Wednesday, August 3, 2011

Nothing Frozen In This "Timescape."

The Good: Acting, Plot, What character development there is, Effects
The Bad: There's not much in the way of character development
The Basics: When the Enterprise is in the process of being destroyed in an area where time is stopped, Picard must deduce the causes and try to save the ship!

There are several reasons why Star Trek The Next Generation remains the strongest grossing link in the Star Trek franchise. In the end, much of it comes down to originality. Star Trek was original, but it was campy by today's effects and acting standards, Star Trek Deep Space Nine was original, but it was adult, serialized, darker and required more of its audience in the beginning than most were willing to give, and Star Trek Voyager and Enterprise were both utterly derivative. Star Trek The Next Generation, though, was a true original with pretty much everything to recommend it to the general television watcher.

"Timescape" is a nice example of Star Trek The Next Generation's enduring cleverness. In the sixth season of the series, we are treated to a distinctly original story that keeps us on the edge of our seats.

When Picard, Data, Geordi and Troi are returning to the Enterprise from a conference, they begin to experience awkward temporal anomalies. Picard freezes in the middle of a story he was telling, as does Troi. The team discovers that the fabric of space has been traumatized in this area of space. As a result, time is moving at different rates at different points in the area. Cautiously, the Runabout moves deeper in, only to discover the Enterprise frozen in time in battle against a Romulan Warbird. After taking precautions to deal with the temporal anomalies, the team returns to the Enterprise to discover an apparent invasion imminent on the Enterprise. One that is likely to cost them Dr. Crusher, who is in Sickbay in the process of being shot, and the Enterprise itself, as there is a warp core breach in progress.

"Timescape" is essentially a mystery in time where members of the Enterprise crew work to piece together how and why time is fracturing while they work to determine how to fix it and save everything. This works well as it is an intriguing dilemma that is quite well put together. The technical jargon is kept to a minimum while they try to solve the problem, yet it still has the feeling of being quite complete and well developed.

Despite being a heavy special effect episode, which it does quite well, "Timescape" relies heavily on the actors to sell the circumstances they find themselves in. The primary cast for this episode consists of Brent Spiner, Levar Burton, Marina Sirtis and Patrick Stewart. Brent Spiner plays the role of relief pitcher here, for a change, not stepping in to steal the limelight until after Burton's LaForge is incapacitated.

For much of the episode, Burton is given the chance to push Geordi forward a bit. He seems to be a genuine explorer here and it is refreshing to see, once again, that the characters have some sense of dynamic to them. Burton plays Geordi with a strong sense of adventure here, something that has been noticeably lacking from his past performances. Similarly, the oft-neglected Marina Sirtis here is lively and charismatic as Troi, something her character seldom was given the opportunity to be. Indeed, early scenes on the Runabout have the feel of a group of people finally talking comfortably with one another after years of getting to know one another. That's the characters gelling and the actors make it appear effortless.

The cast is rounded out by Patrick Stewart who does an impressive job of revealing his range in "Timescape." Stewart gives a surprisingly potent performance as Picard becomes a giggly child as he suffers from temporal narcosis. The abruptness of it is astonishing and the viewer never feels for a moment that they are being pulled out of the episode to watch an expert actor. Instead, we have the feeling of the character snapping.

"Timescape" offers much to the non-Trek fan. It is a fast paced, engaging mystery that keeps the viewer interested in the plight of the Enterprise and the isolated Runabout crew. The tone is one of consistent menace, which will appeal to fans of action-adventure stories. In fact, "Timescape" has something for everyone but fans of religious imagery or romance. The only real strike against this show is that - while it uses some of the actors well or pushes their abilities - it does not challenge the characters significantly. This is a puzzle of the week for them and there is no lingering growth or change as a result of this piece. Still, it is far more than enough to recommend to viewers of all ages. This is an adventure anyone who likes science fiction or mystery will enjoy.

[Knowing that VHS is essentially a dead medium, it's worth looking into Star Trek: The Next Generation - The Complete Sixth Season on DVD, which is also a better economical choice than buying the VHS. Read my review of the penultimate season by clicking here!


For other Star Trek episode, movie or DVD reviews, please be sure to visit my index page on the subject by clicking here!

© 2011, 2007, 2003 W.L. Swarts. May not be reprinted without permission.
| | |

No comments:

Post a Comment