I now blog over at The Eyre Guide! This blog is an archive of my past posts.

Wednesday, June 4, 2014

Star Trek TNG Season 2 - Top 3 Favorite Episodes

Posted by Charlene // Tags: , ,
The second season of Star Trek The Next Generation was definitely better than the first.  I did wonder at the replacement of Dr. Crusher with Dr. Pulaski - who was good, but a little annoyingly patronizing at first.  But I was shocked to see that she was in a few episodes of the Original Series.  I did miss Dr. Crusher though so I'm glad she'll be back in the next season.

I'm still going to pick only three episodes for this season because I feel like I would just be forcing myself to try and pick more.  But I really love my top 3 picks too so I'm excited to devote this post to them.  (I wasn't as enamored with my top 3 of the first season.)

And just FYI, still can't stand Q.  I read that his episode this season ("Q Who?") was highly regarded but even though the Borg is a great concept, I could have done with 100% less smarmy, self-congratulatory alien.  At least I was glad that Guinan is maybe kinda a match for him.  I want to see her take some action sometime though instead of always letting the crew solve their own problems.

3. Peak Performance

As an attempt to prepare themselves for the eventual coming of the Borg, the Enterprise is ordered to engage in a mock battle pitting Picard against Riker's small ragtag crew.  While engaged, the Ferengi happen by and decide to pillage, and plunder, and rifle, and loot (drink up me hearties, yo ho!)  While I'm not sure how useful this exercise was in preparing against what is going to be a vastly superior foe in the Borg, it was great to see that Riker would attempt to use cleverness to win.  I love to see that in any story - it's more fun than brute force and fighting skills winning the day.  And I think Riker could have done it if those darn Ferengi didn't turn up.  (Again another annoying alien.)  It was also so satisfying to see Data "defeat"the Zakdorn strategist who was also... annoyingly condescending, but his skills did give him some right to his behavior.  Captain Picard showed his own bit of cunning in tricking the Ferengi as well which was a fantastic scene. 

2. Time Squared

With just the first scenes of this episode, I knew it would be a favorite of mine.  The Enterprise happens upon a lone shuttle and takes it on board, only to discover the pilot is ... Captain Picard!  A future version who is injured and confused.  And the crew has to figure out what happened to him and prevent it from happening again.  Actually if the ending was different (I thought it was a bit confusing) this would probably be my top favorite episode of the season.  But I do still love it a whole lot.  The time travel element was really well done - the doubles trope does seem to be done a lot in Star Trek, but I think the way they worked it in as sort of a countdown to their immediate future was brilliant and created so much tension.  What a situation to find yourself in, and Captain Picard handled it with such strength and resolve.  I'm really appreciating how Patrick Stewart plays the Captain.  It's very different to Kirk, but perfect for this show.  Again the ending was a bit confusing for me, but it must have been a difficult scenario to resolve completely - it was such a perfect paradox. At least the journey through it had me on the edge and completely invested.

1. The Measure of a Man

A Starfleet Cyberneticist - Maddox - is intent on building more androids like Data and requests to take Data apart to better understand how he was made.  Data refuses because he doesn't believe Maddox would be able to assemble him properly again, so Maddox demands access to Data based on the idea that he is not a person but Starfleet property.  This was such an elegant and straightforward story told with intelligence and compassion.  The episode looked at who deserves to be treated with humanity and individual respect and it was really such a profound discussion.  Especially if in the future humans are faced with extraterrestrial life forms very different from our own.  It's a message that persists throughout the Trek universe, and was perfectly embodied in this episode.  And Data was so poignant in this episode, I think Brent Spiner put forth an amazing performance.  This episode must and deserves to be one of the best episodes of any Star Trek series.

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  1. Again, I love how you are watching this show. I think with Dr. Pulaski they were trying to create a character that was similar to Dr. McCoy/Bones and thought they would have some storylines because she's supposed to be against using the transporter, etc. Of course, she was just too dull.

  2. I haven't actually watched Star Trek before, but I really enjoyed this review- I think it's a fantastic idea to review your top three favourite episodes! It's frustrating that you didn't particularly love the whole series, but that you ended up loving these three episodes to basically nullify that is well worth it!

  3. That makes sense- Dr. Pulaski does have a Bones vibe, but I think with Picard being so sensible, it didn't make as much sense to have her as a counterpoint to Picard. She was good, but I'm glad Crusher is back - it's nice to have some sexual tension between Picard and Crusher! :D

  4. Yes, and I'm happy to say that this series really picks up in the third season. Definitely worth going through the first two to grow to love the series. If you are not familiar with Star Trek at all, I recommend watching the recent films because they got me into watching the TV series! :)

  5. Wow, I feel bad because I don't remember Peak Performance or Time Squared. But I'll see them again before too long, and hopefully will remember to tell you how I feel about them! Did I mention I never loved Q either? My husband said I would but he was wrong. He's in one episode of Deep Space Nine and there is this one moment in there you are going to love. :)

  6. OH my gosh - last year I tried to go back and watch this from the beginning and I just couldn't do it. It was too dated for me.

  7. This is one more reason I'm posting about my favorite episodes, because I might forget which ones I liked later! You should do a recap post for your Star Trek re-watch! Or maybe just thoughts on each series!

    Ooh I'm looking forward to that episode in DS9 then! Q's ep in Season 3 of TNG was a little better- because he was human, but I am still not a fan. I'm glad you understand my Q dislike! :)

  8. This show isn't too dated for me - but then I did come from watching The Original Series which was very Sixties. But I think the first two seasons of Next Gen are very underwhelming as well, so if you are still interested in the show, I'd recommend maybe skipping ahead to the third one which has some really great eps! :)

  9. I was thinking I probably will do something with this rewatch! I didn't watch everything straight through last time (I watched TOS years before TNG and everything else) and I also didn't realize how much I would fall in love with it all!

  10. I must confess I've never seen a single episode of Star Trek (or Star Wars) but I've been thinking about starting them, it's kind of something you've got to see in your life :P I guess I'm kinda worried it wouldn't be that interesting but I have enjoyed some other classic TV shows.

  11. Yeah - I didn't enjoy Dr. Pulaski nearly as much as Dr. Crusher.

    And you picked great episodes! I looked through the season list and it's interesting the disparity of this season. Because these episodes are really great but all the others are mostly meh. Though, a few of them lay ground work for future episodes that are really good.

    The Measure of a Man was where I learned what sentience is, and I thought for years that it was only a Star Trek word and if I used it in conversation everyone would think I'm a super geek who can't even think of real words but has to use Star Trek lingo :)
    This episode is so thoughtful and so dramatic. I like the conflict Riker has to go through as much as what Data and Picard do.

    And Peak Performance is a great episode that showcases the competitive and fun side of the crew. I agree, the clever solution is so much more fun than brute force :)

  12. That's so funny that Star Trek taught you the word sentience! At least you had an idea of it when you were young, I don't think I would have known the meaning of the word!

    I'm glad you also really enjoyed these episodes, although as you say there aren't too many really great ones in this season!

  13. I just finished the second season so I decided to come check out your older TNG posts! I have to say, the first couple seasons have had some good episodes, but I'm still waiting for the show to get really good (as everyone says it does later on).

    I didn't really care for Pulaski. I liked the conflict in the beginning when she was so prejudiced against Data, and then they just sort of dropped that... I mean, it makes sense she'd eventually come around, but I felt like more could have been done with it (especially in The Measure of a Man). And backing up to season one, I didn't really care for Yar either, and wasn't entirely sorry to see her go. It seems like she had an interesting backstory, but she just felt a little blah to me.

    So I'm really looking forward to season three, now that I really like all the main cast members... including Whoopi Goldberg! I thought she was a great addition, even in as minor a role as she has.

    Oh, and as for Q... I didn't like him in the pilot, but I have to admit I've enjoyed his appearances since then. Maybe because the character I originally know the actor from (on Stargate: SG-1) was a completely irredeemable jackass, so it's sort of refreshing to see him as a somewhat playful jackass... a subtle distinction, I suppose, but it makes a difference to me.

  14. Awesome Charleen! It is really interesting to read your thoughts on this series as a new viewer as well. The show does get really good too after this season, so everyone is right! :)

    You are right, it would have been great to see Pulaski come up in The Measure of a Man - especially if it helped her see Data as more of a being with rights. Yar was ok for me - I didn't really have time to get attached to her anyways, and her death was really anticlimactic. It was an odd way to do away with her character. She probably had potential though, as really many of the characters were blah to me in the beginning. It could have been because I was so attached to the Original series though.

    Whoopi is great in the show too - I look forward to your thoughts on Season 3!

    Hmm, Q has shown up in every season so far and I'm still not enamored of him, but I have gotten less intolerant of him with every episode so I guess that is something. I suppose playful is better than just downright mean if that was what he was on Stargate? I think omnipotent characters come up quite a bit in Star Trek (in TOS too) and they always kinda just annoy me, so I suppose it's not just Q!

  15. I feel the same way - like I should at least try these things (I watched Star Wars rather recently too!) to see why they are so popular. I really like classic TV shows though so I was pretty sure I would enjoy the older Star Trek series. I hope you get a chance to watch it soon! I would love to know what you think!

  16. Oh that would be awesome! I would love to read your thoughts on the show as you re-watch it! TOS and TNG are so different - it is interesting to watch them back to back. I'm sure your posts will have lots of insightful thoughts though since you already are familiar with everything. I'm more just reacting right now. :)