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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. Jack Graham
    December 19, 2014 @ 12:49 am

    I've always been very fond of this one. Yes, the surrealism is half cooked and half hearted. It's frustrating that it does everything in half-measures… and yet that contributes to a lovely calm, stately feel that the episode has. It just ambles along at its own pace, doing its own thing in its own time. It reminds me of the Doctor Who story 'The Time Meddler', which I also love for its sedate and quiet atmosphere. 'The Royale' is, essentially, a story about a story already being over. Riker, Worf and Data are the deus that comes ex from the machina (if you'll pardon me) without knowing it until the last moment, when they perform the ritual they need to perform in order to close the epilogue. This is fine because the actual story is boring. Which ties in with a lots of the repetitiveness and tedium of a life spent sitting in hotel rooms, or gambling, or working behind a desk, or reading rubbish novels. The humour is delightfully dry and cheeky. I love Picard's face when he reads the line "It was a dark and stormy night" (which isn't such a bad line really… except that it has become one because it has come to stand for a particular kind of bad writing, and using it now is just to invite ridicule), Deanna's manner when she makes her excuses and splits, and Riker's deadpan shock when he reads Richey's diary entry about welcoming death because the book is soooooo bad. A literal minded book that recites cliches… which the aliens mistake for a utopian blueprint because they are literal minded, which leads them to recite the same cliches forever. That's actually pretty hellish, all the more so for being accidental and benign. Plus I've always loved stories about hotels, for some reason.


  2. Ross
    December 19, 2014 @ 7:40 am

    Another thing it doesn't explain is why Patrick McGoohan was tapped to appear for three minutes in “The Schizoid Man” when offering him the part of the then-living Colonel Richey here seems like the most dumbly obvious idea in the universe

    And that's saying a lot, given how obvious "Casting Patrick Macgoohan in the one that is literally named after an episode of The Prisoner" is.
    (So instead we got Morgan Sheppard, and ten-year-old-me trying to remember where I'd seen that guy before (It was Max Headroom))

    The Royale is one of those episodes that really stuck with me — that revolving door in the void is just such a powerful, iconic image. I remember frequently wanting to re-watch this one on our old off-air videotapes.

    And always being vaguely disappointed afterward that there wasn't more to it. It felt like there just wasn't enough story in there.


  3. Froborr
    December 22, 2014 @ 3:16 am

    This is another of those cases of a not very good episode with a visual that haunts me. That revolving door in the void is great stuff.

    I think there's something to Torme of all people writing a story about being trapped in a bad story imposed by well-meaning incompetents.


  4. Daru
    December 23, 2014 @ 12:28 am

    I've got a real soft spot for this one – really enjoy it. As folk have said above, it's something about the haunting nature of it for me.


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