Star Trek – The Next Generation – tape 1535

The First Duty opens with a cheeky teaser. The Enterprise is heading to Earth, and Picard is going to give the commencement address at Starfleet Academy. He’s also going to see Wesley Crusher again, who’s been studying there.

Then he gets a message from the Admiral in charge. “I know you’re a close friend of the Crusher family. There’s been an accident.” Cut to titles.

But, no doubt to the tortured wails of lots of internet nerds at the time, Wesley is only injured, not killed.

His commanding officer, another cadet, is Robert Duncan MacNeill, a little while before he was cast in Voyager, playing a different character. He talks to Wesley about everything being all right as long as they stick together.

Picard looks up the gardener, Boothby, played by Ray Walston.

The cadets are lying about the accident, but it’s unclear why. Picard determines that the cadets must have been performing an extremely dangerous manoeuvre, one that is banned by Starfleet Academy.

He confronts Wesley, and tells him he must tell the truth. This is a great scene.

And after Wesley admits the truth, and is held back for a year, Picard tells him “You knew what you had to do. I just made sure you listened to yourself.”

The next episode is Cost of Living. The Enterprise destroys an asteroid threatening a planet, but some debris comes into the ship.

Deanna’s Mother arrives, announcing her impending marriage. She also gets involved in Worf’s son Alexander’s problems at home. At one point she takes him on the holodeck. I’m totally not sure this one is child friendly.

And isn’t this Wordy from Words and Pictures?

The replicators appear to be malfunctioning.

And once the problems with the ship are resolved, Lwaxana Troi decides she’s not going to compromise, and arrives at her own wedding naked (as is the betazoid tradition, per Roddenberry, the old lech). Her bridegroom bails out.

Surprisingly, another good Lwaxana episode.

Next, it’s The Perfect Mate. Oh good, some Ferengi. I love Ferengi. (I don’t love Ferengi.)

One of them is played by Max Grodenchik, who would also play a (different) Ferengi on DS9.

Also on board is Tim O’Connor (Dr Huer from Buck Rogers) who is brokering peace between his planet and their nearby neighbours.

He’s transporting a gift for the leader of the other planet. It’s Famke Janssen, an empathic metamorph, the perfect mate of the title, and a creation that could have come from Roddenberry himself – a woman who imprints on her partner to make herself the best possible partner.

Beverley is disturbed by the use of a sentient being as chattel. Picard makes noises about the Prime Directive, and when he finds she’s been confined to quarters, he insists she be allowed out. But she’s at her peak ’empathic’ state, where she behaves like the ideal woman for every man who passes. She’s especially interested in Picard, but who wouldn’t be?

She and Picard grow close, as the time approaches for her to be given away to the leader of the other planet, and of course he has to let it all go ahead, so it’s actually quite depressing.

Lastly here it’s Imaginary Friend. Troi is talking to a little girl who has an imaginary friend called Isabella. Her father is worried that she’s not making new friends because of her imaginary friend.

The ship is investigating a nebula when a shiny glowy thing appears and starts making its way around the ship. It finally finds the little girl, and all of a sudden her imaginary friend is real and standing on front of her.

It’s a weird episode. It relies a lot on the performances of the young girls, which are a bit stilted, and Picard resolves things by explaining why we have rules for what young children can and can’t do.

After this, there’s a brief bit of another TNG episode – one of the Data as Holmes episodes, but that recording stops fairly quickly, and underneath there’s another episode, Man of the People. But that recording also stops fairly quickly, and underneath this is something very unusual indeed. It’s part of a programme called The Brain Drain, presented by Jimmy Mulville, and created by Mark Leveson and Dan Patterson, of Whose Line and Mock The Week fame.

The panellists are Tony Hawks

Jo Brand

Pete McCarthy

And Sandi Toksvig

In the audience, Lynn Faulds Wood has a question for the audience.

It’s a BBC show, but the Genome listings don’t really give enough of a clue as to which episode it might be. And there’s no external context around the segment to let me know if it’s the original showing or the repeat. So this is either September/October 1992 or June-August 1993.

Ah – I spoke too soon. Neil Kinnock has popped up in the audience.

That means it’s probably this episode: BBC Two – 25th June 1993 – 22:00

This recording stops just as the end credits start rolling (hence no external context) and underneath is one more recording – no idea what this is, but Tom Bosley is knocking on someone’s door looking for a place to stay.

The tape ends after a couple of minutes of this.



  1. The Brain Drain! Funnily enough, before I even got to the picture of Neil Kinnock, I was going to mention the running gag on Spitting Image around this time about Kinnock trying to reinvent himself as a media personality, which always ended with him shouting “I’ve been on The Brain Drain!”

    Anyway, it wasn’t all that spectacular a series, all told, a pretty bog standard affair where comedians “answered” questions from the audience – ie, recycled bits of their stand-up routines. It was quite useful as a showcase, though, Tony Hawks was “discovered” during the first series and was a regular panellist in the second, while Jo Brand was on the first show of series two and proved so popular she came back every week. Indeed I think this series was more or less Jo Brand’s big break, she’d done odd bits of telly before – indeed, she was on HIGNFY the previous year alongside Kinnock – but she was on this every week and I think it was this more than anything that established her as a major star and led to her own series.

    I never watched the first series but Louis Barfe’s biography of Les Dawson mentions it because he was on one of the episodes and despite clearly using all his old material absolutely stormed it and all the other panellists were crying with laughter at him.

    1. As an aside, there’s a fascinating article in the new Fortean Times about Les Dawson’s only horror novel (in the James Herbert vein) which was apparently weirdly prophetic in some ways (it’s set in the future). Plus stuff about his ghost, as expected.

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