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…

PAC-MAN: The Untold Story of How We Really Played the Game

A fascinating study of the thinginess of a video game. Put in your quarter, hit the one-player button and grab the joystick. All you have to do is move Pac-Man through a series of tight cornered mazes, trying to eat all the dots and fruit on screen while also trying to out-maneuver a group of ghosts who will kill you as soon as they touch you. If you eat one of…

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.

Why Student Athletes Continue to Fail

When student athletes were asked how much they care about athletics, they rated their interest a healthy 8.5 on average, on a scale of 1 to 10. But when asked the value they place on academics, the result was higher than 9 on average. If anything, the average student athlete cares more about his studies than his sport. #StudentBeforeAthlete indeed. So why do they underperform in their classes? One possible and intriguing…

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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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Wonderfully Detailed Tribute to 1970s British TV Show Space: 1999

“A middle aged geek” puts it well: “Utter nonsense, yes, but very well-made nonsense.” The incredibly detailed miniature effects and feature film production design of Moonbase Alpha make the original Star Trek’s balsa wood & cardboard sets look like a fifth grade play. While the story of ‘unknown magnetic radiation’ causing crewmen at the base to go mad is never really resolved (some genuinely sloppy writing), it doesn’t really matter; the stage…