Jammer's Review

Star Trek: The Next Generation

"Manhunt"

*

Air date: 6/19/1989
Written by Terry Devereaux
Directed by Robert Bowman

Review by Jamahl Epsicokhan

Lwaxana Troi comes aboard the ship in the midst of a Betazoid phase that's equivalent to a human woman's menopause, with the Betazoid side effect being the quadrupling (or more) of her sex drive. Lwaxana begins romantically pursuing Picard, which forces him to go into hiding in the holodeck novel world of Dixon Hill in order to avoid her, while avoiding offending her.

"Manhunt" has got to be one of the most padded-out, pointless filler episodes in the entire series' run (with the obvious exception of "Shades of Gray," which we'll get to shortly). It wants to be a comedy with no hard plot — which is fine in concept — but the comedy scenes aren't funny enough and are padded to embarrassing length with meandering material that simply goes nowhere and accomplishes nothing.

It's starts out reasonably, with Lwaxana being her usual attention-starved self — and not even in an off-putting way; she's kind of a likable motormouth. Picard becomes her unwitting one-on-one dinner guest in a situation he didn't expect. His solution is to invite Data to fill the awkward pauses. Not a bad comic concept. But the longer the episode goes on, the more tiresome and pointless it grows, until by the end we're positively baffled: What is the point of all this? The answer is: There isn't one. This is an episode about behavior (I'm at a loss to qualify "behavior" with a useful adjective) put to no purpose.

There are scenes in the holodeck that exist simply to fill time and accomplish nothing the least bit important to anything. They aren't nearly interesting or fun enough to distract from the fact they're pointless. This whole episode is utterly inexplicable.

Previous episode: Up the Long Ladder
Next episode: The Emissary

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11 comments on this review

Paul C - Tue, Sep 20, 2011 - 7:10pm (USA Central)
Manhunt

2 more inexplicable things about this ep.

1 Data laughs
2 Mick Fleetwood is in it as an alien whose face you can't see. What is the point?
Mike Caracappa - Mon, Sep 24, 2012 - 3:53am (USA Central)
There is one plus, a brief appearance by Robert O'Reilly (who goes on after this to play Gowron). You know it's him just when you see his eyes :)
xaaos - Wed, Nov 21, 2012 - 10:31am (USA Central)
Deanna "I sense he is hiding something" Troi and of course her mother, should have neven been on TNG.

Quite boring episode.

Data's laugh was "artificial", and it's not the first time he did it. I really love it whenever he does it. And the scene with Q and his "gift" to Data is one of the best Star Trek moments in my opinion.
DPC - Sat, Dec 29, 2012 - 6:50pm (USA Central)
Bizarre episode.

Lwaxana Troi's humor is a little better in this script, but she feels out of place in the new style season 2 puts in for the show... later episodes treat Lwaxana more blandly, which doesn't help matters either.

Mick Fleetwood is the second rock star (Michelle Phillips being the first, in "We'll Always Have Paris") to appear in TNG. What's nice is that you're waiting all 40 minutes and then realize he plays a fish that not only Worf finds handsome, but proves Russell T Davies was not the first sci-fi writer to come up with inter-species lust. Worf's reaction was pretty solid, and kept sufficiently brief. A whole episode devoted to such soap opera would fall flat, and it would be heavyhanded as well. This story has Worf appreciating the form and letting the audience viewer decide if he's hornball or not. Which makes that scene more mature than any number of later TNG episodes that would play this card and heavyhandedly so...

Data's laugh was an attempt to use rote to repeat a process other people were using. Until season 3, it wasn't really said that Data being an android meant he was not programmed to imitate. (Ditto for "Measure of a Man" where, in a scene cut from the final presentation, Data exclaims "I am pleased!" to Picard in his ready room over the legal battle to follow...) And, in this episode and "Deja Q" (where Q lets him laugh like a real person), both scenes are well-thought out in context, and well-realized by Brent Spiner.

The plot, where Lwaxana is chasing Picard is played up both comedically and seriously. I'm not sure what to think of it. In the right mood, it's a funny story, but in many ways it's just bizarre and feels out of place.

Especially as half the jokes from Lwaxana's original story are repeated here. Only without Yar's friz hair stealing the show in the process. But this time around, it's Data and his technobabble that steal the show, as does Majel Barrett for her top-notch performance.

How come Lwaxana cannot figure out that Picard has zero interest in her, despite her reading his mind without his permission?! Perhaps she is saving face by lying to everyone, but the acting suggests otherwise (even after dinner when she tells Troi how he was thinking of dirty things).

Interesting, both of the early-era Lwaxana stories were written by Tracy Torme but were so heavily rewritten that he demanded a pseudonym be used instead.

It's nowhere near as bad as "The Okona" story, though...

Of course, Picard goes and hides in the holodeck, so she goes after Riker (who, oddly, doesn't accept the advances, despite his hitching with everyone this side of Riza... and the other side, and every side in between...)

You're definitely right; once Picard gets to the holodeck things really fall apart. Nothing happens, except Lwaxana drooling over everybody.
William B - Tue, Apr 2, 2013 - 5:29pm (USA Central)
Probably the best joke in the episode is, as other posters have noted, putting Mick Fleetwood in the episode as a fish-creature who spends most of the episode in stasis, then turns out to be identified as an assassin at the last minute because Lwaxana happens to be in the same room as him.

Very little in this episode strikes me as *bad* per se. It's not funny, but it's not *un*funny, exactly. I feel like if most of the scenes of this episode were placed within other episodes as some sort of tension relief, they wouldn't play so badly. The problem is that the whole episode is relief from tension that never exists. I do tend to wonder what Tracy Torme's original script was like.

I guess Jammer's 1 star rating is probably appropriate. This is a case though where star ratings really fail to capture the episode. One star so usually means "bad" that it feels unfair to assign it to this episode in which almost nothing goes so very wrong. It just never really develops into anything interesting. Probably 1.5 from me, though I am not really sure about that.
William B - Mon, Apr 8, 2013 - 8:11pm (USA Central)
I forgot to mention, but there is one thing that I think is *genuinely* bad here, which is the notion that the recipient of *aggressive* sexual advances has a responsibility to avoid hurting the aggressor's feelings so much that they have to hide from them. I get that Deanna wants to protect her mother's feelings, but surely no means no and no one has to be so worried about the feelings of someone making them that uncomfortable. This is made even worse by the fact that Lwaxana Troi is a high-ranking diplomat from a matriarchal society, which means that she has tremendous power -- which seems to me to indicate that if she's to wield that power fairly, she should be able to handle someone's rejection. Hopefully Betazoid men have some kind of coping strategy so that they are allowed to not marry whom they choose not to marry.
Rikko - Tue, Apr 9, 2013 - 4:40pm (USA Central)
Ugh, I hate episodes about Lwaxana Troi.

It's like the Ferengi effect: Characters could get a bit better or at least tolerable after a few times, but their stories are always so bad.

@ Paul C: I don't remember Data's laugh :( But I remember the conversation with Lwaxana, that scene and Worf's "What a handsome race" were the only really fun bits of the episode.

@ Xaaos: By definition, everything in Data is artificial, hah.

Nah, but I get what you mean.

@ William B. : Because it was played as a comedy I don't see a problem with this, just your typical situation with characters acting dumb or otherwise they wouldn't be able to fill the hour with this.
Jack - Mon, Apr 7, 2014 - 7:40pm (USA Central)
So a Batazoid woman entering Betazoid midlife gets extra honry and seeks out a man who eventually becomes her husband...but...what if she's already married? Not all Betazoid women are widows like Troi is.
Elliott - Sun, Jul 6, 2014 - 2:16am (USA Central)
There's a lot of memorable comedy in this episode. Yes, it's pretty much a pointless romp, but I think 1 star is too low. 2 in my book.

Anyone else catch the bit about Geordi being Lwaxana's next target?

LWAXANA : Well, who's next, Mr Homm?

[Mr Homm covers his eyes with his hand]

LWAXANA : Ahh...

[they leave]
Paul M. - Sun, Jul 6, 2014 - 5:32am (USA Central)
I agree with Elliott. This episode is actually quite enjoyable in a silly sort of way. Better than expected.
Eileen - Fri, Jul 11, 2014 - 9:42pm (USA Central)
I like Worf's comment: "What a handsome race." It always makes me laugh for some reason. It is a very silly episode, but I'd up it to two stars just for that comment plus some of the expressions on Picard's face during the dinner...oh yeah And for Mr. Ho's chug a lug!

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