Star Trek: The Next Generation

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Fandom
Name: Star Trek: The Next Generation
Abbreviation(s): STTNG
Creator: Gene Roddenberry
Date(s): 1987-1994 (the TV show)

1994 Star Trek: Generations (seventh film)
1996 Star Trek: First Contact (eighth film)
1998 Star Trek: Insurrection (ninth film)

2002 Star Trek: Nemesis (tenth film)
Medium: Television series, movie series
Country of Origin: United States
External Links:
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Star Trek: The Next Generation was similar to the original Star Trek concept: a large, diverse crew on a ship called the Enterprise travels the galaxy, meets aliens, and spreads goodwill. This time, the ship was even bigger, and there were more aliens.

The Characters

The main members of the TNG crew were:

Early Casting

From the March 1987 issue of Comlink:
I would be negligent if I didn't pass along some information about the new ST TV series... from a fanzine, 'This is It' by Rich Volker. I present an abbreviated version for you to read and digest. Captain Julian Piccard -- a caucasian man in his fifties who is very youthful and in prime physical condition. Born in Paris, his Gallic accent appears only when deep emotions are triggered. He is definitely a romantic and believes strongly in concepts like honor and duty. Number One (aka William Ryker) -- 30-35 years old caucasian born in Alaska. Number One, as he is usually called, is second-in-command of the Enterprise and has a very strong, solid relationship with the Captain. Lt. Commander Data -- He is an android who has the appearance of a man in his mid-30s. Data should have exotic features. Lt. Macha Hernandez -- 26-year old woman of unspecified Latin descent who serves as the ship's security chief. Macha has an almost obsessive devotion to protecting the ship and its crew and treats Capt Picard and Number One as if they were saints. Lt. Deanna Troi -- An alien woman who is tall, about 30 years old and quite beautiful. She serves as the starship's Chief Psychologist. She and Number One are romantically involved. Wesley Crusher -- An appealing 15-year old caucasian boy. His remarkable mind and photographic memory make it seem likely for him to become, at 15, a Starfleet acting-ensign. Otherwise, he is a normal teenager. Beverly Crusher -- Wesley's 35-year old mother. She serves as the Chief Medical Officer. If it were not for her intelligence, personality, and beauty, and the fact that she has the natural walk of a striptease queen, Capt Picard might not have agreed to her request that Wesley observe bridge activities, therefore letting her son's intelligence carry events further. Lt. Geordi LaForge -- a 20-25-year old black man, blind from birth. With the help of a special prosthetic device he wears, his vision far surpassed anything the human eye can see. Although young, he is quite mature and best friends with Data.
This was also published in March 1987, this time in The Propagator, note the major differences are that Wesley Crusher was supposed to have been a girl named Leslie, the further description of Data, more description of Hernandez, more physical description of Troi, and more on Geordi's voice:
CAPT JULIAN PICARD — A Caucasian man in his 50's who is very youthful and in prime physical condition. Born in Paris, his gallic accent appears onlv when deep emotions are triggered He is definitely a romantic and believes strongly in concepts like honor and duty. Capt. Picard commands the Enterprise. He should have a mid-Atlantic accent, and a wonderfully rich speaking voice. NUMBER ONE (A.K.A. WILLIAM RYKER) — A 30-35 year old Caucasian born in Alaska. He is a pleasant looking man with sex appeal, of medium height, very agile and strong, a natural psychologist Number one, as he is usually called, is second-in-command of the Enterprise and has a very strong, solid relationship with the Captain. LT. COMMANDER DATA -- He is an android who has the appearance of a man in his mid 30's Data should have exotic features and can be anyone of the following racial groups: Asian, American Indian, East Indian. South American Indian or similar racial groups. He is in perfect physical condition and should appear very intelligent. LT. MACHA HERNANDEZ -- 26 year old woman of unspecified Latin decent who serves as the starship's security chief. She is described as having a new quality of conditioned-body-beauty, a fire in her eyes and muscularly well developed and very female body, but keeping in mind that much of her strength comes from attitude. Macha has an almost obsessive devotion to protecting the ship and Its crew and treats Capt. Picard and Number One as if they were saints, LT. DEANNA TROI — An alien woman who is tall (58" -6') and slender, about 30 years old and quite beautiful. She serves as the starship's Chief Psychologist. Deanna is probably foreign (anywhere from Italian, Greek, Hungarian, Russian, Icelandic, etc.) with looks and accent to match. She and Number One are romantically involved. Her alien "look" is still to be determined. LESLIE CRUSHER -- An appealing 15 year old Caucasian girl (need small 18 or almost 18 year old to play 15). Her remarkable mind and photographic memory make it seem not unlikely for her to become, at 15, a Starfleet acting-ensign. Otherwise, she is a normal teenager. BEVERLY CRUSHER -- Leslie's 35 year old mother, She serves as the chief medical officer on the Enterprise. If it were not for her intelligence, personality, beauty and the fact that she has a natural walk of a striptease queen Capt. Picard might not have agreed to her request that Leslie observe bridge activities, therefore letting her daughter's intelligence carry events further, LT. GEORDI LaFORGE — a 20-25 year old black man, blind from birth. With the help of a special prosthetic device he wears, his vision far surpasses anything the human eyes can see. Although he is young, he is quite mature and is best friends with Data. Please do not submit any 'street' types, as Geordi has perfect diction and might even have a Jamaican accent Should also be able to do comedy well.

TNG Meta

Paramount wanted to make more money out of the Star Trek concept. Fans were...cautiously optimistic. Star Trek had been ahead of its time in many ways; fans expected TNG to update that image, and continue to make statements of its own, but TNG was a profoundly conservative creation. One place where that became very obvious was homosexual inclusion. Gay SF fans organized a national letter-writing campaign to urge Paramount to acknowledge a queer presence in the 24th century future represented on TNG. Roddenberry publicly committed himself to do so shortly before his death, but the producers never made good on that promise.[1] Another reason TNG was not taken very seriously by many SF or media fans was the way the show didn't seem to realize that Wesley Crusher was a horribly obvious Mary Sue character.

TNG Fandom

Much TNG fanfic was posted on ASC and, later, ASCEM. Picard/Crusher and Riker/Troi were popular het pairings, with a number of communities such as BONC and the Imzadi mailing list developing around them. The Data/Yar pairing also attracted some fans, including some who usually considered themselves slashers.

TNG was a less popular slash fandom than its predecessor, although there was some f/f fic, especially Crusher/Troi and Tasha/Troi, and some m/m fic, including Data/LaForge and Picard/Riker. The relatively small amount of slash may be a result of the fact that two of the central male characters, Picard and Riker, had well-developed romantic interests in canon, Crusher and Troi, respectively. Late in the series, a Picard/Q fandom also started to develop.

For an overview of Star Trek fandom's online activities from the early 1990s, including show commentary, episode guides and fan fiction, visit the textfile directory.

TNG Fandom vs. TOS Fandom

Comments by Shirley Maiewski in 1988 reflect some of the initial tensions between fans of the original Trek and the new kid on the block:
I love the show! (I was hooked at Farpoint and can't wait for new episodes each week). I thank the Great Bird for the new series--just imagine, after 21 years, we still have our beloved Star Trek. I will always enjoy the Classic Trek of the original series, not to mention the movies. There is room for all the various Treks, in all their forms. I feel sorry for those who say they cannot accept the Next Generation — they are missing a lot of fun — the fun of getting acquainted with a new Star Trek family. I find it odd to hear some of them talking about how they hate the new show — yet when you question them, they never miss it! If they honestly don't like it — why watch? Don't put down those of us who do enjoy it! [2]

Some Early Fan Comments

[1988]: I hate it. The shameless reuse of old ST plots (mostly the worse ones) is bad enough, but the characters on the new show just don't cut it. The actors are pretty low quality for the most part — none of them look like they're enjoying, or are even interested in, the show. (LaForge, and to a lesser extent Data, are slight exceptions to that, but only slight.) The characters themselves are unbelieveable. (I wouldn't trust a trigger-happy twit like Yar behind me with a water pistol.) And I'm damned tired of being preached to by Roddenberry. If he really had the courage of his convictions, he'd've cast Riker as the emotional counselor and Troi as the second-in-command. [3]
[1988]: It is nice to have something new to talk about, write about, and draw about Trek-wise, isn't it? I'm enjoying ST:TNG very much. The more I see of the characters, the more I like them all. I was sorry to hear that Tasha Yar is leaving. I had gotten to like her. She was about my least favorite, but I'll miss her. I keep hoping for a reprieve. She looked so efficient and cool headed in the last episode I saw, down on that planet. My favorite is Riker. I go for 'em young and strong and handsome and heroic. I couldn't help but notice that someone said, 'but was fun to watch anyway.' Why 'but,' I asked; I like him because of that. Sometimes I like Picard and sometimes he bugs me. Riker seems to have a stronger personality, more like a leader- I like him standing up to the Captain and I like what he stands up for. I'm trying to ignore that pointed bald head of Picard's (you can tell I'm a highly visual person!) and look at the man. I just know fans are gonna gripe at him jumping on the transporter and beaming down to join the 'away team' like he did. Turned out he came in handy, to help Dr. Crusher, but will they forgive him? I like him when he is humorous, and I'm amused at his attachment to things French. I like Worf. He's an ugly gruff old war-dog and amusing because of it. He will make a good Security man. I really liked the episode with the other Klingon knot-heads in it. It was howwwwling good! I wish Geordi could have kept the vision Riker gave him, he has such big beautiful eyes! I was glad to see him given command of the ship when Riker went down, and showed what he could do. Looks like each character is getting a chance to be spotlighted. Saw Wesley on Nickelodeon recently, telling us that he'll he getting a uniform next season! I like the kid. I think he's quite likeable, especially now that he isn't showing off so much. I love Deanna Troi. She's pretty and softly feminine. I've heard some fans say she's unnecessary, hut sensing emotions can he very useful. Someone complained that makes things too easy. You can't please some folks... I've heard complaints that Dr. Crusher is not like McCoy. But she's not supposed to be, and I like her. She seems to work alone in sickbay all the time. I wonder where the other doctors and nurses are? Is everyone so healthy that it takes only one doctor to care for them? Who's left? Hmm, let me think. Should be one more, but who is it? Oh, yes. Data! (Chuckle) So many fans, especially female, it seems, are so crazy for Data. ... Oh, I'm getting inured to him, and I can see his good qualities. He's an interesting character, and often reminiscent of Spook. Of course he is just the opposite in that he wants to he human. I do want to see more of the ship, and more of what goes on with the civilians, as well as in the different departments. And I wish fans would stop comparing and contrasting ST:TNG with the original series so much (I guess it is instinctive, but it's unfair to judge it that way). I don't mind stories that remind me of the original series, but I'm glad to see some more original ones coming along now. Anyway, you can count me a fan of ST:TNG, and I'm taping all the episodes for keeps. Now if I just had time to watch them over... [4]
[1988]: I am concerned about the complacency in fan circles about this show. (Well, maybe 'complacency' is too strong a word for it.) Instead, I find fandom overly protective of this lackluster new series. I still see the potential for ST:TNG to be an outstanding new ST series, bat it doesn't seem to be what Gene really wants. He seems to want a real money-maker first and foremost, and that's what ST:TNG is. However, the debate over the series in fandom circles is almost nonexistent. Complaining about Wesley is not the same as complaining about the writing (and is among several cop-outs I've heard from fans, misses the point). Attractive casts, with shallow dialog, showy sets and f/x have never been able to sustain a sf TV series long.... Yes, ST:TNG is a very expensive show. But in spite of this, it is a very routinely produced, second rate, and expensively produced TV show. All I ask is you zine eds give us nay-sayers equal space, and let us expand this debate over ST: TNG. let's have a debate in earnest (and not just shout each other's opinions down)... I did want to raise this issue with zine eds who would listen. Most of ST:TNG's fans will just quit watching when it gets worse (while fandom is still in a position to do something constructive to help improve things). It's the only logical thing to do... [5]
[1988]: Actually, there may never have been a chance to improve anything. At a convention in June in Los Angeles: Roddenberry told fans that the show was his, not the fans, and that he didn't really care what we fans thought.... Or at least something to that effect. What you see is what he wants you to see. Yes, there's a lot of room for better stories and more depth to characterizations. All we can do is hope that the show will improve from within—the writers and the story editors (and the directors — some episodes were so bad because the directors used the actors as wooden puppets) finding their own sense of direction and going from there. We can only wait and see — and write to the actors, editors, and writers themselves, commending them for things they have done that you like, and encouraging them to do more. [6]
[1988]: ... now that the first season's over and we can all kick back and contemplate it... First and foremost, Star Trek: The Next Generation impressed the hell out of me. I have watched almost every sf-oriented show from the old Star Trek to the new, and everything in between, and I can honestly say I like ST:TNG best of all. [7]

TNG Zines and Stories

Timeline:

  • It appears that the fanzine, This is It! published in May of 1987, was the first TNG fanzine. "In fact, it had such complete details of the characters in its stories that Paramount asked us to stop it's sale after just one issue." ~ T.A. Chafin in Early Science Fiction Fanzines: A Cover Gallery, Jan 25, 2010. Following close behind was the newsletter Data Entries, which began publishing in October/November 1987, as was The Hive, published in November 1987. A very early TNG story appeared in a Star Trek: TOS anthology was "The Keys" in Elysia #2.

Notable in content:

Slash:

  • In the early '90s, SF fans who'd heard of het and slash Trek fic, brought out a ST:TNG zine called Science Friction, which highlighted the gay subtext of the Borg episodes. Most long-term media fans disliked it a great deal. This led to much discussion about the difference between erotica in media fandom vs. professional erotica/pornography of the time.

Pairings:

More zines:

TNG Art

When TNG came along, Jean Kluge had already been a fan artist for years, but she fell hard for Tasha Yar/Data, and it's possible that her art for that pairing is her best ever. One of her Tasha Yar/Data pictures was used for the cover of Textual Poachers.Other popular characters that appeared in fan art were Data, Riker, Captain Picard and Worf.

TNG Vids

  • Tapestry by Mary Van Deusen, a sad Tasha Yar vid, that told her whole first-season story through a frame of Data putting away her things.
  • I think I'm a Clone Now by Anonymous, shown at Escapade in 1992, and also at RevelCon, On one level, a profoundly silly vid to Star Trek and TNG clips; on another, a lovely commentary on how much TNG ripped off original Trek. [9]
  • Kandy Fong's classic Riker vs. Kirk vid, "Anything You Can Do, I Can Do Better", a rare early vid with professional video effects

Archives

References

  1. Jenkins, Henry. "'Out of the closet and into the universe': Queers and Star Trek" in The Audience Studies Reader, ed. by Will Brooker and Deborah Jermyn, p. 172.
  2. comments in The Clipper Trade Ship #60 (July 1988)
  3. comments in The Clipper Trade Ship #60 (July 1988)
  4. comments in The Clipper Trade Ship #60 (July 1988)
  5. comments in The Clipper Trade Ship #60 (July 1988)
  6. comments in The Clipper Trade Ship #60 (July 1988)
  7. comments in The Clipper Trade Ship #60 (July 1988)
  8. The King Who Would Be Man, on the Oblique Press site, in pdf
  9. "The video entries this year were excellent. There was only one Star Trek entry, done to a song that I think is entitled "Only a Clone Now," or something like that. It compared Classic Trek to Next Gen, to next gen's detriment. The video came in tied for first in its category." -- from a letter in Come Together #5, May 1994 from a fan describing RevelCon #5