A Price Far Above Rubies

Story: The Price
Written By: Hannah Louise Shearer
Series: Star Trek: The Next Generation
Year: 1989

A Troi episode. Also a Ferengi Episode. TNG Ferengi. So double the bad this round.
Some stable wormhole is hitting the auction block. Troi bangs the auctioneer, and the Ferengi want to buy the wormhole over the Federation. That’s the extent of the episode. It is weak, and it is uninteresting.

There is of course, the notable exercise scene in which Crusher and Troi stretch out…I am certain it caused many a nerd to tell there mom’s not to come into their rooms while watching.

NEXT TIME: The Gatherers

Tomalak

Story: The Enemy
Written By: David Kemper and Michael Piller
Series: Star Trek: The Next Generation
Year: 1989

This is a great episode. Answering a distress call on a planet plagued by electromagnetic storms, they discover a Romulan survivor, but lose Geordi in the midst of it all. Riker and Worf, and the surviving Romulan, are able to beam aboard, but Geordi cannot.
So Geordi ends up alone on the planet, trapped with only one other person: the other surviving Romulan. It is a great story about two men from opposite sides of the enemy lines forced to work together in order to survive.

The B-story involves Worf refusing to give a blood donation to the Romulan on board. I like that the writers stuck to their guns and made Worf stick to his guns. He doesn’t buckle, and I think it really strengthens the character. Romulans killed his parents, Romulans are his enemy. He should refuse the donation.

It is definitely a great tale in the Romulan stories.

NEXT TIME: A Stable Wormhole

Geordi’s Love Life

Story: Booby Trap
Written By: Ron Roman and Michael Piller & Richard Danus
Series: Star Trek: The Next Generation
Year: 1989

Geordi, our lovely engineer, is a nerd. Geordi fumbles around women, and in this episode he really tries to hard and his date falls apart at the beginning of this episode. The Enterprise then ends up investigating an old derelict ship…but as it turns out that ship was caught in a booby trap years ago…and now the Enterprise is caught in the same trap. It is up to Gerodi to figure a way out…and he constructs a hologram of the woman who designed the Enterprise.
As a result Geordi gets the girl of his dreams: basically a hologram of the Enterprise. Sad.

It is a decent episode, but Geordi is a total nerd.

NEXT TIME: Electromagnetic Storms

Jeremy Aster

Story: The Bonding
Written By: Ronald D. Moore
Series: Star Trek: The Next Generation
Year: 1989

Terrific episode. A kid on the Enterprise is put through the traumatic experience of losing a parent when his mother dies on an away mission. He is orphaned, but he is having trouble accepting her death. This is further complicated by an entity of some kind mimicking his mother and appearing only to him. But the episode is about the death of a parent. So Worf, who led the way mission feels rather responsible. He ends up performing a Klingon ritual, which makes Jeremy his brother.
Of note about this episode, it was originally submitted by a fan, and thrown into a reject pile during the tumultuous behind the scenes problems of Season 1 & 2.  When Michael Piller came in and began to shape up the production a bit, he went through the reject pile, found this script and hired the young fan, Ronald D. Moore...who went on to become one of the biggest contributors to the Klingon Mythology as we know it, and would play a major part in the writing staff of TNG up until it's end (and first two films), as well as much of DS9.  If you'd like to see his start, it is right here.

NEXT TIME: Leah Brahms

Mintaken

Story: Who Watches The Watchers
Written By: Richard Manning & Hans Beimler
Series: Star Trek: The Next Generation
Year: 1989

The Federation likes to explore and study things. This is the basis of Starfleet, to explore and study strange new worlds, meet new people, and study it all. It’s all about learning and growing.
So naturally, despite the Prime Directive, they still would like to study and observe pre-warp civilizations from afar, without actually ever approaching them and breaking that directive. A group of federation scientists were doing just that when they had a malfunction. The holographic rock they were hiding behind disappears and the scientists injured. So the Enterprise goes to both fix the broken hologram and save the scientists.

But they get caught. Some of the pre-warp civilization finds them, which causes numerous problems for the Enterprise crew. Much like “Pen Pals”, it is a well-written and executed Prime Directive episode.

NEXT TIME: R'uustai Ritual

Kevin Uxbridge

Story: The Survivors
Written By: Michael Wagner
Series: Star Trek: The Next Generation
Year: 1989

Average for TNG, but this was a time when Average TNG meant enjoyable but not spectacular. It isn’t really mediocre, but it doesn’t often come to mind when thinking of the best. I like this one, I think it is interesting, but it never truly grabs me. I can’t imagine to many saying they love it, but it surely is not in the category of bad episodes many had come to seeing far too often in the first two seasons.
Anyhow a man and his wife are the only to left on a planet after the much of it was destroyed. For some reason they are unharmed, as is their home. It is a mystery that leads the crew of the Enterprise to question the how and why this could be.

I liked the twist at the end, made this episode worthwhile.

NEXT TIME: Bronze Age Civilization

The Wants of a Man

Story: The Ensigns of Command
Written By: Melinda M. Snodgrass
Series: Star Trek: The Next Generation
Year: 1989

A big step in the character of Data. This episode deals with whether or not Data is actually capable of command, can he tell people to do? It deals with an issue once dealt with Spock, in “The Galileo Seven”, that sometimes logic isn’t enough and it takes more to be a leader.
There is a great A and B story in this one, which are really well connected. A scary alien race wants the inhabitants on a planet to vacate or die. It is the Enterprise’s duty to both hold diplomatic relations (Picard’s B-Story) and relocate these inhabitants (Data’s A-Story). It is well crafted and both showcases Picard’s diplomatic skills and Data’s growth as a commander.

NEXT TIME: The Only Two Left

Nanites

Story: Evolution
Written By: Michael Piller
Series: Star Trek: The Next Generation
Year: 1989

A whole new season brings some changes. Dr. Crusher returns to the Enterprise after a year at Starfleet medical, but now that she’s back, she is having some trouble relating to her son. That’s okay Beverly, almost everyone in the audience is too. She is afraid he is too wrapped up in his responsibilities and studies to act like a normal teen, and she is right.
The Enterprise has a scientist on board who is about to perform the final act of his lifetime experiment…he will finally get his chance. But Wesley’s final project for a class goes wrong, and some nanites escape and evolve, to a point that the entire ship is acting weird…to dangerous levels.

It is a solid opener for this season, re-introduces the audience to Beverly Crusher, and makes Wesley seem flawed, which is nice, because he was far too often regarded as everyone’s favorite little genius…and that is hard to both buy and relate too. Now he is a smart kid who isn’t perfect, and that is a hell of a lot more interesting to watch.

NEXT TIME: Tau Cygna V

Star Trek: The Next Generation - Season 2 Recap

The second season is a definite improvement on the first. Losing Yar gives more characters breathing room. Right off the bat they make sure everyone’s role in the series is clear. Geordi is Chief Engineer now. Luckily this makes sense, and gives him an actual role to play in the show. Worf has been made security officer in Yar’s absence, again a solid move on the production team’s part. Wesley is at the helm, Data is at ops, and everyone else is in their respective roles. Everybody’s job just seems clearer in this season and no one seems interchangeable.

The costumes are still the terrible spandex things, but there were a few changes, Worf and Geordi were both made full lieutenants and with their new rank and positions they change to their more familiar gold uniforms. Worf’s Klingon sash is also changed from his gold cloth sash to his more familiar silver chain one. Troi is changed into her popular catsuit, and her hair is taken out of the bun. And Wesley is no longer wearing his rainbow number and is given something more serious to wear (sadly, his costume looks better than the rest of the cast this season).

The biggest weakness I see in this season was the introduction of Dr. Pulaski, replacing Dr. Crusher. Let us drop the interesting female with an interesting background story with Picard (oh but let's keep her annoying son!), and replace her with a Female version of McCoy. She doesn’t like transporters, she’s crusty, and she has a Spock-McCoy relationship with Data. It just feels like in the midst of taking these steps forward to try and be it’s own show this season, it took a step back in trying to capture some of the magic of TOS. I don't think Pulaski is the worst thing in the world, but I'm not a big Diana Muldaur fan.  Plus I grew up watching the show with Crusher, so I'm partial to her.

Another addition to this season is the bar Ten Forward, and the bartender: Guinan. Guinan is a great voice of reason and throughout this series, and her mysterious nature makes her all the better.  With the addition of a place for characters to relax, meet, and chat about things off-duty, it humanizes the show.  Also a great humanizer and character/relationship developer from this season was the Officer's Poker Game, which helped develop the rapport between our characters. This is a huge addition, because our cast really sparked together from the get go, but none of that really made it to the screen in the first season, because everyone was written very dry, and no one was given any scene to showcase friendship and camaraderie. These games were the perfect chance to get us away from the sci-fi plots, and get to know the characters.  Brilliant add that would go on to play a role throughout the series.

There are definitely more decent episodes this time around but I still wouldn’t say that it is consistently good week to week. But the Writers Strike that year kind of made some of the issues they tried to resolve hard to entirely fix. The strike caused episodes like “The Child” (stolen from and unused Phase II script) and “Shades of Grey” (a flippin clip show). The third season definitely changes that though.

NEXT TIME: Enter Michael Piller

Clip Show

Story: Shades of Gray
Written By: Maurice Hurley and Richard Manning & Hans Beimler
Series: Star Trek: The Next Generation
Year: 1989

Worst episode of TNG. It is just a goddamned clip show, with a poorly written and performed wrap around story. If there had been more than just two seasons, and two mediocre to bad ones at that, maybe this wouldn’t have been so intolerable, as it stands it is just 45 minutes of “have you enjoyed these last two years? Too bad you have to relive them anyhow”.

NEXT TIME: TNG Season 2 Recap

War Game

Story: Peak Performance
Written By: David Kemper
Series: Star Trek: The Next Generation
Year: 1989

This one starts off good but kind of disappoints. A slimy creepy little man is sent by Starfleet for a battle simulation in which Riker commands a weaker ship with limited capabilities, and Picard commands a fully functional Enterprise. That premise alone could have made for a brilliant episode…but the writer fucked that up.
Right in the middle of the simulation, when it is really fun and captivating…the Ferengi show up. Jeez…just what we all thought this episode needed. The Ferengi plot could have worked in a similar story…but it just disrupts the action and stops the story from going where it should have, and we don’t get to find out who would win the war game, Picard of Riker.

I think the writer was afraid of answering that question…afraid to make one look better than the other, or just completely unsure how to end his story…so he disrupted the whole damn thing with the Ferengi. Shame.

NEXT TIME: Riker could die unless we give him clips STAT!

The Klingon Nasty

Story: The Emissary
Written By: Richard Manning & Hans Beimler
Series: Star Trek: The Next Generation
Year: 1989

A Klingon ship that has been in cryogenic sleep since before the Federation-Klingon Alliance is about to awake, and Starfleet has sent the Enterprise an emissary to help with the situation. K’Ehleyr is a half human/half Klingon, and a former love interest of our Worf.
They end up doing the Klingon Nasty. It has some great scenes, and some good moments, and is after “Heart of Glory” it is really the first in the slowly building Worf Arc, that would eventually pay off in “Redemption”.

All in all, I like this one, I thought K’Ehleyr was a good character, and the story was well conceived and written. Definitely a good one for this season.

NEXT TIME: Riker vs. Picard

The Phase

Story: Manhunt
Written By: Terry Devereaux
Series: Star Trek: The Next Generation
Year: 1989

Lwaxana Troi is back, and she is horny for a man…her eyes set on Picard. Depending on your view of Lwaxana, this is either an annoying episode with her character or an entertaining episode. I fall in the latter category.
So yes, I do find this to be an entertaining episode, is it the best? Of course not, but I definitely find it funny in its own way.

Although the weird alien guys that eat fish are TOTALLY weird.

NEXT TIME: K'Ehleyr

Down the Short Rope

Story: Up The Long Ladder
Written By: Melinda M. Snodgrass
Series: Star Trek: The Next Generation
Year: 1989

What a total piece of crap. This episode is awful. Just awful. The whole idea is about immigration, but it just puts forth a bunch of drunken Irish stereotypes. I found this episode to be difficult to get through, you’ll find the need to shut it off, I don’t blame you, and just so you know, the ending wasn’t satisfying enough to keep it on.  A Riker love story is thrown in that doesn’t really work.
The episode shifts gears about halfway through when they discover a planet of clones...I'm not sure why they didn't just focus the entire episode on this, because it is way more fascinating...and it is a complete tonal change from the first half of the episode.  That could've been a solid episode, but the solution that ties the two stories together is the only thing that truly ties them together thematically.

It's just a bad episode, with one plotline that could've totally begin a really good episode, so it is kind of a shame.

NEXT TIME: The First Return of Lwaxana

The Pakled

Story: Samaritan Snare
Written By: Robert L. McCullough
Series: Star Trek: The Next Generation
Year: 1989

Terrible episode. I see what they were trying to do, but it didn’t work. We get this slow, practically retarded, race of people who want help. The problem is that the writers turned them somewhat sinister, instead of really working with the issue at hand.
It is a bad episode because the writing didn’t move in the right place, instead of really working to make it a strong slower paced episode, the writer decided that it had to have a villain, and the results are poor.

And the aliens are annoying.

The only nice thing about this is the smaller subplot of Picard and Wesley on a shuttle together. We get a nice story about Picard’s youth, and learn he has an artificial heart…I hope that goes on to affect a future episode in some way…

NEXT TIME: Irish Immigrants

The Borg

Story: Q Who
Written By: Maurice Hurley
Series: Star Trek: The Next Generation
Year: 1989

Q returns, but this time he wants to prove just how ready the Federation actually is, so he sends the Enterprise to a distant uncharted sector of space, and puts them face to face with the biggest danger in the galaxy: The Borg.
The greatest strength of this episode is that unlike the Ferengi who was hinted to be really scary and didn’t come close to living up to the hype, the Borg are called threatening and then act exactly that. They are scary, they have less emotions than a Vulcan, are physically strong, mentally they just collect technology, and they are clearly stronger than the Enterprise or anything the Federation have to offer. They are fucking scary.

The episode ends with a strong moment, Picard knows he can not possibly defeat the Borg, and he begs Q to send them away, admitting not only defeat from the Borg, but also in his bet with Q…that they ARE ready for anything. They aren’t ready for this.

Picard ends the episode with a thought that really felt like it meant something about the show as well: maybe what Starfleet (and this show) need is a kick in its complacency. The series had since it began sort of seemed mundane too often, but this exciting episode was a big step in changing that.

Just wait until the Borg get to Federation space…

NEXT TIME: Uh-ha…

Data’s Pre-Warp Friend

Story: Pen Pals
Written By: Melinda M. Snodgrass
Series: Star Trek: The Next Generation
Year: 1989

Data has been chatting with some little girl online. That is a creepy synopsis I know…but it is actually a good episode. It is about the good ol’ prime directive. Data has been in contact with this child from a pre-warp civilization, and when her planet is going to be destroyed, the Enterprise is sort of stuck…prime directive says they can’t help…but Data has become somewhat attached.
I think it raised some decent issues and executed a solution well. It really puts the Prime Directive into perspective, a perspective that gets warped by the time Voyager roles around.

The B-Story with Wesley getting some command is a lot less interesting. But it does have some strong points.

I would say there are enough good points in this story to make it worthwhile, it is not the best, but it is of the quality that in the 3rd season on would be “The Average TNG” Episode.

NEXT TIME: The Collective

Kyle Riker

Story: The Icarus Factor
Written By: David Assael & Robert L. McCullough
Series: Star Trek: The Next Generation
Year: 1989

Riker’s dad comes to the Enterprise to brief his son on a mission. Unfortunately their long term strained relationship gets in the way. The episode about these two men that are too much alike to get along…its realistic. I’m a lot like my dad, and we can argue with the best of them (I am definitely trying to lighten up though). But anyhow I thought it was a well-executed story.
The B-story involves some of the crew arranging to let Worf have a Klingon right of passage. It is a iconic moment of the series, Worf being poked by hot sticks from holographic Klingons. Awesome.

All in all I like this one, barring the coincidental past relationship between Kyle Riker and Dr. Pulaski…I didn’t buy it.

NEXT TIME: Is anybody out there?

Time to the Second

Story: Time Squared
Written By: Maurice Hurley
Series: Star Trek: The Next Generation
Year: 1989

I can see how this COULD have been a good idea on paper, but the results are pretty lame and hard to watch. The ending is confused nonsense.
But if you’d like to watch 45 minutes of Patrick Stewart mumbling to himself while another Patrick Stewart wants the mumbling one to clarify…then YEA…you might like this.

I did like the opening scene with Riker cooking for some of the crew. That is one of those things added in this season that would continue to the end. Often episodes would have unrelated character moments to begin the show, which is a way to really make us love our characters.

NEXT TIME: Worf Gets Poked With Hot Sticks

Lost NASA Astronaut

Story: The Royale
Written By: Keith Mills
Series: Star Trek: The Next Generation
Year: 1989

From what I understand, the original draft of this story was good, but for some reason they rewrote it, and the results are this piece of shit episode. There is barely anything smart or entertaining here. Just pure crap.
The only thing to come out of this episode is a guy in the documentary “Trekkies”, who goes to conventions dressed in drag claiming his character, is the “wife” of the dead astronaut in this episode. To that I say: what the fuck?

So yeah…nothing good comes out of this episode.

NEXT TIME: Two Picards

Computer Virus

Story: Contagion
Written By: Steve Gerber & Beth Woods
Series: Star Trek: The Next Generation
Year: 1989

The Enterprise gets a computer virus. It sounds really dumb, but it is actually a kind of good episode.
They end up in the Neutral Zone, trying to answer a distress call of the Enterprise’s sister ship: The Yamato. But the moments after meeting up with the ship it explodes, killing all inside. Before the explosion, the Captain claimed it was a flaw in the design of the ship. But after the explosion it soon becomes apparent that something is in the Enterprise as well, and shit is breaking down, and people are getting hurt…how long until they explode?

A Romulan ship in the Neutral zone also seems to be suffering from the same problem, and they obviously want to blame the Enterprise…and it makes for an interesting episode.

NEXT TIME: Hotel Royale

Shapeshifting Nanny

Story: The Dauphin
Written By: Scott Rubenstein & Leonard Mlodinow
Series: Star Trek: The Next Generation
Year: 1989

When a young attractive future head of state tells Wesley he is holding a magnet…he gets nerd boner that nearly kills him…and he is distracted so much he can’t remember to give the magnet to Geordi. So yeah…it’s a Wesley Love Story. YIKES.
The girl is also meant to join together a planet plagued by civil war, two sides that are literally separated by night and day. And her governess is a creepy shapeshifting nutter (who tells Pulaski to murder a patient because he MIGHT be contagious). And then the pretty magnet-loving girl turns out to be a shapeshifter too. So there are just too many things going on in this episode. Plus a lot of the monsters they shapeshift into look ridiculous and cheap.

NEXT TIME: The Yamato Explodes

Data's Worth

Story: The Measure of a Man
Written By: Melinda M. Snodgrass
Series: Star Trek: The Next Generation
Year: 1989

Data is an android. A machine. But he is also sentient. He has a mind of his own…does he not have rights? This episode touched on social issues that this show stayed away from at first.
When a man from Starfleet shows up to take Data away to experiment, disassemble, and destroy his mind on the slim chance that he can make more Datas. But Picard, Data and the rest of the crew disagree. It is not fair to force him because he is not yet considered more sentient than a toaster.

As a result we get one of the best courtroom dramas, one fantastic piece of drama, and a message that resonates for the rest of the series. A fantastic episode.

Sidenote: This is the first episode to feature the officer’s poker game, which would remain a running tradition in the series until it’s final scene. The Poker scenes that began here in the second season, as well as the addition of Guinan and Ten Forward really helped develop our characters and the rapport between them, something that was seriously lacking in the first season.

NEXT TIME: Wesley in Love

Exchange Program

Story: A Matter of Honor
Written By: Burton Armus
Series: Star Trek: The Next Generation
Year: 1989

Riker participates in an exchange program in which he acts as first officer on a Klingon ship for a short period of time. It’s pretty good. Riker must act in the Klingon way in order to garner respect, so he has to prove himself physically and with in honor, if someone questions him he must react by attacking them.
I think it gives a nice little look into the Klingon world as well as giving us a nice lesson in tolerance, without jamming it down our throats like some early TNG “lesson” episodes.

Oh and it is kinda fun too!

NEXT TIME: Before You Can Call Him an Android

Pulaski Ages Rapidly

Story: Unnatural Selection
Written By: John Mason & Mike Gray
Series: Star Trek: The Next Generation
Year: 1989

God I hate aging rapidly stories. Also I'm not a huge fan of Dr. Pulaski’s character. So really, when it is a story about her aging rapidly...I was pretty much bound to not enjoy this episode.
At the same time, I do like that Chief O’Brien gets his first real part in an episode…and a name, and is called the Transporter Chief. I love O’Brien, and his small part in TNG, and his larger part in DS9, so I am glad that right about here we start to get a bit of a more active part from this character.

NEXT TIME: On a Klingon Ship

Data's Grandpa

Story: The Schizoid Man
Written By: Tracy Tormé
Series: Star Trek: The Next Generation
Year: 1989

A dying old scientist, who actually claims to have taught Data’s creator (thus claiming to be Data’s grandfather), transfers his memory cells into Data before his body dies. As a result Data acts unlike Data. People don’t smell it as fast as the audience does, which is one of those annoying things that run rampant in the first season. It is sad that the writers still run into this problem. It isn’t the strongest episode in the world.
However I did like the early scene with Data trying on a beard.

NEXT TIME: Lantree

Three Voices

Story: Loud as a Whisper
Written By: Jacqueline Zambrano
Series: Star Trek: The Next Generation
Year: 1989

This is an odd one. I don’t think I like it. A famous peacemaker is being escorted on the Enterprise to make peace with a planet in civil war. The mediator is actually a deaf-mute who uses his telepathic powers to speak through three other people.
Its just kind of weird, and this “mediator” loses his voices and turns into a big whiny baby. I just didn’t like that he took such a whiny course of action.

NEXT TIME: Ira Graves

Thadian Okona

Story: The Outrageous Okona
Written By: Burton Armus
Series: Star Trek: The Next Generation
Year: 1988

How about: Ugh. This entie episode relies on this character Thadian Okona being the “charming rogue”. Like Han Solo. Except unlike Han Solo he is neither charming nor entertaining. Its just some idiot acting like his shit don’t stink and making all the woman around him inexplicably hot at the thought of him.
The B-story involves Data trying to get a sense of humor, and studying comedy on on the holodeck. The results are awkward and mixed.

NEXT TIME: Riva

Sherlock Holmes

Story: Elementary, Dear Data
Written By: Brian Alan Lane
Series: Star Trek: The Next Generation
Year: 1988

Here is the first really strong episode of the season. Data and Geordi are playing Sherlock Holmes and Watson, respectively, on the holodeck. Only Data is completely familiar with the known works of Holmes, so he solves the mystery too quickly, thus not making it any fun. It is also the first real episode showcasing the friendship of Geordi and Data, one of the best relationships depicted in the show.
Pulaski, in full evil taunter mode, tells Geordi and Data that Data could NEVER solve a real mystery, and they take this as a challenge. So they set the holodeck to create a mystery really difficult that even Data would find it difficult to solve. But this causes a bit of a malfunction, the only way for Data to have trouble solving it, would be for the holodeck to be able to beat DATA, not Holmes…as a result the Moriarty on the holodeck knows it’s a hologram…it is sentient.

It is a fascinating episode, with an idea that warrants being revisited, luckily they do revisit.

NEXT TIME: The Erstwhile

Nagilum

Story: Where Silence Has Lease
Written By: Jack B. Sowards
Series: Star Trek: The Next Generation
Year: 1988

An alien traps the Enterprise and they cannot escape. It turns out that it is just experimenting on them like mice in a maze. The story is an interesting idea, but it is sort of too dull to capture my interest. And the alien, Nagilum, is just a weirdo face floating in space. Which is equally lame and hilarious.
Theres some interesting stuff, but the pace is just not really there.  I don't know if I dislike the episode, but I'm just not sure it has much to stand out and be a favorite.

NEXT TIME: Is the Holodeck Sentient?

Growing the Beard

Story: The Child
Written By: Jaron Summers & Jon Povill and Maurice Hurley
Series: Star Trek: The Next Generation
Year: 1988

Much like Happy Days created the term “jump the shark” for a series that was good, and lost its way, Trek fans created a term called “growing the beard” for when a show sucks and gets better. The moment a show gets better is when it “grew the beard”…and Riker grew the beard…it also applies somewhat to DS9, as Sisko also grew a beard, but the show didn’t suck as bad as this show did before hand.
The things that are better right off the bat in this episode is the characters, for the most part. Geordi is Chief Engineer and Worf is Chief of Security. Those two promotions that really fix some of the major issues in the series. Losing Yar also gave everyone some breathing room. Crusher is out for this season (I don’t really know why), and replaced with Dr. Pulaski. Pulaski gets a smaller role and is noted as special guest star in each episode. More breathing room for the character in this season.

Problems with this episode are Pulaski, who is aggravating for her whole stint in the series, Riker who just acts like a total dick to Troi…and the fact that the plot revolves around Troi. She’s not my favorite.

The plot of the episode is just as bad as the first season’s standard episode, but this time at least we have clearer roles for our characters.

NEXT TIME: Space Face

Star Trek: The Next Generation - Season 1 Recap

This first season isn't too hot.  From the costumes (holy hell). The first two seasons of TNG are almost of hard to look at with everyone in those SKIN TIGHT leotard uniforms. Another big problem was a weird idea Roddenberry had of absolutely no one in the regular cast disagreeing with one another, which is batshit crazy. No drama is aloud because everyone is getting along. It’s dull and boring. Roddenberry’s involvement with the show was a problem. He created the original, but he lost the nack. This show only got better when they just sent him home and he became an “Executive Consultant”.

But the biggest problem of the first season was that the cast was too big. The original series had the big three, with the rest as mostly background players. This show has Picard as the lead, but then seven regulars. That’s eight characters that constantly need juggled. Denise Crosby left the show because Yar was being pushed to the background…but so was most of the regular cast every other week. We don’t get to know most of them.

No one has a real clear role. Geordi and Worf are interchangeable. Wesley kind of sits around for the first half of the season, then gets inexplicably promoted to take over half of Worf and Geordi's already filled out role. Troi is mostly there to just tell us what she is feeling all the time (though she doesn't really grow beyond that). There is no clear Chief Engineer, but it seems that Lt. Junior Grade LaForge or the irritating kid can take over at a moments notice.

A lot of characters are gimmicks: the boy genius, the blind guy is driving the ship, a woman is in charge of security (not saying that there’s a problem here just that it is the ONLY reason she’s there), there is a Klingon in Starfleet, an older man is the Captain (instead of the young and happening Kirk), Riker is just a bland Kirk imitation, the Doctor is only there to serve as the mother of the boy genius....hell even Data is lacking something in this season. Luckily losing Yar and some crew position rearrangements at the start of the following season help to rectify a major issue this premiere season had.

Most the stories are boring. Some of them are silly. There are only a few gems in this season, “The Big Goodbye” and “Where No One Has Gone Before” maybe a few others. Beyond that most of the season is mediocre to terrible. You get a sense that the series is just humdrum, that it is going nowhere, and really beyond the excellent production values, there is little in this first season, that actually comes close to touching the quality of the original series, or that cast's film series.

Again, this series became excellent, stepping out of the original's shadows, but the first season was a rocky start with some weak scripts and an ensemble cast too large for the writers to tackle, and a Creator who had let a few too many fan letters go to his head to approach this new venture with any kind of humility or a sense of drama (trying to let his so-called vision drive the ship, rather than play into the storyline and drama).  The first season sets up the most basic of elements of the grand sequel series, but it took a little while to really come into it's own. 

NEXT TIME: Knocked-Up Troi

Return of the Romulans

Story: The Neutral Zone
Written By: Maurice Hurley
Series: Star Trek: The Next Generation
Year: 1988

This one is pretty bad throughout. The problem is that the more interesting storyline, the Romulan stand-off, is FAR more interesting. But we have this bad “unfrozen past people” plotline taking the A-slot. What were the writers on when they made this show? They’re using the plot of "Encino Man" to overshadow the Romulans grand return to Trek?
The unfrozen people aren’t that interesting, and their story never once captivated me. The Romulans however are easily the best thing to happen to TNG at this point. The Ferengi were supposed to be “the new Klingons” but the writing and performances crumbled that plan early on. So the writers scrambled…they had to find a new staple villain to fill the void created by making the Klingons on good terms with the Federation. And the Romulans WERE the correct choice.   Not only are they made even more conniving and sneaky in this series, but they are also a familiar face…something old fans can go “oh shit” too when the episode ends with the Romulan saying “understand this Captain…we are BACK”.

The episode also foreshadowed the idea that beyond the Romulans being back in the picture, that there is something bigger out there, something scarier than the Romulans, as they attacked outposts for both the Romulans and the Federation.  Maurice Hurley had the plan of creating the Borg, and this was his first step in creating a true threat (after the Ferengi plan fell apart so quickly).  His initial plan to implement the Borg into the storyline struggled, as this episode focused more on the weaker "people from the past storyline"...and  not so much on the stand-off that foreshadowed the Borg, and he planned to begin Season 2 with their intro, but a writers strike screwed that plan up.  Luckily when they did show up they kicked ass.  So this episode foreshadowed the two biggest foes of the Federation throughout the run of TNG, and that is admirable, it's just a shame that most of the episode is irritating. 

So the episode in itself is poorly conceived, but the idea of bringing back the Romulans as antagonists for TNG, as well as hinting at a bigger threat out there was a stroke of genius. Probably saved the show from having NO returning viewers in the following season.

NEXT TIME: TNG Season 1 Recap

The Neural Parasites

Story: Conspiracy
Written By: Tracy Tormé
Series: Star Trek: The Next Generation
Year: 1988

"Conspiracy" is a solid episode. It suffers from many of the weaknesses that troubled this season, but all in all it is rather good. The idea of a conspiracy within Starfleet was unique, but Roddenberry vetoed the idea that Starfleet could do wrong, so a rewrite turned the actual conspiracy into little brain bugs making them do it.
That is a little less interesting, but they are a cool species so it works. I love that shot when they kill Remmick and the parasite is seen…its classic!

The most unfortunate thing is that the episode ends with the idea that the looming threat of these parasites could return, but the show took a different direction (a good direction) and the return never happened…too bad might have been cool. The Borg are better though.

NEXT TIME: We Are Back

Café des Artistes

Story: We’ll Always Have Paris
Written By: Deborah Dean Davis and Hannah Louise Shearer
Series: Star Trek: The Next Generation
Year: 1988

The Enterprise investigates some kind of distress message for a famous doctor, Paul Manheim. But Picard is aware that an old flame of his from Earth is currently involved with him. Awkward.
The time malfunction storyline is not too captivating. I COMPLETELY forgot it was even there when I rewatched the episode. It is boring.

Picard’s past with the woman IS interesting, but not nearly enough to save the episode.

NEXT TIME: Remmick

The Death of Tasha Yar

Story: Skin of Evil
Written By: Joseph Stefano and Hannah Louise Shearer
Series: Star Trek: The Next Generation
Year: 1988

I was never a huge fan of Tasha Yar. I never cared for her character, and while you could argue that it was because she didn’t get developed, I would argue that it was because I think Denise Crosby is a weaker actress.  But the development issue, and the fact that TOO many characters pushed her to the sideline or back burner…made Crosby ask to be written out.
The episode we get for her dramatic death is LAME. Some goo monster that acts like a little whiney baby holds Troi captive and the crew attempts to save her…and like some red shirt Yar gets hit by the goo monster and killed anti-climactically. That said I kind of like that a major player gets killed as if it were any extra of the week might, it really showed how rough the death of one of those red shirts can be when you actually know the character.

Tasha’s death is a milestone in the series. It affects several elements of the show in the future. It is central to the plotlines of “Yesterday’s Enterprise” and “Redemption” and it shifts the balance of the crew on the ship from here on out. Worf is made acting Chief of Security, a role he would assume completely in the beginning of the second season all the way through this crew's first film. So whether this episode was any good, or Tasha’s death was at all interesting, the FACT that she died is important to TNG in a lot of ways.

The final scene…the weird hologram of Yar telling everyone what she thinks of of her crewmates…weird. I just found it creepy. It’s played for emotions but just didn’t hit me that hard, maybe because we didn’t know her or the rest of these cats too long…she tells us about these relationships she had with all these people…but the weak writing of this season never showed us ANY of this. Suddenly we are forced to believe that Riker made her laugh, or that Geordi would help her through problems…I just don’t buy it.

NEXT TIME: The Manheim Effect

Two Races

Story: Symbiosis
Written By: Robert Lewin, Richard Manning, and Hans Beimler
Series: Star Trek: The Next Generation
Year: 1988

While investigating some solar flares, the Enterprise answers a distress call from some weird aliens that seem dumb, confused, and kind of too calm for their situation. When rescued they don’t even seem to distraught over the deaths of two of their crew mates…they are, however, concerned with the cargo they sent over first.
The cargo is said to be medicine for a plague. It turns out that two of the four rescued people are drug dealers, the other addicts. It is kind of TOO much of an analogy. Really lame, especially the bad after school special scene teaching Wesley how to stay in school and off drugs.

NEXT TIME: The Shroud

The Peddler

Story: The Arsenal of Freedom
Written By: Richard Manning and Hans Beimler
Series: Star Trek: The Next Generation
Year: 1988

The Enterprise is looking for a lost ship, on a planet that appears to be a planet wide gun running company. Weird. In all honesty this is one of the better episodes of the season.
The nice thing is that it breaks one of Roddenberry’s dumb rules: people on the ship argue, for legitimate reasons too, but they aren’t supposed to disagree or ever be in conflict with each other. I liked seeing actual tension between characters.

Like everything this season is suffers from problems with characterizations, taking itself to seriously, weak plot points, and bad lighting. But if you are looking for good early TNG episodes, I don’t think I would hesitate in adding this one to the list, despite many of its first season issues.

NEXT TIME: Drugs

Fugitives

Story: Heart of Glory
Written By: Maurice Hurley
Series: Star Trek: The Next Generation
Year: 1988

"Heart of Glory" is actually one of the best episodes of this weak first season.  The beginning with Geordi’s VISOR is unnecessary, though I guess it gave us an idea of how Geordi's vision works...I just think it felt tacked on. But then we get to the Klingons. And it’s practically brilliant.
“The Undiscovered Country” had not yet been released, so this was the first time that we saw that any hint of an alliance with the Federation and the Klingons (I mean barring Worf, but the circumstances of his membership of the Enterprise was a little NOTTHOUGHTOFBYTHEWRITERS until now).

It also revealed that this alliance is a little shaky, some Klingons are not happy with the alliance to this day. It has a good plot, and it all makes sense, and it sports good performance from Michael Dorn, who before this point was just “dumb Klingon”.   It was nice to see the beginning of the development for Worf, who really grew in this series, being one of the most interesting characters of the whole franchise.

The Klingons were, for a while, one of those races in Trek that brought the production up a bit. They are not only interesting and well developed, but a hell of a lot of fun to watch, which is why they were so popular. 

NEXT TIME: Captain Rice

Academy

Story: Coming of Age
Written By: Sandy Fries and Hannah Louise Shearer
Series: Star Trek: The Next Generation
Year: 1988

What is the plot of this episode? There is Wesley trying to get into the Academy, Picard being investigating in a competency hearing…. there is some kid that steals a shuttlecraft…I guess that’s part of both plots. It just flows awkwardly, and you find yourself bored throughout.
I liked the final test Wesley was put through, but before that his academy just puts into perspective what a prick Wesley is. The only thing that doesn’t feel annoying about the Picard storyline is the ending, in which hints of a Starfleet Conspiracy (to pay off in the episode Conspiracy) are brought to light.

NEXT TIME: Batris

Ugly Giant Bags of Mostly Water

Story: Home Soil
Written By: Robert Sabaroff
Series: Star Trek: The Next Generation
Year: 1988

This is an odd one. Some terra-forming jerks are killing some crystalline entity (oh they love entities in this show). It is okay, but there is some BAD dialogue. FOR EXAMPLE: the lifeforms refer to humans as “ugly giant bags of mostly water”….JESUS CHRIST…who the HELL was writing this?
Not the worst, but suffers from the same problems as most of this season. Inconsistent characters that fluctuate when the scene needs them too, flat conclusions, and generic sci-fi plot-lines.

NEXT TIME: Competency Hearing

Aldea

Story: When the Bough Breaks
Written By: Hannah Louise Shearer
Series: Star Trek: The Next Generation
Year: 1988

Admittedly this episode isn’t terrible. For an episode that has a lot of Wesley action, I’m surprised at how NOT bad this one is. Inhabitants of a mysterious and legendary planet, Aldea, steal some of the children from the Enterprise because they are all sterile.
Wesley is of course one of the kids taken, which works because it gives us a familiar face in the children. Wheaton isn’t as bad as he usually is in this one. I think he stepped up his game knowing more of the episode was relying on him. Then again it just may speak to the inconsistency of the writing of characters this season.

The conclusion I come to is that the episode is decent. It ain’t great, but it is decent.

NEXT TIME: Terra-Forming

Getting Younger

Story: Too Short A Season
Written By: Michael Michaelian and D.C. Fontana
Series: Star Trek: The Next Generation
Year: 1988

Oh lord. Its just one of those seasons you know? This incoherent plot sees an aging and decrepit Admiral comes to the Enterprise to help negotiate some peace on a planet he once helped on. But at the same time he has taken some freaky miracle drug that returns him to youth. But it is also killing him.
The acting from this Admiral is very terrible. From his bad old man acting (can you say over-doing it?) to his middle-aged acting (too close to his old man acting) and then his young man acting (turns out he’s not even a good actor without the make up on!) The old man make up looks terrible and is NOT helping.

The plot is weak. End of. Bad episode.

NEXT TIME: Stealing the Children

Bynars

Story: 11001001
Written By: Maurice Hurley and Robert Lewin
Series: Star Trek: The Next Generation
Year: 1988

I have to admit that I like this one. The Bynars are such a strange and unique creation, and the plot of the episode isn’t too terrible. The Riker on the holodeck storyline is not as bad as I think it could’ve been, but it is th Bynars plotline that steals the show for sure.
I liked the little connection to "The Big Goodbye" as well; it was the first hint that episodes really affected the future. Unlike a character just returning, like Q, this time it was an event that had a small affect on the plot in this one. Not a HUGE call back, and you didn’t have to see The Big Goodbye to have enjoyed or understood this one (though you SHOULD have seen it). That element of this series would later play a bigger role, in both this series and DS9.

Anyhow, this episode is rather enjoyable, at least from me. It has its drawbacks much like the rest of this season, but the show WAS still finding its feet, so a few missteps in a decent episode in a rocky season are easily forgiven.

NEXT TIME: Admiral Mark Jameson

Female Dominance

Story: Angel One
Written By: Patrick Barry
Series: Star Trek: The Next Generation
Year: 1988

What a god-awful episode. Sexist crap. The message they are TRYING to convey is one of “sexism is bad” but unfortunately it is so poorly written that it does NOT come off that way. The Enterprise is trying to find survivors from a crashed freighter on a planet dominated by woman.
They try to make a point about male dominance on Earth, but it just comes off kind of condescending to women…and men. The women, who are totally cruel towards men for no real reason, treat the men like slaves. They are like Hitlers with Vaginas. But Riker bangs their leader because at this point in the series, he is just a makeshift Kirk.

Also we get a good taste of how useless Troi will always remain throughout the rest of the series’ run. Unlike the pilot, in which she was utterly over the top, now she has settled into the role in a far subtler way. She can sense what others are feeling…unfortunately what she senses are pretty much the equivalent of reading peoples faces (they are hiding something but I don’t know what). She settled faster into her role then most of the cast…unfortunately she remains this way until the end.

NEXT TIME: In For Repairs

Lore

Story: Datalore
Written By: Robert Lewin and Gene Roddenberry
Series: Star Trek: The Next Generation
Year: 1988

"Datalore" is not a good episode, but I kind of liked it when I was a kid. I just liked the concept of Lore. As an adult I can see how uninteresting a concept it is, that it is just a lame evil twin story. But as a kid, Lore was one of those recurring villains I liked. This is his first appearance.
The crew returns to the planet where Data was initially discovered, and they find some caverns in which they discover the body parts to Lore. They decide to put him together. As it turns out the crystalline entity that killed everyone on the planet except Data was summoned by Lore, and now he’s alive again to do the same to the Enterprise.

There are a lot of dumb scenes and bad dialogue…and it really just isn’t very well executed for the generic plot they are using. It had potential with Data being an android the evil twin plot could have had a new spin on it, but it just falls flat. Luckily Lore gets better episodes in the future.

NEXT TIME: Bitches

Dixon Hill

Story: The Big Goodbye
Written By: Tracy Tormé
Series: Star Trek: The Next Generation
Year: 1988

Best episode of the season. Absolutely no doubt in my mind. The plot is the first of many future holodeck gone wrong plots, but not many ever topped this one. The characters are for the first time very relatable and likable. The story is unique, and the look and feel is all-around exciting.
The cast does a great job. They sell the idea that the whole holodeck thing is new and exciting, and then when the red shirt gets shot you can see the horror in their faces. It’s terrific.

The episode won an Emmy for best costumes, and it’s easy to see why…because you didn’t have to spend 45 minutes watching those spandex things. That alone is worth an award.

Fantastic episode, best of the season, and while not in the top ten of the whole series, its in the top 15.

NEXT TIME: Data’s Brother

Lwaxana

Story: Haven
Written By: Tracy Tormé
Series: Star Trek: The Next Generation
Year: 1987

"Haven" is another hit and miss episode. Some hate anything to do with Lwaxana Troi, but I actually love her character, more than I like our actual main character Troi…and in fact the only downside to Lwaxana in an episode is that we get more Deanna Troi.
This episode is pretty bad. The time has come for Deanna to participate in her arranged marriage. It isn’t that great a concept.

The plot moves slowly and characters act either whiny or bitchy for most of the episode. The only saving grace for me is Lwaxana Troi and her relationship with both Deanna and Picard. And Mr. Homm is cool too.

NEXT TIME: The First Holodeck Story

Those Aren't Muskets

Story: Hide and Q
Written By: C.J. Holland and Gene Roddenberry
Series: Star Trek: The Next Generation
Year: 1987

Q returns and it garners mixed results. Every scene in which John de Lancie speaks is excellent. Then there is every other scene.
The scene with Riker giving everybody what he thinks they would really like is hilarious. Wesley as an adult is so FAR from what anybody else would think Wesley would look like as an adult. Blonde hair and muscles…HA! The biggest nerd in the cosmos? Seriously? Oh and turns out Riker with a little power quickly turns into a dickhead.

The episode is notable for having my FAVORITE line in the whole of Star Trek: “Those aren’t muskets!”

NEXT TIME: Troi’s Getting Hitched

The Stargazer

Story: The Battle
Written By: Herbert J. Wright
Series: Star Trek: The Next Generation
Year: 1987

One of the highlights of the first season. We get a taste of Picard's past, and his old ship the Stargazer is a central element to the episode. He once destroyed an attacking ship, which is now identified as a Ferengi, and one of the deceased from that Ferengi ship’s father wants his revenge on Picard.
The episode is pretty solid, and the Ferengi seem a slightly more menacing (in terms of Bok) then they did in their first appearance, they are still no good as a main foe, but definitely an improvement here. At least with the second in command of the Ferengi ship we got a sense that they weren't all bad, they were just a little money hungry, which became their fun main attribute in the future.

The episode is good, but it does fall a tad short in the final act. But that aside it is an episode that truly showcased the potential of TNG as a show that could be its own, and not be just a rehash of The Original Series...or something totally awful each week.

NEXT TIME: The Return of Q