Oct 5 2012 4:30pm

Star Trek: The Next Generation Rewatch: “Rascals”

Star Trek: The Next Generation Rewatch on Rascals“Rascals”
Written by Ward Botsford & Diana Dru Botsford and Michael Piller and Allison Hock
Directed by Adam Nimoy
Season 6, Episode 7
Production episode 40276-233
Original air date: October 26, 1992
Stardate: 46235.7

Captain’s Log: Picard, Ro, Keiko, and Guinan are on a shuttlecraft, returning from Marlonia. Picard is geeking out over some archeological thing or other, while Ro recognizes the plants Keiko is bringing back (to everyone’s surprise). The shuttle then hits an energy field that’s about to destroy it. O’Brien barely manages to get a pattern lock, and he beams them over – concerned that there’s a 40% drop in mass, so he may have lost one of them.

Then it turns out that nobody was lost – but all four occupants of the shuttle are now twelve-year-old kids. (Also, their clothes shrunk with them for reasons never adequately explained by the script. Then again, neither does it explain much of anything else, as we’ll see.) Crusher and Troi both examine the four of them, and their minds are the same as ever, but their bodies have been changed to pre-adolescence.

Picard naturally keeps acting as if he’s the captain—and why shouldn’t he?—and Riker and Crusher both respond as if he’s an annoying kid interrupting them. Picard then orders Riker to accompany him to the bridge, where everyone has a hard time taking orders from a twelve-year-old kid. Crusher comes to the bridge and speaks to him in private. She’s concerned that this is the first stage in a process that may affect his mind – there’s no evidence of that, Picard counters, but eventually he realizes that he can’t continue to act as captain until they know more about what happened to him. Reluctantly, he leaves the ship in Riker’s hands (and boy, will he be sorry he did that...).

Guinan tweaks Ro, who has no interest in re-living her childhood, which was spent in a refugee camp, and she just wants to go back to work. But they’ve all been relieved of duty, which just pisses Ro off—she wants to do something—whereas Guinan is thrilled, since it’s been centuries since she was a little kid and she intends to enjoy it.

Cut to the O’Brien quarters, where the awkwardness is so thick you can cut it with a knife. Keiko tries to act as if nothing’s changed, while O’Brien is uncomfortable, and acting as if Keiko is some strange kid in his cabin. They have a tense conversation about what this will all mean for their marriage, which is interrupted by Molly, demanding a story from Mommy. When Keiko offers to read to her, Molly cries, “No! I want Mommy!”

Keiko is devastated that her own daughter doesn’t even know her now, and runs from the room. All of O’Brien’s awkwardness immediately falls away and he goes after Keiko and hugs her, promising his wife that they’ll find a way to get through this.

Star Trek: The Next Generation Rewatch on Rascals

The Enterprise arrives in the Ligos system, answering a distress call from a Federation science outpost. Meanwhile, Picard is in his quarters, enjoying the hair that has returned to his head, but not all that happy with how big his uniform jacket fits. Looking at himself in the mirror, he finds it impossible to take himself seriously (a problem with which the viewing audience can identify).

Troi checks up on him. They discuss options for what he could do if the condition remains permanent and he has to grow up all over again: going back to the Academy, take a leave of absence to pursue archaeology.

Crusher has figured out what happened to the foursome: the part of their genetic code that determines what people will change into at adolescence—Crusher calls it “rybo-viroxic nucleic” or RVN—was wiped out during transport. Keiko’s plants were similarly affected—they all became seedlings—and by accelerating one plant’s growth, Crusher learned that they will all likely grow up normally in the course of time. They might be able to use the transporter to put back the RVN, based on the patterns from previous genetic scans.

Guinan continues to tweak Ro, who finds the whole idea of reliving childhood repugnant, but whom Guinan eventually convinces to start jumping on the bed.

Star Trek: The Next Generation Rewatch on Rascals

La Forge and O’Brien have determined that the shuttle was hit with a reversion field that turned the shuttle hull alloys into their component metals, and which also probably affected the people on board. Crusher is more optimistic now about being able to get them back to adulthood via the transporter.

However, first things first: they’ve arrived at Ligos VII, the source of the distress call. Two surplus Klingon Birds of Prey decloak and attack the Enterprise. Somehow, the ships manage to do critical damage to the Enterprise – it helps that the Enterprise only fires one shot, which inexplicably does no appreciable damage to the Klingon ship on which it fires. Ferengi start beaming on board and rounding people up. Two transport onto the bridge. Worf—who has much more time to set up his completely clear shot – somehow misses the Ferengi, while the Ferengi gets a clean hit on Worf, even though half his body is protected by the tactical console. Within minutes, the Ferengi have taken over the entire ship, but the one competent thing Riker has done is lock out command functions, so while the Ferengi have the ship, they can’t actually do anything with it.

The Ferengi beam most of the crew down to the surface, and toss the children into a single room – but that number includes Picard, Ro, Guinan, Keiko, and Alexander. Picard starts discussing options for how to take the ship back – Ro has some mediocre suggestions (and Picard goes along with them – the element of surprise? really?), but it’s Guinan who points out that, since they look like children, their best bet is to act like children.

Riker meets with the Ferengi DaiMon, who has already taken Ligos VII, and put both the scientists on that outpost and now the Enterprise crew to work mining it.

Star Trek: The Next Generation Rewatch on Rascals

Picard—after having trouble navigating the kids’ computer—sends Ro and Guinan to crawl through the Jefferies Tubes to get to engineering. Then he and Keiko go on a mission of their own to the transporter room, accompanied by a remote-controlled robot belonging to Alexander. They use the robot to lure the Ferengi out of the transporter room – which has phasers and combadges stored in it. Now they’re armed. Alexander gets in on the act, distracting the Ferengi in sickbay long enough to steal two hyposprays.

Ro and Guinan are in position outside engineering, they have their weapons and hypos, now Picard just has to get onto the bridge. And the only way he can think of to accomplish that is to throw a temper tantrum saying he wants to see his father – Commander Riker. While Riker is flabbergasted, he plays along in short order. Picard tells him that he and the other kids want to play games in the schoolroom, and can they please turn on that computer at least?

Star Trek: The Next Generation Rewatch on Rascals

The DaiMon then threatens to kill the children if Riker won’t release the computer, which he agrees to. While he blinds the Ferengi with technobabble as to how the computer works, he activates the computer, giving Picard access.

Ro, Guinan, and Alexander are able to put combadges on the boarding party, enabling Picard to transport them to a secure location. He takes care of the two on the bridge himself, with Riker’s help.

Then they try to reverse the de-aging. Picard goes first, and is restored. The first thing he does is check his head for hair.

Star Trek: The Next Generation Rewatch on Rascals

The only one not in the transporter room is Ro. After being restored to adulthood, Guinan goes to Ro’s quarters, where young Ro is drawing pictures, including one of her mother. She decides that childhood isn’t as bad as she thought, and rather than go immediately to the transporter, she and Guinan draw together for a while.

Can’t We Just Reverse the Polarity?: RVN is bogus. There is no such thing in genetics, and the writers pulled it directly out of their posteriors in order to make the plot, for lack of a better word, work.

Speaking of bogus technobabble being pulled out of posteriors, Riker lets loose with a heroic stream of nonsense when he “explains” the computer to the Ferengi, going on about melacortz-ramistats, bilateral kelilactarals, isopalavial interfaces, Heisenfram terminals, and the firomantal drive unit (which should, under no circumstances, be touched).

Thank You, Counselor Obvious: Troi reminds Picard that he has the chance to do something people never get to do – have a second childhood, without the pain of growing up again.

No Sex, Please, We’re Starfleet: The episode raises really awkward questions for the O’Briens, since O’Brien doesn’t really feel comfortable sharing his marital bed with a twelve-year-old.

Star Trek: The Next Generation Rewatch on Rascals

The Boy!?: When Troi is talking seriously about Picard going back to the Academy, Picard takes the piss out of her by adding, “And be Wesley Crusher’s roommate?”

Syntheholics Anonymous: Guinan comments that the archaeological ruins that Picard found on Marlonia are the same age as her father. She also jumps into being a kid with both feet (literally, at one point, on Ro’s bed), probably because she has the most perspective on it, not having been a child for centuries.

There is No Honor in Being Pummeled: Worf has apparently lost his ability to fire a phaser accurately – or maybe the Ferengi just provide too small a target.

In the Driver’s Seat: Ro pilots the shuttle right into the technobabble energy field that starts the whole mishegoss, while the Enterprise conn is staffed by one of the unnamed female extras.

I Believe I Said That: “How much farther do we have to go?”

“About fifty meters. Don’t tell me you’re tired.”

“I’m not as young as I used to be.”

Guinan and Ro crawling through the Jefferies Tubes, with Guinan making a funny.

Welcome Aboard: Two of the guest children had existing connections to the actors/characters they played the youthful versions of. David Tristan Birkin (young Picard) played Picard’s nephew René in “Family,” and Isis J. Jones (young Guinan) also played the younger version of Whoopi Goldberg’s character in Sister Act (also released in 1992). Megan Parlen and Caroline Junko King round out the kid cast as young Ro and young Keiko, respectively.

Mike Gomez, Tracey Walter, and Michael Snyder play the Ferengi—all three played different Ferengi in the past, Gomez and Walter in “The Last Outpost,” Snyder in “The Perfect Mate.”

Plus we’ve got recurring players Colm Meaney and Rosalind Chao, making their final TNG appearances before moving over to Deep Space Nine, as well as the only TNG appearance of Hana Hatae as Molly, a role she’ll continue on DS9 as well.

Trivial Matters: This is Ro’s only sixth-season appearance, and she won’t appear again until the series’ penultimate episode, “Preemptive Strike.” Until that seventh season appearance, there were rumors that Ro never went through the transporter and remained a child, which is why we hadn’t seen her since.

Star Trek: The Next Generation Rewatch on Rascals

This episode was the directorial debut of Adam Nimoy, whose father is someone you may have heard of. He’ll be back to direct “Timescape” later in the season, and continue a TV directing career that would include episodes of Hercules: The Legendary Journeys, Sliders, and two episodes of Babylon 5. (He also directed his father in the “I, Robot” episode of The Outer Limits in 1995.)

Diana Dru Botsford, the co-writer of the episode’s story (and who is, in the interests of full disclosure, a good friend of your humble rewatcher), has worked on several shows and films as a producer (including Terminator 2: Judgment Day, From Dusk Till Dawn, Inspector Gadget, and the 1989 remakes of both Dragnet and Adam-12), and is currently the producer of the science fiction web series Epilogue, which she produced with her screenwriting students at Missouri State University. She also wrote an excellent Stargate SG1 novel Four Dragons.

Birkin appears to be the only one of the four child actors still working as an actor. Parlen is now a documentary filmmaker, King is an animator and anime director in Japan, and the only credits listed online for Jones are her two roles as a younger Whoopi here and in Sister Act.

In the “Bar Association” episode of DS9, Odo will throw the events of this episode in Worf’s face when listing security breaches on the Enterprise during the Klingon’s term as security chief.

This episode bears some similarities to the animated episode “The Counter-Clock Incident,” in which Kirk and his crew were also changed into kids.

O’Brien’s love of black coffee, double sweet, is established in this episode. That will become a plot point (sort of) in the DS9 episode “Whispers.”

Make it So: “He’s my Number One Dad!” When the sixth season first aired in 1992, this episode cemented my fear that TNG had outstayed its welcome. They were now reduced to doing the crew-gets-turned-into-little-kids plot. My fears turned out to be unjustified—after the “Chain of Command” two-parter, things got a lot better, and some of TNG’s finest hours are in its sixth season—but at this point we’ve had a dreadful cliffhanger resolution, Barclay, and Q episodes that don’t rate among those characters’ best guest shots, two weak-tea horror stories, and “Relics.” And then this. One watchable episode out of seven isn’t exactly encouraging (and the next two episodes didn’t help matters, but we’ll get to that next week).

Star Trek: The Next Generation Rewatch on Rascals

Having said that, this episode does have its positive aspects, however meager. For starters, all four child actors are to be commended for magnificently channeling their adult counterparts. Isis Jones in particular does a wonderful job with a Guinan who still is trying to help her friend Ro Laren like she did in “Ensign Ro” (and I love the way she embraces being a kid far more than the others).

Indeed, all of Act 1 is rather compelling. The crew’s difficulty taking orders from a little kid, Ro’s cantankerousness, and Guinan’s philosophical joy are all well played. But the high point of the episode—the thing that almost comes close to the possibility of maybe redeeming this nonsense—is the scene in the O’Briens’ quarters. O’Brien trying desperately not to feel like a pedophile, Keiko trying desperately to act like nothing’s changed (I love how matter-of-factly she grabs a stool when she realizes that something’s on a shelf that’s now too high for her). And then that awful, heartbreaking moment when Keiko realizes that her daughter doesn’t think she’s Mommy.

If the episode had just stuck with that—with how the O’Brien family dynamic is altered, with how Picard has lost the authority he’s more than earned solely due to his physical appearance and voice, with how Guinan totally embraces this and Ro totally doesn’t—then it might have been at least a fun, diverting, if ridiculous, episode. Yes, the science is total horse manure (again, no such thing as RVN), but, as the O’Briens’ scene indicates, you can make a pretty flower from that fertilizer if you work at it.

But no, we had to add the Ferengi taking over the ship.

It’s difficult to put into words how appallingly stupid the entire episode becomes from the moment the Birds of Prey decloak to the end. First off, the Ferengi are in what is described by the DaiMon as “surplus” Klingon ships, so they’re probably the same crummy BOPs that we saw in Star Trek III: The Search for Spock and commandeered by Kirk and the gang for Star Trek IV: The Voyage Home – y’know, the ship that was outgunned “ten to one” by Kirk’s Enterprise, and has a crew of twelve? Yet somehow, two of these ships can take out most of the Enterprise-D’s systems.

Of course, it helps immensely that the Enterprise only fires back once, and that shot does negligible damage. Apparently, that’s all the flagship can manage against the spacefaring equivalent of two VW microbuses. Then the Ferengi board and are met with absolutely no resistance from the crew of a thousand, except one Klingon firing his phaser badly. This is the second time Riker’s been left in charge of the ships and screwed the pooch; last time it was getting his chief engineer kidnapped by doofuses, this time it’s getting his ship captured and most of his crew made into slave labor by doofuses.

Star Trek: The Next Generation Rewatch on Rascals

And doofuses they are, as the Ferengi in this episode are so spectacularly idiotic, it’s a wonder they were able to operate the Birds of Prey, much less use them to take over the Enterprise. Not only that, but Picard’s entire plan depends on the Ferengi being dumber than a box of hammers. What if the guy in the transporter room didn’t follow the robot into the hallway? What if the guy on the bridge saw through Riker’s technobabble? What if the guard on the schoolroom ignored the tantrum and sent Picard back inside without seeing Riker? All of these were distinct possibilities, and if any of them had happened, Picard’s entire plan would’ve fallen apart.

Bluntly, the entire crew should’ve been forced to retire after this, as they prove themselves to be spectacularly incompetent at the fundamentals of their job. It certainly explains why it took another ten years for Riker to be offered another command, and they were probably regretting offering him the first three....

Having four of the cast turned into kids would’ve been bad enough, but they managed to make it so much worse. Just awful. It only gets as high as a 2 due to the O’Brien family scene.


Warp factor rating: 2

Keith R.A. DeCandido is still a child at heart. Or has a child’s heart. He always gets those two confused.

Lee VanDyke
1. Cloric
Does it seem to anyone else that the voice for child-Guinan had been dubbed in? There were several places where the audio sync seemed to be off, but only for her character.

I've always liked that they used the actor who played his nephew to portray a young Jean Luc. It was also lucky that he had at least some ability to portray his no-nonsense attitude at a young age.

Edit: I had to add something... after looking at the picture of the classroom computer, it occured to me. Didn't Picard ask Riker to unlock the classroom EIGHT computer? Did the Ferengi guard just allow them to wander from classroom to classroom? Or have I forgotten dialog I listened to just this morning?
2. StrongDreams
This was a fun episode on first watch, even though it makes no sense. The child versions were particularly well written and well played. DS9 could have probably done the entire episode as a character study, TNG, unfortunately, had an apparently ironclad rule to tack a danger plot onto every episode.
Lisamarie LiGreci-Newton
3. Lisamarie
Hahaha, I have been waiting for this review.

I will give the episode a few good points - I thought the child actors were really quite good, and I found the technobabble scene kind of funny.

But first of all - everybody has their 'flying snowman', and since my background is genetics and genomics, I just can't tolerate the whole RVN thing, or the idea that genetic changes immediately result in phenotypic changes, etc. I know there is loads of bad science in Star Trek but for me this is incredibly glaring. Still not as bad as Genesis, but bad. To say nothing of how the hell did their clothes shrink, or their BONES for that matter, I mean SERIOUSLY. And if their bones shrank, why not their brains and frontal lobe development?

2)I hate, hate, hate, hate Ferengi. I was also willing to enjoy this episoide for what it was, and the more psychological aspects of what could happen if you go back to childhood, and when the Ferengi appeared, I just groaned (I think my husband was waiting for my response). Ferengi mean hijinks will ensue, and I hate hijinks. Are they this bad in DS9? Because this has pretty much made me NEVER want to watch that show.
4. slybrarian
Yeah, this is pretty much the epitome of Riker's complete incompetence, although I suppose loosing the ship to just one even older Bird-of-Prey might be worse. At least then he had the excuse of shield trouble, but he still showed the same problem with shooting back more than once. Remember that time Worf fired a dozen torpedos and phasers at once and blew up half a Borg cube? Try hitting that button again and see if things work out better.

Also, they just discovered the fountain of youth, with no sign of any drawbacks beside mild creepiness. Put a little clinical testing into this odd event, maybe cap the de-aging at twenty or so, and you can easily heal illness and elimiate death due to old age. I'm not an advanced 24th century human, but if I were Picard you'd have to force me back into the transporter at gunpoint. If Riker and company have trouble taking orders from me because of appearance, they'd be off the bridge faster than you can say "insubordination" and "age discrimination".
Lee VanDyke
5. Cloric
@3 Lisamarie

I was wondering about Picard's heart, myself. How does his artificial heart fit into a 12-year old boy's chest?
Lisamarie LiGreci-Newton
6. Lisamarie
Ahh! I don't know!!!! I did not think of that!

#4, hah, for real. I kind of thougt Crusher's reasons were BS, myself.
Keith DeCandido
7. krad
Lisamarie: The Ferengi are occasionally irritating in DS9, but also sometimes brilliant, Quark is a great character, and Nog is a character who developed more than any other single character in Star Trek history. Not watching DS9 because of TNG Ferengi episodes is like not watching The Hunt for Red October because you ate a bad fish once.

---Keith R.A. DeCandido
Phil Parsons
8. Yakko
KRAD isn't the first person I've heard complain that the transporter inexplicably alters the away team's clothing as well as their physiological age. Given the stratospheric ludicrousness of the various concepts in the episode's premise, however, a little mid-transport tailoring seems the easiest to swallow. If you watch the episode carefully, though, all four characters are wearing their baggy adult size costumes when they first appear on the transporter pad (it's not as obvious on Keiko but very clear on Guinan and Ro). After the opening credits we see them in sick bay being examined by Crusher and they've all changed into child-size versions of their clothes. Replicating better fitting duds would seem a low priority after such a dramatic accident but there it is. Also when young Picard steps onto the transporter pad to be restored to adulthood in the last act he's wearing the full size uniform in anticipation of filling out.
Paul Bisson
9. bisson
Agreed. Weak. Has some fun moments but should've ditched the Ferengi plot and focused on the relationships. The intent here was obviously comedic. Imagine if it were dramatic? Also, Isis's ADR bothered me.
Jack Flynn
10. JackofMidworld
Quark is such a well rounded character that he almost seems like he's the Picard of the entire Ferengi race; I guess every show needs its cardboard recurring bad guy but, yeah, so many are just so, as krad put it - dumb.

I really liked the interplay between the kid actors and the regular adults. I got a kick out of seeing how awkward Riker was when Picard tried to play as his kid but I wholeheardedly agree that if they'd just spun off with the drama of the adults-turned-kids, would've been a much better episode.
11. politeruin
The one thing that annoys me most of all about this episode (and there are clearly many) is picard lamenting the loss of his hair. My understanding is that roddenberry stuck to his guns when the studio didn't want a bald captain by saying it's not that there's no cure in the future it's that nobody will even care. So i always liked the idea of picard choosing to go bald because it looks good! Not bothering himself with our 20th/21st century anxieties.
12. Cybersnark
Amusingly, I can't help but read "Two surplus Klingon Birds of Prey" as "two more Klingon Birds of Prey than we needed."

Nicely punned, if deliberate.
Christopher Bennett
13. ChristopherLBennett
The problems with the four characters getting younger have been thoroughly addressed, but they tend to obscure the fact that Molly O'Brien has inexplicably gotten older than she ought to be. This is the seventh episode of season 6; Molly was born in the fifth episode of season 5. Since the show generally tends to go in real time ("All Good Things..." is explicitly 7 years after "Encounter at Farpoint," and the upcoming "Chain of Command" is two years after "The Wounded"), that means Molly should only be a bit over one year old at this point. Yet she's played by a 4-year-old child here and has the verbal skills of at least a fairly advanced 2-year-old, I'd say. This problem with her age continues into DS9; Sisko said Molly was three in "The Nagus," which aired just five months after "Rascals." And by late season 6, less than seven years after her birth, Molly's said to be eight. Yet nothing else in the shows indicates that the elapsed time is longer than the real time between episodes.

As for "Rascals," yup, it's a mess, but the child actors do an okay job. For me, the high point of the episode is Picard yelling "Daddy!" to Riker. That really cracked me up. And the writers poking fun at the show's own excessive technobabble was cute too.
Lee VanDyke
14. Cloric
I apparently need to start organizing my own thoughts when I watch the episodes, so I can quit making multiple comments.

When Riker was letting loose with his technobabble diversion, I suddenly wanted to watch him sitting down with Jim Kirk for a game of Fizzbin.
Alyssa Tuma
15. AlyssaT
I also really liked the O'Brien family storyline. At first, I admit, I was totally creeped out and completely nervous that it would go down in Trek history as the ickiest thing ever -- similar to how sometimes this delightful show can be so cluelessy sexist/racist (even though the intentions may be good). But it was surprisingly well handled and well acted, and I give the writers big credit for actually "going there." It developed a rather uncomfortable, awkward, and taboo-ish storyline in a thoughtful way that reminded me of 2012-era edgy cable show, and not a late-season ep of TNG.

And then the Ferengi showed up...
rob mcCathy
16. roblewmac
Hey now the Fargani are freakin geniuses! think about how much brain power it takes to figure out exchange rates every time you fall though some random wormhole!
18. Voodoo Ben
I've always had a super soft spot for this episode - probably because I was just about young Picard's age when I first saw it. But in its defense, this is a funny, funny episode. All the stuff between Riker and the Kid Captain is hilarious, and as someone pointed out above, it was a nice touch for the writers to spoof their own technobabble. And I agree - all the interaction between Guinan and Ro is good, solid character work.
19. Clomer
It is definitely annoying when advancing the plot requires incompetance from a main character. Two "surplus" Birds of Prey would not be a serious threat to a Galaxy-class starship unless someone incompetant were in command. This isn't the only case of it, but it is one of the worst examples. The only worse case is in the movie when Riker actually loses the entire ship to a single Bird of Prey.

Seriously, in the movie when Worf reported "They have found a way to penetrate our shields!" Riker's next order should have been "Return fire, all weapons." That Bird of Prey would have lasted all of 2 seconds against the sustained firepower that the Enterprise was capable of dishing out.

As for the episode at hand, for all it's flaws, I enjoyed it. Rediculous in premise, faulty in execution, but still an entertaining hour.
20. RichF
This isn't the first time the audience has to suspend disbelief over clothing being unaffected by the transporter when its occpants were. In "Mirror, Mirror" the USS Enterprise's landing party transports to the ISS Enterprise wearing ISS Enterprise uniforms, and vice versa. The people made the transition across the universes but their uniforms didn't. Of course this was a necessary plot device otherwise each of the Spocks would have immediately realized that the landing party they had just beamed up were the wrong people.

The transporter can be more trouble to script writers than it's worth, but sometimes you just say what the heck and roll with it.
21. Tehanu
Agree that the science is ridiculous and the Ferengi are annoying, but this episode is so much fun! The Guinan-Ro relationship is especially good; it's nice seeing Ro have some fun for a change. I wish they had managed to keep her for DS9, which is my favorite of all the Trek shows, not least because in it the Ferengi stopped being annoying and stupid and started being real people.
Christopher Hatton
22. Xopher
While I mostly like the kid who played the young Picard, he overused the tunic-tug as a Picard-identifier--but then so did Patrick Stewart, who tugged his tunic just once as Prospero and got a huge laugh.

The O'Brien scene is creepy as all hell, and I completely understand where Miles was coming from. Ro and Guinan jumping on the bed is delightful.

The science is, of course, pure bullshit.
Joseph Newton
23. crzydroid
I've been waiting and waiting for this episode so I could just pretty much let loose, but everybody else has already said pretty much everything I was going to. Instead of saying, "Damage report," Riker needs to say, "Fire all weapons" like Picard has done on several occassions. And I think that if I were running a ship with that many people on board, I'd have security teams whose battle stations were the armory, and whose security codes could override command lockouts for the case of intruder control circuits.

And krad, Worf doesn't just miss the Ferengi...the Ferengi DUCKS! He ducks a phaser blast! And Data doesn't move until AFTER that whole exchange has taken place...Data, who believeably had the reflexes to anticipate and dodge phaser blasts, and who could've easily taken out the Ferengi while he was trying to fire back, since he was RIGHT THERE.

And it's one thing for the adults in kids' bodies to be sneaking around doing stuff, but sending Alexander, an actual kid, to distract one of the armed guards?? That's pretty low, Picard. Not to mention risky. This episode just needed Macaulay Culkin starring as one of the kids to help take back the ship with some paint cans on a string.

It was shocking to see this again and realize the reason for the de-aging was some transporter technobabble malfunction. I had remembered this episode as having the anomaly the shuttle goes through be entirely responsible for the change, instead of just masking some made up part of anatomy. That would've worked better, I think, just leaving the explanation up to some mysterious anomaly.
24. Erik Dercf
I love O'Brien's scene with his child wife wonderfully acted but this episode makes me wish the cast of TNG would have done an episode of Sesame Street. Seriously, I look at this episode and find myself imaging the adult cast doing a whole program with the Sesame characters on the Enterprize set. Image Picard gudgingly doing a piano duet with Kermit. Miss Piggy flirting with Riker and Troi consuling characters on self esteem. Data would pair with the Count and they would count. Gordi would be with Big Bird. And Worf would teach kids what Klingon children do when a stranger trys to grab them. Scream and run for help like a Klingon. Missed opertunity totally.
25. Erik Dercf
Yes, Troi would be with Elmo and Crusher would end up with Cookie Monster who has a stomach ache. Cheers all.
26. Diana Botsford
The story about 2 nuns in Idaho or What Really Happened to Rascals
Oh, and there was NO TRANSPORTER accident in our version, either. None. Nada. Zip.
Joseph Newton
27. crzydroid
@26: Thanks a lot for posting, Diana. I always like when the authors come and post on here, because then you get the perspective from someone who really knows. I found the blog post you wrote really interesting. And hey, Keith gave you a good plug for your SG-1 novel, so I might check that out now.
Jack Flynn
28. JackofMidworld
Diana - definitely a perspective and an explanation that doesn't get around as much as it should.
29. Diona the Lurker
@ChristopherLBennett: In their page on Molly, Memory Alpha has this to say about her age:

Molly's age appears to be an example of a continuity error known as "Soap Opera Rapid Aging Syndrome". However, the error itself relies on a non-canonical (but widely believed) fact: that each broadcast year corresponds to a narrative Earth year. If one believes, as do writers Gene Roddenberryand Ronald D. Moore, that stardates are a means by which to avoid giving specific dates, then Molly's age presents less of a logical conundrum. However, trying to establish the exact passage of years without relying on stardates is one that involves non-canonical speculation of its own. Molly's age may be then seen as proof of the non-alignment of stardates to calendar years.

I’m hardly an expert on Trek, though, so I’ve don’t know how seriously I should take what they say here.
Mike Kelmachter
30. MikeKelm
CrazyDroid- yes, this episode was home alone on a starship!

First, the good. The actors playing young Ro, young Guinan and young Keiko were awesome. The obriens subplot was actually very interesting and almost makes me wish that they hadn't gotten changed back so quickly. Key word in that sentence- almost.

Other than that, this episode was terrible. The completely implausible and incompetent defense of the Enterprise was redonculous. Riker should be relieved for that. Warrior Worf, do nothing data and the rest of the crew should probably be gotten rid of too. Then the fact that 1000+ adults remain captive with no attempt to escape? Especially while their children are being held captive? Everyone is shipped down to the planet? How do you get 1000 people from ship to planet when the capturing force has a couple dozen at best and still needs to run a very very big starship?

While the science is completely bunk I don't completely dislike the premise...can you take the captain seriously of he was 12? The takeover plot was the wrong choice. Why not have it be a diplomatic situation where captain Picard has been requested only to have his 12 year old self show up? Again, can you be a leader even if you dont look like one?

It's a cute premise but that's all it is, a premise.
Joseph Newton
31. crzydroid
@29: It would've been great if the stardate system allowed the passage of time to be ambiguous, and we could believe that some seasons may stretch over the course of three years. I think it would leave more room for all the adventures of the tie-in fiction and comic books and such, and still let you believe that the Enterprise also does routine missions sometimes, and also spends the required transit time to travel from star system to star system. It might also make the episodic nature of the show more palatable to present day audiences. But there are numerous places where characters refer to an event "such and so many years ago" and it corresponds precisely to the number of seasons ago.
32. John R. Ellis
Add "the transporter can accidentally turn adults into little kids" next to the revelation that it creates perfect duplicates of a person (which by implication are killed almost every time the device is used) to the long, long, long list of "Things they should have considered the full implications of before making it canon."
33. MJSS
@crzydroid: I'm pretty sure that incrementing stardates by 1000 (which they do once a season) counts as a "year", but also that incrementing stardates by 1 counts as a "day". Which would lead to a brilliant piece of fanwankery which stretches things out in just the way you want (who says "year" has to mean "Earth year"?), except that I think there are also multiple references to the ordinary Gregorian date across the shows that pin things down a little too much...
Bastiaan Stapel
34. Stapel
I pretty much liked the young Jean-Luc when I watched this the first time and when I watched it last week. And that's really all I can say about it.......
35. Fish Jones
Best thing about it: Keiko and O'Brien. You could make a whole dramatic movie about something like that if you could set the premise successfully.

Guinan... I think the dubbing bugs me more than it should. That being said, she's cute... and a little creepy but I think that's just the dubbing effect.


36. REWaters
For me, the best part of this episode is the relationship between Guinan and Ro. And especially the ending, when they fade away with them coloring with crayons. That's what this episode was really all about IMO: Ro's continued healing of her terrible childhood.
Rob Rater
37. Quasarmodo
@35 Fish Jones

Even if he did change the pronounciation of his name from when he was a kid, in his mind he's not a kid, and he'd speak the exact same way he did before the transporter accident. So yeah, he definitely wouldn't mispronounce his own name.
38. jlpsquared
Dumb, horrible, ridiculous episode, that I can't seem to RESIST AT ALL when it plays on TV. I hate myself for loving it so much. It is just so f-ing adorable!

Although unlike most here, I thought the ro-guinan thing was horrible. I do LOVE the scene where Riker is technobabbling the ferengi though.
Lisamarie LiGreci-Newton
39. Lisamarie
By the way, thanks Keith, for the reassurance. It wasn't JUST this episode that made me wary of DS9, but pretty much every Ferengi-hijinks episode (OMG, I'm a Ferengi, I'm greedy and dishonest and cackly, I'm going to climb on top of this unstable stack of barrels and knock stuff over!) that gave me pause, since I know they are actually main characters in the other series. I was hoping they got a little more nuanced ;)
Christopher Hatton
40. Xopher
Lisamarie, not only do they get more nuanced, they keep getting more and more complex as the other series progresses. For example: the young Ferengi Nog and Jake Sisko start to hang out in one episode, to the great distress of both families. The ending of that episode makes me tear up just thinking about it now.
William A.
41. General_Vagueness
re: 26. Diana Botsford, thanks for sharing that... I think I see why one part was changed though: if Picard had been in that situation on the Stargazer, "Disaster" should've played out very differently, shouldn't it? In fact it sounds kind of similar and I can see them not wanting to confuse people (it's not only smart people that watch Star Trek), and either way I'd think getting out of it with everyone alive should've helped him get over an experience like that, leaving it as less of an obstacle.
Anyway, seeing this episode when I was 13 or so, I thought it was awesome, and even though I can see all these flaws now, it still has a specialness to me, because it's from that time (that is, that time in my life, it actually came out when I was 4) and because it rings true in certain ways.
42. TechoGirl
The child actors are so fun to watch! Birkin, who plays Picard, mimics his mannerisms so accurately! He does an incredible job. I really enjoyed how they explored the impact of this physical change on the marriage of Keiko and O`Brien. Guinan`s character is awesome too! I think she does an amazing job portraying Guinan`s calmness and wisdom. Ro`s prickliness comes through as well!

I don`t know guys - yeah there`s some silly stuff, but the child actors make it all worthwhile!
43. JohnC
Although I think these kinds of discussions are fun, where episodes are dissected down to their molecular level ("Kid Picard" spells his own name wrong - the horror! lol), I tend to allow myself to watch the episodes as stories, and purely as a story, this one is interesting. If I have a serious gripe it's to join the others who suggest it's rather embarrassing for characters we have grown to admire as masculine heroes (Worf and Riker) to be so inept in defending the Enterprise from a silly group of Ferengi pirates. That said, I enjoyed watching this, as I do most TNG offerings...
44. JohnC
I meant to say Kid Picard pronounces, not spells... >sigh
45. SethC
When I first saw this episode, I was 7. I thought it was really cool. 1 regular and 3 semi-regulars get turned into kids not too much older than me, then the "scary" Ferengi show up and there's shooting and talking and punching. Rewatching this episode when I'm 27... Horrible. From the technobabble of how the four adults were turned into 12-year-olds, to the different reactions of the crew (Riker being awkward, O'Brien feeling icky, Troi trying to be constructive, Crusher being sympathetic), to the different reactions of the four impacted (Laren steely and collected, Jean-Luc rational and logical, Gunian cool and collected, Keiko steely and stoic) the plot felt like the awkward pauses whenever another crew member had a conversation with one of them. Then the FERENGI show up in two broken-down birds-of-prey that Kirk's Enterprise was supposedly a match for. Oh my God. How many Ferengi were on these two ships anyway? In Star Trek III, it were said to have about "a dozen officers and men". 24 Ferengi against 1,000 fully trained professionals on the fully-armed and manned Federatiion flagship. It was horrible plotting (by the writers). Of course the plot let the kids help save the day, but oh my God. One of the worst episodes of TNG ever filmed, inculding the 1st and 2nd seasons. Actually it feels like this was supposed to be a 1st season episode, the last time anyone really took the Ferengi half-seriously as villains. By the 3rd season, with episodes like "Captain's Holiday" and "Menage a Troi`" they had become more annoying than anything (as Picard remarked to Solok in the former episode). This episode acts like the Ferengi are competent, though from the moment after they shoot Worf until the end of the episode, it's clear they aren't.
46. Nick Wingfield
Look, I know this episode is just an excuse for a daft and sometimes enjoyable Enid Blyton-esque romp with a bunch of kids saving the day, BUT … did anyone else wince at the ease with which everyone including Picard accepted that he should resign his post because he looked like a kid? I mean, why should superficial appearances matter? It was pure discrimination. Pure ageism.

The thing is, you can say its only a TV show. And it was made back in the unenlightened 80s. But this is Star Trek. A show that was way ahead of its time with its agenda of being anti racist and anti discriminatory. Creatures of every shape and hue walk the Enterprise and are all accepted as equals. Unless, it appears, they look like children. Yes, I know they needed the plot device of Picard being banished to the playroom for the story to work. But doing it they way they did undermines everything Gene Roddenberry fought for.
47. Don Rudolph II
My main beef with this episode was that I knew what the solution to the problem was the INSTANT the original accident happened. I immediately thought of "Unnatural Selection" and said "just run them through the transporter again, using their old trace patterns." Forty-six minutes of technobabble later, the highly-trained, top-of-their-classes crew of the Federation flagship FINALLY arrived at a solution that took me about three seconds to formulate.

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