Fifty years ago, Star Trek premiered “And the Children Shall Lead.” Oh my god, I find this episode dreadful. Star Trek doesn’t usually do children very well to begin with. The malicious demon-child trope is even worse. In fact, the only thing I like about this episode is the insight into how the ship’s mess hall worked in the days before true replicators.
The guy who plays the ghostly alien who controls the children was not a trained actor but rather defense attorney Melvin Belli. This man had been the defense attorney for Jack Ruby and producer Fred Freiberger thought it would make for a successful ratings stunt.
It did not.
This week 20 years ago, Voyager premiered its fifth season with the episode “Night.” It’s… ok. Janeway does a lot of soul searching about whether she’s made the right decisions up to this point. Which would be a neat idea for a character episode if it felt like any progress she makes was going to stick. But no, it doesn’t. It all comes around to a status quo again. Such is Voyager. Oh, also they are in a section of the galaxy where all the stars are missing. Because you know, that is something that happens.
This episode is the first appearance of the “Captain Proton” holodeck program. Some people really enjoy this throwback to the pulpy camp days of 1950s sci-fi. Personally, if I wanted to watch that there are lots of MST3k episodes that cover it.
CBS dropped an episode of “Short Treks” last week and it is driving me batty because I can’t find it on their stupid app. It doesn’t come up in search or under their original programming. Has anyone been able to see it? It stars Tilly, who is definitely one of my favorite characters of Discovery.
Speaking of Tilly, some people have postulated the idea that she might be on the Autism spectrum. I don’t know if she is or not, but I like the idea that by the 23rd century it would be such a non-question that it wouldn’t even come up — much as Alexander Siddig liked that no one was all that interested in Doctor Bashir’s ethnic background. In any society that dealt with literal aliens and different evolutionary trees on a regular basis, being nuerologically atypical would be the definition of no big deal.
Star Trek has always tried to embrace the diversity of humans, not just ethnically but also in terms of different humans having different abilities. With Geordi in TNG, Roddenberry liked the idea of a blind man driving the ship. Of course, in that case his blindness was all but removed with the visor so except in brief moments we never really got to see a blind man functioning as part of the crew. The idea of putting Jadzia in a chair was briefly considered for DS9, and the remnants of that idea appear in the moderately successful episode “Melora.” I liked that the episode didn’t show the Federation just “fixing” her, but rather showed how someone with a disability could still contribute. I also liked that she was allowed to have a bit of defensiveness and attitude about her situation, a part of having a disability that is not often allowed on television.
It took Trek FOREVER to have any openly gay characters in canon. Trek has a inconclusive record when it comes to representation of people with disabilities. With Ash Tyler and even Picard, it has tried to handle PTSD, but in very much a pick-it-up-and-put-it-down-as-conveniant kind of manner. There’s an entire range of humans and human differences that have yet to be explored. So that’s this weeks question: what kind of representation would you like to see on Star Trek? What is a part of the human condition that the show has dropped the ball on remembering and appreciating? It doesn’t have to be a big category like race. There’s probably someone you know that is different in some way that makes them unique and that is probably something that Trek could be benefited by including.
What is Star Trek missing?
And now, a random image from Memory Alpha.