**** (4 stars out of 5)
It's the witching hour, and appropriately enough, the Enterprise has a new Doctor.
The occasion is marked by strange lights, troubled dreams, and an unexplained pregnancy.
I'm speaking, of course, of Dr. Katherine Pulaski, replacing Crusher (who is now Head of Starfleet Medical). That's right: no more Yar, no more Bev, and the new CMO is the Crusty Lady version of Bones McCoy. You'd think I'd find that appealing. I didn't.
Pulaski endears herself quickly by not checking in with her Captain and instead reporting to the bar at the forward end of Deck 10.
Counselor Troi has a 47 hour pregnancy from immaculate conception to atypically painless delivery. The boy child has only her genetics, and Troi vehemently defends her right to bear the strange baby over Worf's pragmatic suggestion that she abort.
Data offers 'fatherly support' 1950's sitcom style during delivery over Pulaski's dismissal of 'the cold hand of technology'. 'Amazing', 'remarkable', and 'beautiful' are the words bandied about for Ian Andrew Troi, named for Deanna's father.
These words are true of all babies. And like all babies they're totally describing a fugly little goblin.
One day later, Troi's exams show no trace of her pregnancy, and Ian is talking and looking four. Across the commercial break he turns eight. Oh, no! Soap Opera Baby Disorder! If you send him to boarding school now he'll come back 16 and need a girlfriend!
Pulaski calls Data "dah-ta" and scoffs 'What's the difference?" when he corrects her. She whips out a tricorder to scan him for 'bruised feelings'. I already loved Data with my whole soul by this point and I did not in the LEAST find this interloping shrew and her ignorant prejudice charming. I might be alone on this one. Stupid Pulaski. I'm gonna sulk all season.
Some of the changes are improvements: Riker's nautical beard, Geordi's promotion to Chief Engineer, that Irish guy has a job in Transporter Room 3, and Worf's department-appropriate shirt finally arrived. Best of all, there's Ten-Forward's hostess Guinan.
The enigmatic woman pesters Wesley for drink orders until he asks her why. "It's what's expected. Don't you always do what's expected?"
Wesley says he tries, because it's important to consider others before yourself.
Guinan agrees, but points out something profound I heard for the first time from her: sometimes it's O.K. to "Give yourself permission to be selfish."
"The Child" is a good start to a new season, recycled old script or no. In the spirit of selfishness, I'm going to do my damnedest to grin and bear Pulaski or... maybe I'll learn to like her this time. Probably not, though.