Wednesday, February 1, 2017

Deep Space Nine 5x6 "Trials and Tribble-ations"

rating: ****

the story: The crew is literally inserted into "The Trouble with Tribbles."

what it's all about: The 30th anniversary of the franchise saw a lot of work put into celebrating it, between the release of Star Trek: First Contact (regarded as the best of the movies featuring the cast of Next Generation), "Flashback" from Voyager (which gave a lot of fans what they wanted, which was bring back George Takei's Sulu), and "Trials and Tribble-ations."  A lot of fans will probably argue that "Trials" was the best of them.

This is arguably the most accessible episode of the whole series, one that any fan of the franchise could really enjoy, and a technical feat (inserting Deep Space Nine characters into and using footage from the original series, two years after Forrest Gump made the idea cool) that goes above and beyond what's normally expected from Star Trek.  This was always a series that let its characters enjoy themselves now and then ("Fascination" similarly features a whole cast romp), far more than its grim reputation would suggest, which makes it all the funnier that this episode happened within it.

What might have seemed like a gimmick instead just dazzles from start to finish, with one particularly hilarious scene in which Dax and Sisko are tossing tribbles from the bin Kirk stands beneath as the little fuzzy creatures, as they did in the original episode, continue to trickle down on him well past the point he'd inadvertently opened it to find them there and dumped the creatures on himself, the most classic moment from one of the most classic episodes of the whole franchise.

Nowadays there's a term for this sort of storytelling: "fan service."  And yet, the episode does everything with a wink and a nod, from the Department of Temporal Investigations (around which a whole series of novels was later based) that goes along with the joke of Starfleet officers having a penchant for causing time travel mischief, to Worf having to account for the smooth foreheads of Klingons from an earlier era (Enterprise would finally give an explanation in "Affliction"/"Divergence").

The actor who played the Klingon double agent Arne Darvin in the original episode even returns!  It's literally impossible not to love this one, just one of the most genuinely fun experiences of the series and franchise.

criteria analysis:
  • franchise - A legitimate classic inserted into a legitimate classic.
  • series - The episode any fan will love, including Deep Space Nine partisans.
  • character - The whole cast shines.
  • essential - Usually you need Q to pull off something like this.  But, no Q in sight!
notable guest-stars:
Charlie Brill (Darvin)

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