Star Trek: The Next Generation: New Ground   Rewatch 
April 19, 2021 10:08 AM - Season 5, Episode 10 - Subscribe

Worf's son Alexander comes to live on the Enterprise; the crew helps guide a test vehicle for a revolutionary new form of interstellar travel.

A Klingon would gladly face the most horrible punishment rather than bring shame or disgrace to Memory Alpha.

Story and script
  • Considering the central conflict in the episode, Moore commented, "Worf is more Klingon than the Klingons are. He doesn't seem to have a real good sense of humor, he doesn't laugh a lot. The Klingons are these boisterous Vikings in space, and his whole relationship with his son is geared towards making him the perfect little warrior. The fact that Alexander's mother didn't share any of those ideas immediately puts the two in conflict, which was good because that's the essence of drama and it's built in stories of the two of them knocking heads." (Captains' Logs: The Unauthorized Complete Trek Voyages, p. 235)
Sets and props
  • This episode introduced the Corvan gilvo, which was designed and created by Michael Westmore and puppeteered by Alison Elbl. It later appeared in the Star Trek: Deep Space Nine episode "The Nagus".
  • The soliton wave rider is a re-dress of the Mars defense perimeter ship seen in "The Best of Both Worlds, Part II" and "Unification I". (Star Trek: The Next Generation Companion (2nd ed., p. 187))
  • Dave Archer created the painting "101" for the scenes in the teacher's office and classroom. This is the only episode that features this painting.
Cast and characters
  • Georgia Brown reprises her role as Worf's foster mother Helena Rozhenko, following her first appearance in the episode "Family". This was her final appearance and also Brown's final performance, as the actress passed away in 1992.
  • This was the first episode showing Brian Bonsall as Worf's son Alexander Rozhenko, following Jon Steuer's performance in the episode "Reunion". Bonsall was chosen as he was considered to have the requisite experience (from Family Ties) to take on a recurring role. (Star Trek: The Next Generation Companion (2nd ed., p. 187)) Bonsall subsequently reprised this role in six further episodes.
  • Richard McGonagle, who played Dr. Ja'Dar in this installment, later portrayed Commander Pete Harkins in the Star Trek: Voyager episodes "Pathfinder" and "Inside Man".
  • This episode marks the second of five appearances of Sheila Franklin's Ensign Felton. She was credited as "Ensign" in the end credits of the episode.
  • "New Ground" was the third and final time that the skull-faced opponent from Worf's holoprogram appears in The Next Generation. This time, the series' stunt coordinator, Dennis Madalone, played the part. A similar holographic character later appeared in Jadzia Dax's holosuite exercise program on Deep Space 9 in DS9: "The Way of the Warrior". On that occasion, the role was played by both Madalone and stunt actor Tom Morga.
Continuity
  • La Forge states that watching the wave will be "like being there to see Chuck Yeager break the sound barrier, or Zefram Cochrane engage the first warp drive!" He is, in fact, present for the latter – and actually participates in the flight itself – in Star Trek: First Contact, later in his life.
  • Throughout this episode, the pronunciation of Kahless the Unforgettable is anglicized to "Kahh-less".
Poster's Log:
Getting it out of the way immediately - Alexander is canonically 2 years old in this episode. A number of the issues Helen complains about and that we see in his interactions with his teacher are perfectly normal for 2 year old Humans, perhaps exacerbated by Alexander's enhanced communication abilities.

Why doesn't the intraship communications system have a "Do Not Disturb" feature?

One hopes that future tests of the soliton wave won't have an inhabited planet as their target destination.

As a father, watching Worf's emotions while he watches Alexander's holodeck workout, the pride of watching him do well while also feeling the anger of his not asking permission, feels very natural and familiar.

Worf and Troi's discussion around sending Alexander to Klingon school is one of the best "Troi as therapist" moments in the series. Marina sells not just her objectivity but also her placing herself in both Alexander's and Worf's feelings.

Why does Riker carry the gilvos out in his arms instead of just disconnecting and carrying their cage?

Based on the evacuation orders, one would think that the radiation from the torpedo explosion would contaminate the corridor they're standing in just as easily as it contaminated Biolab Four.
posted by hanov3r (16 comments total) 2 users marked this as a favorite
 
This week's two-fer is Orphans in Trouble, and, despite not having been a father myself, I'm not at all surprised that Worf tends to project his overromanticized version of Klingon culture onto his son, or that it doesn't really work. And I'm also very familiar with the parent (or parental figure) going, "No, we don't need any of that therapy stuff, not in our family." Denial, as they say, is not just a river on Earth. I think that Brian Bonsall did a fine job as Alexander, generally.

It's too bad about the soliton wave not working out, because it's a cool effect, but I'm not surprised that the showrunners didn't want to dispose of the drama of the threat of a warp core breach. One thing that did occur to me, though: did anyone ever consider, given its incredible destructive potential, trying to weaponize it?
posted by Halloween Jack at 10:33 AM on April 19 [1 favorite]


Formulaic stuff on multiple levels, but at least we get to spend a lot of time with Worf. Good Word character-building ep.

Why does Riker carry the gilvos out in his arms instead of just disconnecting and carrying their cage?

Because the look on his face in the hallway holding the thing is too hilarious to not use.

One hopes that future tests of the soliton wave won't have an inhabited planet as their target destination.

Well, Doctor Whatever-Alien's species certainly looks like they regularly throw wasp's nests at one another's faces, which is about as smart.

(Doctor Whatever-Alien is played by Richard McGonagle, who plays Barclay's new boss Commander Harkins on Voyager.)

One thing that did occur to me, though: did anyone ever consider, given its incredible destructive potential, trying to weaponize it?

That will be the plot of New Ground II: The Search for Doctor Whatever-Alien, in which Dahar Master Kruge makes an unexpected return.
posted by CheesesOfBrazil at 11:37 AM on April 19 [2 favorites]


This was a very awkward episode, but at least they had the good sense to rip off the ending of Pee Wee's Big Adventure, so I guess it all worked out
posted by phooky at 4:35 PM on April 19 [4 favorites]


The Corvan glivo appears as an accessory for Playmates Quark figure. It's kinda impressive how deep the cuts are for accessories in this line. Most of them are in crazy jewel tones or metallic gold/silver of course...

Cards of the episode in the Star Trek CCG:
The game never really went here, other than the fan-created Evaluate Soliton Wave from 2011.

Since this episode is all about makin' the rules and breakin' em, please enjoy the 1996 version of the STCCG FAQ, which has been hosted at this URL for a little under 25 years now...by 1999, it had evolved into this 59 page Current Rulings pdf, which one would be wise to know back-to-front in tournament games at the time.
posted by StarkRoads at 5:16 PM on April 19 [2 favorites]


I hadn't seen this one in a long time, and now that I'm the father of a son about Alexander's age, I found the episode tedious from a whole new perspective.

Of all the throwaway B-plots where they make a perfunctory effort at making this a sci-fi show despite the A-story melodrama, this is my favorite. It is a cool idea, notwithstanding that it's immediately and obviously a planet-killing weapon rather than a new method of transportation. Did they ever mention this technology again?

I don't connect with the Alexander character at all, but the idea of sending him away to Klingon boarding school a couple of years after his mother died, and then a few weeks after first his grandparents and then father reject him is too much to take. Jesus Worf, take some paternal leave, you're not the only guy in the galaxy who can run security.
posted by skewed at 6:38 PM on April 19 [1 favorite]


Is this a good time to mention that last year I named a chicken Worf and she did not lay eggs and was bad at going in her pen (despite amazing mealworm bribery on my part), and now she grew up and is wonderful and sometimes lays 2 eggs a day!!
posted by Emmy Rae at 6:55 PM on April 19 [9 favorites]


Did they ever mention this technology again?

Star Trek, more than almost any other Sci-Fi show, is littered with incredible world-changing discoveries that are never referenced again. To the point where's it's notable when something referenced in an earlier episode does come back, like in Descent where they bring back the metaphasic shield (though the two episodes were only 4 episodes apart so maybe not THAT impressive). Amazing technologies, alien species, incredible discoveries, brought up and discarded with wild abandon. Seems the opposite today, with shows so focused on continuity you'd be shocked that such an incredible and dangerous new technology would never be seen again.

(on preview: WTG Worf!)
posted by Mr.Encyclopedia at 7:00 PM on April 19 [1 favorite]


Kids are one of my least favorite storylines, especially Surprise!Kids, and my next least favorite is Klingons, so this has always been an episode I avoid. But weirdly, I didn't mind Alexander too much this time around (though the '90s-era practical makeup effects really don't work well on a little kid, nor in HD, do they?) and kind of tolerated the other stuff. But I have to agree with others--where are the damn do not disturb settings on comms? Why can't Worf take some freaking personal time? Ugh, the social mores of the '90s.

I also heavily side-eye the teachers and the classrooms in these two back to back orphans storylines--I worked in childcare settings for years, watching those scenes causes me pain.

I love Helena Rozhenko, and how much she obviously loves Worf. Georgia Brown is just wonderful. I feel like the showrunners did not do right by her, and I wish we could have seen more of her in that role.
posted by kitten kaboodle at 11:42 AM on April 20 [2 favorites]


As long as they're doing all these spinoffs they can do Laverne and Shirley, But' It's Helena and Lwaxana
posted by StarkRoads at 11:51 AM on April 20 [3 favorites]


I also heavily side-eye the teachers

I don't think Miss Kyle is a really great teacher. The "oh, it's ok, I can figure it out" response to Alexander's completely ignoring his is not a good teaching method, even for primary school kids.
posted by hanov3r at 1:10 PM on April 20 [1 favorite]


This one doesn't work me. Worf's mom is always good. Troi does good work here as well.

But I feel like they try to cover a lot of ground with Alexander and Worf without showing a lot. For instance, Alexander steals the model and Worf gives Alexander a speech about Kahless and his brother. I think the writers want us to think that Worf talking for a few moments, uttering a few platitudes, is meant to represent Worf teaching Alexander deep truths on Klingon values and he implies this to Troi and the teacher, but it just comes off as telling and not showing.

The other thing is the soliton wave. The original plan was for it to approach the other planet that would send up a scattering field to disperse the wave. They really needed to explain why that wasn't still an option and the ship had to be put at risk.
posted by Fukiyama at 6:58 PM on April 20


But I feel like they try to cover a lot of ground with Alexander and Worf without showing a lot. For instance, Alexander steals the model and Worf gives Alexander a speech about Kahless and his brother. I think the writers want us to think that Worf talking for a few moments, uttering a few platitudes, is meant to represent Worf teaching Alexander deep truths on Klingon values and he implies this to Troi and the teacher, but it just comes off as telling and not showing.

It's so interesting how different people can interpret the same scene! I thought the main idea was that Worf had no idea how to do parenting, and Alexander would say pretty much anything to get out of the awkward conversation and was all like, 'oh yeah dad Kahless and honor and all that stuff, sure'. And then he goes right back to doing the same behaviors thereafter.
posted by StarkRoads at 9:39 PM on April 20 [5 favorites]


The original plan was for it to approach the other planet that would send up a scattering field to disperse the wave. They really needed to explain why that wasn't still an option and the ship had to be put at risk.
DATA: Sir, the energy level of the wave has increased by a factor of twelve. At this rate, it will have increased by a factor of two hundred by the time it reaches Lemma Two.
RIKER: Will they still be able to dissipate the wave?
JA'DAR [on monitor]: Commander, at that energy level, the wave will not only destroy the colony, it'll take most of the planet with it.
posted by hanov3r at 7:15 AM on April 21


It's so interesting how different people can interpret the same scene! I thought the main idea was that Worf had no idea how to do parenting, and Alexander would say pretty much anything to get out of the awkward conversation and was all like, 'oh yeah dad Kahless and honor and all that stuff, sure'. And then he goes right back to doing the same behaviors thereafter.

I totally buy into Alexander's response. It's Worf's attempt that is pretty sad.
posted by Fukiyama at 8:36 AM on April 21 [2 favorites]


One would agree that Worf is being depicted as being a bit naive. His platonic idealism vs lived reality might be something of a continuing thread from "Heart of Glory" onward?

The Rozhenkos. Half Fiddler, half Wagner...
posted by StarkRoads at 1:55 PM on April 21


I think this episode more than any other has Worf's unrealistic idealized view of Klingon nature bite him in the ass. His speech to Alexander was better than I was expecting/remembered, but that's just a function of how poorly I expected it to go.

Threatening to send your kid to a Klingon school is the 24th century equivalent of threatening to send your kid to a military school.
posted by ckape at 6:30 PM on May 2


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