2018

Almost all years I do very little reflecting at the end of the year as it tends to send me into a pit of despondancy and self-recrimination as I wonder what on Earth I did with the last twelve months. 2018 has been a charming trashfire in many ways, but in my own personal little bubble, I find it’s not actually been all that awful. I can actually point to a bunch of things in the past year, personally and professionally, that I’m actually proud of. It’s weird. And rather nice.

Probably the most important thing was the change to my medication. I suffer from major depressive disorder and another thing that I’m not comfortable talking about publically. My medication has been excellent at keeping me alive, and I live in a country where I don’t have to worry about medical costs. However, when you’re a bit mental, it can be difficult to recognise when you’re not doing well, and to advocate for not merely managing but improving your condition. And it can also take time to learn how to do that effectively, and get medical people to listen to you. Fortunately I’ve had a superb psychiatrist this past year, and I was put on a combo of meds that was brilliant. It pretty much eliminated some symptoms and diminished the rest so that while I did have difficult spots, it was the healthiest I’d been in my adult life. Alas, one of the drugs also meant I was permanently hungry. I coped. For a while. Because the changes to my brain were worth it. But then it started to mess up my relationship with food, and the constant eating was having its own effect on my mental health. My psychiatrist gave me alternatives, and the first one worked just as well, but the only lasting side-effect is dry mouth, which is infinitely more tolerable long term, and means I’m remembering to stay hydrated.

And the thing about good mental health is it has a knock on effect on everything in your life in so many ways. In the same way that your illness can send things spiralling horribly down, when it’s being treated effectively it can send things spiralling up. Suddenly you can cope with so much more, you can do so much more, you have more energy, more creativity, more joy, and the normal happiness and contentment things are so much easier to find.

(I feel terribly vulnerable talking about this, but given how much other people talking about their mental health online helped me, I’m trying, when I feel able to, to do the same.)

One of the knock-ons with that was trying to fix some issues I had with my diet. I’ve been a meat-eater all my life, but I was growing increasingly unfond of it. June or July I think I found I just didn’t like the taste of pork anymore, and it was making me uncomfortable eating it. But meat was the nice, easy, familiar thing, and I hate so many vegetables and how do you make vegetables a meal anyway? I’d (very) half-heartedly tried vegetarianism before and I hated the *effort*. I had to learn new stuff about food, and food just didn’t interest me all that much.

I forget exactly what convinced me to say sod it and try anyway, but I did. And I’m so much happier with my food. I’ve found fake chicken I like better than real chicken, discovered how marvellous garlic is, and learned how to make many a vegetable taste delicious (not courgettes though; courgettes are the worst.) It’s not strict vegetarianism (I’ll maybe have chicken or fish once or twice a month, and a burger or steak when I’m away from home as a treat, but I don’t eat pork and I’ve never even tasted sheep or lamb) but it’s got so more more veg in my diet and I’m snacking so much less, and, damn it, have more energy just like I was told healthier eating would do. And I’m actually *enjoying* cooking, which is weird but terribly satisfying.

Creatively, I’ve written a lot of words this year. I’ve finished one novel, and started another. I’ve been part of another wonderful year of the Verity! podcast (and we got a second Hugo nomination!), and had a delightful first year of Hammer House of Podcast. And I’ve been lucky enough to guest on a plethora of other amazing podcasts. I wrote Big Finish’s very first twelfth Doctor story,  I’ve written some actual words that’ll be in Doctor Who Magazine next month (and I believe my picture will be in there too, horrifying, but also I know my six year old self would be ever so amazed), and thanks to this year, I’m working on some very spiffy things for this coming year.

So, on the final day of 2018 I’m caught in a weird flux of optimism and pessimism for the coming year. And now I’m going to go play some lovely computer games.

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Women Have Always Watched Doctor Who (Or, I Asked Mum A Few Questions About Being a Fan Since 1963)

It’s my Mum’s fault I love Doctor Who. As the show was off the air for most of my childhood, without her maternal influence I might never have discovered just how brilliant it was.

I always find Mum’s perspective on Who interesting, or as she would more likely put it *annoyingly* interesting. I managed to convince her that, yes, actually the perspective of a female fan who’s watched Doctor Who from the very start *is* worthwhile, would you mind if I asked you a few perfectly lovely questions about what you think of the show.

Naturally, she was thrilled. Ahem.

She knows a little bit about online fandom, as I talk about it too much, and I wanted to know if she’d be prepared to go online and tell anyone who was using “I’ve been watching Doctor Who since 197-something” as a way to bolster their argument that there were very silly, and she’d been watching since 1963 and, yes, had actually seen every single episode, haha you will never know the true joy of The Myth-Makers but I do.

She said no. “I’ve no interest in doing that.”

Alrighty. How about how we just talk about when you started watching Doctor Who? “I saw the very first episode, twice, and have been watching it ever since…it was a different, exciting sort of programme…sometimes the make-up left a bit to be desired, not what I thought as a child, it looked fine then. They did very well with what they had.”

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So you were old enough to appreciate what was going on? “Yes.” And how old were you? “No. Age is banned.”

One of the big things that helped keep Doctor Who on the air in the early years were the monsters, any memory of those?

“The Daleks, of course, the cushion-hiding monsters. I didn’t hide behind any cushions, but your uncles did…what always amazed me was the Daleks going through those deserted cities [in The Dalek Invasion of Earth].”

What about monsters that *did* scare you, any of those?

“One of the early ones that definitely sticks in my mind are those tick-tock toy soldiers coming after them in The Mind Robber. Very strange and scary. It was completely different from anything I’d seen before, insidiously creepy. The Ice Warriors’ first story was frightening; the way they hissed. Autons were scary. Very effective turning an everyday thing into a killing machine.”

Do you think the Autons coming out of shop windows and massacring people was a bit too much for children? “Not compared to what they can see in computer games nowadays.” I ask if this is a dig at that one time I let my niece watch me playing Dead By Daylight and got into trouble from my sister. “It might be.” Thanks, Mum!

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How about your first regeneration, any memories of what it was like when Hartnell turned into Troughton? “This sage old grandfather figure turned into a clown; a strange, quick-witted man with a recorder. I found the recorder irritating.” Any regenerations a bit tricky? “I don’t get as emotional as you, but I did think when Davison turned into Colin Baker they’d made a mistake.” And now? “Oh, he’s fine now. You get used to a new Doctor. I couldn‘t take to Sylvester McCoy at first either. It took me ages to find some sort of rapport with him. And Ace I found strange at the time, but I can appreciate her now.”

We move on to chat about favourite companions. “I quite like Jamie, but he could be excitable. You don’t like the companions I like best; I enjoyed Adric, Nyssa, and Tegan. They had unusual names and their own little team, and idiosyncrasies.”

Now, I didn’t get to see any of the classic series on broadcast, I was too young. But the age of the VHS was upon us, hurrah! I ask Mum why she inflicted Doctor Who on me as a child. “I only bought you a video! And you liked it. It made getting presents for you easy.” When did you think I’d grow out of Doctor Who? “I never thought you’d grow out of it, mind you I never thought it was going to take over your life. Thank goodness it wasn’t something detrimental.”

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Moving on to the mid-nineties, the Paul McGann TV movie appeared. “Liked it! Liked Paul McGann. Quite a dishy guy.” Is he the Doctor you’d most want to travel with? “Oh, definitely. He had a decent looking outfit as well.”

In 2005, the new series started with Christopher Eccleston and Billie Piper in the main roles, any memories of that first season? “Eccleston and Piper worked very well together. Love the one with Harriet Jones, she was great. And politics! That was right up my street.”

We talk about her favourite scene from the first series: the dancing at the end of The Doctor Dances: “The classic Doctors would never have danced to Glen Miller…maybe Sylvester McCoy.”

And what about the New Series generally, any favourites, enjoyed it as much as the classic one? “I’ve liked all the new Doctors. Amy’s my favourite companion, she’s feisty and strong-minded.” So nothing to do with her being Scottish? “The Scottishness just adds to the genius.” That sounds like something I’d say, I tell her. “Oh dear.”

Excitingly, I learn something new about my Mum! She’s a bit of a Moffat fan. “I found Moffat’s episodes really good. I started to pay attention to who was writing the stories and looked out for his name. Some of the ideas he brought in were a breath of fresh air. I rarely found a Moffatt episode I didn’t like.”

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Now, Jodie Whittaker is the new Doctor. Any feelings about her being cast? “No, because I hadn’t a clue who Jodie Whittaker was.” Yes, but a woman as the Doctor, what do you think? You were pretty excited about there being a female captain in Star Trek [big Janeway fan], no similar feelings for the new Doctor? “It’s not like Trek where there’s a new character in a new series. Each time Doctor Who regenerates there’s a process where you miss the last Doctor, and start to get to know the new Doctor. I expect the same thing to happen here. I’m pleased it’s a woman, but there’s still the same emotional journey you have with every Doctor.”

Thank you for being so patient with me! Are there any final thoughts you have about Doctor Who you’d like to share? “Have you seen Bradley Walsh’s wee face? He’s absolutely over the moon; he was watching Doctor Who fifty years ago too. I wish it was me that was going in the TARDIS.”

Saturday Yayfulness Links

I did not do Terribly Well with keeping up with lovely weekly links of YAYFUL THINGS that happened that week last year, but FORWARDS. Here is a round-up of STUFF that I found QUITE LOVELY this week:

1 – Actual local news! There’s been a rather nifty archeological discovery where I live, where archeologists seem to have found the royal seat of a sixth century kingdom known as Rheged, previously thought to be a bit further south in Cumbria.

2 – James Frain has been cast as Sarek in the new Star Trek telly. I love Sarek. By which I mean Mark Lenard’s Sarek. And in principle the idea of recasting the part ANNOYS, especially because I was thoroughly unimpressed with the reboot Sarek. HOWEVER James Frain is actually one of my very favourite actors (I adored his performance as Cromwell in The Tudors and have more or less followed all the stuff he’s done since then) and is in the category of “yes, I will watch this terrible non-genre telly because you are in it” SO I am actually quite sold on the idea now. Shallowly.

3 –Bryan Cranston joins the new Power Rangers movie, and after reading him talking about why and trusting VAGUELY that Cranston knows a good script when he sees one I am..sort of excited about the new Power Rangers movie? SHHHHH. I’M SORRY. But also I was a wee kid when the very first Power Rangers was on the telly and IT WAS RLY COOL, OKAY? Ahem.

4 – This MAGNFICIENT Star Trek fanvid by shinyjenni which brings ALL THE HAPPY FEELS. (Which reminds I haven’t actually seen the new Star Trek movie yet, I should do that.)

5 – The Woman’s March has expanded to all seven continents of the world. Love and support to everyone marching today.

Doctor Who Buckety List

I failed to make a Friday Flail list so instead (and I totally started writing this on Friday, so it somehow counts against not failing at regular blogging) I give you my DOCTOR WHO BUCKETY LIST. It was supposed to be Bucket List but I typoed and then thought I liked the typo better. ANYWAYS. This is a list of everything I would like to see in (proper, meaning telly) Doctor Who before I DIE. Several things to bear in mind as you, no doubt a reader of fine taste and grand intellect, peruse this list (1) I consider the Time Monster to be top notch Who (2) I’m writing this inbetween gaming where  I’m in the midst of a miserable losing streak and this does not make me cheery (3) I’m quite tired, it’s almost midnight (4) I’m making this up as I go along.

The list!

  1. Doctor-Master bodyswap with Michelle Gomez and Peter Capaldi. Cause who DOESN’T want to see them play the other part?? No-one. The correct answer is no-one.
  2. Patrick Stewart as the Meddling Monk. Ah, the one rumour that I really had my HEART SET ON. And yet it’s not that ridic. Ian McKellen was in it, why wouldn’t PT want to? Apart from time. And money. And maybe hating Doctor Who, I don’t know. But it would be GREAT.
  3. A WOMAN DOCTOR. I’ll tell you who I want to be the Doctor more than anyone else on the planet: Alice Krige. If you don’t know who that is (AND WHY NOT??) she’s actually my very favourite (living) actor and South African so TECHNICALLY ineligible to play the Doctor but sod that, she’d be amazing (she was the Borg Queen, okay? DON’T JUDGE HER BASED ON THAT. Watch Children of Dune and judge her on that.) Actually, Anna Maxwell Martin would also be perfect and wonderful and I’d love her like pie AND she’s even been in the show already (The Long Game) so that means she’s practically got the job.
  4. Gel Guards. A big fuck off army of Gel Guards. So many classic Who monsters have returned, mostly not all that well, but how could ANYONE get Gel Guards wrong? Exactly. It literally COULDN’T happen.
  5. Ooh, Raston Warrior Robot. Yeah. God, they’d probably make it CGI, DON’T DO THAT. Non-CGI Raston Warrior Robot.
  6. The Rani. If only cause then you have to pretend in promos and shit that Time and the Rani is amazing (IT IS). But actually yeah, New Who’s pretty decent with female villains, bring back THE BEST ONE.
  7. You’re probably reading this thinking “dear God, doesn’t she want anything cool and new and original instead of just a lot of recycled old tat from the classic series?” And you know what, reader, YOU’RE RIGHT. That is basically all I want.
  8. NIMON. Another classic monster that it’s literally impossible to get wrong. FACT.
  9. Okay, actually I want some cool FUTURE EARTH stuff where this are GALACTIC POLITICS and interplanetary diplomacy with Ice Warriors on Mars, and Draconians, and it’s all just a THIN ALLEGORY of EU politics. (Yes, I know we had that before and one of the results was Monster of Peladon, but there is NO WAY a show could make something as tedious as Monster of Peladon TWICE…oh, wait, Voyage of the Damned, never mind. No, wait, there’s no way they could do it a third time. NO TELLY COULD BE THAT UNLUCKY.)
  10. Actually, sod it, it’s my list, I’d like a remix of Season 17. For the lols. My lols. No-one else’s probably.

Right, I have to go pretend I know about Star Trek on a podcast.

Who’s the cutest cygnet? (and a new vid!)

So the loch I try and have a daily run by is still frozen over, and some of the swans have taken to investigating the land. And this cygnet came up to me making ridiculously cute noises – I’d no idea swans had cute noises! And I snapped a few pics. (Mummy swan was not far behind and she was far less cute and much more “hissss – away from my child, human!” to which I quickly obliged.)

Also, new vid up today of another classic DOS game, Castles 2: Siege and Conquest playthrough. I LOVE THIS GAME. Also, it’s probably responsible for my love of siege weaponry and much other medieval nonsense. It’s ridiculously good for the time (1992), with politics, plots, castles, and a well-judgey Pope to contend with as you fight it out with a bunch of other noble houses for the throne of France.

If you have any DOS games you’d rec, let me know! I’ve a fair old list, but am always happy to try something new. And I love talking about awesome older games. Computer games are such weirdly ephemeral media. The great plays, and novels, and paintings, and such will get restaged and reprinted and replicated, but the great computer games, even of just 20 years ago get forgotten. Which is such a shame.

Anyway, Castles 2: Siege and Conquest! A classic, dammit.

Top Ten Star Trek: the Next Generation

I am in the midst of flu. Not serious flu, the sort of flu that makes you feel utterly miserable and your limbs ache and your head floofy, but not actually bad enough that you can’t wander about and complain heartily about your pitiable condition. Anyway, flu, yes. YAY. So it’s making writing a smidgen difficult, and I really hate not to write at all, so I’m making this Very Easy What Could Possibly Go Wrong post about Star Trek: The Next Generation. (I would say as part of an ongoing series of blog posts about Trek to celebrate its fiftieth year, but that would be a lie.) Because I felt I was a bit mean about it in this post. I mean, it IS Beige, dammit, but it’s also telly I’ve watched more times than I care to admit. And really, no-one forced me to watch it. And if you can have a podcast’s worth of conversation about any episode of a 176 episode telly series, it’s got to be doing something right. So here we are, a list of my Top Ten TNG stories.

Now since this is a favourites list, it has the virtue of NEVER BEING WRONG (in the actual proper sense of wrongness, not the way I tell people they’re wrong if they diss the Time Monster (that’s Doctor Who, not Star Trek, but I do assume anyone reading my blog knows too much about Doctor Who – it’s totally cool if you don’t though! It just means you spent your time much more wisely than I)). On the down side, it means having to justify my favourite TNG episodes. Luckily, it’s not like TOS where I have to explain a vast and epic love for Turnabout Intruder. So, without further waffling, my Top Ten TNG Stories (stories, not episodes, so I SLIGHTLY cheat and don’t have to worry about whether part one is better than part two):

“Mr. Worf, dispatch a subspace message to Admiral Hanson. We have engaged the Borg.” – Patrick Stewart imbues what looks like a pretty non-epic line with SRS EPIC EPICNESS. Are there any five words better said in TNG than “we have engaged the Borg”? No. No, there are not.

1) The Best of Both Worlds – the first of no less than five stories on the list from season three, which is weird. I never realised that’s where all my favs lived before. Anyway, tBoBW, the King, the Big Mac, the One Everyone Knows Is Best (and It Is). This is gold standard Trek, the sort of Trek you frame, polish, and stick on the mantlepiece to show off to every poor sod passing through who happens to mention to you that they don’t entirely dislike sci-fi. I could happily sit down with this episode and yourself, gentle reader, and explain in painful detail why just about every scene is amazing. Everything is great: Starfleet’s reaction to the Borg, Shelby, Guinan, the starship graveyard, the sense of doom, the Locutus reveal, the Borg ship fight scenes, “Mr Worf…fire!”, the fact this is an honest-to-God ensemble piece and EVERYONE gets something decent to do, Riker has ACTUAL GOOD SCENES (with Guinan, and Shelby, and Picard, by gum), and we get the beige ending (lol, he sends them to sleep) BUT we get the explosion too. So it’s TNG cake and everyone gets a slice and it is AWESOME. Sometimes I forget how good this story is, but every time it’s on the telly I stop to watch and it’s fucking magic all over again.

2) The Defector – Maybe my actual favourite episode, if only tBoBW wasn’t so gobsmackingly good that it’d be physically painful not to give it the number one spot. “The Defector?!” you might be saying. “Wtf is that?” Well, quite. I can only say you’ve NO TASTE. If on the other hand, you’re nodding sagely at this most excellent decision, well done, I assume you like it when Trek doesn’t fuck over the Romulans. See, the Romulans are my fav Trek species. I love them. And I hate almost every story they’re in because after their superlative two TOS episodes, Trek mostly treats them EXCEEDINGLY BADLY (you want to hear my rant about their TNG film appearances? No, no you don’t; no-one does). But for a little while TNG tried. It really bloody well tried to be good to them. This started in two season three stories, The Enemy (worthy but dull) and The Defector, which is, for me, deliciously stupendously good. Don’t get me wrong, if this was a DS9 episode, it would have teeth, but it’s TNG so there is a fuck of a lot of beige AND YET it’s still magnificent. On the character side we have Picard shit scared he’s going to fuck up and accidentally start a war, and Admiral Jarok, a Romulan war hero who’s disgusted at the thought his leaders are trying to press them towards another fruitless conflict with the Federation. You get Picard teaching Data about humanity and I DON’T WANT THEM THROWN IN A PLAGUE PIT, maybe cause they’re messing about with Henry V, maybe cause it’s actually honest-to-God relevant to the episode and no-one is trying to be COMEDIC. It’s another gloomy (for TNG), tense, episode, and it makes me happy, so happy. Patrick Stewart really is amazing, and the Romulans get to be what they’re supposed to me: a nuanced, credible adversary to the Federation.

3) Q Who – Often my feelings about a part of Trek can be summed up by Enthusiastic Quotation of the Appropriate Era, and Q Who is a perfect example of that. It’s REALLY HARD to think of Picard as beige when he’s speeching at the end. Cause it’s top quality speeching, and it’s top quality Patrick Stewart, and that bit where he’s “I need you, Q!” is punch the air GORGEOUS because it’s TNG being fucking self-aware, and it DOESN’T WORK if the show isn’t pompous and moralising. This episode would be bad DS9 is what I’m saying. The whole thing is Proper Good though, taking the Star Trek opening monologue, finding the strange new civilisation and using it to give Our Heroes a good kick in their smug. There’s also every moment with Picard and Q; those are spiffy. And, yes, the Borg are very cool, and no, I don’t care they changed their raison d’etre between this and tBoBW.

4) Chain of Command – This story is forever etched on my memory as That One Time My Parents Exercised A Little Parental Responsibility Regarding the Science Fiction Watched By Their Children. Mum actually prewatched part two of this one, and made a face of “hmmm” at the idea of me watching it. It didn’t last long; I was a very persistent child. Please bear in mind that this was rated PG and I was eight or so, but there were NO PROBLEMS with preschool me sitting down for a good bit of psychological trauma and nightmarish fun in Wrath of Khan (rated 15) and THOSE BLOODY EAR BUGS. Anyway, Chain of Command. So, yeah, another Picard heavy episode and one which gets a lot of kudos for the dark, intense scenes between Stewart and David Warner. And they are exceedingly good. The Cardassians will end up being arguably the most complex, compelling alien civilisation in Trek, thanks to DS9, but even in these early days when TNG was still on, they’re not slouching. The WWII overtones are heavy, but legit; Warner is old skool villainy: polite, urbane, and monstrous. Again, it’s TNG being a bit grown-up as it ends on a sombre, rather gorgeous scene between Troi and Picard as he confesses that he did break. While the Warner and Stewart stuff is the standout, what’s happening back on the Enterprise is pretty nifty too. We get one of my favourite guest characters, Captain Edward Jellico, who is smart, capable, and does not get along at all with his new senior staff. IT’S SO GOOD. And there’s no softening of the relationship, no mutual admiration in the end or agree to disagree, they just don’t gel. And it’s awesome. Because Jellico is smart enough and capable enough to do the damn job anyway and stop a war.

5) Hollow Pursuits – Another TNG favourite that only really properly works as a TNG – if this were DS9 it would be SEEDY but it’s TNG so it’s all PG-RATED FANTASY YAY. Which means it’s only a little bit creepy instead of a lot. HURRAH! But, yes, I love this because Barclay is VERY VERY ME. I mean, sure, I wanted to be Uhura, then Dax, then…sort of T’Pol? A bit. But REALISTICALLY I didn’t have a shot in this shiny utopian future full of military space scientists. AND THEN THERE WAS BARCLAY. And he was awkward and a dork and painfully shy (that bit where Geordi’s “you’re just shy” and Barclay is “you can’t know”? MY HEART) and shit at stuff and used the Holodeck to pretend he was a musketeer and swordfight and HEARTS IN MY EYES, cause suddenly I GOT TO BE ON THE ENTERPRISE TOO. Sure, my boss would patronise me and the captain would call me a vegetable BUT STILL. And aside from the massive overidentification with Our Hero, it really is a smashing story, the best holodeck story Trek ever did. Probably. I mean Our Man Bashir I love more BUT this is, I admit grudgingly, the better story.

6) Yesterday’s Enterprise – This scared me in the good way when I was a wee nipper. I mean this story got to me, right in the heart, and made me have all these big epic feelings about SPACE and THE FUTURE and DEEEEAAATH. I was, what, about five when this was first on? So I didn’t have the most awesome grip on death, I mean I got it, but,y’know, I didn’t really *get* it. And this story is all about death. Which is a little bit morbid but also marvellously uplifting. Because it’s about how you die and what you’re willing to die for, and what your death can mean. We’ve two ships here, alt!Enterprise-D and the Enterprise-C and by the end of the story they have all chosen to die. The Ent-C backstory we got: at a time when Federation-Klingon relations were edging towards war, Captain Garrett and crew responded to a Klingon distress signal. And it was a Klingon colony under attack by Romulans and her Enterprise went in guns blazing, and died trying to defend them. That gets to me. And God knows I don’t like The Klingons – and here they use what we know about their culture to good effect rather thna making me want to stab needles in the back of my hand – the Klingons considered Garrett’s sacrifice a big honourable act, and so relations between the Federation and Klingons improved blah blah Khitomer Accords, all friends now. And shit, that’s just one tiny part of the story. You’ve also got Tasha Yar back, facing the fact that the ‘real’ her had a meaningless death, and you’ve Picard (who, lolariously, meets with Guinan in the great big conference room, and his entire senior staff in the poky ready room – this is the real reason the Federation is losing the war, NO SPATIAL AWARENESS) deciding he and his dudes are going down to try and get the timeline back to what the crazy lady who tends bar says it is. And Riker dies. SEE THIS STORY IS GREAT.

7) Qpid – SHUSHT. Any Trek story that has a pun in the title is gold. FACT. But, yeah, Qpid. This is awesome. And by awesome, I mean lolarious. Q is IRRITATED cause Picard and his dudes kept him alive when he was mortal and he feel he owes a debt so he wants to do something nice for Picard. And every scene this sparks off between Stewart and de Lancie is as awesome as it should be. And just as you are settling in to enjoy the lols, Picard and crew are transported to SHERWOOD FOREST where they are ROBIN HOOD AND HIS MERRY MEN, leading to Micheal Dorn’s greatest delivery of all time, bar none, fact: “Sir, I protest, I am not a Merry Man!” Everything about this ridiculousess is AMAZINGSAUCE cause our Starfleet dudes play it straight and are not down with this shit, and Vash gets the eightiest Maid Marian dress of all time, and Picard accidently ends up having a ball cause he gets to swordfight and exchange witty repartee, well, repartee, with a villain, and you sort of wish Q’d stuck around to annoy them every week because omg it’s so much better when he does. (The one irritating note for me is that the men of the Enterprise all get to swordfight for they are manly men, while Crusher and Troi smash pots on people’s heads. They do look pretty thrilled about it BUT STILL.)

8) Face of the Enemy – MORE ROMULANS. And such great Romulans! Carolyn Seymour plays the second greatest Romulan of TNG. And Troi is GREAT. Don’t diss Troi because here she’s everything she could be if the writers bothered, and she is angry and clever and moral and compassionate and it’s just so nice seeing a Troi-ish reaction to a crisis that isn’t “what’s a warp core breach?” or not bothering to write one at all. And lo, more excellent Romulan characterisation, as we get to see some more of their culture and ways of thinking and UNCARDBOARDNESS. Seymour is the soldier pissed off because her society’s intelligence service is shady as shit, and Troi having to play the shady as shit part when she should be more sympathetic to Seymour’s POV is delicious.

9) Unification – I think, though I don’t really know, this was sort of regarded as not bad but a little disappointing? Because it’s such A Big Deal if you are a Trek fan (we had the novelisation when I was a wee yun and it said something like ”AT LAST!! THE GENERATIONS MEET!!!” on the cover). Well, whatev, I love it. Again, ROMULANS. And everything about Romulan-Vulcan politics. But also Nimoy is pretty great and you get the Undiscovered Country Spock, who I wouldn’t want to watch a series about cause he is a but much BUT in small doses and as a character at the apex of his powers FINE, it’s WELL EARNED. But yeah, not only does this not make a complete fuck up of the Romulans, but there’s some very nice character stuff (Spock and Picard, Picard and Sarek, Data and Spock even, all get top moments).

10) Parallels – In some ways, season seven of TNG is hilariously dire. But it’s slick, so you tend to get swept along anyway and can mostly ignore how daft it’s all got. Except maybe Masks, and Eye of the Beholder. And Bloodlines, and…actually forget it, season seven is NOT GOOD. But it’s the sort of not good you can ENJOY. It doesn’t make me want to remove my eyeballs with a spoon is what I’m saying. Anyway, amidst this mire of so-so hocum is a single glittering gem. Maybe. I’ve no idea if Parallels is any good. BUT I LOVE IT. I remember watching this for the first time utterly riveted. WHAT SORT OF UNIVERSE WILL WORF FIND HIMSELF IN NEXT?? Parallel universes are great, obv, and Parallels has a BIJILLION  of them. And it’s the sort of story that I bet comes across as Irritatingly Smug if you’re not a fan, but if you are, or if you watch a lot of TNG, then it’s a little bit joyous, and such fun. It’s a bloody Worf story, for goodness sake but since it’s more about him being confused than KLINGON HONOUR that fact doesn’t actually do it any harm.

Questions No-One’s Asked But I’m Answering Anyway

1) Where’s The Inner Light?

Er, The Inner Light makes me throw up slightly due to the saccharine nonsense, also when I watch Trek, I want some goddamn Trekking through Stars, not old dude gets older on some planet I don’t care about. I admit I liked it once. I was seven. I also liked Power Rangers.

2) Where’s The Measure of a Man?

I totally rate this story and think it’s top stuff. BUT it’s not a story that fills me with delicious love and glee.

3) What stories narrowly missed out on an Exciting Top Ten place?

Sarek, Ensign Ro, Power Play (SHUSHT), Frame of Mind, All Good Things…, Pre-emptive Strike, Conspiracy, Elementary Dear Data, Deja Q, The Wounded, Night Terrors, Ship in a Bottle, Tapestry, Timescape.

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