Star Trek The Next Generation: The Naked Now

"It never happened."

Based on a classic Trek episode with a similar name (The Naked Time), this episode treads a bit too closely to where we've gone before.

For me, the entire problem with this episode was that it was almost a carbon copy of The Naked Time, but it didn't capture the same magic. Why? Two reasons. First, and probably most importantly, the actors are still struggling to find their characters. The stiffness felt in the pilot loosened a touch here, but then most of the characters weren't themselves. I think it was a mistake to take the characters to a place where they don't act normally this early on.

Secondly, none of the plot beats stood on their own (except for one, and I'll talk about that in a bit). The touching felt forced. Each character had to touch one another to transmit the contagion but almost none of those interactions really worked because the crew isn't that intimate yet. They aren't really friends, in fact they barely know one another. The only two pairings where this kind of intimacy might've worked this early on were Riker and Troi, and Picard and Crusher. Well, and Crusher and Crusher.

Then there were numerous jumps in the infection. My only guess was that Geordi wandered around the ship before heading to the conference room. Otherwise, the vectors for infection just don't make logical sense. By the time Yar starts walking around feeling sexy and kissing random crewmates, the contagion has spread through most of the ship. I guess the other possibility was that Wesley spread it, but that doesn't fit his character very well.

Wesley, oh poor maligned Wesley. I don't think the writers liked the character very much because he had some god awful lines of dialogue in this one. Plus his actions in this episode seemed to be designed almost to make the audience hate him. I was pretty young when the show first came out, and even I didn't care much for Wesley watching the first time through. Now, I'm fond of Wil Wheaton, so the character doesn't bother me even half as much anymore.

So what did I like? Actually, quite a bit of this episode was a lot of fun. I liked the later scenes between Picard and Crusher, and I thought it was good to see Riker taking charge and being a leader. But the only real saving grace in this episode was Data. Sure, he wasn't quite the Data we love, and it made absolutely no logical sense for him to have caught the contagion, but damn, it was fun watching him play drunk.

Data's interaction with Tasha was not only one of the most memorable moments in the episode, confirming that he's a real boy where it counts, but the moment also becomes a defining one for Data in a way. Without going into spoiler territory, this drunken moment of intimacy had an effect on him that lasted throughout the series. Also, Tasha's outfit was kind of amazing in a classic Trek sort of way.

Bits:

I loved Data putting back the Isolinear chips. It was a silly situation to begin with, but having him move that fast was a nice display of his abilities. Also, the moment where he gets the hypo-spray and his face shifts from goofy to serious was perhaps the best acting moment in the episode, even though it made zero sense for the cure to work on him.

It was a nice nod to the original episode that the cure was in the database. Having the infection mutate was a good idea, but the answer didn't really work for me. Using a more generalized cure should have been the first thing that Crusher tried, not the last.

I hate this particular look for Troi. Although she does look a lot better than she did in the pilot, her outfit is too dark and unadorned, and she looks almost severe with that tight bun. She's supposed to be the ship's counselor. I can't quite imagine anyone feeling open and at ease with her looking like this.

Picard seemed particularly ineffective in this episode, standing on the bridge almost helpless as the ship fell apart around him. Data, Riker and Wesley end up saving the day. Which I guess is fine since Picard did all the heavy lifting in the pilot.

There was almost none of the emotional stuff that there was in the original episode. No one died, no one went through life-altering stuff (except maybe Data), and for the most part it felt momentary, like a night of drinking that you forget the next morning.

Quotes:

Data: "And there was a rather peculiar limerick being delivered by someone in the shuttlecraft bay. I'm not sure I understand it. 'There was a young lady from Venus, whose body was shaped like a–'"
Picard: "Captain to security! Come in!"
Data: "Did I say something wrong?"
Worf: "I don't understand their humor, either."

Data: "We are more alike than unlike, my dear captain. I have pores. Humans have pores. I have fingerprints. Humans have fingerprints. My chemical nutrients are like your blood. If you prick me, do I not... leak?"

I do think there are some fun elements to this episode, but in the end it wasn't very good.

2 out of 4 Isolinear chips

J.D. Balthazar is a confirmed nerd who loves most things sci-fi or fantasy-related. He reviews Arrow and Farscape and cool new movies that strike his fancy.

3 comments:

Juliette said...

I kinda love this episode because it's funny, but it is also ridiculous, and I agree, it's far too early for this. How can we enjoy seeing the regulars act out of character when we don't yet know what's IN character for them?!

Billie Doux said...

I enjoyed it a lot more than the pilot, but as J.D. and Juliette both said, it's way too soon for a character-driven episode like this one. But at least it shows how wonderful Brent Spiner can be, and in only the second episode.

drnanamom said...

I enjoyed this episode because I kind of forgot that I didn't know the characters (it is a re-watch) so it made more sense for me. It is a peculiar choice for a second episode though since as everyone has pointed out we don't really know the characters yet. Still it might have helped the actors to loosen up a bit with each other and I liked the comment from Picard about a good crew as this could also refer to the crew of actors.