Star Trek: Generations (1994) (part 3 of 12)
Back on the bridge, things are going quite badly, as crew members are doing the patented “shockwave knocks us around like rag dolls” routine they trot out for every movie and episode in the franchise. Scotty has a Treknobabble solution, and Kirk suggests using a photon torpedo. Harriman says they can’t because… Well, I’m sure you can guess what the deal is with the photon torpedoes.
I don’t know how, but this film has actually managed to make me hate Tuesdays. And running gags. And Alan Ruck.
Scotty comes up with an idea that’s essentially an imitation torpedo blast using the deflector dish, but it has to be done manually. Harriman eagerly volunteers, handing the bridge over to Kirk and almost bolting for the turbolift shaft. I have to say, he may be the most pathetic excuse for a starship captain I’ve ever seen. Not only would he use the Sing-Along Maneuver, he’d use it in exactly the wrong situation and end up getting himself and his crew blown to bits by the Breen. Because, as everyone knows, the Breen really hate Gilbert and Sullivan.
Kirk hesitates, then says he’ll do the manual deflector dish thing himself. I’m getting a serious Steven Seagal in Executive Decision vibe here. Hilariously, Kirk, the guy who always took the first opportunity to beam down to the Most Dangerous Planet in the Galaxy when he was captain, tells Harriman the captain’s place is on the bridge.
Personally, I think he’s decided he doesn’t want the chair anymore now that it’s soaked with Harriman’s urine.
Kirk gets to Deck 15, where whatever the hell he needs to do can be accomplished, and we get a heroic rendition of the main title theme as Kirk makes his way through steam-filled corridors with lots of futuristic pipes and girders.
He gets to the right compartment and climbs down a ladder, finally getting to a control panel where he switches around some computer chips, looking like he really knows what he’s doing. Okay, so Kirk is officially retired after Star Trek VI (don’t believe me? The cast list has him as “Captain James T. Kirk, retired”), and this is a brand new ship built along different engineering lines from the Constitution-class ships Kirk has known his whole career. How does he know how to take the ship apart? Did his earlier tour include an engineering debriefing on deflector reconfigurations in case of contact with energy ribbons?
During this, Scotty reports that he “doesn’t know how long he can hold it together”—because that’s what Scotty always says, and catchphrases are meant to be used, and used, and used until you can almost anticipate their arrival. Or maybe this is an outtake of Doohan complaining about having to restrain himself from punching Shatner in the face.
Kirk finishes up, and evidently this takes care of things, since the ship now uses the deflector dish to break free of the energy ribbon. Treknobabble works like magic! Literally, and with the same level of foundation in reality.
But as luck would have it, one last vindictive little blast of energy from the ribbon whips past the ship, taking out most of the deflector dish section. Demora gets them clear, but reports major damage, right in the area Kirk was. There’s a long, still moment as Scotty tries to contact Kirk. He leaves with Harriman, and they’re joined by Chekov in the section Kirk was in.
All they see is space and no sign of Kirk, or the whole deflector compartment, for that matter. This is actually a rather nice moment, as the three actors underplay their reactions admirably. It’s as good a way as any to kill off Kirk. But it doesn’t give Shatner a big death scene, so clearly we can’t leave things there (sigh).
There’s a shot of the damaged Excelsiorprise with our three actors matted in, which transitions to the open sea, as a caption reading “78 Years Later” fades in. We pan up to see a 19th century naval ship (no doubt intended as a reminder that back in 1965, Roddenberry pitched the original Star Trek as Horatio Hornblower in space). On the back of the ship is the name “Enterprise”, and it turns out we’re on the holodeck for our Obligatory Cheeky TNG Opening.
Given how these “humorous” scenarios usually play out, can you believe I’m actually missing Captain Yellowshorts and Daughter-of-Sulu already? And we haven’t even started with the TNG stuff. In fact, I’m imagining the further adventures of Harriman and the Excelsiorprise. Maybe their first mission was to reclaim their captain’s balls. Some enterprising nerd probably has written reams of excited prose about the poor guy’s glorious future.
Picard, Riker, and the entire TNG crew are in full naval regalia from the period, and the reason they’ve gotten all dressed up is that Worf is getting a promotion to Lieutenant Commander. Yes, after seven years of growling, being relatively anti-social, and being given very little to do, not to mention having to stand up when everyone else on the bridge gets to sit down, Worf is finally getting some recognition.
Of course, for the rest of the movie he’ll be back to having nothing to do again, but at least he’ll be able to admire his shiny new rank pip in the Enterprise’s reflecty touchpad microwave control panels of the future!
The promotion ceremony is carried out in the style of a condemned sailor being forced to walk the plank, with Riker reading off a scroll of charges. The ceremony ends with Worf walking out onto the plank, as a hat is lowered on a rope a few feet above his head. As our turtle-shell-headed friend walks out, Riker casually remarks to Picard that nobody has ever grabbed the hat. (Now I want to see footage of the earlier attempts. Jump, Deanna, jump!)
So I’m sure you can pretty much guess what happens next. Well, besides the tiresome wackiness. That part goes without saying.
Sure enough, Worf makes a nice leap and grabs the hat, placing it on his head to the cheers of his fellow crew members. So Riker orders the computer to remove the holographic plank, which of course sends Wile E. Coyote, I mean Worf, crashing into the water. Picard drily comments that Riker should have said “retract plank”, and Riker yells an apology as Worf treads water and seethes. Oh right, I forgot, Klingons are allergic to bathing. Is that the joke? Help me out here.
The whole crew is laughing maliciously at Worf and yukking it up, all except for Data, and my spider-sense is tingling. It can sense great crappiness in a movie. Last year, for instance, it nearly melted down with Transformers 2. And that was just from looking at the poster.
Data is confused as to why everyone is laughing. Dr. Crusher, to get a few lines, horns in to explain that it’s all in good fun. He needs to learn to be spontaneous and “Live in the moment! Do something unexpected!” Because what you really want to have around is an ambulatory computer with a sense of unpredictability. Clearly, this woman needs to re-watch the first fifteen minutes of Robocop and remember just how clueless the android she’s talking to right now is.
Also: haven’t we already done the whole teaching-Data-humor thing? And paid a horrible price for it?
Data responds by shoving Crusher into the water. For some reason, this is shown in slow motion, just in case the act of falling into the water was a foreign concept to anybody. And solely because the film needs a reason for Data to do what he’s going to do later, the entire crew is stunned into silence by this, and Geordi gives him a scathing “What the hell is wrong with you?” look. Well, as much as LeVar Burton can manage that look with that stupid-looking tiara covering his eyes.
You know, the more I think about it, the more I don’t mind the corneal implants he got in the next film. It’s certainly a better look compared to the air filter he’s wearing here, which looks cheesy on TV and even cheesier in a feature film with actual production values. I’d wonder why I ever thought the air filter tiara looked cool, but then I look over at my movie collection and realize where my level of taste is at currently, and just feel bad.
So. Throwing an angry Klingon into the water = hilarious. But throwing a useless ship’s doctor into the water = incomprehensible faux pas that causes an android to mope dejectedly between now and the next emergency. Sure, okay. Got it. Wait, what?