OVERALL RATING: D, if you haven't seen other TNG episodes; maybe a C, if you have. ACTING: B. DIRECTION: C. WRITING: D.
THE SHOW: A major error among many, in the early production decisions, has the entire Enterprise crew "breaking character" and, under the influence of a disease with symptoms that mimic drunkenness, doing the very things that they would never do if they were themselves. Picard puts the make on Crusher. Yar puts the make on Data. Wes commandeers the Enterprise (to its great peril). And so on. The trouble is that the actors have hardly had time (only one episode) to establish their characters in the viewers' minds. This episode should have been saved for ten or twenty episodes later (or for the opener for Season Two) when it really would have been amusing to suddenly see Picard drunk, falling all over Crusher, etc., etc. The producers, of course--Gene Roddenberry and company--and everyone else involved in the tight, little, insular family that was creating the new Star Trek were already long familiar with the characters and must have thought all of this hilarious. It is a measure of their insularity from Star Trek fans and from the general public that they were surprised when this episode bombed.
The problem is not that "The Naked Now" was copied from--and is sort of a sequel to--the old Trek episode "The Naked Time" (as Larry Nemecek discusses in The Companion). The problem was that it simply wasn't funny to people who were unfamiliar with the characters. It was like telling someone a Catholic joke--someone who was born on Arcturus and has never known Catholicism.
Besides "The Naked Now" being an "in-joke" script sprung upon viewers in only the second episode of the first season, it is a manipulated script--that is, one with little interior coherence, full of dialogue and story items that are there merely for effect, or for convenience, or to fulfill an exterior agenda. For instance, Data's infection by the "drunkenness" disease doesn't make any sense. (He is a mechanical being.) They just wanted him to be included in the mayhem (because it would have been a serious plot complication if he hadn't been). Data does get to utter one of the funnier lines in "The Naked Now" (that is, if you know that he is an android). After screwing Lt. Yar, he tells the amazed Captain Picard how it is that an android can catch a humanoid disease. He says that he has humanoid-like skin, and a blood-like fluid in his veins, etc. Then, doing a turn on Shakespeare's line "If you prick me, do I not bleed?," he says, "If you prick me, do I not....(long pause)...leak ?"
You also have to know Shakespeare.
The crew seems to be having a jolly old time, leaving the rest of us more or less out of it. How certain characters--Data, Crusher--suddenly become coherent and sober enough to save the Enterprise is never explained. Somewhere around Act Two, you cease to care if the story makes sense.
Recommendation: This episode is more fun if you've seen other TNG episodes, so you get the gist of the character jokes.
Also, a number of story items are set up for later use. For instance, Data's relationship with Tasha Yar is used to wonderful effect, later on, in "The Measure of a Man" (Season 2) where Picard wins Data--and all androids--equal rights in the Federation and in Starfleet, by providing evidence of Data's sentience and humanoid-like relationships, such as this intimacy with Yar. It is also used again in "Legacy" (Season 4) when Lt. Yar's sister shows up. It is strangely absent, however, in the overly touted episode "Yesterday's Enterprise" (Season 3)--the one in which Lt. Yar dies a second time. The writers of that story seem to have forgotten about Data and Yar.
It's rather a cheap device--to get everybody "drunk" in order to establish aspects of character and story points. It may have been a relief, though, to Brent Spiner, to have it quickly established that Data does have a penis, so that fans would stop asking.
TERGIVERSATION METER READING: +2--for not tergiversating (equivocating) on Data's sexual abilities. (But that's the last we'll hear about it.)
Tergiversate (tur-ji-ver-sat): 1. To use evasions or ambiguities; equivocate. 2. To change sides; to defect; apostatize. The Tergiversation Meter scale runs from -5 (very defective) through +5 (unambiguous, true blue philosophical humanism with no negative subliminal messages).
*FOOTNOTE: According to Larry Nemecek, in "The 'Star Trek: The Next Generation' Companion," writer J. Michael Bingham is a psuedonym for the old Trek writer D.C. Fontana.)
Return to the table of contents
Return to the ElkArts page
Return to the ElkSoft main page