Up The Long Ladder

Meet the Bringloidi: Danilo, Brenna and the colonists. Their interests include farming, washing and drinking. Also meet the Mariposans: Granger, Granger, Granger and the others. Their interests include clones, cloning and being cloned. It’s time to play the feud when we put “Up The Long Ladder” into the Mission Log!

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  1. Mihai Furtună says:

    There was another issue about this episode, one that was brought up by SFDebris for example: When they tell the two groups that they have to mix together in order to survive, how do they get that done? How do you tell a culture that has, for all intents and purposes, abstained from ALL sexual activities that they have to go back to that, that they have to go back to doing something that they find repulsive, as a cultural thing? That would be like taking an Amish person, taking tehm to, say, Amsterdam, and telling them, this is how you’re gonna have to live from now on. And expect them to go happily about it… It doesn’t work, does it?

  2. CmdrR says:

    Wow. Wonder how much synthehol — with deleterious effects intact — the producers were on to let this one out of the box? Aside from the racism of drunkard Irish, there’s the over-the-top performance by Barrie Ingham and the oh-so-neat ending. btw, What’s to keep the Mariposans from saying “sure!” to hosting the Bringloidi, then sticking them all on the farms they wanted… getting a few falling down drunk once in awhile… and harvesting clone-worthy cells? It’s a few more generations to solve the ‘fading’ issue anyway. Ah well. I will say, Rosalyn Landor’s belly button will gleam brightly in my memory for life.

  3. CmdrR says:

    btw — eschew — geshundheit! (Think it’s pronounced es-chew)

  4. Wildride says:

    From your genes’ perspective, preserving yourself in the next generation is the only reason for having kids. Our bodies are just the machines they use to accomplish that. We have our own reasons for when we choose to reproduce (mostly involving too much alcohol ☺), but that’s just our genes tricking us into doing what they want. (*)

    There was a certain amount of clonephobia in this episode. Trek doesn’t have a great history with different sexualities and reproductive schema. Doesn’t help that they portray the clones as all kidnappy and rapey.

    * This is just allegory: Genes don’t really think.

  5. DesertDweller79 says:

    I’m with you, Ken. The abortion issue didn’t even register with me until someone told me that was what the point was. I mean…. the line Riker has kinda baffled me, because ….. it is cloning. Not abortion. Those are very different issues in my head. There are simply different issues in play…. Maybe it plays differently now when cloning of animals has been accomplished and seems like a legitimate thing. Maybe cloning was too abstract a concept when this was produced, so the abortion analogy was more obvious?

  6. Jenny Jackson-Smith says:

    You know what makes me sad about this episode? The fact that my favorite part of it was completely useless! I loved the whole thing with Worf and Pulaski… I love the idea that this culture that is basically portrayed as being violence-centric also has these amazing beautiful traditions, and exquisite love poetry… but all of that was completely irrelevant to the plot!

  7. Jenny Jackson-Smith says:

    Oh! And I will also add…to your point about ships getting lost. I think what often gets forgotten in scifi stuff about space is exactly how big space is. I mean, it’s bloody huge, and so the idea of something getting lost -especially in pre-federation times, but even then… even with thefederation… space is huge, and trying to figure out how to find something when you literally have to look in every possible direction, not simply on a horizontal plane… that is incredibly daunting to me. In fact, when I think about it too much, the idea that the federation isn’t constantly losing everything all the time… it’s a little insane.

    And as far as forgetting the word “computer”.. again… I think if it’s a techology that is completely unused in your society…forgetting a word that was in common use 300 years prior, but is completely unused now is a reasonable thing… there was a lot wrong with this episode, but that part didn’t strike me as odd.

    • Michael B. Conway says:

      Just a couple of days ago, my college-aged friends were making fun of me because I had said “I’ll look it up on my computer.”

      I think the days of calling our devices “the computer” are just about gone.

    • deaddropsd says:

      Good point. This is one reason I don’t think Voyager’s disappearance would have been a big deal to Starfleet. Of course even more so w the Dominion War! I thought the Pathfinder search efforts were really misplaced…no one would care…it’s space…people get lost….

  8. Matt Bell says:

    I also liked the bit with Pulaski and Worf. It struck me that it is just the sort of story that would be perfect as a webisode (if they had existed in 1988). As it is, this lovely bit of character work goes nowhere.
    OTOH, it might be the perfect excuse we need to write off the sillier bits of the episode as Klingon Tea fuelled hallucinogenic experience from the POV of our good doctor!
    – Geordi as a lie detector (in this episode only)? GONE
    – OTT Irish stereotypes? GONE
    – plot hole about the Mariposan’s genetic diversity? GONE
    – truncated Columbo Plot? GONE

  9. Scott Newland says:

    Although it was a truly sloppy episode with many faults and plot holes, I liked it overall. For 1989 TV, it was often very funny and still managed to give you larger, heavier issues to think about. Because of this (and Brenna’s eyes…) I was able to forgive a lot of the rest. When Granger turned Geordi away, however, my main thought was that they didn’t want his DNA because of his “handicap”. That alone could have been a Gattaca-like plot thread that could have been spun out to whole cloth (so to speak). Another opportunity, like so many others in this episode, dropped.

    • Robert Greffey says:

      Yeah, when Ken seemed confused they didn’t harvest from Geordi as well, I was thinking “Dude, he was born blind. Cloners gonna pass on that one.” Well, they may have dropped the ball with Geordi’s Gattaca moment in this episode, but at least they touch on the idea a couple of seasons from now with “The Masterpiece Society”.

  10. Zachary Serowik says:

    Forget “I’ll take Bono.” The t-shirt for this episode is clearly “If everyone were same-samey-same-same life would be boring.”

  11. wchmara says:

    You guys hit every one of those nails on the head. Which leaves me little else to add, except I am not a Snodgrass fan. At all. I plowed thru a hideous Trek novel by her, and I remember feeling utterly amazed that she got paid to contribute to TNG, as well, while I could never so much as get a foot in the door, and have had to settle for giving my words away for free on fan fiction sites. One of the things I find fundamentally wrong with the American way of handling things. Am I bitter? Admittedly.
    But it does not alter the fact that TOS actually paid famous career sci-fi authors for stories, while TNG started buying them from, well, I still don’t know what guidelines they were following, really.
    Riker was a cold-blooded killer, who got away with it. And his reasoning is senseless at the time…and will be proven absolutely wrong when Thomas Riker comes into being. Later in the series, Riker will kill again, supposedly to prevent an assassin from killing her mark (except as played out on the screen, he could have just as easily stopped her without ending her life, but he felt like playing macho games with his phaser), and also gets away with that. Starfleet, apparently, doesn’t mind repeat offenders on the bridges of their ships in the 24th century.

  12. Muthsarah says:

    “Up the Long Ladder” has to be my biggest TNG guilty pleasure. Irish stereotypes, decades out of date…still never fails to put a smile on my face. Like with the best of the bad movies (or The Way to Eden), I’m still a little dumbfounded that such a production could get off the ground without anyone thinking of stopping it, or at least reining it in. But…it happened. God help the foundation, it happened. The worse they make the “Bringloidi” appear, the more they’re actually degrading themselves.

    The Pulaski/Worf plot has to be one of the most pointless B-plots ever (seriously, the Bringloidi/Mariposa plots fit too well together to be anything but a big A-plot), but at least it’s short. Barrie Ingham IS fun. Brenna is a legitimately good female character, a rare feature for any Trek pre-DS9; her “battleaxe” characterization is totally legitimate given the cereal mascot her father is; I’d be no better after even one year, I’m certain, let alone 20+. The “abortion” scene, clumsy as hell. Always struck me as pointless. God, this episode fumbles everything. So delightfully. Almost like “The Room”, I can’t get enough of it. “Up the Long Ladder” has, for many years, been in my regular viewing rotation. I will never stop including it. It is consistently enjoyable. If only all bad Trek could be THIS goofy.

  13. Will Wright says:

    … and just where were the offspring of these fine Irish folk in this here little episode of yours Mr. Eastwood ?

  14. Endocrom . says:

    That Starbase seemed to be on a planet.
    Didn’t need to wait long for last week’s discussion about that to come up again.

  15. Will Wright says:

    Ah – Shore Leave. TOS. Er, well..no, but – Yeah !

  16. Low Mileage Pit Woofie says:

    Poor Colm Meaney, having to deal with American television’s portrayal of the Irish…

  17. KatieN says:

    Here’s the biggest thing I took away: technology may lead to freaky but it also leads to gender equality.

    Side note, I couldn’t help being reminded of Henrietta Lacks with the discussion on consent of cell tissue.

    My favorite part of this episode was the Pulaski/Worf bit. Though it wasn’t plot-related, it served as a counter-point to Bringloidi/Mariposan culture clash. Cultural differences (even extreme ones, like poisonous tea ceremonies) don’t have to be scary or alienating. In fact, we do everyone, ourselves included, a great service by reaching across the gap. Worf and Pulaski in this small side plot are being the example and displaying the best version of what we can become: people who are excited by cultural differences and see them as an opportunity, rather than a burdensome wedge.

    Ultimately, however, I was not down with this episode. It does not hold up. The irony never fails to irk me when Star Trek, a show about the glorious technological advances humans will achieve, paints technology over-simplistically as the enemy of “human nature.” In other words, we will become cold, joyless automatons. And then there’s the sexism/racism of the Mariposans. Overall, just no (with a consolation asterisk for the Klingon tea ceremony).