Thursday, December 31, 2009

The Previous Generation

Over the Christmas period I’ve revisited one of my earliest geekisms. Star Trek. “Ah”, I hear you say, “So you got the new film on DVD from Santa then.” Well yes I did thank you, but that’s not what I’m talking about. No, I revisited The Next Generation, or as the dedicated call it, TNG.

Over the last year I’ve become reacquainted with Wil Wheaton, the child star who brought Wesley Crusher to annoying life. First through the Penny Arcade/PvP DnD podcasts, which are as funny as they are geeky. After laughing so much at the amusing way he handled PvP’s Scott Kurtz’s reaction to Wil’s character dying I thought it only right I check out his own stuff. There I found that Mr. Wheaton was doing a podcast series, Memories of the Futurecast, that reflects on his time on TNG. One of the funnier parts of the 'cast was Wheaton coming to realise why the majority of the viewing public had hated his character.

All this listening to recaps of the old series got me in the mood to watch some TNG, something I’d not looked at since it had ended years ago. Especially with the last part being the dreadful Nemesis. So on visiting my parents’ abode for the Holiday Season I managed to dig out a boxset of the Borg episodes from the series and the film Generations. First of all, Generations wasn’t as bad as I remembered, being older allowed me to appreciate the meeting of Picard and Kirk a lot more then I did aged 12. But it was the Borg episodes that really got me. First I was reminded how good TNG could be when it tried as all six episodes are brilliant. In the six, you get the brilliance of John de Lancie’s Q, and also the amazement of how good an actor Brent Spiner is, playing both the non-emotional but kind hearted Data and his emotional and evil brother Lore, and the two appear as totally separate characters.

What really struck me was how much of shame it was that Star Trek at this point was still episodic and didn’t venture into serial territory, something that would only rear its head with Deep Space Nine. Watching Best of Both Worlds I couldn’t help but think of the possibilities that could have been followed after this if the show just carried on story-lines for more than two episodes. As well as being the quintessential Borg story, Best of Both Worlds is also an examination of Commander William Riker. Revealed here to have turned down three separate commissions for his own command and with the arrival of Lieutenant Commander Shelby gunning to be his replacement as Picard’s first officer we get a wonderful introspective of Riker. When Picard gets kidnapped by the Borg and transformed into one of them we get to see Riker as a Captain, and he does a brilliant job. I just thought the possibilities were fantastic. When Picard gets rescued and disconnected from Borg it would have been great to have a few episodes of him rehabilitating back to normal while Riker’s left in command of the Enterprise instead of the reversion to status quo Star Trek is known for.

First thing I’m going to do when I get back home is go out and get First Contact on DVD and finish off the TNG’s Borg Saga. Despite a few friends arguing it, I’m not going as far as watching Voyager though.
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