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Cheerful Episodes of Star Trek The Next Generation and The Original Series

Updated: Dec 23, 2023

Star Trek is one of those series that I watched right from school and all the way through college. I usually stuck to The Original Series and The Next Generation though.

The episodes on both Star Trek franchises had similar plot structures - one major plot and a subplot that may or not be connected to the larger plot. Another recurring motif was the seriousness of the series, with the crew and starship always dealing with impending doom or peril.

Every once in a while, however, they would break their serious streak with one or two feel-good episodes. These had the crew deal with a relatively manageable problem without any real danger, and a lot of happy vibes going around.

Cheerful Episodes of Star Trek The Next Generation (TNG)

TNG ran for six long seasons of around 24 episodes each, hence it made sure to one every season when possible. Here are some of my favorites.

The Outrageous Okona S2 E4

The Enterprise NCC-1701-D picks up Thadiun Okona (played by William O. Campbell) - a free-spirited trader and gets stuck between two planets' governments in the process. The tone of the whole episode is playful and fun and the Federation ship is never in any danger throughout the plot.

The episode explores how sometimes, people earn bad reputations through very little fault of their own, and as long as you are pure of heart things will work out. (or something like that).

It's fun to see how a "life of the party" personality interacts with the ship's crew, and how the Enterprise is patient even when threatened by people who can't really hurt them. Basically, a bit of a soap opera vibe is going on here throughout.

Data's Day S4 E11

One of my personal favorites, Data's day explores the Enterprise through the eyes of Brent Spiner's Data. It starts off with a light melodic intro letting the viewers know they can just kick back and relax as this will be light and bubbly episode that will make you feel good.

You catch Data on a particularly relaxed period on the Enterprise here, with the main plot revolving around Keiko and Miles O Brien who are getting married. They were a botanist and a transport chief respectively.

Through preparing for their marriage as the father of the bride for Keiko and a friend of Miles, Data discovers the complex emotions at play in such a massive undertaking. Data helps Keiko with cold feet, learns to dance, and serves as a go-between for Keiko and Miles.

One thing you observe in this episode is while Data is cold and emotionless on paper, he actually exhibits the AI version of human emotions which is extraordinary. You see that Data's view of the world around him is always muted, emotionally, but "feels things" nevertheless.

The Inner Light S5 E25

One of the cheerful episodes of Star Trek that is beautiful yet a bit disorienting at first, but gets enjoyable with time is the plot where Picard lives a third of a lifetime in just 25 minutes! As time goes on he realizes what is happening in his new life - meanwhile, the crew tries to pull him back to the now.

Picard lives the life of an astronomer and has a daughter and son while trying to save a planet on the brink of collapse.

There is at least one callback to this episode where he jams with a beautiful musician is an acoustically resonant part of his ship. He plays the flute which he would learn in this episode where the dead planet of Kataan designed a space probe to beam their history to one chosen person. This was the Ressik community's effort to be remembered as a race and not be forgotten.

Star Trek TOS

The Original Series was a more somber show with a consistently serious theme. Most episodes even started off with a slightly ominous tone and were very on-brand for TOS as space was portrayed as dangerous and exciting. But this doesn't mean that they did not have series episodes that were light and fun and devoid of danger.

Some may consider Assignment: Earth in Season 2 to be a light and frothy episode but I think the Tribbles episode nails the happy-go-lucky theme best.

The Trouble with Tribbles S2 E15

The Trouble with Tribbles episode was one of the funniest and most light-hearted plots in the entire TOS run. The Enterprise NCC-1701 gets a priority 1 distress signal from a Federation outpost which means disaster or something worse.

When Kirk goes to check things out and finds all the fuss is about hybrid wheat and the claim to Sherman's planet, he isn't happy.

You get to see that Scotty is a workaholic, cares more about the ship than Kirk, and is really funny. There is also the famous hamster-kitten substitute - the Tribble that the crew of the enterprise falls in love with and lots of hijinx!

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