Sunday, 31 August 2008

Star Trek: TNG 1.1 + 1.2 - Encounter at Farpoint

Review 86 - Episode 81 & 82

The One with the New Crew

And so, as Kirk and co ride into the sunset, we flash forward to the 24th Century, a new ship, new crew and new political landscape.

I'll get the bits I hate out the way first. The first meeting with Q, a god like being with unlimited power, is really draining and the mock trial goes on for far too long. It's a mistake to introduce the crew to such a TOS concept when we're only getting to know the crew ourselves. I will confess, I hare God like being episodes, but Q somehow circumvents that, mainly due to the performance of De Lancie and his repartee with Picard.

The 2nd half is much stronger and give the crew a puzzle to solve with a City that can produce anything and an angry giant jelly fish looking for it's mate. The story's okay, but really it's the new characters and how they perform that is interesting, especially as we know what will come.

Picard is given the most scenes and comes across as cold, aloof and awkward around children
and any sort or romance. It's light years away from the Captain in later years and obviously a total contrast to shagger Kirk. But there are moments where we see the passion in him and Stewart's performance is so good, the producers have wisely built the show round him.

Data comes across well. being an obvious analogue to Spock (especially with his scene with McCoy which was a nice touch - surely that was passing the torch, not Generations). He's far more naive and child like though to the point of irritation, but Spiner is an excellent actor and makes him watchable and believable.

Riker is a combination of Kirk and Decker and he's not as good an actor as the previous two. But Riker is very likable and when he was on screen the action came to life. It's still weird seeing Frakes without his beard, but gives a nice impression of time passing in the series.

Then you have the rest, who are a mixed bag. Troi is pretty bad here, due to the script and the performance. However, I have a soft spot for her and will pretty much forgive her any bad scenes, plus she has good chemistry with Riker and wear's a mini skirt which is nice. Worf and Yar tend to cancel each other in this episode and it's probably no bad thing Yar got killed off. She's quite annoying here with her ridiculous aggression and Worf is a Klingon in a starfleet uniform, so in an interesting characters battle, only one will win. Geordi is underwritten here, his gimmick being his visor, but he's likable and quiet. Finally, Doctor Crusher and her son Wes. Early Wes is very annoying, though he's okay in this episode. Like Troi, I have fond memories of Crusher and I like her relationship with Picard and her scenes are perfectly decent here.

The Enterprise D is a bold ship design and I remember it took me a long time to get my head round it's actual shape when I first seen it. But the design holds up well, though when the Saucer is separated the Star Drive looks awful, so it's no surprise that they don't do it very often. The effects hold up for the most part as well, and the credit sequence still looks good.

It's easy with hindsight to think of the bridge crew as obvious choices, but at the time it was so different to TOS that it was a risk. And the fact the first 2 years are very rough in places. But apart from the Q court scene it's a perfectly acceptable two episodes of Trek and does the job of introducing these characters and universe well.

Overall Star Trek Franchise Rating so far: 249/435

  • Review of the episode by actor Wil Wheaton — Part I, Part II
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