Now, much as I love Star Trek The Next Generation, these tapes aren’t always particularly exciting for this particular project. Season One episodes from BBC2 didn’t tend to have a lot of stuff around the edges, as I used to make sure I was home in time to record them myself.
So, here we have:
The Arsenal of Freedom in which the Enterprise investigates the planet Minos, a planet of arms dealers which has abruptly lost all its intelligent life, and also somehow also caused the disappearance of another federation starship.
When the Enterprise arrives it’s greeted by Vincent Schiavelli in an infomercial for the planet’s weapons systems.
Leading a small away team, Riker meets Rice, a member of the crew of the missing ship, and immediately asserts his superiority by adopting the ‘Step-Up’ – body language that’s at once jaunty and alpha-male.
When he’s informed by the Enterprise that they can’t detect any other life signs nearby, Riker starts acting cagey, especially when Rice starts pumping him for information.
RICE Who sent you here to look for me. RIKER Your Mother. She's worried about you. RICE Tell me about your ship Riker. It's the Enterprise, isn't it? RIKER No, the name of my ship is the... Lollipop. RICE I have no knowledge of that ship. RIKER It's just been commissioned, it's a good ship.
Riker is trapped in a forcefield, so Picard decides to go down to the surface – this was around the time the writers realised that it was dramatically stupid to keep the Captain on the ship all the time. Of course, within minutes of beaming to the surface, he and Doctor Crusher fall into a big hole.
Meanwhile on the Enterprise, an unseen enemy is firing on the ship. Geordie, then the helmsman, is in the captain’s chair, and he has to deal with the chief engineer (who we’ve never seen before) trying to pull rank.
Picard has to try and treat Crusher’s injuries, guided by her knowledge of local roots and plants.
They even spend five minutes doing a saucer separation – well, they paid for the effects, might as well use them over and over again. And Deanna Troi has to lecture Geordi on how to be a leader.
This shows one of the things that used to drive me mad about ST:TNG – how on-the-nose the writing was, with characters often just declaiming how they feel (or getting the empathic Troi to declaim how they’re feeling.
Still, it all ends well, when Picard places an order for some weapons.
BBC Genome: BBC Two England, 20 February 1991 18.00
The next episode is Skin of Evil. A pivotal episode, where Tasha Yar is killed by an intelligent oil slick – very early in the episode. This was quite a shocking event at the time, and the arbitrary nature of her death lent a strong character motivation to the later episode Yesterday’s Enterprise. And the final holographic farewell scene
BBC Genome: BBC Two England, 6 March 1991 18.00
Finally on this tape, We’ll Always Have Paris. There’s some wibbly wobbly timey wimey stuff going on, as the ship experiences a short time loop. The Enterprise have to investigate the work of Dr Paul Mannheim, who’s been working on time experiments. The situation is complicated because his wife is an old flame of Picard’s.
During the climax, Data has to work out which of himselves are in the right timestream to fix the swirly sciency thing.
BBC Genome: BBC Two England, 13 March 1991 18.00
After this episode, there’s a trailer for Comic Relief featuring Bob Hoskins.
Then the beginning of Reportage, looking at the importance of class in British society, before the recording stops.