Star Trek The Next Generation

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Star Trek: The Next Generation is a science fiction television series set in the Star Trek universe. The first live-action television continuation of the 19661969 series Star Trek, The Next Generation is set nearly a century later and features a new starship and a new crew. It is often referred to as ST:TNG.

The series was conceived and produced by original Star Trek creator Gene Roddenberry. It premiered on September 28, 1987 with the two-hour pilot episode "Encounter at Farpoint" and ran for seven seasons, ending with the final episode "All Good Things..." on May 29, 1994. The show gained a considerable following during its run, and like its predecessor, is widely syndicated. Its popularity led to a line of spin-off television series that would continue without interruption until 2005.

The voiceover during each episode's opening credits was similar to that of the original series:

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.

Plots

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The episodes follow the adventures of the crew of the USS Enterprise (NCC-1701-D), a Galaxy class starship designed for both exploration and diplomacy but capable of battle when necessary. Its captain is the seasoned and charismatic Jean-Luc Picard, who is more intellectual and philosophical than many typical protagonists in popular science fiction.

As in the case of The Original Series (TOS), the crew of the Enterprise-D meets many technologically powerful races. Many episodes also involve temporal loops, character dramas, natural disasters, and other plotlines without alien encounters. This crew favors peaceful negotiation more than TOS's crew did. The Prime Directive is involved more frequently and is followed more closely; it states that the Federation must not interfere with the development of cultures that are not capable of interstellar travel. This often creates moral conflict within characters, as they are sometimes bound to ignore races in need of help.

Another noticeable difference between TOS and TNG is the continuity of general story arcs across episodes — events in one episode might influence events in a later episode. One major recurring character, Q, bookends the series, appearing as the first major antagonist in "Encounter at Farpoint" and closing the series by forcing the crew into an ultimate test of human resourcefulness in the final episode "All Good Things...". Since Q could control where he appears in time, the first and last episodes could actually be contiguous from his point of view, both being part of the initial test. His Puck-like behavior and calculated mayhem in many episodes makes him the most influential antagonist of the crew, as had been planned from the series' beginning. He appears the most frequently of any antagonist, appearing in ten episodes, compared with six episodes for the second-most frequently appearing antagonists, the Borg.

Previously-established alien races appear in TNG.

The Borg are the most significant threat in this series, and are considered to be some of the most iconic and evil science fiction villains of all time. In the episode "The Best of Both Worlds," a single Borg cube ship is initially challenged (ineffectually) by the Enterprise, abducts and assimilates Captain Picard, destroys thirty-nine Starfleet vessels at the Battle of Wolf 359 and continues to incorporate Earth, where it is stopped by the last-ditch actions of the Enterprise crew.

Themes

File:NCC 1701-D1.jpg
Enterprise in orbit above a planet.

The series greatly expands on a secondary theme of TOS: the idealism of humanity's dedication to improving itself. It also continues TOS's approach of using extra-terrestrial species and science fiction elements as a means of exploring many real-world social, political, personal and spiritual issues. The series continues to mirror Gene Roddenberry's vision of a future humanity which transcends war, racism, prejudice, and poverty.

TNG has been praised for being more in the spirit of "traditional" idea-based science fiction than other action/adventure franchises which became more common between 1970 and 2000. However, it has also been criticized for shying away from conflict and character drama and too often having the crew solve its challenges through the discovery or invention of hitherto-unknown technology (known as Treknobabble).

Gene Roddenberry continued to be credited as executive producer of TNG though his influence lessened as the series progressed. He died in 1991 and producer Rick Berman took over, and under his guidance, the series came to rely more on action and conflict.

The series also contains many story elements that are found in all the Star Trek series. For instance, an alien or android is a member of the crew, and a lot of dialogue revolves around explaining human customs to the alien (supposedly enlightening the human viewer in the process).

Controversy

The prospect of a new live-action Star Trek series after 18 years was much anticipated by the Star Trek fan community, but for some, anticipation turned to outrage when Gene Roddenberry announced that the new series would feature a brand new cast and be set in a time long after the adventures of Captain James T. Kirk and his crew, making even guest appearances by the original cast unlikely. Before production even began on the series, factions of Star Trek fandom were at work circulating petitions and organizing protests against the new series.

Although it is not known what, if any, impact these protests had on the producers, it is known that as early as the first season efforts were underway to arrange for an appearance by Leonard Nimoy as Spock (the event would not happen until the fifth season), and a script was reportedly written to feature the character of Harry Mudd, a recurring minor criminal from TOS. The episode was cancelled when actor Roger C. Carmel died. DeForest Kelley made a cameo appearance in the first episode as Admiral Leonard McCoy, and James Doohan was a central character in the sixth-season episode Relics, playing Captain Montgomery 'Scotty' Scott.

Influences

By the time TNG was produced, the term "Trekkies" had come to imply a certain nerdy fanaticism among fans and was considered pejorative by some, in spite of the fact that it was coined by creator Gene Roddenberry himself, with no such negative connotations. In response, some fans of the new series decided to call themselves "Trekkers." The terms have become interchangeable.

Four feature films have been made featuring the series' characters:

TNG paved the way for three other TV series:

The series has also inspired countless novels, analytical books, web-sites, and works of fan fiction.

Toronto's Skydome played host to a massive CITY-TV sponsored event for the series finale on May 25, 1994. Thousands of people packed the stadium to watch the final episode on the stadium's Jumbotron.

Cast

File:TNG crew.jpg
(from front to back, left to right) Picard, Troi, Crusher, LaForge, Data, Worf, Riker

Main characters

Differing with TOS, the cast of TNG was subject to some change, most notably in the latter half of the first season following the death of the Enterprise's security chief, Natasha Yar. The scripts quickly adapted, having Worf, the navigator, replace Yar as security chief and La Forge, the pilot, moved to the position of Chief Engineer.

Wesley Crusher was also written out of the show in order to join Starfleet Academy, after a few years of serving as helmsman under the rank of Acting Ensign and then as a full Ensign (after the result of a field promotion). Dr. Beverly Crusher was written out of the show for the second season, being replaced by Diana Muldaur's Dr. Katherine Pulaski. Due to fan objection, Dr. Crusher returned in the third season. Diana Muldaur also featured as a guest star in two episodes of TOS ("Return to Tomorrow" and "Is There In Truth No Beauty" playing different characters)

Also, not all of the main characters had a place on the Bridge, the ship's command center. La Forge, the Chief Engineer, held his primary position in Engineering, and Dr. Crusher, the Chief Medical Officer, held her place in Sickbay.

Character Rank Actor Position
Jean-Luc Picard Captain Patrick Stewart Commanding officer
William "Will" Riker Commander Jonathan Frakes Executive (first) officer
Data Lieutenant Commander Brent Spiner Second officer, chief operations officer
Geordi La Forge Lieutenant Junior Grade/Lieutenant/Lieutenant Commander LeVar Burton Chief engineering officer
Worf Lieutenant Junior Grade/Lieutenant Michael Dorn Chief security/tactical officer
Doctor Beverly Crusher Commander Gates McFadden Chief medical officer (seasons 1, 3-7)
Doctor Katherine Pulaski Commander Diana Muldaur Chief medical officer (season 2)
Deanna Troi Lieutenant Commander/Commander Marina Sirtis Ship's counselor
Natasha "Tasha" Yar Lieutenant Denise Crosby Chief security officer (season 1)
Miles O'Brien Chief Colm Meaney Transporter Chief
Wesley Crusher Acting Ensign/Ensign/Cadet Wil Wheaton Dr. Crusher's son, pilot (seasons 1-4, recurring otherwise)

Recurring characters

Actor Role Appearances
Brian Bonsall Alexander Rozhenko, Worf's son seasons 4–7
Patti Yasutake Nurse Alyssa Ogawa Seasons 3–7
Whoopi Goldberg Guinan, wise El Aurian bartender, Seasons 2–6
Rosalind Chao Keiko O'Brien, Miles O'Brien's wife Seasons 4–6
Tony Todd Kurn, Worf's half brother Seasons 3–7
Majel Barrett Lwaxana Troi, Deanna Troi's mother,
voice of the Enterprise computer
Seasons 1–7
Daniel Davis Professor Moriarty, a sentient Holodeck character Seasons 2 and 6
John de Lancie Q, omnipotent member of the Q Continuum Seasons 1–7
Dwight Schultz Lieutenant Reginald Barclay, engineer Seasons 3–7
Michelle Forbes Ensign/Lieutenant Ro Laren, a Bajoran Seasons 5–7
Denise Crosby Sela, a Romulan Seasons 4 and 5
Fluffy Spot, Data's cat Seasons 3–7
Eric Menyuk The Traveler Seasons 1, 4, and 7
Mark Lenard Ambassador Sarek, a Vulcan, and Spock's father Seasons 3 and 5

Ms. Barrett (wife of Star Trek creator, Gene Roddenberry), has also been the voice of the ship's computer in most Trek incarnations, and was Nurse Chapel in the original series, as well as the First Officer in the first pilot of the original series, "The Cage". It is interesting to note that the First Officer in The Cage was referred to by Captain Christopher Pike as Number One, a nickname that recurred in TNG with Captain Picard's use of it when referring to his First Officer, Commander Riker.

Alien races

See List of Star Trek races

Trivia

  • Majel Barrett is the only actor to be credited in all five series, appearing in The Original Series, The Next Generation, and Deep Space Nine. She did voice-over work as various Federation computers in the above series, as well as Voyager and Enterprise, along with several Star Trek motion pictures.
  • LeVar Burton, Jonathan Frakes, Gates McFadden, and Patrick Stewart all tried their hand in directing for the show. Burton also directed for Deep Space Nine, Voyager, and Enterprise. Frakes also directed for Deep Space Nine, Voyager, and two Trek films, First Contact and Insurrection. Michael Dorn directed for Deep Space Nine and Enterprise.
  • Armin Shimerman, who plays Quark on Deep Space Nine guest-starred four times, but only once as Quark. He played a Ferengi named Letek in "The Last Outpost" where the Federation had first contact with the Ferengi Alliance, DaiMon Bractor - another Ferengi - in "Peak Performance", and in the episode "Haven" - where he played the face of Deanna Troi's Wedding Gift Box.
  • The Engineering set was not originally intended to be constructed for the show's pilot, but because Gene Roddenberry had never had the Engineering set for the original Enterprise in TOS built the way he wanted it to, he deliberately arranged for scenes in the pilot to be in Engineering, thus forcing the set's construction.
  • The map of the Enterprise-D at the back of the Engineering set laughingly refers to the fact that, on the design of the original Enterprise from TOS, toilets were accidentally omitted from the design. The Enterprise-D chart takes stock of this: a single toilet was marked in the center of the saucer section!
  • Geordi La Forge wears a special device to help him see, called a VISOR. The acronym stands for "Visual Instrument and Sensory Organ Replacement."

See also

External links

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