Sunday, March 11, 2012
Blog #11: TNG Seasons 3,4 & 5
This was originally posted on my 'Random Nerdness' blog before I created my 'Trek1701' blog, so I wanted to include this blog in my Trek blog.
Season 3: This is perhaps in my opinion the best season of Star Trek: The Next Generation. This was the season when they came out of the shadow of the Original series and became their own Trek. I think this was in huge part due to behind the scenes creative changes. Roddenberry stepped back due to health issues and Rick Berman took over. He brought on board the creative talents of Micheal Piller and Ron Moore, who would later go on the produce the 'new' Battlestar Galactica. Season 3 saw the beginning of the 'cold war' between the Federation and the Romulan Empire. The Romulans were present in 3 of the seasons best episodes, 'The Enemy', 'The Defector' and 'Tin Man'. They introduced new costumes and fixed up the set in certain areas to make the show look a little better. Season 3 saw the return of Dr Beverly Crusher and the apparent departure of Dr Pulaski. apparently the producers and actress Diane Mulder were not happy with the character and what she added to the second season so Dr Crusher was brought back. Season 3 also saw the return of Lt Tasha Yar in the brilliant episode 'Yesterdays Enterprise' which saw an alternate time line form after the Enterprise-C travels 22 years into the present future. 'Yesterdays Enterprise' is without a doubt one of the best Trek franchise episodes of all time. Patrick Stewart and Whoopi Goldberg in particular were amazing in that episode. TNG made a direct connection with the original series when Spock's father, Ambassador Sarek, made a great guest appearance in the episode 'Sarek'. Data created a 'daughter' android in a very moving episode 'The Offspring'. Finally Wesley Crusher was made a full Ensign. Despite most fans misgivings with the character of Wesley Crusher, I really liked him. I was just a 10 year old kid watching the 3rd season and I really could identify with the character of Wesley Crusher. This season we also got to see for the first time the Klingon home world and the inner workings of the Klingon High Council, and we discover that Worf has a brother in Commander Kern (played by Tony Todd). Now finally we get to the high point of this season, perhaps the best episode of Star Trek ever produced: Best Of Both Worlds Part I. The seemingly invincible Borg have sent a cube/ship to Federation space to 'assimilate' the Federations people and technology, to make them part of their 'Collective'. The season ends with an epic confrontation between the Enterprise and the Borg with Picard being captured and 'assimilated' becoming the voice for the Borg, also known as 'Locutus'. The season ends with Commander Riker ordering the Enterprise to fire on the Borg ship which will seemingly both destroy the Borg and the Enterprise too... BEST CLIFFHANGER EVER!!! Picard is now a villain, Riker has to destroy his friend and Captain... very cool shit. this marked the first Trek cliffhanger as part 2 would not air until later that year in the fall as the first episode of the 4th season. It made for a very long summer...
Season 4: After a long summers wait we finally got to see the fall out in part 2 of 'Best Of Both Worlds'. Or should I say lack of fallout. don't get me wrong I liked part 2 but everything wrapped up too soon and there was little change following the end of the season premiere. Riker was promoted to Captain of the Enterprise for 40 minutes but had to step down when they rescued Picard. The events of Wolf 359 would have lasting effects in the Trek universe but the whole Borg invasion was wrapped up too soon and too easily. TNG never really attempted to create long lasting significant story arcs, like they did on DS9, and the Borg invasion should have stretched out for several episodes instead of wrapping up in just one episode. But that being said season 4 was still a great season. Not much changed this season except for the fact that Wil Wheaton left the series, Wesley Crusher finally got to go to Starfleet Academy. they did some good episodes this season too, and the Romulan cold war continued to build leading into the season finale where Worf resigned his Starfleet Commission to fight in the Klingon Civil War, which was being engineered by the Duras family with help from the romulans. But the shocking conclusion to the season was the reveal that the Romulan causing all the trouble was the daughter of Tasha Yar, Commander Sela, who was the product of the alternate time line Tasha from the 3rd season episode 'Yesterdays Enterprise'. Sela too was portrayed by Denise Crosby. I had heard the reason she left the show initially in the 1st season was to pursue a film career, which it seems didn't work out so well for her. Maybe that's why she kept returning to the show despite her character being dead. The focus on season 4 was 'Family' and we got to meet several members of the enterprise crew's family, including Worf's son Alexander. It is amazing how Klingons, who are partly human, can age so fast! Alexander would have been born during the 3rd season yet at the beginningof the 4th season he appears to be a 4-5 year old child. Maybe they age in dog years? TNG also surpassed the original series this season by reaching episode 80, TOS only made 79 episodes. Both Jonathan Frakes and Patrick Stewart got to direct episodes this season, with Frakes directing one of the best TNG episodes 'The Drumhead'.
Season 5: Again TNG wrapped up the Klingon Civil War story quickly in the season premiere. It would have been cool to see this be an extended multi-episode storyline too. This was a great season again with several memorable episodes including the 2 part episode 'Unification', which featured the return and death of Sarek and the guest appearance of Leonard Nimoy as 'Ambassador Spock'. The Unification 2-parter seemed to mark the end to the Romulan Cold war story thread. Michelle Forbes joined the series as 'Ensign Ro' for several episodes. The season ends with another cliffhanger featuring TNG's first time travel story. Behind the scenes TNG creator Gene Roddenberry passed away. Despite my criticism of Roddenberry he did create this franchise and without him there may have never been anything like this on Television. The loss of Roddenberry was a very sad time indeed and he will never be forgotten.