Apr 5 2013 3:00pm

Star Trek: The Next Generation: Seventh Season Overview

Star Trek: The Next Generation Seventh Season
Original air dates: September 1993 – May 1994
Executive Producers: Rick Berman & Michael Piller
Co-Executive Producer: Jeri Taylor

Captain’s log: All good things must come to an end (that would make a dandy title...), and while TNG was at the height of its popularity, it was felt that they should go out on a high note. The actors had done seven years in the trenches, the original series had had their last hurrah on the big screen with 1991’s Star Trek VI: The Undiscovered Country, and now it would be the TNG crew’s turn to do a movie every few years, and leave the television landscape to Deep Space Nine and the upcoming Voyager.

The season was written with at least one eye on the fact that it was ending. Family members we hadn’t seen yet were finally shown in La Forge’s parents (“Interface”), Worf’s foster brother (“Homeward”), and Crusher’s grandmother (“Sub Rosa”)—not to mention heretofore-unknown family like Troi’s sister (“Dark Page”) and Data’s mother (“Inheritance”), and nonexistent family like Picard’s not-really-his-son (“Bloodlines”). The Worf/Troi pairing that had been building since “Ethics” finally started to blossom in “Parallels,” “Eye of the Beholder,” “Genesis,” and “All Good Things...” and Picard and Crusher’s sexual tension was at last put front and center in “Attached.”

Plus several recurring characters got their final moment in the sun. Barclay got turned into a spider (“Genesis”), Wes (“Journey’s End”) and Ro (“Preemptive Strike”) both came back long enough to leave forever, and we found out that Alexander will grow up to be James Sloyan (“Firstborn”).

They also toyed with the formula a bit, to varying degrees of success, giving us a good old-fashioned caper story complete with space pirates (the “Gambittwo-parter), a Gothic romance (“Sub Rosa”), a monster movie (“Genesis”), and a look at how the other half lives (“Lower Decks”).

And, of course, the grand finale, as the show came full circle with “All Good Things...

Highest-rated episode: A three-way tie among some of TNG’s finest episodes: “Parallels,” “The Pegasus,” and “Lower Decks,” all earning a 10.

Lowest-rated episode: Another tie, this one between the insulting “Homeward” and the lifeless “Emergence.”

Most comments (as of this writing): Parallels” with 84. Many-worlds theory is fun to talk about!

Fewest comments (as of this writing): A tie between “Gambit, Part I” and “Dark Page,” which only garnered 19 each, the only ones to be under 20.

Favorite Can’t We Just Reverse the Polarity? From “Descent, Part II.” A framistatal thingamabob on the Borg can be converted by total non-engineer Jean-Luc Picard, based on instructions from a blinded La Forge, into a doohickey that can send out a nonsense pulse that will reboot Data’s ethical program without his noticing it. Youbetcha.

Favorite Thank You, Counselor Obvious: From “Parallels.” We get to see Troi wear every outfit she’s worn on the show since the second season started over the course of this episode. (Her two first-season outfits—the miniskirt uniform she wore in “Encounter at Farpoint” and the brown thing she wore for the rest of the season—were left out for some inexplicable reason.) In one of the timelines, she agrees to become Alexander’sSoh-chim, which would make her responsible for Alexander should anything happen to Worf—it makes Troi, in essence, Worf’s step-sister. When Troi points out that that makes Lwaxana Worf’s stepmother, he is taken aback, but then bravely says that it’s a risk he’s willing to take.

Favorite What Happens On The Holodeck, Stays On The Holodeck: From “Phantasms.” Despite having a full-time shrink on the bridge, Data decides to have a session with Sigmund Freud on the holodeck. It’s more of a caricature of Freud than any kind of accurate representation, with simplistic references to Oedipal complexes, constant use of “classic” to define notions that were brand-new when Freud was practicing, and generally portraying Freud as an egotistical schmuck more interested in writing papers than helping patients.

Later, the holodeck is again used for research, as Data’s dream program is hooked up to it, enabling Picard and La Forge to observe the android’s dream. (At no point are there any electric sheep...)

Favorite No Sex, Please, We’re Starfleet: From “Eye of the Beholder.” There’s quite a lot happening sexually in this episode. Kwan and Calloway had a pretty strong relationship, and she’s confused by his suicide (it’s possible she’s also devastated, but Johanna McCloy utterly fails at conveying that). Riker is making the moves on a Lieutenant Corell in Ten-Forward. Worf starts making the first tentative steps toward possibly seeing Troi romantically, which Troi has picked up on enough of to have it influence her hallucination, and she and Worf do the deed. Then, later in the hallucination, Worf and Calloway are smooching. And the whole mishegoss started because of an affair Finn and another guy had when Finn was dating Pierce back on Mars. Wah-hey!

Favorite If I Only Had a Brain... From “Emergence.” Data’s attempts to understand the human condition via acting are still going strong, though his Prospero is a little stilted (his King Hal and Scrooge were far stronger). When the holodeck tries to stop him from depolarizing the nodes by running him over with a cab, he borrows from Superman and stops the car by holding it in place with a single hand, which is actually kind of awesome.

Favorite There is No Honor in Being Pummeled: From “Phantasms.” Worf is not at all happy that Riker has gotten Alexander interested in jazz, which he describes as “screeching, pounding dissonance.”

Worf also, to his regret, agrees to take care of Spot while Data is confined to quarters. Data asks him to feed him, provide him with a sandbox, and talk to him, telling him he’s a pretty cat. In response, Worf glares at Data and says, “I will feed him.” Seeing the expression on Worf’s face, Data agrees that that will be sufficient.

Favorite The Boy!?: From “Journey’s End.” Wes has the worst case of senioritis ever, and he’s not even a senior yet. He finally comes to the realization that a career in Starfleet is what everyone expected of him, but isn’t necessarily what’s right for him. (Given the greatness that the Traveler saw in him way back in “Where No One Has Gone Before,” becoming just another button pusher on a starship seems a bit of a comedown, anyhow...)

Favorite In the Driver’s Seat: From “All Good Things...” In the past, O’Brien takes the conn; he was first seen as a relief conn officer in “Encounter at Farpoint.” In the present, Ensign Gates flies the Enterprise one final time, while the Pasteur’s conn officer is Ensign Chilton, who’s killed during the firefight with the Klingons.

Favorite Welcome Aboard: This season had some seriously high-caliber guests: Eric Pierpoint (“Liaisons”), Madge Sinclair, Ben Vereen (both in “Interface”), Fionnula Flanagan (“Inheritance”), Terry O’Quinn, Michael Mack (both in “The Pegasus”), Paul Sorvino, Brian Markinson (both in “Homeward”), Dan Gauthier, Alexander Enberg (both in “Lower Decks”), Ronnie Claire Edwards (“Thine Own Self”), Richard Poe (“Journey’s End” and “Preemptive Strike”), James Sloyan, and Armin Shimerman (both in “Firstborn”).

A bunch of folks also returned to reprise previous roles one last time on TNG: former regulars Wil Wheaton (“Parallels” and “Journey’s End”), Denise Crosby, and Colm Meaney (both in “All Good Things...”), and past guests Jonathan delArco (“Descent, Part II”), Clyde Kusatsu (“Phantasms” and “All Good Things...”), Majel Barrett (“Dark Page”), Shannon Fill (“Lower Decks”), Dwight Schultz (“Genesis”), Eric Menyuk, Doug Wert (both in “Journey’s End”), Natalia Nogulich (“Journey’s End” and “Preemptive Strike”), Barbara March, Gwynyth Walsh, Brian Bonsall (all in “Firstborn”), Michelle Forbes (“Preemptive Strike”), John deLancie, and Andreas Katsulas (both in “All Good Things...”). Plus, Brent Spiner once again gets to play Lore (“Descent, Part II”) and Noonien Soong (“Inheritance”).

And we had a mess of Robert Knepper moments: Benito Martinez (“Descent, Part II”), Sabrina LeBoeuf (both parts ofGambit”), Kirsten Dunst (“Dark Page”), Penny Johnson-Jerald (“Homeward”), Mark Rolston (“Eye of the Beholder”), and David Huddleston (“Emergence”).

But the grand prize has to go the “Gambittwo-parter, which has Richard Lynch, Robin Curtis, Julie Caitlin Brown, LeBoeuf, Bruce Gray, Cameron Thor, and James Worthy. Yowza.

Favorite I Believe I Said That…: From “Liaisons.” “I have heard that, in moments of diplomatic tension, it is often helpful to find elements of commonality.”

“Ambassador Byleth is demanding, temperamental, and rude!”

“You share all of those qualities in abundance. Perhaps you should try to build on your similarities.”

Data giving Worf some rather on-the-nose advice. Worf is cutting a slab of meat during this conversation, and after it ends, he holds the carving knife up as if ready to use it either a) on Byleth, b) on himself, or c) on Data.

Favorite Trivial Matter:Masks,” which only had one paragraph, and I was hard-pressed to come up with that one...

Make it so: You kinda wish they’d ended it a year sooner. The sixth season was one of TNG’s strongest, while its final year was only not its weakest by virtue of the first season’s growing pains.

It’s obvious that the production staff was overcommitted, and that TNG was getting the short end of the stick. Besides the expected fatigue after so many seasons, you had Deep Space Nine across the metaphorical hall (and DS9’s second season was when it really came into its own), Voyager being developed, and also gearing up for the motion picture Star Trek Generations.

As a result, the season is awash in a sea of missed opportunities, poor execution, and too many episodes that really give the impression that the entire cast and crew had a case of the galloping I-don’t-give-a-damns. It’s especially frustrating because there were a mess of story concepts in this season that could have worked well but were DOA: “Liaisons,” “Interface,” “Inheritance,” “Masks,” “Bloodlines,” “Emergence.” And some episodes you just look at and wonder what the heck they were thinking, from “Sub Rosa,” which seemed to be mostly an exercise in Gates McFadden faking orgasms, to “Genesis,” which may be the single dumbest script in TNG’s history, to “Homeward,” which turned our heroes into murderers.

On the other hand, when they did get it right, they really did nail it. “Parallels,” “The Pegasus,” and “Lower Decks” are three of TNG’s finest, and would belong in a top 30 or so of all of Star Trek. Plus “All Good Things...” was quite the perfect finale for the show, bringing it all ’round again.

And so the TNG Rewatch comes to a close. This has been a delightful experience for me, and I’d like to thank all you wonderful readers who’ve been going on this journey with me, and in particular all the folks who’ve been regularly commenting (you know who you are).

I must also take this opportunity to thank the mighty Chris Lough. With some exceptions, he was the one who picked the pictures for these rewatches, and to say he’s done a superlative job doesn’t come close to giving him enough credit.

The next four Tuesday-and-Friday slots will be taken up with looks at the four TNG movies. I, along with various other folks, will take a gander at Star Trek Generations (Tuesday the 9th), Star Trek: First Contact (that one will be me, on Friday the 12th), Star Trek Insurrection (Tuesday the 16th), and Star Trek Nemesis (Friday the 19th).

After that, the plan is to kick in on Tuesday the 23rd of April with “Emissary,” thus launching the DS9 Rewatch. I hope you’ll all come with me.


Warp factor rating for the season: 6

Keith R.A. DeCandido has written a whole mess of books and you should go out and buy all of them right now. Yes, you, too. You know you want to.

Michael Burstein
1. mabfan
It's been a pleasure to join you on this journey.

-- Michael A. Burstein
2. CounselorDeannaTroi#1Fan
This season and season 6 were my favorites. I felt that the characters had become fully developed by this point and the actors were much more believable in their roles than they were in the beginning.

I also like the fact they were beginning to give Beverly and Deanna more active roles in the show and showed them in stronger authority positions.

This was the season that was nominated for the Emmy Award for best dramatic series.

I thought back then, and I still think to this day, that they ended the series a year too early. Its popularity and audience were at its highest levels yet and there is no reason to believe that it wouldn't have continued becoming more popular were the series to continue.

Usually, TV shows end when there is a noticeable decline in viewership or when advertisers begin pulling out. So I thought it would have made sense to continue building an audience and waiting to make the films until later.
Alan Courchene
3. Majicou
I'm down for another seven years. The DeCandido is of Bajor.
4. sypher
As much as i fondly remember this season, it was definitely weaker. But, i still loved it. and as you said in season 2, any season with such strong episodes can't really be that bad.

It's been a great trip down memory lane.
Justin Cogan
5. TheBar1
I've really enjoyed reading you're re-caps, Keith. Hope you might be able to give the sdame treatment to DS9 next!
Margot Virzana
6. LuvURphleb
It has been a pleasure enjoying TNG all over again in such fine detail. Thank you, KRAD. I look forward to the DS9 Rewatch, so much that i have starting watching the series again though a tad early. (Love that Netflixs has them all streaming)
Still love Picard and his damn sexy nose.
7. Jeno
Even though I've never commented, I've been reading these re-caps religiously every week since you started. Thanks for everything.
I can't wait till you start DS9.
Mahesh Banavar
8. maheshkb
One of my favourite TV shows.

Thanks a lot for the reviews, Keith; and thanks to everyone for the discussions. Although I was usually a couple of days late to read the posts, I did read them all. :)

Looking forward to the movies next.

Also, from as much as I have seen, I have not liked DS9 much.
So now a task for you all... Convert me!
9. JimW
Although I came late to the TNG Rewatch, I have eagerly looked forward to Tuesdays and Fridays ever since. Thanks for the hardwork and effort, it has been thoroughly enjoyable. I can't wait for the DS9 Rewatch.
10. Ashcom
Huge thanks for the time and effort you put into these KRAD. It's a shame I only caught up during the final season (but enjoyed reading them as I went along for the previous seasons). However, I am already way ahead of you on rewatching DS9 so look forward to joining in from the start. (Now, where did I put the movie DVDs?)
Dante Hopkins
11. DanteHopkins
I loved the seventh season. At this point I was watching both TNG and DS9 as the episodes were first airing, and felt this season, as said in the second comment, the cast and characters had fully come into their own and were fleshed out, and it really came across from the actors. They had become a true ensemble cast. I also felt that TNG should have ran one more season, and (one more time in this rewatch:) ) couldn't disagree with you more that maybe they should have ended a year earlier. This was a great season that closed out this great series very properly.

And now, on to Bajor.
Jay Hash
I will of course be there! I just wish there was an early warning system that I could set up to see when they were posted (as if your Facebok posts & Tweets weren't enough...)

Good Jorb, Keith! Onward!
13. Scott M MacDonald
I've never commented either - but I wanted to take a moment and thank you. It's been fun reliving a terrific show.

Other Alias
14. ghostcrab311
I have only commented a few times, life is just so busy, but I wanted to chime in here at the end and express my appreciation for this series - it has been a grand stroll down memory lane. I have been hoping that DS9 would be next (imo, the best trek), so I will definitely be following along. Maybe even tossing out a few more comments! :D
15. Codefox
I've commented only rarely but I've read them all. I'd thank you for doing this but then, you're being paid to do this and I'd love to be paid to do this! 8) But you did a great job doing it, so thank you for keeping me entertained. I can't wait to see what you'll review next.

And thank you for getting me to rewatch all of TNG. I grew up watching it with my dad and never watched it since other than an episode here or there. Just remember something I read once when Trek was in its prime:

"Even when Trek is bad, its still good." (Voyager hadn't come out yet...zing!)
Christopher Bennett
16. ChristopherLBennett
All I can think of to say is, wow, those photos remind me of how great Deanna looked in season 7. That hairstyle really flattered her, and she looked very good in blue.
Christopher Johnstone
17. CPJ
Hi. I haven't commented at all so far, but I wanted to say I've read all your posts (and many comments) and really enjoyed the journey.

18. Lsana
My thought on this season as we've been going through the recaps is the old, "When it was good, it was very, very good. When it was bad, it was horrid." I don't know if I would have wanted it to end a season early, but maybe half a season? Keep the good stuff, but get rid of the episodes where it felt like they were just marking time until the finale.

I do sort of wonder what this season might have been like if they hadn't known it was going to be the last. A number of the episodes I didn't like were ones where it felt like they were saying, "Oh, we haven't wrapped up storyline X yet, we should do so." The season might have been better if those had been replaced with more conventional episodes. On the other hand, there's no excuse for Sub Rosa.

All in all, I think I'm glad it ended when it did. There might have been a few more stories there, but it would have been all too easy for it to turn into one of those franchise zombies where you look up ten years later and say, "Oh, is that still on?" and all the good episodes are buried under the dozens from the later seasons no one wants to watch.
19. CounselorDeannaTroi#1Fan
One loose end that was never tied up was whatever happened to Dr. Pulaski. We never heard from her again after season 2 and I thought maybe they should have brought her back for one episode since she was an integral part of the crew for a significant period of time.

I did not care for her character and didn't feel she had much chemistry with the other characters but it would have been interesting to see whatever became of her.
j p
20. sps49
Thank you for doing such a good job with TNG; you have combined quality with frequent and regular post! I'm looking forward to the next series.
21. AndrewV
You've done a fabulous job, KRAD. I'm anxious to see your impressions on the movies and DS9.
Carl Freire
22. ohpopshop
Thanks much for all your efforts, Keith! It's been a great rewatch--even when I don't agree with your opinions to one degree or another (the LaForge-Leah thing leaps instantly to mind--you're simply overthinking round 1, though I entirely agree that the implications of what happened that nonetheless and incontestably are there were poorly followed up on in round 2 and thereafter in that miniarc) it's always been stimulating and interesting (and yes, "Darmok" is simply great! Anyone who doesn't think so has never lived in a country where their native language is not the, umm, native language ;-). Whether you do it or someone else does, I'm looking forward to the DS9 rewatch. I'm planning to do a private rewatch of my own of Space:1999 (season 1) on my irregularly updated blog one of these days (warning to anyone who thinks they may want to seek it out someday--I've been doing some rewatching without notetaking or writing, but I already know 'twill be the song sung in the key of disappointment) and the general tone and approach you've taken are excellent reminders of how this kind of thing should be approached and written up. Well done.
23. Erik Dercf
Qapla! IwlIj jachjaj.
24. Hammy
It was a great read. I came into it when you were on season 3 and had to catch up which was a delight. Just as in your written Star Trek work I have read, you made me laugh, you made me cry lol. No, but you did superb work and I can't wait to start the DS9 (as it's my favorite Star Trek show) rewatch with you and everyone else. I'll attempt to comment more on that one, get in on the good convos I've read throughout this rewatch.
Bart Leake
25. JonnywiththeTemper
Its been a great run. Thanks so much for doing this for everyone's enjoyment. You can count on me sticking around for the DS9 run, for sure!
26. CNash
Well done on completing your TNG rewatch, Keith - I was always playing catchup on it and so could not post regular comments, but I always enjoyed reading both the rewatch and comments threads. I look forward to rewatching DS9 along with you!
27. MvComedy
My take on this season is that it really wasn't that bad, it's just that when people think of it what immediately comes to mind are the low points - Sub Rosa, Genesis, Masks, and maybe one or two others. I'll take the high points from this season, along with the fair to better-than-average episodes, over the more mediocre seasons like 4 or 5 (which of course have their high points as well). That said, I'm glad that the series did not go on beyond seven seasons, this was a good stopping point and it allowed the series to end as a classic rather than be remembered as a show that was good at one point but just went on too long for it's own good.

Enjoyed the rewatch and can't wait for DS9!
David Corless
28. phonos
Thanks Keith for doing this rewatch! I have never been a huge fan of TNG, but it has been interesting going through the series like this with someone as knowledgable as yourself. I can remember despising DS9 when it came out so it will be interesting to see if my point of view will change - particularly since so many trek people seem to rate it so highly.

BTW - is there anyone following this from Australia? I found it uncanny how channel 11 has been showing this almost in sync with the re-watch, and just started showing DS9 when the DS9 rewatch was announced. There must be a fan in the scheduling department...
Joseph Newton
29. crzydroid
I think the first half of this season is pretty good. I enjoy "Phantasms," for example. I also have fond memories of "Gambit" as it was a part of my Trek conversion, and there are episodes like "Parallels" in there. But I think after "Masks" is where it just takes a huge dip. I'm also glad it didn't try to go on after this much as we want more of the things we like, I think it's better if show's end on a high note. "All Good Things..." is probably an appropriate title to end a well-loved show.
Shelly wb
30. shellywb
Every time I saw one of your Star Trek posts my day got a little bit better. Thanks!

I'm interested in your DS9 rewatch. We only got a few episodes when it originally showed in before we dropped it, and finally this year my husband and I decided to work our way through it since we were so starved for ST. Sadly, we're almost done with season 4 and still don't really care about the characters or their stories, except Worf. I'm hoping your rewatch will make it come to life for us.
adam miller
31. adamjmil

Thanks so much for the rewatch, it was a fun journey, and very interesting to view TNG through a modern lens - in which television has evolved considerably.

I was 10 years old when TNG started and 17 when it ended, so I basically grew up with cast and crew of Ent-D. So even though DS9 is probably a better show (the upcoming rewatch will be telling one way or the other), TNG will always be special to me.
32. J. Frahm
Wow, what and awesome ride. Thanks for your effort, well done. I for one am really looking forward to DS9.
Jack Flynn
33. JackofMidworld
This has been a fine ride, and I'm looking foward to staying on for the next leg of the trip!
34. Electone
My congratualtions on a wonderful rewatch. It was a journey I joined a little late, but I still stop by to comment on episodes that were originally watched long ago. I often don't agree with the final ratings as I tend to lean towards the first three or four seasons as TNG's best.

Season 7 was pretty awful and I'd rate it dead last for quality. The show just became too damn comfortable. "Captain Picard Day"? Please.

Some thoughts: Season 3 is TNG's strongest. Season 2, my favourite. The show took a drastic turn for mediocrity starting with Season 5. The second half of Season 1 is very good and has two of my favourite episodes: 11001001 and Conspiracy. The firing of Ron Jones as one of the composers and the decision to "dumb down" the show's music was a huge mistake (thanks, Berman).

I probably won't follow the DS9 rewatch as I really disliked that show, but I'm looking forward to the movie reviews, especially Nemesis.
Chin Bawambi
35. bawambi
“screeching, pounding dissonance.” I don't know if we got into it for the episode (might have been while I was behind in my reading) but I always thought this was a shoutout to Klingon opera and yet another of Worf's endearing blind spots. And to the above poster who thinks Keith was too harsh on Geordi/Leah - I have a slightly different take on it - I can't stand that Geordi never gets to develop as a character while everyone else's favorite geek Barclay gets to move past his difficulties. Oh well on to DS9 - awesome job Keith!
Lisamarie LiGreci-Newton
36. Lisamarie
Thanks so much Keith...I'm so excited that we found this when we started our own watch of the series. It was fun getting to discuss all the episodes my first time watching most of them. Thanks for allt he hard work!
Rowan Blaze
37. rowanblaze
Once again, I'm a little late to the party (chalk it up to a week's vacation). Thank you, Keith, for running this ReWatch. I discovered it a few episodes into the first season I think. It's hard to be sure, since I went back and read them all. But it's hard to believe it's been about two years already. I haven't always agreed with you, but that's part of the fun. All good things must indeed come to an end, but we have so much to look forward to, as well. I can't wait. :)
38. Zabeus
Count me in as someone who's just been lurking but wants to send my appreciation to Keith and for this TNG rewatch. Since stumbling upon Tor while Googling for information on “The Nth Degree”, the rewatch has been a bright spot in my internet life, and I've since read back through every one of the articles. (and started following Tor's watches of other shows like The Walking Dead) I don't always agree with Keith's comments (for example Geordi x Leah) but generally agree with the scores, and find the writing entertaining. I'm really looking forward to DS9 despite not being a fan of that show. In fact, I enjoyed the rewatches most where you reviewed the real stinkers. So you can imagine how much I'm looking forward to "Move Along Home" for all the wrong reasons.
See you then!

(It's probably weird but I want to thank the regular commenters too, especially ChristopherLBennett. I didn't feel the need to comment because one of you would usually say what was on my mind.)
Rob Rater
39. Quasarmodo
I enjoyed this re-watch so much! Thanks for everything, Keith! Don't know how long I'll follow the DS9 re-watch, as that show hasn't clicked for me yet through 2.5 seasons. I'm really hoping Worf's arrival helps out (though judging from shellywb's comments above, it won't).
40. KatC
I discovered this re-watch only a couple of months ago, and wasn't able to catch up until now, a couple of weeks late - but I did want to thank you for the great job you did writing/hosting this, and also say how much I really have enjoyed the discussions, too. It's so refreshing to look forward to reading the comments online for a change! On a personal note as well, it's been a terrible time for me health-wise, and escaping into this re-watch has gotten me through many, many a miserable hour. Grateful, and looking forward to DS9!
41. zarzak
Thanks for writing this - I've followed for years (watching in fits and spurts), and after every episode I made sure to read the associated post. Its been a fun ride. :)

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