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
Next episode: Tin Man

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31 comments on this review

Moacir Schmidt
Tue, Jan 1, 2013, 3:52pm (UTC -6)
This is, probably, the worst TNG episode of all seasons....
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.
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.
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.
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!
Wed, Dec 4, 2013, 7:29pm (UTC -6)
Vash is hot. Only saving grace for this detritus.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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 :)
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.
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.
Fri, Oct 17, 2014, 2:35pm (UTC -6)
Jack O, by vote goes for Ensign Robin Lefler and Kamala!!! :)
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.
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.
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.

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.
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...
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!
Wed, Apr 27, 2016, 8:14pm (UTC -6)
To answer your question right away, romemmy: yes, someone else thought so.

Of course, does anyone else think it would be pretty irresponsible to bring a child to Risa?
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.
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!
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
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

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