Sunday, December 30, 2012

Irish Voyager Fanfic: “Spirit Folk” Is One Of The Worst Episodes Of The Franchise!

The Good: ? Revisits a dangling plotline?
The Bad: Terrible plot, Irish stereotypes, Mediocre acting, Poor character development
The Basics: Star Trek: Voyager revisits Fair Haven where the residents becomes aware of how odd the crew of Voyager is.

Sometimes, I find myself wondering how an episode of a television series ever made it to the air. With “Spirit Folk,” a sequel to “Fair Haven” (reviewed here!), I am entirely convinced that the episode exists because the budget for “Fair Haven” was so great. While I usually am thrilled when a television series tries to revisit its dangling plot and character elements, “Spirit Folk” problematically revisits one of the most banal settings and subplots in the Star Trek: Voyager plot and the Star Trek universe and the result is one of the very worst episodes of the entire franchise.

Worse than being terrible on its own – filled with Irish stereotypes, hammy acting, and a serious deficiency of character development among the main cast – “Spirit Folk” completely rips off Star Trek: The Next Generation. On Star Trek: The Next Generation, one of the classic Holodeck adventure episodes was “Elementary, Dear Data” (reviewed here!) where the Professor Moriarty character in Data’s Sherlock Holmes program became sentient. It was smartly followed up on with “Ship In A Bottle” (reviewed here!) where the sentient Moriarty returned and demanded his freedom from the holodeck. “Spirit Folk” returns to a far less compelling holodeck setting and it creates a plot that is nowhere near as compelling on either the plot or character front, but with a similar sense of reversal.

Tom Paris is riding around Fair Haven in his brand new automobile when his tire gets bent out and Seamus witnesses him restoring the tire with a Holodeck command. Seamus becomes convinced that Tom Paris is a Spirit Folk, a fairy, and he begins pointing out to others in Fair Haven the irregularities in the Voyager crew. When Seamus and another person witness Paris transforming Harry’s date, Maggie, into a cow, chaos erupts.

Tom Paris and B’Elanna Torres realize the holodeck is degrading because the Fair Haven program has been running constantly. With Paris and Kim trapped within the program after trying to reprogram Michael Sullivan to forget all about the starship, the Doctor is also captured. When Michael takes the Doctor’s mobile emitter, he and Janeway work outside the holodeck to save Fair Haven.

“Spirit Folk” is a lousy sequel episode to a one-note original Star Trek: Voyager episode. Ridiculously early in the episode, Torres notes that Fair Haven can be reprogrammed, but Paris and Kim cannot. How Paris does not end this episode utterly pissed at Janeway for risking his life and the life of his best friend when they could have turned the program off long before he was put in mortal peril is troubling at best, disturbing at worst. Janeway’s note that the program may not be real, but the relationships are falls especially flat; Fair Haven has been running full time for about a month at this point, whereas her relationship with Kim and Paris has been constant for over five years.

In addition to not expressing or explaining the emotions between Janeway and Michael Sullivan, “Spirit Folk” falls down because the characters are utterly simplistic. When the Irish characters are not played as hyperbolic stereotypes of Irish country folk, they are played as simpletons and Janeway’s resolution for the episode is also ridiculous.

Robert Picardo, who can usually be counted upon for a strong performance no matter what he is given, is compelled to play the Doctor as a ridiculous parody of himself in “Spirit Folk.” Mulgrew and Fintan McKeown continue to play their characters without any sense of compelling chemistry and their stiffness is not the death knell of the episode. In fact, to belabor the problems with this episode is simply to beat the dead horse: there is nothing interesting, compelling, or even enjoyable in “Spirit Folk.”

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

For other works with Ian Abercrombie, be sure to check out my reviews of:
The Clone Wars - Season 3
The Clone Wars - Season 2
The Clone Wars - Season 1
The Clone Wars
“Someone To Watch Over Me” - Star Trek: Voyager
Addams Family Values


For other Star Trek episode and movie reviews, please visit my Star Trek Review Index Page!

© 2012 W.L. Swarts. May not be reprinted without permission.
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