It’s misty and stormy, and other words that are not also stage names for strippers

Remember when you had some huge project due in middle school, and you really didn’t want to do it, so you just kept putting it off? Then, when you finally get to work on it, it’s actually more fun than you thought it would be and you wonder why you didn’t want to work on it in the first place?

Welcome to me, working on The Last Outpost. Yes, the episode is still tedious and the Ferengi are so fucking lame if they were horses we’d have to put them down, but once I decided to just relax and not worry about making the damn thing something it’s incapable of being, I found some amusing bits.

BEHOLD:

Picard asks Troi is she’s sensing anything from the Ferengi ship. That’s good, since it’s kind of her whole job and everything. She says she’s sensing nothing, so maybe they can block their thoughts and emotions. That’s bad.

Data says that we don’t know that much about the Ferengi, which is bad, but we do know a few things about them that seem to be reliable, which is good. Data says the Frogurt is also cursed.

Riker tells Data to just get on with it already, so Data says Ferengi are like Yankee traders from 18th century America. This indicates that, in the 24th century, the traditional practice of using 400 year-old comparisons is still in vogue, like when you’re stuck in traffic on the freeway, and say, “Man, this is just like Vasco de Gama trying to go around the Cape of Good Hope!”

And…

Tasha, Worf, Geordi, Data, and Riker all head to the transporter room, where the writers try to make us believe they’ll be in real danger on the planet, but we know it’s pretty safe when they beam down, unaccompanied by even a single Red Shirt.

The planet looks really cool, and it’s one of the first times we can see the difference in budgets and technologies available to the original series and the Next Generation. It’s misty and stormy, and other words that are not also stage names for strippers. We discover that energy in the atmosphere has messed up the transporter’s coordinates, and Riker’s been beamed down alone. He quickly finds Data, who again uses the word “intriguing” to describe things. He keeps using that word. I do not think it means what he thinks it means.

Riker and Data scout around, and find Geordi suspended upside down when – oh! here come the Ferengi! Holy shit! The evil Ferengi! They’re finally here, in person! We can see more than just their moderately scary faces, and they are…uh…short. And bouncy. And they wave their hands over their heads a lot. And they don’t like loud noises. And they carry whips…and wear Ugg boots. Um. Wow. How…intriguing.

Oh, and one more bit, which – I’m not going to lie to you, Marge – was the part I had the most fun writing, for reasons which will reveal themselves momentarily:

Back on the Enterprise, we discover that, like the script, things have gone from bad to worse. The lights are out, the ship’s heating is nearly gone, and Picard has had the remaining power rerouted to the family decks, where he asks Doctor Crusher how Wesley is doing.

Now, listen, fan fiction writers: It’s not because Picard is actually Wesley’s father, as many of you will argue on Usenet over the coming seven years; it’s because Picard knows that Wesley could totally figure a way out of this, and he’s right. Off the top of my head, I can suggest that Wesley would generate some sort of Enterprise-enveloping control field with one of his science projects, using an electro plasma system energy converter, to reverse the polarity of the Navigational Deflector to emit an inverse tachyon pulse through a subspace beacon, while rerouting the power from the impulse engines through the Okuda conduits to the forward sensor array’s antimatter pod, using the auxiliary fusion generator to turn the power back on and save the day.

Sadly, we learn that Dr. Crusher left Wesley in their quarters to stare death in the face alone, without even the benefit of a sedative. Picard reassures her that leaving Wesley alone and fully conscious was great parenting, because he has the right to “meet death awake.” Legions of Trekkies agree, then curse Picard for getting their hopes up.

It truly is one of the most tedious episodes of the first season, but I realized while working on the rewrite that I’d somehow managed to spread some funny bits fairly evenly throughout the synopsis, so even though it’s not slap-your-knee funny, it’s not boring, which was my primary concern.

I don’t include many bits that aren’t in the synopsis, so here’s part The Bottom Line:

TNG’s struggle to find its way continues with this episode. Obviously, it fails spectacularly with its introduction of the Ferengi, who were intended to replace the Klingons as a terrifying and worthy adversary to the Federation, but were a total joke until Armin Shimmerman brought Quark to life on DS9, and repaired much – but not all – of the damage.

However, If you take away how outrageously lame the Ferengi are, this episode has some cool elements to it. The planet looks great, and the effects that lead to the revealing of the Portal, its point of view about itself, and its interaction with Riker are straight out of classic Star Trek. In fact, the entire story of the titular last outpost would have been a very strong one, had the Ferengi not been so weak and laughable. Imagine, for example, the relationship between Kirk and the Romulan Commander in Balance of Terror, and put them into this situation, where they are forced to cooperate.

See? It’s not all jokes and snark. I manage to sneak some semi- thoughtful stuff in there between the facepalms.

When I send this to Andrew, I’m done with the bulk of the work on this book. All that’s left is transcribing some interviews I did with friends from the show so I can include a few of their thoughts (I’m not saying who I talked to, nyahh nyahh) and then I have to put everything together in one big tile and read it all, looking for jokes or phrases that I repeated and areas in the behind the scenes stuff where I can add additional material.

Yep, this is dangerously close to being finished.

82 thoughts on “It’s misty and stormy, and other words that are not also stage names for strippers”

  1. Holy Hell, Wil! I’m just going to remind you that over here on the East Coast, it’s after 2:00 AM. And this made me laugh ever so viciously to the point to where my drunken neighbors who are currently hanging out on their deck out back surely must think that I’m completely insane. Which is true, but besides the point.
    Poor Wesley, slowly dying in his quarters in that rainbow shirt and no sedative from Dr. Mom. Picard totally should have spanked Beverly for doing that, and I challenge any guy here who disagrees with me about this subject.
    Summarily, this one was pretty frickin funny, man. Datalore is probably (OK definitely) my most favorite review, but this one is definitely a close second.
    Great read, Wil. Need. This. Book. Now.

  2. Writer1: “Okay, we gotta co-opt some fans from other sources. How can we fluff up the audience by attracting people who like other sci-fi?”
    Writer2: “Star Wars is popular, I bet we could borrow some of those fans. What do people like about Star Wars?”
    Writer1: “Uhhh.. The Force? That’s sorta neat.”
    Writer2: “Hmm, we’ve already got a psychic on the show. Maybe telekinesis would stretch everyone’s suspension of disbelief.”
    Writer1: “Oh, that other thing.. the sword.”
    Writer2: “Yeah! A lightsaber!”
    Writer1: “Hm, won’t that be a bit blatant?”
    Writer2: “We can change it a bit. How about instead of a laser sword it’s a … I dunno, a laser halberd. Or a bow-and-laser-arrow.”
    Writer1: “Dude that’s pretty lame. We’re not writing comic books here.”
    Writer2: “A laser mace? A light… gun. Oh, duh, we already have those…”
    Writer1: “We could trump it up and have two laser swords back-to-back.”
    Writer2: “Dude, three words: Thundarr the Barbarian. Even Star Wars wouldn’t use that.”
    Writer1: “Well, shit, what other kinds of weapons are there?”
    Writer3: (wakes up) “A whip!”
    Writer1: “Hahaha, yeah, right, a laser whip. How’s that gonna work? Even if we write it in, it’s gonna look stupid and visual effects is gonna kick our ass.”
    Writer2: “Whatever, we’ll put it in. Someone can change it later.”
    Writer1: “If you say so.”
    Writer3: “Hey you guys eat yet?”

  3. Loved “The Princess Bride” refrence.
    Another .02 in to the pot,as for me and my personal take take on Wesley.
    The character represented many of the things I would like to have been as a teen and quite frankly wasnt.
    I do think it would have been cool too see Wesley grow as some of the other comments suggested.
    Wesley did add to the whole idea of family being on board the Enterprise,I mean the show would have lost something if wesley was just mentioned in passing rather than being seen.

  4. Oh, Star Trek drinking games have been around forever. Me and my friends used to play it all the time. Since my Star Trek friends were mostly guys who worshiped Worf, we had to drink every time he said Bat Leth Khitomer, son of Mogh, Martok, Gowron, Duras, Kurn, K’Ehleyr, Alexander, Kahless, the word “honor” or any Klingon word or phrase and if any other Klingons said any Klingon words or phrases, we had to drink then, too. This was a limited scope of episodes, and I should know, because we watched those episodes all the time.
    I incorporated my own rules into it, every time Riker did it with someone, every time Data said “Curious,” every time Geordi said “It’s gonna take some time,” every time Picard said “Make it so,” etc. Man, did we get hammered! Or at least I did, I was only one out of two girls in our group, so the two of us got wasted while our mostly guy friends acted like assholes. It’s a freaking miracle that I actually lived to see graduation day when I think back on those days now. ::Sigh:: The pitfalls of underage drinking really cheap, shitty beer.

  5. Hahahahaha!!! You are totally NOT helping me with the drunken neighbors situation at all, but Goddamn, that was funny as hell!

  6. You *didn’t* hate Dr. Pulaski? Oh man, I really, really hated her! She called Data “Datuh” and also referred to him as an “it.” Those things alone made me automatically hate her. I didn’t even like Diana Mauldair because of how much of a bitch she was on Next Gen.
    I forget what show she was on after Next Gen, but I’m told that her character was killed off when she fell through an open elevator shaft. So I don’t think I’m the only person who didn’t like her. Nothing says “We hate your guts!” like having the writers kill off your character via the elevator shaft.

  7. My pleasure. Being able to set up hot-keys to slow down, speed up, rewind, fast forward, and stop the recording definitely kept me from going batshit insane.

  8. I almost blew beverage out my nose on the whole “Sadly, we learn that Dr. Crusher left Wesley in their quarters to stare death in the face alone, without even the benefit of a sedative.” Pure genius. :) The raising hopes and crushing them mercilessly was my second favorite part of it. (Well, it wasn’t merciless, but you get my drift).

  9. Katie, Thanks for that idea, that’s just what I’ll do. I bought my first TNG today – the first series. Never seen it before (I’m now 46 and have a 12yo). I was into Blake’s Seven, at that time and generally only allowed to watch ‘pommy’ series. I find their sense of humour closer to ours – naturally, being just a bunch of convicts, it’s quite dry. I like Wil’s subtlety and ‘taking the piss’ is of course a national pastime.
    Cheers, Tim.

  10. Wil,
    Please pardon my ignorance but is this fantastic book commentaries on TNG Season 1 only or up through Episode 83 “Final Mission” (for Wesley) or on all 177 episodes? Either way, I have my credit card waiting.
    Freeman:)

  11. The plan right now is to do two volumes per season up until Final Mission. I may modify that, though, depending on reader feedback and other factors I can’t anticipate at the moment.

  12. Hey Wil, I think your attention should be brought to this immediately. Someone on Amazon.com is selling a used copy of Sunken Treasure for $59.99! Check it out: http://tinyurl.com/p7w7tw
    WTF? I only came across it because I was looking into getting the tie-in book for the new Star Trek movie and this came up in my search. Is the book lined with GOLD? They don’t even have an item description or even a stock photo up! Don’t get me wrong, I loved the book, but I think I’ll keep my $15.00 copy, thank you very much.
    Seeing as how you self-published it, is there anything you can do about getting this artard to remove his or her listing? Because that’s just complete bullshit, and as it is used, it means a $45.00 profit for them and nada for you. Man, this pisses me off!

  13. Wil,
    It would be awesome to include a DVD of TNG episodes along with your book. The reader could watch the DVD and then read the commentary. I do not know anything about copyrights, royalties, etc. and the cost may be prohibitive, but it would be AWESOME.
    Freeman :)

  14. Wil, I love you like the little brother I never had and you once patiently spent a few minutes talking to me at Comic-Con when you clearly had other places to go, but I’ve never posted before and only signed up now to let you know that the man’s name is spelled “Shimerman.” Because it makes writers sad to publish a mistake like that and find out too late to fix it.

  15. Your technobabble is exquisite!…It looks every bit as bizarre in print as most of the technobabble that actually made the show does …Thing is…i can totally hear you rattling off that twisty passage flawlessly…If you had only been allowed to.

  16. “I forget what show she was on after Next Gen, but I’m told that her character was killed off when she fell through an open elevator shaft. ”
    That would be LA Law.

  17. Definately a man of many talents, could tell you were a thinker when I met ya years ago, although now that I think of it, I am not certain what set. (Damn!) I blame my head injury (9 iron) but I do remember you distinctly. I was just w/Charles Matthews Casting then, sometime in the 90′s. I wish we could choose what to forget and what to remember! Have an awesome Memorial Day!

  18. LOL. I didn’t expect anyone to comment about that, but thanks, anyway. My parents watched that show and I remember my Mom saying something to the effect of “Remember that bitch who played Dr. Pulaski on The Next Generation? Well they killed her off this week by having her fall through an elevator shaft!” Apparently she played a bitchy character on that show, too or something.
    It’s kind of a shame, because actors seem to get type-cast like that all the time in Hollywood, and for all we know she was probably the nicest person in the world IRL. Kind of like the girl who played Nellie Olsen on Little House on the Prairie. I remember her saying that when people saw her in public they would spit on her because her character was so mean on the show. She said she didn’t know whether to be flattered or insulted because it meant that she was convincing as a brat.

  19. Oh, I loved that movie as a kid! I totally forgot that Wil, or rather his voice, was in it, though. I guess that’s because I was 9 when it came out and haven’t seen it in a really long time.
    I also loved the book that it was based on, Mrs. Frisby and the Rats of NIMH, too. I read that book probably a hundred times, possibly more, since I was (and still am) a total bookworm.
    Thanks for posting that, I’m feeling a bit nostalgic today, myself. Not sure if I’ll be sad when I hear Dom DeLuise’s voice, though.
    Happy Memorial Day, all!

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