Star Trek 189: Future Imperfect

189. Future Imperfect

FORMULA: Yesterday's Enterprise + Remember Me + Hollow Pursuits + Reunion

WHY WE LIKE IT: That funky future world. The return of Minuet (sorta). The way Riker clues in. The various twists.

WHY WE DON'T: Never quite convinced with the kid's acting. The final line.

REVIEW: Though alternate future episodes have become a staple of Star Trek, this is really the first story to do it, even if that future turns out to be a fake based on Riker's thoughts. This kind of thing is inherently cool, and it works on that basis. More aliens aboard, Geordi's eyes, and everyone rising in rank were pretty much expected of course, so there's little sense of surprise throughout the fantasy sequence. The future insignia pins that show rank are a highlight, and of course, there's Riker's mysterious wife, "Min". The revelation that this is Minuet is a nice surprise (too bad Carolyn McCormick couldn't be in the show more substantially), well hidden by a more oriental-sounding nickname. This is what makes Riker finally clue in, and he then goes on to destroy the fantasy by overworking the system. All the justifications he gets back are part of the fun, and he even gets to tell Picard to shut up.

The second reality we're presented seems more real (cool giant holodeck!), and normally, we should take this one at face value, much as Riker does. But it's a double twist, and this too is a fantasy. Unfortunately, it is one that devolves into running through corridors from foolish Romulans (a guard gets his disruptor knocked out of his hand by the kid). Where the first half hour of the show had some flair, the Romulan base sequence is unartfully directed, with Riker sitting potato-like in a chair for an entire conversation.

The kid is the only common element, and it turns out that he's creating the situation. Looking back at it, you can see how events conspire to send Riker back to his "son", etc., but perhaps not enough. Or is Barash content with watching Riker act out some adventures? This kid's better than most of the children we've gotten lately, though his acting is far from convincing (chalk it up to his really being an alien). I get the feeling TNG was a major employer of under-18s around this time. Unfortunately, I don't much enjoy the idea of giving each crew member a child, or "child", or kid brother, or whatever. On a show where the adult guest stars aren't always up to the task, the kids sure aren't. It's all supposed to be so sweet, but it's rather cloying and seems to target my mom more than me. A purely personal reaction and opinion, of course. Getting back to Barash, the final revelation is fine, and the heavy alien make-up is interesting and different, though it couldn't possibly stand up to more involved scenes. Riker's final line, "To me, you'll always be Jean-Luc", is just terrible though. It sounds forced and doesn't ring true at all. More of that sweet, cloying family drama.

Of note is the return of Tomalak, always fun even though he's not really "there". And the first appearance of Nurse Ogawa, who must have existed on the real ship to be part of Riker's neural baggage here.

LESSON: You can love a fictional character more than you do a real person. (Noooooo, really?)

REWATCHABILITY - Medium-High: Though it has a lot of entertaining concepts, it comes off as rather insubstantial. Again, a child actor makes it a bit tedious at times, though there's enough here to recommend it.


rob! said...

when did Abe Sapien guest star on TNG?

i, Coomber said...

I thought Minuet was a nice touch in this episode. I like those things that reward the bigger fans in this way, something subtle that you can smile to yourself about, knowing that everyone else in the room is oblivious to its importance.

Nice blog as well by the way.

Siskoid said...

Thanks Ian.

Porridge Face said...

You gotta give this one credit for not pressing the reset button completely at the end, there are tons of Star Trek episodes where you get this sympathetic character living on a planet, more then one, by themselves, and at the end it's just "Whoops, your not coming aboard", either because the crew won't do it, or the alien won't.

Too bad it doesn't make a difference since we never see Barash again.


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