Dave Wrote This Nineties Blogfest, which naturally I will convert into a Star Trek nostalgia event...
Star Trek happening this year: second half of Next Generation third season; first half of same series fourth season
Best episode this year: "Yesterday's Enterprise," originally aired 2/19/90
There were a lot of good episodes to choose from, including both halves of "The Best of Both Worlds," "The Defector" (the first episode to air this year), "Sarek," "Deja Q," "Hollow Pursuits," "Family"..."Yesterday's Enterprise" is the one where the Enterprise-C, the immediate predecessor to Picard's ship in a rich lineage that also includes ones commanded by Archer and Kirk (and...Harriman), is displaced in time, creating an alternate reality where Tasha Yar is still alive, Guinan is the only one to know the difference, and reconciliation means one of these facts will no longer be the case.
Star Trek happening this year: Star Trek VI: The Undiscovered Country; second half of Next Generation fourth season; first half of same series fifth season
Best episode this year: "The Drumhead," originally aired 4/29/91
With a movie in the mix, it's always a little tricky, and Undiscovered Country is a definite highlight of the film series. Other noteworthy episodes include "The Wounded," "Qpid," "Darmok," "Ensign Ro," and the two-part episodes "Redemption" and "Unification," which featured Spock making an appearance to promote the film. "The Drumhead," however, is the multifaceted payoff to the lasting effects of Picard's assimilation by the Borg, with an ambitious judge attempting to create a conspiracy where none exists and causing all manner of mischief in the process. One of Patrick Stewart's best if underrated performances.
Star Trek happening this year: second half of Next Generation fifth season; first half of same series sixth season
Best episode this year: "The Inner Light," originally aired 6/1/92
Other highlights include "Conundrum," "Cause and Effect," "The First Duty," "Relics," "A Fistful of Datas," and the two-part episodes "Time's Arrow" and "Chain of Command." "The Inner Light" is a bona fide classic in the form of "Yesterday's Enterprise," so I don't need to explain too much of my selection process. This is the one where Picard is zapped by a passing probe and ends up living the memories of a man in the last decades of his world, finding a family and the things that are truly important.
Star Trek happening this year: first season of Deep Space Nine; second half of Next Generation sixth season; first half DS9 second season; first half TNG seventh season
Best episode this year: "Duet," originally aired 6/13/93
With fifty-four episodes broadcast during 1993 spread across two series and four different seasons, this was a busy year. "Duet" beat out "Tapestry," "Necessary Evil," and a lot of others for this honor. It's the standout first-season DS9 episode in which Major Kira is forced to figure out that not all Cardassians are as evil as she and every other Bajoran might have concluded after the brutal Occupation. The one featured in "Duet" actually attempts to take on a considerable amount of the blame for all that misery.
Star Trek happening this year: Star Trek Generations; second half of Next Generation seventh season; second half of Deep Space Nine second season; first half of same series third season
Best episode this year: "The Search," originally aired 9/26-10/3/94
The final episode of TNG, "All Good Things...," is included in this somewhat less cluttered bunch, as well as the cast crossover film Generations, which features the death of Kirk, as well DS9 in its only period airing alone, the start of its third season in the second half of the year. "The Search" is a two-part opening to that season, introducing the new Starfleet combat ship Defiant and finally answering the riddle of Odo's origins, which means we meet the Founders, which means meeting the Dominion, which means the first beats of what would later unfold into an all-out war arc that covers the final two seasons of the series.
Star Trek happening this year: second half of Deep Space Nine third season; first season of Voyager; first half of DS9 fourth season; first half of VOY second season
Best episode this year: "The Visitor," originally aired 10/9/95
Compared to the last time there were four seasons airing during the same year, there's *fewer* episodes calling for attention, "only" fifty-three. With Voyager launching in much the same fashion as Deep Space Nine two years earlier, that means a smaller first season. Some highlights from the year: Past Tense," "Caretaker," "Prophet Motive," "Eye of the Needle," "State of Flux," "Through the Looking Glass," "Heroes and Demons," "Explorers," "Jetrel," "Learning Curve," "The 37's," "The Way of the Warrior," "Maneuvers," "Resistance," "Our Man Bashir"...(yes, it was a very good year). "The Visitor" stands out, though. It sits at the top of my list of the best episodes of the whole franchise, actually. It's the one where Sisko becomes unstuck from time, and his son Jake concocts an elaborate scheme to get him back. He's an old man when we first see him, receiving the eponymous guest (or is that Sisko?), and telling his last greatest story about that scheme.
Star Trek happening this year: Star Trek: First Contact; second half of Deep Space Nine fourth season; second half of Voyager second season; first half of DS9 fifth season; first half of VOY third season
Best episode this year: "Death Wish," originally aired 2/19/96; First Contact
Out of the two winners this year, first place would go to First Contact, one of the best Star Trek films ever, depicting the Borg's return invasion and subsequent trip back in time to try and prevent humanity's first warp journey, which provokes great emotion from Picard (and one of Patrick Stewart's acknowledged best performances). "Death Wish," meanwhile, features another return, this time from Q, but in Voyager, where he finds himself in the uncomfortable position of defending a Continuum that has turned its back on him in the past in an elaborate examination of suicide. There are a lot of other noteworthy episodes, but Star Trek's thirtieth anniversary is perhaps best reflected in the tribute episodes "Trials and Tribble-ations" and "Flashback."
Star Trek happening this year: second half of Deep Space Nine fifth season; second half of Voyager third season; first half of DS9 sixth season; first half of VOY fourth season
Best episode this year: "Distant Origin," originally aired 4/30/97
Things happening during this period: the introduction to Voyager of Borg babe Seven of Nine, "Year of Hell," the start of that Dominion War I referenced earlier, the marriage of Worf and Jadzia Dax, discovering Bashir's genetic alterations...Big stuff. Yet the best episode of the year is perhaps the best purely episodic episode of the entire franchise, "Distant Origin," in which Voyager's intrepid first officer Chakotay stumbles into an alien scientist's quest to prove an unpopular theory. Most of the episode ignores standard Star Trek perspective by tracking the scientist's efforts directly and only sparingly what Chakotay's crewmates are up to, and the tragic ending pushes the boundaries of everything the franchise stands for.
Star Trek happening this year: Star Trek: Insurrection; second half of Deep Space Nine sixth season; second half of Voyager fourth season; first half of DS9 seventh season; first half of VOY fifth season
Best episode this year: "Far Beyond the Stars," originally aired 2/11/98
The final of four films made this decade was released, but few would be willing to argue that Insurrection was the best Star Trek of 1998, regardless of how they feel about Deep Space Nine or Voyager. "Waltz," "Message in a Bottle," "The Killing Game," "Inquisition," "In the Pale Moonlight," "Living Witness," "Extreme Risk," "Timeless," "Treachery, Faith, and the Great River," "The Siege of AR-558," and "It's Only a Paper Moon" were all broadcast this year, but "Far Beyond the Stars" stands head and shoulders above them. It's the one where Sisko is given a vision by the Prophets to start believing in himself again after the horrors of the Dominion War start to wear on them. It's also an allegory of the racial prejudices that haunted black Americans in the 20th century, since that's what shape the vision takes, and a chance to see DS9 actors usually buried under mounds of rubber facial prosthetic as they otherwise look.
Star Trek happening this year: second half of Deep Space Nine seventh season; second half of Voyager fifth season; first half of same series sixth season
Best episode this year: "Latent Image," originally aired 1/20/99
Deep Space Nine came to an end with an epic ten-episode arc that culminated in "What You Leave Behind," while Voyager had its share of highlights including "Dark Frontier," "11:59," "Equinox" (both parts), "Barge of the Dead," and "Pathfinder," but "Latent Image" stole the show. It's The Doctor's finest hour, and this holographic grump was one of the franchise's best characters. In it, his program has a difficult time reconciling an otherwise routine decision to save the life of one patient over another, which forces his most dramatic growth as an individual and the crew's acceptance of that status from an artificial lifeform, the show's answer to Next Generation's "Measure of a Man." It's a fine way to close a busy decade for Star Trek.