Monday, August 8, 2011

Poll: Regarding "Troi Episodes..."

Apparently, the Deanna Troi character is not a fan favorite. This isn't my personal opinion - I rather like her. But there is such a prevailing opinion that she is a weak character and that episodes focusing on her generally suck, that no less a source than lists a trope titled "Good Troi Episode." Their description:
In an ensemble show, you'd expect episodes which center around a poorly-used and poorly-received character to, themselves, be poorly-received. Usually you'd be right- but every now and then you have an anomaly. An episode centered around a poor character actually turns out to be a good episode.
Well, we've just reviewed "The Loss," and found it to be an adequate episode all around. But it got me to thinking - what do we and our viewers hold to be the best Troi episode?

I always liked this look better than the "boob dress."

In designing this poll, I went through my list of TNG episodes and determined whether there was a main character to the A story (many episodes focus on one character, though some do not). This is what defines a "Troi" or "Geordi" or whoever episode. The main action of the plot has to revolve around that particular character's growth or struggle. Thus, some episodes were really more Lwaxana episodes (that's a topic for another day...) than Deanna Troi episodes. "Menage A Troi" was the exceptional case, since it seems to focus almost equally on both of them. So after thus distilling the episode list, here is the poll:

What's the best "Troi Episode?"

Tell us what you think! Post a justification for your choice in the comments.


  1. I chose "The Masterpiece Society" because it's the best episode *qua* episode. It has the strongest sci-fi idea, genetic engineering and planned society. Although Troi is the principal main cast member who gets lots of scenes, she isn't as much of a focus. So maybe it's a cop-out, but I'm sticking to it.

  2. I went with Face of the Enemy, as I think it is the best Troi episode, as opposed to the best episode on the list with Troi in it. I think she really did a good job with the part, and of her outings, I was the most consistently entertained by that one. The Child is a close second, but Face of the Enemy is a little more fun.

    Looking at the list of episodes, it is a little sad. It's not Sirtis' fault. She can handle bigger things; it's the writers that cop out of giving her something more meaty. There are several episodes where she gets a single conversation with that episode's focus, and she really shines and gives depth and credibility to her role and her relationships.

    She should have had a central role in Hide and Q. Instead, they wrote her out. They never really explored the nature or consequence of telepathy, either. She gets turned into a deception divining rod, and it's really a shame.

    I've mentioned it before, but the character's arc in the Titan novels is pretty good. In addition to a counselor, she is the First Contact Officer as well, which gives a nice formality to what she was asked to do on the Enterprise anyway. Even calling her that in TNG would have raised the credibility of the character immensely. They probably would have put her in a uniform from the beginning.

    1. Chief diplomatic officer is brilliant use of Deanna. I get why the Enterprise D had a ship's counselor but it wasn't always quite clear why she had a chair on the bridge. At least she had a work station on the E. Also always wondered why she, a Lt. Cmdr joined Picard on the battle bridge in Encounter at Farpoint instead of staying with the saucer section.

  3. "Face of the Enemy" was close for me. Definitely a great Troi performance, and it also had the wonderful Carolyn Seymour as the Romulan Commander. To me, "Night Terrors" was the real shame. It could have been a great horror showpiece, but instead was mostly boring and bland and put me into REM sleep. As the only person on the ship who could dream, maybe Troi could have gone into people's waking nightmares or something.

  4. They really just needed to fix Troi's nightmare-scape. It was boring visually and temporally. Also. it wasn't really a nightmare. It was just weird.

    The other half of the episode was awesome. That scene in the makeshift morgue still freaks me out.

    My only real complaints about Face of the Enemy are 1) Assuming her conference was on a non-Federation world, clearly there is a way to get someone INTO Romulan space, why not smuggle people out the same way. Like going to Cuba via Mexico. 2) Carolyn Seymour should have been the same character in both episodes she appeared in. They could have even had a moment where she almost recognizes Troi from seeing her on the viewscreen.

    Of course, the real sin against Marina Sirtis and Counselor Troi was the movies. She gets a decent scene with Picard in Generations, then in order, it's a drunk joke, a boob joke, and a mind-rape. If I were Marina Sirtis, I would be calling my union rep.

    Though in the balance Gates McFadden probably got more screwed, insofar as two movies introduced female leads opposite Picard that she could have filled and it would have been awesome on like eight levels.

    1. "Though in the balance Gates McFadden probably got more screwed, insofar as two movies introduced female leads opposite Picard that she could have filled and it would have been awesome on like eight levels."

      I thought it was fairly widely understood that the folks at TNG discovered in too short order that their female leads just weren't very good actresses?

      Not to be needlessly unkind, but beyond Patrick Stewart, this was a huge problem for the show: there was no one who could carry an episode. The cast beyond Stewart was made up for the most part of pleasant personalities who showed up on time, stayed in character, and remembered their lines, but they weren't actual actors. That's something that's plagued all of the series after TOS, but TNG most of all, and most pervasively. I suppose following TOS Voyager had the best second string after its Captain, but in Robert McNeill and Garrett Wang, also had its hair actors. DS9 was interesting in that it had NO standouts, either way. Enterprise had no terrific actors at all, and a couple of serious weaknesses that the writers were never asked to adjust for. They just kept sending out and featuring Connor Trinneer week after week just as if he was a real performer with a real character.

      Voyager was probably the smartest of the series in recognizing its weaknesses and playing to its strengths. Getting rid of Kes, bringing the doctor to the fore, introducing series-saving Jeri Ryan... these were all smart moves. For TNG jettisoning Wil Wheaton was only amputating the most gangrenous limb. After Stewart, there just wasn't anyone. Bringing in Diana Muldaur and Whoopi was a clear attempt at course correction, and acknowledgment that Sirtus and McFadden just weren't what the producers had hoped for.

      That's not well understood show business?

    2. I humbly submit "Remember Me" as a refutation of the notion that Gates McFadden can't carry a show on her acting chops.

      With respect to the polls, something seems to have wiped all previous answers from them, alas.

  5. I think my biggest problem with FOTE is the UT issue. If you're using a UT, it should be obvious to someone else that you're not a fluent native speaker of language X. The only other options are that Romulans speak English, or Troi speaks fluent Romulan, neither of which are very appealing.

  6. I voted for the Child. Maybe it's the pregnancy hormones talking, but I really appreciated being able to see that version of Troi, who she maybe could have been if she and Riker had followed a different path. It's obvious Troi would have been a great mother, and it's gratifying to see her get that chance if only for a short while. It's not my favorite episode of this bunch, but I think it's a great Troi episode.

    Frankly, though, my favorite moment for Troi comes in an episode that's not listed and isn't a "Troi episode"-- Thine Own Self. I like seeing her come into her own. It's a natural follow-up to finally having her in uniform in Chain of Command and following.

  7. Yeah, that one is a borderline case, because it's clearly the B plot. But Troi earning her space suit is definitely a great set of scenes.

  8. Look great on