|||[Boldly Going]||| Star Trek: The Next Generation: Season 6 — a review

STTNGS6

I was late joining the TNG bandwagon way back in the day. I believe I’ve mentioned this before. But, by the time Season 6 rolled around, I was caught up on the show, including most of the ones I had missed, and watched every episode as it aired each week. I was a fan.

It may be too early to rank all of the seasons of this series, but that’s not likely to stop me, is it? Seasons 4 and 5 were the high-water mark for the series, in my opinion, but I’d rank Season 6 about the same as Season 3, one tier down on the pyramid. Seasons 1 and 2 are at the bottom of the list, of course, even though there are some memorable episodes even there at the bottom. Since I haven’t rewatched the final season yet, I’m leaving it out of the ranking for the moment. But, if memory serves, we’ve already seen the best total seasons the series has to offer.

Even though 4 and 5 edged out this season, Season 6 does have the distinction of having no episodes that I ranked below a 3 on my 5-star scale. The two episodes which made my All-Time Best Trek list from the season—”Relics,” featuring the return of Montgomery Scott, and “Chain of Command, Parts 1 & 2,” featuring the easy-to-dislike Ronny Cox as Captain Jellico—are among my favorite of all Trek episodes, naturally. However, the highpoints of Seasons 4 and 5 were just a little higher.

This was a good season of Trek. It opens with the conclusion of “Time’s Arrow,” which didn’t make the ATBT list, even though I enjoy this two-parter that includes guest stars Samuel Clemens and Jack London. It’s a good kickoff of the season, and an excellent example of what to expect. The season is highly episodic, of course, and features many individual episodes that would have fit in any season. Many of the episodes have interesting central ideas or premises. I would have preferred more serialized elements.

Picard experiences several events that I prefer to believe added to his character development. He’s tortured by the Cardassians, killed and met in the afterlife by Q, thwarts a group of trilithium thieves on-board the Enterprise alone, solves an ancient genetic mystery uncovered by his archaeological mentor, and falls in love with the head of the stellar cartography department. All good stuff, even if it doesn’t seem to have the aftereffects in future episodes that I would have preferred.

Riker has a couple of episodes centered around him that I liked. In “Frame of Mind” Riker seems to have murdered someone (again) and is being held prisoner in an alien mental institution. In “Second Chances,” we’re introduced to Riker’s clone, Thomas Riker, created in a transporter accident in the days before Riker joined the Enterprise crew.  Thomas Riker later appears in a DS9 episode as well.

Data is central to several episodes. Notably, the western-themed “A Fistful of Datas,” which was fun to watch. He also drives much of the plot of “The Quality of Life,” which aims to hit many of the same notes as “Measure of a Man,” but fails in the attempt. Not a terrible episode; just not a great one. Finally, Data experiences strong emotions in the rousing season finale, “Descent, Part I.”

Other crewmembers are allowed their moments in the spotlights as well. Worf has a Klingon-centric two-parter that was not written by Ronald D. Moore, and it shows. One Worf episode that Moore did have a part in featured the return of Kahless, and was a bit better. Deanna and Beverly each get a lackluster episode. Geordi falls in love again. Barclay gets a couple of outings, the second featuring the return of Professor Moriarty. A couple of Q episodes, and one featuring several members of the crew being turned into children that I didn’t dislike as much as you would think I would.

Serviceable” is a word that ably describes the bulk of this season. The showrunners knew what the series was supposed to look like, and it does. None of these episodes make me mad or disappoint me deeply. Then again, aside from the standouts already mentioned, the rest don’t really move me to cheer, either. Good but not great.

Scoring Season 6 as a whole: 3.5 out of 5 stars.

One season left.

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