Star Trek 156: Evolution

156. Evolution

FORMULA: Elementary, Dear Data + Home Soil + Contagion + The Measure of a Man

WHY WE LIKE IT: Beverley's back! Excellent effects.

WHY WE DON'T: Paul Stubbs is hard to take. A sense of déjà vu.

REVIEW: The Enterprise-D is back for a third season, and immediately, you can see there's a new polish on everything. The new uniforms are a vast improvement over the old ones, the episode doesn't skimp on sets, and the outer space shots are simply beautiful (including the new, and very appropriate, opening sequence). The biggest change, of course, is the return of Gates MacFadden as Dr. Crusher. I think she was immensely gracious to come back after being booted off after the first season, and we're all the better for it. First off, she's looking great, and more importantly, she doesn't seem to have missed a beat. The other actors all found their characters during the second season to become very much what they remain today. Beverly wasn't afforded that chance, leaving when she was still annoyingly over-protective of Wesley and awkward with Picard because of a pointless subplot. But look at her here: She's still protective, but I wouldn't say annoyingly so. She's more balanced, stronger, still hurt when Wesley resents her absence but able to bounce back from that pain, and quite amusing in the final Ten-Forward moment. It's like she was never gone, and is probably the best thing about this episode.

I can't say the same thing about Paul Stubbs, however. We've got all these characters we haven't seen all summer (originally, I mean) and are wanting to catch up on, and there's this guest character that's taking up all the room. To make matters worse, he's pompous and whiney, AND works against the crew. He's supposed to be a Wesley-type 30 years in the future, but that's not entirely explored except in Stubbs' speechifying. I'm also not sure I buy the baseball obsession. All I hear is Michael Piller's voice coming through with a preview of Benjamin Sisko.

As for the nanite plot, it's ok, but we've seen all this before, whether it's in Elementary, Dear Data or The Measure of a Man, we've had much better episodes about mechanical awareness. It's a bit more contrived than usual, and it all ends as suddenly as it started with offscreen solutions told through captain's logs instead of visuals. There are plenty of things that just happen to satisfy the plot too, such as Picard allowing Data to be invaded by nanites or Stubbs not facing charges for murdering sentient beings.

LESSON: Once again, I had to learn to treat my toaster nicely. Will it ever get through my thick skull?

REWATCHABILITY - Medium: Star Trek has yet to perfect the season finale or the season premiere, I'm afraid, but the creators visibly try their best.


LiamKav said...

Although focussing on a female character's looks isn't what I normally like to do, Crusher has definitely gotten a couple of points hotter since season 1. I don't just think it's because Pulaski was in between either. Crusher seems to age in reverse throughout the 7 seasons of TNG. Better wigs, maybe?

(One of the commentaries mentioned that McFadden never used her real hair during TNG, although I don't know if that counts for the films. I know that Sirtis only used her real hair in "Farpoint", and after that it was all fake hair, although I'm guessing it's her real hair in the film "First Contact". I wonder if female stars wearing wigs was a common thing in 80s TV? I'm pretty sure that Vistor and Farrel used their actual hair in DS9.)

Siskoid said...

Wigs on actresses is STILL fairly common today, but most especially for guest stars who can't be expected to change their hair for a short-term role.

As far as I know neither Visitor (although maybe in the pilot) nor Farrel wore hair pieces, though Sisko's beard did start out as a piece. And of course, there's Worf, and all the men have those pointed Star Trek sideburns added as well (girls too?)

LiamKav said...

I'm sure I read an interview that said that Visitor's hair was all her own, even in the pilot, and that the severe hair cut was actually her idea, reasoning that Kira wouldn't want to spend time each morning taking care of her hairstyle.

Yeah, Sisko's beard looks really fake in Explorers. I don't know why he wasn't allowed to grow it in gradually.

I always thought those sideburns were real. A way (in the original series) for the actors to keep relatively normal hair while giving them a slight sci-fi twist.

Siskoid said...

Nope, they're little points applied with glue. As far back as TOS. Or so I seem to remember.


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