Was "Descent" in many ways the progenitor of the TNG movie format?

Discussion in 'The Next Generation' started by Lance, May 18, 2012.

  1. Lance

    Lance Commodore Commodore

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    I had the opportunity last weekend of seeing something I had never seen before -- the stitched together 'feature length' version of the "Descent" two-parter. And it occured to me that out of all the episodes of The Next Generation, in a lot of ways, this is the one which most reminds me of the movies that the TNG crew came to make after the series ended. Going out on location the way it does, the way the ensemble is mostly focused on Data and Picard, even the bits with the Enterprise evading the Borg vessel. Seeing it in a movie-length format only served to underline the similarities in the structure of the story. I honestly think that out of many episode of TNG, this one feels the most like a progenitor to things like First Contact, Insurrection and Nemesis. Can it really be a coincidence that it was made as production was beginning to gear up on TNG's first big screen adventure?

    Of course, I don't mean to belittle TNG's other two-part efforts. "Best Of Both Worlds" undoubtedly has a cinematic scope to it's story, and of course a truly epic score from the great Ron Jones. But the execution of "BOBW", for all it's greatness, still always came across to me like any other episode. "Descent" feels different somehow. Almost like the writer's were deliberately "trying out" the format of the movies to come, to see how it might work out.

    Does anybody else here feel the same way? What are your thoughts about "Descent"? :)
     
    Last edited: May 18, 2012
  2. SchwEnt

    SchwEnt Fleet Captain Fleet Captain

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    But at the time "Descent" was in production, did anyone know that TNG movies were to be made?

    How could they be "trying out" the format for a thing which was as yet unknown?
     
  3. Admiral James Kirk

    Admiral James Kirk Writer Admiral

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    Yes, they knew. Brannon Braga and Ron Moore were writing Generations at the time, thus the set up for the emotion chip.

    That established, no I don't think they were testing out any format. It is weird how completely formulaic the TNG movies were, though. So formulaic that there's a TNG movie plot generator out there.
     
    Last edited: May 18, 2012
  4. Lance

    Lance Commodore Commodore

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    Yah, they already knew they were doing the feature films. I'm not really saying that I think Descent was a prototype for the films, but that it certainly feels a lot like them.

    Sometimes I do think that moving TNG to the big screen was never going to work out very well. The big trouble being that there was almost nothing they could do which could top the highs they'd already reached on television. Who really needs feature films when your back catalogue already includes superior fare like The Best of Both Worlds? Who would really prefer Nemesis as a swan song when All Good Things had already done it eight years earlier, and had done it much better?
     
  5. Admiral James Kirk

    Admiral James Kirk Writer Admiral

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    Can't argue that. :)
     
  6. Knight Templar

    Knight Templar Commodore

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    Decent was awful.

    But then Data was far, far from my favorite ST:TNG character. For one thing, I thought the idea that the show started in the beginning about "Data being on a voyage toward humanity" or something like that was ridiculous.

    Come on.

    When ST:TNG began, it had been IIRC at least 20 years since Data was activated. Given Data's ability to rapidly absord experiences and information, I found it doubly ridicuous that Data so often acted "child like" by the time ST:TNG rolled aroiund.
     
  7. Flake

    Flake Commodore Commodore

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    Yup, he often acted as though he was born (ahem, activated) yesterday!
     
  8. DavidGutierrez

    DavidGutierrez Lieutenant Commander Red Shirt

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    Must disagree. "Descent" won on several levels. It was a continuation of the efforts to introduce continuity into the series and did so very successfully in that it was a sequel to both "I, Borg" and "Brothers." Lore was one of the best villains on TNG and vastly underused, IMO.

    Also, the best season enders and openers frequently take the characters out of their comfort zones and force them to battle an ultimate foe. "Descent" had no fewer than three villains: Lore, the Borg, and Data. Crusher was left in command of the Enterprise during a deadly tactical situation. Geordi was blind most of the time, and he and Troi and Picard were captives, with Picard being out of his element by leading an away team. And, Riker and Worf were out of their elements in that while their characters typically prefer the full-frontal assault, they were forced to hide and sneak around.

    As for Data and his journey to humanity, it has been postulated elsewhere (most notably in The Buried Age, one of my favorite Trek books) that Data's childlike behavior at the beginning of TNG was actually an evolution from how he had been the previous twenty years. It has been postulated that when Data first activated, he had absolutely no comprehension of human emotions and social cues and was much more robotic than he was in TNG season 1.

    "Descent" is my second-favorite TNG season cliffhanger, behind "TBoBW."
     
  9. davejames

    davejames Vice Admiral Admiral

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    I recently rewatched it, and thought the first half was quite good. There was the exciting Borg attack on the starbase (by some very aggressive Borg), some nice continuity with Picard second guessing his Hugh decision, Data trying to understand his new dark emotions, and some nice location work at the end.

    Unfortunately the second half was a letdown. Way too much standing around, and the story doesn't really go anywhere. Lore spends more time making threats than actually doing anything, and the Borg are so lost and clueless that you wonder why he's even wasting his time with them.
     
  10. sonak

    sonak Vice Admiral Admiral

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    I looked at that site. Kind of weak-it's both that the points are so broad as to be ridiculous, and that they're obviously written around certain insignificant elements just to make a fake pattern.(example: picard complains about assimilation in FC. He complains about no longer being an explorer in INS. One of those is a major character arc of the movie, the other's a comedy throw-away one-liner.)
     
  11. Ln X

    Ln X Fleet Captain Fleet Captain

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    If any episode was a progenitor of the TNG movie format, it would have to be Redemption. Redemption had a gripping rock-solid plot all the way through and is I think better than Descent. In Descent some of the scenes with Beverly commanding seemed a little... forced. Whereas in Redemption every important character in the story hit their mark.
     
  12. BillJ

    BillJ Fleet Admiral Admiral

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    Which made absolutely no sense. You're telling me that Picard and Riker were more valuable mucking around on the ground than on the bridge of the Enterprise? You leave the Chief Medical Officer in command of the flagship with a bunch of junior grade backups while a Borg ship is running around?

    This was the episode that told me the creative team was completely burnt out. Season six was bad but season seven severely sucked ass.
     
    Last edited: May 25, 2012
  13. davejames

    davejames Vice Admiral Admiral

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    Not sure how Season Six can be considered "bad" with episodes like Relics, Chain of Command, Ship in a Bottle, Face of the Enemy, Tapestry, The Chase and Frame of Mind...
     
  14. sonak

    sonak Vice Admiral Admiral

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    agreed. Season six was pretty good. Season 7 was weak though, and clearly was showing that the creative team was out of gas. AGT makes folks forget how bad it was, but it was one of the worst seasons of television Trek in my opinion.
     
  15. BillJ

    BillJ Fleet Admiral Admiral

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    You pretty much named every good or passable episode from the season, except for The Chase which was dire. Out of twenty-four episodes, that batting average isn't so good.
     
  16. davejames

    davejames Vice Admiral Admiral

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    Well yeah the season was pretty uneven, but so were the 1st, 2nd, and 5th. It's only really the 3rd and 4th that were strong all the way through, I would say.

    And there were at least more highlights than in the dreary 7th season.
     
  17. Hober Mallow

    Hober Mallow Commodore Commodore

    I've never understood the love for "Frame of Mind."
     
  18. Cyke101

    Cyke101 Rear Admiral Rear Admiral

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    Ugh, like I need *another* reason to procrastinate :)
     
  19. mswood

    mswood Rear Admiral Rear Admiral

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    Actually I swear that I remember an interview for Cinemfantastique that mentions that the producers were using pushing to see what they could accomplish with Descent in prep for Generations.

    But I have those in storage so I can't verify if I remember correctly or am just going crazy.
     
  20. RAMA

    RAMA Admiral Admiral

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    If they had based a movie on The Chase it would have been a classic, its prototypical ST! Its better than 98% of TOS.