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

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Old July 24 2012, 08:40 PM   #1
Captrek
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Episode-a-week: Encounter at Farpoint

Let’s relive the 80’s, watching one episode a week and coming together here to discuss it. Today, release day, we’ll start with Encounter at Farpoint, and begin a new thread each Tuesday. We won’t have reruns or summer hiatus, so we’ll go through about two seasons per year, assuming the Blu Ray releases keep up with that schedule.

Some of my miscellaneous reactions to EaF:
  • The crew other than Picard, Riker and Data are largely depicted as lacking professionalism and common sense, often being scolded for it and apologizing. For example:
    WORF: And now a personal request, sir. Permission to clean up the bridge.
    TASHA: Lieutenant Worf is right, sir. As Security Chief I can't just stand here and let
    PICARD: Yes you can, Lieutenant Yar.

    PICARD: You will command the saucer section, Lieutenant.
    WORF: I am a Klingon, sir. For me to seek escape when my Captain goes into battle
    PICARD: You are a Starfleet officer, Lieutenant.

    TASHA: Will we make a fight of it, Captain? If we can at least damage their ship we'll have a chance
    PICARD: Lieutenant, are you recommending we fight a life form that can do all those things? I'd like to hear your advice.
    TASHA: I spoke before I thought, sir.

    PICARD: Tasha, no.
    TASHA: I must! Because I...

    LAFORGE: Sir, the Enterprise is arriving
    RIKER: Is this an official report, Lieutenant?
    LAFORGE: Sorry, Commander. Sir, Lieutenant La Forge reporting.

    PICARD: Lieutenant! Do you intend to blast a hole through the viewer?
    WORF: Sorry, sir.
    RIKER: You reacted fast, Mister Worf.
    PICARD: But futilely.
    WORF: I will learn to do better, sir.

    TROI: Don't. If you should be hurt
    RIKER: You have your orders, Lieutenant. Carry them out.
    TROI: Yes sir, I'm sorry, sir.
  • Roddenberry sure liked to load up on the superlatives. He must have thought it intensified the drama, but at some point it gets excessive.
    TROI: Or an incredibly powerful forcefield. But if we collide with either it could be very

    Q: Knowing humans as thou dost, Captain, wouldst thou be captured helpless by them? Now, go back or thou shalt most certainly die.

    Captain's log, supplementary. The frozen form of Lieutenant Torres has been rushed to sickbay. The question now is the incredible power of the Q being. Do we dare oppose it?

    TROI: Its mind is much too powerful.

    DATA: It is possible, sir. But absolutely no margin for error.

    PICARD: Using print-out only, notify all decks to prepare for maximum acceleration. Now hear this, Maximum, you're entitled to know, means that we'll be pushing our engines well beyond safety limits.

    TROI: Very, very advanced, sir, or certainly very, very different.

    DATA: Projection, sir. We may be able to match hostile's nine point eight, sir. But at extreme risk.

    DATA: Historically intriguing, Captain. Very, very accurate.

    Q: Another brilliant suggestion, Captain. But your test hardly requires a long mission. Your immediate destination offers far more challenge than you can possibly imagine. Yes, this Farpoint station will be an excellent test.

    Q: Captain, you may find you are not nearly clever enough to deal with what lies ahead for you.

    RIKER: Thank you. But it still seems incredible to me that you could have constructed this station so rapidly and so, so perfectly suited to our needs.

    PICARD: It seems we're alive only because we have been placed on probation. A very serious kind of probation.

    TROI: Pain. Pain. Loneliness. Terrible loneliness. Despair. I'm not sensing the Groppler, sir, or any of his people, but it's something very close to us here.

    TROI: Pain. Such pain! Pain!

    (etc. Basically every time Troi opens her mouth.)
  • I really enjoy the music in this episode.

  • Denise Crosby was a terrible actress.

  • I wish saucer separation had been used more throughout the series. First of all, it’s cool. Second of all, it would have made more sense than routinely bringing all the civilians into dangerous situations. For example, when they go to investigate the loss of outposts along the Romulan Neutral Zone, the saucer should be left behind.

  • One failure of the Data character for me is that the series never explores why Data wants to be human. When Riker meets him, he’s frustrated with his inability to whistle like a human. On the other hand, he can do perfect voice impressions. Why should being able to do perfect impressions and unable to whistle be any worse than the other way around? (By the way, Data, I can’t whistle either and it doesn’t make me inhuman.)

  • On a similar note, Data says he would “gladly” give up all his android abilities to be human. If he has no experience with gladness, on what basis can he conclude that becoming human would make him glad? He doesn’t need an emotion chip, he needs the Wizard of Oz.

  • When Data runs to get Wesley out of the water, the stunt double looks nothing like Spiner! The joys of Blu Ray!

  • Geordi says his visor causes him constant pain. That fact is mentioned again in a second season episode, but is otherwise pretty much forgotten. It should have been remembered.

  • A curious bit of dialog:
    Q: Beam over there with your what do you call it? Your away team.
    PICARD: I'll risk none of my crew on that unknown.
    The mission is “to boldly go where no one has gone before.” Risking his crew beaming into unknown situations should be routine.
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Old July 24 2012, 08:49 PM   #2
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Re: Episode-a-week: Encounter at Farpoint

I found it funny how Riker got upset with Geordi when he didn't act formally on the planet while giving his official report. I guess Picard must have put an end to that crap pretty quickly.

EAF was like most of the other 1st season episodes: not too good.
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Old July 24 2012, 08:59 PM   #3
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Re: Episode-a-week: Encounter at Farpoint

Not a big fan. I like most of the Q stuff, although Yar really overdid it (and Crosby kind of overacted, but hey, it was the pilot) with that sob story during the trial. I wince whenever I hear, "I'm SORRY, sir." No, you aren't, and while I get that that's the point, the whole routine just nags at me.

There were some good scenes elsewhere, like Riker and Data, and the well-choreographed mystique of the Enterprise-D separating. Riker's reaction to the mission recap, Patrick Stewart not letting his discomfort with his new role show much at all... good stuff.

The Riker/Troi stuff was written very poorly; it felt like the writers managed to thrust the biggest cliches possible into their mental dialogue. If that was their intent, it was a resounding success. I spoke with someone here on TrekBBS months and months ago about my issues with how cheesy those scenes are, and I recall them suggesting that I rewatch it sometime to make sure I was dead set on this opinion because they felt otherwise. Well, I've rewatched it, and... no, it's so damn cheesy. TNG romance is kind of awful, oi, but there are examples of it getting much, much better than this.

Michael Bell as the Bandi leader is kind of a treat for me because I study voice acting and Bell has lended his voice to some roles in my favorite games. He's Raziel in the Legacy of Kain series and every other soldier in the Metal Gear Solid series, among other things.

Music was good and I agree that the superlatives were... super-duper superfluous, good lord.
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Old July 24 2012, 09:01 PM   #4
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Re: Episode-a-week: Encounter at Farpoint

Excellent thread idea, to recap my brief thoughts from the blu ray thread:

Encounter is an OK pilot, even if the Q plot being bolted on late in the day is fairly obvious (the casual and relaxed first meeting between Data and Riker would make sense in the context of being near the start of a one hour pilot, not when things are already well underway and there's a imminent deadline to work towards). In context of later episodes there's something sweetly funny about Riker being amazed and shocked by the Bandai being able to... do what replicators do. "You can make food appear... FROM NOTHING!!!!".

Actually, I suppose his reaction seems OTT even without replicators having been introduced yet considering Data explains that the holodeck does pretty much the same thing as well.

Also...


Patrick Stewart and Brent Spiner are already the standout regulars even with their characters still rough edged. They're good enough to make some of the dodgier dialouge work in a way the others can't quite manage yet. Though Michael Dorn comes very close.

John De Lancie also takes an unpromising character and runs hard with him to make him far more fun than he should be. Sadly over the years he'll repeatedly have the task of trying to make any old crap work.

The plot is obvious and slight, but it's technically well made and the McCoy cameo is lovely.
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Old July 24 2012, 09:01 PM   #5
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Re: Episode-a-week: Encounter at Farpoint

Also, hot damn, Data used a lot of contractions in this episode.
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Old July 24 2012, 09:06 PM   #6
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Re: Episode-a-week: Encounter at Farpoint

inflatabledalek wrote: View Post
The plot is obvious and slight, but it's technically well made and the McCoy cameo is lovely.
I wonder what goes through Data’s positronic brain when McCoy tells him, “You treat her like a lady.”
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Old July 24 2012, 09:35 PM   #7
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Re: Episode-a-week: Encounter at Farpoint

Yeah the Q subplot may feel bolted-on, but frankly I think the episode would have been a complete dud without it. Zorn certainly wasn't much of a villain, and the Farpoint "mystery" wasn't really all that mysterious. Or interesting.

So thank god Paramount requested that extra hour, I say.

And yeah, the lack of professionalism among the crew is pretty hilarious. Between their rash, immature behavior and Picard being a complete dick the entire episode, it's a wonder we ever grew to love these characters as much as we did! Lol
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Old July 24 2012, 09:40 PM   #8
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Re: Episode-a-week: Encounter at Farpoint

davejames wrote: View Post
...Picard being a complete dick the entire episode...
Huh?
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Old July 24 2012, 10:42 PM   #9
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Re: Episode-a-week: Encounter at Farpoint

BillJ wrote: View Post
davejames wrote: View Post
...Picard being a complete dick the entire episode...
Huh?
Ok I'm exaggerating a bit, but it's pretty well acknowledged that he wasn't the most likeable guy in those first few episodes.
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Old July 24 2012, 10:50 PM   #10
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Re: Episode-a-week: Encounter at Farpoint

davejames wrote: View Post
BillJ wrote: View Post
davejames wrote: View Post
...Picard being a complete dick the entire episode...
Huh?
Ok I'm exaggerating a bit, but it's pretty well acknowledged that he wasn't the most likeable guy in those first few episodes.
I thought he was a much better, more relaxed Captain in those first couple of seasons than what he became later on.
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Old July 24 2012, 10:58 PM   #11
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Re: Episode-a-week: Encounter at Farpoint

Berman actually calls it right on first part of the 'making of' - by far the more interesting half of EaF is the Q storyline. As a pilot episode, I hate to think what might have happened had the story just been the Bendai half.

I must admit, I'm not a particular fan of pilot episodes, particularly with modern Trek. I think most of the time they're average at best, if we're being charitable. Even though I hadn't seen EaF in years, I'm not really inclined to change this view. The Q stuff is good, the rest is pretty duff.

I would agree that Picard comes across as a bit of a stiff-shirt in this opening tale, certainly compared to later episodes.

I rolled my eyes every time Troi 'felt great pain/sadness/fear'.

Wesley - even in the first episode is in desperate need of a good slap.

I love the idea of this thread. It looks as though the second season set will ship around the end of November, so an episode-a-week should see us through nicely.
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Old July 24 2012, 11:27 PM   #12
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Re: Episode-a-week: Encounter at Farpoint

I like the other pilots just fine, really. None of them are ever showing up in my top ten lists for each series or anything, but I think they're respectable efforts with obvious early wrinkles sprinkled liberally throughout.

EaF is just... eh. Really eh.
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Old July 24 2012, 11:53 PM   #13
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Re: Episode-a-week: Encounter at Farpoint

Jeff O'Connor wrote: View Post
I like the other pilots just fine, really. None of them are ever showing up in my top ten lists for each series or anything, but I think they're respectable efforts with obvious early wrinkles sprinkled liberally throughout.

EaF is just... eh. Really eh.
Agreed. The irony is I thought VOY had the best pilot of all of them. It had the coolest premise, the most dynamic group of characters, and the best story.... but alas the rest of the series was never able to live up to it.

Despite it's problems, I think Farpoint is a decent enough introduction to TNG. Even as stiff or over-emotional as some of the characters are, you can kind of accept it now as them simply being unfamiliar with each other and new to the ship. Which is kinda cool.
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Old July 25 2012, 12:14 AM   #14
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Re: Episode-a-week: Encounter at Farpoint

davejames wrote: View Post
The irony is I thought VOY had the best pilot of all of them. It had the coolest premise, the most dynamic group of characters, and the best story.... but alas the rest of the series was never able to live up to it.
Couldn't agree more with this. Caretaker was, IMO the better of the four modern Trek pilots, and EaF, IMO, was probably the worst.

None of them are terrible. None of them are brilliant. They all tread some middle ground to differing degrees.
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Old July 25 2012, 12:02 PM   #15
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Re: Episode-a-week: Encounter at Farpoint

When Trek got around to "Caretaker", I actually felt the pilot was too packed with story and action, as I still subconsciously compared it with the glacier-paced "Encounter at Farpoint" rather than with the rather balanced "Emissary". The VOY pilot looks much better nowadays - good enough that it wouldn't occur to me to interpret the few ambiguities there (Kazons and water, time bombs as a solution to the dying Caretaker dilemma) as poorly written when they can equally easily be read as consistent and clever.

In contrast, IMHO the only thing clever about "EaF" is the perfect excuse it provides for writing the follow-on Q episodes and capping the whole story with "All Good Things..". But it does serve as a nice "humble beginnings" background story for our heroes. That is, I see little wrong with our heroes being unprofessional jerks at first. Picard did appear to have gathered a "dream team" of celebrities aboard the Federation Flagship, with professionalism quite possibly a secondary concern: the Famous Starfleet Klingon, the Incredible Android, the Ambassador's Daughter, the Girl Who Made It Through Turkana IV. Even LaForge is ultimately established to have been something Picard picked up from the gutter shortly before taking command of the Flagship. I wonder if the writers were thinking in such terms when giving backgrounds to these characters in the later episodes...?

In terms of plot, "EaF" stands out as a magnificent failure of sorts, a failure that kickstarts all sorts of dramatic arcs for the series. Picard didn't defeat Q, Starfleet didn't get Farpoint, the E-D didn't embark on an incredible voyage of exploration beyond Deneb IV, Worf never learned to blend in, and everybody was better off for that.

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