The Cynics Corner

Star Trek: Voyager

"Living Witness"

by David E. Sluss

3 May 1998

 
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THE BOTTOM LINE
: Quite a compelling episode, which begs once again the question: "Why can't anything interesting happen in Voyager's real reality?" A few cliches and contrivances hurt the episode somewhat, but it's an enjoyable watch.

CYNICS CORNER RATING: 7.5 (C)

HEAVY LIFTING OF THE WEEK: Well, this episode has incited quite a flamewar regarding whether it was lifted wholesale from a Babylon 5 episode, "The Deconstruction of Falling Stars," or not (and as usual, the flamewar has already degenerated into petty name-calling and charges of net abuse). In all honesty, while I see the similarities now, I didn't make the connection to "Deconstruction" as I watched this episode. Instead, I felt the episode was lifted wholesale from the old "Space Museum" tales from DC Comics' "Silver Age." To fill in those not in the know, there were many DC comic book stories in the 60's, 70's and early 80's which were told by the curator of the Space Museum, which existed in the 25th century and was dedicated to the exploits of DC's 20th century heroes. Usually the story would begin with a museum visitor, often a child, asking the curator about a particular artifact. The curator would tell the visitor the story behind the artifact, which involved some escapade of The Flash, Green Lantern, or whoever. Occasionally, the hero himself would transport or be transported to the future to set the record straight. Much of this episode, to me, plays just like one of those old comics. It's been suggested that Brannon Braga, plotter and coscripter of "Living Witness," isn't "literate enough" to watch Babylon 5 and lift from it; perhaps, but I submit that he can read comic books, and may be capable of lifting from them. As additional evidence, I've been told that he used to frequent the comic book shop that I used to buy at, in Canton, Ohio. You never know...

CAN OF WORMS OF THE WEEK: The doctor can now be "backed-up"? Try Metamucil. Seriously, this development completely undermines several episodes whose point was that the Doctor can't be backed up, particularly "The Swarm" and "Message in a Bottle." A lot of people worried that the Doctor would be invincible with his mobile emitter; now that fear has become a reality. The Doctor can now be copied and sent on any suicide mission with no risk whatsoever. In addition, there's no need for that ridiculous fool Paris to serve incompetently as a medic. Why not have half a dozen Doctors in sickbay? Really, while a powerful story was told here, the writers apparently gave no thought whatsoever to its ramifications for the Doctor. Not to worry; I'm sure that, like Seven of Nine's infinite assimilated knowledge, the Doctor's newfound invincibility will be remembered only sporadically.

CLICHE OF THE WEEK: To make sure that even the most dull-witted viewer could tell that the Voyager crew we saw at the beginning of the episode was Evil, they were outfitted with Evil Black Gloves. Please...

CARDBOARD CUTOUTS OF THE WEEK: Those "characters" in the space museum. Let's see...We have the "Respected Person whose entire belief system is shaken, but nobly accepts it." We have the "Down-trodden Person whose entire belief system is shaken, but refuses to accept it." We have the "Politician whose entire belief system is shaken, and tries to use it for political gain." We have the "Young Rebelious Punk whose entire belief system is shaken, and uses it as an excuse to run riot." I guess this is why Voyager doesn't get the "No trees were harmed during the making of this show" tag...

BAD ACID FLASHBACK OF THE WEEK: Raise your hands if you really wanted to see a Kazon again. Oh, I'm sorry; you're all in strait-jackets...
  

Previous Review: "Living Witness"
(not reviewed)
Next: "Demon"
NEXT WEEK: Another Planet Hell? UPN's Accountant says "We sprung for spacesuits and by gawd we're gonna use them!"

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This review is copyright 1998 David E. Sluss
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