Here’s a packed tape of Star Trek The Next Generation, obviously summoned by the invocation of Commander Riker.
First, Suspicions. There’s a very short teaser. Dr Crusher walks into her quarters, upset by something. Guinan comes for help with Tennis Elbow, and Crusher tells her she’s no longer a doctor on the Enterprise.
She tells Guinan what’s happened, so this episode is narrated by Dr Crusher. She goes to a symposium and champions a Ferengi scientist who has developed metaphasic shielding which is supposed to protect a shuttlecraft while inside the corona of a star.
But something goes wrong, and the scientist piloting the shuttle dies.
The Ferengi scientist, when Crusher tells him she can’t authorise any further tests, he vows to keep working, but then turns up dead, possibly suicide, but Crusher is suspicious. She’s forbidden to perform an autopsy, but is convinced an autopsy will tell her who’s responsible.
So she performs the autopsy, thus jeopardising her career.
She decides to take the shuttle back into the star to prove that the shield worked, and must have been sabotaged. And it was sabotaged by the scientist who apparently died on the first trip. He’s quite strange, and can survive a phaser blast in a bit of a Death Becomes her moment.
Next it’s Rightful Heir. Oh dear, Worf’s having a bit of an Amok Time moment. More Klingon bollocks.
Worf goes to a Klingon retreat to commune with the spirit of the great Klingon ancestor and founder Kahless. To his and everyone else’s surprise, Kahless appears. This doesn’t please the Klingon leadership, who think he’s an impostor. Good grief, this is dull stuff.
Kahless turns out to be a clone, grown from Kahless’s DNA and taught the wisdom of Kahless, by the guardians of Kahless’s memory.
The next episode is Second Chances and is much more fun, even if it does start with Hipster Riker playing jazz trombone.
The Enterprise are investigating an outpost that was abandoned eight years previously. Riker had been part of the crew, and had only just got out, because of problems transporting.
When they get there, they find things have changed, indicating someone is already there, and they find out that person is… Riker.
A transporter malfunction eight years ago stranded a copy of Riker on the outpost. This is a great character episode for Riker, getting to play a sort-of younger version of himself, and showing that if we ever had to meet ourselves, we’d probably hate it too.
What makes this episode really stand out is that the audience is waiting for the climax where the new Riker has to selflessly sacrifice himself to save ‘our’ Riker. I held out a little hope that they’d play it the other way, having ‘our’ Riker killed and the new Riker taking his place, but this episode goes a third way, actually letting them both live, and sending the new Riker off on his own adventures as a possible recurring character. This was a very confident show at this point.
Incidentally, the Dr Mae Jemison credited there has a small part as a transporter operator, and is actually the first African-American woman in space, on the Space Shuttle.
Last on this tape is Timescape. Picard, Troi, Geordi and Data are returning from a conference. All of a sudden, everyone except Troi freezes. But Data can’t find a gap in his time. Then the same thing happens to Troi.
Picard finds a bowl of fruit that has rotted and decayed, and when he goes to touch it, his hand suddenly metabolises rapidly, giving him huge fingernails.
There’s pockets of spacetime distortion where time is moving at different rates. They follow the distortion to find the Enterprise and a Romulan ship, frozen in time, in mid space battle.
When they get onto the ship, protected from the time distortion by gizmos whipped up by Geordi, everyone on the ship appears to be taking part in a mannequin challenge. Everyone is frozen in place.
And in sickbay, it’s looking bad for Dr Crusher.
Worse is to come, as the warp core is in the throes of a breach.
The reason for all of this temporal shenanigans is a race of creatures who nurture their young in massive gravity wells, and who mistook the Romulan engine core for a suitable singularity.
Cue a bit of rewinding and replaying, and everything is resolved safely.
I like the tag, where Data talks to Riker about perception of time, and he’s testing the adage “A watched pot never boils”. When Riker leaves the room, the kettle starts whistling, and Data gives a perfect quizzical look.
After this, recording switches briefly to the start of Encounter with Farpoint, but the tape stops after a couple of minutes. And remarkably for a Sky One tape, no adverts.