||STAR TREK: THE NEXT GENERATION
"Further episodes of the USS Enterprise and its ongoing mission"
178 episodes of 60 minute duration. Paramount 1987 - 1994.
26th September 1987 was the date which ushered in the rebirth and continuation of one of television's most enduring and celebrated legends. With the feature length premier of Star Trek: The Next Generation: "Encounter at Farpoint", Gene Roddenberry's galaxy spanning concept was revived for an entire new generation of viewers across the globe.
Set seventy years after the legendary exploits of James T. Kirk and his original crew, ST:TNG featured an all new crew on an all new Enterprise, facing dangers and moral dilemmas which bore the unique hallmark of the highly detailed fictional Trek universe. As with the original series and all of its spin-offs, the key to ST:TNG’s success was in the importance of the "Family" aspect of the core characters inter-relationships.
Blessed yet again with a talented and committed ensemble cast, lead by Yorkshire born Shakespearean actor Patrick Stewart as Captain Jean-Luc Picard (a choice originally resisted by Roddenerry himself, who favoured Cagney and Lacy's Stephen Mach for the role), the show took the now expected standard three seasons to define a unique identity of its own while staying true to the basic, underlying Star Trek ethos.
With the arrival of Rick Berman as guiding light following Roddenberry's departure, ST:TNG forged a standard of excellence which almost single-handedly revived the moribund wasteland of televised science-fiction that held sway at that time, and in the process actually succeeded in the near impossible task of actually supplanting the parent show as the flagship of the Trek dynasty in the eyes of many, and at times even the most die-hard of original series fans.
Quality was the key to STT:NG’s phenomenal success. Quality in all aspects of production and approach to the series consistently excellent later seasons. By the time of the series final episode, "All Good Things..." the Trek juggernaut was near unstoppable. A third series Star Trek: Deep Space Nine was already in production and Star Trek: Voyager, was already approaching its initial genesis.
Although no longer a television series in is own right, the adventures of the Enterprise crew have made the successful transition to the big screen as well as the inevitable books, comics, etc. ST:TNG enriched an already complex fictional universe, and against all the odds made it very much its own.
With Picard's simple comment of "Let's see what's out there..." in the closing moments of "Farpoint", the Star Trek universe was reborn stronger and more wondrous than ever. And, to all our good fortune, so was the woefully neglected genre of quality television science-fiction.
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