Tuesday, October 30, 2012

Questionable Trek vol. 31

We asked about the funniest moment in the films, and there were many. But what about the series? Was there anything funny in the series?

Question: "What was the funniest moment in any Star Trek series?"

Scott's Answer: "The Trouble with Tribbles" is probably Trek at its funniest, but it's also just an extremely well-written episode. Memorable dialogue, fun character moments (I love Kirk's "Storage compartments? Storage compartments?!"), and everyone gets a moment to shine, including the entire cast - sans George Takei who was shooting a movie - and a half-dozen guest stars. Not bad for 23-year old David Gerrold - this was his first script sale! TNG had many funny moments, including Riker giving a Ferengi some purposely-confusing technobabble, the various misadventures of Lt. Barclay, Q posing as a delivery man asking for "a Jean Luck Pickerd," and a bizarre dinner party with Troi's mother in which Data utters the immortal line, "Could you please continue the petty bickering?"

Andrew's Answer: I had a real problem with the humor in The Next Generation. It all felt faked to me and I never found it funny. I did laugh a good deal at the humor in the original series however. I suppose "The Trouble With Tribbles" is the Holy Grail on that. And I think the funniest moment was when Scotty emphatically said he didn't start the fight with the Klingons because they insulted Kirk, but he did start swinging when they called the Enterprise a "garbage scow." Kirk has this hilarious look on his face which just makes you laugh.

42 comments:

AndrewPrice said...

By the way, this will be the last Questionable Trek for a bit. We think it's time to take a break on the series. So next week we will start something new. Tune in next Tuesday! :)

shawn said...

Scotty when he says that he beamed the whole kit and kiboddle of tribbles over to the Klingon ship so that "they would be no tribble at all." Great line.

ScottDS said...

shawn -

As corny as that line is, the humor in "Tribbles" just works. I'm not calling it a minor miracle because the original series handled humor very well, but every so often all the elements come together and we get an instant classic.

PDBronco said...

TOS did a great job of inserting comedy into an episode to help break the tension or as the epilogue. One of my favorites is the end of Journey to Babel as McCoy commands Spock and Kirk to remain in their beds in Sick Bay, Kirk laying there with a sad puppy look. They then cap it with the perfect McCoy line: "I finally got the last word!"

I agree that TNG humor seemed forced. Does it say something when your funniest characters tend to be the two true straight men - Data and Worf?

I've been rewatching DS9, and that does tend to have natural humor that works like TOS, with Quark being able to throw a joke with the best of them (and usually very good comedic timing).

BIG MO said...

TOS had better humor than TNG, which is probably why my favorite Next Gen funny comes in the pilot, where Data is escorting "Admiral" McCoy to a shuttle bay. McCoy, of course, hated transporters:

McCoy: Have you got some of a reason to have my atoms scattered all over space, boy?

Data: No, sir. But at your age, sir, I thought you should not have to put up with the time and trouble of a shuttlecraft.

McCoy: Hold it right there, boy?

Data: Sir?

McCoy: What about my age?

Data: Sorry, sir. If that subject troubles you –

McCoy: Troubles me? What's so damn troublesome about not havin' died? How old you think I am anyway?

Data: 137 years, Admiral, according to Starfleet records.

McCoy: Explain how you remembered that so exactly.

Data: I remember every fact I am exposed to, sir.

McCoy: I don't see no points on your ears boy, but you sound like a Vulcan.

Data: No, sir, I am an android.

McCoy: Almost as bad.

tryanmax said...

I jumped the gun on this a couple weeks ago (didn't read the question closely enough) so I have no choice but to repost what I already wrote:

My favorite was when Scotty is drinking one of the Kelvans under the table and, unable to provide a name for the last bottle, declares, "it's green!" Bonus is the send-up given by Data in "Relics" while Scotty is drowning his sorrows in Ten Forward.

BIG MO said...

PDBronco - yep, DS9 had a lot of good natural humor. My favorite comes in The Way of the Warrior, when Doc Bashir is tending to Garak after a bunch of Klingons beat the snot out of him:

Bashir: I can't believe you're not pressing charges.

Garak: Constable Odo and Captain Sisko expressed a similar concern, but really doctor, there was no harm done.

Bashir: They broke seven of your transverse ribs and fractured your clavicle.

Garak: Ah, but I got off several cutting remarks which no doubt did serious damage to their egos.

Bashir: Garak, this isn't funny.

Garak: I'm serious, doctor! Thanks to your ministrations I'm almost completely healed but the damage I did to them will last a lifetime.

Marvelous. Also from the same episode: Quark offers Garak a glass of root beer:

Quark: What do you think?

Garak: It's vile.

Quark: I know. It's so bubbly and cloying and happy.

Garak: Just like the Federation.

Quark: And you know what's really frightening? If you drink enough of it, you begin to like it.

Garak: It's insidious.

Quark: Just like the Federation.

Mountain Man said...

Capt. Kirk: You're a police officer. I recognize the traditional accoutrements.

Spock: You were saying you'll have no trouble explaining it.

Capt. Kirk: My friend is obviously Chinese. I see you've noticed the ears. They're actually easy to explain...

Spock: Perhaps the unfortunate accident I had as a child...

Capt. Kirk: ...the unfortunate accident he had as a child. He caught his head in a mechanical rice picker but, fortunately, there was an American missionary living close by who was actually a, uh, skilled, uh, plastic surgeon in civilian life...

rlaWTX said...

Tribbles are the all time best...

Big Mo, I actually remember that one. McCoy was awesomely grumpy.

Mountain Man, I love the whale movie. It makes me laugh.

AndrewPrice said...

Shawn, That was indeed an excellent line! LOL!

AndrewPrice said...

Scott, Tribbles was surprisingly well done as humor. In series like this, the danger is always that the humor ends up campy, but while they approached that line, they never quite stopped over it. And there are lots of lines in that one that still make me laugh today.

AndrewPrice said...

PDBronco, I think the humor from the original series worked better because you could believe that these people really were close friends. So when they used it to break the tension, it felt natural because it was jokes that arose naturally out of their relationships.

By comparison, TNG humor was forced into the story by the writers. It felt like jokes that were handed to the actors to read rather than something the characters themselves would themselves really say. And you're right, it does say a lot when the straight men are the funniest.

AndrewPrice said...

Big Mo, That was pretty funny and a good way to start the series.

AndrewPrice said...

tryanmax, That was funny... "it's green." LOL! Yeah, been there, done that!

AndrewPrice said...

Mountain Man, That was indeed a funny moment. I love how they always needed to find a way to explain how Spock looks to the locals!

AndrewPrice said...

Big Mo and rlaWTX, I remember that exchange as well and I don't really remember a ton of the dialog from DS9!

AndrewPrice said...

rlaWTX, That was "City on the Edge of Forever."

From the whale movie, I love Checkov saying "nuclear wessels" and the look on the cop's face.

rlaWTX said...

didn't they have a similar conversation in 5 about his ears? or I am just squishing them together - which is quite possible...?

Tennessee Jed said...

ah man, I always forget about ST Tuesdays. That said, I loved Tribbles, BUT stand by last week's misplaced comment about McCoy slathering silica onto the poor Horta's phaser wound.

I also like the part in Enterprise where Connor Traneer (?) and Jolene Blaylock start doing message therapy (or some such thing) and, of course, the ending of the "Wolf in the Fold" episode.

BIG MO said...

O, joy - Disney & Lucas just announced that Disney acquired Lucasfilm for $4.05 billion. With Star Wars Episode 7 coming in 2015.

AndrewPrice said...

rlaWTX, I think there was an ear thing in 4 (the whales), right after Kirk said that Spock did too much LDS in the 1960s. I don't think there was one in the fifth movie.

rlaWTX said...

OK - I give up. I meant 4 (whales). No more typing today. TTFN

AndrewPrice said...

Jed, That's a great line too. "Dammit Jim, I'm a doctor, not a bricklayer!"

AndrewPrice said...

Big Mo, LOL! "Jedi Pirates of the Caribbean 7"

AndrewPrice said...

rlaWTX, Take the afternoon off... enjoy yourself... take in the sun. :)

Commander Max said...

"Logic is a little tweeting bird chirping in a meadow. Logic is a wreath of pretty flowers which smell BAD. Are you sure your circuits are registering correctly? Your ears are green."

"Spock, you're going to love it here. They all talk just the way you do."

"I've never understood the female capacity to avoid a direct answer to any question. "

Nomad: That unit is defective. It's thinking is chaotic. Absorbing it unsettled me.
Spock: That "unit" is a woman.
Nomad: A mass of conflicting impulses.

I could come up with a lot more. I liked the more subtle of STTOS.

I just heard Disney bought Lucas Film. I wonder if the contract included a Star Wars clause?

Jason said...

I think Worf was the master of short, funny lines in TNG. Here's a few of my favorites.

"The Survivors." "Good tea. Nice house."

"Yesterday's Enterprise." "A warrior's drink." - about prune juice.

"Time Squard." "Delicious." - Eating Riker's omelet after everyone else has tried it and made faces at it.

AndrewPrice said...

Big Mo, Holy cow! I thought you were kidding about Star Wars 7, but they are going to do it.

Talk about mixed feelings. Maybe they won't let Lucas near the project?

AndrewPrice said...

Max, As Mo says above, they are going to make Star Wars 7 -- scheduled for 2015.

I like your use of the word "subtle." I think most of the TOS humor was indeed subtle and that's why it worked. Too many other shows of the era went for camp when they did humor.

AndrewPrice said...

Jason, I think Worf was definitely the funniest character on TNG. He had the perfect delivery for some well placed lines. I think that compares favorable to the others, whose humor rarely felt "in character."

PikeBishop said...

Just a DAMN minute Andrew........

ScottDS said...

I added the late-breaking news to the link article for tomorrow. Needless to say, it looks like the Empire will be striking back again in a few years.

I'm trying to think of "forced" humor on TNG and while much of it was awkward (sometimes even on purpose) I'm genuinely having trouble thinking of instances when it was forced. The humor certainly didn't always work but when it did, it was as good as anything the original series did (or at least 95% as good!).

As mentioned above DS9 had a lot of humorous moments, even more so than TNG. DS9 even pure comedy episodes, which is something TNG didn't really do. From Trials and Tribble-ations to the holodeck baseball game to the Ocean's 11 parody, the producers on that show seemed to have much more fun.

ScottDS said...

Oh, and we should be hitting 20,000 comments either tomorrow (if it's a good day) or Friday!

darski said...

I think that a sense of humour was an underlying element of all of Trek. I think the "dress" uniform (of TNG) was one of those things... how could you not snicker/cringe? LoLoL

So much of TOS series/movies makes you smile even 50 years (almost) later. I do think the lineup after the bar brawl was my fave... if I have to pick 1 :D

So what might be in this slot next week ... hhhmmmnn???



LGD said...

Worf-- in Q's Robin Hood getup-- "I am NOT a Merry Man!"

When Q turns Dr. Crusher into an Irish Setter.

In the animated series, the crew returns to the Shore Leave planet where all thoughts become real. A dragon appears and Kirk shouts "Sulu!" and Sulu replies "Not in my wildest dreams!"

Speaking of Sulu -- in the Naked Time grabbing Uhura and saying, "Ah- a fair maiden!" To which Uhura replies, "Sorry, neither."

AndrewPrice said...

PikeBishop, LOL! I always laugh whenever he said that too! :)

AndrewPrice said...

Scott, Forced humor in STNG is pretty much any humor that involves Data. They wave the joke in your face and then try to pretend it's subtle by having everyone around him acting uncomfortably so that you either laugh at the joke or the response to the joke. The problem is that both are flat.

AndrewPrice said...

darski, The problem was that they took the dress uniforms seriously!!

AndrewPrice said...

LGD, That was an hilarious line by Uhura! I'd forgotten about that one.

rlaWTX said...

[that's an impressive flag count at the bottom of the screen - never seen that before...]

AndrewPrice said...

rlaWTX, It's new as of yesterday. We get a ton of foreign visitors.

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