'Civilization' Solid But Unexciting, Critics Say

By Christian
November 21, 2001 - 5:22 PM

See Also: 'Civilization' Episode Guide

Though the crew of the Enterprise made humanity's first-ever contact with a more primitive civilization, the events in last week's episode with the same name didn't cause much excitement among reviewers.

As was already evident in the first set of reviews for the episode (story), critics generally found little wrong with 'Civilization,' but also were unable to find any truly outstanding qualities. Below is a round-up of the latest batch of analyses:

  • Tim Lynch at Psi Phi's Enterprise site called 'Civilization' a solid episode, praising it for avoiding some of the weaknesses other Trek series displayed with similar episodes. "At its heart," Lynch wrote, "'Civilization' is primarily a tale of Our Heroes trying to blend in with another culture in order to solve a problem. It's well-worn ground, but in part that makes it slightly more appealing here: given how many other approaches we've seen crews take, we can judge a lot about this Enterprise crew by what and how it does."

    Lynch ended up awarding the episode a 7 out of 10, as can be read in his full review.

  • A slightly higher rating was given by the Cynics Corner's David E. Sluss, who indeed "enjoyed the episode, despite its by-the-numbers nature and a lot of my usual hobbyhorse issues" and said 'Civilization' probably came "the closest to capturing the sense of Old School Star Trek' of any episode to date."

    Of course, Sluss still had his usual points of criticism, for instance commenting on the Enterprise's technology. "Since when do phase pistols, which according to Reed in "Broken Bow" have exactly two settings (stun and kill), have all sorts of spinning dials and beeping controls on them, including a convenient "heat liquid to explode" setting?"

    Many more comments on the episode can be found in Sluss's full review, in which the episode is given an 8.

  • Despite giving the episode a solid B, reviewer Steve Perry at TrekWeb seemed one of the most negative of the latest group of critics. "This was a perfectly modest if unsophisticated episode. It pales in comparison to some relatively comparable TNG installments - I think of 'Thine Own Self,' of course, as well as 'First Contact,' which was more of a comedy. This episode wasn't particularly bad, just not very good either. More or less just 'there.'"

    The full analysis can be found here.

  • FirstTVDrama's Richard Whettestone, not a big fan of the episode either, wondered why viewers weren't shown more of the Akaali. "The title of this episode is 'Civilization.' Yet besides the fact that it is entirely focused on a little hillbilly town where we see a total of one woman's house and an antiques shop that is ran by an alien anyway ('One Little Village' would have been a more appropriate title), Hoshi clearly states that the planet has dozens of different languages and dozens of cities on each continent. The plural form of 'Civilization' fits the planet better, yet still doesn't change the fact that we only see one small town and two buildings." For the full review, follow this link.

  • Over at Section 31, 'Q' gave the episode an 8 out of 10, praising its similarities with the Original Series. "I liked this episode because it had a real TOS feel to it. We could feel the crew’s excitement when they discovered an M-Class planet with inhabitants similar to humans. I could easily picture Kirk and Co. showing the same kind of emotion. Archer reminded me more of Kirk in this episode than in any other. He got to kiss a woman and have a fist fight with an alien all in the same episode!" Read on here.
Among TrekToday readers, 'Civilization' was also one of the least popular episodes, receiving an average grade of a 7.3 in the recent TrekToday episode poll. Only two episodes so far have scored worse, namely 'Unexpected' and 'Terra Nova'. More poll info, as well as additional info on 'Civilization' itself, can be found in the show's Episode Guide listing.

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Find more episode info in the Episode Guide.