Tuesday, August 11, 2009

Star Trek: The Next Generation--"We'll Always Have Paris"

I am completely meh when it comes to “We’ll Always Have Paris.” It tries to do two things: humanize Picard and appeal to the nerdy, true science buffs out there. As one firmly devoted to the social sciences, I cannot comment on the latter because of complete disinterest, but I can say the former could not quite be pulled off. The numerous Casablanca, while trying to set the proper mood, make the bittersweet reunion seem even more forced.

“We’ll Always Have Paris” features Michelle Phillips of the Mommas and the Poppas as Janice, an old flame of Picard’s. he chickened out of a rendezvous with her in paris in his youth and questions what might have been. I do not buy their romance. There was no chemistry between the two. Janice is not very well developed, so we can only guess at who she really is. She does appear uninterested in Picard’s ambition to join Starfleet she sounds as though she cannot believe he chose it over her.

The problem is I can. Picard does not seem like the kind of man interested in the trappings of romance. In later episodes weare going to find out his father was a cold, impossible to please man. The apple did not fall too far from the tree. Picard does not usually realize how much he has missed outon in life until he learns he cannot have it any longer. Witness his emotional breakdown over his brother’s and nephew’s death in Star Trek: Generations. He does not mourn their loss because they will be absent from his life. He has aself-absorbed moment in which he laments not having kids to carry on the family name.

He is being cold about the loss of the family he already had while lamenting not having one of his own almost like a business deal. ’Well, I guess I should have had a child at some point to keep the Picard line going.” That is not the kind of man who engages in a fling with a young woman who could not care less about his ambitions. So I just do not buy it.

Picard is the kind of man who up and realizes he ought to marry his best female friend. That is pretty much what he is on the road to doing with Crusher. Granted, it is peculiar for her to have such an unspoken affection for the man who inadvertently killed her husband, who was also his best friend, but given Picard’s cold demeanor, I doubt it bothers him to romance his best friend’s widow. Or, as was the case here, trot off to the holodeck to create an assignation with Janice while her husband recovers in sickbay.

Trek has a history of immature romantic relationships among characters. One just has to go along with it.

As for the main story of the Enterprise coming to the rescue of Janice’s scientist husband when his experiments with time and other dimensions go awry, meh. There is nothing fundamentally wrong with the plot. It just did not sing or dance for me. To be fair, this episode was affected by the WGA strike of 1988. Production was shut down while the ending was written. Surely that caused some of the awkward issues, such as the pat ending in which Data came out of the blue to save the day. In this case, I would just as soon not have Paris.

I cannot pass up the occasion of writing about Michelle Phillips without posting my favorite song from the Mommas and the Poppas. Sure, ‘California Dreaming” is about a Vietnam War draft dodger hiding out in Canada, but I like it anyway:

Rating: * (out of 5)

No comments:

Post a Comment