Season one had a number of fairly controversial episodes that, well, we can’t say they didn’t age well because they were somewhat cringe-worthy when they were made.
Case in point, we have “Angel One,” about a matriarchal planet. Jimmy and Tom, as always, have some thoughts.
The Enterprise investigates the disappearance of some survivors of a space wreck on a planet ruled by women.
jimmy: I hope poor love struck Trent finally got his day.
tpmk: Yes, well, this episode according to my source (Wikipedia) wasn’t popular with the cast and crew. Patrick Stewart, long-standing advocate against domestic violence, really pushed for changes, Gates McFadden called it the most sexist episode of season one, and Will Wheaton said “Code of Honor” was not as racist as “Angel One” was sexist.
jimmy: All valid.
tomk: But maybe we can point out that this time, the Enterprise’s problems were caused by Wesley instead of solved by him.
jimmy: …but…the virus came from the holodeck? How is that even possible?
tomk: Um, it’s a computer virus left over from last week?
jimmy: That’s as good an explanation as we’re gonna get I think.
tomk: It was needed to keep the crew from moving to stop the Romulans, a race a later episode tells us hadn’t been seen in decades.
jimmy: It wasn’t lying.
tomk: True. But I found some fan speculation about that. Basically, everyone realized the Ferengi sucked as villains and went back to the Romulans.
jimmy: I’ve been saying that since we started! 🙂
tomk: So has everyone else!
jimmy: We’re all smrt!
tomk: Heck, the Ferengi probably say it to each other.
Quark: You know, we really suck as villains.
Nod: What should we do instead?
Quark: Comic relief supporting characters!
Rom: I’m in!
jimmy: They do work much better in that role on DS9.
tomk: Arguably, there’s no such thing as a bad character so much as not using a character in a good way.
jimmy: Look at you go, Mr. English Teacher Smartypants.
tomk: You’re pretty good yourself, Mr. Canadian, um, Moose Friend.
So, this episode just seemed like an excuse to get Riker and Picard shirtless.
tomk: Riker forgot how much Troi’s engagement bugged him awfully fast.
jimmy: Haha, true. And Troi didn’t seem overly concerned about him heading off for, um, negotiations.
tomk: Maybe she figured the ridiculous outfit was punishment enough.
jimmy: I’m sure Frakes was thrilled with it in real life.
tomk: I get the impression no one was thrilled with this one.
jimmy: They were probably just happy Wesley was in a hospital bed instead of making them all look like chumps.
tomk: That ski outfit made Wesley look enough like a chump. What was up with that headband?
jimmy: Future clothing design is sure weird.
tomk: Even in the future nothing works. Especially fashion.
jimmy: I sometimes wonder how good a doctor Crusher is too.
tomk: She did find a cure. I’m more concerned about Riker’s peripheral vision if he can’t see Picard from five feet away.
jimmy: Heh. Yeah, he was almost on top of him on the bridge at the end until Picard spoke up. Barely.
tomk: Looking at tall women really messes with his eyesight. Or it was that funky orb.
jimmy: That you could probably buy at the dollar store.
tomk: Well, that planet loves orbs. They even ran their disintegration poles with one. Not bad for a world with mid twentieth century technology.
tomk: You probably don’t remember the mass anti-disintegration pole protests of 1958.
jimmy: Before my day.
tomk: Well, it was also in Paraguay.
jimmy: I bet those guys wore headbands skiing too.
tomk: Well, one of the genders there were larger and stronger, and such were the soldiers and hunters, as was seen as right and proper.
jimmy: Let’s reverse the question, why were the men on Angel One so small? The women seemed normal size compared to the Enterprise crew. Not like they were giant Amazons.
All those open cleavage shirts exposed the male hearts on Angel One to cosmic rays that kept them smaller?
tomk: I don’t think there’s an answer to that.
Just like how making women say awful sexist things that would normally come out of cartoonishly evil male characters doesn’t somehow make those things not-sexist.
jimmy: Maybe the writers didn’t know that.
tomk: Between that and “Code of Honor,” I am starting to think some of these writers didn’t know a whole hell of a lot of things.
jimmy: Well, it was the 80s.
tomk: And yet, it sure sounds like a lot of other people working for the show knew better.
jimmy: Indeed. But without the clout to probably do anything about it.
tomk: That’s certainly true. I learned recently, Brent Spiner had to push to play Lore. There may have been an original script idea that the other android would be female. Spiner didn’t like that and knew who to talk to to get the changes made apparently.
But, the story as I heard it, pointed out he didn’t have a lot of clout to just make demands.
That actually explains a few things here in a sense. The show didn’t have a particularly high budget, so there’s a reason so many of these guest stars are kinda…bad.
jimmy: It’s definitely on a modest budget. Which I think I forget sometimes watching the remastered versions.
tomk: Sometimes the people who remastered probably forgot that too.
jimmy: If only they could have remastered Riker’s outfit.
tomk: Too late for that. They also didn’t remaster Riker’s Kirk speech at the end.
jimmy: Riker sure unleashed his Kirk side in this one.
tomk: Seriously, that evolution vs revolution speech sure sounded like something Kirk would say.
jimmy: Well, it worked.
tomk: Up to a point.
Matriarch: You guys can live, but you have to move to Monster Island.
Trent: It’s actually more of a peninsula.
tomk: I still don’t understand why Data had Milhouse’s teeth.
jimmy: Oh those wacky androids and their fetishes. Speaking of which, I was surprised Tasha never reacted when Data revealed he was anatomically a man. Tasha: “And WHAT a man!”
tomk: I think she tries to block out that whole episode. Along with most of the season.
And that’s why Troi forgets Tasha existed. Because so many of the crew tried to forget the first year.
jimmy: It’s far from stellar at this point, but outside of Farpoint, I’ve found it completely passable.
tomk: I expect better. And this episode was, well, subpar even without the sexism. I remember watching it when it was new and wondering if the Enterprise couldn’t beam the men and their families onto the ship, why not just beam them to another part of the planet?
jimmy: It’s a typical sci-fi trope where on an entire planet, two factions in the same location can’t exist so one has to die. Still happens today. I remember The Mandalorian had a similar “this planet ain’t big enough for the two of us” situation.
tomk: Yes, but The Mandalorian had alien puppet babies.
tomk: Well, you thought the episode was passable. Why?
jimmy: I meant more the season as a whole, but this was ok. I don’t think I’m super sensitive to the sexism and can just roll my eyes at the absurdity of it.
tomk: I just thought it was way too heavy-handed, even for Star Trek.
jimmy: Maybe the next one will do a better job at striking your fancy.
tomk: Maybe. Ready to go?
jimmy: Make it so.