Wednesday, August 11, 2010

How Does ST:TNG Hold Up?

Star Trek, the Next Generation has been in syndication for several months. It is interesting to see how the show holds up around two decades after it was produced (it ran from 1987 to 1994 so some episodes are more than 20 years old and others are less).

My memory of the series was that the first season was awful but that it improved a great deal half-way through the second season and continued to be a good show after that. Re-watching it confirms that impression. Some of the first season episodes are painful to watch and the second season had some really strong episodes.

Not everything holds up. In retrospect, a lot of the techno-babel was just that, terms thrown at the viewer to justify a plot point. Data is more annoying than he was during first runs but Wesley is not (this may be a personal preference).

Many of the weakest episodes relied on the formula of strong A and B plots. Sometimes the B plot seems to be thrown in just to include more cast members. The best episodes either skipped the B plot or blended it into the A plot seamlessly.

The various members of Star Fleet seem a little too perfect with little room for personal quirks or failings. Any episode with Lt. Barclay is a relief since he is the closest to an regular person. His first appearance was a classic, involving holo-addiction. Let's be honest, if holodecks really existed then we would all be holo-addicts.

The holodecks have always been a complaint of mine. In one episode, Pickard, Barclay, and Data are unaware that they are in the holodeck. You would think that one of them would bounce off of an unseen wall at some point.

TNG managed a difficult balancing act. On one hand, the original show looked pretty dated by the 1980s. TNG is nowhere near the period piece that its predecessor was. On the other hand, the follow-up shows often went over-the-top with regulars dying during an episode only to be revived at the last minutes. In general, TNG holds up fairly well 20 years later, far better than most other shows from the late 1980s.

No comments: