“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; new civilisations…
To boldly go where no one has gone before!”
Today was the 26th anniversary of the debut of Star Trek: The Next Generation. The show is among the most popular TV shows of all time and arguably at the top of people’s lists for most popular Sci-Fi series.
Star Trek is often the response you get when you ask someone what their first experience with science fiction was. That was the case with me. I was in elementary when I first saw TNG. It was the first show I saw after learning what science fiction was. I fell in love with it. A beautiful, majestic spaceship whipping across the galaxy, interesting villains, and a loveable android trying to understand the most basic facets of humanity.
Star Trek has always been a show that dealt with hard issues, but at the same time tried to highlight the best aspects of society. TNG dealt heavily with humanity. Data has always been one of my favorite Sci-Fi characters and his frame of reference and pursuit of humanity was always enjoyable to watch (well, except that one episode he had a girlfriend, but the less we talk of that episode, the better). What really hit home for Data’s development and the issues the series handled was the acclaimed episode “Measure of A Man”, where Data’s own sentience and his personal rights were questioned. Throughout the series, Data experienced friendship, jealousy, and many other aspects of humanity even though he could not have any emotional attachment to it until the TNG movies came out.
TNG was a very different show from its predecessor. TOS was much action oriented, while TNG was more thoughtful and diplomatic. I have always preferred Picard over Kirk. Both have their strong points, but to me Picard was a more interesting character. Much of that may have to do with Patrick Stewart’s superb acting ability.
Star Trek has always held a special place in my heart. It’s what developed a true love of science fiction in me. Today, I raise a toast to TNG and the place it has in sci-fi history. Happy Anniversary, TNG. Set a course for the hearts and imaginations of future sci-fi fans that will stumble upon you. Engage.