Star Trek: The Next Generation: Rascals   Rewatch 
July 8, 2021 4:43 AM - Season 6, Episode 7 - Subscribe

The All-New Enterprise Kidz Club saves the day when the dumb grown-ups allow the ship to be hijacked by Ferengi. Kid power!

I want to see background information from Memory Alpha now. Now, now, now, now, now, now, now!:

• This episode's story idea was bought by Michael Piller and Jeri Taylor during the fifth season. The script went through a number of rewrites before being assigned to Ronald D. Moore.

• Moore recalled, "When Michael bought the premise I thought he was completely insane: An Away Team rematerializes on the transporter as children — with adult minds! I tried again and again to bury this idea, which of course meant that I would get saddled with the inevitable rewrite when the script came in. I just thought it was a ludicrous idea and wanted nothing to do with it. That said, once I got the assignment, the professional writer in me had to commit to the material and do the best with it that I could, so I tried very hard to bring humor and humanity to the proceedings, chiefly through the Guinan/Ro story."

• In another interview, he remarked, "It was not my favorite assignment and it was a difficult show to write."

• Taylor noted that Ferengi were chosen as antagonists because "Would you believe four little kids could retake [the Enterprise] from the Cardassians?"

• Langford was named after a woman Moore was dating at the time. He commented, "She wasn't a fan and we stopped going out soon after, so I don't think she ever saw it!"

• Moore referred to the scene where Riker confuses the Ferengi with fictional technology as his "salute to technobabble".

• This episode was directed by Adam Nimoy, the son of Leonard Nimoy. He also later directed "Timescape". Naren Shankar remarked, "For Adam, that was a helluva way to make a directorial debut. Directing kids is not easy under any circumstances."

• As Ro was not seen returning to an adult in this episode, the writing staff considered having her choose to remain a child. Jeri Taylor commented, "Where else but on Star Trek could you do something like that? But it seemed too drastic for us, and we were sort of squelched on that."

• This episode marks the only appearance of Hana Hatae (Molly O'Brien) on the series; she reprises the role on Deep Space Nine. The character of Molly O'Brien was previously played by the Tadeski twins.

• The young Picard is played by David Tristan Birkin, the same actor who played Captain Picard's nephew René Picard in the episode "Family". David was actually fifteen years old when "Rascals" was filmed.

• The actress who played Young Guinan, Isis J. Jones, also played a young version of Whoopi Goldberg's (Adult Guinan) character in the movie Sister Act, which was released the same year as this episode aired.

• Ronald D. Moore ultimately wasn't fond of this episode, with the exception of the subplot featuring Guinan and Ro Laren. "I did end up liking [it] in the end," Moore said about that element of this installment. "I still cringe when I think of the episode (the Ferengi capture the Enterprise in a couple of broken-down Birds of Prey???) but many people have told me how much they like it."

• Captain Kirk and crew had undergone a similar change (reverting to children) in the Star Trek: The Animated Series episode "The Counter-Clock Incident" [FF previously --ed.].

• This is the last episode of the series, chronologically, in which Miles, Keiko, and Molly O'Brien appear. Soon thereafter, Miles O'Brien transfers to Deep Space 9, accompanied by his family. An earlier version of him does, however, appear in TNG finale "All Good Things...", in scenes set in 2364. Although Miles appears as early as DS9 pilot "Emissary", both Molly and Keiko make their first DS9 appearance in "A Man Alone".

"Look at these fragments. They're… they're very nearly in perfect condition, and yet they're seven hundred years old."
"So is my father."
- Picard and Guinan

"I haven't been young for a long time and I intend to enjoy every minute of it."
- Young Guinan, to Young Ro

"It's… I don't know, but this feels wrong somehow."
"Miles Edward O'Brien, I am still your wife."
- Miles O' Brien and Young Keiko, readjusting to married life

"You could return to the Academy. Take another degree. Brush up on your Latin."
"And be Wesley Crusher's roommate?"
- Troi and Young Picard, discussing Picard's choices while waiting for his body to mature again

"Thanks, Number One."
(A Ferengi guard eyes Picard and Riker with suspicion)
"- He's my number one dad!"
(Picard and Riker embrace, grinning widely)
- Young Picard, plotting with Riker to recapture the Enterprise

Poster's Log:
I love this one; fight me. Li'l Guinan and Li'l Ro are excellent here: well cast, well written, well performed. O'Brien Must Suffer one of those situations that he won't even want to joke about years later (and wisely, the script doesn't dwell on that subplot). And this is probably Alexander at his most enjoyable until DS9, or maybe even including DS9.

As for Li'l Jean-Luc, I came away on this rewatch with a real appreciation for how well the actor handled this very difficult task. He's not as solid of an actor as Li'l Ro's ("Li'l Ro's: Try the BBQ Pulled Pork"), particularly in the eyes, but consider how much more he needed to pull off. The main failing is exemplified in his unfortunately whiny line read of "I am still Jean-Luc Picard": he can't match Patrick Stewart's intonation and inflections, but I mean, good luck finding a child actor who could. (And on a similar topic, I'm no Brit, but to my ears, his accent seems to be from a different region than Patrick Stewart's. Maybe another FFer can confirm or disconfirm that suspicion?)

It is absolutely unfortunate that they follow up this ridiculous kid-oriented ep with possibly TNG's most ridiculous kid-oriented ep, "Fistful of Datas," but that's nothing against "Rascals." And for those with low kid-tolerance, "Chain of Command" is coming quite soon.

Poster's Log, Supplemental:
The relevant TV Trope is Fountain of Youth.

Looking ahead, I have to say season six is seeming way more solid across the board than season five, which IIRC I predicted about a season or two ago.

This being O'Brien's last real TNG scene, it's probably a good time for "Yellow Uniform, Blue Collar: Celebrating Star Trek: Deep Space Nine’s Chief O’Brien" (

Adam of "The Greatest Gen" reveals in this episode that he does a perfect impression of Li'l Jean-Luc.
posted by CheesesOfBrazil (19 comments total) 4 users marked this as a favorite
This episode has everything I dislike in TNG. It's got child actors, led by the kid from "Family" who made my eye twitch. It's got O'Brien family drama. It's got the Enterprise taken over by ludicrously incompetent villans yet again. It's got terrible accents! It's got disposable shuttlecraft! It's got Alexander! It's like a weaponized racehorse, bred over the centuries to carry me from zero to apoplectic in the shortest possible interval.

And I loved it. It leans into the dumbness so hard you can't be mad. The tantrums. The number one dad. The terrible learning computer. The fakey technobabble. The bed-jumping. It felt a lot like the best/worst TOS episodes in some ways: it just committed to the silliness.

(There is one jarring moment, though, when the Ferengi are attacking the ship and Worf is all like "casualties on decks 23 and 24" or whatever and, in typical Star Trek fashion, it's never bought up again. In an episode all but full of slide whistles and sad trombone noises, it's weird for the comedy to have a body count.)
posted by phooky at 5:53 AM on July 8, 2021 [6 favorites]

I'm guessing they felt they had to throw in the casualty count to emphasize how dangerous the situation was, as a "this is some serious shit" contrast to the rest of the show being kids cavorting around.
posted by Thorzdad at 6:50 AM on July 8, 2021

I am surprised there's never been a hint among the writer/director commentary about pressure to put more kids into TNG episodes. Seems like the only explanation.

I've seen this episode a few times, even remembered some minor details like lil' Guinan and Ro's bed-jumping scene, and lil' Picard brushing his hands through his lush head of hair. But I had zero memory of the Ferengi invasion, or that this episode was basically Die Hard on the Enterprise, but with kids.

Was there some ADR on Guinan's young-self actress? The audio felt strange.
posted by skewed at 7:22 AM on July 8, 2021

I'm no Brit, but to my ears, his accent seems to be from a different region than Patrick Stewart's.

David Tristan Birkin was born in London. Sir Patrick was born in Mirfield, a town of about 20k souls in West Yorkshire, and grew up in Jarrow, a working-class town quite a ways to the north and east.
posted by hanov3r at 7:27 AM on July 8, 2021 [1 favorite]

I want to do a fresh rewatch before I comment (I saw it relatively recently, but by "relatively" I mean "sometime in the past decade"), but I did want to note that "casualty" refers both to the dead and the wounded in wartime; sometimes it means particularly those wounded who are rendered unfit for action, but not always.
posted by Halloween Jack at 10:31 AM on July 8, 2021 [2 favorites]

Once the Ferengi show up and stuff happens, this episode is very watchable. And before, the kids themselves are all pretty good at doing their thing. Especially Little Ro and Little Guinan has folks have mentioned.

Some things...
When Picard shows up on the bridge and gives orders, the crew is looking to Riker for confirmation. Maybe they haven't been briefed on the situation and informed that he is simply a smaller yet fully mature mentally Picard. But no one seems to want to fill them in and then Picard gives his little talk about having to get used to the situation with implies his state has been shared. This is the Future! Humans have evolved. I don't fully buy into this general hesitation to carry out Picard's orders and it feels like the scene is simply there to be there.

Miles and Keiko wouldn't have been so bad if they had not given O'Brien the idiot ball. He's transporter chief, you'd think out of all of them he'd more than anyone would be able to wrap his mind around the concept.

The Ferengi beam onto the bridge. Worf draws his phaser.... and pauses! And then he shoots and he misses. Not just any miss either, but it's pretty wide. Then he takes a direct hit and goes down. So much for our Klingon warrior chief of security.
posted by Fukiyama at 11:47 AM on July 8, 2021 [2 favorites]

Was that David Birkin's normal voice? It sounded weirdly falsetto to me. Otherwise, I was satisfied that he was Captain Picard.

I also found Tween Guinan pretty convincing. We know that Guinan is all dignity and smugly (if insightfully) telling other people what their business is. However, I found it a bit frustrating that she keeps telling Ro how she is seizing the opportunity to be a kid again, while in contrast we see her spending 10% of the time skipping or jumping on the bed, and the rest is full of dignity and smugly telling other people their business.

I think the real story here is that they've figured out an incredibly effective way of reversing the aging process. Probably nobody wants to be 13 again, but I'm sure they can fine tune it as needed. I'd say congratulations, except they already solved that problem in season 2 with Dr. Pulaski (using the transporter, no less). Maybe the technology got ret-conned along with Pulaski? Well, this time I'm sure it will stick!
posted by polecat at 1:43 PM on July 8, 2021 [4 favorites]

I'm very fond of this episode, plot holes and stupid contrivances and all. It's a dumb episode in so many ways, but I still like it. So often when TNG tries to be funny it's just cringe-tastic, but there are some genuinely hilarious bits in this one. And I love the way mini-Ro did that pivot-turn in the hallway to face Guinan, such a signature Michelle Forbes move. I do wish mini-Picard's accent was closer to actual Picard's - or that they'd at least ADR'd his "I am Captain Picard" line to pronounce 'Picard' right.
posted by oh yeah! at 4:42 PM on July 8, 2021 [2 favorites]

This was a very enjoyable episode for me, even with all of its many drawbacks. The Ferengi thinking that they'd get away with stealing a Galaxy-class starship... Worf's sudden stormtrooper-level shooting skills... even the basic wrongness of their being able to think like adults with tween-age brains. Eh, whatever. Lil' Guinan and Mini-Ro jumping on the bed, and Riker seeming to be genuinely touched and delighted by being Number One Dad, made it all worthwhile. (Maybe he's remembering his "son" from "Future Imperfect"?) And every kid who's despaired at being stuck with a computer with dumbed-down kid programs gets the Enterprise Kidz's frustration.
posted by Halloween Jack at 8:17 PM on July 8, 2021 [1 favorite]

I forgot to mention one amazing bit of trivia I uncovered: the guy who played the Daimon here also played the cop in Big Lebowski who says "Leeeads!"
posted by CheesesOfBrazil at 5:00 AM on July 9, 2021 [2 favorites]

Oh, Tracey Walter has done a ton of stuff: Repo Man, Something Wild, the Joker's henchman Bob in Batman, he's got 178 credits on IMDB.

I also wanted to mention that Adam Nimoy, besides being the son of you-know-who (he surprised his dad on the TOS set wearing the ears), did a documentary on his dad with a lot of info that I hadn't known, and is also married to Terry Farrell.
posted by Halloween Jack at 5:28 AM on July 9, 2021

Tangentially, on the subject of Messrs. Nimoy pere et fils, Adam Nimoy wrote a very nice piece in the Boston Globe a couple of weeks ago about the often-difficult relationship they shared.
posted by briank at 7:11 AM on July 9, 2021 [1 favorite]

"As Ro was not seen returning to an adult in this episode, the writing staff considered having her choose to remain a child."
Now *this* is a story that I would love to explore.
posted by ewan at 8:06 AM on July 9, 2021 [5 favorites]

While I'm usually allergic to kids, I find this one enjoyable, possibly because they leaned in to the inherent silliness of it, and had some great moments to offset the worst part of it, the damn Ferengi: Picard whining and stamping his feet about seeing his father now now now! Ro coming to terms with childhood, real kids like Alexander just kind of taking it at face value that this is the captain and he's still accorded respect, the whole "Number One dad" thing, which still makes me laugh each time. I also really enjoy that baby Great Escape nature of the kids putting their plot in motion, and it reminds me of that great Simpsons parody a lot, except with older kids.

A lot of looping in this episode, weirdly. I wonder what was up with that.

One of my favorite tropes, too, was deployed: dazzle your (in this case, inept) captors with made-up information and knowledge that you deliver like it's the secret to the universe. Riker did an amazing job there with the technobabble and I love watching that. The corbomite maneuver, fizbo...I just love this stuff.
posted by kitten kaboodle at 10:16 AM on July 9, 2021 [3 favorites]

That reminds me that, when Riker was overwhelming the hijacker with technical details, it's stuff that's in the TNG technical manual; the computer core is overclocked by putting it in a subspace field that lets the optronics run at FTL speeds.
posted by Halloween Jack at 12:51 PM on July 9, 2021


Star Trek IV Returning to Theaters for 2-Night Engagement in August (remastered version!)
posted by CheesesOfBrazil at 3:57 PM on July 9, 2021 [5 favorites]

Hmm. Nearest theater to me is about an hour away; may be worth it.
posted by Halloween Jack at 5:29 PM on July 9, 2021

I just bought ST:IV tickets!!!!!

And back to your regularly scheduled post.

This is one of my favs simply because it's so damn silly. I agree with everyone about Lil Guinan and Lil Ro. Given my shitty childhood, I it makes me wonder what it would be like to go back and live those years over in a closer to loving family.
posted by kathrynm at 3:38 PM on July 11, 2021

Cards of the episode in the Star Trek CCG:
One of the Federation's teeniest ships, the Type VI Shuttlecraft is from here. In Premiere. Rhymes aside, the next set featured the dilemma Rascals(play against a Borg or Hirogen player for maximum comedy value) and Humuhumunukunukuapua'a.

Next are a couple of promo missions, Distress Mission(is the mission distressed in itself? I digress) and Botanical Research, which are completely average. I'm pretty sure this is our first card with a Dominion icon in this whole run though!

The episode featured heavily in the Ferengi-focused set Rules of Acquisition, including, the Ferengi Disruptor, Berik, Dr. Borts, Krunk, Lurin, Morta, and that classic Ferengi ship the B'rel.

2nd Edition features the pretty respectable Molecular Reversion Field, the okay Small Problems, and the overly costly Impromptu Prison. There are also 2E versions of Borts, Krunk, Morta, and Lurin, Renegade DaiMon, featuring the most interesting ability and coolest image of the bunch.
posted by StarkRoads at 12:21 PM on July 12, 2021

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