Monday, August 17, 2009

Star Trek: The Next Generation--"The Outrageous Okona"

I have never been a fan of “The Outrageous Okona.” There is something off about it. The main story is supposed to be an homage to Romeo and Juliet, but Okona does not fit into the allegory very well. The side story with data learning about humor has ts heart in the right place, but is so unfunny, I wind up feeling sorry for him rather than amused.

I am curious whether Okona was an attempt to create a recurring Harry Mudd type character for TNG. There are similarities. Okona is a a roguish ladies man, but hinted to be a con man the crew should be cautious with. He is plausibly framed for knocking up the daughter of an important poobah and stealing some jewel, but is exonerated when we learn a member of a rival family did both deeds. At no point is any doubt given okona could have done both those things, so the groundwork was there for further misadventures. I am happy there wound up not being any.

One of the reasons I speculate Okona might have become a regular character is Billy Campbell was the second choice to play Riker. It sounds plausible they would try to find a way to make him a semi-regular part of the series. They could have done a better job. I have enjoyed Campbell in The Rocketeer and one of my favorite Civil War movies Gods & Generals, Okona did not suit him.

Data’s quest to learn humor was painful to watch, particularly since Brent Spiner is quite the comedic actor. Consider most of my disdain a personal prejudice based on the choice of comedian playing his advisor. Because when you think side splittingly funny, you certainly think Joe Piscapo. Perhaps he has a bad rep because he was stranded in the awful Dick Ebersol years of Saturday Night Live, but I cannot help but think a more plausible comedian could have been hired.

Kevin Pollack, Dennis Miller, Eddie Murphy, Tom Hanks, and Robin Williams are all professed Trek fans who would have been better suited for the role. Murphy, Hanks, and Williams have all been offered rolesat one time or another, but turned them down for other acting jobs. I would rather not think TNG is such a lowly show, Piscapo is the best guy they could get to appear.

A mediocre episode at best. Data is annoying. Wesley’s man crush on Okona is irritating, too. But there is one very good point--Pulaski does not appear! I was hoping she had fallen down an elevator shaft in between episodes, but no such luck. She will be back tomorrow. Bummer.

Rating: ** (out of 5)

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