Friday, March 4, 2011

Star Trek: The Next Generation Season Two Retrospective

The second season of Star Trek: The Next Generation saw the additions of Pulaski as the new chief medical officer, Whoopie Goldberg as the bartender Guinan, and Commander Riker's beard. We also got another bunch of episodes that were mostly hit or miss.

Let's take a look at Star Trek: The Next Generation season two:

1. The Child
Troi gets knocked up through not quite immaculate conception. Some alien spirit flies into her body and impregnates her so it can learn what it is like to be a human. Or some such nonense. It should've just rented Sleepless in Seattle.
Skip it

2. Where Silence Has Lease
The Enterprise gets trapped by some alien who wants to hold them prisoner forever while he conducts experiments on them. This episode is a frightful bore, although it has its moments maybe. Interesting tidbit: The main alien Nagillum was written for actor Richard Mulligan, whose last name is Nagillum spelled backwards. The character was eventually played by Earl Boen, whom most people probably remember best as the psychiatrist from the first three Terminator movies.
Skip it

3. Elementary, Dear Data
I love this episode, even though it's completely ridiculous. Data and Geordie play on the Holodeck as Sherlock Holmes and Dr Watson, when Geordie gets annoyed because Data knows everything and always wins in the first few minutes. Pulaski tells the computer to create a villain that is capable of defeating Data at a game of wits, so it brings to life a self-aware version of Professor Moriarty who takes over the ship.

Seriously, Holodeck? That's what you're going to do? Remind me to never ask the Holodeck to give me a challenging chess opponent, or they might create somebody who'll pull a gun and shoot me in the face if I start to win. But still... this is a very fun episode with a great performance by Daniel Davis as the best version of Moriarty ever.
Buy it

4. The Outrageous Okona
Another ridiculous episode that is still a lot of fun. Billy Campbell plays the titular character, who's a devil may care pilot who flies around the galaxy having sex with lots of hot chicks. That's all he seems to do in this episode anyway. I love this character and I'm still waiting for them to make a series called Star Trek: Okona's Red Shoe Diaries.

The B plot has to do with Data's attempts to gain a sense of humor. He goes on the Holodeck and enlists the help of... Joe Piscopo. Clearly the Holodeck computer has a sense of humor, because there's no other way to explain why it presented Joe Piscopo as the greatest comic mind of the 20th century. Still, his scene was kinda funny.
Watch it

5. Loud as a Whisper
A deaf guy has some interpreters or something. Neat idea, boring episode. I don't remember much about it. It needed more scenes of Joe Piscopo doing his Jerry Lewis impression.
Skip it

6. The Schizoid Man
A dying, aged scientist transfers his mind into Data's brain. Clever idea that was well executed. It's always fun to watch the episodes where Brent Spiner gets to actually emote as Data, and this one is no exception.
Watch it

7. Unnatural Selection
This is just a rip-off (or was it an homage?) of the Original Series episode The Deadly Years. In both episodes, the crew get infected with some disease that makes them turn into senior citizens. The Deadly Years wasn't a great episode, and this one is even worse. They cure themselves the same way they eventually cure themselves of every problem in every episode: The use the transporter. Why does it always take them the full episode to think of that when it always solves every problem?
Skip it

8. A Matter of Honor
Apparently the Federation and the Klingon Empire have some kind of officer exchange program, even though killing your superior officer is the main way to get promoted on a Klingon Vessel. Needless to say, there aren't many people enrolling in the program. Riker is always up for an adventure, of course, so he decides to give it a try. He must've been bored after banging all the chicks on the Enterprise or something. Anyway, it was a neat idea even though it didn't make a whole lot of sense, but Riker episodes are always fun. I like this one, but I don't love it.
Watch it

9. The Measure of a Man
Some asshole named Maddox comes on board the Enterprise and he's all like, "I'm gonna take Data apart and study him," and Data is all like, "I don't think so." Maddox goes, "You got no choice cause I outrank you," and Data goes, "Yeah, well I quit!" And then Picard finally steps in and is all like, "Data is a person and stuff," and they prove it all in court and stuff.

This episode is brilliant. This is Star Trek at its finest. And, finally, the second season gets a really great episode.
Buy it

10. The Dauphin
Wesley gets a girlfriend, but she breaks his heart when she turns out to be a shapeshifter. For some reason, he gets all bummed out about that, even though that would make her the best... girlfriend... ever.
Skip it

11. Contagion
I'm sure hundreds of people spent hours and many hundreds of thousands of dollars to produce this episode, but I can't remember anything about it for the life of me. Considering that I'm a hardcore Trekkie to the extreme, but probably means it wasn't very memorable. Sorry.
Skip it

12. The Royale
Remember that episode from the Original Series "A Piece of the Action" where Kirk and company visit a planet that based its entire culture on Al Capone style gangster culture because some visiting human accidentally left a book on their planet? Well, this is the same premise, only instead of having an entire planet based on gangsters, they have one room based on a casino. Both episodes are a lot of fun, even though they are very, very dumb.
Watch it

13. Time Squared
The Enterprise finds a derelict shuttlecraft floating in space, containing a comatose Picard from a few hours in the future. This is a clever, trippy episode that is pretty cool. This was a straight up science fiction story that was pulled off pretty flawlessly, even if it really doesn't make all that much sense.
Watch it

14. The Icarus Factor
I love this episode. Riker's father comes on board, and he's a total dick. Also, in the B plot, it's Worf's birthday so Wesley researches Klingon culture to put on the best party ever! It's kind of like My Sweet 16 Birthday only Klingon style.

Why did we never see Riker's dad again? He was a great character.
Buy it

15. Pen Pals
The titular pen pals are Data and some hideous alien girl played by Nikki Cox, way before she grew up and turned super hot.
Skip it

16. Q Who?
We finally have another Q episode, and it's a great one! He visits the Enterprise, and just to be a jerk he throws the ship into the next quadrant where they meet The Borg for the first time. Needless to say, the Enterprise gets their asses kicked.
Buy it

17. Samaritan Snare
Picard and Wesley go on a roadtrip while Geordie gets kidnapped by some retarded aliens... or something. This episode ain't gonna win any awards, but it's ok.
Watch it

18. Up the Long Ladder
The Enterprise finds a bunch of colonists that somehow turned out to be Irish pig farmers... or something. For whatever reason, they are forced to move onto the Enterprise, where they transform one of the shuttlebays into the set of an Irish version of Hee Haw. Riker bangs one of them. If all of that sounds funny, that's because it is.
Watch it

19. Manhunt
Troi's mother Lawaxana returns. This time around, she's in heat (for real) and becomes desperate for a man. When she sets her sights on Picard, hilarity ensues. If all of that sounds funny, god help ya cause it's not.
Skip it

20. The Emissary
The Enterprise is tasked with escorting a Klingon dignitary, who turns out to be Worf's old girlfriend. It's funny how even in the vastness of space, whenever the Enterprise picks somebody up, it always turns out to be some crewmember's former lover. Anyway, this is a really good episode, and leads to the conception and birth of the most hated series character of all: Alexander!
Buy it

21. Peak Performance
The Enterprise competes in some kind of war games simulations. It's Picard and the Enterprise against Riker and some underpowered ship. It's pretty fun and entertaining, until it gets ruined by an attack from some Ferengi.
Watch it

22. Shades of Gray
This is my pick for the worst episode from any Star Trek series. This was just a clip episode, showing scenes from the current and previous seasons, necessitated by an impending writers strike. I understand that the writers were going on strike so they only had a limited time to create an episode (and this is also why season two only has 22 episode instead of the usual 26), but as a viewer I just don't care. This was a straight up terrible episode, with a dumb premise and flat performances from the two or three actors who actually appeared.
Skip it

So... meh. This season was about on par with the original season, having just about the same ratio of good to bad episodes. Although, I think worst episodes of this season are way worse than season one's, and they no longer had the novelty of being new as an excuse. Also, as much as actually liked Diana Muldaur as Dr Pulaski, she was no Beverly Crusher, if only because she was never allowed to grow as a character. 

Skip it: 9 (which is the same amount for season one)
Watch it: 8
Buy it: 5 (also the same amount as season one)


Justin Garrett Blum said...

I always loved how dismissive the Enterprise crew were about the aliens in "Samaritan Snare". That episode contains one of my favorite Star Trek lines ever. I think it's Geordi who says something like, "What happened? Did their rubber band break?"

Donald said...

It's a very weird episode, but funny.