‘ENCOUNTER AT FARPOINT’ (TNG)
Please feel free to comment on my review.
‘Encounter At Farpoint’ is the first ever episode of ‘Star Trek: The Next Generation’ series! It was first spin-off show from the original ‘Star Trek’ series and featured a brand-new Enterprise ship as well as a brand-new Enterprise crew. Season 1 was a rocky start before this TV series soon became popular.
I became a ‘Star Trek’ fan through ‘The Original Series’ with Captain Kirk, Spock and Dr. McCoy via my Dad purchasing the DVD box sets of the TV show and the movies. After we finished those, my Dad soon purchased the first ‘TNG’ film, ‘Star Trek: Generations’, before purchasing Seasons 1, 2 and 3 on DVD.
My first taste of ‘TNG’ through ‘Star Trek: Generations’ wasn’t an entirely pleasant one, considering I didn’t know any of the regular characters and of course Captain Kirk died in that movie. But I was willing to give ‘TNG’ another chance when my parents and I ventured forth into watching the first season.
‘TNG’ first began in 1987, a year after ‘Star Trek IV: The Voyage Home’ was made in 1986. This spin-off series was created by Gene Roddenbery, ‘Star Trek’s original creator. It wasn’t the same ‘Star Trek’ series anymore, as it did not feature Captain Kirk but instead featured Captain Jean-Luc Picard.
Devoted ‘Star Trek’ fans initially reacted against this new series, since it was non-‘Star Trek’ for them. This was because it wasn’t Kirk, Spock and Bones anymore. This is understandable, since the original ‘Star Trek’ characters made the TV show possible and it is fair that the original was the best.
Saying this however, things aren’t always going to be the same when a new ‘Star Trek’ show is made. I knew it wasn’t going to be the same as ‘The Original Series’ with Kirk, Spock and Bones. But gradually, I grew to love the ‘TNG’ series with Picard, Data and all as much as I loved the original show.
And the fact that ‘TNG’ last for seven seasons with other spin-off shows like ‘Deep Space Nine’ and ‘Voyager’ coinciding it proves that this new form of ‘Star Trek’ in the 24th century proved popular. Nothing can replace the original ‘Star Trek’ series with Captain Kirk, but I still love the spin-off shows.
Anyway, let’s get onto talking about the first episode of ‘TNG’ itself. Originally, ‘Encounter At Farpoint’ was going to be a standard one-hour ‘Star Trek’ episode to begin the series. But Gene Roddenbery was eventually persuaded to make this a two-hour episode to make it very extra-special.
‘Encounter At Farpoint’ begins ‘TNG’ with the new Enterprise-D, commanded by Patrick Stewart as Captain Jean-Luc Picard. The new Enterprise ship is on its way to Farpoint Station on the planet Deneb IV. This is a mission is to open diplomatic relations with the Bandi people down on the planet.
But on the way, the Enterprise gets caught in a force-field created by a powerful entity called Q of the Q Continuum. Q puts humanity on trial for the charge of being a child-like savage race. Captain Picard is determined to prove Q wrong. Thus, Q allows them to be put to the test at Farpoint Station.
I must say, I like the new Enterprise ship featured in the ‘TNG’ series. It’s not as great as the original Enterprise ship from ‘The Original Series’, but it’s decent enough. I like how the ship happens to be Galaxy-Class and can divide itself into two sections, including its saucer section and its battle section.
A major difference between the original Enterprise and the new one is that the Enterprise in ‘TNG’ allows the crews’ families to be on board. This didn’t happen in ‘The Original Series’ and is bound to raise eyebrows from fans and feel dodgy. But this makes the new Enterprise more family-orientated.
John de Lancie guest stars as Q, the omnipotent being that stops the Enterprise ship in its tracks to Farpoint Station. Q would become a recurring character in the ‘TNG’ series as well as in ‘DS9’ and ‘Voyager’. In his first episode, Q is very arrogant and cruel in how he mistreats Picard and the others.
Q would mellow later on in the ‘TNG’ series. But in this episode, Q becomes a threat and annoyance, especially when Picard and his crew are determined to explore outer space. Picard and some of his crew get put into a 21st century styled-courtroom, where Q acts as the judge, jury and executioner.
Patrick Stewart stars as Captain Jean-Luc Picard in this first episode of ‘TNG’. Picard is not like Kirk at all. He’s a finely established starship captain, who abides by Starfleet morals and codes of conduct. He can be pretty strict, but he’s very diplomatic and abides by the Prime Directive in his captainship.
Also in this episode is Jonathan Frakes as Commander William Riker, who becomes Picard’s first officer aboard the Enterprise. Riker is a keen second-in-command and he always offers command alternatives to his captain during a mission. He also always leads the ‘away teams’ when on a planet.
Something also notably different, and one which I’m not particularly happy about, is that Riker makes sure Picard stays aboard the Enterprise whilst he and his away team are down on a planet. This reduced Picard’s role as a captain, as in ‘The Original Series’, Kirk always went down to a planet.
In the episode, Picard tests Riker out when he orders him to manually put the saucer and battle sections of the Enterprise ship back together again. It seems that Picard is rather mean to Riker when he comes aboard. But Picard soon comes to like Riker and to value him as his new first officer.
The regular cast also include the following. There’s LeVar Burton as Lt. Geordi La Forge. In the ‘TNG’ series, he’s mostly the chief engineer. But in the first season of ‘TNG’, Geordi is the starship navigator. It’s also important to note that Geordi is blind and he wears a visor to let him see his way.
There’s also Denise Crosby as Lt. Tasha Yar, the security chief aboard the Enterprise. Tasha Yar would appear only in Season 1 of ‘TNG’, but she’s really good as a character. Tasha’s first impulse in any situation is to fight. But she’s clearly a likeable character, who’s had a traumatic past since as a child.
There’s also Michael Dorn as Lt. Worf, the tactical officer aboard the Enterprise. Worf is noted for being the first Klingon Starfleet officer by the 24th century. This was exciting for me, since Klingons were always the bad guys and it was nice to have a change in seeing one of them as a good guy here.
There’s also Gates McFadden as Dr. Beverly Crusher, the chief medical officer aboard the Enterprise. Beverly is no Bones, but she has a close connection to Captain Picard in the ‘TNG’ series. There is even a romantic atmosphere between Picard and Beverly, which would become prevalent later on.
Also there’s Marina Sirtis as Counsellor Deanna Troi, the ship’s counsellor aboard the Enterprise. Denna’s an interesting character, since she’s an alien empath from the planet Betazed. She’s half-human, half-Betazoid and can sense the emotions of other people when she’s on a special mission.
And of course there’s Brent Spiner as Lt. Commander Data, the android officer aboard the Enterprise. In many ways, Data is like the Spock of the ‘TNG’ series. Data has no emotions as he’s an android. But he wants to become human, despite his superior intellect and strength for an android.
Finally there’s Wil Wheaton as Wesley Crusher, Beverly’s son who comes with his mother aboard the Enterprise. Wesley is young and eager to be in Starfleet. He makes mistakes and can get into all sorts of trouble. But he’s very clever and seems to know a lot about starships as Captain Picard discovers.
The episode also features special guest star Michael Bell as Groppler Zorn at the Farpoint Station. Zorn seems keen to open diplomatic relations with Starfleet via Picard and the Enterprise. But it turns out Zorn is hiding something and maybe committing a terrible universal crime with the station.
And of course it would be remiss of me not to mention that DeForest Kelley makes a cameo appearances as Admiral Leonard McCoy. Gosh he’s an Admiral now by the 24th century. I was so excited to see Bones from ‘The Original Series’ in his old make-up as well as have a scene with Data.
There’s also Colm Meaney who makes his first appearance as Chief Miles O’Brien. He makes a small appearance in this episode as the ‘Conn Ensign’ aboard the Enterprise’s battle bridge. He would later become the transporter chief aboard the Enterprise for ‘TNG’ as well as become a regular for ‘DS9’.
‘Encounter At Farpoint’ is a very decent beginning to the ‘TNG’ series of ‘Star Trek’. I like how this episode sets things up with the regular cast and what the show was going to be aboard. It was a new ‘Star Trek’ TV show with the Enterprise exploring new worlds and go ‘where no one has gone before’…!
‘Encounter At Farpoint’ (TNG) rating – 8/10
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