As the sixth season of Star Trek: The Next Generation
went into production, everyone knew that attentions would soon be permanently divided by the debut of Deep Space Nine
. Sure enough that meant crossovers ("Birthright"), guest stars and references back and forth. The sense of baton-passing drew the TNG
family closer, however. Directorial debuts begun in Season 5 allowed for repeat group-huddle ownership of several shows. Jonathan Frakes bettered "The Quality of Life" by "The Chase", which finally offered an explanation why most races in the Trek
universe are humanoid with knobbly foreheads. Patrick Stewart crowbarred a Western into the franchise in "A Fistful of Datas". LeVar Burton introduced the far more exciting Riker clone Thomas in "Second Chances". But here we still find that inability to follow through a good idea, since it was intended for Tom to replace Will. Barclay outstayed his welcome with a lacklustre "Ship in a Bottle" (despite a hammy cameo from Stephanie Beacham) after he'd injected creepiness into "Realm of Fear". The same happened with Q and the painfully weak "True Q" contrasted by the philosophically challenging "Tapestry", where Picard faced the decisions of his youth.
Yet ultimately the year provided more memorable moments than either year 5 did or year 7 would. There was the fun of a pint-sized Starfleet in "Rascals", the shocking comment on political torture in "Chain of Command", the endless Matrix-like guessing game of reality in "Frame of Mind", and even a jokey genre nod often called "Die Hard Picard" instead of "Starship Mine". The two biggest attention-drawing moments came via stellar cameos. There was the bittersweet sight of James Doohan revisiting the original Enterprise Bridge on "Relics", then a quick contribution by Stephen Hawking in the cliff-hanger "Descent". Both were attempts at keeping TNG the connoisseur's Trek incarnation of choice. --Paul Tonks
The complete sixth season of the 'Star Trek' spin-off. In 'Time's Arrow: Part 2' the crew realise that aliens are travelling into Earth's past to steal mankind's neural energy. In 'Realm of Fear' Reg Barclay returns and has to face his phobias when he discovers aliens in the transporter beam's sub-space. In 'Man of the People' an ambassador channels his dark thoughts into Troi's mind to keep him young and alive. In 'Relics' Scotty, from the original 'Star Trek' series, is found trapped in a transporter beam where he has been for over seventy years. In 'Schisms' certain crew members begin to suffer from strange symptoms and dreams, and it is soon discovered that sub-space aliens are abducting the crew in order to experiment on them. In 'True Q' the super-being Q returns and informs a young girl that she is part of the Q continuum, and she must decide between joining the other Q or being killed. In 'Rascals' a transporter malfunction reduces some of the crew to child versions of themselves. In 'A Fistful of Datas' Worf, Troi and Alexander are trapped in a Western holo-deck programme when Data floods the ship's computer with his own neural signals. In 'The Quality of Life' Data risks the rest of the crews' lives by protecting a new 'living' machine. In 'Chain of Command: Part 1' Picard is sent on a mission and replaced by the caustic Captain Jellico. In 'Chain of Command: Part 2' Picard is subjected to all manner of torture at the hands of the Cardassians, and the crew of the Enterprise begin to feel uneasy under Jellico's command. In 'Ship in a Bottle' Barclay reactivates the holo character of Moriarty who is determined to live a life outside the walls of the holo-deck. In 'Aquiel' Geordie falls in love with an alien Starfleet lieutenant who is the suspect in a bizarre murder case. In 'Face of the Enemy' Troi awakes one morning to find that she is dressed as a Romulan on a Romulan ship, helping to smuggle high ranking defectors to the Federation. In 'Tapestry' Picard gets fatally wounded and meets Q in the afterlife, where he is shown that he really did have a 'wonderful life'. In 'Birthright: Part 1' Data is experiencing dreams and Worf is informed by a stranger on DS9 that his father may have survived the Kitomer massacre, so he sets off to find out. In 'Birthright: Part 2' Worf is held captive by the Romulans. In 'Starship Mine' Picard has to deal with intergalactic terrorists while trapped on the Enterprise. In 'Lessons' Picard falls in love with a new officer. In 'The Chase' a madcap chase across space culminates in a confrontation between the Klingons, Humans, Romulans and Cardassians, who find out they have more in common than any of them could imagine. In 'Frame of Mind' Riker finds himself interned in a lunatic asylum. In 'Suspicions' Dr Crusher risks her career when she tries to prove that an eminent Ferengi scientist was murdered by one of his rivals. In 'Rightful Heir' Worf finds his loyalty severely tested when a mythically great Klingon warrior returns to reclaim the Empire. In 'Second Chances' Riker encounters a transporter twin of himself that was created by accident eight years earlier, and this twin tries to rekindle his love for Troi. In 'Timescape' the Enterprise is frozen in time on the edge of a disaster and the crew must discover a way of saving themselves. Finally, in 'Descent: Part 1', Data is lured away from the Enterprise by the new Borg, who are now able to demonstrate their individuality and refer to themselves using names.