Captain’s log: stardate 41509.1
This duo of episodes is a tough one, it’s like they decided to put the worst two episodes together to make it that much harder to get through.
When the Bough Breaks was written by Hannah Louise Shearer this episode first screened for audiences on 15 February, 1988.
On the upside this episode does feature Jerry Hardin.
A legendary planet, one that supposedly only appears on occasion and will vanish at a whim, is discovered by the Enterprise. Led by Picard (Patrick Stewart) and Riker (Jonathan Frakes) are well-versed in the legend, but they aren’t prepared for the actuality.
The inhabitants of the planet are unable to have their own children anymore, thanks to the shield that cloaks them from marauders. They kidnap a number of the Enterprise children, including Wesley (Wil Wheaton), and fling the starship light years away.
Wesley, and the young children lead a sit-in demanding to be returned to the ship, and Picard tries to negotiate with Radue (Hardin).
The story is too gentle, and as good-hearted and smart as the character of Wesley is, this early in the series, no one wanted to learn more about the character because he came across as a now-it-all; the audience was not on his side.
That is due in no part to Wheaton’s performance, he did what he was scripted to do, but the younger viewers he was meant to appeal to couldn’t relate to him.
In the end, thanks to the crew of the Enterprise, the legend of the planet must end, but the people will leave on.
Captain’s log; stardate 41463.9
If When the Bough Breaks was a trial to get through, Home Soil isn’t that much better despite the fact that there is a great idea at the heart of the tale. Written by Robert Sabaroff from a story by Sabaroff, Ralph Sanchez and Karl Geurs this episode first aired on 22 February, 1988.
Home Soil plays as The Next Gen’s answer to the Original Series’ Devil in the Dark, but without the sharp dialogue and characterisations.
In this case, the Enterprise arrives at Velara III, where a terraforming project is underway. The project is led by Kurt Mandl (Walter Gotell) who is a bit stand-offish with the crew.
Data (Brent Spiner) and Geordi (LeVar Burton) during their explorations of the project encounter what is first assumed to be machine malfunctions, one that even causes the death of a project member.
As the investigation continues they discover a previously undiscovered form of life, one that has tried to communicate with the project. Those in command of the project have ignored these signs, carrying on with their terraforming, and causing the destruction of the indigenous life form.
Once the Enterprise discovers the life form, and brings it aboard the ship, things progress, and the overtures of relations are laid.
Again, it’s not the strongest episode in the first season, which is unfortunate, because Devil in the Dark was episode 25 of the original series. We’re on episode 17 of Next Gen, and they are still trying to find their feet. The characters are getting stronger each episode, but the stories can’t keep up.
The Human Adventure continues on Thursday…