TV Review – Best of Star Trek: Deep Space Nine

The Way of the Warrior (original airdate: October 2, 1995)
Written by Ira Steven Behr & Robert Hewitt Wolfe
Directed by James L. Conway

The original plan for season 3’s finale and season 4’s premiere was to do a two-parter about Changelings infiltrating Earth. Paramount execs didn’t want a cliffhanger, so that story got pushed to later into season 4. Ratings had been falling for Deep Space Nine in season 3, so something needed to be done to shake up the status quo and inject some new story seeds into the show. The first idea was to have the Vulcans leave the Federation over ideological conflicts, but then it shifted to the Klingons. Ira Steven Behr came up with a Klingon arc for multiple seasons that would bring the adversarial species into the conflict between the Federation and the Dominion.

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TV Review – Star Trek: Picard -Season One, Episode Ten

Star Trek: Picard (CBS All Access)
Season 1, Episode 10 – “Et in Arcadia Ego, Part 2”
Written by Michael Chabon & Akiva Goldsman
Directed by Akiva Goldsman

I really loved the idea of Star Trek: Picard. Bringing back the aged captain and seeing what he’s like now, how he relates to the galaxy around him. Of course, we knew going in that Picard would be surrounded by new faces, and I was a little apprehensive but still open to new characters. From looking at Discovery, it was clear that this new show would push the boundaries in terms of violence, language, and sex. That’s acceptable and could make the show more “realistic” in terms of human behaviors. Ultimately though, Picard never becomes the thing so many expected it to be. There are real moments of brilliance, but for the most part, it plays out predictably with characters taking actions and saying things you would expect them to, not much better than mediocre fan fiction.

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TV Review – Best of Star Trek: Deep Space Nine Part 3

Past Tense Part 1 (original airdate: January 8, 1995)
Past Tense Part 2 (original airdate: January 15, 1995)
Written by Ira Steven Behr, Robert Hewitt Wolfe, and René Echevarria
Directed by Reza Badiyi and Jonathan Frakes

Star Trek has always lightly touched upon economics, but it never really got serious about it. In The Next Generation, Picard greets Samuel Clemens, who has been transported through time and explains how in the 24th century, there is no longer currency, and people work for the pleasure of exploring their interests. All the basic needs of food and housing have been met. It’s an idyllic future and not one that is impossible if humanity would just get their act together. It’s also something explored in this very relevant two-parter from season three of Deep Space Nine.

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TV Review – Best of Star Trek: Deep Space Nine

Necessary Evil (original airdate: November 15, 1993)
Written by Pete Allan Fields
Directed by James L. Conway

In the early seasons of Deep Space Nine, writers got a lot out of the Bajoran/Cardassian conflict, and this episode is no exception. Tonally, Necessary Evil presents itself as a noir centered around Odo as the gumshoe. A woman whose husband used to run a business on Deep Space Nine pays Quark to retrieve a lockbox hidden inside the walls. A stranger shoots Quark during his job and leaves the Ferengi comatose. Odo is on the scene and starts interviewing people who were on the station back during the Cardassian occupation to discover what was in the box and how it ties into his own past under Cardassian rule.

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TV Review – Star Trek: Picard Season One, Episode Nine

Star Trek: Picard (CBS All Access)
Season One, Episode Nine – “Et in Arcadia Ego, Part 1”
Written by Michael Chabon & Ayelet Waldman & Akiva Goldsman
Directed by Akiva Goldsman

So many things about this penultimate episode of Picard feel pleasantly familiar while others seem so out of place in a Star Trek story. But that is to be expected with Akiva Goldsman, who delivered one of the most un-Star Trek-like series in recent history (Discovery). He loves things that are conceptually cool and full of visual spectacle. There’s the sense that the final episode of the season will involve a big shooty space battle, which is simply not what Star Trek really is. Star Wars? Most certainly. But I am not looking forward to this conclusion. Star Trek, when it does space battles, is more about one-on-one and the strategy of battle.

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TV Review – Star Trek: Picard Season One, Episode Eight

Star Trek: Picard (CBS All Access)
Season One, Episode Eight – “Broken Pieces”
Written by Michael Chabon
Directed by Maja Vrvilo

We went from an episode that really hit on the themes that make people love Star Trek to an episode that is unrecognizable as a piece of the franchise. “Broken Pieces” is attempting to be an entry so full of plot twists that it has no arc, no structure, just a serialized chapter. There are genuinely some low points for Picard in this one, particularly a plot development with Rios that comes entirely out of nowhere and doesn’t read as an organic progression for the character or the story.

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TV Review – The Best of Star Trek: Deep Space Nine Part One

Emissary (original airdate: January 3rd, 1993)
Written by Rick Berman and Michael Piller
Directed by David Carson

Where did Deep Space Nine come from? The concept started with Brandon Tartikoff, the Chairman of Paramount in the early 1990s who wanted a new addition to the franchise that was a Western. This would be about a lawman (Starfleet officer) coming with his son to a station on the edge of the frontier trying to restore order. Elements of American westerns were woven throughout with the bartender, the sheriff, the native people, the kindly doctor, etc. Showrunner Michael Piller liked the idea of a stationary Star Trek series because he saw it as an opportunity to make the effects of episodes long-lasting. Instead of a procedural, this could be a serialized program with ripples across seasons from storylines. Characters would not be part of a crew on an assignment but a community of disparate people forced to live together and learn how to survive.

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TV Review – Star Trek: Picard Season One, Episodes Six & Seven

Star Trek: Picard (CBS All Access)
Season One Episode Six – “The Impossible Box”
Written by Nick Zayas
Directed by Maja Vrvilo

Season One Episode Seven – “Nepenthe”
Written by Samantha Humphrey and Michael Chabon
Directed by Doug Aarniokoski

I’m a little lost as to what the story being told here is at this point. The pacing decisions from early on have felt unbalanced, and “The Impossible Box” is a vital example of this. The audience has known that the Artifact is where Picard eventually will arrive since episode one. The show has meandered on its way to get there with strange layovers like “Absolute Candor.” When we finally reach the reclaimed Borg cube, things suddenly happen at rapid-fire, and we’re still left with little information moving forward as to what exactly this story is.

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TV Review – Star Trek: Picard Season One, Episode Five

Star Trek: Picard (CBS All Access)
Season One, Episode Five – “Stardust City Rag”
Written by Kirsten Beyer
Directed by Jonathan Frakes

Now, this is an episode I enjoyed. After setting the pieces up on the board for the first month of the series, Picard finally has our characters getting into dangerous situations and dealing with both interpersonal and external conflict. I wonder how someone utterly unfamiliar with Voyager would understand Seven of Nine’s part in this story. I think you need at least a rudimentary understanding of who she is and what happened to her on that series. Of all the episodes we’ve gotten thus far, I think this one does the best in blending contemporary elements with the world of the Federation.

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TV Review – Star Trek: Picard Season One, Episode Four

Star Trek: Picard (CBS All Access)
Season One, Episode Four – “Absolute Candor”
Written by Michael Chabon
Directed by Jonathan Frakes

At first, I have been annoyed with the lack of Next Generation characters in Picard. But after doing the math, he was captain of the Enterprise for twenty-one years, which is almost the same number of years he’s been retired. I expect he’d drifted apart from his original crew as they received promotions and new assignments. These new people are lower on the totem pole and thus have less to lose. They lack extended family and therefore, can hop on a ship and journey out into space, not knowing exactly where they are headed and what they are in for.

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