Star Trek: The Next Generation

Season 2 Episode 7

Unnatural Selection

Aired Unknown Jan 30, 1989 on CBS

Episode Fan Reviews (11)

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out of 10
239 votes
  • Illegal Research

    So I was under the impression that Genetic Engineering was forbidden by Starfleet. Not just "please don't do it". More like, we will put you in prison FOREVER. And yet, no one seems shocked when they find out what's going on at the Darwin Colony.

    Deep Space Nine has several genetically engineered characters. All of them are either in prison or hiding from the law. On Enterprise, they make it very clear that genetic engineering is illegal. Sure, those shows all were written long after this episode. But at the very least, I'd expect the writers should have remembered Space Seed and Khan and made at least some reference to genetic engineering being illegal / morally questionable / frowned upon. At least some mention of a major historical issue in the Star Trek universe.

    It also seems odd that you'd name the colony after Darwin. Genetic Engineering seems a bit antithetical to his research.

    The Transporter hijinks at the end are absolutely ridiculous. If you can do what they did, there are a variety of unintended things you can do. Send Doctor McCoy through the Transporter using DNA from 40 years ago. Suddenly, he's young again. Somebody gets sick, just send them through using pre-illness DNA. Someone dies, send their body through using pre-death DNA. Picard gets stabbed in the heart by another Nausicaan, send him through using DNA from when he first joined Starfleet Academy. Now he's 20 and has no heart problems at all.

    It was still a good episode. Though because of my near-hatred for Pulaski, I couldn't give it a good score.
  • A genetic mutation on an experimental colony spreads a rapid aging disease.

    This is the first big Pulaski episode; it falls a bit flat. The episode is sort of a remake of the original Star Trek series episode "The Deadly Years", but without the same drama, because we haven't had enough time to become close enough to Pulaski to care if she dies. The episode plods along, with some interesting things here and some dull things there, but ultimately doesn't have too much to say other than to be wary of thinking you're smarter than you are. It certainly doesn't do any favors for Dr. Pulaski, who doesn't seem to be bonding with her fellow Enterprise crewmembers and seems more like an outsider here than ever. On the other hand, Colm Meaney's character, which until this point had been more or less an extra, gets a name (O'Brien), a job (Transporter Chief), and more of a defined personality.
  • Filming this episode was the highlight of my life.

    I know that "highlight" of my life might be a bit overstated but I grew up on Star Trek. My father was a United Airlines Pilot and I related to Capt. Kirk...He reminded me of my father. I got the opportunity to audition for Star Trek TNG and I was overwhelmed. I was selected to play the 12 year old "Genetically Perfect" Child when I was 22. I almost got my SAG card from this episode but the took away the only line that I had because I was telepathic. It really didn't make any sense that I would have any speaking parts. Working with the cast and crew on TNG was incredible. I was a bit part but I was treated as family. I was welcomed by consumate professionals and treated with respect. I will always have a soft spot for Paramount Studios, Star Trek and the whole crew. Of particular mention is Richard Arnold who was a very hard working individual who made sure that consistency was accounted for with a very complex show. For instance. There was a problem with episode order and Dr. Pulaski who NEVER took a transporter before used a transporter in an episode that was supposed to be before unnatural selection so they changed the order. Richard, if you ever read this...find me in Seattle.
  • Absolutely brilliant, and an exmaple of HOW to rewrite old stories. A re-write of the original series' "The Deadly Years", yes, yet ties up loose ends in ways the original story never had.

    Everyone knows this is a re-use of a original Trek script. So was "The Naked Now", but in the case of "Unnatural Selection", they get everything right:

    * Pulaski's humanity and background is fleshed out
    * The cause of the rapid aging was well thought out, especially the resolution to the doctor's infection.
    * The battle of wits between Pulaski and Picard, combined with snippets and scenes showing how each character complements the other, only shows how much better off this series was with Pulaski.
    * Pulaski knows how to take risks. (Compare to Dr Crusher in "Ethics" for a clear comparison; Pulaski wins, hands down, for ethical reasoning.)
    * The drama. Not soap opera, but drama. Especially given this episode having its roots from a TOS episode, one wouldn't know it, given the gravitas of the actors involved. Maybe the fact they re-used an old concept can be bothersome. I won't deny that. But I'd still say, give this one a chance. It's exciting, and may I say it's aged well. :)
  • The plot is only so-so, and seems like a re-make of the original series episode 'The Deadly Years', but at least it goes some way to humanising Dr Pulaski

    Diseases, diseases, diseases. There ain't nothing but diseases in TNG's first couple of seasons. By now it's already a huge cliche and this isn't in danger of being considered among TNG's more riveting instalments. It's all quite by-the-numbers and the disease itself (rapid aging) isnt all that interesting or original. Still, the episode goes some way to rehabilitating Pulaski, and making her a slightly more sympathetic character, without dulling her edge. At the very least, she's not being a total biatch to Data any more, which shows some progress.

    Alas, the episode is resolved with some magical transporter trickery and ultimately the plot amounts to very little. I also found it quite offensive the way Pulaski refers to the way that necessary 'sacrifices' must be made to science and that the crew of the Lantree were such sacrifices. I'm sure that will be very comforting to their families and loved ones. Not. Her remarks just seemed callous and muddled, perhaps an attempt to give the episode some kind of moral or philosophical depth that it just doesnt possess.

    Cool to read the review on here by the guy who played the telepathic boy! Awesome. He was darn cute as well!
  • An eerie "outbreak" episode....

    Illness outbreaks were not exactly new to Star Trek: TNG, even by season two, but "Unnatural Selection" makes good on the formula. The Enterprise receives a weak distress call from a Federation cargo ship, the USS Lantree, where they find that the ship's population all died of old age, despite the fact that all were young able-bodied individuals. The ship was last at the research station Gagarin IV so the Enterprise goes off to the station to warn them of the Lantree's demise. They find Gagarin IV to be in a rapid stage of aging - only the station's genetically engineered children are unaffected but Dr. Pulaski must prove that the children are completely void of the disease before they can be beamed aboard the Enterprise. But in a surprise turn: Dr. Pulaski begins to rapidly age as well.

    "Unnatural Selection" suffers a tad from the lame depiction of "the children," every Star Trek show never really handled kids the best, but that is the only downside. The episode features an interesting plot with a lot of twist and turns, Data has a nice role to play, there are some great clashes of characters between Picard and Pulaski, and the final scene with the Enterprise and the Lantree ring particularly strong. But my favorite thing about the episode is that "Unnatural Selection" marks the first time that Chief O'Brien is named and given a significant role. The character had appeared several times in the show by this point but was only credited as "Transporter Chief" - Colm Meaney gets to show his stuff here in this episode, beginning a long career of playing Miles O'Brien.

    At this point in the series, Diana Muldaur and Dr. Pulaski had already been well-introduced - a good doctor in "The Child," not having a soft-spot for Data in "Elementary, Dear Data," etc. - but she never really had the same screen-presence that Gate McFadden brought to the show (even if most of her performances of Dr. Crusher were weak in the first season) and never really struck a chord with the audience. While it was far better to see the series later bring back McFadden and Dr. Crusher, "Unnatural Selection" finally gives us time to get to know and care about Dr. Pulaski a little bit: Pulaski and Picard's clashes are great and her up-in-the-air destiny makes us truly care about her for the first time in the series.
  • Geriatric

    A decent episode that explores the possible negative consequences from medical/scientific research. I remember watching this the first time and it being one of my fav. s2 episodes. Only really the case because I hated Mulgrove (Pulaski) for replacing Bev. It only worked that time because of the dislike for that character.

    However, on rewatching it recently I have to say that I actually like the character who brought a sliver of internal conflict that would not have otherwise been expected on a crew used to each other. This did however affect my appreciation of the episode, because unlike enjoying seeing her infected, I didnt get the reverse feeling for her - I dont exactly like the character.

    As for the episode, you will get to see the process w/ which SF deals with quarantining ships and outposts. We also get to see Trsptr Chief OBrien's first real scenes where he makes a telling contribution. Yet the plot really didnt really stretch my enjoyment levels, because the issues it dealt with werent that exciting, or at least played out so. If it werent for the dire need to find a solution to reverse the age effects, Im not sure Id have found this at all watchable.

    As it is, with the glimpse of the planetary location and the glimpse of the next stage of supposed human evolution, there is enough here to enjoy, but not overly!
  • Another disease episode, another snoozer.

    As another reviewer points out, early TNG suffered from a serious overdose of episodes where the Enterprise was potentially exposed to some mysterious, life-threatening and extremely contagious illness. Here, Dr. Pulaski's doggedness as a physician puts her life in danger.

    The illness story itself is quite boring, but the episode is really about the character of Dr. Pulaski and her somewhat contentious relationship with Captain Picard. Unfortunately, there just isn't enough history between the two characters to make this convincing and the writers really have to beat us over the head with the idea. It doesn't come off as natural.

    Probably the best thing about this episode is the introduction of Chief O'Brien as an actual character (he'd been mostly silent in previous episodes). I'm not sure if the writers realized what he would develop into, but he quickly became a major contributor to the show.

    Unlike "The Outrageous Okona", which was a terrible episode with some nice bits, this one is simply blah all around.
  • The "Enterprise" recieves a emergency call from the Federation supply ship U.S.S. Lantree. Upon scanning the bridge of the "Lantree" is is found that whole crew of the "Lantree" are dead from old age. The Lantree is placed under quarantine and the U.S.S.

    The "Enterprise" recieves a emergency call from the Federation supply ship U.S.S. Lantree. Upon scanning the bridge of the "Lantree" is is found that whole crew of the "Lantree" are dead from old age. The "Lantree" is placed under quarantine and the U.S.S. Enterprise heads toward the ship's last port of call, the Darwin Genetic Research Station, to warn them of the potential danger. Upon arrival of Darwin Station, the "Enterprise" discovers the residents of the Darwin Station are suffering from the same affliction as the "Lantree". This episode is a mystery. I give it a rating of 7.6
  • This was nothing more than a combination of two epissodes from the original Star Trek series, namely episode 41/2-12, The Deadly Years and #8/1-8. Miri.

    In both of the earlier episodes, a mysterious disease struck members of the Enterprise crew. In both situations, the disease was related to age and aging. This is just another example of trying to recycle an episode from the original series.Once again, the question has to be asked, "How many recycled plots must we suffer through before Roddenberry feels vindicated?"
  • I personally liked this episode. It was an above episode of Star Trek: The Next Generation. The ways that they dealt with the disease contamination and how they solved the problem made it an interesting episode.

    I personally liked this episode. It was an above episode of Star Trek: The Next Generation. The ways that they dealt with the disease contamination and how they solved the problem made it an interesting episode.

    I personally don't like the doctor used in the second season opposed to Dr. Crusher, but this was one of the better episodes that focused on her. The aging was a little overdone though.