Saturday, March 30, 2013

TNG: Tin Man

Once upon a time, the Mayor from Buffy was a super-psychic Betazoid who rode on the Enterprise in a race against a bunch of angry Romulans to get to a mysterious alien named Gomtuu. True Story:

At the beginning of this one, they're getting ready to bring the Mayor (actually named Tam Elbrun) (actually named Harry Groener in real life) on board when Deanna announces in front of the whole bridge and god and everyone that she knew Tam a few years ago when he was a patient at the Starfleet training facility where she studied psychology. Apparently she missed the day they talked about doctor/patient confidentiality. Anyway, Tam comes on board but he has a hard time because he's so extra psychic and can't shut out the thoughts of everyone he comes in contact with. Thanks to this terrible condition, he develops a really sweet, interesting friendship with Data that runs its course throughout the episode.

This episode reminds me a lot of "Samaritan Snare." It's a quiet, somewhat slow, personal story with a little mystery. I thought I'd write a little about that and then I came upon an interview with one of the writers of this episode wherein he discussed how he was inspired to write "Tin Man" after seeing "Samaritan Snare" and thinking that it was "the most abysmal piece of Star Trek ever filmed."

Well, that's disappointing. But here's some good news. I was also considering writing about how it seemed to me that Gomtuu (the mysterious living ship they've been referring to as Tin Man) reminded me of the pods in one of my all-time favorite movies, Buckaroo Banzai.
Gomtuu from "Tin Man"

Thermal Pod from Buckaroo Banzai
 I  actually watched "Tin Man" and Buckaroo Banzai in the same afternoon and ended up looking up whether there was any connection. When I found out that Rick Sternbach designed Gomtuu as an homage to the thermal pods in Buckaroo Banzai, I was thrilled. It made me wonder: why does this little factoid make me so happy?

I think I was so happy to know that, as opposed to creating something because he hated something else, Sternback created a really beautiful piece of Star Trek out of admiration for another, often overlooked, brilliant SciFi movie. I'm not saying that it's wrong to write/draw/create a piece of art because you don't like something. Any reason to create art is a valid one. I guess I'm just saying that it's nice to see something awesome created as a labor of love and not because you think something sucked.

As Buckaroo says, "Don't be mean; we don't have to be mean, cuz remember, no matter where you go, there you are."


  1. I've heard you talk about Buckaroo Banzai at least 2 dozen times and STILL have not seen it yet. Maybe this is the push I need to finally sit down and watch it!

  2. YES! Do it! They have it on Netflix now, though it doesn't include the super-special beginning that's included on the DVD. Either way, watch it!

  3. I contributed to a discussion forum, over ten years ago, at which Dennis Bailey (or at least someone claiming to be him), the writer of this episode (and "First Contact" from season 5), also posted quite often. He was nice and really smart, but he alwasy struck me as kind of a Harlan Ellison wannabe. His comments about "Samaritan Snare" don't exactly discourage that.


Related Posts Plugin for WordPress, Blogger...