I just finished up a submission for a Star Trek: The Next Generation anthology. There were several interesting tidbits I discovered in the course of writing and researching the piece. I’ll share some of them here.
My essay is on the episode “Time’s Arrow.” But it was not my first choice. I tried to take the easy way out, and maybe re-purpose one of my TNG posts from this space. All I had to do was pick an available episode that matched up. But as it turns out, I was like Forrest Gump on the bus. First, the two easy ones: “Tapestry?” Already taken. “Skin of Evil?” Taken.
So I began Googling the plots of episodes I’ve thought of writing future posts about. The one with Famke Janssen? (“The Perfect Mate”) Taken. The one where Picard inherits the memory of an extinct civilization? (“The Inner Light”) Taken. The one where Spock’s dad shows emotion because he has Vulcan Alzheimer’s? (“Sarek”) Taken.
“Time’s Arrow” (the one with the phase aliens) turned out to be my Jenny (or my Bubba).
Here, in no particular order, are the interesting tidbits:
- Sarek’s condition in the episode “Sarek” was apparently a direct reference to Gene Roddenberry’s declining health.
- There was another available episode I considered for the essay—the one where warp drive has a deleterious effect on the environment (“Force of Nature”). But I ultimately decided against it, and here’s why: it always bothered me that they discovered warp drive wasn’t the carbon-neutral mode of transport it had been made out to be, but then it never came up again in subsequent plotlines (that I remember). And I didn’t want to write about that inconvenient truth.
- On to “Time’s Arrow.” All I remembered were some creepy aliens in a cave, who were out of phase with the crew. There’s a lot more to the episode (it’s a two-parter), including time travel, cholera epidemics, poker games, San Francisco in the 1890s, Mark Twain, and Jack London.
- The actor Marc Alaimo, who I LOVED as Gul Dukat in Star Trek: Deep Space Nine, played a poker player named Frederick La Rouque. He spoke French to Data and said something about New Orleans.
- Data is left-handed.
- There’s a scene where Data drives a horse-driven carriage. Brent Spiner appeared to have a lot of trouble with it. In the conclusion to the scene, it’s a double doing the driving.
- Fun news: the actor who played Mark Twain—Jerry Hardin—was Deep Throat from The X-Files!
- Not-so-fun news: the portrayal of Mark Twain was the biggest disappointment (for me) in the episode. I really wish Jerry Hardin had toned down his performance a notch. Maybe it was the direction he received, because I don’t recall him ever chewing up the scenery in The X-Files, or The Firm, or any of the other countless movies or TV shows I’ve seen where he’s turned in solid character actor work.
After all that, I’m thinking it might be high time to write a post on character actors. I’ve already got Marc Alaimo and Jerry Hardin here. And I’ve been dying to write about Michael Ironside. There are volumes, there. Watch out.
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