ST:TNG Treadmill Review #57: The Host

The Host
Season 4 Episode 23
Original airdate: May 11, 1991

Netflix Synopsis

Dr. Crusher falls for a visiting ambassador, only to discover that he’s not quite what she thought.

My Brief Review

Spoiler: He’s a parasite living inside a symbiont host. The host body dies, he gets transplanted into Riker’s body so he can continue mediating a dispute between two moons, everything works out in the end, and his permanent replacement host is… a woman! Gasp!

Beverly is totally fine falling in love with an alien with forehead ridges… as long as it’s a straight relationship. eyeroll Sometimes Star Trek’s efforts to be socially progressive are a bit ham-fisted, and often they don’t age well, much like their tech. In some ways, we’ve come farther both socially and technologically in 30 years than the writers anticipated in 300.

And in other ways… not so much.

P.S. Yes I skipped another Lwaxana Troi episode. Ugh.

Memorable Moment

That rose Odan gives Beverly is pretty sad, I have to say. At least they show it later in full bloom, and that’s what makes Beverly decide she can… uh… handle a night of passion with Riker.

But I think the most memorable moment for me is when we first see the planetary system where this negotiation is taking place. It’s a planet with two large moons, and all three are class M. The humanoids originated on the central planet but colonized the two moons centuries earlier. It’s a very interesting concept I would like to see more done with, as opposed to the main focus of the episode. Once again.

Crew Rando

Nurse Ogawa makes another appearance in this episode. I think she’s the only non-regular we even see in this episode.

Distance Rating: 2.23 miles

IMDb score: 6.5/10
#irunwithmaud #finishtherun

ST:TNG Treadmill Reviews #55 and #56: Wherein I am beginning to lose steam for this project

Over the weekend I ran on the treadmill twice and watched ST:TNG as usual, both times. In this case I watched Qpid (S4E20, 4/20/91, IMDb 7.3/10) and The Drumhead (S4E21, 4/27/91, IMDb 8.4/10).

Both were good episodes that I enjoyed, but my timing was bad, and I did not have a chance to write my blog entries immediately after watching them.

“Qpid” (featuring Q, of course), was the kind of episode I might typically hate, but I actually found it exceedingly entertaining, with Picard as Robin Hood, leading his band of Merry Men to rescue Maid Marian (Vash, from the episode where Picard punches a Ferengi in the face). The episode even pays homage to one of the funniest moments in Animal House.

And then we had “The Drumhead,” featuring Jean Simmons (who I recognized best from having just seen her in an old episode of Miss Marple that I watched a week or so ago) as a witch hunt-leading admiral. The episode, once again, felt very timely with what’s been happening in the U.S. politically in recent months. When episodes like this originally aired, I saw them as symbolically representing tyrannical governments of the 20th century, but I foolishly maintained an “it would never happen here” mentality. Now I know better. So I didn’t exactly enjoy this episode, but I found it compelling.

Sorry for breaking the formula with this review; I’m just trying to get caught up!

ST:TNG Treadmill Review #54: Check out the big brain on Barclay!

The Nth Degree
Season 4 Episode 19
Original airdate: March 30, 1991

Netflix Synopsis

When assigned to investigate an unknown probe, Lt. Barclay receives an unexplainable boost of confidence and a vast increase in his knowledge.

My Brief Review

I often skip the Lt. Barclay episodes. I just can’t handle his twitchy nervousness and I have trouble believing someone so pathologically insecure could manage to get promoted to Lieutenant and score an assignment on the Federation’s flagship. But this episode stands apart, because for half of it, Barclay isn’t himself.

Who is he then? While investigating a mysterious alien probe that has knocked out a telescope array at the edge of Federation space, Barclay gets blasted with a beam of energy and is suddenly a confident super-genius. Which predictably goes to his head. Eventually he enters the Holodeck, not for one of his typical escapist fantasies, but to have the ship’s computer build a neural interface so his brain can merge with the computer itself.

This kind of thing has been done before (and since), but it’s still a pretty solid episode. I was reminded of Flowers for Algernon as Barclay’s IQ swelled. And there are definitely traces of HAL-9000 in Barclay/Computer’s interactions with La Forge as he’s trying to configure a bypass to the ship’s controls. “I’m afraid I can’t do that, Geordi.” OK, he doesn’t actually say that line exactly, but he might as well.

Memorable Moment

There were several moments in this episode that piqued my faded memories of this episode from high school, but the one that stands out the most is certainly when the giant floating head of the aged hippie Cytherian appears on the Enterprise bridge. I feel like the 10 days Enterprise supposedly spends with them would have made for an interesting episode — or at least a few minutes’ worth of this one. But I suppose the writers or special effects designers ran out of ideas for how that all would work.

Crew Rando

Barclay himself, of course! I understand it’s a practical matter in casting and production of a TV series, but it feels weird that Barclay is a full-fledged member of the crew, one of Geordi’s best engineers (according to Geordi himself in this episode), and yet we only ever see Barclay in episodes that are about him. It’s hard to suspend disbelief.

Distance Rating: 4K

IMDb rating: 8.1/10

Reflecting on my own experience with Brooks’s Law

An interesting take today from Gruber on a concept (Brooks’s Law) that you may not know by name, but may have witnessed in your life.

Personally, I have vivid firsthand experience with Brooks’s Law, from the 7 months I worked at Best Buy corporate in 2000. The dev team was ludicrously large, and I honestly couldn’t figure out what 99% of them were doing there. Aside from a few project managers, a handful of content writers/editors, and 4 of us on the dev team — 2 front-end devs (including myself) and 2 back-end devs/database admins — I really feel like no one else needed to be there, and the fact that there were so many people made everything take way longer and cost way more than it needed to.

Microsoft contributed $150 million worth of software and consultant time to the project, including a relatively huge team working with some of the other devs at Best Buy who I never had any contact with, all for the process of customizing a 7-figure behemoth Content Management System (CMS) called Vignette StoryServer to suit our needs.

That project dragged on for months, including many months beyond when I left. In the meantime, I spent a weekend building a quick-and-dirty, database-less (since as a front-end dev I wasn’t allowed direct access to databases, because roles!) CMS to allow our writers to load their own content into pages instead of having to send Word docs to the other front-end dev and myself to key in as HTML (stupid!)… and my QDCMS worked so well, they were still using it almost a year after I quit!

ST:TNG Treadmill Reviews #52 and #53: Night Terrors and Identity Crisis

I’ve been getting a bit off track with both my running and my reviews, so here’s a catch-up post.

I skipped S4E16, Galaxy’s Child, because… well… “As Geordi La Forge finally meets the real Dr. Leah Brahms, a tragic first contact leaves the Enterprise with a gigantic galactic infant suckling the ship’s energy” sounds excruciating. I already endured an episode with Geordi fawning over a holographic simulation of Dr. Leah Brahms, and if I recall correctly this episode has an awkward moment where the real life Dr. Brahms discovers Geordi’s holoprogram. And “a gigantic galactic infant suckling” is just too much. So we move on…


Night Terrors
Season 4 Episode 17
Original airdate: March 16, 1991

Netflix Synopsis

The Enterprise has finally tracked down the missing starship USS Brattain, but Troi senses trouble with the life on board.

My Brief Review

No one on board is dreaming except Troi, who has a recurring nightmare of floating in a green void with the binary stars they’re orbiting floating far above her (yet she somehow can’t figure out that that’s what they are). An alien voice keeps saying “Two eyes in the darkness. One moon circles.” After a couple of weeks they finally figure out that some aliens are trapped just like they are, and are telepathically asking for hydrogen so they can set off an explosion to free everyone. It works. The end.

Memorable Moment

When they finally figure out the hydrogen thing.

Crew Rando

Fightin’ Ensign Gillespie. Chill out, dude!

Distance Rating: 3K

IMDb score: 7.2/10


Identity Crisis
Season 4 Episode 18
Original airdate: March 23, 1991

Netflix Synopsis

La Forge’s friend Leijten expresses concern about the whereabouts of their former crewmates. Soon both begin suffering worrisome ailments.

My Brief Review

For some reason this episode gets an extremely middling review from IMDbers, but it’s one of my most memorable. I didn’t recognize it from the synopsis, but within 5 seconds, I knew it immediately! The one where Geordi recreates a mission log video on the holodeck and discovers the shadow of an unexplained figure. I love that moment. Eventually Geordi, like the others who had been on that mission 5 years earlier, begins to transform into a weird alien species that blends into its environment, acts solely on instinct, and glows like a Tron character in UV light. But his friend talks him off the metaphorical ledge before his transformation is complete, and we get our old friend Geordi back!

Memorable Moment

That moment.

Crew Rando

Honestly, Lt. Cdr. Leijten is kind of a rando even though she’s one of the main characters in the episode, because although we’re told what her relevance to the story is, I don’t think we’re actually told how she ends up on the Enterprise for this episode. Oops.

Distance Rating:

IMDb score: 6.8/10