A couple of weeks ago while browsing Disney+, I decided I’d wander over and stream an episode of The Simpsons. I’d just re-watched Martin Scorsese’s Cape Fear and the Sideshow Bob parody episode “Capre Fear” has always been a particular favorite.
As the closing credits rolled, I began to explore a bit, going from season to season of the popular animated series. As I pulled up season three, I noticed something — an episode was missing. The third-season premiere “Stark Raving Dad” wasn’t available to stream and instead the second installment “Mr. Lisa Goes to Washington” was listed as the first installment.
I scrolled through all of season three just to make sure it wasn’t there but placed somewhere else (maybe the season were ordered by production order, I thought) and, no luck.
Taking to the Internet, I quickly discovered that the episode has been pulled from the streaming package and will not be included on future DVDs or other physical media releases because Michael Jackson is featured as an (uncredited) guest voice. The exclusion was done at the behest of the producers who felt it best to distance the show from Jackson in light of reports that have come out in the past several years.
It’s certainly not the first show to see an episode pulled and it’s something that has become a bit more common today.
And it’s something that makes me wonder just how much longer with Star Trek: The Next Generation‘s first-season episode, “Code of Honor” be allowed to continue as part of the syndicated, streaming, and media-release packages.
For those of you who may not have seen it, “Code of Honor” is the episode where the Enterprise arrives Ligon II to negotiate for a desperately needed vaccine. The natives of the planet employ a rigid standard of honor and they expect the same of their visitors. Well, that is until the leader decides Tasha Yar should be his new wife and kidnaps her.
On the surface, it doesn’t sound all that bad. Indeed, if the episode had made the alien race a reptillian-one, I doubt that anyone would bat an eye at it today, other than to note it’s a poor episode from season one and a bit of a knock-off of several original series elements.
What makes people associated with it distance themselves from it is that it’s probably the most racist episode of Star Trek in the entire canon. The people of Ligion II are dark-skinned and their over-the-top accents and devotion to honor don’t do the series any favors. A lot of participants from the series have denounced the episode in recent years.
Given the current conversations taking place around our world, I can’t help but think it’s only a matter of time before this one is locked up in the same vault as Song of the South, and fans are left to wonder about the “lost” episode of TNG.
I did notice that the episode was shown in syndication on H&I a few nights ago and, as of this posting, you can still stream it on various services that carry TNG. But given how many episodes of shows made after “Code of Honor” that feature questionable material are being pulled these days, I can’t see this one continuing to be part of the Trek canon for much longer.
Certainly, I can’t help but wonder if Gene Roddenberry were still alive today if he’d allow the episode to still be distributed.