The Cynics Corner

Star Trek: Voyager

"Bride of Chaotica!"

by David E. Sluss

30 January 1999

 
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THE BOTTOM LINE
: Difficult to judge. When the powers that be set out to deliberately produce schlock, how am I to rate the result? I think it partially succeeded in what it set out to do, though in a lot of places, the gags, apparently intended to be downright funny, were merely amusing. It was bizarre enough to keep one's interest, but much of the plot, not just the Chaotica stuff, is derivative, and the script was sloppier than usual. So...

CYNICS CORNER RATING: 6.5 (D)

LAUGH LINE OF THE WEEK: Alas, it wasn't intended to amuse, but Paris' comment about the "lost art of hyperbole" in the teaser had me smiling like a butcher's dog, considering that the Voyager promotion team is currently one of the "best" practitioners of said "art."

LAUGH LINE OF THE WEEK RUNNER-UP: A "subspace sandbar?" Bwa-ha-ha!!!

CANNIBALISM OF THE WEEK: Star Trek dines on itself again this week, excreting a merger of sorts of two old episodes: Voyager's own "Heroes and Demons" (in which photonic lifeforms invaded the holodeck; funny how that experience which such lifeforms wasn't cited here) and Next Generation's "Total Loss" (a.k.a. "The Loss") in which the ship "got stuck" on an anomaly where bizarro aliens live. For purpose of comparison, this episode is not as good as "Heroes and Demons," because Picardo carried that show, but is a lot better than "Total Loss," largely due to the absence of Troi whining.

CLICHE OF THE WEEK: Holodeck Gone Awry [TM], of course. And as usual, the most vulnerable part of the holodeck system turns out to be the off switch. At least they didn't have the Holodeck Safeties Offline [TM]. But still, it is clearly time -- past time -- to put this plot device in the "never use again" file.

DRUG ADDICT OF THE WEEK: Janeway's coffee addiction was vaguely disturbing, perhaps because I saw a little too much of myself in her behavior. More importantly, even though this scene was played for laughs (and failed), let's think for a moment about the captain of a starship, unable to function, or even discuss ship's operations, until consuming an addictive substance. How does that sound? It also occurs to me that, since caffeine is somewhat addictive and, while probably not dangerous, non-beneficial, it would have been replaced, in the shiny, happy 24th Century with non-addictive, non-harmful "syntha-eine." So Janeway's addiction is probably purely psychological, but that's still no way for a captain to act.

SOCIAL COMMENTARY OF THE WEEK: The Doctor's performance as Earth's President was "unimpeachable?" That's so funny I forgot to laugh. Star Trek used to tackle controversial present-day issues with subtlety and class. Now it uses smarmy in-jokes.

COSTUMING ERROR OF THE WEEK: So these photonic lifeforms drop into the holodeck to investigate the Dr. Chaotica world, which they believe to be real. So why did they disguise themselves as 1950's era "G-Men" with suits and ties, which have absolutely nothing to do with the Chaotica scenario, and, presumably, nothing to do with their own photonic culture either?

DEMOTION OF THE WEEK: Paris introduces "Lieutenant Tuvok" to one of the G-Men. Someone correct me if I'm wrong, but here is my recollection of Tuvok's history: He was originally a Lieutenant (though wearing the wrong number of pips for the first several Voyager episodes), and was promoted, in the third season, I believe, to Lieutenant Commander. Unless Tuvok received a demotion since that I'm not remembering, recently demoted Ensign Paris seems to be engaging in wishful thinking.

TEMPORAL ANOMALY OF THE WEEK: So the crew discovers the subspace sandbar (bwa-ha-ha!!!!) which is holding them in place and gets the brilliant (and unoriginal, c.f. Next Generation's "Booby Trap") idea to shut down main power and maneuver on thruster power only. Then we get a Captain's log saying that Voyager has been stuck for three days. Then we get a scene on the bridge in which Torres says, "The warp core is powered down." It took three days to shut down main power? One could argue that discovering the sandbar took three days, but that doesn't seem likely either, nor is it suggested in the astrometrics lab scene. Sloppy writing and/or sloppy editing seems to be the cause.

MISSION CREEP OF THE WEEK: The script also seemed to be confused about what Janeway's task is as Arachnia was supposed to be. Her mission, as originally stated, and as carried out, was to turn off the "lightning shield," but in between, as Paris is briefing her as they walk down a corridor, at least twice it is stated that Janeway supposed to get to the "death ray" itself. Of course, considering that the holo-scenario had already been changed by the presence of invaders from the fifth dimension, why couldn't Janeway/Arachnia have destroyed the death ray herself, without any help from Captain Proton? She was standing right there next to the death ray, ray-gun in hand! Blow it up!

Thomas M. Bieske contributed to this review.
 

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NEXT WEEK: Another plot device for the round-file: The Shuttle Crash [TM]

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