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Worst guest appearances 1: Commander Cal

May 30, 2013

Remember DS9 season 2? [It was the one that wasn’t as bad as season 1 – which you could say about any Trek series really [except TOS]] Remember the episode that introduced the angry group of five or six colonist/terrorists called the Marquis?

If yes, then you’ll remember that scene-sucking human-shaped vortex of ‘read it, say it’ acting, Commander Cal.

Actually this isn’t the fairest place to start my list of worst guest appearances.

To be honest, I watched The Marquis the other day so I’m choosing this guy as a terrible actor mostly because he’s fresh in my mind. I’ve tried to think of others worse than him, but none are sticking out. Do I have to go through every series of Trek again? Maybe. I don’t think there are any guest performances that are infamously awful. Are there?

Forget it, let’s just analyse this thing:

Plot: A Cardassian merchant vessel implodes shortly after leaving DS9.

Shortly after = a few seconds after undocking

A new band of terrorists/freedom fighters claims responsibility, calling itself the Marquis. Sounds French and probably is. It’s probably spelt wrong too [sorry].

Sisko asks his old friend, Commander Cal, the guy in charge of the ex- Federation colonies in Cardassian Space, what the hell’s going on.

This is where the bad acting begins…


1] This guy is just reading lines

You know those old rumours about Bette Davis, how she used to turn up so trashed, they had to hold up her lines on a big board so she could read them out?

Same method for Commander Cal, I think. Only he’s not trashed, he’s just inept. [Note: he may have been trashed, I don’t know.]

[Note 2: If he was trashed, why would they stick with him? He’s a guest actor, just fire him and bring in Jeffrey Coombs]

The only moment when Commander Cal actually comes across as a real human being is when he talks to Sisko about Dax. His eyes light up for a moment and he gives a natural [almost] delivery of ‘she knows things about me even my wife doesn’t know.’ Then the dialogue returns to sci-tech and made up politics and the light dies. He turns right back into a drone. ‘The border is a bad place, Ben, but those Cardassians are up to something, I’m telling you.’

This line looks like it’s coming from his mouth, but really it’s coming from an alien worm lodged in his brain that makes him sound like Garret Wang.

What else?


2] I can’t be fucked wasting any more words on this guy

Seriously, just look at the way Marc Alamo plays Dukat…there’s so much going on in his head and in his eyes…this is how a committed performance turns out on screen.

Look at all the different things he plays in this double episode [compared to the big wooden sign-reading vortex Bette Davis entity, Commander Cal]

i] Dukat attempts to ‘get to know’ Sisko. He’s quite charming in his own way, and at the very least he comes across as someone you could have a conversation with. Not bad for a war criminal.

ii] Dukat’s face when he talks about the Cardassian Central Command, ‘they didn’t even bother to tell me.’ It’s a rare show of vulnerability and it’s interesting that he’s facing away from Sisko when he says it.

iii] Dukat’s resistance to Vulcan mindmelds. His sense of superiority asserts itself and when Sisko comes to the rescue, Dukat tells him to stop talking and shoot the damn colonists. This is Dukat the ruthless General, compared to how he often likes to portray himself – the benevolent oppressor.

You could say that Dukat has more to work with in his character, unlike the one episode wonder of Commander Cal, but is this really the case? Surely, by letting Cal go at the end, the writers were leaving it open-ended. If the fans like the character, bring him back. If he comes across like a tree with arms and legs and shit line readings then…

In fact, think of all the guest characters that have done one episode and owned the screen. The guy from ‘The Most Toys’ who kidnaps Data. The Romulan General from ‘The Defector.’ Harry fucking Mudd.

Okay, they got better lines, but surely Commander Cal could’ve brought something to the table. He wasn’t just a random alien villain of the week. He had a point to get across and he told lies. There could and should have been more done with it.

I just watched the episode again and damn it he’s bad.

Sample dialogue:

‘I was hoping you wouldn’t come here, Ben. I don’t want to fight you, Ben. I don’t know what a Cardassian is, Ben. These colonists have made lovely farms, Ben. You should see these farms, Ben. Farms are really interesting, Ben. Garret Wang is controlling my tongue, Ben. Shoot me, Ben. Please, Ben. You’re Ben, Ben. Ben.’

At one point he moves his hands when he speaks, just like a politician. I guess the director told him to do something, anything, to liven things up.

It didn’t work.

Is Commander Cal the worst there’s ever been?

I’m not sure. Some others should spring to mind…can’t think of them right now, but I will. And then I’ll write down how shit they are…

Man, this piece is badly written…and poorly thought out too. I’m just gonna say…it’s all done in the style of Commander Cal, in honour of his ‘approach.’


Next on the list: Matt McCoy, The Price

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