Friday, December 20, 2019

Star Trek: Angel One

Episode: "Angel One"
Series: Star Trek: The Next Generation
Season 1, Episode 14
Original Air Date:  January 25, 1988

Image result for tng angel one
via Memory Alpha

Our heroes face two crises at once.  An away team visits the female-dominated planet Angel One in an effort to rescue survivors of a freighter over seven years after it crashed.  Meanwhile, the crew aboard the Enterprise is hit by a debilitating virus.

This episode is another popular choice for all-time worst lists.  What was intended as an allegory for South African apartheid falls apart into a sexist, gender-reversal mess with Riker as sexual ambassador.  By the end, both cast and production staff were making objections but it was too late. 

TNG quality runs the opposite pattern of TOS.  The originals start strong in the first season, then turn frequently awful by the third and last.  Alternatively, TNG starts weak, then gets gradually better.  The sad truth?  Limited involvement of Gene Roddenberry seems to be the key to success, just as it was with the movies.  The previous episode to this, "Datalore," was the last on which he had a writing credit.  Apparently the mess "Angel One" became was largely due to Roddenberry's rather aimless input.  Like George Lucas, Papa Gene needed someone to say no.  There are some nice moments in the story of crew members expressing strong faith in one another - Geordi being left in command for the first time, Riker articulating his trust in Tasha to lead the away team - but overall, "Angel One" is a dud.


Acting Notes

Image result for karen montgomery
via Memory Alpha

Karen Armstrong (Mistress Beata, the Elected One on Angel One) was born November 28, 1949 in Chicago.  She grew up in California and graduated from UC Berkeley.  Other television credits included Kojak, Nero Wolfe and L.A. Law.  Later in her career, she worked as a producer in both television and independent film, titles included Diary of a Hitman, 'Til There Was You and Row Your Boat.

Armstrong died of breast cancer in 2015, age 66.

14 comments:

  1. I don't remember this episode.
    It sounds like I don't really want to.
    It seems to me that at the time Star Trek fans didn't see any of this as weak. My friends at school who loved Trek, loved Trek, and never spoke ill of the series.

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. They do now!

      It's an interesting point, nonetheless. It's mostly the hindsight reviewers looking at the whole series who point to the first season as week. Unlike with TOS, I know TNG pretty well myself and thus also have the benefit of knowing the quality will get a lot better moving forward.

      Delete
    2. Having not watched it when it first aired, I hard a very difficult time getting through the first season. I had just finished B5 before starting TNG, and I couldn't figure out why B5 wasn't held in higher esteem. It was SO much better. And it's first season was on the weaker side, too, but so much stronger than TNG.

      Delete
    3. I've never watched Babylon 5, not a single episode. The mid-to-late '90s were a busy time for me. I missed a lot of television from that era! I should probably do something about that someday.

      I like Straczynski. Rising Stars is one of my all-time favorite comic book series.

      Delete
    4. B5 was the first series ever to write the whole series before filming the first episode, so the story, on the whole, is really tight. We're just about finished with a re-watch so that we could show it to our kids, and it stands up. Except maybe some of the early digital work, but it's still a good show, some of it very prescient.

      Delete
    5. It's hard to fault older film and TV for the older tech. It's not as if today's sophistication sprung out of nowhere. Even the techies owe a significant debt to those who came before.

      Delete
  2. I watched Babylon 5 and really liked it. Thought it was so much better than Star Trek but I didn['t get to watch much of Star Trek.
    parsnip

    ReplyDelete
  3. I found Angel One disturbing. Truly.

    We watched B5 everytime it was on.

    ReplyDelete
  4. Riker's outfit is hilarious! 😂

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Right? Deanna and Tasha certainly thought so, too.

      Delete