In the 24th century, more than 70 years after the time of
Captain James T. Kirk, Jean-Luc Picard takes command of the
new Galaxy-class starship Enterprise. But he
isn't in for an easy ride. Picard and his crew face enemies
both old and new, including Romulans, Klingons, Ferengi, Cardassians,
the deadly Borg, and the god-like Q...
Paramount has relaunched its DVD box sets of each season of
TNG, sticking them all together in one bumper bargain
package. Accordingly, I have stuck together all my DVD reviews
into one bumper package!
back at the first season again, you see a lot of elements
that were later modified or ditched altogether. Commander
Riker's (Jonathan Frakes) reluctance to let Captain Picard
(Patrick Stewart) beam down into potentially dangerous situations
was discarded before the year was out. Despite being an extremely
sensible code of practice (and a reversal of the usual situation
in The Original Series, in which the most of the senior
staff would invariably put themselves in danger) it makes
for better drama if the star of the show is placed in the
thick of the action.
Initially there was no main engineer character, the assumption
being that, by the 24th century, people would be more concerned
with the maintenance of the mental and emotional well-being
of the crew than with the mechanical nuts and bolts of the
ship: a very '80s attitude. Hence the introduction of Counselor
Troi (Marina Sirtis). However, the number of episodes that
required a spokesperson for the Engineering department made
it clear that there was still a place in Star Trek
for a Scotty substitute, and so the second season saw the
promotion of Lieutenant La Forge (LeVar Burton) to Chief Engineer.
the special effects were the most impressive on any TV show
at that time, and certainly more up-to-date than those on
the '60s series, some of the visuals - including various space
shots and several of the alien planet sets - look rather cheap
'n' cheerful compared with later seasons.
also notice that Patrick Stewart initially uses (at the production
team's request) American pronunciations of words such as "command",
"class", "status" and "record". As the first season unfolds,
however, we hear the actor gradually introducing his own British
pronunciations of such words.
1 contains more than its fair share of distinctly average
episodes, including Justice (nice "barely there" costumes,
shame about the plot), Angel One, When the Bough
Breaks (too many cutesy children), Home Soil and
The Arsenal of Freedom.
Last Outpost starts well, but degenerates into the over-familiar
"powerful entity tests humanity" scenario. Also, the first
appearance of the Ferengi in this instalment fails to live
up to the formidable reputation that had been so carefully
developed for them over preceding episodes. Lonely Among
Us contains many memorable moments, such as when Data
(Brent Spiner) impersonates Sherlock Holmes for the first
time, but is blighted by the Enterprise crew being
even more self-righteous than usual. Hide and Q has
many amusing and effective scenes, but is a rather unfocused
and plotless affair. Coming of Age is a real mixed
bag, featuring a tense investigation of the crew on the one
hand, but a rather stupid Starfleet Academy entrance exam
on the other: it seems as though only one entrant makes it
into the Academy each year!
The strongest episodes include Where No One Has Gone Before,
The Battle, 11001001 and Heart of Glory.
Encounter at Farpoint might not be the best pilot in
television history, but it beats the limp opener to Star
Trek: Voyager hands down. The Naked Now, a sequel
to the Original Series episode The Naked Time,
is little more than a remake, though an exceptionally amusing
and dramatic one. The Big Goodbye set the precedent
for the all too numerous "holodeck goes wrong" stories that
have followed it, but remains a very enjoyable change-of-pace
show. Datalore and Conspiracy are both like
B-movies of the most enjoyable kind, the latter featuring
something of a throwback to the "shoot first, ask questions
later" attitude of Captain Kirk. Notably Conspiracy,
which pays off on a plotline introduced in Coming of Age,
concludes with a stunning cliffhanger, one that has never
been resolved (on TV at least).
is an effective discourse on drug dependency, marred only
by a truly vomit-inducing scene in which Lieutenant Yar (Denise
Crosby) attempts to explain the problem of narcotics addiction
to the innocent Wesley Crusher (Wil Wheaton). The Neutral
Zone marks the impressive return of the Romulans as a
force to be reckoned with, and also foreshadows the second
season's introduction of the Borg.
real stinkers of Season 1 are the dreadfully dull Code
of Honor and Haven, both of which recycle story
elements from the Original Series episode Amok Time,
and Skin of Evil: ooh, a talking oil slick - I'm scared!
its flaws, and in spite of the fact that the actors and producers
are evidently climbing a steep learning curve, there's a palpable
spirit of adventure to this season. This is partly due to
the "superhero-style" spandex uniforms, but has a lot more
to do with the quality of the incidental music, which is far
more distinctive than the bland lift music that we get in
majority of the first season episodes are scored by either
Dennis McCarthy or Ron Jones. McCarthy establishes some memorable
themes in the pilot episode, and reprises and develops them
throughout the season. Jones, who would go on to score the
superb Best of Both Worlds provides extremely exciting
music for The Naked Now, Where No One Has Gone Before,
11001001 and others. His Naked Now music, in
particular, recaptures the dramatic qualities of the better
instalments of The Original Series.
could say that the second season is like the first, only more
so. Its best episodes are far stronger than the highlights
of the previous year, but its weakest instalments are more
toe-curlingly bad than the first season's most embarrassing
the better episodes, the tense and emotive courtroom drama
that is The Measure of a Man is an absolute classic.
And Q Who is both an excellent Q episode (John De Lancie
gives one of his best performances as the mischievous entity)
and a stunning introduction to the chillingly impersonal Borg.
Elementary, Dear Data is another winner, a logical
and irresistible development of the holodeck detective program
in Season 1's The Big Goodbye and Brent Spiner's superb
impersonation of Sherlock Holmes in Lonely Among Us.
There are a couple of excellent explorations of Klingon culture
in A Matter of Honor and The Emissary, this
being a time when the Klingons still had novelty value. The
intriguing and unsettling time-travel tale Time Squared
isn't bad either, and the same can be said of the extremely
worthy Loud as a Whisper, Contagion (in which
something very bad happens to a Galaxy-class starship)
and Peak Performance.
the opposite end of the scale, the first season's Haven
and Skin of Evil seem like works of art compared to
the shoddy plotting and duff dialogue in Up the Long Ladder
and Shades of Gray. The latter is an example of that
woeful cost-cutting standby of American television, the clips
show - a very disappointing way to end the season (which was
restricted to 22 episodes rather than the usual 26 due to
a writers strike). The Icarus Factor also makes tedious
viewing, being primarily composed of a string of sequences
that go something like this: Riker's dad (Mitchell Ryan) tries
to make peace with his son, who then storms off in a huff.
Repeat ad infinitum.
Outrageous Okona has its moments, particularly those involving
the loveable rogue Captain Okona (William O. Campbell), but
is seriously impaired by too many unfunny "comedy" scenes
as Data tries to cultivate a sense of humour. Manhunt
is a real Frankenstein's monster of disparate elements that
don't really mesh together, featuring the return of Lwaxana
Troi (Majel Barrett), a return visit to the Dixon Hill setting
of The Big Goodbye, and some big fish people (whose
leader is played by Mick Fleetwood).
remaining episodes, The Child, Where Silence Has
Lease, The Schizoid Man, Unnatural Selection,
The Dauphin, The Royale, Pen Pals and
Samaritan Snare are rather average, but entertaining
enough. Unnatural Selection is a rehash of the Original
Series episode The Deadly Years, and not the last
one either: the idea of rapid ageing would be used again in
Deep Space Nine's Distant Voices. The Schizoid
Man is predictable, but lifted by more scenery-chewing
by Brent Spiner as a possessed Data, a virtual repeat performance
of his evil Lore character.
aspect that is a clear improvement on Season 1 is the special
effects. In general, the space shots look smoother and more
expensive. The Child boasts an impressive establishing
shot that tracks from the exterior of the ship, through a
window and into the interior set.
is not to say that the production team is averse to a little
frugal recycling of effects from the previous season. A view
of the transition from impulse to warp speed seen through
an observation window uses effects originally created for
Where No One Has Gone Before. The shot of the Enterprise
being flung parsecs off course in When the Bough Breaks
is put to good reuse in Q Who.
few characters are changed or undergo a "cabinet reshuffle"
of assignment for the second season. The departure of Denise
Crosby is of great benefit to Michael Dorn's Klingon Worf,
who functions splendidly as Security Officer. La Forge takes
on the much-needed role of regular Chief Engineer. Apart from
growing a beard, Commander Riker also lightens up his previously
rather humourless character. Watch out also for the developing
role of Colm Meaney, as he rises in status from nameless Transporter
Chief to become Miles O'Brien, who eventually joins the crew
new cast members also join the team: the mysterious (at least,
she is at this point in the show's history) bartender Guinan
(Whoopi Goldberg) and the new Chief Medical Officer Katherine
Pulaski (Diana Muldaur). Dr Pulaski is rather obviously based
upon DeForest Kelley's Dr McCoy - witness her disparaging
attitude towards the unemotional Data, which is akin to McCoy's
ribbing of Spock, and her loathing of transporters - but her
character still possesses great strength, easily standing
up to Picard. She only served for this one season before Dr
Crusher (Gates McFadden) returned for the third season. This
is a pity, because I happen to prefer Pulaski's no-nonsense
authority to the sentimental whining of the bleeding heart
3 is the year in which the show really hits its stride. There
are no truly bad episodes here.
is not to say that every episode is perfect. The High Ground
is an overly simplistic discourse about terrorism - the episode
has been afforded unwarranted fame by being banned by the
BBC. Who Watches the Watchers? presents the rather
patronising view that religious belief necessarily indicates
a backward society - whereas later seasons, and the introduction
of races such as the Bajorans, would take a more open-minded
view about issues of faith. And Sarek relies on the
extremely illogical premise that Picard is the only suitable
recipient for the emotional impulses of Spock's elderly father
Sarek (Mark Lenard), even though there are clearly plenty
of other Vulcans on the ship. However, this plot contrivance
is a small price to pay for having a guest appearance by Lenard
and some terrific acting by Stewart.
More commendable episodes include Booby Trap, A
Matter of Perspective and Hollow Pursuits, each
of which uses the holodeck in a new and interesting way. Who
says the holodeck never does anything but break down? That
is certainly not the case during this season. Hollow Pursuits
also introduces the popular recurring character of Reg Barclay
(Dwight Schultz), a lovable loser whose lack of confidence
makes a nice change from the usual examples of human perfection
that inhabit the TNG universe.
Romulans reappear in a couple of splendid political thrillers,
The Enemy and The Defector, the latter of which
keeps you guessing right up to the end. They also put in a
cameo appearance in the intriguing "strange life form" tale,
Another returning foe is the entity Q, who appears, robbed
of his powers, in the excellent Déjà Q. This is a more
light-hearted instalment than the previous year's Q Who,
but it contains many an uplifting moment, including the scene
in which Q compliments Data on being "a better human than
The most moving episode in the entire season has to be The
Offspring, in which Data constructs his own daughter.
A partial follow-up to the previous year's The Measure
of a Man, this marks an impressive directorial debut by
Jonathan (Riker) Frakes, and boasts a real weepy of an ending.
the opposite end of the emotional spectrum, Captain's Holiday
offers a refreshing change of pace. This episode is unlike
anything that Trek has produced before - or, indeed,
since. Picard assumes a more adventurous, even gung-ho, attitude
when he becomes involved in the search for a missing treasure
on the recreational planet Risa.
scheming Ferengi reappear here, and also in the episodes The
Price and Ménage à Troi. The Price is of
particular note for establishing concepts that would be developed
in the next two Trek spin-off series, DS9 and
Voyager, by featuring a wormhole that leads to the
Delta Quadrant. Ménage à Troi is a rare article indeed:
a Lwaxana Troi (Majel Barrett) episode that is actually very
However, the true highlights of Season 3 are Yesterday's
Enterprise and The Best of Both Worlds. The former
takes a couple of irresistible plot elements - a trans-temporal
encounter between two starships Enterprise and the
resurrection of Tasha Yar - and combines them in a fast-paced
adventure packed with special effects. This breathtaking episode
more than makes up for Yar's ignoble demise in the first season's
Skin of Evil.
Best of Both Worlds brings the year to a spectacular close.
The final scene is the cliffhanger to end all cliffhangers,
one that has never been bettered, either on a Star Trek
series or on any other genre show. The drama's tense build-up
is underscored by what I consider to be musician Ron Jones'
best work for the series. Jones communicates a sense of foreboding
from the very beginning of the episode, which culminates in
a crescendo of colliding instrumentation that has to be heard
to be believed.
important design change takes place at the beginning of Season
3. Two-piece costumes with raised collars replace the old
one-piece spandex outfits (for the foreground characters anyway)
lending the crew, and thus the series, a more stately appearance
than the previous "superhero" look. This change came about
because the one-piece costumes had been so tight that they
were placing undue pressure on the main actors' skeletal structures.
Look at the non-speaking extras in the background, though,
and you will see some of the spandex outfits still in use
throughout this season.
until the end of the third season, the majority of episodes
are stand-alone affairs, as was the preference of American
television networks. But from Season 4 we see an increased
level of inter-connectivity, as events in one instalment begin
to have consequences that affect future ones.
process begins in earnest with Family, which deals
with Picard's emotional trauma following his abduction by
the Borg in The Best of Both Worlds and the ejection
of Worf from Klingon society in Sins of the Father.
Throughout the season, and particularly towards its climax,
we also witness events that culminate in a conflict involving
both the Klingon and Romulan Empires.
also a thematic consistency to this season, with many episodes
concerning themselves with issues of family. Apart from the
blindingly obvious examples - Family and Brothers
- Suddenly Human deals with an alien's adoption of
a human boy "kidnapped" from a battlefield; Legacy
features the sister of the late Tasha Yar; Future Imperfect
presents Riker with the prospect of having a son; Data's
Day sees the marriage of Miles O'Brien to Keiko Ishikawa
(Rosalind Chao); and Reunion introduces Worf's son,
Alexander (Jon Steuer).
(It would appear that Klingon children grow very rapidly,
because in the year and one-third since he was conceived in
The Emissary, Alexander now looks like a boy of three
or four in human terms. And by the time he appears in DS9's
sixth season, he appears to be a teenager!)
episodes feature return visits by characters from previous
seasons. The series truly cashes in on its well-established
mythology with encores from the likes of Data's twin Lore
in Brothers, the Traveler (Eric Menyuk) in Remember
Me, Worf's ex-girlfriend K'Ehleyr (Suzie Plakson) in Reunion,
and both Q and Vash (Jennifer Hetrick) in Qpid. Riker's
holodeck dalliance Minuet is mentioned in a pivotal scene
in Future Imperfect, while the appealing character
of Reg Barclay puts in his second appearance, in what becomes
an annual tradition from this point, in The Nth Degree.
Another annual fixture is, of course, Lwaxana Troi, who returns
in the surprisingly moving Half a Life. The season
concludes with the opening instalment of the two-part Redemption,
which features not only Worf's brother Kurn (Tony Todd) but
also another blood relation of Tasha Yar.
me, the most inventive "returning" character of them all is
engine designer Dr Leah Brahms (Susan Gibney), a hologram
simulation of whom Geordi La Forge fell in love with during
the previous season's Booby Trap. Dr Brahms is suitably
freaked out when she discovers Geordi's holodeck program in
Galaxy's Child, an aspect that rescues this often rather
sugary tale about a helpless space-dwelling life form.
terms of quality, this season may not be quite as strong as
the previous one, but then Season 3 was a very hard act to
follow. Unlike the third season, this one includes a truly
bad episode, the tedious The Loss, in which Counselor
Troi loses her empathic abilities and bemoans the fact annoyingly
and repeatedly. Qpid isn't great either: though it
is clear that the cast and crew had a whale of a time making
it, the episode isn't as funny as it thinks it is. Final
Mission looks fantastic, but the "fountain puzzle" that
the departing Wesley Crusher has to solve is nonsensical:
why is it there?
cliffhanger ending to the previous season, The Best of
Both Worlds, was also a hard act to follow. Although the
follow-up doesn't quite live up to expectations, it is not
nearly as disappointing as some harsh critics have suggested.
On the contrary, The Best of Both Worlds - Part II
is a logical extension of its predecessor, and makes a spectacular
opening to the season. Its plot contains an ingenious degree
of symmetry: whereas the first part dealt with the Borg capturing
Picard, the second has the Enterprise crew in turn
abducting the assimilated Locutus and using him to their own
the standard of this season remains very high. My favourite
episodes include Brothers, which features an excellent
triple performance by Brent Spiner. Future Imperfect
boasts the irresistible notion of Riker waking up 16 years
hence. Despite ripping off its central concept from the Red
Dwarf episode Thanks for the Memory, Clues
is a clever and entertaining mystery. First Contact
sets a precedent by telling its story from the point of view
of the aliens rather than the Starfleet crew, and is an excellent
pastiche of 20th-century UFO paranoia. The Drumhead
is an unsettling courtroom drama, featuring a chilling performance
by Jean Simmons. In Theory is a quiet and charming
tale (but with one truly horrifying moment) in which Data
experiments with romance.
Also of note are the episodes The Wounded and The
Host, which introduce the Cardassians and the Trill respectively,
races that would eventually become pivotal ingredients of
DS9. It is interesting to note, however, that the Trill
of DS9 look and behave quite differently to the ones
that feature in The Host. One must assume that there
are at least two different species of humanoid host on the
planet Trill, whose personalities are affected to differing
degrees by joining with symbionts.
The consistency of quality lapses a little more during the
fifth season, though fortunately the strong episodes still
greater outnumber the weak.
For me, highlight of the year is The Inner Light, closely
followed by I, Borg. The Inner Light is an intensely
moving story in which Picard (brilliantly acted by Patrick
Stewart) lives out his lifetime as a husband and father on
an alien planet.
slightly marred by some over-sensitive liberalism on the part
of Dr Crusher (which is at odds with her participation in
The Best of Both Worlds) I, Borg brilliantly
conveys the message that individual members of even the most
feared nation or regime are not necessarily worthy of our
hatred. This message is as relevant as it ever was, as innocent
civilians in so many countries continue to pay the price for
their leaders' harsh policies.
is often mentioned by fans in the same revered breath as The
Inner Light and I, Borg, but actually I find the
notion of a language composed of metaphors to be rather silly!
Other episodes that make this season worth watching include
the thoroughly entertaining Disaster, a witty homage
to the disaster movie genre, and the trend-setting time-loop
tale, Cause and Effect. There are more eye-popping
visuals on display in the action-packed Power Play and
in The Next Phase, in which La Forge and Ro (Michelle
Forbes) become insubstantial "ghosts". Power Play also
benefits from villainous performances by Marina Sirtis, Colm
Meaney and Brent Spiner as the possessed Troi, O'Brien and
Data. There's also plenty of action and uplifting moments
in Redemption II, which concludes the previous season's
cliffhanger ending, and in Time's Arrow, which provides
this year's exciting conclusion.
more unsettling are Violations, which depicts mental
rape, and The Outcast, which is an evocative condemnation
of prejudice based on sexuality. Riker's justifiable outrage
at the treatment of his alien lover Soren (Melinda Cilea)
by her own society is only slightly offset by the uncharacteristic
manner in which Picard turns a blind eye to Riker's subsequent
actions, which clearly contravene the Prime Directive.
The First Duty is one of two return visits by Wesley
Crusher, and is definitely the better of the two (the other
being The Game). In The First Duty the cadet
faces a conflict between his loyalty to Starfleet and his
loyalty to some rather dishonest friends (one of whom is played
by a pre-Star Trek: Voyager Robert Duncan McNeill).
This development makes an excellent contrast to the sickeningly
nice Wesley of Season 1, during which he uttered the dreadful
line, "I'm with Starfleet. We don't lie."
5 is also notable for its introduction of the angry young
Bajoran Ro Laren, who makes her first appearance in Ensign
Ro and injects some fresh character interaction. Following
the introduction of the Cardassians during the previous season,
more groundwork for DS9 is set up in this episode,
which establishes the Cardassian occupation of the planet
Another celebrated event of the fifth season is the very special
guest appearance by Leonard Nimoy as Spock in the two-part
Romulan saga Unification, although the story is rather
The weaker episodes of this season include the dull New
Ground, in which Worf has to face up to his parental responsibilities
and the Enterprise has trouble with a new method of
propulsion called the Soliton Wave. There is a lot of talk
about this wave replacing the conventional warp drive, but
it seems nonsensical, because spaceships would still have
to use warp engines whenever they travelled to unexplored
regions of space. The Masterpiece Society and Ethics
are only slightly less tedious.
a couple of decent annual guest appearances by Majel Barrett
as Lwaxana Troi in Seasons 3 and 4, Cost of Living
returns to the standard of her first- and second-season episodes
- i.e. this frivolous "story" is embarrassing to watch.
Perfect Mate, in which Picard falls in love with a woman
destined for a political marriage of convenience, isn't too
inspired either, as it recycles the primary story elements
of the Original Series episode Elaan of Troyius.
five real duffers out of 26 episodes isn't too bad, and the
next season shows a remarkable improvement. In my opinion,
Season 6 is one of the best, second only to Season 3 in terms
of powerful storytelling and direction.
That said, things don't get off to a good start at all with
Time's Arrow 2. The documentaries among the extra features
reveal that the creators hadn't really thought out how this
complex time-travel narrative was going to be resolved - and
it shows! All of a sudden Geordi La Forge decides to try and
reactivate Data's disembodied head, which would have been
a good idea during part one if anyone had thought of it. In
addition, countless questions about the mysterious aliens
and their motives are left unanswered.
season doesn't end particularly well, either. Descent
robs the Borg of most of their menace by doing away with their
chilling hive mentality. Data's conversion to the dark side
is presented without any subtlety whatsoever, and Picard's
plan to beam down all but a skeleton crew is frankly insane.
Some other episodes aren't bad per se, just not too inspiring.
The Quality of Life recycles a lot of plot elements
from Season 3's Evolution. Aquiel is a worthy
but slightly dull Geordi love story. Birthright is
a rather slow-moving two-parter, in which Data's subplot during
part one (which guest-stars Deep Space Nine's Alexander
Siddig) is more interesting than the main story concerning
Worf's search for his father. The episode The Chase
seems to exist solely for the purpose of explaining why so
many aliens look humanoid in the Star Trek universe.
these few indifferent episodes are more than compensated for
by classics such as the two-part Chain of Command,
which makes use of two excellent guest stars. Ronny Cox plays
the abrasive Captain Jellico, whose methods of command come
as a great shock to the Enterprise crew. Meanwhile,
Picard is captured by the Cardassians while on a secret mission,
and is tortured in some particularly harrowing and well-played
scenes featuring the excellent David Warner as his interrogator.
Tapestry is of the same high standard, and is quite
possibly the best Q episode ever. Although the concept of
Picard inhabiting the body of his younger self is very Quantum
Leap, this story is an excellent examination of his character,
and ties in well with his recollections from Season 2's Samaritan
Snare. There's a heart-warming It's a Wonderful Life
flavour to this instalment.
the remaining episodes, Realm of Fear is another welcome
Reg Barclay show - although the notion of a traveller being
able to perceive the passage of time while in a transporter
beam goes against the evidence that is suggested by most other
episodes, including this season's Relics. Talking of
which, this irresistible tale is justly famous for its touching
guest appearance by James Doohan as Scotty, and for the production
team's brilliant re-creation of the bridge from the old Enterprise.
couple of instalments stand out particularly because they
establish new Trek sub-genres which would be used again
and again in DS9 and Voyager. A good one for
fans of Deanna Troi and/or the Romulans, Face of the Enemy
is the first of several "crewmember wakes up with an alien
face" storylines. Starship Mine is the first of Trek's
exhilarating Die Hard pastiches, with Picard standing
in for Bruce Willis. He would fulfil the role again in First
Contact, while even Kathryn Janeway would don the trademark
vest in the Voyager episode Macrocosm. Similarly
seminal is Frame of Mind, which itself is clearly inspired
by the movie Jacob's Ladder: neither the main character,
in this instance Will Riker, nor the audience can be sure
of what is real, what is illusion, and what is madness until
the very end of the show.
is a memorably creepy piece of work, while True Q is
another strong Q episode (apparently to make up for the lack
of a Q episode in Season 5, we get two this season). Rascals,
in which three of the crew are regressed to childhood, is
great fun, as is the Patrick Stewart-directed Western spoof,
A Fistful of Datas. Ship in a Bottle marks the
long-overdue return of the holodeck's Professor Moriarty (Daniel
Davis), while the LeVar Burton-directed Second Chances
is another strong Riker show, with a convincing dual performance
from Frakes. Lessons is a moving, though not too slushy,
love story involving Picard. Finally, there's more Romulan
action in Timescape, an engaging time-warp tale.
seventh and final season 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 DS9 and were well into
pre-production of the movie Generations, while also
the rather naff finale to Season 6, comes to an even weaker
conclusion at the start of Season 7. Beverly Crusher's 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 during a jailbreak scene.
And Data's recommendation that his android "brother" Lore
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 The Far Side cartoon, just plain nuts!
Here, the Enterprise tries to protect itself from harm
by creating a new type of life form. Riiiiiight...
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, though it's a good episode for
The instalments that make this season worth watching include
the memorable Geordi La Forge 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 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 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
Page is one of those rare beasts, a decent Lwaxana Troi
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.
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
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 Voyager.
me, the real highlights of this season are Parallels,
Lower Decks, Genesis and All Good Things...
Parallels is the alternative reality story to end all
alternate reality stories, in which Worf 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 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.
Next Generation may not have boasted the best Star
Trek pilot episode ever (that honour belongs to DS9)
but it certainly can claim the best finale award for All
Good Things... Amazingly, the script 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 Farpoint timeline.
season is accompanied by an average of one and a half hours
of extra features comprising documentary footage collated
from old and new interviews with the cast and crew. This material
isn't always riveting, but it has its moments, including a
demonstration of the numerous elements that make up the transporter
beam effect, an amusing montage of Troi "sensing" things,
a discussion of the surprising backstage chaos that affected
the third season, and a tribute to series creator Gene Roddenberry.
bargain box set may cause some annoyance to fans who paid
full whack for the individual season boxes. But if you don't
already own them, this is a golden opportunity.
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