Sep 11 2012 3:00pm

Star Trek: The Next Generation Rewatch: Fifth Season Overview

Star Trek: The Next Generation Fifth Season
Original air dates: September 1991 – June 1992
Executive Producers: Gene Roddenberry, Rick Berman, & Michael Piller

Captain’s Log: There are a lot of ways to look at the fifth season, not all of them charitable—but not all of them bad, either.

For one thing, it seemed to be the season of children. Besides Wes Crusher returning twice (“The Game,” “The First Duty”), the birth of Molly O’Brien (“Disaster”), and making Worf’s son Alexander a regular (“New Ground”), there were no fewer than four episodes that focused on small children: the aforementioned “New Ground,” as well as “Hero Worship,” “Cost of Living,” and “Imaginary Friend.” Plus one of the plots of “Disaster” was Picard stuck in turbolift with three little kids.

It was a season filled with episodes that got viewers talking. “Darmok” remains, twenty years later, a polarizing episode that tends to prompt lengthy conversations about language. “The Outcast” was Trek’s first attempt to deal with homosexuality, an episode that remains controversial to this day.“I, Borg” was a major shift in the focus of TNG’s most brutal villains. And The Inner Light” is rightfully considered one of the great Trek episodes, and won TNG its first Hugo Award.

This season also showed a concerted effort to expand the cast somewhat, with not only the additions of Molly and Alexander, and the expansion of the role of Nurse Ogawa, but also the introduction of Ensign Ro Laren, who was a welcome dose of acerbity to a fairly homogenous cast. (One can throw Ensign Robin Lefler in there, too, since she appears in both “Darmok” and “The Game.”)

Probably the most important thing about the fifth season, though is that it began on the 25th anniversary of Star Trek, had a tie-in with the new Trek movie, The Undiscovered Country, and had a two-part episode that brought Leonard Nimoy’s Spock onto TNG, thus completing the generational bridge begun by DeForest Kelley’s cameo in “Encounter at Farpoint” and Mark Lenard’s appearance as the titular guest star of the episode “Sarek.”

And, of course, the fifth season was the last one that creator Gene Roddenberry got to see before his death in October 1991. He never got to see “Unification,” never got to see the release of The Undiscovered Country, never got to see “The Inner Light” win that Hugo.

Highest-rated Episode: Hey, it won a Hugo for a reason—“The Inner Light” was the season’s only 10. Kudos also to this season’s 9’s: “Darmok” and “Cause and Effect.”

Lowest-rated Episode:Silicon Avatar,” “The Outcast,” and “The Perfect Mate” all garnered a 2.

Most Comments (as of this writing): In any other season, “The Perfect Mate” with its 73 comments discussing the episode’s gender roles would’ve gotten it. Hell, in most seasons, “The Inner Light” (58) or “Cause and Effect” (55) or “The Outcast” (52) would’ve topped the list. But they can’t hold a candle to “Darmok” and its 98 comments on the ins and outs and ups and downs of the Children of Tama’s odd linguistic structure. (And hey, just the fact that we’ve topped 50 comments five times is pretty damned awesome. You guys are great!)

Fewest Comments (as of this writing):Hero Worship” with 11. That kid really wasn’t that interesting, was he?

Favorite Can’t We Just Reverse the Polarity? From “The Next Phase”: Somehow, the interphase device enables someone to be sufficiently out of phase with reality to move through walls, doors, and other objects—but still are able to stand on a floor and sit down on things and fall onto the deck and stuff without falling through. Also they can somehow breathe, even though the air should just phase through their lungs. SCIENCE!

Favorite Thank You, Counselor Obvious: From “Disaster”: Troi gets her first command experience rather by accident, as she’s the only ranking officer left alive on the bridge when the filament hits. Her struggles with keeping up with the technobabble are amusing, in particular when she tries to analogize a quantum filament to a cosmic string, because she knows that one (following the events of “The Loss”). She’s crestfallen when O’Brien tells her that that’s a totally different phenomenon.

Favorite What Happens On The Holodeck, Stays On The Holodeck: From “The Perfect Mate”: Of course, after backing slowly out of Kamala’s quarters, Riker informs the bridge that he’ll be on Holodeck 4. Wah-hey! Let’s face it, you know that’s what most people use the holodeck for. (Something Deep Space Nine would embrace a bit more openly.)

Favorite No Sex, Please, We’re Starfleet: From “Silicon Avatar”: Riker and Carmen set a dinner date in what, of all the Riker-hits-on-women scenes, is quite possibly the most painful to watch. (Its primary competition for the dear-God-make-it-stop prize being his falling into bed with Beata in “Angel One.”) After Carmen boasts about her “most memorable desserts,” and Riker proclaiming dessert to be his “favorite part of dinner,” the crystalline entity showing up to kill everyone frankly comes as something of a relief....

Favorite The Boy!? From “The First Duty”: Wes is the voice of reason throughout, the first to go for telling the truth, and the one who agonizes most about lying. But ultimately he goes right along with the coverup, going so far as to plead the fifth to Picard, which is, to say the least, ballsy. (And Picard totally looks like that’s where he wants to kick him when he says it.)

Favorite If I Only Had a Brain... From “The Next Phase”: Data believes it is his responsibility to organize the memorial service as La Forge’s best friend, and he confides to Worf (with La Forge listening) that Data didn’t know what a friend was until he met La Forge. He also figures out what happened after the big-ass anyon field makes La Forge and Ro briefly barely visible, all the while being cheered on by La Forge (“C’mon, Data, put it all together, now!” “Oh, Data, please be right!”).

Favorite There is No Honor in Being Pummeled: From “Disaster”: Worf gets to play midwife, and he doesn’t suck too badly at it, mostly following the steps in the textbook (and reading those steps out in his stentorian voice, adding to the hilarity). On the Deep Space Nine episode “Accession,” when Keiko reveals that she’s pregnant again, Worf panics and announces that he’ll be on vacation on Earth when she’s due. (He isn’t, as it happens, but neither is he put in a position to midwife the O’Briens’ second child in “The Begotten,” which always struck me as a missed opportunity.)

Favorite Syntheholics Anonymous: From “Time’s Arrow”: After getting pissy Guinan in “I, Borg,” things go back to normal as the ship’s bartender is all metaphorical and mysterious and stuff. We also get to meet Guinan when she was 500 years younger, and Whoopi Goldberg plays her beautifully, much more eager and curious.

Favorite In the Driver’s Seat: From “Disaster”: Poor Lieutenant Monroe. She probably figured she had light duty, running the bridge with a skeleton crew during downtime. Instead, she got herself crispy fried, just so Troi could have some command experience. (Also: what happened to her body? The bridge was cut off, so what did they do with it? Stick it in Picard’s ready room?) When it’s all over, Ro’s back at conn.

Favorite Welcome Aboard: Leonard Nimoy came back as Spock in “Unification” and “Unification II.”

Okay, yeah, there were others. We had returning guests, like Majel Barrett (Lwaxana Troi in “Cost of Living”), Georgia Brown (Helena Rozhekno in “New Ground”), Denise Crosby (Sela in “Redemption II” and “Unification II”), Mark Lenard (Sarek in “Unification”), Barbara March (Lursa in “Redemption II”), Robert O’Reilly (Gowron in “Redemption II”), Carel Struycken (Mr. Homn in “Cost of Living”), Tony Todd (Kurn in “Redemption II”), Gwynyth Walsh (B’Etor in “Redemption II”), .

We had some excellent performers in Marc Alaimo as Frederick La Roque in “Time’s Arrow,” Erich Anderson as “MacDuff” in “Conundrum,” Jonathan del Arco as Hugh in “I, Borg,” Shanon Fill as Cadet Sito Jaxa in “The First Duty,” Erika Flores as Marissa in “Disaster,” John Christian Graas as Jay Gordon in “Disaster,” Kelsey Grammer as Captain Morgan Bateson in “Cause and Effect,” Jerry Hardin as Samuel Clemens/Mark Twain in “Time’s Arrow,” Jeffrey Hayenga as Orta in “Ensign Ro,” Tony Jay as Campio in “Cost of Living,” Ashley Judd as Ensign Robin Lefler in “Darmok” and “The Game,” Tim O’Connor as Ambassador Briam in “The Perfect Mate,” Richard Riehle as Batai in “The Inner Light,” Stephen Root as K’Vada in “Unification” and “Unification II,” Margot Rose as Eline in “The Inner Light,” David Sage as Tarmin in “Violations,” Max Supera as Patterson in “Disaster,” Noley Thornton as Clara Sutter in “Imaginary Friend,” Malachi Throne as Pardek in “Unification” and “Unification II,” Ray Walston as Boothby in “The First Duty,” and the great Paul Winfield as Captain Dathon in “Darmok.”

Plus Rosalind Chao put in some of her best work in this season (a superbly comic turn giving birth in “Disaster,” a touching scene of childhood remembrance in “Violations”), Michelle Forbes started the recurring role of Ensign Ro Laren in “Ensign Ro,” Brian Bonsall took over the role of Alexander in “New Ground,” Patti Yasutake’s role as Nurse Ogawa expanded tremendously, Ken Thorley showed up twice as a Bolian barber (“Ensign Ro”) and a 19th-century poker player (“Time’s Arrow”), and Robert Duncan MacNeill warmed up for Tom Paris as Nicholas Locarno in “The First Duty.”

But ultimately, who cares? Leonard Nimoy came back as Spock!

Favorite I Believe I Said That…: From “Imaginary Friend”: “First it was a fish, and now it’s a Mintonian sailing ship.”


“Right there! Don’t you see the two swirls coming together to form the mast?”

“I do not see it. It is interesting that people try to find meaningful patterns in things that are essentially random. I have noticed that the images they perceive sometimes suggest what they are thinking about at that particular moment. [pause] Besides, it is clearly a bunny rabbit.”

Guinan and Data having their version of the Peanuts cloud conversation where Charlie Brown thought he saw a duckie and a horsie.

Favorite Trivial Matter: The one for “Redemption II,” just ’cause it was so danged long....

Make it so. Quite the roller coaster, this. It was certainly an eventful season, starting with the resolution of one cliffhanger to explain why Denise Crosby is a blonde Romulan, ending with another cliffhanger that puts Data in 19th-century San Francisco alongside Mark Twain, and in between those, Spock returns (as does Sarek, tragically). Some of TNG’s best episodes are from this season, from fun romps like “Disaster,” “Conundrum,” “Power Play,” “Cause and Effect,” and “The Next Phase” to thought-provoking scripts in “Darmok,” “The First Duty,” and “I, Borg” to one of TNG’s finest hours in “The Inner Light.” Plus “Ensign Ro” not only gave us a new recurring character but also the setup for the next spinoff, as the roots of Deep Space Nine were planted in that episode.

And yet, after watching two episodes a week of this season, I’m left with a feeling of “meh.” There’s a lot of dead weight here: “Silicon Avatar,” “The Game,” “A Matter of Time,” “New Ground,” “Hero Worship,” “Violations,” “The Masterpiece Society,” “The Outcast,” “Cost of Living,” and “The Perfect Mate” are all just awful.

On the one hand, Paul Winfield was brought in for a guest shot and knocked it out of the park in “Darmok.” On the other, Matt Frewer was brought in for a guest shot and utterly wasted in the leaden “A Matter of Time.”

On the one hand, their attempt to deal with the Borg resulted in a great episode in “I, Borg.” On the other, their attempt to address homosexuality in “The Outcast” was an abject failure on pretty much every possible level.

On the one hand, we got the great Michelle Forbes as the acerbic Ensign Ro Laren. On the other, we got Brian Bonsall as Alexander, who mostly served to be annoying and tiresome. (He was actually at his best when he got away from his father—scenes between Alexander and Worf got shouty and repetitive right quick, but Bonsall came across much better when paired with Troi in “Ethics,” with Lwaxana in “Cost of Living,” and with Clara Sutter in “Imaginary Friend.”)

On the one hand, Wil Wheaton gave one of his best performances in “The First Duty,” an episode that took what we knew about Wes and turned it on its ear. On the other, he was ridiculous in his other appearance this season in “The Game,” which embraced every negative stereotype of the character, with the added bonus of him getting the girl on top of saving the ship.

On the one hand, Spock came back. On the other, “Unification” was pretty terrible.

I considered going with a 5 for this season, given the peaks and valleys, but a season that includes “Darmok,” “Ensign Ro,” “Disaster,” “Cause and Effect,” “I, Borg,” “The Next Phase,” and especially “The Inner Light” needs a bit of a bump from that....


Warp factor rating for the season: 6

Keith R.A. DeCandido is what he is.

1. Don3Comp
Very well articulated, Keith. It's interesting: a couple of seasons (2 and 3, I think) were better than I remembered, while this one was a bit overrated. There's a song from the musical "Whistle Down the Wind" titled "When Children Rule the World," and that would be an apt subtitle for this season. ("When Children Rule the Alpha Quadrant?") Next season's "Rascals" really belongs in this season of youth. It also was a season of failed political correctness--not to mention unbearable preachiness--on the order of "Angel One" ("The Outcast," "The Perfect Mate"). Finally, it was a season where Dr. Crusher started to get really sanctimonious ("The Perfect Mate," "I, Borg," and the one where Worf has his spine operation).

And yet it does have it's shining moments, especially "Darmok, "Ensign Ro," and "The Next Phase." And I have to disagree that "Unification" was terrible. OK, it was a two-hour infomercial for "Star Trek VI," but it was at least as entertaining as any of the TNG films (with the possible exception of "First Contact.") And I happen to like Brian Bonsall's performance as Alexander, and the character's effect on Worf.

Trivial but notable things about this season: it was the only year where the titles were in 3-D, and it was the only "Q-less" season (though he made up for it by appearing twice next season; I would argue that "True Q" belongs more in this season, while "Tapestry" definitely fits in the darker sixth season).

A probably shocking question I'd like to put out there as we rewatch the final two seasons: remembering that "Time's Arrow" was a cliffhanger to reassure viewers that the show would go on, should the series have ended this season? Was it artificially kept running for two more seasons? Or did it have enough places to go, enough life left? The reason I ask is that I remember that when the final season was almost finished airing, a fraternity brother of mine opined that the show had gotten "cheesy" over its last couple of years, and should have ended sooner.
Michael Burstein
2. mabfan
A good recap of the season.

I continue to assume that we remember the season so fondly because the good episodes stay with us more than the bad. Those are also the ones we tend to watch when they come on in syndication. That is, assuming anyone knows what I mean by that anymore. :-)

-- Michael A. Burstein
3. Lsana
An odd thing I noticed about this season is that it seems like the more "Perfect for a Star Trek Episode" the premise was, the worse the episode. "Ethics": Worf's injury forces the crew to deal with medical testing, permenant disabilities, and assisted suicide. "The Masterpiece Society": we examine both genetic engineering, "perfection", and the influences of outsiders on a formerly closed society. Those sound like they ought to be awesome. On the other hand, we have "Disaster" and "Power Play" which sound pretty bad when you try to describe the premise, but are actually pretty entertaining.

It does make me wonder if TNG was trying a little too hard this season to be "hard-hitting socially relevent SF", and succeeded more in being annoying, boring, and/or preachy. There are definite exceptions ("Darmok" comes to mind), but as whole, I think the season did much better when they just relaxed and had some fun.
Lisamarie LiGreci-Newton
4. Lisamarie
Well (as a first time watcher of most episodes), I have to disagree that most of the very low ranked episodes were terrible - I enjoyed them. I agree that they were not on the level of episodes like The Inner Light, I Borg, etc - but I probably would have given many of them 5s. Obviously, as you have stated, the rating is pretty arbitrary, but to me, something like a 2 means I was miserable, bored, annoyed, etc while I was watching it. Ironically, the only episode I can say that about during this season is Darmok, which I know puts me in the minority in a huge way. Perhaps it was the migraine...I also thought anything was Sela was a waste of time.

But a lot of the mediocre episodes were just that to me - mediocre - I was sufficiently entertained and wanted to know what happened, although they didn't blow me away. I also think Perfect Mate was actually pretty good, if for no other reason that it inspired such interesting conversation!

I also think Outcast isn't a total failure because I thought the point of it was to show something we see as "normal" and natural and that in general they did not choose (people associating with a gender) being discriminated against to make them think about why they might discriminate against other sexual orientations.

Probably one of my biggest complaints about this season is the lack of Q. I'm glad we get him twice in season 6 (although True Q isn't one of my very favorites of his, but we'll get there when we get there ;) ).
5. jlpsquared
"should the series have ended this season?"

No, but it should have ended after 6. I would argue that the second half of season 6 was actually quite good, but most of season 5, the 1st half of season 6, and ALL of season 7 were slogs. 7 is close to unwatchable. I attribute it to 2 things.

1. The music got progressively worse every episode after Ron Jones left.

2. The actors quit acting and started just being themselves in starfleet uniforms. It is most notable with Stewart, Sirtis, and McFadden. Watch Troi from season 2, and then season 7, you will see what I mean. I love Picard, but I much prefer Picard from season 1 (mean Picard, but more shakespearean), then the last 2 seasons.

A while ago I rate the seasons on a scale of 1-10 by the average of each episode and I came up with this.

1. 5.1
2. 7.3
3. 8.9
4. 8.1
5. 5.9
6. 6.2
7. 4.1

I was surprised that I had rated the average season 6 episode above the average season 5 episode, and the average season 7 episode less than the average season 1 episode. But my first ever episode was "conspiracy", and I have always had a soft spot for it. further, season 2 gets alot of crap, but I think it is mostly the uniforms and Pulaski, because episode-to-episode, it is very watchable. I would argue that season 2 has more "GREAT" episodes than any other season. It is just held down by some pretty bad ones, whereas as seasons 3 and 4 were pretty good, with almost no clunkers.
Christopher Bennett
6. ChristopherLBennett
Hmm... I've always remembered season 5 as the last great season of TNG before it started to show its age in the last two seasons. Maybe it was the greats like "Darmok" and "The Inner Light" that gave me that impression, and the less memorable ones were just, well, less memorable. Then again, I liked a number of episodes that got low ratings here.
Keith DeCandido
7. krad
Interesting, as I found the sixth season to be overall quite strong -- certainly a lot better than the fifth season, as a whole.

But we'll get there over the course of the next few months. :)

---Keith R.A. DeCandido
Alyssa Tuma
8. AlyssaT
Nobody I talk to seems to agree on 6, so I'm kind of excited for the rewatch to head into this territory.
9. Electone
Good post by jlpsquared. Personally, I enjoy Season 1 (especially the second half) more than 5. This season contained two of TNG's best episodes in The Inner Light and Darmok. A few fun romps, and the rest were turds.

I truly believe that the incredible reduction in the quality of the music was a detriment to the enjoyableness of the episodes. Think back to The Royale. The plot was forgettable, but I will always remember the music as Data, Worf and Riker win at the craps table and walk out of the casino. Thank-you, Ron Jones.

Rating the seasons so far:

1: 7.0
2: 8.0
3: 9.0
4: 7.5
5: 6.5
10. RichF
To Michael Burstein: Sometimes the bad episodes are the ones that are run over and over in syndication. There was a filk song I heard at a convention a few years ago which was about the tendency of someone's local channel to keep running "Spock's Brain".
11. Rootboy
On TNG Season 5 vs. 6, I think mentally fans kind of shunt some of the lousy S5 episodes into S6 and vice-versa. 6 has a lot of strong stuff in it, but also a lot of crap.

TNG Season 7 is just Voyager season 0.
Jack Flynn
12. JackofMidworld
While I was reading the Make It So section, I started picturing Kali because of all the "hands" (actually started off as a marilith but she didn't have enough hands to cover them all LOL)

I have to agree with ChristopherLBennet & Lisamarie. IMO, even most of the lower ranked episodes were at least fun to watch (then add in that during my high school days, there wasn't a lot of other SF to watch on tv, unless you were staying up late to watch Swamp Thing on USA...wow, probably shouldn't have mentioned that, sorta dating myself there, huh?)

Speaking of, remembering a show like this (for me, anyway) is kind of like remembering high school. You totally gloss over getting pegged in the face during dodgeball but that happy glow during graduation seems so much more clear. Rose colored lenses and all that.
Alyssa Tuma
13. AlyssaT
@12 -- Totally hear ya on the rose colored lenses aspect of TNG. For me, another thing that sways my love of this show is the nostalgia factor and where I was in life when I first watched it. I was probably 12 or 13 when I first started being a serious fan, and I was catching the show in reruns around 10 p.m. It was great because my parents went to bed at 10, and they were finally letting me stay up a little later and so I had the whole house to myself and it all felt so magical (plus, who needs the escape world of the 24th century more than a junior high student? oy.).

This same phenomenon is also, I think, why I never got on board with Star Wars. I was way too young for the movies, but my parents were a little old for the movies, so they were never really a part of my life growing up and therefore I don't really get the appeal.

Anyway, this is also why I appreciate LisaMarie's viewpoint. It's nice to hear that this show isn't coming off as totally crappy to those who might be seeing episodes for the first time!!
14. Kirshy
I don't know what most of you people are talking about. I always felt that TNG got better and better with each season. The production values of the show, from sets, to SFX seemed to improve as the show matured. There were great guest stars, James Doohan, and Ronny Cox come to mind.

@jlpsquared, you mentioned that the actors stopped "acting". I disagree. If anything they settled into their characters more, and solidified who they were as a team/crew.

Looking over the episodes coming in the next two seasons, I can see some of my all time favorite episodes are yet to come; Relics, Schisms, Rascals, Chain of Command I and II, Face of the Enemey, Tapestry, Birthrite, Starship Mine, The Chase, Frame of Mind, Second Chances, Timescape, Descent. And there are even a few that are pretty good ones inbetween.

I tend to agree with Lisamarie regarding some of the low scores in this season. Certainly there were some low points, Silicon Avatar being one that comes to mind, but the average episode was pretty darn watchable.

For the most part I've agreed with KRAD when it comes to his reviews of the episodes, so I'm curious what I'll be feeling over the next two seasons of rewatches.
Mike Kelmachter
15. MikeKelm
I think this season stands out more than some of the others because it really did break out of the shows "wheelhouse" on a more regular basis and took on more interesting challenges. Unlike say, season 3, Season 5 was more than just the "sci-fi plot of the week" episodes. We saw some very interesting concepts such as in Darmok, where characters have to learn how to communicate, or Inner Light, where an entire civilization is compressed and experienced. We saw some episodes about ethical conflicts, such as I, Borg, which was successful and Ethics, which was not. We saw the crew have charater development, such as Picard and children in Disaster, Worf with Alexander, Wesley in the First Duty having to decide between his friends and his hero, and Ensign Ro who was our first "non-perfect" character. We also saw some good Sci-Fi epsiodes (well, sometimes weak on the science aspect) with Conundrum, Power Play, Cause and Effect, and Next Phase.

Yes there were some serious clunkers in the season (Silicon Avatar anyone?) and in a different age of television, the Klingon Civil war and Romulan unification might have stretched over more than two episodes, but overall the strength of the season was that we didn't see the exact same show week in and week out.
Lisamarie LiGreci-Newton
16. Lisamarie
Hah, I can relate to the nostalgia thing though. I own the entire series of Full House on DVD...and I still watch it from time to time. Yes, the show is totally cheesy and sugary, I get that ;) I'm certainly not arguing that it's super high quality (or on a level with Star Trek!) - although I actually think some of the earlier seasons (basically before Michelle could talk, haha, and while they still snuck in some 'under the radar' type humor) are a better than people give it credit for.
17. Betsy C
If I had to choose just one season of ST:TNG to have on DVD, this would be my choice. Is it the objectively best? Probably not. But it's so quintessentially TNG for me, in both its good (The Inner Light, Ensign Ro, The First Duty) and its bad (Hero Worship, Silicon Avatar, The Outcast). The balance of episodes feels really good to me: I can watch fantastic episodes that make me laugh, that make me think, that make me cry: it really runs a fantastic spectrum.

When I think about TNG, and what it "feels" like to me, I think of Season 5, which just seems to define the whole series for me.
18. Oldwizard
@14. Kirshy
Thank you very much. I was reading all the comments people were saying about this being the last great season and that it was all downhill from there, and so on and got a bit worried. I think each year the season episodes get better and better and Picard and Data especially get into their stride at this point. "Starship mine" was one of my favorite in season six. (ep.18? I forget the exact number)
"There are... 4 lights...!" I know this episodes is also one of my favorites, but right now I can't remember either season or episode number, nor the title. (So how can it be one of my favorites then!?) :)

"A Fistful of Data's", "Ship in a bottle", "Tapestry", "FRAME OF MIND", "Suspicions", "Second chances", "TIMESCAPE", "Gambit I+II", "Phantasms", "Paralells", "The Pegasus", "Lower decks", "THINE OWN SELF" , "Eye of the beholder", "Bloodlines" and of course "All good things" easily spring to mind as one of the best the show has to offer. Not that the ones not mentioned are bad, just that I feel a connection with the one that are! :)

In my opinon of course. Feel free to have your own opinion, we all react and feel different things. We are all human(oid).
Alyssa Tuma
19. AlyssaT
@16 - BAHAHA! "Before Michelle could talk" -- that is SO TRUE!! Once they started with the "you got it, dude!"... ugh. But I also have a soft spot in my heart for that show (and all of TGIF, sad to say...)

TNG season 3 is obviously my favorite, but I like 2 quite a bit (despite Pulaski and "Shades of Gray") and 4. I didn't find 5 awful. Uneven, yep, but not painful.
20. jlpsquared
@14 and 18,

Obviously we are all entitled to our opinion. That being said, I think there is consensus on Season 7 being pretty close to the worse season. I think there is a real debate about whether the decline began somewhere between the latter half of season 4 all the way to the beginning of season 7. IMHO, there is a very small production decline (music, special effects, etc...) somewhere here in season 5 that stays pretty constant for season 5 and 6.

As I said before, I think the second half of season 6 was among the strongest of the series (not counting music), HOWEVER, the beginning of season 7 really the ship was obviously sinking, the production problems got worse (the producers admitted this also), the acting and the storytelling get very stale. I believe I mentioned this before, but I can barely stand watching Picard and Troi in season 7. Sure there are some gems in season 7, but generally speaking, I find it very hard to watch. I think if you watched any random season 7 episode right before a season 3 episode, the difference is obvious. There is a fun that is lacking in the cast in season 7.

I can respect most opinions, but if you think the cast is better in season 7 than season 3, you have some blinders on.
21. AdamM
Season 7 did have some high points: Parallels, Lower Decks, All Good Things, and especially The Pegasus.

Unfortunately that's all the good stuff I can remember at the moment...it also had the cringeworthy masks episode, the awful de-evolution episode, the awful troi family episode, that horrendous murder mystery where you couldn't tell what was real and what wasn't (and you didn't care), and that silly holodeck train thing that was supposed to be a metaphor for....something. And don't go above warp 5 or the spotted owl will go extinct!
22. AdamM
update to last post: I forgot that the Crusher episode was pretty awesome. So that's 5 winners.

But to counter that, two words: Sub Rosa. Enough said.

I'd probably still rank 7 ahead of 1 simply because the best episodes were better due to the characters being far better developed. Plus, Troi's hair and accent were far improved.
Joseph Newton
23. crzydroid
Having only ever watched the series in reruns, I never paid much attention to which season was which, so I never had any preconceived notions about any particular season being better or worse (other than season 1). In doing the rewatch, and looking at the lineup, I don't think this was the worst season ever. It had some good episodes. I'm kind of surprised to realize that a lot of the episodes I liked that I thought were in later seasons were actually season 3--but that doesn't mean the bad ones all ended up here. I'd also like to point out that I didn't hate a lot of the episodes that were rated lower on here, or in the other seasons. As for rose colored glasses...I think there is definitely some of that effect--and the effect of repeated viewings--as I've noticed some episodes were not as good as I remember...but there are also some episodes that are not as bad as I remember.

Looking forward, I think seasons 6 and 7 have some good episodes mixed in with the not-so-good. Then again, I also never hated "Sub Rosa" like people on here seem to, so we'll have to wait until we get to that one to see how I feel about it now. Even so, I would not say that season 7 of TNG is any worse than season 7 of DS9. There were pretty much no good episodes there, and some really awful ones.

I also really have to take this moment and say: I don't really notice the music. I know it's something people bitch about all the time, but I've never really noticed it getting worse, and honestly, I never really notice that most episodes have any music at all. I mean, I remember some horns playing during "Code of Honor," but I wouldn't say it was exceptionally good or memorable. There was music for Farpoint, but it sucked. Likewise, for Naked Now there was some music trying to impersonate the TOS themes, but came off as bad and contributed to the cheese. There were really only two bits of memorable music for me: In "The Defector" the Klingon theme started playing right before the ships decloaked (or uncloaked, as they called it back then). The other music I really remember is, of course, from "The Best of Both Worlds part I." Now there was some good music.

But I wouldn't say that the music after BoBW was bad...like I said, more like it's not there at all. I mean, I think I noticed a few swells of music before the commercial break in a few episodes, like in "I, Borg" but I wouldn't really say that was "bad."

I totally get how that sort of thing can make the production value seem lower, if noticed: In the first Superman film, there is this fantastic John Williams score, and in Superman II, the music is reduced to reusing bits from the first one, and not always in ways that completely fit...but there were also other things about that movie that made the quality feel lower. In TNG though, I don't know how much good or bad music would matter. No amount of great music could save any of the horrible season 1 episodes. Likewise, I don't feel that "bad" music detracts from any of the good episodes we see later. I feel like the stories pretty much carry themselves--or fail to.
24. jlpsquared

I don't want you to think i am bashing just to bash. Like many here, I grew up with TNG. It was my refuge as a kid from the world. to echo another poster, I also would watch this on Friday nights when everyone else went to bed, and I started watching during season 1, and even then i savored every single minute with these characters. I don't deny that I look at season 1 with rosy colored glasses. and I certainly don't want to deny the same to someone else if a different season had a similar effect.

So with that, by the time season 7 rolled around, 7 years later, I noticed these things that bother me. Music may not mean much to you, but it is everything to me. I am one of those crazies that bought every single minute of that Ron Jones collecters set last year. In my opinion, Rick Berman absolutely destroyed my TNG.I love this show. I will never love another show such as this, it made me as a person. To this day, when I am in a life crisis, I think "what would Picard do?" this isn't my opinion, he actually said "I prefer the music not be noticeable". That is a tragic sentence. So, sure the last few season had great episodes, "the inner light", "tapestry", "Chain of Command", "All good things", but they were good despite the music. that does not save bad episodes. At least in the early years, for me at least, the bad episodes were generally saved by either ron jones (if you didn't know was fired by Rick Berman, for being "too loud") or a not-sucky Dennis McCarthy.

And from a production standpoint, they stated repeatedly in interviews that they had to make do with less every season because the salaries of cast and crew went up, but budget didn't. So in a very real sense, they were spending more in the early years than the later ones.

The ultimate proof of how bad the show is in the 7th season is the episode pegasus. Now, that is a great episode. and whenever people talk about great episodes, that is always in the mix. But here is the problem, it really is great because it is the only relatively great episode from season 7 (aside from AGT). Let's be honest with ourselves that if "the Pegasus" aired in the 3rd season, it would have been above average, not great. OHH, and I just remembered it was one of the few episodes after Jones left that Berman relaxed his anti-music stance a little bit.

My last point I will make is a very personal one. I have always known that the 5th season episode "masterpiece society" is the first time I noticed the "magic" of Star Trek was gone for me. A couple months ago I realized it aired the same day my father (RIP) married my stepmother, who I hated. So I admit, there is some baggage in there for me.
Joseph Newton
25. crzydroid
@jlpsquared 24: Likewise, I don't want you to think I was targeting you specifically about the music thing. A LOT of people mention this, from this board to posts on Amazon (so you've got some company), and I was just letting loose with my explosionary reaction of: Idontgetsthemuzacthing.

But I think I will disagree with you about Pegasus...that is one of my favorite episodes, and I don't think where it falls has any bearing on that. I like it for its own sake. Like I mentioned earlier, I really had no idea what season a lot of these episodes fell in. I also wasn't necessarily judging episodes to what I saw around them, because as I saw them the first (and sometimes second) times, I liked pretty much all of them. So when I liked some episodes better, it was for who knows what reason. Also, I think the notion that we would or wouldn't like an episode as much in a different season is a pretty hard one to test.
26. Electone
To crzydroid: the fact that you don't remember the music in Season 5 is exactly what Berman was trying to accomplish. He didn't fire Ron Jones because he was too loud, he fired him because his music evoked far too much emotion and he wanted the visuals to tell the story, not the sound. Berman is an moron and an idiot. A Ron Jones episode is immediately recognizable and can carry a weak plot, e.g. "The Royale" or enhance an already fantastic episode , e.g. "Q-Who?".
Joseph Newton
27. crzydroid
I'm saying I also don't remember the music from earlier seasons that much, either.
28. wlpaul4
Worth noting about The Perfect Mate: We got to see Famke Janssen and Patrick Stewart together many years before they were Jean Grey and Professor Xavier.
Lisamarie LiGreci-Newton
29. Lisamarie
I also have found the music discussions interesting, as I also don't notice the music (in any season either) - but I understand why it is so important for those who do. Would Star Wars be as popular as it is without the music? I really don't think so - I think the music ended up being a crucial part of the feel of the movies. And I love music in movie soundtracks.

But I guess in TV I just don't register it as much - because like crzydroid, I honestly DON'T remember any of the music from any of the episodes in any season. The only thing that sticks out is the flute theme from Inner Light.
31. jlpsquared

I was trying to find music on youtube to show yo what I was talking about, and this is the closest I could get. But it is Ok, because the 1st scene is from Datalore from season 1, and the last is from Descent from season 7. Notice how in season 1 there were drums and trumpets and JOY to the music, and then watch how in season 7 there is ....music....blah.

And of Course......
Joseph Newton
32. crzydroid
Thanks for the post....but now I just feel that I can disagree in ernest, unless you have other, better examples. I do notice that there is a certain difference tonal quality to the music, but I wouldn't call the music from Descent "bad" or say that the music from Datalore was necessarily "better." I rather liked the Descent music; I think it fit the mood of the scene. Coincidentally, I noticed that it did feature brass instruments as well. I'd have to watch it again, but I thought I noticed a French Horn, which is a really beautiful instrument. I think if there were more examples you might be able to make the case that the music was less emotional in the later seasons...but in the example here, I think the difference in mood reflects the tone of the scenes being played.

As for the second link: I already admitted that the BoBW music was very memorable for me. : ) I actually like the parts right before Picard says, "Inform Admiral Hansen...we have engaged the Borg." and it has all the vocals. Also, the opening scene in the transporter room, and other moments of eerie music, etc.
33. Jarvisimo
29. Lisamarie - just imagine TV Trek with as creative and thematic a tv composer as Bear McCreary or Michael Giacchino, it would have been ... wonderful. Alas, most of the music I can think of from 24th century Trek tv is mostly forgetable! (although I have been interested to see praise for Ron Jones, I think the only piece of his I know is the wonderful score to BoBW, but is that Jones?)
34. Electone
The absolute best compilation of TNG music is the 14 CD set called "The Ron Jones Project". Film Score Monthly released it back in 2010 and I believe it is still available. It is an incredible set.

35. jlpsquared

Well, in my own opinion it is bad. But maybe I should replace bad with repetitive. That low french horn theme is the same theme they use for every episode, for every scene, in the exact same way from season 5 to season 7.

I can't find it on youtube, but I remember being disgusted by the music for "starship mine" from the upcoming season 6. Watch the final action scene from that episode and let me know if you think that was good, matched the scene, or was in any way helpful to the episode at all. then if you still don't believe me, mentally play the wonderful action cues from the season 3 "The Hunted" while the scene plays from "Starhip Mine", and you will see how exciting that episode could have felt.
Alyssa Tuma
36. AlyssaT
I believe in the most recent Star Trek magazine (tribute to TNG's 25th anniversary), there is an interview with Jay Chattaway. He talks about when he was first hired for TNG he prepared this large, emotional, sweeping score (I'm not sure what episode this would have been for) and then was told that he was being too much like Star Wars and pandering to the audience. Basically the whole "we don't want the music to let people know how/what to think." Then he goes on to talk about the challenges of having to create subtle scores that aren't swaying the audience, but are still good. He didn't seem frustrated at all in the interview, but I think it's interesting to note (as numerous others already have) that this was very much a choice of the producers and not the composers. Anyway, count me also as a rube who doesn't typically think about the music (although now that people have given specific episodes and scenes to listen to, I think I'll try harder!). One TV show where the music really stuck with me was probably Twin Peaks. Just totally fresh and eerie and not like anything I had heard before... well, ya know, outside of a David Lynch movie :)
Jenny Thrash
37. Sihaya
I have to admit, I miss the days when series would have a season like this - one that was full of both the best and the worst. I seem to remember that X-files had a year like that, too. Television seemed so experimental, and that randomness was part of what made me tune in. What will the show try today? Will it work?

I think this sort of season is less likely to happen today. For one thing, shows are less likely to take unsolicited submissions, particularly if the writers are unagented. For another, shows concentrate more on arc, and they tend to prefer stories generated to serve that arc. I don't think there's any show anymore that seems like a set of discrete short stories that just happen to share the same characters and setting. Lastly, in 1991 I couldn't shut off my program halfway through viewing and pick something else from my TiVo. Admittedly, I could stop the tape, but I wasn't likely to, especially if my only other choices were whatever was on live TV, and I'd gone to the trouble of setting my VCR.
Joseph Newton
38. crzydroid
@35: I also feel the need to follow up here: I wrote that last comment late before I went to bed last night, and was thinking it may have come off as rude. I DO notice that there is a difference in the style of music from the examples you gave...I guess I just don't feel like the music is bad. I also understand why it's important to you if you feel the music is worse. I understand what you're saying if you feel like it's the same thing too, whereas the old music was original for each episode--kind of what I was saying about the Superman music. I will try to pay attention when Starship Mine comes up and compare the differences to the episodes you mention. This discussion has been helpful though--I think I am understand more what your gripe is; ie, in terms of the tone of the music. A lot of times I would just see people talk about how the music suddenly got worse with no qualification, so I felt compelled to say that I didn't really notice the music all that much.

And I DO agree with Electone that good music enhances an already good episode...I guess I'm just not sold that not as good music would make it bad (just not as good). I'm especially not sold on the idea that really good music could save an awful episode.

A little irrelevant, because they are just songs composed by other people anyway, but I really like the music in "Lessons", ie, the music that the characters are playing. The part where they improvise on Frere Jacques and such is cool, and I feel like I'm at a Star Trek concert or something.

Also, in regards to the link from last night, I thought it was amusing looking at Data from Season 1 vs. Data from Season 6, when this is supposed to be the same unchanging android (and noted that in "Datalore" even Data had some emotion on his face, before he was retconned to have absolutely no emotion). Someone I met once, in referencing some of the later movies, commented, "Is Data programmed to get fatter?"
Keith DeCandido
39. krad
I don't think there's any show anymore that seems like a set of discrete short stories that just happen to share the same characters and setting.

Pretty much every procedural show on the air right now (any of the shows in the NCIS, CSI, and Law & Order franchises, e.g.) fit that model. And there are others as well. Arc-based shows are more common now, but they're not exclusively what's on TV by any means.

---Keith R.A. DeCandido
Jenny Thrash
40. Sihaya
I'd have to disagree, mostly because I don't think that the shows you mention lack arcs that effect the characters' lives. Rather, the plot-of-the-day is less fanciful. In ST:TNG everybody has to be home by dinner, but they can catch a disease, meet a time traveller, or live a whole other life before then. They can experiment wildly, as long as they press the reset button. In CSI and NCIS everybody has to solve the locked room mystery in the middle of the episode - it's during the bookends that we find they've caught a disease, chased down their sister's killer, or thrashed out their daddy issues over the course of the season.

But I can see that we'd be arguing based entirely on the same facts and two different perspectives, to tell the truth, so it's all definitely my opinon rather than fact.

Subscribe to this thread

Receive notification by email when a new comment is added. You must be a registered user to subscribe to threads.
Post a comment