Few episodes of Star Trek: The Next Generation are as controversial or as likely to stoke debate as "Skin of Evil," which premiered on April 25, 1988. Denise Crosby, not happy with the development of Tasha Yar and eager to pursue other opportunites, asked out of her contract, and Gene Roddenberry obliged. Yar died in a sudden and unsentimental manner, and in the line of duty, killed by the energy creature, Armus.
Many fans felt Yar deserved a far better send-off. And most of them deemed Armus, basically a walking oil slick, such a silly adversary that it only cheapened Yar's already lackluster demise. On the other hand, there are those fans who -- despite the laughability of Armus -- appreciated the fact that Yar died as many people do, on the job and without warning, with no final words.
Of course, Yar did utter final words, saying goodbye to her beloved crew (and fans) via a hologram played during a tearful memorial service in the holodeck. And Crosby ultimately -- and triumphantly -- returned to the TNG, both as Yar and Sela, in several memorable episodes.
But the question is this: What did YOU think of "Skin of Evil"? Was it a total disaster? Or was it almost great? Did it do justice to the Yar character? Or was it too unceremious a demise? And did you hate Armus as much as everyone else seemed to?
While you consider those questions, below are some factoids about "Skin of Evil" that may surprise you:
-- Joseph Stefano conceived the story and co-wrote the teleplay with Hannah Louise Shearer. If the name Joseph Stefano rings a bell, it's for good reason: He penned the screenplay for the Alfred Hitchcock classic Psycho and was a veteran of The Outer Limits.
-- The episode, like the creature, was originally called "The Shroud."
-- The mix of stuff used to create Armus include... Metamucil and printer's ink.
-- Denise Crosby's name remained in the TNG credits for the rest of season one, despite her departure in "Skin of Evil."
-- Recounting her decision to leave TNG during an interview in 2003 with Star Trek Magazine, Crosby said, "... I had no dialogue. So what was the point? It was torture to stand there. I felt like I was wasting away. I felt that if I had any chance to become the actor I had trained to be, the kind of actor that I admired, that this was not going to propel me into that. So, I had to leave and, no, I don't regret it."
Armus was played on set by Mart McChesney, who later portrayed Sheliak in "The Ensigns of Command." Ron Gans provided Armus' voice. McChesney, whose only other known credit was the horror film Girls Nite Out, died in 1999, a few days short of his 45th birthday. Gans, meanwhile, is an actor and voiceover artist, now in his late 70s, who counts among his other credits Dragnet, Lost in Space, Coffy, The Kentucky Fried Movie, Hell Night, The Transformers and Captain Planet and the Planeteers.
Crosby currently has recurring roles on the television series The Walking Dead and Ray Donovan.
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