Scotty's way of keeping his reputation as a miracle worker is such a classic piece of Trekkian lore that I've for years used it as a running gag at work. Want to impress people, or at least set reasonable expectations? Then be sure to "Scotty It."
In "Temporal Edict," the lower deckers decide to Scotty It with their bosses so there's room in the day for some "buffer time." But when Boimler accidentally lets the concept of "buffer time" slip to the captain — while she's in a particularly bad mood about her ship being disrespected and reassigned — she decides to implement strict productivity deadlines around all shipwide tasks in order to increase efficiency and improve her crew's discipline and reputation. This has the effect of turning everyone into an overworked zombie (I immediately thought of Amazon workers trying at all costs to make their numbers) — except Boimler, who already operates at such peak efficiency that his day-to-day continues without disruption.
This is a reasonably good workplace comedy concept. But the big problem here is the completely unworkable collision between the episode's cartoon logic and our ability to believe the characters are so slavishly governed by it. There's a glaringly obvious lack of common sense here. Freeman's orders have the workplace effect of setting the entire ship on fire, with everyone running this way and that and tripping over one another as they attempt to beat the clock. I get that one tactic of comedy is exaggeration, but Freeman's policy so clearly causes more harm than good that she simply comes off looking like an idiot for not recognizing her crew is drowning and, oh, by the way, an alien takeover is happening because no one can tear themselves away from meeting their productivity requirements to stop it. (As a reward for pointing out Freeman's error, Boimler has the idea for built-in downtime named the "Boimler Effect," counter to his own philosophy and much to his eternal shame.) Subtlety here is a lost virtue. Comedy is a balancing act, but when all human plausibility is sacrificed for goofy plotting as it is here, the balance is thrown way off.
The ship-based plot is interwoven with an alien encounter on the planet surface that goes awry, leading douchebro first officer Jack Ransom (Jerry O'Connell) and Mariner to be thrown into a holding cell, while the rest of the away team is sentenced to execution. The two argue over who will fight in the forthcoming trial by combat that may allow the team to be spared. Ultimately, this leads to a big showcase for Ransom (as Mariner looks on with newfound attraction/appreciation) as he gets his shirt torn off in a cage match with a big alien muscleman. It's a parody of all those classic Kirk-centric TOS episodes in the vein of "Arena" (with Ransom making frequent use of the bizarre Trekkian two-fisted club-punch trope, which I guess I appreciate), but little of this plays out with much wit or hilarity. It's just kind of there.
So, yeah, writers — you've watched Star Trek and there are references here. Great. Now can we do something with this show that isn't just a patchwork of random Trek clichés and exaggerated plots and stupid characters that mostly traffic in tepid jokes and obvious payoffs?
Like this site? Support it by buying Jammer a coffee.