Night Terrors (#StarTrek #TNG Rewatch, Season Four, Episode 17) Trapped crew grows paranoid

Rewatching ST:TNG After discovering that the crew on a missing science vessel has met grisly deaths, the Enterprise crew gets stuck in a Space Thing of the Week, and everyone starts getting unusually irritable. Meanwhile, Troi has recurring nightmares about being suspended in a flying harness. On my rewatch it seemed contrived that the Space Thing of the Week happens to disable all forms of propulsion, prompting a distress call…

Galaxy’s Child (#StarTrek #TNG Rewatch, Season Four, Episode 16) LaForge meets the engineer of his dreams

Rewatching ST:TNG LaForge is surprised when he learns the starship designer he had previously become infatuated with via the holodeck (s3e6 “Booby Trap”) is nothing like the romantic possibility he expected. (I turned the episode off during the cringeworthy dinner scene, and didn’t come back to it for almost a week.) The story unfolds like a workplace sit-com, with the script affirming LaForge’s presumption that his brusque and defensive co-worker…

First Contact (#StarTrek #TNG Rewatch, Season Four, Episode 15)

Rewatching ST:TNG This flipside episode, told entirely from the viewpoint of a civilization on the verge of discovering warp drive technology, documents a visit from members of a federation of space-faring aliens who wear brightly colored pajamas. An ER team with serious forehead bumps admits a patient with serious head injuries. They are first confused, then shocked at how different he is from them. (It is a bumpy-headed Riker, in…

Most Television From Before 2000 Is Trapped in the Uncanny Valley

Just as the technological innovation of the mass-produced book paved the way for the new storytelling medium called the “novel,” technological innovations that allow audiences to rewatch TV shows and binge-watch whole seasons have changed the whole medium of episodic video storytelling. (Babylon 5 did it early and did it well — but the article I’m reacting to barely touches on it.) Here’s what I think is the most important…

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Clues (#StarTrek #TNG Rewatch, Season Four, Episode 14) Picard suspects Data in blackout mystery

Rewatching ST:TNG after a 20-year break. After the crew blacks out, Picard investigates Data’s mysterious behavior. Although I haven’t seen this episode since it first aired in 1991, I remembered it as a strong episode, with a script that respects the audience’s intelligence. I didn’t remember the Dixon Hill holodeck sequence, which was longer than necessary. Instead of showing us a Guinan amused by and learning from Picard’s boyish love…

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Devil’s Due (#StarTrek #TNG Rewatch, Season Four, Episode 13) Picard vs. sexy devil Ardra

Rewatching ST:TNG after a 20-year break. Picard searches for a legal loophole in peaceful planet’s pact with the devil. Memorable scenes include Data playing Scrooge on the holodeck, courtroom hijinks (“The advocate will refrain from making her opponent disappear”), and Picard padding around on the planet in his jammies (“Just have Mister Data fetch me in a shuttle. And have him bring along a uniform.”) Ardra’s Q-worthy antics are enjoyable,…

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The Wounded (#StarTrek #TNG Rewatch, Season Four, Episode 12) O’Brien’s Former Captain Goes Rogue

Rewatching ST:TNG after a 20-year break. This episode introduces the Cardassians, who years ago attacked Picard on the Stargazer when he approached them during a diplomatic mission. Worf grumbles that the Cardassians have no honor. Indeed, during the teaser they attack the Enterprise. Still, Picard listens to Gul Macet’s complaint: a Federation starship has attacked an unarmed science station. Starfleet orders Picard to keep the peace at all costs, and…

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Data’s Day (#StarTrek #TNG Rewatch, Season Four, Episode 11)

Rewatching ST:TNG after a 20-year break. Data investigates Romulan intrigue, mediates a spat between O’Brien and his bride-to-be Keiko, and gets a lesson from “the dancing doctor.” A clever storytelling device has Data narrate a letter to Commander Maddox, the cybernetics expert who initially wanted to dissect him in s2e9 “The Measure of a Man.” As Data ruminates on friendship, we see him ending an overnight shift as bridge officer,…

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The Loss (#ST:TNG Rewatch, Season Four, Episode 10) Troi’s Empathic Sense Flatlines

Rewatching ST:TNG after a 20-year break. After losing her Betazed empathic sense, Counsellor Troi dramatically ignores her own advice about grieving. As the scriptwriters hustle her through shock, denial, anger, bargaining and depression, a Space Thing of the Week threatens the Enterprise. Scenes where Troi counsels a recently widowed ensign offer an intimate view of life (and death) in Starfleet. Oddly, the grieving officer appears to have a standing daily…

R.U.R. (Rossum's Universal Robots) Artistic Prosperity 2020
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R.U.R. (Rossum’s Universal Robots) Full Play (via Zoom)

All 3 acts and the epilogue to R.U.R. (Rossum’s Universal Robots) are now available on YouTube. I’ve loved this quirky play for almost 30 years. I’m thrilled that I got the chance to play Alquist, a humble builder who witnesses the Robot rebellion and its surprising aftermath. (I also designed the set backdrops in Blender 3D.) A story about a robot uprising is cliche now, but this Czech play coined…

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Final Mission (ST:TNG Rewatch, Season Four, Episode 9) Picard and Wesley bond on a Desert Planet

Rewatching ST:TNG after a 20-year break. The plot, such as it is, quickly gets Picard and Wesley separated from the Enterprise and in the company of a mining shuttle pilot who challenges Picard’s authority. After a few on-location scenes in a bleak desert, the story shifts to the standard generic cave set, where some falling chunks of foam and an avalanche sound effect puts Picard out of commission, setting up…

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Future Imperfect (ST:TNG Rewatch, Season Four, Episode 8) Riker Van Winkle

Rewatching ST:TNG after 30 years. After playing the trombone at his birthday party and passing out on a gassy planet, a gray-flecked Riker awakens in sickbay, where he learns 16 years have passed and he is now the captain of the Enterprise. After the requisite medical technobabble (virus, amnesia, blah blah), Dr. Crusher tries to usher him to his quarters, but Riker instead heads to the bridge, where he’s startled…

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Reunion (#StarTrek #TNG Rewatch, Season Four, Episode 7) Picard Arbitrates Klingon Leadership Struggle

Rewatching ST:TNG after a 20-year break. The Federation ambassador to the Klingon Empire requests Picard’s help about an urgent matter.  Chancellor K’empec names Picard arbiter over the power struggle that will follow his impending death. He suspects that one of the two rival faction leaders has been slowly poisoning him. The scenery-chewing Ambassador K’Eyhlar gets a lot of screen time. She and Worf had shared a skin-biting “fade to black”…

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Legacy (#StarTrek #TNG Rewatch, Season Four, Episode 6) Visiting Yar’s Lawless Colony

Rewatching ST:TNG after a 20-year break. The Enterprise tracks a distress call to the lawless colony where the late Lt. Tasha Yar was born. One of the two main factions holds Federation hostages, prompting Picard to editorialize that he “certainly won’t trade weapons for crewmen” — an apparent reference to the Iran-Contra affair. The teaser had established Data’s growing skill at poker, but just how good is he at calling…