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Book Review: Star Trek: The Next Generation: Warped by Mike McMahan
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Star Trek: The Next Generation: Warped
An Engaging Guide to the Never-Aired 8th Season
Paperback | Kindle
By Mike McMahan
Illustrations by Jason Ho
Star Trek Pocket Books | Gallery Books | Simon and Schuster
Release date: October 13, 2015

Back in the 1990s, before everything you ever wanted to know was just a high-speed Internet click away, the best way to get a behind-the-scenes look and in depth analysis of your favorite television series was to pick up the inevitable Authorized Companion Guide. And let me tell you something, I love a good TV show companion guide.

I was (and still am) a proud owner of the Xena: Warrior Princess Official Guide To the Xenaverse, Hercules, The Legendary Journeys: The Official Companion, and Frasier: The Official Companion Book to the Award-Winning Paramount Television Comedy, amongst others. (Yes, lengthy titles are a common trend for these things). But sometimes, if you want to get down to the nitty gritty, you want an unofficial guide, such as The Nitpicker’s Guide for Classic Trekkers and its follow up The Nitpicker’s Guide for Next Generation Trekkers, both of which I own.

But then there are the times when you want the real scoop on your favorite TV show; you want to know about those lost episodes, the deleted scenes, and the alternate endings and unused scripts that could have change everything. You want in on the secrets! That’s where Star Trek: The Next Generation: Warped: An Engaging Guide to the Never-Aired 8th Season, an appropriately lengthy titled guide for the fabled eighth season of Star Trek: The Next Generation, comes in.

Star Trek: The Next Generation first aired in 1987, and introduced a new ensemble to the Star Trek universe, with such beloved characters as Captain Jean-Luc Picard (Sir Patrick Stewart) and the android officer Data (Brent Spiner).

While Star Trek: The Next Generation completed its seventh and final season in 1994, Warped’s author, Mike McMahan, maintains that down in the bowels of the Star Trek archives resides the 26 never-seen-before episodes of a clandestine eighth season. The back cover of this 274-page full-color paperback guide boasts that it includes REAL dialogue and images from the episodes, as well as REAL facts and stories about Season 8, which was allegedly filmed hastily and terribly so as to be un-airable. The story goes that after filming 176 episodes over seven seasons, the exhausted over-worked cast and crew very badly wanted out so they could finally get some rest, so they sabotaged an eighth season so that Paramount wouldn’t pick up the series anymore.

Makes sense, right?

Except, that never happened.

No, there was no secret Season 8.

No, Picard did not fall in love with an alien plant (although, that’s totally plausible).

No, Wesley did not create a Riker/dinosaur hybrid that exudes sexuality (although, c’mon, you know you’d want to see that).

But, McMahan isn’t punking us with Warped. Rather, he’s giving us a what-if scenario for a jumped-the-shark season of TNG that I think we can all agree probably would have been terrible, much like other great TV shows that stuck around way too long (see, for example, the final seasons of Roseanne, Seinfeld, and Happy Days).

McMahan, who is a writer on Rick and Morty, launched his fictitious Season 8 a few years ago with an anonymous Twitter account, @TNG_S8, where he posted brief summaries of the lost episodes, such as “Worf claims allergies are dishonorable, refuses to stop eating peanuts.” For Warped, the author takes his popular tweets — his account has over 88,000 followers as of this writing — and expands them into a full-formed guide to each episode, complete with memorable quotes (Q tells Picard, “Looks like it’s death o’clock!”) as well as behind-the-scenes trivia and bloopers. Each humorous episode summary is broken up by main plot, followed by the B plot, the latter of which typically involving some whacky endeavor (Geordi and Data try to catch a mouse, hilarity ensues).

Warped‘s apocryphal Season 8 summaries and tidbits are hilarious, over-the-top extensions of The Next Generation cast’s characteristics, like Riker’s animal magnetism; Picard’s propensity for ill-fated love affairs; Wesley’s seemingly innocuous experiments turned disastrous; Worf’s emotional vulnerabilities, and more. Throughout the book, there are some full-color photos from previous seasons of TNG, but it’s artist Jason Ho‘s adorable accompanying illustrations — like the aforementioned Rikervaptor, Picard during one of his classic facepalms, and Worf crying his eyes out on a psychiatrist’s couch while hugging his bat’leth — that bring McMahan’s parodies to life. I wouldn’t be surprised if Warped was adapted into a comic book series, or even an animated television show.

Star Trek fans will be in on the jokes, and enjoy reading through these engaging continuing voyages of the starship Enterprise.

The official parody guide to the unaired eighth season of Star Trek: The Next Generation, based on the popular @TNG_S8 Twitter account from creator Mike McMahan!

In the basement of the Star Trek archives, behind shelves of U.S.S. Enterprise NCC-1701-D models, bags of wigs, and bins of plastic phasers, sits a dusty cardboard box. Inside is a pile of VHS tapes that contain never-before-seen episodes and behind-the-scenes footage for something truly amazing. The world thinks there are only seven seasons of Star Trek: The Next Generation, but there’s one more. A secret season.

Actually, not really. But that didn’t stop Mike McMahan, creator of the parody Twitter account @TNG_S8, from making a guide full of:

REAL* TNG SEASON 8 FACTS AND STORIES!
REAL* TNG SEASON 8 DIALOGUE AND IMAGES!
(* Again, not really, of course. This is humor. Sorry.)

So impress your friends and bewilder your enemies with your newfound knowledge of these very lost Star Trek episodes! Engage!

Star Trek: The Next Generation: Warped cover

Follow me on Twitter and Instagram.

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