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Season Six:
-226-227: "Time's Arrow"
-228: "Realm of Fear"
-235: "The Quality of Life"
-236-237: "Chain of Command"
-241: "Tapestry"
-248: "Suspicions"
-249: "Rightful Heir"
-251: "Timescape"
-252-253: "Descent"

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The Quality of Life

(Star Trek - The Next Generation episode production code 235)
  • written by Naren Shankar
  • directed by Jonathan Frakes
  • music by Dennis McCarthy

The Quality of Life

Well, there's no direct mention here of the Prime Directive or strict non-interference ethics, but since the story so neatly expands upon a Prime Directive theme seen previously in season one's "Home Soil", not to mention the Genesis Project seen in Star Trek II & III, it seemed only right to have a few words.

Specifically, a lot of energy and dramatic screen time in this episode seems to be devoted to figuring out if the exocomps are alive or not. I force myself to ask why, and to ask, if the Star Trek crew believed as I do, and as I indicated in my reviews mentioned above, that everything in the universe is indeed alive, what use is actually being served by making the determination?

Surprisingly, it all seems to boil down to the human need to be in control of things, to objectify. We draw a line in the sand, and say these things are alive and these are "dead", just so we can satisfy our conscience as we treat the "dead" things to exploitation. If everything were alive, we would no longer be able to exploit resources, or push objects around carelessly. And maybe that's not such a bad idea.

Perhaps in my universe, exploitation would be the only issue, and it would be more obvious from the start. This episode eventually gets there, and does the issue justice. Perhaps going about things my way would just be quicker, with fewer distracting issues, and being a bit less dramatic. Still, I have this episode to thank for figuring all this out!

This episode has a lot of good twists in it, and always seems to have a knack for choosing a path that will both be highly dramatic and raise the best questions for debate, all while still finding its way to a suitable "feel good" ending. Top marks.

Personally, the early "self-preservation" questions seemed the most hokey, since sci-fi usually abuses this idea by having it spontaneously arise out of nowhere. Writers often don't seem to be able to envision machines coming alive without anthropomorphizing them to automatically include all basic animal traits. But I think the exocomps have a believable excuse here, since their main function is to repair machines, and they are adaptive, and they have a knack for constantly seeking the best possible solutions.... So suddenly it doesn't seem too far fetched that they should want to repair their own selves, prevent damage to machine systems including themselves and countermand slow-thinking human methods for doing so. The exploration and demonstration of their characters that build throughout the episode make it believable by the time you get to the end. I'll buy it.

So far, season six is turning out to be my favourite of Next Gen, and this is another of the best episodes. Good one!

(The episodes "Chain of Command", "Face of the Enemy", "Suspicions", and "Rightful Heir" can now be found on their own pages.)

This Next Generation Season Six story is available on DVD and Blu-ray:

Star Trek: The Next Generation - Season Six (1992-1993):

Includes 26 episodes @ 45 minutes each.
Click on the Amazon symbol for the desired disc format and location nearest you for more information:

DVD Canada

7-disc DVD set

DVD Canada


DVD Extras include:

  • Mission Overview: Year Six (17 min.)
  • Crew Profile: Lt. Commander Data (18 min.)
  • Bold New Directions (17 min.)
  • Dept. Briefing: Production (15 min.)
  • Dept. Briefing: Dan Curry Profile (19 min.)
  • Select Historical Data (17 min.)
  • Starfleet Archives: Sets and Props (12 min.)
  • Bonus Trailers: Star Trek Nemesis
    & Star Trek: Deep Space Nine on DVD
Blu-ray U.S.

NEW for
June 3, 2014.
Blu-ray Canada

NEW for
June 3, 2014.

Season 6 (Bilingual)

Blu-ray U.K.

Blu-ray features add:

  • 3 Audio Commentaries:
    • "Relics" by writer Ronald D. Moore and
      scenic/graphic artists Mike and Denise Okuda.
    • "Tapestry" by Moore and the Okudas.
    • "Frame of Mind" by director James L. Conway and director of photography Jonathan West.
  • Three-part documentary "Beyond the Five Year Mission - The Evolution of ST:TNG" (HD, 84 min. total) with all seven regular castmembers, plus Colm Meaney (O'Brien),
    Whoopi Goldberg (Guinan), John de Lancie (Q), writer/producers Rick Berman, Michael Piller, Ronald D. Moore, René Echevarria, Naren Shankar, Frank Abatemarco, director of photography Jonathan West, and many others.
  • Gag Reel (HD, 5 min.)
  • Deleted Scenes (HD)
  • Episodic Promos
  • plus, all featurettes from the DVD version.
  • Main audio tracks in English, German, French, Spanish, Italian, and Japanese.

Article & reviews written by Martin Izsak. Comments are welcome. You may contact the author from this page:

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Read the next Star Trek review: "Chain of Command"

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