Star Trek: The Next Generation (1989) – Unnatural Selection, and A Matter of Honor

Captain’s log: stardate 42494.8

Unnatural Selection made it’s debut on 20 January, 1989. Written by John Mason and and Mike Gray, the story puts the ship’s new doctor, Pulaski (Diana Muldaur) on centre stage, as the Enterprise responds to a distress signal from the starship, Lantree.

Picard (Patrick Stewart) and the crew investigate, as Pulaski discovers that the entire crew has died of old age.

Backtracking the Lantree’s course, they discover a research station on Gagarin IV that is working on genetics, whose staff is also dying of old age.

Pulaski clashes with Picard over how to handle things, when she learns that the children at the station seem fine. She tries to come up with a solution that will allow her to investigate and keep the crew safe.

With Data’s (Brent Spiner) help she takes a shuttle, and beams one of the children aboard to conduct her own investigation, putting herself at risk and discovering the true cause of the Lantree’s death.

In terms of character development, Colm Meaney, who had been in and out of the series as an unnamed crew member since Encounter at Farpoint, and since the start of season 2 has been a transporter chief, gains a name – Miles O’Brien.

It also helps develop Pulaski’s character in quite a good way. While Pulaski was a decent addition to the crew, it just feels like Crusher (Gates McFadden) would have really benefited from this story.

The downside of the episode is that the story isn’t quite as engaging as it could be.

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Captain’s log: stardate 42506.5

A Matter of Honor was, for me, a fun episode that first aired on 8 February, 1989. With a teleplay by Burton Armus based on a story by Wanda M. Haight, Gregory Amos and Armus, Riker (Jonathan Frakes) finds himself part of an officer exchange program.

While a Benzite, Mendon (John Putch) joins the Enterprise crew, and because of his cultural structure imperils the Enterprise, Riker finds himself on a Klingon ship.

The First Officer finds himself in a completely unique situation, being the first Terran officer to do join a Klingon crew. He is confronted with a different manner of command style, clashes with both the captain, Kargan (Christopher Collins) and the second officer, Klag (Brian Thompson) and in the end, may have to confront the Enterprise herself.

Frakes’ gets a chance to shine here, and it’s a lot of fun watching the way he becomes acclimatised to the Klingon crew, and they to him.

As events progress, Riker is forced to make a decision that may lead him right into a violent confrontation with the Enterprise…

From a fan point of view, this is the first time we see the Klingon meal, gagh, and one of the only times we see Enterprise’s phaser range.

I quite like this episode, and it shows that the series is starting to have stronger and better stories. Sure there are still a few clunkers to come, especially in season 2, but there are also some amazing ones.

The Human Adventure continues on Thursday…

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