Monday, May 13, 2013

Deep Space Nine, Season 3: Fascination

 Deep Space Nine, Season 3
"Fascination"
Airdate: November 28, 1994
55 of 173 produced
55 of 173 aired

Introduction

Lwaxana Troi is aboard to see the Bajoran Gratitude Festival, and her presence on the station heralds the usual respect for her character and the viewer. Take that as you will.

Pictured: the way all right thinking people feel when this episode is on screen.






Writing

Kevin: Sigh. "Half a Life" was a rare glimmer with the Lwaxana character that the writers are forcibly attempting never to repeat. Once again, we are subjected to sexual farce center anchored around jokes at the expense of Lwaxana's taste and age. The conceit of actions being influenced by telepathic shenanigans has been done before and far better, like "Sarek," for example. I certainly don't have a problem with a humor episode, done well it can rank easily among the best of the franchise, but this is a silly concept and its execution doesn't rise above it. Don't get me wrong, I find this more entertaining that Manhunt, but that's a low bar.

Matthew: I find this far less entertaining than Manhunt. I couldn't decide which feeling I was experiencing more: boredom or annoyance. The Bajoran Gratitude Festival was awful. We are introduced to the backwards clapping, we are forced to endure a bunch of jibberish language that Kira delivers, and we are subjected to that worst of things in Trek - future jugglers. So I guess those things are in the "annoyance" category. But boredom... I mean, how soon was it obvious to any viewer even half paying attention that Lwaxana was the cause of all the hijinks? If you've seen "Sarek," as we have, it would be by about minute ten. If not, by about minute 20. Either way, that's at least 25 minutes of "WRAP IT UP ALREADY FOR PITY'S SAKE."

Kevin: My biggest problem with the set up is that once we establish that people are acting on "latent" attractions, whatever that means, we know that nothing will change and that none of this has consequences. It would have been more fun if someone's genuine but hidden attraction were revealed, then there could be some consequences. Once it's clear that there is no connection between the characters true feelings and the farce, I checked out. What if Jadzia the host were actually attracted to Sisko, in conflict with Dax's memory of him as a friend. That would have been an interesting idea. Some of the moments themselves were good for a chuckle. I thought Bashir and Kira being unable to keep their hands off each other we pretty funny, but overall, they certainly weren't enough to keep me entertained over the course of the episode.

Matthew: Nothing happened in this episode. Nothing. Abso-freaking-lutely nothing. The O'Briens have a fight about spending time apart. Not only has this been done before, but NOTHING CHANGES by the end of the show. People act on "latent attractions" to one another. But, as you say, there are no consequences, and no relationships change or are even explained by the end of the teleplay. I think there should have been a breakup as a result of the shenanigans. How about Kira and that walking boredom mannequin Bareil? This is the second guy in two episodes she's mashed face with. How about him kicking her to the curb and going back to the planet to resume being boring off screen?

Kevin: I will just never understand the writers' inability to repeat "Half a Life" in terms of tone or content for Lwaxana. That episode respected Lwaxana as a person and made a central point that her zest for life and love was a valid, good thing. Here, she's back to garish stalker, subbing Odo for Picard, so the joke isn't even new. If they want to make the larger than life force of nature that is the Daughter of the Fifth House, Holder of the Sacred Chalice of Rixx, Heir to the Holy Rings of Betazed the focal point of a bawdy farce, I think good writers could do it without mocking the idea itself.

Matthew: This is the worst, most pathetic, most shameful outing for the Lwaxana character yet. And that's saying something. She takes all of the nice aspects of her previous episode with Odo and turns them into tawdry jokes. She says stupid, horrible things that make people uncomfortable. And, by the end, she turns into one of the most pathetic characters in franchise history, essentially saying "I know you don't want me, Odo, but I've got nothing better to do than while away my remaining years hoping you'll strike out with the chick you actually want." Good GOD.

Kevin: The one bright spot is, as always, the O'Briens' marriage scenes. I'd watch any slice of their life, and I like that they followed up on the earlier plot, and that it's not all necessarily smooth sailing. I like that neither character is only one trait, but a complex person with lots of wants and desires that sometimes conflict. He told her to go to make her happy, and that makes him happy, but he can still be grumpy they aren't having the perfect weekend together they thought they should have. It's very real, and therefore more entertaining that the abortive Midsummer Night's Dream we got in the rest of the episode. The teaser bits expanding the O'Brien/Bashir relationship were good as well.

Matthew: I wasn't as entertained by these scenes as you were. I agree I was much more interested in them, at the outset. But the way they were handled was dumb.  Keiko was portrayed as kind of an annoying shrew, with her rebuffing all of the affections of this man she hasn't seen for two months. Then, they introduce the idea of some sort of emotional intimacy infidelity with a random dude on the surface? WTF was that put in there for? So O'Brien caves COMPLETELY, and then she sticks it to him again, saying "she'll think about it" and sending him off alone to a party that she was invited to, to be humiliated in front of his coworkers. This was not a highlight in the history of their on-screen relationship. I was happy she left again by the end.

Acting

Kevin: Well...you can't fault the actors for not being game, can you? Everyone dove in head first, and for some pretty physical attempts at comedy.I don't think the acting necessarily transcends the script, but I don't think that any of the actors telegraphed their problems with the story either. Visitor and Siddig did a pretty good job with broad physical comedy.

Matthew: The main cast was acceptable, nothing more. Nana Visitor did not appear to be comfortable with her Bajoran dialogue, and I cringed in embarrassment for her. When the most memorable thing I take away from your performance is that I cringed, that's not a ringing endorsement. Rene Auberjonois did a good job appearing as uncomfortable appearing in this episode as I was watching it.

Kevin: As always, I can never quite bring myself to dislike Lwaxana herself, regardless of what problems the script has. She's never a fading wall-flower, and I would even go so far as to say that her last scene with Odo is pretty good.

Matthew: Buzzzzz... wrong. Thanks for playing. Kevin, you know that I've enjoyed Majel Barrett quite a bit in several roles, including as Lwaxana ("What Are Little Girls of Made Of" and the aforementioned "Half A Life" spring to mind). But there was nothing redeeming here, and she didn't elevate or ameliorate any of the awful crap that was placed into the script for her. This was an unmitigated disaster.

Production Values

Kevin: Civilian wear is always a landmine on this show, isn't it? If you repeat, "It's the 90s. It's the 90s. It's the 90s," over and over again, I think off-duty Kira looks pretty good. Her hair is at least generally flattering, if not a tad over-product-ed. Bashir clearly borrowed a shirt from Jake, and that was a bad call. Quark's Bajoran earring always cracks me up.

Matthew: It was just a sea of iridescent paisley awfulness, wasn't it? It's fine when Quark dresses like that and everyone else looks normal. It's not OK when Mardi Gras meets Reefer Madness for 44 straight minutes.

Kevin: I have to say that Keiko certainly kept her looks after having Molly, didn't she? I think Miles is wearing the same blue shirt he started Tribunal in, and it has the benefit of looking like a shirt. I did like most of the decorating going on for the Gratitude Festival. The opening ceremony didn't quite ring as a real, non-contrived ceremony, though. You can see the writers' fingerprints on trying to create something visually dramatic, and the Bajoran words just fell out of Kira's mouth.

Matthew: It was like Kwanzaa on qualuudes. I hated every second of the festival. Watching it, I felt like I was the teenage boy being dragged to the worst thing in the history of the world. Two words: ball jugglers.

Kevin: I have thus far avoided talking about Lwaxana's outfits, because what is there to say that Matt and I haven't said before?

Matthew: I'm going to concentrate instead on the absolute crime against humanity that was Lwaxana's wig. Some polyester creature gave its life to create that muskrat pelt on her head. Sweet baby Jesus on a moped, I hope someone lost their job over that.

Conclusion

Kevin: This is better than TNG's Manhunt, which I gave a 2, though not maybe by much. This is a 2. The actors are game and a few character moments keep the episode from tanking, but overall, this is not a good episode and someone should have caught that earlier in the production process.

Matthew: Lack of sci-fi? Check. Lack of character development? Check. Lack of pacing or excitement? Check. Lack of originality? Check. Lack of non-repulsive costumes, music, extras, and backdrops? Check. This is a 1, for a combined total of 3. It's not as bad as "Move Along Home." Mussolini's not as bad as Hitler, either.

Oh, the Hew-Monity...

1 comment:

  1. Oh no...just a 3? This episode was entertaining and hilarious. I could watch it over and over again. You guys need to develop a sense of humor yo...

    ReplyDelete