Episode of the Week: Too Short a Season

Discussion in 'Star Trek: The Next Generation' started by Captrek, Nov 13, 2012.

  1. Captrek

    Captrek Vice Admiral Admiral

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    This week’s episode is Too Short a Season. Unfortunately, it’s the first of three or four terrible episodes in a row. It’s tempting to skip ahead.

    Too Short a Season may actually be worse in HD because of the terrible “old man” makeup on Clayton Rohner. Rohner’s acting is also pretty awful, as is that of Michael Pataki as Karnas.

    The writing is another huge problem with Jameson. Can anybody buy this character as one of the Federation’s best negotiators? He’s not a good listener and makes no effort to appreciate other points of view or establish rapport. When he has a disagreement with someone, his way to deal with it is to yell at them.

    The episode is all about a character that’s badly written, acted, directed, and made up. He is neither sympathetic nor interesting. Is there anything about this episode to like?

    OK, let’s get the snark out of the way: “Wesley’s not in it.” Other than that, is there anything about this episode to like?

    Hmm. Looking at the threads to date, the most discussed episodes are Hide and Q, Justice, Encounter at Farpoint, The Naked Now, Code of Honor, Haven, The Last Outpost, and Angel One. The least discussed episodes are 11001001, The Battle, The Big Goodbye, Where No One Has Gone Before, and Datalore. It seems we love to talk about episodes we don’t like and have little to say about the better received episodes. :shrug:
     
  2. BillJ

    BillJ Fleet Admiral Admiral

    Another one I liked.

    The spiritual successor to A Private Little War.
     
  3. Timo

    Timo Fleet Admiral Admiral

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    Sure - as the point is that he's a has-been. And of course one who doesn't realize he's a has-been...

    Which is why the body rejuvenation schtick is all the more effective here, as it highlights how futile the quest for youth really is - you can't undo decades of mental decline just by re-introducing physiologically sharp wits.

    "A Private Little War" had lots of location shooting; "Too Short a Season" spends much of the time being a bottle show, although admittedly the underground corridors are convincing and cool. The view beyond Karnas' window is a weird piece of wasted effort, as the intricate physical model and matte work apparently doesn't look much better in HD, either.

    I liked the weaponry seen here: old phasers mixed with what could convincingly be Klingon export-rated guns, made of their rifle butts but with humbler "end effectors".

    On the plot side, the general storyline works for me, and the final confrontation is okay, but it's all very predictably theatrical from the very start: "two bitter old men pitted against each other" is going to end in a coughing and wheezing twin monologue in a single (wheelchair accessible) room with dramatically dim lighting...

    Timo Saloniemi
     
  4. MikeS

    MikeS Fleet Captain Fleet Captain

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    I wouldn't say awful, just hammy and over-the-top. It may look awful when compared to our present taste, but that type of acting was very "eighties".

    And I thought the make-up held up pretty well. I was going to give kudos to Westmore for this (it was Westmore all through TNG's run wasn't it?). We should also remember that he may have wanted to save time and money (for other TNG projects) by concentrating on what would show up on screen. He had no way of knowing that his work would be seen in HD a quarter of a century later. Be interesting to see how the make-up from Unnatural Selection has aged (pardon the terrible and very obvious pun).

    What exactly is the script regarding Captain's beaming down? In Encounter At Farpoint Picard exclaims that it is something he found "unique" about Rikers service record. Then it seems to become a Starfleet regulation in a few episodes. In this episode it is brushed aside with little discussion and a bit of a laugh. :confused:

    Not one of the best episodes of season one or this rewatch, but there is enough in it to keep me from labelling it one of the worse.
     
  5. Ríu ríu chíu

    Ríu ríu chíu Fleet Admiral Admiral

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    Wasn't TSAS supposed to actually be a sequel to that episode? IIRC, the character of Mark Jameson was supposed to be Kirk, but either Shatner didn't want to do it or wasn't available, so they rewrote it.
     
  6. Timo

    Timo Fleet Admiral Admiral

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    That's how the story goes. But how the story would have gone is another matter, and quite intriguing at that. Would there have been rejuvenation - from artificially aged Shatner to the Shatner of the eighties, or all the way to a youngster played by somebody else? Would Kirk have died of it? Of other story twists?

    Timo Saloniemi
     
  7. Captrek

    Captrek Vice Admiral Admiral

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    That explanation doesn't work for me. This isn't a matter of declining skill, it's a matter of how he relates to others. That kind of fundamental character transformation doesn't happen with age unless there's some kind of brain injury, such as a stroke.

    True enough, and perhaps it's unfair to call it horrible since it was adequate to its original purpose. Better to say that (IMO) it looks horrible in HD.
     
  8. Danny99

    Danny99 Vice Admiral Admiral

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    The acting wasn't stellar, but I think a lot of the writing was poor too.

    Jameson was not a sympathetic character; sure he's getting old and is confined to a wheelchair, something we'd all like to avoid. But when all is said and done, you just consider him an ass who is putting people in danger.

    Pataki's Karnas suffers the same fate. He spends 99% of the episode grandstanding like a Batman villain and then once his long time enemy is dead in front of him, suddenly all of his hate about the death of his father is forgotten and he releases all the hostages, without any repercussions I may add. AND he allows Jameson to be buried on his planet? I thought they hated each other.
     
  9. Timo

    Timo Fleet Admiral Admiral

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    But they were best friends, too. One doesn't exclude the other.

    Also, why should either of these be a sympathetic character?

    Timo Saloniemi
     
  10. sadsquid

    sadsquid Lieutenant Red Shirt

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    Definitely a 'meh' episode. Fairly bad acting, makeup and storyline. Not completely horrible/borderline un-watchable though, like some Season One episodes (Code of Honor, Angel One, Justice, etc).

    2/5 stars
     
  11. MikeS

    MikeS Fleet Captain Fleet Captain

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    I'd forgotten to mention this. Definitely had a "wtf?!" moment when they mentioned that at the end. Look at the Hitler/Bin Laden burials to see how controversial that could be.
     
  12. Timo

    Timo Fleet Admiral Admiral

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    You'd be looking at it from the wrong end, though. If Hitler had decreed that Roosevelt, claimed by the Reaper during a peacemongering visit to Germany in early 1945, be buried in Darmstadt with full military honors, there would have been few people in Germany who would have dared complain!

    Timo Saloniemi
     
  13. Captrek

    Captrek Vice Admiral Admiral

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    Why should we care what happens to them?

    Imagine a blackout occurs in the middle of the episode causing you to miss the rest, and it's 1988 so you can't get it On Demand or from a torrent site. Your next opportunity to see the rest is when it's rerun in a few months.

    Would it be a big deal? Would you be antsy to see what happens to Jameson, or what happens to the hostages, or more exposition of the backstory?

    The only characters we have any reason to care about are the regulars we already cared about before the episode, and they have nothing at stake here and don't do much in the episode. The Enterprise's mission is taxi service.
     
  14. Timo

    Timo Fleet Admiral Admiral

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    Dunno about that. The new Battlestar Galactica had no characters that would have been even remotely likeable; the audience was rooting for the villains to let mankind out of its considerable misery and rid the universe of these disgusting worse-than-villains for good. Yet it was quite hooking...

    There's little to like about a sympathetic character either at first sight ("They engineered him/her for the purpose! Too much syrup! I won't buy this!") or in the long run ("It's unrealistic for him/her to be so darn goodledy-good season after season! I want to see blood, tears and adultery!"), but a good villain is easy to despise regardless of the length of the exposure. Meaning the audience does care.

    Letting the heroes take the back seat every now and then is good storytelling, too, at least beyond the 1950s standards. What good is a guest character if he/she is not allowed to meet the criteria of guest star? Beyond season three, Trek lost its touch and started to treat the regulars as somehow inherently interesting - which is always a bad bet, and particularly so in a show that shies away from all conflict between the regulars.

    Timo Saloniemi
     
  15. Jeyl

    Jeyl Commodore Commodore

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    Despite all the acting, makeup and character problems, the biggest issue I had with this episode was that it was so hollow. I can watch episodes like Code of Honor and The Naked Now because watching bad episodes of TNG can be a blast. There is nothing fun or interesting that makes me feel invested.
     
  16. Captrek

    Captrek Vice Admiral Admiral

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    Sure, if they’re taking the back seat to something interesting, which is not the case here. Lower Decks is a very good episode in which the regulars take the back seat. Too Short a Season is not.
     
  17. The Castellan

    The Castellan Commodore Commodore

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    I liked the story it had a sorta theme to it....had Jamerson just stuck with the single does of the drug he had, and not down both doses, and so quickly, he would have still be alive, I think.
     
  18. Timo

    Timo Fleet Admiral Admiral

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    ...Sticking to rules and regulations would have saved lives there, yes. Had the episode played out this way but with Kirk as the Starfleet guest character, this would have been a blatant "Picard is a better man than Kirk" kind of event, perhaps raising audience ire rather than indifference.

    Timo Saloniemi
     
  19. BillJ

    BillJ Fleet Admiral Admiral

    Oh the trolling and flame wars this episode would have caused if Kirk had been involved... it would have been glorious! :devil: :guffaw:
     
  20. sonak

    sonak Vice Admiral Admiral

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    is Michael Pataki related to George Pataki?