Tuesday, July 12, 2011

Troi Goes Evil And Aged In "Man Of The People!"

The Good: The actors take it seriously
The Bad: Special effects, Plot, Character, Ridiculous execution of a weak script
The Basics: When Troi encounters an evil telepath, she begins to age and die as a waste receptacle for toxic psychic waste.

One of the more neglected characters on Star Trek The Next Generation is Deanna Troi. Along with Dr. Crusher and Geordi, she finished the series with few opportunities to advance her character and with few episodes that focus on her character. There will never be a Deanna Troi Star Trek The Next Generation film. Perhaps "Man Of The People" is a reason why.

In "Man Of The People," Federation ambassador Ves Alkar arrives on the Enterprise with his ancient, ailing mother. Alkar is there to mediate a dispute on a nearby planet that could become quite violent. En route to the negotiations, Alkar's mother dies and Troi performs a ritual with Alkar to help him with his grieving. Troi soon begins to age and become angry and paranoid. As Troi undergoes wild mood swings, the crew begins to worry about her and Alkar moves onto his negotiations. When Troi's condition worsens, Dr. Crusher realizes Alkar is using Troi as a psychic receptacle for his negative emotions, in the process killing her.

"Man Of The People" is a ridiculous piece, almost a parody of a science fiction episode. Deanna Troi's aging from becoming a receptacle of psychic waste is a pretty silly idea and the resolution to that is both simplistic and insulting to the intelligence of the viewer. How Deanna Troi is miraculously restored takes a leap of faith far beyond the suspension of disbelief.

The acting in this episode is decidedly sub-par, though Marina Sirtis seems to give it her all. The man who plays Alkar is unmemorable and particularly bland. The actors have no chemistry whatsoever to make the beginning of their relationship improbable and less understandable than most hour drama relationships.

There is an utter lack of character development in "Man Of The People." Troi does not learn or grow from this experience, this is simply something that happens to her. Indeed, the episode is perhaps most disappointing in that Troi herself has no control over her dilemma. As a result, she gets herself into the problem and others get her out of it without any real sense of jeopardy or consequence.

The make-up in "Man Of The People" is similarly ridiculous. Making Deanna Troi age is done poorly, with little realism and that distracts severely from the presentation of the episode. The special effects overall in this episode distract from any real sense of menace or realism, making the work seem campy.

It's a rare thing when Star Trek The Next Generation does an episode almost completely wrong. "Man Of The People," however is one of them. It starts with a lousy idea, is poorly executed with no real acting talent to speak of and a nonexistence of character development. There's nothing here to recommend it to those who are not fans of science fiction and even less to say positive about it to those who are fans of Star Trek The Next Generation.

[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 reviews, please click here to visit my index page!

© 2011, 2008, 2003 W.L. Swarts. May not be reprinted without permission.
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