Wednesday, January 4, 2012

Classics: TNG 1:2 - The Naked Now (Jeers)

Overall Rating: 1.5

Insulting, scientifically dubious, pointless (no lessons seem to be learned by anyone), and a cheap ploy to get the attention of TOS fans all rolled into one chocolate dragon of shame.  This one was so bad that the author of the script insisted on a pen name and made great efforts to hide her involvement in writing it.

Plot Synopsis:

Somehow...we face a repeat of water molecules magically acting like an intoxicant and a disease at the same time...and this time, it's with a cast about whom we know next to nothing and the insanity is entirely unconvincing, rather than being at least somewhat plausible.  Yay.

The Skinny:

This, right here, is an episode so badly constructed that you could actually build a religion around it - the cult of awful entertainers or something - based on the five pillars of bad storytelling.  In no particular order:

  • BIGOTRY AND DISRESPECT: If you really want to make your story so foul that no one could possibly like it - if you want to achieve a zen-like level of incompetence and stupidity for yourself and vicariously for millions of viewers - you need to make sure that you express a worldview filled with horrible stereotypes, caricatures and logical inconsistencies abrupt enough to fracture the space-time continuum.  In this episode, we get to see every single female character on the ship become intoxicated and IMMEDIATELY seek out someone to f**k.  That's we all know, if you're a woman...and are intoxicated...your first instinct will be to have sex.  Not your third instinct after other flights of fancy...the first thing you want to do.  Oh but it gets better than that.  The drunken men act very stupidly, but they're not depicted looking for drunk chicks to bang.  No no...they're depicted bemoaning their lack of eyesight or fighting over who gets to be captain.  Their first instincts are to philosophize incoherently and play with toys.  The women even have to literally drag men into sexual games unwillingly (at first)!  And this script was written by a WOMAN!  Holy flying female chauvinist pigs, Batman!  A woman decided to make all the chicks look for a zipperless f**k while the men were out innocently playing with their toys?!
  • ZERO RESEARCH: One of the best ways to ensure that absolutely nothing good accidentally leaks into your story is to make sure that before you write it, you do a lot of drugs, ram yourself repeatedly head first into a brick wall or find any other suitable method to make you forget what the rules are for your canon universe and therefore are free to disregard those rules.  In this episode, it is clearly established in the pilot episode that an ANDROID INCAPABLE OF NATURAL HUMAN EMOTIONS!  It is further established that most of the components of his body are artificial and that the biological elements are limited to some basic functional chemistry and fake surface features designed to fool humans.  Why...pray tell...does DATA get drunk off the magic f**k-juice?  You could have made him humor Yar's desires out of curiosity (though that would be kind of skeezy)...I would even believe that an altered water molecule might damage him and cause malfunctions...but why would that make him act drunk?!?!  Seriously...what the hell were you thinking?!  On top of that, if they'd done their homework for even five minutes and checked how the disease worked in the TOS episode they were "honoring," they would know that the problem was completely solved in that original episode and that there's no scientifically logical way that a re-occurrence of the disease with a different water molecule wouldn't be solved again in mere minutes.  And don't even get me started on the "science" of an altered water molecule that causes drunkenness and fever.
  • ZERO LOGIC, ZERO POINT: No story can possibly be ALL bad if it follows a clear logic that can be understood and makes a clear point.  This story hits logical pitfalls such as...a drunken Wesley Crusher...the 15 year old dork, y'know...outsmarting a sober staff of engineers.  Yep.  That makes sense.  It also makes sense that a drunken Yar - with a personal history of rape gangs and violence - would be looking for a cheap f**k the instant her inhibitions were gone.  Rather than...I don't know...sorrowfully mourning her past misfortunes, accusing people of being after her body, or any number of responses that might fit with the established narrative.  It makes total sense that a star would spit out a fragment that was approximately as big as the enterprise and that looked like a boulder...rather than a puff of hot gas much larger...and it makes the most sense of all that the ship's tractor beam would be powerful enough to move a stellar core fragment that size.  Awesome.  For cryin' out loud, at least the TOS version of this story had drunken crew mates fighting and acting out frustrations from their youth or from the workplace, rather than focused entirely on sex.  Ugh.
  • ZERO CONSEQUENCES: I've seen well-made stories that had no net consequences...but this still counts as a good way to augment the perfect pile of scripted shit.  Considering all of the bad behavior engaged in by the crew, you would think some feelings might be hurt or some unintended consequences (like unwanted pregnancy or new relationships that end well or badly) might ensue.  But everyone acts like this happens to them every week.  Totally beautiful in its audacity and shame.
  • LIFELESS DIALOGUE: It's very important that, when you write the Tao of Shit as was done here, you leave clear evidence that you went out of your way to make the dialogue be funny...and got awkward and juvenile...or be serious...and got laughably ham-handed...or be philosophical and got cliched and shallow.  You have to be trying to write something good and failing miserably in order to achieve a mind-altering level of suckage.  This episode makes really REALLY telegraphed attempts at humor that fall totally flat, tries to make us care about certain characters and their hardships and instead makes us want to punch those characters in the face (like Geordi, for example), and aims to at least make a point about our baser instincts and completely fails to do so because nothing we see on screen is remotely representative of those characters and their most likely baser instincts.  That takes a lot of anti-skill to pull off.
And above all else...if you can't write a plot this bad...then by all means, write a carbon copy sequel to an established, halfway decent plot...and then make it much much worse.  That'll really give your viewers the full experience of watching a pile shit get thrown at their faces.  And that's what early TNG was all about...bravo!!

Writing: 0.0

One of the worst scripts (from a pure-writing standpoint) of all time.

Acting: 4.5

Some of the individual performances are marginally credible...but most ranged from over the top to completely amateur.

Message: 0.0

If you want to f**k, just get a girl drunk.  The guy, of course, will have higher things on his mind.  Oh no wait a minute...that's just in stereotype land.  *sigh*

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