And so begins the worst season of "Star Trek: The Next Generation". That does not mean the season is bad, it does have its share of very good episodes, it's just my least favorite. The biggest reason is the arrival of Dr. Kate Pulaski. With all due respect to Dana Muldaur, she was all wrong for this series. She did not fit at all with the cast and had zero chemistry with the other cast members. Basically the total opposite of Gates McFadden. It's very easy to see this in her interactions with the other crew members. Her first meeting with the Captain was quite strained. Her nasty attitude with Data after she mispronounced his name are crystal clear indications she does not belong. The only consolation is Dr. Pulaski lasted only one season. As far as the episode as a whole is concerned, it is very forgettable. The cast does very well, especially Marina Sirtis, but in the end, when I was done watching this episode I pretty much did not care. I was also turned off by the whole part of the story where Wesley is planning to leave Enterprise to join his mother at Starfleet Medical. The dialogue in those scenes was pure cornball. Basically as I said before, Marina Sirtis is the sole reason to see this episode. There isn't really anything else to make "The Child" worth your time.
Welcome to season 2 of TNG. Like any growing show, this one has been going through some changes. You'll notice hair that wasn't there before, like Riker's smirk-enhancing beard, and new responsibilities, like Geordi's promotion to Chief Engineer. We also have ourselves two brand new cast members: Whoopi Godlberg as the wise bartender Guinan and Diana Muldaur as Dr. Katherine Pulaski. Guinan dispenses easy-going guidance in "Child," and Goldberg is pleasantly restrained in the role. Pulaski, on the other hand...
Look, there's no getting around it: she's a horrible character, and a huge misstep for a fledgling series whose misstep budget is already well into the red. I'm crossing my fingers that she'll develop some depth as the season progresses, but for right now, she's miserable, poorly cast, painfully written, and quite possibly the worst possible choice to replace the smart, passionate, and sensible Beverly Crusher. Muldaur isn't a terrible actress. She's more professional than Crosby was, and there's none of that off-putting skittishness. The problem is, her persona is detached, icy, and aloof, and we're given no reason to think there's anything underlying all that condescension.
Even her introduction starts on the wrong foot. Instead of reporting to Picard as ordered when she first arrives on the ship, Pulaski goes to Ten-Forward, where off-screen she meets Deanna Troi, and learns about Troi's surprise pregnancy. Now, typically, this sort of ignoring-standard-protocol behavior would be indicative of a down-to-earth, irascible personality, like McCoy from TOS. If you go by the script as written, that's clearly the intent here. Pulaski doesn't play by the rules, but she cares about her patients, and is willing to stand up to any authority to defend those rights. It's not perfect, but at least there's some sense of how she could fit into the existing cast.
Muldaur ruins it because she has no warmth, and this kind of role has to be warm. McCoy was a bigoted ass at times, but he was passionate, and it was clear that passion, not calculation, was what drove him. Muldaur plays Pulaski like a librarian who would enjoy her work so much more if everyone stopped reading. It is a joyless, embarrassed turn, and given how cheerily enthusiastic every other cast member is, very out of place. Maybe the idea was to provide some balance for all the smiling. Often characters who stand out from the norm are break-out roles on shows, like Sheldon from The Big Bang Theory or, hell, Spock from TOS. These figures provide points of identification for audiences who also often feel at odds from the rest of society. I can't imagine anyone relating to Pulaski, though, for the simple fact that if you did, why would you still be watching TNG?
I'll save discussing her mistreatment of Data for later, though, because as badly judged as Pulaski is in this episode, the story is probably worse. The MacGuffin about a plasma plague is fine, and should've been the main focus. It falls into the hard sci-fi category, and the tensest moments in "The Child" come when that situation balances on the edge of getting completely out of hand. It's too bad, then, that this isn't called "The Perilous Plasmatic Instead, we get the Troi's unwanted pregnancy and the Space Baby.
A dot of light jumps aboard the Enterprise, does some zinging around the halls, and finally finds Deanna Troi, asleep in her bed. There's no other way to describe it: Tinkerbell knocks Troi up. Trek has never been exactly female-friendly, but for all its tasteful presentation, this has to be a low-point. Even though she should be the central focus of the episode, Troi is essentially passive. Other characters discuss how to handle her pregnancy while barely acknowledging her presence in the room, and when she finally does voice an opinion, it's to state unequivocally that she's keeping the Never mind that the pregnancy is an invasion of her privacy and rights, never mind that her sudden determination to protect her mystery guest could come at the cost of great physical danger, it's beautiful because she's gonna be a mom now, and that's clearly the greatest gift anyone could ever have.
This is bunk. It's not bunk that Troi is enthusiastic--the Space Baby could be manipulating her emotions in order to provide itself with an accommodating host. What's bunk is that the episode treats this an an unquestioned positive. Picard has his suspicions, but the birth scene is presented as a comedy and the STG's eventual exit is intended as a moment of great beauty. What it translates to is: an alien hitches a ride without permission, rapes a woman, knocks her up, saddles her with grotesque body changes, attaches itself to her post-birth to gain information, endangers everyone on board the ship with its thoughtless selfishness, and then orchestrates an exit in the most emotionally manipulative fashion possible by forcing its "mother" to witness the death of her child. That's not how it's presented, of course. It's presented as a joyous life experience, but no amount of tears and lies make this anything less than a travesty.
With the opening episode of the second season, some aspects of TNG which would go on to become familiar begin to fall into place: Commander Riker has grown a beard, Troi has her purple jumpsuit (and a decent hairstyle), Geordi LaForge is now the Chief Engineer, Worf is firmly in place as Chief of Security, and there's a new bar/lounge area with Whoopie Goldberg playing Guinan, the bartender/wise old owl. Less obvious, but still important are production differences that include smoother and more polished camera moves and less intrusive music. The setting is finally there for some great stories! Sadly, we're right in the middle of the 1988 writer's strike. With this problem delaying production of the second season, Star Trek looked to its past for story ideas. The unused story ideas from the aborted 1970s Star Trek revival series were fished out of their dusty file cabinets and considered for TNG, and "The Child" was chosen to kick things off. All the new changes are introduced quickly in the first ten minutes, including the debut of Dr. Pulaski (played by Star Trek veteran Diana Muldaur), who replaces Dr. Crusher (Gates McFadden). In the long term, this proved to be a poor choice, but in the short term Pulaski adds some spunk and vitality to the show, and helps make this story the first decent Troi episode. It helps that the pacing and dialogue for "The Child" are much improved over the first season. Is this one of Trek's greatest installments? No. But it's one of the first TNG episodes that feels like TNG.
So, the episodes of the first season of Star Trek: The Next Generation was either hit, miss, or snooze - mostly snooze but with a few great ones thrown in. The ball gets rolling on season two of Star Trek: The Next Generation with "The Child," beginning well with a sweeping score and character re-introductions (many sporting new positions, uniforms, and facial hair).
As hard as it is to take a storyline involving Troi getting impregnated by an unknown entity seriously, Star Trek: TNG's first second season episode "The Child" is not terrible. The scenes involving Troi & the crew dealing with her being pregnant are handled surprisingly well, with Troi being treated like an object as her body is poignantly thrown into the middle of a tactical discussion regarding the unknown entity that has impregnated her, are actually very good. However, then they go on way too long with a birth scene (which is just weird), tack on a dangerous space virus sub-plot (which is uninteresting), and do not learn much from season one and give Wesley Crusher significant screen time. "The Child" is not a bad episode of Star Trek: TNG but it is a ho-hum one.
The start of season two in some ways seems like the start of a new show, or the way the show should have kicked off. A lot of it has to do with little things that make a huge difference in the overall feel of the show; a feel that is more polished and visually captivating. There are slight changes to the entrance theme (no more crazed string sections) with harder hitting warp effects. The model shots of the ship and the in space orbiting and travel are greatly improved and more realistic looking and the characters seem to be comfortable and fluid in their acting. It is true that a lot of the above are asthetic improvments but they do tend to make the overall picture a lot more appealing.
The changes are not limited to that though. We get Worf firmly planted as the new Chief of Security and Geordi as the new Chief Engineer, roles that they are both meant to play and which they make their own. On the downside though we lose the stunning Dr Crusher for Dr Pulaski, a choice that robbed the show of one of its more interesting dynamics; namely the underlying sexual tension and attraction between Picard and Crusher and idea that Picard might serve in some capacity as the father Wesley had lost while at the same time filling the void Beverly lost with the death of her husband. A Family dynamic not explictely stated.
Story wise, the episode keeps you intrigued as to the possible motive for the alien being impregnating Troi and seeking out residence on the Enterprise. You get a couple of hints as to the final revelation in the middle of the episode when the child burns himself in front of Picard and the doctor, but overall it is a decent idea to explore. Nothing ground breaking but not too drab either. The Wesley subplot fails to excite in the least...get rid of the kid that easily....no such luck, and the aspect of the virus transfer serves well for what it is, namely a compliment to the alien presence.
A fairly mundane scripts has Troi take the storyline by the throat and take it to an acceptable level. The alien visiting has been done before and if it werent so early in the 7 season run, Id be asking not again!
However, the fairly benign start turns into a good standalone story of first contact as the being uses the vessel of Troi's immaculately conceived son to experience what it is like to be human and communicate with the crew.
Nothing really threatens anyone in this episode and the only conflict comes in the form of the harmful energy that the being transmits. Which opens the door for the final farewell and Troi's heartbreak!
Should have been moved up to later in the season and become a filler episode. Not really fit for a season starter, but the ending of the last one wasnt really a good finale so.....
This episodes has too many holes to receive a wholehearted recommendation. That said, the first half or so, when Troi comes to terms with being impregnated by an "energy life form", is very good and engaging. There's a particularly powerful scene where she meets with the ship's senior officers and decides, over Riker and Worf's objections, to have the baby. And the interaction between Riker and Troi, given their history, is particularly well-done. The new Dr. was apparently not a favorite with fans, but she adds a nice edge with a bit of humanity to her scenes in this episode. Guinan was an excellent addition to the show, though aside from adding some atmosphere and a nice conversation with Wesley, she doesn't yet contribute much.
The minus has mostly to do the virus subplot -- this was probably the 15th virus/vaccine plot in 27 episodes, and it doesn't get much past the cliche that it usually fulfilled on this show. The Wesley subplot is fluff, though it does generate one of the best sequences of the episode ("And who will tuck him in at night?").
'The Child', as the first episode of season two, has a leisurly and majestic opening, with an extended shot of the Enterprise and various shots of the crew at their stations (and in many cases sporting new uniforms, hairstyles - or, in Riker's case, facial hair!). TNG is back and it has a noticably more assured feeling to it than it did during its wobbly first season.
The main storyline has Deanna Troi impregnated by an alien lifeform with an accelerated pregnancy which sees the child born within hours and maturing to an eight-year old within days. It's reasonably interesting, although you would have thought Troi would have been a little more freaked out by the nature of her child (hasn't she ever seen Alien??). Instead, she seems quite at ease and altogether blase with the child which strikes me as rather odd. Nevertheless, Marina Sirtis delivers a warm and endearing performance which gives the episode a certain emotional resonance, particularly in the final scenes. Incidentally, Troi here boasts a new hairstyle and uniform which looks a hundred times better than her bizarre-looking bun-headed first season image.
The subplot involving volatile virus specimens being transported to cure a plague is a rather uninvolving, in spite of all the earnestness and it gets rather too much screen-time. This episode is also noticable for the introduction of both Whoopi Goldberg as Guinan (a most welcome addition to the cast) and Diana Muldaur as Dr Pulaski, who was either loved or loathed by fans - but mainly loathed it would seem. I kind of liked her actually, she was spunky and altogether more refreshing than the tepid Dr Crusher, although her 'sparring' with Data, as seen here, was a notable failure. The writers were clearly aiming to recreate the Spock/Bones interplay, but instead it simply came across as nastiness and borderline bullying.
Overall, 'The Child' is a decent season opener - not exceptional and a little uneven, but bolstered by another excellent directorial turn by Rob Bowman.
The "Enterprise" beams aboard medical cargo. Troi becomes pregnant by a mysterious entity. Troi's embryo is progressing at a fast rate. Captain Picard request Security to be on standby when Troi's baby is born. 36hrs after becoming pregnant Troi has her b
The "Enterprise" beams aboard medical cargo. Troi becomes pregnant by a mysterious entity. Troi's embryo is progressing at a fast rate. Captain Picard request Security to be on standby when Troi's baby is born. 36hrs after becoming pregnant Troi has her baby. Data watches in amazement. Troi names her baby Ian, after her father. Ian grows at a fast rate achieving 4 years in one day. The medical cargo has problem the plasma plague which is deadly keeps growing and will outgrow the container in 2hrs. Could it be radiation? I rate this one a 8.2
Here we are, Season Two. Geordi is in his rightful place and he seems to be perfect as the new Chief Engineer, same with Worf as the new Chief of Security, things are starting to look right for the show… with one exception. Dr. Crusher is no longer on the show but at least only for a season.
I know people hated Dr. Pulaski because she was simply a nod to McCoy and not Dr. Crusher. I think that was the intention of the producers no? Do I like the character? Yes. I favor for Crusher, who wouldn’t? She’s hot, she’s red headed and you know Picard is thinking the same thing. You can even tell when Picard looks at Wesley he seems disappointed not only because his mother left the ship but that he is leaving as well. He has lost someone he thought he could be with and he is probably going to lose Wesley who is somewhat of a son he never had.
And looke what we have here, Riker is sporting a beard. I like what I see, it feels more natural to have him with a beard and I bet Frakes felt that way too. He must have loathed shaving for the sake of thinking no one would like his beard in season one. Nope, everyone thought he looked natural and so the producers asked him to keep it and so we would have plenty of nice jokes about the beard in later seasons.
Anyway, onto the show.
Troi gets impregnated by an entity. That’s all. That’s the basic plot of the show. But of course we have a sub-plot a little more interesting. Wesley is leaving the Enterprise to be with his mother over at Starfleet Medical. However, he meets the bartender of the hangout of the ship, Ten Forward. The bartender is named Guinan, an El-Aurian woman who is over 600 years old. She has a chat with Wesley which will later change his mind of leaving the Enterprise.
The new Dr. Pulaski informs the senior staff that Counselor Troi is going to give birth to her baby in 36 hours. Troi names her baby Ian, after her father, and not only did she give a fast and painless birth, the boy is growing rapidly. By the time the boy looks 4 he already can talk.
Okay that sounds stupid that the boy can all of a sudden speak, but then again he is also an entity so that backs it up.
So Geordi is working on a project but it starts go out of control, which may kill everyone on the ship in less than an hour and they have to figure out what is triggering the project and how it’s affected.
It turns out that Ian is the reason why and when he feels the ship scared, he knows why and decides to die. Troi is sad, the doctor can’t do anything about it and in the end the boy turns into a little light, leaving the ship.
Troi tells the crew that the entity was curious and wanted to learn by living like a human. The ship is no longer in danger, Wesley tells Picard that he is going to stay onboard the Enterprise and everyone gets hammered at Ten Forward.
Okay, kidding about the Ten Forward at the end. So how was the season premiere? Good. Pretty much good. Better than average but not great. I’m taking out a star because we don’t see Beverly leave the ship, or ever show, say or do anything to leave the ship. Picard in fact only mentions her as “your mother” to Wesley! So after this episode it’s as if she never existed. That’s just plain stupid. I know they love the new doctor and all but common! They could at least acknowledge Beverly better than saying she existed!
Oh well at least the rest of the episode seemed to have overshadowed the inconsistencies, so I am going to recommend this episode.
I give this episode 4 stars out of 5 for a good pre-credit intro with great Dennis McCarthy music. (8.0 on TV.com)
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