Star Trek: The Next Generation Rewatch

Star Trek: The Next Generation Rewatch: “The Naked Now”

A quick administrative note before we dive into “The Naked Now.” The warp factor scale that we’re using is an out-of-10 scale, not the out-of-6 scale that was used for the TOS Rewatch. So “Encounter at Farpoint” was 4 out of 10, not 4 out of 6. Big difference, I know.

Also, we’re adding a new category, though we won’t see it in this episode: What Happens on the Holodeck Stays on the Holodeck, which is for when the holodeck is used in the episode.

Onward….

“The Naked Now”
Written by John D.F. Black and J. Michael Bingham
Directed by Paul Lynch
Season 1, Episode 2
Production episode 40271-103
Original air date: October 5, 1987
Stardate: 41209.2

Captain’s log: A rendezvous with the S.S. Tsiolkovsky turns to tragedy, as the crew apparently partied themselves to death. The bridge crew blows out the hatch, condemning them all to die in space, and the Enterprise away team finds both engineering and crew quarters frozen. La Forge also finds a woman who was showering with her clothes on when the heat was bled from the room.

Since he caught her when she fell out, and since the 24th century apparently forgot stuff about not disturbing crime scenes, he catches her with his bare hands, then starts acting unusually snotty for someone who’s supposed to be the nerdy friendly guy. Then he leaves sickbay, leaving his combadge behind, and wanders the ship like Typhoid Mary, if Typhoid Mary was carrying the happy-fun disease. Then he gets maudlin about how he can’t see.

Riker remembers reading something about showering with clothes on, and Data goes through Wikipedia to try to find the entry on “The Naked Time.” Unfortunately, the messed-up water molecules from that episode are just different enough that Dr. McCoy’s cure won’t work.

Meanwhile, Yar gets girly, Wesley takes over engineering, Troi gets moopy, Data gets ridiculous, Picard gets wussy, and so on. Riker gets infected, but apparently avoids actually getting the disease from the sheer power of his manliness.

A stellar fragment explodes and heads toward the ship. Wesley uses his fancy-ass tractor beam gadget to slow the fragment down by throwing the Tsiolkovsky in its way while Data puts the engines back together.

Crusher, despite being a drunken loon mooning over Picard, manages to come up with a cure, and all is once again well.

Thank you, Counselor Obvious: “All I sense from him is confusion.” Pretty much everyone can tell that La Forge is confused….

Can’t We Just Reverse The Polarity? “Then reversing power leads back through the force activator.” This is how Wesley saves the ship.

No Sex, Please, We’re Starfleet: The crew quarters on the Tsiolkovsky is filled with frozen naked people, leading one to think that, had they not been frozen to death, La Forge would’ve walked in on an orgy. Amusingly, the only one clothed is the woman in the shower. Meanwhile, infected people all over the Enterprise start smooching, Yar seduces Data (though she later insists “It never happened”), Troi gets moopy on Riker, and Picard and Crusher make goo-goo eyes at each other, to the point where Picard skips a little, which is quite possibly the goofiest moment in Sir Patrick Stewart’s career, and yes, that includes Life Force and King of Texas.

The Boy!? Assistant Chief Engineer Shimoda inexplicably leaves Wesley in charge of engineering—I really hope he was already infected, otherwise that’s an appalling lack of judgment, especially since there’s an entire engineering staff to take command—and then the kid completely takes over engineering. Shimoda removes all the isolinear chips, killing the engines, which is kind of a problem when the ship needs to escape exploding stellar matter. (I’m thinking there’s a good reason why we never saw Shimoda again after this episode…) And then Wes saves the ship.

Yar seduces Data

Yar finds out what

If I Only Had a Brain… Data is apparently “fully functional.” WOO HOO!

There is No Honor in Being Pummeled: Worf is the only person on the ship besides Riker who doesn’t get affected by the disease, and he pretty much holds the bridge together while everything is falling apart. Which is almost too bad, as seeing Worf drunk might’ve been a lot more fun….

Welcome Aboard: Brooke Bundy plays MacDougal, the first of four chief engineers we see on the Enterprise during the first season before they give La Forge the job in season two.

I Believe I Said That: “There was a young lady from Venus / Whose body was shaped like a—”

“Captain to security, come in!”

“Did I say something wrong?”

“I don’t understand their humor, either.”

Data quotes a limerick, Picard interrupts, Data is confused, and Worf delivers the punchline.

Trivial Matters: Obviously, this is a sequel to the original series episode “The Naked Time,” even giving that episode’s writer John D.F. Black story credit. The less charitable would call it a ripoff, but they practically put up a neon sign saying that it’s a sequel to “The Naked Time,” so that accusation doesn’t really hold up. However, there’s nothing in this episode as entertaining as Sulu bare-chested with an epee, and Wesley being nerdy in the engine room is nowhere near as much fun as Riley singing, “I’ll Take You Home Again, Kathleen” in the engine room.

Make It So: What a total misfire. It’s rarely a good idea to do an episode where everyone acts out of character as only the second one out of the gate, since we don’t know enough about these people for their acting strange to be meaningful. True, we did learn some factoids about the crew—more about Yar’s horrendous upbringing, Wesley’s sooooooper genius, the fact that Crusher and Picard carry a torch for each other—but you have to sort through a lot of chaff before you get to that particular wheat.

Worse, the “drunken” behavior is stereotypical and histrionic. The crew doesn’t act like they’re drunk, they act like high-schoolers pretending to be drunk. Notable exceptions are Gates McFadden and Brent Spiner, who are genuinely amusing as opposed to cringe-inducing.

The best that can be said about the episode is that we get Yar seducing Data, which has two benefits: Yar in an awesome piece of William Ware Theiss-designed sexy clothing, and Data informing the universe that he’s fully functional. The latter was definitely a gift that kept on giving.

Warp factor rating: 2


Keith R.A. DeCandido has written a mess of stuff about Star Trek. This rewatch is simply adding to the mess. Follow him online at his blog or on Facebook or Twitter under the username KRADeC.

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