The Outrageous Okona
|"The Outrageous Okona"|
|Star Trek: The Next Generation episode|
|Episode no.||Season 2
|Directed by||Robert Becker|
|Teleplay by||Burton Armus|
|Featured music||Ron Jones|
|Cinematography by||Edward R. Brown|
|Original air date||December 12, 1988|
"The Outrageous Okona" is the fourth episode of the second season of the American science fiction television series Star Trek: The Next Generation, the 30th episode overall. It was first aired on December 12, 1988, in broadcast syndication. It was written by Les Menchen, Lance Dickson and David Landsberg, with a teleplay by Burton Armus, and directed by Robert Becker.
Set in the 24th century, the series follows the adventures of the crew of the Federation starship Enterprise. In this episode, the crew of the Enterprise encounters a flamboyant space rogue, while Data tries to learn humor from a holographic comedian.
As the Federation starship Enterprise, under the command of Captain Jean-Luc Picard, passes through the Coalition of Madena, it detects a small cargo ship, under manual control by its single occupant. The crew makes contact with the pilot, Okona, who requests help to repair a part on his ship. Captain Picard agrees, and the Enterprise tows Okona's ship while Okona is brought on board. The crew soon finds that Okona has taken a keen interest in the women on the ship and is in no rush to effect repairs.
Continuing through the sector, the Enterprise is set upon by ships from two different planets, each of which locks its weapons upon the Enterprise, though both are vastly outclassed, and pose no actual threat. Debin, from the planet Atlec, accuses Okona of impregnating his daughter Yanar, while Kushell from the planet Straleb asserts that Okona has stolen a state treasure, the Jewel of Thesia. The two leaders clearly know each other, and both demand that their own claim on Okona take priority. Okona denies both accusations, and Picard offers to arbitrate the dispute. During the discussions it is revealed that Okona has been acting as a go-between for Yanar and Benzan, Kushell's son, who are in love with each other. Yanar is pregnant with Benzan's child; Benzan has offered to marry Yanar, intending to present the Jewel of Thesia, which he asserts is rightly his, as a courting gift. Okona was carrying the jewel between the two planets. Picard cannot get involved in the internal political disputes between the two planets and allows Okona to go on his way once his ship is repaired, and Debin and Kushell are left to argue about wedding details.
Meanwhile, Lt. Commander Data is motivated to explore the concept of humor after meeting Okona. Prompted by Guinan, Data uses the holodeck to generate a comedy club setting and stand-up comic (played by Joe Piscopo) as his adviser, but when he performs in front of the holographic audience, he is dismayed to find that they are predisposed to laugh at anything he says or does. As the Enterprise parts with Okona, Data is able to unintentionally make the crew laugh, but does not at first understand the joke himself.
Billy Campbell was credited as William O. Campbell for his part as Thadiun Okona in this episode, in order to differentiate him from William Campbell who appeared in the Star Trek: The Original Series episodes "The Squire of Gothos" and "The Trouble with Tribbles". Billy Campbell had previously been considered for the main part role of Commander William T. Riker, with Jonathan Frakes gaining the role instead. Executive producer Rick Berman explained that at the time, the executives casting the series considered Campbell to be "too soft" for Riker. He went on to appear in movies such as The Rocketeer and television series such as Once and Again and Helix.
Jerry Lewis had been scheduled to appear in "The Outrageous Okona", but was unable to play the role of the Comic due to a conflict with a guest appearance on Wiseguy. Instead, Joe Piscopo performed the role with Lewis in mind. Piscopo was known at the time for his previous performances on Saturday Night Live, and ad-libbed the majority of his lines in "The Outrageous Okona". Actress Teri Hatcher was cast as crewman B.G. Robinson, but after the majority of her performance was cut from the episode, she asked not to be credited for the appearance.
The episode's score was recorded at Stage M, on the Paramount Studios lot in Hollywood. It was composed by Ron Jones, who sought to use a musical theme using french horns for Okona to show him as "a knight in shining armor, a throwback to Errol Flynn". This same motif is used in a manner of ways throughout the episode with Jones re-recording it using different elements of the brass section as well as modifying it electronically. For the sequences with Data on the holodeck, he opted to keep the music simple by giving those scenes a jazz background.
Jones was critical of the executive producer's decision not to have any music being played in the Ten Forward bar. He argued that there would be some background music in the location as opposed to silence. He offered to compose some pieces, and let the producers drop them if they did not like them but they refused. Jones had created an algorithm to estimate what music would be like in the future while lecturing in Malta and offered to use this, adding that Jimi Hendrix would be considered akin to classical music by the time period of the series. He wrote two pieces, but the producers rejected them as they did not want to have modern-day music appear in-universe.
Reception and home media release
James Hunt, in his review for the website Den of Geek, called the episode "alright", but criticised the lack of links between the two plots. He suggested that Okona himself was a Mary Sue type character, as the episode revolves around his actions but added that he was pleased that there was a twist which was more complicated than Okona turning out to be evil. He also praised the entertainment seen in Brent Spiner's ability to "overact", saying that it "could fill an episode in itself" and that the observation that Data makes towards the end was the most profound of the series so far.
Keith DeCandido reviewed the episode for Tor.com, where he said that the "charm and talent" of Spiner and Campbell were what made this episode work. He also added that Patrick Stewart warranted additional praise as his reactions of annoyance to the feuding families were "hillariously played". DeCandido gave "The Outrageous Okona" a rating of five out of ten. Zack Handlen described the episode as "lousy" in his review for The A.V. Club, calling it "goddamn painful" and any scene with Piscopo was "terrible". He gave the episode a rating of C-.
The episode was included on the Star Trek: The Next Generation season two DVD box set, released in on May 7, 2002. The most recent release was as part of the season two Blu-ray set on December 4, 2012.
- DeCandido, Keith (August 25, 2011). "Star Trek: The Next Generation Rewatch: "The Outrageous Okona"". Tor.com. Retrieved July 21, 2015.
- Nemecek (1993): p. 70
- MacLellan, Stephanie (January 7, 2014). "Billy Campbell pursues sci-fi passion with new series, Helix". The Star. Retrieved July 20, 2015.
- "Hatcher, Teri". StarTrek.com. Retrieved July 20, 2015.
- Jeff, Bond; Lucas, Kendell (2010). "The Outrageous Okona #130". Star Trek: The Next Generation: The Ron Jones Project (CD). Film Score Monthly. Retrieved July 21, 2015.
- Hunt, James (May 10, 2013). "Revisiting Star Trek TNG: The Outrageous Okona". Den of Geek. Retrieved July 21, 2015.
- Handlen, Zack (June 10, 2010). "Star Trek: The Next Generation: "The Outrageous Okona"/"Loud As A Whisper"/"The Schizoid Man"". The A.V. Club. Retrieved July 21, 2015.
- Beierle, Aaron (May 3, 2002). "Star Trek: Next Generation (Season 2)". DVD Talk. Retrieved July 5, 2013.
- Miller II, Randy (December 3, 2012). "Star Trek: The Next Generation – Season Two (Blu-ray)". DVD Talk. Retrieved July 5, 2013.
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