Friday, August 28, 2015

ST: TNG - Justice

In an effort to relive my early teens, I am re-watching old episodes of Star Trek: The Next Generation. It is both better and worse than I remembered it, as was my youth most likely.

Seriesdate 1.08

Visit to Planet Baywatch, a.k.a. the episode where they missed the chance to legally rid themselves of Weasely.
I love that right off the bat in this, Picard translates "they make love at the drop of a hat" into "send in the teenage boy!" Now that there be some shrewd captainin'.
This is too a scifi scene! Look, Riker's wearing a snazzy space-age communicator.

What follows is basically ten minutes of Baywatch in Spaaaaace dotted by some timeless lines like "enjoy what we have" immediately followed by a close-up of a cherubic blonde in lingerie strutting into the scene. Classy.

This time it's Data who gets possessed - by a spaceball to the face!
You think maybe we should hel - no? 'kay.

Amusing that the various one-line crew extras cycling through this episode (including the future O'Brien) weren't even named. Was the focus group just asked which face they'd prefer? The first season was littered with one-shot crew members being tested on the audience, some of them amusingly ill-conceived (Mr. Singh and engineer Argyle) others so utterly forgettable it's no wonder we never realized they're there.

We do get treated to one very good line: "They recognize that [religion] is quite expected and harmless at the present stage of evolution." One of the best things about Star Trek as a work of Utopian Science Fiction was standing by the reality that religion is primitive and will be shed like so much parasitism by any society worthy of being called "advanced." Calling brainwashing "harmless" is somewhat of a step back, but still. Overall very gutsy for a mass-market TV show.
Plus, a variation on Clarke's third law.
Plus, the trolley problem.
Plus... aw, hell. If not for the gratuitous skin-tastic setup and the taint of Wesley Crusher this would've been a great episode. However, it suffers a repeated and jarring disconnect between the speculative bits about an ascended race of alien protectors and the disingenuous, overemotional "save Wesley" scenes. Even Wheaton's big self-sacrificing speech comes across like some after-school caricature of "the needs of the many" with everyone trying to resist rolling their eyes at the notion that they're not going to wind up bending over backwards to rescue the promised child.

Come on, they're offering to take him off your hands. Just shrug under the Prime Directive blanket and send them a check afterwards. Itemize it as "pest control."

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