**** (4 stars out of 5)
The crew must play an over-the-top sci-fi adventure in order to stop a war being waged against energy beings by that darn holodeck. It's back in black (and white) to save the day!
I'm not sure that logical is what anyone was going for here, but that's the kind of Vulcan I am.
Why don't Tom and Harry TELL anyone the holodeck is broken... FOR THREE DAYS? No one ELSE had any play-time booked? No one even hung up an 'Out of Order' sign? And why does nobody seem remotely sorry that 'Fifth Dimensional' alien explorers are ACTUALLY dying in droves at the meaty hands of fictional 1930's space villains? Of all the stupid reasons to go to war... because a couple of man-children couldn't shut off their video game?
Still, putting the pointless mass deaths of innocents aside, there's a lot of this story that's pretty hilarious. Janeway and her "scent"-mental pheromone pun. The "unimpeachable" President of Earth. Tuvok saying "STOP" to the telegram. Satan's Robot... just anything with Satan's Robot. I'm a sucker for a walking boiler with flailing arms. It ranks at whatever is below 'Pathetisad' in the Hierarchy of Robot Goons. Probably even R5-D4 could take him down, bad motivator notwithstanding.
And Martin Rayner chews exactly ALL the scenery as Dr. Chaotica. For years I've thought this was Rene Auberjonois (no insult intended to either gentleman) cracking the whip with his clunky microphone. A good Bad Guy makes all the difference (or a slinky Bad Girl, for that matter). Wonderful work.
I haven't yet seen any Flash Gordon serials, although I've enjoyed the 1934 comic strip. I HAVE seen some Buck Rogers from this era and "Bride of Chaotica!" seems to have gotten its homage bang-on.
There are better stories of holodeck havoc on TNG and DS9. But I don't think anyone ever managed quite this level of cornball delight. No two rocket ships are not on fire! Man the Death Ray! To Be Continued!?!?