I’m going through “Star Trek: The Next Generation” and reviewing every episode, complete with commentary and a grade from A-F. Here, we’re in season 2 and discussing episodes three and four. This week I’ve changed the format a bit by including scores from my wife, who has never seen the show before. There are SPOILERS for each episode below.
“Elementary, Dear Data”
Data and Geordi trade moments of sharing favorite things. Data’s is Sherlock Holmes but he has all the novels memorized and so they present no challenge. Dr. Pulaski argues Data can’t reason himself out of a box, but Geordi is convinced Data could solve a mystery and sets the holodeck to create a mystery and nemesis that could defeat Data. The computer complies, resulting in a nemesis, Professor Moriarty, who can eventually take control of the Enterprise, who is ultimately not defeated but allowed to continue on in the code of the computer until the technology comes along that can maintain his existence outside of the holodeck.
I loved the interplay of Data and Geordi in this episode. Geordi sharing one of his favorite things with Data and agreeing to share in a Sherlock Holmes mystery. Dr. Pulaski being the character to spur Data into a challenge to see if he can solve it is a good use of her character. She has officially grown on me marginally, but she still treats Data in a manner unbecoming a Doctor, in my opinion. The use of Moriarty as the nemesis of Holmes/Data is also well done and the building suspense is interesting and entertaining. I can’t but say that the episode entertained me. Character growth for both Data and Geordi was both needed and welcome. Their dynamic is great and I can’t wait to see that develop more.
Despite that, the episode really pushed the “suspension of disbelief” envelope. Why would you build a holodeck in which failsafes were able to be turned off so easily and unintentionally. I mean, shouldn’t there at least be a warning: “Hey, you’re making a really dangerous program, proceed?” Why not have a failsafe that allows you to just turn the power off no matter what? Importing my philosophy background: how does a computer that is non-sentient come up with a program that “gains consciousness”? If I were Picard, I’d be thinking it is time to ban use of my holodecks.
That said, I actually liked this episode a lot. It had lots of flaws, yes, but it was entertaining and fun. At the heart of Star Trek, that’s what the show is all about.
Wife’s Grade and Comment: A-/B+ “It was pretty good… I was entertained.”
The Outrageous Okona
A ship is broken down, the Enterprise assists. The ship’s captain, Okona, is Han Solo (basically). Two ships come wanting Okona for different reasons. It turns out that their reasons are linked and Okona was kind of the fall guy trying to help young love happen. In the end, young love wins, and Okona leaves safely. Oh yeah, Data also tried to find out what’s funny.
Okona had a lot of promise when he showed up. Sure, he’s a stereotypical rebel-without-a-cause character/Han Solo, but who doesn’t like Han Solo? (Lower your hand, you!) Unfortunately, that never plays out. Instead, we have to endure shots of Data trying to figure out what’s funny while Guinan scorns his efforts in between shots of Okona being the ravishing space captain.
There are a lot of problems here apart from mere disappointment, however. Guinan has apparently joined the bash-Data club of which she and Pulaski are the founding members. Data’s interplay with “the comic” were initially sort of fun but dragged on forever and became dull and painful to watch. Okona’s character was utterly stereotypical. The commentary on a father being upset that a guy got his daughter pregnant and then ran off was just weird. I believe the word they used was “ancient” customs. It seemed disrespectful to the real plight of the woman involved. Another failed effort at egalitarian themes. The big reveal in which the young love was shown to be the thrust of the plot was a potentially interesting twist that just fell flat due to its surroundings.
This episode was very *shrug*-worthy, and at times painful. Long story short, the episode was boring.
Wife’s Grade and Comment: C “Data jokes weren’t that funny; two groups fighting over one thing feels like it’s been done before.”
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