Wednesday, July 27, 2011

Picard Is An Action Hero In "Starship Mine!"

The Good: Pacing, Acting, Plot
The Bad: Light on character development
The Basics: When the Enterprise is abandoned, terrorists use the opportunity to make some profit, not counting on Picard's presence aboard.

As Star Trek The Next Generation wound down in its sixth and seventh seasons, Captain Picard became something more like an action hero on the show. Plots came along that forced actor Patrick Stewart to be more physical and run, jump, hit people, that sort of thing. This trend is perhaps best exemplified in the chase through the abandoned Enterprise that is "Starship Mine."

"Starship Mine" finds the Enterprise at a spacedock where it is having a Baryon Sweep. This eliminates harmful particles from the ship with a ray that is lethal to living tissue. The crew has abandoned the ship, the command crew is stuck at a party for a Commander who is all about small talk and Picard finds himself trapped on the ship. He is not alone, however. Aboard his starship is a group of interstellar pirates who are robbing the ship of a highly explosive compound called trilithium, which is a by-product of the engines. As Picard races to keep the deadly material from falling into terrorist hands, the command crew finds themselves taken hostage.

The only real problem with an episode like this is that it is utterly lacking in character development. Picard does something new that we haven't seen him quite do before and the rest of the crew solves a problem, but they don't grow or change as a result of this outing. Instead, the episode feels like an action film where you aren't supped to think too heavily about what is going on. Instead, this is a chance to simply follow the story and these are the things that happen and this is how our heroes save the day.

Beyond that, the episode is great. For anyone who tired of the pedantic philosophy of Star Trek The Next Generation's first two seasons, "Starship Mine" is the cure. Picard actually DOES stuff in the episode. He's moving around, using his cunning to protect the ideals he believed in before. It's refreshing to see people put it on the line for what they believe in and everyone in the episode does. Even the terrorists. They risk it all for money. Poor terrorists.

Patrick Stewart carries the weight of most of the episode and he does not fail to deliver. He puts himself in positions where brute force is not required and he is able to use his cunning instead of simply strength. This makes a lot of sense given that all but one of the terrorists are in better shape than Patrick and Picard are. Stewart is a thinking action hero here and he comes across as quite believable in the role.

The rest of the cast is not doing poorly, either. Jonathan Frakes gives a good performance as he, too, is forced to get physical. While the use of stunt actors in this episode is evident, it does not detract from the physical work Frakes, Burton, Sirtis and McFadden do, especially near the end of their incarceration. And Brent Spiner comes forth with his most humorous performance to date as he engages Commander Hutchinson in small talk. His use of body language and comedic timing is precious and hilarious.

"Starship Mine" is great for anyone who enjoys a good action adventure story or hostage drama. Between Picard running through the Enterprise combating terrorists and the Away Team held hostage by their accomplices on the planet, this is an entertaining hour of television. As long as you're not looking for terribly deep.

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


For other Star Trek episode reviews, please visit my index page on the subject by clicking here!

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