Star Trek 144: Contagion

144. Contagion

FORMULA: The Neutral Zone + The Final Frontier + The City on the Edge of Forever

WHY WE LIKE IT: There's something cool about the idea of the Iconians. Geordi's mad turbolift ride.

WHY WE DON'T: 20th-century knowledge seems to have been lost by the 24th. In other words, too many characters are written stupid.

REVIEW: Contagion had the potential to be a whole lot more interesting than it actually is. The Romulans are in it, for example, and though not imaginary like last time (in Where Silence Has Lease), they are impotent. Seems like TNG is having trouble creating formidable opponent races, what with the Klingons being on our side now, and the Ferengi turning out so silly. We should be able to count on the Romulans. Alas, we cannot.

On the upside, the Iconians are an interesting ancient race, and the whole archaeological mystery aspect of the episode is quite good. Picard does well here, and we're introduced to his hobby, as well as hearing the classic "tea, earl gray, hot" for the first time. The malfunctions that rage across the Enterprise are mostly standard stuff, but I have to give props to Geordi's turbolift tumble. Well done, amusing, scary and informative about how the lifts work. Too bad that the rest of the problems are so ordinary. Of course, seeing the Yamato blow up was pretty cool too.

It's all pretty watchable, but there are a couple things that annoy me too much for this to be a classic. For some reason, characters are written as dumb in this story, and that always makes me frown. Nurses that have never heard of splints? Computer-proficient people that have never heard of computer viruses or of rebooting? And then it ends a little too easily with Picard punching a few buttons. But it looks great, and the story keeps you interested even if the solutions lets it down as too obvious.

LESSON: When in doubt, reboot.

REWATCHABILITY - Medium: There are a number of good moments, and a lot of episodes will build on what happens in Contagion, but if you're computer savvy in the least, you'll find the characters a bit dense here.

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