Jammer's Review

Star Trek: Deep Space Nine

"Little Green Men"

**1/2

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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25 comments on this review

idiotghos - Sun, Sep 9, 2007 - 2:04pm (USA Central)
I always got a real kick out of this one.
Gatton - Sun, Apr 12, 2009 - 12:47pm (USA Central)
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.
Neil - Sat, Oct 24, 2009 - 10:25pm (USA Central)
@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.
gion - Wed, Feb 17, 2010 - 8:12pm (USA Central)
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 (USA Central)
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.
ScooterGirl - Tue, Dec 7, 2010 - 10:20pm (USA Central)
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 (USA Central)
Good fun.
A solid 3 IMO.
John - Fri, Aug 24, 2012 - 2:23am (USA Central)
"ferengi ferengi ferengi oomax..."
Tiarfe - Sat, Sep 8, 2012 - 9:45am (USA Central)
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 (USA Central)
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.
Jack - Thu, Feb 7, 2013 - 11:32am (USA Central)
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".
Chris - Wed, May 15, 2013 - 1:46am (USA Central)
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 (USA Central)
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.
Late_to_Party - Thu, Jun 27, 2013 - 5:26pm (USA Central)
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.
T'Paul - Sun, Jul 7, 2013 - 5:50pm (USA Central)
MY fav was Worf and the tooth sharpener
Kotas - Wed, Oct 23, 2013 - 12:48pm (USA Central)

A fun episode all around.

7/10
Jons - Sun, Feb 2, 2014 - 2:39pm (USA Central)
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....
Dusty - Thu, Feb 13, 2014 - 12:31am (USA Central)
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.
Vylora - Sun, Feb 23, 2014 - 5:04pm (USA Central)
Quite liked this episode for what it was and it had me grinning quite a bit.

3 stars.
Sunil - Tue, Feb 25, 2014 - 12:28pm (USA Central)
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.
Garrison - Mon, Apr 28, 2014 - 5:06am (USA Central)
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...
zzybaloobah - Fri, Aug 1, 2014 - 12:41am (USA Central)
> "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.
Yanks - Tue, Aug 5, 2014 - 6:34pm (USA Central)
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.

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

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).

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