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Patrick Stewart's best ST:TNG performances?
February 12, 2011 3:02 PM   Subscribe

Patrick Stewart's best ST:TNG performances?

I just came across his Great Performances production of Macbeth and was blown away. After Paul Scofield's Lear in the Peter Brook film, it's the greatest Shakespearean performance I've ever seen.

I'm TOS til I die, so I never watched TNG. I assume it didn't give him material on that level. But are there any episodes worth torrenting to see the thespian in action?
posted by Joe Beese to Media & Arts (33 answers total) 64 users marked this as a favorite
 
The classic answers are:
- Chain of Command (a two-parter)
- The Inner Light
posted by liet at 3:06 PM on February 12, 2011 [8 favorites]


S5 episode The Inner Light
S6 episode Chain of Command
S3/S4 episode The Best of Both Worlds
S5 episode Darmok
First Contact movie

TNG was preachy at times, but you're missing out, there was some great stuff in there.
posted by reptile at 3:07 PM on February 12, 2011 [1 favorite]


Family is worth watching for Stewart's performance as well.
posted by Johnny Assay at 3:08 PM on February 12, 2011 [1 favorite]


Chain of Command and Inn-- oh, right.
Well, Family was another good Picard one IIRC. But you have to see Best of Both Worlds parts I and II first, which has much less Picard than average, and... he's a little robotic.
posted by AugieAugustus at 3:08 PM on February 12, 2011 [4 favorites]


Chain of Command part II, especially.
posted by Sara C. at 3:09 PM on February 12, 2011


Far and away, "The Inner Light".
posted by briank at 3:11 PM on February 12, 2011 [3 favorites]


You're getting good advice. The Inner Light and Chain of Command are beyond reproach. Here's an outlier: All Good Things....
posted by Beardman at 3:13 PM on February 12, 2011 [1 favorite]


(Basically, I guess I'm saying that anytime Picard plays elderly or haggard.)
posted by Beardman at 3:15 PM on February 12, 2011


"The Inner Light" is the obvious choice, but "Tapestry" is a similarly great showcase of Stewart's uncanny ability to do a character's introspection on youth and aging. "Chain of Command" is great too, but it's a much hammier performance.
posted by RogerB at 3:16 PM on February 12, 2011 [4 favorites]


He also got lots of screen time, in a somewhat different Picardy context, in "Captain's Holiday"—not necessarily one of the best TNG episodes, but I like it.

Seconding "Tapestry" also. Very good one.
posted by AugieAugustus at 3:18 PM on February 12, 2011 [1 favorite]


All those mentioned so far, for sure. I'd also check out "Tapestry" and "All Good Things..." (the series finale) for some good Picard-centric episodes.

Out of all suggestions above, my personal favorite is "Family." But as others of mentioned, watching the preceding two episodes "The Best of Both Worlds" 1&2 make it much more powerful.
posted by JMB1138 at 3:19 PM on February 12, 2011


Hate to chime in with an obvious answer, but Inner Light. Partly because it encompasses decades of a man's life, and partly because that man actually isn't the character of Picard. And it's just a moving episode, and one I don't think you'd need any prior viewing of the series to appreciate and understand.
posted by TheSecretDecoderRing at 3:43 PM on February 12, 2011 [7 favorites]


Although not featured in this episode, like in most of the other recommendations here, Yesterday's Enterprise was the best TNG episode and Patrick Stewart grimly shines in it. (PS: Don't read the synopsis before viewing.)
posted by fairmettle at 3:46 PM on February 12, 2011 [2 favorites]


My third link is broken in comment above, should be here.
posted by reptile at 3:50 PM on February 12, 2011


Nthing Inner Light -- I taught myself to play the flute song on every instrument I know, driving my parents insane from playing the episode over and over again on the VHS tape I made of it. This is hands-down my favorite TNG episode, regardless of who was featured in it.

And Tapestry, and Chain of Command (you get to see his butt!), and I haven't seen Family enough times to speak to that one.

Picard also sort of featured in a lot of the Ensign Ro episodes, serving as sort of a role model for her. (My favorite of those is Preemptive Strike, which is sort of also a Picard episode because of her.)
posted by Heretical at 3:57 PM on February 12, 2011


It's a bit over the top, but if you like Aaron Sorkin-esque pro-liberal democracy human rights glurge, The Drumhead is one of my favorite Picard Episodes, largely because of Picard's passionate speeches and great chemistry with the baddie in that episode.
posted by skewed at 4:06 PM on February 12, 2011 [1 favorite]


Tapestry is among the best pieces of television ever made. Stewart isn't chewing scenery here, per se, but more importantly, he doesn't overplay it, which would have been easy to do.
posted by Cool Papa Bell at 4:07 PM on February 12, 2011


I'm not sure it's a great episode, but Patrick Stewart's performance in Sarek is a standout to me.
posted by ddbeck at 4:26 PM on February 12, 2011 [1 favorite]


Nthing First Contact.

After watching that, I was pretty disgusted that the TV series was rarely this good...
posted by thermonuclear.jive.turkey at 4:37 PM on February 12, 2011


I've always been a big fan of Tapestry.
posted by sbutler at 4:48 PM on February 12, 2011


Lower Decks has some of the most humane 7th season Picard interactions, and is one of the only "looks" the TNG series ever made to Star Trek youth's Star Fleet living arrangements and career profiles, outside the Wesley Crusher character arc, on the Enterprise. It does help to understand this episode, if you know something about the Season 5 episode First Duty, but that knowledge is not absolutely essential to appreciating Patrick Stewart's performance in Lower Decks.
posted by paulsc at 4:55 PM on February 12, 2011 [1 favorite]


I have nothing to add, except to ditto what everyone else has suggested. And I love you guys.
posted by Fleebnork at 6:41 PM on February 12, 2011


"Chain of Command" is among the best of the best, especially part II.
posted by Blazecock Pileon at 7:11 PM on February 12, 2011


A few others are "Gambit", "Unification", "Family", and "Disaster".

All of them put Picard in different situations that allow/force "The Captain" to show us different sides of himself.

But above all, Patrick Stewart's performance as Patrick Stewart on Family Guy.
posted by gjc at 7:30 PM on February 12, 2011


Also: don't look for ST:TNG to be a show that is trying to "take another stab" at TOS. The first season was that, and it kind of sucked. Look at it as a completely different animal in the same universe. Accept the premise that these people are the children and grandchildren of the TOS people, and enjoy the differences. Rather than trying to make it live up to something it can't be.

(That's why I LOVED ST:Enterprise. You learn about the origins of some of the TOS themes. With "First Contact", and the rest, we get to see hundreds of years of a sci-fi future human history. Hell, it almost connects up with now. April 4, 2063 is only 52 years away.)
posted by gjc at 7:41 PM on February 12, 2011 [1 favorite]


"Chain of Command", "Family", "Darmok", "The Inner Light", and "Sarek" are all great performances that will make you bawl your eyes out. If you want something a little lighter, I think Picard also really shines in "11001001", "Time Squared" (an all-time favorite episode for me), "Devil's Due", and "Evolution".

Avoid "Final Mission", "Lessons, and "Bloodlines" like the plague they are. Lots of Picard episodes struggle under the weight of blatantly saccharine mary sue-ism but these three stand out to me as just excruciating.

By the way, I've been waiting my whole life for someone to ask me this question.
posted by milk white peacock at 8:28 PM on February 12, 2011 [8 favorites]


Oh, you should also watch "Ménage à Troi".
posted by milk white peacock at 11:45 PM on February 12, 2011


How could I forget Gambit? Gotta second Gambit. It has Richard Lynch of Werewolf fame.

Oh, you should also watch "Ménage à Troi".

HAHAHAHAHA! Yes indeed. It's one of the dopier TNG episodes but it also has some of Patrick Stewart's best comedy moments in the series.
posted by AugieAugustus at 6:34 AM on February 13, 2011


I am surprised nobody has mentioned Measure of a Man yet, which has always been a favourite of mine.
posted by ricochet biscuit at 9:20 AM on February 13, 2011 [1 favorite]


This. :)
posted by Jinkeez at 9:45 AM on February 13, 2011 [2 favorites]


Jinkeez, that's awesome!
posted by funkiwan at 12:33 PM on February 13, 2011


I am surprised nobody has mentioned Measure of a Man yet, which has always been a favourite of mine.

Best Frakes. "And now a man...and now a man will shut it off."
posted by Beardman at 1:46 PM on February 13, 2011


I'm nth-ing Inner Light. Always makes me cry.
posted by ObscureReferenceMan at 9:36 AM on February 14, 2011


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