Tuesday, July 9, 2013

15 of the Worst Star Trek: TNG Episodes

I think its safe to say that most long-running sci-fi series, no matter how good or revered they may be, feature some pretty abysmal episodes here and there that push the boundaries of disbelief just a bit too far. Sometimes it’s due to terrible costumes, make-up, or special effects. Other times the culprit is bad writing, a ridiculous plot, or poor characterization and acting. Whatever the case may be, rather than generating thought-provoking questions on humanity and our place in the universe like the best sci-fi, all these episodes manage to produce are eye-rolls and facepalms. Here are some of the worst Star Trek: The Next Generation episodes which sadly fit into this category.

S1E3: The Naked Now
TNG barely made it past the pilot episode before producing one of the silliest episodes in its seven season run. Characters we barely even know at this point just start going haywire and behaving in a ridiculous fashion. Overall its an incredibly nonsensical, uncomfortable, and awkward episode that despite all the goofiness also manages to be boring. The only good thing to come from this episode is the now immortal line it has spawned:


S1E5: The Last Outpost
This episode introduces the ferengi who were originally intended to be one of the primary antagonists of the series, but came off as so utterly ridiculous in this episode that they were forever relegated to a comic relief role from here on out. There’s also a chance they may be modeled on anti-Semitic Jewish stereotypes. To give you a taste of just how stupid they are watch this clip (keep in mind this was selected as the best moment from the episode):



S1E8: Justice
Other than being an overly preachy episode about the wrongs of capital punishment, this episode features what may very well be the most absurd costume design in the whole series. I’ll just let these images speak for themselves:





S1E22: Symbiosis
Arguably the most preachy of preachy TNG episodes, this episode is so blatantly anti-drug that I can only assume it was sponsored by Office of National Drug Control Policy. The saddest part is the episode actually begins with an interesting premise before it devolves into this bullshit:


S1E23: Skin of Evil
Tasha Yar was never my favourite character. In fact she may even be my least favourite character. So you’d think that the episode where we finally see the last of her would rank among my favourites, but they manage to botch it entirely. The supposedly deadly threat they face is about as obnoxious and dangerous as a ferengi which makes her death completely absurd, and the final “tearful” goodbye is cringe-inducing. Andrea’s death scene in The Walking Dead might actually be better.

Magic Markers: The deadliest known force in the universe.

S2E2: Where Silence Has Lease
I include this episode for one reason and one reason only, and that’s this creepy ass space god:

NOW, TAKE OFF YOUR PANTS! YES! GOOD!

S2E22: Shades of Gray
The story behind this episode is that there was a writer’s strike going on at the time so to work around this they just slapped together a cheesy clip show loosely held together by some nonsense about Riker having to remember past events in order to combat a virus that feeds on memories or some bullshit like that. There really isn’t anything more to say.

S3E1: Evolution
Wesley Crusher is an annoying, twerpy character who even when he does something wrong is still somehow the perfect golden dream child. This episode best illustrates this principal as Wesley manages to almost destroy the ship, yet still somehow comes off as an all-around swell guy.  He is insufferable.

S3E21: Hollow Pursuits
This episode introduces the recurring character Barclay, the insecure and incompetent engineer. There are probably a fair number of fans who enjoy this character and the episodes that revolve around him, but I personally find him to be intolerable. I normally skip his episodes or stop watching once I realize that I do not enjoy watching him flop about ineffectually for 45 minutes.

Sometimes I get the feeling that I'm just not a very likable character.

S4E17: Night Terrors
One problem I have with TNG is that the female characters tend to be lame, underdeveloped, poorly written, and generally uninteresting. Consequently, the episodes that focus on them often suffer from the same problems. “Night Terrors” is a good example of this issue as Troi tries to solve the crew’s sleeping problems while dealing with a recurring nightmare of her own that only serves to put the audience to sleep. Here’s the “chilling” climax of the episode featuring Troi at her best:



S5E6: The Game
Wesley returns to the Enterprise on a visit from Starfleet Academy to deliver one of the absolute worst episodes of the series. Everyone on board becomes addicted to what is essentially a glorified game of ball in a cup, but with worse special effects. It’s up to (guess who!) Wesley to save the day along with his girlfriend, Ashley Judd. But not really, because Data (who through some contrived reason is out of commission) is immune to the game’s effects so they just reboot him at the last minute and he saves the day easy as dues ex machina. As an added bonus, this episode was the first to air after Gene Roddenberry’s death, so as if everything else wasn’t enough, this also serves as an insult to his memory.


S5E26/S6E1: Time’s Arrow
Every now and then TNG likes to do a dress-up episode (normally involving the holodeck) where characters will visit another time or place and dress accordingly. Normally they’re a bit goofy, kind of fun, and not meant to be taken all that seriously which is fine. But with “Time’s Arrow” they decided to turn it into a season ending two-part cliffhanger episode that really pushed the limits of what I was willing to accept to an extreme. The point where it went way too far was when fucking Mark Twain came back in time with them. If the entire episode had just been this parody it probably would have been better.



S7E14: Sub Rosa
Remember what I said earlier about female characters? Well now it’s Dr. Crusher’s turn for a lame episode and this time it’s about romancing Scottish ghosts! I’m actually just going to leave it at that, because nothing else really needs to be said.

Yes, that is Dr. Crusher getting sexed up by a green phantasm.

S7E19: Genesis
This is another Barclay episode, which is bad enough on its own, but even if he were absent I think this episode would still suck. In it the crew devolve into lesser life forms in a very creepy, and not always logical fashion (for instance, Barclay becomes a spider despite being human, and a wolf-like Worf attempts to mate with an amphibian Troi). It’s a bizarre episode in every respect. Maybe I just don’t get it. As usual, Data is unaffected and saves the day.

KILL ME!!!

S7E20: Journey’s End
This episode is terrible for two reasons. Firstly, there’s the incredibly preachy story about Native Americans who are being kicked off of the planet they moved to which is about as subtle as an elephant riding an atomic bomb. Being that Indians are involved you know that there’s going to be a spirit quest at some point which is where the second reason this episode sucks comes in: it features Wesley Crusher. Once again he has returned, but this time he is inexplicably a moody little bitch until his spirit quest reveals to him that he is in fact a god. At which point he rides off to explore the universe because fuck Wesley Crusher.

My spirit quest is to maintain our cultural stereotype for centuries to come.

14 comments:

  1. Most of these I agree are bad, but you didn't like Time's Arrow? That's one of my favorites! Where Silence has Lease is pretty good, too. I would replace those two with Masks and Rascals. Then you've got a perfect list.

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  2. Beverly talking about the dreams that made her cum was pretty awkward in sub rosa,but love Barclay and night terrors if we can forget the part where cockney alien hybrid troi is floating around for about 20 minutes before she gets around to saying the word "now" to the aliens

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  3. A Fist Full of Datas is the worst TNG episode of all time. Worf dressed up like a cowboy, Deanna is so annoying, and we get to see Brent Spiner's "acting" skills as he fiddles about the ship with a glitch that makes him spit on the floor, holster his tricorder like its a pistol and use words like "reckon" and "vermin" ... it's horrific.

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  4. Yeah, "Masks" was pretty bad and should be added.

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  5. Wait. Where is Code of Honor? That episode was so bad even Jonathan Frakes didn't want it re-aired.

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  6. No argument about dreck like Skin of Evil or Code of Honor or the ones with the comedy Irishmen or the irresistible space pirate...

    My worst is however Unification I and II as the gap between reasonable expectation and what was delivered was so huge.

    This promised us Spock and our first visit to Romulus itself.

    And we got Romulus reduced to what looked like an underground car park plus yet another styrofoam cave, Picard and Data disguised as Romulans (already a ridiculous idea when it was first used in TOS), an abysmal humorous B-plot involving the stealing of Vulcan ships from a orbital junkyard, an utterly ridiculous escape by our heroes, Nimoy and Crosby delivering their lines with all the conviction of I Speak Your Weight machines and a finale involving the thwarted invasion of a planet presumably populated by many millions of Vulcans by just 2,000 Romulans.

    You expect filler standalone episodes to include a lot of garbage but this two-parter you'd have expected them to have made at least some effort writing and producing.

    Real jump the shark territory and surprised it never features in these lists.

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  7. No argument about dreck like Skin of Evil or Code of Honor or the ones with the comedy Irishmen or the irresistible space pirate...

    My worst is however Unification I and II as the gap between reasonable expectation and what was delivered was so huge.

    This promised us Spock and our first visit to Romulus itself.

    And we got Romulus reduced to what looked like an underground car park plus yet another styrofoam cave, Picard and Data disguised as Romulans (already a ridiculous idea when it was first used in TOS), an abysmal humorous B-plot involving the stealing of Vulcan ships from a orbital junkyard, an utterly ridiculous escape by our heroes, Nimoy and Crosby delivering their lines with all the conviction of I Speak Your Weight machines and a finale involving the thwarted invasion of a planet presumably populated by many millions of Vulcans by just 2,000 Romulans.

    You expect filler standalone episodes to include a lot of garbage but this two-parter you'd have expected them to have made at least some effort writing and producing.

    Real jump the shark territory and surprised it never features in these lists.

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  8. oh man, yeah. Code of Honor is missing from the top of this list.

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  9. I really enjoyed The Naked Now, Hollow Pursuits and especially The Game. MIB Data and Batman Wesley will for ever hold a special place in my heart. I find episodes with Barclay in them to be pretty creative and interesting. And Wes is one of my top 5 favorite characters. The rest were pretty bad. Especially skin of evil, what a terrible way to kill off a character. At least she got her proper send off in, Yesterdays Enterprise.
    In all honesty I'm surprised that, Code of Honor, wasnt on hear. It's relitivly forgettable and pretty stupid. Some of the people I watched the series with said it was a little "racist" how the only planet of Black people they find are brutal and backwards. I just thought they were looking to much into it, but I dont know...

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  10. I search this forum after i saw "Night Terrors", im binge watching all TNG and i found it the most ridiculous so far. The plot have promisse but Troi (a psychology expert) not finding meaning in a dream (they repeat 2x) and take so far to relay a message is so bad.

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  11. I agree with the list. When I think of it, many TNG episodes were pretty poor. For me the worst and most despicable episode is "Symbiosis". Written by the DEA and given the Drug Czar's seal of approval I cannot believe Roddenberry let this blatant piece of pro-drug war propaganda script through the door. I wanted to vomit at the speed of light. "Wesley, drugs are bad. They are very, very bad!"

    Too bad we could not have an episode where the Enterprise encounters some regressive planet where tens of thousands of people are killed every year, a significant portion of its population is imprisoned, and billions of dollars are wasted all in a vain effort to stop people from voluntarily putting chemicals into their body. In the episode, Beverly Crusher spikes the planets water supply with a special drug that helps its leaders and deluded population to regain their sanity. The drug war ends. You see, drugs can be beneficial after all.

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  12. CONSPIRACY is the most terrible episode!!!

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