Scott's Top 10 Star Trek: TNG Episodes

In honor of Star Trek The Next Generation’s 25th anniversary and their Blu Ray release, I have decided to list my top 10 episodes of TNG.  I want to preface that I did this by memory and not by combing over list of episodes.   As all things here, I did it by my heart:

  1. All Good Things… - It may seem a little strange to pick the final episode as the best episode, but I truly believe this is the best episode.  90% of all long running shows botch their final episode.  Mostly because the fans want so much from that final experience that it is impossible to deliver.  Here Brannon Braga and Ronald D Moore crush it.  They tie the beginning to the end in an amazing circle.  They show us a future that may or may not exist, they bring back our favorite characters and they have a final scene that is perfection.  I have to say I never realized that Picard never played poker with them, when he entered the room, I cried.  This is not only the best episode of TNG; I submit it is the best series finale of any show.
  2. Best of Both Worlds part 1 - This episode is the season finale for all shows to be judged on.  That final score and final shot as the camera pans around Riker’s face is what I will look to forever in judging a true cliff hanger.   But you have to look past the excitement of the Borg and see what the B plot is to truly understand why this ranks #2.  The storyline of Riker staying put as first officer or moving on, is a great sub plot.  The scenes with Riker and Shelby are what sell it.  Also, when Picard gives Riker a dressing down about staying put, you feel for everyone.  Then there is the scene with Guinan and Picard.  When Picard says that possibly humanity was just a brief moment in history: Turn the Page.  I got goose bumps.  This episode was when TNG finally shoved its fist down everyone’s mouth who said the original show was better.
  3. Cause and Effect – When TNG played with time, it was always done with the care and respect displayed inthe  Back To The Future movies.  They were so careful to be sure that they followed every rule.  Here they set up a story of living the same time frame over and over.  Bill Murray can suck it, this episode rocks.  I get annoyed when I see the same scenes over in a movie that plays with time.  Mostly because they are showing us the EXACT same scene.  In Cause and Effect, it’s the differences that stand out.  The Poker game scenes aren’t just used as a crutch for the writers; it is the crux of the episode.  Kudos to Beverly for getting to take a front seat.
  4. Sins Of The Father - Worf is an awesome character.  I really wonder how this episode got past Rick Berman.  To me, Rick was the most scared producer in television history.  He was afraid to take any chances that would change the long term arc of the characters.  I always imagined that he had a sign over his desk that said: SAVE IT FOR THE MOVIES.  In this episode, they took it to Worf and he was so much better for it.  You kept waiting for everything to be fine, and it wasn’t.  Therefore it makes everyone's list of great episodes.  When the Klingon's turn their backs on Worf, the audience gives him their hearts for life.
  5. Lower Decks – There is no bigger joke in all of Star Trek (besides Shatner’s hair) then the ensign in the red shirt dies.  Even TNG would kill an ensign in the opening teaser just to make it all fee dangerous.  Here they spend 43 minutes developing a group of ensigns.  When one dies, you feel it.  They took a 20 year old joke, and make you pay for every death they ever did offhandedly.  The writing on TNG is amazing.  The staff could do anything and here they really crafted a beautiful story.
  6. Data’s Day – I know, kill me, here I am at #6 before I get to a Data episode.  The reason I pick this one is because of all the characters.  This is a Sci-fi show and they spend an hour with only character.  This was the episode that made me a fan of Ronald D Moore.  I often times see glimmers of this episode throughout Battle Star Galactica.  He knows how to write these small moments between two characters that we love.  I could watch this episode a million times because it is like pulling up a bar stool at Cheers, and hanging out with my friends.  Who would have thought watching Worf buy a wedding present would be television gold?  Ronald Moore.
  7. Déjà Q – I feel like the Robin Hood episode gets the fame, but to me there is no better comic episode than this.  The end scene when Q pops in and Data laughs is as iconic to me as when Kramer says, “I’m Out of the contest.”  I have watched the scene where Data laughs a million times.  Gene Roddenberry was brilliant in having Data have no emotions; his lack of feelings causes us to have nothing but feelings for him.  Beyond the comedy, this episode really is a showcase of corporate  team work.  I have had to work with a group of co-workers that all out ranked me and I have always wanted to say, “Ok, people, here is what we are going to be doing.”  John Delancie should have won a guest star Emmy for this episode.
  8. Half A life – This was not an episode that I loved when the show aired, but when I got the Dvds, I was very moved by it.  I think Lwaxana Troi can be hit or miss in her episodes but this one was right on.  The idea of putting our elderly out to pasture is a great Star Trek concept to ponder on.  It puts our society’s idea of the elderly in a great metaphor.  I don’t want to get old and be a burden to my family, no one does.   This is again a very moving episode done within the back drop of science fiction and isn’t that what trek is all about?
  9. The Perfect Mate – Come on, this is just made for the nerd boy in all of us.  An extremely hot woman who can be anything we want?  We have all dreamed about this idea.  The writers took the sensational and add that bit of Picard that changes it all.  Knowing that she has bonded with Picard for life but because she has; she knows duty is the most important thing to live up to.  This is why we love Picard.  The very characteristic that we love him for crushes him.  Great Story and lots of fun.  I love when she growls at Worf.
  10. Tapestry – This is the least comical Q episode and I do not pick it because of Q.  I pick it because I love the leadership aspect of Picard.  In this episode it explores a topic we all wonder about.  What if I took my experience back with me to when I was young?  Well if we did, we would probably not take the dumb chances that we did.  My only wish for this episode was that it was a 2 part-er.  I would have liked to have seen Picard as an ensign for awhile longer.  I also love alternate stories and when he comes to the future, I would have loved to have seen him interact with our cast for another episode.  My guess is Berman didn’t want to risk carrying over something to another episode and losing viewers.  I am telling you I blame Rick for alot.  But that will be another blog I suppose.

There it is, argue with me, but I want you to know that I do not like The Inner Light, so it will never make my list.  It is too dumb that Picard would think he lived 70 years away and would still remember the access codes to the Enterprise.  So don’t be giving me that episode as missing from my list.  I hate that episode.

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