Editor’s Note: This entry is copied from my personal blog.
I’ve been watching a lot of TNG lately. Since Tim got me THE ENTIRE SERIES for Christmas last year (THANK YOU!!!) it’s been at my disposal 24/7. This is a dangerous concept– but I’ve held off the temptation to completely give over my life to sitting on the couch watching Picard and Company. I tend to marathon a disk or so about once a month and that’s it. Since the convention last weekend, however I’ve been watching it pretty much nonstop. It’s really amazing to compare as season 7 episode like “Eye of the Beholder” and a 1st season episode like “Home Soil”. I watched these two right after each other last night. You can certainly see the influence of the original series more in “Home Soil”. I mean, it’s basically a re-telling of “The Devil in the Dark” from 1967. The miners are replaced with tera-formers and the big blob/rock like horta is replaced with a small crystal like glowing intelligence.
But– leaving the original series aside for a minute and comparing “Home Soil” with the 7th season episode “Eye of the Beholder” again you see how far the series really came by the end. In both the crew must play detective and unravel a mystery. However, “Eye” is by far a better episode. The characters are more fully developed and the story seems more character driven. Even the new characters who are introduced in the episode are fascinating! We immediately want to know more about Lt. Kwan and why he killed himself. The credit goes to writer Brandan Braga. Gene Roddenberry was never interested in Star Trek being a character driven drama. It was always really just his media for telling morality plays about right and wrong, human rights, and other heady stuff. While I love Roddenberry’s work, I’m glad that the focus turned to the characters in the movies of the 1980’s and then TNG. At its best Star Trek tells a story about character relationships while also teaching us a lesson. I think the show had more potential than Roddenberry ever really intended and was more fully realized by his successors. That being said, the “powers that be” eventually led Star Trek down the wrong path. Enterprise was largely a disaster in my opinion, as was Nemesis. But there was a moment– in the last few seasons of TNG when Star Trek had the best of both worlds (no pun intended). On those DVD’s we have the treat of watching great characters who we love with fully developed relationships and hear a good story with a nice lesson thrown in to boot.