Wednesday, August 26, 2015

ST: TNG - Lonely Among Us

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 1.07
Lonely Among Us

Energy being takes Picard's dematerialized body out for joyride in nebula. No relevant casualties.
Oh, hey, we have an Indian guy... and even though everyone else on the ship speaks indistinguishably educated American English regardless of their skin color, this guy dives into the whole nasal, half-mouthed accent not quite hard enough to qualify as a stand-in for Apu from the Kwik-E-Mart but enough to drive home the point. We're so multicultural here in the future. Indians are apparently the only people left on 24th-century Earth so poor they don't even have a language - jus' dis stoopid acks-hent. Mostly he serves as Wesley's foil for the duration, giving the rest of the cast (but not the viewers) a break from his antics, for which sacrifice he will be dearly remembered. No matter. Besides incongruous, Mr. Singh also proved conveniently disposable.
Singh rhymes with zing!

That's right. They hired a blatantly token minority extra then halfway through the same episode zapped him into oblivion. It's tradition.
This was Hollywood going all tolerant and open-minded - upside your head!

The climax gimmick makes no sense. The energy being wants a physical body for travel purposes but the first thing it does is turn Picard to an energy pattern?

On another topic, what is it with all the demonic possession in a SciFi show? How many times did Picard alone get inhabited by some alien being in this series, much less the others? I mean, fine, you can save a bit on special effects by dumping the responsibility for portraying an alien presence on one of your existing actors but at some point ya gotta wonder why outer space is full of poltergeists.

I do like the way they flipped the "A" plot (the delegates) and the "B" plot (possession) around in terms of importance. It's not an entirely uncommon habit of TV series but TNG carried it off to great effect on many occasions. Overall the episode successfully balances drama and humor right down to Picard dumping the thorny issue of the warring peace delegates on Riker at the end. Coherent and sensible within the precepts of the Star Trek universe, combining the original series' exploration focus with the new series' development of the Federation as a political body, the show was finally starting to show promise.

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