Majel Barrett is, despite not being as much of a household name as other original series castmembers, one of the foundation stones of Star Trek. As an actress (and Gene Roddenberry’s wife), she played a part both on screen and off going back to the original pilot of “The Cage”.
She appears on Star Trek the Next Generation for the first time as Lwaxana Troi in the episode “Haven.” Jimmy and Tom had some thoughts.
As the Enterprise finds a nice place for shore leave, Counselor Troi learns something unexpected: she’s getting married and her mother is coming to the ship.
jimmy: I guess, given his well known hatred of weddings, they asked Worf to stay in his quarters.
tomk: Possibly to babysit Wesley.
tomk: Betazoid weddings aren’t for the underage.
jimmy: Not with all the nudity.
tomk: Or uncomfortable in-laws.
Or just Lwaxana Troi.
jimmy: Or the petty bickering.
tomk: Caused by Lwaxana Troi.
jimmy: She certainly knows how to bring out the best in people.
tomk: Lots of uncomfortable silences because no one can get a word in edgewise.
Ok, so,Troi’s mother. I’m not sure I’m a fan. She feels like a character from a lame sitcom, the crazy older mama.
jimmy: It’s the eyes, isn’t it? I bet it’s the eyes.
tomk: Well, she just seems out of place for this show. If she wasn’t Troi’s mother, there’d be no reason for her to be there.
jimmy: It did have some very sitcom-y elements. Like Picard lifting the luggage.
tomk: And then Geordi and Data pretending not to notice.
jimmy: And then Data looking like a buffoon at the “rehearsal dinner”.
tomk: Did you not want more of the petty bickering?
jimmy: Data sure did.
tomk: It was that or watch the tall man drink.
jimmy: And drink. And drink. And drink. And bang the gong…
tomk: Cripes, that whole planet must suck. No wonder Troi left.
jimmy: They do seem to have a lot of strange traditions.
tomk: All they do there is get it on, bang the gong, get it on.
jimmy: And have naked weddings.
(Great T-Tex reference.)
tomk: Well, that’s one way to save on a dress.
jimmy: Indeed. Or wondering if the bride should wear white.
tomk: Depending on how much sun she gets, there might be some white on display with some brides.
jimmy: Haha. Good point. Hopefully they get their practice in like Mr. Miller.
tomk: Now there’s a thought I didn’t want back.
jimmy: Speaking of the Millers, did Wyatt remind you of a young Christoph Waltz or was it just me?
tomk: It was you. I was wondering why he was seeing visions of what looked like a woman from a shampoo commercial.
jimmy: They never really explained them having dreams about each other or how she knew he would be there.
tomk: Haven is a magical place. It causes dreams to come true even before you get there.
jimmy: You know, I thought Deanna’s absence last episode would lead directly into this one. I think they even said she had gone to Betazed (though I might be remembering that wrong). But it really had no relation whatsoever. And if it was Betazed she had visited, this sudden wedding is even more odd.
tomk: She got a box with Armin Shierman’s face on it to tell her that. Since it looks like Lwaxanna travels quite a bit, Troi could have been seeing other people there that weren’t her mother. Somehow, I suspect she finds spending less time with her mother more relaxing.
jimmy: That’s true. I didn’t even realize it was Shimerman.
tomk: Apparently, that was his first Trek role. His appearance as one of the first Ferengi was recorded later.
jimmy: That was a very TOS box.
tomk: Old Doctor Who too.
Then again, that was a curse or punishment for anyone foolish enough to ask the sort of dead Time Lord Rassilon for immortality.
jimmy: I know I won’t do that again!
Is it rude to ask how many times you’ve regenerated?
tomk: Then I’ll let Watson ask. He probably prefers the Fourth Jimmy.
jimmy: Everyone does.
tomk: Not me. I like the Current Jimmy.
jimmy: He’s pretty great too.
tomk: What does any Jimmy think of Mrs. Troi?
jimmy: I don’t mind her. I can get not being a fan. But as the stereotypical overbearing mother figure, I think she’s fine. But I was mostly distracted by what I assume were her contact lenses. Which made it seem like a Betazoid thing, but Deanna’s eyes are normal.
tomk: Deanna is only half Betazoid.
Then again, two things do leap out at me beyond the obvious that Troi was not going to get married and leave the ship.
1. Riker’s jealousy. When has he ever been like that with her before? Usually it’s the other way around.
2. How much am I supposed to care about Troi’s fiance given we knew he wasn’t going to marry Troi and we barely got to know him before he boarded the plague ship?
jimmy: 1. Yes, it is the other way around. But these two obviously need to get together or get over each other as they can’t seem to let the other be happy.
2. I don’t think we were supposed to care all that much.
It seemed to be more a vehicle for introducing Troi’s mom.
tomk: Yeah, you wanna talk something that is very Trek, you need to look at Majel Barrett.
Or Mrs. Roddenberry.
How much do you know about the original Trek pilot, “The Cage”?
jimmy: I’ve seen it, but it’s been a long time.
tomk: Well, you may recall Barrett was the First Officer in the original pilot. Her character’s name was “Number One”.
Spock was also there.
The network didn’t like some unknown actress who happened to be the creator’s girlfriend as the second lead and they didn’t care for Spock because they thought he looked like the devil. Roddenberry somehow got the chance to do a second pilot, and he basically dropped all the characters except for Spock and later married Barrett and cast her as Nurse Chapel, a character whose job seems to be to have unrequited love for Spock.
Barrett joked later that Roddenberry kept Spock in the show but married Number One. Or something like that.
jimmy: And she does the voice of the Enterprise computer, which Deanna must love hearing all day every day.
tomk: She was the voice of the old Enterprise computer too.
jimmy: Hopefully with better voice recognition.
tomk: Well, they have a couple centuries to iron that out.
tomk: I mean, it’s not like they’re trying to cure a genocidal plague from a race we’ve never heard of before.
jimmy: Even Future Siri can’t do that.
And funny how all these alien races look identical to humans.
tomk: They didn’t even try with some forehead ridges or funny ears this time.
jimmy: They probably ran out of money after styling all the female crews hair for the rehearsal dinner, but still keeping them in Starfleet uniforms.
tomk: And then there was the girl from the shampoo commercial that Troi’s betrothed saw in visions. She couldn’t even afford a full shirt.
jimmy: That’s how the virus works. It destroys the midriff of shirts first.
tomk: Well, she’s dead.
jimmy: Wyatt won’t be far behind.
tomk: Unless he’s the guy who’s going to cure those people.
jimmy: If he does, I’m sure we’ll hear about it in a future episode.
tomk: Nah. He and shampoo commercial girl will be off making babies with great hair.
jimmy: They both did have great hair genes.
tomk: And her people haven’t invented the table gong yet, so they have that going for them.
jimmy: Hopefully Betazed stays unique with that one.
tomk: I’m guessing they don’t do that in Canada.
jimmy: Not since 1957.
tomk: Not down here either. Maybe in the Newman house. I didn’t ask the one time I was there.
jimmy: I can see Jonathan banging a gong occasionally.
tomk: And then Watson thanks everyone for the drinks.
jimmy: The end. Good episode everyone. Let’s hope those guest stars never return.
jimmy: That was more a Watson joke than a TNG joke.
jimmy: I doubt anyone besides Mommy Troi returns though. Maybe her butler.
tomk: Well, Barrett did earn her spot in Trek, no matter how you slice it. She got listed in the opening credits for Star Trek IV despite appearing in one scene and having maybe two lines.
jimmy: Well, she was an existing character at that point.
tomk: True, but she adds nothing to the movie and they could have not shown her and been perfectly fine.
Then again, Star Trek IV is my idea of Trek comedy done right. This episode, named for a planet they never step foot on, just doesn’t work for me. Too many gongs.
jimmy: I’m not a big TOS fan as I’ve said, but do enjoy Voyage Home.
This episode was ok. I guess I liked it more than you. But is largely forgettable.
tomk: “Largely forgettable” could describe so much of season one. And two. Parts of three…
jimmy: We’re in for a fun ride!
tomk: You gotta get through the rough stuff first.
On a side note, I do recall Barrett had a very memorable guest role on Babylon 5 as an alien dowager empress with some precog abilities.
jimmy: Another show I’ve never watched. No ties to Rodenberry there though right?
tomk: Not for that one, no.
jimmy: Hardly recognize her. But might just be the photo. And lack of gongs.
tomk: It’s a different character from Mrs. Troi. A good actor can do that.
I mean, you wouldn’t think she was the one on the left, but here we are.
jimmy: Heh. I was going to make the same joke.
tomk: That was a quick scene done for some comedy. Barrett’s character is a Centauri, a somewhat Roman Empire-style alien race where the women are usually bald and the men have peacock fans coming from their heads. The other guy is a Narn, the Centauri’s longtime enemies. These two happened to be on the station for different reasons in the same episode and shared a brief uncomfortable (mostly for her) elevator ride at the end of the episode.
jimmy: At least she didn’t have to put up with Picard interrupting her to tell the turbo lift where they were going.
tomk: Yeah, no voice commands on B5!
Then again, the difference may be that people on B5 want her character to visit. Lwaxanna Troi just goes wherever she wants.
jimmy: As do Deanna and Wyatt. Riker really needs to lock the door on the holodeck. What if he had been in there watching those harp girls again?
tomk: He really should grow a beard is what he should do.
And yeah, harp girls…
jimmy: Agreed. C’mon beard. Hurry up!
tomk: Bearded men get to date the harp girls, not just watch them.
jimmy: Just ask Sean Connery.
tomk: Sean Connery has other problems. But harp girls ain’t one.
Is it me, or is home entertainment in that era really tame?
jimmy: Indeed. Or maybe a show like TNG can only show so much. You probably don’t want to shine a black light in that holodeck.
tomk: I think Voyager played with that idea a bit when a Vulcan crewman went through the pon farr.
jimmy: Better than Watson going through porn far.
tomk: That’s any day ending in “y”.
jimmy: Maybe we should see how the holodeck should really be used.
tomk: Is that a segue?
tomk: Because if it is…
…I am fine with that.
jimmy: Then let’s play detective.