Star Trek: The Next Generation (Season One)
There was a lot of debate over whether or not Gene Roddenberry and crew could pull this show off. There were those that felt that Star Trek should have been left alone while others wanted to see a return of the classic crew. I have to be honest, now that I’ve watched the full first season of this show, I’m shocked that it made it through seven seasons. Some of these episodes would have been an excellent substitute for a natural sleep aid…luckily they weren’t all bad. To that end, I’d like to briefly touch on the episodes I liked, and why.
Hide and Q
In this episode, an omnipotent being called Q (John de Lancie) makes his return from the show’s pilot. Trekkers may draw some similarities with his character and that of Trelane from The Original Series. His powers and all-knowing nature make him impossible to deal with in the way the show’s characters would like to…they simply have to put up with him, being careful not to push him to far.
Anyway, Riker is chosen to receive the powers of Q, mainly so that the Q can study humanity and incite growth in their stagnant “society.” We find out that the Q, who are all-knowing, are interested in humans mainly because they have characteristics that the Q lack…creativity, curiosity, ambition, and a drive to succeed.
I enjoyed this episode mainly because of the message that accompanied the ending (you’ll find that Star Trek does that often). “Absolute power corrupts absolutely” and “This above all, to thine own self be true” were the general moral themes thrown in Riker’s face as he attempted to rationalize using the power of Q and becoming an overall douchebag.
Lore was a very interesting character and a great addition to the show. Taking a character as unique as Data and introducing an evil twin, who was just as smart and strong, was an excellent idea. Lore, as a bit of background, was created by Doctor Noonien Soong as a prototype to be the “perfect” android. Lore was built to use emotions, to have ambition, and to be overall as close to a human being as possible. However, Lore scared the colonists to the point where Doctor Soong deactivated Lore and developed a “less perfect” android…Data…without emotion.
In this episode, Lore attempts to get on everyone’s good side while secretly plotting to disable Data and pose as him long enough to rein death and destruction on the Enterprise. Wesley Crusher (Wil Wheaton) had his suspicions and took matters into his own hands (after being chastised) in an attempt to stop Lore.
Lore ends up escaping, but I’m glad he did. He played a pivotal role in a set of later episodes that ultimately led Data to something he had been seeking all of his life.
Skin of Evil
This was a dark, dark episode. Not only did the antagonist kill off one of the main characters of the show, but it put the rest of them through life threatening situations that tested the mettle of even the sturdiest of them.
It starts with Counselor Troi’s shuttle crash landing on a planet, who’s only occupant is Armus…a slimy, mentally disturbed, powerful creature that ends up holding her hostage. The Enterprise shows up to rescue her, but find that they cannot get past the creature. They quickly learn that Armus is a lot more powerful than he appears when he proceeds to take a life without care and toys with the rest of them all for the wishful fulfillment of entertainment.
Out of every episode in the this season, I liked this one the best. It came the closest to being edgy and suspenseful…I didn’t have to watch Wesley almost get executed for falling into flowers or watch Riker puff his naked chest in the air after changing into revealing garb on some female dominated planet. Blech.
Some of the so-so episodes included “Where No One Has Gone Before”, introducing a creature we’d come to know as the Traveler, who ended up playing a key role in Wesley’s life in the distant future. The ship ended up traveling to a distant universe where thoughts became reality…been there, done that (Star Trek The Original Series: Shore Leave).
The Arsenal of Freedom wasn’t bad either, it was Geordi’s first real major role in an episode as temporary captain of the Enterprise. There was plenty of action going on due to an adaptive AI that threatened both the away team and the ship.
It’s hard to sum up an entire season into one sentence. There were good episodes, there were bad episodes, and there were episodes that would bore even the ship’s computer, if that were possible. It certainly was the weakest of the seasons, in my opinion.
It’s natural for the first season to be the worst, simply because the writers and actors are still trying to establish a niche for their characters. Anyone watching this series for the first time needs to know that it WILL get better…just hang in there.