Someone out there in the galaxy must have a problem with Picard. First he gets assimilated by the Borg, causing massive psychological damage. Now he gets brain-kidnapped by an alien probe in “The Inner Light”, causing massive psychological damage. Later, in “Time’s Arrow”, Samuel Clemens proves that massive psychological damage is no indication that one can’t have a long and fruitful career in American letters. Also! The entire bridge crew of the Enterprise-D is going to contract cholera.
Hi guys! Love the podcast! I think I have an answer to the mystery of Samuel Clements on this show, as well as the reverse-engineering from the time period to the plot:
Hal Holbrook was famous for a one-man show called "Mark Twain Tonight". He has toured this show for over 60 years, and still is! (http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/MarkTwainTonight) He won a Tony and an Emmy for it.
I first knew about this because as a theatre major, I took stage makeup, and had a book for the class (which I later sold for gas money, stupid me!) that had step-by-step pictures of his transformation into the old Mark Twain.
So even from the first viewing of this, I understood they had basically scored an awesome "get" to not only have Hal Holbrook on the show (and why they paired him in scenes with Whoopi Goldberg, their other awesome "get"), but to have him do his "amazing Twain" for all the folks at home. (It’s also why he’s so broad, he’s used to doing this onstage and is too loud and too big for the usual TNG mode.) You can tell the cast is pretty enamored of him. It’s one of those times when it seems to the theatre/tv/film people making the show that this is an obviously awesome idea, not realizing your average viewer may not even realize Holbrook has such a show, or is famous for it.
Then when I looked this up to fact-check myself before writing, I noticed that the Emmy was for doing the show on CBS. I get a little confused about who owns what in the Trek world, but CBS owns TNG now. I wonder if there was some kind of need from CBS to work Holbrook into one of their properties? Or it was some suit’s bright idea to use Holbrook’s Twain because they already owned the TV rights to his performance? Anyway, it might have been somewhat foisted upon the writers.
Which brings me to (sorry this is so long, last point) why the plot seems reverse-engineered from the time period: they probably had Holbrook’s Twain first, which set the year (and why it’s so specific), and then wrote a plot around that. As annoying as he may be in Time’s Arrow, being tonally off from the show, I for one am glad I got to see the famous Holbrook Twain.
Whoops! I’m an idiot. Apparently Twain was played by Jerry Hardin, which negates every point I just made. But Hardin did go on to turn this into another one-man show called *Mark Twain: On Man and His World", so maybe that’s how I confused the two…
Well, that’s okay. We have made many stupid mistakes in our time. Why I remember that Eric called DC Fontana a man in an early episode!
Absolutely hated The Inner Light. Boring, tedious, and a race of people that I’m required to care about that dies ages ago. I’m all for life altering experiences, but this took melodramatic to new heights. I realize it’s blasphemous to not have a mental orgasm over this episode, but I never could get into this.