Reason why I think 'Arsenal of Freedom' is the best ep of TNG season 1

Discussion in 'The Next Generation' started by Lance, Nov 21, 2013.

  1. Lance

    Lance Commodore Commodore

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    I dunno what its rep is. Maybe I won't get any argument. :)

    I've always felt this was my favorite episode of TNG's first season, but until today I haven't really stopped to think about why. But I think I've cracked it.

    It's because it presents us with a very TOS-like situation, but told in a very TNG-like way.

    In some ways it's very progressive, sort of showing the tenements of the character based strengths that would come to define The Next Generation when it finally found its feet in seasons two and three. It could be the first TNG in this regard, perfectly blending those character moments into the action.

    On the other hand, the script seems to work to counter criticisms at the time that TNG wasn't as 'action based' as TOS. So you've got a situation which deliberately places the landing party in danger, with the opportunity for lots of TOS-style phaser fights, and a heightened sense of danger for the Enterprise in orbit as well. I do remember many pundits, including MAD Magazine in their parody of the series, making a lot of TNG not seeming as action packed as TOS, so 'The Arsenal of Freedom' comes as something of a reminder that this isn't necessarily true, and that TNG can handle action shoot 'em ups with the best of them.

    I also like the message behind the episode, and the relevence it has. Like the best of TOS, it tells a story in allegory, but doesn't necessarily beat you over the head with its message. It perfectly manages to satirize both the weapons trade in particular and capitalism more generally.

    The Next Generation had a pretty ropey start all things being told, but I honestly felt that by 'The Arsenal of Freedom' they were really beginning to cook with gas. It's by far my favorite episode of the first season. :)
     
  2. Use of Time

    Use of Time Commodore Commodore

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    Re: Reason why I think 'Arsenal of Freedom' is the best ep of TNG seas

    This episode wouldn't be the frist to come to mind when making a season 1 top 5 list, but I do think your point about it being a TOS story told in TNG form is spot on. I could easily see Kirk and co. playing out this episode (sans the Crusher/Picard scenes at the bottom of that pit) Geordi gets some quality screen time, don't know if it did his character any favors though.
     
  3. Bry_Sinclair

    Bry_Sinclair Rear Admiral Rear Admiral

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    Re: Reason why I think 'Arsenal of Freedom' is the best ep of TNG seas

    It is definitely one of those episodes where everyone pulls their own weight and has something to do. Rather than being a Picard or Riker or Data episode, its a crew episode--something I always liked seeing though there weren't very many. It has been a long time since I last saw it, so I can't remember Wesley doing much of significance (but that's not a loss IMO).

    It also helps to explore some of the characters, their relationships and roles (such as Troi counselling La Forge on taking it easy on the rookies), whilst also having them shooting up the joint.
     
  4. Lance

    Lance Commodore Commodore

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    Re: Reason why I think 'Arsenal of Freedom' is the best ep of TNG seas

    ^ Good point Bry, it's an excellent episode for the entire crew, I think that was what I was trying to say but you've articulated the point much better than I could. :)

    And IIRC, Wesley isn't in this episode at all. Which could be why he didn't leave much of an impression! :guffaw: :techman:
     
  5. R. Star

    R. Star Rear Admiral Rear Admiral

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    Re: Reason why I think 'Arsenal of Freedom' is the best ep of TNG seas

    Well basically all of season 1 was basically TOS with a new cast.... not only had it been done, but the old crew was better at it. So it's really no great statement to say it's a TOS like episode. The whole AI gone wrong premise really had been done to death, even by that point.

    Really the one thing I liked about the episode is, they seemed to be stretching Geordi a bit by putting him in command. Even if we went through yet another Chief engineer of the week.

    I'd probably put this one middle of the road as far as season 1, even if that's a low bar. Not so bad to be skipped on a rewatch, but hardly a random episode plucked out of the blue just to enjoy for it's own sake. TNG really didn't start becoming great until season 2-3 when it stopped emulating TOS and started forging it's own unique identity. Coincidence it got better as Roddenberry got less and less involved too...
     
  6. The Old Mixer

    The Old Mixer Clean Old Mod Moderator

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    Re: Reason why I think 'Arsenal of Freedom' is the best ep of TNG seas

    Calling this one a strong Season 1 episode is damning it with faint praise. Never did much for me...if anything, in contrast to the norm for Season 1, this one seemed like it was trying too hard.

    I'd much rather put in a random Season 3 episode than this one, any day of the year...or even a random Season 2 episode, come to think of it....

    Could have worked with Kirk and Rand if she'd been around. Would have been great having Kirk sidelined while the others got all the action. He'd be chewing his way out of that pit!

    No big deal either way, the people making the show hadn't found his true calling yet, so they were trying to play him up as the junior officer who was eager for command.
     
  7. CrazyMatt

    CrazyMatt Captain Captain

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    Re: Reason why I think 'Arsenal of Freedom' is the best ep of TNG seas

    Funny, my first reaction to the idea that 'Arsenal of Freedom' was the best first season episode was "No way!" But then when I looked back at the actual roster of first season episodes... well, I then realized that no other episode jumps out as being demonstratively better than that one.

    So I guess I can't really disagree... but I will say I LIKE '11001001', 'Heart of Glory' and 'Conspiracy' better. But I wouldn't call them better per se.
     
  8. MakeshiftPython

    MakeshiftPython Captain Captain

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    Re: Reason why I think 'Arsenal of Freedom' is the best ep of TNG seas

    "Arsenal of Freedom" is sort of mixed for me. On one hand, the whole thing with Geordi coming on his own as a commander on his first watch during combat is pretty great, and Troi is actually useful this time instead of always stating the obvious. On the other hand, the whole thing with the away team on the planet is VERY weak. They're supposed to be dealing with an AI that wiped out an entire civilization, and yet this thing can't even shoot at them when it's a few meters away! And the solution? Picard turns it off. That's how he wins the day, by actually asking it to turn off, meanwhile Geordi up on the Enterprise kicking ass.

    So it's pretty much a case of half great half lame. Of all the episodes of TNG, it probably features the worst looking planet. Bad, even by TOS standards. Even Data kind of looks horrified over how bad the set looks.

    Picard calls it a "heavily forested planet"


    [​IMG]


    [​IMG]


    You'd think 20 years after TOS they might have made more convincing sets. :lol:
     
  9. GalaxyX

    GalaxyX Rear Admiral Rear Admiral

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    Re: Reason why I think 'Arsenal of Freedom' is the best ep of TNG seas

    I would not pick this one as my favourite (Where No One Has Gone Before gets that privilege :) )

    But it definitely is one of the better S1 episodes. I thought the action was great, which is something that TNG sorely lacked.

    I liked the set. It feels like an alien planet to me. Could have been worse, we could have gotten the Vasquez rocks again.

    I have no problem with the scenario. The AI was not meant to eliminate the crew and the ship immediately, which it could have done. Rather it was in demo mode, slowly escalating the strength to show how capable it was.

    Turning it off by asking was so in line with what would have happened in TOS had Kirk bumped into it.

    I hated the Geordi stuff, simply because it makes Geordi look like he's a junior member of the crew (when in reality he's chief engineer) but I chalk it up to confusion as to what his role was going to be in the series.

    What I really hated though, was the fact that Picard turned off the AI, yet the drone is still attacking the Enterprise!

    I know they wanted to show a victorious finale with the Enterprise defeating the drone, but logically it should have turned off along with the drones on the ground.
     
  10. MakeshiftPython

    MakeshiftPython Captain Captain

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    Re: Reason why I think 'Arsenal of Freedom' is the best ep of TNG seas

    There was no confusion at the time for what Geordi was supposed to be doing during that season. He was a bridge officer, piloting the Enterprise but it was his first time commanding during battle. Sulu was shown in command though nothing as extensive as what we saw Geordi go through. During the first season it's suggested that he'll one day have a command of his own and he's gaining experience as a bridge officer, but by S2 they decided to make him the chief engineer and have the "young officer shown the ropes" trope used solely for Wesley instead.
     
  11. Maurice

    Maurice Vice Admiral Admiral

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    Re: Reason why I think 'Arsenal of Freedom' is the best ep of TNG seas

    Never, EVER do a down shot on planet set when the fake horizon is in shot!!!!
     
  12. GalaxyX

    GalaxyX Rear Admiral Rear Admiral

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    Re: Reason why I think 'Arsenal of Freedom' is the best ep of TNG seas

    You guys are being too hard on the sets.

    Could have been worse. We could have gotten Vasquez rocks, or even the dreaded BC forests! yikes!

    In a time where CGI was in its infancy, I'm glad we got what we did.
     
  13. MakeshiftPython

    MakeshiftPython Captain Captain

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    Re: Reason why I think 'Arsenal of Freedom' is the best ep of TNG seas

    Vasequez Rocks wouldn't have fit the description of Minos, but I'm sure another location could have sufficed to stand in as a "heavily forested planet" that Picard described, maybe that location seen in the pilot with Riker and Data. Either way, I don't think the set they ended up using was up to standards. Look at many other on-set episodes that involved the same kind of settings and how much more convincing they were able to make them.
     
  14. GalaxyX

    GalaxyX Rear Admiral Rear Admiral

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    Re: Reason why I think 'Arsenal of Freedom' is the best ep of TNG seas

    I guess the set they used doesn't really bother me at all. If anything, the one thing I might complain about is that, for a supposedly more advanced than the Federation civilization, they are sorely lacking any actual infrastructure. Unless the AI was conveniently placed in the boonies of the planet for some reason.
     
  15. Bry_Sinclair

    Bry_Sinclair Rear Admiral Rear Admiral

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    Re: Reason why I think 'Arsenal of Freedom' is the best ep of TNG seas

    "Heavily forested" doesn't necessarily mean there are trees from pole to pole, there are always going to be clearings and groves where trees and other plants are thinned out for whatever reason. I didn't mind the set, other than it was very obviously a set, but can't be helped thanks to the restraints of television.
     
  16. Lance

    Lance Commodore Commodore

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    Re: Reason why I think 'Arsenal of Freedom' is the best ep of TNG seas

    True. And maybe the Enterprise crew specifically chose one of these less forested areas to beam down to? If the vegetation on the planet was peculiarly dense, then it would make sense maybe to use a clearing as a beam down/pick up point.
     
  17. LMFAOschwarz

    LMFAOschwarz Fleet Captain Fleet Captain

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    Re: Reason why I think 'Arsenal of Freedom' is the best ep of TNG seas

    I loved their indoor planet sets. Especially at the time, nothing screamed Star Trek like indoor planet sets. Felt just right to me! :)
     
  18. CorporalCaptain

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    Re: Reason why I think 'Arsenal of Freedom' is the best ep of TNG seas

    I think Arsenal of Freedom was the first time the Ent-D phasers were fired in anger. Before, they were used to feed power to the sick space jellyfish in Encounter at Farpoint, but that's all, as far as I remember. Farpoint may get the shut-off-that-damned-noise award, but Arsenal gets the bout-fucking-time award. :p
     
  19. 2takesfrakes

    2takesfrakes Rear Admiral Rear Admiral

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    Re: Reason why I think 'Arsenal of Freedom' is the best ep of TNG seas

    I completely concur with this statement. These sets are so stylized, artistically, that they do evoke something strange and exotic. What would've helped these sets, not just in 'Arsenal of Freedom' but, in general, would've been mood lighting. Other than that, how to depict an alien world without CGI?

    Unfortunately, it does seem because of our images of Venus, Mars and Titan that other worlds look disappointingly familiar. "Oh, but titan's wet weather system is methane based and it's a planet of ice." Well ... yeah ... but it looks like Alaska or whatever.
     
  20. LMFAOschwarz

    LMFAOschwarz Fleet Captain Fleet Captain

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    Re: Reason why I think 'Arsenal of Freedom' is the best ep of TNG seas

    Just off the top of my head, I thought the planet sets from The Enemy and Identity Crisis had fine, moody lighting. :)