Star Trek 217: New Ground

217. New Ground

FORMULA: Reunion + Suddenly Human + Where No One Has Gone Before

WHY WE LIKE IT: Worf is always good for a chuckle, even when we're discussing his parenting style.

WHY WE DON'T: Whiny Alexander. Terrible science.

REVIEW: It seems that TNG can't do a character-based piece without tacking on an unrelated "scientific" B-plot, and that's what we get here. Let's start with that B-plot, just because my head will explode if I don't vent about it right now. It deals with a new advance in warp science called the soliton wave. Basically, you shoot the wave out from a planet, a ship jumps on its back and rides it to another planet at warp. Warp without warp drive! Why Geordi is so excited at the prospect of losing his job, I'll never know.

But the whole thing is Ridiculous with a capital R. The system requires a canceling wave to be shot out from the destination, so I guess it's useless for exploration. Heck, if it's just a straight line, how would you ever take a detour, respond to a distress call, or go to war? And yet they all talk as if this is a big revolution that will mothball starships. Worse yet, when the canceling wave can't do the job, the soliton wave has the power to destroy the destination planet! Worst. Experiment. Ever. Only redeeming feature: Geordi says it's like being there when Zefram Cochrane breaks the warp barrier. And he actually will be!

As for the character-based story, oh Lord, it focuses on Alexander's return to the ship. Worf as single father... instant drama! Groan. Brian Bonsall gives us a less timid Alexander, but the squeaky voice just isn't Klingon enough for my tastes. If he'd been more... feral, I guess... it could have been interesting. He gets one serviceable scene when fighting in a miniature version of Worf's calisthenics program, but otherwise, it's boring elementary school shenanigans (Miss Kyle is particularly unengaging), and ineffectual parenting. Troi takes too much of an interest, with an extended therapy session (ugh). Does she have a crush on Worf already? Because that strand really starts here. I'm not at all against it - there must be something attractive to an empath in those confident Klingon emotions.

If you're gonna add a supporting character to the series, at least try to make him charming in some sense (Ro Laren, Robin Lefler, Reg Barclay, Guinan...), but Alexander isn't. That he cares for ugly endangered hand puppets does nothing to endear the character to the audience, whiney little brat that he is. The first mention of the Kahless/Moroth legend isn't enough to save the episode.

LESSON: Maybe the family of Mogh has Romulan ties after all.

REWATCHABILITY - Low: It's rare that a Klingon episode so misses the mark, but the future will show that giving Worf a young son was a big mistake. If you never watch an Alexander episode between Reunion and DS9's Sons and Daughters, you won't have missed a thing.

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