Old friends and foes return as the Enterprise crew
face up to the consequences of many of their actions over
the years. Q threatens humanity with the damning judgement
of the court he set up seven years ago. Must all good things
come to an end...?
seventh and final season of The Next Generation sees
a slight downturn in the overall quality of the stories. As
the extra documentary features reveal, the production team
stretched themselves rather thinly during the making of this
season, as they were simultaneously producing the second year
of Star Trek: Deep Space Nine (out soon on DVD) and
were well into pre-production of the movie Generations,
while also developing Star Trek: Voyager.
the rather naff finale to Season 6, comes to an even weaker
conclusion at the start of Season 7. Beverly Crusher's (Gates
McFadden) command of the Enterprise makes for some
surprisingly effective scenes, but the Borg remain a pitiful
foe, one of whom is all too easily overcome by Picard (Patrick
Stewart) during a scene in a cell. And Data's (Brent Spiner)
recommendation that his android "brother" Lore (Spiner again)
be disassembled goes against the legal rights that were accorded
to Data in the second season's The Measure of a Man.
of Nature is not much better, being a tedious metaphor
about environmental damage. By decreeing that warp-drive usage
must be restricted to preserve the fabric of space, this episode
undermines the very essence of what Star Trek is about:
exploration. The story could just as easily have been told
using some other race's less clean method of propulsion.
is, to quote from The Far Side cartoon, just plain
nuts! Here, the Enterprise tries to protect itself
from harm by creating a new type of life form - ri-i-i-i-i-i-i-ight...
episodes, such as Liaisons and Bloodlines, are
distinctly average, despite the return of the Ferengi DaiMon
Bok (this time played by Lee Arenberg) in the latter. Homeward
isn't bad, but its extreme depiction of Starfleet's Prime
Directive - asserting that it is forbidden to save the people
of a planet doomed to certain death by a natural disaster
- makes the regulation seem nonsensical. Sub Rosa is
a rather silly "ghost" story, although it's a good episode
for Dr Crusher.
The instalments that make this DVD box set well worth watching
include the memorable Geordi La Forge (LeVar Burton) episode,
Interface, which features an excellent guest appearance
by Madge Sinclair as his mother. The two-part Gambit
is an entertaining escapade in which both Picard and Riker
(Jonathan Frakes) play a dangerous game of deception. Phantasms
is an extremely warped depiction of Data's funny and frightening
dreams, but is all the more enjoyable for it. Masks
is almost as weird and almost as wonderful. The Pegasus,
a Riker episode, takes a refreshingly cynical view of Starfleet,
as does Journey's End, in which Wesley Crusher (Wil
Wheaton) decides that the Academy is not for him. Thine
Own Self is an inventive spin on the Frankenstein
myth, with Data cast in the role of the monster. Eye of
the Beholder is an effective murder mystery, while Firstborn
is easily the most enjoyable Alexander (Brian Bonsall) episode
of the entire series.
Page is one of those rare beasts, a decent Lwaxana Troi
(Majel Barrett) episode, and is as moving as Half a Life
back in Season 4. Attached, in which Picard and Dr
Crusher are forced to acknowledge their feelings for each
other, is another emotional experience, as is Inheritance,
in which Data's "mother" (Fionnula Flanagan) turns up.
Preemptive Strike is one of several episodes, alongside
Attached and Journey's End, that bring a sense
of closure to certain ongoing subplots of The Next Generation.
In this case it is the fate of the one-time regular Ro Laren
(Michelle Forbes) that is addressed, although it is fairly
obviously signposted. Journey's End and Preemptive
Strike also serve the purpose of setting up the Maquis,
a group of rebels who go on to play a major role in Star
me, the real highlights of this season are Parallels, Lower
Decks, Genesis and All Good Things... Parallels
is the alternate reality story to end all alternate reality
stories, in which Worf (Michael Dorn) accidentally slips into
an endless succession of parallel universes. (However, Co-Producer
Brannon Braga is wrong to suggest that the concept of alternate
realities was "radical" at the time - they have been a part
of Star Trek mythology ever since Mirror, Mirror
in 1967.) Lower Decks is a great novelty, as it shifts
from the series' usual perspective to focus on a group of
junior officers. Genesis is a piece of pure B-movie
hokum, but very creepy and thoroughly entertaining.
The Next Generation may not have boasted the best Star
Trek pilot episode ever (that honour belongs to Deep
Space Nine) but it certainly can claim the best finale
award for All Good Things... Amazingly, the script
for this was written in just two weeks (according to a "making
of" documentary among the special features), but this double-length
episode successfully harks back to the pilot, Encounter
at Farpoint, as well as packing in many an exciting or
amusing scene, particularly those set in Picard's future.
Colm Meaney and Denise Crosby return as Miles O'Brien and
Tasha Yar to aid the very effective re-creation of the Encounter
at Farpoint timeline.
final disc contains the usual array of behind-the-scenes features.
Running in excess of two hours, these include A Captain's
Tribute, in which Patrick Stewart commends his former
co-stars, special profiles on Q (John de Lancie) and Lwaxana
Troi, and a preview of the forthcoming DS9 DVDs. The
latter has me even more excited about the prospect than I
had been before - if DS9 is as well presented as this
series of box sets has been, then we really are in for a treat.
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