STARRING: Clayton Rohner, Marsha Hunt, Michael Pataki
WRITERS: Michael Michaelian, D.C. Fontana
DIRECTOR:
Rob Bowman
ORIGINAL AIR DATE:
February 8, 1988
SYNOPSIS:
The Enterprise hosts an elderly admiral who has taken a drug to reverse the aging process.

New Around here? Check out the “Rob Watches Star Trek” archive!

By Rob Siebert
Fanboy Wonder

Early in this episode, the bad guy addresses our main guest character, Admiral Mark Jameson. The first thing he says is: “So, Jameson, I see time has not been kind.”

That could very well be the biggest understatement in the history of Star Trek.

Our premise for this episode is that Jameson, a retired admiral, is brought in to negotiate over a hostage crisis with a old rival Karnas (shown below). Are we to believe that these men are the same age? If so, what in God’s name happened to make Jameson look the way he does by comparison?

From a meta perspective, we know what happened. The story called for this character to age in reverse thanks to a drug, so they wanted to make him look as old as humanly possible from the start. The problem is, unless Jameson was in some kind of toxic chemical accident at some point, what’s happened to him doesn’t look like it’s in the realm of human possibility.

Looking at Jameson (shown above), along with the make-up job they did on DeForest Kelley for Bones’ appearance in “Encounter at Farpoint,” it seems to me like the showrunners were overthinking the extended aging process of the Star Trek universe.

The implication seems to be that medical science has advanced to the point that people can live to be well over 100. So from a production standpoint, you’d want to make it obvious to your audience that this person is very old. Fair enough. But in theory, if medical science can extend human lives, can’t it also allow people to age gracefully to the point they don’t look like monsters?

Why even mess with latex prosthetics to begin with? What’s wrong with a basic white wig and conventional make-up? A character doesn’t have to have flappy jowls or exaggerated liver spots for us to understand they’ve aged.

The moral of this story? Whenever possible, keep it simple. Star Trek is filled with over-the-top ideas and visuals as it is. So there’s no need to go over the top with something as simple as human aging.

Incidentally, Michael Pataki, who plays Karnas, was also in “The Trouble With Tribbles.” Given what we saw in “The Naked Now,” I’m quite surprised we won’t be seeing tribbles this season. Or for that matter, any point during TNG. What, they make an actor look like Freddy Krueger’s cousin, but they can’t invest in little multicolored puff balls for the actors to play with?

Then again, considering how “The Naked Now” turned out, perhaps we should be grateful.

Email Rob at primaryignition@yahoo.com, or check us out on Twitter.

Posted in Power Rangers, Television

Power Rangers Dino Fury “Lost Signal” Review

SERIES: Power Rangers Dino Fury
EPISODE: S26:E3. “Lost Signal”
STARRING: Russell Curry, Hunter Deno, Kai Moya, Kira Josephson, Victoria Abbott
WRITERS: Becca Barnes, Alwyn Dale
DIRECTORS: Chris Graham
ORIGINAL AIR DATE: March 6, 2021
SYNOPSIS: After receiving a message from Zayto’s home planet, the Rangers must fight a monster blind.

By Rob Siebert
Fanboy Wonder

Sometimes, in the back of my mind, I’ll hear my mother asking nitpicky questions. One came to me as I was watching the opening credits sequence this week: “Why is it called Dino Fury? What are they so mad about, anyway?”

Oh jeez. We’re seeing more tentacled people? I can’t say that’s the route I’d have gone. I’d have forgone the tentacles altogether. Back in the day, Andros was able to pull off the alien look just by putting blonde streaks in his hair. Couldn’t they have done something like that with Zayto?

You’d think I wouldn’t have rolled my eyes so hard at Amelia thinking a psychic could unravel the mystery of the message from Zayto’s planet. This is, after all, a show with tentacled people, an anthropomorphic talking dinosaur, and a cyborg walking around like normal in everyday life. By Power Rangers standards, who’s to say it’s that far-fetched?

It looks like Jane and J-Borg are our comedic duo this season, in the spirit of Bulk and Skull or Ben and Betty. These pairs are usually an acquired taste. But I’ll say this much: They found two funny actresses in Kira Josephson and Victoria Abbott. Dino Fury is also the first season to give us two women in these roles, as opposed to two men, or one man and one woman.

Pine Ridge. That’s our city name in Dino Fury. Pretty generic. But it beats no name at all.

Solon would be such an awesome sidekick for the Rangers if only her lips moved a little bit. Those zoom lenses on her eyes are pretty cool, though.

I enjoyed that little fight sequence between Zayto and Vypeera, and I like the idea of the Rangers having to fight a monster blind. I only wish it could have gone a little longer.

I talked last week about the zord sequences having too much CGI for my taste. Cast in point: The Tricera and Ankylo zords. Whenever they were on screen, it looked like the show jumped right into a video game. And not in a good way.

So Ollie and Amelia teleport into the Megazord cockpit, and one of the first things Amelia says is: “We’ve got to get a selfie in this thing!” Please tell me that’s not how kids talk these days. Tell me they don’t go around asking to take selfies in things. Please? Pretty please…?

I like the T-Rex Champion zord better than the Megazord. The latter just has too much going on. It’s almost overwhelming on the eyes. That’s a common problem with modern Megazords, I think.

This episode had its high points. But overall, I’d call it a step down from the first two. Here’s hoping next week’s will be better.

Email Rob at primaryignition@yahoo.com, or check us out on Twitter.

Posted in Television

Rob Watches Star Trek: Mary Sue Crusher

***What happens when I, a 30-something-year-old fanboy, decide to look at the Star Trek franchise for the first time with an open heart? You get “Rob Watches Star Trek.”***

SERIES: Star Trek: The Next Generation
TITLE: S1.E13. “Datalore”
STARRING: Patrick Stewart, Brent Spiner, Jonathan Frakes, LeVar Burton, Will Wheaton
WRITERS: Robert Lewin, Maurice Hurley, Gene Roddenberry
DIRECTOR:
Rob Bowman
ORIGINAL AIR DATE:
January 18, 1988
SYNOPSIS:
The Enterprise visits Data’s home planet, and discovers his lost “brother.”

By Rob Siebert
Fanboy Wonder

So Data was found, not built? Huh. That’s interesting. Two decades of The Phantom Menace trained me to believe he’d been built by Wesley…

What we have here is essentially your standard evil twin story. The Enterprise travels to Data’s home planet, finds another robot like him, he turns out to be evil, the other crew members mix them up. Pretty paint-by-numbers stuff.

While Data is our central character, the young Wesley Crusher character is also front and center, and is ultimately responsible for saving the day. And not for the first time.

The term “Mary Sue” gets tossed around a lot in this day and age. In fact, Wesley Crusher is often cited as a textbook Mary Sue. But what the hell is a Mary Sue, anyway?

Urban Dictionary defines “Mary Sue” as, “a character who is so perfect that he or she warps the world around them to display their perfection,” and who “forcibly make the world and people around them defy logic to simply display how amazingly radiant they are.” In other words, a character that is illogically infallible. Go to the Wikipedia page for “Mary Sue,” and the cited characters (in addition to Wesley) include Arya Stark from Game of Thrones and Rey from the Star Wars sequel trilogy.

Fittingly enough, the term dates back to a Star Trek fanzine published in the early ’70s.

Apparently, Gene Roddenberry was the one who pushed for the Wesley character. And as his involvement with the show decreased after season one, so too did Wesley’s relevance on the show. Personally, I don’t hate Wesley. Nor do I mind the inclusion of a younger character in general. It offers a different perspective on the Star Trek Universe that we never had on the old show. It might have even been interesting to watch Wesley grow and mature over the course of the series.

I do, however, find the role young Wesley often plays among the crew to be highly illogical. Indeed, Spock would not approve.

Though he secretly has a heart of gold, Captain Picard is strict to the point of coming off short-tempered. You don’t mess around on this guy’s ship. In “Encounter at Farpoint,” the guy was hard-pressed to even let Wesley set foot on the bridge. And yet now he’s an acting ensign who’s regularly performing duties on that same bridge? What gives?

The “Wesley problem,” as D.C. Fontana once put it, will seemingly be less and less prevalent as we get into subsequent seasons. But I’ll maintain that the character itself, despite becoming a Mary Sue, wasn’t bad from conception.

Email Rob at primaryignition@yahoo.com, or check us out on Twitter.

Posted in Television

WandaVision Episode 8: A Few Thoughts on Cars

By Rob Siebert
Fanboy Wonder

You know what I came away from the latest WandaVision episode thinking about? It wasn’t about Agatha Harkness, Wanda’s past, or the mysterious white Vision…

It was Wanda’s car.

If I were a superhero whose parents, brother, and robot boyfriend had all been murdered over the course of my life, you know what I’d have invested in? A really nice car. The one she was driving in this episode looked so pedestrian.

I’m not even a car guy. But maybe get her something sleek. Like a sports car. Something in the Corvette family. And of course, make sure it’s red. Not just because of the whole red thing Wanda has going on. But I mean, who can be sad when they’re in a red Corvette?

Maybe if she’d splurged a little after Avengers: Endgame, maybe she wouldn’t have…y’know…abducted a bunch of people and created a big fantasy land with her dead robot boyfriend.

Just a thought.

Email Rob at primaryignition@yahoo.com, or check us out on Twitter.

Posted in Television

Superman & Lois Season Premiere Review – Family Matters

SERIES: Superman & Lois
TITLE: S1:E1 – “Pilot”
STARRING: Tyler Hoechlin, Bitsie Tulloch, Jordan Elsass, Alexander Garfin, Emmanuelle Chriqui
WRITERS: Greg Berlanti, Todd Helbing
DIRECTOR:
Lee Toland Krieger
ORIGINAL AIR DATE:
February 23, 2021

By Rob Siebert
Fanboy Wonder

Looking at the Superman costume they used for his debut in Metropolis, my initial instinct was go shout: “They made it to match his original suit in Action Comics #1!” Because, of course, I’m a huge geek.

That’s not what they did, however. It took me a minute to realize where I’d seen that suit. It was Darwyn Cooke’s DC: The New Frontier. The costume’s vintage look threw me off.

So the kid says to Superman, “Thanks. Cool Costume.” He replies, “Thanks. My mom made it for me.” That line is plucked directly from Jeph Loeb and Tim Sale’s Superman For All Seasons.

This show went out of its way to establish geek cred right away.

Jordan, one of Clark and Lois’ twin sons, has Social Anxiety Disorder. As someone who’s struggled with social anxiety, that hits home for me. I’m sure it hits home for a lot of the people watching a comic-book-inspired TV show like this. From that standpoint, it has the potential to be a very smart move. But as with anything, it’s all about how they execute it…

I’m a staunch Superman defender. But watching this episode’s expository opening sequence, I can understand why some people don’t like him. Especially when he talks about being married to the most famous journalist in the world, raising two teenage boys, and then we see him on TV doing Superman stuff. As he’s presented here he has, in many ways, the perfect American life and family. In that moment, he comes off like the most popular football player in high school who grew up to become president of the United States. Personally, I love that Rockwellian Superman. But I can see the drawback. The hard truth is that when he’s at his truest and best form, Superman isn’t for everybody.

Question: I know that as comic book characters Superman and Lois Lane don’t age. But how old are they supposed to be in this show? Late 30s? Early to mid 40s? For what it’s worth, Tyler Hoechlin is 33 and Bitsie Tulloch is 40. Mrs. Primary Ignition, by the way, thinks that age difference makes them look weird. I’ll admit, it is a little weird. But I imagine that’s one of those things that’ll wear off with time.

After discovering the rocket in the barn, Jonathan (Can we just call him Jon?) and Jordan come right out and accuse Clark of lying.  I like that. Superman supposedly never lies. But as a parent, Clark Kent does. What that says about being parent is up for interpretation.

“Your life falling apart doesn’t mean you’re special. It means you’re human.” That’s a good line from Lois.

Fun fact: Alexander Garfin, who plays Jordan, was the voice of Linus in The Peanuts Movie. Am I weird for thinking that’s kind of perfect, considering Jordan has social anxiety? It matches up with the whole Linus and the blanket thing, right?

On the subject of Jordan, for me it’s always a fine line with how moody and angsty certain teenage characters are. At what point does it cross the line and get too moody or angsty? I don’t think there’s a right or wrong answer to that. It just depends on the character and the story…

Clark Kent’s signature glasses disguise always requires a huge leap in terms of suspending disbelief. It’s comic book science at its least practical. But disbelief really stretches thin when you try to sell us that Clark’s own children didn’t recognize him without his glasses on.

Simply put, when we get to the scene where Clark takes his glasses off and it’s this big revelation, Jonathan and Jordan look like idiots. It’s just that simple.

What are the odds that as the series progresses we get a good twin/bad twin situation? Does one become a superhero, and the other a supervillain, thus tearing the Kent family apart? Seems like the probable way to go…

So the bad guy in this episode turns out to be someone named “Captain Luthor.” I can only assume this isn’t Lex Luthor, as the CWverse Lex is played by Jon Cryer. (Right? It’s been awhile since I’ve been plugged into the CWverse.) But apparently it’s not a Superman show unless you have a bad guy named Luthor. So…cousin? Someone unrelated who adopted the name?

Overall, not a bad premiere. I can’t say I was blown away. But Superman & Lois shows a lot of promise. Tyler Hoechlin was, and is, a great Superman. Possibly the best performance in the role since Christopher Reeve, and I don’t say that lightly.

If you’re into the concept of Clark and Lois as parents, there are two book’s I’d highly recommend. The first is Superman: Lois and Clark (which has nothing to do with the ’90s TV show). The second is Son of Superman by Peter Tomasi and Patrick Gleason, and all the subsequent books in that series. For my money, this series owes a debt to these creators and those titles.

Email Rob at primaryignition@yahoo.com, or check us out on Twitter.

Posted in Power Rangers, Television

Power Rangers Dino Fury Episode 1 Review

SERIES: Power Rangers Dino Fury
EPISODE: S28.E1. “Destination Dinohenge”
STARRING: Russell Curry, Hunter Deno, Kai Moya
WRITERS: Becca Barnes, Alwyn Dale
DIRECTOR: Charlie Haskell
ORIGINAL AIR DATE: February 20, 2021
SYNOPSIS: Two youngsters uncover Dinohenge, a lair containing secrets from 65 million years ago…

By Rob Siebert
Fanboy Wonder

I like that Amelia, our new Pink Ranger, is a reporter. It creates a cool little Clark Kent/Superman vibe. More importantly, reporters are the often unsung heroes of our society. So it’s nice that Power Rangers is creating that connection for kids. I also like the name of the web site she works for: “Buzz Blast.” It’s a thinly veiled allusion to BuzzFeed.

Apparently Amelia is also a Ghostbuster. That “spook snare” reminded me of the Ninja Steel premiere, when Sarah showed up with an honest-to-God hoverboard.

So Dinohenge is filled with “Hengemen,” who will apparently serve as the henchmen for this season. Get it? Hengemen? Henchmen? Brilliant…

As the Hengemen are preparing to attack, Amelia says she’s taken three years of karate. Ollie, our new Blue Ranger, replies with “Yeah, me too.” Does that mean Ollie has taken three years of karate too? If so, that’s a remarkable coincidence even by kids show standards. I’d like to think it was just a general affirmation that he too knows karate.

After they’ve morphed, and Amelia asks Ollie what else they get with these new powers, he says: “If you watch the news, zords!” I like that line a lot. Not only does it tie into Amelia’s job, but it’s a nice reference to the fact that the Power Rangers get plenty of news coverage in their universe.

Design-wise, those helmets are pretty busy. They’re going to be an acquired taste. But I’ll get there.

The bad guy’s name in this episode is “Void Knight.” I can’t decide if I like that name. Look at a thesaurus, and you’ll see it’s a degree or two away from “Bare Champion.” You don’t want a Bare Champion on Power Rangers. Bear Champion? Maybe. Bare Champion? No.

After we get acquainted with Zayto, our new Red Ranger freshly awakened from a 65 million year hypersleep, he reads Amelia and Ollie’s minds. He calls Ollie “a rational, logical adventurer and scientist.” He refers to Amelia as, an “imaginative, unstoppable truth seeker.”

It’s rare that a show flat out gives you the rundown for some of its characters. It’s contrived, yet amusing.

I wonder what Russell Curry, who plays Zayto, thinks of those tentacles he has to wear. You think they told him that at the audition? Probably not.

Solon, our resident helper (a la Alpha 5 or Redbot) this season, is a cyborg dinosaur. That’s amazing. Have we not had a cyborg dinosaur in two and a half decades of Power Rangers? I’m thinkin’ we haven’t…

We see the Morphing Masters (or is it Morphin Masters?) in this episode. That name dates all the way back to an expository line from season one. But we’ve never seen any characters called the Morphing Masters until now. That level of attention to detail, especially on a show primarily meant for young children, is really cool.

Zayto says the other Knights of Rafkon were “lost” in battle. Which, in Power Rangers speak, means they probably died. So who wants to bet on when one or all of them shows up in an episode? Are we thinking end of season one? Or are we going into season two?

Overall, I dug this premiere. I tend to like it when the show paces itself like it did here. We haven’t had any zords or big city battles yet. The show took its time and allowed us to get to know Amelia and Ollie a little bit. Things felt like they unfolded organically.

A good start to what will hopefully be a good series.

Email Rob at primaryignition@yahoo.com, or check us out on Twitter.

Posted in Television

Rob Watches: Star Trek: The Return of Q

***What happens when I, a 30-something-year-old fanboy, decide to look at the Star Trek franchise for the first time with an open heart? You get “Rob Watches Star Trek.”***

SERIES: Star Trek: The Next Generation
TITLE: S1.E10. “Hide and Q”
STARRING: Patrick Stewart, Jonathan Frakes, Levar Burton, Brent Spiner, Michael Dorn
GUEST-STARRING: John de Lancie
WRITERS: C.J. Holland, Gene Roddenberry
DIRECTOR:
Cliff Bole
ORIGINAL AIR DATE:
November 23, 1987
SYNOPSIS:
Q returns to tempt Riker with powers much like his own.

New Around here? Check out the “Rob Watches Star Trek” archive!

By Rob Siebert
Trekkie-in-Training

I wouldn’t call “Hide and Q” a great episode. Maybe not even a good one. But it does have one thing going for it: It feels like an episode done in the spirit of classic Star Trek, as opposed to mimicking it.

The show is play on, and even directly references, the old proverb “absolute power corrupts absolutely.” Q, who we last saw in “Encounter at Farpoint,” endows Riker with powers like his own. Naturally, our villain’s expectation is that Riker will succumb to temptation and want to keep the power permanently.

The climactic sequence of the episode sees everybody on the Enterprise bridge, with Riker offering to grant them their heart’s desire. Ultimately they all turn it down, as they don’t want it to be tainted by Q. But one person is conspicuous by her absence from the bridge, and the episode at large: Deanna Troi.

It’s been fairly obvious from the get-go that Riker and Troi are going to be linked romantically. was it always so obvious these people were standing in front of a green screen? So why not have Troi be a part of Riker’s big gift giving sequence at the end? Swap her in for, say, Tasha. She could be the one to convince him to reject Q’s powers once and for all, thus drawing them that much closer together.

I’unno. Seems obvious to me. Granted, 30 years of hindsight…

Not only did this feel more like Star Trek on a thematic level, but on a visual one as well. That planet set was very reminiscent of the way many otherworldly locations looked on the old show. Incidentally, was it as obvious back in the ’80s as it is now when the actors were standing in front of green screens? Perhaps it’s easier to tell on high-definition TVs. But at times it feels like it’s beating you over the head.

I imagine Picard gets a little less prickly as the series progresses. Obviously, Riker is forgiven in the end. But before that happens Riker admits his mistake to Picard, adding that he feels like an idiot. Picard respones: “Quite right. So you should,” Easy there, Cap. The man was trying to grant everyone their heart’s desire, not rule the universe…

Email Rob at primaryignition@yahoo.com, or check us out on Twitter.

Posted in Television

Rob Watches Star Trek: Waiting For Greatness

***What happens when I, a 30-something-year-old fanboy, decide to look at the Star Trek franchise for the first time with an open heart? You get “Rob Watches Star Trek.”***

SERIES: Star Trek: The Next Generation
TITLE: S1.E7. “Lonely Among Us”
STARRING: Patrick Stewart, Jonathan Frakes, Brent Spiner, LeVar Burton, Michael Dorn
WRITERS: Michael Halperin (Story), D.C. Fontana (Script)
DIRECTOR:
Cliff Bole
ORIGINAL AIR DATE:
November 2, 1987
SYNOPSIS:
An alien entity takes possession of several crew members, as the Enterprise is assigned to escort delegates from feuding alien races to peace talks.

By Rob Siebert
Trekkie-in-Training

These first few episodes of TNG that I’ve watched are interesting, in that they’re, quite frankly, uninteresting. And in the case of this episode, rather stupid at times. (I’m specifically looking at Data doing his Sherlock Holmes impression.)

“Lonely Among Us” has a story that might have been plucked out of the original series. Various crew members are possessed by an invisible alien entity, all the while two feuding alien factions are on board the ship. In many ways, it’s textbook Star Trek. It may also be a microcosm for what’s been wrong with the show (at least what I’ve seen) thus far.

On paper it makes sense. Especially with 30 years of hindsight. You want to make a new Star Trek show two decades after the first one. What do you do? You look at what worked on the old show, and try to at least partially fit that mold. Ergo, you get episodes like “The Naked Now” and “Lonely Among Us,” which feel like dressed up episodes of the ’60s show.

It’s not an accident that this happened during a season in which several writers from the original show were brought in. In addition to Gene Roddenberry’s involvement with the show, D.C. Fontana became both a writer and an associate producer.

It all makes sense. These people know Star Trek because they created Star Trek. They’re the keepers of the flame. You’d be silly not to involve them on some level. But, to use an example from the same era, there’s a reason that Batman: The Animated Series didn’t have the same kind of stories the ’60s Batman show did. It was a tonal mismatch, of course. But it also didn’t fit with what the new show needed to be in order to succeed.

Even all these years later, as someone just discovering these shows for the first time, this first season of TNG very much lives in the shadow of the original series. How could it not? The way you fight that is to allow this new show to pave its own way and establish its own identity. You can’t do that while mimicking the old show.

More than 30 years later, Star Trek: The Next Generation is still looked at with love and reverence. But I, as a newbie, am still patiently waiting for greatness…

Email Rob at primaryignition@yahoo.com, or check us out on Twitter.