A workers state with executive dysfunction

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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. Flex
    November 11, 2013 @ 1:16 pm

    I rewatched Lights a few weeks ago in an effort to reacquaint myself with the source material you're covering here, and even with this blog entry I already can't remember a single jot of the episode with any kind of confidence. So, that's a problem for the episode right there.

    Your take on the episode is more memorable than the episode itself by a wide margin.

    On the other hand, the Lewis connection won me 10 bucks in a trivia contest once, so it has a legitimate claim on being my favorite episode of the whole franchise…

    (And thanks for the links on Shari Lewis. I can't say I was very familiar with her career outside of the obvious, so this has been a great learning experience.)


  2. Josh Marsfelder
    November 11, 2013 @ 1:28 pm

    Glad to be of service.

    Shari Lewis got royally shafted here, as she so often did everywhere in her professional life. I maintain there's a fascinating central concept worth exploring, however: If there was one episode of Star Trek I'd love to go back, re-edit and remake, this would probably be it.


  3. K. Jones
    November 14, 2013 @ 10:11 am

    I see this sort of overlook all the time in the Fine Arts scene, though it's sort of extended beyond just callous or insouciant attitudes toward those perceived as flaky women into flaky fellows as well. Typically people with lighter spirit and a huge reservoir of awe, wonder and creativity who aren't perceived as on-the-level or serious enough in the arts community.

    I'm one of them, in fact, and the last decade or so that realization of marginalization is probably the driving force for shedding certain angsty stoic youthful pessimistic traits and maturing as an adult (albeit a flaky adult) and coming to truly respect women, particularly creative women, and encouraging them as much as possible wherever I meet them.

    It does seem like a pitch-perfect allegory for people like Shatner and Nimoy and even Doohan to tackle, subversive as they tend to be. Imagine if it'd been done at the end of Season 2 with Diana Muldaur as Mira Romaine. Certainly bouncing off of them would have been proof in the pudding for Lewis's original notions.

    Even in later series, Star Trek has too few stories that pick up on these sorts of conversations, and in a show as dripping with secret mysticism as Trek, and with as many writers and crafters putting in the work, you'd think it would have come up more often (though gender-swapped, certainly when I think of similar themes and a successful take on the Mira Romaine concept, Reg Barclay comes to mind in every one of his episodes.)

    What I have liked, here and in "Whom Gods Destroy", is marginal to the whole of the show; for the first time since "Journey to Babel" we keep seeing Andorians and Tellarites at Federation facilities. The problem in hindsight is that it became something of a near-eternal tease.


  4. Josh Marsfelder
    November 14, 2013 @ 12:07 pm

    I'm not sure Muldaur would have been a good pick for this role, brilliant as she is. Imperious and strong-willed yes, but she tends to play a very businesslike and no-nonsense type of character. I really think it should have been Shari Lewis, who had a sort of schoolteacher vibe about her: Prim and proper, but whimsical and mischievous as well. Especially because this story seemed so personal and important to her.

    Star Trek can do metafiction and ideaspace, and later in its life it can do it in its sleep. But it does sometimes have problems reconciling that with how those concepts and ideas resonate at a personal level.


  5. BerserkRL
    December 21, 2013 @ 5:51 pm

    Ron Moore may not have liked it, but I bet Wallace Moore liked it quite a bit — the title, if nothing else.


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