Saturday, December 1, 2012

The Next Generation 1x7 "Lonely Among Us"


"Lonely Among Us" is an episode that's watchable but also forgettable.  It's very much the portrait of a series in development.

The title alone probably won't give you any memories of the episode, and that's pretty much indicative of the whole thing.  It's a Next Generation version of the elaborately poetic titles the original series favored, and just one of many examples of the new series trying to do what the old series did but eventually outgrowing it.  If the series hadn't developed, much less lasted more than a few seasons, "Lonely" could very well be considered memorable.  Yet it merely stands out as a not-horrible and not-memorable entry from the first season, which is to say that it does not stand out at all.

It does feature, however, Data at the start of his obsession with Sherlock Holmes, so that's something that lasts far beyond the end credits.  In a lot of ways, it's an episode that tries to do far too much, and that's what ultimately hurts it.  There's a little of "Journey to Babel" in there, a little of noncorporeal-entities-wrecking-havoc (a franchise staple), and a little of the cast development that went into a lot of these early episodes.  It is distinctly Next Generation material, which at this point is something worth celebrating, something that fans following the new series would recognize, and fans who have continued to follow the franchise will find familiar as well.  It's a template, a messy one, but a template all the same.  Little by little, the series learns to distinguish itself.

The dress uniforms of the modern era (at least until the new uniforms and their own dress uniforms appear starting in 1996) are introduced, though they remain somewhat baffling (originally looking very much like...dresses, even on the men).  Kirk was always getting into new uniforms in his day, so it's nice to see that tradition continued.  Picard would later add to his own collection of variations, but not for several seasons.

I originally earmarked this episode as skippable, but changed my mind (that happens a lot as I work on writing each episode up).  You could skip "Loney Among Us," but there are things worth seeing.  It's not horrible, like the truly skippable episodes (and there are plenty from this season).  You could watch it as a fan of the formative develop of the series, or even just as a fan of the franchise.  But just don't put too much weight on its value.  Unless you want to.

franchise * series * essential * character

Notable guest-stars:
Colm Meaney
Marc Alaimo

Memory Alpha summary.


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