Thursday, June 18, 2015

The Next Generation 2x18 "Up the Long Ladder"

rating: [no stars]

Memory Alpha summary

via Trekcore
And then she takes that skirt off
and there's one that rides much lower
beneath it.  Sexy Trek.
Clearly the idea of a society strapped for new DNA was something of a cherished trope.  Suffice to say that if it were at all possible to recommend this episode for actual viewing, I'd cite that.  But I won't even give you further franchise examples.  Just skip this one.  Run screaming over the hills.

And the funny thing is, this horrendous "Irish episode" (if you have any memory of this episode at all, assuming prior viewing, that should tell you all you need to know; well, that and the caption text to the left) is not even the "Irish episode" that fans tend to call a terrible, terrible episode.  That dubious honor goes to Voyager's "Spirit Folk," a follow-up to its own "Fair Haven."  I never understood the problem with Voyager's version of the "Irish episode."  Because it couldn't possibly be this bad.

And it bad on a number of levels, and offensive on a number of them, too.  Some of them are not even cultural.  This is a huge step back for the entire series, really, the proof that everything needed to be thoroughly re-examined so something like this could never, ever happen again.  It's bad like the worst of the first season.  It is the worst of the second season.  In its faint defense, it's not as bad as the worst of the first.  But it definitely belongs in the first, although its presence in the second, as I've suggested, is a sign that things really did need to change, no matter how much the second season started turning things around.

And well, anyway, it's even a bad episode for the original series, which "Up the Long Ladder" seems desperate to evoke in a quasi-Next Generation way (even the title leans that way).  When you have Scotty or Chekov using ridiculous accents it's one thing.  When you visit alien cultures or evoke clearly identifiable human cultures, it's much more advisable to consider what you're about to do.  The original series usually had some reason to do this sort of nonsense.  No such excuse here, even. 

And it's another huge step back for Riker, casting him in all the wrong light, just as "The Icarus Factor" before it.  And I stress again, the second season was in most other ways such an excellent showcase for Riker.  But I guess I understand why the season finale, the infamous clip show "Shades of Gray," despite being a Riker episode, is generally considered poorly by fans.  Because by that point, all the commander's good will had virtually dried up.

And to top it all off, there's a tepid Worf subplot that's like a bad rip-off of Picard's from the previous episode, "Samaritan Snare."  Just overall completely baffling.  And yet when fans talk about the worst episodes in the franchise, they generally bring up episodes in which they're basically quibbling with the premise.  When you talk about bad episodes, talk about the ones that are absolutely, unquestionably, executed poorly.  Like this one.

And the absolutely saddest part?  O'Brien is in this episode.  You know, the most famous Irishman in Star Trek history.  The one who is perhaps the character in Star Trek with the most dignity imaginable, even though most of his episodes did horrible, horrible things to him.  What were they thinking???

four quarter analysis
franchise * series * essential * character

notable guest-stars:
Diana Muldaur
Colm Meaney

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