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September 28, four weeks tomorrow, will mark the 25th anniversary of Star Trek: The Next Generation, the show that reminded the world that, actually, they actually kind of love Star Trek. While my own personal loyalties in Trek are to Deep Space Nine, I know from firsthand experience that TNG has a lot of fans out there, and gave a lot to the franchise as a whole. So, here’s a simple question: What one episode would you hold up as the best of the series?
Despite my TNG cynicism, I do have a fondness for a lot of the show, especially between the third and sixth seasons, for some inexplicable reason (Well, maybe not entirely inexplicable; the writing took a dramatic leap in quality in the show’s third season, and the seventh season starts to show signs of exhaustion in terms of possible story ideas, although it does have the wonderful “All Good Things”). For me, there’s a run of good stuff between the third and fourth seasons especially, centering around the “Best of Both Worlds” two-parter that remains the series’ high-water mark as far as I’m concerned.
But what about you, dear readers? Are you suckers for any episode where Q appears? What about the Lwaxana Troi stories, or anything that involves a peek within the Klingon Empire? There were all manner of tropes that TNG ended up introducing to Trek, and other familiar ideas (“What does it mean to be… human?”) that it took as far as it could go, and with 178 episodes, that’s not really a surprise; that’s a lot of time to fill, and even with a whole universe of possibilities, you’re going to keep coming back to some things over and over.
(That said, I feel as if TNG kept itself from falling down any rabbit holes the way that Deep Space Nine or Voyager did. Both of those latter shows had favorite concepts that they returned to a little too much for my tastes – Especially Voyager and the Borg – whereas TNG had so many options available that it pretty much kept itself from burning out on any single one of them. Your Mileage, as they say, May Vary, however.)
178 episodes, however, means that there’s a lot to choose from in terms of favorites, and I’m curious to see which stories have your heart. “Yesterday’s Enterprise”? “The Measure of A Man”? “The Inner Light”? “The Game” (No joke, one of my favorites and I couldn’t even begin to explain why; it’s just so goofy that I love it)? Or, God forbid, even something like “Encounter At Farpoint” or “The Naked Now”?
Use the comments, tell all. (And I’m curious: How many of you out there discovered Star Trek through this show?)