The Star Trek TNG Episode So Hot It Was Almost Unfilmable

By Chris Snellgrove | Published

Fans of Star Trek: The Next Generation mostly enjoyed “Captain’s Holiday,” the episode that introduced us both to Picard’s love interest, Vash, and the pleasure planet Risa. Of course, we mostly know it’s a pleasure planet because the characters tell us so, and what we see onscreen is a decidedly PG-13 (at best) portrayal. However, the craziest fact about this episode is that franchise creator Gene Roddenberry originally wanted Risa to be a hedonistic parade of skin onscreen that would serve as an excuse to showcase how good Picard was at “f***ing and fighting.”

Captain’s Holiday

To better understand how bizarre Roddenberry’s creative vision was, it’s important to revisit the episode we actually got. In the Star Trek: The Next Generation episode “Captain’s Holiday,” Picard’s vacation on Risa is interrupted by the arrival of a cute archeologist who is trying to secure a valuable artifact before a Ferengi can get his greedy hands on it. After time travelers from the 27th century tell Picard the artifact is a powerful weapon, and he is destined to find it, the Captain eventually fulfills their prophecy by finding where Vash hid the artifact and having the Enterprise destroy it.

Riker’s Request

As written, Star Trek: The Next Generation episode “Captain’s Holiday” was, as Buffy character Willow Rosenberg might have put it, very seldom naughty. Sure, Picard got to meet a sexy, dangerous love interest, but the sauciest content came from (who else?) Commander Riker. He asks Picard to bring him back a souvenir called the horga’hn; the captain later realizes this is a fertility symbol and that displaying it (like Picard accidentally does while reading his book) declares to the planet that you’re looking to get down and dirty.

Picard Gets Laid

The episode wrings a lot of comedy out of the fact that Riker and Troi are conspiring to get the captain laid, which is exactly what Star Trek creator Gene Roddenberry wanted “Captain’s Holiday” to do. He vetoed Ira Steven Behr’s original idea for the episode (involving Picard visiting a holodeck and discovering his fear of getting older), but he liked the idea of the pleasure planet, seeing it as a chance to show us a different side of Captain Picard. Behr says Roddenberry told him Picard “doesn’t do enough f***ing and fighting, you gotta get him laid!”

Gene Roddenberry Wanted Extreme Hedonism

The Star Trek creator ultimately got his wish in this regard, and “Captain’s Holiday” gives us a Captain fighting against both a Ferengi and time-traveling aliens, and he gets a new recurring love interest in the form of the cutely corrupt Vash. But according to Behr, Roddenberry wanted an episode filled with “sexual fetishes,” and he wanted the background to have “women making love to women” and “men kissing men.”

Too Hot For TV

Behr wasn’t sure if this was the kind of thing they could put on network television (keep in mind Star Trek: The Next Generation premiered in 1987), and he incredulously asked head writer Michael Piller about the steamy background details. To his surprise, Piller said, “Oh, don’t listen to anything Gene says. Write a story where the captain gets laid and has some fun.”

Behr received his Star Trek marching orders and did as told, writing a very different “Captain’s Holiday.” This turned out to be a wise choice, as his limited TNG writing experience helped him become a writer and then showrunner for Deep Space Nine. Incidentally, Star Trek writers and producers toning down Roddenberry’s wildly sexual ideas was relatively common, with the franchise creator notably dreaming of such strange details as Ferengi having canonically huge genitals and Deanna Troi having three breasts. 

Roddenberry Was Forward-Thinking

While it’s cool to imagine the unfilmable horny iteration of this Star Trek episode that Gene Roddenberry wanted, the version of “Captain’s Holiday” we got is nothing to shake a horga’hn at. It’s fun, funny, and (almost) flawless. And considering that Star Trek: Discovery normalized onscreen same-sex romance in the franchise decades later, maybe it’s time to give the forward-thinking Roddenberry credit for imagining a future for his franchise that would finally be ready to embrace the strangest new world of all: equality.

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