Wednesday, November 24, 2010

"Worst Episode Ever!" Or Pretty Close: "Code Of Honor" Flops!

The Good: Adequately creates a different culture, Moments of character
The Bad: The bulk of the acting, plot and character.
The Basics: Sadly one of the worst episodes of Star Trek: The Next Generation, “Code Of Honor” fails as a result of a simplistic plot, bad acting, uninteresting characters and irrelevant details.

It's usually a fairly crushing blow to have a bad episode early in your first season. Had Star Trek The Next Generation been a prime time show on ABC, "Code of Honor" would have canceled it. Of course, just as Fox will air anything, ABC will cancel anything. In the case of Star Trek The Next Generation, through the third episode, who would have blamed them? Fortunately, Roddenberry released the show in syndication to avoid network difficulties and Star Trek The Next Generation had a chance to blossom. Still, "Code of Honor" did little to help that.

"Code of Honor" has the Enterprise reach a planet that does not belong to the Federation with the goal of getting a material desperately needed as a vaccine for a plague on another world. So, Captain Picard puts up the Ligonians, who appear to be alien only in that they are black. Sigh, apparently the budget was particularly small at the beginning if the "alien of the week" was supposed to be a society of people of color. Anyway, the leader, Lutan, becomes enchanted with Tasha Yar and captures her. Doing what any fine Captain would do in such a circumstance, Picard attempts to get both his officer back and get the vaccine. Things are going well until Lutan's wife challenges Yar in a fight to the death.

And then the fight happens and the episode is blissfully over.

What the episode does right is in making the Ligonians distinct. Not physically, as already noted, but as a culture. They have a noticeable social structure and the episode does a good job of fleshing that out. Out of the various aliens that show up on Star Trek The Next Generation for only one visit, the Ligonians have one of the most distinct cultures.

The episode also comes close to working on the area of our philosopher king (Picard) adhering to his values of noninterference. Denise Crosby acts well as Tasha Yar, thrust into a situation both dangerous and ridiculous.

"Code of Honor" fails drastically, however, in almost every other way. The acting is generally bad. One of the worst performances ever must go to Karole Selmon, who played Lutan's wife. While the culture is well defined, it's not a terribly practical or interesting culture and the characters that result from it are not terribly impressive. In fact, they are either power-hungry, jealous, and irrational or just plain naive.

"Code of Honor" may not be the worst episode of Star Trek The Next Generation, but with its simplistic plot, attention to irrelevant details, unremarkable characters, and all around poor acting (even Patrick Stewart doesn't give his best on this occasion) put it easily in the bottom five. There is nothing to recommend this episode for those who do not like Star Trek The Next Generation and almost as little to recommend for those who are.

[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, 2007, 2002 W.L. Swarts. May not be reprinted without permission.

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  1. Ummm...

    The Good: Adequately creates a different culture

    DUDE...that "different culture" is one of the most embarrassingly racist portrayals I've ever seen on modern television. It's a classic "noble savages" presentation based on so many stereotypes about "African" culture that it's excruciating to watch.

    I mean, I'm glad that you still hated this episode...but OH BOY did you hate it for the wrong reasons!

  2. Considering how often they don't even bother to make a planet's people anything but a slightly altered white Europe, makes it so it is noteworthy when they DO try to make a different culture. Even when it's horrible and racist. In this case, I agree with you; the Ligonians are a terrible bunch of stereotypes, but at least they didn't make the alien of the week one that could be confused with every other aotw.

    Thanks for reading and thanks for the comment!