"Badda-Bing, Badda-Bang" 
Season Seven, Episode 15
Written by Ira Steven Behr and Hans Beimler
Directed by Mike Vejar
Music by Jay Chattaway
Main Cast:
Avery Brooks as Captain Benjamin Sisko
Rene Auberjonois as Odo
Nicole deBoer as Lt Ezri Dax
Michael Dorn as Lt Cmdr Worf
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 Colonel Kira Nerys

Guest Stars:
Penny Johnson as Kasidy Yates
Marc Lawrence as Mr. Carl Zeemo
Mike Starr as Tony Cicci
Robert Miano as Frankie Eyes
Aron Eisenberg as Nog
Bobby Reilly as a Countman
Chip Mayer as a Guard
James Wellington as Al
James Darren as Vic Fontaine


Gangsters buy Vic Fontaine's hotel, transforming his lounge into a sleazy casino owned by the equally sleazy Frankie Eyes. Frankie is an old rival of Vic's and wants rid of him. It turns out that Felix, the man who designed Vic's program, threw in this twist as an in-built "jack in the box" to make the program more interesting. Vic's friends decide to rally around and save his lounge by getting rid of the gangsters. They devise a plan to steal the vast amount of money that Frankie owes his boss Mr Zeemo. The plan is put into action and, despite a few slip-ups along the way, they successfully steal the money which forces Frankie and his cohorts to leave, restoring the status quo.


Badda-Bing, Badda-Bang is an odd episode.

And, no, I'm not just talking about the title.

Truth be known I actually found it rather enjoyable. But there were indeed problems, some of them pretty major. For a start, we've already had two holosuite stories this season -- and certainly, they were both very good -- but, to my mind, a third is just pushing it. And as much as I like Vic, I'm well aware that our good pally is best in small doses. Given that our last Vic outing was a mere five episodes ago, the writers are in real danger of overkill here.

And another thing; does anyone know what this episode was actually supposed to be? Answers on a postcard, please. It's not funny enough to be a comedy. Or, to put that another way, I don't think it's supposed to be a comedy because it doesn't even try to be funny. It's clearly too silly to be taken seriously as drama. I'm not sure quite what it is...it's kind of just there. Still, being difficult to compartmentalise isn't a crime in and of itself. What is a problem is that, perhaps because the episode doesn't quite know what it's trying to achieve, it similarly doesn't know what to deliver.

Have you ever had to sit through a talk by someone who clearly likes talking, only to realise that despite their sophisticated use of vocabulary and the fact they've been talking for hours, they've actually said very little? I guess you could call that style over substance. And that, I think, sums up Badda-Bing, Badda-Bang quite succinctly. 

Yup, this is a classic case of style over substance.

And there is style left, right and centre; the sets, costumes and production values are absolutely amazing, the music is a delight (very nice work by Jay Chattaway), the performances are fun and, above all, the directing is simply sumptuous -- Mike Vejar is without doubt one of the best directors ever to work on Trek. His work is grand, sweeping, atmospheric, cinematic and exceptionally lavish. Visually, Badda-Bing... is an absolute treat. Anyone particularly fond of gangster movies or this particular era and setting will no doubt relish the exquisite attention to detail and the dialogue which nicely reflects the period. Oh, and just for the boys, there are positively acres of female flesh on display, between those skimpy waitress dresses and a stage full of exotic dancers (lemme guess, this was sweeps' month, no? :-) ).

But beyond that, there's simply not enough plot or storyline to prop things up. The story forms the basic core of an episode and the story is narrated by the plot. Without a solid story and a well-executed plot, the whole episode is built upon weak foundations and is liable to collapse. Badda-Bing... doesn't quite collapse, but it is shaky in the extreme.

Things kick off when gangsters buy Vic's hotel and force him out his lounge, which becomes a sleazy casino. No, no, the holosuite hasn't malfunctioned again (thank goodness), this was actually a part of the program -- a "jack-in-the-box" twist designed to liven things up a little. That's fair enough, I suppose, although the fact that Felix made Vic a sentient hologram and then deliberately endangered his life strikes me as...irresponsible. Anyway, Bashir and O'Brien rally everyone around to try and save Vic's. That's fair enough, I guess, after all Vic has helped out not only Nog but also Odo and Kira. He's a friend and he's in need. But don't these people have jobs? Important jobs, at that. Sisko made a good point when he frowned and said "when do you plan on getting back to work?" Mind you, that could be a case of the pot calling the kettle black. Didn't Sisko embroil all his senior staff in a baseball game, the only stake at which was his own ego? Of course, it transpires that this is not Sisko's primary objection, but we'll discuss that in a minute.

Bashir and co soon devise a plan to get rid of Frankie Eyes: they have to rob the Mob. And, in terms of plot, that's just about all there is to it. There's really not enough plot to sustain a whole forty-five minutes of screen time. The result is an extreme case of "filler-itis" in an episode which could easily have been chopped to half the length it is. Cicci nicknames Odo "Stretch" following his parlour trick at the bar, but "Stretch" would be an equally apt name for the episode itself.

Still, the same could possibly be said of the fifth season's Trials and Tribbleations, the infamous tribute to Trek's 30th Anniversary. Plot was minimal, but that was still one heck of a good episode and easily the show's most enjoyable comedy offering. So, where does Badda-Bing... differ from Trials and Tribbleations? What's that I hear? Yes, characterisation! It may be a cliche, but it's true -- good comedy always comes from good characterisation. Unfortunately, Badda-Bing... seems to have undergone a complete character bypass. In short, the writers fail to utilise the characters effectively; indeed, the roles in this episode could have gone to anyone. Much of the fun in Trials and Tribbleations came from the characters' attempts to get to grips with their 23rd Century surroundings. But here they have absolutely no trouble blending into the holographic casino. I know they're used to spending time at Vic's, but where's the fun? Most of them acted as though life in 60's Vegas was second-nature to them.

The absolute worst example of this was Kira. What the hell happened to Kira?! Did Nana Visitor misread the script and think she was playing a holosuite character or something? I know she had to flirt with Frankie Eyes, but when doing so she became a completely unrecognisable character. I don't know who I was watching during those scenes but I simply could not equate it with the Kira we all know and love. Can Kira really turn herself into a voluptuous femme fatale at the drop of a hat? How would she feel having to chat up the sleazy Frankie Eyes? All we needed was some glimpse of the real Kira -- be it a grimace when Frankie wasn't looking or perhaps struggling to restrain the urge to kick Frankie in the crotch. That would have been infinitely truer to character. But, as I said before, this episode is just about devoid of characterisation. Instead of using the characters to sell the situation and provide the entertainment (which is what most good stories do), the writers think that the scenario alone is enough to provide the meat 'n' potatoes. Wrong. Perhaps this is why the show feels so hollow, stretched and superficial.

Talking about characters, I was rather surprised by the presence of certain characters and the exclusion of others. Worf I can take or leave, but whilst Nog's presence made sense given events of It's Only a Paper Moon, the little guy's probably had enough screen time this season -- what about Quark? I felt quite sorry for Armin Shimerman being deliberately left out of proceedings. Has he fallen out with the writers or something? That goes doubly for Cirroc Lofton, who barely seems to have had two lines this year. I certainly like Kasidy, but I wish Jake had been worked into the story instead. To my mind, it seems a little unfair to be using secondary characters to the detriment of the main cast.

Before I go on to say what I liked about the ep, there are a couple of issues I'd like to discuss. Sisko expresses disdain for Vic's program, evidently because in the real Las Vegas of the time, black men and women were not allowed in casinos unless they were employees or entertainers. Although this is not a part of Vic's program, Ben can't let history be forgotten and refuses to be a part of something that abetted the persecution of blacks. It seemed to me that this came almost completely out-of-the-blue. I could understand Sisko's objection and I know that history is dangerous to forget, but the whole thing seemed rather out of place. We've never seen Sisko grappling with any issues of race before...after all, this is Trek and race simply isn't an issue. Whilst I wasn't adverse to the attempt to bring a bit of meat to an especially fluffy episode, I just couldn't wave off the feeling of "where the heck did this come from?" Perhaps Sisko's experience as Benny Russell in Far Beyond the Stars has set him thinking. It would have been nice if, having brought this issue up, the writers had chosen to explore it a little further and shed some light on its somewhat conspicuous presence.

I guess what really irked me about that scene was the reference Sisko made to "our people". I didn't like that. Trek has always depicted humanity as one, regardless of race, colour or beliefs. Don't get me wrong, it's not that I think everyone should be assimilated to be the same (perish the thought), but I think we should all be looked upon as the same, focussing on the similarities and not the differences. To put that another way, I think we should all be free to express our individuality and our differences, yet at the same time to view everyone as the same. That's the way Trek has always depicted humanity of the 23rd and 24th Centuries and I can't help but think a phrase such as "our people" flies in the face of that ideology. Mind you, given that the whole subject disappears almost as suddenly as it emerged, I'm not sure it should be given much thought. Ron Moore himself has said that the racism issue was only a device to initially keep Sisko from joining the others. Frankly I don't think they should have approached such a delicate issue unless they were prepared to explore it to satisfactory ends.

On the other hand, an issue which I felt really should have been acknowledged only to be completely ignored was that of sexism. Or perhaps you didn't notice the fact that, as well as wearing costumes that would give Liz Hurley a run for her money, all the female characters were reduced to sex objects with all the IQ of a paper clip. Perhaps I shouldn't go there. I accept that this was simply the way things were back then, but we really needed some acknowledgement on the part of the female characters that "hey, look at the awful way women were treated back then!" Lesse, we had Kira behaving like Jessica Rabbit, Kasidy was reduced to a blubbering flirt and Ezri...ahem, you need not look further that Ezri's waitress uniform (okay, on an asethetic level it was nice, but on just about every other level it was quite ridiculous). I'm not saying we needed some big analysis of how far women have come -- after all, this is clearly meant to be a light, easy episode. 

But I think we really ought to have seen Ezri complain about her dress or Kira being less than enamoured at having to play a brainless tart. This is one of those rare instances when it's quite obvious that the DS9 writing staff is entirely composed of men. Most men consider sexism a non-issue (your liberated reviewer being an enlightened exception :-)). It's clear that Behr and Beimler have overlooked the one issue of prejudice that's right on front of their noses while drudging up another which has no direct relevance to the episode. Why not let Sisko's objections to the program be due to the way women were treated in society back then? Who's to say our illustrious Captain ain't a feminist? Would be a nice counterbalance to Kirk. :-)

Anyway, what did I like about Badda-Bing..., you might ask? On a superficial level, quite a bit, as it happens. I simply can't speak highly enough of Vejar's artful directing. Absolutely amazing; it's a credit to Vejar that the episode holds up as well as it does. Along with top notch production values, Jay Chattaway's lively, raucous score was very impressive and quite memorable. There were indeed some great moments scattered amongst the labourious filler, including the laying out of the plan, with shots detailing what was supposed to happen, followed by what actually happened. The various mishaps were fun to watch, although I'm sure had they tried harder the writers could have been more inventive and taken it further. Nog not being able to open the safe doesn't exactly scream of inspired plotting.

Incidentally, this episode boasts two of my all-time favourite DS9 moments. If they were to make a compilation of DS9's finest moments, it would have to include the slow motion shot of everyone -- in costume -- strolling down the Promenade into Quark's and, of course, the final scene which features a duet from James Darren and Avery Brooks. The reason I said the actors' names and not the characters' was because this was an extremely rare moment, perhaps the first time in Trek the "fourth wall" has ever been broken. It was clear that, the story having been resolved, we were watching not the characters, but the actors. I mean, could you ever imagine Sisko getting up on front of his crew and singing his little heart out? Goodness no. It's also clear that the song itself, "The Best is Yet to Come" is a promise of what's still to come on the show (specifically the upcoming Final Chapter). The song itself was wonderfully performed, and Brooks has a great voice. Perhaps "The Best is Yet to Come" is not a song especially suited to his particular vocal talents, but I was definitely impressed. Above all, it was just an absolutely magical moment! Simply, truly priceless. Whenever I watch this episode, I'm left with a huge, big, daft grin smeared across my face. The episode earns its rating for this scene alone.

It's just a pity the rest of it didn't quite measure up. I think I would best describe Badda-Bing... as an insubstantial, unashamed bit of fluff. That may sound harsh, but fluff isn't necessarily nasty in and of itself. It's light, pleasant, amiable. But given that fluff is by nature a thing of precious little substance, you simply can't expect to have a filling, satisfying meal on fluff alone. And I think I've got fluff in the brain... :-P

Rating: 6

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