I consider myself to be a connoisseur of good sci-fi and wear my nerd rank with pride, I’m a nerd OG. I was a nerd when it wasn’t cool to be a nerd. I hadn’t seen Star Trek TNG since i was a kiddo, yea… that was when it was on TV for the first time, I’m that old. It’s been a little nostalgic watching many of these old episodes and a few of them made an impression on me well enough to be remembered decades later.
Season 1 – Encounter at Farpoint, 80’s Sexism and Passive Racism
The first season is a bit off and suffers from the usual lag of character introductions. This can be a little bit frustrating because if you’re the slightest bit nerdy we all already know who these characters are and what they’re hangups are. The season kicks off with one of the most compelling characters and storylines that ends up carrying several episodes throughout the life of the show. Encounter at Farpoint brings the character Q into the scene but it’s only a one episode thrill and you’ll soon find yourself in the throngs of single episode storylines with barely a hint of an overarching plot to the series we’ve all come to expect form modern television shows. Sadly the episode that stood out the most to me in the entire season was “Code of Honor”. This episode stands out because as you watch it you’ll realize this is the most racist episode of Star Trek ever made. I’ll spare you the details but the main plot is that the Enterprise and it’s crew happen upon a planet of very tribal black people who proceed to kidnap the whitest woman on the ship. I was so shocked and amused at what I was witnessing i actually stopped to google “most racist episode of Star Trek TNG“… first search result… “Code of Honor“, nuff said.
One of the other cultural scars this season makes apparent regards women. Though easy to forget for some of us, Lt. Natasha Yar, played by Denise Crosby is the head of security on the Enterprise. Throughout the first season all the way up until she dies, she’s constantly put into situations that would make her completely unfit for command, which includes banging the android Data, crying, general incompetence and finally death. Never send a woman to do a Klingon’s job.
The episode where she was finally killed off, Skin of Evil, was the episode i remembered most of the first season from my childhood. It wasn’t because of her death. It was because of the bizarre aliens they encounter, how evil it was but mostly how it reminded me of this creature from the movie Creep Show 2. If you know what I’m talking about… you’re a horror guru too. I think both Star Trek TNG and Creep Show 2 were 1987 releases.
Season 2 – The Birth of the Jean Luc Meme
The official birth of the Jean Luc Meme can be disputed but these two seasons you see why it had to be. About the time you slip into the second season of TNG you start to recognise the characters who’ve been carrying the show. Namely Patrick Stewart. Patrick Stewart’s performance as Jean Luc Picard is one of the few and intense pleasures you’re going to get out of the first and second seasons of TNG. There was a moment in the show where I could literally feel the tension and it was Patrick Stewart’s performance that was bringing it. Most of the time you’re staring at the neutral colored “Bridge” of the Enterprise which is eerily silent aside from some spaceship ambiance. Its as if the director just left it all up to Patrick to make some of these scenes happen and man does he do it with style. He definitly portrays a strong leader and that seems odd to me now that i’m way older and he’s still and old man in the show. How did they even decide to cast a senior citizen as the captain? This kinda stands in contrast to Kirk’s young roguish style. I think I’m about to start quoting an argument two characters had on a Family Guy episode or something so I’ll stop.
A buddy of mine told me that Patrick Stewart was studying for Shakespeare and shit when he recorded these episodes and that Patrick Stewart didn’t think the show would be very successful but ended up being a smash. That’s just word on the street though. You can definitely sniff out that high drama in his performances through the first two seasons. As I’m drudging through some of the least popular seasons, I’m seeing why they’re not so popular but getting to see the first appearance of Q and Borg is what’s cool about it. Already knowing what large roles these characters play in coming seasons it’s kinda nice to see how they’re introduced.