Would the Neutral Zone have better without the 20th century characters

Discussion in 'Star Trek: The Next Generation' started by The Overlord, Sep 26, 2012.

  1. The Overlord

    The Overlord Captain Captain

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    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.
     
  2. scotpens

    scotpens Vice Admiral Admiral

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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."
     
  3. R. Star

    R. Star Rear Admiral Rear Admiral

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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.
     
  4. davejames

    davejames Vice Admiral Admiral

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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.
     
  5. The Overlord

    The Overlord Captain Captain

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    Re: Would the Neutral Zone have better without the 20th century charac

    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.
     
  6. BillJ

    BillJ Fleet Admiral Admiral

    Re: Would the Neutral Zone have better without the 20th century charac

    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. :shrug:
     
  7. T'Girl

    T'Girl Vice Admiral Admiral

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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.

    :)
     
  8. Jeyl

    Jeyl Commodore Commodore

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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: Sep 27, 2012
  9. Timo

    Timo Fleet Admiral Admiral

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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.

    Timo Saloniemi
     
  10. horatio83

    horatio83 Commodore Commodore

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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.
     
  11. Kytee

    Kytee Commander Red Shirt

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    Re: Would the Neutral Zone have better without the 20th century charac

    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 :)

    -Kytee
     
  12. The Overlord

    The Overlord Captain Captain

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    Re: Would the Neutral Zone have better without the 20th century charac

    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.
     
  13. Jonas Grumby

    Jonas Grumby Vice Admiral Admiral

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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.
     
  14. davejames

    davejames Vice Admiral Admiral

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    Re: Would the Neutral Zone have better without the 20th century charac

    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.
     
  15. Timo

    Timo Fleet Admiral Admiral

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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.

    Timo Saloniemi
     
  16. horatio83

    horatio83 Commodore Commodore

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    Re: Would the Neutral Zone have better without the 20th century charac

    Yeah, the guy is basically a total moron (a business man who presumes that a company lasts three centuries is incompetent) who doesn't understand anything and then he is supposed to be at once cognitively quick? Not really believable.
     
  17. BillJ

    BillJ Fleet Admiral Admiral

    Re: Would the Neutral Zone have better without the 20th century charac

    Or he was simply scared and trying to hang on to what he knew of his life. The episode points in that direction.
     
  18. horatio83

    horatio83 Commodore Commodore

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    Re: Would the Neutral Zone have better without the 20th century charac

    True but then he is still the biggest moron of the three. The woman confronted her loss of family members and the entertainer thought ahead. Mr. Business Guy is either utterly incompetent or able to tell himself a pretty big lie, that the average lifetime of companies is measured in years or decades but not centuries.
     
  19. Anwar

    Anwar Vice Admiral Admiral

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    Re: Would the Neutral Zone have better without the 20th century charac

    Well, he was undergoing huge future shock. If we'd seen him again likely he'd be better adjusted. If he was adjusted already he couldn't be as well contrasted with the other two 20th Century folks.

    As for how the TNG crew reacted to them...they acted pretty much the same way normal 20th century people would react to finding time-lost survivors of the 15th Century. We're always going to think we're doing things better than our ancestors did, that's just our nature.
     
  20. Jeyl

    Jeyl Commodore Commodore

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    Re: Would the Neutral Zone have better without the 20th century charac

    How does that make any sense? Why wouldn't NOW be the better time? The two factions are dealing with a threat unknown to them that could still be around and maybe heading towards it's next target, and the Romulans decide to shrug it off just so they can show the Federation who's boss? And if the time isn't appropriate, why not just tell Picard that? What was there to gain by agreeing to cooperate, decide not to cooperate, declare "We... are back" and than leave?

    For being the introduction to the Romulans, having them do nothing except waste everyone's time is not the most intimidating move to make.