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Created by Gene Roddenberry

 

 

 

 

 

 

Star Trek: The Next Generation (often abbreviated to TNG) is an American science fiction television series created by Gene Roddenberry as part of the Star Trek franchise. Roddenberry, Rick Berman, and Michael Piller served as executive producers at different times throughout the production. The show was created 21 years after the original Star Trek show and set in the 24th century from the year 2364 through 2370 (about 100 years after the original series timeframe). The program features a new crew and a new starship Enterprise. Patrick Stewart's voice-over introduction during each episode's opening credits stated the starship's purpose, updated from the original to represent an open-ended "mission", and to be gender- (and even species-) neutral:

 

Space: the final frontier. These are the voyages of the starship Enterprise. Its continuing mission: to explore strange new worlds, to seek out new life and new civilizations, to boldly go where no one has gone before.

 

It premiered the week of September 28, 1987 to 27 million viewers[1] with the two-hour pilot "Encounter at Farpoint". With 178 episodes spread over seven seasons, it ran longer than any other Star Trek series, ending with the two-hour finale "All Good Things..." the week of May 23, 1994.

 

The series was broadcast in first-run syndication with dates and times varying among individual television stations. The show gained a considerable following during its run and, like The Original Series, remains popular in syndicated reruns. It was the first of several series (the others being Star Trek: Deep Space Nine, Star Trek: Voyager, and Star Trek: Enterprise) that kept new Star Trek episodes airing continuously from 1987 to 2005. Star Trek: The Next Generation won 18 Emmy Awards and, in its seventh season, became the first, and currently only, syndicated television show to be nominated for the Emmy for Best Dramatic Series. It was nominated for three Hugo Awards and won two. The first-season episode "The Big Goodbye" also won the Peabody Award for excellence in television programming. The series formed the basis of the seventh through the tenth Star Trek films.

 

In 1997, the episode "The Best of Both Worlds, Part I" was ranked #70 on TV Guide's 100 Greatest Episodes of All Time.[2] In 2002, Star Trek: The Next Generation was ranked #46 on TV Guide's 50 Greatest TV Shows of All Time list.[3] and in 2008, was ranked by Empire #37 on their list: "The 50 Greatest TV Shows of All Time".[4]

  

[edit] Plot

 

Further information: List of Star Trek: The Next Generation episodes

 

The show follows the adventures of a space-faring crew on board the starship USS Enterprise (NCC-1701-D), the fifth Federation vessel to bear the name and registry and the seventh starship by that name. (See Starship Enterprise for other ships with the name and/or registry). The time line takes place roughly 80 years after the final missions of the original Enterprise crew under the command of James T. Kirk. The Federation has undergone massive internal changes in its quest to explore and seek out new life, adding new degrees of complexity and controversy to its methods, especially those focused on the Prime Directive. The Klingon Empire and the United Federation of Planets have ceased wartime hostilities and become galactic allies, while more sinister foes like the Romulans and the Borg take precedence on the show.

 

The Enterprise is commanded by Captain Jean-Luc Picard and is staffed by first officer Commander William Riker, the android Lieutenant Commander Data, security chief Lieutenant Tasha Yar, ship's counselor Deanna Troi, Klingon tactical officer Lieutenant Worf, Doctor Beverly Crusher, and conn officer Lieutenant Geordi La Forge. The death of Lieutenant Yar in the show's first season prompts an internal shuffle of personnel, making Worf official chief of security. Geordi La Forge is promoted to chief engineer at the beginning of season 2.

 

The show begins with the crew of the Enterprise-D put on trial by a nefarious, omnipotent being known as Q. The godlike entity threatens the extinction of mankind for being a race of savages, forcing them to solve a mystery at nearby Farpoint Station in order to prove their worthiness of being spared. After successively solving the mystery and avoiding disaster, the crew officially departs on its mission to explore strange new worlds.

 

Subsequent stories focus on the discovery of new life and sociological and political relationships with alien cultures, as well as exploring the human condition. Several new species are introduced as recurring antagonists, including the Ferengi, the Cardassians, and the Borg. Throughout their adventures, Picard and his crew are often forced to face difficult choices and live with the consequences of those choices.

 

The show ended in its seventh season with a two-part episode "All Good Things...", which brought the events of the series full circle back to the original confrontation with Q. An interstellar anomaly that threatens all life in the universe forces Captain Picard to leap from his present, past and future to combat the threat. Picard was successfully able to demonstrate to Q that humanity could think outside of the confines of perception and theorize on new possibilities while still being prepared to sacrifice themselves for the sake of the greater good. The show ended with the crew of the Enterprise portrayed as feeling more like a family and paved the way for four consecutive motion pictures that continued the theme and mission of the series.

 

[edit] Production

 

By 1986, 20 years after its debut, Star Trek had become the "'crown jewel'" of Paramount Pictures, a "'priceless asset'" whose longevity amazed studio executives. Seventeen years after cancellation, the show was the single most popular syndicated television program, and the Harve Bennett-produced Star Trek films did well at the box office. William Shatner's and Leonard Nimoy's demands for "sky-high salaries" for Star Trek IV: The Voyage Home (1986) caused the studio to plan for a new Star Trek television series, as it had hoped to do so in 1977 with Star Trek: Phase II before making the films. Paramount executives worried that a new show could hurt the demand for the films, but decided that one with unknown actors would be more profitable than paying the films' actors millions. Roddenberry initially declined to be involved but came on board as creator after being unhappy with early conceptual work. Star Trek: The Next Generation was announced on October 10, 1986, and its cast in May 1987.

 

Paramount executive Rick Berman was assigned to the show at Roddenberry's request. Roddenberry hired a number of Star Trek veterans, including Bob Justman, D. C. Fontana, Eddie Milkis, and David Gerrold. Early proposals for the series included one in which some of the original series's cast might appear as "elder statesmen",[5] and Roddenberry speculated as late as October, 1986, that the new show might not even use a spaceship as "people might travel by some [other] means" 100 years after the USS Enterprise (NCC-1701). A more lasting change was his new belief that workplace interpersonal conflict would no longer exist in the future; thus, the new show did not have parallels to the frequent "crusty banter" between Kirk, Spock, and Leonard McCoy. According to series actor Patrick Stewart, Berman was more receptive than Roddenberry to the show addressing political issues. The Next Generation was shot on 35 mm film, and the budget for each episode was $1.3 million, among the largest for a one-hour television drama.

 

[edit] Syndication and ratings

 

Despite Star Trek's proven success, NBC and ABC only offered to consider pilot scripts for the new show, and CBS offered to air a miniseries that could become a series if it did well. The Big Three television networks' treatment of Paramount's most important property as they would any other series offended the studio. Fox was "desperately eager" for the show to help launch the new network, but wanted it by March, 1987, and would only commit to 13 episodes instead of the full season Paramount wanted. The unsuccessful negotiations convinced the studio that it could only protect Star Trek with full control.

 

Paramount increased and accelerated the show's profitability by choosing to

instead broadcast it in first-run syndication[13][7][14]:123-124 on both

independent stations (whose numbers had more than tripled since 1980) and Big

Three network affiliates.[5] In an example of "barter syndication", Paramount

offered the show to local stations for free. The stations sold five minutes of

commercial time to local advertisers and Paramount sold the remaining seven

minutes to national advertisers. However, stations had to also commit to

purchasing reruns in the future.[13] As additional incentive, only stations that

aired the new show could purchase the popular reruns of the original

series.[15]:222[16]

 

 

The studio's strategy succeeded. Despite the difficulty of assembling an

informal nationwide network for the new show,[13] 210 stations covering 90% of

the United States agreed to air The Next Generation. More than 50 network

affiliates preempted their own shows for the series pilot, "Encounter at

Farpoint", in early October, 1987. One station predicted that "'Star Trek'

promises to be one of the most successful programs of the season, network or

syndicated." The new show indeed performed well; the pilot's ratings were higher

than those of many network programs.[17] Despite the handicap of each station

airing the show on a different day and time, often outside prime time, by the

end of the first season, Paramount received $1 million for advertising per

episode, more than the approximately $800,000 fee that networks typically paid

for a one-hour show;[13] by 1992, when the budget for each episode had risen to

almost $2 million,[18] the studio earned $90 million from advertising annually

from first-run episodes, with each 30-second commercial selling for $115,000 to

$150,000.[19][20] The show had a 40% return on investment for Paramount, with

$30 to $60 million in annual upfront net profit for first-run episodes and

another $70 million for stripping rights for each of the about 100 episodes then

available, so did not need overseas sales to be successful.[19]

 

The Next Generation's average of 20 million viewers often exceeded both existing

syndication successes like Wheel of Fortune and network hits like Cheers and LA

Law. Benefiting in part from many stations' decision to air each new episode

twice in a week, it consistently ranked in the top ten among hour-long dramas,

and networks could not prevent affiliates from preempting their shows with The

Next Generation or the many other dramas that imitated its syndication

strategy.[18][14]:124

 

[edit] Season 1

 

While the staff enjoyed the creative freedom of lack of interference from a

broadcast network's Standards and Practices department,[15]:222 the first season

was marked by a "revolving door" of writers, with Gerrold, Fontana, and others

quitting after disputes with Roddenberry.[21] Roddenberry "virtually rewrote"

the first 15 episodes because of his "dogmatic" intention to depict human

interaction "without drawing on the baser motives of greed, lust and power".

Writers found the show's 'bible' constricting. It stated for example that

"regular characters all share a feeling of being part of a band of brothers and

sisters. As in the original 'Star Trek,' we invite the audience to share the

same feeling of affection for our characters."[7]

 

Mark Bourne of The DVD Journal wrote of season one: "A typical episode relied on

trite plot points, clumsy allegories, dry and stilted dialogue, or

characterization that was taking too long to feel relaxed and natural."[22]

Other targets of criticism include poor special effects and plots being resolved

by the deus ex machina of Wesley Crusher saving the ship.[23][24] However,

Patrick Stewart's acting skills won praise, and critics have noted that

characters were given greater potential for development than those of the

original series.[22][23] Both actors and producers were unsure whether Trekkies

loyal to the original show would accept the new one,[25][26] but one critic

stated as early as October, 1987, that The Next Generation, not the movies or

the original show, "is the real 'Star Trek' now".[27]

 

While the events of most episodes of season one were self-contained, many

developments important to the show as a whole occurred during the season. The

recurring nemesis Q was introduced in the pilot, the alien Ferengi first

appeared in "The Last Outpost", the capabilities of the holodeck were explored,

and the history between William Riker and Deanna Troi was investigated. "The

Naked Now", one of the few episodes that depicted Roddenberry's fascination (as

seen in the show's bible) with sex in the future, became a cast favorite.[7]

 

Later season-one episodes set the stage for serial plots. The episode "Datalore"

introduced Data's evil twin brother Lore, who made several more appearances in

later episodes. "Coming of Age" dealt with Wesley Crusher's efforts to get into

Starfleet Academy while also hinting at the threat to Starfleet later faced in

"Conspiracy". "Heart of Glory" explored Worf's character, Klingon culture, and

the uneasy truce between the Federation and the Klingon Empire, three themes

that would play a major role in later episodes. Tasha Yar left the show in "Skin

of Evil" becoming the first regular Star Trek character to die permanently

(although the character would be seen again in two later episodes) in either

series or film, and the season finale, "The Neutral Zone", established the

presence of two of TNG's most enduring villains: the Romulans, making their

first appearance since the Original Series, and, through foreshadowing, the

Borg.

 

The premiere became the first television episode to be nominated for a Hugo

Award since 1972. Six first-season episodes were each nominated for an Emmy

Award. "11001001" won for Outstanding Sound Editing for a Series, "The Big

Goodbye" won for Outstanding Costume Design for a Series, and "Conspiracy" won

for Outstanding Achievement in Makeup for a Series.[28] "The Big Goodbye" also

won a Peabody Award, the first syndicated program[13] and only Star Trek episode

to do so.

 

[edit] Season 2

 

The series underwent significant changes during its second season. Beverly Crusher was replaced as Chief Medical Officer by Katherine Pulaski, played by Diana Muldaur, who had been a guest star in "Return to Tomorrow" and "Is There in Truth No Beauty?", two episodes from the original Star Trek. The show's recreational area, Ten-Forward, and its mysterious bartender/advisor, Guinan, played by Whoopi Goldberg, appeared for the first time. Owing to the 1988 Writers Guild of America strike, the number of episodes produced was cut from 26 to 22, and the start of the season was delayed. Because of the strike, the opening episode, "The Child", was based on a script originally written for Star Trek: Phase II, while the season finale, "Shades of Gray", was a clip show.

 

Nevertheless, season two as a whole was widely regarded as significantly better than season one.[29] Benefiting from Paramount's commitment to a multiyear run and free from network interference due to syndication, Roddenberry found writers who could work within his guidelines and create drama from the cast's interaction with the rest of the universe.[7] The plots became more sophisticated and began to mix drama with comic relief. Its focus on character development received special praise.[29] Co-executive producer Maurice Hurley has stated that his primary goal for the season was to plan and execute season-long story arcs and character arcs.[30] Hurley wrote the acclaimed episode "Q Who?", which featured the first on-screen appearance of TNG's most popular villain, the Borg. Season two focused on developing the character Data, and two highly regarded episodes from the season, "Elementary, Dear Data" and "The Measure of a Man", featured him prominently.[31] Miles O'Brien also became a more prominent character during the second season, while Geordi La Forge found a position as Chief Engineer. Klingon issues continued to be explored in well-regarded episodes such as "A Matter of Honor" and "The Emissary", which introduced Worf's former lover K'Ehleyr.[32] Five second-season episodes were nominated for six Emmys, and "Q Who?" won for Outstanding Sound Editing for a Series and Outstanding Sound Mixing for a Drama Series.

 

[edit] Season 3

 

Prior to the production of the third season in the summer of 1989, some personnel changes were made. Head writer Maurice Hurley was let go and Michael Piller took over for the rest of the series. Creator and executive producer Gene Roddenberry took less of an active role due to his declining health. Roddenberry gave Piller and Berman the executive producer jobs, and they remained in that position for the rest of the series's run, with Berman overseeing the production as a whole and Piller being in charge of the creative direction of the show and the "writing room". Doctor Crusher returned from her off-screen tenure at Starfleet Medical to replace Doctor Pulaski, who had remained a guest star throughout the second season. Ronald D. Moore joined the show after submitting a spec script that became "The Bonding". He became the franchise's "Klingon guru", meaning that he wrote most TNG episodes dealing with the Klingon Empire (though he wrote some Romulan stories as well, such as "The Defector"). Writer/producer Ira Steven Behr also joined the show in its third season. Though his tenure with TNG would last only one year, he would later go on to be a writer and showrunner of spin-off series Star Trek: Deep Space Nine. Six third-season episodes were nominated for eight Emmys. "Yesterday's Enterprise" won for Outstanding Sound Editing for a Series and "Sins of the Father" won for Best Art Direction for a Series. After doctors warned that the cast members risked permanent skeletal injury, new two-piece wool uniforms replaced the first two seasons' extremely tight spandex uniforms. The season finale, the critically acclaimed episode "The Best of Both Worlds", was the first season-ending cliffhanger, a tradition that would be continued throughout the remainder of the series.

 

[edit] Season 4

 

Brannon Braga and Jeri Taylor joined the show in its fourth season. The fourth season surpassed the Original Series in terms of season length with the production of "The Best of Both Worlds, Part II". A new alien race, the Cardassians, made their first appearance in "The Wounded". They would later go on to be featured in Star Trek: Deep Space Nine. The season finale, "Redemption", was the 100th episode, and the cast and crew (including creator Gene Roddenberry) celebrated the historic milestone on the bridge set. Footage of this was seen in the Star Trek 25th anniversary special hosted by William Shatner and Leonard Nimoy which aired later in the year. Seven fourth-season episodes were nominated for eight Emmys. "The Best of Both Worlds, Part II" won for both Outstanding Sound Editing in a Series and Outstanding Sound Mixing for a Series.[28] Character Wesley Crusher left the series in Season 4 to go to Starfleet Academy. "Family" was the first Star Trek episode not to have a bridge scene during the entire episode and is the only TNG episode where Lt. Commander Data does not appear on-screen.

 

[edit] Season 5

 

The fifth season's "Unification" opened with a dedication to Star Trek creator Gene Roddenberry (even though the prior episode, "The Game", aired four days after his death). Roddenberry, though he had recently died, continued to be credited as Executive Producer for the rest of the season. The cast and crew learned of his death during the production of "Hero Worship", a later season five episode. Seven fifth-season episodes were nominated for eight Emmys. "Cost of Living" won for Outstanding Individual Achievement in Costume Design for a Series and Outstanding Individual Achievement in Makeup for a Series, and "A Matter of Time" and "Conundrum" tied for Outstanding Individual Achievement in Special Visual Effects. In addition, "The Inner Light" became the first television episode since the 1968 original series Star Trek episode "The City on the Edge of Forever" to win a Hugo Award for Best Dramatic Presentation. Season five saw the introduction of a jacket for Picard, worn periodically throughout the rest of the show's run. The observation lounge set was altered with the removal of the gold model starships across the interior wall and the addition of lighting beneath the windows. Recurring character Ensign Ro Laren was introduced in the fifth season.

 

[edit] Season 6

 

The sixth season brought aboard a new set of changes. Now Rick Berman and Michael Piller's time was split between the newly created Star Trek: Deep Space Nine and The Next Generation. Three sixth-season episodes were nominated for Emmys. "Time's Arrow, Part II" won for both Outstanding Individual Achievement in Costume Design for a Series and Outstanding Individual Achievement in Hairstyling for a Series, and "A Fistful of Datas" won for Outstanding Individual Achievement in Sound Mixing for a Drama Series.

 

[edit] Season 7

 

The seventh season was The Next Generation's last. The next-to-last episode, "Preemptive Strike", concluded the plot line for the recurring character Ensign Ro and introduced themes that continued in Star Trek: Deep Space Nine. The Next Generation series finale, "All Good Things...", was a double-length episode (separated into two parts for reruns) that aired the week of May 19, 1994, revisiting the events of the pilot and providing a bookend to the series. Toronto's SkyDome played host to a massive event for the series finale. Thousands of people packed the stadium to watch the final episode on the stadium's JumboTron. Five seventh-season episodes were nominated for nine Emmys, and the series as a whole was the first syndicated television series nomination for Outstanding Drama Series. To this day, The Next Generation is the only syndicated drama to be nominated in this category. "All Good Things..." won for Outstanding Individual Achievement in Special Visual Effects, and "Genesis" won for Outstanding Individual Achievement in Sound Mixing for a Drama Series. "All Good Things..." also won the second of the series's two Hugo Awards.