Star Trek: The Next Generation: Season 5, Episode 9

A Matter of Time (16 Nov. 1991)

TV Episode  -   -  Action | Adventure | Sci-Fi
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Reaching Panthera IV after an asteroid wreaks havoc of catastrophic proportions, the Enterprise crew deals with trying to save the planet as well as deal with someone who claims to be a historian from the future.



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Title: A Matter of Time (16 Nov 1991)

A Matter of Time (16 Nov 1991) on IMDb 7.3/10

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Episode cast overview:
Berlinghoff Rasmussen
Sheila Franklin ...
Shay Garner ...


The Enterprise sets out to help the colonized planet Penthara IV, where an asteroid impacts with an apocalyptic effect, first scorching then lasting clouding comparable to nuclear winter. On the route to it, an unknown vessel appears after a temporal distortion and beams aboard history professor Berlingoff Rasmussen from earth three centuries later (the 26th), who is obsessed by Picard, who accepts the whole crew to be questioned, despite the possibilities of fraud or altering reality. Once at Penthara 4, Geordie down there and Data aboard devise a method to create a greenhouse-effect, at the risk of making it far worse, so Picard wrestles with using Rasmussen's hindsight, but his own history proves significantly problematic... Written by KGF Vissers

Plot Summary | Add Synopsis

Plot Keywords:

time traveler | 24th century




Release Date:

16 November 1991 (USA)  »

Company Credits

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Technical Specs

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Aspect Ratio:

1.33 : 1
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Did You Know?


Robin Williams, a long time Star Trek (1966) fan, had to opt out of the role of Prof. Rasmussen to play Peter Pan in Steven Spielberg's Hook (1991). See more »


The Professor claims to be an historian from the future, and Picard seems to accept this, saying in the crew briefing that the Professor's credentials seem to be in order. It would arguably be rather difficult to verify the credentials of someone from the future, whose 'credentials' don't exist yet. See more »


Lieutenant Worf: [responding to an earlier question of Rasmussen] Phasers.
Rasmussen: Beg your pardon?
Lieutenant Worf: There were no phasers in the 22nd century.
Rasmussen: Ah, you see, Doctor? Our Klingon friend is a perfect example of what I was trying to tell you: he views history through the eyes of a hunter, a warrior. His passion lies in the perfection of the tools of violence. How delightfully primitive!
See more »


Referenced in Star Trek: Deep Space Nine: Bar Association (1996) See more »


Star Trek: The Next Generation Main Title
Composed by Jerry Goldsmith and Alexander Courage
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User Reviews

timeline inconsistency
24 October 2008 | by (United States) – See all my reviews

As far as I know this is one of the first episodes written by Rick Berman himself. With all the mistakes you think he would have known better. It is after the death of Gene Roddenberry that Berman is now at the helm of Star Trek, and there are some obvious growing pains.

When the time traveller historian known as Rasmussen(Max Headroom/Lawnmower Man 2) claims to be from the 26th century( That's 2500-ish) he creates a plot hole. The Star Trek Timeline which was established off of an episode in the 2nd season I believe should put us circa 2367-9. somewhere in there. He claims to have come back nearly 300 years, yet the maximum would be 230 years which is nowhere near 300 years. Apparently math in the distant future is shaky.

I realize that back when this was aired there was less common knowledge about volcanism, asteroids, and global warming, but when the Captain has to ask Geordi why volcanic eruptions are bad on Panthera IV it's taking it a little far. Picard should know a hell of a lot more than that about the situation. He does spend his time mapping class M planets after all. How they save the planet is all theoretical and based on technology that doesn't exist(yet) so I cannot say whether that would work or not, but it seems like the work of a terraformer, not a flagship.

Furthermore even the slightest change in the past can have the colossal impact on the future. Say Beverly needed that Neural Stimulator in a coming injury, and because she had to have another replicated someone influential dies prematurely. The best course of action for time travelers is to never travel in time in the first place. It's just too risky - they would not, could not interact with such a person or accept them with open arms. Death is the only option.

When Rasmussen takes Data into his ship there is a major problem here. Why would the captain allow him to enter a vessel he doesn't fully understand. He would lose control of the situation. They would escort Rasmussen to the brig or some sort of quarters and strip search him with the aid of a tricorder. While inside, rambling on about his plans like any cliché villain he supposedly holds Data under guard of a phazer yet he takes his thumb off the trigger several times, looks away, messes with his ship...all ample opportunities for an android to move with inhuman speed and disarm/disable the guy. The way they disable the devices was a little too convenient.

Besides, if he WAS from the past how could he have known ANYTHING about Picard or the crew such as their names or anything at all? Or even that Data was an android? In the 21st century there was no warp coil as they knew it. 2063 is the year Cochrane made his first flight in the Phoenix and made first contact with the Vulcans. In the rest of the 21st century nothing more than a warp probe is launched. In fact during half of this century Earth is wracked in World War III and nuclear winter. Soldiers were addicted to enhancement drugs as is detailed the first time the crew encountered Q, it was a barbaric time. There was no way to tell what the future held. There was no way he could have conducted any sort of travel in space without knowledge of it, no would there be any reason for him to suddenly appear light years from the surface of earth in dead space 300 km from the Starfleet Flagship either. Wouldn't he just be in the future on Earth? A simple quiz about the 22nd century would have proved this guy a fake in 5 seconds. Name 10 alien races that were known in this century. GO. How about questions about the Enterprise. What is the fastest warp factor we can achieve safely, GO! No answer? Shoot him! What if because he never made it back to his time he didn't invent the things that could have theoretically resulted in the invention of starships and therefore damaged the present? What happens to the time machine when it goes back in time, adrift, a derelict for any to find and wreak havoc with.

Since there was no record of his existence why didn't they just vaporize him or blow him out of an airlock just for fun? Lock him in a holodeck medieval torture program indefinitely.

This whole episode is utter trash that should have never been put into production. It's just another filler episode on the way to bigger better things. There are simply too many of these filler episodes. Rick Berman needs to stick to production because as a writer he is a noob. I realize that at this point he is all alone, and new at it, but he should have planned for Gene's eventual departure at his advanced age long before this. They should have had the entire series written by this point like we do today. Sometimes it feels like the seat-of-the-pants, fly-by-night kind of pulp fiction writings detailed in a certain episode of DS9. :)

One more thing ILM makes me mad. The atmosphere of most planets is over 600 miles above the surface granted re-entry isn't noticeable until around 75 miles, the atmosphere is still there! The Enterprise according to ILM just sits right next to solid spheroid planets devoid of topography or water half the time, mere dozens of miles above the surface, and yet denies the natural orbit that is stable and easy to achieve around 250 miles above a planet of Earth's size. The Bussard Ramscoop collectors do collect Deuterium fuel for free at warp speeds, but you would tend to want to save wherever possible. It's called efficiency. Another thing, battles in space happen in 3 dimensions not 2.

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