Sunday, November 6, 2005


"Law & Order"
"Star Trek"

I probably should have taped 'Law & Order' this week, considering Paul Robinette was making a re-appearance (But now on the other side of the courtroom as the lawyer for the defense). But I didn't. And now I have to rely on my faulty memory for the details in some of the arguments between McCoy and Borgia.

But first, here's a recap of the episode from the NBC press release:


When an abusive young mother and murder suspect suddenly dies in her prison cell, an autopsy tells Detectives Fontana (Dennis Farina) and Green (Jesse L. Martin) that the woman has died from an I.U.D. containing benecrine -- an illegal drug that sterilizes its users -- given by a nurse practitioner (guest star Stephanie Roth Haberle) with a social agenda.

As A.D.A.s McCoy (Sam Waterston) and Borgia (Annie Parisse) consider filing second-degree manslaughter charges, they meet a former A.D.A. -- Paul Robinette (Richard Brooks) -- who is now defending the nurse and thinks he has a good case."
During their discussion about the historical background to the case, McCoy and Borgia referred to several cases of enforced sterilization argued before the Supreme Court, and to the timeline of the practice, to show how recently it had been applied even in California, a state known for its more liberal leanings.

[Interested in learning more about the historical aspect of forced sterilization in America? Click on the link for "Footnote TV" over there to the left, and check out the 'Law & Order' entry for "Birthright".]

Now I could be mistaken about my memory on this, but I'm fairly certain they made mention of its practice in Europe; and they did so as if to say that it might be still going on over there.

I'm fuzzy on the details, but there's no doubt in my mind as to what they called the practice - Eugenics.

From the Memory Alpha website:

"Eugenics (also known as Selective Breeding) the philosophy or practice of selectively breeding traits in or out of a group of organisms. While widely used in botany and horticulture, eugenics via genetic engineering in sentient lifeforms (creating "Augments") is illegal in the Federation.

The Eugenics Wars were a series of conflicts that took place on Earth from 1993 to 1996 with a total death toll of 30 million, although some historians think it was closer to 35 million. The wars began in 1993 when the Augments seized control in 40 Earth nations.

To average inhabitants of the United States of America and other industrialized nations, the wars had very little impact on everyday life, and went unmentioned and possibly unknown to much of the world population at the time. It may have been some time before much of the world knew of the massive wars taking place around them. The United States of America were relatively untouched by the Wars, but American troops fought in theaters such as Northern Africa."
Toobworld is NOT the Real World. People, objects, locations, and events happen in the TV Universe which never occur in the Real World. It drives me nuts when people refer to something that's happened in a TV show and dismiss it because it hasn't happened yet in the Real World.

Here's a trivial example - nitpickers complained when Josh Lyman used a Verizon phone booth in a flashback scene - which took place some time before Verizon came into being.

Yeah... so? People, how come you're not all bent out of shape because Josh Lyman doesn't actually exist in the Real World? "W" is our President, not Jed Bartlet. Where's your sense of outrage over that? (On second thought, I think that's building....)

Toobworld is NOT the Real World. So stop carping over the details that don't jibe with our reality.

"It's fiction, babe."

Anyway.....Here in the Real World, we didn't have the Eugenics Wars during the 1990s. Instead we had a near equivalent with an Orwellian name to neutralize its horror - "ethnic cleansing". But basically, it served the same purpose as its dimensional counterpart - the winnowing of the "chaff" from the breeding stock of the human race.

And here we had Jack McCoy of 'Law & Order' discussing the 'Star Trek' concept of Eugenics, and in such a way as to acknowledge that the Eugenics Wars did take place.

For this televisiologist, that moment of realization was bracing, as it was totally unexpected. Most of the time 'Star Trek' is nothing more than a Zonk!, a joke reference in other TV shows. But it's very rare when you get a hint that other TV shows outside of the franchise acknowledge 'Star Trek' as being a part of the same universe. If at all, the reference is usually an accident - as I'm sure the planet Vulcan was in a 'Doctor Who' story arc.

But every so often you get a deliberate nod - like the scientist Jackson Roykirk in an episode of 'Team Knight Rider', who was first mentioned in 'Star Trek' as the inventor of "Nomad".

This reference to Eugenics on 'Law & Order' was probably not meant as a direct reference to 'Star Trek'. But at the same time, I can't picture any TV writer not thinking of 'Trek' when invoking the term.

What else might we infer from a link between 'Law & Order' and 'Star Trek'?

Could Jack McCoy somehow be related to "Bones" McCoy?


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