Monday, April 27, 2009

Top Ten Next Gen

Monday, April 27, 2009

Once, a very long time ago, an unabashed and undeniably evil Positivist/Progressivist named Gene Roddenberry invented something called Star Trek.

(Continue reading Thomas' overview of 'Trek' after jump. Many strange photos to follow.)

Ta da!

Also, it was the 60s...

The effects were bad...

Did I mention the effects were bad?

The characters were hollow. The writing was obvious and preachy. And Star Trek's vision of the future was generally short-sighted. But it was the 60s...

The Original Series should be discussed, absolutely. But not here. And not by me.

Due to the aforementioned 60s quality of The Original Series (and the unavoidable continuity issues involved in a 20-year span between it and The Next Generation), it is fitting, I think, to recognize two Star Trek canons: one including Kirk, etc. and their escapades, and another including everything else (i.e., The Next Generation, Deep Space Nine, Voyager, and movies VII-X.

On 28 September 1987, The Next Generation premiered, ushering in a new era for Trek. Finally, Star Trek's take on science fiction could be realized. There was only one problem. It was the 80s...

Did I mention it was the 80s?

But, the fundamentals were there, and, more importantly, Next Gen fought against its inheritance (of both The Original Series and the 80s).

At the end of Season One, Tasha Yar, Head of Security=dead...

Her death, though tragic as it was somewhat meaningless, was a blessing in the end. With her went one of the 80s-est elements of the show. Ironically, she was killed by the 80s-est of aliens. I give you Armus...

Tasha was replaced as Head of Security/Tactical Officer by Mr. Worf, resident Klingon (a much more sensible choice for the position, obviously)...

Just look at all those forehead ridges! He must mean business.

Worf angry!

Season Three introduced new uniforms, with an all-new 90s cut...



Deanna's hair grew less permy as the seasons progressed, and in Season Six she finally abandoned her 80s catsuit...

Oh, and they got that damned kid off the bridge. What the balls were you thinking Picard? This is fecking Starfleet, not Lake Winnebago Summer Camp!

Look at him. Look how dumb he is. Jesus.

But I said that Next Gen fought against its inheritance of The Original Series. Quite. Next Gen redid the Klingons (now with forehead ridges, as we saw). They were a culture this time, not just hand-me-down Mongols. Next Gen redid the science part of science fiction; i.e., it kinda started to make sense. More importantly, the stories became compelling, and their effect on the characters. Of course, it's Star Trek, so the dialogue was still preachy, but hey.

In the spirit of recognizing the solid storytelling in Next Gen, what follows is a list of the 10 episodes everyone should see.

10 - The Drumhead

Jump for an episode preview.

Speaking of preachy... This episode epitomizes one of the major elements of the entire show--Picard taking a stand on moral issues, in the face of a corrupt bureaucracy. There is always this tension in Picard, between the Progressivist ideas he's adopted as a Starfleet captain and the Traditional values he was brought up France...even though he has a British accent.

9 - The Nth Degree

Jump for an episode preview.

By far one of the best things about the later seasons of Next Gen was Lieutenant Barclay. Nervous, neurotic, and accident prone make for good ingredients in a lovable character.

8 - Masks

Jump for an episode preview.

Captain Picard could have been an archaeologist. In this episode, he gets to show off his skills. Also, Brent Spiner gets to play a bunch of characters (which happens several times actually...)

7 - Elementary, Dear Data + Ship in a Bottle


Jump for a preview of Elementary, Dear Data.

Jump for a preview of Ship in a Bottle.

These two episodes (the first from Season Two and the second from Season Six) are basically the two halves of the same story. Data and Geordi are messing around on the Holodeck in Season Two, playing Sherlock Holmes, and the computer accidentally creates a holographic version of Holmes' archvillain Moriarty self-aware. Trouble ensues.

6 - The Best of Both Worlds, Parts I & II

Jump for a preview of Part I.

Jump for a preview of Part II.

By far the most important contribution Next Gen made to the Star Trek universe (aside from the badass-ness that is Captain Picard) was the Borg. A hive mind of cybernetic drones bent on galactic domination. In this amazing two-parter, Captain Picard becomes one of them! Ack!

5 - Cause and Effect

Jump for an episode preview.

Always in Star Trek (that is, until the travesty that was Enterprise) the coolest episodes involve time travel. They rarely hold up to logic, but they're awesome just the same. In this episode the Enterprise gets caught in a time loop. ...Oh yeah, also, Frasier Crane makes a cameo appearance. Baha.

4 - All Good Things...

Jump for a preview of Part I.

Jump for a preview of Part II.

Is it not the worst when good shows just kind of fizzle away, or jump the shark and end on a low note. Thankfully, Next Gen wasn't one of those. Its finale really satisfied. Plus, it involved time travel.

3 - Darmok

Jump for an episode preview.

Now this is just a really, really good episode. One of Trek's biggest cop outs has been the Universal Translator. Basically it makes everybody speak English. Which is dumb. In this episode, it stops working--rather, it can't translate these guys' language. So they've gotta figure it out. Turns out it's a super cool language, P.S.

2 - Chain of Command, Parts I & II

Jump for a preview of Part I.

Jump for a preview of Part II.

Captain Picard steps down as captain of the Enterprise and goes on a black ops mission. Also, he gets captured and tortured by Russians...I mean...Cardassians.

1 - The Inner Light + Lessons


Jump for a preview of The Inner Light.

Jump for a preview of Lessons.

The Inner Light is the best episode ever. So effing good. Seriously. Lessons isn't as good, but it builds on The Inner Light, and Picard falls in love.

Look forward to future guests posts by this author. Next up: The Top Ten Star Trek: Voyager episodes everyone should see.


Tyler Awesome Coolage said...

Well, you know I haven't seen that many Next Gen episodes, but I love me some Darmok-talk.

Tyler Awesome Coolage said...

Oh, and thank you for going easy on the 90's. You know how I have such a soft spot for them, but sometimes they were just as goofy as the 80's (even though they were imitating the 70's).

But I can explain bad things that came from the 90's the same way Star Trek explains anything---

Francis Shivone said...

Great pictures and comments. I really do like the early Star Treks and their grand philsophical questions. Fun stuff.

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