The Battle #110

Bok (Frank Corsentino), the commander of a Ferengi vessel and an old enemy of Picard’s, “gifts” the Enterprise’s captain with the U.S.S. Stargazer—Picard’s former command, which had been considered lost. But Bok’s true motive is revenge: he uses a mind-control device to trick Picard into turning his old ship against the Enterprise. “The Battle” was the new show’s first attempt to duplicate the militaristic space action of the Star Trek feature films, with a climactic confrontation inside a nebula visually similar to the one between the Enterprise and the U.S.S. Reliant in Star Trek II. “The Battle” also continued the series’ ultimately unsuccessful attempt to position the Ferengi—Roddenberry’s “futuristic venture capitalists”—as The Next Generation’s key heavies. Ultimately, the characters’ comedic appearance and lust for “latinum” made them weak opponents for Picard and his crew.

Perhaps because of this (and the fact that he scored relatively few episodes involving the Ferengi), Jones largely avoids characterizing the Ferengi musically. The score’s mysterious, foreboding main melody (introduced by synthesizer in “Bok’s Deception”) is less a Ferengi theme than one specifically related to Bok’s plan to use a mind-control device on Picard. Jones uses the third and fourth notes of this “jeopardy” motive to form another important element of the score: a downward-fifth motive that is tied to Picard’s memories of the Stargazer and a crucial battle he fought while commanding the starship.

Both themes are played acoustically and electronically throughout the episode. Jones develops the downward-fifth motive into a spiraling orchestral introduction of the Stargazer in “Ferengi Beam.” A repeating synthesizer figure plays against the motive as Picard reminisces in his “Old Quarters” and feels the effect of Bok’s mind machine; the composer adds brash synth chords to accentuate the pain the machine creates in Picard’s head. The repeating figure builds through the episode into a maddening texture as Picard increasingly falls under the effect of Bok’s device, while the downward-fifth motive takes on prominence as Picard imagines he is back in command of the Stargazer. Jones also keeps Jerry Goldsmith’s Star Trek theme in play, giving it a warm reading as Picard beams aboard his old vessel (“Hello Old Friend”) and a more urgent treatment as Picard takes the ship into battle against the Enterprise (“Battle”).

The hammering, tutti orchestral rhythms reminiscent of “Mars, the Bringer of War” from Holst’s The Planets were already a staple of Jones’s action music for the series, but for “The Battle” he added broad, major chords that are simultaneously glorious and chilling—an appropriate mixture, particularly as the danger reaches its zenith in “Destroy the Sphere.” “There was a lot of martial music in there and this psychological memory music where they’re messing with his head—the music is his memory of that battle so you have that Holst pedal and that chord inside it.”

“The Battle” does not feature a closing “resolution” cue—the score as recorded ends with “Destroy the Sphere.” Although a concluding “M54” was spotted, to have been called “Beam Me Home,” Jones asked the producers to track “Ending” from “The Naked Now,” as it fit the timings and drama—this way, Jones could allot additional time in the recording session to the episode’s complex action music. This maneuver rubbed the producers the wrong way, however, (giving the impression of a composer cutting corners) and Jones tried to avoid it going forward.

Datalore #114

The Enterprise crew visits Omicron Theta, the mysterious planet where Data originated, stumbling upon the laboratory of his creator, Dr. Noonien Soong, and unearthing—and reassembling—a visually identical second android, Lore. Unfortunately, Data’s “brother” is an ego-mad villain in league with the mysterious “crystalline entity” that destroyed the planet’s Federation colony. “Datalore” fleshes out Data’s backstory (setting the stage for several follow-up episodes) and allows actor Brent Spiner to let loose as the flamboyant and dangerous Lore. In playing the time-honored (and cost-effective) “evil twin” card, “Datalore” mirrors the original series episode “The Enemy Within,” with Lore ultimately assaulting and disguising himself as Data (and transferring a tell-tale facial twitch from himself to Data to make the illusion convincing). Spiner’s dual performance and excellent, cinematic helming by director Rob Bowman made “Datalore” a key installment of TNG’s early output.

The episode offered a rich canvas for music, as Jones needed to characterize the innocent Data and his corrupted brother Lore musically, while allowing for the fact that the characters are machines rather than people. “There was a lot of 12-tone in this episode because I couldn’t find a scale in my ‘synopticon’ that fit, so I did ‘Hollywood’ 12-tone. I would write whatever the theme was going to be, see how many notes were left over and see what notes I hadn’t used.” Jones employed this essentially intellectual approach of serial music to get inside the positronic brains of Data and his brother: “This is what’s going on psychologically inside a machine—I was trying to score him as numbers trying to figure this stuff out, so it wasn’t human, but it was as human as this guy gets. There’s emotion yet there’s coldness and it’s logic clicking and firing, figuring out what he’s going to do. That was the challenge for me as a composer—you can’t play Data like he’s another guy, and here he’s battling another guy who’s his brother supposedly.”

The six-note theme for Lore is spiky and insinuating, indicating the brother android’s dangerous potential even upon his first revelation as a set of unassembled components. But prior to Lore’s appearance, scenes of Data returning to his “birth planet” allowed Jones to compose a warm and searching melody that is at once more complicated and more soothing than Lore’s single-minded motive. The exploration of Omicron Theta’s surface and the initial sortie into Soong’s lab receives a mysterious treatment reminiscent of the approach in the early moments of Jerry Goldsmith’s Alien score—an allusion not lost on the composer. “I was playing with the stuff like Jerry’s music at the beginning of Alien,” Jones acknowledges. “[Rob] Bowman was like our Ridley Scott—he was like Ridley Scott Jr. and I was Jerry Goldsmith Jr.”

Rob Bowman was a 27-year-old wunderkind and (like Jones) a Robert Justman discovery. Bowman would later direct many episodes of The X-Files, as well as its first theatrical spinoff. “He was very gifted and they liked that he was there and he was pretty efficient,” Jones says of the director. “We didn’t interact but I did a lot of his episodes.” In fact, eight of Bowman’s 13 installments were scored by Jones: “Where No One Has Gone Before,” “The Battle,” “Datalore,” “Heart of Glory,” “A Matter of Honor,” “Q Who,” “Shades of Gray” and “Brothers.” Of these, at least three rank among the series’ classics (“Where No One Has Gone Before,” “Heart of Glory” and “Q Who”). In “Datalore”—a script at one time considered unshootable—the director deepens the show’s often flat visual aesthetic, using low light, reflected light and low camera angles to bring a diabolical look to Lore, despite the fact that he is physically identical to Data.

“Datalore” also features moments of “space opera” as the Enterprise encounters the gargantuan crystalline entity, given a bold, chromatic three-note theme (“Crystal Entity,” “Crystal Attacks”) that appropriately paints the phenomenon as a cosmic Grim Reaper. The episode climaxes with a showdown between Data and the Lore aboard the Enterprise, with Jones supplying vibrant action music mixing acoustic and electronic elements: “I had three or four layers of synth hits, and I coupled that with some percussion things like toms in there—I would even write pitches for the toms, the tenor drums. They would tune them so there would be pitches for the non-tonal percussion. Sometimes I would turn the orchestra into the machine and let the synths play the human element—because Data becomes emotional but he’s a machine, so the orchestra’s going to play him and reverse the roles. This is really Bernard Herrmann, where you have melodic cells that are permutations of rhythms.”

11001001 #116

After the Enterprise docks at Starbase 74 for an overhaul, cybernetic beings known as Bynars hijack the starship to use it to save their home planet, kidnapping Riker and Picard using “Minuet” (Carolyn McCormack), a distracting female character on the ship’s holodeck. One of the most ambitious episodes of TNG’s first season, “11001001” boasts a satisfying science fiction mystery, a grand sense of scale, intriguing use of the holodeck, delightful character interplay, and even a bit of sex appeal. The Bynars and their problem are well-thought-out sci-fi concepts; the starbase docking sequence and an emergency evacuation give the viewer a rare glimpse at the operation of the Enterprise and its seldom-seen population of civilian families; and Picard and Riker interact warmly in a senior partner/junior partner “co-captaincy” that was an original intention of the new series, eventually abandoned. Riker, initially planned as the series’ Kirk-like romantic lead, fulfills that promise through his relationship with Minuet in a way that is sensual but also adult and intellectual. The episode demonstrated The Next Generation’s potential to move beyond the tone and plotlines of the original series into a canvas that was at once larger (as in the starbase sequences) and fascinatingly reduced (as in the low-key and almost abstract scenes with Minuet).

Likewise, Jones’s score is a gem encompassing grand orchestral set pieces, a memorable electronic approach for the Bynars, authentic jazz source cues, and a rousing finale featuring one of his most adroit uses of the Goldsmith theme. The episode—and score—kick off with a soaring romantic melody for the Enterprise’s “Docking at Starbase 74” (utilizing elegantly reworked visual effects from Star Trek III: The Search for Spock). The theme returns in “The Enhancement,” as two Bynars explain to Riker that they have improved the holodeck. Performed in a wispy, airy guise, the melody underscores Riker’s glee at the level of detail in his New Orleans jazz club holo-fantasy, and the tune becomes increasingly seductive as Riker channels through several potential female playmates, finally settling on Minuet.

“Minuet, I just played her as Riker’s vision, like she was real, and yet there was a synthetic nature about her,” Jones recalls. “I decorated her with synthetic colors and yet she was this real thing. The funny thing is the program seemed to be interacting with his mind as he went, and that’s why you have all these transitions until you have this voluptuous brunette from a jazz club. I just played that, what would be his imagination. I used a lot of key trees to get this shimmery sound that was acoustic, because the electronic ones would start to sound nauseating because the keys would hit all the same pitches.”

For the Bynars, Jones created a ping-ponging electronic motive that creates a feeling of mystery and urgency, yet somehow registers as benevolent. Appropriately, Jones took a binary approach to the theme: two pitches, an octave apart, repeated in two-note patterns. “I really had to try to get in the head of a computer, and the music theme is actually based on the numbers 11001001. It’s using numerology, like hyper-serialism. You can’t just sit down and say I’m going to play this—you have to have done some mental architecture.”

To achieve an authentic sound for the holodeck source cues, Jones put together a band that would be able to perform the four pieces required by the episode—three he selected from Paramount’s Famous Music publishing catalog, and an original piece (“Jazz”) he assigned to jazz musician and composer John Beasley. Today, Jones regularly creates eclectic source cues for Family Guy, where he does “all the source cues together so I can think in a completely different Tinkertoy set—you have to figure out something in five minutes that you can present as a hit record.” But on “11001001,” he was immersed in the orchestral scoring, so he asked Beasley (then one of his keyboard players) to compose the one original jazz cue, knowing it would sound authentic. “Some of my favorite cues on Star Trek are the cues with the jazz trio—this is Chuck Domanico, Mike Lang and Steve Schaeffer, and they did all the Roger Rabbit jazz stuff and a lot of film stuff as trio. I could just write hash marks for them and say give them a little melody and Mike would go off in another direction—if you listen to this and Bill Evans’s stuff side by side it’s in the same area. When you have this small group, you can shape it like Silly Putty.”

The unusually cinematic scale of the episode also allowed Jones to write flamboyant yet characteristically form-fitting symphonic cues. As an engineering emergency begins (“Abandon Ship”), bright flutes create a feeling that is more playful than deadly before Jones supplies another energetic, driving action sequence in “Stealing the Enterprise,” this time combining electronics with symphonic writing to indicate that the computerized Bynars are responsible for the hijacking. When Minuet breaks character (“Don’t Go”) to keep Riker and Picard in the holodeck (and oblivious to the emergency), the Bynar theme plays, outing her as a part of the aliens’ deception. Act three concludes with a short, pulsating cue (“Weapons”) as Picard and Riker march to the ship’s armory, while a whirling orchestral figure (“Auto-Destruct”) accompanies Picard and Riker’s initiation of the auto-destruct sequence.

The most arresting moment of the score—and episode—may come at the end of “Stealing the Enterprise”: the camera soars through the deserted corridors of the mysteriously hijacked starship before a hard cut to the holodeck, where Riker, Minuet and Picard sit around a table talking—the camera pushing into their cabaret table as “Isn’t It Romantic” supplants the score cue. The juxtaposition of two wildly different atmospheres makes for kinetic and highly cinematic filmmaking—of a sort unthinkable in TNG’s later seasons.

As Picard and Riker deduce the secret of the Bynars—the aliens merely wished to use the Enterprise’s computer to save their home planet from a supernova—the Bynar theme comes to the fore (“Access the File”) for a warm and optimistic, Roddenberry-themed conclusion. Picard pilots the ship back to Starbase 74 as the Goldsmith theme soars over a “beauty shot” sequence that realls the most inspiring moments of Star Trek: The Motion Picture. Jones incorporated one of the jazz ballads, “The Nearness of You,” into the orchestral finale of the episode to comment on Riker’s return to the holodeck to find Minuet replaced with another brunette—similar, but clearly not the woman (or “program”) to which the commander had become attracted. The song melody supplies Riker’s disappointment with a moment of nostalgia and romance before Jones returns to the warm optimism of the Goldsmith Star Trek theme as the chagrined Riker returns to duty and the Enterprise departs the starbase. — 

Disc Three »