Star Trek: The Next Generation (1988): S01E16 – Too Short a Season


Introduction

“Too Short a Season” is the sixteenth episode of the first season of the American science fiction television series Star Trek: The Next Generation. It first aired on 08 February 1988, in broadcast syndication.

The teleplay was written by Michael Michaelian and D. C. Fontana, based on a story by Michaelian, and the episode was directed by Rob Bowman.

Set in the 24th century, the series follows the adventures of the Starfleet crew of the Federation starship Enterprise-D. In this episode, the Enterprise transports the elderly Admiral Mark Jameson to deal with a hostage negotiation on the planet Mordan IV. Jameson took a drug to reverse his ageing, and must defuse the situation with a former adversary.

During re-writes of the script by Fontana, various elements introduced by Michaelian were changed, including the ending. Guest stars included Michael Pataki, who had appeared in the Star Trek: The Original Series episode “The Trouble with Tribbles“. Reviews were mixed, with particular criticism directed at the acting of Clayton Rohner as Admiral Jameson.

Outline

The Federation starship Enterprise, under the command of Captain Jean-Luc Picard (Patrick Stewart), brings aboard the elderly Admiral Mark Jameson and his wife Anne (Marsha Hunt) on request of Karnas (Michael Pataki), the Governor of Mordan IV. Karnas warns that a dissident terrorist group has taken a Federation Ambassador and his staff hostage, and demand to speak to a negotiator. Jameson had negotiated a previous settlement on Mordan IV. As the ship travels to Mordan IV, Jameson becomes stronger and more able to move about on his own, and no longer shows signs of the terminal Iverson’s Disease he was known to have before he was beamed aboard. Jameson admits to taking an array of drugs to reverse the ageing process over the last two years, and only recently has taken an overdose of the drugs to prepare himself for the negotiations. Jameson begins to appear younger and full of energy, but has frequent pains as a result of the overdose. By the time they are nearing Mordan, Jameson appears as a young adult.

As they approach the planet, Jameson begins audio communication with Karnas to learn more of the situation, but soon intuits that it is Karnas himself that has taken the Federation staff. Karnas reminds Jameson that his treachery during their last encounter on Mordan IV resulted in years of war. Against the advice of Picard, Jameson devises plans to rescue the hostages by transporting the away team to the tunnels beneath Karnas’ mansion, where Jameson believes the hostages are being held. Picard privately confronts Jameson about Karnas’ motives. Jameson reveals that in the past, Karnas captured a Federation starliner in revenge for the death of his father by another local tribe. Jameson negotiated for the passengers’ release by giving Karnas what he demanded, a supply of Federation weapons. However, Jameson, in his interpretation of the Prime Directive, also supplied the warring tribes with an equal number of weapons. Jameson had thought this would only lead to a short-lived skirmish, and had not expected a war that would last over forty years. Jameson is now insistent on correcting his past mistake and thus took the reverse ageing drug in order to be at his best.

In orbit, the Enterprise crew and Jameson beam down into the tunnels beneath Karnas’ manor, but find that their arrival was anticipated and face off against armed guards. Jameson collapses during the fight, and the crew beams back to the Enterprise. Jameson was not shot, but the reverse ageing drug is destroying his body. Karnas demands to see Jameson or he will kill a hostage every 15 minutes. Picard opts to beam himself, Dr. Crusher (Gates McFadden), Jameson, and eventually Jameson’s wife Anne directly to Karnas’ office. Karnas refuses to believe that the young man is Jameson, so Jameson reveals a scar on his wrist inflicted by Karnas years ago. Jameson dies shortly afterwards in his wife’s embrace. Karnas agrees to let the hostages go, and to allow Jameson to be buried on Mordan IV at Anne’s request.

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Production & Filming Details

  • Director(s): Rob Bowman.
  • Writer(s): Michael Michaelian.
  • Release Date: 08 February 1988.
  • Running Time: 50 minutes.
  • Country: US.
  • Language: English.

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