Captain's Blog pt. 38: The Best of The Next Generation

Before we move completely on from The Next Generation side of things: so we've seen my personal favorites and discussed some of yours. But what are the best TNG episodes? As objectively speaking as possible?

My methodology: I took the top 6 of my personal faves from each season and pitted them against one another in mortal combat. Criteria used: production value, originality (or, if familiar, success at conveying core strength of concept,) script, performance, and showcasing-the-series'-best-attributes. I assigned each episode on my lists numerical values based on the above, then added them up. What follows is the end result of many rounds of battle in my notebook. (I'd show you, but I've already sent it to the Smithsonian.)

Despite their high rankings in my season-by-season favorites, I removed "Clues" and "Emergence" from consideration. I love them more than some of the episodes below but recognize I'm pretty much the only one. So, tearfully but in the spirit of noble sacrifice and science, I put them to one side.

I've made my arguments for these episodes in other blogs, so this is just a straight-up list. You're welcome, Planet Earth. Away we go.

25. Time's Arrow
24. Remember Me
23. Lower Decks
22. Captain's Holiday
21. Rascals
20. The Next Phase
19. Starship Mine
18. Schisms
17. Contagion
16. Data's Day
15. Sins of the Father
14. Phantasms
13. Thine Own Self
12. Future Imperfect
11. Conundrum
10. Ship in a Bottle
9. Darmok
8. Yesterday's Enterprise
7. Cause and Effect
6. Family
5. Tapestry
4. The Inner Light
3. Parallels
2. The Best of Both Worlds
1. All Good Things...
How about you? How are yours different?


  1. Choosing between "All Good Things..." and "The Best of Both Worlds" would be a tough one for me. Beyond that, I think you can take the titles of the remaining top 10, fling them into the air, and put them in more or less whatever order they landed in.

    My top 10, though, might have "Encounter at Farpoint" in it. I think that episode did a very good job of establishing the series. Granted, I also think I like it more than most people like it, so that may be a case more of personal bias than anything else.

    1. Encounter at Farpoint did indeed establish the series well, and I think it's quality stuff. I think it might fall in around number 40, or so, for me, personally. (I only graded about 30 episodes, then realized I had enough for my top 25, so I stopped.)

      And yeah, any of the top 10 here could credibly be swapped for the top spot, I agree.

    2. * i.e. the non-BoBW or AGT top spot, I mean, of course.

  2. I can't argue with your list, of course, it being yours, and besides, I have no problem with most of the rankings. The only difference for me would be to place Parallels at the top. It continues to linger in my mind, intriguing me long after I've forgotten the plots of other episodes. The biggest plus for me is that it sets the stage for reconciling every iteration of Trek, smoothing out continuity problems by simply obviating them. Even if the timeline was "repaired" in this episode, the mucking about with time done in the Trek universe on a regular basis is effectively explained and dealt with here. Anyway, you know how much I love Crisis on Infinite Earths, and I consider this Trek's Crisis.

    The pic for 10 made me chuckle, and then made me think. The chuckle was because I immediately thought "hey, wait a minute, are we supposed to believe Moriarty and his lady friend are gonna live in that shuttle indefinitely? Where will they take a dump?" Then it struck me that they're holograms...and THEN it hit me that this implies that the holodeck effectively "edits out" bodily functions in its creations. I guess now I can understand why Geordi and Barclay love living in their own worlds on the holodeck; besides everything else, there isn't the specter of walking in on your lady on the pot.

    The pic for Parallels looks like they're doin' the Time Warp agaiiiiiin...

    1. By the way, I imagine you'll hate me for those last two points, but I swear they leaped out at me.

    2. Why would I hate you for those last two points? I don't follow you.

    3. It's an interesting question, though I'll assume they can land wherever they need to, to do their business. (I've always assumed Moriarty and the Countess, there, are "fully functional.")

      It does bring up some of the finer points of Trek, of course, to wonder such things. It's a perfectly legitimate line of inquiry, though I do like the eventual Occam's Razor of Grant Morrison's observation from Supergods: "You don't have to figure out how Batman goes to the bathroom, because he's a cartoon character." Sometimes, I'll think of that and chuckle to myself when I start mulling such things over.

      I still think labeling "Remember Me" and "Future Imperfect" as "solipsistic" is an error/ micharacterization, but besides that one difference of interpretation, please continue to make whatever points you see fit, here there and everywhere, sir! Hellfire!

  3. I was always a big Barclay fan so I loved the Ninth Degree and Hollow Pursuits. Also I liked "The Royale" simply because its very First Generation Trek feel. I will say that your top 10 is pretty spot on and love that Inner Light made your top 5

    1. How could it not? Glad you enjoyed!

      The Royale is such a weirdly fun one. I agree it has a first generation Trek feel (though perhaps 3rd season.) In many ways, it's a terrible episode. But I always enjoy watching it, and the imagery has always stuck with me.

      Yaaaaaaaay, brother.