Thursday, October 21, 2010

Star Trek: The Next Generation: The 25 Best

From the Starlog archives and in keeping with the long directory of science fiction lists I am slowly assembling, whether acquired or self-created, I stumbled across another list of interest. I give you The 25 Best Star Trek: The Next Generation [ST:TNG] episodes as chosen by readers of the now defunct Starlog Magazine #195.

The magazine's readers stacked up their personal favorites. The list, however, is sadly incomplete as the voting was based solely on Season One through Season Six [up to and including ST:TNG, Season Six, Episode 15, Tapestry]. The list is missing eleven episodes of Season Six and all of Season Seven. So this is a fairly odd, premature list, but nevertheless an interesting artifact capturing a particular moment in time from a magazine I once loved now put out to pasture.

Here is the rundown, apparently from best to classic.
25. Reunion [Season Four, Episode 7].
24. Brothers [Season Four, Episode 3].
23. A Fistful Of Datas [Season Six, Episode 8].
22. Q-Pid [Season Four, Episode 20].
21. Face Of The Enemy [Season Six, Episode 14].
20. Tapestry [Season Six, Episode 15].
19. Ship In A Bottle [Season Six, Episode 12].
18. The Next Phase [Season Five, Episode 24].
17. The Host [Season Four, Episode 23].
16. Q Who? [Season Two, Episode 16].
15. Remember Me [Season Four, Episode 5].
14. Family [Season Four, Episode 2].
13. The First Duty [Season Five, Episode 19].
12. Rascals [Season Six, Episode 7].
11. Cause And Effect [Season Five, Episode 18].
10. Darmok [Season Five, Episode 2].
9. The Offspring [Season Three, Episode 16].
8. Deja Q [Season Three, Episode 13].
7. The Measure Of A Man [Season Two, Episode 9].
6. Relics [Season Six, Episode 4].
5. I, Borg [Season Five, Episode 23].
4. The Best Of Both Worlds, Part II [Season Four, Episode 1].
3. The Best Of Both Worlds, Part I [Season Three, Episode 26].
2. The Inner Light [Season Five, Episode 25].
1. Yesterday's Enterprise [Season Three, Episode 15].

Cetainly, it is notable there isn't a single showing from Season One. I will note that Season One, Episode 20, Heart Of Glory was indeed my personal favorite from the entirety of that first season followed by Episode 26, The Neutral Zone.

I will have a complete ST:TNG list forthcoming as drawn from all seven seasons. It will be interesting to see which of these episodes fall off the chart as supplanted by the inclusion of the missing Season Six and Season Seven episodes in a full list. One thing is certain, the much maligned actress Denise Crosby escapes with one of the last laughs with the inclusion of Yesterday's Enterprise. Who knew following her ill-fated finale she would return to deliver one of the series' classics?


Will said...

25. Reunion *Excellent Episode. Has a great ending. Worf lays the medieval smack down on Duras and Picard just kinda goes 'well. . .it'll be on your record. . .you know, when you took your uniform off and impaled that bastard with the bat'leth'.*

24. Brothers *Overrated. Written by Rick Berman. . .'nuff said.

23. A Fistful Of Datas *WHAT??????*

22. Q-Pid *A nice little farce. . .hardly a top 25 episode.

21. Face Of The Enemy *A pretty solid episode. . .very DS9 like*

20. Tapestry *This belongs more in the top 5. Legendary episode with Q at his very best.

19. Ship In A Bottle *Who makes these lists????*

18. The Next Phase *Awesome underrated episode. Ro is a cool character and Geordi never gets enough screentime.

17. The Host *Oi*

16. Q Who? *Another Top 5. Q again!*

15. Remember Me *Le0pard13 would be happy. . .as am I. Great episode.

14. Family *The only time TNG tried to be 'serial'. Only Trek episode on an Enterprise not to have a bridge scene. Great ep. Perfect position.

13. The First Duty *Good. . .but no.*

12. Rascals *slaps head with hand*

11. Cause And Effect *Marvelous episode. . .directed by Frakes. Took TNG visually in directions it had never been in before.

10. Darmok *Overrated but Ashley Judd is in it.*

9. The Offspring *Still makes me cry like a small child who stubbed their toe*

8. Deja Q *Hmmm. . .questionable choice here*

7. The Measure Of A Man *Trek in the TOS vein. Good stuff.*

6. Relics *Just because Scotty is in it doesn't mean it's good. Plus Geordi and Scotty beam through shields at the end: the great DEUS EX MACHINA!!!!!

5. I, Borg *Another TOS like story in TNG format. Excellent.*

4. The Best Of Both Worlds, Part II *not as good as part 1. . .not as good as many other eps. The cliffhanger blew it's wad*

3. The Best Of Both Worlds, Part I [Season Three, Episode 26] *agree. A little played. . .but legendary*

2. The Inner Light *Moving episode. Love it.*

1. Yesterday's Enterprise *Once again, played and overplayed again. . .but important to the series. Not my #1 but. . .deserves to be, at least, in the top 10.*

Siskoid said...

I'm mostly with Will on this. A lot of "silly" choices, Q-related and not.

My list would be much different, even without season 7 in the mix (which wasn't the strongest season anyway).

Fan polls are usually like this anyway. Look at how many of these eps have recurring guest-stars/villains for example.

The Sci-Fi Fanatic said...

Thanks both for your input as always. I look forward to coming up with my own. I don't go for much of the silly stuff.

Again, finding I'm not a huge Q fan. I know I'm certainly in the minority there. People generally love the character.

Looking forward to the strongest Q episodes though and Remember Me as reviewed by Leopard13.

Anyway great to get your input. I would love to see Siskoid's list as well because he is clearly a TNG afficionado based on his site.

Thanks again for the terrific rundown Will.

J.D. said...

Good to see "Darmok" ranked so highly. This is one of my all-time faves if only for how Picard has to decode what his alien counterpart is trying to tell him over the course of the ep. And the bittersweet resolution to their conflict is rather poignant too. I like that Picard has to use his brains as much as his brawn, if not more so.

The Sci-Fi Fanatic said...


Your description of Darmok is one of those reasons I love Star Trek. Plus, as Will put it, Ashley Judd is in it. :)

Thanks J.D.

le0pard13 said...

Cause and Effect is another of my favorites (and a great directorial effort by Frakes). Will brought some interesting thoughts in his breakdown. A Fistful of Datas is interesting for its homage to the spaghetti western (and Deanna Troi in leather pants). As usual, there's never any love for The Defector on these lists, unfortunately.

Fine post, SFF. Thanks for this (and the Remember Me mention), my friend.

The Sci-Fi Fanatic said...

Cause And Effect is often cited for its quality. Looking forward to revisiting many of these entries and the ones I've missed.

My pleasure on the mention L13. Can't wait to see that one.

Best to you,

Todd W in NC said...

Considering how dated ST:TNG sometimes seems nowadays, I'm surprised I had to struggle to restrain a growing list of favorite episodes. But, it was my favorite TV show at one time until Babylon 5, DS9, The West Wing, and a few others came along.

I rushed a little on this, so I would possibly change my mind with more time to think about it, but here's my top 25 list, in chronological order but with Top 5 and Top 10 episodes marked...

My Top 25 Favorite Episodes
2.09 "The Measure of a Man" (top 10)
2.16 "Q Who"
3.13 "Deja Q"
3.15 "Yesterday's Enterprise" (top 5)
3.16 "The Offspring"
3.17 "Sins of the Father"
3.22 "The Most Toys"
3.23 "Sarek"
3.26 "The Best of Both Worlds, Part 1" (top 5)
4.01 "The Best of Both Worlds, Part 2" (top 5)
4.02 "Family" (top 10)
4.03 "Brothers"
4.20 "Qpid"
5.02 "Darmok"
5.19 "The First Duty" (top 10)
5.23 "I, Borg"
5.25 "The Inner Light" (top 5)
6.04 "Relics"
6.06 "True Q"
6.10 "Chain of Command, Part 1" (top 10)
6.11 "Chain of Command, Part 2" (top 5)
6.15 "Tapestry"
6.20 "The Chase" (top 10)
7.11 "Parallels"
7.15 "Lower Decks"

10 Honorable Mentions
2.21 "Peak Performance"
3.12 "The High Ground"
4.07 "Reunion"
4.08 "Future Imperfect"
4.12 "The Wounded"
4.21 "The Drumhead"
5.26 "Time's Arrow, Part 1"
6.01 "Time's Arrow, Part 2"
6.18 "Starship Mine"
6.19 "Lessons"

The Sci-Fi Fanatic said...

Another terrific listing Todd!

Your point about the series looking dated is interesting because I think that seems to be the chorus on it today.

With the series coming out on Blu-Ray in 2012 I wonder if they've taken any steps to remedy this a la TOS, but I doubt it.

I will tell you admittedly that, apart from seeing episodes here and there randomly over the years and enjoying the show like some sort of Little House On The Prairie comfort food I have not seen all of it.

I am currently watching it from start to finish. Season One was abysmal overall and it's interesting to note not a single episode from that year is on your list. Heart Of Glory was the only exception for me, but overall it was not a memorable year.

Season Two has not been much better and it's good to see you have two from it that I haven't got to yet.

Q Who interests me most and he has not been a character that really has done anything for me, but it does look good with the Borg being introduced.

So I loved your list and I suspect I will be nearly in line with it when the process has been completed. I felt we were very much in agreement on Babylon 5 on the whole.

Cheers once again for making this stellar and thorough run down.

Regards, sff

Todd W in NC said...

I had almost forgotten how consistently horrible TNG s1 was until I recently compared s1 & s2. I was comparing because recently made a list of the top 10 worst seasons of sci-fi/fantasy TV...

...and they put TNG s2 at #1 worst. I couldn't understand why they didn't pick s1 which has nearly no redeeming qualities. Season 2 at least has the three good ones I already mentioned plus:

- "Elementary, Dear Data"
- "Loud As a Whisper"
- "A Matter of Honor"
- "Time Squared"
- "The Emissary"

...which aren't bad either.

Troi's bee-hive hair-do alone should have earned s1 the dishonor. ;)

It appears you really like lists. Maybe best & worst genre TV seasons would make an interesting topic. :)

Also, if you'd like to vote on a countdown of Best Genre Characters that the Tuning Into Sci-Fi TV podcast is doing, you can find the 20-slot ballot here:

You have until the end of November to submit a ballot, and they're also accepting commentary on characters in the form of voicemails or voice recordings that may be edited into the countdown episodes. I'm not sure yet if it will be a top 100 or top 50 list. But, if you want to check out the episodes of their Top 100 Genre Shows of All Time from last winter and Top 50 Genre Themes of All Time from this fall, they are spread out in this blog thread:

...(or downloadable at iTunes, of course) and discussed throughout this forum:

The Sci-Fi Fanatic said...


I concur. How on earth season1 of sttng wasn't at the top of that list is surprising. 2 wasn't great but as u said at least it had something. Heart of glory is not enough to save season.

I'll check those links todd. Thanks so much.

Ps I. Watched q who on your request and it was very good. Dated but still damn good.