The One Got Better, and the Other Got Worse

June 15, 1994|By GREGORY P. KANE

The end of of May brought the end of two television shows. One I will miss and the other I was only too glad to see go.

I wasn't a fan of ''Star Trek: The Next Generation'' when it debuted back in 1987. I found some of the details as exasperating as the original ''Star Trek,'' from which some of ''The Next Generation's'' earlier stories seemed to be based. Why is it that 10 people or fewer can take over a starship, a supposedly sophisticated and complicated piece of machinery that required a crew of 1,000? And if so few people could take it over, why did a starship need the crew of 1,000?

Particularly nettlesome were the story lines involving the Klingons and the Romulans -- traditional enemies of the United Federation of Planets, the governing body for which the U.S.S. Enterprise embarked on its mission to explore the galaxy. The Romulans and the Klingons had something called a ''cloaking device,'' which allowed them to conceal their starships -- the better, we can assume, to allow them to creep up on the unsuspecting good guys in the Federation.

''Why doesn't the Federation have the cloaking device,'' I asked with almost every show. One episode in particular gave the answer: In a treaty with the Romulans, the Federation agreed not to develop cloaking technology.

That show had me practically pounding the top of my television set.

You sign a treaty in which you agree not to develop a technology that a sworn enemy already has? Haven't humans in the 24th TTC century heard of an earthling named Ambrose Bierce, who five centuries before wrote that peace is a period of cheating between two periods of fighting?

Someone, I figured, needed to sit the writers of ''Star Trek: The Next Generation'' down and explain the concept of Realpolitik to those folks. It's a good thing the show was fiction. In the real world, the Federation would have had its brains beaten out.

But in spite of the flaws, I have to admit the show grew on me. I was sad to see it go.

On the other hand, its good-bye, good luck and good riddance to Arsenio Hall. I started out liking his show, but it started to grate on me after a while. There has been much speculation on why Mr. Hall decided not to continue the show. Some feel he may have been given the boot for his non-interview with Louis Farrakhan, but Mr. Hall may have done himself in long before that. His show was a five-year exercise in how to lose an audience.

I lost him when I found out the guy believes professional wrestling is on the level. He would have professional wrestlers on and ask them questions that suggested that he believed they were involved in an actual athletic contest. I felt betrayed when Arsenio did this. He had deliberately led me to believe there was a mind in that triangle head of his. Then I found out he couldn't grasp what any third-grader could. I suspect this may have been the point where he started to lose some of his audience, some of whom may have had the same ''God! What a sap!'' reaction I had.

I watched the show only sparingly after that. I had my sanity to think of. But it was tested again when Chuck D, a member of the rap group Public Enemy, came on the show and gave his blighted view on the Mike Tyson rape case. It made no difference whether Tyson was guilty or innocent, Chuck D explained. Then he held up a notorious photograph of a black man being burned to death while a mob of leering whites looked on.

''This picture was taken in Indiana back in the 1930s,'' Chuck D said.

I immediately saw where this line of reasoning -- and I use the word generously -- was heading.

''Don't go there, Chuck,'' I pleaded. ''Please don't go there.''

But even if he did, Arsenio was there to inject some logic into the discussion, right?

Wrong. Chuck D went on to say that the jury in the Mike Tyson rape trial had the same mentality as the jury at the lynching. I was hoping Arsenio would explain to Chuck the difference between a lynch mob and a jury deliberating Mike Tyson's fate on a charge brought by a black female victim, but I suspect his mind was on buying tickets for his next professional wrestling match.

More recently, rapper Snoop Doggy Dogg went before the camera to give his opinions of black women who don't care for the misogynistic lyrics in his songs.

''I don't love them 'ho's,'' Snoop said.

Arsenio had several options here. Cutting quickly to a commercial break. Taking Snoop by the ear and escorting him off the show (my personal favorite). Even questioning Snoop further about the propriety of calling a group of dignified, concerned black women 'ho's and asking him if black men think that way about their women, can we really be upset when others do.

But Arsenio chose none of the above. He was, instead, hurled into a fit of hysterical cackling by the remark.

Compared to Snoop, the Louis Farrakhan show was a breath of fresh air. But by that time Arsenio Hall had changed his show from a ''night thing'' to a ''his butt has got to go thing.''

Gregory P. Kane is a reporter for The Sun.

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