Sunday, 25 August 2013

CAPTAIN'S BLOG: TNG 1.12-1.13


1.12) Datalore
or
‘The Abominable Snowflake’


The Mission: Investigate the site of Data's discovery.

Planets visited: Omicron Theta, former Federation colony and the planet where Data was discovered many years ago. It's now a dead planet, and the colony has vanished.

Elementary, My Dear Data: He's practising sneezing. He stores the memories of all the colonists, which allows him some semblance of human knowledge, but not necessarily how to use it. He was created by Dr Noonien Soong, whose nickname was 'Often-Wrong' Soong (that's a bad rhyme). HE seems genuinely emotional when he finds another android. He has an off switch on his abdomen, but likes to keep it quiet.

The Picard Maneouvre: He's super pragmatic about the android and puts everyone at ease by reminding them that humans are, in their own way, machines too. He's totally up his own arse for a lot of this episode, though, refusing to listen to advice.

Villain of the Piece: Lore, an identical android, was Data's prototype but claims to be his improvement. Has real emotions, but this has made him unstable. He's got a nervous tick too. He's ambtious, arrogant and completely nuts. He poisons Data and tries to take his place, kicks him in the head and then beats up Worf. He's a complete bastard.

The Boy: Wesley realises that Lore has replaced Data while everyone else is taken in. They all shout him down and  like dicks to him. Quite how the teenage character is supposed to be smarter than everyone else on this highly-trained crew is beyond me, but you've got to feel sorry for the squirt.

Alien Life Forms: The Crystalline Entity, a huge snowflake-like creature flying through space at warp speed. It devours organic life, stripping all life energy from a planet. Lore drew it to Omicron Theta, and tries to feed it the Enterprise. It doesn’t really do much in this episode.

Future History: Apparently the common cold no longer bothers people. This is enough to make me want to live in the 24th century.

Cliche Count: Lore can use contractions, while Data can't. Not in this episode, anyway. And it's both an estanged family member episode, and an evil twin episode, so double-cliche points for that one.

Links and References: Isaac Asimov is name-checked.

Sexy Trek: Android bum!

Space bilge: Lore has a special way of talking to the entity that only he can perform. It sounds a lot like him just talking to the entity.

Things to Come: Both Lore and the Crystalline Entity will be back to threaten the Enterprise in later episodes. Another prototype android is found in Star Trek Nemesis, and another Crystalline Entity appears as an enemy in Star Trek Online.

Verdict: "And you want to be as stupid as them?" A cliched but fun episode which is livened up no end by a fantastic performance by Brent Spiner as both Data and Lore. It's a shame the crew have to be so stupid in order for the episode to work, though.



1.13) Angel One
or
'Planet of the Laydeez'

The Mission: Track down a crashed Federation trading crew on the planet Angel One.

Planets visited: Angel One is an unaligned world not contacted by the Federation for decades, where the women rule the men. There's a great matt painting of the capital city. We'll be seeing a lot of this background over the years to come.

The Picard Maneouvre: Poor Picard gets a sore throat and the sniffles. He struggles manfully on, but Beverly orders him to take time out and gives him some TLC in bed. He has such a sore throat he can't say 'Engage,' bless him.

Number One: Riker has worn furs and feathers on alien diplomatic missions, but here he has to dress in a revealing man-dress. He wastes no time getting in with Mistress Beata, and sends Tasha and Troi off to look for the survivors while he gets to show her his diplomatic moves. Rank has its privaleges.

Sexy Trek: Riker gets it on with Beata, the leader of the Angel One inhabitants. (Angelians? Angelites?) Her righthand woman, Ariel, is having an affair with one of the crash survivors, Ramsey. Yar thinks Riker looks sexy in his slinky man-dress. Picard gets shirtless and snuggles up to Beverly.

Cliche Count: It's a counter-Earth where the roles of the sexes are reversed. How much more cliched can you get? It's a good thing Riker didn't have his beard yet, the women wouldn't have stood a chance.

Future History: The Prime Directive is quoted, specifying that Starfleet cannot interfere in the internal affairs of any culture - not just pre-warp ones. However, it doesn't apply to civilians, which seems kind of idiotic. After learning the cold has been eradicated last episode, everyone comes down with killer man-flu when a virus gets aboard. A virus that spreads as a lovely smell, no less.

Space Bilge: The men on Angel One wear dresses and perfume because the roles of the sexes are reversed. So why do the women wear dresses and blouses and pretty things to, instead, I dunno, power-dressing in suits or something? I'm not clear about where the virus that affects the crew comes from. It seems to originate on the holodeck, but if that's the case, the holodeck is even more insanely dangerous than we previously suspected, capable of spontaneously generating pathogens. And what sort of name for a planet if Angel One anyway?

Things to Come: There has been evidence of Romulan activity along the Neutral Zone. This is the first mention of the Romulans in TNG, and sets the scene for their appearance in the season's final episode.

Verdict: A really awful episode. Pure cliched sci-fi crap made worse by a truly dreadful performance by Karen Montgomery as Mistress Beata. Just about so bad that it's good. Just.

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