Oh good grief, do BBC continuity announcers get no training at all in Star Trek technology?
“Now on BBC2 we blast into hyperspace with the Next Generation of Star Trek”
Hyperspace? Oh dear oh dear.
After greeting some new arrivals to the ship, Riker joins Picard for a game of Quasar.
Picard offers Riker the chance to take part in an exchange trip to a Klingon ship. Oh dear, more Klingon bollocks. You can tell this, because it’s titled A Matter of Honor.
Meanwhile, an alien from another race is doing his exchange on board Enterprise, and annoying everyone with his suggestions at ways they could improve their procedures.
And over on the Klingon ship, Riker’s duty to serve the Klingon ship is tested when they decide they have to attack the Enterprise.
The next episode starts with the almost ubiquitous Poker game. Geordie, Data, Riker, O’Brien and Pulaski play. Perhaps I was wrong about Klingons. I find Poker to be even more boring than Klingon honor.
Nice to see some of the old models from the movies getting reused.
Picard meets an old flame/nemesis n the space station, so you know she’s going to play a major part in the plot. This episode is The Measure of the Man, one of the best episodes of the second season (although that’s not necessarily high praise).
A Starfleet officer wants to disassemble Data so he can better understand the technology, since Data’s creator died some time ago. Data, and the rest of the command crew, mistrust his competence and grasp of the technology, and have to try to assert Data’s right to refuse to submit to the procedure.
Data is transferred to the command of the officer, Maddox, so his only option is to resign from Starfleet.
Maddox is a bit of a dick. When Picard talks about Data’s right not to submit, Maddox says “Rights, rights, I’m sick to death of hearing about rights. What about my right not to have my life’s work subverted by blind ignorance?” He sounds like he’s be right at home on the internet.
Maddox won’t let Data resign, and claims that he’s the property of Starfleet, and has no rights. Picard has to defend his right to be treated as a sentient being, and Riker, as the next ranking officer, has to represent the case against. Riker goes first, and makes a compelling case that Data is merely a machine that mimics the appearance of sentience. His presentation culminates in him switching Data off.
The next scene is the heart of this episode. It is a scene between Picard and Guinan (Whoopi Goldberg in a recurring role as the Enterprise’s wise bartender and old friend of Picard). It’s a beautifully written and delicately played scene, as they talk about the implications of judging Data as property, and then, of making more of him. “You don’t have to think about their welfare, you don’t think about how they feel. Whole generations of disposable people.”
Picard’s defense of Data is no less brilliant. The casting of Patrick Stewart in the role pays off in spades, but the writing is also top-notch. In many ways it’s a superb example of what Star Trek is specially good at – taking philosophical questions with contemporary relevance and examining them through a science fiction metaphor. It’s always better when it’s about people.
The next episode isn’t quite as much of a classic. It’s The Dauphin, in which a young girl Salia, the future ruler of a planet, and her governess, join the Enterprise so she can return to her planet and (it is hoped) bring peace to a long warring planet. Her governess seems to be a shapeshifter, occasionally becoming some kind of ewok.
However, she’s distracted from her noble purpose because she met Ensign Wesley in a corridor, and now he’s all she can think about. And the same is true of Wesley.
Yes, Wesley’s in love, so we have scenes of Wesley asking the crew how he should approach the girl, and he gets advice with varying levels of cringe.
And her governess is roaming the ship looking for threats against her charge. She discovers a sick man in sickbay, determines there’s a miniscule chance of infection, so demands he is killed. When Doctor Pulaski demurs, she goes crazy-mad-humongous ewok.
And it also turns out Salia is also a shapeshifter. Wesley is upset at first, but in the end he must still be in love, because he brings her chocolate to say goodbye. She changes into her true form before transporting to her planet.
After this episode, there’s a look ahead to tonight’s programmes on BBC2, then the very start of Rough Guides, at which point recording stops.