Star Trek: The Next Generation
You may be looking for the trope: Next Generation.
|Name:||Star Trek: The Next Generation|
|Date(s):||1987-1994 (the TV show)|
1994 Star Trek: Generations (seventh film)
|Medium:||Television series, movie series|
|Country of Origin:||United States|
|Click here for related articles on Fanlore.|
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. Set 78 years after Kirk and Spock, this time, the ship was even bigger, and there were more aliens.
Some of Gene Roddenberry's plans for Star Trek: Phase II, such as the characters of Willard Decker and Ilia (who morphed into Riker and Troi) and The Questor Tapes (both Questor and Phase II's Vulcan Lieutenant Xon informed the concepts behind Data), survived into the new series.
TNG was similar to the Star Trek: TOS 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. TNG brings the Star Trek timeline a century forward to the 24th Century, a time in which the Federation that the characters belong to has become a stable galactic power. The militarism of Star Trek is toned down with more focus on diplomacy.
Not successful at first, the show lurched forward until the third season when it found its feet with the introduction of the Borg as arch-villains. TNG ultimately ran an unheard of (for a science fiction show) seven seasons, bowing out by choice to make way for a series of movies starring the cast. Hugely popular, TNG is the only other Star Trek series to rival the main cast in media familiarity.
TNG is what made Star Trek big in other countries, like Germany, where the Star Trek fan clubs in the 1990s grew rapidly and the fan scene was very active.
The main members of the TNG crew were:
- Jean-Luc Picard
- William Riker
- Geordi La Forge
- Beverly Crusher
- Katherine Pulaski
- Wesley Crusher
- Natasha "Tasha" Yar
- Deanna Troi
- Q, an alien with god-like powers and a rather flouncy and queenly mien, was a frequent guest star, especially in later seasons.
- other recurring characters included Keiko and Miles O'Brien.
Early CastingFrom the March 1987 issue of Comlink:
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: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.
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.
Fan Campaign for a Gay Character
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.
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/La Forge 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 FandomComments 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! 
Some Early Fan Comments
: I hate [the show]. 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. 
: 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... 
: 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... 
: 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. 
: ... 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. 
As one of the 'old guard' ST fans who literally has done it all from writing and editing a ST zine to even throwing a few ST cons, I believe that I know what ST was, and what ST:TNG should be. And this new series is not quite it. Certain parts of it are quite good and effective. Certainly the special effects are wonderful, and, at times, breath-taking. But I've seen too many sf movies and tv shows that were all f/x and no heart. The new characters do take some getting used to, but where is the heart of the show? For such a moralizing dull and preachy show, where is its soul? Captain Picard is one of the best aspects about the series. He is quite a 'father' figure. And his implied relationship with Dr. Crusher has been tantalizing. But Roddenberry obviously has not even noticed this implication of their characters since the character of Dr. Crusher has been cut from the second season. And this leaves us with Wesley. Only once did the Mary Sue/Billi Bob character have any merit and that was in the Star Fleet Academy exam episode. However, I find myself increasingly resenting a character that was specifically brought in to be the next teen heart-throb of the bubble gum set. I realize that ST:TNG has to be a commercial success, but surely that would have been obvious? Did they have to calculatingly pander to every set of demographics about the show?
Perhaps the calculation behind the show is my major complaint against it. It is too-planned, overly conceived. Everything from which actor can cross their arms on the bridge in what scene to the rip off of old ST episodes appears to have been plotted by a strategic demographic analyst and not a single creative mind. They seem to want to pander to everyone, thereby satisfying no one.
On another level there is something I strongly object to in the series, aside from the lack of dramatic plot. When you have the captain agonizing over going into red alert, something is wrong here. Whatever happened to decisiveness? Whatever happened to the occasional mindless binge of action? Of plot or character development? Spock and McCoy were not static characters. They evolved over their seasons and episodes. We know little if anything about the personal lives of this crew. When Tasha Yar died, my emotional reaction was 'yawn.' What should have been the dramatic highpoint of the series instead became deadly boring. And this is unforgivable sin. Whatever can be said about the hokey plots, and cheap sets of ST, it was never boring.
On a personal level, I also find offensive Gene Roddenberry's view of the future. Communism wins and capitalism dies? How dare he push Marxist nonsense in this television show! In ST, capitalism and the good old American way was the basis of the Federation. Now a century later it has evolved into a Federation that neither has good historians, or an understanding of the social forces of the prior centuries. Why has Roddenberry taken to rewriting ST episodes? He may have forgotten what was done before, but the fans have not. I find it incredible that he is ignoring the series from whence ST:TNG came. Let us not forget what was surely one of the worst hours of episodic television ever filmed, "Let That Be Your Last Battlefield." Roddenberry wrote that putrid piece. He should have left well enough alone and let Dorothy Fontana and David Gerrold do what they tell best — tell stories, and not spew propaganda.
By what I have written, you might believe that I dislike ST:TNG. The truth is, I am ambivalent. At one moment, I see the fulfillment of many years of dreaming. At other moments, I want to scream and throw my rubber brick at the tube. The potential is certainly there. This new mix of characters is intriguing. And Data could easily become the best character on the show. But unless the writing strengthens, say aided by such writers as Diane Carey, all of the special effects in the world are not going to save it.Finally, the one thing that truly puzzles me is why they have not used any of the ST fan writers. Many of them, such as Diane Carey, are professionals. Many a ST zine had plot and story lines that were far superior to anything ever filmed. There is an army of writers out there dying to write, and they have not tapped this source at all. Truly a puzzlement. 
: Now to the reasons why I like the new Trek: All the actors are given a chance to say something more involved other than just "Aye, Sir" — they voice their opinions about certain situations, thus helping the Captain arrive at a decision during some predicament. The new Captain is more real to me — although I give no quarter to fellow fans of Captain Kirk (a marvelous, vital character!) — you have to truthfully admit that a Captain who seems to know as much as Spock, who takes over from his Chief Engineer Scott all the time, who seems to arrive - at the right decision each and every time he gets involved with advanced alien beings and other creatures less civilized, and who constantly breaks the Prime Directive each week — he is a paragon of unbelieveable proportions. I have yet to remember any one in history who was so decisive and all-knowing. Perhaps he represents our wish-fulfillment for godlike perfection? But with Picard, you do not have the immediate answers — he asks for advice, he ponders and weighs the consequences—he believes implicitly in the Prime Directive. He also doesn't try to solve a dangerous situation with Phaser blasts all the time. And he doesn't jump in bed with every female he meets, nor does he look at a woman as if she was a potential conquest. He shows his emotions by a subtle change of intonation, a flicker of an eye, or the grim set of his face. He doesn't wear his emotions for everyone to see —an exact opposite of Kirk. He's not Plash Gordon/HanSolo/Harry Houdini/ Einstein of the space set — like Kirk was so many times. Picard is real. He is not Superman. 
I am still waiting for some really hot slash to materialize with ST:TNG characters. Particularly Data. I bought 'The Body Electric' and a couple of other Data-based zines that purported to be 'adult,' but found them sadly disappointing--the fiction is lost amid reams of giggly poop about how cute Brent Spiner is, and if you can get through that to the stories, they are poorly written, adolescent, show a poor grasp of the characters, and contain no real sex scenes. I mean, there are throbbing lips and moans of ecstasy, but nothing explicit or hot or original. I may write my own eventually, but for now I am just waiting and hoping that something as sophisticated as some K/S is will turn up for TNG. 
Zines and Stories
- For a full listing of TNG fanfiction on Fanlore, see Category:Star Trek TNG Fanfiction
- 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.
- The long-running Australian Star Trek newsletter, Data (est. 1976) having Lieutenant Commander Data as a namesake was a wonderful coincidence for the club, Astrex. The 1989 title of its companion fanfic zine, Lore, was a deliberate choice, the winning suggestion in a poll of members. Lore was Data's evil twin, a recurring character in TNG.
Notable in content:
- Several TNG fanworks considered among the best by some fans are actually crossovers with other fandoms, including:
- In The Dark series by Kellie Matthews and Julia Kosatka, an X-Files/Highlander/TNG crossover with Duncan MacLeod and Guinan becoming lovers.
- Married Dance by Jane Carnall, a novella-length slash Highlander/ST:TNG/The Persian Boy crossover -- a deft mix of three fandoms, marred only by, in some Highlander fans' views, the author's too-evident disdain for Duncan. (See Hero Bashing.)
- One novel that is still searched for as a used zine is Pulse of the Machine by Jean Kluge, a Data/Tasha novel gorgeously illustrated by both Jean and Marty Siegrist.
- 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.
- Picard/Q was probably the biggest slash pairing
- A famous pair of early netfic stories -- His Beloved Pet & At the Center of Things by Ruth Gifford and Atara Stein -- was published on alt.startrek.creative.erotica back in 1996. They told a love story with a very heavy s/m dynamic, featuring Q as top, Picard (relaxing from the cares of command) as bottom, with chains, whips, collars, and leather all over the place.
- The King Who Would Be Man was a P/Q zine story by M Fae Glasgow in an Pæan to Priapus #2 (1990). Q decides he wants to experience sex after "Deja Q" (the episode where he becomes human). He picks Picard to experience it with; Picard patently refuses to cooperate and Q starts shape-shifting trying to push Picard's buttons.
- A Picard/Data story that is still recommended is Mental Traveler, also by M Fae Glasgow, in Concupiscence, a Manacles Press zine.
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.
Worf," pen and ink drawing by Joey Rodrigues
- 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. 
- Kandy Fong's classic Riker vs. Kirk vid, "Anything You Can Do, I Can Do Better", a rare early vid with professional video effects
- Enigmatic Q Trek fic, The; archive link Description: "Star Trek character, Q has eyes for Picard...and Riker.... and Paris...and KirK???? whoever. we're looking for general fiction, hetero and slash pieces. Smarm through BDSM and beyond...imagine what Q can do.... All fiction will be archived at "The Wonderful World Of MakeBelieve Archive", which houses varied fandoms. Joining confirms you are over the age of consent."
- PiQuante; archive link Description: "A slash fest for the TNG characters Captain Jean-Luc Picard and the Entity known simply as Q. By joining this list, you certify that you are over 18 years and that it is legal for you to view adult material. This list is slash oriented, which means that it will contain stories/discussions about sex between two people of the same gender. In this case, two males, sort of... DO not join the list if this is not to your liking. You have been warned."
- 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.
- comments in The Clipper Trade Ship #60 (July 1988)
- comments in The Clipper Trade Ship #60 (July 1988)
- comments in The Clipper Trade Ship #60 (July 1988)
- comments in The Clipper Trade Ship #60 (July 1988)
- comments in The Clipper Trade Ship #60 (July 1988)
- comments in The Clipper Trade Ship #60 (July 1988)
- comments by Margaret A. Basta in The Clipper Trade Ship #61 (October 1988)
- comments in The Clipper Trade Ship #61 (October 1988)
- comments by [E] on Virgule-L (March 23, 1993)
- The King Who Would Be Man, on the Oblique Press site, in pdf
- "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