The Great Star Trek TNG Rewatch: The Naked Now

The pilot is over and it’s time to get down to the business of weekly 42 minute episodes – so what better way to begin than with an homage and sequel of sorts to a much loved TOS episode? In this episode, the Enterprise is afflicted with a condition much like the Psi 2000 virus that had Spock crying, Sulu wielding a rapier in the corridors and Kirk wishing he could enjoy his yeoman. We’ve only just met these characters, but this gives us a chance to delve into their personalities somewhat, so, silly as it might seem, it’s not a bad way to start. Except, of course, that we have to put up with Wesley being highly annoying and then saving the day.

Characterisation

  • The first to be infected, Geordi reveals that the one thing he longs for above all is normal, human vision. Everyone else is surprised by this, as he has never expressed this desire previously, but given that this virus simulates drunkenness, doesn’t this just mean that it’s a painful secret that he’s kept suppressed? That, for all the times he says he’s content with his amazing vision, he secretly longs to be restricted to the conventionally visible spectrum like the rest of us? And why can’t he have it? Not because of 24th century technology, which surely would be able to regrow damaged body parts, or limit the VISOR to the visible spectrum, but because we need a visibly disabled role model.
  • Yar is next to fall prey to the virus, and she reveals a desire to be sexy and feminine – she even seduces Data (much as I would have preferred her to go for Troi, this was 1987). We also learn that she had a harsh childhood – she was abandoned at age five, and spent the next decade learning how to survive in the shadows and avoid the rape gangs of her home world. This is dark stuff for Star Trek!
  • Even Data gets a little intoxicated, mostly for comic effect, but proving that he can react in a human-like nature to events. He does contribute to saving the day, however, with his lightning-fast replacement of engineering’s isolinear chips. The sped-up footage now looks amusing rather than convincing.
  • Troi clearly still has feelings for Riker – and he must reciprocate deep down, since he lets her get away with calling him ‘Bill’. He’s Will, damn it!
  • Meanwhile, Crusher makes a move on Picard, but of course he is too much of a gentleman to succumb to her advances. Is what we’ve learnt that all the women of the Enterprise are gagging for sex?

Technology

  • It’s almost not worth mentioning, but for completeness, I feel I should – the old style communicators of TOS are long gone, replaced with the familiar comm badge and its ability to route communications from any one officer to another, or to the bridge. It also provides a means of tracking people through the ship.
  • Engineering’s computer system is run on isolinear chips, small rectangular computer chips that can easily be removed and replaced in their slots.
  • Only Wesley is apparently smart enough to turn the ship’s tractor beam into a repulsor beam, even though there are fully qualified engineers aboard. He is also the only person to realise that Data can save the ship by swiftly replacing the isolinear chips, and he is able to effectively take over the ship from engineering. Shut up, Wesley!

How to run a tight ship and other notes

  • Despite what I said in the last episode, I forgot that Geordi is not yet chief engineer, but actually a conn officer.
  • If I were running the Enterprise, civilians like Wesley would not be able to play recordings over the entire comm system, or even get into engineering. I’m sure he would try to defeat my precautions, but he wouldn’t be able to break my superior 24th century cryptographic standards.
  • Searching the Enterprise computer takes much longer than Google searching the entire internet. I searched for “woman taking a shower with her clothes on” and got approx 9,970,000 results in 0.58 seconds. Nothing on the first page was about Star Trek. Also, it’s of course necessary to flash up every single document on screen whilst you search through it.

Summary – The Naked Now: An amusing and nostalgic romp.

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