Saga of the Jasonite

The continuing adventures of that eternal man of mystery…

Season Six

Better than ever baby!

Brent Spiner: “I think our sixth season was actually our best year. The most complete. More good episodes in the season than any other.” Ronald Moore, one of the writers: “Season six is where the show was at its best… it just felt like we were creative and mixing it up and just pushing the boundaries of what the show could be.” Naren Shankar, science advisor and story editor: “I would have to say probably season six was the best year of the show. We could all feel it.”

Season six was a season of some trepidation, at least initially. This was the year that the contracts for all the principal actors was up. This was the year a new Star Trek spinoff was slated to begin. Gene Roddenberry, the great bird of the galaxy, was dead. Would this be the last season for TNG? Would this new series be any good at all? The question of whether TNG would continue was not officially settled until April of 1993, when Rick Berman–the showrunner now–announced that there would be a TNG movie coming out by Christmas of 1994, following the seventh and final season of The Next Generation.

It was high times to be a Star Trek fan. In January of 1993 Star Trek Deep Space Nine ushered in an unprecedented age, an era in which there were two Star Trek shows simultaneously on the air. The ratings for DS9 was a syndication-high of 18.8 for the season. Meanwhile, TNG’s numbers were so strong that they beat the World Series in 1992! There began to be actual camps to teach folks Klingon! The studio-estimated sales of all Trek products up to that point hit $2 billion, and the majority of the over-100 Star Trek novels written at that point were New York Times bestsellers.

Behind the scenes there were a lot of promotions among staff, with several members pulling double duty as they worked on both shows simultaneously. Michael Piller, who was head of the writer’s room since season three, had gone over to DS9 and Jeri Taylor was promoted to co-executive producer and the de facto person in charge of the writers on TNG. Jeri was pretty free with the writers, telling them to write what they wanted, and as a result the first third of the season was more high concept than in most previous seasons. This is the only season in all of TNG–maybe all of Star Trek–where not one episode featured a shipboard technological breakdown as a plot device. One person who definitely started the season happy was Marina Sirtis, who had married her fiance over the summer. She must’ve honeymooned someplace sunny, because she had the darkest tan ever as the season began. She wasn’t the only one, as LeVar Burton got married that October as well!

Season six was a season of ending and departures, however. It saw the departure of Chief Miles O’Brien, as he was promoted to Chief Operations Officer on Deep Space 9. He only appears in Realm of Fear and Rascals (along with Keiko, who also left) this season. Michele Forbes, who played Ensign Ro in several episodes of season five and was offered a promotion and second in command on DS9 (she declined), would only give a cameo appearance in Rascals this season. Guinan was a rare sight in season six as well, only appearing in Time’s Arrow Pt II, Rascals and Suspicions, which would be her final appearance for the series. This is also the only season in which Lwaxana Troi does not appear.

This is also the season of two-parters. If we include Time’s Arrow and Descent there are four two-parters in season six! There were two crossover episodes between TNG and DS9: one with Picard visiting DS9 in its pilot, the other with Doctor Bashir visiting the Enterprise in Birthright.

Season six is overall one of the very strongest in terms of the number of high quality episodes. The Next Generation wasn’t a spring chicken anymore, but fans were shown that a series in its sixth season could still churn out some of the very best writing, acting and directing on television! I could not find my usual blooper reel on YouTube. It is included in the Blu-Ray version of season six, but I will say that you’re not missing much.

List of episodes in season six (links will become active as I review them):

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