August 1, 2012
Free Enterprise #9: "Fortunate Son"
"Fortunate Son" is a tightly produced, slick commercial hour of television. It's not exceptionally enlightening, nor is it particularly original, but it's solidly constructed and breezes by in an entertaining fashion. You could fault it for this: it's hard not to fail if you're deliberately unambitious, after all. So whether or not you enjoy this episode is probably going to be down to what you're expecting from it. I went in hoping for an entertaining TV episode, and certainly got it.
The Nausicaans are a funny Star Trek alien. They started life as an off-hand comment, deliberately named in tribute of Hayao Miyazaki's exceptional animated film Nausicaa of the Valley of the Wind. Beyond their name, they bear no resemblance whatsoever to that film. They're basically just another carbon copy set of bumpy-faced aliens. Why use the Nausicaans at all in this episode? The only logical answer I can come up with is "why not?"
The episode isn't perfect - there's an odd argument halfway through about how the Fortunate's acting captain doesn't want to upgrade his warp drive to shave four and a half years off his five year cargo trip, because it would break with tradition or some rubbish. He's a commercial operator: surely cutting his journey time down to six months would be a wonderful and highly profitable thing? It's a scene that demands a Simpsons-style screaming monkey: "Tell the people! This makes no sense!!"
So we're ultimately looking at a competent but relatively mediocre diversion. I'm giving it a thumbs up because, while it doesn't necessary do anything brilliantly, it doesn't really do anything badly either. It's watchable, but missable. That's six thumbs up for nine episodes so far, or 66%.