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L.I. Underhill is a media critic and historian specializing in pop culture, with a focus on science fiction (especially Star Trek) and video games. Their projects include a critical history of Star Trek told through the narrative of a war in time, a “heretical” history of The Legend of Zelda series and a literary postmodern reading of Jim Davis' Garfield.

2 Comments

  1. elvwood
    November 2, 2014 @ 12:11 am

    Since this is a listing post, I'll respond with one of my own: the season 2 ratings from my spreadsheet, since you'll presumably be getting to these stories fairly soon.

    209. The Measure of a Man – 92.58%
    216. Q Who? – 91.33%
    208. A Matter of Honor – 74.00%
    221. Peak Performance – 73.91%
    211. Contagion – 71.28%
    203. Elementary, Dear Data – 64.80%
    220. The Emissary – 63.42%
    206. The Schizoid Man – 56.36%
    202. Where Silence Has Lease – 56.30%
    213. Time Squared – 53.04%
    217. Samaritan Snare – 51.38%
    215. Pen Pals – 47.37%
    205. Loud as a Whisper – 47.32%
    212. The Royale – 43.45%
    207. Unnatural Selection – 40.00%
    214. The Icarus Factor – 39.39%
    218. Up the Long Ladder – 38.72%
    201. The Child – 34.17%
    219. Manhunt – 33.06%
    204. The Outrageous Okona – 31.91%
    210. The Dauphin – 30.95%
    222. Shades of Gray – 8.73%

    (While it's no surprise that Shades of Gray is at the bottom, the percentage is quite noteworthy: the next lowest for the entire series is more than 25%.)

    Getting back to season one, then: of the eight stories not on your list, four match up perfectly with the least-liked in my spreadsheet, and two more are 30th and 31st from bottom for the entire series. Datalore is an exception (of course), Hide and Q also does significantly better, and the ordering of stories in your list bears no resemblance; but you're still not as alone as you fear. With the usual caveats about regarding online polls as barometers of public opinion…

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  2. K. Jones
    November 3, 2014 @ 11:10 am

    It's interesting to me – and I planned on posting a longer few paragraphs about it the other day but got side-tracked – how wrong-headed the maligning of Season 1 is. I feel like it's only ever remembered for it's lowest lows, but here we have 17 episodes I'd put up against a lot of the later stuff. The show hasn't gotten into a comfort zone yet, and that's a good thing – when a show finds its comfort zone it loses its cutting edge, usually permanently.

    It's premature to get too far into it but I think I now hold Season 1 in higher regard than, say, Seasons 6 and 7. Those later seasons do have the benefit of long-term storytelling – they're working with characters who have seven years of build-up behind them, and writers who are willing to finally address fan demands and questions in interesting ways. But very few of them feel cutting edge in character or storytelling work.

    So to reiterate; I prefer Season 1 to Season 7 and think it has more good-to-great episodes.

    It's also early, but I will mention that I'm a firm believer that TNG's (in spite of the writer's strike) second, third and fourth seasons build toward it's peak, where skill and efficiency maximize, comfort zones aren't yet "firmly" established and are still pliable enough to feel some edge, and yet there's enough character history to feel like stakes have more significance.

    Now we're getting into the good stuff.

    Final rating for Season 1? Well, it doesn't feature much in the way of "Solid Runs". The early … two thirds … of the season seem to alternate between cool stories and the terrible, memorably awful ones. But "Symbiosis – Conspiracy – The Neutral Zone" can be called a good run of episodes.

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