Tuesday, January 03, 2017

Star Trek: The Next Generation - Episode 44 (Up the Long Ladder)

Note:  This review was originally posted to my Epinions account.

The Enterprise is sent to find the source of a distress call. When they arrive, they find a planet endangered by solar flares. There are only about 200 people there, all the descendants of a ship that left Earth hundreds of years ago, but lost in the bureaucracy. Captain Picard is in for a surprise when the colonists insist on bringing their livestock with them. These people seem like stereotypical Irish people. The men seem to like to drink and the women are portrayed as being strong. The real surprise comes when one of the colonists asks what happened to the other group.

The Enterprise finds a nearby planet that’s suitable for life. Since it’s the only one within a short distance, the head there to find the rest of the colonists. When Commander Riker beams down with an away team, he finds a different sort of problem. They’re all clones. Apparently, just before arriving on the planet, the ship suffered a hull breach; only five people survived. Three men and two women weren’t enough for a stable gene pool, so they resorted to cloning. It turns out that after so many years of cloning, the genetic material they have to sample isn’t so good. Within a few generations, they won’t be able to clone any more.

The two groups seem to have different problems. However, Picard decides that they really need each other. The first group needs to be resettled and the second needs fresh genetic material. The two groups agree to help each other out. Each person will have a child by three different people (presumably with a clone pairing off with a non-clone) for three generations. This should provide for a diverse-enough gene pool.

When I first watched this episode, my father asked what would happen if the clones got too old. Wouldn’t the resulting clone be the same age? The truth is that the clones all look the same presumably so that the producers don’t have to hire lots of actors to play clones along varying stages of development; one person can play however many clones are needed.

The clones are the result of five templates. This means that they’re genetic code will have a lot of influence on the population. Also, the clones are admittedly a few steps away from being genetically unfeasible. I would think that this would create a few problems later on. It would be interesting to go back in five hundred years to see how things turned out.

I’d give the episode two stars. This is one of the few two-star episodes that I’d recommend. Part of it was that I felt that the two groups were a bit much. The non-clones were too ridiculous and the clones were too serious. I’m surprised that no one complained about it. My cousin and I would often make fun of the non-clones for a few years after first seeing this episode. I also didn’t get the title. What does “up the long ladder” mean? Being memorable and being great require a different set of skills. “Up the Long Ladder” may not be a great episode, but it was one of the more memorable ones. This one is memorable. 


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