Tuesday, February 26, 2013

Star Trek:The Next Generation-Encounter At Farpoint

                      En route to investigate Farpoint Station,a star base built for Federation use by the Bandi of Deneb IV,Captain Jean-Luc Picard becomes better acquainted with the state of the art Galaxy Class U.S.S. Enterprise he is now commanding. His ships counselor Deanna Troi senses an unusually powerful mind. Suddenly a mysterious man addressing himself only as Q materializes on the bridge of the ship. Changing in wardrobe from an ancient ship captain,to a Korean War era GI and a drug controlled 21'st century shock troop he accuses humanity of being a dangerously savage child race who must return to Earth. Picard convinces him that he is a self righteous life form only looking to prosecute and judge lower life forms. This inspires Q to put the crew on trail,in a post apocolyptic 21'st century Earth Kangaroo court,for the crimes of humanity after Picard separates the saucer from the rest of the Enterprise to avoid a confrontation with the Q entity.

                 After taunting the crew by freezing two of it's personnel including security chief Tasha Yar,for standing up for humanity Picard insists Q tests humanity as to it's virtues. He insists the Farpoint mission will be an excellent test. And he sends them on their way. When the Enterprise arrives to pick up,among other new crew members,it's first officer William Riker at Farpoint it is only the star drive section that arrives. After being briefed on their encounter with Q,Commander Riker successfully re-connects the saucer and reveals his past romance with Counselor Troi.  Riker has been curious,after his encounter with the ellusive Bandi leader Grappler Zorn,how Farpoint could have so many contradictions-such as in his own description near magical attempts to please visitors. When it's also clear the only technological advantage the planet has is a mass of geothermal energy. 

           Upon Riker organizing an away team,Troi senses great emotional sadness in the Grappler's office and later in the mysterious caverns beneath the city. Amid Q's continual harassment,the Enterprise notices a large flying saucer approaching Deneb IV. Interestingly enough,it fires weapons on the Bandi city but carefully avoids Farpoint. With Q encouraging weapons fire,Picard decides to send an away team to the ship. There they find identical corridors to that below Farpoint. Troi senses first anger here,than satisfaction at the destruction of the Bandi city. Upon capturing Zorn,he reveals to Picard a space fearing entity of this sort arrived on their world and was injured. They provided it with enough energy to keep alive,but only so they could use it to curry favor with the Federation by using it's shape shifting ability to create a suitable star base. The Enterprise releases the entity after evacuating Farpoint,where it meets what turns out to be it's mate in orbit.Having passed Q's test and the Bandi agreeing to rebuilt Farpoint,Picard and his new crew head into space to "see what's out there".

             It was an enormous gamble for Gene Roddenberry to re-imagine Star Trek,a century in the cannons future and with an entirely new crew,in 1987 having failed to do so already with the original cast for the aborted Star Trek Phase II series in the late 70's. And in syndication no less. This pilot succeeded on all levels. It had to tell little introduction stories for each member of the crew: Picard,Riker,the android Data,the Klingon Worf,Geordi,Counselor Troi,Tasha Yar,Dr.Crusher and her son Wesley and their new adversary: the aggressively arrogant and omnipotent Q. John DaLancie brings this character to life almost fully formed,if far more adversarial than was later portrayed. As for the rest of the cast,there would be a lot of room to crew. Data is far more mechanical in personality and a stronger "babbler" than later. Captain Picard lacks much of the strong personality he'd develop later and is more a straight laced authority figure. And Deanna Troi's emphatic reactions are far more pronounced.  It's Johnathan Frakes as Commander Riker who is the most fully formed of the new characters. Overall a wonderful and visually stunning introduction,with it's far higher budget FX,  to a new series that would expand Star Trek's audience from a cult following to a viewership large enough to change everyone's perception of the show.


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