Reviews: Star Trek The Next Generation
Seasons 1 and 2 episode recommendations.
It is true that seasons 1 and 2 of TNG are not as strong as the others, but 'just skipping them' is an absolutely silly idea. There are some great gems, and a bunch of at-least-decent episodes that set up future developments. Season 1 - 11 episodes:
- Encounter At Farpoint: Establishes various details on character backstories and is a good introduction to the series. Since that was its point.
- Where No One Has Gone Before: Arguably the best season 1 episode. Sets up a story arc that carries to the very last season.
- The Battle: Picard and Ferengi backstory.
- Hide And Q: In addition to being pretty decent on its own, this episode is part of the multi-season Q story.
- Datalore: The Origin Story of Data, also setting up a multi-season arc.
- 11001001: Interesting bottle story, and sets up an important plot point in a future episode.
- Coming Of Age: Sets up context for 'Conspiracy.'
- Heart Of Glory: Explores the current state of affairs with the Klingons and Worf.
- Skin Of Evil: Important story that sets up some future plot points.
- Conspiracy: Follows up on Coming Of Age. Best if you watch The Neutral Zone right afterward.
- The Neutral Zone: Sets up the Romulans as the show's Big Bad.
- Elementary, Dear Data: Sets up an episode much later. Pretty good on its own, though.
- The Schizoid Man: Discusses more of Data's backstory.
- A Matter Of Honor: Like Heart Of Glory, this episode discusses the Klingons.
- The Measure Of A Man: Simply unskippable.
- Contagion: Follows up on the Romulans after 'The Neutral Zone.'
- Q Who: Brings back Q and introduces the show's new Big Bad.
- The Emissary: Deals with Worf and the Klingons some more
- Peak Performance: A follow up to the events of Q Who, this is the season two finale.
I'd recommend skipping the first season and maybe the second
I usually don't like doing things like this, but I'm afraid I'm going to have to make an exception here. The first season, save Skin of Evil, isn't very good. Gene Roddenberry was still a big moderating force in the writing at this time, and it shows, as most of the characters come off as aloof, alien, and practically dripping with smugness. They love giving speeches on how much better they are than the humans of the past, how superior their non-capitalist lifestyle is, and how evil and stupid we are. I understand that Gene wanted to show *his* perfect future, but making your characters flawless and preachy does not make for interesting television. The only episodes that you'll really need to watch are the two part premeire, Datalore, and 'skin of evil', and I'm only recommending those because they have events which come up in later seasons. Season Two isn't much better, but for different reasons; a writers strike at the time lead to much lower quality writing (hell, the season finale was a glorified season recap clip show), culminating in the simply awful 'The Outrageous Okana', but there are still plenty of episodes worth watching. If you want to skip this as well, then I'd cherry pick a few out that you should watch: A Matter of Honour (has pivotal moments for Worf's character), The Measure of a Man and Where Silence has Lease (Great all-round episodes), Q-Who (possibly the best Q story ever and the first appearance by The Borg). Season 3 was the point where the show really found its footing, and churning out quality stories.