The Importance of Star Trek: TNG

When Star Trek "TNG" - Star Trek: The Next Generation (1987-1994) was announced, not all Trek fans were happy

When Star Trek “TNG” – Star Trek: The Next Generation (1987-1994) was announced, not all Trek fans were happy. For example, they felt it would likely betray the legacy of the original Star Trek “TOS” (1966-1999). Indeed, TNG took a couple of seasons to really get going, but once it did, it created a brand new era for the franchise. So, time for SciFiPulse to explain the significance of the show . . .


Big Changes

As mentioned, there was certainly trepidation when news broke that the late and sorely missed Gene Rodenberry was to deliver a new Trek series. Perhaps some of the concerned fans knew that Rodenberry wouldn’t have full creative control of TNG. They were of course, right. In fact, after season one his influence diminished greatly. However, those responsible for the next incarnation of the franchise did manage to deliver, at least eventually. The new cast weren’t popular, at first. This may have been because Patrick Stewart wasn’t American, but largely it was owing to the fact that the cast simply weren’t the original cast. And, that leads us to . . .

Homage to Original

Right from the off we saw tributes to TOS. In the very first episode, the pilot “Encounter at Far Point” we saw a cameo from DeForest Kelley, as “Bones” McCoy. As well as showing how people live longer in the future, this also showed that the show was set much later.

Other cameos of the original crew included Leonard Nimoy returning as Spock, and James Doohan again playing Scotty, in “Relics”.

The second (third, officially) episode of TNG., “The Naked Now” was a definite nod to the original show. But it wasn’t very popular. In fact, a number of the first season episodes were seen by fans as cheap rip offs of original plots. But very soon that would change . . .

Into its Own

By the second season the cast had managed to established themselves in their roles, somewhat. There were still a few doozies in season two, but the second season did include the likes of “Measure of a Man”, and really dealt with vital issues that only science-fiction seems to do justice, and explore thoroughly. But it was Season Three that really began to start showing signs of true promise.

The last episode of the third season, “Best of Both Worlds-Part One”, ushered in a new era of Trek. There’d never been a cliff-hanger that wouldn’t be resolved until the next season. Furthermore, with the exception of Star Trek II: Wrath of Kahn (1982), this was the first time we’d seen anything quite as dark. This was a step in a new direction. There’d be further examples of series ending cliff hangers in the series, and similar formats used in follow up series. Those series certainly wouldn’t have happened without TNG. Here’s why . . .

DS9 and Voyager Roots

The third season episode “The Price” is perhaps the best example of the Trek universe starting to grow. The episode itself wasn’t particularly memorable, as an individually important one, but certain aspects mattered greatly. We saw what would be a central premise of Star Trek: Deep Space Nine (1993-1999) in the wormhole. As well as politically significant connotations for Starfleet, we also saw two ferengis get lost in the Delta Quadrant. The idea was the basis for Star Trek: Voyager (1995-2001), or at least the idea came from this. Other significant developments from TNG also included the introduction of the Trill ,in Season Four episode, “The Host”.

Lasting Legacy

The show is still extremely popular amongst fans. Perhaps that’s owing to some of the truly awesome work on it, by both the cast and the creative crew. Whilst not every episode was knock out, there are more than enough absolute classics. As mentioned, the show “gave birth” to multiple series. And, there were also the feature films, too. Furthermore, it was a definite turning point in the franchise, and made the future of Star Trek possible. If all that wasn’t enough then there’s also the most recent iteration of Trek, in Picard. Hopefully even more beloved TNG characters will return for Season 2, and beyond. Let’s hope that the producers can “make it so” . . .


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