Series: Star Trek: The Next Generation
Season 1, Episode 3
Original Air Date: October 5, 1987
|via Memory Beta|
Enough preamble. Anyone who knows the series knows why this episode is memorable: Tasha and Data have sex. The seduction itself is certainly provocative but more impressive is the fact that Data is capable of sex at all. Apparently he is both "fully functional" and "programmed in multiple techniques." Lucky Tasha!
There are other more restrained - and less surprising - hookups amid the merriment: Riker and Troi; Picard and Crusher. But as the Captain cautions in the end, "I think we shall end up with a fine crew... if we avoid temptation." It's nice of him to reassure us that Gene Roddenberry's "Wagon Train to the stars" won't devolve into Love Boat to the stars.
In addition to the predictable blushing over "fully functional" Data, the episode was criticized at the time for being a rehash of a TOS story. Understandably, the faithful were concerned that the new show would be too dependent on the old. I'm not so bothered by that. Obviously, I have the benefit of knowing the series will grow plenty in its own right and I am also grateful for the links to the past. New is good but Trek should, in essence, remain Trek.
More troubling to me is the character development shortcut employed. Roddenberry, with both this story and the original, liked the idea of laying all of the characters' deepest motivations out in full view. I would much prefer he have more faith in the writers and actors to impart all of that in more subtle ways. Some of it's too easy anyway: Wesley wants to be taken seriously, colleagues want to get it on with each other, etc. And some doesn't quite ring true: Geordi wants to be able to see like everyone else? Long-term, part of what's cool about the character is that he doesn't seem much bothered. Suggesting otherwise at this point is unnecessary clutter.
However, there is a more encouraging signal in this story, though perhaps one easily missed in the early going: not all of the material will run through Picard. It took a long time for the TOS writers to catch on to the fact that Spock is actually a more interesting character than Kirk. McCoy stories are easily counted on one hand. Scotty stories? One. Anyone else? Not a chance. It is already clear TNG will be different. It's definitely Picard's ship but there's plenty of room for the others. The world building aboard the Enterprise is off to an excellent start.
Jonathan Frakes was born August 19, 1952 in Bellefonte, Pennsylvania, a town I drive through every summer. In fact, it's where we got our marriage license. He grew up in Bethlehem, Pennsylvania, though. He was a theater major at Penn State, then got a Master's from Harvard.
As with Patrick Stewart, Frakes's career began on the stage, premiering on Broadway in Shenandoah. Before Trek, he had television guest appearances on several shows, including The Waltons, Eight Is Enough, The Dukes of Hazzard, Hill Street Blues and, one of my own long-lost favorites, Voyagers! He had a brief run as a regular on the daytime soap opera Doctors. The prime-time soap opera Bare Essence was short-lived but it was a fortuitous gig for Frakes: he met his wife. They've been married since 1988.
He really does play the trombone, though not as well as Trek footage would have one believe. As Frakes puts it, "When Riker played badly, it was me, but when he was playing well, it was Bill Watrous." Frakes did play well enough to march with the Blue Band at Penn State, though.
Frakes (feeds my theory: eventually, everyone plays "Summertime"):
Bill Watrous with Chick Corea, his solo starts at 2:40 (somehow, I always come back to "Spain"):