Tomorrow, the Sci Fi Channel, home of Mansquito, is gifting us with a Star Trek: The Next Generation marathon! Below, a quick guide to help you decide when to switch off your fireplace DVD and turn on the tube.
8:00 AM The Arsenal of Freedom
“The name of my ship is the Lollipop.”
“I have no knowledge of that ship.”
“It’s just been commissioned. It’s a good ship.”
Never before has an away team been so needlessly large (or so totally ineffectual)! Never before have they had to pull up a Lieutenant from Engineering to cover the bridge! (He’s not even the highest-ranking officer, as it turns out; favoritism is part of the New Order, I guess.) Plus, Vincent Schiavelli creeps his way through yet another franchise, proving he’s the savviest character actor of them all.
9:00AM Skin of Evil
“I find my thoughts are not for Tasha, but for myself. I keep thinking, how empty it will be without her presence. Did I miss the point?”
“No… no, you didn’t, Data. You got it.”
Subtitles: The One That Made Young Genevieve Cry A Lot, or, more scientifically, The Five-Dollar Oil Monster. Bid farewell to the female security chief, who quit for a career in the movies. We’re still waiting, Denise! Did you break my heart for nothing?
10:00 AM Elementary, Dear Data
“He can be reached at 221b Baker Street!”
Data and the first sentience argument of many sentience arguments this show would tackle. Also marks an early literary romp in the holodeck, where everyone gets to skip around in marginally-historical costumes until the holodeck goes crazy. This was back when it was still a surprise when the holodeck malfunctioned.
11:00 AM Time Squared
“Captain’s personal log, supplemental: I have just witnessed the total destruction of the U.S.S. Enterprise, with the loss of all hands, save one—me.”
Do you remember what special effects looked like in 1989? Well, you will.
12:00 PM Deja Q
“I’m not good in groups. It’s difficult to work in a group when you’re omnipotent.”
Q is stripped of his powers and takes refuge on the Enterprise. Picard acts put out, but you’ll notice he shines his bald spot just for the occasion. The writers also get to upload all their pent-up digs at Worf. Come for Guinan getting her hate on, stay for the mariachi music!
1:00 PM A Matter of Perspective
“I submit he decided to murder Commander Riker!”
In this Rashoman homage, Riker is accused of killing a man, which is fair, since Riker has a beard and that’s TV shorthand for the evil twin. (What? You know it’s true!)
2:00 PM Sarek
“At least I don’t have to find my women on the holodeck!”
Sure, technically this is about Sarek losing his emotional control because of Bendi Syndrome, and his mind-meld with Captain Mary-Sue Picard in order to complete some intergalactic negotiations. However, you know it’s worth tuning in just to see Wesley deliver that dis.
3:00 PM Brothers
“Often-Wrong’s got a broken heart
Can’t even tell his boys apart.”
Data hijacks the ship away from a sick kid (nice!) to and tries to save his ailing creator instead. You either love Brent Spiner or hate him; by the end of this episode, you’ll know.
4:00 PM First Contact
“I can’t find his heart pulse. Hold on, found it.”
“In his digestive tract?”
You know it’s sci-fi when women are demanding sex from Riker. Also, you know, it’s a parable about small-minded government not making allowances for new technology and cultural association. The makeup artists try out some proto-Cardassian prosthetics action.
5:00 PM Galaxy Child
“Sir. Is the appellation ‘Junior’ to be the lifeform’s official name?”
A huge energy being follows the Enterprise around like a duckling. Skip even the Original Series episode that inspired it, and just watch the Futurama episode instead. It’s better, and it only takes twenty minutes.
6:00 PM The Drumhead
“Mr. Worf, villains who twirl their mustaches are easy to spot. Those who clothe themselves in good deeds are well-camouflaged.”
“I think, after yesterday, people will not be so ready to trust her.”
“Maybe, but she, or someone like her, will always be with us—waiting for the right climate in which to flourish. Spreading fear in the name of righteousness. Vigilance, Mr. Worf—that is the price we have to continually pay.”
Skip this one—you already sat through the presidential campaign once.
7:00 PM Ethics
“That Klingon stuff is very important to your father.”
Ron Moore wrote this episode, an exploration of ends-justify-the-means medical treatments. It’s good; plus, you get to see Worf trying not to cry through his makeup.
8:00 PM The Outcast
“What right do you have to punish us? What right do you have to change us? What makes you think you can dictate how people love each other?”
“I congratulate you, Soren. Your decision to admit your perversion makes it much more likely that we can help you.”
Get it? It’s about homosexuality!
9:00 PM and 10:00 PM Birthright I & II
“Data, you are the bird.”
This two-parter is another episode where I always lose it and cry. If you’re going to tune in to this marathon at all, now’s the time to just set aside the two hours for this DS9 crossover about fatherhood, prison camps, and terrible pasta.
11:00 PM Starship Mine
“You keep a saddle on board the Enterprise?”
The Enterprise is emptied for cleaning, but Picard gets trapped inside with some thieves because goes back for his saddle. No, seriously.
You know what? Just turn it off after Birthright. It’s like a Christmas gift you give yourself.