Friday, February 17, 2023

Star Trek: Interface

Episode: "Interface"
Series: Star Trek: The Next Generation
Season 7, Episode 3
Original Air Date: October 4, 1993

The USS Hera, captained by Silvia La Forge (Madge Sinclair), Geordi's mother, was gone missing and is presumed lost.  Unwilling to accept her death, Geordi takes unnecessary risks with a virtual reality probe, clinging to the slimmest hope that in doing so, he can rescue her.

This was the episode that made the writing staff realize they were running out of ideas for NextGen.  The basic concept of "Interface" is fine and a La Forge back story is long overdue.  But the pace is painfully slow.  Sound and music are noticeably minimal, fostering a too mournful atmosphere.  It all feels like a missed opportunity, yet another Geordi episode that falls flat.  I mean, they enlisted Ben Vereen to play Geordi's father - Ben Vereen, for crying out loud! - and in his one, brief scene, he never gets up from his chair.  

Acting Notes

Ben Augustus Middleton was born October 10, 1946 in Laurinburg, North Carolina.  He was adopted by James and Pauline Vereen who raised him in Brooklyn.  Ben Vereen didn't know he was adopted until he was 25 years old and applied for a passport.  He went to the High School of Performing Arts where he studied with giants of the dance world: Martha Graham, George Balanchine and Jerome Robbins.  He struggled to find professional work at first but boy, once he did...

There's no other way to put it.  Ben Vereen is a Broadway Titan, on a short list of the all-time greats.  He made his name in two of the biggest shows of the early '70s, playing Judas in Jesus Christ Superstar, then the Leading Player in Pippin.  He was nominated for Tonys for both, winning for Pippin.  The television resume isn't exactly terrible either.  He was a guest host on The Muppet Show.  Vereen, Madge Sinclair and LeVar Burton all starred in the mini-series juggernaut Roots.  

It hasn't all been roses.  Vereen has already lost two of his five children.  His daughter Naja was killed in and auto accident at age 16.  His son Ben Jr. passed away at age 55.  In January 2018, Vereen was accused of sexual harassment by four actresses in a Florida production of Hair he was directing.  He apologized for his misconduct.

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