Even the biggest Next Generation fans will readily admit the first season isn’t very good, the second shows some improvement, but it’s the third season where things finally start to pick up and the show becomes the beloved sci-fi institution that it is.
Guess where Jimmy and Tom finally got to.
Unexpected computer malfunctions on the Enterprise threaten an important science experiment.
jimmy: Looks like they found some money. They could even afford a new opening credits sequence!
tomk: What better way to signal a change than new opening credits? Hurley is gone and Rick Berman took over.
jimmy: Anything particularly interesting to tell there?
tomk: Berman is a controversial figure for Trek fans in his own right, but he will oversee TNG to the end, plus DS9, Voyager, and Enterprise. The cast liked him. At the start of each season, he’d sit down with each actor to discuss where their character arcs would go, he took feedback unlike Hurley, and episodes started to focus more on individual characters and not just the crew as a whole every episode.
jimmy: What’s the controversy?
tomk: Mostly involving how he may have neutered Star Trek’s progressive politics and some issues on later shows. I am a bit fuzzy on what.
jimmy: I see. Well, it appears he ran a good franchise in either case. Depending on your views of DS9, Voyager and Enterprise.
tomk: I need to finish those shows first.
jimmy: You hadn’t watched them before?
tomk: I gave up on Voyager and Enterprise before they ended. I am working my way through DS9 now.
jimmy: Tsk tsk.
tomk: I’ve been busy lately.
jimmy: I watched them all when they aired and remember very little. You can “tsk tsk” me about Discovery, the only one I am not up to date on.
tomk: Do I look like a Krull fan?
jimmy: I only know what one looks like, and that ain’t you.
tomk: Well, then, I won’t be tsking you.
jimmy: I watched a couple of documentaries that were on the Season Two Blu-Rays and Berman was interviewed. He talked about some of the things he wished he had done differently. One was his insistence to push Gene’s vision of the utopian future at all costs, even when potentially detrimental to a series. (Or something like that.) The other was that with the rise of the internet (he is quoted several times as saying the internet was created for porn and Star Trek) he failed to embrace the interactions with fans and kept them at a distance. (Or something like that.)
tomk: Yeah. I don’t recall off-hand why fans dislike Berman, but that comes more from later shows. He essentially became the Star Trek guy after Roddenberry finally passed on.
jimmy: In either case, season 3 looks great. Even if the initial storyline almost seems like Measure of a Man 2: Measure Harder.
tomk: Or that season one episode where the rocks were alive and killing people.
jimmy: Or Moriarty.
tomk: Or that time the Moose told you there was a sentient mold in his room.
jimmy: He wasn’t lying. That thing kept changing the channels on the TV until I finally lured it outside with some cheese.
tomk: Point is, it happens a lot
jimmy: As Picard says in one of those episodes, it’s their mandate to seek out new life.
tomk: And then to not flood that new life with gamma radiation. That just causes problems.
jimmy: In fairness, that wasn’t their fault.
tomk: Everyone says that after a Hulk rampage. They want to blame the Leader or the Abomination or Dr. Kelso.
jimmy: Or the guy that just wants to lay his giant space egg.
tomk: And talk about baseball.
jimmy: And replay games in his head since that is…exciting?
tomk: Un, yes? And here DS9 suggested no one outside the Sisko family still follows baseball.
jimmy: I don’t think it still exists, does it?
tomk: Not outside the Sisko family. Or maybe the Crushers since Wes also knows the game.
jimmy: Until Picard killed his father.
tomk: Picard has no time for sports.
jimmy: Also seems like one of those silly things that modern writers put in to help relate someone/something to the audience. Do you really think that in 400 years, if baseball has been a dead sport for hundreds of years, it will be common for people to not only know the game, but to read the box scores, etc?
tomk: I think it’s safe to say Dr. Kelso liked math and science more than people. He would have been all over the Moneyball aspects of the game.
jimmy: That’s funny, because I doubt Kelso or Sisko or the Crushers ever talked about the salary cap and Sabermetrics of the Oakland A’s.
tomk: Well, they live in a moneyless society.
tomk: Or whatever they do in the holodeck.
jimmy: Probably porn.
tomk: Are you bringing up the Harp Girls again?
jimmy: No. I believe you did.
You win this round, Impossible.
jimmy: I take the victories where I can.
So, how do you feel about the return of the Beverly?
tomk: It’s very welcome. But I might have a thing for redheads.
jimmy: It’s hard not to.
tomk: Besides, someone needs to keep an eye on Wesley. His experiments are at the center of the action again.
jimmy: Didn’t I tell Picard to keep an eye on those experiments to know what adventures were coming up each week?
tomk: Yes, you did. But he’s about three centuries in the future.
jimmy: I shouldn’t have wrote it on a Post-It Note.
tomk: Next time, try carving it on a rock and leaving it somewhere where erosion is not an issue.
jimmy: The moon?
tomk: That works. Have a chisel and a goldfish bowl to go over your head to trap some air in.
jimmy: I can do that. Anyways, back to Beverly. It is nice to see her back, younger and more attractiveness aside. It’s a better dynamic for the show than crotchety old Pulaski hating on everyone.
tomk: She has great chemistry with Picard and a maternal side for everyone else.
jimmy: Yes. The success of the Picard/Beverly relationship was something Patrick Stewart brought up in one of the interviews I watched recently. The writers said that they tried to make Pulaski a foil for Picard, but it never really worked or was the first thing to get cut when they needed to trim the fat.
tomk: Yet more evidence that Crusher was the right woman for that job.
jimmy: In an interview with her, she said that during season one she was very outspoken about particular episodes or roles being very sexist and rubbed the wrong people the wrong way. Said she wasn’t confrontational, just stating her opinion, perhaps too loudly.
tomk: She was probably right too. I know she wouldn’t come back if Hurley was still there.
jimmy: She wasn’t alone in thinking parts of season one were sexist, just the most vocal about it.
tomk: She also, from what I heard, liked to suggest what her character might do in given situations. That’s normal for actors, especially a theater actor like her, but Maurice Hurley took that the wrong way. By contrast, Rick Berman actually listened and often agreed to such suggestions.
jimmy: Listening to your cast seems like something you should do.
tomk: Well, yes. But we don’t make sci-fi TV shows
tomk: Ryan shot down my idea for Krull: The Series with the idea that it would be like Krull, only good.
tomk: Ok, so, how about this episode, where Wesley was crawling along the floor looking for two microscopic robots.
jimmy: Well, he was setting traps more than looking for them…in case they wandered into the traps in that one room on the ship. That’s not much better.
tomk: He’s special. He didn’t even get a verbal reprimand for all that.
jimmy: Yeah, that got pretty glossed over. Even by Picard. I think he was just too excited to have found a new life form.
tomk: It’s in the Starfleet credo: Space, the final frontier. These are the voyages of the Starship (fill in ship name). Its continuing mission: to explore strange new worlds, to seek out new life and new civilizations, to never punish special kids, and to boldly go where no one has gone before.
jimmy: Heh. But this one was a bit extreme. There wasn’t a word spoken about it. Not a stern look. Not an exasperated sigh. Nothing.
Maybe they are so used to this now it doesn’t phase them. And we are only seeing one adventure a week. Imagine how many off camera experiments of Wesley’s have caused havoc?
tomk: And it was more annoying than anything else until Dr. Kelso tried to nuke them.
jimmy: Maybe a bit more than annoying since they were losing ship functionality and drifted into that star matter at one point.
tomk: Yeah, but then Worf got out and gave the ship a good push.
jimmy: MVP! MVP! MVP!
tomk: See, there’s no gravity in space, so the ship is weightless in the vacuum. So that science checks out.
jimmy: You got me thinking now that Worf could literally go outside and push the Enterprise. But I would assume mass comes into the equation. Or at the very least, would send himself hurtling off in the other direction.
tomk: That’s why they have transporter locks.
jimmy: No wonder O’Brien doesn’t get paid all that money.
tomk: It’s just science that I couldn’t possibly have gotten wrong.
tomk: And this is Star Trek, where the science is always accurate and no scientist is ever a big doofus.
jimmy: Well, if your life’s work came down to one experiment that could only be performed once every 196 years and it was about to be ruined by some punk kid and his toy robots, you might be a bit of a doofus too.
tomk: I find it amazing I have only referred to the character by the same name of the character the actor played on Scrubs and neither of us seem to mind.
tomk: Dr. Kelso.
jimmy: To be honest, I wouldn’t have noticed that wasn’t his name on TNG.
tomk: His name was Dr. Stubbs which rhymes with Scrubs.
jimmy: Whatever his name, he’s a big old meanie crybaby.
tomk: But he accepted possible punishment in the end.
jimmy: True. And the nanites went off to live happily ever after as it seemed like they simply ran out of time.
tomk: They even let Data go.
jimmy looks at his watch
tomk: Well, since you’re checking a watch, are you suggesting we’ve spent enough time on this one?
jimmy: Maybe, but the watch check was supposed to represent the show running out of time and cluing things up peacefully, and mostly off camera in a few seconds.
tomk: Before they shot the nanites out of the airlock.
jimmy: Those cheeky bastards.
tomk: Wait until the nanites return to defeat the Borg. Possibly when they team up with Species 8472.
jimmy: Nanites. Is there anything they can’t do?
tomk: Win a fistfight with a drunken soccer hooligan?
jimmy: I wouldn’t count them out.
tomk: They often lack fists.
jimmy: Didn’t stop them from taking out Dr. Doofus.
tomk: They just had to play with the blue lightning and the life support system.
jimmy: They’ll get you every time.
tomk: 60% of the time, they get you every time.
jimmy: It’s been an Anchorman kinda chat. Any other observations?
tomk: Not really. The show has a different vibe already. The episode had a much better pacing and overall feel than many from the past.
jimmy: And looks great. We’ll see how that goes. I found the production quality of Season 2 surprisingly dipped at times compared to Season 1. Or else the Blu-Ray conversion guys just got burned out after the first season which looked fantastic.
tomk: Perhaps we can see Picard and Data on similar but separate missions.
jimmy: Perhaps we can.
tomk: And so we shall.
jimmy: This is the way. Wait, wrong franchise.
tomk: I might have to take a gold star back.