Star Trek: The Next Generation

"Captain's Holiday"

*1/2

Air date: 4/2/1990
Written by Ira Steven Behr
Directed by Chip Chalmers

Review by Jamahl Epsicokhan

The crew of the Enterprise badgers an overworked Captain Picard until he grudgingly agrees to take a week of vacation on tropical resort planet Risa. Once there, he finds himself in the middle of a ludicrous sci-fi/archaeological/time-travel plot, a hopelessly cliched romance with Vash (Jennifer Hetrick), and run-ins with an exceptionally annoying Ferengi named Sovak (Max Grodenchik in full moron mode, clearly in an early audition for Rom). I say Picard's time would've been better spent playing Dixon Hill in the holodeck.

Ira Steven Behr, in his first solo TNG script, plays the Ferengi card. If Ron Moore's future as "the Klingon guy" was sealed after his first script, then perhaps Behr's fate as "the Ferengi guy" is sealed here. Behr's obsession with Ferenginar is well documented, and would continue for the rest of the decade, especially on DS9.

The weak and boring "Captain's Holiday" can't release itself from its sci-fi machinations long enough to be a fun romp. Meanwhile, the sci-fi machinations are too perfunctory (and absurd) to be taken the least bit seriously on their own. The result is a constant compromise where nothing has any conviction, least of all the by-the-numbers romance between Picard and Vash (who is not without her appeal). It's a wasted opportunity. We want to enjoy seeing the lighter side of Picard, but not when he's buried in an idiotic plot with such stolid execution. Everyone's chasing the "Tox Uthat" (which can stop nuclear fusion in a star, no less), including a couple of time-traveling Vogons from the 27th century. For much of the episode, Picard takes the Vogons at their word — probably a bad idea involving any invention that can kill a solar system. If this sounds like a lame Indiana Jones wannabe, that's because it is.

Previous episode: Allegiance
Next episode: Tin Man

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55 comments on this review

Moacir Schmidt
Tue, Jan 1, 2013, 3:52pm (UTC -6)
This is, probably, the worst TNG episode of all seasons....
Corey
Fri, Mar 15, 2013, 11:16am (UTC -6)
Worse than "Genesis" or "Cost of Living"? That's hard to fathom. I would much rather watch this episode than those two I mentioned. I agree with Jammer in this case, 2/4 stars. Not particularly good, but not particularly bad either.
Goladus
Tue, Apr 16, 2013, 9:24pm (UTC -6)
All the criticism in the review is accurate. However I still love this episode because of the dynamic between Picard and Vash. Romances in TNG usually make me cringe, this one makes me laugh and cheer. Stewart and Hetrick have such great chemistry the cliches don't bother me in the slightest. They don't try to make the relationship more than it is, and the actors sell what's there entirely. I enjoyed it the first time I saw it back in 1990 and still enjoy it 23 years later.

Obviously the episode could have been far better. But, it could have been far worse. Better to let the perfunctory plot be perfunctory than for an overly ambitious plot to thwart the Picard/Vash relationship.
William B
Thu, Jun 6, 2013, 12:38pm (UTC -6)
Jammer is presumably joking when he says that a Dixon Hill adventure would have been preferable, but what struck me on a rewatch is that while clearly an Indiana Jones archaeology adventure, the episode also owes something to detective stories (though that is mostly because those genres overlap anyway). The MacGuffin of the episode, the Tox Utat, functions pretty closely to the Maltese Falcon in the eponymous book/movie. Spoilers for The Maltese Falcon follow this point: In particular, Sovak's fit upon discovering that the Utat wasn't at the proper site reminds me of Joel Cairo's (Peter Lorre in the famous Bogart movie version) similar panic when the search turns out to be for naught. Picard's going along with, at different points, Vash and the Vorgons when he seems intent on betraying them to do the Right Thing in the end is also very much what Spade does. And Picard pieces together the various clues in detective style.

On that basis, it is neat that while Vash is cast as the femme fatale, and is a liar and a thief, she is not fully condemned the way Brigid is in The Maltese Falcon -- Picard interrupts her greedy ambitions but doesn't feel the need to send her away to jail; and nor does the story cast her as a murderer (though her professor's death looks awfully suspicious). This makes the episode a little more progressive in its femme fatale treatment, but also a little more toothless -- Vash simply doesn't come across as dangerous enough to get the spark of forbidden chemistry between the two leads that is sort of required for the episode to work. They are not funny enough as a romantic comedy bickering couple, they don't have enough warmth to seem like a potentially functional couple, and that lack of edge makes the thrilling experience of a wrong pairing mostly inert.

At least it should be said that the episode's conception does, at least hopefully, combine enough of Picard's actual interests (archaeology, detectiving, brunettes) to seem like it's an adventure well suited to him. But as with the Picard/Vash pairing, the action scenes are pretty dull and the mystery is not written with enough depth to make the resolution feel earned, especially with the Vorgons. The most fun part of the episode is the opening scenes on the ship with the crew conspiring to send Picard away -- and unfortunately those are over pretty quickly. 1.5 stars sounds right for an episode which is not particularly bad for the most part, but fails to achieve most of its objectives.
TH
Tue, Aug 20, 2013, 12:43am (UTC -6)
I didn't hate this episode from my childhood viewings, but one thing that does strike me is the ending where Vash says "you aren't just going to hand it over, are you?" Picard sounds very much like a bumbling fool speaking to the Vorgons from that point forward, and it's very out of character.

I also found the transporter code 14 thing to be an extremely unnecessary technobable way to destroy the Uthat which only goes to create a plot hole as to why Code 14 is never used again to destroy things remotely.
Moonie
Sun, Oct 20, 2013, 3:53am (UTC -6)
Bad episode, nice visuals (Picard in those speedos and bathrobes!!).

I'm still not convinced Royale wasn't worse, I would have to watch it again to make sure - nah, still so much good stuff to watch!
Moegreen
Wed, Dec 4, 2013, 7:29pm (UTC -6)
Vash is hot. Only saving grace for this detritus.
Susan
Fri, Feb 14, 2014, 9:46pm (UTC -6)
Maybe I'm the only person with gall enough to point this out, but about the 'Horga-hn', the pronunciation sounds exactly like the opposite of what it's actually used for, lol.
Jons
Sat, Feb 15, 2014, 2:33pm (UTC -6)
I personally stopped enjoying this episode as soon as the Ferengi showed up. The only slightly funny moment was when Troi suggested her mother was going to come and visit, and the way Picard shook Vash's hand when she introduced herself. That was a really good moment of acting on Stewart's part.

The rest was just so boring I couldn't watch it.
Garth Simmons
Sun, Feb 23, 2014, 6:10am (UTC -6)
I'm shocked by these reviews. I'm fairly new to Star Trek, currently watching all of TNG and it's spin offs in transmission order, currently up to season 5... Anyway don't understand the universal hate for this episode, it's one of my favourites. It's good fun campy space adventure and great to see a comedy episode focused on Picard.
Garth Simmons
Sun, Feb 23, 2014, 6:15am (UTC -6)
Last episode I watched was Cost of Living.... Noticed that people hate that one too whilst I thought it was hilarious. Subjective opinion is so fascinating.
Eli
Fri, Feb 28, 2014, 8:04pm (UTC -6)
I enjoyed it too Garth. It's a lot of fun. To each his own I guess.
Rikko
Sat, Mar 29, 2014, 2:33pm (UTC -6)
Well, this ranks pretty low on my list, it'd be the worst episode of Season 3 if it didn't have a Lwaxana Troi's one coming up soon.

My main gripe with the episode itself is that doesn't play to (what I think) are TNG's best aspects.

First, there's no ensemble. As soon as the plot begins there's only Picard dealing with a bunch of random guest actors. There are many episodes that focus on one character in particular, but they always have the rest of the main cast around.

And then, this is not an exploration of humanity and drama, it's just a random adventure (very random) with a weird feeling of being a rip-off of something else. For Jammer it feels like Indiana Jones, for William B is the Maltese Falcon (which, btw, is one of the original ideas of the script writers for this particular show, according to Memory Alpha!). And I even felt a bit of James Bond stuff going on, what with the "hot chick" of the week that Picard meets and sleeps with. She even plays a bit of both types of Bond Girl, the good girl and the bad.

All in all, the episode didn't work for me. I can have lots of fun with an episode like "The Arsenal of Freedom", but with this one I was bored.
Tom
Thu, Apr 10, 2014, 12:45am (UTC -6)
I was also surprised to see all the hate for this episode. I liked it. It's obviously lighter in tone. Jennifer Hetrick was pretty good as Vash. I thought that the episode followed a James Bond pattern, though Picard is a bit too cold to play a good James Bond. It was interesting to see Picard get romantically involved with someone. I thought that would never happen! They even slept in the same bed (or blanket thrown on fake rock floor, whatever).

It's also one of the first episodes to shape the Ferengi and bring them closer to what they will become in DS9. I'm not surprised that Behr wrote this. It's also the first episode with Rom's actor!

Overall, I thought that it was a fun episode. Sure, it's cheesy and full of cliches, but it shouldn't be taken too seriously.
JP
Sat, Jun 7, 2014, 6:39pm (UTC -6)
I love this episode. It's fluffy sure, but it's lighthearted and light on it's feet which makes for a nice change of pace. I enjoyed the easy manner in which Riker tries to convince Picard to go and the surprise when the statue is revealed to be something other than Picard was lead to believe. I'm also amused by the way Picard rejects the impossibly beautiful Risian girl so he can have more time with his book only to have that immediately undone by an even more impossibly beautiful woman (Vash) who refuses to be dissuaded by Picard's rejection of her advances (at the start anyways). All in good fun. Nothing more, nothing less. This is all about getting the Captain laid. And laid he got :)
Robert
Fri, Jun 20, 2014, 2:04pm (UTC -6)
Considering I think Patrick Stewart could be compelling reading a phone book in an empty room I'd have to say that while this was not Indiana Jones, nor Star Trek's finest hour it was fun... which I think is all it was meant to be.
JohnnyB
Mon, Jun 23, 2014, 1:57pm (UTC -6)
I agree with the review, mostly. There are funny moments between Picard and his overly helpful crew. Vash and the Risan women are beautiful. Picard and Vash are great together.

The plot had some serious issues, all of which I think could be fixed by removing the Vorgons. Every scene with them made me cringe. And Star Trek in general uses time travel as a crutch way too often. It would have been easy to construct a similar treasure hunt story without involving creepy useless future people.

Finally, my favorite line is when the Risan hostess asks about the horg'an, and asks if he got it for 'someone you love,' and Picard says, 'I wouldn't go that far.' :)
Jack O
Mon, Sep 1, 2014, 7:42am (UTC -6)
Vash is HOT. Maybe even the sexiest female ever in TNG.
xaaos
Fri, Oct 17, 2014, 2:35pm (UTC -6)
Jack O, by vote goes for Ensign Robin Lefler and Kamala!!! :)
Taylor
Tue, Jan 13, 2015, 7:04pm (UTC -6)
I was amused by Picard's petulant attempts to keep reading a book poolside while being distracted by scantily clad women (who are in turn distracted by a scantily clad Picard). Stewart and Hetrick have good chemistry and I'm not going to complain about an episode where Stewart gets some.

Sure it's silly, but it's fun, there's some eye candy, and I think there are several other worse TNG episodes.
Troy
Mon, May 11, 2015, 1:25pm (UTC -6)
While the episode does fall flat in many ways, the adventure isn't particularly engaging, there is a lot to like.
In particular I like the contrast with the skirt chasing "teach you about love" Kirk (and to a lesser extent Riker) that shows the more cerebral Picard who wants a psychological connection with a woman. Another contrast is the (requisite) whirlwind romances in other STNG episodes which aren't at all believeable, but Patrick Stewart pulls this one off handily.
Vash is a great match for the captain, smart and saucy and a bit of a criminal (but not in her own mind)
Jammer's review should get an extra star for the Picard character development.
Luke
Sun, Jun 7, 2015, 8:59am (UTC -6)
I don't understand all the hate this episode gets. I also don't understand all the love it gets either. For me, this is an almost perfect example of a run-of-the-mill average episode.

It's got its good and its bad. Vash is a wonderfully enjoyable character whose free-spiritedness is a nice match for the rather stuffy Picard. But Sovak is bad. It really is unnerving to see guys like Max Grodenchik and Armin Shimerman playing these horrible early Ferengi characters, especially given what they will deliver later on DS9. But at least Behr doesn't offer up his usual misconceptions of what capitalism is this time, so that's a plus!

The idea of dropping a character into an Indiana Jones style adventure has promise (mostly due to the fact that TNG hasn't really had any true light-hearted adventure episodes yet). But having Picard of all characters be the one in the adventure just makes no sense. Now, if this were Kirk, he would fit right into a little Indiana-Jones-esque story. Riker would be the one most naturally suited for this episode (maybe Data, but even that's pushing it). Picard just isn't a relatable enough character for it to work. He's a very admirable character, even a genuinely likeable one. But he's someone you're meant to look up to, not someone you can legitimately picture yourself being. He's too much of an idealized version of a person for that. Other Trek captains like Kirk and Archer are more designed to be seen at the same level as the viewer, in my opinion. Hell, even Sisko and Janeway are in some ways meant that way. I just can't see Picard having the time of his life while getting into fist-fights with Ferengi and running around with maps to buried treasure. This is a guy who brings James Joyce's "Ulysses" on his vacation for crying out loud! I suppose I can appreciate that they tried to show the lighter side of the captain, especially after the previous episode seemed to go out of its way to show what a bore his was. But this is just too jarring. But hey, at least they finally let him get laid, so that's another plus!

Now, let's talk about Risa, shall we? The idea of a completely sexually uninhibited society is a good concept (in a kind of turn your brain off and enjoy the silliness way). However, it completely falls apart once any thought is put into it (as later Risa episodes will amply showcase). "Captain's Holiday," however, uses Risa perfectly. It's there to set up some gags (which are somewhat funny) and that's it. The episode knows enough to not dwell on the absurdity of the concept. As such, this is easily the best Risa episode.

5/10
nosewings
Sat, Sep 5, 2015, 7:36am (UTC -6)
I have a particular loathing for this episode. It always pisses me off when Troi, supposedly a trained counselor, says and does absolutely terrible things because the writers don't understand psychology. Picard's idea of a relaxing vacation is to visit an interesting conference of some sort of another; but Troi, apparently thinking she knows better than Picard himself, forces him to visit some resort he hates. Worse, Riker sets him up for unsolicited sexual advances, and Troi goes along with it. And the normative voice is on Troi and Riker's side! What a pile.
Diamond Dave
Sat, Sep 5, 2015, 11:49am (UTC -6)
Not a classic by any means, but as a fairly lightweight episode this is fun enough. And we get to see Picard toss a weapon from right to left and then punch out a Ferengi, and what's not to love about that?

There's plenty of fun too with the crew setting the increasingly exasperated Picard for a holiday, and again over his confusion regarding the Horga'hn and jamaharon. The scheming and amoral Vash adds some spice, and of course Picard gets his oats, which is noteworthy enough.

On the downside the time-travelling Vorgons don't make a lot of sense and the broader plot is a sub-Indiana Jones romp. But it's palatable enough for me - 2.5 stars.
BobT
Sat, Apr 16, 2016, 6:16pm (UTC -6)
Contrary to most reviews here, I very much enjoyed this episode as the light romp that it was. And am I the only one who understood that the single overpoweringly redeeming feature of the episode can be summed up in 2 words? Jennifer. Hetrick. I know we're all basically geeks on this site, but have we forgotten what an amaziingly hot 90's chick she was? I think a little lightening up is in order...
romemmy
Wed, Apr 27, 2016, 4:44pm (UTC -6)
Did anyone else think it was pretty irresponsible for Picard to throw a weapon in to the bushes where anyone, including a kid, could find it?

Surprised they would have written that in, although I guess when this episode came out, kids accidentally shooting people with unlocked guns wasn't as prominent in the news as it is today!
Grumpy
Wed, Apr 27, 2016, 8:14pm (UTC -6)
To answer your question right away, romemmy: yes, someone else thought so.

sfdebris.com/videos/startrek/t167.php

Of course, does anyone else think it would be pretty irresponsible to bring a child to Risa?
Dougie
Mon, Jul 4, 2016, 9:26pm (UTC -6)
This is a classic, sorry. A TNG character having fun with a woman as opposed to some Oedipal contrivance? Priceless.

It help that I knew a gal like Vash when I was a young man back in the late 80s, and life was much more fun knowing her.
Jasper
Sun, Nov 13, 2016, 4:34pm (UTC -6)
Haterz be haterz. I really enjoyed this episode! It is ligt, Vash and Picard are great and lots of Rikers grins. Plus: no Wesley Crusher. That alone qualifies for one extra star!
SteveRage
Tue, Jan 10, 2017, 4:47am (UTC -6)
Way too many people moaning about this one. It was a bit of campy fun, a chance for Stewart to do something different and a great relationship formed between Picard and Vash. Seems some people are taking this WAY too seriously - 2.5 stars
RandomThoughts
Tue, Jan 10, 2017, 12:36pm (UTC -6)
Heya Everyone

Yeah, I also like this episode and always have. It was light, with a little bit of mystery, a little bit of fun and a little bit of romance. Now, don't get me wrong, it's not great, but I always enjoy it. And, upon re-watches, it doesn't have any "Oh, I hate the scene coming up" moments in it for me.

Sometimes I like light and fluffy. :D

Have a great day all... RT
tara
Mon, Jan 23, 2017, 11:48pm (UTC -6)
I love it. Let me count the ways.

First: it's unique. How many plots are "Race the clock! The ship's in jeopardy!" (Or permutations: it's a crew member in jeopardy, or an alien civilization in jeopardy, etc.). How many episodes are Diplomatic Troubles with Argumentative and Sketchy Aliens. How many more are Medical Crisis of the Month. There's nothing wrong with those - in fact I mostly like them, because I mostly like TNG . But thank goodness for the refreshingly one-of-a-kind plots: this one, Face of the Enemy, Chain of Command, etc.

Second: It's a fun character study for Picard. For once he's not captaining or diplomatting. You might argue that he'd never go to Rysa or get in trouble; oh no - he'd go to a conference about the Tox Utat, which would be held someplace very dull, and then he'd go to a library to study old maps looking for clues to its whereabouts. Yeah, I'm really glad they didn't make me watch an hour of *that* Captain's Holiday.

Third: it's fun, it's funny, it's cute. C'mon. There's joking and bickering and hijinks and Picard being kind of snarky.

Fourth: Vash.

Here's a pop quiz: How many episodes up to this point have featured a major female guest star? (That is, one who isn't part of an ensemble group of aliens or scientists or visiting dignitaries. One who stands out as memorable and individual.)

Geek alert! I already checked.

In season one, there's "We'll Always Have Paris." It's about brilliant Professor Mannheim. Brilliant Mannheim has a wifey. She once dated Picard. Wifey; ex-girlfriend. That's what she is. That's why she exists.

Season two: We meet the assistant to Ira Graves. Like Mrs Mannheim she's the devoted sidekick to a brilliant man. She talks about the brilliant man a lot. She's a love interest. She calls for help and looks moonily out of windows. There's also a royal girl (The Dauphin) who exists to be a crush for Wesley. There's an alien girl (Pen Pal) who's about eight. There's Lwaxana Troi, unfortunately. And there's Kehylahr.

Season three: There's.... none. Yes. Until Captain's Holiday, there are no female guest stars who matter.

Here are the major male guest stars:

Season one: Q. Traveler. Q. Lore. The Betazoid love interest in Haven. The old mediator who takes youth serum in "Too short a season." Remmick investigating the crew. Remmick, second time around. Brilliant Professor Mannheim, who's got the aforementioned wifey doting so very very hard at his side.

Season two. The roguish Okona. The deaf mediator. The brilliant and hilarious scientist Ira Graves, who lives on Graves's Moon and chases skirts. There's Riker's dad. And there's Q again.

Season three: Q again. That orphan boy (The Bonding). A Romulan who kidnaps Geordi. A sketchy mediator who has a love affair with Troi. The noble and tragic Romulan defector. The hopped-up super-soldier who longs to go home.

Now set aside all the children, all the passive sidekicks, and all the sappy people who exist only as love interests.

On the male side, what's left is at least eighteen episodes with strong male guests who are independent and interesting and have jobs and do stuff.

And on the female side.... there's Kehylar.

(Since we're talking about guest stars here, I'm leaving out the alien-ensemble shows. Some (Justice, When the Bough Breaks, Angel One, Code of Honor) have males and females mixed. But all the Klingon shows and all the Ferengi shows are male-only. So let's leave those out because eighteen to one is bad enough.)

So: In over two and half seasons, we've seen one female guest character who was independent and, yknow, actually did stuff.

Sometimes I wonder: if you're a guy who watched as a kid, did you imagine yourself in the shoes of Picard or Riker or Wesley, or maybe the damaged super-soldier or the noble Romulan defector or the bright but awkward Barclay?

I did that. I slid myself into roles all the time, but I did it in secret. Secretly, I was the twin sister of Airwolf's morose, cello-playing pilot, and we flew missions together and saved each other from evil nemeses. I was, unbenownst to all, the secret fifth member of the A-Team; I was really good at building stuff during the musical montages. I was also Indiana Jones's best friend and wingman (wingwoman?) - good with ropes and knife-fights and foreign languages and the occasional seduction of dangerous but worthy men in exotic lands. (I certainly wasn't the girl love interest who's only involved because her father was the hero's mentor, and she's the hero's bitter dumped never-gonna-get-over-it ex-gf. What a humiliating and submissive backstory.)

I was a teenager when the TNG pilot aired. I didn't watch much TV and I liked action not scifi - but I made a point of staying home to watch it. Guess why! I'd read an article about the characters and I'd seen a photo of the crew. The chief of security was a sexy but boyish female. That sounded like a job that required muscle and action. Tasha Yar was also a survivor of a vaguely abusive childhood. Tasha Yar was going to be the female character I'd been waiting for all my life. I just knew she'd be some combo of tough, physical, flawed, commanding, vulnerable, kick-ass. She'd be a beloved member of a heroic crew. And I was going to watch every damn minute of her.

Yeah, well. They invented a character I could have loved. Then they made her cry and get kidnapped and have a staged catfight and get ogled by Ferengi. Then they pushed her into the background. Then they killed her off. Thanks for that.

I kept watching, because even though simpering Troi and boring Beverley and saintly Wesley drove me nuts, I liked everybody else: the ones who did stuff, solved problems, were daring, saved the day in the nick of time. The guys. I liked them.

But after a year and a half, I saw myself once: in Keylahr.

And after waiting another year, I saw myself once again: in Vash.

It was probably another year before I saw myself a third time: in Ensign Ro.

So, what do I think of Captain's Holiday? It's great, because it showed me something I desperately wanted to see. Something rarer in film or TV at that time, than the Tox Utat.
William B
Tue, Jan 24, 2017, 12:13am (UTC -6)
@Tara, while there are a dearth of important female guest stars, I would put Lal from s3 as one of the most memorable one-episode characters in the series.
William B
Tue, Jan 24, 2017, 12:17am (UTC -6)
...which isn't to say you have to like her. But certainly, she is a guest star who matters, in an episode beloved by many fans (see Peter G.'s excellent recent comment), and while partly a way to tell a story about Data, Picardy and the Federation, I think she is memorable and poignant in her own right.
William B
Tue, Jan 24, 2017, 12:30am (UTC -6)
Of course, one could read Lal as a "weak" character. I suppose we could say that it is sexism storytelling that she essentially dies by having too many feelings. I don't want to argue against whathe you say in general. But I feel like many fans of both genders identify readily with Lal, especially as children, but also as adults who still bravely face a world they are unprepared for, which, more importantly, is not ready for them. (I am including myself here, while male.)

The other guest stars in s3 which are significant also Tasha again and captain Garret in Yesterday's Enterprise, Shelby who is very important in the finale and is meant to be Riker's rival and near-equivalent. They are action heroes, stars in some of the series' most beloved episodes. The other important female guest stars, I will grant, are love interests, and not very well developed ones (the woman in the Ensigns of Command who falls for Data, the hologram of Leah Brahms, Yuta, etc.).
tara
Tue, Jan 24, 2017, 3:15am (UTC -6)
william b,

You're right that I did miss Lal. I forgot about her. But I also said that i was crossing off all the children.

Children aren't independent actors. Lal wasn't independent. She made no decisions for herself. She existed to follow Data around, adore him, emote, die and tug at our heartstrings. It was Data who made all the decisions - to create her, to let her go.

You're also right that I left off Yar and Garrett. I explained that too. I left off the guests who were part of ensemble casts.

I left off Yar's love interest, and Yuta, and everyone on Yuta's planet, every Klingon, every Ferengi, the Home Soil scientists, etc. I really didn't want the job of combing through ensemble casts and deciding who gets included and who doesn't. Way too boring.


But your comments miss my main point by a mile, in favor of nitpicking. I certainly did not set out to make an exhaustive list of every female and male guest star. I set out to show people - those of you who care to think about it - why Captain's Holiday is so important to me. (Clearly, no one else feels like I do - some love it, some hate it, but everyone who loves it calls it "a light romp." whereas to me it was way way better than that.)


I've liked your comments many times in the past, so I'm going to assume your comments stem from missing my point innocently, and that you're not deliberately picking a nit because you're defensive about TNG's sexism. So, in good faith, here's the short version of my first post.

tl:dr:

Growing up, I was strong and adventurous. While I loved action and adventure on TV and in books and movies, I was constantly enraged by the female characters. At best they were nonexistent. If they existed, they were never equal to the males. They were narrow stereotypes: they mothered or preened or worried; they were noble princesses or got rescued or played the obedient sidekick or the devoted wife. They were never the hero. They bedded the hero and married him, though, if they were lucky.

I thought TNG was going to be different. It wasn't. The vast majority of episodes showed interesting, strong males doing things I loved - fighting, fixing stuff, leading away teams, taking risks, making command decisions, often being vulnerable and flawed as well. When females showed up, they were mostly just there to say "Captain, I sense great pain!" and "My husband is a brilliant man" and, "Um, is that the same thing as a cosmic string?" and "He's my patient and I must stand around in Sickbay waving a wand over him to protect him," and "Sniffle, I'm crying - I'm crying on the bridge!" They completely failed to ever fight, fix stuff, lead awayteams, take risks, or make command decisions.

(They all had children, though. They all found time for that. )

So TNG constantly insulted me and rubbed salt in my feminist wounds.

However:
the Keylahr ep,
the Vash ep,
and the Ensign Ro ep

were three hours that filled me with joy. The featured independent women who were the focal point of their episodes, had strong opinions, did stuff, thought stuff, and were not on the show just to be someone's mother, caretaker, sidekick, follower, or girlfriend.

Three is precious little, but it's better than zero. And when you're accustomed to zero, getting even three transient characters you love - in four years - feels great.

And that's why I love Captain's Holiday.

Make sense, this time?

Please: no nitpicking in response :)
Jason R.
Tue, Jan 24, 2017, 6:09am (UTC -6)
Tara, I'm surprised you forgot about Guinan. But then again she wasn't exactly a doer either - more a listener and dispenser of invaluable wisdom.

Shelby was also a pretty big omission given her centrality to what was likely the high point of all Trek.

But you'll get no argument from me in this department - the men definitely have the more action heavy, adventurous roles in Trek. Calling those roles "interesting", mind you, is a subjective judgement, but one I agree with generally.

If I may offer a partial defence on that latter point - Trek for most of its history and certainly in the STNG days, was basically a male interest. Not exclusively, but mostly. What do you suppose the ratio of male to female is on this board?

That being the case, there is a certain logic to emphasizing male characters for a male audience. If we were to take the number of "interesting" characters on STNG (Shelby, Yar, Garrett, Ro, Vash, Guinan) compared to the number of interesting male characters, would 20:1 be fair? Now how many male Trek fans do you suppose there were in 1987 relative to female fans? I'll make a supposition: that the ratio on the show gave female fans far more selection than their representation in the audience would have.

My supposition also assumes that 100% of the female audience identified with the Vash or Shelby archetypes, and not the Crusher or Troy ones. And for that matter, I also am assuming that 100% wanted to see themselves in the role the way you describe.

Anyway I think you're going to get your wish. Disney has clearly awakaned to the potential of a large female scifi audience and has clearly chosen to market its Star Wars property heavily to girls. They seem to be doing so with quite a powerful will. If that succeeds, others will definitely follow.





Chrome
Tue, Jan 24, 2017, 9:09am (UTC -6)
You can't talk about season 1's female guest stars and not mention Captain Phillipa Louvois, the JAG who oversaw the hearing in "The Measure of a Man". She has to be one of the best-written female guest stars in the franchise.
tara
Tue, Jan 24, 2017, 9:17am (UTC -6)
To clarify - in making my list, i only glanced through the episodes as far as "Captain's Holiday". I can't remember when Shelby came into the picture - as I remember it was later than that. Maybe BOBW?

I didn't think of Guinan because she never had an episode of her own in those first two and half seasons. I liked her and Shelby both.

With Shelby I got the feeling we were supposed to dislike her as either a Ambitious/Castrating Bitch (like Nurse Ratchet or Cersei) or an Obnoxious Female Know-It-All, (like early Hermione Granger and Margaret from Dennis the Menace). Those are both common tropes in which the uppity female is portrayed unsympathetically for her crime of seeking to get ahead of males. Usually she's hated both in-universe and out, and is set up to be defeated, humiliated, or softened into submissive niceness and sidekickery by the end.

But the real reason Shelby didn't satisfy me the way Kehylar, Vash and Ro did is that the latter three carried their episodes: their shows were entirely about their characters, just like the Q shows, Lore shows, Too Short a Season, Outrageous Okona, The Hunted,, etc. Shelby was a great guest but the episode wasn't about her, as I remember.

As for the audience - I don't know that you're right that it was twenty-to-one male. The hardcore crowd, yes: the kind who collect figurines and, heh, post on sites like this. But I can tell you that my mom watched it in reruns for years right along with "law and order" and the British comedies and MASH. All my female college friends watched it enough to know the characters and have animated discussions about the relative merits of Riker vs Picard or Beverley vs Pulaski. We weren't obsessed; we didn't make a point of catching every episode; but we knew it and we liked it.

In fact, the first day I found myself dissecting a human cadaver, I found myself in a heated discussion about the uselessness of Tasha Yar.... with my two female dissection partners whom I'd met just a few days before. Good memories.

Thanks for the discussion. I'm certainly glad times have changed... at least a little, and at least on TV.
Robert
Tue, Jan 24, 2017, 9:18am (UTC -6)
I would agree with most of the posts on this topic. The dearth of female action stars is notable for sure. But I'd also call for the inclusion of Shelby. She felt like a proto-Ro/Kira sort of character. They made much of her being a female Riker. I often wonder what would have happened had they left Riker's promotion and given him a big send-off with his own ship in 4x03 (leaving their fates up in the air during "Family") and left Shelby as Picard's XO.

As much as I like Riker, the thought is appealing.
tara
Tue, Jan 24, 2017, 9:22am (UTC -6)
okay, Chrome? Guys?

Once again: this is nitpicking. "What about Minuet? What about that female Klingon that Riker serves with,the one who's sexually aggressive? What about those female cadets who fly alongside Wesley in "First Duty"?

If you still don't want to understand my POV, I suspect it's deliberate. If you still don't understand why I loved Captain's Holiday, I'm gonna let it lie. No biggie. I just thought I'd open a few eyes to another perspective... one that's otherwise lacking on this site.

Best wishes.
Del_Duio
Tue, Jan 24, 2017, 9:27am (UTC -6)
I had the same reaction to Shelby as I did to Capt. Jelico in Chain of Command:

You hate them at first because they bust in a disrupt the nice little thing TNG has going on, but in the end you see them as not be quite so bad and learn to appreciate them.
Chrome
Tue, Jan 24, 2017, 9:28am (UTC -6)
Tara, I'm not disagreeing with your point, I'm just suggesting that you left out one of the best characters of the first season. And no, a Judge Advocate General is not comparable to a holo-bimbo.
William B
Tue, Jan 24, 2017, 9:30am (UTC -6)
@Tara, I was worried I would come across as nitpicking and point-missing. I tried to indicate that I agree with you overall on the dearth of female guest stars. I also missed that you said that you weren't including children -- which is obviously my fault. I *agree* with the point of your post, and I should have said that. I am normally worrier, obviously, but am on my tablet and took some shortcuts. I just thought, having missed your statement that you weren't including children, that Lal was a major character -- as much so as, for example, The Dauphin, or Janice Manheim. I agree that she doesn't model an independent woman, and that she doesn't fit with Vash, K'Ehleyr and Ro. Unlike The Dauphin and Janice, say, I think she's a great character -- so I wanted to bring her up, to "defend" Lal herself as a character of value, even if her value is very different than that of Vash, K'Ehleyr and Ro. I shouldn't have butted in though and I agree wholeheartedly with your point.
William B
Tue, Jan 24, 2017, 9:43am (UTC -6)
I'm sorry to have obscured your point.
Peter G.
Tue, Jan 24, 2017, 9:44am (UTC -6)
More to the point about whether there are other good female guest stars, it's pretty clear to me that Vash stands apart from the others if for no other reason that she can stand up to Picard as an equal, which practically no other person in the entire series can claim to do. She not only stars in an adventure episode, but in a capacity where she's the one calling the shots. Her not being in Starfleet emphasizes this all the more, since she also stands out as not having to conform to Federation law (something restricting the comportment of most other guest stars).

For me, personally, when inspecting how good a role is for an actress, I tend to think of it in terms of how much there is to chew on in the role. Vash was definitely a prime vehicle for an actress, and on these grounds I would put Lal in this group, as that was an excellent role to portray (whether or not she 'counts' as a child). But yeah, there aren't too many roles like this in TNG, where a guest actress gets to play a kick-ass part that's central to the episode.
Chrome
Tue, Jan 24, 2017, 9:56am (UTC -6)
@Peter G.

In that sense, it's a shame Denise Crosby didn't stay around past the first season. If viewers can look back at the early seasons of TNG and pass over Yar, it looks like an important role the producers intended to include is lacking.
Jason R.
Tue, Jan 24, 2017, 10:28am (UTC -6)
Tara I was actually looking through Google to see if I could locate a stat detailing the ratio of male to female Trek fans and I had alot of trouble finding one. One article did mention a 50/50 ratio a while back, which I find amazing.
Jason R.
Tue, Jan 24, 2017, 10:34am (UTC -6)
Sorry just to clarify the 50/50 ratio was at a single convention.
Robert
Tue, Jan 24, 2017, 11:02am (UTC -6)
@Tara - I actually don't think anybody is disagreeing, but I'm not sure they nit-picking either. Me saying "What about Shelby?" isn't quite the same as saying "What about that female Klingon that Riker serves with." Shelby is, to me, top 5 in like "all of Star Trek" for single episode guest stars as far as memorability goes. She made her mark. That's all! I think other people are just offering up some of their own favorites to spark discussion. I don't think anybody is disagreeing with your post though.

And you did answer the Shelby question, which I missed. You are correct that she isn't the focus of the episode... more like the second half of the B plot (the A plot being the Borg of course and the B plot being Riker's career). I actually didn't see her as an Ambitious/Castrating Bitch... her qualities are quite similar to what we know of young Riker/Picard. People who want to be in the top of Starfleet are ambitious. The fact that sometimes what comes off on men as assertive comes off on women as "bossy" is ridiculous, and I always felt that Riker taking her that way and Picard setting him straight was actually really feminist and really positive.

PICARD: Good. You've covered all the bases. What's your impression of Shelby?
RIKER: She knows her stuff.
PICARD: She has your full confidence?
RIKER: Well, I think she needs supervision. She takes the initiative a little too easily. Sometimes with risks.
PICARD: Sounds a little like a young lieutenant commander I once recruited as a first officer.

...

RIKER: The Captain says Shelby reminds him of the way I used to be. And he's right. She comes in here full of drive and ambition. Impatient, taking risks. I look at her and I wonder whatever happened to those things in me? I liked those things about me. I've lost something.
TROI: You mean you're older, more experienced. A little more seasoned.
RIKER: Seasoned. That's a horrible thing to say to a man.

...

RIKER: And you have a lot to learn, Commander.
SHELBY: Yes, sir.
RIKER: Almost as much as I had to learn when I came aboard as Captain Picard's first officer. A fact he reminded me of when I commented on what a pain in the neck you are.

As somebody that hates the whole "women are bossy/men are leaders" thing... I just always loved the way Riker comes around to her. But back to your point... Shelby was there to a) provide Borg exposition and b) serve Riker's career story. So while I personally found her an awesome kickass female XO... she was not the focus of a story on her own. She's there to teach Riker a lesson. You are right.

Ro, on the other hand, is her own story entirely. And in a lot of ways Vash is too (despite the romantic pairing with the Captain). Although since you mentioned the female pilots from First Duty I will say that Sito Jaxa, who ends up in Lower Decks, is also an awesome female character IMHO. Shame they often needed to make women alien to make them really strong (Kira/Ro/Sito/Dax/K'Ehleyr).
Robert
Tue, Jan 24, 2017, 11:16am (UTC -6)
To prove your point picking through a random season's important guest stars though....

Season 2
1. The titular child is a boy
2. Nagilum presents as male to me, though gender is probably irrelevant
3. Moriarty
4. Okona
5. Riva
6. Ira Graves (like you, I'm not going to count his assistant as a shining example of a female guest star)
7. Many guest stars, but Riker's main Klingon adversary and the Benzite are male
8. JAG Louvois - I, like Chrome, would count her. She presents as an equal to Picard. And the "villian" of the piece is a male cybernetics expert.

But that means it took me 8 episodes to find ONE decent female guest star. And in that same time I arguable found 8 or 9 males ones.

Us saying - "Hey, you missed one we liked!" is hardly an attempt to disprove your overall point. And the fact is that you were talking about your experiences and who you related to. You may not have related to Louvois... and that's totally fine. Some people were just chiming in with their own experiences/impressions.
tara
Tue, Jan 24, 2017, 12:29pm (UTC -6)
Okay, it's all good. I appreciate the conversation.

Del-Duio, my mother and I argued about Jellico when we saw the episode together in reruns. I liked him from moment one and thought he was a strong, take-charge guy perfectly within his rights, and that Riker/crew needed to quit whining and obey and do their jobs. My mother thought he was a bad leader for throwing the crew into chaos and putting everyone on edge. It's an interesting debate. Shelby was the same kind of character: you could make a case for admiring her or criticizing her.

***

Observation:

Since there are so few feisty female leaders in TV/movies - and those that exist sometimes get shot down for sexist reasons (too ambitious! not pretty enough! sleeps around!) - I'm always inclined to defend the few we have.

When you talk about a male character, it's like describing a jellybean that you ate from a massive barrel of hundreds of thousands of Male Character Jellybeans that come in every color and flavor. If you say "I hate that bitter-lemon kind with the pink dots and the bumpy exterior", it's understood that you're not condemning the whole barrel.

But over in the Jellybean Barrel of Female Characters, there's like, three hundred jellybeans - and two hundred ninety seven of them are Sweet Vanilla Flavor. So if you criticize the rare Hot Cinnamon or Bitter Chocolate or Stinging Citrus, it always sounds like you're saying, 'Ugh, I can't stand a female who isn't Sweet Vanilla.'

As the jellybean barrel of female characters gets more flavors in it - which it is, slowly - this problem shrinks away.

Same, incidentally, for female politicians. The more there are, the more they can be and will be judged/treated/insulted/accepted on the same basis as the rest of the good and bad apples, and the less they'll be propped up or torn down for sex-based reasons.

We can hope.
Robert
Tue, Jan 24, 2017, 2:36pm (UTC -6)
Interesting analogy. I've been called sexist for disliking Janeway (I actually LOVE early Janeway, but strongly dislike where they took the character) and have never understood the sexism charge (especially since Kira is my favorite Trek character and Jadzia/B'Elanna rank so highly on my list). But maybe it's just because there's only one Captain jellybean and if I don't like the way it tastes it implies more than it's worth.
Linda
Sun, Feb 5, 2017, 9:33pm (UTC -6)
Captain’s Holiday is not one of my favorite episodes. But I do understand and otherwise agree with Tara. While Crusher and Troi are among my favorite characters, many’s the time I cringed, shook my head or rolled my eyes at stuff that the writers made them say or do or, especially in Troi’s case, wear. And at the times where their presence was missing when it shouldn’t have been. Ironically ST is filled with good storytelling and strong characters. And yet even the best, most fun episodes often have problems with plot holes, consistency, technobabble, etc. But that’s part of what makes forums like this fun.

I don’t have the figures, but I’m guessing that ST had a decent size female base, otherwise the Voyager captain probably would not have been female.

Kudos to Jammer and all the contributors here for their insights.
tara
Tue, Feb 7, 2017, 11:08pm (UTC -6)
A final word of credit where it's due:

Now that I'm going through the third season one by one (I had jumped ahead to review CH because I love it so much I just couldn't wait), I do notice that the show has made a good change this year. Compared to seasons one and two, season three has way more females in minor or moderate roles that don't specifically require the character to have a vagina or boobs. For example, we have the sovereign on Yuta's planet and the anti-terrorist honcho on "High Ground."

Seasons one and two suffered from the common illness called Nemo's Disease (I have also heard it called Smurf Syndrome and Tolkienism), in which males make up 99.4 percent of the population. Happily, season three TNG seems to be recovering from it's bout of Nemo's. I credit Pulaski with finding the cure before she left.

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