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Fact Of The Day - 9/29/15

It’s another Star Trek TNG FOTD. Today we are loooking at one of my favorite episodes, 5X02, “Darmok”. As before we will be looking at The Wiki That Only Communicates Through Similies And Allegory, Memory Alpha. Also, there really is an xkcd comic for everything.


First off it took forever for this episode to be made, taking close to two years to get filmed. Rick Berman hated the idea but Michael Piller found it interesting so he gave it to Joe Menosky.[1] Phillip LaZebnik (best name in all of Trek btw.) had the initial concept of two beings unable to communicate but Menosky was the one who worked out the idea of the Tamarian language being composed of metaphor and allusion [2]

The call sheet dated for July 18th, 1991 featured an “uncast actress” for the Lr. Larson. This would become the character Robin Lefler, who would be played by Ashley Judd. She would return in the 6th episode of Season 5, “The Game”.

Ruseel T Davies liked the billing blurb for this episode so much he didn’t dare ever watch it, but it was an inspiration for the DW episode “Midnight”

“I’ve seen lots of Star Trek: The Next Generation, I think it’s a lovely show – but there’s one episode, the billing for which is so fascinating I’ve actively avoided ever seeing it,” Davies explained. “I love the idea so much, I’d rather think about it. Forever. The episode is called ‘Darmok’, and the synopsis simply says that Captain Picard is trapped on a planet with an alien who can only talk in metaphors. Wow. That sounds brilliant. How does that work? What happens? How does it end? I’ve got no idea – not seen it! But it keeps resonating with me. I’ve just looked up its TX date, and it’s almost 20 years old. I’ve been thinking about that story and its potential for almost 20 years! Would it have sustained itself for that long in my head if I’d seen it on BBC2, long ago in 1991? I think the mystery keeps the concept alive. Here I am, still wondering, right now! And I can see the idea bleeding into my own work. In 2008, I wrote a Doctor Who episode called ‘Midnight’. Is it like ‘Darmok’? I don’t know. But stripped down to its essentials, it’s a story about a hero, an alien, and words. That’s practically the same billing. Maybe the two shows are profoundly different, but I know for a fact that all those years of wondering about ‘Darmok’ led me to that script.” [3]


Michael Pillar said he belives this episode is the prototype of what Star Trek should be. [4]

I just think “Darmok” is the prototype of what Star Trek should be. It dealt with a very challenging premise and many of our best shows are scripts that have been around a long time...He created a whole language for that episode and it’s just astonishing. The episode worked on every level; it had the philosophy dealing with language and what it does for us, two great acting performances, it had a monster and a space battle – it had everything.


Director Winrich Kolbe had more of a mixed review of the end product.[4]

Storywise, it was a hell of a story. It was almost flawless. It tangled a very interesting subject and a very complicated subject as well, and I think it did it well.” However, he felt somewhat constrained in how he could film the planet scenes with the monster. Furthermore, he noted the difficulty in directing scenes in an alien language. “Can you imagine not speaking Russian and...having to write an article in Russian? It makes it kind of difficult. Even though I had a translation of the dialogue, it wasn’t quite there and for me it was like directing a Russian movie without speaking the language, but you work your way through it. So that was an additional challenge. The episode seems to have struck a chord. It’s a show we can all be proud of.


Rick Berman overcame his initial resistance to the idea and stated it was one of his favorite episodes of the series. [4]

The story of Gilgamesh and Erikdu was important to the story.[5]

The story about Gilgamesh and Enkidu is from one of the world’s earliest known literary works, a Babylonian poem entitled the Epic of Gilgamesh, said to have been dated from around (2150 BC-2000 BC). The story of Gilgamesh and Enkidu at Uruk is itself a metaphor for the situation of Picard and Dathon at El-Adrel: two people, initially combatants, come together to become friends and fight a common foe, a battle in which one of them is struck down and the other mourns his loss.


Patrick Stewart belived the episode should have won awards.[6]

If you’re talking about awards, [”Darmok”] is something that should have won awards because it was a brilliantly written episode based on the myth of Gilgamesh and with one of our most distinguished guest stars, Paul Winfield.


The episode has also been used by linguistics to show how languages change and evolve [5] [6]

Well folks that’s all for me. I wish you all a wonderful day and I will see you on the next Fact Of The Day.


Fact Of The Day is the daily column where RobGronkowski’sPartyBusDriver shares some random tidbit of science fiction, fantasy or horror knowledge. If there is a show or movie you would like to see done, leave a note in the comments below. You can see the full archive of past columns here.

[1] (Captains’ Logs: The Unauthorized Complete Trek Voyages)

[2] (Star Trek: The Next Generation Companion)

[3] (SFX, issue #200, p. 140)

[4] (Captains’ Logs: The Unauthorized Complete Trek Voyages)

[5] (Mission Overview: Year Five, TNG Season 5 DVD special features)


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