Sunday, July 9, 2017

Star Trek: The Next Generation - The Neutral Zone




I have always been fascinated with The Neutral Zone if just because of how indecisive its focus undergoes. It has two plots combatting for importance, a criticism it had used against it. I myself figure that each story truthfully deserved its own episode so that the viewer isn't distracted too much as each interrupts the other as if two distinct voices are reaching out for your attention. I loved the idea of Earthlings from our century being introduced to the crew of the Enterprise, awakening from successful cryonics, deemed a "fad of their time", to a time far different than when they "died". Problem is there's a great story involving outposts of both the Romulans and Federation being wiped out at the Neutral Zone, later to be introduced as the Borg. So Picard arrives from a serious conference with Federation elites and has Riker set coordinates for the Neutral Zone. There's a tension and uncertainty in what lies ahead. The Romulan Empire has been silent but aware of their potential adversaries and continuing growth of the Federation. When Picard finally does meet members of a Romulan Warbird that uncloaks on the opposite end of the Neutral Zone, this communication is quite an important event. Posturing and poking out their chest, the Romulan officers issue a statement that they are back and no longer quiet. Picard, by not aggressively arming up or showing the Romulan Warbird a readiness to fight, as Riker and Worf encourage battle stations and preparation for such, he let them know he's not so quick to rush to war without elaborate reason. And that is why Riker wasn't in any hurry to leave the Enterprise because he had so much to learn and glean from Picard. Picard kept it careful and civil, and his way with words and tone allowed for an exchange that remained absent coarse dialogue that would've certainly made matters worse. Picard even proposes a cooperation of sides to find and eliminate the threat to their species/officers.







I always felt that the developments of the three cryonics “displacements” had a lot more potential than perhaps truly realized. I think the screenplay wanted to give them some importance, some interest, but their interactions with the likes of Data, Riker, Beverly, Picard, and Troi offer moments of humor, poignancy, and tension weakened by the oft-intruding story arc of the Romulans. I think that is unfortunate, to tell you the truth. I still enjoy this episode personally a lot. I think, obviously, Leon Rippy’s Texas wild-living playboy surprising Data with his choice of speak and use of slang (and Riker to a certain extent as well) is the bright shiny apple from the tree that comes off the best just for its pure entertainment value, although I was a bit put off by the insistent disregard for the “relics”, like when Riker speaks to Data about how he felt their behavior made him wonder just how the human race was able survive. There are remarks about how Picard dressed down the “greedy power broker” Peter Mark Richman, lecturing him (even if I agree, it still was a bit off-putting somewhat) about how the reliance on profit and affluence was eventually done away with in favor of dedication to something far greater than attaining power and being so beholden to material wants. Do I share concern for the decline, deterioration, and erosion of all that is decent when wealth and profit seem to bend us at their will? Sure, but a pulpit ministry by Mr. Picard to Richman is a bit overbearing. It is Roddenberry’s message, with his vision of a future that was able to slough off all that shit and has the Earth devote its race to a mission of exploration and purpose towards learning, growing, and achieving, with scientific discovery, inventing and creating far more rewarding than accumulating wealth. Richman represents a past that Roddenberry could spew from his mouth, a symbol of greed and avarice that is a stench in his nostrils. Sure the replicator could manufacture a guitar for Rippy and give him a margarita, but Richman’s bank and stocks/bonds couldn’t be. Could he reshape himself into something of the 24th century? He makes demands and expects for the Captain of the ship he’s on to give him the proper respect, speak to him, and provide answers as to what awaits him. He even takes the turbolift to the Bridge to address Picard right as he was in the middle of a conversation with the Romulans, offering his opinion that they were as stumped about those responsible for the outpost attacks as the Federation, but not willing to just admit it due to their own arrogance. Gracie Harrison is the mother of boys she never had the chance to see grow up. Her husband was “into every fad that would pop up” and cryonics seemed like a good idea when she had an embolism. Harrison opines about being alone and in a century she doesn’t belong. Centuries have past and as a relic she was unsure exactly where life would take her next. Troi conducts a search for her ancestors and finds family on Earth. Perhaps that is at least a place to start. Rippy just wears a Cheshire cat grin and takes this all in, looking at his awakening as a clean slate and a fresh start for whatever life might take him. These alternating scenes duel with the Neutral Zone plot and often converge awkwardly. Richman realizes that the crew is nervous and tense, Rippy converses with Data about how the talk of meeting the Romulans makes him anxious, and Picard is really not exactly in the mood to spend so much time with his new occupants. Ironically Data’s curiosity in a primitive “piece of space junk” left to travel to a destination or course Riker could care less about led to his (and Worf who Riker commands to accompany him) finding the trio, asleep in cryogenic stasis, certain to eventually die as their pods were in dire straits.   

From a review I wrote for the IMDb in May of 2012:

 "Welcome to the 24th Century."

"The Neutral Zone" is ultimately memorable for two things: (1) it
introduces us to the "new" Romulans who proclaim to Picard, "We are
back." Picard's response is apt, "I think our lives just got a little
more complicated." (2) both Federation and Romulan outposts along the
border of the "buffer" that separates the two are being not just
destroyed but completely removed; I think this could imply the Borg
Collective is well on its way to becoming a major threat. However, this
episode is taken over by a sub-plot where Data, curious about "ancient
space wreckage" floating derelict, asks Riker to board it for study
reasons, and, accompanied by Worf, finds three humans from 370 years
ago frozen in cryogenic chambers, dead but thanks to 24th Century
technology and know-how, they can be "salvaged". Crusher brings them
back from the dead and the rest of the episode follows their adapting
(well except for happy-go-lucky, jovial, always-looking-for-a-good-time
LQ 'Sonny' Clemmons, played with gusto by Leon Rippy ) to a new century
alien to them. I'm not denigrating the value of this episode in regards
to its importance; "The Neutral Zone" establishes major story
lines/characters that would factor heavily for the show (and in
theatrical films) into the future. But the balancing act is a bit
awkward. You feel the unease that exists, and rightfully so considering
the mystery behind the Romulans who have not kept contact with anyone,
especially the Federation, for some time, but the continuing thread
involving the three "relics" from a bygone era of Earth kind of takes
away some of the tension and seems to interject itself into what could
have been an all-encompassing feeling of dread remaining throughout,
not just in spurts. That said, the three humans, each with their own
characteristics clashing with the new environment in amusing/profound
ways, does lead to some interesting developments. Peter Mark Richman's
character is perfect for the episode because The Next Gen can comment
on the unimportance of monetary wealth, stocks, and "the accumulation
of things", as his character, Ralph Offenhouse, was a businessman
obviously consumed with being in charge/control and dictating his power
onto others. In this time, he wants answers as to what Captain Picard
will do with them; desiring to get home to the bank, Ralph will have to
accept that the role he once occupied ceases to exist. Gracie Harrison
is the third character, finding it very difficult to accept that all
those she has ever known and loved have been dead for nearly 400 years.
Troi really helps her confront this dilemma, allowing her to see how
the family line continued after her death. While Rippy has some very
funny moments with Data (the computer provides him not only the finest
Martini he ever tasted but even recreated an acoustic guitar for him to
jig with!), Richman is the one of the trio who really gets involved in
the alternating Neutral Zone storyline, even boarding the Main Bridge
much to the surprise and angst of Picard, although he does offer
correct insight about the fact that the Romulans do not know who
attacked their outposts, curious if the Federation maybe had a clue. I
do think the show does the wise thing and has Picard reiterating that
their focus needs to be on the future, not the past, and this sets the
stage for the next season. I found this episode personally
entertaining, but I think the storyline about the humans belonged in an
episode separate from the Neutral Zone plot as it just seems like both
are competing with each other for supremacy. Funniest scene, beside
every time Rippy is on screen, could be when Harrison faints at the
sight of Worf. That green Romulan warbird sure looks sinister and you
could really see a gulp by all the crew on the Bridge when their eyes
caught it out of cloak for the first time.

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Dexter - Seeing Red

Sure enough, Pellegrino pops up yet again, as Rita's loathsome, trouble-making ex. Tonight's episode presented Dexter with yet anoth...

Ahs

Ahs

Edc

Edc
Blog's Dead all Over
"... perhaps we invent artificial terrors to cope with the real ones."

--host, Donald Pleasence, Terror in the Aisles (1984)

Sbut

Sbut
Snip. Snip

Hal

Hal
There are many things under the sun
---Dr. Werdegast, The Black Cat

hal1

It's Halloween, everyone's entitled to one good scare.

Jtm 2

Jtm 2

Rave

Rave

Mrub

Mrub

Gb

"Back off, man. I'm a scientist."

--Ghostbusters

sm6

sm6

Rv1

Rv1

Nas

Nas

nos3

nos3

Lok

Lok

Po

Po

Ra6

Ra6

dawn

dawn

Dracula's Daughter ('36)

Countess Zaleska: Be thou exorcised oh Dracula, and thy body long undead find destruction throughout eternity in the name of thy dark unholy Master.

mh2

mh2

z2

z2

Hiii

Hiii

Fred

Fred

Ghspo

Ghspo
Movie, so-so, but poster, cool

Enl

Enl

nos4

nos4

gm

To a new world of gods and monsters!


No 2

No 2
Jason Lives

clothes line

clothes line

Ahorr

Ahorr

Cbi1

Cbi1
Case of the bloody iris

Wsha

Wsha

Mouth3

Mouth3
In the Mouth of Madness

Fdfn2

Fdfn2
Freddy's Dead '91

Vyr

Vyr
Vampyres 1974

Sh fr

Sh fr
Friday the 13th Part 2

Vlov

Vlov
Carmilla's kiss

f133

f133

Edpos

Edpos

Ttf2

Ttf2

Jm2

Jm2
El Hombre Lobo

Psycho '60

It's sad, when a mother has to speak the words that condemn her own son. But I couldn't allow them to believe that I would commit murder. They'll put him away now, as I should have years ago. He was always bad, and in the end he intended to tell them I killed those girls and that man... as if I could do anything but just sit and stare, like one of his stuffed birds. They know I can't move a finger, and I won't. I'll just sit here and be quiet, just in case they do... suspect me. They're probably watching me. Well, let them. Let them see what kind of a person I am. I'm not even going to swat that fly. I hope they are watching... they'll see. They'll see and they'll know, and they'll say, "Why, she wouldn't even harm a fly..."

Kife

Kife
Knife is calling, Psycho 2

Meg

Meg
Meg Tilly, Psycho II

ring 2

ring 2
the ring 2002, "the tape"

poster

poster

exor1

exor1
"the visitor" The Exorcist (1973)

Conj

Conj

Tz1

Tz1
"Masks", Twilight Zone

In the kitchen, The Shape

In the kitchen, The Shape
In the kitchen, The Shape

exc4

exc4

Ps56

Ps56

Hun

Hun
Murders in the Rue Morgue 1932

Ps89

Ps89

Cof

Cof
Victor and Paul, with their Monster

pcushig

pcushig

His

His

Efny

Efny

sus

sus
I'm going to grind you down to blood and screams.

--Innocent Blood 1992
Rest in Peace, Robert Loggia

wb

Even a man who is pure in heart and says his prayers by night, may become a wolf when the wolfbane blooms and the autumn moon is bright.

WZ

WZ

Edfen

Edfen
"Do not enter the city...It belongs to the dead now."

h1

h1
Look behind you!

Bs

Bs
"There is no terror in the bang, only the anticipation of it."
--Alfred Hitchcock

linnea

linnea

Amer

Amer
Taste of metal

The h gang

The h gang

Nlc

Nlc
Old Skool Nostalgia

Hp

Hp

Smoke

Smoke
Got a smoke?

Strek

Strek
Live long and prosper

Hill

Hill

Castle

Castle

SRW

"This seems to be the place where the plot begins to thicken..."
--Spooks Run Wild (1941)

Frere and dummy

Frere and dummy

Mlove

Mlove

Alone/dark

"There are no crazy people, doctor. We're all just on vacation."

--Alone in the Dark (1982)

Lips

Lips

Fhz

Fhz

Ph

Ph

Vestron

Vestron
Vintage VHS

sm 3

sm 3

Monique parent

Monique parent
Erotique in Review

Were5

Were5

f13

f13
November 2015

Bmate

Bmate

--Wes Craven

I think there is something about the American dream, the sort of Disneyesque dream, if you will, of the beautifully trimmed front lawn, the white picket fence, mom and dad and their happy children, God-fearing and doing good whenever they can, and the flip side of it, the kind of anger and the sense of outrage that comes from discovering that that's not the truth of the matter, that gives American horror films, in some ways, kind of an additional rage.

Ms45 w

Ms45 w

Churcvh

Churcvh
The Church 1989

Ww

Ww
The Whip and the Body 1963

Lsho

"Now, no novacaine....it dulls the senses"

--Little Shop of Horrors (1960)

Christopher Lee

Every actor has to make terrible films from time to time, but the trick is never to be terrible in them.

Vampyros lesbos

You are one of us now. The Queen of the Night will bear you up on her black wings

The Unknown 1927

No....not sick. But I have lost some flesh.

Alonzo, the Armless.

Ckvh

Ckvh

Blood of Dracula's Castle (1969)

Glen: We'd like to speak to the Townsends, please.

The Butler: They are not available till after sunset.

Bw5

Bw5

Jill

Jill

Mad Love 1935

Doctor Gogol: Did you ever hear of Galatea?

Lavin - Waxworks Proprietor: Gala - who? Not wanting a statue of him, are you?

Doctor Gogol: I don't want a statue of Galatea. You see, she was a statue herself. Pygmalion formed her. Out of marble, not wax. And then she came to life in his arms.

Lavin - Waxworks Proprietor: [calling to his assistant] Start the motor, Henry. There's queer people on the streets of Montmartre at this time of night.

Doctor Gogol: [handing him his card] Here, a hundred francs if you deliver the statue to my house.

Lavin - Waxworks Proprietor: [reading card] It's a go, Dr. Go... gol. First thing in the morning.