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:


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.


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.