This machine mildly irritates fascists

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L.I. Underhill is a media critic and historian specializing in pop culture, with a focus on science fiction (especially Star Trek) and video games. Their projects include a critical history of Star Trek told through the narrative of a war in time, a “heretical” history of The Legend of Zelda series and a literary postmodern reading of Jim Davis' Garfield.


  1. Daru
    February 20, 2015 @ 1:10 am

    Good essay Josh. The thing I remember being fascinated most about this episode was the holodeck recreations of the different points of view in the case. Loved that.

    I like where you ended the essay on the discussion around the shaping of myths. The great mono-myth that has been created and wrapped around Roddenberry feels quite problematic in the way it has put in the shadow many of the other stories. It makes me think of Joseph Campbell and his Hero with a Thousand Faces, which is my least favourite out of his works, as in a lot of mays it led over time to some pretty generic writing practices within cinema. I do love his Masks of God series though, which a a deeper exploration of the function of myth across four books.


  2. Daru
    February 20, 2015 @ 1:10 am

    Rats – I mean "in a lot of ways".


  3. Froborr
    February 21, 2015 @ 10:15 am

    "Let's do X" is also a common format for Doctor Who, at least from the Fourth Doctor on if not earlier. The advantage of the more transformative, flexible approach used by Who and Dirty Pair when you compare the "Let's do X where X equals Doctor Who" era of that show, a.k.a the Davies era, to the "Let's do X where X equals Next Generation" era of Trek, a.k.a Voyager.


  4. Froborr
    February 21, 2015 @ 10:20 am

    Dangit. "The advantage of the more transformative, flexible approach used by Who and Dirty Pair BECOMES APPARENT when you compare…"


  5. Robert Ciccotosto
    February 22, 2015 @ 5:06 pm

    This is a terrific post, Josh. I remember seeing this episode on its initial broadcast and being quite underwhelmed. I never thought these "let's do x" episodes represented the Next Generation at its best. This segment is not even a particularly good mystery. The Next Generation could certainly do mystery, as in the case of shows like "Identity Crisis" or the sublime "Cause and Effect", and while not creating unpalatable ambiguity vis-a-vis a main character so as to fit in with a story structure from another source.


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