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Thursday, 17 August 2017

Adventures through Netflix | Star Trek - The Next Generation - Re-watch and Rediscover


When you have had Netflix for a little while, you will have undoubtedly ran out of watchable films and new series to gorge yourself on. So, you start to rediscover old favourites or get round to watching series that you never managed when they came out (I still haven’t watch The Sopranos).

I loved Star Trek growing up and religiously watched every new episode of Star Trek: The Next Generation, although when I really thought back I couldn’t remember the specifics of any episode only a general enjoyment every Thursday evening. So this was the perfect re-watch for me as I could reconnect with old classic and consume some high grade Sci-Fi.
The first thing you will notice when starting to watch this is yes, it is painfully dated. The haircuts and costumes alone scream late 80s and the special effects are really quite un-watchable. That being said, this isn’t an issue for long as you soon start to suspended disbelief and then it’s just the stories that matter.

Unfortunately, episodic “monster of the week” type series tend to be, by nature, half on half off. What I mean is that for every two episodes of The Next Generation, there is one good watchable episode. The Next Generation was very formative for me and so I found watching particularly bad episodes quite difficult, which leads me to what I think is the best way to watch this series.

On Netflix you have the option to see a screenshot and short description of each episode before watching which is usually enough to remember or deduce whether an episode was good or not. So, all you have to do is watch the episodes you know are good and it won’t have ruined your glossy rose tinted memory of a true classic. This won’t be for everyone, but it worked fantastically for me.
The best episodes are those centred on the best characters. Every main cast member brings something to the table, but you have to agree some are better than others. My favourite stories come from either Captain Picard or Data led stories, with some good ones from Worf, Jordie and Riker.

After about season 3, things start to look much more modern (and to be honest more like I remember) and by the end of seasons 7 nearly every episode was fantastic so it does seem like a damn shame they cancelled it.

When you reach the end of the series you will be thirsty for more, luckily Netflix also has all 4 films with The Next Generation cast.

Taking each film in turn, Star Trek: Generations was not the strongest start. This had a reasonable story but felt a little gimmicky with an unnatural injection of the original series. Don’t get me wrong I liked the original series but the two series never really felt like they should meet. Also, knowing how Kirk’s story ended kind of ruined the fantasy that it sort of went on forever.

Star Trek: First Contact is not only my favourite Star Trek film but also, I believe, one of the best Sci-Fi films of all time. It feels like all the Borg stories culminated in this masterpiece of excellent acting, flawless special effects and a brilliant story. The film manages to be funny, thought-provoking and scary, which is why this film will always represent how I think of Star Trek.

Star Trek: Insurrection is a good entry, not a touch on First Contact but definitely worth a watch. This film is really like having the series back for a little while as its really just a long high budget episode (although clearly lower in budget than First Contact).

Lastly we have Star Trek: Nemesis which as most people will tell you was not the ideal way to end this epic saga. Who knows if they would have made more films if Nemesis had been a success, but it definitely killed the franchise for a while. In lots of ways it’s quite watchable, all of our favourite characters back again with a much nicer aesthetic (the leap in special effects is quite something) going on another adventure, but it’s just all wrong.

I read somewhere that the director hadn’t watched any TNG before this film, which doesn’t surprise me. It’s really just a Sci-Fi Action flick without a whole lot of heart and you can tell the actors just aren’t putting their hearts into it any more. This film is a good example of the turn modern cinema has taken, foregoing character driven stories with good sub plots for action and fancy looking explosions.  All in all, it’s not terrible, but after this much time we have come to expect so much more.

Summarise!

The Next Generation is on the whole a fantastic and almost generation defining saga, concreting Star Trek as one the most important franchises in entertainment history. It is not perfect, it has flaws but in a way that’s almost what makes it, even with its pit falls it manages to be brilliant and really a cornerstone the science fiction genre.

Just a quick shout out to the cast of the series, they really are what made it what it is. The stellar acting with honest character building and relationships meant that even at its silliest, Star Trek - The Next Generation was always worth a watch.


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