So in between discs of Babylon 5 I've been watching random episodes of Star Trek: The Next Generation. And I really want to like it. But I can't. It's just bad people. Not because I'm a Star Wars fan - I fully expect the upcoming Star Wars TV show will suck way worse. But that doesn't make ST:TNG good.

My relationship with ST:TNG is . . . complex to say the least. Here's the scoop (going from memory, so I could have it wrong) - the first two seasons of TNG I was in Germany, attending colleage at the U of M, Munich campus. Somehow (I have no idea how I was working this) I was getting bootleg tapes of TNG. I'm pretty sure that I saw all of season 1 this way and some part of season 2. (My confused memories even claim some of these tapes were Betamax, and yes I did have a Betamax VCR while I was in college - long story.) I think I watched season 3 after returning to the States, during the Dark Year(tm) I lived in New Jersey. I was really upset by some cliffhanger or another - Data getting his emotion chip or some such. Anyway, I think once I went away to finish college at College Park I could no longer see TNG and so I gave up on it. I have this jumbled impression of A) Wesley Crusher - supa-genius!(tm) plus the B) belief that almost any problem could be solved by Geordie running some sort of experimental particle through the deflector dish.

So fine. Now I'm older, my genre tastes are more mature, yadda yadda. So I've watched a half-dozen or so episodes from Spike TV or G4 repeats. And y'know - it's just BAD. They are bad, bad, bad sci-fi. I just watched an episode where Wesley's science project was studying medical nanites, but he fell asleep and they "escaped" and took over the Enterprise's computer. Because, y'see, Wesley being a supa-genius(tm) came up with the radical step of having two nanites . . . cooperate (gasp). This led to a complete defeat of the military computer running Starfleet's state-of-the-art flagship vessel - because nobody could anticipate rogue nanites who actually communicate in the future. Yes, the terrorists nanites took hundreds of people hostage, but it's all good because they are a new life-form and Prime Directive, blah, blah, blah (yawn), blah.

It's bad sci-fi. It gives the genre a bad name. When people say "I don't like sci-fi" they really mean "I don't like shows where Geordie/Data/Wesley makes technobabble shit up in the last ten minutes of an episode and saves everyone". ST:TNG was popular because it aired in a drought period of no competing SF - not because it was good.

Sanders' rules of picking out the ST:TNG bad episodes are as follows:

1) If it involves the holodeck, it sucks. The holodeck was always a literary cheat, a goofy deus ex machina that got way-the-fuck overused to justify whatever crazy plot point they wanted to tell. Plus - the only thing goofier than Kirk fighting Abraham Lincoln is to make a fake Abraham Lincoln and then have the computre go berserk and refuse to let people out. I wish that wasn't the description of a half-dozen or so ST:TNG eps, but sadly it is.

2) If anybody routes anything through the deflector dish, it sucks.

3) If anybody spouts anything that sounds scientific, but makes anybody who has read a science book in the last fifteen years grind their teeth in annoyance, it sucks. This will include tachyons, deuterium, nanites, or anything involving strange energies.

4) If it introduces new characters that we don't care about, then explains their dilmemna, then resolves their issues within one episode and we never see those characters again, it sucks. This is admittedly a literary complaint, not a sci-fi one but I feel it's still valid.

These four rules cover every ST:TNG episode I've watched in the last month, and most of episodes are hit by two or more rules. It's bad science and it's bad fiction. There are moments of good acting (Patrick Stewart especially), and there are several characters that look hot in the silly uniforms. Everything else is just terrible. Are there any fans who read my blog who can actually refute any of these points?