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The Only Episode Of Star Trek: TNG That Gates McFadden Directed

Making its primetime debut in September of 1987, expectations were understandably tempered for "Star Trek: The Next Generation." It was, after all, the first live-action "Star Trek" series since the late-sixties original, which fared better in syndication than it did during its three-season run on NBC. As it was, "The Next Generation" made it to air sans the backing of a major network at all, instead going for the pay-to-play first-run syndication route. With a cast fronting Patrick Stewart, Jonathan Frakes, LeVar Burton, and more, that approach more than paid off as the second live-action "Star Trek" series became an Emmy-winning hit in its first season on the air. Over its ensuing seven season run, "TNG" would, in the eyes of many, become not only the best "Star Trek" series to date, but also front arguably the greatest Captain the USS Enterprise has ever seen, in Stewart's Jean-Luc Picard. 

You may not realize it, but several "The Next Generation" cast members also directed episodes throughout the series run. That includes Gates McFadden, who portrayed the Enterprise's Chief Medical Officer Dr. Beverly Crusher in every season of "Star Trek: The Next Generation" except its second — and also claimed the director's chair on a single episode during the show's final season. Here's which episode she directed. 

McFadden helmed one of the wilder episodes of TNG's final season

Surprisingly, the lone episode of "Star Trek: The Next Generation" that Gates McFadden directed has, to date, remained the only project the actor has helmed. But if you've seen the Season 7 "The Next Generation" episode titled "Genesis," you know she really went all-in with her lone directorial effort, delivering a wild, make-up effects heavy story that giddily ran the "Star Trek" formula into proper creature feature territory.

For those who haven't seen "Genesis," the entire crew of the Enterprise are, in fact, the creatures in question. Well, all except Picard and Lt. Commander Data (Brent Spiner) who are conveniently off-ship hunting down a stray photon torpedo as a virus which genetically alters all who encounter it runs rampant among the Enterprise crew. Upon their return, Picard and Data find their beloved ship adrift in space. They also find its crew have genetically de-evolved into horribly mutated creatures. 

They, of course, come up with an antidote of sorts and save the day before things get too far along for their fellow Enterprisers. And as far as the best and worst episodes of "Star Trek: The Next Generation" go, fans generally rank "Genesis" among the latter group. Even still, "Genesis" remains one of those "The Next Generation" episodes that's an absolute blast to watch once you get over the silliness. It's also just stylized enough to make you wonder why McFadden hasn't directed since.