"The Arsenal of Freedom" has a great story but not enough budget to pull it off. The overused planet set looks more like a stage than ever, and the special effects are embarrassing even for the time period. But unlike many of the first season episodes, this one has two stories (an A story on the planet and a B story on the ship) that engage the viewer throughout the duration of the 60 minutes (or 45 if you're watching without commercials.) It would have been better had this episode been made in the fifth or sixth season when they could have spent real money on it. Or it would have made a good episode for The Animated Series. Still, it's not a bad first season episode, and it's very reminiscent of the Original Series.
A good episode. Not a great plot, but plenty of action, phaser fire, enemies being blown up, Ryker being trapped, the Enterprise attacker by an undetectable foe and having to split in two, Bevs being hurt all make for some great TNG action.
Its still gets a lot better, but this is one of the earlier episodes that shows the direction of the combat oriented episodes. Dialogue matches the quickfire pace of the action.
Main highlight is Ryker being disabled by a forcefield and Jordi having to command the Enterprise while both Picard and Ryker are on the planet. He also takes control of the battlebridge in a last gasp attempt to save the away team.
Investigating the disappearance of the USS Drake, the Enterprise goes to the planet Minos where Cpt. Picard and Dr. Crusher become trapped and both an away team and the Enterprise encounter an adaptable weapons system. "The Arsenal Of Freedom" is one of the better episodes of the first season of Star Trek: The Next Generation but it is not perfect. The special effects are bad even for late 1980s television - "bad" as in: the kind you cannot help but laugh at. Also, the Lieutenant Logan guest character is a complete waste of time and is a frustrating bum of a character - included in the episode only to force tension where tension already exists.
Still, even though the effects are cheesy as all get-out, "The Arsenal Of Freedom" remains very fun. Although not nearly to the extent that the rest of the series would see, the action in this episode is thrilling and fun (Data in particular is put to great use in the action scenes). Also, Picard and Dr. Crusher share some great scenes (where Gates McFadden, who gives some of the worst performances of season one, particularly shines) and it is fun to see Geordie command the Enterprise while Picard, Riker, and Data are on the planet. A familiar face in Hollywood, Vincent Schiavelli also gives a very funny and memorable supporting role. "The Arsenal Of Freedom" is not perfect nor one of the great Next Generation episodes of Season One but it is fun and one of the more worthwhile episodes of the series first season.
As one of the other reviewers points out, the premise driving this episode is a clever one (as is the title) and the episode does not fail to deliver.
Unlike many other 1st season episodes, the amount of filler material on this one is relatively low. The action sequences on the planet are packed with tension and excitement. There's plenty of humor, whether in the planet's hologram salesman (the writers had a lot of fun here) or in Riker's description of the good ship Lollipop. The lengthy Picard-Crusher sequences add a little bit of calm and respite to the action on the planet's surface. And cheesy-looking, low-budget backdrops on the planet contribute to this episode's charm.
The only minus is the Geordi plotline -- his aw-shucks personality is annoying here, and his rival (the chief engineer) is even worse. This aspect of the story generates excitement, but I wish it could've been done better.
Nevertheless, one of a handful of 1st season episodes I would wholeheartedly recommend watching.
edit: I forgot to metnion -- when the flying robots first attack the away team, there is an absolutely hilarious sequence where Data chucks Tasha into the bushes like a sack of potatoes.
'The Arsenal of Freedom' is clearly one of the strongest episodes of the first season and works nicely as an action-adventure that throws the characters into a set of pretty nasty circumstances and watches them flail.
I liked the idea behind the premise - that a planet of arms merchants were inadvertantly wiped out by their own creations. I'm not sure exactly what happened to cause this and it's never satisfactorily explained, but it's a nifty idea nonetheless and thankfully the writers don't feel the need to bludgeon us over the head with the moral (unlike many other first season episodes, including the following episode 'Symbiosis').
It's not an episode that has aged terribly well: the planet set wouldn't have been out of place in the Original Series and the special effects are pretty cheesy-looking. But that aside it's well-paced and nicely executed. It's also nice to see Geordi get a decent sub-plot, but the chief engineer Logan is a horribly, horribly obnoxious git - and what's with the horrendous staff turnover in the engineering department during the first season? Good though!
The away team encounter a life form that seems to be a weapon that adapts. Riker is in trouble. Captain Picard beams down with Doctor Crusher Picard leaving command with Geordi LaForge. Lt LaForge having control for a second time. This is the second time
The away team encounter a life form that seems to be a weapon that adapts. Riker is in trouble. Captain Picard beams down with Doctor Crusher Picard leaving command with Geordi LaForge. The ship is attacked by a weapon that adapts also forcing Lt. Lafarge to separate saucer section. As it turns out all of the weapons are part of a ultimate weapons system. A weapons system that destroyed those who created it. This is the second time the "Enterprise" has seperated. The first being encounter at farpoint. This a excellent episode I give it a perfect 10
The Crew arrive at Minos to find out what happened to the USS Dake, what they discover is that the people who lived on Minos are not on the planet anymore and all that is left is a holographic salesman showing the "demonstrations" of his weapons, which attack the Enterprise and her away team.
This episode probably has the most action of any TNG episode, and it's damned well done! We get a semi-Bev & Jean-Luc moment, Geordi shows his commanding skills, the away team dodges phasers from an easter egg and of course the rare saucer-sep sequence, seeing the battle bridge back in action. Some might not like this episode because they would prefer "quiet" TNG episodes, but we should all just sit back and enjoy the fireworks, like I did with this episode. I recommend it.
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