Thursday, July 14, 2016

The Next Generation 6x16 "Birthright, Part 1"

rating: ***

the story: Data triggers a dream subroutine as Dr. Bashir examines him, while Worf discovers that his father may still be alive.

similar to: "Projections," "Tinker, Tenor, Doctor, Spy" (Voyager)

my thoughts: For the longest time, I found it hard to appreciate Deep Space Nine's appearance in "Birthright."  That may be because for the longest time, I didn't appreciate Deep Space Nine's first season, having become a fan during its second and only discovering the first later.  Bashir started out as a brash young upstart, whose enthusiasm usually got him into trouble.  (He matured relatively quickly, rest assured!)  It's equally strange, too, because when I did begin exploring that first season, I had no problem with the frequent Next Generation tie-in, the appearances from the Duras Sisters, Q, and even Lwaxana Troi (who would go on to become a Deep Space Nine staple, and arguably make her best appearances in that series).  No, my problem was Bashir, because he was entirely out of place in Next Generation.  His kind, young Wesley Crusher, had long been absent when he appeared.

But you know what, in hindsight this is an almost magical moment.  There were so many crossover appearances in Star Trek over the years, most of them, originally, characters from the original series, until it became possible to do something else.  Picard made an appearance in Deep Space Nine's first episode.  This was an age, remember, before multiple series running concurrently in a franchise was a thing, before it was even possible, really.  Star Trek got the ball started.  (Never you mind Detective Munch!)  "Birthright, Part 1" is actually historic, when you think about it, without really calling any attention to it, I mean the fans, in the more than twenty years since it first aired.

And Worf visits Deep Space Nine for the first time!  Later, he'd become a regular in Deep Space Nine, and "Birthright, Part 1" marks the first time he ever goes there, before anyone could guess what his future would hold.

Okay, enough geeking out.  In that nonchalant franchise guest-starring act, "Birthright" has that in common with Voyager's "Projections," which was the first time Barclay shows up in that series, with no one particularly pointing out how awesome and serendipitous that is, when he later becomes a recurring character in the series. 

Ah!  I said enough with the geeking!  The actual story features Data dreaming, a subtle build on his character (later revisited in "Phantasms," featuring the famous Troi cake), and one of the niftier appearances of his creator Dr. Soong.  (Daydreaming got Voyager's Doctor in a whole lot more trouble in "Tinker, Tenor, Doctor, Spy," alas!)  And it features Worf getting the oddly unsettling news that his father Mogh may actually still be alive.  The whole of these parts is less than it should be.  Given that the second part of this story focuses exclusively on Worf, one wonders why Data's was even in the first, but perhaps it's some subtle metaphor I hadn't really considered previously, given how traumatic the second part turns out to be (more in that review), for all involved.

The embarrassment of riches in guest-stars is incredible to look at, and is enough for me to want to watch the episode all over again, not just for Bashir, but to see James Cromwell (buried in alien makeup this time), Cristine Rose (long before she becomes Mama Petrelli in Heroes), Richard Herd (before he becomes Tom Paris's father in Voyager), and even Jennifer Gatti (who later appears in more attractive form as Harry Kim's girlfriend, also in Voyager).

The story continues...

criteria analysis: franchise - series - character - essential

notable guest-stars:
Alexander Siddig (Bashir)
James Cromwell
Cristine Rose
Richard Herd
Jennifer Gatti


  1. I reckon the character "Worf" gave a lot of extra back story to Deep Space Nine which helped energize many of it dull and dreary lifeforms like Bashir giving them purpose and extra spring who otherwise would have turned in pretty flat performances.

    1. Although for those of us who already loved DS9, he was merely a welcome addition. ;)


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