Star Trek: The Next Generation: Season 1, Episode 16

When the Bough Breaks (13 Feb. 1988)

TV Episode  -   -  Action | Adventure | Sci-Fi
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Ratings: 6.3/10 from 751 users  
Reviews: 5 user | 7 critic

A planet that was able to cloak itself for thousands of years suddenly reveals itself, with its inhabitants proposing peace. But, after initial negotiations, children of the Enterprise are kidnapped due to the impotence of the inhabitants.



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Episode cast overview, first billed only:
Jandi Swanson ...
Paul Lambert ...
Ivy Bethune ...
Dierk Torsek ...
Dr. Bernard


The Enterprise is delighted with a rare chance to visit a technologically advanced planet which long prevented access by means of a perfect cloaking technique. Prime administrator Radue shows how their people lead a life of leisure, trusting their central computer takes care of all necessities. But they can't solve a medical nightmare: endemic infertility, so they need to 'adopt' earthling children. Negotiations failing, they suddenly snatch Wesley and several younger, also gifted crew kids. Picard can barely keep negotiating credibly enough to avoid being chased too far in space ever to return, but Wesley manages to study and befriend the locals while planning a minimal risk revolt. Written by KGF Vissers

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Release Date:

13 February 1988 (USA)  »

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Aspect Ratio:

1.33 : 1
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Did You Know?


Aldea is the Spanish word for village. See more »


When the Enterprise is hit by the Aldea repulsor beam and is spinning out of control the main bridge alert indicator behind Riker (and beside Worf) is flashing at Red Alert (at the same time as the audible klaxon) while the other alert indicator behind Dr Crusher is still indicating Yellow Alert. See more »


[Picard has quoted Starfleet Regulation 6.57 to Radue, in order to justify Dr. Crusher's presence during negotiations]
Lt. Commander Data: Captain, I am not aware of Regulation 6.57.
Captain Jean-Luc Picard: No, Data, neither am I.
Lt. Commander Data: I see, sir. Oh - I see, sir!
See more »


Star Trek: The Next Generation Main Title
Composed by Jerry Goldsmith and Alexander Courage
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When the Bough Breaks
17 May 2012 | by (United States) – See all my reviews

If I'm honest, "When the Bough Breaks" isn't a bad episode, but it is just a bit too sappy for my tastes and once again exploits, "Hey, we got the star of Stand by Me in our cast, let him be the pick of the litter if special kids are to be kidnapped by an alien world in need of offspring to restart civilization". I just explained the plot in that quote. There's this world with all the wonders one could ever dream of. A machine's core furnishes the people all they need in comfort and luxury. It even cloaks the planet, therefore hiding it from possible threats! However, this very machine's core that gives them everything also causes radiation that makes them sterile. No children left and the people are all slowly succumbing to the radiation poisoning that will soon leave their world desolate and dead. Technology, sophisticated and advanced, will prove to be difficult for Picard and the Enterprise crew as they try to uncover a means to beam the kidnapped children back aboard the ship. Parents losing their children is horrifying enough, but the helplessness of not being able to get to them because of a technology so advanced even a galaxy class starship cannot free them is just as scary. Like I mentioned at the very beginning, the plot in itself is not bad, but the brunt of the episode features the cutesy kids placed in a situation where they like the people on the planet yet desire to return to their own parents on the Enterprise. This episode is all about getting the most of Wil Wheaton, a child star I guess Paramount felt needed to be shoved down our throats until we gag. Nothing against Wheaton, really, (I do love his episode with a young Ashley Judd called "The Game"), but that first season sure got him in the plots as much as possible so that the young audience would perhaps be lured to watch. Whatever the case, he gets the other children to strike so that the aliens (led by The X Files' Jerry Hardin and Brenda Strong, a veteran actress of television) will maybe get mad and want them to leave. Picard and company do believe there is a glitch in the planet's shield technology, or at least in the people's machine (it requires certain voices to command it, and the downfall of the surviving aliens is allowing Wesley access to it) which controls it, and this might be the answer to rescuing the children… This episode pokes fun at Picard's discomfort with children.

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