Totally useless episode.
The Enterprise encounters a drifting ship which turns out to be manned by Starbuck before he was a woman. Speaking on the decision to make Starbuck a woman in the reimagining of Battlestar: Galactica, Ron Moore says “Making Starbuck a woman was a way of avoiding what I felt would be ‘rogue pilot with a heart of gold’ cliche.” (source). So now you know what the titular character is like.
And that’s it. Okona beams on board the ship, immediately picks up the transporter chief – who is conveniently a nameless woman played by Terri Hatcher rather than Miles O’Brien for this one episode only – and tells Data a joke. For the rest of the episode, we will see Okona coming out of women’s quarters and Data getting joke lessons from Joe Piscopo in the holodeck.
The Okona plot contains exactly nothing that hasn’t been told to death in the pulps. Okona is being hunted by not one but two ships – because he’s double the trouble, I guess. But it turns out they’re hunting him for similar reasons. So of course they show up within seconds of each other. Blah blah blah, plot plot plot, in the end Okona decides to stop running and face them both, and wouldn’t ya know, it turns out he was right all along and they were chasing him under false pretenses. MESSAGE: don’t run from your problems, FACE them, because if you do a neat solution will immediately suggest itself and, hey, they were never really your problems to begin with? Has that ever worked on the IRS?
The plot about Data learning what funny is is only barely more interesting, and of course it’s the usual “please, we’re Star Trek” refusal to do anything interesting with an inherently interesting premise. Would ya know, humor turns out to be hard to explain! AND … different people have different opinions about what’s funny! AND … you can’t be funny following a recipe! SO glad we have Star Trek to tell us these things.
Gargantuan waste of time. Joe Piscopo does a surprisingly good Jerry Lewis imitation. (As you would trying to explain what funny is to a 24th century robot.) The rest is canned cliche.
Overall Rating: D-