Season Three - TNG

Star Trek: The Next Generation: A Matter of Perspective

Written By Ed Zuckerman
Directed by Cliff Bole

What would a murder investigation be like in the 24th century? Thinking about all of the advances in forensics we have now such as DNA testing, as compared to 50 years ago, you’d think it would be fairly sophisticated. A Matter of Perspective proves there’s still nothing better than good, old-fashioned legwork.

A death has occurred at the Tanuga IV Science Station which the Enterprise has just visited. The Tanugans accuse Commander Riker (Jonathan Frakes) of murder since he was in the room with the now dead scientist, Dr. Apgar (portrayed by Mark Margolis), mere moments before the death occurred.

The investigation is conducted in the holo-deck, where each side presents its evidence and suspicion as to how the events played out. Simply put, the holo-deck is a virtual reality room. It’s technology is capable of recreating images and places in a manner much better than we have now.

Trying a case in this place is very interesting, especially one that involves murder and these very different. When viewing court cases, we often hear each side explaining their idea for how the events occurred. Imagine being able to witness what they are describing!

However, the story never really takes off. It does, in fact, become rather boring. We know Riker is still on the Enterprise in future episodes, so it doesn’t feel like there is any real danger to him in the situation.

I’d say the writers were trying to create CSI in space, except that show wasn’t on the air yet. The problem is that it never really seems to take off from the Isn’t using the holo-deck to recreate the death scene a great idea sentiment. Both witnesses against Riker tell stories that don’t seem plausible for his character. The doctor’s assistant, Tanya (portrayed by Juli Donald) tells a story that is twisted by the investigator in an attempt to make Riker look guilty of Apgar’s murder.

The doctor’s wife (portrayed by Gina Hecht) creates a story of Riker gone wild attempting to rape her. Riker may be known for his womanizing, but he wouldn’t resort to that. She comes off as having little credibility with longtime viewers of the series, and there is no doubt that she is lying. Had the writers had another longtime crew-member involved to bolster her credibility, the story might have become more believable and consequently more suspenseful.

In the end, Geordi, Data and Wesley (LeVar Burton, Brent Spiner and Wil Wheaton) manage to clear Riker of any wrong-doing. It’s anti-climatic, however, since there was never a doubt in my mind that this would be the case.

The episode does get points for good use of the majority of the cast. Too many times, an episode like this will focus on only two or three characters. However, their performances are lacking any energy. The little bit of special effects we see on the holo-deck is nice, but it’s just not enough to turn around what is otherwise a very boring story.

It makes decent filler, and it’s far from the worst episode of Star Trek: The Next Generation that I’ve ever seen, but there’s just no real excitement or suspense to the whole premise.

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