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*** This review may contain spoilers ***
ST:TNG:122 - "Imaginary Friend" (Stardate: 45832.1) - this is the 22nd
episode of the 5th season of Star Trek: The Next Generation.
This episode (another child-oriented episode) goes into reasons why a child would develop an imaginary friend (including moving around a lot).
While the Enterprise is exploring a rare nebula that formed around a neutron star, a being from that nebula enters the ship and takes the form of Isabella, an imaginary friend of a little girl named Clara.
Soon, Isabella takes Clara to explore parts of the ship, including those that are off-limits to children. What is Isabella's purpose with Clara and the Entperise in general? Find out in another great 5th season episode.
Trivia note: Patti Yasutake stars again as Nurse Alyssa Ogawa. She mentions Risa (the popular vacation spot for the Enterprise crew). We also see Brian Bonsall as Alexander Rozhenko, Whoopi Goldberg as Guinan, and Keiko O'Brien is mentioned. The arboretum is seen again too.
Geordi also mentions his Starfleet parents, how busy they are and on two different starships. And, Troi's love of chocolate is apparent here (hot chocolate, chocolate cake).
One of the original ideas - and one of the dumbest, and, mercifully,
mostly ignored - was the crew of the Enterprise, would have their
LOVE BOAT in space.
Roddenberry realized quickly, this was not an 'entertaining' idea to continually follow, and, after it's initial season, the idea was mostly relegated to the back burner.
There are very few children who can ACT. What most of them do, is look 'cute,' and, in this episode, that's what we're handed.
IMAGINARY FRIEND - is one of the few episodes that follows a moppet aboard ENTERPRISE, and, her 'invisible' friend.
As I said, there are very few children who can act. Such names as Patty McCormack, Billy Mumy come to mind, but, not here. It's following the other form of kid 'acting,' - cute, wooden, 'lispy-talk,' and, while I've a low tolerance for 'cute,' in general, it makes trying to stomach it - for an hour, is almost unbearable.
This annoyance is the major focus of this episode. The 'story's really a 'fish out of water' tale, with Clara's 'invisible' friend becoming an alien, who can't understand why 'humans' (more accurately, adults') can be so 'mean' to kids.
This would play much better as an ABC After-School special, but, it is so myopic, and its script, so hit-over-the-head-with-a-hammer type, that, it's barely watchable.
Years ago, another sci-fi show, the often mocked LOST IN SPACE (shut up!) did a GREAT episode (it was the first season, before it became so campy, so ridiculous), about a chlld's loneliness.
That episode, MY FRIEND, MR. NOBODY, was a wonderfully acted, and scripted (!) variation of this idea, where Penny Robinson feels neglected, and, spends her time with Mr. Nobody.
Like this STAR TREK episode, the adults did not believe Mr. Nobody was anything more than a child's imagination, but, it soon became apparent, he was real, and, as here, he also is angered at how the others treat Penny.
Angela Cartwright was a much better actress, than this girl, but, additionally, the ending of that episode was so beautifully handled, that, even now, it still stands out.
As for this episode, of STTNG...it was a throw-away then, and that's where it should stay.
*** This review may contain spoilers ***
Young Clara Sutter has recently come aboard the Enterprise with her
father who is part of the engineering crew. He is a bit concerned that
rather than making real friends she only interacts with an imaginary
friend named Isabella. Counsellor Troi doesn't seem too concerned
though. Then, shortly after entering a nebula, a small glowing ball of
energy enters the ship, approaches Clara and suddenly becomes Isabella.
Clara is a little surprised but not too perturbed that she can now see
Isabella. Soon Clara starts getting into trouble as Isabella encourages
her to go to parts of the ship where children aren't allowed; each time
they are in an area with other people Isabella disappears. Wanting to
avoid trouble Clara starts doing things away from Isabella and this
leads to unpleasant threats.
Like many child centred episodes this one is a bit of a disappointment; the final message of the episode is that adults set rules about what children can do to protect them but if that is the case why are they allowed to live on a star ship that encounters danger on such a regular basis?! Even though Shay Astar is suitably creepy as Isabella she isn't really scary and Clara seems far too ready to accept that her imaginary friend just became real. The threat from the other entities in the nebula is perhaps appropriately nebulous there was little real sense of danger even after Isabella told Clara that they would kill everybody on board. Overall a fairly weak episode for Star Trek.
I love children. I was a teacher for over forty years. I don't like this episode. Every tired bromide that one can use finds its way here. The little girl who is alone (even though she has a father who loves her and people who treat her with great joy) who has an imaginary friend. She eats with her friend and talks with her to the point her father calls in Troi to intervene. So when some force (as usual, a kind of Tinkerbell of light, enters the ship, it takes on the role of her friend. Apparently, she is visible to anyone who happens to be around when she shows up, but the bad, mean Enterprise crew forgets what it is like to be a child. This "child" proves to be a bad seed and has designs on the engineering section. She becomes furious, threatening the lives of the crew. She is annoyed that the little girl, Clara, can't do whatever she wants. She is domineering and pushy and possessive, yet she decides to punish them. She is part of a force in the nebula that is investigating the worthiness of the crew. Are all of them merely children, shortsighted and selfish. Anyway, the conclusion is absolutely as bad as anything I can imagine. I did think the choice of the little girl to play the nasty friend has a great face and a formidable presence.
It's unfortunate that after trying to get my daughter to watch "Star
Trek: The Next Generation" that THIS was the first episode she saw.
It's clearly sub-par and the ending is even a bit embarrassing to
watch, as you know the actors must have winced when delivering some of
The show begins with a little girl, Clara, is in a counseling session and her father. It seems he's worried that she has some imaginary friend, but Troi assures him that this is normal and he should just go with it! However, a bit later, the girl's friend comes to life for real--and this 'friend' is a bit of a jerk. In fact, when Clara goes off to play by herself later, the friend informs Clara that she's going to killer her along with the rest of the people on the ship! Some friend!
So why is this one so bad? Well, the resolution is downright embarrassing. This malevolent force is incredibly easily mollified and in the end the girl and her new friend make up and bit each other goodbye. YICK! Sickly sweet and dumb...I think this sums it up.
*** This review may contain spoilers ***
I was quite surprised to read the low ratings for this episode. I thought the plot was good and so was the acting. Some scenes were predictable but if you watch a TV series for a few years, you're usually able to do that. While watching this episode I found myself wondering have I grown up to the point where I have forgotten how children can view adults and our adult rules. I find it amusing that the alien energy force decided to take the form of a little girl (Isabella) and although she has the power to become invisible, tamper with the starship's navigation and control systems, she still did not understand human adult behavior. I think there are big lessons here. One can be intelligent but not sophisticated. One can be skilled technically but still lack maturity. Another lesson is, humans are complex. We can not rightly judge a person by merely watching them. We need to interact with them. We need to pay more attention to our children. Oftentimes, they are telling us the truth. Lastly, wherever we're at (be it on earth or inside a starship in a nebula), we need friends.
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