28 February 2015

Top Star Trek: The Next Generation Episodes - Geordi

Awhile back, I decided it was high time to run down my favorite episodes of Star Trek: The Next Generation by character. I made it as far as Picard and Riker and then sort of fell out of blogging entirely. These lists are presented in chronological air date order, rather than any kind of ranking. I arbitrarily restricted each list to five episodes - four and a quarter hours of viewing sans commercials.

Because each list is limited to just five episodes, I excluded two-parters. This list showcases a character who wasn't really prominent in any of the two-parters so their omission isn't much of an issue here. So now, here are...

Top Five Episodes Starring
LeVar Burton
as Lt. Cmdr. Geordi LaForge

"Booby Trap"
10/30/1989 | Teleplay by Ron Roman and Michael Piller & Richard Danus; Story by Michael Wagner & Ron Roman | Directed by Gabrielle Beaumont

With the Enterprise caught in a mess, Geordi decides to make clever use of the Holodeck to create an interactive version of Dr. Leah Brahms, the ship's lead designer. What I like about this one is that we get to see Geordi as a professional, but also as a person. He's stubborn. He gets frustrated. He's charmed by the Holodeck's recreation of Dr. Brahms. It's all kind of weird, but it's a terrific showcase of the character. There is a follow-up episode, "Galaxy's Child", in which the real Dr. Brahms visits and is...well, she's not like the Holodeck said she was.

"The Enemy"
11/6/1989 | Written by David Kemper & Michael Piller | Directed by David Carson

The Enterprise responds to a distress signal from a downed Romulan ship. The setup is contrived, but the upshot is that an injured Geordi is trapped on an inhospitable planet with an injured Romulan while their respective ships have a showdown. It's a lot like the film No Man's Land, but without Nick Nolte. For me, the episode works almost entirely because it's Geordi in harm's way. This is really the first time I think we saw him tested in such a way, and while we're never afraid something awful will happen to him, we do wonder how he's going to make it through.

"The Mind's Eye"
5/27/1991 | Teleplay by René Echevarria, Story by Ken Schafer and René Echevarria | Directed by David Livingston

Geordi is captured by Romulans, brainwashed and returned as a programmed assassin sent to kill a high-ranking Klingon. This episode appeals to the cloak & dagger spy story fan in me. The suspense is sufficiently taut throughout, though admittedly blunted because The Next Generation was a prototypical episodic series. We never really worry that whatever happens in "The Mind's Eye" will affect events in the franchise for years to come - and so far, it hasn't. (Had this been an episode of Deep Space Nine, though...!)

"We can explain! No, really, that's what we're about to do. There are only a few minutes left."
"The Next Phase"
5/18/1992 | Written by Ronald D. Moore | Directed by David Carson

Geordi and Ro are accidentally phased off the regular plane of existence and are presumed dead. Ro confronts her own spirituality, something she'd previously denied. Geordi isn't having any of it, though, and doggedly pursues a scientific explanation - and solution. Part of the reason I picked this as a Top 5 Geordi episode is that he drives the narrative, displaying how intelligent he is without having Data to bounce things off of along the way. And watching his relationship with Ro develop is warm without being schmaltzy.

10/17/1993 | Written by Joe Menosky | Directed by Robert Weimer


This one starts off fairly contrived: Geordi is tinkering with a way to use his VISOR for remote control activity just in time to find out the starship his mother was commanding has disappeared in a dangerous place. Obviously, Geordi will use this new gimmick to rescue her. Duh. Except, he doesn't. It's the final act that makes this one stand out. It's one of the more daring episodes of the entire series, and a shame they never really followed up on what this one did to Geordi.

There you have it, Dear Reader: My top 5 Geordi episodes. Agree? Disagree? What would you pick?

Picard | Riker | Geordi | Worf