Star Trek: The Next Generation: Hide and Q

Written by Gene Roddenberry, Maurice Hurley, and Tracy Torme
Directed by Cliff Bole

Many fans of the more recent Star Trek shows feel that any episode which features the character Q cannot be a bad episode. I have not yet come across anything myself to dispute that.

Hide and Q begins with the Enterprise and its crew racing to a planet where a lethal explosion has occurred on a rescue mission. On the way, they are intercepted by the omniscient entity we know as Q. Q (portrayed by John DeLancie) leaves Captain Picard (Patrick Stewart) seemingly alone on the bridge of the Enterprise, with no crew and no apparent way to contact anyone or go anywhere.

On the surface of some unknown planet, Q assembles a team of Wesley Crusher (Wil Wheaton), the Klingon Worf (Michael Dorn), the android Data (Brent Spiner), Geordi LaForge (LeVar Burton), Security Chief Tasha Yar (Denise Crosby) along with Commander Riker (Jonathan Frakes) to fight animal-like soldiers in a setting reminiscent of the Napoleonic Wars.

Q then tempts Riker by giving him the power of the Q. Riker first uses this power to save Worf and Wesley from injuries they suffered at the hands of the animal-soldiers and returns them all to the Enterprise.

Almost immediately, we see a change in Riker. His attitude becomes more condescending to his friends and crew-mates. Though he has promised Captain Picard not to use the powers, he struggles to keep this promise and finally gives in to the temptation of using it.

After deciding to accept the powers of the Q, Riker intends to depart the scene after giving his friends “gifts”. He makes Wesley 10 years older, he produces a Klingon woman for Worf, he allows LaForge to see, and he intends to make Data human. All tell him to keep his gifts, and Q goes back to where he came from – alone.

John DeLancie as Q is always a pleasure to watch and this episode is no different. His performance is perfectly a cross between spoiled child and genius. He is comic relief without it feeling forced. He actually saves the episode from its bad writing moments.

Riker’s progression from dutiful crew member to cocky god-like being is entirely too quick, however. The writing here is erratic, and the directing just as bad. I can allow for some of it as the actors and writers struggle to find the characters during the first season, but the pose Riker strikes after returning the crew to the Enterprise was just one of the most awful scenes I’ve seen.

Likewise, when Tasha Yar is sent to the penalty box by Q and is trying to explain it to Captain Picard, she breaks down and begins crying. Picard tells her it’s okay to cry in the penalty box. This is so out of character for the tough woman who grew up an orphan in some of the worst conditions imaginable.

This is one of the better first-season episodes, but only because of Q. Take that character out of the mix, and the episode suffers from the same floundering and contrasting characterizations that many of the first-season episodes seem to suffer from.

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Life, Death, Murder, Intrigue and The Mets! – A Review of the Movie Frequency

Written by Toby Emmerich
Directed by Gregory Hoblit

I’ve been a Mets fan my whole life. When they won the World Series in 1986, the company I was working for at the time treated it like a holiday for me, that’s how big Mets fan I am. So it should come as no surprise that I thoroughly enjoyed this movie, which placed the 1969 World Series front and center.

The story begins in 1969 as Frank Sullivan (Dennis Quaid) is doing his job as a New York City firefighter just prior to the start of the World Series. Unbeknownst to him, he is about to die in a fire before the Series will be over.

Besides baseball, another of Frank’s loves is his ham radio. As he watches an amazing display of the northern lights, he heads inside to see who’s broadcasting.

Cut to 1999 and Frank’s son John (Jim Caviezel) is now grown up and living in his home. After watching what appears to be an equally impressive display of the northern lights, he breaks out his father’s old radio and begins fiddling with it.

Somehow they manage to broadcast to each other through time. Before Frank signs off, not believing what he is hearing, his son manages to tell him what will happen in the first game of the World Series as well as warn him that he is about to die. The cryptic Don’t follow your instincts, go the other way stays with Frank the next day as he and his firefighter buddies are watching the World Series in their firehouse. When the game folds as he is told it would, he begins to believe. He follows his son’s advice and his life is saved.

But that is only the beginning of the story. For in saving his father’s life, John Sullivan has now changed history and allowed a serial killer to live; a serial killer who will live to slay eleven women, including his mother.

John (a cop in 1999) and Frank battle through time to try and prevent the slayings and discover who the killer is. When the police in 1969 begin to look at Frank as a suspect, I really wasn’t sure how the movie would end.

I thought the story was well-rounded with a great many elements in it. It was a great father-son movie showing the love and faith they have in each other. The moments as they are tracking the serial killer are suspenseful, since I really wasn’t sure if they would end the movie on a “happy note” or have Frank Sullivan end up taking the blame. There are some decent action scenes in here as well, both of Frank fighting the fires and chasing down the killer.

One problem was Quaid’s New York accent. Being from Noo Yawk, I guess we can hear the fake ones a lot easier than some people, but Quaid seemed to be overdoing it – a lot! Northern lights are also usually seen most prominently in August, not October. Another problem was that at times as the story changed, it became confusing to follow exactly what was going on.

Still, it is a really good movie, one that I thought should’ve garnered more attention and better reviews than I remember it getting.

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Ground Control: The Cast Deserved Better

Written by Talaat Captan, Robert Moreland, and Mark Shepperd
Directed by Richard Howard

I worked for nine years in air freight at Kennedy Airport. During that time, I heard a lot of stories about a lot of things. Which is why, when I picked up the latest Kiefer Sutherland flick when it was at Blockbuster, I felt completely unnerved.

Ground Control is the story of Air Traffic Controller Jack Harris (Sutherland). During a dark and stormy night, a plane he is trying to route into the airport crashes. Overwhelmed with guilt over the 174 deaths, he quits his job and moves to Phoenix where he drinks a lot and designs software. Did I mention his wife and kid left him too?

So if this sounds like a cliche so far, it could be. What bolsters this movie is everything that happens from this point on. Robert Sean Leonard is masterful as Cruise, the chief controller at the Phoenix airport. He is trying again and again to get Jack out of the funk he is in and urges him time and again to come and help out. Jack resists all along until New Year’s Eve comes around and Cruise finds himself working with a minimal crew and a storm is brewing.

There is a great supporting cast of controllers at the airport, and a great many familiar faces including Kelly McGillis, Margaret Cho, Charles Fleischer, Farrah Forke, and Michael Gross. However, Henry Winkler manages to steal ever scene he is in and it’s a shame they didn’t use him more.

Winkler portrays John Quinn who is trying to keep the computers and radar in the control tower operating even though they are antiques. Getting parts is nearly impossible. Anyone who hasn’t worked in the industry probably doesn’t realize just how close to the truth this is. I know when I was still working at the airport (a bit more than 5 years ago) they had an air traffic control system that was over thirty years old then. There was always talk of upgrading and changing, but there were logistical problems with getting one system online and taking down another. Whether that situation was ever resolved, I don’t know, but this was not isolated to just one airport.

Knowing this, I would say that Robert Moreland and Talaat Captan, the writers, probably knew someone in the industry, because it is way to close to how the situation was in the early to mid nineties.

That said, the movie did not make good use of the supporting cast. The picture runs about 90 minutes, and I have to wonder if a lot was cut from it that would’ve bolstered this in the needed places.

Though it’s rated PG-13, the only real problem would be that your kids could come away with a fear of flying. There is great suspense as to whether or not Jack will be able to hold it together throughout the night, as well as if he will come through when he is needed most.

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Star Trek – The Next Generation: The Battle

Written by Herbert Wright, Larry Forrester, and Tracy Torme
Directed by Rob Bowman

Here is an episode that I find supports a familiar axiom many Trekkers have: a bad Star Trek episode is still better than almost anything else.

There were so many conflicts in the storyline of this episode, and yet the episode works tremendously well – especially for the first season. Has this episode been filmed a year or two later, I think it would’ve been one of the great The Next Generation episodes.

The Enterprise arranges to meet with a Ferengi vessel for unknown reasons. Since we were told back in Episode #7 The Last Outpost that the Ferengi are an unfamiliar race to the Federation, it was refreshing to see them actually written that way during The Battle. Too often Trek writers change history to suit themselves, but the unfamiliarity between the two races comes across very good here.

The Ferengi “captain”, DaiMon Bok (portrayed by Frank Corsentino) , delivers a derelict Starfleet vessel to the Enterprise. This turns out to be a vessel in which Captain Picard (Patrick Stewart) gained great notoriety for saving his crew with what becomes known as “the Picard maneuver”. Picard begins to experience headaches and flashbacks to the battle. His own previous accounts of the battle are now in conflict with the logs of the Stargazer.

DaiMon Bok is the one forcing Picard to live the battle of nine years ago over and over, for it was his son commanding the ship which attacked the Stargazer and was destroyed by Picard.

The storyline seemed to be changed during the filming. At the beginning, when DaiMon Bok is acknowledging him as the Hero of Maxi, Picard seems to almost not know what he is talking about. It is as if he doesn’t recall what he is talking about at all. It is brushed off a bit by him saying, “I never heard it referred to that before.” The battle most definitely did take place in the Maxi star-system, so at the very least – since this battle is taught in Starfleet Academy – the mention of Maxi should’ve registered more with Picard when first mentioned.

When Picard is describing the battle to his crew, several times he tries to downplay his role as hero by saying he did “what any good helmsman would do.” Later on when we see him reliving the battle, Picard seems to be the Captain of the vessel.

However, the story is good, despite the rather blatant flaws. Patrick Stewart’s portrayal of Picard here lays the groundwork for the Picard we will see later on in the series assimilated by The Borg. In fact, this whole episode seems to be a precursor to what will happen later on. We see the way the crew reacts here and it will be very similar in the future.

Commander Riker (Jonathan Frakes) handles the First Officer taking over command very well and doesn’t seem weak or helpless. The android Data (Brent Spiner) has a few funny straight-man lines, but for the most part does not come off as the comic relief. Instead, he seems to function as a true crew-member. Ship’s Counselor Deanna Troi’s (Marina Sirtis) lines were more than “I feel pain.” The only other complaint I have is that Wesley Crusher (Wil Wheaton) – the teenager – is once again saving the day by figuring out where the signal which is manipulating Picard’s mind is coming from.

Another thing I found distracting was the soundtrack to this particular episode. It stuck out to me as sounding like it came from one of those 70’s police shows like Starsky & Hutch or S.W.A.T.. This is particularly unusual because I have always found that the soundtracks to any Star Trek show is superb.

While there is most definitely room for improvement, this is one of the better first-season episodes.

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Corona Virus Diaries – April 16, 2020

White Lake State Park

We’ve been at home for nearly a month now. Our county is holding steady at 29 confirmed cases, no deaths from the virus. My friend Michelle, who contracted the virus in Louisiana, is on the mend slowly. She was home with the virus and oxygen was brought to her at home when it was touch-and-go rather than having her in the hospital. It seems to have worked out very well. New Hampshire’s Governor Sununu announced today that school would be remote through the end of the year. However, he is allowing campgrounds to open. He has shut down vacation rentals, limited who can stay in hotels, but is allowing campgrounds to open. Something about being outside. Yet these people will be going to our stores, gas stations, outdoor activities, etc. Makes as much sense as labeling the WWE an “essential service.”

In an effort to get outside, I took my 4 year old granddaughter and 19 year old son to White Lake State Park. The idea was to walk the three mile trail that goes around the lake and pick up a few geocaches in the park.

Winter parking is outside of the toll booths that charge at the park during the season. There was a geocache located in this parking lot. My granddaughter spotted something new and different to her.

Why is there a phone in the parking lot?

I had to explain to a 4 year old what a pay phone was as well as a phone book. We double-checked and it was no incoming calls. I know we sometimes have spotty cell phone coverage in the mountains, but I seemed to get a good signal here.

We walked from the parking lot down to the beach that’s open in the summer. Well, there was nothing stopping anyone from taking a swim now, but it would be a bit chilly. The air was only in the 40’s today, I could imagine what temperature the water was.

White Lake

There’s a beach store here (closed for the winter) as well as restroom (also closed for the winter) and a playground.

Playground at White Lake State Park

From here we followed the trail on the south side of the lake to the next geocache. I was 50 feet from it when the trail became very wet. I left both of the kids behind and managed to find the container without getting my feet too wet.

That would be all we would find today. We arrived at the boat launch for the lake, which comes in off Depot Road. We found it under water, as well as the trail that continued around the lake. I could have managed to get around it, but I was worried about just how much of the rest of the trail that went around the lake would be under water still, so we decided to leave.

Flooded boat launch

As we were walking back to the parking lot, one of the snow squalls came down out of the mountain. It made for fun while we walked. The snow wouldn’t last long and didn’t accumulate.

We only walked about 2 miles total today. I’m sad that we didn’t get to do what we wanted to do. I might try another spot tomorrow that’s usually crowded with people but might be empty due to the time of year and the restrictions due to the virus.

Almost Famous is Absolutely Fabulous

Written by Cameron Crowe
Directed by Cameron Crowe

I missed out on the grand old days of rock & roll. As I started developing an interest in my own music, disco was king. I soon got past that and found the early 80’s new wave and punk, along with true rock music from before the disco era.

So maybe what I like so much about this movie is the way it romanticizes an era that I missed out on. A time before AIDS; a time before people realized just how harmful drugs really are; a time before record companies started churning out carbon-copy ready-made bands; a time when the music really did matter.

Almost Famous takes place in the mid seventies, just prior to the disco era. It is based on a true story: Cameron Crowe’s (the writer, producer and director of the movie) life as a writer for Rolling Stone magazine writing about the bands of that era. William Miller is Crowe’s alter-ego in the film. At the tender age of fifteen, he is mature beyond his years in many ways, but emotionally he is still fifteen.

Miller gets handed a plumb writing assignment for Rolling Stone magazine to follow the band Stillwater on tour and write about them. As the movie goes on, we can see he is in the situation over his head, and have to wonder how he will manage in the end.

Patrick Fugit portrays William Miller and is superb. He captures the heart of the boy who seems to fit in nowhere. William is uncool and yearns to be cool as his sister promised he would be many years before. Fugit was perfect for the part, capturing William’s naivete and innocence as he associates the world surrounding this rock band with being cool, then learns just how horrible of an existence it really is. Fugit deserved an Oscar nomination.

So did Frances McDormand as Elaine, his straight-laced mother who has a hard time seeing her son’s predicament in the world. After having her daughter move out at 18 and not keep in touch, Elaine is a little looser with her son. That doesn’t stop McDormand from getting some of the best lines in this movie. When she tells a class full of students that her son was kidnapped by a rock band, it is hysterical but poignant – she sees them as a cult that is bent on destroying the son she has been raising alone and to the best of her ability. Another actress could have made Elaine into a mere caricature, but McDormand’s work here is perfect.

The most recognition has been given to Kate Hudson as Penny Lane, a neo-groupie who thinks a lot more of Russell Hammond, Stillwater‘s lead guitarist, than he does of her. Hudson plays this part perfectly, her eyes are filled with the optimism of youth, and of total faith in the man she loves. We see how much she cares for Hammond without her saying a word. Her actions also convey just how deeply she cares for William as a friend as well, though his feeling for her are much deeper.

Having red Pamela DesBarres’ book many years ago, I could see a lot of what DesBarres talked about in Penny Lane, so I have to wonder was this indicative of that time in rock & roll or did Crowe base the part on her? I think this movie does more justice to this era of rock & roll than a film based on DesBarres’ book ever would have.

Finally, there is Billy Crudup as the elusive Russell Hammond. For a long time through this movie, I didn’t know what to make of him. At times, I thought he was a typical rock-star who’s ego would eventually lead him to self-destruct. I’d then think of him as a hamster caught up in a wheel he couldn’t get off. In the end, I decided that all he wanted to do was play music and everything else was just extra. He didn’t know how to be true to himself. His conversation on the phone with Elaine (and later in person) show what a basically decent guy he is – he is just caught up in the pandemonium surrounding the up-and-coming band.

These four are the main reason this movie is so good, although there is not one person at fault in the supporting cast either. I have to say I haven’t seen a movie that made such a wonderful and lasting impression on me in a very long time.

On DVD, there are the usual extras: a behind the scenes/making of documentary, production notes, complete cast listing, and theatrical trailer. Two items that really stood out to me, though, were the Fever Dog music video (probably because no one had even really thought about making music videos in the mid 70’s), and the complete Rolling Stone articles by Cameron Crowe.

I really enjoyed reading through the Rolling Stone articles and saw little hints of what Crowe drew on to form Stillwater:
The Allman Brothers December 6, 1973
Led Zeppelin March 13, 1975
Neil Young August 14, 1975
Peter Frampton February 10, 1977
Fleetwood Mac March 24, 1977
Van Morrison May 13, 1977
Joni Mitchell July 26, 1979

The DVDs are worth having if for no other reason than to have copies of these stories. They represent an era of rock & roll that we’ll never return to.

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Disneynature’s Elephant – Meghan Markle Narrates Elephant Migration

For many of us, our understanding of African animals begins and ends at the zoo, or Disney’s Animal Kingdom. Some are lucky to have seen them in their natural habitat, but by and far most of our knowledge is limited to the signboards at the zoo.

Disneynature’s Elephant tracks a family of elephants as they embark on their annual migration. The animals must migrate depending on the cycle of the rains. Where they currently are living is drying up. Gaia is the aging leader of the herd and must bring the family to where there is water and food until the rains fall again and they can return home. Part of the herd is Gaia’s sister Shani and her one year old son, Jomo. The journey is treacherous and filled with danger, from mud to lions, crocodiles, and hyenas. Water and food are scarce at times, leaving the herd weak and a target for predators.

The story is well-written in a cohesive way to entertain the entire family. I often wondered why animals migrated so much and didn’t just stay in one place where it was nice. This story answers a lot of questions and makes the plight of the elephants very real without having to see the live animal right in front of us. Capturing this danger without being overbearing is difficult, and the storyline manages to do it very well. There’s also a lot of fun, mostly at the expense of Jomo, who is portrayed as an impish kid always on the lookout for trouble.

I didn’t know who spoke the narration when we first put it on. I was thinking Sigourney Weaver but it didn’t sound exactly like her. My daughter was the one who clued me in that it was Meghan Markle, Duchess of Sussex. I knew she had signed on to do voice work for Disney, but was surprised they were able to put this together so fast. She is an excellent narrator with a great tone. Her voice captures the perfect inflections in the story for moments of whimsy and danger. I really enjoyed her work here and look forward to what she does in the future.

With any of these documentaries, the cinematography is key. Here it is fantastic. The scenes in the desert are gritty and yet beautiful. The lush landscape of their destination is also just as beautiful. The elephants are captured beautifully to see their personalities. How many hours of film must have gone into this to achieve the 89 minutes seen here. Credit must also go to the editors who put all of this together with the Directors, Mark Linfield and Vanessa Berlowitz.

Being quarantined isn’t so bad when there are films like this to watch. We thoroughly enjoyed this as a family on a rainy night. From the 4 year old to the 19 year old to the grandparents, it held our attention. Disneynature’s Elephants is available on Disney+.

False Memory by Dean Koontz Just Didn’t Ring True

Dean Koontz and Stephen King have always been in competition to be my favorite author. I think after reading this book, King definitely took the lead.

False Memory is a book that left me feeling like I had bought a book that I’d read before. While someone who isn’t an avid reader of Koontz’ books may find this story keeps them on the edge of their seat, if you read a great deal of his book you may feel a bit cheated.

The characters seem like we know them from somewhere. I began noticing this in the last Koontz book I read, From the Corner of His Eye. The characters from book to book are being to seem very similar to each other. There are always people in the story who, for one reason or another, are very very good. They usually have a perfect life, are rich, and do a tremendous amount of good for their fellow man.

These characters then seem to be thwarted in doing all their goodness by someone so deeply evil, yet charming, that they have managed to get away with their evil-doings until meeting our heroes. Somehow, the heroes and heroines (with the help of a very smart dog – usually a Golden Retriever) manage to conquer whatever obstacles the villain throws in front of them. By the end of the book, everything is wrapped up nice and neat and they are more perfect, rich, and happy than they were in the beginning of the story.

False Memory is the story of Martie and Dusty Rhodes (could that name be any more of a cliche?). One day Martie begins having terrible panic attacks that lead her to believe by the end of the day that she will kill her husband.

Dusty, meanwhile, is dealing with his own demons int he form of his half-brother, Skeet. Skeet has substance-abuse problems and became suicidal that day while helping Dusty on a painting job. After managing to stop Skeet from jumping off the roof, Dusty brings him to a clinic for treatment, then returns home to find Martie in the midst of her own breakdown.

After ruling out a physical or medical problem, Martie seeks treatment from Dr. Mark Ahriman, the same psychiatrist who has been treating her friend Susan Jagger. Up until a few months prior, Susan had been a very successful real-estate agent and happily married. A severe case of agoraphobia ended both her career and her marriage.

Dr. Ahriman is not all that he seems, and Martie and Dusty soon begin to gather bits of information that lead them to suspect this. Despite everything Ahriman has done to manipulate people, Martie and Dusty are somehow able to catch on to his machinations and try to gather facts to prove what is going on.

The book actually only takes place over a few days as Martie and Dusty go through the beginning of her attacks into her treatment. She only has a couple of appointments before they begin to suspect Ahriman. The one thing Koontz always does well is give incredible detail. The book does not plod at all despite the fact that it takes place over such a short time. Instead, I felt like I was in a whirlwind and couldn’t see how anyone’s life could go through so many of the abrupt changes that Martie and Dusty go through without doing some major damage to the psyche.

One thing Koontz has always done well is write villains. I think he enjoys them more than heroes since he seems to give them more depth. Ahriman is no exception. He is not simply a one-dimensional villain, but someone who’s very core of being seems to be evil, going right back into childhood. Despite having so many advantages, something is not right in his life – his “wiring” is off – and at various times we see just how he came to be as twisted as he is now. Ahriman is the best part of this book.

However, Ahriman’s connection to Martie and Dusty is not just her accidentally stumbling into his office, and that bothered me to no end. It was too coincidental; too contrived. The ending was a tremendous disappointment and letdown after I’d invested the time in these characters. Has Koontz begun to rest on his laurels? This book really has me asking that question.

I wish I could put in a “maybe” where it asks if I would recommend False Memory to a friend. It would depend on just how many Koontz books that person had already read. That option not there, I’ll put in a NO since I think there are much better Koontz books out there to read.

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Shades of Gray: A Review of A Bronx Tale

Written by Chazz Palminteri
Directed by Robert DeNiro

The first time I saw the movie A Bronx Tale was after hearing an interview on the radio with Chazz Palminteri. I had never heard of him before, but hearing him discuss this movie, and the characters who are all based on people he knew growing up, I felt I had to see it.

The movie is an excellent story of the relationship between a neighborhood mobster, Sonny (portrayed by Palminteri) and Calogero – or “C” (portrayed at a young age by Francis Capra and in his mid-teens by Lillo Brancato). Robert DeNiro portrays C’s father, Lorenzo, a bus driver who’s route enables him to keep an eye on his son, and who is consistently at odds with the mobster over his son’s future. Trying to keep his son on the straight-and-narrow, the scenes between DeNiro and Palminteri are incredibly well done, and are the true gem of this movie.

At the tender age of 9, C witnesses a shooting outside of his apartment. When asked by the police to identify the shooter, C lies and covers up for Sonny. Recognizing what the boy has done for him, Sonny takes him under his wing, much to Lorenzo’s chagrin.

Lillo Brancato does an amazing job portraying C as a teen caught between so many worlds in the Bronx of the 1960’s. On one hand, he has his relationship with his father (and mother, though we see little of her throughout the movie). On the other, he has the relationship with Sonny. On still another side is his friends his own age, who Sonny actually tries harder to steer him away from than Lorenzo. And then there is C’s heart, which has led him to fall for Jane, a black girl who attends his school.

All of these worlds collide in a frantic ending that will keep you on the edge of your seat. At 122 minutes, the movie is long, but I found few parts that really seemed to drag. There is comic relief as well, in the form of Sonny’s mobster buddies. The funniest has to be Eddie Mush who is called that because everything he touches turns to mush.

Why this movie did not get recognized in the way of awards, I have no idea. The acting is fantastic and the story is excellently written and paced. Robert DeNiro directed the movie, his first time behind the camera, and should’ve gotten an award (or at least nominated), as well as Palminteri nominated for the writing.

As with any mob-related movie, expect violence. C and his friends use strong language constantly. It is for effect, as you get the idea that the kids are using it because they think that it makes them sound tough.

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Star Trek – The Next Generation: Justice

Written by Worley Thorne, Ralph Wills, and Tracy Torme
Directed by James L. Conway

A good Star Trek episode, in my opinion, is one that makes you think; one that makes you ask questions; while at the same time entertaining you. Sure, that’s a higher standard than we’ve come to expect from most other television programs, but I have always felt that Star Trek usually rose to that higher standard.

Enter the first season episode of The Next Generation titled Justice. In this episode, there are two important questions that stop and make us think. One is about the punishment fitting the crime. The other is about whether one society has the right to impose its values on another when the handling of a situation varies so greatly.

Having just helped settle a new colony on a planet in a distant solar system, the crew of the Enterprise happens upon the planet Rubicun III. At first, the place seems to be an ideal location for a little bit of rest and relaxation for the crew. Things soon take a much different turn, however, when Wesley Crusher (Wil Wheaton) accidentally crashes through some new plantings. All crime on Rubicun III is given the same punishment: death. Wesley’s accident is considered to be a crime.

Does the punishment fit the crime? In this case, it would surely seem not. Yet as Captain Picard (Patrick Stewart) is talking about Earth’s past, I am thinking of how many people are given 20 years on the “three strikes an you’re out” drug charges for possessing a small amount of illegal substances while murdered and rapists oftentimes see less than that.

Picard then is faced with deciding whether or not to break the Federation’s own Prime Directive pledging non-interference with other cultures. Saving Wesley from death will certainly do that, yet he is also obliged to protect his crew and their families.

Add to this a ship orbiting the planet near the Enterprise which appears to be able to occupy multiple dimensions at a time. The people of Rubicun III look at this caretaker ship as their “God”.

All of this sounds like a wonderful set up for a great show. So what went wrong?

The Edo – the people of Rubicun III – are humans just like us, except they seem to come from Hitler’s concept of a “master race”. Every single one of them is blonde, blue-eyed, and beautiful. All women are perfect shapes and all men have tremendous muscles. Their culture is the 60’s freelove movement run amok – in the beginning they are described as “making love at the drop of a hat”. They run everywhere (which looks dumb most of the time, to me) and wear skimpy clothing which barely covers them. More believable would be that they wear no clothes all the time, but I guess that wouldn’t make it past the censors.

The Edo seem to have no concept of personal space. We are treated to scenes of well-muscled men being oiled down by multiple females. Picard often describes them as “child-like” because of their innocence. Yet I cannot believe that with all of this “love” being spread around, they don’t have a problem with people getting angry over who is sleeping with who. Of course, there is the death sentence hanging over them, but considering how many people kill their wives/husbands/lovers and then turn the gun on themselves, I’d think this would be a bigger problem.

Their race did not ring true to me, and I felt uncomfortable watching them. I kept wondering if the “God-ship” would suddenly turn out to be manned by people in Nazi uniforms – as Kirk found on a planet in one of the original Star Trek series episodes.

I don’t know who to place the blame on here – the writers or director for running amok with the Edo culture, but it tears down what would otherwise have been a great episode.

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