Star Trek The Next Generation: Rascals

Chief O'Brien: "Which button is it?"
"You know, you make a pretty cute kid."

Aww, Guinan's right about that!  I'm never tired of television episodes that turn my favorite characters into beings that are way more fun.  This episode is a very nice treat.

When a shuttle of the USS Enterprise reaches a wacky energy field, some of our crew are aboard. They are shocked to find themselves to be regressed in age (after beam-up), but I am quite delighted. Casting did a nice job of finding young actors to fill the parts of the younger crew. I’ll write more about that, later.

In the shuttle, Picard talks about the artifacts that he found while spending the whole time in a cave on a beautiful planet…let’s hope that he took the time to put on his swim gear, at least once, right?

Oh, my.
In one of the funniest scenes in this episode, O’Brien tells the bridge crew that there’s been a forty percent drop in mass aboard the shuttle. What makes it hilarious is that O'Brien's own wife is on that shuttle! He speaks with total apathy and acts like he could care less about which forty percent of the crew are missing. What a great Saturday Night Live skit that would make: “I’ve lost part of the crew, Captain! Crap, what if they're now missing their feet…or their hands…or their heads? Keiko’s gonna be so mad at me if she doesn’t have a head!”

Anyway – Little Picard, Ro Laren, Guinan, and Keiko are so very precious. Picard’s now speaking in a high voice that’s not garnering much respect. I’m pretty amazed at the rest of the crew’s stoic and serious attitude for the first part of this episode. No one giggles and starts making jokes, right away. This’s serious business, folks. Ro Laren’s certainly upset; she keenly feels like important parts of herself have been taken away. She feels violated and is not amused, not one bit. Actually, she does act like The Fish from The Cat in the Hat, in this episode. It takes a while for her to be in any mood to play along. Keiko’s sad that her daughter (now magically four-years-old…wasn’t she born last season?) no longer thinks that she’s her mom. That is sad, but Guinan – she’s loving the whole experience. I’m with her. It’d be nice to spend a day, or a childhood, as a young person again. Few responsibilities, no hot flashes, arthritis, ache-y knees – just energy and fun. I’d get a pair of roller skates from the materializer thingy and take off down the corridors. Who hasn’t fantasized about being young again and getting a do-over? I have about a thousand mistakes and missteps that I’d correct. It would be hard to become distant from current friends and family, though.


The fun starts when a group of Ferengi try to claim The Enterprise as their own. Quick thinking Riker, who saves the command functions from the marauders, leads the race to get control of the ship. It’s lucky, too, that part of the Enterprise’s crew has been reduced to child size. The Ferengi need hostages to threaten the adults that were taken off the ship, so those pint-size villains (Ferengi, not kids) have finally met their match. Picard, like usual, takes quick stock of the situation and comes up with a master plan. Guinan helps Picard realize that they’re children, so darn it, they’re gonna act like kids and throw monkey wrenches into the Ferengi operation. It’s great watching everyone work together, in their small spaces and bodies, to defeat their foes. Even Alexander’s not completely useless in this scenario. The best moment is when Riker and Young Picard give us a dad-hug for the ages. I remember having to rewind that part – over and over – when I first viewed it, years ago. It’s still a keeper. Now I know how Riker attracts the ladies – Little Jean-Luc looks pretty happy, doesn’t he? I’d be happy to be wrapped up in those massive arms. When’s the next Star Trek convention? I gotta go!

"He's my Number-One-Dad!"
In the end, most of the crew are spliced into their former adult DNA that is stored aboard the ship. Picard briefly misses his awesome hair, Keiko presumably goes to see her daughter, and Guinan goes to find Ro…who is finally enjoying her altered state. It’s sweet the way that Guinan sticks close by her. She’s uplifting and encouraging her, all the way. Ro Laren isn’t quite ready to be a grown-up again, though. She wants to finish her drawing of the mother that she knew, when she was young. All together now – awwww!


Trek Bits:

I’ve always liked Michelle Forbes as Ensign Ro (plus, every other character she does). Megan Parlan plays her as a child. David Birkin’s great as Young Picard. He got the shirt-tugging action down pat. He also played Picard’s nephew, Rene, in an earlier episode. Young Keiko’s appropriately serious, and Guinan’s contributions to the story are much welcome. It’s interesting to note that Isis Carmen Jones plays young Guinan here, and at the same time – she’s playing Young Deloris on Sister Act.

This episode is directed by Adam Nimoy, AKA Son of Spock.

Would Young Jean-Luc and Wesley get along as roommates at the Academy? That’s a story that I’d like to see.

Mean Dr. Crusher won’t let Little Picard play captain. He should have kicked her in the shin. Poor little guy. So much hair, so little presence and authority.

In the first part of the episode, I guess it is very serious. Heavy casualties are reported on decks 35 to 40. That could be someone’s mother, son, or tiny…tiny babies! No carnage is shown, however.

Trek Quotes:

Picard: "Look at these fragments. They're... they're very nearly in perfect condition, and yet they're seven hundred years old."
Guinan: "So is my father."
Ha! Ba ding dong!

Picard: "I need to see my father... I need to see him right now!... I need to see him now! Now, now, now, now, now, now, now, N – Stop it; you hurt me! I want my father! I want my father!"
That has to be some of the best lines that any version of Picard has uttered.

Riker: “Okay, Morta. The Enterprise computer system is controlled by three primary main processor cores, cross-linked with redundant melacortz-ramistat 14-kiloquad interface modules. The core element is based on an FTL nanoprocessor with 25 bilateral kelilactirals. With twenty of those being slaved into the primary Heisenfram terminals. Now, you know what a bilateral kelilactiral is?"
Morta: "Of course I do, Human. I am not stupid!"
Riker: "No. Of course not. This is the isopalavial interface which controls the main firomantal drive unit. Don't touch that – you'll blow up the entire firomantal drive."
Morta: “Alright, wa..wa..Wait! Wha..what is a, a ferromactal drive? Just explain it to me!"
Riker: "That is the firomantal drive unit, it controls the ramistat core and keeps the ontarian manifold at 40,000 KRGs. The firomantal drive is powered by..."
Yep, this is like my daughter trying to explain her love of Yu-Gu-Oh, to me. I just don’t get it.

Bonus Quotes – Ensign Ro Laren Special Edition:

“I am not twelve-years-old! If I want to go to my quarters and contemplate my situation…that does not mean I am pouting!”

“Where did you get the idea that being short and awkward is some kind of wonderful gift?”

"So, what the hell am I supposed to do now?"

"Well, I should be doing something, instead of just standing around, waiting for them to find a cure!"

“(Childhood) was a long, depressing period of my life and I was grateful when it was finally over. I'd rather not relive it.”

You know, this’s a good-time episode, all around. Well, maybe not for the dead crew and their families. Luckily, this is fiction, so we can just breeze past that disturbing image. The wonder of a science-fiction production, is that anything can happen – and often does. When I was young, I read sci-fi and Tolkien, to transport me to other worlds and adventures that I’d never have – in real life. Now I can imagine being a child again, along with the Enterprise crew, any time I want.

Four and a half Meddling Kids.

Mallena's so old, she actually watched The Rascals on a black-and-white television as a kid.

5 comments:

Dustin said...

This episode is my two young daughters' favorite one to watch. We've re-watched it more times than I care to think about. It is however way more enjoyable than their second favorite episode, "When the Bough Breaks" from season 1.

Mallena said...

Young kids on a TV series like this can sometimes be annoying, but it's great that it helps appeal the show to younger audiences. I always liked Young Wesley and most of the kid episodes, especially When the Bough Breaks...so they must be doing something right.

cheryl42 said...

I love STTNG. This was such a creative episode. Loved it. Great review Thanks. :-)

Mallena said...

Doux does so many reviews of all kinds, so it's always interesting. Everything is also neatly organized and alphabetized for the librarian and OCD person, within us all. Thanks for reading, I'm gonna have to stop having fun (ha, as if I had time for fun after cleaning and cooking all day so my college aged kids can enjoy their summer)and get writing.

drnanamom said...

Great review Mallena. I loved this episode and thought it was great fun but I'm glad you brought up the piece they just blew over - the crew hurt and maybe killed in the fire fight with the Ferengi.