The Good: Funny, Costumes, Acting, Characters
The Bad: Often simplified plot
The Basics: In a fun episode, Picard takes a holiday, meets a risk-taking woman and has an adventure in archeology.
Every now and then, a series attempts to step outside its normal routine and do something completely different. Like the live episode of Roc back when it was on or the improvisation episodes of The Drew Carey Show. They're ideas that attempt to make something new out of a show that is in danger of getting stale. Some shows do that long before that point. Star Trek The Next Generation does that in its third season at a time when the ensemble cast was especially strong, foregoing it for a lone Picard story.
After a long string of negotiations (off-camera, in case you were curious), Captain Picard is harassed by his officers into taking some vacation time. He ends up on Risa, a pleasure planet, where he finds sun, scantily-clad women and little chance to read the book he brought with him. Instead of relaxing by the pool, Picard soon encounters Vash, a mysterious woman who is on the run from a very angry Ferengi. The Ferengi claims Vash has stolen information from him and Picard becomes intrigued when Vash declares that she is looking for the Tox Uhtat, a mythical device she believes to be on Risa. Never one to give up on a good archeological adventure, Picard and Vash go on an Indiana Jones style adventure, hounded by the Ferengi and two Vorgons, who claim to be security from the future sent to recover to Uhtat.
"Captain's Holiday" works for several reasons, the most simple of which being that this is essentially a comedy adventure. Indeed, the Indiana Jones comparison is not inappropriate; Picard and Vash work much like Indiana and, say, Marianne (from Raiders Of The Lost Ark). There's no bullwhip, though. There is, however, a nice balance of humor and adventure as Vash and Picard interact and they interact with Solok, the Ferengi.
Different from most other episodes of the series, "Captain's Holiday" makes no bones about being a Picard episode. It quickly gets the captain off the Enterprise and in the process forces the viewer to accept him as an unlikely action hero. It works, though, because Picard still responds with dignity and within the bounds of a character his age. We're not asked to believe that he can jump far, dodge fast or run quickly. In fact, when the time comes, he and Vash set out at a reasonable pace to conserve energy, rather than running off.
And it works on that level. Picard (and those who cleverly wrote the episode) still reacts with intellect as opposed to brawn for the majority of the episode. And this is one of the sexier episodes, thanks to the costumes. The Risian outfits are revealing, without being pornographic. There's a lot of eye candy here for men and women alike.
A lot of the credit must go to Patrick Stewart and Jennifer Hetrick, who play Picard and Vash. They have great chemistry on screen and their passion works well for their character arcs. There's an energy to Picard (or Stewart, it's unclear which) that Vash (or Hetrick, again it's hard to tell) brings out. It works quite well. Max Grodenchik plays Sovak, the Ferengi and it is clear to see why he would later go on to play Rom on Star Trek Deep Space Nine, so convincing is his performance here.
In short, "Captain's Holiday" is a good little mid-pace adventure that is accessible to anyone. Being that it focuses on one character and all of the guests are adequately filled in in the episode, there's nothing outside the episode needed to understand what's going on. It has humor and adventure in a nice balance that will be enjoyable to anyone who does not usually like science fiction.
[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!
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© 2011, 2008, 2002 W.L. Swarts. May not be reprinted without permission.