Archive for the ‘Star Trek’ Category.

Thoughts On Discovery and Star Trek In General

I watched the first season of Star Trek:Discovery. The verdict: I liked it.

I was afraid that the series might flame out pretty quickly. The original series started strong and frankly got weaker, while the previous spin-offs were just okay for the first season or two, and really got going in the third season. There are a lot more series on television now, and a lot more channels in general. A series no longer gets a season to find its footing. But Discovery worked out okay.

I do wish we got at least one more season of Enterprise. I think the Romulan War would have been interesting. I think that is where the whole series was leading. On the other hand, if they were serious when they said that Future Guy was Archer then perhaps we dodged a bullet. I think the showrunners might have gone full Roddenberry: They were no longer worthy to manage their own brilliant creation.

I think the first two seasons of The Next Generation were almost a different series. Gene Roddenberry was still running things then. For seasons three and four, he wasn’t involved, but he was still mentioned in the credits. Some of the characters were not quite fully formed for the first two seasons. Geordi was just this guy who wore a visor, and….that was about it. And I think with Worf we were just supposed to be impressed by having a Klingon on the bridge of the Enterprise. From the third season on things improved. I think making Geordi the chief engineer was a good move. It’s a bit of a Star Trek cliche, but a show should pick a chief engineer. For the first season of TNG, there was a different chief engineer every time they went down to Engineering. It’s a starship, not a fast food joint.

One reason I think TNG was a different series is the character of Wesley Crusher. I never really liked that character. (One interesting paradox in science fiction is everybody hates Wesley Crusher, yet everybody likes Wil Weaton.) It was irritating and unbelievable that he easily figured out solutions that Starfleet officers with combined decades in space could not see. Frequently the problem at hand was something he read about for school that very same week. I am sure that sort of thing could happen, but not all the time. It’s amazing nobody ever suggested they should all learn how Wesley thinks about things so they could be as efficient as him. Nope, they were just amazed every single time. Wesley was shipped off to Starfleet Academy about the same time Roddenberry died. I think that Roddenberry had plans for the character, and after he had to step back from the show due to his health, the other producers did not have the heart to get rid of him while Roddenberry was around.

One thing I had forgotten: Wesley failed his Starfleet Academy entrance exam the first time. He is smarter than all the officers, but flunks the exam? What the Ferengi???

Season 7 got a little weird, which sometimes worked and sometimes did not. Some of those episodes were just different, and some were out there. A lot of people liked “Lower Decks“, but I did not. “Sub Rosa” was out there. I liked “Parallels“; probably one of my favorites of the entire series. I also liked “Masks“, although a lot of the staff did not. It was kind of like the fifth season of Bablyon 5.

I don’t think there is a series that I do not like (although I have no desire to try the animated series), although some had some weak episodes, even weak seasons. I think Deep Space 9 might be my favorite series overall. It had the best characters overall: great villians, even great recurring characters. I think having an overall story arc really made it stronger. Granted, while arcs are common on TV now, it was just becoming more common during the run of DS9; TNG just missed it. I think the best episodes of Enterprise were the ones that were in story arcs. Most of season three was one arc. But they threw a couple in that had nothing to do with the Xindi; one of them (“Extinction”) was the worst of the season, if not the series. Coincidence? I think not.

Back to Discovery: I liked it. The Mirror Universe is always a crowd-pleaser.

There are a few things that I did not like. I thought the Klingon war got wrapped up a bit too quickly. Maybe I was just hoping it would last longer. I do think that they could have gotten a few seasons out of it. I read on the Discovery sub-reddit that the original plan was to have a different crew for each season of Discovery. I think that would have been a very bad idea. But I think that explains why the Klingon war was ended so suddenly.

I also have read that the showrunner was replaced. I am not too clear on why. I don’t follow the behind the scenes stuff too much. Perhaps the new boss did not want to deal with the old boss’s stuff. But from what I have read on the sub-reddit, I am not the only one who thought the war ended too abruptly. [Note 1]

Another thing that I did not like is that sometimes Michael Burnham seemed a bit too much like Wesley. Maybe Wesley was just a magnification of an odd phenomenon in Star Trek: Sometimes they know an awful lot about an awful lot of subjects. They are dealing with technology that is far beyond what we have today, yet they all seem to be able to fix the warp drive, and the transporter, and the replicator, and fly a shuttle, and shoot pretty well, and this, and that. Which brings me to Paul Stamets. I guess we will see more of Stamets, since we will be seeing more of Culber (presumably through flashbacks). But Stamets will not use the spore drive. Will he stick around and manage the conventional warp drive? Again, these technologies would be beyond what we have today. People with degrees in physics do not just go off and become chemical engineers. But now Stamets is going to be an expert in warp drive after spending years trying to perfect the spore drive.

Plus it takes place before some of the other series. I try not to be one of those people who complains when there is an inconsistency. It’s fiction. There are plenty of people in the real world who are lying.

I did not like Tilly most of the time. Too much post-modern “let’s joke about everything” irony. Wouldn’t people be a bit more serious during a war? And stuck in a parallel universe. Besides, we already get enough sass with Stamets, dammit. And I am going to come out and say it: She looked to heavy to be in the military. To be frank, everybody else looked pretty fit, like they were ready to fight a war. Even Stamets, the character with the least military bearing, at least looked like he would fit in on a military vessel. They had to give Stamets some leeway because he was the expert on the spore drive. Tilly would have no excuse for being silly.

And before you get upset: No, I am not where I want to be either. I have come to realize that training more is not that hard, but eating less is.

This Star Trek has a pretty high body count. There were other series that took place during wars (like DS9), but Discovery had a lot of characters who appeared on-screen and bit the dust (and a few implied off-screen): Philippa Georgiou, Culber, Landry, the real Ash Tyler (which sounds like a twitter handle), Mirror Stamets, and both Lorcas (even though we only see one). Wearing something other than red no longer saves you.

I was not too thrilled with the look of USS Discovery. I thought the USS Shenzhou was a better looking ship.

I liked the first season, and I look forward to the second season.


Note 1: I strongly suspected that Discovery would be about Klingons after CBS put a stop to the fan film Star Trek: Axanar. I figured one reason had to be that the proposed fan film was about a similar topic to something CBS was planning.

Big Jim honors the past, but doesn’t want to be trapped by it.

Image from Memory Alpha, copyright owned by CBS, assumed allowed under Fair Use.

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Thoughts On Deep Space Nine

I don’t know if “Deep Space Nine” is my favorite “Star Trek” series, but it is the top choice of a lot of fans.

It was certainly different than The Original Series or “The Next Generation“. There are a lot of quotes on Memory Alpha from the producers that they wanted to do something different in the Star Trek universe, and they certainly did. But sometimes they seemed to be bad-mouthing the prior series. It is easy to look back a couple of decades later and say that DS9 made TNG look like it was standing still, that in some ways TNG was just a re-hash of TOS.

In some ways, TNG was a re-hash of TOS. But I don’t think it could have been anything else. At first, a lot of Star Trek fans did not accept TNG. This was in the early years of the spread of the internet amongst the general population, and pages and posts about why Kirk was better than Picard were all over the net. But after the third season, and “The Best of Both Worlds” in particular, a lot of that stopped and I think TNG was seen as a legitimate incarnation of Star Trek. DS9 producers loved to say they broke the mold, but if TNG did not become successful, there would not have been a mold to break. I think if TNG was not successful, the franchise would probably have ended there.

One thing that was new (for the time) was that DS9 was the first Star Trek to have story arcs. This is common now in prime time television, but then it was pretty new. Although, reading through the articles on Memory Alpha, I think they came up with some of the story arcs while the series was in progress. There were a couple of episodes in the first season about alien groups on the other side of the worm hole that we never heard from again and seemed to have no connection to the Dominion or the later story arc (“Captive Pursuit”, which I liked, and “Move Along Home”, which stunk then and still does).

I think the first season of TOS was the best, and while the other two seasons had good episodes, the show did get weaker as time went on. It seems like the spin-off series have all needed a couple of seasons to really find their groove. DS9 was no different.

TOS was pretty much a three-man show: Kirk, Spock and McCoy. There were a few episodes with Scotty as the main character, but there were no episodes primarily about Uhura, Sulu or Chekov. TNG was more of an ensemble show, and that seemed to continue through the rest of the franchise. I think Enterprise was mostly a three-character show (Archer, T’Pol and Trip), closer to TOS, but it was trying to be a franchise show. I think the episodes with Travis and Hoshi as the primary characters were some of the weakest. I think the producers never figured out how to use them. I am not a tv show producer; maybe that sort of thing is only obvious in hindsight.

But DS9 not only figured out how to use all the characters, even the recurring characters were strong and used well.

Image from Memory Alpha, copyright owned by CBS, assumed allowed under Fair Use.

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Amazon Prime

I finally got a trial for Amazon Prime.

I did it so I could watch the rest of Star Trek that I had not seen.

I had gotten through most of the fifth seasons of Deep Space Nine and Voyager while there were episodes on the Star Trek site. For the past six months or so, they had only 11 episodes of Voyager. A couple of them were sixth season, so I skipped ahead to get my fix.

Then a few months ago, the put up 10 episodes of The Original Series. This past week, I was on You Tube, and I found a channel that was putting up full episodes of Enterprise. The only problem was part of the image was cut-off. So after a little hemming and hawing and searching, I signed up for the 30-day free trial of Amazon Prime. I hope that the free trial is really free, and that all the videos on Amazon Prime are included in the price. Otherwise I will be paying Amazon a lot of money in a couple of months.

(Sidebar: “Amazon Prime” sounds like it could be the title of an episode from almost any one of the series. Except perhaps The Next Generation; they seemed to prefer one word titles.)

So this has been eating up my weekend. I watched the four episodes of Enterprise that were never on the Star Trek site, as well as a few episodes of Deep Space Nine and Voyager from earlier seasons that were never on the site. I promised to give a presentation to a local technology group on Wednesday. I was planning to get it done this weekend, but I will have to whip it up on Monday. I also thought I would listen to a conference call for ADM this weekend.

Perhaps I will see Firefly, or Battlestar Galactica, or other stuff. Who knows? I have to watch it on my Windows laptop. For some reason the videos don’t load on my Linux laptop. I have no idea why videos on Amazon won’t load but videos on the Star Trek site will. I have never owned a television, which many people found surprising. One person told me I was the only person they knew without one. Now computers and televisions are merging.

Two of the Enterprise episodes that were never on the Star Trek site were parts 1 and 2 of “In a Mirror Darkly”. I can hear T’Pol’s voice saying, “Perhaps if Ms. Blalock had long hair in every episode, Enterprise would have been more successful.”

I also watched a couple of my favorite Enterprise episodes. “Future Tense” is still my favorite Star Trek episode ever, but I do have to make one quibble: If they assembled the warhead outside the launch bay, they could have made it work.

Two of the Enterprise episodes that were never on the Star Trek site were parts 1 and 2 of “In a Mirror Darkly”. I can hear T’Pol’s voice saying, “Perhaps if Ms. Blalock had long hair in every episode, Enterprise would have been more successful.”

I also watched a couple of my favorite Enterprise episodes. “Future Tense” is still my favorite Star Trek episode ever, but I do have to make one quibble: If they assembled the warhead outside the launch bay, they could have made it work.

Image from Memory Alpha, copyright owned by CBS, assumed allowed under Fair Use. If you watch “Future Tense”, you will understand why the last two paragraphs were repeated. This website is dangerous to you. dflhas@089f0’Pauj_ph Temporal radiation.

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Star Trek Videos Are Back

It looks like most of the episodes for the different Star Trek series are back up at the Star Trek site.

Lately I have been watching some videos by a trader who goes by the handle Aileron. (He used to go by “Airelon”, but now he seems to be going by “Aileron”.) I came across his now-defunct podcast a few years ago, and I liked it. He has a few playlists on getting started trading. I am going through the ones on money management now. He also has a forum and a website. I will get back to Deep Space Nine when I am done with the money management playlist.

My cable bill also went up. I will have to look at my bill. It was only ten dollars, but then again that is a lot for a $48 bill. I will call them to see if I can get a better price for just internet. When I was in Chicago, Comcast was charging me $70/month. When I got to Austin, TimeWarner was charging me $34/month, then $48, now $58. Their P/E ratios are a bit high, and their yields are a bit low, but maybe I should just buy some stock in the cable companies.

Anyway, I look forward to seeing what unfolds in Deep Space Nine (although I think I have an general idea). Then I will finish Voyager. I might also watch Babylon 5. I was at a Meetup event this weekend for a sci-fi meetup, and we watched a few Babylon 5 episodes. The host had met JMS, the creator of Babylon 5. I saw a few episodes in college, but since I have never owned a TV, I never got really into it.

Image from Memory Alpha, copyright owned by CBS, assumed allowed under Fair Use.

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Voyager Is Offline

There are now only 13 episodes of Voyager available on the Star Trek site. I will wait a few months to see if they will bring the episodes back. I still have not seen a big chunk of Deep Space Nine either. CBS has taken episodes offline and brought them back before, so I will wait to see what happens.

If they do not come back, I may have to break down and spend money to watch what I have not seen. I might try Amazon Prime. Someone at work told me about this. It looks like you can get a LOT of stuff for $20/month.

I was hoping to get more Star Trek for free. It looks like Comcast will be buying Time Warner Cable. I am pretty certain my cable bill will go up. I know Netflix has had some conflicts with Verizon. I wonder if anyone is on Comcast’s hit list. It would be nice to be able to watch stuff without dealing with all the corporate shenanigans.

I mentioned before that I didn’t think they needed to bring on Seven of Nine to make Voyager fun to watch, and that the other women on the show were pretty damn hot. Well, I think Kes and Torres (forehead, temper and all) are hot. But still, Seven of Nine does have an amazing body. The chest is nice, but for me the waist and the figure are what capture my attention. And the legs. And the rear.

I did not watch Voyager when it was first running, since I did not have a TV. I knew a woman at the gym I went to who was upset that her husband became a huge Voyager fan when Seven of Nine came on. She was very attractive in her own right. I told her that I thought she was at least an 8. She didn’t get it at first.

Image from Memory Alpha, copyright owned by CBS, assumed allowed under Fair Use.

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Thoughts On “Voyager”

I am still going through the Star Trek canon.

After I got done with The Next Generation, I started going through Deep Space Nine. After I got started CBS started taking episodes off the site. There are still 160 episodes of Voyager, so I started watching that. There are currently no episodes of Enterprise, five of The Next Generation and two of Deep Space Nine. Last week there were 55 of The Original Series, then 34, and now there are 24.

So far I like Voyager. Somewhere I read that out of all the series that Voyager is the only one for which several of the regular actors said that making the series was not a happy experience. Robert Picardo (The Doctor) was 43 during the third season. I am 43, and I think he looks older then than I do now. I assumed he was in his 50s when the series started.

I thought Jennifer Lien (Kes) has one of the hottest voices of any women I have ever heard in my life. I liked what I heard the first time I heard her speak. I haven’t gotten to any of the Seven Of Nine seasons yet, but if they made the switch to up the babe factor, they could have kept Kes on. The Doctor is a lucky hologram to get to spend so much time with her in sick bay (“Please state the nature of your sexual emergency”). I thought the forehead ridges on B’Elanna Torres looked a bit odd, but the more I see her the more I like her. She’s fit, smart and intense. If they needed to up the babe factor, they could have just had those two wear something tighter.

Maybe later I will write something up about Deep Space Nine. I might just wait to see if I can get through all of Voyager before they take episodes offline. I was hoping to get through Star Trek to put off paying for a subscription to Netflix. Now Netflix is having conflicts with Verizon and Comcast will be merging with Time Warner, so who knows what will happen with online content.

Image from Memory Alpha, copyright owned by CBS, assumed allowed under Fair Use.

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Possibly Last Thoughts On The Next Generation

I got through Star Trek: The Next Generation this weekend.

There is one thing I did not like thoughout the series, or at least the last couple of seasons.

Picard had this uniform that was a jacket that he always wore open, with a purple shirt underneath. I did not think it was appropriate for the captain to walk around with his jacket open. It looked like he was getting sloppy. It was very un-military in my opinion. I do not think the purple shirt underneath looked good either. It made Patrick Stewart look small. He did not seem to fill out the shoulders and arms. Just about all the men on TNG looked pretty muscular in the standard uniform. Supposedly Patrick Stewart asked for this uniform to stand out, but I do not think it looked good at all.

Granted, Counselor Troi spent most of the series in non-standard clothes, and I think it all looked good on her. Even the standard uniform looked good on her. Pretty much anything looks good on Marina Sirtis. I think they should have kept the season one unitard longer. I think the v-belt accentuated her waist. T&A are nice, but lately I have been noticing women’s waists. I saw a web page in which one guy said he never noticed how hot Linda Park was on Enterprise since they were all in the garage mechanic uniforms most of the time. You just need to know where to look.

I watched a video on YouTube in which she spoke with her natural accent. Maybe it was just a bad sample, or she had a cold, but she did not sound pleasant at all. She sounded like a British person trying to imitate a Noo Yawk-er, or vice versa. Her Troi accent was much nicer.

Another thing I did not like about Picard is that Patrick Stewart always seemed to let his arms hang limp a lot. He was just a talking head. I actually did a bit of googling about this, and it appears I am the only one who ever got that impression. I think if he made more gestures, he would have had a more dynamic presence, and he would not have needed the open jacket uniform.

Images from Memory Alpha, copyright owned by CBS, assumed allowed under Fair Use.

 

 

 

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Thoughts On Finishing The Next Generation

I am almost through watching (mostly re-watching) Star Trek: The Next Generation. There are about five, including the finale. I think I have not seen three of them all the way through. I also finally saw an entire episode of Voyager all the way through.

I seem to be putting off watching them. Perhaps once again I am just getting old and thinking of the good old days, when my life was full of possibilities instead of bad choices. TNG ended in 1994, twenty years ago, in May. As any good skeptic will tell you, humans love nice round numbers.

At the time I was living with my father. He introduced me to Star Trek when I was a kid. I remember going to see The Motion Picture when I was 8. We were living in Colorado. We went with my older brother. The theater was packed. My brother and I sat together, and my dad went further up front to get a seat.

When TNG was ending, things were not too good between us. My mother finally left him a few years before that. He did not treat her well. Let’s leave it at that.

I had gotten a useless humanities degree. After starting martial arts, I decided to go back to get a degree in exercise physiology. I needed financial aid to get it, so I got the FAFSA and started filling it out. If you are single, not a parent, not in the military and under the age of 25, you have to put information about your parents’ income on the form. I assume because you have to be registered with the Selective Service until you are 25. He insisted this was a plot by my mother to get more info about his income and assets.

Then he got upset when I told him that I was going for another undergraduate degree. For some reason he thought I was going into a graduate program. I think the idea of going into a graduate program for a hard science with a humanities undergrad degree is absurd. Plus I never mentioned the GRE. I guess he drank more booze than I had thought. So he accused me of lying twice in a short period of time. We watched All Good Things… in separate rooms. I went back to UIUC that fall, and we have not spoken since. Which is fine with me.

The 1990s were the golden age for Star Trek: Three series and a few good movies. First Contact is one of my favorites. I did not have a lot of money (or access to a television), but in general times were good in the 1990s: plenty of jobs, interest rates were low, people were hopeful about the future. I never wanted to be one of those old people talking about the good old days, but for Trek fans and the economy in general, the 1990s were pretty good.

Now after each episode I look at its article on Memory Alpha. It is a pretty neat resource.

According to MA, the producers did not put Crusher and Picard together so they could have Picard involved with other women. I think they should have put Dr Crusher and Capt Picard together. (I never violated the Prime Directive.)  I think some fans would have preferred that. Picard would save The Amazing Beverly that we have known all these years, instead of some character that drops out of the sky.

Nurse Ogawa had the prettiest face, but I think Ensign Ro probably had the best body. Too bad women on the Enterprise D did not walk around in boots and miniskirts.

I always had a problem with the Klingons in TNG. They had warp drive, cloaking devices and all this advanced technology, but they always seemed too rowdy. Can you imagine a bunch of Klingon undergrads taking a calculus exam? There would not be any students or professors left after a few semesters.

I am looking forward to DS9 and Voyager.

Image from Memory Alpha, copyright owned by CBS, assumed allowed under Fair Use.

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Thoughts on Star Trek and What Happened To My Life

I am now in the sixth season of watching Star Trek: The Next Generation. I have come across a few episodes that I have not seen. But mostly I have seen them. Sometimes I can remember where I was when I watched them.

I first saw TNG when I was at WIU. It had been going for a couple of years at that point. My friends there knew about it. I had watched the movies with TOS cast, but TNG was not on my radar at all. I really only paid attention to shows on the big 3 networks. I remember Saturday Night Live would have sketches making fun of the bad shows on Fox (look for “The Cop and The Prositute”). I think I started watching in the third season. I remember having a conversation that Riker looked like a little kid without the beard. The phrase “growing the beard” was coined, but it has not quite caught on as much as “jumping the shark”. (Side note: He shaved the beard for the third TNG movie. There were only four TNG movies.  The cast from TOS was in six movies. Coincidence? I think not.) So I guess some station in Western Illinois was already broadcasting reruns even then. Sometimes we would imitate the previews: “On the next…exciting episode of Staaaaaar Trek, thenextgeneration”.

I remember my friends at WIU being glad that Dr Crusher was back in season 3.

I remember finding Wesley really irritating.

I kept watching TNG when I transferred to UIUC. I did not see every single episode since I have never owned a TV. But usually I could find someone who let me join in. I lived in the Illinois Street Residence hall, and when the latest episode of TNG was on, there would be several rooms on the floor full of guys watching TNG. In one episode, “Riker falls in love with Soren, a member of an androgynous race known as the J’naii, who dares to be female.” (This was a metaphor for homosexuality, a pretty daring thing to do even in the early 1990s.) At one point, she says to him, “Commander, tell me about your sexual organs.” Someone down the hall yelled, “They’re huge, baby!”

I remember writing a letter by hand summarizing Redemption.

I remember Picard and Dathon…at El-Adrel.

I can remember one guy translating the French in “Time’s Arrow” for a few of us. After I left UIUC the first time, he starting dating a woman no one else on the floor liked, and I don’t remember what happened to him after that.

I remember that I was living in an apartment when “Timescape” aired (although I have not quite gotten that far yet in my current TNG binge).

But like Scotty in “Relics“, sometimes it makes me feel old.

I remember watching “Samaritan Snare“. Wesley asks Picard if he ever thought about having children or getting married, if he ever gets lonely. I do remember when Wesley asks Picard if he was always so disciplined. I remember thinking at the age of 19 or so that I was going to be as disciplined as Picard, and I would reach that point long before I got to Picard’s age. Now, I realize that Patrick Stewart is about ten years younger than I thought, and I still don’t feel like I have as much self-control as I wish I had, or as much as my 19 year old self thought I would have by this point.

There were times when I felt I was getting some control. How to get that discipline back?

“Samaritan Snare” image from Memory Alpha, copyright owned by CBS, assumed allowed under Fair Use.

Darmok campaign image presumed public domain, copyright and originator undetermined, assumed allowed under Fair Use.

“Relics” image from Star Trek site, copyright owned by CBS, assumed allowed under Fair Use.

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Star Trek and Religion: Who Watches The Watchers

The general consensus is that the third season of Star Trek: The Next Generation is when it hit its stride.

There is an episode in the third season that dealt with religion called Who Watches the Watchers. The basic plot is that some Federation anthropologists are observing humanoids whose technology is at the level of humans a few thousand years ago. But due to equipment failure, the anthropologists are discovered, and one is captured by the aliens. Then a few crew members go down, and one of them is captured.

At the beginning of the episode, the aliens seem atheistic. They regard beliefs in gods and spirits as superstitions of their ancestors. But as they encounter Starfleet’s advanced technology, the aliens think that the Enterprise crew are gods. By the end, the crew reveal themselves as nothing more than beings with more advanced technology, crew members are rescued, and the observations must come to an end.

Throughout the episode religion is regarded as superstition and magical thinking, and something that societies (and individuals) must outgrow. I got the impression from the Memory Alpha page for the episode that it is not a fan favorite. I like it a lot. I like episodes that tell a nice story for an hour and also touch on larger themes in culture and society.

There were a few good quotes about religion in the episode. Here are a few from the Memory Alpha page:

Horrifying… Dr. Barron, your report describes how rational these people are. Millennia ago, they abandoned their belief in the supernatural. Now you are asking me to sabotage that achievement, to send them back into the dark ages of superstition and ignorance and fear? No!

Picard

Are you sure this is what he wants? That’s the problem with believing in a supreme being: trying to determine what he wants.

Troi

Image from Memory Alpha, copyright owned by CBS, assumed allowed under Fair Use.

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