Warp Speed to Nonsense

Warp Speed to Nonsense

Monday, February 15, 2016

ST:TNG Season One, Episode Three "The Naked Now"

ST:TNG Season One, Episode Three "The Naked Now"
Air Order: 2
Stardate: 41209.2
Original Air Date: October 3, 1987

Picard's Log 41209.2: "Meeting up wit the SS Tsiolkovsky. They've been checking out a collapsing star. But we're getting some weird-ass messages from them in the meantime."

On the bridge, Data has turned on the comm system to talk to the Tsiolkovsky. The woman who answers sounds like a phone-sex operator and she seriously asks if they have "pretty boys" onboard the Enterprise. Everybody on the bridge looks weirded out by her request. She mentions a "real blow-out," and the part of me that changed my brother's diapers growing up cringes. But she's talking about a party, which we can hear going on in the background. Or we think she's talking about a party. Nope. Somebody blows the emergency hatch on the ship, and the line goes dead.

There's kind of a funny moment here where Picard asks, "Are you certain?"
Data turns and looks at him like, "Did you really just question an android?" before Picard answers his own question with "Yes, of course you are."
Oh, yeah. Forgot you were a walking Google. Apologies.
Riker takes Data, Geordi and Tasha with him while Worf reports no life signs on the other ship.
Then we get a cool model shot, and I contemplate all of the stuff that went into creating this little establishing shot of the E flying toward the science vessel, which is near the collapsing star. Green screens and stuff. Awesome.

Our away team materializes in the corridor of the Tsiolkovsky, amid food, clothing and general detritus. They split up to check the ship.

Riker and Data encounter a viewscreen set to the bridge, and sure enough, someone there has blown the emergency hatch, exposing the bridge crew.
"They all got sucked out," says Riker.
This is Data's next line:

Okay, he's right, and Riker agrees with him, but his response comes off as pedantic and annoying. I know it's a Data-ish thing to correct people in that way, but Brent Spiner hasn't quite got the hang of Data yet, and it's not as gentle as Data usually comes off when he does that. ("I believe you mean blown out, sir?") I'm a Grammar and Spelling Nazi because it irritates me when people use the wrong spelling or what-have-you, but I realized after a while that I just sounded like a giant asshole when I pointed out other people's mistakes. No one needs to know that I'm annoyed at their spelling skills. Shut your bitch-ass mouth, Data.
Also, check out that dedication plaque behind Data. It's written in Cyrillic, the only time in Star Trek history where a ship's dedication plaque is written in anything other than English. The Tsiolkovsky is listed as being built in the USSR, which will no longer exist just four short years after this episode airs. But check out the insignia: that's a Federation ship. The US and Russia will go round and round and round for decades over World Wars and Cold Wars and bickering over what kind of government is best, but over here in the tiny corner of the world known as Star Trek, Gene Rod has said, "Hey, Russia. I know we haven't always been buddies, but I feel like we can put aside our differences after a while, and we can all play together in space. I meant it when I put Chekov on the bridge last time, and I still mean it now."
I like that. Good on ya, Star Trek.

Yar calls to say that she's found people in engineering, but they've all frozen to death. She thinks somebody has been messing with the environmental controls. Geordi calls from some crew quarters to report the same. Hellooooo, soft-core porn.

There are half a dozen naked people frozen in the common area of the crew quarters, two more in the bed, and when Geordi pushes on the malfunctioning door of a shower, a frozen girl falls out... but she's fully clothed.
Riker calls Picard. "Eighty people on the ship... all dead."
Dramatic music! Commercial break!

Picard's Log, supplemental: "We're getting the info about the collapsing star off the Tsiolkovsky's computers. I want to GTFO, but we can't until we get all the info."

Picard goes down to sick bay to talk to Troi and Dr Crusher about what might have happened to the crew of the Tsiolkovsky.
Holy crap, that's awful. It's like a long-sleeve romper. A fancy-dress onesie. Form-fitting coveralls. The grey washes her out, and they paired it with a terrible hairdo. Now she has some kind of bun adorned red jewels or something. All of this sucks. All of it. I know they wanted to get rid of the "intergalactic cheerleader" look, but this is possibly worse. What's more, we're stuck with this until season two. VOM.

Anyway, Crusher can't figure out why the crew of the science vessel might have gone off the deep end. The away team has sent back tricorder readings, but it hasn't done any good. Picard tells her to bring back the away team and decontaminate them, then watch them carefully for signs they might be acting funny, too.
In the next scene, Crusher scans Data and jokes that, "if you were any more perfect, I'd have to write you up in a Starfleet Medical textbook."
He replies factually that he's already in several, and hops off the table.
Geordi hops on, and she scans him, pronouncing everything normal, but asks why he's sweating.
"It's too hot in here, bitch!"
"WTF?" asks Crusher. 
She tells Geordi that she needs to run more tests, then goes into her office to tell Picard that Geordi is being uncharacteristically dickish, and she's gonna keep him for observation.

On the bridge, Riker approaches Data at one of the science consoles and asks for his help. He thinks that because Data is a walking Google, maybe the android can help him figure out that girl Geordi found in the shower, fully clothed.
"I know I've heard of something like that before," he says.
Data agrees to help him, then asks if Dr Crusher thought he was boasting about the textbook thing.
"Probably," shrugs Riker.
"But it's true!" Data protests.
Dude, you know what else is true? When I was three, they filmed a scene of the Terminator at my house. And you know who cares? About the same number of people that care about your textbook thing.
Data is getting on my nerves this episode, and I don't know why.

Data's working at a console that casts a weird green-ish light on him.
Also, skant sighting!

Back in sick bay, Crusher scans Geordi again, then transfers the info to her desktop in her office. While she's gone, he takes off his comm badge and just walks the fuck out. She comes back to find him gone, then rushes back to her office to call security to find him.
Turns out he's in Dr Crusher's quarters with her son. Wes is using some kind of tiny tractor beam to levitate a chair. He then shows Geordi some kind of recorder that he used to tape Picard's voice. When he plays it, the tape says, "Take the helm, Mr Crusher," and other stuff. He figures that, since Picard won't let him on the bridge, he'll just have to use this to pretend. He says he got the voice off the PA system when Picard called people, then altered it to his own purposes. Apparently, he doesn't realize what a creepy fanboy he's being. Also, you know that shit's gonna come up again later in the episode. They never just show you some weird detail like that.
Geordi, who seems to be acting normal, laughs and claps Wes on the back of the neck. There's this odd sound effect that you're supposed to notice.

Then he says he doesn't feel well, and wanders out. Tasha finds him a bit later in the observation lounge, staring out the window. She calls for security to come get him, but he says that he needs help, and that he wants to see like she sees. He takes off his VISOR and touches her face. The sound effect occurs again. They lead him back to sick bay.

Crusher scans him again, and still finds nothing. Troi says he just seems confused, and maybe intoxicated. Picard asks if he's sick, and Crusher replies that everybody on the away team was decontaminated, so that can't be the case.
Have you figured it out yet, friends?
Up on the bridge, Data and Riker are cycling through the computer looking for Riker's clue of "someone showering with their clothes on" when Riker suddenly recalls that he read about it while looking up all of the ships called Enterprise. They pull up the right entry as Picard enters the bridge.
"We found it sir. Geordi is sick with Blatant Episode Rip-off-itis."
"Are you sure?" asks Picard. 
"Yeah," says Riker. "TOS, season one, episode seven, "The Naked Time." Leonard Nimoy turns out a good performance, and George Takei fences in the corridors."
"I see," says Picard thoughtfully. "They've started a brand-new show, and instead of coming up with an original story, they've elected to just steal from themselves, and rewrite the script so that new people are going to sick with an illness that lowers inhibition like alcohol intoxication."

Picard calls Crusher. "So it turns out this is a rehash of something that's already been done, and there's a cure. Do you have Netflix? You can watch it there in your office."
"Awesome," says Crusher. "I can catch it in between episodes of Classic Who."

Troi goes back to her quarters to find Tasha rifling through her closet.
"The hell?" she asks.
"I need clothing advice," purrs Tasha. "Because you wear such beautiful things off-duty."
Oh, is that it? Troi dresses like crap on-duty to off-set the beautiful stuff she wears on her downtime?
"Also, your hair always looks great," Tasha adds. 
O...kay, now she sounds drunk.
"Yeeeaah, that's my stuff," says Troi. "And my reading of you right now is weird."
But Tasha grabs her hand, and there's that sound effect again, of her passing the proverbial bottle of Jagermeister to Troi.

Tasha leaves and Troi calls Picard to report that the security chief now has the illness as well. 
Wes goes to sick bay to float things with his tractor beam for his mother, and she asks him to go back to his quarters so he won't get infected like the others. He agrees, but asks why it's so hot in sick bay. Crushers realizes that Wes has it already, just as Picard calls to see if she has the cure ready.
Meanwhile, people in engineering are making out, and Tasha needs to get a room with this Science rando.

We get a small taste of Ship Disabling foreshadowing when Picard (on the bridge) asks Data how much longer they have to wait while they finish uploading the Tsiolkovsky's data. The android replies forty minutes, and Picard reveals that he's concerned about that star collapsing.
"Naw, we're cool," says Data. "We could still outrun it from here at half-impulse."

Picard calls the chief engineer to the bridge, and after she leaves, one of the engineering flunkies gets summoned to sick bay, again by Picard. Wes walks in with his little do-hickies, greeting and shaking the hand of the flunky who was just called to sick bay. The flunky (Jim) tells Wes that he's been called away, but with the chief up on the bridge, no one will be there to man engineering.
Whut? There's a thousand people in engineering! You can't ask one of them? How is it that the system is set up with one alpha, one beta, and no one else?
"What about me?" asks Wes, as the sound effect plays.
"Hey, yeah," says Jim, and he freaking leaves a fifteen-year-old in charge of the damn warp core.
Wes looks pretty proud of himself, and I swear to God, he stares straight at the camera and breaks the fourth wall.

The Chief of Engineering reports to the bridge, where Picard tells her that he never ordered her up there. A bosun whistle is heard over the PA and Picard's voice says that he has handed over control of the ship to "Acting Captain Wesley Crusher."
"The fuck?" yells Picard.
Then Wes hops on the PA to graciously accept the ship from his recording device.
For those of you not paying attention, Wes is now Kevin O'Riley. He'll take you home again, Kathleen.
Dramatic music! Commercial break!

Picard's Log 41209.3: "Rehash. Everything you missed in the first half of the show."

Wes, down in engineering with a forcefield around the section he's in, tells drunk peeps on the other side that his first command as acting captain is make it so that dessert both proceeds and follows every meal, which is just a rewrite from Kevin O'Riley's promises of ice cream socials, and could the writers really think of nothing different for Wes to do?
Picard orders Riker and the chief engineer (McDougal) to oust Wes from engineering.
Worf reports that people are being ordered to attend lectures on metaphysics. Data says he overheard a limerick that he doesn't understand.

Picard immediately bellows for security, and there's a funny bit here:
Data: "Did I say something wrong?"
Worf: "I don't understand their humor, either."

Picard gets a hold of Yar, who purrs that she's in her quarters, and busy. Picard tells Data to go get Tasha and take her to sick bay. 
He arrives to find that she's dressed like a Cloud Minder

She starts this awkward conversation, telling him that she was abandoned at age five, learning to fend for herself, and avoiding "the rape gangs." Anyway, she says she lead a crappy life, and now she was wants the D from Data. She asks if he's fully functional, and he haltingly replies that he is, and programmed in multiple techniques, leaving one to wonder when the fuck his creator thought that was going to be useful. Apparently, one does not need to be a hot teenage girl android to be used as a sex robot.

Riker and McDougal make it to Engineering to find that Wes has cut off the engines from the bridge, and locked himself in that little room with the engineering assistant, Jim. They can't get anything back online because Jim has removed all the isolinear chips from the system and is playing Jenga with them. One day, I hope to have as much fun as Jim is having here.

McDougal says she can short out the system and reroute it, but it will take a while. In the meantime, Troi has entered Engineering. She calls Riker "Bill" which is a weird "first-season/pilot" thing that I'm filing away with Data grinning at Wes and Spock smiling at Kirk. Weird things that happen because no one has figured out the characters yet. Anyway, he calls her Deanna (instead of the more-formal "counselor") and she kind of gropes his chest and tells him that she can feel the yearning of every person on the ship. He realizes that she's sick and touches the sweat on her forehead, making the sound effect go off. Then he picks her up to take her to sick bay.
"Wouldn't you rather be alone with me?" she asks, followed by this rather creepy question:

What does that even mean? Is it some kind of Betazoid kink?

Dr Crusher loads the antidote into a hypospray and shoots Geordi in the arm with it. It's supposed to work instantly, but he continues to sob that he can't see properly, and she realizes that it didn't work. Riker brings Troi in and puts her on a bed, then hurries to Crusher's office to tell her.
Crusher is trying to figure out what the deal is when Riker rushes in.
"The antidote doesn't work!" she says.
Startled, he grabs her. "What? I just brought Deanna in!"
But Dr Crusher is smart enough to put two and two together. "Wait, you touched her? You're infected now! And you touched me! So I am, too!"
"Aw, crap!" says Riker. "All of the shit is fucked up! No, you can't quarantine me! I have to fix the ship before one of these drunkish bastards blows an airlock or something and we all die!"
Dramatic music! Commercial break!

Picard's Log, supplemental: "Rehash."

Picard calls Wes. "Gimme back my ship."
"Naw, I'm good," says Wes. "Why don't you tell me what you want done, and I'll do it? I mean, you never do the things, anyway. You give the orders, and someone else does them. So you can just have me do them."
Picard attempts to reason with him: "So, hey. You know how you feel weird? You got an illness that came over from the Tsiolkovsky."
Wes is stoked. "You mean I'm drunk?" 
Well, yes. But I have no idea how you went from "you have an alien illness" to "drunk." Then he has the drunkest thought of all.

And ohhhh, the worst pun of them all comes to mind: Wes is drunk with power.
"Sooo, real important that I get the ship back, because we have to tractor the Tsiolkovsky away from the collapsing star -"
"Dude, I'm so down with tractor beams!" exclaims Wes. "I'll do it!" He calls Picard "skipper" then signs off.
The guy at Conn drunkenly stumbles off the bridge as Worf warns Picard that the star is starting to collapse. It's okay, though, because Data said they can get away at half-impulse. Oop, no. They have no engines because Wes has them hostage behind a forcefield, and McDougal is trying to short the system so she can reroute it. Riker has to try to help McDougal get the engines back from Wes, while remembering not to touch anyone. Data is off getting some from Tasha Yar. Crusher is trying to find a new antidote while not succumbing to the illness herself. We have well and truly Disabled the Ship.
Tractor beams lock onto the Tsiolkovsky, and Picard realizes that Wes did it.
The lift opens onto the bridge and a drunken Data stumbles out. I have no idea how the hell he managed to be affected by this, but he's clearly riding high on... robot endorphins, I guess?
"At least you're functioning," grumps Picard.

Picard, startled, tries to logic through this one. "Drunkenness is a human condition. You are different."
"Naw, we're pretty close to being the same," Data slurs.
Crusher stalks onto the bridge and demands to see Picard in his ready room. He follows her in, and she tells him that she has it, too. She'd also really like to hook up with Picard. She doesn't appear to touch him, but they stumble out of the ready room with her uniform top unzipped and tells her "Not now!" before she gets in the lift.
Worf quietly calls Riker to let him know that Picard seems to be infected. Riker leaves McDougal to finish hacking into the E's computer system, and heads upstairs.
The star collapses. A big-ass chunk of something-or-other heads for the ship. McDougal cracks into the system, shuts down Wes' forcefield and rushes into that area. But there's no way she can get all those chips back into place to start the engines and get them moving away. Worf says they have fourteen minutes left, and McDougal says it'll take hours to get all those chips back in place.
"Data can do it," says Wes. "He's an android."
"Cool," says Riker, and he grabs the stumbling Data and shuttles him down in a lift.
Dramatic Music! Commercial break!

Riker's Log: "Rehash of stuff you missed while your mom was making you take out the trash."

Riker drags Data down to Engineering, where Wes convinces him to play a game of "how fast can you unfuck this situation?" Data sits down cross-legged on the floor and begins to place the chips in the right place. Wes puts the front viewer up on a little screen so they can watch themselves die from Engineering.

Data says it's gonna take him too long to get it all done, despite the fact that he's moving at top speed. Riker realizes that he's getting sweaty, and bemoans that he can't get the sickness now, which is weird, because he's had it for quite some time, and gave it to Dr Crusher. Data says that if he had one more minute, he could finish the job. Wes is trying to wax poetic to Riker about his forcefield/tractor beam machine. He created the forcefield by reversing the tractor beam and making a repulser beam. Riker is over all of this shit. he doesn't feel good, he's about to die, and Wes won't shut up about his extracurriculars.
"Oh! I can switch the tractor beams to make a repulser beam!" says Wes. He starts futzing with it, but his head's still foggy, and he can't quite see what he needs to do.
Meanwhile, up in sick bay, Dr Crusher has found an antidote that's similar to the one she got from Netflix, but a little different. She stumbles over to Geordi, who has been her guinea pig this whole time.
"Sweet, that worked right away," says Geordi.
"Killer," slurs Crusher, and she jabs Picard, then herself.
She hands the hypo to Picard and tells him to get his sweet ass down to Engineering.
He does, and walks around in that little space, shooting everyone in the arm.
Data keeps placing chips, Riker keeps worrying, and Wes is finally able to reverse that tractor beam. Only instead of reversing it against the rock-mass-thing, he just reverses it against the Tsiolkovsky, pushing it away and into the mass-thing. The other ship blows up, buying them a few moments so Data can finish.

For whatever reason, all I can hear is the theme music that plays when Popeye eats some spinach, and somehow saves the day by punching something.
However, it did not destroy the mass-thing, which is still coming at them. Data finishes his chip-setting, then they call the bridge, and warp the fuck out of there.
Worf calls Picard. "Did Data save the day?"
"Yeah," says Picard. "Wes, too."

Everyone reports back to the bridge. Tasha marches up to Data and says "It didn't happen." He seems perplexed.
"I think we can have a fine crew, if we can avoid temptation," Picard announces.
Tasha and Data glance at one another, as do Riker and Troi.
And they warp out of there.

So, despite the fact that there were some pretty funny moments here, this is not a favorite episode of mine. They straight-up stole a script from their predecessor, altered it just enough that DC Fontana asked to receive her writing credit under a pseudonym, and presented it as an homage. That's... lazy writing, frankly. And people seem torn about where their feelings lie on this one. Wil Wheaton says that Jonathan Frakes initially said this episode was garbage, but in later years, praised it as being "bold" because people were horny in space. George Takei said it was like watching little kids wearing their parents' clothing. I read on IMDB that this episode came about because of a writers' strike, but I couldn't find evidence for that theory. I did find several people calling it an homage, and the director said that this was his favorite episode out of the few that he directed. But most people seem to think the way that I do about it: it's not a good episode, and the writing here was lazy.
Here we have a brand-new show, and there's pressure on them to make it a good one, in spite of the fact that a lot of their audience is angry that the show exists with Kirk, Spock and Bones. They have the opportunity here to expand on their characters and deepen the stories behind them, but instead they rehash an old plot and go for the laugh. In the original (rehash) script, the effects of the illness were supposed to bring us more insight into the characters, but they scraped those bits. Pretty sad considering that in the TOS version, we got to learn some stuff about our main characters. I read one take that said that the TNG was lighter and funnier, and that the TOS version was "heavy-handed." Now, I'm not gonna argue that TOS is not heavy-handed, because holy shit, they hit you over the head with it sometimes. And you certainly aren't gonna find me arguing that the original episode was Oscar-worthy, because it wasn't. But there were some very good moments there, most notably from Leonard Nimoy, who took the opportunity to character-build. Here, we got a short bit on Tasha's background (and she hits in guys, just to prove to the audience that she isn't a lesbian), and we got a smattering of "will they-won't they" between Picard and Crusher, and Riker and Troi.

Bottom line: Meh. Come up with your own scripts, Next Gen.

Bratty and Curie

1 comment:

  1. Yeah, I'm not too fond of this episode either.

    I notice, where Picard and Bev are talking in private, Picard clears his throat, but it looks like it was ADRed, and he was saying something originally. It sounds very unnatural.

    I noticed Tasha was kind of lingering on holding Deanna's hand. I wonder if there's some attraction there on Tasha's part.