Wow, if Q is using me to judge how far humanity has become we are all so boned.
September 28th is the date in 1987 when “Encounter At Farpoint”, the pilot for Star Trek TNG aired. To mark this occasion I have decided to make this week TNG week here at FOTD. All the topics will be related to episodes of the classic series we all know and love. To kick things off, we’ll take a look at that very episode that kicked off the shows seven year run, “Encounter At Farpoint”. My primary resource for these entries will be A Wiki Whose Editors Also Can’t Use Contractions, Except When They Can, Memory Alpha.
First off, the episode that aired was quite different from what D.C Fontana originally wrote.
D.C. Fontana’s first story “Meeting at Farpoint” had several different storylines and names. The Enterprise-D had just completed a successful mission. Captain was Julien Picard instead of Jean-Luc Picard, first officer was Kyle Summers, and security chief was Macha Hernandez instead of Tasha Yar. Summers was promoted to captain and was up to take over his new command of the science vessel Starseeker at Farpoint Station. While in orbit of Farpoint Station, crew transfers include Lieutenant Commander William Ryker, Lieutenant Commander Data, Dr. Beverly Crusher and her fifteen year old daughter Leslie. Ryker and Data share a deep friendship. Following the transfer an alien vessel appeared near the planet and sent a message that all personnel had to beam to the planet or all would die. The captain of the Starseeker is firing photon torpedoes at the vessel resulting in the destruction of the Starseeker. At Picard’s orders, the crew of theEnterprise-D beamed to the surface and made contact to their enemy, the Annoi, an ape-like species with a high technology. The Annoi slaved the crew and the inhabitants of Farpoint to mine the mineral Balmin. An away team including Data, Ryker, Troi and Hernandez get aboard the Annoi ship and with the help of Leslie Crusher’s knowledge about the ship layout. Troi then learned that there is no engineering room aboard the ship – the ship is a lifeform. This lifeform was enslaved by the Annoi and needs Balmin to survive. 
Q was added in a second storyline when Paramount decided to a two hour pilot as opposed to a one hour pilot. Despite it being an addition, Executive Producer Michael Piller was quite pelased with how the Q story turned out.
“I think the Q thing did come out of a time requirement, but there isn’t any question in my mind that the best thing in the show is that Q story. If it had been only that other story, it would have been a disappointment. The other thing that comes out of ‘Farpoint’ is a vision or Roddenberry’s where we have Picard arguing for the future of mankind, representing the advocate of humanity to this Q who puts humanity on trial. That’s an extraordinary, philosophically ambitious idea, and it really helps to define why Star Trek is what it is. Without that, it would have been spaceships and monsters and special effects”
He also liked the way the story introduced Riker, Geordie and Dr. Crusher later in the episode. “One of the tricks I learned from watching “Encounter at Farpoint” again was that they didn’t introduce Riker and Geordi and Crusher until two or three acts in.”. He did the same thing with the pilot for DS9, having Bashir and Jadzia arrive at the station later after the others had gotten there.
This was also the final TV appearance of DeForest Kelly as Dr. McCoy, aside from archive footage from TOS used in the DS9 episode Trials and Tribble-ations. DeForest Kelly passed away June 11th, 1999.
The cameo was actually an addition and was something devised by Gene.
“It came about as a result of, I think, a meeting between him and De,” remembered producer Robert Justman. “I think it had been on Gene’s mind and he invited De to lunch and he says, ‘How would you feel about it?’, expecting De to say, ‘No. NO’–and De said, ‘I’d be honored.’ And not only that, not only did he say ‘I’d be honored,’ but he refused to take any more than SAG scale [salary]. He could have held us up for a lot of money, and he didn’t. And it was just great; it really got to me, the way he did it [the scene]. It really got to me; it was a beautiful, beautiful scene.”
Let’s wrap it up with a little bit of rapid fire continuity trivia.
Picard told Riker he had once been a first officer, however that is never mentioned again. When we learn about Picard’s service on the USS Stargazer we learn that he came captain when the captain was killed and the first office to injured to take command.
Data uses a contraction in this episode, contradicting everything we learn about how his programming does not allow him to do so in later episodes.
This is the only episode of the series to use scrolling credits instead of the text fading.
In Star Trek Generations Data references a joke Geordie told him during the Farpoint missions that he didn’t get until he got the emotion chip earlier in the movie.
That seems like a good place to end it. I hope everyone enjoyed this look back at the premiere of one of the giant’s in our genre, and I hope you look forward to more TNG trivia this week. I will see you all on the next Fact Of The Day.
Fact Of The Day is the daily column where RobGronkowski’sPartyBusDriver shares some random tidbit of science fiction, fantasy or horror knowledge. If there is a show or movie you would like to see done, leave a note in the comments below. You can see the full archive of past columns here.
3. (“The Beginning”, TNG Season 1 DVD special feature)