Friday, January 7, 2022

Star Trek: Cause and Effect

Episode: "Cause and Effect"
Series: Star Trek: The Next Generation
Season 5, Episode 18
Original Air Date: March 23, 1992

The Enterprise gets caught in a time loop.  Over and over again, the ship is destroyed, everyone aboard killed.  Fortunately, deja vu kicks in deeper with each repetition.  Together, our heroes figure out they can use Data to send a message into the next cycle.

It's a Groundhog Day story, though screenwriter Brannon Braga is quick to point out that "Cause and Effect" predates the Bill Murray flick.  The episode is a popular one for best-of lists but for me, it's merely okay.  I admire the production effort.  They made a point of creating subtle differences in what would otherwise be identical scenes.  It's a good Dr. Crusher story as she is the first to catch on to the loop.  Much of the story is told from her perspective.

My favorite part is Kelsey Grammer's cameo.  That scene was originally meant to include Kirstie Alley as well, reprising her role as Saavik - an extra treat for us Cheers fans.  Alas, her schedule didn't allow for it.

Acting Notes

Kelsey Grammer (Captain Morgan Bateson) was born February 21, 1955 in St. Thomas, U.S. Virgin Islands.  He went to Julliard on a scholarship but was eventually kicked out for routinely skipping class.

Fortunately, he was plenty good enough to find his way to the stage anyway.  He had long runs with the Old Globe Theatre in San Diego and the Guthrie in Minneapolis before he hit Broadway as Lennox in Macbeth, eventually taking over the lead.  

In 1984, Grammer got the role of a lifetime: Frasier Crane, Diane's jilted lover on Cheers.  After his guest-starring debut, Frasier would be on television for the next 20 years, establishing himself as one of the most prolific characters in the history of primetime.  Between Cheers, Frasier and a guest appearance on Wings, the role brought Grammer 16 Emmy nominations, including four wins.  As if that weren't enough, he also voiced Sideshow Bob, one of the best recurring characters on The Simpsons, a gig which earned him a fifth Emmy.  Oh, and he has a Daytime Emmy for Trollhunters, too, plus a Tony as a producer for The Color Purple.

Alas, astonishing professional success has been paired with a thoroughly tragic personal life.  His father was murdered.  His sister was raped and murdered.  Two half-brothers died in a scuba accident.  For years, he has been plagued by alcohol and drug addiction, disastrous marriages and legal complications.  The casts of both Cheers and Frasier staged interventions for him.  But apparently, no matter how much of a mess his life became, he could always snap into character the instant the director yelled "action."

via tenor


  1. Maybe not a top-five, but I always liked this episode. Having Picard hear himself say "All hands... abandon ship..." was pretty chilling. I didn't know about the plan for Kirstie Alley to there on the USS Bozeman, too. That would've been cool.

    This reminds me that I need to introduce my son to Sideshow Bob. :-)

    1. Yes, there are definitely moments. The pattern of 3s showing up, beginning with the card game: that was nicely done.

  2. I have a fondness for time loop stories I admit.

    1. And they make me edgy. The whole remembering stuff from one loop to the next bit really tested the limits for me. I realize there's no other way to resolve the story but it still makes me uncomfortable.