Friday, June 5, 2020

Star Trek: The Royale

Episode: "The Royale"
Series: Star Trek: The Next Generation
Season 2, Episode 12
March 27, 1989
The Enterprise crew discovers the wreckage of an Earth vessel - marked with NASA and a 52-star US flag - on far away Theta 116.  When they go down to investigate, Riker, Data and Worf are trapped in a Las Vegas-style casino hotel.  None of the characters they meet exhibit any life signs, apart from a decaying corpse in an upstairs room, apparently one of the astronauts from the crash, Col. Steven Richey.  The colonel's diary offers the explanation.  The alien beings who were responsible, accidentally, for his predicament created this dreamworld for him based on a trashy novel he was reading.

This was certainly an enjoyable episode, though lacking in substance.  On the positive side, it presents the loneliness of space quite effectively.  Richey's story is heartbreaking and the hotel itself feels brutally isolated.  The original screenplay was heavily edited.  In fact the writer, Tracy Torme (Mel's son) basically disowned the piece after the changes, asking that his pen name, Keith Mills, be used instead.  I'm curious about the original, apparently far more surreal.  Picard's "curiouser and curiouser" line early in the episode is an Alice in Wonderland allusion, certainly suggesting a trippier atmosphere.

Acting Notes

Image result for noble willingham
via Memory Alpha

Noble Willingham played the role of Texas, a loud, sleazy gambler who befriends Data at the blackjack table.  He was born in Mineola, Texas, August 31, 1931.  He went to North Texas State (now U of North Texas - great jazz program incidentally) as an undergrad, then got a master's in educational psychology at Baylor.  He served in the Army during the Korean War.

He was working as a high school social studies teacher when he went on his first professional audition, landing a part in Peter Bogdanovich's masterful film, The Last Picture Show.  He was in quite a few memorable films over the years: Chinatown, Norma Rae, Good Morning, Vietnam and The Hudsucker Proxy among others.  He had lots of television work, too, most prominently opposite Chuck Norris in Walker, Texas Ranger.

Willingham left Walker in 2000 to run for congress.  He ran as a Republican against Max Sandlin, a Democratic incumbent, in Texas's first district.  Willingham lost, getting only 43% of the vote.  Four years later, Sandlin lost the seat to... (heavy sigh)... Louis Gohmert who still holds it today.

Willingham died of a heart attack in 2004.


  1. I don't remember the episode.

    In other news, we tried the seven-day trial of CBS All Access tonight so that we could try out Discovery and Picard...
    And we only got 5 minutes into the show because it kept freezing. After spending nearly an hour trying to get past the credits, we gave up.

    1. It may be quite a while before I get around to Picard...

      On the other hand, our daughter and I have started Mandalorian - good stuff.

    2. TAS: I'm very much looking forward to season two!
      I can't wait to see Ahsoka.
      Assuming she didn't get cut because of issues over Dawson.

  2. Wow. this was one of my favorite episodes. We even watch repeats of this. Good choice.

    1. I enjoyed it for the most part. It certainly left me curious about what the pre-edits version was like.

  3. One of the really fun early seasons episodes, that could be enjoyed even if you think these seasons are rubbish and age poorly. Clearly Gambling Data was horribly underused. At least they had the poker games!

  4. I liked this episode. Didn't know about it being heavily edited. Now you got me wondering about the original intent of the script.

    On a side note, I was in the army when this episode aired and several buddies and myself spent way too much time speculating on the two extra American states.

    1. One can't help wondering, right? I suppose the safe bets would be Puerto Rico and Guam. At least to this point, those are the two territories that have traveled down that road the furthest.

  5. Interesting and now I wonder what was changed.

    Why the big sigh was Sandin (D) a better person than Wingham (R) or was him being a (R) the bad ? as i don't know these people ? I know both wonderful Republican and horrible Democrats. I lived in California for way to many years now Arizona is becoming a State to fight over.
    Be safe parsnip

    1. I don't like Gohmert. Not one bit!

      I will admit, I usually vote Democratic, at least nationally. In Vermont, we have a viable third party, the Progressives, who push the Dems to the middle and often draw my favor. But I don't vote blindly. I respect our current Republican governor, Phil Scott, quite a lot and couldn't stand his Dem predecessor. I've never voted for Scott but I may very well in November. I don't like the leading Dem, our current Lt Gov. He's an anti-vaxxer, my deal-breaker on the Left.

    2. When you live in one state it is hard to know what is really going on in other states. When we vote blindly one party we don't see what is good about another person. Arizona is a fight state, the Democrats (my registered party) are pushing in and steam rolling everything in their path much like The Wall is destroying the State I love. They are both wrong. Nancy Pelosi is so corrupt and Arizona's Raul Grijalva is her fanatic follower. He is a zealot
      Hope I didn't upset you...
      New York and California Democrats are rabble rousers here with dreams of taking over Arizona and making us another New Mexico.
      I mss the Arizona I grew up in.

    3. All politics is local.

      I get it. But honestly, I think our democracy would be much stronger if they were all battleground states. Living in a small state, I should be all for the Electoral College but I don't think it's worth preserving.