Star Trek: The Next Generation Turns 30
Ending years of rumors and false starts, Star Trek: The Next Generation premiere ended a 12-year drought of new Star Trek episodes on TV following the cancellation of Star Trek: The Animated Series. Coincidentally, Star Trek: Discovery which debuted earlier this week also ended another 12-year drought following the cancellation of Star Trek: Enterprise.
One of those false starts was to become Star Trek: Phase II. Phase II changed direction from a spin-off TV series to a motion picture following the success of Star Wars. However not before millions of dollars were spent, writing scripts building sets and model miniatures. Phase II was to feature the original crew, set several years after the events of the original series. The new adventures were to take place on board a newly-refit Enterprise. Get the full story of Star Trek: Phase II in the book by Judith & Garfield Reeves-Stevens
See a young Williman Shatner discuss these early rumors in this rare interview from 1975.
In 1982, Star Trek: The Wrath of Khan firmly established Star Trek’s return featuring the original cast. However, this return was only on the big screen following the shaking start of Star Trek: The Motion Picture. Star Trek’s return to television, however, was still in doubt.
Given the success of the original crew on the big screen, with its the actors’ higher salaries, a new direction was sought to bring Star Trek back to television. Gene Roddenberry was originally reluctant to return due to the high demands of weekly network television production. Roddenberry finally agreed to return as Executive Producer and show creator. The Next Generation marked the last Star Trek spin-off to be created and curated by him.
Roddenberry brought with him many of the original production crew to the Next Generation, including Bob Justman as supervising producer, and D.C. Fontana and David Gerrold as writers.
Set roughly 80 years following the events of the original series, this new era allowed for a fresh new direction for the series while allowing for a new crew and ship while keeping the events in the same universe of the original.
The decision to go with a new ship was done, in part, because much of the technology presented in the original series was no longer considered science fiction. Something bigger and more refined was needed.
Star Trek: The Next Generation Finds Success
The Next Generation went on to affirm Star Trek’s place in pop culture it also launched the 4th US television network under the Fox banner. Star Trek: The Next Generation became the new network’s anchor tent-pole. Fox would later bring many other memorable shows like the Simpsons and 21 Jump Street. 30 years later, Star Trek: Discovery is hoped to launch CBS’ fledgling streaming platform, All Access.
Star Trek: The Next Generation would go on to surpass the original series, lasting 7 years and 178 episodes.
To date, TNG is the only other Star Trek spin-off to be featured on the big screen with 4 films.
Many of the original Star Trek cast made guest appearances on the spin-off series. Including, Lenord Nimoy as Spock, James Dohan as Scotty and Deforest Kelly as Doctor Mcoy in the pilot episode.
Share your Star Trek: The Next Generation memories with us… what’s your favourite episode?