a film by Jonathan Frakes

Patrick Stewart, Jonathan Frakes, Brent Spiner, LeVar Burton and Michael Dorn. D: Jonathan Frakes. P: Rick Berman. W: Michael Piller and Rick Berman. Paramount Pictures

For thirty years Star Trek has held out the hope that it would push the envelope just a little, expand our preconceptions just a bit, challenge us just a tad. Every now and then an episode on one of the three (or is it four now?) series would step a little out of bounds, feebly attempt to transcend the PC sensibilities of the day.

But then it would be back to business as usual: Kirk diddling the verdant vixens of the galaxy, Spock pensively embattled with his "human half", McCoy comitting malpractice between pick-me-ups, Picard acting like a dilettante, Worf blustering about his precious warriorhood, etc. All within the framework of a safe, comfortable, Leave-it-to-Beaver view of institutional morality, family stability and human manifest destiny that would give Newt Gingrich a hard-on. The bitch I have with Star Trek is that it consistently breaks the promise inherent in its potential.

Now comes Insurrection, and a cozier confection of politically-correct, moralizing New Age crap Sullydog has never seen. Never mind that I am more-or-less sympathetic to the moral(s) of this tale: the fullness of our existence lies in expansion of the moment, the needs of the many do not outweigh the needs of the few, and the displacement or destruction of a small culture to the ultimate benefit of a larger one is and always will be an atrocity. It’s just that I already know that, damn it, and so do you. If you need a Star Trek movie to set you straight on these fine points of morality, your name is Slobodan Milosovic. Once again, Star Trek fails to break new ground, fails to offer anything new.

 Unless, of course, you consider unexplored frontiers of stupidity new. The heavy-handed moral precepts at the core of this movie do little to challenge our sensibilities, but elements of the plot strain credulity. We begin by learning that Data, an android with a positronic brain that performs in the petaflop range, can be distracted during a critical tactical situation with a song from a Gilbert & Sullivan musical (sung by Patrick Stewart and Michael Dorn in one of the most painful and unforgiveable sequences ever committed to film). We learn that a beautiful planet is bathed in spooky "metaphasic radiation" that somehow confers immortality, transforming the small colony of humanoids living there into a society of Slowly Aging, Very Hip Young People. We learn that fifty years ago a mere 30 of these SAVHYP rebelled against the lo-tech, earth-friendly, flower-power life style of the others, but instead of just moving to the other end of the planet and voting Republican they left their world altogether.

Of course they immediately started to fall apart and get grotty diseases with untoward cosmetic implications. But instead of just going back to the rejuvenating effects of the spooky metaphasic radiation, these 30 or so Rapidly Aging, Bogus Industrialized Ugly People conquered two other intelligent races all by themselves and enslaved them, with a view to destroying their former brethren. And now, they’ve fooled the Federation Council into believing that this spooky metaphasic radiation can be harvested and packaged, presumably into chewable tablets or herb teas that will turn the entire Federation into--you guessed it-- Slowly Aging, Very Hip Young People.

All these things we learn as the Space Family Enterprise mug their way through another chapter of rekindled relationships and touching personal discoveries that make an episode of Eight is Enough look downright perverse.

And fiinally, we learn through the adventures of Lt. Commander Data that "you’ve got to have some fun every day."

Well, that’s what’s great about science fiction. It’s always confronting us with exciting new ideas.

The Voyage Home meets Mister Roger’s Neighborhood.

Sullydog does not approve.

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