Friday, October 1, 2021

Star Trek: The Game

Episode: "The Game"
Series: Star Trek: The Next Generation
Season 5, Episode 6
Original Air Date: October 24, 1991

Wesley's back, on break from the Academy.  During his brief visit, he wins the affections of Ashley Judd - well, the character Robin Lefler, the debut screen role for the future Hollywood superstar.  Wil Wheaton has claimed bragging rights for Judd's first screen kiss ever since.  But actually, this isn't the main story.

While on shore leave on Risa, Riker discovers a video game - a powerfully addictive virtual reality-ish game.  He brings it back to the ship and everyone else gets addicted to it, too - everyone, that is, except Wes, Robin and, of course, Data.  The game, it turns out, is a mind-control device created by the Ktarians to take over the Enterprise and eventually, the galaxy.

Far-fetched?  Have you seen how many people wander the Earth staring at their phones all day?  And I'm not going to pretend I'm entirely immune.  And we all know the merchants who traffic in such media are fully aware of the addictive capacity, right?  We are willing accomplices.

We are sheep.

Anyway, it's an interesting story, and even more pertinent now than it was 30 years ago.  And, of course, Judd is a treat.

Food Notes

"The Game" has a couple of great food moments.  The first and best one is Troi's description of her meticulous method for eating a hot fudge sundae.  The scene is beautifully sensuous.

The second is Worf enthusiastically proclaiming the Tarvokian pound cake he made for Wesley's surprise party.

Acting Notes

Ashley Judd was born Ashley Tyler Ciminella on April 19, 1968 in Los Angeles.  She is the daughter of country singer Naomi Judd and half-sister of country singer Wynonna Judd.  The family moved around a lot but Ashley mostly grew up in Kentucky.  She attended the University of Kentucky (UK), majored in French and achieved Phi Beta Kappa, though she didn't graduate with her class.  These days, she is probably UK basketball's most famous fan.

After her two episodes on Trek, her acting career took off quickly.  Films have included Heat, A Time to Kill and Frida among many others.  In 2012 she was nominated for an Emmy for her lead role in the mini-series Missing.  Her star probably would have risen higher but unfortunately, she crossed paths with Harvey Weinstein.  When she spurned the sexual sociopath producer's advances, he set about trying to ruin her career by spreading lies about her.  In 2018, Judd sued Weinstein for defamation and sexual harassment.  A judge dismissed the harassment claim but Judd was allowed to carry the defamation suit forward.

Judd deserves massive credit for using the platform of fame for considerable good.  Her humanitarian work covers a broad range: gender equality, sexual and reproductive health and AIDS.  She is open and outspoken regarding her own experiences with sexual assault and rape, again leveraging her high profile to advocate for others.  

In 2011, she published a memoir, All That Is Bitter and Sweet.  She's politically active with the Democratic Party, even toying with the idea of challenging Mitch McConnell for his Senate seat.  She ultimately decided against.  Truly, she is a remarkable woman.


  1. me encanta la actriz ashley judd, actua genial

  2. For years, every time I saw TNG, this is the episode I saw. I almost believed it was the only episode and that people watched it over and over again, addicted to it like the game. I came to hate it, kind of.
    I had forgotten about Judd. I suppose I could probably watch it again.

    1. It is certainly interesting to watch now in light of current tech's hold over us.

  3. Our pretty phones allow us the illusion of being more connected than ever. But we tend to waste the opportunity by not learning other than what we already believe. We have direct access to exactly what other people think and why, and our arguments are still this sophisticated: “You’re a doodyhead.”

    1. Agreed. And all of the algorithms on search and social media sites only feed our tunnel vision.

  4. I'd have to say this was a wasted episode. I liked the idea of an alien plot to gain control of Starfleet. But the first season episode with the tiny bug-like aliens crawling into the heads of officers was done much better.

    That I think a first season episode did a subject better that later seasons sort of explains how little I think of this episode.

    I have to say the mind control aspect isn't the problem. Yes, our smart phones to me a more of a curse than blessing. But that could be said for the internet as a whole.

    Oh yeah, I absolutely love Ashley Judd!

  5. The internet is the true opiate of the masses. Marx hadn't seen anything yet.

  6. The episode is so true when it comes to how addicted people are with their phones which includes games. I forgot Ashley Judd was in this episode and she was always one I loved watching. When it came out she was a bitch to work with etc... I never bought it. I just thought she stood up for herself and men don't like that. I didn't know the true reason. She would have made an excellent Lara Croft and a super hero because she can kick ass.
    This episode always made me uncomfortable because they all looked like they were having little orgasms. Where was Troi? They never showed her being addicted or did I just forget?

    1. Haha! Yes, it is like mini-orgasms.

      Troi does get addicted, though I'm not absolutely sure you ever see her with the headset on. I'm pretty sure she's one of the group present when they shut down Data.