Wednesday, June 8, 2011

The Next Generation, Season 3: Captain's Holiday

The Next Generation, Season 3
"Captain's Holiday"
Airdate: April 2, 1990
66 of 176 produced
66 of 176 aired


After a grueling two-week mediation conference, Captain Picard is mentally and physically exhausted. However, he stubbornly refuses to take time away from the Enterprise. Out of concern for his well being, the crew conspires to convince him to go. Finally yielding to the subtle (and not-so-subtle) hints, Captain Picard agrees to take shore leave on Risa, a planet known for its idyllic scenery and sybaritic outlook on life. Will the Captain finally be able to relax, or is the next crisis simply awaiting him on this seemingly peaceful world?

Folks, I think this image speaks for itself.


Kevin: The story here is certainly not the most science-fiction laden in the world. The idea of what the Tox Uthat does is pretty interesting and we'll revisit that in Generations with the trilithium torpedo. Michael Piller said the episode started as searching for a valuable artifiact from the past but that could have been an episode of Magnum P.I, and that Ron Moore came up with the idea of it being from the future. I don't think that really changes things. This is still pretty much a straightforward archaeology yarn, like Raiders of the Lost Ark. You can't just say "time travel" and make the gemstone capable of some special thing without ever showing it in action. So in the end, this is not strong sci-fi, but I still like the episode overall, and there are some great character moments.

Matthew: I actually disagree to some extent. However the genesis of the time travel aspect of this story went down, I find it to be a nice precursor to "A Matter of Time." The idea of a time traveler stealing future technology is a good one, any way you slice it, and it adds enough mystery and wonder to this episode to keep me really engaged on that level. Now, I think it could have been better developed. It would have been totally kick-ass to see the Tox Uthat actually de-nuke a star. Or to see some future cops come back to capture the Vorgons. Or to get an answer to the question dangled at the end of the show, whether the Vorgons could simply travel back a week further and nab the Uthat themselves. But it was still satisfying to me on some sci-fi level.

Kevin: As comedy goes, it's pretty good. The scenes on the Enterprise of cajoling Picard were pretty funny. I particularly enjoyed Troi playing the trump card of her mother. Not only were the scenes funny, I liked how they came off as genuine concern. They really displayed genuine camaraderie. On Risa, the scenes of Picard getting harassed about the horga'hn were pretty great too. The bits with Sovak were okay. Max Grodenchik played it well, but it was, as per usual for the Ferengi, a bit two dimensional.

Matthew: This is the kind of comedy I really like in Star Trek. It's not broad, physical humor, but instead incisively observed humor based on established characterization. When Picard says "the women" to Riker, it says so much about his opinion of the character, in addition to being funny. The same for Picard/Crusher, Picard/Troi, and then the very funny scenes on Risa with Picard trying to "relax" without any naked women accosting him.

Kevin: Vash is not my favorite Picard paramour, but I still really like her. All of Picard's other conquests tend to revere him. It's with good cause, mind you, but it's still nice to see someone bust Picard's chops a little. Everyone has at least one relationship with someone outside their normal "type" and it played well.

Matthew: I had a crush on Vash as a 13 year old. She totally fit my idea of what a swimsuit-wearing sex object should be. It was nice that she had a dark undercurrent, which keeps a hero on his or her toes. Now, as an adult, I wish there had been a bit more of the tenderness that you term below a "Karen Allen" quality. She reads as very selfish. One scene of her doting on Picard or being genuinely sweet would have deepened the characterization.


Kevin: Patrick Stewart had been pressing for an episode where he got to do more than give speeches from the bridge, and here it's obvious they should listen to him. The response to the situation was in character for Picard while still being a nice change of pace. I think this is the first time where Stewart gets to really show off his comedy chops and they're pretty good. My favorite moment is when he's back on the ship and tells Riker they'll need to talk about the horgh'an.

Matthew: Yeah, this is definitely a Picard spotlight, and he crushes it over the wall on this one. Picard, due to this episode, becomes a much more well-rounded character who is easier to identify with, cheer for, and like. Stewart plays the aggrieved straight man very well, but then also shows a bit of rogue-ish adventurer, to boot. This might be his best outing to date - sort of the anti-"Yesterday's Enterprise" performance, which was his other great role. The character has grown since the days of "We'll Always Have Paris," when having real emotions seems somehow phony to him. This performance, in making Picard feel like a real human, sets up a lot of great stories to come, such as "Tapestry" and "The Inner Light."

Kevin: Jennifer Hetrick did a really good job, too. Her character was clearly cribbing notes from Karen Allen in Raiders of the Lost Ark, but that's not to say she didn't succeed. I thought she had good chemistry with Stewart and while I never became really invested in the Tox Uthat story itself, I totally bought her involvment in it.

Matthew: Yeah, I agree. Any faults I have with the Vash character are due to writing, not to performance. Hetrick is really quite good as a devious femme fatale with a hidden heart of gold. She had good chemistry with Stewart, and she looked nice in her swimsuits, too. Definite TrekMILF.

Kevin: The remainder of the guest cast was okay. Max Grodenchik plays it well, and it's easy to see why he's a go-to guy for the Ferengi. The character is a little flat but it's not his fault. The same goes for the Vorgons. They didn't really get a lot to do, so it's kind of hard to judge their acting.

Matthew: I think the rest of the main cast did a good job with their limited scenes. This isn't an episode where you forget that people were there. Sirtis, Frakes, and McFadden leave a definite impression in the mind of the viewer, even after the episode is over. You really get the sense that these people are friends.

Production Values

Kevin: The Risian sets were very nice, overall. The resort felt expansive and like a real place. The cave sets were well done too. It felt, again, like a large, real place. My only issue is the ambient light that seems to be coming from somewhere.

Matthew: Risa looked cool, and it was an impressive job, since they didn't actually film on location (as they would in later Risa shows). It was a clever blend of set dressing, matte work, and atmospheric lighting and sound design. It's amazing what a bit of TV trickery can do. The cave set was, I believe, a redress of "Planet Hell," which we will start to see quite often in the coming seasons.

Kevin: As far as costumes go, I can only ask who wears short shorts? Captain Picard wears short shorts. I supposed I have to hand to a 49 year old man who can rock that outfit. The Vorgon costumes were a little heavy for me. I think it's one of those costumes that look good on paper, but in reality comes off as a touch bulky.

Matthew: Picard's casual clothes... well, I guess there's a reason he's in Starfleet. Ugh. Asymmetric flowy cardigans? Glistening hot pants? Yeesh. If there was one big problem with the Vorgon costumes and makeup, it's that they looked almost exactly like the alien antagonists from the previous episode, "Allegiance." Tight pleather, glittery appliances around the neck, similar Westmoreheads. It really made them feel generic.


Kevin: I'm going to with a 3 on this one. The plot is not terribly complicated, but the comedy and romantic chemistry are largely executed really well. This is a fun episode I always enjoy watching, and I appreciate it for setting up "Q Pid" in season 4, but I don't think there's anything here that really elevates the episode into 4 territory. There's certainly nothing bad in the episode. It's a well-executed piece of light comedy, which is all it needs to be.

Matthew: This one hits a 4 for me. I think the Tox Uthat is just interesting enough to set off well against the really lovely comedy and character drama we get. Any episode that actually makes me laugh is always a contender for a higher rating. There were lots of laughs and witty bits here. I am unfailingly entertained by this episode, and what keeps it from a 5 is the lack of a really deep exploration of the time travel element. Had this been a combo of the Vash/Risa story and the Berlinghoff Rasmussen angle of "A Matter of Time," we might have been looking at a 5. But as it stands, your 3 and my 4 make this a 7.

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