Thursday, December 16, 2010

What Do You Get When You Have Three Funny People And One Crummy Script? "The Outrageous Okona"

The Good: Good actors, I suppose
The Bad: Horrible characters, Deathly unfunny, Ridiculously simplistic, Utterly nonsensical
The Basics: In one of the series' most obvious attempts to be funny, "The Outrageous Okona" fails miserably at bringing humor or character development, wasting both time and talent.

Weaker than the entire first season, the opening episodes of Star Trek The Next Generation's second season fail to innovate in any real or interesting way, nearly destroying even a die hard fan's appreciation of this classic show. Continuing that trend is a truly awful episode "The Outrageous Okona." To date, there are very few people who have not tried to exploit their relationship to Star Trek. Two people who have never made much noise about their presence on the show are Billy Campbell (later of Once And Again and The 4400 fame) and Saturday Night Live veteran Joe Piscopo. Both are featured in this episode.

Billy Campbell (credited as William O. Campbell) plays Okona, a rogue ship captain who owns his own vessel, keeps his own hours and is basically a star-bound swashbuckler. When he needs repairs, the Enterprise comes to his rescue. He returns the favor by flirting with as many female officers as possible and seducing them. I suppose it's a fair trade. The Saturday Night Live veteran plays The Comic, a holodeck comedian that is conceived to teach Data about humor. When two unfriendly neighbor planets come in search of Okona, things take a turn for the faux-menacing and everything gets resolved.

Okay, this is easily one of the low points of the series. You have the wonderful comedic resource of Whoopi Goldberg on the cast playing deadpan to the hilarious (out of character) Brent Spiner. The scenes with Guinan and Data are grinworthy amusing at best. The scenes on the holodeck where Data attempts a stand up routine are just plain horrible. Whoever wrote this episode had no sense of comedy. The character The Comic is using 1950s humor and delivering it poorly. It's flat out stupid to believe that the jokes he tells would be considered funny in the 24th Century; they're passe now. More than that, they illustrate a lack of imagination on the part of the writing staff. Such obviously dates and human-centric humor pulls us out of the time and place Star Trek The Next Generation creates and reminds us "this is just a television show." Great television never does that.

I think the reason Billy Campbell doesn't brag about his Trek affiliation is that his character is a caricature. Okona lacks depth, his words are cliches and his style is pretty much by the book of what one would expect for a space swashbuckler. There's a whole rivalry and annoyingly cryptic set of dialog between Okona and Worf that further detracts from both the character and the episode.

For fans of Star Trek The Next Generation this episode is a disappointment in that it trivializes Data and makes him seem stupid instead of just naive. This episode serves little purpose and the problem that finally presents itself (too late into the episode) is one that seems simple and is easily resolved. For anyone who doesn't watch Star Trek The Next Generation, this is just a 43 minute collection of absurd, un-funny lines without any real depth, character or meaning. In short, it's a waste of time for fan and casual viewer alike.

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


For other Star Trek episode or movie reviews, please visit my index page by clicking here!

© 2010, 2008, 2002 W.L. Swarts. May not be reprinted without permission.
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