Thursday, September 28, 2017

If TNG Had an Eighth Season

The Next Generation was a smash success on television, and it far surpassed expectations of everyone involved. It became a pop culture hit that breathed new life into the Star Trek brand. It ensured that Trek would be a force for at least a full decade or two more. That it went for seven full seasons was beyond what many of us had hoped for when their adventures began, and yet when the show came to a close in 1994 we wished it could keep going on for at least another year. I get why they chose to end it when they did. The quality of the show slipped a little in the final season, and the people involved were tired. They wanted to do something in addition to Star Trek, and with Deep Space Nine on the television set we would still have Trek. Plus, let’s be honest, there would be more money involved in feature films, so financially the decision made sense.

But what if it had gone on for one more season? What new adventures could we have seen, what new worlds could have been discovered? What past stories could have been continued and/or concluded? Lots of fans have wondered what might have been, including this fan. I decided to examine that as part of the celebration of TNG’s 30th anniversary, and so here is what I would have loved to see if TNG had gone on for at least one more season. Please note, I know this is wishful thinking and that it would have changed things in Deep Space Nine and the like, but this is just for fun. So, on this, the 30th anniversary of this legendary show, I give you a “what if” tribute to what might have been. These are given in no particular order. 

1. Conspiracy Aliens – In Season 1 we had a fun episode titled “Conspiracy” that had Starfleet being infiltrated by intelligent and malevolent parasitic creatures. They were intent on taking over Starfleet and were defeated in a grizzly manner. Before they were defeated, however, they sent out a message to the farthest reaches of the galaxy, presumably to their own kind. This left the door open for a possible follow-up to the story. It never happened. I really wish it would have. It would have been nice to see these little critters again, maybe build the story over the last season, sowing seeds that something was once again afoot. It could have been a great two-part episode.

2. The Crewmen from Lower Decks – “Lower Decks” was a great episode that featured three new characters joining the already established Alyssa Ogawa and one of Wes Crusher’s squadron members from “First Duty”, Sito. It was a great episode that shone a light onto the lives of the countless crewmen that we had seen over the past seven years. In the episode, Ensign Sito is presumably killed on a mission, and her friends (Ben, Lavelle, Ogawa, and Taurik) are left to mourn her loss. While Ogawa was still seen on the show, even in a couple of the feature films, the other three were never seen again. I’m not saying that there should have been an episode where Sito is still alive (although that would have been sweet), it would have been nice that after dedicating a full episode to Ben, Lavelle, and Taurik to have seen them again.  

3. Commander Sela – When Denise Crosby returned to reprise her character in the classic “Yesterday’s Enterprise” it allowed the writers to create a delightful adversary in Yar’s half-human, half-Romulan daughter Sela. She interfered with the Enterprise on a few occasions and was a great plot twist in her reveal in the end of the fourth season “Redemption”. Her last appearance on the show was the great two-part episode “Unification” that featured Leonard Nimoy. While that story was great, it would have been nice to have had her back one last time. I had hoped she would have shown up in one of the feature films, but regardless of which, I wanted more Sela.

4. Captain Sulu – The episodes that featured beloved characters from the original series were always great episodes. From an aged Admiral McCoy in the pilot, to the afore mentioned “Unification” that had Spock, to the clever transporter rigging that beamed Scotty to the 24th Century in “Relics”, it was always fun to see these characters one last time. Even Sarek, Spock’s father, had a special episode that was very popular. In the eighth season it would have been fun to have had one last blast-from-the-past appearance. Unlike the other items on this list, I have a fully fleshed out idea. Captain Sulu could have made an appearance, and he didn’t have to be really old or brought forward in time the way that Scotty and later Kirk would do. It wouldn’t even have to be a major part of the episode, more like McCoy’s appearance in “Encounter at Farpoint”. My idea is that in an episode, likely the opening sequence (but really, it could be fit in anywhere), have Picard in the holodeck fencing. Since both opponents are masked you cannot tell who is who. After a few jousts and back-and-forth action, Picard removes his mask and says: “Well played, Captain”. His opponent then removes his mask to reveal Hikaru Sulu. They exchange some pleasantries, during which they are interrupted by either a page from the bridge or one of his officers entering and informing him of something that needs Picard’s attention. Picard bids Sulu “Adieu” and adds “Computer, end program”, to which the fencing arena and Sulu disappear. I will confess that this idea is basically something I remember reading in one of the many TNG novels that are out there, but I thought it was a great idea and would have loved to see it appear on the screen.

5. Deep Space Nine Crossover – Before you start, yes, there were some crossovers in the last bit. Doctor Bashir visited the Enterprise in Season 6 and helped Data dream. Riker contacted Quark to help track down the Duras sisters in Season 7. I’m not talking about a quick little cameo, I am talking a full-on crossover episode, somewhat like the ones we see in the DC superhero universe between Arrow, the Flash, Supergirl, and the Legends of Tomorrow. It could have been a two-part event, one happening on DS9 and the other on TNG that would have brought both crews together to save the universe or something. Picard and Sisko had a rough beginning in the pilot episode of DS9 and it would have been fun to see them mix it up a bit after having made amends. O’Brien could have had one last adventure with his former colleagues, and maybe Data and Bashir could have revisited the android dreams again. Lots of combinations could have made this fun.

I would love to hear your thoughts on these ideas, as well as anything you would have liked to have seen if an eighth season had happened. Leave your thoughts in the comment section. 

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