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The Best of Star Trek: The Next Generation

Looking for logic in the DVD Shopping Bag

By Robert T. Trate     May 05, 2009

Best of STNG with Locutus (Patrick Stewart) of Borg
© Trate


Maniacs, we are knee deep in Star Trek for the next two weeks. If you are a Trekkie or a Trekker this is your golden time. Bask in the glory and enjoy the slew of titles hitting the shelves. Last week Star Trek: The Original Series - Season 1 on Blu-ray finally arrived. Next week Star Trek: Original Motion Picture Collection will arrive on Blu-ray featuring the first six Star Trek movies. Not missing a beat Paramount is also releasing two Best of Star Trek DVDs. The first is from the original series and features the following episodes: “The Trouble with Tribbles”, “Amok Time”, “The City on the Edge of Forever” and “Balance of Terror”. I have no problem whatsoever with these four episodes. “Space Seed” had to be number five on this list but these four episodes are the best examples of what Star Trek could do. My problem and utter frustration comes with Paramount’s other release. The Best of Star Trek: The Next Generation is actually only three episodes. Included in this best of are: “The Best of Both Worlds” Part one and two (essentially only one episode), “Measure of a Man”, and “Yesterday’s Enterprise”. Sorry, three of those episodes just don’t cut it.
I have been in the home video industry for over fifteen years. I have seen a lot of collections come out of Paramount for Star Trek and Best of Star Trek’s don’t even scratch the surface. There have been Borg sets, Captain sets, Movie sets and yes even an Alternate Reality set. At first I thought maybe they were just packaged so they weren’t doubling up on episodes from the other sets. Then it hit me. If Paramount is going to slap the words “Best of” on the box those episodes better be the best. That would only be logical, right?
“Best of Both Worlds” is a nail biter. The Borg are coming and nothing can stop them. Captain Picard (Patrick Stewart) is abducted and assimilated and all hope is lost for the crew of the Enterprise. Commander Riker (Jonathan Frakes) throws a Hail Mary and manages to save the day. Is this one of the best Star Trek: The Next Generation episodes? Hardly. The only thing that made the “Best of Both Worlds” fun was the wait. It was the third season finale. The whole summer was spent trying to figure out how it was all going to end. Today we would have known one way or the other, thanks to the internet, if Stewart would have signed on for more seasons. That alone would have dictated Picard’s fate. Part one is also really drawn out. We have seen the Borg before but there is a lot of rehashing of who and what they are. Lt. Commander Shelby (Elizabeth Dennehy) is a great red herring in the episode forcing you to wonder, will she take the second in command position if Picard falls? I always thought she was a Borg spy. It’s a straight up battle and has little to do with the human element. The follow up episode “Family” should really have been part three of “Best of Both Worlds”. Here we actually see the hell Picard went through. That stare out the window at the end of part two was not nearly enough.
“The Measure of Man” from season two might make the list for the simple reason that it is a great courtroom drama and deals with some heavy issues. What are in question are Data’s (Brent Spiner) rights. Picard is to defend Data’s rights and Riker, against his will, is to prosecute. It of course all works out in the end. Best episode? Far from it. The second season really was touch and go and had some of the worst special effects on television. In this episode alone it is obvious that Spiner’s arm is inside the chair. Season 2 also had Wesley Crusher (Wil Wheaton) running free saving the universe and Dr. Katherine Pulaski (Diana Muldaur) on the prowl for Picard.
I will not argue against “Yesterday’s Enterprise”. It is the only one Paramount got right in the set. A great twist ending that had ramifications for the series. Shooter McGavin (Christopher McDonald) as Lt. Richard Castillo could have commanded a series of Star Trek himself. Yet it is the reappearance of Tasha Yar (Denise Crosby) that is real kicker. There are not many episodes from the Next Generation that hold up but this one is a classic.
If I was given the opportunity to create my own Best of Star Trek: The Next Generation, outside of the “Yesterday’s Enterprise”, I would include the following: “The Inner Light” from season 5. Picard lives out an entire lifetime and has the family he never thought possible only to find out that it was nothing but a living memory. This episode was by far some of the best drama and science fiction in the series.
“Tapestry” is the real measure of a man episode in the series. Picard is given the chance to change one moment in his past and then live with the consequences. It is the mandatory Q episode of the season but even John de Lancie plays Q a little different. Was he in fact really Q or was he something else?
For my two-part episode I would choose “Chain of Command”. Like best of “The Best of Both Worlds” part one is a lot of set up. Part two is some of the best Star Trek ever. It’s not about science fiction, time travel or alternate realities. It is about the human condition and what lengths two men will go to to win their battles. Stewart is phenomenal but David Warner is the shining light as his Cardassian interrogator. 
Think I am wrong? Well let me hear it. I want to know what four episodes sum up Star Trek: The Next Generation for you.
American Yakuza ~ Franklyn Ajaye, John Fujioka, Nicky Katt, and Viggo Mortensen
Black Fox Triple Feature ~ Christopher Reeve, Tony Todd, Janet Bailey, and Raoul Trujillo
Bleak House (Special Edition) ~ Anna Maxwell Martin, Denis Lawson, Carey Mulligan, and Gillian Anderson
Bleak House [Blu-ray]
Chandni Chowk to China ~ Akshay Kumar
Geisha Assassin (aka Geisha vs. Ninja) ~ Minami Tsukui
Just Another Love Story ~ Ewa Fröling, Bent Mejding, Flemming Enevold, and Nikolaj Lie Kaas
How It All Went Down ~ Daniella Evangelista, Joe Pascual, Silvio Pollio, and Franco Valenti
Ip Man [Blu-ray] ~ Simon Yam, Fan Siu-Wong, Donnie Yen, and Hiroyuki Ikeuchi
Ivanhoe (1982) ~ James Mason, Anthony Andrews, Sam Neill, and Michael Hordern
The Last Templar ~ Mira Sorvino, Scott Foley, Victor Garber, and Omar Sharif
The Lost Samaritan (Ws) ~ Ian Somerhalder
The Old Curiosity Shop ~ Derek Jacobi, Toby Jones, Sophie Vavasseur, and Gina McKee
Reclaiming the Blade ~ John Rhys-Davies, Viggo Mortensen, Karl Urban, and John Howe
Red Cliff II [Blu-ray] ~ Chang Chen, Zhang Fengyi, Takeshi Kaneshiro, and Tony Leung Chiu-Wai
Taiji Chin Na (YMAA Tai Chi) 2 DVD set ~ Dr. Yang Jwing-Ming, Ramel Rones, and Pascal Plee
Terminal Countdown/Black Ops ~ Lance Henriksen, James Russo, Gary Stretch, and Katherine Randolph
Winter of Frozen Dreams ~ Thora Birch, Keith Carradine, Brendon Sexton III, and Leo Fitzpatrick
Baccano: Volume Three ~ Tyler Walker, Kristin Sutton, Kent Williams, and Mike McFarland
Clannad: Collection 2
Darker Than Black: Volume Four
Ghost Slayers Ayashi, Pt. 2
Gigantor: The Collection, Vol. 1
Gurren Lagann, Pt. 3
Karin: The Complete Series Box Set
Last Exile: The Complete Series Box Set
Wolf's Rain: Anime Legends - Perfect Collection
Heathcliff: The Very Best of Heathcliff
Scooby Doo, Where Are You?: Season One, Vol. 2 - Bump in the Night
Ferris Bueller's Day Off [Blu-ray] ~ Matthew Broderick, Alan Ruck, Mia Sara, and Jeffrey Jones
Grease [Blu-ray] ~ John Travolta, Olivia Newton-John, Stockard Channing, and Jeff Conaway
National Lampoon's Vacation
Criterion Collection
The Curious Case of Benjamin Button [Blu-ray] ~ Brad Pitt, Cate Blanchett, Elias Koteas, and Julia Ormond (Blu-ray - 2009)
The 8th Plague (Special Edition) ~ DJ Perry, Terry Jernigan, Leslie Ann Valenza, and Charles Edwin Powell
Attack of the Giant Leeches ~ Mike Conway
The Beast Collection
The Bone Snatcher ~ Scott Bairstow, Rachel Shelley, Warrick Grier, and Patrick Shai
Breaking Her Will ~ Jackie Stevens
End of the Line/Scarce ~ Steve Warren
From A Place Of Darkness [Blu-ray] ~ John Savage, Travis Schuldt, Bronson Pinchot, and Valery M. Ortiz
Hellbride ~ James Fisher, Rebecca Herod, James Kavaz, and Natalie Milner
The House of the Demon ~ Gabriel McIver, Katrina Ellsworth, and Karina Dominguez
LOOK ~ Rhys Coiro, Hayes MacArthur, Tom Hodges, and Chris Williams
Mum and Dad ~ Perry Benson, Dido Miles, Olga Fedori, and Ainsley Howard
Rise Of The Scarecrows ~ Steven Joseph Adams, Cedric Howard, Jeremy Weiskotten, and Anthony Brown
Scarce ~ Steve Warren, Chris Warrilow, Gary Fischer, and Gavin Peacock
Slaughter ~ Scott Castle, Aaron Grant, J.A. Chittenden, and Chloe De Salis
Twilight [Blu-ray] ~ Kristen Stewart, Robert Pattinson, Billy Burke, and Ashley Greene
Twilight (Ultimate Collector's Set) ( Exclusive) [Blu-ray]
The Curious Case of Benjamin Button (Two-Disc Special Edition) ~ Brad Pitt, Cate Blanchett, Julia Ormond, and Tilda Swinton
The Curious Case of Benjamin Button
Doctor Who: The E-Space Trilogy - Full Circle/State of Decay/Warriors' Gate (Episodes 112-114) ~ Tom Baker
Doctor Who: Battlefield (Episode 156) ~ Sylvester McCoy
Boston Legal: Season Five ~ James Spader, John Larroquette, Christian Clemenson, and Tara Summers
Crusoe: The Complete Series ~ Philip Winchester, Emma Barnett, Sean Bean, and Barbara Bielecka
Dexter: The Complete Second Season [Blu-ray] ~ Michael C. Hall, Julie Benz, Jennifer Carpenter, and Lauren Vélez
The Fall & Rise of Reginald Perrin: The Complete Series ~ Leonard Rossiter, Pauline Yates, John Barron, and Sue Nicholls
Gene Roddenberry's Earth: Final Conflict - Season 1 ~ Von Flores, Richard Chevolleau, Robert Leeshock, and Leni Parker
Jake & The Fatman: Second Season ~ William Conrad, Joe Penny, Alan Campbell, and Jimmy Borge
Mythbusters: Collection 4
October Road - The Complete Second Season
The Charles Dickens Masterworks Collection (Oliver Twist / The Old Curiosity Shop / Bleak House / Little Dorrit / Great Expectations)
TCM Greatest Classic Films Collection: Western Adventures (The Wild Bunch / McCabe & Mrs. Miller / Jeremiah Johnson / The Train Robbers) ~ William Holden, Robert Redford, Warren Beatty, and Julie Christie
TCM Greatest Classic Films Collection: John Wayne Westerns (The Cowboys / Fort Apache / Rio Bravo / The Searchers) ~ John Wayne
TCM Greatest Classic Films Collection: World War II - Battlefront Europe (Kelly's Heroes / Where Eagles Dare / The Dirty Dozen / Battleground) ~ Clint Eastwood, Richard Burton, Lee Marvin, and Van Johnson
TCM Greatest Classic Films Collection: War - Battlefront Asia (Bataan / Back to Bataan / The Green Berets / Destination Tokyo) ~ Robert Taylor, John Wayne, and Cary Gran
TCM Greatest Classic Films Collection: American Musicals (The Band Wagon / Meet Me in St. Louis / Singin' in the Rain / Easter Parade) ~ Fred Astaire, Judy Garland, and Gene Kelly
TCM Greatest Classic Films Collection: Broadway Musicals (Show Boat / Annie Get Your Gun / Kiss Me Kate / Seven Brides for Seven Brothers) ~ Howard Keel, Kathryn Grayson, Betty Hutton, and Jane Powell


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StarlightGuard 5/5/2009 4:39:20 AM

Wait...."Twilight" on Blu-Ray?

What, again?

And more crappy compilation sets? Dam you Paramount! Just release the whole damned series to Blu-Ray and stop milking us.

Do the same for DS9 and Voyager.

And, while I'm not exactly a fan of "Lucasizing," I will say some of the creature FX in Season of Voyager REALLY need it, cause it looks really, really bad. It made Voyager look had a "Sliders" budget.

Just off the top of my head, a few damned good Trek episodes are: 

A Fistfull of Datas - Worf's holodeck program gone wrong -- and I'm not into westerns

Q-Pid (Q takes Vash and Enterprise crew into Robin Hood fantasy)

Relics (It's Scotty!)

Yesterday's Enterprise (it's an alternate timeline with Tasha!)

Unification I and II (It's Spock!)

Elementary, My Dear Data & Ship in a Bottle.....hell Data going up against Moriarity is always fun.

StarlightGuard 5/5/2009 4:46:19 AM

oh yeah, "Rascals" as a sort of honorable mention

Picard, Keiko, Guinan and Ro transformed into children...that was fun

and that whole bit about "young" Picard going I want to see my father! I want to see him now! Now! Now! Now!

the Ferengi takes him off to see Riker, and they start plotting...and then they almost slip up on the Ferengi...thanks Number One! Anytime Jean Luc! He's my Number One Dad! and then the big stupid hug.

redhairs99 5/5/2009 6:34:20 AM

Starlight, couldn't agree more with the Fistfull of Datas, Relic, and the two Holmes episodes.  I know, they aren't Shakespeare but they are well done and most of all damn fun to watch.  I'd add to that list

Times Arrow Parts 1 and 2 - Data is early 20th century San Francisco.

The Royale - Riker and his away team are trapped in a casino which was recreated by aliens from the old Bond book Casino Royale after a lone Earth Astronaut is marooned on the planet.

And I can't remember the epsiode, but I really liked the episode where Worf returns from a batlef tournament and the timeline keeps changing.  Also, the one where the Enterprise is stuck in the timeloop and everyone experiences deja vu but they are really remembering because they've been repeating.  And I also liked the one where Data begins having nightmares and tries to kill Troi.


themovielord 5/5/2009 7:45:26 AM

redhairs, that episode about Worf was "Parallels". Great episode. A friend of mine and I was said that Data has blue eyes in one of the  alternate realities. The Borg winning with Riker and Worf all crazy was awesome in that episode.

zaldar 5/5/2009 2:48:11 PM

I would agree with you about the two borg episodes and i was afraid those were the ones you were going to say were the only ones they got right and i was ready to get up on my soap box about how crazy you were.  Glad to see I didn't have to.  I agree with all the ones you chose, I would have included the data episode as number four simply because of the philisophical ramifications, what are the rights of a man made life form?  Next generation was at its best when it was dealing with heavy philisophical issues and not just entertainment.  I agree that inner light is a wonderful episode.  They did a fan favorite of episodes when the series was ending and that was number three on the list.  (the two borg episodes on this series were numbers 1 and 2).  I always thought it should be number 1.  The best thing about the ones you choose though is that I remember them, most TNG I don't remember those three I do.

StarlightGuard 5/5/2009 5:44:39 PM

I know it may be too early to tell, but Paramount better put Next Gen, DS9 and Voyager on Blu-Ray as well.

Still really don't care for Enterprise.

I've tried watching it several times...tried again today...just can't make it an entire episode....or even half an episode.

djcgmcse 5/6/2009 6:33:41 AM

Don't forget the follow up to "yesterday's enterprise" episode is the two part "Redemption" series.  With Tasha's romulan daughter Sela.  Worf resigns as an officer to go join the Klingon's in their civil war.  Also the great scene with Data getting command of the Starship Sutherland and dealing with that douchebag commander Hobson.  Data disobey's orders and is the one that discovers the Romulan fleet trying to cross the border.  Great stuff!!

also, I love the episode "Cause and Effect".  Something about seeing the Enteprise explode over and over again is fun.  Also we get Kelsey Grammer as the commander of the USS Bozeman. Some great humor in that episode with the card playing.  Although the final resolution wasn't as creative as it could had been.

I like the episode "Disaster" where Troi has to take command and deal with Roe, and Picard is stuck in the turbolift with a bunch of kids.  Worf has to deliver Keiko's baby, which is one of the funniest scenes ever in Star Trek.

"The Pegasus" is pretty cool episode which guest star's Terry O'Quinn.  Find about Commander Riker's early days as an officer.  The Pegagus starship has a cloak/phasing device which is pretty cool.

"Timescape" episode has some great effects in it.  There are pockets of time that are moving at different speeds.  The Enterprise and a Romulan warbird are frozen in time. Scenes of the frozen warpcore breech exploding in time and then moving back in time again.  Picard, Data, Troi, and Georgi have to solve the puzzle.

redhairs99 5/6/2009 7:31:11 AM

"Cause and Effect"  that was the timeloop episode I was trying to think of.

Starlight, have you tried watching episodes from the fourth season of Enterprise?  That's really the only season that's any good.  There's a three episode arc beginning with episode 4 - "Borderland with Brent Spiner as Dr. Soong and his experiments with human augments (super-humans like Kahn). Then another two episode arc, "Affliction" and "Divergence."  Those two episodes deal with Klingons experimenting with the human agument DNA and using it on their own people.  This is two parter is meant to show why they were differences between the Klingons in the TOS and in the movies and beyond.  And, the series finale is kind of interesting.  It's framed up during the TNG episode Pegasus where Riker is trying to decide between family and his duty.  Troi tells Riker to use the Holodeck to recreate the NX-01's final mission in th ehopes that it will help him answer his questions.

Enterprise wasn't very good overall, but they did try some interesting storylines in the 4th season.  It just proved to be too little too late.

StarlightGuard 5/6/2009 11:02:07 AM

yeah redhairs, I know all about the infamous season 4....

when I heard manny coto was being put in charge of it, and he was a true trek fan, then it sounded like redemption may be on the way

but the damage was done...

IF Coto had been put in charge of it from day one, it'd likely be a much different story.....

I actually saw part of those episodes you mentioned the last day or so on Sci-Fi...but I never really stayed on the program, just channel surfing on my way to something else

djcgmcse 5/6/2009 11:38:38 AM

Oh, I almost forgot the great "Darmok" episode. "Darmok and Jalad at Tanagra"! That episode was brilliantly written. Finally some good Trek where the universal translater doesn't do the job.

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