Star Trek 179: Ménage à Troi

179. Ménage à Troi

FORMULA: Manhunt + Captain's Holiday + The Price + The Most Toys

WHY WE LIKE IT: Picard mangling Shakespeare in his mock love poetry to Lwaxana.

WHY WE DON'T: Impotent Ferengi villains again. Possibly Majel Barrett's worst performance. Wesley suffering from Gilligan's Island syndrome.

REVIEW: Now HERE's a "rather ordinary comedy episode" (see my review of The Most Toys). As in Captain's Holiday, when the creators want a lighter adventure, they can usually call on the Ferengi to make less threatening villains. I don't think the Ferengi have been in any really good episodes to date, and this is no different. They're played so foolishly that you never get any sense of danger or tension. Throw in Lwaxana Troi, who is at best a polarizing character, and you've got a recipe for goulash.

And the worst traits of both those elements are brought out in Ménage à Troi. So to begin with the Ferengi, they again act stupidly, easily manipulated through their greed or lust, and worst of all, there only seem to be three of them on the entire ship! They are so ineffective that Tog has his food replicator keyed to his secret access code, Riker can stroll around the ship and find sickbay without encountering any security, and the ship's Doctor seems to be able to depose the DaiMon. The mind probe is the only potentially scary dilemma, but it's so campy, it's as unbelievable as the rest. At the end of the day, the Ferengi only really manage to beam girls out of their clothes (pretty horrid frocks in any case - why do the costume people do this to Deanna?). Then we have Lwaxana, played more over-the-top than ever. I mean, the character is already pretty broad, but Majel Barrett plays her even more broadly here, which makes Tog even more stupid seeing as he can't tell what she's really thinking. She wasn't very strong in her last appearance (Manhunt), but she's just plain aggravating here, only dialing it back when she sacrifices herself for her daughter near the end. But that's all too brief.

If the kidnapping plot made any sense, then that might help matters, but logic isn't among these writers' friends - or even their acquaintances. Deanna throws a tantrum when her mother treats her like a child (very childish and unbecoming in itself), but proceeds to take time off on Betazed at her mother's estate (so why the scene?). Betazed is a Federation world that nonetheless is unable to detect a Ferengi ship beaming people on and off their world. The Ferengi go to the trouble of beaming the ladies out of their clothes, but they're dressed in the very next scene (again, why?). The access code to the replicator... huh? And while Riker sending a message through static might be ingenious, his choice of ceremonial rythms is ludicrous when Morse code probably isn't in the Ferengi vocabulary. And he can read Ferengi? Never mind that Wesley has to make the connection when Data is sitting right there (the kid did telegraph the "importance" of that music in the first scene, after all). Even such throw-away scenes as Worf finding Lwaxana formidable are later ignored by having him shake his head disapprovingly. Very, very messy writing.

The B-plot concerns Wesley once again escaping the Academy, which seems such a moot point by now. He just doesn't want to go, so he keeps sabotaging his career. It's clear that Wesley doesn't really have what it takes to be a career Starfleet officer, so Picard is making a mistake when he rewards this behavior with a field promotion. At least we don't have to look at those silly pants that don't zip up to the top anymore.

There are a couple good bits buried under here, including their teasing us with a possible rekindling of the Riker-Troi romance. It's also fun to see Picard can get his revenge on Riker for the events of Captain's Holiday. The best part is Picard - or really, Patrick Stewart - hamming it up when proving his love for Lwaxana as a ruse to confound Tog. You can see Picard and Stewart are both having fun with this, but it's really a moment you skip to. Never mind the rest.

LESSON: The ability to recite Shakespeare by heart.

REWATCHABILITY - Low: A contrived script, some ham acting (not all of it in character) and ineffectual villains make this a pretty paltry episode. One good scene does not a good episode make. And the Wesley stuff simply feels tacked on.


rob! said...

2 remarkable screen caps in a row!


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