How would you introduce a science-fiction newbie to TNG?

Discussion in 'Star Trek: The Next Generation' started by Ragitsu, Nov 23, 2021.

  1. cgervasi

    cgervasi Commander Red Shirt

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    One thing I have learned is don't show them the best episodes or the worst. Find some good average ones first. You can't appreciate the episodes like The Inner Light, where Picard gets a second life, if you don't know about his first life.
    What about starting with average episodes from the first two seasons:
    • Datalore
    • 11001001
    • The Arsenal of Freedom
    • Elementary, Dear Data
    • The Measure of a Man
    • Contagion
    • Pen Pals
    • The Emmisary
    These are not great episodes, but they let you get to know the characters and what the show is about.
     
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  2. dupersuper

    dupersuper Commodore Commodore

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    :ack::cardie::vulcan::crazy:
     
  3. Qonundrum

    Qonundrum Rear Admiral Rear Admiral

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    Totally agreed on "never show the best or the worst" off the bat. Too many best episodes sell an impossible and asinine standard. Show them all the worst ones isn't going to compel them to watch more of the schlock. Showing them "Angel One" and "Code of Honor" would be beyond stupid and it's amazing season 1 survived those episodes being made and aired. Season 1's format is more wildly eccentric than I could ever hope to be, and more often feels like "TOS if made in the 80s" than what TNG would evolve into by season 3.

    "Measure" is said to be one of the best. It's a great allegory, but at face value the idea of treating a computer at face value as being no different to a human when they still treated Barclay like subhuman ****... no wonder he felt the way he had, as Guinan sorta had to point out to those enlightened 24th century humans... so, yeah, scupper "Measure" and show off "Hollow Pursuits" instead.

    "Datalore" has a very shaky script, but - damn - Spiner's acting, Bowman's directing, and Jones' score elevate this script into something far, far better than it otherwise arguably deserves to be. A script that overtly dumbs down everyone else just to make Wesley look artificially bright, especially when paired to most season 1 episodes (never mind later ones) where Wesley is treated far better and the same adults who no longer figure out that "2+2=Lore" aren't nincompoops when it's so patently obvious that Lore's a malevolent fraud... (or that nobody notices Data using a contraction at the end, after Lore is dispatched...) But so many scenes do lift this story out of the muck. Spiner excels at giving Lore the right cadence, there's great lighting attributed to him, and the music - especially when Lore goes on his little rampage - is sublime. Give me that music instead of "Power Play's" flatulent frog fest any day... and that story's got a considerably better script.

    I would include TNG's first above-average episode: "Where No One Has Gone Before". It's not got the best script ever, but after the first 4 stories (Farpoint, Naked Now, Code of Honor, Last Outpost), it was wondrous to see something that eclipsed what preceded it.

    Maybe "When the Bough Breaks" as well. There's a novel storyline that takes excellent advantage of TNG's "families in space" trope while telling a novel story (and to think it's in the same season that had "Justice" and its pre-credits scene that's so all over the map it's beyond belief and must be seen for the sole sake of wondering who wasn't script editing that week...) If anything, WTBB could have taken more than 7 kids, but it's a minor nitpick, no pun intended. It's definitely another season 1 entry that's worthwhile. The question is, what's the newbie going to expect and does showing them the wrong episode scare them off? (And if they did watch an early episode and stick with it, will they be so pleasantly gobsmacked when they get to "Evolution" and its striking new style that's felt right off the bat?)

    "Heart of Glory" is overall a solid episode, but a new viewer may be a little shaken by all the time they spend meandering on Geordi's VISOR relay as opposed to the apparently less urgent matter of getting survivors off the ship before it goes all "boom boom and stuff"... the two subplots don't exactly mesh, though both are decent on their own. But there should have been a less important time to marvel over what Geordi sees than in an emergency situation. (I don't dislike the scene, it's cool, but it feels a little out of place. Nowhere near as bad as all of "Code of Honor", however.) All in all, it still makes for a well-above average season 1 outing and another example of the show being more than the schlock that threatened to cobble it early on. But they reused the same dumb mistake of giving free tours to complete strangers and, surprise, they turn out to be baddies who take over the joint. Oops.

    Maybe "Coming of Age" and "Conspiracy", though these are fairly great season 1 episodes. Going from those to "Angel One" might scare away a newbie as much as "Code of Honor" and "Justice" would.

    "Symbiosis" might be one to include...

    "Arsenal of Freedom" and "11001001" are easy entries as well.

    All that said, season 1 has so many ups and downs that it's shaky, with critics being lukewarm or tepid. People might adore it off the bat, hate it off the bat, find it inconsistent off the bat, might grow on them if they try it after seeing seasons 2-5 (or 6)... or they start to like it and then watch just the wrong episode and then they scuttle off to the toilet to puke forevermore - which is unlikely but anything's possible, but the probability of introducing someone to "Justice" and they become a devout fan on that alone is somewhat unlikely. I'd still say to hold off season 1 no matter how good the good episodes in it are and circle back once established. This will help ensure someone stays a fan and can later appreciate the growing pains season 1 endured, and nobody is going to watch a show they hate and to scare them off early would be illogical. Also note that I've rewatched season 1 more times than 5-7, which depending on your point of view may be impressive and/or frightening. Either way, unlike in 1987 when people hope-watched (they hoped the next week's episode would be an improvement over what they just sat through), there's far more choice among other things in shows and episodes. Get them hooked on a better season with some of its average-or-better episodes then let them explore back and forth. Add input but let them decide for themselves. TNG never had the serialized storytelling, which renders more episodes to be possible gateways into piquing the viewer's interest for wanting more.
     
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  4. JesterFace

    JesterFace Fleet Captain Commodore

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    How about simply picking some of the best episodes?
    These episodes are in random order except few exceptions, for somebody new you might have to watch 'Q Who' before 'The Best of Both Worlds' Or not, I saw TBOBW first. That story continues in 'I Borg'. There are some plotlines that continue in later episodes, such as 'Sins of the Father' is followed by 'Reunion' later and that story continues in Redemption 1 & 2.

    All Good Things....
    Evolution
    Who Watches the Watchers
    The Bonding
    Sins of the Father
    The Defector
    Allegiance
    Yesterday's Enterprise
    The Offspring
    Reunion
    The Measure of a Man
    Q Who
    The Best of Both Worlds part 1
    The Best of Both Worlds part 2
    Data's Day
    I Borg
    Clues
    Night Terrors
    The Nth Degree
    The Mind's Eye
    Redemption 1
    Redemption 2
    Cause and Effect
    Identity Crisis
     
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  5. cgervasi

    cgervasi Commander Red Shirt

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    This hasn't worked for me. Someone really new to Star Trek, esp if they're new to the sci fi genre, will be confused by Yesterday's Enterprise. "Wait, so this show is in space, but then the space ship changed and someone came back to life."
     
  6. Maurice

    Maurice Fact Trekker Premium Member

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    "Know your audience."

    Do they like courtroom dramas? Find a TNG courtroom drama.
    Do they like procedurals? Find a TNG procedural.
    Do they like action? Find a TNG episode with fist fights and pew pews.
    Character drama? Ethical dilemmas?

    I agree don't go to "best" episodes. I know people who liked TNG but weren't avid watchers who got confused AF over "Yesterday's Enterprise".

    You can't go into "The Naked Now" without knowing the characters. "Datalore" is surely going to be less effective if you don't know Data.
     
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  7. CorporalCaptain

    CorporalCaptain Fleet Admiral Admiral

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    So wrong.

    I think "The Measure Of A Man" could have been much better, especially in terms of how it was resolved, but even given that I can recognize that, relative to the other episodes from the first two seasons, it was a great episode. By that standard, of what the other episodes from that period were like, "The Emissary" was also a great episode.
     
  8. CDP

    CDP Commodore Commodore

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  9. Ragitsu

    Ragitsu Commander Red Shirt

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    How about Where Silence Has Lease? This is what I consider to be a "safe" episode: it is slow-placed (and therefore easy to digest), it features the entire main cast, it has a "problem of the week" that isn't reliant upon past canon in order to make sense and the antagonist is emblematic of the sufficiently advanced aliens that the Enterprise is likely to face. The only problem I can perceive is that Beverly is absent.
     
    Last edited: Dec 7, 2021
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  10. Lynx

    Lynx Vice Admiral Admiral

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    I would tell that person to watch all episodes from the start.

    If I get a good reaction from the start, fine. Otherwise I would com with hints about "it will get better later on but you must continue to watch from the start because otherwise you might miss some important events".
     
  11. Maurice

    Maurice Fact Trekker Premium Member

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    That would not work with a lot of people.
     
  12. Oddish

    Oddish Rear Admiral Commodore

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    Agreed. TNG's non-serialized nature allows the viewer to pick and choose.
     
  13. Xhiandra

    Xhiandra Captain Captain

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    You can pick and choose, but I think Farpoint is necessary, simply because it introduces characters and concepts. Contextualises the show.
     
  14. shivkala

    shivkala Rear Admiral Rear Admiral

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    This sums up what I was going to say, for the most part. As a new Sci-Fi fan, find what they like about sci-fi. Trek hits just about all of the major tropes of sci-fi: time travel, clones, horror, super-powerful alien races, regular alien races, alien races that are allegories for humanity, aliens that test humanity, etc. Find what drew them to be interested in sci-fi and present episodes that pertain to their interests there.

    The only thing I disagree with are the points about "The Naked Now" and "Datalore." "The Naked Now" was the second story (second episode, if you count "Encounter at Farpoint" as a single episode), so even the series didn't think you needed to know much about the characters, at least nothing you couldn't fill in with brief descriptions before loading up the episode (Riker and Troi used to be a couple, Data wants to be human, Geordi is blind but can see with the VISOR, Worf is still S1 Worf--so he's there, Wesley is a kid genius, his mom knew Picard and the series sometimes plays up the connection between the two. Oh, and Yar grew up on a hellish colony--though I'd avoid using the term "rape gang.").

    "Datalore" could serve as a good introduction to Data, as the episode really kicks off with him on the planet where he was found, giving some insight into him. It also narratively frontloads the important parts of Data's character, as he has his, "I want to be human" scene with him trying to sneeze.
     
  15. Maurice

    Maurice Fact Trekker Premium Member

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    I still think "The Naked Now" would have been better served later in the season, because the actors and writers need more time to write the characters normally before they can meaningfully riff on them, and it's more delightful to see established characters play against type as opposed to people we've just met.
     
  16. Vger23

    Vger23 Vice Admiral Admiral

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    Datalore is an unbelievably shitty, corny, sophomoric episode.

    Please don’t use it to intro anyone to Star Trek.
     
  17. Vger23

    Vger23 Vice Admiral Admiral

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    Measure of a Man is so criminally overrated it makes my head spin.
     
  18. dupersuper

    dupersuper Commodore Commodore

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    It's one of my all time favourite Trek episodes, so I obviously can't agree.
     
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  19. Ragitsu

    Ragitsu Commander Red Shirt

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    For Season 2 of TNG? No.
    For television (the United States of America's television, at least) circa 1988? No.
    For science-fiction in general (including all forms of media)? Maybe.
     
  20. Vger23

    Vger23 Vice Admiral Admiral

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    Ok.
     
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