by Mike Lunsford, editor
In the modern age of 2017, television that you loved as a child can be enjoyed again. Why hope that your memories of something that happened nearly 30 years ago are accurate? This is the exact situation I found myself in when it came to Star Trek: The Next Generation. I loved this show when I was a kid but I was finding that I only vaguely remembered a lot of the episodes. For the next few “Summer Viewing” articles, I’ll be discussing the first 3 seasons. Today: Season 1.
I remember watching the premiere in the fall of 1987 and not being overly impressed. I was also 5 so what the hell did I know? The saucer section/star drive section separation was totally awesome. If you had asked me anything else about that first episode, I would have been hard pressed to recollect anything. Data, that cool android officer was on some cool simulated world called the ‘holodeck’ and when he whistled, it sounded all cool and computer-y. Captain Picard seemed…kind of like a jerk. Captain Kirk was so much more personable and fun. This guy seems like he reads FOR FUN! Oh, and Q. He was weird and quirky but most of all he seemed like he would be a challenging villain. And he had god-like powers. That’s always cool.
Wow, I really didn’t remember much at all! I started with Encounter at Farpoint because…it was the first episode. Where else should I start? I liked the dynamic of the show. It felt familiar yet new, a fresh take on a classic series. I had completely forgotten that DeForest Kelly made a cameo in that first episode! That was an awesome surprise.
The first episode, and a few others from season 1 were worth watching. The rest were not. Too many of them are derivative or just straight rip offs of the original series. And I’m not sure who’s idea it was, but Wesley Crusher was treated as the deus ex machina and always had the solution to the problem because “he’s a genius.” No wonder so many fans hated him. There are a few episodes that were of note because they were wonderful… or outright garbage:
- Where No One Has Gone Before – 3rd episode of the series. The new flagship of the Federation brings on board a cocky warp drive efficiency expert and his mysterious assistant to put the Enterprise’s propulsion through it’s paces. The mysterious “Traveler” makes the ship travel beyond the known means of the galaxy. I vividly remembered this episode being awesome and it still holds up to this day. It’s always cool when Trek goes metaphysical.
- The Battle – We get a little bit of Picard’s past. His first command, the USS Stargazer is found adrift and the Ferengi want to give it the Captain. Hmmmm…Ferengi don’t just “give” things unless there’s an ulterior motive.
- Datalore – Commander Data has a brother? And his name is Lore? And he’s a total dick? And there’s some freaky snowflake thing that lives in space and eats people??? Seriously though, great episode. Brent Spiner gets to flex his acting chops.
- Skin of Evil – (spoilers…but for crying out loud, the series is 30 years old) I remember watching this episode as a kid and being shocked that they killed Tasha Yar. That and the weird oil slick monster, for lack of a better term, ate Riker. But I didn’t remember the whys. This was an episode where Picard is a total badass in it. With all that being said about this episode, it should be awesome, right? No, it sucks. The oil slick monster? Armus? Whiney, annoying, pointless, and a waste of a character is the best way to describe him. Tasha Yar died a pointless death…which actually works well with later seasons, but we didn’t know that in 1987.
- Conspiracy – Starfleet command is overrun by parasitic aliens possessing high ranking officers!! This episode is so crappy. It’s like an awful horror movie you would have caught late-night on USA, only it’s got Star Trek cast members in it. Barf. Such a waste of an episode.
Season 1 was by no stretch amazing, but it does show some great potential. The Enterprise D is not just “some ship,” either. It is the most technologically advanced ship in the fleet. Instead of being set up like it’s predecessors as a battle ship essentially, this Enterprise is built for exploration and scientific discovery. It is not just crewed by Starfleet officers either, there are civilian scientists and family members aboard. The cast that forms the bridge crew is interesting and full of competent actors, each with interesting stories and backgrounds. There was nothing so horrible that it would turn any Trek fan off of the series, but it leaves you wanting more. In retrospect, I knew that season 1 was a bit painful compared to other seasons. I still enjoyed watching it and filling in the gaps with my inconsistent 5 year old memory.
ComicsOnline gives Star Trek: The Next Generation Season 1 3 photon torpedoes out of 5.
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