When Riker first meets Data in the holodeck, he tells him that he reviewed his personnel record in preparation of an away mission. But then Riker asks him if his "title" (of Lt. CMDR) is honorary. Data's file would document his graduation from Star Fleet Academy, being commissioned, and every assignment and promotion he received. So if he read the file, he wouldn't have needed to ask Data his rank or status.
When Riker and Data are talking in the holodeck, there is a very noticeable dissolve as they pass behind a tree. This is because they were switching from an actual location to a set.
When this episode was written, Gene Roddenberry hadn't established a calendar year for the beginning of the series. Data's remark in this episode that he is "class of '78" is proven incorrect later on in the episode "The Neutral Zone," when it is established that the first season was taking place in 2364, and also in Season 2's episode "Measure of a Man," when 2345 is given as Data's graduation year.
When Riker and Data are down at Farpoint, Data uses a contraction. It is later established that Data can't use contractions in normal conversation.
When the computer instructs Riker to turn right, he turns to the left.
Data throws a rock at the holodeck wall/illusion to prove it's not real, and the rock bounces off. How does the holodeck know to do this, rather then dissolve the solid rock it created and project an image of the rock contining onward?
Not really a goof in the episode, but a goof in that the writers never followed up on it: After the Bandi threatens to give information to the Ferengi, Picard responds, "Let's hope they find you as tasty as their past associates." It suggests that Ferengi eat sentient beings, but this topic is never mentioned again in any Star Trek episode or movie.
When the Alien ship comes onto the screen Picard is standing next to the helm. When we come back from commercial, the ship is in the same spot moving forward, and Picard is giving orders from the chair.
When Tasha fires the energy beam to the planet, the Captain had previously said to use the phasers to send the laser beam. However, the beam comes from the center of the bottom of the saucer section, which is not the location of the phaser banks (the phaser banks are located along the semi-circular lines extending around the interior of the saucer section, on the top and the bottom of the ship). This is fixed in the 2012 High Definition Blu Ray release.
When Riker orders Troi back aboard Enterprise during the alien bombardment, he calls her "Lieutenant" even though she is a Lt. Commander and the correct term of reference used otherwise in this episode and others is "Commander."
When the alien creature approaches, Picard orders shields up but then they manage to beam up the landing party anyway, even though transporters won't work through shields and there's no indication the shields are dropped.
When Tasha fires an energy beam to "feed" the Farpoint alien, the ship's nacelle changes color from blue to white.
Data: The place that the vessel was firing upon was not the Farpoint starbase, but the home of those who constructed... Sorry, sir. I seem to be commenting on everything.
Riker: Good. Don't stop, my friend.
Picard: Would you object to your captain ordering a clearly illegal kidnapping?
Riker: No objections, sir.
Riker: Your file says that you're a...
Data: Machine. Correct, sir. Does that trouble you?
Riker: To be honest, yes, a little.
Data: Understood, sir. Prejudice is very human.
Riker: Just hoping this isn't the usual way our missions will go, sir.
Picard: Oh no, Number One, I'm sure most will be much more interesting. Let's see what's out there. Engage!
Groppler Zorn threatens that if an alliance with the Federation can't be reached, the Bandi may be forced to seek out an alliance with the Ferengi. This was part of the original (unsuccessful) attempt to develop the Ferengi as TNG's main enemy species.
With the final shot of the Enterprise's bridge, comes the first and (it seems) only time Tasha wears a Starfleet minidress instead of her usual pantsuit.
Counselor Troi seems to be much more affected by emotions in these early episodes, such as when she feels great anger coming from her surroundings and thus becomes angry herself; or when she begins to cry after feeling deep sadness. In later episodes, she can sense emotion from others without having to experience them herself.
This is the only two-part episode in which Majel Barrett (who did the voice of the ship's computer on Next Generation, Voyager, Deep Space Nine and most of Star Trek TOS) does not begin part two of the episode by saying "Last time on Star Trek: The Next Generation." Instead, Ernie Anderson--who later voiceover promos for future episodes--says "Last time on 'Encounter at Farpoint'."
Data says he wishes to be human, echoing the famous Disney classic where a puppet longs to be a "real boy," prompting Riker to call him "Pinocchio."
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