Saturday, March 12, 2011

Star Trek: The Next Generation Season Six Retrospective

1. Time's Arrow: Part II
The crew reunite in 19th century California, team up with Sam Clemens, meet Guinan for the first time, and stop the aliens from preying on the dying miners. This is good stuff, I don't care what anybody says. Oddly enough, after his experiences on the Enterprise, Mark Twain never writes an episode of Star Trek.
Buy it

2. Realm of Fear
Lt Barclay is back, and this time he's paranoid about the transporter and thinks he's developed some psychosis. Barclay is always fun, but this one is pretty lame.
Skip it

3. Man of the People
Troi falls in love with another loser. This time around, she hooks up with some guy who leaches off her energy and turns her into a bitter, decrepit old woman. This isn't bad for a Troi episode, but it's not that great.
Watch it

4. Relics
This is, without a doubt, the most entertaining episode of Next Generation. Scotty, the transporter chief from the Original Series, is found suspended in a locked transporter beam, and materializes in the current generation. James Doohan gives an outstanding performance as Scotty, and it is just so much fun to see him interacting with the crew of the new Enterprise. I don't care what anybody says, this episode is brilliant.

Buy it

5. Schisms
Certain members of the crew are having trouble sleeping, until it turns out they are being abducted by aliens during the night. Or something. This is a clever if not all together outstanding story.
Watch it

6. True Q
Q is back, after taking the entire fifth season off for some reason. This time around, he visits the Enterprise because some new crew member is actually the daughter of some ex members of the Q continuum. This is an ok story, but the episode is really all about how adorable actress Olivia d'Abo is.
Watch it

7. Rascals
Picard, Guinan, and Ro Laren, and Keiko are turned into children during a transporter accident. Cute little episode, but I wouldn't care if I never saw it again. Interesting tidbit: The little girl who played the young Guinan also played the young version of Whoopie's character in the original Sister Act.
Skip it

8. A Fistful of Datas
Would you believe me if I told you there was a Holodeck accident that trapped Worf and his son Alexander in a simulated version of the Wild West where every other character looked like Data? Yes, this was an actual episode. And it's actually pretty entertaining, even if it is without a doubt the dumbest plot this show has ever used.
Watch it

9. The Quality of Life
Data thinks some robots may actually be sentient life forms. This is one of those episodes that sounded really interesting on paper, but turned boring and mediocre after it was actually filmed.
Skip it

10./11.  Chain of Command: Parts I & II
"There... are... four... lights!!"

Everybody loves this episode. Picard is kidnapped and tortured by an evil Cardassian played by long-time Star Trek actor David Warner. This two-part episode was brilliantly written, expertly acted, and perfectly filmed. It's also notable for featuring Ronnie Cox as acting Captain Jellico, who is probably my favorite Next Gen character who only appeared in one (two-part) episode.
Buy it

12. Ship in a Bottle
Data makes a return as Sherlock Holmes, and so does the evil, self-aware version of Professor Moriarty, who has been plotted his revenge as he lay dormant in the Holodeck memory banks for the past five seasons. I love this episode, not only because Daniel Davis is always fun to watch as Moriarty, but also because it contains a story so full of twists and turns that Sir Arthur Conan Doyle himself would've been hard-pressed to figure it all out before the big reveal at the end.
Buy it

13. Aquiel
Geordie falls in love yet again with a woman who doesn't even exist.
Skip it

14. Face of the Enemy
Troi wakes up on a Romulan ship, disguised as a member of their race and their crew. This is a really good one.
Buy it

15. Tapestry
Q may have skipped season five, but the writers make it up to him by bringing him back a second time this season, and it's an absolute classic. This is basically Star Trek's take on It's a Wonderful Life, where Q grants Picard's wish to relive his rebellious youth. This is one of those Star Trek episodes that transcends the sci-fi genre and would make anybody a fan of the series, no matter how much they think they hate the show.
Buy it

16. Birthright: Part I
Data's brain initiates a dream program. This episode has some neat ideas and clever visuals during the dream sequences, but it's only worth watching as a set up for the second half, which has nothing at all to do with Data's dreams. This episode takes place near Deep Space 9 and features appearances by Quark and Bashir, but they serve no real purpose.
Watch it

17. Birthright: Part II
Normally I've been recapping these two-parter episodes together, but this time around the two parts are so different that they may as well be completely different episodes. The first part deals with Data's dreams and connection to his father, while this one deals with Worf's connection to his culture and heritage. This one is very hokey and delves heavily into Klingon culture, so it's really only worth watching for the hard-core fans who love Worf and enjoy all that Klingon nonsense. I'm one of those fans.
Buy it

18. Starship Mine
Every season seems to have at least one mindless action episode, and this is season six's. Picard is alone on the Enterprise while a gang attempts to take it over. This is basically just Die Hard on the Enterprise, and it's every bit as fun as that sounds.
Buy it

19. Lessons
Picard gets a girlfriend. Too bad she works for him, so his relationship is really inappropriate. She decides to dump him and transfer after he tells her that he's unable to send her on dangerous away missions because he's too fearful of her safety. This is odd because she's a cartographer. Are there really that many dangerous missions where they need somebody to draw maps? What can she do that, say, Worf can't? Other than Picard.
Watch it

20. The Chase
This episode attempts to address a problem that nobody really had: Why do all the races on Star Trek look like humans? Who cares? This is a dumb, pointless episode that is made all the worse by being boring.
Skip it

21. Frame of Mind
Riker is posing as an inmate in an insane asylum... or maybe he's actually a patient. This is a very cool, clever, mind-bending episode that was later adapted into the movie Shutter Island. Just kidding.
Buy it

22. Suspicions
Another Crusher episodes. Does it really matter if it's Wesley or the Doctor at this point? Anyway, Beverly investigates the death of some guy after some other guy tries to fly into the sun. Or something.
Skip it

23. Rightful Heir
This is another episode that is heavy on the Klingon mythology. It has something to do with the resurrection of Kahless, who first appeared in the Original Series episode The Savage Curtain. This is a neat episode but only watch it if you are a die-hard Trekkie.
Watch it

24. Second Chances
Riker beams down to a planet he once visited years ago, and find a clone that was somehow made during a transporter accident. This is an incredibly forced premise, but I'll be damned if it didn't add up to an incredibly entertaining episode. I love Riker, and this episode gives us double the normal amount. Thomas Riker (the clone) comes back briefly in an episode of Deep Space 9 where he bangs Kira. Nice. After that, we never see him again, which is too bad because he's awesome.
Buy it

25. Timescape
Picard and a few other members of the crew return to Enterprise only to find it stuck in time, in the middle of a battle with a Romulan War-Bird. They have to beam onto the ship and figure out what happened and how they can save the day. This is a very clever, exciting episode that I like a lot. 
Buy it

26. Descent: Part I
Lore's back! And so is Hugh! This episode is all set up to the big reveal that puts Data and Lore together again, in order to take over the universe, or something. I like this episode a lot, and it is notable for having a cameo by Professor Stephen Hawking as himself, making him the only person in the history of Star Trek to do so... I think. Unless that comedian a few seasons back was actually supposed to be Joe Piscopo.
Buy it

Good season over all, but it contained more stinkers than I remembered. The high points this season were definitely Tapestry and Chain of Command, but there were a lot of high quality episodes that makes this one of the more solid seasons.

The breakdowns are as follows:

Skip it: 6

Watch it: 7

Buy it: 13 (so far tied with season three for the highest number yet)

1 comment:

Justin Garrett Blum said...

Rascals! I forgot about that episode. I liked that one way more than you, apparently.

Even if TNG wasn't quite on its game, there were still some absolute classics. Tapestry is probably, like, the best episode of any show ever.

Well, that's an exaggeration. Maybe it's not even the best episode of TNG. But I do love it.