Tuesday, September 1, 2009

Star Trek: The Next Generation--"Manhunt"


Oh, man. Two awful episodes in a row. This one was so bad, writer Tracy Torme used a pseudonym in order to protest the rewrites. This is the Maurice Hurley rewrite that finally did Torme in. He was invited back for the third season, but refused, specifically citing Hurley.

There are not many details available about what Torme had originally intended, but considering how awkwardly the Lwaxana Troi story fits in and the abrupt way she uncovers the secret assassins, I would say Gene Roddenberry tod his drinking buddy Hurley to put his aging former trophy wife in at least one episode a season. This one happened to be it. You may recall last season’s offering “Haven” was just as bad.

All that said, I am not so sure Torme could have saved thing if he had been given more control. He never seemed to get over trying to recapture his glory from “The Big Goodbye.” Just like that episode and “The Royale,” Torme places a big part of the story in a holo recreation of a past period of time. It does not work here any better than it did in “The Royale.”

The plot, sans Lwaxana, has some promise. The Enterprise is escorting aliens to a peace conference. Someone plans to assassinate the ambassadors, but we have no idea who. Or at least we are not supposed to. Anyone with two brain cells to rub together figures it is the two blowfish aliens hibernating on the journey. One of them is played by Mick Fleetwood of Fleetwood Mac fame.

So that the audience will not dwell on the obvious, the bulk of the episode involves Lawaxana, trying to seduce Picard because she is entering a the menopausal phase of her life which increases betazoid sex drive. Ugh. Picard dodges her repeatedly, once by forcing data on her (If only he had told her he was fully functional instead of boring her with dry facts) and once by ducking in the holodeck to play Dixon Hill.

In the end, she reads the blowfish aliens’ minds to reveal what we figured out fifty minutes ago. The assassination attempt is nipped in the bud.

If there was a point to this episode beyond keeping Majel Roddenberry happy, I have no clue what it might be. Her trying to seduce Picard was meant to be funny, but it came across as a desperate, lonely old woman pathetically trying to grab onto someone--anyone--including a holodeck recreation. It was uncomfortable to watch. The assassin mystery was not much of a mystery, either. I barely remembered this episode when I watched it earlier. Now I wish I could forget it.

Rating: * (out of 5)

How about a little Fleetwood Mac to cleanse the palate??

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