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Why Darmok Is a Good Star Trek: TNG Episode 512

An anonymous reader writes: "Last week, the Ars Technica ran an article listing their staff's least favorite Star Trek: the Next Generation episodes. They hit a few of the predictable ones, like Angel One — wherein Riker's chest hair takes center stage — and Up the Long Ladder — featuring space-Irish. But a surprising suggestion came from Peter Bright, who denounced Darmok, a fan favorite. (You remember: 'Darmok and Jalad, at Tanagra.') Now, Ars's Lee Hutchinson has (jokingly) taken Bright to task, showing how IMDB ratings mark Darmok (5x02) as one of the best episodes of season 5, and among the strongest in the series. He also points out a trend in some of the bad episodes they didn't pick: 'According to the data, the worst episode of TNG by a significant margin is the season 2 finale Shades of Gray, a clipshow episode famously hobbled by the 1988 Writers Guild of America strike. We also managed to not pick season 6's Man of the People (the one where Troi falls in love with a brain vampire and gets really old) or season 4's The Loss (the one where Troi loses her empathic abilities and gets really whiny) or season 2's The Child (the one where Troi has dream sex with a space anomaly and gets really pregnant).' What are your picks for best and worst TNG episode?"
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Why Darmok Is a Good Star Trek: TNG Episode

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  • Not a good episode (Score:3, Interesting)

    by ildon ( 413912 ) on Saturday March 29, 2014 @06:25PM (#46611839)

    Darmok is not a good episode. To be fair, it's not among the worst episodes. It's about average or below average. But it's not a good episode, because it's dumb and goofy. But it's dumb and goofy in a way that's fun, so I still enjoy this episode, but it's a guilty pleasure.

  • Re:Troi (Score:2, Interesting)

    by DudemanX ( 44606 ) <> on Saturday March 29, 2014 @06:29PM (#46611865) Homepage

    Some of the Crusher episodes were good though like the one involving the solar shielding tech(which showed up in a later episode) and the one where everyone on the Enterprise keep disappearing. I'm assuming the awful one you refer to is the one from season 7 where she gets space raped by a ghost candle. The lesson here is that stories about women can be good when the writers give them stuff to do besides being space raped.

  • Tapestry (Score:4, Interesting)

    by sunyjim ( 977424 ) on Saturday March 29, 2014 @06:32PM (#46611875)
    Darmok was a great episode but I also really like Tapestry where we see that Pickard only got to be captain because of the risks he took []
  • by Rollgunner ( 630808 ) on Saturday March 29, 2014 @07:20PM (#46612117)
    It was not a matter of collections of sounds, but rather the societal context of those sounds.

    "Where's the Beef?" when put into a literal translator will never come up with "this is insufficient", and that is precisely how the aliens communicated. No search of the words "Where" "Is" "The" and "Beef" will ever give you the meaning of the colloquialism. All the translator will do is make you think the person has lost a farm animal.

    [back on the planet]

    "I made a shelter for us. I think it will protect us from the storms tonight."

    [exasperatedly waving arms and pointing at the flimsy shelter] "My cow is missing !"
  • by fyngyrz ( 762201 ) on Saturday March 29, 2014 @07:47PM (#46612215) Homepage Journal

    What are your picks for best and worst TNG episode?"


    Lower Decks


    First on the list: Anything with Wil Wheaton doing anything more than staying off the set.

    Second on the list: Anything that required Jonathan Frakes's character, Riker, to do anything other than say "Yes, sir"

    Third on the list: Anything that required Marina Sirtis' character, Troi, to act like she was an empath

    Fourth on the list: Anything with Q in it. Anything at all.

  • by Arker ( 91948 ) on Saturday March 29, 2014 @08:02PM (#46612259) Homepage
    I think YOU missed the point.

    All the supposed reasons why the UT would fail here - would have made it fail many times before.

    Some of them, mind you, are good reasons. Good reasons to doubt that a 'universal translator' might ever be invented, that is.

    But once you swallow the UT itself, the idea that this one language resists it makes absolutely no sense.

    "You're such a Samantha?" We say all the time "You're such a bitch" and it's the same case. To know what it connotes you have to know not just the denotations of the words and the place of dogs in our culture, you have to know something of their behaviour, you really need lots of background to fully understand the nature of the insult. But without that background you can still figure out it's a bad thing to call someone just from context. The UT supposedly works by teasing out those contextual clues to connotation even when the denotation is unknowable - which makes sense, that is how it would have to be done.

    But if so, that leaves us without even the slightest suggestion as to why it would not work in this case. All the rationales presented are false on their face.
  • Re:Can I vote for.. (Score:4, Interesting)

    by Macrat ( 638047 ) on Saturday March 29, 2014 @08:49PM (#46612489)

    All episodes after the first or second season when they started letting Patrick Stewart actually act.

    There are.. FOUR lights!

  • by AmiMoJo ( 196126 ) * <> on Sunday March 30, 2014 @07:05AM (#46614031) Homepage Journal

    We don't have any trouble turning those literal Chinese phrases into common English phrases

    Have you ever actually tried this? I have because my girlfriend is Chinese and I don't speak it, and it never works properly. In fact most of the time it doesn't work at all. She keeps talking to me about something Google calls "China powder", which I found out actually refers to pollen (allergy season).

    We both speak Japanese as a second langauge and that is how we talk most of the time. It wasn't too bad for her but I had to unlearn a lot of stuff and really get into the Japanese mindset for it to make much sense. It's the classic "why do the Japanese say 'yes' when the mean 'no'?" Of course they don't really, but beginners and machines doing translations are unable to cope with the way they ask and answer questions because it's more than just language, it's culture.

    Paraphrasing and translating to common English phrases gives you the gist of what is being said most of the time, but if you were trying to negotiate over something it's often inadequate.

Thus spake the master programmer: "Time for you to leave." -- Geoffrey James, "The Tao of Programming"