Thursday, November 29, 2007

Encounter at Farpoint

There are a few funny things about the very first episode of Star Trek: The Next Generation. Mostly they involve things that seemed to be a big deal in the first episode but then were totally ignored. Like the fact that the Enterprise can split into two parts, the saucer section and the lower section, which had its own bridge, the Battle Bridge. Even in the episode when they first encounter the Borg and Riker orders that the ship ram right the fuck into the Borg cube, he never takes a second to think "hey you know it'd be awful decent of me to let the families and crew go home safe and sound if we separated from the saucer section before we rock'n'roll right up in this bitch."

Each of the bridge officers also made a show of pushing their consoles out and away from them before getting up, which no one ever bothered with in subsequent episodes. There was a bridge member who sat where Wesley Crusher would end up sitting named Lieutennant Torres. Surely Bolanna Torres from Voyager was named after him. I wonder if the writers who crank out things like the Star Trek Encyclopedia thought to crowbar a family relationship between the two characters.

Another cute thing was a little console for the jumpsuit-clad Deanna Troi that told her the ship was at status: green before they could go to warp 9. Totally adorable that they gave the eye-candy something technical-ish to be in charge of. They didn't take long to drop that little facade, did they? It's too bad they stuck her in the purple body suit afterwards, it never showed her nice soft juicy legs.

One thing that remained unchanged through the whole series after that, though, was that the best part of the whole episode was whenever Q was in the scene.

There's a great scene where Q puts Picard on trial in a scene they label "Mid 21st century - the post-atomic horror." There's a huddling crowd of observers to the trial who are all poor and filthy and speaking Chinese. This setting, sadly, was never re-visited as far as I know, in any later episodes of any series. Too bad, there'd have been a lot of potential to explore human nature and near-future outcomes of our own society's decisions. But it doesn't quite fit with the hooray-for-everything future outlook of the Star Trek universe.

Denise Crosby (Lt. Yarr) getting hysterical is glorious. "You BARBARIAN!" Q almost kills her, and silently kicks ass by yawning while Data examines her body to see if she'll live.

I still think Q was right in his charges - humanity are a grievously savage race. It's a shame they didn't give the charges a proper hearing.

It's still awfully cute that they think blind people have big white balls for eyes with no pupils. The 80s were a simpler time.

I'm glad that they didn't use any computer graphics instead of models back then. The show still looks remarkably modern because of it. The blue light cast by the warp nacelles reflects perfectly on the rest of the ship, where it wouldn't be until a few years ago that CG would have gotten that right without it looking like an episode of Reboot. And it's still cool to think that people actually took the time and effort to actually build the bridge and the corridors and the engine room and the rest of everything you see on the ship. That episode of Reading Rainbow where Lavar Burton takes you around and shows you everything was still my favourite half our of anything PBS has ever broadcast.

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By al - 7:33 PM |

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