Friday, November 24, 2023

Star Trek: Emergence

Episode: "Emergence"
Series: Star Trek: The Next Generation
Season 7, Episode 23
Original Air Date: May 9, 1994

All is going haywire aboard the Enterprise and the trouble seems to revolve around the holodeck.  First, a steam locomotive invades Data's Shakespearean Tempest-scape.  Then the ship's computer takes control of the vessel, whisking our friends off to lord knows where.  Back to the holodeck.  Aboard the train - not just any train but the Orient Express - our heroes encounter characters from a wide range of programs: knights in armor, two flappers, a hayseed and a Capone-era gangster.  What's behind all of this madness?  In time, we learn the Enterprise is giving birth to a new life form.

The story's creation began with the jumbled up holodeck program idea, the writers wanting one final send-off for the holodeck arc.  The ship going berserk concept was built around it.  As has become all too common in this seventh and final season, the end result is awful.  Are there fun moments?  Sure.  I enjoyed the opening as Picard explains the Prospero character to Data.  But most of the tale is just irritating, like an anxiety dream you can't quite shake.  The new life form concept feels exactly like the half-assed afterthought it was.  

Only two more episodes to go.

Acting Notes

David Huddleston (the train conductor) was born in Vinton, Virginia, September 17, 1930.  After serving briefly as an officer in the Air Force, he attended the American Academy of Dramatic Arts.

Huddleston had a long and varied career on screen, both big and small.  Films included Blazing Saddles, Santa Claus: The Movie and The Big Lebowski.  He had the title role in each of the last two.  On television, he made appearances on numerous high profile shows across multiple decades, including Gunsmoke, Bonanza, Columbo, The Waltons, The Mary Tyler Moore Show, Charlie's Angels, The Wonder Years and The West Wing.  

Huddleston passed away in 2016 from heart and kidney disease.