Tuesday, February 12, 2013

Ryan Reviews: Star Trek Reviews


Now that that's done...

Anna and I have been watching Star Trek over the last couple months--all of Star Trek. Yes, even Star Trek V (though Anna skipped that one).

When watching shows like Star Trek, where the episode-to-episode quality varies so much, it's worth keeping an eye on episode reviews so that you can avoid the big stinkers, even if sometimes your terrible wife makes you watch Threshold anyways.

I've been following some of these guys since High School (though by this point only Enterprise was left), and if you just want to avoid the bad episodes just about anything will do (though if you're a big fan then you instinctively know the bad episodes). It's not enough to just read the Netflix summaries, because sometimes the worst ideas can turn into pretty good episodes (Tuvix?).

Now, the candidates:

Tim Lynch Reviews

Tim Lynch reviewed episodes as they aired, starting with "The Icarus Factor" in season 2 of TNG, and continued through DS9 and season 2 of Voyager (he quit on it). He came back to review the first two seasons of Enterprise, but quit on that as well (due to lack of time, not because of the quality). In doing so, he gained a bit of a name in the Star Trek community--in First Contact, they named the Ensign that Picard mows down with a machine gun after him (perhaps a subtle hint as to their opinion of his reviews?).

Links: TNG ReviewsDS9 ReviewsVOY ReviewsThe Enterprise reviews are scattered through this archive

He reviews each episode as it airs, and at the end of the season re-watches (and re-rates) each episode and offers commentary on the entire season.

The reviews are scattered, and where aggregated are not well presented. This is a bummer if you want to glance at a season to see the episodes to watch/avoid.

Incomplete: He starts TNG late and ends VOY and ENT early; no late movies or TOS.

He gave "Manhunt" 9.5/10.

The reviews include a full synopsis, so if you've forgotten what happens you'll get a full review.

Done in real time, so you get a picture of what people thought at the time--the optimism that writers will follow up on character development, a fog over the future.

High Quality reviews, plus full season Synopses. Excellent commentary on the direction of the shows, especially in DS9.

Jammer's Reviews

I came upon this one in college, and I don't know very much about the author. Here's a link.

He's reviewed everything. TOS, TNG (except the last five episodes), VOY, DS9, ENT. Plus! BSG and Andromeda.

The website is very good. You can tell at a glance where the one, zero star episodes are.

While the reviews are solid, they never make me reconsider the episodes like Lynch's sometimes do, though he sometimes articulates my thoughts about episodes better than I would.

The TNG and early DS9 episodes were written way after the fact, by someone who had seen them all several times before. On the one hand, this gives him more time to think about each episode--but it's also a perspective that people watching now would have.

He hates The Royale, which I always thought was quite a fun episode.


This website has an episode guide for just about every TV show, and user reviews for each episode therein.


The format is very pretty.

Everything's available.

If you like to see dissenting opinions, this forum allows that.

Call me an elitist. Review sites that stand the test of time survive by offering quality opinions. Some people don't have opinions worth listening to. Compare the quality of a newspaper article to the quality of the comments on a large blog. Frankly, I find many of the episode ratings odd--though the best and worst episodes tend to stand out. Some good episodes get rated poorly and vice versa.

There is no consistent voice throughout the reviews, and rarely do they offer much insight.


If you enjoy reading another's informed opinion of what you just watch, go for the Tim Lynch reviews where available. If you're just trying to avoid landmines, Jammer's Reviews is the best because of its format and generally high quality evaluations.

Also: The Cynics Corner, limited reviews of VOY/DS9/ENT, written as they aired. These are fun, but there aren't enough of them to use unless you happen to be in the seasons he reviews. Good for the Voyager episodes that Tim Lynch doesn't get to. They're actually very hilarious.

EDIT: Reading through the Cynic's Corner, I have to add a PRO to each of the above. They are all Star Trek fans, and interpret the episodes in a fairly favorable light. The Cynic's Corner, on the other hand, finds a little too much fault.

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