Star Trek: The Next Generation

Review from Iron Crown Quarterly issue #1, summer 1988

Reviewed by Preston “Biff” Maxwell Bennet Eisenhower IV [aka Terry Kevin Amthor] and Bradley “Little ’Roo” Wallabee

[Score: two planets out of five: “Don’t bother”]

On the other hand, this had to be one of the biggest disappointments to come down the proverbial coaxial cable. As the pilot movie oozed out over a lengthy two (too) hours, we began to wonder…

1. Why is the new Enterprise sooo ugly? 2. Is it going to come apart every week? 3. Why does the bridge look like a cocktail lounge? 4. Why does the new transporter effect look like a bucket of water being dumped on the floor (especially when the effect in the last couple of movies has been really cool. ILM is doing the effects, so what gives?)? 5. Why do phasers look like sparkly little moonbeams? The photon torpedoes are O.K., though. 6. Why does everyone look like they have the hots for everyone else? (except the kid and the android — and that changes for one of them later…) 7. What is that Klingon doing there? 8. Is he a traitor or are the Klingons and Earthers friends now? 9. Why do the uniforms look like spandex PJ’s? 10. Why is Data (the android) that sickly color? If he is so human-like, why not make him exactly like a human in appearance? Why isn’t he stunningly handsome? Homely androids make no sense to us. 11. We understand the idea of putting women in positions of authority, but why do all the women they cast there seem either brainless, unhappy, or a little too butch? Can’t they just be doing their jobs competently without so much agony? We would have preferred to see a woman First Officer or Captain. 12. And perhaps most importantly, why does everyone walk around like they have an airhose up their butt?

We were even more upset when we noticed that D.C. Fontana (who gave us some of the best original episodes: Journey to Babel, Friday’s Child, and The Enterprise Incident) and Gene Roddenberry co-wrote this schlocky pilot, and she is Associate Producer. Help us, Dorothy! What has gone wrong?

Well, we waited and watched the first regular episode. It was an admitted re-hash of one of the first original episodes, when a mutated version of the intoxication effect strikes the crew again. It is a useful device to reveal the inner personalities of the crew. Indeed, many of my questions were answered as the ‘plot’ unfolded: 1. Still no excuse for the Enterprise, especially up against the much more graceful, if probably outdated, Gagarin class research vessel (like the ill-fated Grissom from ST III). Love the way the nacelles stretch like putty when it accelerates, though. 2. Guess it won’t come apart every week, but young Wes had control of engineering for most of the show, and he (being the most clever and interesting character) probably doesn’t like the ship apart either. And it’s still a piece of cake to control the ship from engineering; you think they’d have fixed that by now… 3. Still no answer here, though those three (1st Officer Ryker [sic], the Captain, and the seemingly purposeless Telepath) look very uncomfortable sitting in their lounge chairs with nothing to do (maybe they’re wondering what happened to their cocktail waitress). And someone give that security girl (Yar) a chair; the poor thing spends all day running up and down the biggest console you ever saw (she must wonder what she did wrong in the service, with those three dodos in front of her with about five buttons to push between them). 4. Again, no illumination here, just more water. 5. Still dunno, though the tractors and repulsors are little better. 6. Everyone’s hormones go wild here, and we see just who has the hots for whom; and let us tell you, it’s pretty ugly. The uptight security girl and the android? Ick! The old, bald captain and the Medical officer? Barf! (that explains the baldness bit; it must be sexy now!) The dull Telepath and duller Ryker? Yawn! Meanwhile, poor blind LeVar Burton (Geordi) lies on a bed and sweats while the kid redesigns the Enterprise’s entire circuit layout, just because the stodgy old captain won’t let him on the Bridge (we guess because poor young Wes isn’t of drinking age yet…) 8. Still no answers here, either (and do we really care about those icky Klingons, anyway?). 9. The uniforms look like PJ’s to show off everyone’s absolutely incredible physiques (in contrast to the old crew of Kirk, Scotty, and Uhura, all of whom were looking a bit out of shape by the later movies) Obviously the only recreational equipment on ship besides the rather dangerous holodeck are 400 nautilus machines. Too bad nobody has a brain to match. 10. Still an unanswered question, though it seems that Yar likes him that way, at least when she’s drunk. 11. No answer here, though none of the women has convinced us otherwise than our first impressions. 12. Why do they walk like that? Especially Ryker? Is his uniform too tight? Are his lines too silly? Is he just a really bad actor? We fear that all will prove too true in ensuing episodes, which we suspect, will be something like this; The Gamesterettes of Quintskelion (Lt. Yar meets her match); The Apple of My Eye (where Wes reactivates Vaal and, hypnotized by the reawakened god, the whole crew dons white beach towels and bleaches their hair. Lots of muscle-revealing potential there); The Trouble with Telepaths (the Councillor-woman catches a doubletalk disease, starts reading peoples’ minds at will, and playing cruel pranks on their innermost fears); The Squire of Q (oh, guess we already ripped that one off in the pilot); The Naked Later (guess); The City on the Edge of Sometime Next Week (Joan Collins reprises her role as Edith Keeler, who is somehow reborn as the Goddess Athena. She kidnaps the ship and…); Space Swede (The Enterprise encounters a derelict ship filled with cryogenically preserved, genetically improved men and women from the Genetics Wars. Their leader is Draco — played by Dolph Lundgren — who takes over the ship from engineering and, well, you know the rest.)

The boys were half-kidding; little did they know how right they were! And the show is of course, doing great in the ratings.

—TKA [Terry K. Amthor, Iron Crown Quarterly editor]