Written by Michael Michaelian, D.C. Fontana, Johnny Dawkins, and Tracy Torme
Directed by Rob Bowman
This episode is probably one of the better of the first season episodes. It focuses not on a member of the Enterprise crew, but rather on an aging Starfleet Admiral, Mark Jameson (portrayed by Clayton Rohner). I think this was a plus, especially at this point of the season.
Jameson is called to mediate a hostage situation on Mordan IV by Governor Karnas (portrayed by Michael Pataki). Jameson mediated a dispute forty years ago and he and Karnas have a history between them. In the beginning, Jameson is confined to the 24th Century version of a wheelchair, unable to walk on his own volition. As the episode progresses, we see Jameson becoming stronger.
Being a diplomat has its advantages, and Jameson has used his position to procure an alien de-aging formula. He has been taking it in secret for over a year as it should be administered slowly and in small doses. Confronted with having to imminently face his old adversary, he takes not just the remainder of his own dose, but also the formula he had procured for his wife (portrayed by Marsha Hunt).
Eventually he confesses the truth to Captain Picard (Patrick Stewart) that he is responsible for the civil war which has plagued Modan IV for the last 40 years. To save the lives of hostages, he gave Karnas the weapons he wanted, but also gave weapons to his enemies. Jameson then altered Starfleet records to cover-up his culpability.
I liked this episode because it showed that problems of vanity which plague us in the 20th century still exist in the 24th. Mankind has not completely evolved to the higher plane that Star Trek often wants to set forth as a new utopia. Jameson’s desire is to be young and get a second chance at his life. The extremes he goes to are no different than a lot of the latest treatments people are having to try and make themselves look younger than they are.
I also liked seeing the crew in the background. Ship’s Counselor Deanna Troi (Marina Sirtis) and Dr. Crusher (Gates McFadden) had excellent parts in this as they counseled Admiral Jameson’s wife as she dealt with his newfound youth. Troi also had a good part as she tried to piece out what Karnas was hiding.
Picard was also written well here – having to submit to the Admiral because of his rank, yet trying to protect the crew from his questionable actions. All the while he is also concerned about resolving the situation with as little life being lost as is possible.
This episode was a nice break from the rest of the first season by putting a new person to the forefront rather than a member of the crew. I found Clayton Rohner to be very believable as both the older and younger as Admiral Mark Jameson. The aging effects with the makeup were done pretty well – I just felt that some of the time periods as his age was regressing that the makeup did not look as well done as it did in the extreme old age we see in the beginning of the episode.
The title Too Short a Season refers to the feeling that life has gone by for Admiral Jameson too fast. He is running out of time to correct the mistakes in his life and wants to be able to sit in the command chair again. Unfortunately, he learns the hard way that it is impossible to go back.
Previous episode (link): Star Trek: The Next Generation: Hide and Q
Next episode (link): Star Trek – The Next Generation: The Big Goodbye