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So thanks to Peter, who pointed out that the entire series is now streaming on Netflix, I'm introducing my kids to "Next Gen" for the first time. (They've seen only a few Original Series episodes and none of the movies or anything else.)

They were skeptical going in, but they're quickly warming to the series. (One thing I've noticed is that in comparison to the shows they like to watch, such as "Monk," even good "Next Gen" episodes have comparatively little plot and move comparatively slowly.)

Of course I'm carefully curating which episodes I show them. While my plan is generally to move in rough chronological order, I started out with "Darmok" (season 5), partly for reasons of family history, and also because it's a cool Picard episode, and I wanted to impress them with Picard up front.

Then I went back to "Heart of Glory" (s1) as a way of introducing Klingon culture and expanding on Worf's character, and proceeded to "Elementary, Dear Data" (s2), a good ep for both Data and Geordi, a good holodeck ep, and the necessary introduction to Moriarty, who comes back in the very good "Ship in a Bottle" (s6).

Here is my provisional list of eps I'll probably want to hit, in series order (with brief notes after the eps). I did my best, but some of these I haven't seen since the series was on the air, and I'm probably missing some eps I should have (and could have some here that aren't worth revisiting). Thoughts?

11001001 (Bynars, Minuet)

Heart of Glory (Klingons)

Neutral Zone (20th c culture shock, Romulans)

Elementary, Dear Data (Moriarty)

A Matter of Honor (Riker on Klingon ship)

The Measure of a Man (Data on trial)

Time Squared (Picard from future)

Pen Pals (good Prime Directive ep with Data)

Q Who (introducing the Borg)

The Enemy (Geordi & hostile Romulan)

Deja Q (Q loses powers)

Yesterday's Enterprise (return of Tasha Yar)

Sins of the Father (Start of Klingon saga)

The Best Of Both Worlds 1 & 2

Family (Picard's brother)

Remember Me (Dr Crusher & vanishing crew)

Reunion (Klingon saga)

The Wounded (Cardassian peace treaty episode)

Clues (crew unconscious - mystery ep)

The Mind's Eye (Geordi brainwashed)

Redemption 1 & 2 (Klingon saga)

Darmok

Disaster (Capt Picard w/kids)

Conundrum (crew's memory wiped)

Cause and Effect (Dr Crusher, time loop)

The First Duty (good Wesley ep)

I, Borg (young Borg)

The Next Phase (Geordi & Ro)

The Inner Light (Captain Picard's alternate lifetime)

Time's Arrow 1 & 2 (Data's head time travel ep)

Rascals (crew turned into kids)

Ship in a Bottle (more Moriarty)

Tapestry (Q & Picard)

Starship Mine (Die Hard ep)

Birthright 1 & 2 (Klingon saga)

Rightful Heir (Klingon saga)

Parallels (Worf on changing ship)

Lower Decks (junior officers ep)

Some notes:

I've skipped nearly all of the first season (which I consider basically unwatchable) as well as most of the second season (ditto). The pilot, "Encounter at Farpoint" is important because it establishes Q, but oh well—it sucks. Basically the only Q eps I'm hitting are "Q Who" (introducing the Borg, good ep) and "Deja Q," because Q without his powers is kind of fun. I guess when we get to the end we'll probably watch the finale, "All Good Things…", which is okay — and it will lose something without the "Farpoint" setup, but OH WELL. Actually by the time we hit the 6th and 7th seasons we'll probably watch some more eps indiscriminately, but these are the ones I thought were important.

I realize I'm conspicuously missing the nostalgic Original Series tie-in eps, like "Relics" with Scotty and the Mr. Spock / Sarek eps. Until I show them more Original Series (and I don't have a good way of doing that right now), I'm not sure it's worth hitting those.

On the other hand, "Redemption" (which I have) leads into "Reunification," so maybe I should include the latter too. And both of those stories include Yar's daughter, which is mainly why, even though we won't be revisiting the super-lame "Skin of Evil," we will be seeing "Yesterday's Enterprise" (a very good ep, but missing something without the terrible earlier ep). Also "The Measure of a Man" is on the list, but not the awful "Naked Now" to which it refers ("We were…intimate"). That will be an odd moment. (The whole family is sitting down to these.)

Edited by SDG

“I write because I don’t know what I think until I read what I say.” — Flannery O'Connor

Writing at the new Decent Films | Follow me on Twitter and Facebook

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"Darmok" is my wife's favorite episode. Shaka where the walls fell....

I love Next Generation, I grew up on Next Generation. Where my friend's heroes were sports players or comic book characters my heroes were Picard, Geordi, Worf and Data.

So much of my childhood was shaped by that show. Yes, even the lame episodes. I'd encourage you to allow your kids to watch them too. You might see them through new eyes.

Edited by Justin Hanvey

"The truth is you're the weak, and I'm the tyranny of evil men. But I'm tryin Ringo, I'm tryin real hard to be the shepherd." Pulp Fiction

Justin's Blog twitter Facebook Life Is Story

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I've skipped nearly all of the first season (which I consider basically unwatchable)

A comic book editor I follow on Twitter has been tweeting her reaction to the first season on Netflix. Her closing thoughts? "It was... not good...but Riker has a beard now! On to season 2!" :)

"You know...not EVERY story has to be interesting." -Gibby

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I agree with Justin about the lame episodes. I watched through TNG with my kids (Timothy is 10, Evelyn is 6), skipping only episodes that were mostly based around sensuality, and we're now doing the same with DS9 and Voyager, watching them in airing order. I find that my kids learn just as much (if not more) about engaging intelligently with popular culture when we talk about the lame episodes as when we talk about the good ones. We also read Jammer's reviews of each episode, and the informational section at the bottom of each episode's Memory Alpha entry.

I know, I know, time is precious. But it's not the episode that's the waste of time, it's when you just watch it and move on. And that applies for the good episodes as well as the lame ones.

Incidentally, my kids are now CONSTANTLY talking about the difference between the "A" story of an episode and its "B" story, and the concept has made its way into their daily playtime.

In case you were wondering, my name is spelled "Denes House," but it's pronounced "Throatwobbler Mangrove."
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CrimsonLine wrote:

: . . . we're now doing the same with DS9 and Voyager, watching them in airing order.

You mean, interweaving the two shows, so that you watch an episode of DS9 and then an episode of VOY that aired a few days later? smile.png

Edited by Peter T Chattaway

"Sympathy must precede belligerence. First I must understand the other, as it were, from the inside; then I can critique it from the outside. So many people skip right to the latter." -- Steven D. Greydanus
Now blogging at Patheos.com. I can also still be found at Facebook, Twitter and Flickr. See also my film journal.

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I'm big on the TOS/original crew movies, so I'm kinda dismayed that you're starting 'em off with the TNG, Steven. Then again, TOS wouldn't exactly go over well with those not predisposed to be, um, charitable toward it. But still, Steven, you could have at least shown them WRATH OF KHAN first! :P

And I'd just like to add that there is never a good excuse for subjecting people to VOYAGER. Eesh.

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Despite being raised a pretty hardcore TNG fan, I never saw much of the first three seasons growing up. So, I watched the pilot the other night and...yeesh. Kind of. Somehow, after all these years, I'd managed to avoid learning that my favourite ship and crew had their story launched by engaging with...giant cosmic jellyfish. And yet, despite the many creaky bits, I still got mad chills at the end with Picard's closing line "Let's see what's out there."

And then it was on to "The Naked Now," and I realized that those chills aren't going to be returning any time soon. And my appreciation for BABYLON 5's occasionally cheesy and creaky first season just increased exponentially.

And I'd just like to add that there is never a good excuse for subjecting people to VOYAGER. Eesh.

Preach it.

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Just so you know, SDG, your post yesterday prompted me to show 'Rascals' to my own young'uns. It was their first ST:TNG episode ever, I think.

"Sympathy must precede belligerence. First I must understand the other, as it were, from the inside; then I can critique it from the outside. So many people skip right to the latter." -- Steven D. Greydanus
Now blogging at Patheos.com. I can also still be found at Facebook, Twitter and Flickr. See also my film journal.

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CrimsonLine wrote:

: . . . we're now doing the same with DS9 and Voyager, watching them in airing order.

You mean, interweaving the two shows, so that you watch an episode of DS9 and then an episode of VOY that aired a few days later? smile.png

Exactly. We have been guided by the Star Trek Chronology by the Okudas, but have just passed the end of that book, and will just have to alternate from here on out.

In case you were wondering, my name is spelled "Denes House," but it's pronounced "Throatwobbler Mangrove."
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I'm big on the TOS/original crew movies, so I'm kinda dismayed that you're starting 'em off with the TNG, Steven. Then again, TOS wouldn't exactly go over well with those not predisposed to be, um, charitable toward it.

And that's exactly why (at least in part) we aren't following CrimsonLine's and Justin's preference for watching all the episodes, even the lame ones.

At this point I still don't have total buy-in from my kids on watching "Next Gen" at all. A few years ago I probably could have put on whatever I want and they would have accepted it without complaint, but they're more sophisticated now, and accustomed to a higher quality of programming. (I've brought them up to critically engage lousy movies, but they think of that as a critical exercise, not recreation.)

If I put on "Encounter at Farpoint" tonight, they'd walk away -- or mutiny and say "We want 'Monk'!" Because, you know, "Monk" is consistently pretty awesome. At least, I'm sure there are weaker episodes, but I have yet to come across one (in my limited experience).

But still, Steven, you could have at least shown them WRATH OF KHAN first! tongue.png

As a first introduction? Really? I want to carefully set the stage for Wrath of Khan -- give them a familiarity with the Trek mythos first, including carefully curated OS episodes (once I have some easy way of doing that; I don't own any) -- so that they'll be able to fully appreciate the film's emotional impact.

And I'd just like to add that there is never a good excuse for subjecting people to VOYAGER. Eesh.

Voyager was such a disappointment because it started (I thought) so promisingly -- particularly compared with the slow starts of both Next Gen and DS9, which both took a couple of seasons to warm up. The series premiere is pretty good, and some of the first season episodes are strong (I remember "Eye of the Needle" having an especially fine twist).

Oh, and The Doctor. From his first scene I knew he was a promising character. I love his line reading when he asks for a tricorder, glances at it, and clarifies, "Medical tricorder!"

But yeah, it peters out into utter inconsequentiality and predictability. I recall once foreseeing the entire arc of an episode from the opening shot and a single line of dialogue. Another time we watched an episode that ground through one predictable development after another, and when it was over I recall Suz asking rhetorically, "Were they under the mistaken impression that they had created drama here?"

Just so you know, SDG, your post yesterday prompted me to show 'Rascals' to my own young'uns. It was their first ST:TNG episode ever, I think.

Whoa, really? smile.png Again, an ep I'm looking forward to sharing with my kids -- once they know the characters better, for maximum humor value. But with younger kids, I can see where the opposite approach could be helpful -- seeing the characters as kids first could help them identify with the characters after that.

Phlox:

Thanks for your input. I'll look at some the episodes you suggest, although I suspect we have some significant divergence in sensibilities.

For instance, "Parallels," which you would omit, is one of my favorite episodes. And of all the episode suggestions I gathered from best-of lists, "The Outcast" was the first I eliminated, precisely because of its "delicate treatment of homosexuality." (Interestingly, "Fistful of Datas" appears on a number of worst-of lists, though I don't remember hating it myself.)

Edited by SDG

“I write because I don’t know what I think until I read what I say.” — Flannery O'Connor

Writing at the new Decent Films | Follow me on Twitter and Facebook

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I'm big on the TOS/original crew movies, so I'm kinda dismayed that you're starting 'em off with the TNG, Steven. Then again, TOS wouldn't exactly go over well with those not predisposed to be, um, charitable toward it.

And that's exactly why (at least in part) we aren't following CrimsonLine's and Justin's preference for watching all the episodes, even the lame ones.

At this point I still don't have total buy-in from my kids on watching "Next Gen" at all. A few years ago I probably could have put on whatever I want and they would have accepted it without complaint, but they're more sophisticated now, and accustomed to a higher quality of programming. (I've brought them up to critically engage lousy movies, but they think of that as a critical exercise, not recreation.)

Whereas for my kids, any chance to watch TV with Dad is pretty much the highlight of the day. Weird, weird kids I have. :) Actually, Evelyn (my 6-year-old) doesn't like DS9 as much as she likes Voyager ("the one with the GIRL captain") but my pro-DS9 and anti-Voyager prejudices are rubbing off strongly on my 10-year-old Timothy. My kids, frankly, are talkers. And after watching anything, we talk talk talk about it. And they love the heck out of it. Evelyn will walk away from the TV when she gets bored with DS9, but Timothy would watch televised paint-drying, if I was there with him.

In case you were wondering, my name is spelled "Denes House," but it's pronounced "Throatwobbler Mangrove."
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There's a lot of merit to Voyager, and DS9 as well, and this is spoken as a hardcore Trekkie. Probably the only thing Trek I've ever hated was Star Trek: Nemesis.

Honestly, as a kid, I didn't care about silliness (though as a growing boy there was a reason my Dad never allowed me to watch The Naked Now), and giant space jellyfishes didn't seem lame to me, they seemed magical.

"The truth is you're the weak, and I'm the tyranny of evil men. But I'm tryin Ringo, I'm tryin real hard to be the shepherd." Pulp Fiction

Justin's Blog twitter Facebook Life Is Story

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But still, Steven, you could have at least shown them WRATH OF KHAN first! tongue.png

As a first introduction? Really? I want to carefully set the stage for Wrath of Khan -- give them a familiarity with the Trek mythos first, including carefully curated OS episodes (once I have some easy way of doing that; I don't own any) -- so that they'll be able to fully appreciate the film's emotional impact.

I don't think there's a better gateway drug into Trek than WRATH OF KHAN. It was the first Trek-related thing I ever saw, and I ate it up (and found Spock's death intensely moving, even though I hadn't any experience with the series). My wife had only seen TREK '09 prior to seeing WRATH OF KHAN, and she found it so compelling that she insisted we work our way through the whole cycle of Trek films.

And isn't the OS on Netflix, too?

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I don't think there's a better gateway drug into Trek than WRATH OF KHAN. It was the first Trek-related thing I ever saw, and I ate it up (and found Spock's death intensely moving, even though I hadn't any experience with the series). My wife had only seen TREK '09 prior to seeing WRATH OF KHAN, and she found it so compelling that she insisted we work our way through the whole cycle of Trek films.

Ah, well. I had a different experience, and naturally I prefer mine. :) So that's the template I'll be using for my kids.

And isn't the OS on Netflix, too?

Not streaming, anyway. We might ramp up to discs, if that looks like the best option.

“I write because I don’t know what I think until I read what I say.” — Flannery O'Connor

Writing at the new Decent Films | Follow me on Twitter and Facebook

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Not streaming, anyway. We might ramp up to discs, if that looks like the best option.

I just checked. The OS is definitely available via streaming on Netflix in the USA.

Huh! Thanks for clearing that up. That changes things...

“I write because I don’t know what I think until I read what I say.” — Flannery O'Connor

Writing at the new Decent Films | Follow me on Twitter and Facebook

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SDG wrote:

: Whoa, really? smile.png

Really. :)

: Again, an ep I'm looking forward to sharing with my kids -- once they know the characters better, for maximum humor value. But with younger kids, I can see where the opposite approach could be helpful -- seeing the characters as kids first could help them identify with the characters after that.

Yeah, my daughter liked the bit where Guinan and Ro jump on the bed. :)

My daughter also noticed that the kid version of these characters had different voices than the grown-up version, and that led to a brief discussion of voice changes and the way our voices are affected by the (internal) shape of our bodies.

"Sympathy must precede belligerence. First I must understand the other, as it were, from the inside; then I can critique it from the outside. So many people skip right to the latter." -- Steven D. Greydanus
Now blogging at Patheos.com. I can also still be found at Facebook, Twitter and Flickr. See also my film journal.

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Justin Hanvey wrote:

: Yeah all the series' of Star Trek are on Netflix.

Maybe in the US, but not in Canada, where the keywords "star trek" turn up only The Next Generation and the first ten movies (which is odd, because the eleventh movie *used* to be available, too...).

"Sympathy must precede belligerence. First I must understand the other, as it were, from the inside; then I can critique it from the outside. So many people skip right to the latter." -- Steven D. Greydanus
Now blogging at Patheos.com. I can also still be found at Facebook, Twitter and Flickr. See also my film journal.

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phlox wrote:

: As I recall Rascals had very cute actors but the plot seemed lame--haven’t seen it for years though.

Yes, the Ferengi take over the Enterprise way, *way* too easily. But it's all worth it just to see "Picard" throw that little tantrum.

"Sympathy must precede belligerence. First I must understand the other, as it were, from the inside; then I can critique it from the outside. So many people skip right to the latter." -- Steven D. Greydanus
Now blogging at Patheos.com. I can also still be found at Facebook, Twitter and Flickr. See also my film journal.

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  • 4 months later...

I caught 'The Best of Both Worlds' -- the famous two-part cliffhanger where Picard is assimilated by the Borg -- on the big screen last night. It was preceded by a couple of the new Blu-Ray's bonus features. Fun stuff. A few quick thoughts:

-- Twenty-three years. That's how long it's been since these episodes first aired. I wasn't watching the show at the time, but I can remember a friend of mine telling me all about the cliffhanger that summer. (I was 19 at the time, for whatever that's worth, though I might have turned 20 by the time Part 2 aired, depending on when the 4th season began.)

-- The screening last night stitched the two episodes together so that Riker's order to "fire!" in Part 1 cuts straight to Worf's attempt to do so in Part 2. It's fascinating to see that, in light of the fact that Part 2 hadn't even been *written* -- and the writers had no idea where they were going to take the story -- when Part 1 was filmed. For a split second, I tried to spot any changes in the characters' hairstyles etc. before and after that moment, but it all seemed pretty seamless to me.

-- However, stitching the two episodes together that way *does* rob Part 1 of its climactic cliffhanger ending -- especially if you've just seen a bonus feature in which Seth MacFarlane draws attention to the way the music played over Riker's command *and* the closing credits that followed. Had the last scene of Part 1 and the first scene of Part 2 been envisioned as part of one seamless scene, you just *know* it would have been filmed differently.

-- Why does Data not recognize the metaphorical meaning of "the early bird gets the worm" at the beginning of the episode but congratulate Dr Crusher on her use of the "mosquito" metaphor later on? Data's is a highly selective kind of literalism.

-- In that vein, Data *really* shouldn't waste time explaining that Picard's "sleep" is not a reference to his own feelings of fatigue -- not when Earth is under attack and, y'know, Data needs to tell the Borg to shut down *right now*.

-- Fascinating to see one of these episodes on the *big* screen. We are told that there has been a hull breach in engineering, and that there have been 19 casualties (11 dead and 8 unaccounted for), and we even see Geordi LaForge roll on the floor beneath a closing shield door... but we don't see any actual, y'know, explosions or deaths. Whereas explosions and deaths (and closing shield doors!) have been a staple of Star Trek *movies* going back to at least The Wrath of Khan (which was released in 1982, eight years before this two-part episode). It's an obvious difference in budgetary limitations and production values that somehow isn't quite as stark or noticeable when you treat TV as TV and movies as movies, but when you throw a TV episode onto a movie screen...

-- I love the fact that the Enterprise bridge crew have to explain *to Commander Shelby* -- the Federation's Borg expert -- what "nanites" are. When the big-screen Borg movie First Contact came out six years later, the Borg *themselves* were using nanites, if I recall correctly, to take over people's bodies instantaneously (as opposed to this episode, where the assimilation process seems to be more manual, more visibly mechanical).

Did anybody else catch this last night?

"Sympathy must precede belligerence. First I must understand the other, as it were, from the inside; then I can critique it from the outside. So many people skip right to the latter." -- Steven D. Greydanus
Now blogging at Patheos.com. I can also still be found at Facebook, Twitter and Flickr. See also my film journal.

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I saw it with my son. I thought it was great - the episode itself looked gorgeous remastered. The one three-second bit that wasn't remastered stood out like a sore thumb, and reminded me how good everything else looked. I agree with you about the loss of the cliffhanger, but I don't know what else they could have done given what they had.

I thought the documentary beforehand was great, though I felt it went on and on when I really wanted to see the episode. The gag reel was AWESOME.

One thing that really struck me - my family is watching through DS9 and Voyager now, and we JUST passed Voyager's episodes "Scorpion, Part One and Two," which introduce Seven of Nine. And Seven's costume when fully-Borged is way more complex and interesting than the Borg costumes in these episodes. Every time the Borg appeared, their costumes got more intricate and interesting. And of course, "Scorpion" used Borg costumes from Star Trek: First Contact (though I think Seven's gear was new). The Borg developed visually and as a concept quite a bit.

I liked, in the documentary that preceded the episode, the idea that BOBW was a turning-point for the Picard character - making him more human. I had not thought of it that way before. Of course, BOBW is first and foremost a Riker episode, and Jonathan Frakes shines in it.

In case you were wondering, my name is spelled "Denes House," but it's pronounced "Throatwobbler Mangrove."
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