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Too Short a Season (episode)

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An elderly Starfleet admiral hides a deadly secret as he leads the Enterprise-D in a hostage rescue mission.

Summary Edit

Teaser Edit

The USS Enterprise-D has been sent to Persephone V to confer with Admiral Mark Jameson. Starfleet received a subspace transmission from Karnas, the governor of Mordan IV two days previously. In it, he says that terrorists have taken the Federation Ambassador Hawkins hostage. They want to talk to a Federation negotiator, and in his opinion there is only one man qualified – Admiral Jameson. Captain Picard transmits the message to Jameson and asks that he come. Mordan is at peace after forty years of civil war and Picard wonders why Karnas would be unable to deal with this threat, having settled the civil war five years ago. Jameson was the man who negotiated the release of hostages from Mordan 45 years previously.

Support chair

Jameson as an old man

Jameson beams aboard in a wheelchair with his wife, Anne. He warns Picard that Starfleet has designated him senior mission officer, and as such he will be in charge of the away team and the mission itself. Picard is slightly taken aback, but agrees to this.

Act One Edit

They go to the bridge, where Karnas contacts them again. He informs Jameson of the situation on Mordan, and says that the terrorists demand that the discussions are held on Mordan, and that they speak only with the Federation negotiator. Jameson accepts the conditions, and the transmission ends. Deanna Troi says that she senses that Karnas is being honest, but that he is holding something back. Jameson suggests that maybe he doesn't want to admit his failure to deal with the situation.

Doctor Beverly Crusher contacts Picard and says she's ready to perform the standard medical exam on Jameson, who looks nervous at this, which Troi notices. They go first to the ready room, where Riker asks how Karnas knew Jameson was still alive. He says he briefed Hawkins before he took over his post on Mordan. Data wonders what the terrorists want, but no one is able to offer an answer.

Later in Jameson's quarters, he gets out of his wheelchair and staggers to a chair. His wife says he seems better, but then he gets a sharp pain in his chest. She wants to call sickbay but he won't let her. He says it has happened before, but it will go away.

In the ready room, Dr. Crusher is talking to Picard. She says that the medical records Jameson gave her were two months old and not two days old as he claimed. She wonders why he lied. Picard says he's 85 years old, but Crusher says he suffers from Iverson's Disease, which affects the body but not the mind. Picard decides he wants her on the bridge for the duration of the mission so she'll be on hand should anything come up with Jameson.

As the Enterprise-D approaches the Idini Star Cluster, Picard asks Jameson if he would like to take the conn as they make transit. He amazes everyone by standing up and walking slowly to the conn. He says he has begun some new therapy that is working well for him.

Act Two Edit

In the ready room, Crusher says there's no known cure for Iverson's and it has never been known to go into remission. Jameson has been confined to the wheelchair for the last four years.

In his quarters, Jameson is watching the recording of Karnas' initial message again, when his wife comes in. He stands up and walks over to her. She's delighted at first but then gets suspicious. She brings him over to a mirror and sees he looks twenty years younger. Suddenly he gets the chest pain again and she calls Sickbay. After examining him, Crusher tells Picard that she has detected some unknown chemicals in his bloodstream, and that there is no trace of Iverson's Disease, but she doesn't know how this is possible.
Jameson scares his wife

"We can be together again!"

Picard goes to Jameson's quarters, where he now looks about fifty. He demands answers, so Jameson tells him how he obtained a drug from Cerberus II that rejuvenates the body. He negotiated a treaty there and the inhabitants gave him the medicine. It is a combination of drugs to be slowly administered over two years. He got enough for himself and his wife, but took both doses himself when this mission came up. Anne gets upset, saying he didn't think of her and why did he not tell her what he was doing. She goes to the next room, and Jameson leaves his quarters.

Jameson goes to the observation lounge and opens a secure communications frequency to Mordan. He talks to Karnas and asks him who's behind the kidnapping. He claims it is political opponents. He says that now that Jameson is returning, it is as if the last 45 years never happened. Jameson comments that Karnas never forgave him. Then he realizes that Karnas has the hostages and there are no terrorists. Karnas says he's going to ask a very high price for their release.

Jameson goes to the bridge and tells Picard to increase the Enterprise-D's speed to warp 8 to put Karnas off balance. He tells Picard that Karnas has the hostages and that negotiations are no longer the answer. He intends to lead an away team on an armed rescue mission

Act Three Edit

Mark Jameson, teenager

Jameson as a young man

Jameson notes that the maze of tunnels under the city were simply built over without changing. He reckons that Karnas is holding the hostages there, the same as he did 45 years ago. He claims again that an armed raid is the only option. Picard tells him that the Federation might feel differently now that the situation has changed, but Jameson still claims command of the mission.

Meanwhile, Troi, Crusher and Anne are talking in the doctor's office. Anne is distraught, asking why he did what he did. Then Crusher breaks the news that Jameson is not stabilizing.

Jameson and Enterprise away team

"Riker, you're in command of the Enterprise. Energize!"

Picard goes to the observation lounge, where Jameson is sitting in the shadows, initially keeping his face turned away from the captain. He slowly turns in his chair and reveals himself to be now in his thirties. Picard asks why the mission is so important to him and what he is hiding. Jameson tells how Karnas took the passengers of a starliner hostage 45 years ago and demanded weapons from Starfleet. After two other negotiators were killed Jameson went in and brought the hostages out safely, as the official version goes. What really happened was he gave Karnas the weapons he wanted, and then gave the exact same weapons to his rivals. He defended himself stating that this was his way of bending the Prime Directive without technically breaking it, however this plunged Mordan into forty years of civil war. Now Jameson wants to vindicate himself, but Karnas wants revenge.

When the away team prepares to beam down, Picard decides to go with them.

Act Four Edit

Phaser fight

Met with force

Jameson beams down to Mordan along with Picard, Data, Worf, La Forge and Tasha Yar. They move through the tunnels under the city, but run into soldiers alerted by tripwires. A phaser fight starts, and as they take cover, Jameson gets a pain in his chest again, and they all beam back up to the Enterprise-D. Karnas hails them and asks for Jameson. Picard tells him he's critically ill, but Karnas doesn't care. He gives them ten minutes to beam Jameson down. Picard goes to sickbay, where Jameson is very sick. However, he still wants to beam down so he can save the hostages. Picard has no option, so he agrees to let him go down and decides to go with him.

They beam down along with Dr. Crusher. Karnas doesn't recognize Jameson, and Picard insists the man with him is Jameson.

Act Five Edit

Karnas doesn't believe Picard and demands that the real Jameson beam down. Jameson talks to him, and calls him by his old title to try to convince him. But Karnas still doesn't believe him, saying he's been coached. Jameson collapses, and Picard tells Karnas about the age reversing, but Karnas won't be moved. He blames Jameson for the war, death and destruction that have taken place on Mordan. Picard tells Anne Jameson to beam down, and shows Karnas pictures of Jameson's transformation in an effort to convince him.
Jameson dies

Jameson dies of young age

Picard tells Karnas that some of the blame lies on his head as well, and that Jameson wanted to atone for what he did. Jameson, although sick and sweating, manages to convince Karnas by showing him the scar of the blood cut on his wrist they made to seal the bargain. Karnas takes a phaser and goes to shoot Jameson, ironically from one of the weapons he provided to Karnas, but then he stops saying he would get better revenge in seeing him suffer. Anne talks to Jameson and says she'll always love him. Then Jameson dies, and Karnas says he'll release the hostages unharmed, satisfied that Jameson is dead. Jameson is buried on Mordan at the request of his widow and the consent of Karnas. The Enterprise-D leaves, heading for Isis III.

Log entry Edit

Memorable quotes Edit

"Come here."
"I hope you're heading for the bedroom!"

- Anne and Mark Jameson

"Make it so."

- Mark Jameson

"I'm strong, I'm alert, I'm fit! I'm fitter than you are, Picard. And I'm getting younger!"

- Mark Jameson

"What I don't understand sir, is how Karnas knew you were still... available."
"Still alive, you mean."

- Riker and Jameson

"So... Jameson, I see time has not been too kind."
"It seldom is, Karnas."

- Jameson and Karnas

"It is you. Somehow.... it is you!"

- Karnas, realizing Jameson has de-aged

"There's no substitute, lieutenant, for a little personal reconnoiter."

- Jameson, to Yar

"They're phasers, sir. Set on kill."
"Thank you, Mr. Data. I have heard the sound before!"

- Data and Picard

"If it's you, show me the scar."
"There! The blood cut you gave me to seal our bargain!"

- Karnas asks Jameson to give proof of his identity

"Sir, look out!"

- Worf, to Jameson

"The Admiral?"
"Sickbay. 'Not good' is a galactic understatement."

- Riker and Picard

"Annie... with the golden hair."
"Flatterer. It's gray now."
"I see only the gold..."

- Mark Jameson and Anne Jameson, as Mark Jameson dies in his wife's arms

"Rest, Jameson. Your long night... and mine, are over."

- Karnas, after Admiral Jameson dies

"The quest for youth, Number One. So futile."

- Picard, to Riker

Background information Edit

Production history Edit

Too Short a Season shooting schedule

The first page of the shooting schedule

Story and script Edit

  • In Michael Michaelian's original script, Jameson did not die, but reverted to the age of fourteen, and did not remember his wife. He helped Governor Zepec and his rival, a high priest, in their negotiations. (Star Trek: The Next Generation Companion, p. 43) In this story, Jameson was responsible for moving Commander Riker away from the Enterprise-D to command his own ship and being promoted to captain. At the end, the fourteen-year-old Jameson received a tour of the Enterprise-D by Wesley Crusher. (Creating the Next Generation: The Conception and Creation of a Phenomenon, p. 54)
  • In common with Co-Producer Herbert J. Wright's final draft script for "The Last Outpost", Associate Producer D.C. Fontana's script for this episode was tampered with by Gene Roddenberry's meddling attorney, Leonard Maizlish. As a result of his tweaks, the script suddenly included handwritten changes as well as a pair of new scenes, including one with Wesley Crusher, that Maizlish claimed had been written by Roddenberry. Aware that Roddenberry had been out of town and therefore could not have written the scenes, Supervising Producer Rick Berman asked Maizlish, who had been strongly in favor of Wesley being included in all scripts, if he had actually written them, to which Maizlish admitted that he had. "Berman said he told Maizlish he could in no way present these scenes to me for inclusion in the script," Fontana recalled. "The next morning, Berman and [fellow Supervising Producer] Bob Justman had come in early to make sure [that day's scenes] were ready to go to the stage, and they had found a Maizlish-written scene inserted in the revised pages. In addition, there were Maizlish-originated line and word changes incorporated into the revised pages. Berman and Justman were outraged. Berman called Roddenberry at home and informed him of the incident and also told him that I had every right to go straight to the WGA and begin a suit against Maizlish, Roddenberry, and Paramount, and that Berman would back me one hundred percent if I did so. [And] Justman called Maizlish personally and ripped him up one side and down the other for having the gall to insert his own material in a script." (The Fifty-Year Mission: The Next 25 Years, pp. 75-76)

Production Edit

Bowman, Stewart, Rohner

Director Bowman with Patrick Stewart and Clayton Rohner

Sets, props, and costumes Edit

Mordan IV set extension matte painting

The re-used matte painting from Spaceballs

Cast and characters Edit

Continuity Edit

  • This episode marks the first appearance of a uniformed Starfleet admiral in The Next Generation, although Q wore an admiral's dress uniform in "Hide and Q".
  • In this episode, Admiral Jameson sits in the command chair while Picard is seen occupying the first officer's chair. This is one of three episodes where Picard sits in Riker's chair - the other two being TNG: "The Naked Now" and TNG: "All Good Things...".
  • The title of this episode is very similar to that of a play for television written by Gene Roddenberry. "So Short A Season," starring Albert Salmi and Rip Torn, which aired as a segment of NBC's "The Kaiser Aluminum Hour" on Tuesday 12 February 1957.

Reception Edit

  • Director Rob Bowman recalls, "That was a show with a lot of dialogue. I considered it sit and tell, rather than show and tell, and I prefer to show the audience. I believe in the word, but one of your tools in making movies is visual aspects, and just as there is verbal dialogue, there is visual dialogue. One without the other can get very monotonous. But, the real treat for me was working with Clayton Rohner. He and I got together on weekends, and I think that's the most I ever spent with an actor off the clock, developing a character. We just decided to do it, and it was pretty much his episode, with all of them reacting to him. It was a solid episode, with lots of makeup challenges, special FX and a wheelchair that never worked." ("Rob Bowman - Director of a Dozen", The Official Star Trek: The Next Generation Magazine Vol. 10, p. 16)
  • A mission report for this episode by Carr D'Angelo was published in The Official Star Trek: The Next Generation Magazine Vol. 4, pp. 47-52.

Video and DVD releases Edit

Links and references Edit

Starring Edit

Also starring Edit

Guest stars Edit


Uncredited co-stars Edit

Stunt double Edit

Stand-ins Edit

References Edit

2279; 2314; 2319; 2359; 2362; admiral; advisor; Ardan; away team; bird; body language; bridge; Cerberus II; Cerberus system; chess; chief; conn station; desk; desktop monitor; disruptor rifle; DNA; Earth; executioner; Falcon, USS; fish; guest quarters; Gettysburg, USS; Gilnor; governor; Hawkins; husband; hypospray; Idini Star Cluster; Isis III; Iverson's Disease; Karnas' father; kiss; Livingston; long range shuttle; medical recording device; medical tricorder; mirror; model; Mordan IV; Mordan IV civil war; Mordanite; mortality rate; murder; necklace; number one; observation lounge; painting; Peretor; Persephone V; prime directive; ready room; rear admiral; ring; Sain; scar; schematic; sculpture; senior mission officer; sickbay; starliner; statue; steelplast; stellar cluster; starship; strategist; three-dimensional chess; tissue sample; transporter room; tribe; tricorder; turbolift; type I phaser; type II phaser; unnamed plants; viewscreen; VISOR; wheelchair; wife

Script reference Edit

USS Falcon; New Yelva; USS Pegasus

External links Edit

Previous episode:
Star Trek: The Next Generation
Season 1
Next episode:
"When The Bough Breaks"

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