Jammer's Review

Star Trek: Deep Space Nine

"Little Green Men"


Air date: 11/6/1995
Teleplay by Ira Steven Behr & Robert Hewitt Wolfe
Story by Toni Marberry & Jack Trevino
Directed by James L. Conway

Review by Jamahl Epsicokhan

"The speed of technological advancement isn't nearly as important as short-term quarterly gains." — Quark

Nutshell: Not bad, but the one-joke high-concept premise doesn't have enough momentum to remain fresh and wears thin by the end.

When Quark obtains a new ship as a gift from his cousin Gala, he takes the opportunity for a test cruise by transporting his nephew Nog to Earth for his entrance into Starfleet Academy. Rom tags along to see his son off. However, a freak accident sends their ship back in time to the year 1947 where they crash land on earth and are captured by the U.S. military. It happens, no less, in a place called Roswell.

"Little Green Men" has all the indications of a story bought on a single-sentence pitch. I can almost hear two anxious writers coming into Berman's office and saying "I got it! How about we send the three Ferengi back into Earth's past and write them into history. It will be hilarious!" Indeed, this story is a brilliant 20-word concept for an episode. Unfortunately, that's about all it is. There just isn't enough material here to contribute a truly solid hour of DS9. The plot is unavoidably paper-thin and the outcome is pre-defined from square one. There just isn't anywhere to go.

While Behr and Wolfe deliver the comic one-liners with reasonable pace and effectiveness, there's only so much they can do, and there's just not enough momentum here to make up for the obvious lack of relevance the episode has to the series. On the other hand, even if the episode isn't really exciting, it is entertaining enough to chew through an hour. Armin Shimerman, Max Grodenchik and Aron Eisenberg all deliver adequate portrayals of Quark, Rom, and Nog respectively. Though their actions are a tad on the predictable side, they do provide a far more amiable presence than in last season's annoying Ferengi outings, "Family Business" and "Prophet Motive."

There are a number of shining moments, such as the parody on technobabble early in the episode when Rom explains a convoluted way to save the ship from accelerating out of control. I also like the way Nog tells the military officers exactly what they want to hear—that the Ferengi are aliens preparing a massive invasion of Earth. (It's funny how back in the '40s the only possible explanation for why aliens would visit Earth was because they wanted to conquer us. In the '90s, now they just want to con us out of a quick buck). Best of all is Nog's line to Quark, "Have you heard of the Bell Riots?" and his amazement to how much Gabriel Bell looks like Captain Sisko. That goes down as one of the best inside jokes of the series.

The plot is pretty much by-the-numbers. Odo turns up to keep Quark in check (which makes me wonder which is more important: Quark's mischievous plans or the security of DS9). There are also, of course, a couple of sympathetic scientists that help the Ferengi escape the military's clutches. However, the extraneous dialogue between these two scientists—who are engaged to be married, no less—is completely irrelevant and unnecessary.

Other than that, there isn't much to say about "Little Green Men." There's nothing inherently bad about it. It will hold your attention and keep you amused, but that's about all. Just an hour of fluff.

Previous episode: Rejoined
Next episode: Starship Down

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36 comments on this review

Sun, Sep 9, 2007, 2:04pm (UTC -6)
I always got a real kick out of this one.
Sun, Apr 12, 2009, 12:47pm (UTC -6)
I am watching these DS9 episodes for the first time and I enjoy coming here to read Jammer's review after each one. It's always interesting seeing where we agree and disagree.

I thought this was a fun episode which is unusual for me because I don't really care for the Ferengi (except for Quark since he actually has some depth.) My biggest problem with the episode however is with Rom. I sort of like the idea that he's smarter than everyone thinks and that he just "lacks self confidence." However in this episode he's doing Spock caliber temporal/warp calculations and it just isn't convincing at all.

But hey kudos to the producers for getting Charles "space hippy" Napier in this episode. Also I liked the Bell Riots nod to continuity. Those kinds of things are especially fun when you are watching the shows in a short span of time like I am and they are still fresh in your memory.
Sat, Oct 24, 2009, 10:25pm (UTC -6)
@gatton - I don't think the math involved was unrealistic to have Rom doing it. In previous episodes he's been described as a mechanical genius so it's not too hard to believe.

I enjoyed the episode a lot, mostly because I'm watching every star trek episode across all series, and DS9 is the last series. In TNG, ENT and VOY, the ferengi are portrayed as bumbling idiots and I really hated them. But DS9 gives them a lot more credit and I just find it a relief to watch a Ferengi episode and not be completely aggravated by them.
Wed, Feb 17, 2010, 8:12pm (UTC -6)
It's one of the better Ferengi episodes. Linking the time accident with the Roswell incident was particularly nice touch. It somehow made the Ferengi feel more substantive to me.
Jeff O'Connor
Sat, Oct 9, 2010, 10:47pm (UTC -6)
Apart from one of the scenes between the scientists running too long and without relevant substance, I did find this episode surprisingly enjoyable. Remembering it back from its original airing, when I was but a wee lad, I had fond memories. Still, I expected them to be at least a little shattered by the harsh reality of watching something as an adult.

It was a pleasant experience, finding out it was actually pretty good. The in-joke about Gabriel Bell was ridiculously funny. I had to pause for a moment to regain my composure so as not to miss a line, then Quark piped in about how 'all hew-mons look the same' and I nearly had to pause again.

I'm still reviewing the earlier episodes of the third season, but I think I'll be giving "Little Green Men" a rather respectable score, personally.
Tue, Dec 7, 2010, 10:20pm (UTC -6)
Jammer, while the importance of short term quarterly gains quote is a great one my favorite from this episode is Quarks reference to cigarettes: "If they'll buy poison, they'll buy anything". How true, and of course I was smoking a cigarette at the time. I figure I'd be an easy mark for Quark!
Latex Zebra
Sun, May 20, 2012, 4:17pm (UTC -6)
Good fun.
A solid 3 IMO.
Fri, Aug 24, 2012, 2:23am (UTC -6)
"ferengi ferengi ferengi oomax..."
Sat, Sep 8, 2012, 9:45am (UTC -6)
This was a fun episode but could have been much better. I felt like it was thrown together at the last minute.

The excessive smoking bothered me. I'm glad the Ferengi pointed out how stupid people are for doing it.
Cail Corishev
Mon, Sep 17, 2012, 4:16pm (UTC -6)
An ok episode with some good jokes, but "by-the-numbers" is right on target. The earth people were so predictable, with the paranoid military guys who just want to kill everything. I would have groaned at the smoking stuff, but I was too busy ducking the huge anvil. There were several lines I felt I could say before the actors.

Whenever Trek comes back to our times or thereabouts, it seems to get way more preachy. Maybe that's just me, or maybe they hide it better in the futuristic setting, or maybe they can't resist preaching more in a familiar setting. Whatever the reason, I don't think I've ever really enjoyed a Trek episode set in the "past," -- no, not even the very popular fourth movie. So this one did pretty well to get even a single rewatch out of me.
Thu, Feb 7, 2013, 11:32am (UTC -6)
The plan Quark hatches indicates that selling the Fengi warp technology in "1947" would give them warp "centuries before" humans, which suggests that they otherwise got it much later than "1947", and must have been fairly new to them when Picard and Co. first encountered them in TNG (I won't even indulge the Ferengi appearnace in "Enterprise".
Wed, May 15, 2013, 1:46am (UTC -6)
I agree Jack. The thought that came to mind when I heard that line was: would the Star Trek producers have us believe that all the Alpha Quadrant races developed warp technology at the same time?

There was a line in Season 3's 'Explorers' which suggested that the Bajorans were using the solar sails "when humans were first exploring Earth's oceans" - as though a few hundred years was a *really* long time ago! They also suggested that this was before the Cardassians developed warp drive. So Humans, Feregni, Cardassians and Bajorans all developed warp drive independently of each other, light years apart, within a few hundred years? That seems like a pretty cosmic coincidence to me.

The way I always try to rationalise this sort of thing in Star Trek, is to invoke the ancient humanoids from TNG's 'The Chase'. But even if all humanoid life was seeded, the idea that the lifeforms and cultures on each planet developed at the same rate, to within a few hundred years, still doesn't add up.
William B
Wed, May 15, 2013, 2:37pm (UTC -6)
It's especially weird that Quark would think Ferengi would get warp drive "centuries" before humans because, uh, no, it'd be 116 years since First Contact is 2063, which is slightly over one century. Granted, Quark might just have no idea when humans got warp drive, but Nog could probably have corrected him.

OTOH, I suppose it would be centuries before humans got a craft capable of warp 8 or whatever that craft was capable of.
Thu, Jun 27, 2013, 5:26pm (UTC -6)
I loved this ep. I'm thrilled to know that Quark, Rom and Nog were the aliens of the 'Roswell incident', just as I thought it was a hoot when we found out that the Vulcans invented Velcro, and T'Pol first introduced it to America.

I'm easy to please, chuckle.
Sun, Jul 7, 2013, 5:50pm (UTC -6)
MY fav was Worf and the tooth sharpener
Wed, Oct 23, 2013, 12:48pm (UTC -6)

A fun episode all around.

Sun, Feb 2, 2014, 2:39pm (UTC -6)
I really laughed at "really? Because it really looks like finger to me" - the delivery was just perfect.

Other than that, it was a fun episode, even if a bit predictable. I enjoyed Family Business and I rnjoyed that episode, so I guess im starting to appreciate the Ferengi... I think DS9 is turning them into a real people with a "real culture" (even if most of it is kinda for fun) and that makes them interesting.

I just have a complaint: i find it so annoying how SOMEHOW anytime anybody time-travels near Earth in Star Trek they end up in 20th century America by accident... Why not 12th century China or 60 000 BC? Statistically, humans have been around for about 0.0000000001% of Earth time, and yet not only aliens ALWAYS arrive when humans are alive, but in precisely the century the show was made in! Curious coincidence which is never explained....
Thu, Feb 13, 2014, 12:31am (UTC -6)
This is just a fun episode all the way around. Charles Napier was perfect in his role and it was great to have Odo along for the ride. Again, Rom's naive nature belies his skill as an engineering savant. Definitely one of my favorite Ferengi shows.
Sun, Feb 23, 2014, 5:04pm (UTC -6)
Quite liked this episode for what it was and it had me grinning quite a bit.

3 stars.
Tue, Feb 25, 2014, 12:28pm (UTC -6)
This is a very funny episode and I had a very good laugh. The way humans trying to understand the aliens and the Ferengi talking seemingly gibberish, the kind of questions Quark asking etc. Overall a fantastic episode imo.
Mon, Apr 28, 2014, 5:06am (UTC -6)
A very fun episode. I just wish the producers had let them do the final twist in that was in the original presentation.

All along we see one officer in the background who is just observing everything. In the last shot one of the main characters looks to him and says, "Lt Roddenberry, you have seen nothing that has gone on today. Do you understand?" "Yes, Sir!" Then a tracking close up on him as we see him start to get the idea to create a Sci Fi series...
Fri, Aug 1, 2014, 12:41am (UTC -6)
> "Little Green Men" has all the indications of a story bought on a single-sentence pitch.

In the season 4 DVD special features, Robert Hewitt Wolfe says exactly that: "Two free-lance writers came in ... and said 'Quark, Nog, Rom, and Odo are the Roswell aliens.'" And that was all it took.
Tue, Aug 5, 2014, 6:34pm (UTC -6)
Very fun episode.

Enjoyable hour of TV.

One of the few "Ferengi episodes" I don't skip during a rewatch of the series.

3 stars for me.

Sun, Aug 10, 2014, 10:13pm (UTC -6)
Am I the only one that finds this episode really, really boring?
Wed, Sep 3, 2014, 12:13am (UTC -6)

No. LGM is one of the worst episodes of the series and easily the worst of S4. At least "The Muse" has a semblance of something going on. "LGM" is just a 35-minute gag that goes on far longer than it should (I dig Nog's farewell ceremony, so the first ten minutes are tolerable).
Fri, Nov 21, 2014, 5:37pm (UTC -6)
Watching all star trek and enjoying it immensely. I watched up to season 3 when it first aired, so glad to pick up not having to wait for the next episode.

I liked this episode overall especially the historical connections.

I did feel that the time travel method was unbelievable taking into account Roms skill and a ship they flew for the first time. I found it even more unlikely they could return to the exact day they desired with absolutely no side effects. Surely if time travel could be controlled so easily, they could simply decide to time travel again to the past and give advanced tech to the Ferengi (or even check gambling numbers like he suggested in a previous episode).

Quark could go back in time and leave himself a sports almanac lol.
Thu, Feb 12, 2015, 5:41am (UTC -6)
I really like these characters, Rom, Quark and Nog are 3 of my favorites,but I don't like the Farengi stories. Little Green Men was enjoyable and not real silly like the other stories.
Scotty from Detroit
Thu, Apr 2, 2015, 12:57pm (UTC -6)
I am disgusted by the part where Work picks up the Ferengi Tooth Sharpener and uses it on himself. It would be like going to a garage sale, seeing an old used toothbrush, and trying it on the spot.
Fri, Apr 3, 2015, 9:47am (UTC -6)
@ Scotty from Detroit:

Yeah, but these are the same guys who drink blood and eat worms we're talking about here haha.
Fri, Aug 21, 2015, 10:57pm (UTC -6)
@Del_Duio; you're too funny.
William B
Mon, Oct 26, 2015, 2:40pm (UTC -6)
So I think the humans' behaviour in 1947 is really supposed to be a straight-faced parody of 40's, 50's, 60's invasion sci-fi B-movies, with clunky explosition, a completely irrelevant romantic subplot, cigar-chomping paranoid maniacs, scientist vs. military arguments sketched in with no real depth, etc. For Quark et al. to land in this cardboard environment and interact is pretty funny. This is an odd case, in that the genre parody takes place on an alternate Earth (ala "A Piece of the Action") nor on the holodeck ("Fistful of Datas," "Our Man Bashir," "Bride of Chaotica!") but actually genuinely *on Earth*, which if we take this seriously means that in 1947 people really did behave the way they are portrayed in stiffly acted flying saucer pictures. So, you know, best not to take that too seriously.

There are maybe some elements of "serious social commentary" done in comic way, and certainly some jokes at the expense of humans really do seem to be at the expense of humans -- the cigarette crack being a prime example. However, whether or not Quark's claims that humans are violent savages have merit or not, it's a bit hard to take his description of superior Ferengi society seriously when the episode's plot comes about because Quark's cousin Gaila gave him a defective shuttle seemingly *designed* to kill him, because Gaila doesn't like him. The episode is also packed with jokes at the Ferengi's expense too, particularly against Quark himself for coming to believe his own press about his plan to take over the world and live like a king, profit-wise.

Anyway, a lot of my favourite jokes are Quark et al. trying to figure out ways to communicate and fit in; Quark listing all the things he knows about Earth from what's taken place on screen ("baseball...root beer...darts..."). Nog as the human history enthusiast provides most of the information, much of it is wrong ("Australia"). Given how central communication is to the story, it does seem like the fundamental barrier they have to traverse over is bridging the gap of cultural understanding. And, okay, I don't want to try too hard to force a theme here, but I do think that this episode does make sense in the whole way that Quark and Nog (with Rom in between) react to Earth and to the Federation influence. Thrown onto Earth, their difficulty communicating or even understanding the core cultural assumptions of the people around them makes the humans seem weird, irrational and two-dimensional to them -- like characters in a bad movie. Nog tries to understand them, Quark tries to exploit them, and it all mostly fails until they get some help getting out, where Nog promptly goes to Earth that is a little closer to his speed. The movie-parody then is not just for laughs, though it is for that, but also *maybe* gives just the briefest taste of what it will mean for Nog to be a stranger in a strange land at Starfleet Academy, the first of his kind on the planet, and for Quark as his DS9 position drags him unwillingly into greater and greater contact with hew-mons. He does not understand them and they regard him strangely. The people at the academy in the 24th century will surely treat him better, but it's a bit of a fear that makes sense, and it's a reasonable time to explore this through a comic sidebar, which then weirdly fits into Nog and Quark's arcs (Nog accepting, Quark rejecting, the human world they come closer and closer to).

Or not! But I laughed a fair amount. It's not a classic but I like it. The rest of what I would say would just be listing bits I liked. Well, okay, I like the plotting of having Odo show up at the last moment -- fully consistent with what we know of Odo, a genuine surprise, and a good way to break up just the three Ferengi show (which was getting a bit stale by that point in the episode). I could have done without Rom screaming "Moogie." Still, 3 stars, I think.
William B
Mon, Oct 26, 2015, 2:45pm (UTC -6)
Oh yeah.

So I guess I should talk about Quark being willing to change the whole timeline for mostly selfish reasons. I think this is something best just accepted. Unlike Starfleet officers, who apparently take classes in temporal mechanics or whatever, Quark has probably not given any actual thought to what changing the timeline would mean, about how that would mean that his mother would never be born probably, or whatever. "We'll build a better future!" is an argument that sounds good at the moment and not enough time passes for any negative consequences to appear to his plan to change the future...because his plan falls apart way before then.

I do agree with Jammer that Odo probably should have stayed on DS9 rather than follow Quark on this weird trip, so maybe I should take back my "in character" remark. I am also not sure how exactly the kemacite no longer being in the hold is sufficient for Odo to not be able to arrest Quark, if we take this plot seriously. I mean, the fact that they went back in time by igniting it surely proves it was there. Whatever, this is an ep where I think it's best to go with the comic flow.
William B
Wed, Oct 28, 2015, 7:24am (UTC -6)
I guess I am willing to let a lot slide because this is a comedy -- but I think I maybe should roll it back a bit. Probably 2.5 stars is more appropriate. In addition to Quark's willingness to trash the future for short-term gains without thinking twice about it, there is Nog tricking the nurse into giving him oo-max without letting her know she's basically giving him a handjob. It's not that these are wholly inconceivable character turns (I know, I should only use that word in Zek episodes, but regardless...) (inside joke, if you don't get it move on) but they are kind of damaging to the characters' integrity, such as it is, and not in a way that gets dealt with. So it's an episode kind of like TNG's "The Game" where I enjoy it but somewhat have to recast it as an AU story to make it work (or a story with a very warped perspective -- in "The Game" I imagine Wesley and Robin as in character and all the adults not so much). I'm pretty okay with doing that now and again, but the episode is not strong enough to fully justify the warped perspective.
Diamond Dave
Sat, Dec 19, 2015, 1:56pm (UTC -6)
Sometimes you just have to enjoy an episode for what it is without questioning too deeply, and that's what we have here. A very atmospherically done homage to sci-fi B-movies and, what's more, a very funny self-referential episode as well.

There are so many good lines - eg Rom's "I've always been smart. I've just lacked self-confidence". The late reveal of Odo comes as a nice surprise too. The Earth based characters are all well drawn. What's not to like? 3.5 stars.
Wed, Jan 6, 2016, 1:36pm (UTC -6)
This episode is to DS9 as Spock's Brain is to TOS. It's bad on so many levels but if you accept it for what it is then it's great.

One thing that did really bug me was the idea that Nog needs to be given a special iPad travel guide. Wouldn't all this information be available to him anywhere?

Also, I thought that Quark pulling Rom away from Nog's sale tool Quark too deep into a level of meanness.
Wed, Jan 6, 2016, 3:30pm (UTC -6)
"One thing that did really bug me was the idea that Nog needs to be given a special iPad travel guide. Wouldn't all this information be available to him anywhere? "

The same can be said of my smart phone AND the internet today... but there are still billions of guides. As to why they didn't just "beam" they one they "bought" (can we say bought since sometimes Star Trek has no money) onto his favorite Kindle or whatnot... I dunno :P

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