Arsenal of Freedom (TNG Rewatch, Season 1, Episode 21)

With an A-plot that comments on the Cold War arms race, a B-plot that tests LaForge’s command skills, and a C-plot that explores the Picard/Crusher dynamic, I wanted to like this episode more than I did. Yar wisely observes that it’s kind of pointless for the landing party to strategize against a system that has already wiped out all the intelligent life on a planet, yet the characters still peek through the bushes at the wobbly floating plastic menace, and leap out of the way of its space-zapper ray gun blasts, because TV.

Coming of Age (TNG Rewatch: Season 1, Episode 18)

A character-heavy episode, full of familiar tropes that add up to little. Starfleet seems much darker than we’ve ever seen it before, in two parallel storylines that intersect only thematically. Wesley, who we know full well isn’t leaving the show, applies to Starfleet Academy, and a grumpy admiral friend of Picard brings aboard an unlikeable prig who interrogates the crew, asking leading questions about events we’ve seen in previous episodes. After…

Home Soil (TNG Rewatch: Season 1, Episode 17)

The concept was good, and the production values were decent (I really liked the main lab on the planet); however, it starts out as a murder mystery and spends some time developing the human suspects, only to drop them abruptly when the “microbrain” starts growing, so this episode ends up lopsided and disappointing. I did like Troi’s speech: “We see and hear you now. We didn’t know you were there. You are beautiful to us. All life is beautiful.” Yes, it’s corny enough that I couldn’t help but think of the reformed Sour Kangaroo at the end of Seussical. But it captures one of the enduring appeals of Star Trek — it lets us envision what it would be like to be part of a society where idealism and selflessness and intellectual curiosity is mainstream culture.

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When the Bough Breaks (TNG Rewatch: Season 1, Episode 16)

Rewatching ST:TNG after a 20-year break. Advanced aliens from a mythical civilization kidnap children from the Enterprise to repopulate their dying world. The premise sounds pretty schlocky, and the script is full of familiar Trek cliches, such as the utopia with a dark secret, arrogant aliens who tsk-tsk at the very weaknesses that make humans special, and a society run by an all-powerful computer. Having said that, I enjoyed the…

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Too Short a Season (TNG Rewatch: Season 1, Episode 15)

Rewatching ST:TNG after a 20-year break. I was underwhelmed. The Enterprise delivers an elderly Admiral Jameson on a mission to negotiate with terrorists on a planet where he brokered a hostage release decades ago. The regular cast has very little to do because the story follows the visiting admiral, who ends up being rather unlikable. When we meet him, he’s obviously played by a much younger man in heavy make-up.…