A Matter of Time (#StarTrek #TNG Rewatch, Season 5, Episode 9) Smarmy Time Traveler Observes Crew

Rewatching ST:TNG

An eccentric time-traveler won’t say why he’s shown up to observe events on board the Enterprise-D, but he’s giddy with fanboy glee to be in the presence of Picard.

This week the writers decide that Troi, who when the script requires it can read specific thoughts from the mind of the captain of a passing starship, reports only that Rasmussen is hiding something. Clearly she and her colleagues have never even once seen an episode of ST:TNG, because they don’t seem to take Troi’s warnings very seriously.

It’s clear that audience is supposed to enjoy the guest star’s evasions and verbal asides. Actor Matt Frewer, perhaps best known as Max Headroom, puts on a perfectly good antic disposition, but it’s disorienting seeing the various characters playing straight man for so many scenes. Troi tells him she doesn’t trust him, and Dr. Crusher pushes back when he starts flirting, but both scenes are played for comedy.

In researching this episode to write this review I learned that the Rasmussen character was originally created for Robin Williams, which kind of explains why we the script presumes we’d want to see so much of the character being glib and quirky.

The Space Thing of this episode is an asteroid strike on a colonized planet, which leads to the the Enterprise firing phasers at volcanoes, and later zapping the planet’s atmosphere with its deflector dish, because TV.

An early scene has Rasmussen washing his hands in his guest quarters, which turns out to be a nice touch, since before long he is dismissing Picard’s passionate speech pleading with him to know which possible course of action will save more lives. Still, after we’ve seen Rasmussen nattering on surreptitiously pocketing a tricorder here and a PADD there, it’s strange to see Picard taking him so seriously and debating timey-wimey ethics.

The conclusion involves some mustache-twirling monologuing that I didn’t particularly care for, and it turns out that the ship’s computer silently saves the day. So two face-palms, but some amusing moments.