One of the horror genre's "most widely read critics" (Rue Morgue # 68), "an accomplished film journalist" (Comic Buyer's Guide #1535), and the award-winning author of Horror Films of the 1980s (2007), The Rock and Roll Film Encyclopedia (2007) and Horror Films of the 1970s (2002), John Kenneth Muir, presents his blog on film, television and nostalgia, named one of the Top 100 Film Studies Blog on the Net.
Star Trek :The Next Generation 30th Anniversary Blogging: "Coming of Age" (March 14, 1988)
Enterprise stops at Relva VII, where young Wesley Crusher (Wil Wheaton) plans
to take a difficult entrance exam for Starfleet Academy. He is in competition
against three other contenders: a Benzite named Mordock (John Putch), a Vulcan
named T’Shanik (Tasia Valenza), and a human, Oliana Mirren (Estee Chandler).
Wesley has prepared well for the test, but is most concerned about Starfleet’s
Psych Test, which is renowned for being accurate…and terrifying.
the Enterprise is visited by Admiral Quinn (Ward Costello), who -- through his
underling Lt. Commander Dexter Remmick (Robert Schenkkan) -- launches an
investigation into the Enterprise. Remmick interviews the command crew, and the
gist of all his questions involves Captain Picard (Patrick Stewart) and his
fitness for command.
Remmick toils, Captain Picard saves the life of a young man, Jake Kurland
(Stephen Gregory) who steals a shuttlecraft. Jake is upset he did not get to
test at Relva instead of Wesley, and loses control of his craft in orbit.
Picard demonstrates his acumen and knowledge by instructing Kurland how to
bounce the malfunctioning shuttle off the planet’s atmosphere and return safely
to space. Even this rescue, however, does not impress Remmick.
the surface, Wesley aces his Psych Test, but is not selected as the candidate
for Starfleet. He loses out to Mordock, who will be the first Benzite in
on the Enterprise, Picard learns why he has been singled out by Remmick and his
old friend, Quinn.The admiral fears
some nefarious conspiracy has taken over Starfleet, and wants allies close by.
He offers Picard the position of Commandant, Star Fleet Academy, but Picard
turns him down to remain captain of the Enterprise.
of Age” is a weird, though not unpleasant episode of Star Trek: The Next Generation
(1987-1994). The episode is weird because it functions as an
unofficial first part of a two part episode (the second part being
Basically, the episode
sets up the premise of a conspiracy subverting the Federation in general, and
Starfleet in particular. Admiral Quinn and Remmick both return in “Conspiracy,” one of the final episodes of the first season, co-opted by the alien-run conspiracy. However, “Coming of Age” seems torn
between setting up this fascinating premise, and undercutting it. Quinn explains the broad details of a conspiracy here, but then, by episode’s end, dismisses the very idea as
being the product of his (aging) mind. So he goes through all this angst -- including
recruiting Remmick -- because he is convinced a conspiracy exists. Then, after putting
the Enterprise crew through the wringer, he dismisses the possibility
this episode, Data is asked to check into the Enterprise and seek anything
amiss. He finds nothing. But what if Quinn had asked Data to confirm his
suspicions of a conspiracy inside Starfleet itself, instead? We know from
“Conspiracy” that Data finds one, after brief research.Had Quinn trusted Picard, and engaged his
crew in discovering the conspiracy, his mission would have been better
the episode gives Remmick ample reason to question Picard’s fitness. It brings
up his violation of the Prime Directive in “Justice,” and his loss of his
mental faculties in “The Battle.”Remmick might also have asked why, in his first months in command of Starfleet’s
flagship, Captain Picard has also twice surrendered the ship (once to “Q” in
“Encounter at Farpoint” and once to the Ferengi in “The Last Outpost.”) He
might also have asked about Picard’s loss of faculties in “Lonely Among Us,”
though of one his questions references “The Naked Now,” another story in which
Picard lost command of the Enterprise and also lost control of himself.
given all these circumstances, Remmick finds nothing amiss with Picard’s
tenure. Then, astoundingly, he notes the informality among the bridge crew, and
says that it is the result of a feeling of family. This is an observation more
appropriate to Kirk’s Enterprise, it would seem. Indeed, the final episode of The
Next Generation, “All Good Things,” culminates with Picard admitting
that he should have been “familiar” with his bridge crew far earlier. The interaction between this bridge crew is pleasant, but I would hardly say it is like a family, especially at this early juncture.
basically, Remmick is the worst investigator ever. He sees a relationship that isn't there. And then doesn't report Picard's (numerous) failures in command.
weird to write these words, but Wesley’s subplot is superior, actually, to the
“investigation” subplot. It is fascinating to learn more about procedures for
entering Starfleet Academy, and great to meet an intriguing new alien species: the
Benzites.Furthermore, Wesley’s particular psych
test -- worrying about choosing who must live or die -- makes sense for the character, and is reasonably affecting.Still, in terms of practicality, does Starfleet
Command always arrange dramatic “set-ups” for the Psych-Test, enlisting other
officers to play out specific scenarios? Wesley's psych test involves explosions, injuries, steam/gas, etc. That's a pretty elaborate production!
If Starfleet goes to these lengths for every cadet, that’s a little weird and unbelievable.Still, the psych test scene is well-played by Wheaton,
and it’s a great choice on the part of the writers and producers to deal Wesley
a reverse.Throughout the series thus
far, Wesley has been seen as superior to all others, including trained
Starfleet Officers. By this point, we expect him to succeed. But as The Last
Jedi (2017) taught us (with apparently so much controversy), failure can be the greatest teacher. Picard virtually says as much in the episode coda.
of Buck Rogers in the 25th Century will recognize the matte painting
of the Starfleet base on Relva 7. The matte was used in the BR episode “Plot to
Kill a City.” It has been modified here, re-painted and given some new (moving) elements so it seems more three-dimensional. This episode also marks the first appearance of a Starfleet shuttle.