Thursday, July 21, 2011

TNG Ep. 36: The Dauphin

Summary: The Enterprise transports future world ruler, Salia, and of course, things can never be easy. First they run into problems with Salia's protector, who is, well, very protective. Secondly, Wesley tries to convince Salia to stay on the Enterprise because he loves her. He kisses her and they flirt. Then it turns out that both Salia and her protector are both powerful shapeshifters, which complicates matters. It also turns out that Salia has a duty to her people, and so she decides not to stay on the Enterprise. Wesley is shocked and disappointed. Every one goes home sad.

This is the episode that explains to me what some people don't like about Wesley's character. Now, that's not to say that I didn't enjoy it, but when I try to single out it's merits, I come up basically empty-handed. It's a typical boy-meets-girl, only with a shapesifter thrown in as the girl.

It's nice to be reminded that Wesley is old enough to kiss, but his character is so naive that it hurts. Specifically, his 6-year-old-like resentment of the fact that she is a shapeshifter. And this from the dude who's best friend is blue and can't breathe our air. You'd think he'd be a little more tolerant. Heck, he could even be thrilled to have kissed a super-powerful being.

It also made me roll my eyes that he felt so betrayed that she was leaving. I was never convinced that he should believe there was a good chance of her staying, especially after Riker told him to forget about it. (Thank you, Riker. That made me laugh). Come to think of it, the most entertaining part of this episode is the banter between Riker and

I mean, Wesley asking the adults for dating advice? Sure. Even adults ask other adults about that stuff. Acting like a baby because she's a shapeshifter?

Meh. I guess not every episode can be "Riker lives with Klingons."

Tuesday, July 19, 2011

TNG Ep. 35: The Measure of a Man

No! Don't cut open Data!

Summary: Data receives a transfer order from Star Fleet that essentially requires him to undergo brain surgery, performed by a doctor Maddox that doesn't even believe he is sentient, and more importantly, hasn't done enough research to prepare for the operation. Data is worried that the procedure will strip him of his personality, a personality which Maddox does not even acknowledge exists. Picard brings the problem to Starfleet Judge Advocate General Philippa Louvois, who reveals that the Enterprise must prove that Data is not just property, so that Data can legally refuse the order from the Federation. Problem is, Riker must represent Maddox or there can be no trial because the Judge Advocate is currently understaffed. Picard then sets out to prove that Data has more than just strength and intelligence, but also wishes, desires, and many of the same things that humans have. The judge determines that Data is sentient, and therefore cannot be property. Data officially refuses the operation, but promises Maddox that he is interested in his research and may be willing to cooperate in the future, after Maddox has worked out more of the details.

The theme of this episode certainly wasn't unique, but I also feel that it couldn't have been placed earlier, like anywhere in season one. We had to see enough development of Data's character to believe the resolution here, and in that sense it certainly was a success. And, of course, it was a success because it had significant amounts of Brent Spiner's acting. And there weren't any lines that made me groan, so the writers held up their end on the dialogue.

This episode also benefited Picard's character, and was benefited by it. In a way it harkens back to that first episode where Picard was forced to argue on behalf of all humanity in Q's court of law. Except of course with less Q, and more of a stubborn, anal retentive woman that gets along with Picard only slightly better. Something about the court martial of the Stargazer, Picard's old ship. I gather Picard isn't very fond of trials.

But back to Data, since he and Picard are the only real characters in this episode - sorry Riker, but you get the shaft here once more as a second fiddle. Anyway, Data was awesome. The end.

Sunday, July 17, 2011

TNG Ep. 34: A Matter of Honor

Honor. This episode couldn't possibly be about Klingons, could it? Yes! It could!

Summary: Picard suggests that Riker joins a new species exchange program - specifically, that Riker join a Klingon ship and try not to get murdered. Riker loves the idea of the challenge and the notoriety of being the first human to serve on a Klingon ship. In fact, he does pretty well until the Klingons discover a hull-eating substance that they believe to have been planted by the Enterprise. Actually, the miscommunication is the fault of another exchange student, who saw the substance on the hull of both ships, but withheld reporting it until his analysis could be completed. The Enterprise rushes to warn the Klingons, but by then the Klingons are pissed off and have cloaked themselves, prepared to fire. Riker tries to reason with the Klingon captain but ends up having to trick him instead. Thanks to an emergency beacon that Worf gave him before he left the Enterprise, the Klingon captain ends up being transported to the command deck of the Enterprise. Riker takes over the Klingon ship just long enough to resolve the conflict in a manner satisfactory to both parties. The Klingon captain is returned to his ship, and Riker is returned to the Enterprise, sporting a nasty-looking bruise on the side of his face.

Riker with Klingons? I wouldn't have thought of it myself, but it turns out that Riker's pretty good with Klingons. About time he was good at something. His character has taken a pretty hefty beating in the last several episodes, especially when it comes to his relationships with the other sex. But Klingon women? With them, it's appropriate to make jokes about three-somes. The last time Riker had this much luck with women is when he actually got to sleep with one on Angel One. Lady killer, that one.

But who needs the ladies when you're a man's man? Wait, I'm not sure that came out right... What I meant is that Riker gets along with the Klingons because they are macho men (and women). And, to his credit, because he does the prerequisite research. Worms for dinner? No problem. Riker already ate worms that time that he was pretending to be a body-snatcher.

So I guess what I'm saying is that I really want to like Riker, and now maybe I can. Hesitant cheer! And Klingons. I really want to like he Klingons, death yell not withstanding, and this episode certainly didn't hurt that. YARRRRG! And pan out.

Saturday, July 16, 2011

Family Bed to the Toddler Bed

This post is a bit time sensitive, what with it mentioning the upcoming baby, so consider it a bonus in your Star Trek month!


Since my last post about our struggles with the family bed, we've moved, transitioned C to the toddler bed in his new room, and the new baby is just a week or so away. The only thing that has not changed is that C still moves around and kicks us too much to spend all of his sleeping time sleeping next to us. And even if he didn't, as much as I'd like a family bed, a Queen isn't big enough for four of us, especially when I'll be recovering from a C-section.

Ok, I have to take that back. I know that if we really, really wanted a family bed, we could have one. Our mattress is already on the floor, and we would just need another to put another on the floor beside it - and to rearrange some furniture, possibly get rid of a dresser, to make the room. During my recovery, C could sleep with Daddy in the family bed and I could sleep in another room with infant P, then we'd join up again when I was recovered and P was old enough. C would sleep on one side of us and P on the other. Lots of families manage that sort of arrangement, right? Well, as much as I love to cuddle my kid (kick-happy as he is), I do like to have SOME time away from him, and he's just too young to understand that he can't climb over the infant. Plus, that dresser has stuff in it.

So, we did finally kick him out of the family bed. He now has his own room, and a toddler bed, and he was almost two years old. (He is two, now). Strangely, C didn't have trouble with going to sleep in the toddler bed. The first night we set it up, I put his cuddly toys in it, told him it was his big boy bed, and he climbed right in and fell asleep. Amazing! Other parents have always told me how difficult the transition was. C was old enough and he knew what a bed was for. Not that he goes to bed like that every night, but any trouble he gives us has less to do with the bed and more to do with teething and that sort of thing. Now if only he would sleep the whole night there.

At first I let him into our bed when he'd wake up in the middle of the night. My bad. I was sleepy and I knew that it was the fastest way for me to get back to sleep. I was already missing the family bed and cuddle time. But, just like giving your child a bottle every night, it trains him to keep waking up every night. Forever. The fact that C would sometimes sleep in when he slept with us doesn't really make up for that. So I had to be a mean ole mommy and make him get back in his bed, even when that means me staying awake in his room for an hour or more. Now the rule is that he can't cuddle with mommy until after dawn, because that's past his usual wake up time, so cuddle time doesn't usually turn into sleeping. The rule works pretty well. In fact, for three nights in a row he slept all the way through the night and I was thrilled. Half the time he doesn't even want to come to our bed in the morning and instead goes straight to his toys. After Mommy assures him that she has not disappeared, of course.

So for those three nights we had complete success with the transition from family to toddler bed. Then? Then he started getting his two-year molars. Arg! It's always something, isn't it? Even if he goes back to sleeping through the night soon, next his brother will be waking us all up. C and P will have a grand ole party waking up their parents every night!

... Wish us luck!

Friday, July 15, 2011

TNG Ep. 33: Unnatural Selection

Oh, Star Trek. You and your clever episode titles.

Summary: Following a distress call, the Enterprise finds that the entire crew of the USS Lantree have died of the rapid onset of... old age. Naturally, this concerns the Enterprise greatly, so they download relevant data from the ship, place the ship on quarantine and hurry to the Lantree's last known port to warn the inhabitants there of the danger. Unfortunately the Darwin Genetic Research station is already showing signs of this rapid aging disease. The Station is most concerned about their genetic experiments, human children that have been genetically engineered. The children don't appear to be ill and may not be able to care for themselves after all of the affected adults have died. Dr. Pulaski, determined to prove that the children are not infected, ends up getting infected herself and she and Data land on the research station to help in their race against time. Through collective the efforts of the researchers, Dr. Pulaski, Data, and the Enterprise crew etc., they not only discover the cause, but manage to return everyone to good health. It turns out that the children were not just carries of the disease, but the cause; they release antibodies that aggressively seek out airborne pathogens and, in the process, mess with the DNA of regular humans.

The thing that impressed me the most is how well thought out this episode is. Sure, it's a bit generic in that this kind of plot could happen in any far-future scifi (and many not-so-far...) but at least if you're going to do a common theme, do it right. Make the details of the problem and of the characters' reactions believable. And this episode did, for the most part.

In fact, the only part that made me mutter under my breath was the very beginning. First off, it became clear that the episode was going to feature the new doctor, and I still miss Dr. Crusher. But mostly, the dialogue about her felt stilted. It was like telling me that the episode was going to be about her by writing said message on the frying pan swung at my face. If I try to forget the actual impact, I can just read the imprint on my forehead.

But really, the rest was realistic. I liked that the scientists at the research lab were blind to the possibility that their experiments caused the trouble. If the kids aren't sick, it can't be them, right? I also like how they neglected to mention that their 12 year old boys look 21. Real people are obtuse like that, blind to information that doesn't fit into their paradigm. Scientists are no exception.

Most of all, I liked that the crew was smart enough not to board the Lantree when their scans showed that there were no life signs aboard. Instead, they remotely control the Lantree so that they can turn the viewscreen on and at least see inside first. It's that sort of touch that not only gives you faith in the characters, but lets you believe that Star Trek is happening in the 24th century. It's like they have technology and military-esque training or something!

And Dr. Pulaski? I guess she wasn't that bad. I liked learning that she has a stubborn streak, but I'm not sure what else we learned besides the predictable "I believe that human life is sacred!" At least in fiction, that's why main characters become doctors. The rest is gravy. Or, the rest is a chance to show that you can act. Sigh.

Wednesday, July 13, 2011

TNG Ep. 32 The Schizoid Man

Summary: The Enterprise responds to a distress call for scientist Graves, leaving an away team while they briefly take care of another distress call from a nearby freighter. The away team learns that Graves is dying of a degenerative disease that attacks the nervous system. Data learns that Graves was Soong's teacher, and at Grave's request, calls him Grandpa. Graves had planned to transfer his intellect into a computer he built, but secretly uses Data instead and is thusly transported to the Enterprise with the rest of the away team and his young assistant, Kareen. Eventually "Data's" strange behavior tips the crew off and they figure out what Graves has done. Graves also tells Kareen, who cries and says that she does not want to be put into a machine as he proposes. Upset, Graves accidentally fractures her hand, then goes on to "accidentally" injure several others. Picard confronts Graves about his true identity and these "accidents." Gravea strikes Picard, thus validating Picard's concerns. The crew then find Data - himself, again - next to a computer console into which Graves has imported his intellect, sans his emotions. Data doesn't remember a thing and the crew make a few jokes at his expense.

Wow. Brent Spiner. I thought I always liked Data because he's an android and that's just cool. No. I think that even as a kid Brent Spiner's excellent acting was the main draw for Data and - dare I say! - the rest of the show. Usually, having one actor support an entire episode by playing two characters? Bad idea. But wait! It's Brent Spiner, so it's ok.

Seriously, the man has the ability to convince me that he's two different people in one body. He knows how to use different tones and mannerisms to clue you in to who he's playing at the moment. It makes you believe that the other characters could guess the change - and in fact, if they didn't, you'd think them dense.

And props to the writing in this episode. Unlike a certain early episode in season one, the dramatic irony is pulled off well, so that it doesn't make all the characters look like morons for not guessing at the mystery earlier. More specifically, I like how certain turns of phrase that Graves uses, and perspective that only Graves would have, really connected Graves-in-Data with Graves-before-Data.

And, I admit, I've always found the two-personalities-in-one-body idea fascinating. Anything that provides a disconnect between the physical body and/or people's expectations, and how that personality secretly wants to act. I always loved Quantum leap for that. Although with Data I'm rooting that the disconnect be discovered.

In other words, this episode was like the perfect mixture of champagne and orange juice. Mmmm, mimosa.

Monday, July 11, 2011

TNG Ep. 31 Loud as a Whisper

Summary: The Enterprise picks up experienced negotiator Riva and delivers him to Solais V at the request of the natives. Upon retrieving Riva, The Enterprise learns that he is deaf and that his "chorus" of three people speak for him thanks to some kind of telepathy. Riva flirts with Troi and probably would have flirted with Geordi if Geordi was female. Once they arrive on Solais V, Riva's chorus is killed in a sudden attack. Riva then wants to give up on the negotiations but Counselor Troi helps him see that he is still the best one for the job. Meanwhile, Data has learned Riva's native sign language, which helps him communicate with Troi and the rest of the crew. At Riva's request, the Enterprise leaves him on Solais V to continue the negotiations alone. Riva's plan is to teach the warring factions sign language.

I like that the galaxy's most trusted negotiator isn't the most tolerant and understanding person in the universe. In fact, he's ruling class and probably a bigot. At the very least, he believes that his personal capabilities, including the ability to negotiate, lie in his priveledged chorus. Not that he doesn't care for the people who make up his chorus, but he's a bit on the selfish side. It's all about him, or, er, all about him and the lovely Troi. She's a telepath, you see, and so she is worthy of his attention.

Good thing, I guess, because she's the one who points out to him that he is being selfish when he refuses to negotiate. Does that make Troi a good negotiator, too, since she negotiated a negotiator to continue negotiating? Ow. My head.

Lastly, I like Riva's solution at the end, but it made me feel a little sorry for Data that his ability to sign was used so little. Does he now delete that knowledge from his data banks? Can he even do that? Hmn...

Saturday, July 9, 2011

C's B-day!

Come on, you know I can't resist posting pictures of C on his birthday. And right before the new baby is born, too!

Last year, at C's first birthday:

This year, at his second--

It didn't occur to me until I was writing this post that the main difference between his first birthday and his second birthday is mobility. I mean, C was walking by the time he was 1, but in order to get him to sit still while he "ate" his cake, and then for the presents, we basically trapped him in a toddler chair designed to imprison children that age. By his second birthday, he understands enough rules about where he can and cannot smear chocolate cake, and then as a plus his cupcakes weren't chocolate at all. He also doesn't fall as easily. I mean, look at him! Running. In slippers!

And proof that he'll sit down without being imprisoned?
Daaaaaaaaaaw. Happy birthday to my sweetie!

Thursday, July 7, 2011

TNG Ep. 30: The Outrageous Okona

Summary: The Enterprise stops to help repair a small vessel, but in doing so finds itself in the middle of a political argument. Two separate governing bodies demand to take custody of the vessel's rouge occupant, Okona. Did Okona steal the crown jewel? Did he impregnate the young princess? Nope and nope. Okona reveals that the two "crimes" are actually the result of a secret love affair between the princess and the rival prince.

Ok, this one is kind of ridiculous, but it was also fun. Who is Okona and why do we care? It's not like he's trying to reach a parallel dimension or anything. Ha.

I enjoyed the character, though. He reminds me of Han Solo and Wesley from Princess Bride. He's like what they wanted to make Riker be, but then they realized that such a man would never make it to second in command. Or attract the likes of Troi. But I digress.

I totally guessed that the crimes were false accusations! Usually it's bad if I guess stuff, but since there were young lovers involved, I was willing to suspend my disbelief. Or maybe the previous episode was so incredibly bad that almost anything looks acceptable by comparison.

I also caught it when Okona was playing with the all-important jewel. Dang. I guess I just liked the man's smile or something.

Tuesday, July 5, 2011

TNG Ep. 29: Elementary, Dear Data

It's rare that I actually hate an episode. Sure, I'll complain. I'll point out flaws - sometimes begrudgingly. But rare is the episode where I say "don't even bother." Don't watch it. It will only leave a bad taste in your mouth.

Summary: Stuff happens. Arg. Ok, ok. Geordi and Data decide to have a little Sherlock Holmes fun in the Holodeck, but Geordi accidentally gives the holodeck computer a dangerous challenge: design an antagonist capable of beating Data. To meet the challenge, the holodeck gives Moriarty sentience. Moriarty quickly discovers that Data et al come from another world. He accesses the holodeck controls himself, threatens the ship, and has to be confronted by Picard. Picard promises to save Moriarty's data patterns until such a time as he can be given a body.

Now, what do I hate about this episode? Oh, let me count the ways...

1st: I hate Data's Sherlock Holmes voice. And guess what he's speaking in for the first ten minutes? Right. I'm not saying it's bad acting, because this is Brent Spiner we're talking about, but I can't stand it.

2nd: It's ridiculous that the ship can create a self-aware entity, but all that shows on the monitors is a brief energy spike. Is it too much to ask that the lights dim for a moment, at least?

3rd: The resolution was too easy. Basically, Picard shows up and Moriarty gives up his evil ways on the vague promise that he might be made real someday. Maybe. This shows exactly what makes the episode boring: Moriarty isn't dangerous. He has crumpets with his captee for goodness sakes.

One thing I will give props for is the sense that Data had in getting the heck off of that holodeck. He realized quickly that things were strange, and he remembered that it was only a holodeck that he was on and that he had superiors to report to. Even more importantly, he stopped the Sherlock Holmes voice.

I think I can stop shuddering now...

Sunday, July 3, 2011

TNG Ep. 28: Where Silence Has Lease

The Enterprise runs across a giant hole in space, but it's not a black hole, and Data's not sure how to describe it except that it has no dimension and no matter. Yet, the Enterprise ends up stuck inside it when they get too curious. Trying to warp out seems to run them in circles. Soon they are attacked by what appears to be a Romulan ship, but which blows up too easily and doesn't leave any debris behind. Next, the Enterprise's sister ship, the Yamato, magically appears. Riker and Worf beam aboard, having nothing better to do. The Yamato they beam unto doesn't follow the normal rules of time and space, and they find that the bridge is on the wrong floor, and once they've stepped unto the bridge, they can't step off of it, because each door leads back to the bridge, making it appear as if there are two bridges. Worf freaks out, then the Enterprise freaks out because they can't beam them back. Meanwhile, a hole appears leading to the normal universe, but Picard ignores it until the Enterprise can suddenly beam Worf and Riker back. Then, more holes appear, but each time the Enterprise tries to go for it, they're too slow and the holes reappears somewhere else. Finally a giant face appears to talk to them, and announces that its going to kill up to half of the Enterprise members in its experiments. Picard and Riker set the auto-destruct, which convinces the alien to let them go. Picard's not sure that they're really free, and waits until the last minute to cancel the self-destruct sequence.

This episode is a bit typical in its aspect of "super-powerful-being treating humans like dung." in retrospect, it makes me wonder where Q got off to for so many episodes. Not that there can't be other super powerful aliens, but lets not forget the pompous one we started the series off with.

Actually, forget Q for now because he's not in this episode. I knew this one would be a winner, though, when I saw that it started off with Worf. When such episodes are bad, they're at least laughably bad, like if you had Kirk strolling on set just long enough to yell Khan! Or, you know, the Klingon death yell. No Klingon death yell here, but we do get Worf freaking out about the space-time bending bridge. There should only be one, dang nabbit! It's the kind of freak out that makes you feel just a bit sympathetic because a tiny part of you realizes that you'd probably lose your cool and say dumb things, too. I doubt Starfleet Academy prepares you for rooms that act like the first Joust arcade game (link?).

I also liked how Picard handled the situation once they realize they're being toyed with. If he didn't know before The Skin of Evil, he definitely learned that you don't satisfy demented curiosities. If rats stopped running mazes, we'd get disappointed and experiment on squirrels or somesuch.

Lastly, I liked how Picard was so suspicious at the end and almost blew up the ship. Hey, no one's perfect, right? This episode is also not perfect. It's a bit too predictable. I can't decide if it falls into the laughably bad or awesomely awesome category.

Friday, July 1, 2011

TNG Ep. 27: The Child

The first episode of season two! So, some things have changed... For instance, there's a new doctor. Wait, what?

The Enterprise collects plague specimens, transporting them to Starfleet Medical in the hopes of producing a vaccine. Geordi designs a specify container for the deadly plague, but during their journey one of the specimens inexplicably begins to grow and threatens to burst out of the container. Meanwhile, a shining dot of an alien finds Troi and impregnates her. She insists on delivering the baby, has a painless birth mere days after her impregnation, and raises the rapidly growing child as her own. The Enterprise crew is pretty freaked out over the alien child, which looks human, Ian, except for the fact that one day he's a baby and the next day he's physically 4 years old. Ian informs Troi that he is the cause of the ship's trouble, which he is because he's radiating some kind of energy that's making the plague go berserk, and then he quickly and voluntarily dies right in front of Troi. After his death, his body morphs back into the glowing speck, which communicated briefly with Troi before leaving the ship. The plague stabilizes and the Enterprise is relieved. Also, there's a side story about Wesley not wanting to leave the Enterprise, so at the end of the episode, he asks Picard's permission to stay, which Picard gives.

Ok, number one, Dr. Crusher is gone. WHAT? Is this for forever? I like her! I'm not so sure I like the new doctor, although I am definitely prejudiced by the fact that I like Dr. Crusher so much. Sniff. Even if the new doctor does remind me just a teensy bit of Dr. McCoy, another character I've always liked. But, wait! Along with Dr. Crusher, they threaten to take away Wesley! But then they don't. Whew.

Secondly, this episode was clearly created just to mess with Riker. I approve. The too-cool-to-commit loser stares on sheepishly as his maybe-love has a baby, holding an android's hand. Awesome. Of course, Data is always awesome. I love how he thanks Troi for letting him participate in the birth, and also how he asks her a bunch of questions that she ends up not answering.

Speaking of the birth, man, don't we all wish it was that easy? Maybe it would be if, say, Adam and Eve had left that apple tree alone. But they didn't, so Troi's easy birth makes everyone suspicious. You get that horror movie feeling pretty much until the kid voluntarily dies to save the ship, because no matter how cute he is, he breaks the rules and humans don't like that.

And while we're talking about Troi, props to her for speaking up to say that she wanted to have the baby. Pretty cool fetus on the screen, too. Proof positive that at least it's not a brain-stealing alien in her chest. As a mother of a mostly human child myself, I can understand her getting annoyed and telling the bridge crew she's keeping the child no matter what they think of it.

And, oh, Riker. Mr., "I don't mean to be indelicate, but who is the father?" Even when he uses the right words, his tone is aggressive. You can just hear it killing any romance left between him and Troi (or, it should). The whole thing's so hilariously in character that I haven't left myself much room to talk about Wesley:

Wesley's growing up! He's staying on the ship (if his mommy will let him)!