(written from a Production point of view)
|"Too Short a Season"|
|TNG, Episode 1x16|
Production number: 40271-112
First aired: 8 February 1988
|←||11th of 176 produced in TNG||→|
|←||15th of 176 released in TNG||→|
|←||120th of 728 released in all||→|
| Teleplay By|
Michael Michaelian and D.C. Fontana
An elderly Starfleet admiral hides a deadly secret as he leads the Enterprise in a hostage rescue mission.
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 talks with Jameson. 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 ago.
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. 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. 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.
Dr. Crusher contacts Picard and says she's ready to perform the standard medical exam on Jameson, who looks nervous at this. 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 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 says he wants her on the bridge for the duration of the mission.
As the Enterprise approaches the Idini Star Cluster, Picard asks Jameson to take the conn. 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. 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.
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 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.
Jameson goes to the observation lounge, sits with his face in shadow, 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 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, using the maze of tunnels under the city. 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.
Troi, Crusher and Anne are talking. Anne is distraught, asking why he did what he did. Then Crusher breaks the news that Jameson is not stabilizing. Picard goes to the observation lounge, where Jameson looks to be in his thirties. He 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. This plunged Mordan into forty years of civil war. Now Jameson wants to vindicate himself, but Karnas wants revenge.
Jameson beams down to Mordan along with Picard, Data, Worf, La Forge and 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. 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 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.
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 they made to seal the bargain. Karnas takes a phaser and goes to shoot Jameson, 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.
"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
"They're phasers, sir. Set on kill."
"Thank you, Mr. Data. I have heard the sound before!"
- - Data and Picard
"Sir, look out!"
- - Worf, to Jameson
"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
- Revised final draft script: 6 October 1987
- Filmed: 8 October 1987 – 16 October 1987
- Premiere airdate: 8 February 1988
- UK premiere airdate on BBC2: 5 December 1990, airing out of order
Story and script
- In Michael Michaelian's original script, Jameson does not die, but reverts to the age of fourteen, and does not remember his wife. He helps 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 and 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)
- The episode was filmed between Thursday 8 October 1987 and Friday 16 October 1987 for seven days on Paramount Stage 6, 9, and 16.
- Although the episode was supposed to focus on Clayton Rohner's character, the regular cast felt that Rohner did not work in the ensemble manner very well. Director Rob Bowman felt that the show was too verbose, more words than action. Rohner's make-up during the earlier parts of the show was a source of disappointment, being described as "sub-par" and ineffective. (Star Trek: The Next Generation Companion, p. 43)
- The "arms for hostages" element of the story was inspired by the Iran–Contra affair. (Star Trek: The Next Generation - The Continuing Mission)
Sets, props and costumes
- Admiral Jameson's state-of-the-art twenty-fourth century wheelchair was a problem. It cost the prop department ten thousand dollars but it did not even move well enough to be anything more than a hindrance, and Bowman simply had to shoot around it. (Trek: The Unauthorized Behind-The-Scenes Story of The Next Generation) Property master Joe Longo referred to the wheelchair as a "big albatross". Learning from the fiasco, the production crew opted for a much simpler chair when one was required for the Star Trek: Deep Space Nine episode "Melora". (Star Trek: Deep Space Nine Companion, p. 93)
- The bird sculptures seen in Karnas' office were also featured in Q's court room in the pilot episode "Encounter at Farpoint" and in the final episode "All Good Things..." and in the bar on Qualor II in the fifth season episode "Unification II".
- Karnas has a phaser from Star Trek II: The Wrath of Khan, a phaser from Star Trek III: The Search for Spock, a modified Klingon disruptor rifle and Portal 63's staff from TNG: "The Last Outpost" hanging on his wall behind his desk.
- A set extension painting in the background of the underground installation during the phaser fight is a reuse of the Mega Maid set extension from Mel Brooks' 1987 comedy, Spaceballs. The same painted background was reused in "Legacy". 
- During the bridge scene where Admiral Jameson takes the conn, the console to Commander Riker's right has been removed to accommodate his wheelchair, while the console on Counselor Troi's side is still there as Dr. Crusher needed somewhere to sit.
Cast and characters
- Wil Wheaton (Wesley Crusher) does not appear in this episode.
- Michael Pataki (Karnas) also played Korax 20 years earlier in "The Trouble with Tribbles".
- 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 February 12, 1957.
- 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
- Original UK VHS release (two-episode tapes, CIC Video): Volume 8, catalogue number VHR 2437, 7 January 1991.
- UK re-release (three-episode tapes, Paramount Home Entertainment): Volume 1.6, catalogue number VHR 4647, 10 August 1998.
- As part of the TNG Season 1 DVD collection.
- As part of the TNG Season 1 Blu-ray collection.
Links and references
- LeVar Burton as Lt. Geordi La Forge
- Denise Crosby as Lt. Tasha Yar
- Michael Dorn as Lt. Worf
- Gates McFadden as Doctor Beverly Crusher
- Marina Sirtis as Counselor Deanna Troi
- Brent Spiner as Lt. Commander Data
- James G. Becker as Youngblood
- Darrell Burris as an operations division officer
- Dexter Clay as an operations division officer
- Jeffrey Deacon as a command division officer
- Susan Duchow as an operations division officer
- Nora Leonhardt as a science division ensign
- Guy Vardaman as Darien Wallace
- Unknown performers as
- James G. Becker - stand-in for Jonathan Frakes
- Darrell Burris - stand-in for LeVar Burton
- Dexter Clay - stand-in for Michael Dorn
- Jeffrey Deacon - stand-in for Patrick Stewart
- Susan Duchow - stand-in for Denise Crosby
- Nora Leonhardt - stand-in for Marina Sirtis
- Tim McCormack - stand-in for Brent Spiner
- Lorine Mendell - stand-in for Gates McFadden & Marsha Hunt
- Richard Sarstedt - stand-in for Clayton Rohner
2279; 2314; 2319; 2359; 2362; Ardan; Cerberus II; Cerberus system; DNA; Earth; USS Falcon; Gettysburg, USS; Gilnor; Governor; Hawkins; Idini Star Cluster; Isis III; Iverson's Disease; Mordan IV; Mordanite; murder; USS Pegasus; Peretor; Persephone V; prime directive; Rear admiral; starliner; steelplast; stellar cluster; Sain; tribe; tricorder
- Too Short a Season at Wikipedia
- Too Short a Season at StarTrek.com, the official Star Trek website
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