Today, Star Trek turns 40 years old, which means that the Enterprise is totally going to grow a ponytail and start dating younger star ships. Sweet!
As part of my personal celebration of this great show and its history, today I began writing reviews of classic episodes of The Next Generation for TVSquad. They'll run about twice a month, perhaps more frequently if I have time and inspiration. I figured the best place to start would be close to the beginning, so I chose our first hour-long regular season episode, The Naked Now:
Title: The Naked NowIn addition to the synopsis, I'll include some memorable dialogue, the obligatory technobabble, and a personal behind the scenes memory:
Original Air Date: October 5, 1987
Written By: John D.F Black and j. Michael Bingham
Directed by: Paul Lynch
Synopsis: The Enterprise is on her way to rendezvous with a science vessel called Tsiolkovsky. Tsiolkovsky is collecting data from a supergiant star, which is about to collapse into a white dwarf.
When the Enterprise arrives, the crew discovers that something isn't right on board the Tsiolkovsky, as a woman's voice broadcasts from the ship, "Well, hello, Enterprise, welcome. I hope you have a lot of pretty boys on board, because I'm willing and waiting. In fact, we're having a real blowout here."
A real blowout indeed! The crew hears that great big sucking sound Ross Perot will mention years later during the NAFTA debate, but it takes the crewmembers out into space, instead of jobs out of America.
Geordi, Tasha, Riker and Data make a quick trip to the Tsiolkovsky, where they confirm that the crew had a sexy party which ended with all of them in various stages of undress and death. Geordi examines a sonic shower, and a frozen woman falls into his arms. Geordi doesn't know it, but he's just been infected with the Tsiolokovsky disease. He also doesn't know it, but this is the closest he'll get to holding a woman until season three. Unfortunately, when he finally does, she'll be just as frigid.
Behind the Scenes Memory: Paul Lynch, who directed this episode, directed several episodes of TNG over the years. He was an Englishman who was always extraordinarily wound up, red-faced, sweating profusely, and infamous for saying "Energy! Energy! Energy! And, and, and, and, action!" before takes. He did this before every take, regardless of whether the scene actually called for "Energy! Energy! Energy!" or not.I'll wrap the whole thing up with the bottom line, and a grade:
The Bottom Line: Whether it was the worst episode ever or not probably rested upon the viewer's expectations. Trekkies who were looking for reasons to hate The Next Generation found plenty: the cinematography was very dark and heavy use of wide angles didn't present a very favorable view of the actors. It's essentially a rehash of The Naked Time, and not a very good one (Jonathan Frakes once said that he felt "totally ashamed" by it, and that it was one of the worst things we ever did on TNG. Those are strong words, especially considering episodes like Angel One and Code of Honor) . . . and then there's that whole "annoying smartypants kid who takes over and then helps save the ship" situation.There's a lot more in my entire story, and I'm actually quite happy with how it came out. It was incredibly fun to watch The Naked Now on DVD while I prepared to do this review, and I'll take any chance I have to spend a bulk of a day at Memory Alpha fact-checking and digging up additional bits of information I may have overlooked or forgotten. It was also quite fun to watch the special features on the Season One DVD, and see the Next Generation that I remember: sets filled with crew and equipment, films of costume fittings, photo shoots, make-up tests, and other things I remember doing. I watched actors hanging around off the set, and interviews with all of us from the late 80s, when the show was new and we were still figuring out who we were and what we were doing. I especially loved (and possibly teared up a little bit) during a segment all about the camaraderie we all felt during production. Everyone looks the way I remember them, and seeing the dressing rooms, make up and production trailers, and art department is the greatest emotional reconnection to those days since I went on Star Trek: The Experience in Dancing Barefoot.
I mentioned earlier this week that I wasn't invited to the "official" 40th anniversary celebration convention. A couple of years ago, I would have been really upset by that, but though I've looked for those emotions this week, they simply aren't there. I think it's partially because there's so much more to my life now than just Star Trek, but mostly because I don't need an "official" platform or convention to celebrate and honor the legacy and memory of such a huge part of my life. I'll have my tribute to Star Trek a little later today.