First of all, in "11001001," the Enterprise is heading into space dock for scheduled maintenance, which is being supervised by a guy who looks like Picard's evil, bearded twin (ha, autocorrect wanted to make that "breaded" which would have been an awesome typo) and a race of aliens called Bi-Nars, who are small, childlike creatures who have reportedly become so close with the computer on their homeworld that their language is completely integrated on the ship's computer. The only person who finds this of any interest is Wesley "Mr. Exposition" Crusher, but no one pays him any heed.
Meanwhile, everyone is excited to go to the space dock for character development reasons. This is seen through Riker's eyes as he wanders around the rapidly emptying Enterprise, looking for people to be a random jerk to. Data is attempting to create art (Riker is a real asshole about that, geez, dude), Worf and Yar are off to a futuristic game of... something, and Crusher is about to go meet one of her academic idols who is an expert on futuristic medicine. Riker finally gets sidetracked into trying the upgraded Holodeck, where he meets a program named Minuet. Minuet's role was frustratingly unclear to me throughout this episode. Is she meant to be a honey trap, to distract Riker and then Picard as well, with her flawless French and enthusiasm for jazz music? Is she some marker for the computer program the Bi-Nar scammers are running? Is she just a literal plot device? Whatever it is, she "traps" Riker and Picard in the Holodeck and charms the hell out of them, until they realize that the ship has been STOLEN!
Yup, while all this character development was going on, the Bi-Nars tricked the ship into thinking it was gonna explode, and so Data evacuates all remaining crew members, unable to contact Riker and Picard for the duration. There is a lovely character moment for Data, afterwards, as he stands on the space dock and laments not being able to rescue his friends. Everyone hastens to assure him that he did his best, but you can see the guilt lurking around his thoughts. Props to Brent Spiner for this one.
Anyway, Riker and Picard bust out of the Holodeck and figure out what's going on: the Bi-Nars have been downloading their homeworld's computer onto the Enterprise because... reasons. Something about their computer decaying, and they were too afraid to ask for help outright because the Federation might say no?! This makes very little sense given what we--and the Bi-Nars--know about the Federation, but whatever. Everything is set to rights and we never hear about Minuet again. Huzzah?
And then, we get a very old school Trek episode with "Too Short a Season," which introduces a character I noted as, "Admiral Jameson, Very Old Guy And Apparently Best Negotiator Ever!" In his Youth, the Admiral negotiated some kind of a truce with between two warring factions on a craphole planet, and now the leader of the craphole planet has taken hostages and is demanding that Jameson return and re-negotiate. Jameson has some wasting disease, and is at death's door, but he gamely makes the trip, and his reasons for doing this quickly become clear.
This episode was especially frustrating because it introduced a brand new character and set of problems related only to him, and with very little stake for any of the regular characters to buy into. The only characters really involved in this episode are Picard (for diplomatic reasons) and Crusher (for medical reasons.) Troi gets a few awful lines about the Baddie's motivations (she doesn't understand them, which makes no sense, because we've seen her figure out more inscrutable stuff before), and other than that, everyone else has as much to do as cardboard cutouts of themselves would. As a character, the Admiral is... well, the SFX on the makeup as he grows younger are pretty sweet, but he's not a particularly likable guy. He selfishly took two doses of the alien youth drug (one of which he had intended for his wife) and it's revealed in the course of the episode that this so-called negotiation triumph of his in his youth was actually him trying to play both sides he was negotiating with, and causing a war that lasted for 25/30 years. His reason for returning is to rectify his previous sins, but of course he's planned this poorly and the youth medicine starts screwing him up. ("His DNA is skewed!" Crusher exclaims at one point.) The Baddie is at first unconvinced that the ill teenager in front of him is, in fact, the crooked guy he negotiated with years earlier, but Jameson steps out with some facts that only the two of them know, makes the Baddie release the hostages, and dies. I felt sorriest for his wife, who must have had to put up with a lot of bullshit from this guy over the years, and was probably looking forward to a quiet retirement. Anyway, introducing a new character is great, but it would have been nice to have our main characters have a little bit more of a stake in his death than just, "we have to get this guy to this planet."
Signs it's THE FUTURE: Aliens! The Bi-nars are the most consistently alien creatures we've seen for a whole episode, and that's nice. Also Holodeck~~~~!
Signs it's NOT THE FUTURE: The central moral dilemma plot problem in "Too Short a Season" doesn't really need to be set on another planet, except for the crazy alien drugs plot device. Really, this could be set in any time period, with any scientific mumbo jumbo substituted for the de-aging part of the story, and it would work just fine.