Tuesday, September 04, 2012

ST:TNG 1.01 Encounter at Farpoint (Part 1) - Star Trek: The Next Generation Re-Watch



The Star Trek: The Next Generation re-watch begins!

Encounter at Farpoint, Part 1
Star Trek: The Next Generation - Season 1, Episode 1

Story:

  • En route to solve the mystery Farpoint Station, the Enterprise encounters Q who accuses and puts the crew on trial for the crimes of humanity.

What it's really about:
  • It's serves as an introduction to the world of Star Trek, what's happened to that world since we've last seen in The Original Series and how the current day in the show views their own past. It also serves as an introduction to the crew itself.
  • It's a very adept way to showcase Captain Picard's way of leading, how he doesn't succumb to fear and takes a strong position to play by the rules (as long as everyone adheres to the rules), and to stand by the facts.
  • The moral question that is at the forefront is can the crew be responsible for the actions of their ancestors. Oddly, as the people who are at the formal trial portion of the episode are Picard, Troi, Yar & Data, but I think only Picard and maybe Yar qualifies to be put to trial as Troi is a Betazoid and Data is an Android. Yar is ... well, she's human (as far as I know) just not from Earth, so it's a little grey if she'd qualify to be held accountable for all of humanity.
  • There is an interesting analogy in the episode to the world of Star Trek itself, the idea of judging The Next Generation what it is now as opposed to the actions of it's predecessor The Original Series.
  • I also think there is an interesting question in there regarding the mission to seek out and explore new worlds & cultures - what happens when you reach out and they tell you to take a hike?
  • They also plant the seed that there will be more of a moral conundrum at Farpoint Station, not only by Q but also by instances where both Riker & Beverly (and the Federation itself) appears to find 'exactly what they were looking for' surprizingly quickly "Did you failure to notice it make it unwelcome?".
Character Focus:
  • While this episode is an introduction to the whole crew of the Enterprise (Picard, Data, Troi, Yar, Worf, Riker, Geordi, Beverly & Wesley specifically) plus the entity of Q, I would say the focus here is really Captain Picard as we see what he will (and will not) stand for. We do get a bit of history on Yar, Beverly & Wesley as well if you listen closely.
What I remembered about this episode:
  • My memories of this episode aren't overly specific to this first part of two parts, primarily as they aired both together when it was first shown. I remember watching it at home with my family and at the time I was only in middle school but a devout fan of The Original Series.
  • I remember being aback by many of the digressions (a Klingon on board?), the callbacks to TOS (Bones ... alive? Even if really old?), the type-ing (Data = New Spock!). Also wasn't thrilled to see that 2 of the 3 women were feelers/healers (I hate to say it, but I was never a fan on Yar).
  • Who would have know that over the years I would grow to know and love this group of non-misfits (Hey, Starfleet ain't easy to get through!). Brackets aside, I stuck with it because even if I didn't love it right away it was still Star Trek. And *new* to me Star Trek, which was a wonderful thing.
  • That being said with the story, I remember that Q puts the crew on trial for the crimes of humanity. And that I was mystified that Deanna could sit down in a skirt that short.
What I noticed now, that I didn't notice then:
  • It's in Full Screen (or however you refer to that aspect ratio)! I often forget older TV shows (/cry, it this now officially an 'older' TV show?) tend to be in that ratio. I notice this mostly as I have to change the view on my TV to see everything. See example at the bottom of this post.
  • That's not Tasha kicking butt in the fight scene! As cool as it is that they have a female head of security, it so looks like someone else in that fight scene. Picking up stuff like that is one of the negatives of a big TV
  • What's with everyone giving Riker the brush off? Beverly is cold to him, Geordi doesn't 'officially' address him and Picard puts him through a bit of the ringer before charismatically taking him into the folk I wonder if that's one of the reason I didn't take to Riker until way later in the series.
  • O'Brien is on pre-being-a-character-with-a-name. They just call him Con, or is it Comm? I can't tell if that's for being at a console, or being the communications person. Either way, it was quite the revolving chair!
  • I always forget that this is the one with the 'big red net', that's the visual that's often used for it. I think of it more generically as the first episode the series and the first appearance of Q.
  • Troi's makeup is gorgeous. Say what you like about the 80's, but damn that glam is awesome.
What feels different now, than then:
  • Men in dresses! Well, one guy in a dress. Ah, the choice to get some equality action going on in outfits. Wow. That was gutsy.
  • When talking about shopping with Beverly, Riker refers to 'Going to the Mall'. Even though there obviously still are malls, that makes it feel dated.

What remained the same:

  • Picard is awesome. Smart, cool as a cucumber, unafraid, pulls out a few surprizes and keeps the crew in check (which is a challenge with both Yar & Worf getting all ready to kick some butt).
  • I don't really care for the tech-stuff. The big saucer separation, and later rejoining with big tension all around and theme music swelling.
  • I loved that they changed the intro working to "Where no one has gone before", instead of "no man". They really walked the equality walk.
What I see differently:
  • Originally I hated that the pilot has Bones from The Original Series in it. I thought it wasn't possible he'd still be alive (although they give you his age) and that it was a bit goofy and weird. Now I see the scene differently, as when viewed in 2 parts it's near the end of the first part and acts as a 'send off' and an acknowledgement that the ship will take care of the crew, if the crew takes care of the ship. Seeing it now, I feel like it's a pretty sweet legacy moment between the two series.
Great Quotes:
  • "If we are going to be damned, let's be damned for who we are" - Captain Picard
Left off at:
  • Being a Part 1 of 2 episode, it's left as a subtle cliffhanger, and with the tension mounting as apparently Q will be watching their every move at Farpoint, to see whether or not they are savages. See what happens next in Encounter at Farpoint (Part 2).
Those are my thoughts so far! I hope you enjoyed my first episode specific Star Trek: The Next Generation rewatch post (see the first post here). I'll be curious to see how I feel about the second part of this set, and if I stick to the same posting format! Let me know your thoughts on the revisit, or the episode, or if you are planning a re-watch yourself! And if anyone has a source for good images for the show that are okay to share, I would *love* to know.


Full Screen craziness! Look at those black bars at the sides....

2 comments:

Jamie Ridler Studios said...

Wow, that's an awesome re-watch re-think re-cap! I loved hearing what you remember from then and what it was like now. I sure remember us all watching it together with great anticipation - and I really remember thinking the acting was... um... not so good. I agree - who knew we'd become so intimately tied to these characters? I certainly would never have guessed how great Riker in particular would become.

I'm glad you're sharing the experience.

Shannon said...

I totally forgot that we didn't like the acting! It certainly is a bit melodramatic (especially Q - although that becomes a trademark!). It's wild to see it with fresh eyes, and I'm glad that remember from then/see now is different is interesting as it's one of the things I most enjoy sharing!