Posted in Star Trek, Television shows, tv reviews

The Rewatch 238: Dark Page

Series: Star Trek: TNG
Episode: 7.07 Dark Page (October 30, 1993)
Rating: 5/5
Redshirt Status: 0/7/64

Notable Guest Stars:

Kirsten Dunst (Hedril) – Kirsten Dunst is a A-list star, known for many roles.  Her breakout role was as Claudia, a young vampire in 1994’s Interview with a Vampire, which she filmed not too long after this episode. She played Amy in Little Women (also 1994), and Judy Sheppard in Jumanji (1995). Needless to say she had a strong start. My favorite of her films is Elizabethtown (2005) Her most recent credit is Rose in The Power of the Dog (2021).

Amick Byram (Ian Andrew Troi) – Byram is known more for his music then for his acting, with several of his credits being his singing voice. He has a focus on Christian music.

Norman Large (Maques) –  While I did not recognize his name, he as appeared on several shows I have watched over the years including Veronica Mars and JAG.  He has appeared on TNG twice as of this episode, and will appear twice on Voyager.

Andreana Weiner (Kestra (1) Troi)-  I felt I should include her as she had a few seconds of screen time at the very end.  Most of Ms. Weiner’s credits appear to be behind the screen either as a crew person or as a voice. This episode is her very first credit.

Debbie David (Ensign Russell) – David appears as Ensign Russell 53 times on the show as well as the first TNG film.  They also appear as Russell (now a LT) on Voyager.  During the 90s they were credited as “Carl” David.

Majel Barrett Roddenberry returns as Lwaxana Troi,

CONTENT WARNING:  This review discusses Child Loss.

Review:

Dark Page is one of my favorite episodes.  Not only does it really dealve into the relationship between Lwaxana and Deanna, it deals with an issue you don’t find too often: Child loss and trauma.

Most of Lwaxana’s episodes are used for comedic effects.  Majel Barrett is amazing at it.  This episode, however, allows her to flex her drama wings.  Both she and Marina Sirtis do an amazing job in this episode. 

The episode starts with Lwaxana helping The Carin learn verbal language to help them communicate with other species, as they are a telepathic species. The amount of telepathic effort to communicate with them has weakened her, and it has allowed some of her meta-conscious to drip into her consciousness.  It appears that Lwaxana has suppressed the memories of her first-born daughter – Kestra – to the point that it is mentally harming her.  Deanna has no memories of her sister, and apparently Lwaxana was able to have everyone – her husband, her friends and family, her butler – pretend Kestra never existed so she wouldn’t have to deal with the grief that overpowered her.

This never ends good in the real world, and it doesn’t in Trek world either.  Lwaxana ends up collapsing after Hedril, a girl who reminds her of Kestra, falls in a shallow pond in the arboretum. They don’t say what happened to Kestra, but its strongly implied that she drowned, having chased her dog into the lake which is why Hedril falling effected her so badly. 

Deanna has to enter her mother’s mind, with the help of Hedril’s father Maques, to help her deal with her trauma and come back to consciousness.

They end the episode with Deanna and Lwaxana embracing as Lwaxana begins to talk about her daughter after 30 years of not saying anything at all.

This episode is important for Deanna as a character, if not to the franchise as a whole.  It gives more depth to her background, and to Lwaxana in particular.  It also sets a foundation for Deanna’s naming choices.  I have not watched Picard, but I know Deanna names her daughter after her long lost sister Kestra.

So excellent storytelling, excellent acting.  I’m giving this a 5/5

Interesting Notes:

  • Written by Hilary J. Bader (with polishing by Rene Echevarria)
  • Directed by Les Landau
  • This is Majel Barrett Roddenberry’s last appearance as Lwaxana on TNG.  Her remaining Trek appearances (other then her voice for the computer) will be on DS9.
  • Bader had worked on this script for quite awhile, changing characters and the reasons why there was a telepathic rescue.  Eventually she came to this version.
  • Marina Sirtis did her own stunt in this episode.

Pros:
This brings a lot of detail into the backstory of Lwaxana Troi and through her, Deanna Troi.

Cons:

Screencap via CygnusX1.net

Posted in Star Trek, Television shows, tv reviews

The Rewatch 236: Phantasms

Series: Star Trek: TNG
Episode: 7.06 Phantasms (October 25, 1993)
Rating: 5/5
Redshirt Status: 0/7/64

Notable Guest Stars:

Bernard Kates (Sigmund Freud) – Besides being a character actor, KJates was also a decorated WWII veteran, having earned the Distingused Flying Cross.  From what I could gather Kates did a lot of theater work, with a few film roles.  Unfortunately, he died in 2010.

Clyde Kuatsu (Admiral Nakamura )- Kuatsu is the National Vice President of the SAG-AGFRA guild for Los Angeles. He has appeared on several well-known television shows such as M*A*S*H, All in the Family, several soap operas and of course Star Trek as Admiral Tujiro Nakamura.  He appears in three episodes, starting back in 1989.  He first appeared in The Measure of a Man and will appear again in All Good Things, the series finale.

Review:

This episode has got some violent scenes, yet somehow is a bit less intense then others during the season (and definitely less emotional then our next TNG episode).  In this episode, Data experiences nightmares for the first time.  His dream program is affected by organisms that infected the Enterprise. Data is not organic, so they can not use him as a source of nutrition so he is the only one not being fed upon.  His systems notice the infestation but it takes awhile for everyone to figure out what is going wrong.

There are some interesting scenes in this episode, and as I will mention again, this episode has launched a thousand memes.  In particular a scene where Picard, using the holodeck to help invade Data’s dreams (by permission), answers a phone sitting in Data’s chest.  Mostly  about the Android phone system – which oddly enough wasn’t even around for almost exactly 15 years. 

There is also a memorable scene where Deanna is made into a cake.  Apparently with Mint frosting.

This episode is weird, and a little creepy.  The idea of bugs feeding on you that you can’t see and slowly dissolving you just *shudders*. Also this episode reminds me a bit too much of the season 1 episode with the bugs that controlled you.

Interesting Notes:

  • Written by Brannon Braga
  • Directed by Patrick Stewart
  • I once got a book on Freudian Terminology at a book sale as a “Why not” kind of purchase.  I kid you not, most of it was brought back to castration.  Freud was a odd duck my friends.  He may have made some good inroads into understanding psychology but he had some hangups it looks like
  • This episode spawned a million memes.
  • The BBC edited this episode to remove the part of the scene where Data stabs Troi after US audiences seemed to be concerned about it (US aired earlier).  I believe this might be the only TNG episode to be edited, although the BBC edited a few of the TOS episodes.

Pros:

  • Good Data episode
  • Light (ish) episode after all the really intense episodes.

Cons:

Mint Frosting should not be a thing. 

Screencap via CygnusX1.net

Posted in Star Trek, Television shows, tv reviews

The Rewatch 234: Gambit

Series: Star Trek: TNG
Episode: 7.04 Gambit Part 1 (October 11, 1993) and 7.05 Gambit Part 2 (October 18, 1993)
Rating: 4/5
Redshirt Status: 0/7/64

Notable Guest Stars:

Richard Lynch (Arctus Baran) – Lynch was a very productive actor.  Although I don’t recognize many titles on his filmography he made several a year so there are a lot of them.  It seemed he liked playing Villains in horror movies or low-budget scifi.  He was in Halloween 2007, the Rob Zombie remake of the cult classic. He died in 2012.

Robin Curtis (Tallera/T’Paal) – Robin Curtis first appeared in Star Trek as Saavik, replacing Kristy Alley in the role.  She also appeared on Babylon 5.

Caitlin Brown (Vekor)- Another Babylon 5 Alum, she is most known for her role in the series as Na’Toth.  She appears in both this two parter and as a different character in the DS9 episode The Passenger from season one.

Cameron Thor (Narik) –  You might recognize him as Lewis Dodgson, the person trying to get a hold of genetic material from Jurassic Park in the 1993 movie.  On a sad note, he was imprisoned from 2016-2019 on a charge of a lewd act on a child.

Sabrina LeBeauf (Ensign Giusti) – Unrelated to Shea, she is best known for being Sondra Huxtable on the Crosby Show.  She also voiced a character in a animated series based on Bill Crosby’s book Fatherhood.

James Worthy (Koral) – Formerly a player for the LA Lakers, he now works as a sports commentator. And honestly I just love his non-performance.

Stephen Lee (Bartender) –  Stephen Lee was a popular background actor and appeared in over 90 different shows.  Sadly he died in 2014.

Bruce Gray (Admiral Chekote) – He appeared in the last episode, but I felt I should mention him again since he will play larger parts going forward.

Review:

Ok, so despite the awkward “The Captain is dead” but really isn’t plot, these are two episodes because I simply like the idea of space pirates in search of archeology.  Well, I’d prefer the type of Will & Elizabeth pirate rather then the ones we have here, but still, it’s like Indiana Jones in Space.

Read more: The Rewatch 234: Gambit

I also find the argument between Deanna and Will about the grieving process very interesting, especially in light of what I know about Picard.  We know of course that Picard is alive, but they do not, and their grief is real.

This may be 2 parts, but I agree with the writers it could have been made a one parter.  Or they could have developed the mythos behind the device. There seems to be a pacing problem in the episode. 

I enjoyed the episode, and that everyone got to play different roles then usual.   We get to see Data in command, with Worf as his first officer. Picard gets to act renegade. Riker pretty much acts like Riker, so that’s not new.

It also opens up a whole bunch of possibilities as far as the Vulcans go.  The one thing about Sci-fi that I love is the world building and finding out about the cultures in this far off (or alternate) place. Although I had to admit its odd hearing the Vulcans talking about “The gods” when they are normally more of an atheistic society. I have always believed that you can believe in a higher power and believe in science and logic, so it fits my beliefs very well.

Interesting Notes:

  • Story by Christopher Hatton (initially) and Naren Shankar.  Teleplay by Naren Shankar (1) and Ronald D. Moore (2)
  • Directed by Peter Lauritson (1) and Alexander Singer (2)
  • The production crew had mixed reactions to the idea of this episode.  Gene Roddenberry hadn’t liked the idea of space pirates and had he been alive would have nixed the episode.  However, some of the other members were intrigued.  Others felt it was a bit campy.
  • This episode contains TNG’s longest fight scene.
  • Picard took on the name Galan, after his mentor Professor Galen
  • The Debrune are supposedly an off shoot of the Romulans, who are in turn an off shoot of Vulcans.
  • The second part of the episode holds many references to TOS episodes and films. It also holds several connections to ENT episodes.

Pros:

  • Expansion of Vulcan Society
  • Federation History
  • Picard gets to geek out
  • Data gets to be in command and we get to see Worf adjust to being a first officer rather then a security officer.

Cons:

Bit of a timing issue.  I think they could have focused more on the artifact and less on Boran (Sorry Mr. Lynch).

Screencap via CygnusX1.net

Posted in Star Trek, Television shows, tv reviews

The Rewatch 233: Interface

Series: Star Trek: TNG
Episode: 7.03  Interface (October 4, 1993)
Rating: 4/5
Redshirt Status: 7/7/64

Notable Guest Stars:

Madge Sinclair (Captain Silva La Forge) –  Sinclar is a Jamaican actress who earned the country’s Order of Distinction.  She was the voice of Sarabi, Simba’s mother in the Lion Kingm and was in the 1977 miniseries Roots (which earned her a nomination for an Emmy).  She won an Emmy award for her role as Empress Josephine in Gabriel’s Fire (1991).  .  She also was in the Star Trek IV as the captain of the Saratoga, being the first Female captain to be aired in the series. She died in 1995, two years after this episode was made after a long battle with Leukemia.

Ben Vereen (Commander Edward M. La Forge)- Ben Vereen is a well-known singer, danger and performer.  He has an admirable stage career, winning a Tony award for Pippin (1973).  He played the grandson of LeVar Burton’s character on Roots(1977). Other recognizable rules include Will Smith’s father on Fresh Prince, and more recently as Sam Gibbs on How I met Your Mother.  More personally, this kind man was nice enough to call my grandmother and wish her happy birthday when a close friend told him how big a fan of his she was.

Warren Munson (Admiral Marcus Holt)-  This is his first role on Star Trek, but he played the early version of Owen Paris on Voyager.

Review:

This episode is a sad one – Geordi’s mother is declared missing and presumed dead.  Geordi has trouble accepting that and his mission helping another crew goes astray in part because of that.

Read more: The Rewatch 233: Interface

The brighter side of the episode is the introduction of the interface, which allows Geordi to go into the damaged and unsafe ship via a computer interface to a probe.  We do have virtual reality today, but it would be interesting to see something like this in real action.  It would be especially good for emergency services for things like fires and cave ins that would allow people to view the area without damaging themselves in the process.  Perhaps less sensitive, because Geordi does get burned when he touches fire.

Apparently this was one of the issues that the production team had with this episode.  They felt that we already had this kind of technology so it wasn’t scifi enough for the show. I do have to point out that VR is still in its early stages and not nearly as useful as the interface and its been 30 years since this episode aired (yes – let that sink in.  Its been 30 years since 1993).

I do have issues with female characters who come onto a show and get killed off for “Man pain.”  Which happens way too often.  However, I think this episode does it well enough that it rises above that horrible troupe.  Yes, this causes Geordi emotional pain, but there is a point to it.  She’s not an after-note.

Its also good to now that just because something is successful doesn’t mean the rules don’t abide. Sometimes it seems like people can break the rules as long as it ends up sucessful. If it does, then there are no consequences. Geordi doesn’t get a severe punishment on this, but he does get a consequence for going against orders.

Interesting Notes:

  • Written by Joe Menosky (with some additional work by Jeri Taylor)
  • Directed by Robert Wiemer
  • Joe Menosky wrote this having to send bits and pieces of the script back via fax and Mail. Makes you glad for email doesn’t it?
  • This book as a spin off novel called Indistinguishable from Magic  by David A. McIntee. It also features Montgomery Scott and Guinan.
  • Originally the pitch was with Riker, with his father dying.
  • LeVar Barton was in a much-applauded miniseries called Roots with both Ben Vereen and Madge Sinclair.
  • Apparently this episode made people in the production team think it might be time to hang up TNG’s hat and move on.

Pros:

Geordi background

Cons:

  • Lack of a good use of Ben Vereen
  • No happy ending for Captain La Forge.

Screencap via CygnusX1.net

Posted in Star Trek, Television shows, tv reviews

The Rewatch 232: Liaisons.

Series: Star Trek: TNG
Episode: 7.02 Liaisons (September 27, 1993)
Rating: 3.5/5
Redshirt Status: 0/0/57

Notable Guest Stars:


Barbara Williams (Anna) – Ms. Williams does not seem to have an extensively familiar filmography.  She has appeared on several shows as guest stars, including a 2-episode guest starring role on Flashforward in 2009 and Quarterlife in 2008.  She has also written and been a member of the crew for various productions.

Eric Pierpoint (Voval)- Peirpoint is a Star Trek Alum, appearing in several shows of the franchise.  He also starred in Alien Nation alongside fellow alum Gary Graham.  More recently he has appeared in Hart of Dixie (as Harold Tucker) and Parks and Recreation (as Chief Trumple). He also writes young adult novels in his spare time.

Paul Eiding (Loquel) – Eiding is known mostly for his voice acting, but he has done live action work as well.  Aside from Star Trek, he has appeared in ER, The Pretender, The West Wing, and My Name is Earl.

Michael Harris (Byleth) – Like Williams, I was unfamiliar with most of his filmography.  He did appear on ER.  According to IMDB he has spent quite a bit of time focused on his theatre career.

Ricky D’Shon Collins (Eric) – Collins, like Eiding, is well known as a voice actor. Some roles I recognized were Recess, Danny Phantom and Happy Feet. He did several shows as a child actor.

Review:

In this episode we see the Enterprise crew interact with a new species, the Lyaaran.  Humanoid of course – the budget wasn’t high enough for non-humanoid creatures at this time of TV production.  Worf, Deanna and Picard all have completely different experiences with their partnered Ambassador.

Read more: The Rewatch 232: Liaisons.

Deanna has Loquel, a joyful man who massively enjoys the sweets on board (outdoing Deanna’s tolerance). Its mostly amusing although I find the fact that no one was bothered that this guy just went up and grabbed a kid because he was confused as to what they were.  The only one who seemed to be going “What the Hell?” was Eric, the boy himself.

Worf has Ambassador Byleth, a rude gentleman who tests Worf’s limits of his good nature. To the point that the two actually get into a physical alteration that Riker has to pull Worf away from.

Picard has the weirdest one of the them all.  He starts the episode with Voval, a rather uncommunicative fellow.  They “wreck” and Picard finds himself prisoner to a woman named Anna who claims she loves him and in general is just really weird.  Of course, the reasoning seems sincere – she’s been trapped alone on that planet for seven years.

However, the plot twist at the end of the episode is that its all a farce.  Voval and the others have met with humans before, but found their understanding lacking.  So each went in search of understanding an element.  Given their lack of understanding when it came to certain emotions (Pleasure, Animosity, and Love) this episode has a rare lack of Data.  Maybe they too realized that they do a lot with Data and wanted to use some other characters a bit.

It is nice to see Deanna doing something as an officer of the ship.  She is of course the counselor, and its always nice to see her doing that as well, even if its mostly in the form of a Barclay episode. Worf gets to stretch his diplomatic muscles much more in this episode then usual and Riker and Data take a backseat.

Given all that went on, I’m rather surprised that Picard seems okay with all of it.  As if it was just another day at work and he hadn’t been led to believe his life was in danger.

While the scenes on the Enterprise wasn’t that bad, I found the Picard plot a bit weird and didn’t really care for it.  I’m going to give this episode a 3.5 out of 5.  Everyone did a good job acting, but I agree with the production team that this episode just doesn’t quite hit the right note.

Interesting Notes:

  • Story by Roger Eschbacher and Jaq Greenspon
  • Teleplay by Jeanne Carrigan Fauci and Lisa Rich.  These two were writing interns on the show, and also wrote and/or contributed to 2 DS9 episodes. Carriagn-Fauci’s daughter is also a writer (Tai Fauci) so it’s a family business now.
  • Directed by Cliff Bole
  • This episode was inspired by (at different points of its creation) Misery and Fatal Attraction.
  • Brannon Braga was ambivalent towards his uncredited script doctoring, and Cliff Bole wasn’t pleased with this offering either.

Pros:

  • Any of Deanna’s scenes.  With an asterisk (See cons)

Cons:

  • Why was the mom okay with some strange man grabbing her son??
  • Why is Deanna back in that uncomfortable body suit uniform.

Screencap via CygnusX1.net

Posted in Star Trek, Television shows, tv reviews

The Rewatch 230: Descent

Series: Star Trek: TNG
Episode: 6.26/ 7.1 Descent (June 21, 1993 (1) and September 20, 1993 (2))
Rating: 5/5
Redshirt Status: 3/23/57  (we will give it to season 6)

Notable Guest Stars:
Steven Hawking (Himself) –  Steven Hawking is a well-known physicist.  He plays himself in the opening scene.

Natalija Nogulich (Admiral Alynna Nechayev) – This is not the first nor the last time we will see Nogulich as she continues to play the role Admiral Nechayev on various episodes of both TNG and Deep Space Nine. She had a reoccurring role on The Pretender and appeared on West Wing as Isreali ambassador Shira Galit.

John Neville (Isaac Newton) – Neville was a popular theatre actor. He also had a recurring role as the “Well-manicured Man” on the X-files, Mr. Laurence in Little Women (1994) and the Admiral in the Fifth Element (1997).  Also, he is the grandfather of actor Joe Dinicol who may be known from Arrow. Neville died in 2001.

Jim Norton (Albert Einstein) – Norton played Einstein in an earlier episode of Star trek, The Nth Degree. 

Jonathan Del Arco (Hugh) – Del Arco appeared before as Hugh, and he will appear as the character again in Picard. He is also known for being Dr. Morales in The Closer.  When not acting he is a political activist with a particular interest in furthering equality for the LBTQA+ community and the environment.  He will appear as different characters on Voyager and the Star Trek associated video games.

Richard Gilbert Hill (Bosus)- Gilbert-Hill has worked on several TV shows, including one I would watch with my grandmother called The Guardian which stars Simon Baker.  It’s a very good show, you should watch it.  He also periodically does write scripts, and even has a credit on Highlander.

Brian J. Cousins (Crosis) – Cousins is a reoccurring Star Trek Alum, who first appeared as Parem, a Romulan military officer in the TNG episode The Next Phase.  He will return in an episode of Enterprise.

Review:

This is actually a pretty interesting episode.  It brings forth two questions to answer over the course of the two-parter.

Read more: The Rewatch 230: Descent

The first is Data’s ability to handle emotions.  Its been a long used plot point that Data wants to be as human as possible and its usually emotion that keeps him from fulfilling that goal.  In this episode, Data begins to experiment with that.  Granted, its with the help of his brother Lore, who is never up to good.

The second plot question is what happened to Hugh, the borg that they set free to go back to the collective and infest with independence.  Well, we find out in this episode.  Hugh and the others are holding up on a far-off planet where they are following Lore.  Having grown up with the hive mind, the affected Borg do not settle well into independence.  Lore takes advantage of this and steps in to help lead them.  Some break away after realizing that Lore is also using them for experimentation.

As you may figure, Lore is why we can’t have nice things.  In this episode he is able to share emotions with his brother through a radio signal.  The only issue is that he only shares anger.  Data so enthralled with the idea of emotion goes with it, acting extremely out of character and rebelling in a very teenager fashion (as much as a 40ish year-old android can).  The anger and hate fill him up and it takes a lot of work from Geordi and Picard to get through it all and activate his programing that lets him have morality. 

This episode is very important in the story of Data, and I think anyone who is a Data fan should include this two parter in their must-sees.  Because at the end of the day there is a difference between Data and his older brother – Data has a conscious, and Lore does not.

In the second part, we really deal with the borg and how being left to their own devices they were vulnerable, and Lore took advantage.  He created a cult of Borg, and it took a lot for any of them to leave.

I think its notable that several key players in this episode were not happy with the end result.  Brent Spiner and various production staff have all had complaints about the limits they had to really get into the themes of the episode and make it reach its full potential.

Interesting Notes:

  • Written by (1) Ronald D. Moore on the story by Jeri Taylor and (2) Rene Exhevarria.
  • Directed by Alexander Singer
  • This Two-parter includes the final Season premiere of TNG, as it starts the seventh and last season of the show.
  • There is a novelization of this episode, along with four other episodes.
  • This episode closes a few plot threads, but it also dangles one open which will be brought up in the 1994 film Generations:  The emotion chip.
  • The building that Lore & his borg companions live is the Brandeis-Bardin Institute.  Previously this building had been used to be the setting of the Khitomir Accords in Star Trek VI.
  • Stephen Hawking is the only person to have a cameo as himself in the franchise.  The scene in which he appears contains several jokes about his theories on physics and how they interact with Einstein’s and Newton’s.  He had requested to appear on the show, being a big fan of it.  He even wrote the forward on a book on the Physics of Star Trek.
  • One of the ships that the admiral mentions is a homage to Chancellor Gorkon.  This was the first ship to be named after a nonhuman in the series.  Discovery would continue this tradition so in the show’s chronology this was far from the first.
  • There were a lot of issues with the set being too hot for those in costume. 

Pros

  • This is a great Data episode.  Brent Spiner always gets to test his limits as an actor when it comes to Lore episodes because he has his usual Data, and the more emotional and angry Lore.
  • It’s nice to see Beverly show her command skills. In a later episode Deanna asks her about being a Bridge Officer.  I kind of wonder what made her decide to become one.  I don’t think they will discuss that, but I will see when I get to the episode and see it again.

Cons:

­I’m always a little bit uncomfortable when people are in such a defense mode that they want to destroy everything upon finding it.  It always makes me wonder if they have lost their ability to see the nuances of life.  In this episode the Admiral basically dresses down Picard for letting Hugh live.  Given what the Federation and Starfleet stand for, I think it was a reasonable thing for him to do. But then I’ve always been averse to outright destruction.  I’ve also never been in a survival situation before either.

Screencap via CygnusX1.net