First on this tape, Star Trek the Next Generation, and a pivotal episode in the first season, The Last Outpost, which introduces the Ferengi, supposed to be the great new threat to the federation, now that the klingon Empire are friends. But their execution was generally received quite badly. Their philosophy is likened to Yankee Traders, so basically they’re evil alien capitalists.
This show was able to get away with an awful lot of talking, wasn’t it? It’s fully fifteen minutes in, and we’ve seen nothing except another spaceship, mostly on the viewscreen. And yet Picard is at the point of surrender because the Enterprise has been captured in some sort of force field.
Of course, the Ferengi are held in the same force field as the Enterprise, and they misinterpret Picard’s broadcast as a request for the Ferengi surrender.
Long time Star Trek watchers will probably guess what’s coming next. The Enterprise Crew and the Ferengi agree to beam down to the planet to investigate the source of the force field. And we’re on solid Star Trek ground, with an unconvincing planet exterior in a studio.
Then we meet the Ferengi for real, and they’re not very impressive. That’s probably a very human-centric judgement, but there we are.
Then they come face to face with the reason for their ships’ entrapment – a being on the planet who wants to test them for entry into a long dead empire. And Commander Riker passes the test because he’s read Sun Tzu’s The Art of War. Basically, this is the same story as the classic episode where Kirk meets Abraham Lincoln on an alien planet.
The lead ferengi is played by Armin Shimerman who would, of course, go on to play Quark in Deep Space Nine.
BBC Genome: BBC Two – 31st October 1990 – 18:00
The Ferengi are in the next episode, The Battle, wanting a meeting with Picard. He doesn’t know why they want the meeting, and he has a headache, something which is unusual in the 24th Century. And an old constellation class starship is heading in their direction.
The Ferengi refer to Picard as the hero of the battle of Maxia, where an unidentified ship was destroyed when it tried to fire on Picard’s ship. That vessel was a Ferengi. It was also where the Picard Manoeuvre was first referenced, a famous battle-winning tactical manoeuvre.
The ship brought back by the Ferengi is Picard’s old ship, the Stargazer, and the Ferengi have a log entry which purports to prove that Picard destroyed the Ferengi vessel deliberately, with no provocation.
Somehow, the Ferengi are affecting Picard’s mind, and he’s flashing back to the events ten years previously. They’re affecting his mind using a prop left over from an old Blake’s Seven episode, by the looks of it.
Data tries to explain what a checksum discrepancy is to Riker, but he’s too gruff to listen to a computer science lesson.
Naturally, Picard ends up on the Stargazer, and he faces off against Riker on the Enterprise. Will he pull the infamous Picard manoeuvre? And can Riker counter this legend of Starfleet tactics.
BBC Genome: BBC Two – 7th November 1990 – 18:00
In the next episode, the enterprise is approaching Haven, a planet believed to have mystical healing powers.
Riker is watching two women play little harps with the leering intensity of someone watching porn. Maybe that’s what porn has become in the enlightened 24th Century. Who knows.
Deanna gets a message from the planet. Her mother is there, and it’s time for her wedding. Betazoids have arranged marriages, and even the enlightened federation have to put up with such regressive cultural practices.
Deanna’s mother is played by Majel Barrett, Gene Roddenberry’s wife. Her manservant, Mr Homn, is played by Carel Struycken, who was also the mysterious giant in Twin Peaks.
Troi’s intended husband, Wyatt, is surprised when he sees her. All his life he’s been seeing a woman’s face, and he’s drawn it frequently, but it’s not Deanna.
Also heading for Haven is a plague ship of Terrelians, people who carry a massively infectious and uncurable disease. They’re heading to Haven because of its reputed healing powers.
And the woman from Wyatt’s dreams is on the plague ship, along with her father, who’s Cliff’s nemesis Twitchell from Cheers.
So naturally, Wyatt, who’s a doctor, beams over to the plague ship to be with them, and help them. Which lets Deanna off the hook somewhat.
BBC Genome: BBC Two – 14th November 1990 – 18:00
After this episode, there’s a change of pace, with an episode of Have I Got News For You featuring John Wells
and Robert Harris.
BBC Genome: BBC Two – 25th October 1991 – 22:00
the tape stops just after this episode, during a trailer for Mystery Train. (the Richard O’Brien hosted cult TV late night slot)