Star Trek: The Next Generation: Season 5, Episode 22

Imaginary Friend (2 May 1992)

TV Episode  |   |  Action, Adventure, Mystery
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Ratings: 6.0/10 from 786 users  
Reviews: 6 user | 5 critic

Young Clara Sutter, like many girls her age, has an imaginary friend. She recently come on board with her father, an engineering officer, and hasn't yet made any real friends. Counselor ... See full summary »



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Episode cast overview:
Noley Thornton ...
Clara Sutter
Jeff Allin ...
Ensign Daniel Sutter
Sheila Franklin ...
Ensign Felton


Young Clara Sutter, like many girls her age, has an imaginary friend. She recently come on board with her father, an engineering officer, and hasn't yet made any real friends. Counselor Troi assures Clara's father that it's perfectly normal and he has nothing to worry about. While playing one day, Clara is shocked to see her friend Isabella suddenly appear before her. In fact, Isabella is a sentient being that has taken human form only to scout the ship and learn more about it. For Picard and the crew, determining the being's intent is key to determining the next step. Written by garykmcd

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Release Date:

2 May 1992 (USA)  »

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Production Co:

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Aspect Ratio:

1.33 : 1
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Did You Know?


Guinan wasn't originally supposed to be in the episode, but when Whoopi Goldberg became available, her character was written in to the script one day before shooting began. The cloud-watching scene with Data was initially written for Beverly and Troi, and then later Guinan and Troi. See more »


When Troi confronts "Isabella" and Clara tells Troi "Isabella's" threatening response, Clara is clearly scared--and Troi, being an empath, should be able to sense Clara's fear. Yet in the next scene, she acts as if Clara was just acting out. See more »


[first lines]
Clara Sutter: I like to cook all kinds of stuff. Like yoghurt and raisin salad, chocolate chip pancakes and... purple omelettes.
Counselor Deanna Troi: [disgusted] Purple omelettes?
Clara Sutter: You put grape juice in the eggs. Isabella doesn't like it very much. She says it tastes funny.
Counselor Deanna Troi: I can see her point.
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Referenced in Star Trek: Voyager: Collective (2000) See more »


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

This is an episode that LOST IN SPACE handeled MUCH better (no, I'm not joking. Read on)
3 November 2011 | by (NYC) – See all my reviews

One of the original ideas - and one of the dumbest, and, mercifully, mostly ignored - was the crew of the Enterprise, would have their families.

LOVE BOAT in space.

Roddenberry realized quickly, this was not an 'entertaining' idea to continually follow, and, after it's initial season, the idea was mostly relegated to the back burner.

Except here.

There are very few children who can ACT. What most of them do, is look 'cute,' and, in this episode, that's what we're handed.

IMAGINARY FRIEND - is one of the few episodes that follows a moppet aboard ENTERPRISE, and, her 'invisible' friend.

As I said, there are very few children who can act. Such names as Patty McCormack, Billy Mumy come to mind, but, not here. It's following the other form of kid 'acting,' - cute, wooden, 'lispy-talk,' and, while I've a low tolerance for 'cute,' in general, it makes trying to stomach it - for an hour, is almost unbearable.

This annoyance is the major focus of this episode. The 'story's really a 'fish out of water' tale, with Clara's 'invisible' friend becoming an alien, who can't understand why 'humans' (more accurately, adults') can be so 'mean' to kids.

This would play much better as an ABC After-School special, but, it is so myopic, and its script, so hit-over-the-head-with-a-hammer type, that, it's barely watchable.

Years ago, another sci-fi show, the often mocked LOST IN SPACE (shut up!) did a GREAT episode (it was the first season, before it became so campy, so ridiculous), about a chlld's loneliness.

That episode, MY FRIEND, MR. NOBODY, was a wonderfully acted, and scripted (!) variation of this idea, where Penny Robinson feels neglected, and, spends her time with Mr. Nobody.

Like this STAR TREK episode, the adults did not believe Mr. Nobody was anything more than a child's imagination, but, it soon became apparent, he was real, and, as here, he also is angered at how the others treat Penny.

Angela Cartwright was a much better actress, than this girl, but, additionally, the ending of that episode was so beautifully handled, that, even now, it still stands out.

As for this episode, of was a throw-away then, and that's where it should stay.

17 of 27 people found this review helpful.  Was this review helpful to you?

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