Episode-a-week: Encounter at Farpoint

Discussion in 'Star Trek: The Next Generation' started by Captrek, Jul 24, 2012.

  1. Captrek

    Captrek Vice Admiral Admiral

    May 24, 2009
    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:
      The mission is “to boldly go where no one has gone before.” Risking his crew beaming into unknown situations should be routine.
  2. Captain McBain

    Captain McBain Captain Captain

    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.
  3. Jeff O'Connor

    Jeff O'Connor Commodore Commodore

    Apr 3, 2010
    Lincoln, NE
    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.
  4. inflatabledalek

    inflatabledalek Fleet Captain Fleet Captain

    Jun 7, 2011
    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.


    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.
  5. Jeff O'Connor

    Jeff O'Connor Commodore Commodore

    Apr 3, 2010
    Lincoln, NE
    Also, hot damn, Data used a lot of contractions in this episode.
  6. Captrek

    Captrek Vice Admiral Admiral

    May 24, 2009
    I wonder what goes through Data’s positronic brain when McCoy tells him, “You treat her like a lady.”
  7. davejames

    davejames Vice Admiral Admiral

    Oct 6, 2001
    Sac, Ca
    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
  8. BillJ

    BillJ Fleet Admiral Admiral

  9. davejames

    davejames Vice Admiral Admiral

    Oct 6, 2001
    Sac, Ca
    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.
  10. BillJ

    BillJ Fleet Admiral Admiral

    I thought he was a much better, more relaxed Captain in those first couple of seasons than what he became later on.
  11. Angel4576

    Angel4576 Rear Admiral Rear Admiral

    Apr 3, 2001
    United Kingdom
    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.
  12. Jeff O'Connor

    Jeff O'Connor Commodore Commodore

    Apr 3, 2010
    Lincoln, NE
    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.
  13. davejames

    davejames Vice Admiral Admiral

    Oct 6, 2001
    Sac, Ca
    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.
  14. Angel4576

    Angel4576 Rear Admiral Rear Admiral

    Apr 3, 2001
    United Kingdom
    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.
  15. Timo

    Timo Fleet Admiral Admiral

    Aug 26, 2003
    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.

    Timo Saloniemi
  16. MikeS

    MikeS Fleet Captain Fleet Captain

    Sep 6, 2008
    Liverpool, UK
    Great idea for a thread. Can't wait to get my set and catch up with you all. :)
  17. R. Star

    R. Star Rear Admiral Rear Admiral

    Jun 15, 2012
    Well if the Q plot feels "bolted on" it's because it was. Roddenberry stated that the pilot was originally going to be a one hour episode and it was later expaneded into a two hour. But this introduced us to Q, so even if this was an average episode for him at best, it set good precident.

    As for the Saucer section... really, there was a main reason it wasn't used more. If you're taking your ship into battle, that means there are enemies around. If you seperate the saucer section, that means it's stuck wherever you leave it. That seems like a bad place to leave all your women and children. Great in theory to be able to safely dump your civillians, but in practice it really just leaves them more vulnerable. Honestly, I'd say after Wolf 359 and the Dominion War that whole families on starships bit was rethought.

    Man, the one thing that really struck out at me this episode was they just wanted to show off those com badges. Seriously, try playing a drinking game every time they tap one of those.

    Picard, well he was a jerk most of the first couple of seasons. He's the detached captain, he's not there to be their friends, he's there to lead them.

    Crosby well, yeah killing her early was good for the fanchise.

    The most amusing scene to me was that Farpoint station. You have the same half dozen extras just running back and forth to make the place look crowded. Makes me laugh every time.

    Overall, it's not an inspiring episode by any means, but it introduces us to the new ship and crew and sets the foundation for better things in the future.
  18. BillJ

    BillJ Fleet Admiral Admiral

    I've been rewatching season one and I still don't get where this comes from? He's cordial during Troi's possible marriage, shoots the shit with Riker and Minuet in 11001001, calls Data a friend during Justice and takes an interest in Wesley during various episodes.

    Season one is the one where these characters seem the most like real people. :shrug:
    Last edited: Jul 26, 2012
  19. Ar-Pharazon

    Ar-Pharazon Vice Admiral Premium Member

    May 19, 2005
    ^ But season 1 is also where the characters are still finding their way so to speak, so they would seem a little uneven at worst.

    I'm amazed at how much the Data & "Admiral" scene still gets to me after all these years. It's been a long time since I saw any 1st season episodes, but still.

    Even the always cheesy space-jellyfish scene.
  20. The Castellan

    The Castellan Commodore Commodore

    May 2, 2004
    The Plains of Cydonia
    I did not have a problem with season 1, really.....stories like Conspiracy, Home Soil, The Arsenal of Freedom, etc I liked a quite a bit.

    Farpoint was not too bad....I just fast forwarded past Troi's over reacting.
    Saucer Separation, I am glad, was not used often....it would eat up time.....like watching a Voltron episode or He-Man transforming, gets repetitive. And I liked how it did not end using combat to solve the mystery.

    And the drunken diva Crosby was, she'd probably have gotten kicked off the show at some point or another anyhow......though the same could be said for Garret Yang, but it was just sheer luck that he stayed on Voyager....wonder what term could be used for a male diva.