Star Trek: The Next Generation
Air date: 1/27/1992
Teleplay by Joe Menosky
Story by Hilary J. Bader
Directed by Patrick Stewart
Review by Jamahl Epsicokhan
The story editors must've been asleep at the wheel to let "Hero Worship" air right after "New Ground" — or at all, for that matter. I mean, didn't we just watch a child-centric character story framed by a technobabble-plentiful jeopardy problem-of-the-week? Both episodes even feature a scene where a child is trapped under a heavy metal beam. (I always love how heavy beams trap people unharmed under them, rather than crushing them.)
Where I could get on board with "New Ground" and its welcome Worf-centrism, I found "Hero Worship" to be completely and totally dramatically inert. It relies on a child guest character we have no connection to, and then uses particularly unconvincing second-rate psychobabble to justify its lame premise. The kid, named Timothy (Joshua Harris), is the lone survivor of a ravaged ship whose crew included his parents, who were killed in what Timothy initially describes as an alien attack. But there are questions about Timothy's credibility. Timothy befriends Data (who saved him from underneath the aforementioned metal beam) and retreats into a manufactured persona (explained by the aforementioned second-rate psychobabble) where he imitates Data's android movements and speech patterns.
I'm sure someone thought the idea of a kid imitating Data would be "cute" and/or "funny." Potentially, maybe, but not as executed. It's mostly just boring (featuring numerous scenes of the aforementioned dramatically inert variety) and goes on for interminable length. There's a contrived scene, for example, where the kid tries to build a model tower by putting up floor supports along one side and then trying to place the floor on top without putting up the supports for it on the other side. He's surprised and frustrated when it collapses, so Data explains his error. (Duh!) Funny how Timothy earlier had no problem constructing the floor beneath the one that collapses. The fact that Data is the one at the center of a story about a child coping with a traumatic loss doesn't say much for Troi's already questionable usefulness as a character with the title "counselor."
The mystery of what destroyed Timothy's ship is solved with clues that are obvious to the audience too long before they are obvious to the Enterprise crew. Overall, this plays as another strike against the series' unlikely notion of having children on board Federation starships, where alien attacks and/or dangerous spatial anomalies abound.