"Profit and Lace" 
Season Six, Episode 23
Written by Ira Steven Behr and Hans Beimler
Directed by Alexander Siddig
Music by David Bell
Main Cast:
Avery Brooks as Captain Benjamin Sisko
Rene Auberjonois as Odo
Michael Dorn as Lt Cmdr Worf
Terry Farrell as Lt Cmdr Jadzia Dax
Cirroc Lofton as Jake Sisko
Colm Meaney as Chief Miles O'Brien
Armin Shimerman as Quark
Alexander Siddig as Dr Julian Bashir
Nana Visitor as Major Kira Nerys

Guest Stars:
Wallace Shawn as Grand Nagus Zek
Max Grodénchik as Rom
Aron Eisenberg as Nog
Chase Masterson as Leeta
Cecily Adams as Moogie
Henry Gibson as Nilva
Jeffrey Combs as Brunt
Tiny Ron as Maihar'du
Sylvain Cecile as Uri'Lash
Symba Smith as Aluura


Absolute anarchy has taken hold of Ferenginar, a nation in shock after Grand Nagus Zek introduced reforms allowing women the right to wear clothes and earn profit. Zek has been deposed as Nagus, and he arrives on DS9 to enlist Quark's help in winning back his job as head of the Ferengi Alliance. But the plan involves a rather drastic operation for Quark...

Yes, well. That was a whole lot of fun, I don't think. 

In spite of all the bad things I'd heard about Profit and Lace, I really wanted to like it. But despite my open mind, I must confess that the whole thing is just a disaster -- and an ugly one, at that. I don't quite hate it with the passion that some have displayed, and whilst it's hardly the work of the devil, Profit and Lace is easily one of the worst episodes of DS9 ever (if not the worst). And I am speaking as someone who generally likes Ferengi episodes! 

Profit and Lace is a one-joke affair, almost as if one of the writing staff had half-jokingly said "how about an episode with Quark in drag?". Someone obviously thought this would be a good idea (stand up Messuiers Behr and Beimler) and set to work on constructing an episode based upon this one gag. Now that is just asking for trouble! I think if they'd handled it better, they might have been able to pull it off, but something obviously went gravely wrong somewhere along the line. The fact of the matter is that, in spite of one or two amusing moments, Profit and Lace just isn't funny -- in the slightest. And as a supposed "comedy", that is a cardinal sin. As Zek himself once said (and this is to Behr and Beimler): "you failed!! MI-SER-A-BLY!!". 

Things actually start off reasonably well. The Quark Sleaze (TM) aside, the teaser was quite enjoyable - particularly the short but amiable scene in Ops (the only glimpse we get of the other regulars at all). I liked the above quote concerning a possible Dominion invasion of Ferenginar, and I loved the way Sisko kept looking at Rom!! Max Grodenchik was as lovably endearing as ever in his role as Rom and was one of the episode's few highlights. 

There were a couple of other chuckles early on, too. Rom proudly re-introduces Nog to Zek; "you remember my son Nog? The first Ferengi to join Starfleet!" Zek replies: "I'll try not to hold that against him." There was also a fun moment where Zek starts to flirt with Leeta, to which Ishka responds: "Remember, she's Rom's wife!"; Zek: "Meaning?!"; Ishka: "Meaning she's broke!" Oh, and the cloud of beetlesnuff exploding was a nice directing touch from Alexander Siddig, the poor guy laboured with the directing duties. The slug-o-cola jokes were overdone to the point of getting annoying (like the ACTING Grand Nagus Brunt gag which wasn't even funny once, let alone ten times!), but I loved the slug-o-cola jingle! Holidays are coming, holidays are coming... ;-) 

Sadly, once Brunt arrives on the station things start to plummet downhill at warp speed (what exactly he's doing on DS9 is never explained -- presumably as the new Nagus, sorry ACTING Nagus, he'd have more important things on his agenda. I've never before noticed how much Brunt looks like an earthworm -- and I'll never know why the writers will insist on continually dragging back this character. Brunt is without doubt the most annoying Ferengi on the show, and his constant sneering is exceptionally tiresome. Speaking of annoying, the Moogie/Quark bickering really started to grate -- to the point I felt an urge to "mute" the scene that featured their shouting match (and her continual comments about preferring Rom as a son were out of line for a mother -- even a Ferengi mother). I also didn't care for the way she collapsed (evidently of a heart attack) and we were supposedly meant to find this funny. Well, I for one, did not. 

Ironically what seals the nail on the coffin is actually the main "joke" of the episode -- womanising Quark becoming a woman himself. You know, I actually thought that perhaps once we got down to this we might have some fun. But that's what actually seals the episode's fate. For a start, I don't like the fact that Quark's um, alteration was not just cosmetic but an actual sex change operation (was that really necessary? And why not use a hologram?) That aside, at first I must admit the sight of Quark with those boobies was worth a chuckle! And the first gag, about him -- sorry her -- agonising over "her" appearance was fun. 

That's the kind of harmless fun that could've made Profit and Lace a winner -- there's no disputing that a girl without a mirror equals the end of the world. And there's no disputing that women can occassionally become emotional yo-yos courtesy of rampant hormones. Equally there's also no disputing that us guys have our peculiar little stereotypical traits too, such as all our "macho" type posturing. Whenever there's a grouping of guys or gals there's often a little fun poked at the opposite sex (well, there is! Don't deny it!) and that's the kind of commentary I expected from this romp. 

But Ira Behr and Hans Beimler go too far with things. I'm all for a little fun but one of the biggest problems with this, as I noted above, is that it simply isn't funny. Instead it's downright offensive. I don't mind the joke about Quark being all worried about his appearance, and the "this is how women walk" bit was amusing. But the fact that as a woman Quark (or, OK, "Lumba") was treated as nothing but a sex object with just about every male present coming onto "her" was sexist to the extreme. Yeah, I know the Ferengi are meant to be sexist, but did we really need the incessant womanising? I, for one, could certainly have done without the ridiculous "let's go back to my place" antics that followed, with Nilva chasing "Lumba" round the room like a crazed animal. And yeah, I know it was meant to be funny, but like just about everything else in this episode, it totally missed the mark. 

Add to that a cringe-worthy scene where Quark, still affected by the hormones, starts crying and hugging Odo (by the way, what was up with Odo's makeup? Something was seriously amiss with his cheekbones). Again, I can only assume this was meant to be funny. Instead all it does is go to portray women as dumb, vain, over-emotional sex objects. I can imagine that just about every woman who watched this episode would be insulted by it -- and if not, then I'm insulted enough for them all! This is sub-Carry On crap that succeeds on only one level: insulting and embarrassing its audience. Never a good idea. 

I've often said that it's hard to go wrong with Armin Shimerman who is an excellent actor and usually a gem at comedy. But not even he can rise above a truly awful script as this. Shimerman has stated that he hated Profit and Lace, and whilst I don't blame him in the slightest, I am sorry to say that it shows. Shimerman doesn't put very much effort in to the role and looks pretty embarrassed. Again, I don't blame him -- but given his apparent lack of effort we'll never know whether or not he could have salvaged things a little. I'm not sure whether this was due to the writing of acting (perhaps a bit of both) but after his operation Quark acts like a completely different character. I think it could have worked better if Quark had been more in-character. Or maybe the whole thing was just beyond redemption. 

Of course, the episode does have one lasting development for Ferengi society -- the reforms allowing females the right to wear clothing and make profit. Only problem is at this point, I simply don't care. Profit and Lace is an awful episode which fails on just about every level it could. It's unfunny, overwrought, misguided, offensive and insulting. By the end, with Lumba de-robing to prove "her" identity, I was quite honestly embarrassed to be watching. At least, if nothing else, this episode finally gives Ferengi-haters good reason to hate Ferengi episodes. Even I await our next Ferengi outing with some trepidation.   

Rating: 2

What did you think of this review? Why not share your thoughts by MAILING ME? All feedback is gratefully appreciated (and, yes, I can take criticism but keep it friendly, OK! :-))

Disclaimer For the record, I acknowledge that Paramount Pictures/Viacom owns all rights to "Star Trek" and this site is here not to infringe on this copyright, but to support and promote interest in the show/s. Yadda yadda yadda.
All reviews on this site are copyright and are not to be re-produced or re-used without prior consent of the author.

Back to DS9 Index  /  Back to Home / TNG Reviews / Voyager Reviews