OK here is my proper review:
STNG: Encounter at Farpoint:
Alien entity Q captures the E-D and puts the crew on trial for the crimes of humanity as they explore the mystery of Farpoint Station.
Encounter at Farpoint as an episode is somewhere towards the lower third of the pack in my series ratings. The one main reason I can point to this is the obvious stitching they had to do to convert it from a one hour episode to a 2 hour pilot. There is a good amount of filler material, some of which is successful in it's own right, but overall leaves a dis-satisfied feeling after watching the episode, even though there is no real disastrous element present. If the episode were paced properly, the crew would have been furiously doing an NSA type investigation on the planet's surface, while the tension and sense of urgency would have been ratcheted up as this very serious threat to humanity (extinction no less) was addressed. Instead, the crew is busy doing everything from joking with other captains to lounging around a mall. Q even has to scold Picard on this lack of focus. Perhaps this was an in-joke planted by the writers. The stretched out mystery isn't a big mystery (at least to the audience--we kind of assume matter transmutation is possible in our fiction) but the moment the two lovers meet is sensitive and fairly emotional. All this time I thought the male saved the female, and it was the other way around!! Despite qualms, much of the appeal of this new take on Trek was there already.
As a pilot it goes, its does a fair job of introducing us to familiar, but new aspects of the ST universe. The characters are given a few basic backgrounds, but nothing that couldn't have been told off-stage. We never really were given much of an "origin" type episode for the STNG crew, though you could put All Good Things together with this pilot and get a sketchy view of it. That's fine with me, such episodes are often tedious. The Enterprise and it's tech fares better. We already know about the battle bridge, saucer separation, warp speed capabilities, where it's headed and what the mission is. We know there are children on board, and the the holodeck will keep our crew occupied for the long duration missions.
The cast seems mixed at this point, Crusher and Picard's dynamic could have been interesting, but they never followed up on it enough later in the series. Fair enough, there's a few heated moments in the pilot that come off well. Riker and Troi's love affair should have been excised. Troi is like a whimpering puppy, and Riker basically leaves her jilted. Geordi is likable but doesn't get much to do. Worf really gets physically noticed, but ultimately the interest is knowing that future tales will be more revealing. The two characters that come off best are a slightly grumpy but commanding Picard, and the intriguing android, Data. Instead of being a re-tread of Spock, his curiosity makes him like an eager cat...always with ears perked for something to discover. Spiner is a breakout star of the show. Riker possibly pulls up just behind Data and Picard...he gets more air time than just about anyone, he was expected to be the big lead success of the show. Frakes does a decent job. The two weaker characters are Troi and Yar...partly in the writing, partly from execution...someone told them to play it brooooaad. Both characters improved, but Crosby was never a good actress in my opinion.
The production design of course was pretty large scale for tv at the time, though a few creative choices made it seem less realistic than it could have been. The FX are top notch, even though the TV style has turned to dark, contrasty, high motion shots where you can't see much, the E-D, planets and new CGI FX look spectacular.
The remastering: The 1st season episode had less grain appearance than the two following episodes and was nothing less that amazing. It had a crisp cinematic style. The new digital FX that replace the originals stay very close to the SD choices. It's incredible that the sets manage to hold up under such scrutiny. The idea that the TOS sets/production look less dated than STNG is ridiculous. The HD pilot really presents this emphatically. What else can be said, they accomplished what they set out to do.
Episode rating: ***1/2 out of 5
Remastered rating: ***1/2