***What happens when I, a 30-something-year-old fanboy, decide to look at the Star Trek franchise for the first time with an open heart? You get “Rob Watches Star Trek.”***
SERIES: Star Trek: The Next Generation
TITLE: S1:E23 – “Skin of Evil”
STARRING: Patrick Stewart, Marina Sirtis, Jonathan Frakes, Brent Spiner, Denise Crosby
GUEST-STARRING: Ron Gans (voice)
WRITER: Joseph Stefano, Hannah Louise Shearer
DIRECTOR: Joseph L. Scanlan
ORIGINAL AIR DATE: April 25, 1988
SYNOPSIS: A mission to rescue Deanna Troi proves deadly for the Enterprise crew.
By Rob Siebert
Less than a minute into “Skin of Evil,” we get a sweet little exchange between Worf and Tasha. The latter is entering some kind of martial arts tournament on the ship, and Worf tells her he bet on her. In response, Tasha gives him a somewhat embarrassed smile, and has a little twinkle in her eye.
This exchange got me excited. We’d already seen our share of romance on this show. But a human and an alien? A klingon, no less? The frosty Worf and the fiesty Tasha? The possibilities were as intriguing as just about anything this first season of TNG had showed us thus far.
Then, about 10 minutes later, Tasha is killed by a sentient puddle of black goo. It’s not a fake-out, either. The character actually gets killed off. So much for that idea…
Denise Crosby, who played Tasha, would go on to say she left the show due to her character being underdeveloped. She said in a 2012 interview, “I was miserable. I couldn’t wait to get off that show. I was dying. … I didn’t want to spend the next six years going ‘Aye, aye, captain,’ and standing there, in the same uniform, in the same position on the bridge.”
I think at this point, I’m officially comfortable agreeing with the masses who say season one of Star Trek: The Next Generation just isn’t very good. It’s not terrible, and it does do a fine job of setting the table for good television. But even judging by the limited number of episodes I’ve seen, I can tell there’s something missing.
Thinking back on my viewing of the original series, I remember being interested in the characters fairly early. But by comparison Star Trek only had three main characters: Kirk, Spock, and Bones. Everyone else was primarily a background player.
TNG, on the other hand, was more ambitious. Look at all the characters that Tasha says farewell to via hologram at the end of this episode. Picard, Ryker, Worf, Deanna, Geordie, Beverly Crusher and Wesley, Data. Throw Tasha in there, and that’s a whopping nine characters we opened the series with. Ambition is one thing. But maybe they came in a little too ambitious. Couldn’t we have met at least a couple of these characters as the first season progressed?
*sigh* Oh Tasha. We’ll always have “The Naked Now,” won’t we?
Email Rob at firstname.lastname@example.org, or check us out on Twitter.