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The Game (#StarTrek #TNG Rewatch, Season 5, Episode 6) Cadet Crusher vs Fun Risian Gadget

Rewatching ST:TNG Cadet Crusher visits the Enterprise on a break from Starfleet Academy. He’s happy and doing well in school, and quickly befriends the happy and hyper-focused Ensign Leffler (Ashley Judd). The opening scene with Riker cavorting on Risa is just odd. Of course what he does when he’s off duty is his own business, but it’s certainly a clue to us when the bumpy-headed babe he’s chasing around a…

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Disaster (#StarTrek #TNG Rewatch, Season 5, Episode 5) Picard Trapped in Elevator with Weeping Moppets

Rewatching ST:TNG A character-based bottle episode (no off-ship locations), in which the Enterprise randomly bumps into a Space Thing that gives the writers an excuse to force all the main characters into odd groupings where they must act against type. The grumpy captain is trapped in an elevator with weeping moppets; the warrior must deliver a baby; the optimistic counsellor faces a difficult pragmatic command decision; the doctor and the…

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Silicon Avatar (#StarTrek #TNG Rewatch, Season 5, Episode 4) Grieving Xenobiologist Pursues Crystalline Entity

Rewatching ST:TNG Riker does some seriously exposition-friendly flirting with a civilian engineer whose fledgling colony turns out to be the next target for the Crystalline Entity, a big Space Thing that slurps up all life on a planetary scale. We spend just enough time here on Melona to care about the colony, which, fortunately for the on-location filming budget, is mostly a bunch of jumpsuited extras in park with random…

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Ensign Ro (#StarTrek #TNG Rewatch, Season 5, Episode 3) New Bumpy-nosed Officer Is Stubborn

Rewatching ST:TNG Picard is ordered to accept a bumpy-nosed humanoid officer who didn’t want to be transferred to the Enterprise — but she admits the new assignment is better than prison. A complex plot introduces the backstory of Bajor, which will eventually be the premise for the spinoff series Deep Space Nine — an ancient and noble race of architects and philosophers was 40 years ago displaced by the militaristic…

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Darmok (#StarTrek #TNG Rewatch, Season 5, Episode 2) Picard of the Federation, His Metaphors Timely

Rewatching Star Trek: The Next Generation After an awkward encounter with aliens whose language is incomprehensible, Picard finds himself on a strange planet. The alien captain, holding two daggers, offers one to Picard, saying “Darmok and Jalad at Tanagra.” When I first saw this episode, as a young grad student in a crowded room full of my regular Trek-watching friends, of course I thought of the classic Star Trek episode…

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Redemption, Part II (#StarTrek #TNG Rewatch, Season 5, Episode 1) Klingon Empire Wages Civil War

Rewatching Star Trek: The Next Generation The teaser opens with Worf serving on Kurn’s ship, and being scolded for second-guessing his younger brother’s aggressive tactics. Picard convinces an admiral to agree to a blockade, to prevent or expose Romulan support of the Duras faction. LaForge’s new strategy for detecting cloaked Romulan vessels requires a network of many ships, but because the script requires it some of them are barely functional…

Steampunk flag for the United States of Britannia (from the alternate history my kids and I made up during bedtime stories)

In the steampunk world my kids and I made up for bedtime stories (from about 2007-2013), Benjamin Franklin’s discovery of ether technology was the bargaining chip that forced King George to grant the 13 colonies full membership in the new kingdom of United States of Britannia. I’m working on a Blender3D model of the flagship where most of our interactive stories took place, and I realized I needed to design…

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Redemption, Part I (#StarTrek #TNG Rewatch, Season 4, Episode 26) Klingon Empire Faces Civil War

Rewatching Star Trek: The Next Generation While en route to the Klingon Homeworld to participate in the installation of Gowron as the new leader of the High Council, Picard prompts Worf to take the opportunity to regain his family honor. Worf prefers to wait. Gowron is annoyed when Picard declines to use force to back his faction, and intrigued when Worf explains that his own father was blamed for treason…

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In Theory (#StarTrek #TNG Rewatch, Season Four, Episode 25) Data Gets Boyfriendzoned

Rewatching ST:TNG In the teaser, a hot mess goldshirt who just ended a relationship compares a Space Thing to fireworks and then looks meaningfuly at Data. When Keiko tells a story about her home life with O’Brien, D’Sora chimes in with a story about when Data “said the funniest thing.” We see Data performing all the functions of friendship, which D’Sora finds appealing. After D’Sora makes the first move, Data…

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The Mind’s Eye (#StarTrek #TNG Rewatch, Season Four, Episode 24) LaForge Abducted by Romulans

Rewatching ST:TNG LaForge becomes a pawn in a Romulan plot to disrupt the Federation-Klingon alliance, in a clever homage to The Manchurian Candidate. LaForge’s shuttle is intercepted by Romulans while on a trip to Risa. The baddies put him through some kind of conditioning, as they report to a female superior whose face we don’t see. (*fake-cough-sounds-like-Sela*) The Enterprise ferries a Klingon emissary to a Klingon colony that seeks independence.…

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The Host (#StarTrek #TNG Rewatch, Season 4, Episode 23) Dr. Beverly Crushes on a Symbiont

Rewatching ST:TNG Trek explores some cultural boundaries by having Crusher fall in love with an ambassador who is not what he seems. But before we get to that plot twist, we get comedy from Data not realizing he has interrupted a turbolift make-out session, some decent setup concerning a conflict between two moons of Peliar Zel, a girl-talk scene between Crusher and Troi, and some shuttlecraft pew-pew action. As the…

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Half a Life (#StarTrek #TNG Rewatch, Season 4, Episode 22) Lwaxana Meets Cogsworth

Rewatching ST:TNG The teaser sets up another comic episode with Lwaxana Troi, and the first few acts deliver accordingly. This time, Lwaxana (Majel Barett) sets her sights on Doctor Timicin (David Ogden Stiers), a reserved scientist focused on saving his world’s dying star. This episode has many long scenes of Space Science, some of which exist simply to be interrupted by Lwaxana’s antics, but one is an overlong bridge scene…

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Conspiracy (#StarTrek #TNG Rewatch, Season One, Episode 25) Parasitic Bug Doppelgängers on Earth

Rewatching Star Trek: The Next Generation This episode piles on the cloak-and-dagger tropes such as secret messages, clandestine meetings, imposters, and, of course, conspiracy. “Don’t trust anyone,” warns an old friend of Picard’s who, no surprise, doesn’t make it to the end of the next act. The story ambitiously builds upon suspicions that Admiral Quinn first mentioned to Picard in s1e18 “Coming of Age,” warning of high-stakes fractures within the…

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Drumhead (#StarTrek #TNG Rewatch, Season 4, Episode 21) Federation Loyalist Tramples Justice

Rewatching ST:TNG An earnest, somewhat heavy-handed analysis of a Federation loyalist who is willing to trample justice in order to expose a conspiracy. An unusual episode, full of misdirection, and casual references to past episodes in a nod to the complex world-building that helped the Star Trek franchise mature. While the script engineers the plot so that Picard can save the day with yet another speech, along the way it…

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Qpid (#ST:TNG Rewatch, Season 4, Episode 20) Q and Vash and Robin Hood, Somehow

Rewatching ST:TNG Who doesn’t like seeing stuffy Picard react to the quirky mayhem caused by the unpredictable Q? Who didn’t like seeing stuffy Picard react to the quirky mayhem caused by the unpredictable Vash? Certainly not the cigar-chomping network executive who burst into the TNG writers’ room and barked, “I want a Vash and Q mash-up script on my desk by 9am tomorrow or you’re all going back on the…

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The Nth Degree (ST:TNG Rewatch, Season 4, Episode 19) Barclay Evolves

Rewatching ST:TNG Engineering schlub Lt. Barclay gets zapped by this week’s Space Thing, which makes him smart, charming… and also dangerous. Stumbling through a friend-zoning scene from the play Cyrano de Bergerac, actor Dwight Shultz deliberately flubs a dramatic line and fails to shove a prop to the floor on the first try, masterfully embodying Barclay’s ineptitude. The bridge looks great as always, and the model of the Argus Array…

Is Babylon 5 secretly the most influential TV show of the past 25 years?

When my wife and I were grad students in Toronto, my sister would fill up VHS tapes with episodes of Babylon 5. When the tape was full, she’d send it off. (Together with some Mystery Science Theatre 2000.) What that means is that, though the episodes aired weekly, I binge-watched them. (I assume they were available on cable TV somewhere, but as students we opted not to splurge for that…