Star Trek: The Next Generation

Years: 1987 – 1994

Synopsis: A new generation of explorers boldly go where no one has gone before.

Pros:
• Surpassed its genre by providing largely strong, character driven stories.
• Quite literally made both the viewers and the cast better people. Patrick Stewart is very open about how he became much less uptight as an actor, while that shift was directly written into his iconic Captain Picard.
• Countered its often cerebral nature with an almost implausible level of accessibility.
• Showed how a show of pure exploration, from ourselves to the nature of the universe, can engage the hearts and minds of generations.

Cons:
• With the majority of the episodes complete stories, some failed to stand out as well as others.
• Related to a writer’s strike at the time of the second season in 1988, the first couple of seasons tended to be weaker than the succeeding ones. The S2 finale, “Shades of Gray,” was literally a clip show.

Discussion:
Q: Soldiers, you will press those triggers if this criminal answers with any word other than guilty [of imperfections and savagery]. Criminal, how plead you? 
PICARD: Guilty. Provisionally.
Q: The Court will hear the provision.
PICARD: We question whether this court is abiding by its own trial instructions. Have I have permission to have Commander Data repeat the record? 
Q: There will be no legal trickery 
PICARD: These will be your own words, your Honor. What exactly what followed his Honor’s statement that the prisoner will not be harmed? 
DATA: Yes, sir. The Captain had asked the question. Can we assume you mean this will be a fair trial? And in reply the judge stated, yes, absolutely equitable. 
Q: Irrelevant testimony, entirely irrelevant. 
PICARD: Alright! We agree there is evidence to support the court’s contention that humans have been savage. Therefore I say test us. Test whether this is presently true of humans. 
Q: I see, I see. And so you petition the Court to accept you and your comrades as proof of what humanity has become. 
PICARD: There must be many ways we can be tested. We have a long mission ahead of us. 
Q: Another brilliant suggestion, Captain. But your test hardly requires a long mission. Your immediate destination offers far more challenge than you can possibly imagine. Yes, this Farpoint station will be an excellent test. 
BAILIFF: All present, respectfully stand. 
Q: This trial is adjourned, to allow the criminals to be tested …
[But the trial never ended …]

Humanity is a bastion of seemingly endless imperfections. Indeed, the Earth might still be destined to be an utter disaster into the late twenty-first century, as highlighted and predicted in TNG‘s pilot. Q, in all his Loki-esque meddling, was not wrong, but unlike the many species we learned he poked, he saw something special in humans his godlike species probably never bothered to consider. So, he instead nudged, albeit harshly at times, to prove that he was right about the true worth of humans and their closest allies.

That was the narrative and production core of TNG, which had a lot to prove. The show had its roots in the unproduced Phase II, whose pilot was aggressively expanded into the rushed production of The Motion Picture in 1979. And perhaps, that was the right choice: bring the iconic original cast to the big screen for grand stories that might not have been told as well in the little TVs at the time. The films ultimately proved their worth, but how could TNG with its array of new, unfamiliar, untested faces? The weight was heavy, and perhaps they nearly crumbled under that weight early on. Yet, their journey into greatness was seeded in the pilot: they were guilty of imperfections, mistakes, and being untested. So, they went on to make the show they wanted as evidence of being worthy of the Star Trek name. And they boldly moved the franchise onward to where no franchise as gone before …

Related:
Star Trek Franchise


Official Website

Rotten Tomatoes
S1 – 79%
S2 – 50%
S3 – 100%
S4 – 100%
S5 – 100%
S6 – 100%
S7 – 100%

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