(written from a Production point of view)
|TNG, Episode 5x22|
Production number: 40275-222
First aired: 4 May 1992
|←||121st of 176 produced in TNG||→|
|←||121st of 176 released in TNG||→|
|←||229th of 728 released in all||→|
| Teleplay By|
Edithe Swensen and Brannon Braga
Jean Louise Matthias & Ronald Wilkerson and Richard Fliegel
As the Enterprise explores a nebula, a little girl's imaginary friend becomes terrifyingly real.
- "Captain's log, Stardate 45852.1. The Enterprise has arrived at FGC 47, a nebula which has formed around a neutron star. We are eager to investigate this unique formation."
Clara, a little girl who just moved to the USS Enterprise-D with her father, who is stationed there, is lonely and creates an imaginary friend named Isabella to keep her company. One day, to her surprise, her imaginary friend becomes real.
Clara and Isabella spend all their time together. Increasingly, Isabella gets Clara into trouble by leading her into off-limits places and by having her do things she knows are wrong. Generally others on the ship cannot see Isabella although Worf sees her when Clara and Isabella run into him in a corridor when they aren't paying attention. Eventually Isabella gets Clara into enough trouble that Clara leaves her friend alone to go play with others, such as Worf's son Alexander. When she returns, Isabella is angry and says, "When the others come, you can die along with everyone else."
Clara works up the courage to talk to her father, who then talks to the captain. The crew learns that Isabella is actually an energy-based lifeform whose home is the nebula outside the ship. Picard finds Isabella in the arboretum and talks to her about Human parenting. Isabella argues that the adults were cruel to Clara, and Picard explains that rules are for her protection, and even Clara will make some rules for her children when she grows up. Isabella is convinced, and allows the ship to pass safely through the nebula.
"So, what are we gonna call this nebula? FGC 47 just doesn't have the proper ring to it."
"Why don't we call it Sutter's Cloud?"
"No, I was thinking about something more along the lines of the La Forge Nebula. It has sort of a majestic sound, don't you think?"
"Given the selections, I prefer FGC 47."
- - Geordi La Forge, Daniel Sutter and Data debating over naming a nebula
"Its just, I've never seen you before, not for real."
"Well, now you can see me for real. Doesn't that make you happy?"
- - Clara Sutter sees her imaginary friend Isabella appear in the flesh
"It is interesting that people try to find meaningful patterns in things that are essentially random. I have noticed that the images they perceive can sometimes suggest what they are thinking about at that particular moment. Besides, it is clearly a bunny rabbit."
- - Data, to Guinan as they stare at the nebula clouds
"I was going to protect you, Clara. I liked you. Now, I don't care. Now, when the others come, you can die along with everyone else!"
- - Isabella
"Oh it was! Especially when he smiled."
- - Clara and Guinan, talking about Guinan's imaginary Tarcassian razor beast
"Can you only communicate by threatening a small child?"
- - Picard, appealing to Isabella to show herself
Story and script
- Rick Berman was an early supporter of this episode's premise. He commented, "Where else but in science fiction could you do an idea about an imaginary friend who turns out not to be imaginary? It's a story about an alien who takes the form of a little girl's imaginary friend and begins to perceive our world through the eyes of a child." (Captains' Logs: The Unauthorized Complete Trek Voyages, p. 245)
- The script for "Imaginary Friend" passed through several freelancers' hands before the final rewrite was given to Brannon Braga. While Isabella was a curious and friendly alien in earlier drafts, Braga took the character in a darker direction. (Star Trek: The Next Generation Companion 2nd ed., p. 201) Braga recalled, "It wasn't quite working in its original guise and Jeri Taylor and Peter Fields and I broke the story and tried to make the imaginary friend more of a bad seed. Before, it was more like Puff the Magic Dragon and it was that the alien was simply curious and didn't have an evil intent. It just kind of laid there and was playful fluff. We decided to make the alien malevolent, where it's mean to the kid." (Captains' Logs: The Unauthorized Complete Trek Voyages, p. 245)
- A working title for this episode was "Invisible Friend". ("The Perfect Mate" call sheet, )
- Earlier scripts did not have Guinan appearing in this episode at all. When Whoopi Goldberg became available, her character was written in only days before shooting began. The cloud-watching scene with Data was originally written for Crusher and Troi, and later Guinan and Troi. (Star Trek: The Next Generation Companion 2nd ed., p. 201)
- "Imaginary Friend" was filmed between Wednesday 26 February 1992 and Thursday 5 March 1992 on Paramount Stage 8, 9, and 16. Special effects inserts were filmed on Friday 6 March 1992 on Paramount Stage 16.
- Larry Hankin filmed his scenes as wind dancer for the episode "Cost of Living" during principal photography of this episode on Friday 28 February 1992 at "Image G". ("Imaginary Friend" call sheet)
- The production meeting for this episode took place on Monday 24 February 1992 at 2:00 p.m. ("The Perfect Mate" call sheet)
- Several contest winners visited the sets on Wednesday 26 February 1992 and Friday 28 February 1992. On Thursday 27 February 1992 several licensing and merchandising people from Andrea Hein / Neil Newman visited the set between 3:00 p.m. and 4:00 p.m. and the winner of the Viewers for Quality Television auction Tony Riccardi visited the sets on Monday 2 March 1992 at 9:00 a.m. On the last day of filming, Thursday 5 March 1992, guests from Warner Bros. visited the set as well as personal guests of Leonard Nimoy, namely Irving and Barbara Ostrov and Sybil Nimoy. ("Imaginary Friend" call sheets)
- First UK airdate: 17 May 1995
- Noley Thornton later appears in Star Trek: Deep Space Nine, as Taya in the episode "Shadowplay".
- This episode marks the final appearance of Sheila Franklin's Ensign Felton who previously appeared in four episodes of the fifth season.
- This episode is the first Trek role of Jeff Allin who later plays Gedrin in the Star Trek: Voyager episode "Dragon's Teeth" and Ralph Furlong in the video game Star Trek: Borg.
- Stuntwoman Christine Anne Baur filmed a scene as stunt double for Marina Sirtis (her fall into the closet) on Friday 28 February 1992 on Paramount Stage 9. This scene, however, was not part of the final episode. ("Imaginary Friend" call sheet)
- Brannon Braga named this episode's script as the most gratifying he had written in the fifth season. He credited this for the chance to write a show in which children played a large role. He commented, "I've taken to calling it Romper Room: The Next Generation. Kid stories appeal by their very nature. There's an innocence to kids and kids can have conflict. The funny thing about kid shows in the Star Trek universe is you can get conflict with kids because they're not developed yet like our perfect adults. In a strange kind of way, kids can have more problems and conflict than our regulars. They can still be imperfect. It is a fun episode and hopefully people won't be so sick of seeing children on the show." (Captains' Logs: The Unauthorized Complete Trek Voyages, p. 245)
- Rick Berman was pleased with the final episode. "I think it turned out quite nicely, and we got two great performances. It's very difficult to work with kids because they're not as experienced and you only get them for a few hours a day [...] I would not rank this as one of my favorites for the season, but it was a lot of fun."
- Herbert J. Wright was fond of neither the premise nor the finished episode. He remarked, "It's not a show that dealt with our regulars and not a show that needed to be on Star Trek. I think Michael [Piller] was trying to do E.T., but what made that film work is hard to do on Star Trek aboard the Enterprise. E.T. was an alien in a suburban neighborhood trying to get home. It was like the lost pet that turns out to be a genius alien. But 'Invisible Friend's' problem was how do you have, in effect, an adolescent alien?" Wright was also displeased with the shift in story direction exemplified by this episode. He opined, "I think the problem is that when you narrow your focus to what kind of show you want to do to the point where you're doing 90 percent personal stories and you're trying to do them in outer space on a 24th century starship, you're going to run into a brick wall and there's only so many times you can do that." (Captains' Logs: The Unauthorized Complete Trek Voyages, p. 245)
- A mission report for this episode by John Sayers was published in The Official Star Trek: The Next Generation Magazine Vol. 21, pp. 37-39.
Video and DVD releases
- Original UK VHS release (two-episode tapes, CIC Video): Volume 61, 15 March 1993.
- UK re-release (three-episode tapes, Paramount Home Entertainment): Volume 5.7, 2 December 2002.
- As part of the TNG Season 5 DVD collection.
Links and references
- LeVar Burton as Lt. Cmdr. Geordi La Forge
- Michael Dorn as Lt. Worf
- Gates McFadden as Dr. Beverly Crusher
- Marina Sirtis as Counselor Deanna Troi
- Brent Spiner as Lt. Commander Data
- Noley Thornton as Clara Sutter
- Shay Astar as Isabella
- Jeff Allin as Daniel Sutter
- Brian Bonsall as Alexander Rozhenko
- Patti Yasutake as Alyssa Ogawa
- Sheila Franklin as Felton
And special guest star
- Rachen Assapiomonwait as Nelson
- Bjork as child
- Bjork as child
- Michael Braveheart as Martinez
- Carl David Burks as Russell
- Cooper as Reel
- John Copage as gardener
- Tony Cruz as Lopez
- Dickinson as Vulcan boy
- Lanier Edwards as command division lieutenant
- Gina Gallante as civilian
- Eben Ham as operations division ensign
- Christie Haydon as command division ensign
- Jacob as child
- Arvo Katajisto as Torigan
- Ron Large as command division officer
- Mark Lentry as civilian
- Debbie Marsh as civilian
- Holly McBee as gardener
- Lorine Mendell as Diana Giddings
- Michael Moorehead as science division ensign
- Myles as child
- Keith Rayve as command division officer
- Richard Sarstedt as command division ensign
- Victor Sein as command division officer
- Théyard as civilian
- Dru Wagner as Daniels
- Watts as child
- Christina Wegler Miles as command division ensign
Stand-ins & photo double
- David Keith Anderson - stand-in for LeVar Burton
- Candace Crump - stand-in for Whoopi Goldberg
- Johnny Hayden - stand-in for Noley Thornton & Brian Bonsall
- Joshua Henson - photo double for Brian Bonsall
- Mark Lentry - stand-in for Jeff Allin
- Nora Leonhardt - stand-in for Marina Sirtis
- Tim McCormack - stand-in for Brent Spiner & Jeff Allin
- Lorine Mendell - stand-in for Sheila Franklin & Gates McFadden
- Richard Sarstedt - stand-in for Jonathan Frakes
- Dennis Tracy - stand-in for Patrick Stewart
- Tuesday - stand-in for Shay Astar & Noley Thornton
- James Washington - stand-in for Michael Dorn
arboretum; Brentalia; Champs Elysees; exozoologist; FGC 47; FGC 47 lifeform; grape juice; graviton field; hot chocolate; invertebrate; Jokri River; Kryonian tiger; La Forge, Edward M.; La Forge, Silva; Maschinenmensch; McClukidge; Mintonian sailing ship; Modean system; nasturtium; neutron star; O'Brien, Keiko; Paris; pancake; papalla juice; purple omelet; rabbit; red alert; Risa; Romulan Neutral Zone; Samarian coral fish; Tavela Minor; Tarcassian razor beast; Ten Forward; thermal interferometry scanner; trionium; turbolift
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