Wednesday, September 28, 2011

Star Trek: Voyager--"Someone to Watch Over Me"

“Someone to Watch Over Me” is a sweetly humorous episode that I enjoy far more than my cynical nature should allow. The only elements of VOY that are consistently working are Seven and the Doctor. It seems natural the two of them should be paired up as often as is reasonably possible. The powers that be will still manage to screw that up in the future, but not now.

The episode is an homage to My Fair Lady or Pygmalion, depending on how far back you wish to carry the allusion. Seven has developed an interest in dating rituals. She has gotten a little too close to Tom and Torres’ intimate relations, so the doctor offers to teach her the finer points of dating. Tom discovers what the Doctor is up to and concludes it is a matter of the blind leading the blind. The two make a wager whether seven will have a date for an ambassador’s reception the following weekend.

Hilarity ensues, of course. The doctor is earnest, but not experienced in the subject matter of love. Seven’s blunt nature steps all over Harry’s feelings when he tries to date her. She sprays lobster all over her first date, a nebbish engineer, before tear a ligament in his shoulder slow dancing. Slowly but surely, the doctor takes a more hands on approach and finds himself falling for Seven. They communicate easily with one another and share common interests. Seven, however, never sees this.

She does accompany the doctor to the ambassador’s reception. She is all about refining her social graces rather than romance. Tom, rude as ever, blurts out the doctor has won the bet. Seven is hurt at the idea the doctor helped her for personal gain, not out of concern. The doctor, who is full blown infatuated at this point, attempts to patch things up. It works, but when it wants to tell seven how he really feels, she she tells him first there is no compatible mate on board the ship. She leaves him with a thank you gift and a broken heart.

The B-story involves the ambassador from a n uptight, Puritan race discovering rich food and alcohol while being escorted about by Neelix. He becomes a drunken, oversexed lout, culminating in an obnoxious outburst and passing out at his own reception. It is so over the top that it does not complement the main story well at all. The ambassador is played by Kids in the Hall Scott Thompson. I never was big on that show. British humor I can handle. Canadian humor does nothing for me. If he is playing a variation on one of his characters from the show, which I assume he is, the novelty of it is lost on me, too. I think the entire plot was a drag on the main story, but I am willing to concede a Kids in the Hall fan may think differently.

Otherwise, “Someone to Watch Over Me” is a really good character piece. Credit where credit is due--VOY more often does these bottle show fillers better than DS9 does. The problem is how often they remain inconsequential in the grand scheme of things. The growing relationship between between the doctor and seven is no exception. Subsequent episodes will fall far below this one in quality. She will wind up with Chakotay, of all people, instead of the Doctor.

There are a couple points that make the episode. One is its subtlety. The relationship between the doctor and Seven grows solwly, naturally, and does not address sex. As I have noted numerous about such episodes before, Star Trek believes romance and sex are synonymous. I blame it on the numerous fourteen year old virgins who tuned in every week back in the day. The second point is the issue of whether the doctor is sentient and can literally have romantic feelings is ignored. Under certain circumstances, my skeptical, nitpicking nature would hate that, but the question would bog down “Someone to Watch Over Me” while robbing it of emotion. I am glad the powers that be skipped out on any existential questions, if only this once.

I recommend “Someone to Watch Over Me.” There is no alien menace. It is all often bittersweet humor that works well because Robert Picardo and Jeri Ryan clearly like each other. It shines through in their characters. I could have done without Scott Thompson’s antics. They might have cost the episode a star in the ratings. Otherwise, I think the episode is one of the best of the season.

Rating; **** (out of 5)

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