Monday, November 29, 2010

A Lonely Disappointment: "Lonely Among Us"

The Good: Surprisingly few . . . acting mostly.
The Bad: Character, Plot, Most everything
The Basics: Quite possibly among the worst episodes ever, even the acting in "Lonely Among Us," a simple possession story, does not save it.

Every once in a while, the perceptive viewer of any television show, reader of any book, or listener to any music will realize that the art they are appreciating - or usually not appreciating - was based on a single idea that the artist attempted to stretch out into a marketable length. In the case of "Lonely Among Us," the viewer is forced to question what the kernel of the episode was. Why was this episode of Star Trek The Next Generation produced?

Personally, I believe the entire episode was built around two ideas. The first was an energy being that travels from person to person, a simple body snatching type plot. That's easy enough to create and relatively simple to make a story of a good length with. It seems to me the entire episode was built around the trick at the resolution, which I shall break habit and actually ruin tonight. I don't usually give away endings, but in this case, it seems the entire episode was written for the purpose of having an episode where a character is made into pure energy and the transporter is used to rescue them. Sound lame? Well, it is.

"Lonely Among Us" tells the story of an energy creature that invades the ship, via various crewmembers, and is transmitted from crewmember to crewmember all the while attempting to get control of the helm. So, the question is, why? It turns out the energy creature just wants to get home. That makes sense. In the culminating moments of the creature's leaping, it enters Captain Picard and Picard and the creature go off into the nebula that is its home.

The redeeming aspect of this episode is the acting. All of the acting is fine. I say that because I'm stretching and because all of the actors are playing their characters seriously, as if they truly believe this episode is worth doing. They pull off their characters well, even though there is no real character development in the episode. Levar Burton plays Geordi as casual for the first time in a scene early in the episode with Worf. It works, as well as it does, because he seems both seriously attempting it and actually seeming casual.

Gates McFadden stands out as someone who pulled off a pointless character work like a professional actor. She appears in "Lonely Among Us" as serious and intense, even though she does not say anything remotely memorable.

There's not much fun in this one. Captain Picard's character seems inconsistent with who he has been before, especially following "Where No One Has Gone Before." If he wouldn't allow the ship to explore the farthest reaches of space, what would appeal to him about exploring the galaxy as an energy being? This is a rather important discrepancy that is confusing to anyone who is a fan of this series.

This episode is probably one of the worst episodes ever of Star Trek The Next Generation and certainly in a real race with "Code Of Honor" for the low point of the first season. I wish I could say more, however, this is one review it's impossible to stretch out. I wish the producers of "Lonely Among Us" had had the same consideration.

[Knowing that VHS is essentially a dead medium, it's worth looking into Star Trek: The Next Generation - The Complete First Season" on DVD, which is also a better economical choice than buying the VHS. Read my review of the debut season by clicking here!


For other Star Trek reviews, please be sure to visit my index page by clicking here!

© 2010, 2008, 2003 W.L. Swarts. May not be reprinted without permission.

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