I started watching Star Trek: The Next Generation over the weekend. By the time the show premiered in 1987, I had already been anticipating it for at least 10 years, ever since the rumors of a Star Trek II TV series (which eventually became Star Trek: the Motion Picture started. It didn’t grab me right off the bat. Far from it. I kept waiting for that one episode I would recognize from the first time I saw it my all-time favorite. I would wait until the third season until there was even a candidate. As a matter of opinion, ST:TNG didn’t “grow balls” until season four when Captain Piracrd was transformed into Locutus of the Borg.

Those first three seasons still had an effect on me. I was out of college by the time the show began. Little did I know, my future wife was in high at the time watching them, too. I’ve seen most of them several times, but I doubt I’ve watched them at all since the mid-90s. I don’t think Tracy has, either. I know for a fact neither of us has watched them since we’ve been married, and that’s been over 17 years. So now we’re committed to watching them then some 30 years after they first aired (which strikes me as odd because the show had been off the air “only” some 20 years when ST;TNG debuted.) Those first 20 seemed a lot longer to me at the time than the last 30 seems to me now.

One thing I was aware of at the time is the number of fans who complained that ST:TNG was “ripping off” TOS. Some stories bore certain similarities, to be sure, but I didn’t consider them to be rip-offs even then. I do remember that, for most episodes, I could pick an original series episode to be “paired with.” I’ll try to make note of those as I go along.

I initially wasn’t going to start a thread for this project but I changed my mind. I’m not going to do plot synopses, however. I expect anyone following this discussion will either a) watch along with me, or b) be familiar enough with the episodes to follow along on his own. Besides, synopses are readily available online. I will be watching the episodes in broadcast (rather than production) order. I’ll start tomorrow.

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THE DAUPHIN: Wesley’s first crush turns out to be a metamorph. The only other time I’ve encountered the word “dauphin” was in Huckleberry Finn (the Duke and the Dauphin). “Dauphin” is a French word for the heir to a throne. The correct title of this episode should have been the female form, dauphine.

PAIR WITH: “The Man Trap.” (I know I’ve already paired “The Man Trap” with “Conspiracy”; maybe someday I’ll go back and try to establish an exact 1:1 correspondence fr the first three seasons.)

I always wondered why the French heir was called the "Dolphin".

CONTAGION: The Enterprise and a Romulan ship are infected with a computer virus. Planetside, Picard, Worf and Data discover a portal whose technology produces gateways to distant places.

PAIR WITH: “All Our Yesterdays”

THE ROYALE: The Enterprise discovers a replica of an early 20th century style hotel and become trapped inside.

PAIR WITH: Because the replica environment was based on an Earth book, I’m tempted to pair it with “A Piece of the Action,” but I’ve already used that one. But because the hotel was created for the benefit of an astronaut, I’m going to go with 2001: A Space Odyssey.

TIME SQUARED: The Enterprise finds a shuttle craft with a disoriented duplicate Captain Picard from six hours in the future inside.

PAIR WITH: “The Alternative Factor”

THE ICARUS FACTOR: A-Plot: Riker is offered his own command; B-plot: it is the 10-year anniversary of Worf’s rite of ascension. Riker’s father is Burke Devlin.

PAIR WITH: Dark Shadows

PEN PALS: A-plot: Data breaks the Prime Directive by revealing himself to an alien little girl; B-plot: Wesley is put in charge of a survey team for the first time. The A-plot is resolved when Pulaski mind-wipes the little girl.

PAIR WITH: Any TOS episode which deals with the Prime directive.

Q-WHO: I’m trying to recall my initial impression of the Borg when I encountered them for the first time nearly 30 years (!) ago. They must not have made too big of an impression on me because I was waiting for “that one episode” I would know immediately was my favorite, and this wasn’t it. Chances are, I thought of this more as the third episode to feature Q rather than the first to feature the Borg. In point of fact, this episode is rather slow moving, and much would be contradictied in future episodes.

PAIR WITH: “The Tenth Planet”

While I liked this episode, I agree that from this one aloe, you might not have guessed how important the Borg were about to become to the program.

Jeff of Earth-J said:

Q-WHO: I’m trying to recall my initial impression of the Borg when I encountered them for the first time nearly 30 years (!) ago. They must not have made too big of an impression on me because I was waiting for “that one episode” I would know immediately was my favorite, and this wasn’t it. Chances are, I thought of this more as the third episode to feature Q rather than the first to feature the Borg. In point of fact, this episode is rather slow moving, and much would be contradictied in future episodes.

PAIR WITH: “The Tenth Planet”

THE SAMARITAN SNARE: A-plot: The Enterprise encounters my favorite one-off race, the Pakleds. B-plot: Picard needs a replacement artificial heart and accompanies Wesley to Starbase 515 for the procedure when Wesley goes to take Starfleet exams. We learn a bit maore about Picard’s past. (Again, I’m looking forward to reading his “autobiography” when I’ve finished re-watching the series.)

PAIR WITH: “Spock’s Brain”

UP THE LONG LADDER: I would title this episode “A Tale of Two Colonies.” These colonists came from Earth but were separated 300 years ago and developed two separate and distinct societies: one based on cloning and one that is stereotypally Irish. Riker might as well be the wolf in a Tex Avery cartoon when he first sets eyes on the “Irish” leader’s daughter. There is so much wrong with this episode I don’t even know where to begin, not the least of which is Riker cold-bloodedly killing two clones made from his and Dr. Pulaski’s stolen DNA. The Enterprise brings these two colonies together, for all the wrong reasons, as if that were a perfect solution and the only option available.

PAIR WITH: “This Side of Paradise”

MANHUNT: The 2nd Lwaxana Troi episode, the 2nd Dixon Hill episode. Humorous but lightweight.

PAIR WITH: “I, Mudd” (the 2nd Harry Mudd episode).

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