Thursday, June 16, 2011

Sons Return In "New Ground!"

The Good: Good character development
The Bad: Nothing stellar in the acting department, Lack of plot.
The Basics: When Alexander returns to the Enterprise, Worf finds his presence distracting and his child a nuisance.

One of the best developments for the characters on Star Trek The Next Generation was the infusing of consequences. The best example of this is in the character of Worf. Worf had a liaison in the second season, learned he had a son in the fourth season and now in the fifth season, Alexander returns. The writers of Star Trek The Next Generation would not let Worf up off the mat and it made the series better.

The episode is called "New Ground" and it opens with Worf's foster mom arriving to deliver Alexander to the Enterprise. Citing being too old to raise a child, Helena leaves Alexander with Worf and heads back to Earth. Worf soon finds Alexander acting out and being generally disruptive on the Enterprise. He openly contradicts Worf and the child's rebellious streak encourages Worf to send the boy away. When the Enterprise becomes part of an experiment that goes awry, Worf must decide what is truly important to him.

Alexander is played by Brian Bonsall in this episode and he becomes Alexander for the remainder of the series. Bonsall is a young actor and he fits in fine portraying the young Klingon who does not care about Klingon culture. Bonsall realistically plays a confused, young rebellious child and he makes us believe that Alexander is just a kid desiring his father's attention. Brian Bonsall was a good choice for the role. It's tough to cast a young actor, but Bonsall made the part work.

The other actor to note is Michael Dorn. Dorn plays Worf and he plays Worf as confused and angry here.

The problem is, Dorn doesn't do anything extraordinary here. Dorn had played Worf as frustrated and angry and confused in the past. We've seen him stretch in this direction and he doesn't push the envelope on what he can do here. Instead, it feels like Dorn has been here and he's simply filling in Worf as opposed to trying to make him grow.

Despite the lack of real acting talent in "New Ground," the characters come together and have some sense of movement to them. There is a very understandable and natural character progression that Worf undergoes in this episode and when the end comes, we feel justified in its end, we understand how and why it got where it did on the character front. Moreover, Alexander's discontent is an excellent idea and it is refreshing to see that this is not the only time it will come up. The essential center of Alexander will be his need for his father's attention and the disappointment in being abandoned by him.

The special effect of the Soliton Wave, the experiment the Enterprise becomes involved with, is a cool effect that looks good. It's a disappointing aspect of the series that the idea was never brought back.

In the end, "New Ground" is impossible to recommend to those who are not fans of "Star Trek The Next Generation." The episode, taken out of context, is simply about a bratty little boy who is reunited with his emotionally distant, insensitive father. Who wants to watch that? The science fiction context is largely neglected for a family drama that seems almost absurd.

Also difficult to recommend to fans of the series, "New Ground" fails to leave a lasting impression other than the simple knowledge that Alexander will be around for future episodes and that he and Worf have a lot of work to do as a family. Essentially, that's all the episode does and as a fan of Star Trek The Next Generation, I want more. When I want compelling family dramas, I watch Once And Again (season one reviewed here!). At least that series satisfied the "compelling." "New Ground" does not.

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


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

© 2011, 2007, 2003 W.L. Swarts. May not be reprinted without permission.

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