Tuesday, June 30, 2015

Star Trek: The Next Generation Season 7 Archive & Reflection

I did it! I watched them all. What a wonder.
Images Source: TrekCore

I did it! Seven whole seasons of Star Trek: The Next Generation have been re-watched! Before I get to the ins and outs of the re-watch as a whole, I need to share how the Season 7 re-watch went. It's hard to hold back, but I'm going to do my best!

One of the strangest things about watching Season 7, was that I knew for certain that any particular episode I had been waiting for would have to pop up in this season. There were quite a few I was waiting for, including Masks which always fascinated me as it showed understanding symbology in action, and of course it was also one that felt so strange and therefore scary. I was fairly confident that the "Beverly falls in love with a ghost" was this season, I remembered watching it live and if felt was at time where it felt like the show was coming to a close. A few I didn't think were this late in the game were Genesis, which has the crew de-evolving into creatures and the one where Deanna taking the Bridge Officer's Exam, that episode really stuck with me and it's almost at the end of the whole series!

I find it a bit funny that some of the episode that I look forward to the most, are the scary ones. Season 7 didn't have as many scary episodes as other seasons, but we do get creepiness of Data's bizarre dreams leading to attacks in Phantasms and a phased ship stuck in an asteroid in The Pegasus.

Family is a huge theme this season, sometimes in the form of "where are they now" episodes like when Wesley comes back to The Enterprise for a visit. We also have lots of family members we barely know about like Beverly's grandmother, Worf's foster/adoptive brother and Data's "mother". Then there are also a few faux family members with a kin-status person in Worf's family to Picard's "son". Spot even has babies! How is that for family? We also had lots of regular guest stars return for the final season including Barclay who has syndrome named after him in Genesis, the amazing Ensign Ro, and of course the finale had to have the one and only Q. I really like that so many people were included in the final season, and that each of the regular case has at least one episode to shine. That's a classy way to go for a final season.

One note on the rewatch process that was different in Season 7, was that it took me a long time to get back to it after Season 6. This wasn't because I didn't want to watch it, but rather because I got really stuck on the idea of continuing doing per-episode write ups as I watched the show. It took me a long time to face the fact that the write ups were too labour intensive for me. But I finally did accepted that and got back to simply watching the show and that was a relief. Now, I couldn't abandon the idea of sharing my thoughts on the episode entirely, so I've included a brief reaction/responses/reminders of each episode below. Let's get to it!

Star Trek: The Next Generation ~ Season Seven Thoughts

  • 7.01 Descent, Part II - Carrying on the story from the Season 6 cliffhanger, we have Picard, Troi and Geordi taken captive by Lore and an affected Data, but they find a way to get through to Data nonetheless. Also, Riker finds Hugh and other Borg who help to usurp Lore's hold on the lost Borg.
  • 7.02 Liaisons - A small alien delegation visits The Enterprise and push the diplomatic boundaries of the crew. One tries to get Worf to get violent and aggressive, another experiences food indulgence with Troi and the third assumes another identity and tries to get Picard to fall in love with her. After a while, the charade is lifted and they share that this is how they learn about other cultures.
  • 7.03 Interface - Geordi uses virtual reality through his VISOR to scope out a dangerous location, but he believes he sees his (assumed dead) mother and doesn't want to leave her and follow orders. This one wasn't great, especially as a re-watch and knowing the result will be a resolve.

  • 7.04 Gambit, Part I - The crew is looking for Picard after he goes missing, and they hear rumours of his death. Turns out he's assuming the identity of an archeological specialist on a salvage/mercenary ship run by a captain who rules by inflicting pain and threatening death to his crew.
  • 7.05 Gambit, Part II - Riker also ends up on the ship, and he and Picard work towards solving the mystery of what the ship is looking forward while maintaining a facade that they can't stand each other.
  • 7.06 Phantasms - Data begins to have strange dreams and eventually attacks Troi thinking he sees a mouth on her arm. They end up figuring out that there are odd entities all over the ship and even on the crew, but are entities can't be seen with the naked eye. This one is really freaky, it has a lot of creepy imagery including Troi as a cake and the cake being sliced. Ew!

  • 7.07 Dark Page - Lwaxana comes on board and is helping a telepathic race learn to speak. She is particularly drawn to a young girl, and the more she uses her telepathic abilities a powerful and sad memory she repressed comes to light. This one was quite shocking, so much so that I didn't remember the story included Troi having a sister than died. I can often be pretty skeptical of when shows seem to change the family history / relationships, but I think they did a great job here handling the sensitive subject of grief.
  • 7.08 Attached - While trying to do something on a planet of not-yet-in-the-Federation folk, Picard and Beverly become telepathically linked and must stay in close proximity while they escape from their captors. I had actually forgotten the plot of this one, and even the effect it had on Beverly and Picard. I simply remembered is as the one where Beverly figures out that Picard is happy with a simply coffee and croissant for breakfast. It's quite a touching episode, and says a lot about their relationship in the past, present and foreshadows the future as well.
  • 7.09 Force of Nature - A scientist and activist duo who are concerned that starships using warp drive continually going through space near them will upset their planet to the point of destruction, and one goes as far as to strand ships (including The Enterprise) so that they will listen to what they have to say. This really feels like a 'message' episode, using an example in scifi to reflect a current message about environmentalism. Amazing how this really is still quite relevant 20+ years later.

  • 7.10 Inheritance - The crew encounters Dr. Juliana Tainer, and she reveals herself to Data as his "Mom" who both co-created him and was involved with Dr. Soong. This season is ripe with family connections, but this one really stood out to me. It was cool to see Data have the chance to get to know someone who knew him before his memory started. I also found it sad for some reason to find out she was an android. I guess because Data couldn't tell her that she was, as Dr Soong designed her so that if she found out, she would automatically shut off. It's so sad that Data finally found someone he has something in common with (who isn't nutty like Lore), but isn't able to tell her. Yep. That's sad.
  • 7.11 Parallels - A somethings-amiss-but-what-is-it one! Worf returns from a Bat'leth tournament to a surprize birthday party, but things start to change subtly and then more significantly including his (romantic) relationship with Troi. One re-watch, I felt like this one was a bit of a cop out to plant the seed of the Worf/Troi relationship. It's what seems to make Worf reaching out to Troi, as he knows that they did has a relationship in other timelines. I don't know if there was anything to hint at this earlier in the show, but it doesn't feel like it. I actually quite like them together, but being a long time Trek fan who knows it doesn't go far as the season finale, Star Trek: Deep Space Nine and the films all show they go their separate ways. That being said, this is the only short lived romantic relationship through any of the series between major characters that I can remember.
  • 7.12 The Pegasus - Riker's first captain comes aboard The Enterprise with extreme authority and attempts to rescue his old ship The Pegasus, thought to be lost years ago after a mutiny and a disaster. The whole whole ship-partway-phased-in-an-asteroid was fascinating and scary, and we also get to see a part of Riker's past which has been heavily guarded. It was a little shocking though to see that The Federation was developing technology that was bound by treaty not to pursue. Of course Picard sets the record straight, because...He's Picard. I love this episode. A lot of what makes it work is the great acting by Jonathan Frakes in this episode, he very believably showed his character as vulnerable and hesitant when we normally see him so grounded was very impressive. It was also awesome to have Terry O'Quinn guest star as Riker's first captain, he does a great job and it only took a moment for me to place him as Locke from Lost. One of the highlights of Season 7 for sure.

  • 7.13 Homeward - Worf's foster/human brother Nikolai calls out for his help to save a pre-Warp people that are on a planet that will become inhabitable, and he fails to tell Worf he's falling in love with one of the women and that she's pregnant. Another never-heard-of-before family member episode, and although I'm a fan of Paul Sorvino who plays Nikolai, this episode plays pretty black and white with Nicolai and Worf disagreeing on almost everything. There is also quite a tragic minor story about one of the people accidentally finding out he's on a space ship, and he can't take the decision between staying in the truth but alone from his people or going back and lying to them (or telling them the truth), so he commits suicide. It's pretty heavy, but in a way I think it's warranted to show this result in terms of reinforcing the importance of the Prime Directive. They did get to end on Nikolai and Worf coming to an understanding of each others perspectives, so it did end on a positive note but there was quite a price to pay to get there.
  • 7.14 Sub Rosa - Beverly attends the funeral for her grandmother, and inherits her grandmothers home and all of her belongings including a lamp that powers a ghost-like alien who seduces Beverly just as he has other women in her family for years. Although I think this is one of the few episodes I've only seen once before, I remember it quite vividly from when it aired originally. It's cool to see a romance one with Beverly, but it was pretty shocking to see he lured in so much she was prepared to drop everything including resigning from Starfleet. Another one where Picard comes in and saves the day, or at least gets her to see the light by turning out the light.
  • 7.15 Lower Decks - This is a great episode! We see the ship from the perspective of junior crew members who are up for review and possible promotion. It's amazing that they establish all their characters so quickly, and we also get to see Riker and Troi as evaluators and Worf as a supervisor who really believes in his staff. The only thing I didn't love about this episode was the character of Ben, who plays the bartender and neutral party that can talk to both parties. I think it's a great idea to have a character like this, but it was weird that he wasn't familiar at all to the audience yet the crew treated him very warmly. It's unusual to have that without any preamble. I imagine this normally was a something Guinan would do, but I don't think she was in Season 7 at all! Anyhow, other than that this was a great episode, mostly fun but also with a heavier storyline too. There is similar episode in Star Trek: Voyager (6.20 Good Shephard) that I also really enjoyed.

  • 7.16 Thine Own Self - While Data is retrieving radioactive material on a planet, he suffers memory loss including who he is and walks into the town of the inhabitants who call him an Ice Man and start to be hateful towards him after townspeople becomes sick. I mostly remember this one for the interactions between Data and the scientist/doctor that talks of each thing in the world encompasses all of the elements in different ways. Data hears this as he's in her classroom (for some reason), and counters that he doesn't believe that to be true. Data does save the townspeople through science and logic, although he is 'killed' and buried by the townspeople who pretty much lynch him. Although that is the main story, I know this episode more prominently for being the one where Troi decides to take the bridge officer's exam. It's not an easy road for her and it takes a few tries, including a major shift in thinking, to understand what is necessary to pass.
  • 7.17 Masks - After the ship scans a probe, strange symbols start to appear on The Enterprise first on computer terminals then the ship begins metamorphosing. Data also becomes affected, and speaks as different personalities from the civilization that created the probe. This is one of the episodes I was anxiously awaiting. I love symbols and it was really cool to see the crew work together to try and figure out what was happening, and work with the symbols to figure out the story of the world it represented and help it play out instead of working aggressively against it.
  • 7.18 Eye of the Beholder - A shocking start with this episode, where a young crew member commits suicide by jumping into an energy stream. Troi and Worf investigate, and discover the crew member may have been empathic. This leads Troi down the rabbit hole of having visions of things that happened on Eutopia Planetia, where The Enterprise was created and also visions that mirror events there with the current day Enterprise. This one is very well done, it has an interesting mystery and is very creepy. On re-watch, the only thing I didn't like was that again we have Troi and Worf's relationship seen though non-reality (this time visions, and previously an alternate timelines). I would have loved to see their relationship develop more naturally throughout the series.

  • 7.19 Genesis - This was the last episode I was anxiously awaiting, being the one where the crew de-evolves into earlier formed creatures. Troi becomes fish-like, Barclay quick and snippy and spider-like, Riker can't remember stuff or make decisions as he becomes an earlier form of human. It's so wild to see the crew go so crazy like this. Data and Picard were off the ship for a bit, so when they come back they have to solve what's going on... and hopefully before Picard turns into a lemur! Easily one of my all time favourite episodes.
  • 7.20 Journey's End - Picard is sent to relocate a group of people living on a planet that's now part of the Cardassian side of the demilitarized zone, plus Wesley is back on the ship for vacation from Starfleet Academy but he is being really prickly to everyone and is eventually taken under the wing of one of the planets inhabitants. This is another episode I almost had forgotten about. It feels like this season they try and work in an episode highlighting a lot of significant characters in the series that aren't currently on the series, and this episode is the one for Wesley. I actually found it to not be a great farewell, not only did I find it hard to believe he was that willing (or interested) in throwing away working towards being a part of Starfleet, it was also hard to see him be so abrasive with the crew. It was a cool idea to complete the story with that started with The Traveller back from 1.06 Where No One Has Gone Before, but I wish they had gotten there a bit differently.
  • 7.21 Firstborn - Continuing the theme of the "Where are they now" of the kids of The Enterprise, we have an Alexander-focused episode with a close-enough-to-be-considered-family member of Worf's coming aboard and strongly pushing Alexander to become a warrior. Turns out, he *is* Alexander from the future, who is unhappy he became a diplomat and wasn't able to save his father from death. This one really pushed the boundaries of logic, I can't remember how they explained him getting there, but I can't imagine Klingons are that interested in time travel. But, they seem to leave it as a "Worf won't push Alexander too hard in Klingon ways", and Alexander is as always very good and extremely clever at outwitting Worf which always makes for a fun watch.

  • 7.22 Bloodlines - We have a promise made good episode come back to haunt Picard in this one. If you think back to 1.09 The Battle, a Ferengi captain swore to take vengeance against Picard and he does so by trying to kidnap and kill Picard's "son". Of course, Picard having a son comes as a big shock, and then it's eventually revealed that it's not his son at all but made to looks so. When this episode started, I thought that they were taking the perspective that Jono from 4.04 Suddenly Human could be considered Picard's son as he did mentor him for a time. This one wasn't that awesome as a re-watch, mostly as it isn't Picard's son so there wasn't a lot of tension in the main storyline. Still, it's always fun to see The Ferengi's.
  • 7.23 Emergence - The ship starts to experience strange fluctuations including oddities on the Holodeck, all which lead to a new life form emerging. It gets pretty hairy as the entity is devoting so much energy to it's formation that life support may go offline. I liked this one as to solve the problem they had to communicate with the entity in the holodeck to interpret what it needed, and to make suggestions to help. It's a nice blend of the technical side of Trek and the creative communication to an unknown life form.
  • 7.24 Preemptive Strike - Ensign Ro returns to The Enterprise after advanced tactical training, but right away is sent on a mission to infiltrate the Maquis. She really wants to prove to Picard she can do this, but in the end she decides to fight with the Maquis. I was surprized that I felt that Ro not wanting to disappoint Picard was overplayed, unless I'm forgetting some history here. The actors sure pulled it off, but I felt like I was missing some of the story. I really thought this one was much earlier in the series, or even in an earlier season to set up the Maquis and/or Deep Space Nine. I was really shocked to see it was the second last episode of the series.

  • 7.25 and 7.26 All Good Things... (Part I and Part II) - And so the title says, all good things must come to an end. Out of the whole series, this is one of the episodes I've seen the least. I vividly remember watching it live, and that they even aired it live from The Skydome and it was the first time I had heard of a show being shown that way. The episodes itself is a big time travelling one with Picard appear in three different times: 1) just before coming to the Enterprise, 2) the current timeline in the series and 3) a future time line where he is retired after becoming an ambassador. There are lots of character threads woven in this one including relationships that develop afterwards (or will they?), but the main thing is an time anomaly happening in the neutral zone and Q appearing saying that the continuum was still watching humanity as he promised back in 1.02 Encounter at Farpoint (Part II) As far as series finales go, it's a nice combination of an epic mystery but also has a fair amount of time with each of the characters of the main cast and a few favourite familiar faces to boot. And only on this re-watch did I catch the clever use of footage from an old episode plus a voice over to show Riker from back in Season 1. I think they used the Lollipop episode for that one. Very clever.

That is the end of Season 7, but I'll be back to share about the experience of the re-watch as a whole as it was quite an epic project and I can only pack so much into one post.

Images Source: TrekCore

Monday, June 08, 2015

Summer TV 2015 ~ Where to Watch TV Shows Online In Canada

It's time for the Summer TV Where to Watch Listings! Where does the time go? I'm still trying to finish up a few Fall/Winter shows, although I think I finally finished all the Spring TV I was watching.

Summer holds a special place on the TV schedule for many shows, particularly for reality TV and we have lots of reality mainstays to looks forward to this summer. We are already well into the crab season for 11th season of Deadliest Catch, So You Think You Can Dance just started it's 12th season and it will be the 17th summer in the Big Brother house. That's mind boggling. 17 summers. It started back when people didn't think reality TV would stick. Well folks, it did. Other awesome reality shows to enjoy this summer include Food Network Star (one of my faves of last year), and make up competition show Face Off. A new show that may interest reality fans is UnREAL, it's set behind-the-scenes of a fictional romantic reality series. I loved the first episode, and hope the whole season is just as strong.

If you perfect dramas, there are still many shows to enjoy and some of my faves include Teen Wolf, Beauty and the Beast, and Hannibal. There are also a fair amount of new series, especially of the science fiction variety. We have Dark Matter which features a crew in space that wakes up with no memory and Killjoys which centres on mercenaries in space. We also have Zoo, which is based on a James Patterson novel about animals acting strangely. Any show with animals is going to get me to turn in, so I can't wait! There is more returning scifi series too with Extant and Under the Dome both coming back this summer.

For sports fans, we'll also have the PanAm Games that are hosted here in Toronto from July 10 - 26, 2015 and will be covered on CBC.

This listing is for shows that began as of June 2015 (or earlier) and have their seasons run through the summer. If there is an earlier show you are looking for that's already finished, feel free to check the, Spring 2015, Winter 2015 or Fall 2014 TV Listing. Online viewing has been pretty consistent recently with having the most recent episode available online for 1 week after broadcast, with some exceptions including Canadian series (or co-pros) which may have their full season (or series) available. We've seen more transparency here, with both CTV and Global now indicate when new episodes will be available online and how long it will be available for. This is a huge help for us who watch shows online, thank you CTV and Global!

This list will be updated as new shows become available at their legitimate Canadian Broadcasters websites including CBC, CTV and CTV2, Global, CityTV, Space, Showcase, Slice, HGTV Canada, Food Network, Lifetime Canada, Discovery and History.

  • ~~~~~
Can't find what you are looking for? Try the individual Canadian TV broadcasters websites video pages:

Summer has lots of new shows to enjoy, and this season I've noticed again we have a fair few shows that are not available to watch online, such as Aquarius, The Island with Bear Grylls, Bullseye and American Ninja Warrior, For these shows, you often have the option to buy via iTunes or at the Google Play Store. The big pay off when you paid for watching them this way is that there are no commercials!

For online-only viewers, shows often are available for 1 week starting the day after they air, unless you have a cable subscription and can log into the TV station website. The exception to the rule is Canadian shows on specialty channels, which often have the entire season/series available online.
* A few online viewing options do not have a specific page for watching a singular show, but rather a video player for watching any of their offerings. In those cases I've put the link to the broadcasters website, as opposed to the show. Then either select the show if it's displayed prominently, or click their video library, select your show, the season and then the episode.

Sunday, June 07, 2015

Suzie's Visit!

It's been almost 2 years since I've seen Suzie, so it was so exciting that she recently came for a visit. We started things off with Jamie, Suzie & I all heading up to Mandarin on Mother's Day as it was a tradition to do so with our Mom. It was really nice to spend that day the three of us together. As Suzie is known as Suzie the Foodie, there were definitely a fair share of foodie adventures. We went out for coffee and she got the awesomeness of Alfajores (I went with lemon poppyseed loaf), we each shared and oh my the Alfajores were so good! Totally melted into yummy goodness. All three of use went for High Tea with our Auntie Laima. What a huge treat. So much fun, so many giggle and fun hats to boot.

One of the things Jamie, Suzie & I do regularly is talk about our creativity over at stART: Creating As We Go. We are all taking Carla Sonheim and Lynn Whipple's class Year of the Spark, and while she was visiting we all got to do Art Day together! It was soooooo much fun. We all had totally different colours and results with the same lesson. It is so much fun to do art in the same room and share what's working and helping each other get through any challenges we face. And taking lots of pictures, of course.

We also had lots of gaming fun, something I wouldn't have necessarily expected! We played Elder Signs... or what is Scrolls? I think it was signs. A great board game, although it doesn't really have a board because you create along the way. Everyone got to randomly pick an adventurer and then we tried to defeat the...hmmm.. the something. Hah. I guess I don't remember the mechanics of the game too much, but I had a great time playing. I was a doctor and could heal folks but I usually had to heal myself as I kept rolling bad rolls. Ah, well! Still, it was major fun times. Jamie, Suzie & I also had a blast getting our groove on with Just Dance 2015 and I introduced Suzie to the PS4 game Life is Strange. We just did the demo, but it is a fascinating game and way more absorbing than I expected.

It was nice to also spend a lot of relax time together, especially to recover from all the activity which is way more than I am used to. We wouldn't be our family is we didn't watch some movies while we were together. Suzie brought and shared Kiki's Delivery Service which was so much fun, and seriously how had I not see this one before? It's about a witch who sets off on her own with her cat to make her place in the world. It's so cute. And I probably avoided it because Miyazaki's Spirited Away FREAKED me out. I also got to share a film too, and we watched Pitch Perfect all together. I was really happy that Jamie was already up for re-watching as I has also shared it with her recently too. I love that movie so much! Can't wait to see Part 2.

Suzie also introduced me to iZombie, a new show on The CW (and you can watch it on shomi). It's funny, because I meant to checked this one out when it started, but never ended up watching it. So I jumped in to the recent episode and Suzie filled me in with the back story and who's who and how it all worked. It got me nostalgic for our TV chatting that we used to do on Hexed, or even going farther back to when I started watched Buffy in Season 5 and Suzie always helped me out when I was confused about the show. Which was often. It's wild to have a such a history of TV watching together!

It was all over too fast! It was such a great time of sisterly fun. I loved seeing Suzie teaching Jamie awesome photography techniques, and hanging out in the back yard looking at the flowers. I had a blast and it was great to be all together. From doing art together to watching movies, to having lots of tea and great conversations. What a great visit.

Miss you already Suzie!