Top 10 Episodes: Star Trek: The Next Generation – Season 1
When people go on about how good “Star Trek: The Next Generation” was, you don’t ever hear much about the first season.
It’s understandable. The characters were still very raw, there was quite a bit of overacting, a little too many “hero” shots and some of the stories were downright dumb. Among the growing pains though, there was some good work being done.
Let’s go back in time to the 24th century (wait, what?) and countdown of the best episodes of Star Trek: The Next Generation Season 1.
It’s a story as old as time. An Android joins Starfleet and comes across his “home” planet where he was built. Android and crew beam down to a laboratory and discover another android, albeit disassembled. The crew reassembles the new android who turns out to be the evil twin brother of first android. Cue mistaken identities, evil plot and lone teenager who is the only member of the crew that can tell the difference between the “good” and “evil” androids.
Sure there are some cliché moments in “Datalore” but as a whole it’s an interesting episode, and it’s cool to see what Data would be like if he had emotions, as Lore possessed.
9. Lonely Among Us
At first glance, this episode isn’t really anything special.
The story is nothing spectacular nor are there any major action sequences. But, the bizarre lighting on the “lower decks”, Data’s introduction to Sherlock Holmes and the eerie atmosphere generated at times makes it a fun watch. The best scene by far is when Worf discovers the engineer slumped over his console; the music is pure science fiction. Worf also has some excellent lines early in the episode, and the reactions to Dr. Crusher while she is under the alien influence are funny as well.
8. Coming of Age
Two storylines are taking place in this episode, one involving Wesley Crusher taking an early Starfleet Academy entrance exam and the other having the crew of the Enterprise under investigation by Starfleet – with Captain Picard being the focus of the inquiries.
The interview scenes with Remmick and the crew are put together nicely, and his general smugness is well portrayed. (“Smugness is NOT a good quality.” – whoops. Quoting a different show entirely.) Admiral Quinn brings up a growing concern to Captain Picard near the end of the episode and it’s a thread the series will pick up later this season in “Conspiracy”.
Not a bad episode, even with Tasha Yar’s glaring PSA to young Wesley about why drugs are bad and the effects they can have on someone. “The More you Know!”
Picard is put in a bit of a moral conundrum, and a scene involving Riker being held “hostage” is pretty cool. For true Trek fans, it is interesting seeing the same actors who portrayed David Marcus and Joachim in Star Trek II: The Wrath of Khan (who never had any scenes together), back in another Trek production, this time interacting. What’s even MORE interesting is if you look closely enough, in the final scene as Picard and Crusher leave the cargo bay you can clearly see Yar (Denise Crosby) waving goodbye to the camera. That’s because even though this episode airs before “Skin of Evil”, it was shot afterwards, marking the last true time she was playing that character.
6. Where No One Has Gone Before
In a very early episode in the series, a perceived modification to the warp drive hurtles the Enterprise outside of our galaxy and past a few others into a part of “space” where it is hard for the crew’s thoughts to not become reality.
The Traveler makes the first of a handful of appearances in the series, and from this episode on he will be always linked to Wesley Crusher. The seeds of a payoff that won’t come for 7 years are planted in this episode regarding Wesley’s character and his future. The sequence where many of the crew are experiencing “visions” is interesting, especially with Worf and Yar.
5. Skin of Evil
There is something about a living, speaking, malevolent moving tar pit that is strangely very cool. Sure, Armus was pretty childlike at times but he was also quite threatening as (spoiler alert – no wait, this show is almost 30 years old now, deal with it) the death of Tasha Yar can attest to. That scene when Armus envelopes Commander Riker and you see his face float to the surface completely covered in tar before sinking again left quite the impression. The makeup and effects department did a very good job. Even the voice of the creature was pretty creepy.
Years before shows like The Sopranos, Game of Thrones and The Walking Dead (where killing off main characters has become the norm), the death of Tasha was quite the surprise. Often in those days no matter WHAT kind of scenario your heroes got themselves into, they would somehow always survive. Not so much the case in this one, which is another reason it stands out. An earlier scene in “Skin of Evil” between Yar and Worf, and the end “funeral” scene as Tasha says her farewells to the crew is ironically some of the best character development the writers gave Yar in her brief time on the show.
Continuing a minor storyline that started in “Coming of Age”, this episode has an underlying darkness to it that the series would never really visit again.
High ranking officials in Starfleet are being controlled by large parasitic-like alien organisms, and it’s up to the Enterprise and its crew to take down what is becoming a growing conspiracy. Some cool moments which include a secret meeting of ship’s captains on a planet surface, and a beating in Admiral Quinn’s quarters taken by Riker and Worf. The almost “horror”-like feeling is ramped up in this one, but perhaps a little too much – especially with a B-movie type monster reveal. An effect during that same scene called for the effects department to blow up raw meat to simulate a human head exploding. Nasty.
It IS pretty creepy though when Remmick swallows one of the organisms and then his neck starts to pulsate.
3. We’ll Always Have Paris
If you’re a sucker for time-altering episodes, this one is a beauty. While there are only a few examples of time being manipulated in this episode, each one is a neat experience – especially when Picard, Riker and Data briefly meet themselves at a different point in the time continuum. The music adds to the mystery of events and even the side story of Picard’s lost love isn’t too bad either.
2. Heart of Glory
Finally, a Worf-based episode!
Originally intended as just a background bridge character, Worf’s popularity would rise over the years as he became a mainstay on TNG and also Deep Space Nine after that. “Heart of Glory” is cool because it’s the first time we’ve encountered Klingons on TNG and we get to learn more about Worf’s backstory. This episode is also one of the rare occasions we get to experience what it is like to see through Geordi’s visor.
1. The Arsenal of Freedom
Picard and Crusher are isolated in an underground cavern with Crusher seriously wounded. Data, Riker and Yar are battling automated flying drones on the planet surface that are getting smarter after every battle. La Forge is left in command of the Enterprise and needs to resort to separating the ship to battle one of the space-faring drones. When one of the many rotating “chief engineers” season 1 had to offer insists on taking command because he outranks La Forge, the tension rises and it’s definitely a “take that!” moment when we see Geordi put this guy in his place.
Seeing the Enterprise separate into two sections is such a rare occasion, and Vincent Schiavelli is great as the arms salesman (“Peace; Through superior firepower.)
“The Arsenal of Freedom” is a standout.