Star Trek: The Next Generation (1987/1988) – Haven, and The Big Goodbye

Captain’s log: stardate 41294.5

Haven, written by Tracy Torme and Lan O’Kun first aired on 20 November, 1987

This one is a bit of a mixed bag. Deanna Troi’s (Marina Sirtis) mother, Lwaxana (Majel Berrett)  makes her first appearance in the series, accompanied by her manservant, the silent and very entertaining, Mr. Homm (Carel Struycken).

It seems Deanna has been promised to a young man, Wyatt Miller (Robert Knepper) and it’s time for the two to finally marry. This, of course, upsets Riker (Jonathan Frakes) despite the fact that their on-again, off-again relationship is currently in the off position.

Things are complicated by the arrival of a plague ship, which the planet Haven threatens to destroy if the Enterprise will not. And further complicated when Picard (Patrick Stewart) contacts the ship, and the call is answered by a woman that Wyatt has been dreaming of since he was a boy.

Lwaxana can be funny, and while she does fit within the universe, she can be annoying at times. Still, it’s fun to see the interactions between her and Picard.

The story seems a little too sappy for me. I think had this episode come a little later in the series, after we knew the characters better, it could have had a stronger emotional kick. Still, it’s nice to see that even at this point in the series, the showrunners are doing their best to make it an ensemble show by sharing scripts with all the characters.

tnghaven

Captain’s log: stardate 41997.7

First airing in 11 January, 1988, and written by Tracy Torme, The Big Goodbye was quite possible the singular best episode of the first season. Yes, it’s also the first episode in Next Generation that begins the tired cliche of a holodeck malfunction but it establishes the continuity of Dixon Hill in the series, and lets the cast play a bit.

Picard is looking to relax for a bit before a meeting with a very reclusive alien race, so he dives into a holodeck program that puts him in the role of a Sam Spade type character known as Dixon Hill.

Marvelling at the reality created for him, he invites Data (Brent Spiner) and Dr. Crusher (Gates McFadden) to join him. Unfortunately, when things go awry they are trapped inside the holodeck and the safety parameters have been deactivated, putting everyone’s’ life in danger.

The group have to figure their way through the story, even while the villains plan to escape the holodeck and take over the ship (something they can’t do, but are determined to try).

The story while fun and entertaining brings up themes of what life actually is, and how we perceive that life. It does so, while playing within the confines of a film noir, one of my favourite genres.

This episode is one of the treasures from the opening season, and it’s always a joy to revisit it. The humour and the drama are all nicely balanced, and it truly looks like the cast is having a fun time with this story (it was probably nice to get out of the uniforms for an episode).

We also get a hint of the wonderful chemistry between Stewart and McFadden which is fanned on occasion to suggest a potential for romance. All in all a great episode .

Next time, the Human Adventure continues…

Picard_and_Data_(2364)

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