Tuesday, March 8, 2011

Star Trek: The Next Generation - ''The Dauphin''

Spoiler Level: High

Wesley finally gets treated well in this episode, continuing the second season's trend of strong character development episodes. Wesley isn't portrayed as some hyper-intelligent wunderkind who's invented something that will save the day; he's a teenager falling in love, a situation we can all relate to, and made even more believable by Wil Wheaton's portrayal. Wheaton comes across as much more comfortable playing Wesley here, as opposed to the clumsy "There are some games I don't know how to play yet" scene from "Justice." Wesley is finally coming into his own as a character.

The episode deals with shape-changers (in this case called "allasomorphs,") but it's before two very big things happened-- story wise, it's before the Dominion War, so shape changers are still considered very rare and somewhat legendary; and production wise, it's a few years before morphing technology was developed.  That wouldn't happen until two to three years later, with the debut of Terminator 2 and Michael Jackson's "Black or White" music video.  So while they tried really hard to make the shape-changing scenes here look good, they still look clunky.

I saw Michael Dorn at a convention between the first and second seasons, and someone asked him "Will they let Worf stomp the hell out of somebody one of these days?"  He replied by shaking his head and sighing, "I sure hope so.  ... I talked to Gene and I said 'I've enjoyed everything you're writing, but one thing... I don't want Worf getting beat up anymore.' Worf should be stomping the hell out of somebody. ... It's like the Captain is welcoming an alien to the bridge and says, 'Welcome to the Enterprise, would you like to beat up Worf?'"  I always think of that when I see Worf square off against anyone now, and in this episode Worf finally gets to start holding his own when Anya attacks him.  If this were a first season episode, she would have mopped the floor with him, just to show the audience how tough she was.  Another sign that the show was finding its stride.

Closing geek moment:  Larry Nemecek's Star Trek: The Next Generation Companion mentioned you could see a classic phaser on Wesley's shelf, which I never knew; and while looking for it, I discovered that shelf also has the Vulcan Shuttle from The Motion Picture on it!

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