Saturday, August 27, 2011

Star Trek: Voyager--"Message in a Bottle"

Ugh…Andy Dick. It is like the powers that be at VOY made a conscious effort to lower their standards even more than casting Sarah Silverman as a guest star. Dick is a disgusting guy, and her was back in 1998 as well. Why anyone thought his making an appearance in Star Trek would be a highlight is beyond me. Oh, well. As with all of VOY, I review what I have to work with, for better or for worse.



Voyager runs across a message relay station seemingly in the middle of nowhere. Because it is in the middle of nowhere, the crew assumes it is free for general use by travelers. Seven manages to contact the Alpha Quadrant where she discovers a Federation ship. The effort to send a clear message fails, but somehow sending the Doctor’s entire program is easier. Figure that one out. In spite of the absurdity of the equivalent of a program being more easily sent than an instant message, the Doctor makes it to the Alpha Quadrant when the IM does not.



Unfortunately, he finds himself on an experimental vessel called the Prometheus which has been stolen by Romulans. The Doctor needs to commandeer the ship and take it back to Fderation space in order to inform Starfleet Voyager was not destroyed four years prior. To do that, he activates the ship’s EMH. Ugh…Andy Dick.



I was not a huge fan of NewsRadio period, but Dick was by far the worst element. I just do not get his shtick. I get him even less now that he is attempting to supplant tom Green in the obnoxious, gross out comedian department. He has recently gotten in legal trouble in Charleston. We tend to throw the book at people with attitudes like his, so south carolina may be responsible for putting him away for a while. If so, you are welcome in advance, America. More to the point, his brand of humor, subdued, but still present, is the worst part of “Message in a Bottle.”



Thankfully, it is not the biggest element. The episode wham moment is not any of Dick’s routines, but when the Prometheus shows what it can do--split into three, battle ready parts. The fight with attacking Romulan war birds is a CGI extravaganza. Such battles are something that have already become a huge part of DS9. I still cannot beat the impression the whole Prometheus bit was promotion for a new toy or feature in a computer game. The former never materialized, but the ship may very well have appeared in a game. I do not know.



The two Doctors defeat the Romulans, help Starfleet retake the ship, and gets into contact with headquarters to inform them of Voyager’s status. The Doctor returns to the Delta Quadrant with news they have reconnected in spirit, if nothing else. In the interim, the crew has learned the message relay belongs to an alien race called the Hirogem. They are not happy about sharing. Much more on that later.



Are there problems besides Dick? Yep. Roxanne Dawson’s pregnancy is not hidden very well. The Mark II EMH is supposed to be based on Bashir. Why is it not? I would have preferred Alexander Siddig to Andy Dick any day. Why has the Doctor never heard of the Dominion? The Jem Ha’dar had encounter Sisko seven months before Voyager was lost. Is it not dumb to send your only doctor away when he may be lost? It would be an unhealthy sixty years journey without him. How come we never see the Prometheus or anything like it again? Is not the Romulans stealing it an act of war? The answer to these questions is VOY is generally lazy about continuity. Just go with it, I guess.



“Message in a Bottle” is surprisingly weak for a Doctor-centric episode. Not that Robert Picardo is not great as usual. He is dragged down by dick’s unfunny clowning around. I imagine the powers that be were aware of this by some point, because the trifecta of Prometheus doing its thing, the introduction of the Hirogen, and the reconnection of Voyager to Starfleet all occur rapidly in the final act as a distraction from all that has gone on before. It is not entirely successful inflicting amnesia, but it will do.



Rating: *** (out of 5)

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