This year marks the 25th anniversary of the premiere of Star Trek-The Next Generation, As part of my celebreation, I present an article I wrote some time ago about the worst episode of Next Generation. Next week I will discuss the episodes I loved.

Which is really the worst Star Trek-The Next Generation episode?In my previous blog about the worst of Star Trek, I pointed how a famously bad episode, “Spock’s Brain”, in fact may not be the very worst episode after all. Not to say it was good, because it wasn’t, but there are worst.

Now I wanted to shift focus on Next Gen. Many people consider “Shades of Gray” the worst episode ever. For those who may not know, this was a clip-show which ended the 2nd season. Don’t get me wrong, it’s bad. However, there are worst episodes and to prove my point, I am going to list seven episodes, one from each season, which I think are actually worst, or at least just as bad, as this show. One quick comment, why would someone do a clip show after just two seasons? Anyway, on to the list and remember this is just opinion. Feel free to disagree.

Season 1, “Skin of Evil”. This is a hard choice because most of the episodes of this season are sub-par. However, I chose this episode because of the cold way that it deals with the death of character Tasha Yar. I realize the creators weren’t thrilled Denise Crosby wanted to leave, but to give her such a meaningless death was just cruel. Thank goodness they made up for it in “Yesterday’s Enterprise”. The alien was also silly, an oil slick? Really? There were many other horrible shows including Code of Honor. In fact it’s almost remarkable the show made it out of the 1st season!

Season 2, “The Outrageous Okona”. This is a cringe worthy episode if ever there was one. The main story involves an annoying character, Okona, being chased through space by two jilted lovers. It feels more like a silly sitcom script. The B story has Data learning about comedy from, Joe Piscopo? Clearly affected by the writer’s strike that year, this episode is just a dud. This was also tough, I considered “Up the Long Ladder” but that episode is intentionally silly, and has a few good moments.

Season 3, “Captain’s Holiday.” Ok, this was a tough choice. I liked pretty much every episode from this season, and to be fair there was no stand-out awful episode including this one. However, this is one that comes close. Picard goes on a vacation and meets a girl. Yippee! The writer conceded that the point of this episode was to get the good captain some “action”, which is fine but a story we could care about would have been nice. And to not have most of the regular cast, even someone like Beverly Crusher, in the majority of it? Fail!

Season 4, “In Theory”. This episode has one simple problem. It’s boring! I guess the idea of giving Data a real girlfriend seemed appealing, but it just isn’t interesting. The scenes seem forced and the B story also isn’t very interesting. This is the first episode Patrick Stewart directed which may be the source of the problems. I know people will think I should have noted “Identity Crisis”, but I never hated that episode (though I didn’t love it either).

Season 5, “The Outcast”.  At its best, Star Trek delves into the human condition by exploring some issue with a very interesting story. At its worst, Star Trek takes an issue and beats you over the head with it. On top of that, the story is boring. That’s this episode. I get the idea, delve into the discrimination felt by homosexuals and that’s fine. But they beat you to death with it, and the story is just dull and Riker is out of character. I mean, did we really need to have him heartbroken at the end of the episode? By the way, “Perfect Mate” was a close second.

Season 6, “Aquiel”. I don’t think there is too much disagreement on this episode. Set up as a whodunit, this script is just weak. The mystery isn’t interesting; Geordi has no chemistry with the girl he is supposed to be falling for, and the most predictable of endings. If you can’t guess how the episode ends then you’re not paying attention. (psst, it’s the dog!)

I had to mention one other from this season. “Lessons”-This show had Picard falling for a woman on hiscrew. When she is almost killed on an away mission, he realizes howinappropriate his relationship with her is. Oh, and one other thing. THISEPISODE IS THE MOST BORING THING EVER!!!! Actually, any episode about Picardgetting lucky is pretty dull. “Captain’s Holiday” was stupid, and “Perfect Mate”felt like it belonged on some other show. This was the worst though, utterlyboring and stupid. The worst part is the obvious nitpick of the episode,Picard needs to learn that he can’thave a relationship with someone under his command? We know that was the point,the title is Lessons! He didn’t know that already???  Sure! I honestly don’t know if I have satthrough this whole episode, if I did it has been wiped from my memory.

Ah, season 7. I could have made this list “the worst episodes of season 7” except thatit would have been too long. With all the attention being made to DS9 and the upcoming movie (which sucked), the scripts for this season were rushed and mostly forgettable. So which was the worst? I know most people will think “Genesis” but that is like “Spock’s Brain”, an episode so silly you have to watch it just to laugh at it. So what wins….

Season 7, “Sub Rosa”. Mother mercy I hated this episode. I’ve only sat through it once, so I can’t get into the plot without copying it from a book. Bottom line, Beverly Crusher is possessed by a ghost who makes her fall in love with him. Or so she thinks. God awful is being kind for this one. There’s actually a whole controversy behind this episode, but that’s a story for another place.I hated this episode so much I have never sat through it since the first time it aired. And that is remarkable. Horrible, horrible, horrible.!

The worst thing is that this episode began a string of second rate episodes. After this we had “Lower Decks”, “Thine Own Self”, “Masks”, and “Eye of the Beholder” all ending with the aforementioned “Genesis”. These lousy shows make the fantastic series finale, “All Good Things…” all that much more amazing. I could watch “Shades of Gray” over these any day.

Next time, my favorite episodes of Next Generation that I have seen more times than I’d care to admit!

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