Sunday, August 23, 2015

ST: TNG - Where No One Has Gone Before

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: 1.06
Where No One Has Gone Before

We thought-ported to the edge of the universe and all we got was this stupid visit from our dead mother and pets.
Also, the chapter in which Weasely Crusher is revealed as the second coming of Elvis... or something. First symptom of that dread malady, Wesleyitis, afflicting half the scripts for the first half of the series.

Before all that, though: Introducing Lieutenant-Commander Argyle.

Argyle. Argyle the chief engineer who says "ayeh, cap'n" and looks ready to balloon into his middle-aged girth after a couple of seasons. Are you shitting me? What, you couldn't just call him "Scotty II" and have done with it? I think the poor guy lasted all of one and a half episodes before getting laughed off the set. Just brilliant casting there, bravo.

Other noteworthy moments: godlike alien being is so distracted and mesmerized by Wesley Crusher's magnificence that he mistakenly shoots his ship-wad across three galaxies. Godlike alien then praises the little snot's brilliance in such reverential tones as would make a kneeling nun blush. Weasely helps save day 'cuz stuff. Crew returns to Federation space via... seance.

Aside from some nifty blue lights (apparently the end of the universe is denser than most deep-sea vents and twice as colorful) there's relatively little to this episode. It seems to mark both the beginning of a long parade of one-shot Enterprise crew members being run past the audience for approval ratings plus, much worse, the beginning of strained, half-assed plots trying to package Wesley Crusher as some cross between Ender Wiggin and the baby Buddha.
The highest point was probably the negative character (played by the same actor who played the headshrinker on Monk) an arrogant tech-head named, get this, Kaczynski. OK, fine, they spelled it Kosinski in the script while winking heavily. Higher quality acting than you got from even the better of the show's regular cast so early in the series. (addendum: Come to think of it, the Unabomber hadn't been identified yet at the time the show was written and would not be for years, so it's just an amusing coincidence in retrospect.)

As for the selection of this particular wish-granter plot for an episode, well, Michael Crichton had published Sphere just five months prior so I'm gonna call this shameless bandwaggonage and piggybacking on his popularity, regardless of where they picked up the actual script.

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