The top 10 Captain Picard moments from “Star Trek”

Patrick Stewart in Star Trek: Generations

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5. Sleep

Most Star Trek fans will tell you the greatest TNG moment was during the franchise’s first ever cliffhanger, the end of “Best of Both Worlds Part I.” In it, Picard has been assimilated by the Borg and stares down Riker in cold gaze of mutually assured destruction.

But that isn’t really Picard – it’s “Locutus” – so it doesn’t belong on this list. (Plus, he’s threatening our space-faring friends. Not fun!) In the follow-up episode (after a long, long summer) Picard/Locutus is back aboard the Enterprise, looking rather pale, and trying desperately to break his mind free of the Collective’s hold. Struggling, though with a blank face, he struggles to squeak out one word to Data: “Sleep.” Data is able to interpret these instructions (it involves positronic matrices and information relays) and shuts down the Borg threat, just as Riker is preparing to ram the ship in a suicide run. Timing!

4. “Temba, His Arms Open”

Of all the far-out sci-fi on display in TNG, one of the most original episodes was season 5’s “Darmok.” In it, the Federation tries once again in vain to make contact with a civilization whose form of communication baffles their universal translators. It takes a marooned Picard (and a campfire) for him to break through the barriers and recognize that the Tamarians speak to one another in evocative metaphor. “Shaka When The Walls Fell,” “Kadir Beneath Mo Moteh” and “Darmok and Jalad at Tanagra” may mean nothing to you, but they mean everything to them – and to the hardcore dweebs who like to speak in Star Trek code.

3. Letting The Nausicaan Stab Him Through The Heart

Season 6’s “Tapestry” is the closest Star Trek ever came to Frank Capra’s “It’s A Wonderful Life.” But instead of Zuzu’s Petals it’s a giant spear through the heart.

Picard’s achilles heel is located a little higher – he has an artificial heart and it has caused him some degree of stress over the years. When the omnipotent Q sends him back to his younger years, offering him an opportunity to avoid the dom-jot hall brawl that led to his injury, he takes it. He then lives a life of mediocrity.

Oh, yes, he serves in Starfleet, even gets positioned to the Enterprise, but as a forgettable, risk-averse junior officer. Heck, Riker can barely remember his name. In the end, Picard must choose his “normal” path, one that takes life for all its worth, one informed by an early near-death experience, and, as such, he smiles as he lays there bleeding from the Nausicaan’s blade.

2. The Truth!

It is important to take a nuanced view toward Wesley Crusher. It is too easily to just call him a know-it-all snot and wish he were eaten by a band of ravenous Tellarites. There are some good moments in the franchise that are because of him – even with that dopey rainbow sweater. However, when he left to join the academy and then got involved in an ethics scandal (“The First Duty,” season 5) all the pent-up aggression toward the luckiest kid in the galaxy came bursting forth.

Picard’s smackdown isn’t just an opportunity to call Wesley names. He’s too good for that. It is actually a fine platform in which he can espouse his vision of what the Federation and what Starfleet is all about. In a way, it is his version of Kirk’s “Risk is our business” speech. And rather than me quote it for you, let’s let the good Captain sum it up in eighteen perfect seconds.

1. There Are Four Lights!

But that wasn’t Picard’s best speech. His best speech, more of a howl than a speech, is a moment of universal triumph for all that are suppressed by a totalitarian state.

Taking its cue from George Orwell’s “1984,” the two-parter “Chain of Command” (season 6) sends Captain Picard into the dark abyss of physical and psychological torture at the hands of the horrible Cardassian, Gul Madred. In an effort to soften him up and get Federation defense codes, he points to a fixture with four lights and asks how many there are. Until Picard will see it Madred’s way and say there are five lights, he will continue to inflict horrible pain.

Picard’s spirit is greater than either man can know, however, and no amount of torment can make him relent. Though he can barely speak, Picard slurs out the defiant phrase “There are four lights!!” Even when he is rescues, he spits it back in Madred’s face one last time. As an extra bit of badassery, he shoves one of the guards, despite barely being able to walk. Yeah, who said Picard wasn’t as tough as Kirk?

Jordan Hoffman is a regular contributor to Film.com, ScreenCrush and writes the weekly “One Trek Mind” column at StarTrek.com.

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Documentary Now! Robert Evans Mansion

The Reel Deal

Everything You Need To Know About “Mr. Runner Up” Inspiration Robert Evans

Watch the two-part finale of Documentary Now! this Wednesday at 10P on IFC.

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Photo Credit: Everett Collection

In its upcoming two-part finale, Documentary Now! spoofs the crown jewel of docs: The Kid Stays In The Picture. It’s the autobiographical documentary about Robert Evans, the unlikely Hollywood mogul whose mix of self-aggrandizing bravado, classic good looks and extremely circumstantial good luck took him from being a salesman to an actor to the head of Paramount Pictures.

If you’ve never seen the film, it’s totally worth it. Rotten Tomatoes agrees, with a staggeringly-high approval rating. Watch it before, or watch it after — doesn’t matter. You’ll appreciate it whenever.

In the meantime, here’s a bit of background that will come in handy…

Robert Loves Robert

Robert Evans desk

USA Films/Everett Collection

Robert Evans is the ultimate Robert Evans fan. The movie was narrated by Robert Evans and based on his memoir of the same name. It is totally unbiased.

He’s Kind Of A Big Deal

Robert Evans, Chinatown
Paramount Pictures

Evans produced some of Hollywood’s true classics: Chinatown, Rosemary’s Baby, The Godfather, Love Story…the list goes on. Totally legit and amazing movies.

He’s Also Kind Of A Joke

Wag The Dog
New Line Cinema

Evans has been parodied in TV shows and movies like Entourage and Wag The Dog. He is the quintessential “producer” you already have in your head.

So Wrong He’s Right

Robert Evans Slap
20th Century Film Corp

Robert Evans is a notorious narcissist whose love of self is so blind and sincere that it’s actually adorable.

There’s Something Missing

via Giphy

Entire sections of Robert Evans’ life are left out of the documentary. Maybe it’s because of timing. Maybe it’s because real life isn’t a tidy narrative. Who knows.

He Blew It

Spider coke

Evans had a pretty spectacular fall from grace. He was convicted of cocaine trafficking in the early 80’s, and was connected to a contract killing during the production of The Cotton Club. Oops.

Losing Is For Losers

Everett Collection
Everett Collection

In the Robert Evans mythology, all tragedies are just triumphs in disguise, and every story has a happy ending…for Robert Evans.

Bill Hader Jerry Wallach

With these simple facts in hand you are now prepared to thoroughly enjoy the two-part finale of Documentary Now! starting this Wednesday at 10/9c on IFC.

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Weird Roles

Anthony Michael Hall’s Most Rotten Movies

Catch Anthony Michael Hall in Weird Science on Friday at 8P on IFC.

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Photo Credit: Universal/Everett Collection

Anthony Michael Hall was the quintessential ’80s nerd. We love him in classics like The Breakfast Club and National Lampoon’s Vacation. But even the brainiest among us has his weak spots. In honor of Weird Science airing this Rotten Friday, we analyze Hall’s worst movies.

Weird Science (1985) 56%

A low point for John Hughes, Weird Science is way too wacky for its own good. Anthony Michael Hall’s Gary and his pal Wyatt (Ilan Mitchell-Smith) create the “perfect woman.” Supernatural chaos ensues. The film costars a young Bill Paxton, floppy disks, and a general disconnect from all reality.

The Caveman’s Valentine (2001) 46%

This ambitious drama starring Samuel L. Jackson couldn’t live up to its rich premise. Jackson plays Romulus, a Juilliard-educated, paranoid schizophrenic who lives in a cave. Hall co-stars as Bob, a rich man, who wants to see Romulus play the piano. The plot centers around Romulus investigating a murder, but with so much going on, the movie never quite finds its rhythm.

All About the Benjamins (2002) 30%

Ice Cube plays a bounty hunter who teams up with Mike Epps’ con man to catch diamond thieves. Hall plays Lil J, a small-time drug dealer. It’s definitely a role we’ve never seen Hall in, but overall the movie isn’t funny or original enough to justify its violence.

Freddy Got Fingered (2001) 11%

This showcase for Tom Green’s goofy gross-out comedy is often hailed as one of the worst films of all time. Green plays Gord, a 20-something slacker, who dreams of having his own animated series. Hall is Dave Davidson, a CEO of an animation studio who eventually helps Gord find success. Too bad Tom Green wasn’t so lucky.

Johnny Be Good (1988) 0%

Hall plays against type as Johnny Walker, a star quarterback. Robert Downey Jr. is his best friend and Uma Thurman plays his devoted girlfriend. Despite the support of a future A-list cast, the movie lacks central conflict and charm. Or, as TV Guide put it, “Johnny be worthless.” Ouch.

Catch the “Too Rotten to Miss” Weird Science this Friday at 8P on IFC.

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Season 6: Episode 1: Pickathon

Binge Fest

Portlandia Season 6 Now Available On DVD

The perfect addition to your locally-sourced, artisanal DVD collection.

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End of summer got you feeling like:

Portlandia Toni Screaming GIF

Ease into fall with Portlandia‘s sixth season. Relive the latest exploits of Fred Armisen and Carrie Brownstein’s cast of characters, including Doug and Claire’s poignant breakup, Lance’s foray into intellectual society, and the terrifying rampage of a tsukemen Noodle Monster! Plus, guest stars The Flaming Lips, Glenn Danzig, Louis C.K., Kevin Corrigan, Zoë Kravitz, and more stop by to experience what Portlandia is all about.

Pick up a copy of the DVD today, or watch full episodes and series extras now on IFC.com and the IFC app.

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