Monday, February 7, 2011

Fantasies For Those Growing Up On Science Fiction: "The Price" Entertains!

The Good: Good character development, Good acting, Interesting plot, Well-placed
The Bad: Juvenile dialog
The Basics: "The Price" is a fun episode of Star Trek The Next Generation that basically has Troi having a lot of sex and teenage boys drooling.

As Riker's character on Star Trek The Next Generation declined, other characters rushed to fill the gap. Data and Worf picked up most of the slack following Riker's snap into obsolescence following "The Icarus Factor." Counselor Troi, here, benefits as well by having an episode that attempts to be many things, but ends up being the ultimate Troi episode.

"The Price" finds the Federation, Crysalians, and Caldonians bidding over the Barzan wormhole, an apparently stable spatial phenomenon that would allow ships to pass from the Alpha Quadrant into the distant Delta Quadrant in a matter of seconds. While Data and Geordi do a scientific survey to be sure of the stability, with a newly arrived Ferengi ship, Counselor Troi encounters Devonani, the bidder for the Crysalians. She finds herself attracted to him and their love story becomes one of the sexiest episodes of Star Trek The Next Generation ever. After several romps, Troi realizes Devonani has a secret . . .

I'm not going to tell you what the secret is, so there.

Needless to say, the latter half of the episode balances commerce, Troi's ethical dilemma over keeping Devonani's secret and Troi and Devonani in bed. This episode is the closest the Trek franchise has come to an erotica episode and it's a lot of fun. The dialog in the Troi/Devonani scenes which seems romantic and smooth to a youth will appear laughable and cliche to the experienced, older ear. It's pretty much a collection of all of the lines we expect.

That's not to say it's not fun. "The Price" is fun and easy to watch. After all, there is more than Troi getting a foot massage. The negotiation process, complicated by the Ferengi, is interesting to watch and it is enough to keep us interested the entire episode.

The strength of much of the episode is in Marina Sirtis' performance. She plays Troi with dignity and inner strength in a piece that could, by its script, come out completely silly. Instead, Devonani's advances allow Troi to let go without appearing reckless. Sirtis' performance is tightly controlled, balancing the tight restrictions of Troi's repressed character with the freedom she must feel given the opportunity to take the character in a different direction.

Add to her performance supporting roles well played by the regulars and guest stars.

A lot of people have a problem with "The Price" for its lack of special effects sophistication. I'd like to take the opportunity to say that at the time "The Price" aired, the effects were cutting edge and the wormhole effect is still decent to watch now. After all, the effects here do what they ought to; support the players. They do not override our eyes and make us lose focus on what is important. Instead, the effects support the actors. That's what good special effects ought to do.

So, what does "The Price" truly offer the viewer? For fans of the series, this is the chance to see Troi, as Troi - not disease-ridden or alien possessed - let loose a little and actually progress her character forward. For the non-fan of the series, this is a pretty standard love story. Two people fall in love over a business deal and they have a pretty typical young relationship.

In the larger scheme, "The Price" gives us another chance to see the thread pulled on the Riker/Troi romance and the writers here make no disguise of the fact that it is being tested. Is it still alive? Not so much in this episode, but it's clear there's still affection between them.

Notable as well for costume, "The Price" is simply a fun episode that tells a cheap love story and taken as such it may be viewed and enjoyed by anyone.

[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 franchise episode, movie and DVD boxed set reviews, please visit my index page by clicking here!

© 2011, 2007, 2002 W.L. Swarts. May not be reprinted without permission.

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