This episode, with shades of "The Counter-Clock Incident" from the animated series, is one of those stories (more common in the early part of the series) where a one line pitch idea is stretched out for the duration of the hour. In this case the idea is "what if Picard and some others suddenly became kids again?" (The Ferengi, completing their fall to the bottom of the Star Trek alien food chain, serve as the kids' antagonists.) While this premise would seem to be more suitable for an episode of The Smurfs (a show which in fact had already used it) "Rascals" is somewhat fun to watch because of the magnificent performances of the children, who are quite convincing in their attempts to make us believe they are our beloved crewmembers trapped in adolescent bodies even if the science is rather shoddy. (Director Adam Nimoy, son of a certain Leonard, also deserves credit for giving a shallow script depth by emphasizing its humor and humanity.)
When Picard, Guinan, Keiko O'Brien and Ro Laren are transformed into children in a transporter accident they find that they are the only ones who can save the crew when they are captured by the Ferengi.
Although the science is flawed this is an excellent episode. The story is entertaining and we learn about the characters’ childhoods.
The young Picard has several excellent lines which are extremely funny when you know that it is actually an adult supposedly saying these words. My particular favourite line is when Picard has a tantrum in order to see his ‘father’: “I want to see my Father! I want to see him now! Now now now now now!”.
The child actors are very good; they capture the personalities of the grown-up characters very well.
As this is the second time that Riker has had a ‘son’ named Jean-Luc I wonder if he ever really will have a real one of the same name.
Michael Piller, a Writer: Hi there. I've got a great idea for STNG.
Ronald Moore: Pitch it.
Hock: Well, several of the crew revert to children, so we get lots of touching insights into childhood.
Moore: That's stupid.
Brannon Braga: No, we'll just have DNA rewrite itself. That works all the time.
Ward Bostford, a writer: We'll have to spice it up. How about aliens take over the Enterprise and the children have to take it back.
Moore: Didn't the old series do that with "And the Children Shall Lead"
Piller: Well, yeah, but this may not be as terrible. Let's see, the aliens will have to be really stupid to be taken out by some kids.
Diana Dru Bostford, a writer: How about the Romulans? Remember in Unification when Sela left Spock and Data alone in a room with a computer that could control the entire planet?
Moore: Nah, the Romulans would just shoot everyone and ask questions later. Even they're not that dumb.
Piller: How about the Ferengi? They are the dumbest aliens we've ever had.
Moore: OK. Now they'll need to take over the Enterprise, somehow. That won't be easy as she's the most powerful starship in the Federation. How about the old reliable -- a malfunctioning holodeck?
Piller: Nah, the next episode has that. Um, we'll have the Ferengi steal two extremely powerful Klingon warships. You know how the Klingons just leave their warships lying around. And we'll have Riker just stand there like a dope while the Bird of Prey pound them until their shields drop. Then we'll have a single guy beam onto the bridge and take over the ship. 'Cuz no one can fight against a single guy.
Bostford and Bostford: Brilliant!
Moore: What about long term stuff? Won't the Federation by angry about the hijacking? How do we get them back from being kids?
Piller: Oh, we'll just say they're an independent Ferengi group that somehow have the resources to steal two Klingon warships.
Braga: Besides, DNA rewriting itself is easily cured once you realize what the problem is. Now I'll go back on work this script called "Threshold"
That kids, is how this got written. The Ro-Guinan storyline is nice. And Picard Jr. has some funny lines. But the premise was so silly, it could have come out of an episode of SNL.
Picard, Ensign Ro, Keiko, and Guinan on their way back aboard a shuttlecraft experience an energy field. The energy field destroys the shuttlecraft. O’Brien is able to beam them back aboard the “Enterprise” with the exception of a loss of 40% in mass.
Picard, Ensign Ro, Keiko, and Guinan on their way back aboard a shuttlecraft experience an energy field. The energy field destroys the shuttlecraft. O’Brien is able to beam them back aboard the “Enterprise” with the exception of a loss of 40% in mass. What does this mean? It means they are all kids now. Picard acts like nothing is wrong and tries to command the bridge. The bridge members are not sure of Picard. Is he really the Captain? Beverly suggests to Picard to temporarily transfer command to Riker. Now Ferengi take over the ship. Darn it Riker.
I don't really mind the bad science about this one. I hadn't noticed it then, nor did I when recalling it now, though the critics do have a point.
I think the way I thought of it, was that the changes in DNA were observed as a side-effect of the de-aging, rather than the change in DNA causing the de-aging. It would actually be incredibly strange for an anomaly to just alter your DNA selectively like this. In fact, our aged cells, damaged by entropy over time, do not possess the required information to become young again, because they are compromised.
Instead, it was very likely a temporal anomaly which connected them to a previous state of their bodies (DNA included) and retained their mental states somehow.
I think this can be ignored for the humourous and serious aspects of the show. Of all the characters, I think I would respond most like Guinan in being so appreciative of the change, though I'm not sure why someone so appreciative would change back. Considering she does not play a combat role, I would think someone like her would relish the chance to live longer. I would stay young a bit longer, like Ro Allen, though perhaps just leave it. You would still keep aging after all, so why not take the extra years and run with it? I think I would probably want to be treated equally in my past role. I think Picard having to defer to Riker due to this is sort of a humiliation for him. I would also be pissed off at people who considered me lesser just for my body, like Miles did with Keiko.
In regard to the mothering problems Keiko experienced, I think a solution could be to place Molly into cryogenic stasis until Keiko had grown to her previous age again, to assume the dynamic of their past relationship. At that point they were on Enterprise alone without a significant amount of children around for her to play with, and it remained like that for a while on Deep Space Nine also. I am not sure if they have technology like that though. That said, the characters would probably miss their daughter, but it would sort of be for their own good. Miles could have been put in stasis too, but he was a valuable member of the crew so being without him could be tough. Plus then Keiko would have to miss both of them.
One thing I do think this episode suffers from is a lack of continuity. The three O'Briens go to DS9 right after this, and despite the great strain placed upon all of them, none of this is really reflected. It's like they block it out, and the significant implications this placed upon the bond Miles and Keiko share.
It also bears comparison to a later DS9 episode, where rather than having Keiko become 12, Molly becomes 18. Whereas Keiko got a chance to live life over again, Molly suddenly loses years to isolation in a time warp. They are like reverses of each other, yet both considered tragedies. Molly's lost time is a legitimate tragedy, however Keiko's is moreso a tragedy only because of other people's perceptions. Due to Miles being unable to accept her as his romantic partner anymore, and Molly being unable to accept her as a mother anymore. I think Molly's reaction was mainly due to confusion and that she could have eventually grown to accept it, since she is still older and could be like an older sister to her. It was common in large families in the pioneer times for older girls to raise their younger siblings anyway. I can't help but think that Molly's reaction was somehow picking up on Miles' bad reaction to it.
I also felt Miles seemed very insecure and repressed in his reaction to this. It is possible he was worried about how Keiko might react later on if she chose to become older again, in regards to what they did during that time and how he reacted during that time. Oddly enough, this cold shoulder probably (along with Molly's reactions) influenced Keiko to age herself. I think she could have reacted more like Guinan without these negative responses. Those two are more peacable learners, compared to Picard and Ro who are authoritative warriors who are attached to the sense of authority their age and size get for them.
Despite my disapproval for Miles' conduct (Molly can't be blamed since no one told her what was going on or that Keiko was her mother, so she wasn't even given the chance to attempt to understand or accept it) I think the portrayal is interesting and valuable since it helps in demonstrating how people can act with a closed mind. Overall the episode showed the biases people have toward youth and how their abilities and experience and potential contributions can be ignored. It shows how even a whole person can be just totally disregarded simply due to the state of their body.
Child episodes were at best a mixed bag on TNG; writing interesting kid characters for an adult show must be a challenge. That said, "Rascals" (the first TNG episode I ever saw) is a cut above the rest.
The writers and kid actors take care to mimic their adult counterparts' mannerisms. The boy playing Picard is particularly exceptional. Kid-Ro and Kid-Guinan have nice chemistry.
The plot itself is erratic. The first half has its moments but it is the kid-vs-Ferengi battle that offers the biggest treats. Kid-Picard's tantrum and his encounter with Riker ("He's my number one dad!") offer some great laughs.
A great way to give four of the cast some time off and introduce a new perspective on the life of those characters.
The main plot incorporates two rudimentary plot patterns, the capture of the ship by foreign forces and a portion of the crew are affected with some disability or illness.
In this case Picard, Ro Laren, Keiko OBrien and Guinan are transported into 12 year old version, but with their current age facualties intact. The science aside, this predicament proves to be a burden for some, while others make the best of the situation only to find mundane obstacles stand in the way of living the lives they once led. Guinan provides a yard-arm to rest by being the only one to try to attempt activities when she was that age.
When boarded by the "invincible" Ferengi the mission to reverse the effects is put on hold as the adult crew is beamed off the ship to a nearby planet. The episode the descends into its own a showcase for the ships actual children to help the affected adult members save the Enterprise.
There is lots of action, but no simulated violence given the involvement of the kids. Still its varied enough to be moderately entertaining, even if the inevitable outcome is no casualties and a rescued crew and Enterprise.
If anything is an above average episode, with one notable scene involving the child Picard and Riker, where Picard calls for his "daddy" - giving Riker the shock of his life! How I laughed....
Notable performance by David Birkin who plays the child Picard. The other child actors are also very good and do turn this into a good episode worth watching.
En route back from vacation, Picard, Ensign Ro, Keiko and Guinan run into danger aboard their shuttlecraft. O'Brien manages to transport the group onto the U.S.S. Enterprise, but a molecular mishap brings them back as12-year-old children. Beverly examines the group and finds that while their bodies have changed, their minds remain intact. However, when young Picard attempts to resume his command and lead his crew as though nothing has happened, his staff has trouble taking him seriously. Because of this, Beverly gently convinces him to temporarily relinquish command to Riker. Later, Geordi tells Beverly that the transformed crewmembers were affected by a molecular reversion field, and that the transporter can be used to reverse the effects and bring the group back to normal. But before they can begin the process, the ship is attacked without warning by two Klingon warships. The crew attempts to retaliate, but the enemy ships manage to take out the Enterprise's power systems. Suddenly, Worf picks up transporter signatures in three cargo bays. As the crew prepares to defend the ship against the invaders, two Ferengi materialize on the Bridge. Their leader, Lurin, arrives and informs Riker and the others that he has declared the Enterprise to be a loss and is beginning salvage operations according to Ferengi law. If the crew refuses to comply, they will be executed. Young Guinan points out to young Picard and the transformed crew members their unusual appearance gives them a chance to put plans into motion without the Ferengis' knowledge. Using the computer in the schoolroom, they obtain a diagram of the ship's inner workings and use it to sneak around and collect phasers and other small weapons. Guinan and Ro crawl through a Jefferies Tube to wait to try out their plan near Main Engineering. The only problem remaining is the need to obtain access to the Bridge. To accomplish this, young Picard throws a tantrum and forces a Ferengi to take him to Riker in the Observation Lounge, pretending that Riker is his father. During their conversation, the young captain subtly communicates to Riker to grant him systems access through the school computer. Unfortunately, the Ferengi are also demanding access to the computer, and threaten to kill all the children on board if Riker falls to comply. The children manage to capture all of them with the "weapons" they have stolen, and when the action subsides, Beverly and O'Brien use the transporter to restore the group to their adult states.
Most Star Trek episodes follow the same plot line, something happens to the ship and they save the day. This one was different, although they transport people into different realities they have never done one when they turn characters into children. That was the part of the episode that was my favorite. Although it wasn't very believable, it was still good. The only thing I didn't like about the episode was the young Picard. I didn't like him. It was his voice that was the most annoying part. Alexander also helped save the day which was nice. As I've already said a series classic.
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