Jammer's Review

Star Trek: The Next Generation

"Captain's Holiday"


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
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20 comments on this review

Moacir Schmidt - Tue, Jan 1, 2013 - 3:52pm (USA Central)
This is, probably, the worst TNG episode of all seasons....
Corey - Fri, Mar 15, 2013 - 11:16am (USA Central)
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 (USA Central)
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 (USA Central)
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 (USA Central)
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 (USA Central)
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 (USA Central)
Vash is hot. Only saving grace for this detritus.
Susan - Fri, Feb 14, 2014 - 9:46pm (USA Central)
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 (USA Central)
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 (USA Central)
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 (USA Central)
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 (USA Central)
I enjoyed it too Garth. It's a lot of fun. To each his own I guess.
Rikko - Sat, Mar 29, 2014 - 2:33pm (USA Central)
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 (USA Central)
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 (USA Central)
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 (USA Central)
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 (USA Central)
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 (USA Central)
Vash is HOT. Maybe even the sexiest female ever in TNG.
xaaos - Fri, Oct 17, 2014 - 2:35pm (USA Central)
Jack O, by vote goes for Ensign Robin Lefler and Kamala!!! :)
Taylor - Tue, Jan 13, 2015 - 7:04pm (USA Central)
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.

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