ST:TNG Happy 25th Anniversary!

When I lived in Los Angeles, the usual mode was that Friday nights were for hitting the bar with work friends to shake off the work week. Saturday nights were for parties and/or date nights.

Here in the Midwest, it seems a lot of parties are held on Friday nights (although Saturday nights are still date nights). The thing about that is:  (a) I miss those after work outings, and (2) Friday night parties are often kind of low-key because everyone’s tired after a work week. Saturday night you’ve had a chance to charge your batteries, and you’re ready for what comes before Part B.

Part A!

So tonight I just got home from a good and proper after work outing. And (bonus) it was held partially in my honor, so I didn’t pay for most of my drinks or hors d’oeuvres (sah-weet). It was held in honor of three of us who are changing jobs, so it was a celebration. Plenty of laughter, good snacks, good beer, more laughter, and I seem to now have a bet riding on the Gophers–Hawkeyes game tomorrow.

Long story; I’ll tell you later. Right now it’s time for another celebration! Twenty-five years ago today, Star Trek: The Next Generation premiered on CBS.

As I’ve mentioned before, when that first episode aired, as soon as the first commercial break broke, I called my buddy and said, “It’s awful! I hate it!!”

Admittedly, that first episode, Encounter At Farpoint, was a bit rough, and many do consider it the worst episode of the show’s seven-year run. The acting was a stilted, and the behavior of the crew had more military flavor than any of the later episodes. And many think the whole plot was a bit on the cheesy side. (I’d be hard-pressed to argue otherwise.)

But it didn’t take long for the show to win me over. In many regards I now regard it as the best of the franchise series. (I’ll always have a fond place in my heart for the original series.) There were many outstanding episodes throughout the entire run, many of which won nominations or awards. Even in the last season the quality didn’t decrease. Many fans consider the final episode one of their favorites.

Which brings me to what inspired this post. Favorite episodes of ST:TNG.

MSNBC.com ran an article today commemorating the 25th anniversary. In that article they name their seven picks for “best” episodes. You should go read the full article (which comes complete with video links), but here are their seven:

  1. Yesterday’s Enterprise (season 3, episode 15)
  2. The Measure of a Man (season 2, episode 9)
  3. Chain of Command (season 6, episodes 10 & 11)
  4. Phantasms (season 7, episode 6)
  5. The Inner Light (season 5, episode 25)
  6. The Best of Both Worlds (seasons 3/4, episodes 26/1)
  7. All Good Things (season 7, episodes 25 & 26, series finale)

All very good picks, but I would make a few changes for my own list. (MSNBC doesn’t say whether their picks are in any order. Clearly they’re not in season order or alphabetical order. It’s possible they’re in “Letterman” order of least to best.)

My very favorite is their #5, The Inner Light. This Hugo Award winning episode features a stunning idea, outstanding acting by Patrick Stewart and an ending guaranteed to pluck your heart-strings.

Chain of Command is another favorite. It’s a dark episode with a sock it to ya ending. (There’s also a great Abstruse Goose cartoon that invokes both episodes and several others.)

I was not as big a fan of The Best of Both Worlds as many, so that one gets replaced with an aftermath episode, Family. In that one, Picard goes back to see his brother, and Worf deals with his family. That’s one where we really find out how profoundly affected Picard was by his forced stint as Locutus.

Phantasms was fun, but I need to replace that one with an episode I thought was even more fun: The Naked Now. I wrote about this episode before on Star Trek Saturday. (I originally thought I’d post this tomorrow for another round of Star Trek Saturday, but the idea of posting on the actual anniversary was too compelling!)

I’ll definitely go along with Yesterday’s Enterprise and The Measure of a Man. Both are significant episodes for, respectively, Tasha Yar and Data. The latter, particularly, is profoundly important, since it’s the one where Pinocchio was defined to be a boy.

Which brings us to the final episode, All Good Things. A very good episode, indeed, but I’m not sure it makes the top seven over another major favorite of mine: Darmok.

I love the idea of a race that speaks in metaphor, something I try to do sometimes, because I love language and metaphors and being oblique. (Also, see this Abstruse Goose cartoon as well as this xkcd cartoon!)

And The Winners Are…

So I guess my top seven, in top-down fashion are:

  1. The Inner Light
  2. The Naked Now
  3. Darmok
  4. Family
  5. Chain of Command
  6. The Measure of a Man
  7. Yesterday’s Enterprise

How about you, my fine fellow Star Trek fans?

What are yours?

About Wyrd Smythe

The canonical fool on the hill watching the sunset and the rotation of the planet and thinking what he imagines are large thoughts. View all posts by Wyrd Smythe

26 responses to “ST:TNG Happy 25th Anniversary!

  • thegreenstudy

    My vote is definitely for “Phantasms”. Any time you can put Sigmund Freud on the Holodeck- come on, that’s just funny. I was never a dedicated fan, but I love watching Patrick Stewart. He was just on the Daily Show in a bit and really showed his sense of humor.

    • Wyrd Smythe

      Yeah, it was a very tough choice! The Naked Now ties back to the much-loved TOS episode, The Naked Time, so it just had to be on The List. If I could do a Top Ten, then Phantasms is back in for sure!

      Stewart was just on The Daily Show? Cool, I’ll have to seek that out! I stopped watching quite a few months ago (the news, even from Jon Stewart, was either making me depressed or making my head want to explode). I actually have notice I’ve been a happier person since. But now that it’s election season, I’m going to have to dive back into the shit pit that is American Politics. Ugh, blech, yuck!

      • thegreenstudy

        I have to say I’m really enjoying this political season, simply because politicians think we’re really stupid and the speeches are amusing. I am REALLY looking forward to the dueling banjos at the debates.

      • Wyrd Smythe

        You’re built of tougher stuff than me if you can enjoy it! It makes me yell and want to throw things!!

        But I am looking forward to the debates, and I’m going to be very interested in how it all shakes out. Will the country come to its senses? Not long before we find out!

  • dianasschwenk

    I loved the next generation too, but for the life of me, I don’t remember episodes as clearly as you seem to!

    • Wyrd Smythe

      Heh! “Seem to” is the key phrase there!!

      Normally my memory for books, movies and TV shows is the worst. The absolute worst. Seriously, two weeks after seeing a movie, I’d often be hard-pressed to tell you the plot. For some reason my mind just refuses to remember that stuff (I am probably the worst imaginable partner in any trivia game).

      But with TNG you’re talking one of my favorite shows ever, plus I spent years during the re-run era trying to record all episodes to VHS tape, plus I own all seven season DVD collections. That all helps, and I still have to look up details when I write about them. Thank god for the interweb and Wikipedia!!

      • dianasschwenk

        For a while I was so in love with Picard, then I turned my attentions to Reiker (spelling??) Then when I saw how klingons get it on, I thought Worf would be the man for me! Didn’t he and Deanna have a thing for a while?

      • Wyrd Smythe

        I hear ya! I had such a crush on Crusher! I would have even loved her annoying sun, Wesley! 🙂

        Yeah, after his half-Klingon girl friend (and mother of his son) died, he ended up with Deanna. (I always thought K’Ehleyr was the hottest Klingon ever (and I always liked the actress, Suzie Plakson), although those two evil Klingon sisters weren’t too bad, either.)

      • dianasschwenk

        Do you remember the episode where they did like a cultural exchange thing and the enterprise got a klingon and Reiker went to a klingon ship?

        It was meal time and they were serving up worms and Reiker looks at his plate when a klingon says something like, “if this meal is too much for you, we can get one of our females to breast feed you.” I thought I would pee myself, I laughed so hard!

      • Wyrd Smythe

        You like making me look things up, don’t you! Tease!! 🙂

        And the winner is, A Matter of Honor (season 2, episode 8 ). Didn’t Riker end up eating the gagh? His complaint was that it wasn’t alive or fresh or something?

      • dianasschwenk

        Yes something like that… I didn’t say you needed to look it up! 😉

      • Wyrd Smythe

        But I find you so irresistible how can I not?!

  • rorypond2020

    It’s hard to believe it’s “just” been 25 years – in some ways, I feel like it’s been around as long as the original!

    • Wyrd Smythe

      Well, it was 21 years between TOS and TNG, so they are closer to each other than the latter is to us, and every passing year makes that more true. And I suppose that so much has happened in our lives in the last quarter century it makes them seem all that much further back.

      “The building blocks of our past float ever downriver into our memories.”

  • Andrea Kelly

    Wow, I had no idea TNG was practically the same age as I am! No wonder it feels like it’s been around just as long as the original series to me 😛 It’s definitely my favorite, although the original is a close second…and Deep Space 9 is third! Ah…I love Star Trek! Thanks for the great post, I think I’m gonna have to watch some episodes on Netflix now.

    • Wyrd Smythe

      I guess for you both shows “happened” at the same time! (I had to live the 21 years in between!) Your ranking is the same as mine, although ST:Enterprise is a close contender to ST:DS9. (ST:Voyager isn’t even in the running for me.)

      Star Trek so much a part of my life that it’s beyond being included in top favorites lists. I just noticed that it’s the largest tag in my tag cloud! If you click it, you’ll see a lot of older posts about it.

      • Andrea Kelly

        I didn’t really get into Voyager either!

        It’s amazing how much shows can impact us like that. I have a few others that I grew up with as well that are no longer “shows” but just part of life!!

      • Wyrd Smythe

        I think that’s because we aren’t teenage boys, which I’ve always thought was that show’s key demographic. Every once in a while the description in TV Guide would make an episode sound worth checking out, and every time … well, it just wasn’t. I gave up after a while.

        It is amazing! I wrote in one of my TV Tuesday posts about how I’ve spent 130 hours with Picard and crew (same with Dr. House), and that doesn’t include reruns. These people, these shows, do become part of the fabric of our lives (for better or for worse!). I suppose, for one thing, that means one should pick ones shows as carefully as ones friends!

      • Andrea Kelly

        I’d never really thought about it like that, but you’re right, it really does seem like that’s who they were trying to appeal to with Voyager!

        As silly as it might sound, that’s how I feel about the show Gilmore Girls…it started while I was in middle school, and ran up through some of my college years – I honestly don’t know how I would have gotten through some of those times without my Tuesday nights at 8pm with the gang of Star’s Hollow. I have several friends who are the same way, and we still refer to the show all the time, even though it’s been off the air for years now.

      • Wyrd Smythe

        I’m only vaguely familiar with Gilmore Girls, but I know a number of people who hold it in high esteem. I’m thinking it would be fun to have a tee-shirt that reads, “Some of my best friends are imaginary!” 😀

      • Andrea Kelly

        It is a bit more for the female demographic, anyways 🙂 (Though one of my best guy friends loves it as well – he just won’t ever admit it in public).

        That would be a pretty good t-shirt! Accurate for us cinephiles, anyways!

      • Wyrd Smythe

        I had a feeling it was way too obvious of an idea….

        Some of my best friends are imaginary

        Although in this case they’re talking books, which I’d guess works equally well for us both!

      • Wyrd Smythe

        Heh! I had to go back to re-read my comment to see what “it” and “does” referred to, and it’s a good measure of my work-related fatigue that: two sentences, two stupid errors. “I have…” shoulda been, “I had…” and “in case” shoulda been “in this case…” That’s just salt in the open wound for a perfectionist! (Fortunately one can edit ones own comments!)

        But wow, this job is really sucking the life outta me! No sense of creative juices flowing, and my error rate is climbing. Fortunately, there’s still June (first date early retirement makes sense financially). If things don’t change, I can look forward to that!

  • Sex, Spirit, Soul Mates and Chocolate....Ivonne's Journey

    I worked for 3 seasons as one of the regular background actors on TNG. It was a hoot.

    • Wyrd Smythe

      Cool! (Which seasons? Who should I look for? I have them all on DVD.)

      [sigh] I learned long after the fact that TNG (and the other shows) actually accepted scripts from unknown writers. There was a waiter in New York who submitted a script and ended up being a Producer on DS9, IIRC. Rene E-something (I’m too drunk right now to look it up). If only I’d known!

      “Sex, Spirit, Soul Mates and Chocolate”…. how intriguing! (But what about strawberries?) I’ll have to drop by and check it out. Thanks for dropping by and saying, “Hi!”

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