When Star Trek: The Next Generation began, we were introduced to a new crew and a new Enterprise. What I remember most about that first episode, however, was the new villain of sorts: Q. John De Lancie has created one of Star Trek’s most memorable and endearing characters. Some claim the Q character was really introduced in the Original Series episode Squire of Gothos. William Campbell plays the all powerful gamester Trelane who turns out to be a child of omnipotent parents who was merely playing with Kirk and his crew. While I can see the similarities, the Trek gurus have not officially endorsed this connection. I hope it stays that way. I didn’t like that episode. Trelane was quite an annoying character. That leads me back to my feeling that it’s really De Lancie and not necessarily Q that we’re in love with. Let’s face it. While some of the best Next Generation episodes feature Q, some of them are also pretty lame. Still, no matter how bad the episode is, it’s still worth watching Q. I guess I’ve always been a sucker for the clever con artist characters. Sid the Snitch from Hill Street Blues is another of my all-time favorite characters. In case you don’t know, Q is just one part of an omnipotent Q continuum. This omnipotent race or collective usually keeps to themselves. Our Q, however, has found a playmate in Picard and some of his counterparts. He seems intent on being that stone in Picard’s shoe while expressing some sincere interest in the human condition. While most of his appearances have resulted in mere annoyance, we can’t forget that it was Q who brought the Federation in contact with its most powerful and perhaps most popular bad guys, the Borg.
I tend to frown on such multiple dipping, but in the case of these fan collections I think they’re generally a good idea. The entire Trek collection would cost several thousand of your hard earned dollars. If you have most of this stuff on laserdisc like I do, you’ve been reluctant to plunk down the coin again. For me these collections are a good way to upgrade some of the more important stuff.
From the Next Generation we once again get the lion’s share of episodes. We are introduced to the new Enterprise and her not yet familiar crew in the two-parter Encounter at Farpoint. This pilot is often not given its proper due by many fans. Sure, the quality all the way around continued to improve, but isn’t that a good sign for any series? Here, on the way to her first mission at a remote trading post, the Enterprise encounters Q, who has decided to place humanity on trial for all its past crimes. Picard and his crew will be the representatives of humankind. It is agreed that the crew’s actions on this first mission will supply the evidence either way. Of course, the crew figures out the puzzle. They do the right thing, and Q crawls away never to be heard from again. Not. Hide and Q pits Riker against our mischievous alien. By giving Riker his omnipotent powers, Q hopes to prove to Picard just how weak humans truly are. It takes a while, and in the typical Faust style, Riker does become swept up in his new unlimited power. It is only when his friends refuse to accept his generosity that he finally sees through the ruse and declines Q’s offer. Deja Q is perhaps one of the finest episodes of any Trek show. Q is being punished for his interference with humanity. The continuum has stripped away his powers and made him a mere mortal. Unfortunately for Picard and associates, he’s plunked down on the Enterprise to live out his now painfully mundane existence. So who is really being punished here? De Lancie serves the role best here as he experiences the likes of hunger and sleep for the first time. While the crew might find his predicament humorous, it’s not so when the many other races Q has toyed with over the years come gunning for their now-vulnerable nemesis. Q-Pid might have well been dubbed Stu-Pid. The worst of the Q adventures finds the crew placed in Sherwood Forest as Robin Hood and his Merry Men. The only saving grace here is Worf who steals the show by smashing Data’s mandolin and his classic line: “I am NOT a merry man”. True, Q is perhaps a more serious turn in the Q story Arc. A young girl is brought aboard who may be a lost member of the Q. Our Q must ascertain her status and possibly kill her if she refuses to accompany him back to the continuum. This episode wonderfully weaves the traditional magic of a Trek morality tale with the whimsical world of Q. Tapestry forgoes the Q title mandate and offers yet another of Trek’s finest moments. Picard is suffering from mid-life regrets, so Q allows him to relive a pivotal point in his life, only to find that the outcome was less than he hoped for after all. As with anything in life, All Good Things must come to an end. Thus, in one of the finest finales of any series, Q returns to announce that the trial had never ended, and now Picard, who is traveling backward and forwards uncontrollably through time, must solve yet another puzzle for Q to deliver a favorable verdict. This was actually once considered as the crossover feature film that eventually became Generations. The Kirk Enterprise was to be one of the ships caught in the time trap. It’s a shame that this wasn’t fleshed out. It would have made a far more compelling story involving the two crews, plus I regret that Q never made a feature film appearance.
From Deep Space Nine we get only one appearance from Q. I think the producers saw what I know we all did. De Lancie couldn’t quite connect with Sisko the way he did with Picard. In Q-Less Q is having some relationship problems with Vash, an old Picard flame Q picked up in the Q-Pid episode. It seems the magic’s gone, and Q turns to the Deep Space Nine crew for relationship advice. Not the best Q outing.
From Voyager we get some interesting Q outings. None are as lighthearted as the original Picard encounters, but they still offer us a continuation of Q. Death Wish is another heavy handed morality tale. Another Q boards Voyager with a request. His life of omnipotence is quite boring, and he wants to die. Of course, that can’t be allowed, so De Lancie arrives to bring back the embittered Q and keep him from self destruction. It seems no one in the continuum knows what effect the suicide will have on the whole. The Q And The Grey is perhaps the weakest of all the Q shows. A mock civil war battlefield shows the results of Death Wish to be a split in the continuum. Add to this the completely awful idea that a love child between Q and Janeway might heal the breach, and this one is so metaphor soaked it makes no sense at all. Even though Janeway refuses and alerts Q to the admiring eye of a female Q, the resulting child arrives in Q2. Here De Lancie’s real life son plays his character’s son. I’m sure there was hope of passing the torch here, but it never really clicks. Keegan De Lancie just doesn’t have his father’s wit, and this Q episode ends the arc on a somewhat flat note.
All of these episodes are presented in their original full frame broadcast format. There is a good deal of variety here. All of the transfers are identical to their individual season releases.
The Dolby Digital 5.1 tracks are pretty much comparable to the original releases.
Three text commentaries by the Okudas are all this collection provides. I can’t help but think some participation by De Lancie was required here. Truly a missed opportunity.The menus are not as elaborate as some of the later season sets, but they are easy to navigate.The packaging is a fine slim book holding four discs that slides into a nice slip case.
Will we ever see Q again? I rather doubt it, but in Trek you never say die. If the scuttlebutt out of Paramount is correct, we’re going to see a younger Kirk and Spock from the Academy days in the next film. A mirror universe film written last year and leaked to me by a source I have at Paramount is a much better plan for a future film and apparently is championed by Shatner. Our only hope of seeing Q again lies in the next Trek series. It may be a few years, but there will be another Trek series. One idea being tossed around behind closed doors is a series based on the Temporal Federation seen in the Enterprise series. I have to believe this will open the door to “All Good Things…”