Thursday, January 22, 2015

Murder on the Final Frontier

TV series: 1987-94, 178 episodes.
"A Matter of Perspective" (1990), "Aquiel" (1993), and "Suspicions" (1993).
"I was beginning to find out that investigating a murder was a little more perilous than I'd thought."
For some strange reason, regardless of the medium (print, film, etc.), science fiction (SF) and the detective story have never seemed to mesh well (or have never been made to mesh well). Why this is so would probably make a fine subject for a doctoral dissertation, but we just don't have the time. Suffice it to say that these ST:TNG episodes really did try to put the two genres together with, at best, mixed results; they did, however, successfully adhere to one of Theodore Sturgeon's obiter dicta, that (paraphrasing here) you don't write a Western with ray guns and try to pass it off as SF. The solutions to the mysteries in all three shows depend entirely on their own internally consistent fantasy elements, regardless of how nonsensical and far-fetched those elements might be.

"A Matter of Perspective" (script HERE):
"Investigator, in our system of jurisprudence a man is innocent until proved guilty."
"In ours, he is guilty until he is proved innocent — and you are under our jurisdiction."
Commander Will Ryker is charged with murder after returning from a space station that exploded just as he was being beamed aboard the Enterprise. Before Captain Picard turns him over to the appropriate authorities, however, he wants to examine all of the evidence. Using the holodeck, they recreate events from the perspective of those involved. As far as Ryker is concerned he acted properly throughout and did nothing wrong. When the dead man's wife testifies, however, she insists that Ryker made improper advances towards her leading Ryker to kill her husband. It's up to Data and the others to find the solution to what really happened. - Written by garykmcd on IMDb
In the 24th century they have a forensic scientist's wet dream, the holodeck, a device that can reproduce past events in amazing detail; even so, a computer is only as smart as its programming. This episode puts one in mind of Rashomon (IMDb).
"Aquiel" (script HERE):
"You know me better than anyone here. Do I seem like the kind of person who would murder someone?"
Murderous intrigue abounds for the Enterprise when one of the crew aboard a subspace station is believed dead, and suspected to have taken part in it until the Klingons show up with the young lieutenant, to Geordi's taste. — IMDb
Call this one an unofficial remake of Laura (IMDb), right down to the picture on the wall (er, monitor).
"Suspicions" (script HERE):
"I couldn't help but admire his tenacity. He just wasn't going to accept defeat, and I hoped he would prove himself. But that was the last time I saw him alive."
Dr. Crusher puts her career on the line to prove a scientist's theoretical new shielding technology which may have cost him his life. — IMDb
This one has enough technobabble to satisfy any sci-fi fan, and Beverly Crusher makes a pretty good detective. Plot development-wise, it's reminiscent of The Third Man (IMDb).
- MEMORY ALPHA, the ultimate Star Trek resource, has DETAILED descriptions of these episodes, but beware of SPOILERS: "A Matter of Perspective" is HERE; "Aquiel" is HERE; and "Suspicions" is HERE.
- Our last visit with the Enterprise crew was HERE.

Category: Science fiction mysteries

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