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The Next Generation All Good Things come to an end...but not here.

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Old September 26 2012, 10:13 PM   #1
The Overlord
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Would the Neutral Zone have better without the 20th century characters

Would the Neutral Zone have better without the 20th century characters? There were a lot of interesting plot threads in that episode, the Federation meeting with the Romulans for the first time in decades and a mysterious new threat that was attacking Romulan and Federation outposts in the Neutral Zone. But all of that got sidelined by some silly plot where the Enterprise crew interacts with and lecture some characters from the 20th century. Frankly the stuff with the Romulans and the missing outposts seemed far more interesting then the stuff with the 20th century characters.
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Old September 26 2012, 10:36 PM   #2
Olive, the Other Reindeer
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Re: Would the Neutral Zone have better without the 20th century charac

"The Neutral Zone" is two completely separate stories shoehorned into a single episode. The plot about reviving the cryonically frozen 20th-century characters from the derelict ship could have been an episode in itself, albeit a pretty bad one.

In fact, this was the episode that turned me off ST:TNG, after watching most of the first season. I thought, "OK, this isn't going to get any better."
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Old September 26 2012, 10:39 PM   #3
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Re: Would the Neutral Zone have better without the 20th century charac

Well you'd have to come up with another B plot otherwise it would be twenty minutes long. Given the dramatic nature of the main plot, it's likely just going to be a distraction.
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Old September 27 2012, 01:28 AM   #4
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Re: Would the Neutral Zone have better without the 20th century charac

I quite liked the 20th century character storyline. It may not be a great fit tonally with the Romulan story, but the episode still works perfectly fine for me.

Plus the Romulan threat kind of helps reinforce just how silly and ridiculous most of their 20th century concerns really are-- which I think was probably the point.
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Old September 27 2012, 01:53 AM   #5
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Re: Would the Neutral Zone have better without the 20th century charac

davejames wrote: View Post
I quite liked the 20th century character storyline. It may not be a great fit tonally with the Romulan story, but the episode still works perfectly fine for me.

Plus the Romulan threat kind of helps reinforce just how silly and ridiculous most of their 20th century concerns really are-- which I think was probably the point.
But why make that A plot, when the Romulan stuff and the growing, yet unknown threat of the Borg is far more interesting? If they really wanted to do that stuff with the 20th century characters, they should spun that off into its own episode and have the season finale be solely about the Romulans and this new threat. As it stands, the Romulans consider Picard's request for an alliance for about 15 seconds, agree, change their mind, insult Picard and fly off. It seems like the stuff with the Romulans and the outposts is short changed to make way for more highjinks with people from the 20th century.
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Old September 27 2012, 02:48 AM   #6
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Re: Would the Neutral Zone have better without the 20th century charac

The Overlord wrote: View Post
davejames wrote: View Post
I quite liked the 20th century character storyline. It may not be a great fit tonally with the Romulan story, but the episode still works perfectly fine for me.

Plus the Romulan threat kind of helps reinforce just how silly and ridiculous most of their 20th century concerns really are-- which I think was probably the point.
But why make that A plot, when the Romulan stuff and the growing, yet unknown threat of the Borg is far more interesting? If they really wanted to do that stuff with the 20th century characters, they should spun that off into its own episode and have the season finale be solely about the Romulans and this new threat. As it stands, the Romulans consider Picard's request for an alliance for about 15 seconds, agree, change their mind, insult Picard and fly off. It seems like the stuff with the Romulans and the outposts is short changed to make way for more highjinks with people from the 20th century.
Well, if you ditch the 20th century people story (which I like) then you have a story with the crew standing around talking about the missing outposts and the Romulans for 42 minutes while waiting for the big reveal.

Another episode I like just fine the way it is. Guess I must have low standards.
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Old September 27 2012, 05:19 AM   #7
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Re: Would the Neutral Zone have better without the 20th century charac

The 20th century people are the meat and potatoes of the episode. The Romulans were the insignificant portion of the story that could have been easily deleted, any vague threat could have been inserted, with no impact on the A story.

I just love the way the 20th century "art of the deal" businessman sized up the Romulans within seconds, while 24th century "urbane" Picard sat in his captain chair absolutely clueless.

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Old September 27 2012, 12:53 PM   #8
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Re: Would the Neutral Zone have better without the 20th century charac

Consider the exchange between the Enterprise and the Romulan commanders for a second. Both sides agree to form an alliance in figuring out who destroyed their outposts. 10 seconds later the Romulans randomly decide to break it off for no reason other than to tell Picard to shove off.

This exchange really felt like one of those instances where there was supposed to be more going on, but Maurice Hurley had to rush it because he wanted more scenes with our one episode only characters who will have zero relevance as the series progressed.

Sometimes I wonder if instead of three 20th century humans that were picked up it would be three Romulans who were rescued. Without the Romulans telling the crew anything about what transpired at their outposts and them being unsure if it was the Federation that did it since they were rescued by Starfleet's most advanced vessel. And for the Enterprise crew to be suspicious of them in wondering if they had anything to do with the destruction of their outposts.

Also, had there been no 20th century human characters, we would have been spared those preachy "Humanity has evolved!" and insulting "It's a wonder how we even survived as a species" moments.

Last edited by Jeyl; September 27 2012 at 12:57 PM. Reason: Forgot the preachy part
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Old September 27 2012, 02:34 PM   #9
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Re: Would the Neutral Zone have better without the 20th century charac

I really can't see what more could have been done with the Romulans. There was no story there, not even the beginnings of a story, nothing to grab our interest: Romulans have not appeared for a long time, then they do appear, and this is supposed to be a mysterious cliffhanger so they can't tell us anything about why either thing is.

So it ends up being fundamentally uninteresting, because it starts out devoid of elements of interest. Nobody does anything relevant, nobody says anything relevant, there are no characters involved (just talking heads with or even without names)... The Z plot with the Romulans ends up being nothing but a vehicle to show off Probert's newest cool starship design.

The A plot was fine and well, but did suffer from being forcibly integrated to the Z plot in the end, with Offenhouse "contributing" (and making Troi wonderfully redundant once again). How about using the Ferengi instead, to give Offenhouse a task he would be uniquely competent at? Hey, they could even have settled the "Betazoids are no good with the Ferengi - or are they?" issue there rather elegantly.

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Old September 27 2012, 02:51 PM   #10
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Re: Would the Neutral Zone have better without the 20th century charac

More screen-time for the Rommies would have been detrimental to their scariness. They worked because they appeared like a meteor our of nowhere, without any explanation.
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Old September 27 2012, 03:12 PM   #11
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Re: Would the Neutral Zone have better without the 20th century charac

T'Girl wrote: View Post
I just love the way the 20th century "art of the deal" businessman sized up the Romulans within seconds, while 24th century "urbane" Picard sat in his captain chair absolutely clueless.

I agree completely! I really enjoyed that, especially in light of all the 'OMG! we 24th century folks are just soooooo much better then you 20th century folks!!'

That scene was a nice little reminder that they arent better at Everything

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Old September 27 2012, 05:09 PM   #12
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Re: Would the Neutral Zone have better without the 20th century charac

horatio83 wrote: View Post
More screen-time for the Rommies would have been detrimental to their scariness. They worked because they appeared like a meteor our of nowhere, without any explanation.
How were they scary in this episode? All they do is appear, make an alliance with Picard, break off said alliance 10 seconds later and then leave. That's not scary, that's just weird.

I think giving the Romulans more screen time would have made them more threatening, rather then just confusing.
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Old September 27 2012, 06:59 PM   #13
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Re: Would the Neutral Zone have better without the 20th century charac

There's a lot I didn't like about this episode, from yet another depiction of the show's "Oh, these poor, unenlightened bumpkins; let's go sit in the conference room and pity them" condescending attitude (ameliorated somewhat by Ralph Offenhouse's performance in the scene cited by T'Girl above) to the over-the-top menacing from the Romulans (I'm surprised they didn't just go ahead and give them mustaches to twirl). But, IMHO, Offenhouse and Sonny Clemonds provided the only real "sparks" in the whole episode.
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Old September 27 2012, 07:01 PM   #14
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Re: Would the Neutral Zone have better without the 20th century charac

T'Girl wrote: View Post
I just love the way the 20th century "art of the deal" businessman sized up the Romulans within seconds, while 24th century "urbane" Picard sat in his captain chair absolutely clueless.
Yeah, but that always seemed a bit contrived to me. Picard has demonstrated plenty of times that he knows how to read and understand what the enemy is thinking.

Plus it wasn't exactly hard to figure out that the Romulans were fishing for information.
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Old September 27 2012, 07:23 PM   #15
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Re: Would the Neutral Zone have better without the 20th century charac

It's not as if Picard really needed Offenhouse's input.

Chiefly, the scene serves to show how Picard realizes the man isn't as useless and out of place in the 24th century as it first appeared... Why, he could make for a fine starship captain one day, coming up with tactical conclusions just like Picard's own!

As for the idea of the Romulans choosing to cooperate with Starfleet, and then turning a cold shoulder not twenty seconds into the dialogue... I don't think this really happens. What Tebok says is that cooperation will take place once either side figures out what has been going on at the Neutral Zone. At the time of the adventure, neither side has a clue, so there is no point in cooperating. Thus, Tebok's "Only if it's convenient and appropriate at the time": the time is not now.

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