The Good: Good study in perspective, Decent directing
The Bad: Doesn't advance characters, Seems corny after multiple viewings, Uncertain acting
The Basics: In an ultimately disappointing episode, Riker attempts to convince an extradition lawyer of his innocence in a murder, competing against other viewpoints.
Occasionally, Star Trek The Next Generation attempts something different. It experiments once in a while with narrative perspective or gives the actors a chance to spread their wings with an entirely different angle on the character. Following the success of the second season's "Measure Of A Man" (reviewed here!), Star Trek The Next Generation got into a habit of the yearly courtroom episode and in season three, it's "A Matter Of Perspective."
"A Matter Of Perspective" follows Commander Riker's extradition hearing where he is accused of murdering a notable scientist. Dr. Apgar died moments after Riker beamed back from his laboratory and Riker is the prime suspect. Using the holodeck, the extradition hearing progresses with witnesses telling their version of the events leading up to Apgar's death. Riker illustrates an unsatisfied vixen of a wife who attempted to seduce Riker, Mrs. Apgar paints Riker as a rapist, and Apgar's assistant portrays Apgar as paranoid and upset with commander Riker. All fingers seem to point to Riker, until Wesley and Geordi finally determine the truth.
The problem with "A Matter Of Perspective" is that it rapidly becomes boring. I've only been able to watch it twice with enjoyment. After that, it's been a chose. It lacks excitement and it has such a ridiculously simple premise that it is hard to get enthusiastic about seeing it over and over again. This is the ultimate "he said/she said" story.
The stakes never seem high enough to bother. Riker says one thing, Mrs. Apgar says another and we never quite believe either. We don't believe Riker resisting a woman, we don't believe Riker attempting to rape her and we certainly never believe Riker is in any real peril.
While the episode looks good, it has little more to offer the viewer. The costumes are well designed and the space station that Apgar's laboratory is on is wonderful. And when the lab explodes, it's a nice effect.
But it's not enough to hold the episode together. Frakes gives a thoroughly mediocre performance as Riker, making the character appear more pathetic than desperate or worth vindicating. None of the guest actors are even remotely convincing as players, no matter the perspective employed. In fact, the high notes in acting come in the brief moments that have nothing to do with the extradition trial. Levar Burton does fine as Geordi.
It is a Riker episode, though and it ultimately is a pointless episode as everything we know at the beginning ends up being true. And the how or why of it? It's hardly worth the forty minutes in between to figure it all out.
Probably fine for people who aren't fans of Star Trek The Next Generation, "A Matter of Perspective" offers a courtroom drama with a unique sense of illustrating all of the different views that go into discovering the truth. It's a shame the plot wasn't worth the various points of view.
[Knowing that VHS is essentially a dead medium, it's worth looking into Star Trek: The Next Generation - The Complete Third Season on DVD, which is also a better economical choice than buying the VHS. Read my review of the third season by clicking here!
For other Star Trek episode and movie reviews, please visit my index page by clicking here!
© 2011, 2008, 2002 W.L. Swarts. May not be reprinted without permission.