Saturday, April 14, 2012

My top 10 Favorite episodes of Star Trek: The Next Generation

   Star Trek, the best example of space exploration... These are the episodes from the greatest TV series to ever air on TV ... It’s continuing mission, to excite and engage it's viewers ... to inspire with thought provoking ideas of space and science ... To Boldly go Above and Beyond any and all TV shows to ever air before or after it!  

    I freaking love Star Trek, I’ve seen every episode of every season of all 5 TV different shows (not including the cartoon), and I proudly own all Thirteen theatrical movies. However, of things Star Trek, nothing excites me more than the second TV series “Star Trek: The Next Generation”. This show was to my teenage years what the original “Star Wars” trilogy was to my child hood. For seven seasons, this show turned out one excellent episode after the next, the stories were great,and the characters were unforgettable. For those of you not familiar with "Star Trek: TNG", it revolves around a group of outer-space, and every episode lead to another fascinating, alien race or mysterious anomaly. There's 178 episodes in total, but for this post, I'll only be highlighting my personal favorites. To be honest, it's challenging to single out my top 10 favorite episodes as there's so many to choose from. However, if you have some interest in this show and don't know where to begin, these are the episodes I'd personally recommend starting with. Set cores for my top ten favorite episodes of “Star Trek: The Next Generation” ... Engage!

10. The Defector (Season 3 - Episode 10)
    Of all the re-occurring adversaries to appear on this show, my personally favorites by far have always been the Romulans. Their powerful and imposing, but because there also the most device and unpredictable. As Picard state's “It’s always a game of chess with them”. This particular story is quiet complex, with some compelling character depth, great acting and honest drama. The Enterprise encounters a Romulan defector, who claims to have urgent information regarding preparations for an imminent Romulan attack on the Federation. The interactions between this Romulan defector and the Enterprise crew are very engaging, there's a great mystery that slowly unfolds, and further emphasizes why the Romulans make for such great villains. This episode frequently references Shakespeare's “Henry V”, which is an affectionate touch. Plus there’s plenty cool space battles and constant tension that just keeps building up to a thrilling climax.  

 9. Timescape (Season 6 - Episode 25)

On their way back from a mission, Captain Picard and three other officers find that the Enterprise is frozen in time during what appears to be a battle with a Romulan war bird. With everything caught in temporal stasis, our hero's find themselves racing against the clock as a second party of aliens plan to destroy both vessels while frozen. This is a really exciting episode, the premise is awesome, there’s some nice twists and of cores it’s always great to have the Romulans involved. I’ll admit that the final scene is pretty stupid but who cares, this is still an awesome episode and definitely one to look at.  

8. Cause and Effect (Season 5 - Episode 18) 

This episode is the “Star Trek” equivalent of the movie “Ground Hog Day”, best of all is that it actually premiered a full year before “Ground Hog Day", so you really couldn't call this a rip-off. Just like how Bill Murray was trapped in repeating the same day over and over again, the Enterprise becomes stuck in a causality loop repeating the same events over and over. The crew retains some memory of previous instances and it all works like one big puzzle slowly coming together in the end. It makes for a very clever, well executed story and one of the stand out "TNG" episodes.

7. Redemption (Season 4 - Episode 26, Season 5 - Episode 1)

Here's one of the more epic, character driven story arch's of the series. When a Klingon Civil war engulfs commander Worf's home planet, he leaves the Enterprise to fight for honor of what his family represents. Meanwhile a fleet of 23 Federation star ships form a blockade to prevent a Romulan fleet from delivering supplies to the opposing factions. In short, it's about as awesome as two part episodes of  the series get. We  have a member leaving the crew, fleets of ships going into battle with the Romulans, and a surprise villain appearance that has a connection to one of the deceased main characters of the show. Yeah, this episode introduces us to the sinister commander Sela, which includes one of the most spectacular cliff hangers ever happen on this show.

6. The Inner Light (Season 5 - Episode 25) 

 A space probe creates a telepathic tether and in the span of twenty-five minutes causes Picard to experience, a full lifetime as a married man on a world that was destroyed a millennium ago. This episode couldn’t be simpler, it’s just Picard living this man’s life and it’s done so well. The acting is great, the musical score is beautiful, and the conversations between characters are so powerful that they go as fare to touch upon the meaning of life. It’s just a very well done episode, and I feel so touched by it every time I see it.

5. The Next Phase (Season 5 - Episode 24)

 Here's yet another creative oddity episode that's always been a personal favorite of mine. A transporter accident traps Geordi and Ensign Ro out of phase, they try to reverse the process and get the attention of everyone else who are planning their funeral. They have to do it quickly because the Romulans have planted a booby trap in the ship that will cause it to explode when they go to warp. As if there weren't enough problems, a Romulan is also phased and is hunting down our two hero's. This is just an awesome episode that keeps building and building. The action is great, the premise is very engaging and the Romulans make for such fun villains in this episode. It’s everything you could want from an exciting Sci-Fi TV show and it delivers all the way.   

4. Yesterday's Enterprise (Season 3 - Episode 14)

Before I talk about this episode, I should briefly mention the character Tasha Yar, who was a main player in season 1, but died at hands of an evil creature. While the death made for good drama, it was also very empty, and made the character feel wasteful. Now we come to a stand out episode that makes up for that. The Enterprise-C arrives from the past, causing a shift in reality in which the federation is at war and Tasha Yar is still alive. The catch is that the new reality is worse and in order to set things right, the Enterprise-C would have to go back in time into a battle that will claim their lives. There are some great conflicts, exciting action scenes and big decisions in this episode. It's a riveting story, and it brings a satisfying conclusion to the character Tasha Yar. It also features one of the biggest shining moments of the Enterprise crew as they stand up in battle, and make sure that history never forgets the name "Enterprise". It’s simply classic “Star Trek” at its finest.   

3. Tapestry (Season 6 - Episode 15)

 An accident kills Picard, and he finds himself in an afterlife with with his old adversary the Q entity analyzing his past choices. The episodes revolving around the character Q have always been a real treat, and the two actors just work off each other so perfectly. What makes this episode stand out is that while it has a fascinating premise, it also conveys such a simple message in a very human way. In this episode Picard tries to change some negative events from his past, but he learns that the man who he’s become in the future no longer exists due to his changes. It’s all about excepting the mistakes we’ve made because they help shape us into the people we are now. There’s a lot of strong performances in this episode, great writing and as I said before, the interactions between Picard and Q are just fantastic. For me personally, when “Star Trek” is at it's best, it’s more than just conveying a simple message for a good quality episode ... it’s something to live by.

2. All Good Things ... (Season 7, Episodes 25-26)

   It’s the very last episode of the whole series, and it’s just the perfect cherry to put on top of the cake. Picard finds himself alternating between three time periods thanks to the Q entity, with a spacetime distortion that threatens to destroy reality growing larger in the past, and smaller in the future. This episode works as a clever book end to the series premier episode, has some big events going down, and an especially nice touch are the appearances of favored reoccurring characters like Q, Chief O’ Brian, the Romulan commander Tomalak and the return of Tasha Yar. It's hard to explain why, but this two-prater has always been my favorite series finally for any TV show I've ever seen. It's a finally that gave a strong send off to this excellent cast of characters, and it always leaves me with a great feeling that while all good things certainly come to an end, it was still a worthwhile experience that will stick with me for a long time.   

Before I reveal my #1 favorite, here are some quick honorable mentions ... "Night Terrors" (Season 4 - Episode 17) "Devils Due" (Season 4 - Episode 13) "Sins of the Father" (Season 3 - Episode 17) "The Measure of a Man" (Season 2 - Episode 9)

1. The Best of Both Worlds (Season 3 - Episode 26 & Season 4 - Episode 1)

Here it is, the classic Star Trek episode that always seems to make #1 on every fans list, but can you blame them? In this deeply thrilling two-part finally, Captain Picard is kidnapped by the Borg, is transformed into a villeins cyborg, and they begin their invasion of Federation space. Along the way countless Starfleet ships are destroyed by the lone Borg ship, and several events are set into play for both the "Deep Space 9" TV series and the movie "First Contact". This is just an iconic episode that launched “Star Trek: The Next Generation” into absolute greatness. It’s like a small motion picture that was hidden away in a causal TV series. The Borg quickly became the shows most popular villains after this, and for good reason. For as much as I love the Romulan's, the Borg still remain their greatest foes. The character interactions in this episode are very strong, the story is rich, the tension is high, and it’s all boasted with a stellar musical score. It’s one of the most famous episodes in all of “Star Trek” .. and for a reason    

     The End

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