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TO BOLDLY REVIEW #11 – STAR TREK: NEXT GENERATION (1992 – 1993) – SEASON 6

TO BOLDLY REVIEW #11 – STAR TREK: NEXT GENERATION (1992 – 1993) – SEASON 6

Based on Star Trek & Created by: Gene Roddenberry

Season 6 writers (selected): Joe Menosky, Jeri Taylor, Frank Abatemarco, Ronald D. Moore, Jean Louise Matthias, Ronald Wilkerson, Brannon Braga, René Echevarria, Ward Botsford, Diana Dru Botsford, Michael Piller, Allison Hock, Robert Hewitt Wolfe, Naren Shankar, Ronald D. Moore, Morgan Grendel, Ronald Wilkerson, Jean Louise Matthias, James E. Brooks, Michael A. Medlock, etc.

Season 6 directors (selected): Les Landau, Cliff Bole, Winrich Kolbe, Alexander Singer, Robert Weimer, Robert Scheerer, Adam Nimoy, Patrick Stewart, Jonathan Frakes, Gabrielle Beaumont, Dan Curry, James L. Conway, LeVar Burton, etc.

Main Cast: Patrick Stewart, Jonathan Frakes, LeVar Burton, Whoopi Goldberg, Colm Meaney, Michael Dorn, Marina Sirtis, Brent Spiner, Gates McFadden, Michelle Forbes, Majel Barrett, Rosalind Chao, plus guests: David Warner, Olivia D’Abo, John De Lancie, Daniel Davis, Norman Lloyd, Rene Jones, Stephen Hawking, James Doohan, etc.

Music/Composers: Alexander Courage, Jerry Goldsmith, Dennis McCarthy, Ron Jones, Jay Chattaway

Production Company(s): Paramount Television, CBS Television

**** CONTAINS SPOILERS ****



I watch a lot of television drama and comedy shows, as well as films, so I can be quite the critic and hard to please. Too many though to find the time to review every single one on this website. However, over the past couple of years I have ventured into the project of chronologically watching every episode of Star Trek in release order, then reviewing each season. I have now completed the viewing of season six of STAR TREK: THE NEXT GENERATION and can safely say that the quality of the writing, acting, directing and production values remained exceptionally high. Season 6 felt just as fresh watching it now and, while set in the future, it did not feel dated in any way.

One always worries about having fatigue for a particular show that continues for many seasons. Moreover, many television programmes can quickly run out of ideas and “jump the shark” by resorting to desperate concepts, parody or relying on special guest appearances to bolster weak writing. While Star Trek has always represented a robust set of values, ideals and structure, it would be easy for the science fiction to be over-blown and concepts become more bizarre. While some of the episodes in season 6 stretched credulity, on the whole it was another twenty-raft of consistently superb works of television. Indeed, a major strength of this particular episodic show remains the characters. Each of the ensemble gets several opportunities to shine and here I present a mere six of my favourite episodes of season 6. It could easily have been double that!


RELICS – EPISODE 4

Talking of characters, the episode Relics contrived in a highly positive way to bring back Montgomery Scott (James Doohan). Having escaped being trapped in a transporter buffer for some decades, Scottie clashes initially with Geordi (LeVar Burton), before the two inevitably join forces to save the Enterprise. A great episode which conflicts Scott’s experience with La Forge’s youthful exhuberance, highlighting that old age is no barrier to resolving major engineering and life problems.

Star Trek: The Next Generation" Relics (TV Episode 1992) - IMDb

SCHISMS – EPISODE 5

Given the number of physical wars with the well-known foes such as the Klingons and Romulans, this creepy episode did something different with an insidious and hidden alien enemy. The superb script finds Riker, Worf, Troi and Data discombobulated, and sleep deprived as their behaviour on the Enterprise is confused to say the least. When other crew members go missing they begin to piece together the events on the Holodeck, with Schisms overall using suspense and horror to excellent effect.


Year of Trek: Schisms

CHAIN OF COMMAND – PARTS 1 & II – EPISODES 10/11

A fantastic two-parter finds Captain Picard being sent on a covert mission into Cardassian territory. Not only do the episodes introduce an espionage mission, but they also provides excellent character conflict on the Enterprise. This is because Captain Jellicoe, portrayed by the formidable character actor Ronny Cox, takes over the Enterprise and he has a more aggressive style when compared with Picard. Riker especially finds himself clashing with Jellicoe’s more egregious decisions which exert pressure on the crew. Part two of Chain of Command heightens the tension as Picard is captured by the Cardassians and mercilessly tortured. Here Patrick Stewart gives a powerful and emotional performance as a man sent to the edge of darkness by David Warner’s interrogator. Stewart and Warner in a room attempting to outwit each other makes this episode very special television. How many lights do you see?



FRAME OF MIND – EPISODE 21

Frame of Mind is an incredibly clever episode structured around a stage play within the hallucinatory mental breakdown of Will Riker. Opening with Riker rehearsing Dr Crusher’s play called Frame of Mind, and about to go undercover on a secret mission, he suddenly finds himself falling apart mentally in an insane asylum. Cutting back and forth between the asylum, the play and the Enterprise, Jonathan Frakes excels as Riker. He is usually such a cool character, so to find him experience fragility, confusion, anger and depression is an extremely emotional experience for the audience.

6 Things to Know About "Frame of Mind"

SUSPICIONS – EPISODE 22

I was going to choose the episode Second Chances as that has Will Riker finding, following a transporter accident eight years earlier, that he has a duplicate. However, I am such a sucker for whodunnits and Riker features heavily in my prior selection. Moreover, I also I really enjoyed that Suspicions was led by the character of Dr Beverly Crusher, who turns detective after the death of a Ferengi scientist. Structured like a noir detective film, Crusher recounts to Guinan (Whoopi Goldberg) how she is about to be court martialled and lose her career for defying Starfleet regulations. There’s a great (if mildly obvious) twist as Crusher discovers an unlikely killer, with Gates McFadden giving a committed lead performance. Lastly, the episode also introduces the fascinating scientific theory of metaphasic shielding, a technique which returns in the two-parter Descent.

Ex Astris Scientia - Alien Monocultures in Star Trek

TO BOLDLY REVIEW #3 – STAR TREK OST – SEASON 3

TO BOLDLY REVIEW #3 – STAR TREK THE ORIGINAL SERIES – SEASON 3

My voyages on the first Starship Enterprise came to an end after seventy-nine intelligent, crazy, moving, mind-blowing, occasionally silly but always fascinating original series Star Trek episodes. Thus, having recently written reviews on the first and second series I have now completed watching the third series. In tone, the third and final season was probably more serious and I actually found the lack of comedy or parody worked in its favour.

Often maligned by some fans and critics alike for having some of the worst episodes of Star Trek ever filmed, the third season, in my opinion, is actually very good. There are a few episodes, notably Spock’s Brain, that are just ridiculous and some, like Turnabout Intruder and Elaan of Troyius, that are rooted in regressive sexism. Plus, there’s a very familiar formula feeling too with contrived space-set situations echoing episodes from prior seasons. But to be honest I actually like that formula, which is why I still enjoy watching shows such as Quantum Leap, Doctor Who and indeed, Star Trek.

Thus, while formulaic familiarity set in, the budgets were cut and Scotty’s hair was all over the place from episode-to-episode, Season 3 still had some really memorable moments with great monsters, energetic villains, handsome actors and solid science-fiction concepts. Okay, some of the writing was at times lacking the snap, crackle and pop of say Gene L. Coon’s or D.C. Fontana’s scripts but I enjoyed the series very much. Here are six episodes which I feel still stand the test of time in terms of ideas, stories and drama.

**CONTAINS SPOILERS**

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THE ENTERPRISE INCIDENT – SEASON 3 – EPISODE 2

This terrific episode has a brilliant spy versus spy plot as Kirk and crew attempt to steal a Romulan cloaking device. Crosses, double-crosses, fake deaths and conspiracies occur as the Enterprise finds itself at the mercy of Romulan vessels. Spock shows himself adroit at firstly betraying Kirk and then “romancing” the female Romulan Commander. While it doesn’t seem appropriate for his character to act this way it is of course part of a very logical plan. Nimoy’s performance is excellent and he again proves, underneath all that Vulcan make-up, he’s able to portray an emotionless character with much verve and charisma.

SPECTRE OF THE GUN – SEASON 3 – EPISODE 6

One of the over-hang scripts from Gene L. Coon’s reign as executive producer and show-runner successfully melds sci-fi with the Western genre. Kirk, Spock, Chekov and McCoy are transplanted by darned Melkotians into a virtual reality version of the Gunfight at the OK Corral. The only problem is they are all destined to die in the gun fight and must find a way of overcoming historical fate. Despite the contrivances in the narrative, the episode has much to offer thematically on violence and guns; as Kirk must decide between using force or peaceful means with which to overcome his foes.

FOR THE WORLD IS HOLLOW AND I HAVE TOUCHED THE SKY – SEASON 3 – EPISODE 8

Season three had some wonderfully pretentious episode titles and this one was no exception. However, it is a very effective episode that finds the Enterprise attempting to prevent an asteroid from colliding with a Federation planet.  However, the asteroid is not in fact a hurtling lump of space rock but a planet civilisation that provides a home to highly devout religious people. The clash of the Federation rules with the religious group’s rules provides much impetus for the drama. Moreover, the added woe of McCoy discovering he is dying and finding solace in the love for Natira of Yonada, makes this both an intriguing and moving episode.

WHOM GOD’S DESTROY – SEASON 3 – EPISODE 14

The lunatics have literally taken over as memorable villain of the piece, former Fleet Captain Garth, gains control of the insane asylum at Elba II. Using shapeshifting abilities Garth is able to hoodwink Kirk and crew and take them prisoner. It’s a fun episode which finds the seasoned TV actor Steve Ihnat revelling in his role as the maniacal egomaniac Garth. There are lots of twists and turns throughout and the final fight scene involving Kirk fighting “himself” is most memorable as Spock must decide who the real Kirk is or who is Garth in disguise. While it’s quite a theatrical episode set in one location there’s load of fun to be had.

LET THAT BE YOUR LAST BATTLEFIELD – SEASON 3 – EPISODE 15

Arguably the best episode of the season finds two battling humanoid aliens who will stop at nothing to wipe each other off the face of their war-torn planet. Frank Yorshin – who I recognised as The Riddler from the 1960s TV show Batman – portrays Commander Bele as a fanatical zealot. With his special telekinetic powers Bele takes control of the Enterprise and will stop at nothing to take his rival, Lokai, to trial and death. Indeed, Kirk is even forced to set the Enterprise in self-destruct mode to counter Bele. This is thematically a very strong episode as it critiques mindless racism and the senseless path of endless war. It’s also quite bleak at the end as a brilliant montage symbolises the potential destruction of Earth. Okay, so the message could be seen to be broad, and literally black and white, but it remains brave writing given it was released in the 1969 when civil unrest in the USA was rife.

ALL OUR YESTERDAYS – SEASON 3 – EPISODE 23

All Our Yesterdays found Kirk, Spock and McCoy dispersed back in time on endangered planet, Sarpeidon. I guess the ticking time bomb narrative of a dying world had kind of been done to death by now but it did not detract from an entertaining storyline which found Spock and Kirk in different timelines having entered a time portal by mistake. Kirk goes back to a medieval setting and is accused of being a sorcerer; while Spock and Bones are bombed five thousand years back to the ice age. Spock even finds time to fall in love as his genes regress with the age. Sounds silly but as Spock might say, I found it “fascinating.”