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Star Trek: The Next Generation - Encounter at Farpoint

episode 1.1

USA 1987
produced by
Edward K. Milkis, Gene Roddenberry (executive), Rick Berman (supervising), Robert H. Justman (supervising) for Paramount/CBS
directed by Corey Allen
starring Patrick Stewart, Jonathan Frakes, LeVar Burton, Denise Crosby, Michael Dorn, Gates McFadden, Marina Sirtis, Brent Spiner, Wil Wheaton, John de Lancie, Michael Bell, DeForest Kelley, Colm Meaney, Cary-Hiroyuki Tagawa, Timothy Dang, David Erskine, Evelyn Guerrero, Chuck Hicks, Jimmy Ortega
screenplay by D.C. Fontana, Gene Roddenberry, created by Gene Roddenberry, music by Dennis McCarthy, special effects by Industrial Light & Magic (ILM)

TV-series
Star Trek: The Next Generation, Q, Star Trek

review by
Mike Haberfelner



Captain Picard (Patrick Stewart) has just taken over command of the new and improved but not yet fully staffed starship Enterprise and is expected to reach a trade deal with the inhabitants of Farpoint, who have developed some technology the Federation wants to get their hands on. But Picard's first officer Riker (Jonathan Frakes) is quick to spot something's not quite right on Farpoint, and when pressing local officiao Zorn (Michael Bell) about it, he gets nothing but feeble excuses and unconvincing evasions, making him, along with the Enterprise's android Data (Brent Spiner) to dig deeper and deeper - also quite literally, since they soon find out the secret of Farpoint also has to do with the tunnles of the main city ...

Meanwhile on the Enterprise, Picard and crew have to face a whole different problem: Q (John de Lancie), an all-powerful being who believes the humans are an inferior species for their readiness for war and destruction and decides to toy with them - namely Picard and crew - to make them show their war-mongering tendencies and thus being able to destroy them as punishment for their "sins". But Picard's morals are impeccable, which eventually even Q has to admit. But then a whole other threat emerges, a weird spaceship about four times the size of the Enterprise that poses an imminent threat but without being able to communicate. Thus Riker and Data are beamed over, and io and behold, the corridors of that ship resemble the tunnles between Farpoint City to a t - which for some reason can only be one thing, the strange spaceship and the creature living beneath Farpoint City are actually living beings living in outer space, and the one has come to fetch the other - who has been kept captive by the people of Farpoint who wanted to profit from the new technology it brought. And of course, Picard and crew do the right thing and free the alien beneath Farpoint City to reunite it with its partner, and they both drift off to outer space then ...

DeForest Kelly from Classic Star Trek has a small role as his character from back then, Bones McCoy, but his role isn't at all worked into the plot, unfortunately.

 

In later years, Star Trek: The Next Generation has really come into its own, which is actually quite a feat, given the popularity of the original Star Trek, and its very rigid fanbase ... but Encounter at Farpoint really isn't a good precursor of things to come: It's badly written, veering off into too many directions all at once, it wastes its main villain Q (soon deservedly becoming the go-to villain of not only this series but also making guest appearances on Deep Space 9 and Voyager) in a mere battle of words with Picard's insistance on the goodness of humankind being slightly pathetic, the plot about the outer space aliens fails to impress let alone convince, and worst of all, the entire cast pretty much lacks any chemistry. So actually, a really rather bad pilot, probably only saved by the fact that it had been what fans had been waiting for for too long for it to fail, and fortunately, over the years, the show improved on every level quite considerably, especially in terms of chemistry, resulting in a successful seven season run, with a few motion pictures to follow.

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review © by Mike Haberfelner

 

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written by
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