Mini reviews of Television seasons old and new. No fuss. No spoilers. Occasional bunnies.

Thursday, April 24, 2014

Star Trek: The Next Generation: Season 3 (1989-90)

There'll always be exceptions, but in my experience, whether by accident or design, within forms of entertainment patterns emerge if you care to look for them: book two of a trilogy is often the weakest; tracks one and seven of a CD are often the strongest; and season three of a TV series is often one of the best. TNG is no different. Mostly it’s business as usual with Picard having to accommodate self-important assholes at the behest of his superiors and play diplomatic mediator in heated situations, but there’s also a lot of new directions taken.

Wesley matures and develops into less of a dick. His mom, Dr Crusher, returns to sickbay, so the argumentative Katherine Pulaski is out. There’s no mention of why or where Pulaski went but I like to think she married an Antedean dignitary and now lives as a cold and miserable fishwife on Antede III.

There’s an increase in Romulan and Klingon activity and an attempt to show how a political and cultural setting influences their warring tendencies. As you’d expect, Worf gets to play a pivotal role in a major part of that. Every day is a good day to die for a Klingon, but it seems that some days are better than others.

A small number of supporting characters that would reappear in subsequent episodes/seasons make their Trek d├ębut; among them are Andreas Katsulas, Tony Todd and Dwight Schultz, all of whom bring a unique personality.

If that wasn't enough to keep fans happy, some of the best episodes from the entire seven year run of TNG feature, such as Yesterday’s Enterprise, The Offspring and The Best of Both Worlds Part I. The latter is an end of season cliff-hanger, so make sure you have Season 4 nearby because when those credits roll you’ll want to go directly to Part II of the story as soon as possible.

26 episodes, approx 44 minutes each.

5 holodeck romances out of 5

Sunday, April 13, 2014

Pramface (2013)

We're not in a relationship. We're barely even mates. 
We're just two people who had a kid.
Series 2 begins with Jamie and Laura now dealing with the trials and tribulations of being new parents. Jamie must juggle schoolwork, a job and parenting while Laura feels isolated and ignored by anyone she might be able to even converse with. Both suffer judgement and shame from strangers and even family while mostly tolerating each other. The series becomes more of an ensemble this season as the large cast of supporting characters get much more screentime and plotlines of their own. It was only a problem in that the supporting characters were often much more interesting than the leads. Mike continues his never-ending quest to lose his virginity while Beth sabotages him at every juncture and the various grandparents manage unemployment and rough spots in their respective marriages.

While the two leads are a bit overshadowed, they are by no means bad. It is deliciously wonderful to watch them awkwardly fumble around each other. Jamie tries his hand at dating and Laura trying to make adult friends are particularly cute, but the nature of the situation always comes around like in the quote above. Though it never veers to serious. Whenever it moves close to that line, the mood will be lightened by Mike doing something idiotic or Laura's father Alan will be quirkily doing something weird because of his recent head trauma. Still a decently watchable show, even more so if you like the rest of the cast.

Buyer's Guide:
Available for US audiences on HULU.

Magic Mushrooms out of 5

Saturday, April 12, 2014

Star Trek: The Next Generation: Season 2 (1988-89)

Season Two took the formula that had been suitably refined by the end of Season One and shook it up a little. Not straight away, the majority of it follows the same safely laid path, but as it nears the end a dangerous element that upsets the equilibrium is introduced. The Federation’s sense of superiority (that they’d never openly admit to having) is challenged and, much to Picard’s disdain, ideologies need adjusted. It’s no longer just about exploration.

There were some new additions to the crew roster. Two of them are significant for different reasons, although technically they can both be called healers.

The first is Commander Katherine Pulaski who replaced Beverly Crusher as the ship’s Chief Medical Officer. Pulaski appears to be modelled on TOS’s Dr McCoy but they never go so far as to have her say the famous line.

The second is Guinan, who becomes a semi-regular fountain of wisdom for young and old, ensign and captain, etc. She gets used in a very specific way that anyone who has studied literature will recognise instantly, but her warmth and one-on-one tactics are a welcome departure from the Conference Room.

There are a few episodes that misfire completely but Season Two also contains some of my personal favourites:

-Measure of a Man: a Data-centric story that tests the loyalties and pride of more than one key member of the crew and offers up some palatable philosophical questions for the viewer.

-The Royale: It’s not a standout episode for any specific reason and the sets are cheap, but it feels like a short story from the golden era of sci-fi. It takes elements from other genres and uses them in a new way and by doing so it shows the versatility of ideas and proves that sci-fi truly has zero limitations.

Without a doubt the best thing about S2 is that Commander Riker grew a manly beard. His smug grin is better suited to having hair surround it.

22 episodes, approx 44 minutes each.

4 games of chance out of 5