The Good: Nice special effects, Good acting
The Bad: No real plot, No character development to speak of
The Basics: A poor episode of the season finds the Enterprise crew and one of Troi's former patients trying to keep a giant peach pit from the Romulans.
Even a very good season of a great television show has its low moments. In the third season of Star Trek The Next Generation, one of those moments is a little episode called "Tin Man." Coming near the end of the season, "Tin Man" has the feeling that the writers simply ran out of new and different ideas and just churned something out to fill a slot in the schedule.
"Tin Man" finds us in the obvious position of meeting one of Deanna Troi's former patients. Come on, you knew she had patients before she came aboard the Enterprise, so this was somewhat inevitable. The shock of meeting a former patient wears off almost as quickly as the challenge of the week simply being a matriarchal society (see my "Angel One" review here!). Troi's former patient is a Betazoid named Tam Elbrum, a man with powerful telepathic abilities. He is assigned to help the Enterprise communicate with a strange space ship lost in the Romulan Neutral Zone. "Tin Man," as the creature is called by StarFleet, turns out to be a life form and if it were to fall into Romulan hands, it could be disastrous. What follows then is the Enterprise as it pursues Tin Man while being hounded by Romulan ships and a crew that doubts the person who is guiding the ship (Elbrum).
Outside the sound effects and musical editing, there is little to recommend this episode. The music is wonderful, creating an interior sound to Gomtuu ("Tin Man's" name for itself) that is unique and well defined. The sound effects help to create a new life form and this is an excellent example of doing that well.
Especially when one considers that Gomtuu is basically a giant peach pit. It's one of the more clever aliens of the week, as far as design goes. Seriously, the effects department modeled Gomtuu off a peach pit with some interior lighting and they actually pull the effect off as something truly different and intriguing.
But the episode stagnates, and hard, when it comes to plot and character development. The plot is so simple it's amazing that the writers believed it to be worth a full hour episode. The Enterprise encounters Gomtuu and Romulan ships. It appears they encounter one Romulan ship too early because they have to encounter a second ship before the episode is over. Sigh. At least the Romulans keep popping up.
Character development is almost nonexistent. Tam bounces between Counselor Troi who dispenses her usual psychobabble and Data, who Tam takes joy in being around because he can't read the android's mind. This is a pattern that gets quite old by the time the episode is over and it doesn't take long for the viewer to realize that all of the internal scenes are going to have Tam being disbelieved, he goes whining to Troi, then ends up with Data for solace. I'm tired of writing about it already!
The only thing that saves it from a complete bomb is that the actors are truly trying with the script. Brent Spiner reverts Data to a more thoroughly dispassionate presence that works opposite the emotive Tam. Given recent developments with Data (i.e. "The Offspring," reviewed here!) it's clearly the actor working to change the character's facade. And Sirtis gives her best shot as Troi as professional, but the script is lacking and many of her lines sound canned here.
There's nothing here for the non-fan of Star Trek The Next Generation. This is pretty much the "alien of the week" special and it's not terribly well done. Far better would be "Q-Who?" or "The Survivors" for someone looking for a quality alien escape. There's not much to recommend to fans, either; we've seen this one before, but it's almost always been better.
[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 episode and film reviews, please visit my index page by clicking here!
© 2011, 2007 W.L. Swarts. May not be reprinted without permission.
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