For an even more harsh review of this episode that primarily focuses on the lack of imagination in the script (especially the bad humor), see a fan favorite and YouTube warrior, SF Debris! (Part 1, and Part 2) I provide that because, believe it or not...I actually think he was a bit too harsh, and I plan to focus on a different major flaw with this episode. Grade A serivce here at Right Fans - our own review, and a link to someone else's entertaining take!
The Enterprise encounters a broken down ship piloted by the titular Okona...who is neither Outrageous, nor well portrayed by William Campbell. In the ensuing 45 minutes of meaningless fivolity, nothing important happens. Oh sure, Okona helps get two crazy lovebirds together, learns a life lesson from Wesley about the joys of putting down roots and possbly sets two planets on a collision course toward either war or a lasting peace...but because of the way the script is actually written, no one gives a damn.
There's a side plot involving Data trying to learn command of humor from a holographic representation of that giant of comedy...Joe Piscopo! Which is about like trying to learn to play the piano from Martin Crane's dog Eddie (sure, he's seen it done many times...but he's a DOG!). Piscopo doesn't even understand humor well enoguh to come with his own material...he has to imitate two equally unfunny humor giants - Jerry Louis and a 4th grader at a talent show (about the level of his imaginative jokes, once he put away his overpoweringly hilarious physical gags). Yeah...this one commands Data's character so well it goes over like a fart in church.
But let's put away all of my problems with the basic script concept for this piece of fluff. Because you know what...fluff can work. Even a story is uninspired as this one could have gone down as a forgettable, but amusing little romp if the writer had known the difference between a joke and a steaming turd, for one...and had managed to set aside the petty liberal chest-thumping when it comes to "ancient, arcane morality." I can overlook a sadly limp plot. DS9's "In the Cards" is a FEATURE on this blog once we get to it, despite it being about the dumbest story of 5th season, because it was bursting with Pathos and told in an imaginative and entertaining way. This could have been a camp comedy classic. In fact, you could use the same crappy comic doing the same stupid jokes, the same goofy, over the top jack-ass playing Okona, and the same lightweight plot, and I'd still have loved the episode more than most of the rest from second season if three scenes had been different.
1) Riker, talking to Wesley Crusher (who shouldn't be allowed to be this naive and spastic) about Okona, waxes poetic about this suave and deboner (pronounced duh-boner in this context) "rogue" (as Troi lovingly chirped at Picard in the intro scene). Sorry, bur Riker is, himself, the actual picture of a successful womanizing rogue figure. Not that I approve of his morality when it comes to sex, but Riker is a basically well-intentioned charmer who gets alien action twice a month and he does NOT do it by making really REALLY bad jokes, throwing fifteen pick-up lines at every girl he meets hoping one will stick, and leaning dangerously close to her while he practically forces her to throw him a line, lest he do soomething even creepier. Okona wouldn't impress a hormonally crazed 14 year old girl from afar, let alone a polished Naval officer with a head on her shoulders up close. And he CERTAINLY woudln't impress another womanizing alpha male who actually has some skill at his craft. Riker should have been the first to be cynical about Okona.
2) Speaking of lack of skill, Okona's little show for transporter slut #4 makes me vomit...and I'm not even on the receiving end of it. If she'd hauled off and slapped him...now that would have been worth watching. But no...sure enough, two scenes later...less than three horus after his arrival, he's got a date and she's in apparel she got from sluts'r'us. And later, when he gets summoned to the bridge, he's caught (by Worf) banging ANOTHER of Starfleet's finest. And then he puts on an obviously fake show for her in which he tries to get Worf to drag him away from her bed kicking and screaming to make her feel special. Oh yeah...this guy is what women want alright.
3) And Finally, when discussing the outraged demands of Captain Debin, Troi annoying chirps (again with Troi being a skanky dumbass...awesome how Trek further buouys the cause of feminism, ain't it?) that Debin's arcane value system may be meaningless to us enlightened Federation types (referring to his desire to see Okona take responsibility for a child he believes the man has fathered with his daughter...imagine that...how backwards of him!!), but we must understand that his anger is genuine. Thanks Troi...for both stating the obvious and for proving once again that Gene Roddenbury is a womanizing bastard pretending to be a feminist to get laid. There are stories, BTW, of Roddenbury doing Uhura and makig her wear the short uniform skirt to bed as part of the fun...yes really. *sigh*
If you take all of the forward thinking modern feminism (sic) out of this story, it might actually be very cute campy comedy. I would love to see the DS9 crew do a story like this...they'd have Kira threaten to break Okona's arm off and ram it down his throat, Quark swindle him out of half his latinum on a bar bet over whether he could bed Dax, and Okona would still think he was "the shit"...and it would be HILARIOUS. All that ego and confidence in a man with neither real skills with the ladies, nor roguish good looks...Starfleet officers should be onto this guy like white on rice. And I don't mean in the sack. :) Even Data's desire to learn humor could be done with Odo (6th-season out and proud in love with Kira Odo) and Vic Fontaine. The same stupid jokes could be told, and Odo could be telling him how stupid the jokes were and we'd all be dying laughing at the campy humor of it. This episode is ruined by a horrible writer who thought he understood comedy, and by bad politics of gender (the guy who wrote this script obviously never understood women).
When you try for a fluffy, humorous episode, and it ends up being so bad that your viewers are laughing at how stupid this all is...then you failed. Just because they're laughing AT you, doesn't mean you're funny. Only on a few occasions did humor actually honestly surface in this script. I liked this, for example:
DATA: (after seeing a bad Jerry Louis impersonation) I see. So...if you put funny teeth in your mouth...and jump around like an idiot, that is considered funny? (LOL!!)
OKONA: Met any good looking computers lately? (Data eyes him incredulously, by android standards) That was a joke, Mr. Data.
DATA: Ah...of course it was. (fake laugh)
OKONA: I myself am quite the skilled comic...I could teach it to you.
DATA: I doubt that statement is accurate, sir. (Oh snap!!)
(and a bit later)
OKONA: Life is like loading your ship with twice the cargo weight limit. If the cargo is canaries, and you can keep half of them flying at all times, you're alright! (WTF does that even mean, guys...seriously??)
DATA: I doubt that statement to be accurate either. (LOL)
But on the whole, the comedy was pitiable and self-mocking without intending to be so.
Brent Spiner and Patrick Stewart keep this show from descending into the sub-two range here...but only just. William Campbell shouldn't quit his day job...no doubt performing puppet theatre at kids' birthday parties. He fancies himself a shakespearean rogue, perhaps, but if that's what he looks like in Shakespearean attire and delivering Shakespeare-like wit (lowest common denominator)...I don't want to see him in the park this summer. Yikes! Captain Debin and Captain Strayla are no better. Their angry demands are laughably overplayed and unconvincing. And could someone please find Wil Wheaton and club him to death with a Next Gen DVD set for daring to ruin my brain cells with his saccherine juvenile, hammy "I am wunderkind!" stylings for four years? Thank you.
Women are better off in this future of sex with no commitment? In this time where it's not considered important for men to take responsibility for their offspring? I thinketh not.