Kelly leads a team to find two missing Union anthropologists on a planet similar to Earth.Kelly leads a team to find two missing Union anthropologists on a planet similar to Earth.Kelly leads a team to find two missing Union anthropologists on a planet similar to Earth.
To add to this apparent coarseness is the dubious ignorance and lack of forethought of the main characters, the clumsy arrival of problems to solve, contrived turns of events and reasonably trite solutions to them, and a heavy-handed allegory of our own contemporary society and our specifically very recent problem of how information is exchanged and opinion formed around the world and the kind of negative consequences that has.
It ends up a kind of cartoon idea of the power given by the common mass feed of information to uninformed or ill-considered opinion, and of the unstoppable weight of the negative consequences, with its actual utter shallow, childish arbitrariness shown up as laughable at the end.
There are consequences shown for individuals and also for the quality of the wider culture, only stopping short of having an allegory for some of the world-shaking dumb decisions that have been made in our world as a result in recent years, but is clearly topical, obviously talking about how we are forming our large-scale culture and political structure, as well as limiting the smaller space of each individual within it, with the 'big data' of 'everyone's opinion' becoming the main arbitrator, regardless of knowledge, thinking skills, conscientiousness or any other quality by which you might arguably need to earn respect for that opinion. "A voice should be earned not given away", says Bortus.
So, the way it's conceived and executed is sufficiently contrived, derivative and predictable, using tropes that we've seen again and again, and making the allegory so blatant, towards the end at least, that you almost expect the actors to start winking at the camera, that you could easily fall on the side of heavy negative criticism, if you were to doubt that this was deliberate, and that making that point in that almost clichéd way was the whole central thread of the episode and the main carrier of its qualities, in ideas, in comedy, or whatever else..
I was worrying a little at first at all of this, but as the culmination approached I realised I was overthinking it and shifted towards admiration at the creators for this shameless surface clumsiness, making a point many of us don't need explaining to us, but that somehow benefits very well from being made in this way. Maybe the main thing isn't any conscious admiration though, but more that I couldn't help but laugh loudly at the whole picture of it as it came together.
It's a kind of a 'punk rock' attitude that brings everything down to a simple and obvious core that results in an effective delivery; no need to be so 'clever', 'original', 'or whatever else; just making a sharp and shamelessly coarsely-made point, and adding to the enjoyment and humour all the more for that shameless 'cheapness', with maybe a good serving of 'self-deprecation' implied in there to add some more sauce.
It has the potential to become a classic episode on the basis of the very quality of not trying to be anything clever at all, but just to shamelessly make a point humorously and to laugh at itself for how it's making it. A direct and effective simplicity, not scared to be 'D-U-M- B', just like your favourite Ramones song.
- Oct 27, 2017