The third year of Captain Picard's command of the starship
Enterprise sees the return of Dr Beverly Crusher, several
run-ins with the Romulans and Ferengi, a strange temporal
event that resurrects Lt Tasha Yar, a visit from the Vulcan
ambassador Sarek, and the threat of invasion by the dreaded
3 is the year in which The Next Generation really hit
its stride. There are no truly bad episodes in this entire
is not to say that every episode is perfect, however. The
High Ground is an overly simplistic discourse about terrorism,
and the episode has been afforded unwarranted fame by being
banned by the BBC. Who Watches the Watchers? presents
the rather patronising view that religious belief necessarily
indicates a backward society - whereas later seasons, and
the introduction of races such as the Bajorans, would take
a more open-minded view about issues of faith. And Sarek
relies on the extremely illogical premise that Picard (Patrick
Stewart) is the only suitable recipient for the emotional
impulses of Spock's elderly father Sarek (Mark Lenard), even
though there are clearly plenty of other Vulcans on board
the ship. However, this plot contrivance is a small price
to pay for having a guest appearance by Mark Lenard and some
terrific acting by Patrick Stewart.
commendable episodes include Booby Trap, A Matter of Perspective
and Hollow Pursuits, each of which uses the holodeck
in a new and interesting way. Who says the holodeck never
does anything but break down - this is certainly not the case
during this season. Hollow Pursuits also introduces
the popular recurring character of Reg Barclay (Dwight Schultz),
a lovable loser whose lack of confidence makes a nice change
from the usual examples of human perfection that inhabit the
Romulans reappear in a couple of splendid political thrillers,
The Enemy and The Defector, the latter of which
keeps you guessing right up until the end. They also put in
a cameo appearance in the intriguing "strange life form" story,
returning foe is the entity Q (John De Lancie), who appears,
robbed of his powers, in the excellent Déjà Q. This
is a more light-hearted instalment than the previous year's
Q Who, but it contains many an uplifting moment, including
the scene in which Q compliments Data (Brent Spiner) on his
most moving episode in the entire season has to be The
Offspring, in which Data constructs his own daughter.
A partial follow-up to the previous year's The Measure
of a Man, this marks an impressive directorial debut by
Jonathan (Commander Riker) Frakes, and boasts a real weepy
of an ending.
the opposite end of the emotional spectrum, Captain's Holiday
offers a refreshing change of pace. This episode is unlike
anything that Trek has done before - or, indeed, since.
Picard assumes a more adventurous, even gung-ho, attitude
when he becomes involved in the search for a missing treasure
on the recreational planet Risa. The scheming Ferengi reappear
here, and also in the episodes The Price and Ménage
à Troi. The Price is of particular note for establishing
concepts that would be developed in the next two Trek
spin-off series, Deep Space Nine and Voyager,
by featuring a wormhole that leads to the Delta Quadrant.
Ménage à Troi is a rare article indeed: a Lwaxana Troi
(Majel Barrett) episode that is actually very good!
the true highlights of Season 3 are Yesterday's Enterprise
and The Best of Both Worlds. The former takes a couple
of irresistible plot elements - the trans-temporal encounter
between two starships Enterprise and the resurrection
of Tasha Yar (Denise Crosby) - and combines them in a fast-paced
adventure packed with special effects. This breathtaking episode
more than makes up for Yar's ignoble demise in the first season's
Skin of Evil.
Best of Both Worlds brings the year to a spectacular close.
The final scene is the season cliffhanger to end all season
cliffhangers, one that has never been bettered, either on
a Star Trek series or on any other genre show. The
drama's tense build-up is underscored by what I consider to
be musician Ron Jones' best work for the series. Jones communicates
a sense of foreboding from the very beginning of the episode,
which culminates in a crescendo of colliding instruments that
has to be heard to be believed.
important design change takes place at the beginning of Season
3. Two-piece costumes with raised collars replace the old
one-piece spandex outfits - for the foreground characters
anyway - lending the crew, and thus the series, a more stately
appearance than the previous "superhero" look. This change
came about because the one-piece costumes had been so tight
that they were placing undue pressure on the main actors'
skeletal structures. Look at the non-speaking extras in the
background, though, and you will see some of the spandex outfits
still in use throughout this season.
we have come to expect, the extra features on the final disc
comprise documentary material cobbled together from old and
new interviews with the cast and crew. Whereas the recollections
offered on previous volumes didn't tell me much that I didn't
already know, this time around I was surprised to learn of
the script difficulties that affected the third season. The
backstage chaos, which resulted from a severe shortage of
usable scripts, is well and truly belied by the quality of
the episodes contained within this box set.
my mind, this is the best season of all.
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