10 Things To Hate About Star Trek: The Next Generation

Star Trek: The Next Generation was my first real Star Trek series. I was born too late for the original show (and the animated follow-up, for that matter), and as a kid, the re-runs just didn’t do it for me. But ST:TNG debuted when I was thirteen, and I was completely sold on everything from Picard’s calmness to Troi’s plunging necklines. I avidly devoured every new episode, and couldn’t wait for more… which should’ve been a sign that I shouldn’t have rewatched the show recently, really. Here’s ten things I had forgotten about the show

The Show Was Clearly A Product Of Its Time
You have to give The Next Generation this – It’s dated so much worse than the original Trek. I don’t mean culturally (Although the design of the original has at least had time to become retro cool by now), but the visuals: Being shot on video, and with special effects that ranged from pretty cool to really kind of terrible, the show now looks more like something far cheaper and lower quality than the average Syfy Saturday Night movie, and it’s hard to get that out your head while you’re watching.

The Show Was Offensively Inoffensive (1)
By the 24th Century, interpersonal conflict was a thing of the past in Gene Rodenberry’s mind… which makes for some appallingly dull viewing, when all of the regular cast is just one big happy family, getting along except for when one or more of them gets possessed by some alien that, more likely than not, was just looking for understanding all along. TNG is an amazingly therapist-friendly show, refusing to cast blame in almost any direction, which probably would make for a utopian society in which to live, but not one to set a drama in.

This Here Is An Allegory
The original Trek had its fair share of clunky allegories, don’t get me wrong, but at times it felt as if that’s all TNG was: Every single week, it seemed, the show would tackle a real world subject with the attitude of “But it’s happening to aliens,” and the crew of the Starship Enterprise would come along, frown and tell them off like their parents, and everything would be over within an hour. Which would’ve been more tolerable if the real world problems were more daring than “bigotry is wrong” over and over again.

The Show Was Offensively Inoffensive (2)
For a show that was so strongly politically correct, it was also surprisingly timid. Remember when the original Trek made television history by having the first on-screen interracial kiss? Yeah, nothing like that in TNG. Also, after the multi-cultural original cast, the almost entirely caucasian TNG crew seemed like a weird step backwards, especially considering one of the black actors played an alien, and the other spend most of his time keeping the engines running…

Riker And Troi: Science Fiction’s Most Passionless Unrequited Love
Yeah, that’s right: For all of their supposed backstory of lovers-torn-apart-by-duty (Recycled from Star Trek: The Motion Picture, as I realized when I rewatched that the other night; what can I say? I’m on a Trek kick, and it’s on Netflix Watch Instantly), Riker and Troi managed to keep their respective flames hidden by having almost no chemistry onscreen. I blame the actors, for the most part, but at least Jonathan Frakes had an air of constant amusement about him during everything past the second season, so the writing has to be partially responsible, as well.

Almost Everything About Data
I know, I know: This is like saying that I hate Santa Claus, isn’t it? But Data never really did anything for me beyond provide deus ex machinas and annoy me. We’d seen the “What does it mean to be… human?” thing before with Spock (and, weirdly enough, again with Ilyaprobe in The Motion Picture… Hmm), and Brent Spiner’s portrayal shifted from naive to oddly smug somewhere during the show’s run, making him all the more irritating.

While I’m At It, The Rest Of The Crew, Too
Okay, perhaps Patrick Stewart can be saved from the deluge of “Well, they weren’t the greatest actors in the world” scorn, but there really was a level of acting ability from the regular cast that seemed to favor broad soap opera-scale reactions to anything subtle, charming or believable wherever possible. I’m looking at you in particular, Michael Dorn. Klingon or not, there was far too much bellowing happening there.

The Borg
From exciting two-time problems – their first appearance and the “Best of Both Worlds” two-parter – to completely and utterly overused characters that ended up becoming boring as a result, the Borg may be a masterclass in how not to use villains in a continuing narrative. I’ll admit that Voyager may hold even more of the blame for this than TNG, but still: This is where it all got started, and let’s face it: Voyager already has a terrible reputation (somewhat deservedly).

Those Uniforms
Oh, come on, like you don’t agree on this one, at least. Especially in the first couple of seasons, where they were all wearing those all-in-one things.

It Ruined The Franchise All The Way Until JJ Abrams Saved It
The Next Generation, through its success and the fact that it became the benchmark for what Trek should be all the way through to the cancellation of Enterprise, changed what had been a series about exploration, adventure and more than a little goofiness into something more sober, serious and… well, less fun, really. It took a lot of the imperfections of humanity out of the ideas behind the show, and replaced it with… well, I’m not sure that it really managed to replace it with anything lasting, given the way that each successive series tried a new gimmick to fill the gap. You can watch an original Trek and, yes, it’s nowhere near perfect, but there’s a sense of excitement and discovery and lack of embarrassment that’s compelling to watch, but The Next Generation has this… ashamed quality to it, as if just doing science fiction at all is a little too lowbrow for its own tastes, and so it’d rather do something more cerebral and “meaningful” instead. It took Abrams’ 2009 revival – which many claimed was closer to Star Wars to Star Trek, which may point to something in and of itself – to bring some of that stupid, gut reaction back to the franchise… and he left it so much better than it was, when he found it.

The Next Generation was a show that we loved at the time, perhaps, because it’s what we had: It was new, and it was on every week. But now that we can look back and see it in more of a historical context, surely I’m not alone in thinking it was kind of terrible more often than not, right?

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Comments

  • Pdcooper

    DS9 was where it was at. TNG was a little dull and lifeless although I liked most of the actors, it did have this sterile quality to it. DS9 was superior on every level and, in my opinion, more like TOS in it’s portrayal.

  • Pemoses

    You’re so far away from my point of view that I won’t bother to rebut your laundry list. Suffice it to so, I disagree strongly. Cheers.

  • C-mccormack

    I’m not sure how you can say the Borg were overused in TNG. They only appeared in 6 episodes and 1 movie. Compare that to any of the other recurring antagonists, and it’s pretty low.

    Will agree with the crack about the outfits. The one’s from the first season looked absurd, particularly the “Man-Dress.”

  • SilverJadedRaven

    DS9 was indeed the best Star Trek of the era, but I do think you’re judging TNG too harshly. It might have been ridiculously dry most of the time but it still offered up compelling storylines, interesting characters, and that positive Roddenberry view of the future. It was a show you really had to pay attention to or you were going miss something important.

  • MarvelFanCirca75

    Blasphemy!

  • Wyldemusick

    Poor first season , HORRIBLE second season, and variable thereafter, but they did have some excellent episodes, especially when the everything-is-wonderful patina was rubbed off in the last seasons.

    Just a quick note…TNG wasn’t shot on video, it was shot on 35mm. The main VFX were also shot on 35mm, but composites were made with a then-new video system. For the time, and on the budgets they had, the VFX in the series were damn good, and got quite a bit better…though, yeah, they had their ropey moments (everybody gets those, though; CSI: NY can’t do a clean green screen composite to save their lives from the looks of some episodes.)

  • Adalis

    I don’t agree with most of the analysis, but I got to say that I definitely don’t agree with the first point. Yeah, it’s a product of it’s time, but how can anyone complain about the visuals? Seriously. Original Star Trek had knobs, buttons, and the set just looked dated. You could even see the wires that were used when shots of the ship flying were shown. In TNG, no wires, obviously, and all the consoles were updated. No buttons or knobs and the whole set looked pretty damn good. And looking back on it, the sets of the ship don’t look dated.

  • fan4fan

    JJ Abrams Saved the Franchise?

    OK… now I know you’re a troll.

  • Skipspacer

    I love TNG for basically one reason – it’s success gave us DS9. DS9 worked by staying in the same place (unlike every other Star Trek show), allowing them to go much deeper into the culture, religion, politics, etc, of Bajor and Cardassia. They also built up a large, interesting supporting cast. And, most importantly (and unlike every other Star Trek show), the characters were dynamic – they changed, grew, matured, had relationships, and generally behaved as people do. Also, it was in space, so that’s cool.

  • http://twitter.com/direwraithe direwraithe

    I’m with the DS9 folks on this one, all of the humorless blandness and hacky writing on TNG and Voyager were more than redeemed by the frequently laugh out loud funny, inventive and often heartbreaking writing on DS9 and the overall acting and effects (practical and otherwise) were head and shoulders above the other shows.

  • Anonymous

    Next Generation was, for the most part, produced while Roddenberry was alive and and active in production. A lot of what your list complains about isn’t an issue on Deep Space Nine because the producers had a lot more freedom. They took risks TNG couldn’t. The cast was solid and they weren’t afraid to let the recurring cast (something no other Star Trek show has had) take the wheel for an episode.

    Abrams’ Trek was definitely more in line with Star Wars than Roddenberry’s and you know what? It didn’t have characterization or drama or intelligence. It was an action movie and while Star Trek certainly has its share of action, it is a secondary concern.

  • Horkology

    It’s only because of HD TVs that the show looks so cheap and low quality. When I watch it on my regular old low-def TV, it looks fine (one reason why I hate HD TVs).

    And the cast is not any more caucasian than the original cast. The original Trek had only two non-white actors, just like TNG. Yeah, it had a Scottish character and a Russian character, but TNG had two aliens, a Frenchman, and an android.

  • Mike-EL

    I agree with everything you’re saying. I did grow up with TNG, but only Season 3 really stands the test of time (to my knowledge, that season’s writers only lasted one year).

    Patrick Stewart, Brent Spiner and Gates McFadden were excellent; Jonathan Frakes and
    Denise Crosby were okay, and the rest were bad soap opera actors.

    I sometimes prefer the scrappiness of the first two seasons, as 4-7 became ‘solf-lit’ melodrama that looked more like soft porn than good TV.

    And it did start Star Trek down the dark path that led to Enterprise. The creativity of the franchise in the 1990s can be summed in the lack of variety in alien designs: a few freckles, some random hair, and a silly-puddy nose don’t make for interesting looks. Even the lower budget Dr. Who was more inventive than that.

    TNG also destroyed the Klingons. Am I the only one that prefers the the cunning 1960s brown-makeup’d cold warriors to the mono-syllabic savages of TNG? Is it realistic to believe these barbarians achieved interstellar travel, let alone running water?

    I do own TNG on DVD, but it does not have the re-watch value of the original series. The story in J.J. Abhams movie was a little too thin for my tastes (“you destroyed my planet, so I shall destroy yours!”), but the pacing, attitude, humour and conflict are all in the spirit of the Kirk/Spock original–really the only template for any Trek follow up.

    Good article.

  • mamoo

    Cheer up love, all the moaning is ruining my sunday

  • FiascoBurrito

    Some interesting points there; I can certainly accept the point of view that TNG is a very sterile watching experience sometimes. I agree with PDcooper. DS9 featured a much more diverse cast of characters, each with their own distinct motivations and perspectives beyond upholding the Prime Directive. There was a lot more conflict between them, and once the Dominion War started, A really cool running narrative that allowed for so much more character development than we saw from anyone on TNG.

    Sorry for the run-on sentences, I’m a little stoned.

  • http://twitter.com/RodimusBen RodimusBen

    This article is either deliberate flame baiting, in which case it doesn’t deserve another second of anyone’s time, or is so far off the deep end in its ignorance and poor taste that it doesn’t deserve another second of anyone’s time.

  • Gsnake007

    Id still watch an episode of TNG if it came on but im with every else who says DS9 is better cuz it really was which is way after i watch all of DS9 recently i watched insurrection and that was set during the dominion war which means that picard was messing sisko’s plans

  • Jay Gerding

    DS9 Rocked. I noticed no one commented on Voyager. Talk about ruining the franchise.

  • Fury1978

    what tosh. JJ didn’t save Trek, HE DESTROYED IT!

  • Me

    TNG was just a show where the same group of people sat at a table for 45 minutes and talked about how they were better than most

  • Retro315

    DS9 is superior and is certainly my favorite … but they’re so symbiotic that I try not to judge TNG very harshly. Well, I mean, those first few seasons get judged harshly. But it cooled off by Season 3 and by the time Troi reverted to an actual Starfleet Science Division Uniform the show was great! There is no DS9 without TNG (Although who’d have thought the lowly Transporter Chief guy would become the lynchpin character of the entire Franchise, right? And wasn’t Geordi supposed to be the “heir apparent to Scotty”? Because he wasn’t … O’Brien was.)

  • Retro315

    Side note about TNG: I strongly preferred the more flawed characters. There weren’t any on the main cast, mind you … but the recurring B-Listers like Barclay (Dwight Schultz!) and Ro (Even being as annoying as she was) really interested me.

  • Trek is Worn Out

    I don’t know if terrible is the word, so much as “outdated”. Also some of the comments about the lack of passion or romance between Troi and Ryker can also be chalked up to the rules that govern what you could and couldn’t have on TV at the time as well as the writing.

    Data and Wesley were both used for Deus Ex Machina resolutions. One episode it’s Wesley the next its Data. Ugh.

    Also when Berman and Braga took over after Roddenberry is when things really went south.

  • http://blogintomystery.com Jared – Blog into Mystery

    The Borg were overused in TNG? Really? I think you’ve mixed that crapfest Voyager up in your head with TNG. The Borg proper never really showed up in TNG again after The Best of Both Worlds (a single Borg in one episode, renegade Borg in a two-parter). Some of your points are very well-taken, but it seems like you were reaching a bit to reach that magic number 10 with that one.

  • Anon Y Mous

    TNG was the best, followed by DS9, Enterprise, Voyager, and the Original series. If TNG wasn’t developed, none of the others would be as good, and Abrams would be sitting on a stick.

  • http://twitter.com/00_Gonzo 00gonzo

    You can hate on TNG but I’d put up the best TNG episodes against the best of any Star Trek series and the TNG shows will dominate. For instance, check out the episodes The Inner Light and Chain of Command. I think most fans will at least give it due for the series finale, All Good Things. The closing chapter of TNG rivals that of any TV series. The show is a product of the 80′s, but come on, give it credit for inspiring the iPad. http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=o_eSwq1ewsU

  • Cover55555

    I still love watching this every night.

  • Kiel Phegley

    Hire this man!

  • Brian from Canada

    Quality isn’t usually a detraction from good storytelling. Nor did it harm the franchise. But there were problems. BIG problems.

    Star Trek: The Next Generation’s biggest problem was its intention. It’s intention was not to get cancelled. It’s intention was also not to piss of Gene Roddenberry, who was needed for authenticity to the fans, which is why Roddenberry’s idea of no internal strife wasn’t challenged until Gene had passed away.

    And the proof is there in the first seasons. Aside from the abortion story early in season two (which is dealt with in, what, five minutes?), the series let the original cast deal with big contentious issues in the feature films while it dealt with the general issues of prejudice over and over again on other planets.

    It also led the series to spending more time exploring the cultures set up in the original series — like the Klingons — which became dominant after Gene died because they didn’t have any clue elsewise as to how to satisfy the audience’s desire for more Trek. In other words, once it got past the introduction of the Borg, every season was GUARANTEED to spend its sweeps dealing with Q, The Borg and Klingon internal strife, with some Cardassians thrown in at the end.

    Because, internally, you suddenly had a love triangle involving two people who were clearly broken up. Because, internally, you had a writing staff divided until the last season as to whether Picard and (the once fired but brought back to prevent a rotating door) Dr. Crusher had an affair after the death of her husband.

    That’s problem two: too much repetition because fans liked those cultures, rather than exploration. In fact, Picard’s line “Doesn’t anybody remember when we used to be explorers?” in Star Trek IX underscores that: everyone assumed the movies would follow The Borg with Q, and it was only DeLancie’s desire to stick with Q on TV that prevented that.

    Problem three was typecasting — including Wesley Crusher, but not limited to him. Look at the original series carefully: Kirk was the star of the action, Spock and McCoy were the two sides to any decision, Scotty was for humour, Uhura for sex factor, and Sulu added to adventure.

    But now look at TNG: Picard is the center of the action, but Riker is the one in the action. Troi is there to council him on… what exactly? It’s not an argument she brings, it’s intuition. Data offers little except raw data; there’s no spin on it like Spock does with the next potential move. Pulaski did that in her season but the lack of bonding with the cast meant she was out in season three and Crusher put back in. Losing the aggressive security agent at the end of season one meant replacing her with… an aggressive security agent (Worf shows little violence in season one). No engineer means pulling the useless Geordi into that role, and all that allows for is Wesley to get to the bridge.

    And Wesley… the Next Generation bible established a different scenario for TNG in making it a family ship… but Wesley wasn’t an ordinary kid. And while they could have made Wesley an admirer of Picard, they turned him into a solve anything character. So you knew nothing really bad could happen because Wesley was there. And that got them into a bad rut. Got a problem? Sic Data and Wesley on it and you’ll be out in a jiffy.

    And problem four — the one you mistake for killing the franchise — is the fans themselves that questioned Kirk’s style of command. Picard’s adherence to rules and structure hamstrung the series that followed incredibly because you NEVER got the sense from him that he was out there to take it all in. He was the competent officer who rose the ranks slowly instead. That’s what JJ Abrams brought back: Pike is the rank-riser like Picard who deals with essays and analysis; Kirk, who takes over, is born to command because he has it all internally already.

    But Sisko also had that. DS9 — designed to compete against Babylon-5 when JMS took the idea to WB after being rejected by Paramount — solved a lot of those issues and developed the universe in a different way. It really played with the ideas of different empires interacting, with the idea of good and bad discoveries, and with real issues (mostly war-related).

    And Archer had the same thing too. Enterprise’s biggest problem was spending too much time in the nebula after the attack on Earth. The final season had the spirit of the original series in spades. And you could tell that Tucker and T’Pol were McCoy and Spock all over again, just as Merryweather had the adventure of Sulu, or the security officer had the sense of wry humour that Scotty had, etc.

    Voyager was the other misstep from TNG because, like TNG, it took a commanding officer character that wasn’t, well… commanding. Janeway’s schizophrenic in her command, jumping from coddler to commander, and it didn’t work. (In fact, the hypothesis my friends had was that she was made Admiral in #10 because they didn’t want her in command any more.) And Janeway’s crew, designed like TNG, also faced the same problems: Doctor for Data, Riker’s lack of focus in both Chakotay AND the helmsman, etc.

    Abrams was needed to shake up 18 years of Trek that were dominated by 15 years of problems. But that’s not to say we didn’t get Trek broken too much by then to not look back and see stuff that’s valuable underneath.

  • Jeff Frost

    Oh, look, Graeme’s whining again. *yawn* Oh, look, Graeme’s wrong again. *sigh*

  • Anonymous

    All television is terrible more often than not. I agree with pretty much every major point you made; but it would be nice to take a look at some things the show did better than the original. Though it couldn’t handle light moments very well (it was like watching your parents try to joke with the principal) it managed to be dramatic and poignant at times: for instance, when Picard visited his family’s vinyard, or when he was kidnapped by the Cardassians (“How many lights do you see?”) Or when Data basically decided to murder a guy, then lied about it (I can’t remember titles, sorry). The show lacked the cheese and fun and charisma and balls of the original, but it was capable of achieving actual seriousness at times. That said, boy did those movies suck. http://www.redlettermedia.com/generations.html

  • http://twitter.com/nothinghappens Charles Hoffman

    What, nothing in this about Q? An all too obvious “anything can happen” gimmick that the series relied on waaaaay too heavily, not to mention The Most Annoying Being In The Universe.

  • Data

    talk crap > pisses people of > get pageviews > profit

    prime directive in the federation of striving bloggers

  • http://twitter.com/nothinghappens Charles Hoffman

    Substitute Q for Borg and it would make sense.

  • http://twitter.com/MichaelSacal Michael Sacal

    Classic fanboy bs. Hate anything that contradicts something outdated, in this case the original Trek.

    TNG launched a franchise, while TOS was a failed TV show that, had it not been for syndicated reruns, wouldn’t have amassed a fanbase.

    Your rant basically boils down to “TNG was too smart, therefore it’s boring, while TOS was stupid, therefore it’s fun”.

    That’s the kind of crap that inspired Idiocracy.

  • David Fullam

    So totally on the money with your first and last points (well, you are right about all of it, but those two really hit the ball out of the park). My boss the other day was talking to the friend of a friend about how dated and old the show looked now and how terrible the Next Generation films were. I am not the biggest fan of JJ Abrams, but he certainly brought the franchise back with a vengeance.

  • Harlock999

    Well, I have to admit I agree with all of your points. However, a few things…

    1) I came to these conclusions in the early 90s, when the show was still on the air.

    2) Watch DS9. Once you get past the 2nd season, you’ll realize just how superior it is to every other post-TOS Trek. Ira Steven Behr and Ron Moore did some phenomenal work for that show, making it closer in spirit to TOS and much more epic in scale than TNG and VOY. Plus, the actors could really act. And the writers could really write.

    3) Based on your piece, I must only be a year or two older than you (as I was 15 when TNG hit the airwaves). Yet I managed to fall in love with TOS when I was 12, watching syndicated reruns with my little brother at their midnight timeslots over the summers. Also, it didn’t hurt that the first four Trek films were fantastic.

    You apparently had no interest until TNG? So what about TNG made you think to yourself, “Well, I have no love for Star Trek, but I’m going to start watching this Star Trek: The Next Generation”…?

  • Harlock999

    TOS was far from a “failed TV show.”

    Remember, there were four TOS films before the first episode of TNG. There were also a multitude of novels, comicbooks, and role-playing games for TOS before the first episode of TNG. And finally, there were regular conventions with thousands of fans before the first episode of TNG.

    While TOS was indeed cancelled by studio execs after three seasons (a respectable run), it’s legacy lived on for the next 20 years before the first episode of TNG.

    (Sheesh, a space shuttle was named the Enterprise, for God’s sake…)

  • Anonymous

    An “android” does not count towards diversity (especially a white one) nor do “aliens.” We’re talking actual races of those on the show. Michael Dorn and LeVar Burton are it.

  • TooCoolforSchool

    Just so we’re clear, Graeme, you aren’t negative in a funny charismatic Simon Cowell way, nor are you negative like an enjoyable Eeyore. You’re just annoying and dim-witted. You’re not being strong or sticking it to the man by posting this crap either. Just stop.

    Or, as an exercise, try writing something positive for a change. You darken my day every time you post something, and I foolishly click on the link on the much-beloved CBR. Please stop sucking so hard.

  • http://twitter.com/MichaelSacal Michael Sacal

    ALL of that was due to the fanbase that discovered the show in syndication. Had that fanbase existed in 69, the show would have NEVER been canceled. The original show was a failure that was on the air for three seasons.

    Firefly was a failure and it got a movie. They could name a moon of Saturn after Serenity and that still wouldn’t change the fact that the show failed.

    If Fox produced Firefly: TNG and THAT incarnation was a hit that spawns multiple spin offs, then THAT incarnation will have been a successful spin off of a failed TV show.

  • RunnerX13

    Another useless “article” from this site.

  • The Dude

    This is just ridiculous. 10 Reasons I hate something that was on TV forever ago!

  • Michael P

    I won’t argue that TNG had its flaws, but some of your complaints feel off the track for me. Particularly “Offensively Inoffensive (1).” I’ve heard it said before that the show offered no interpersonal conflict or drama, and I’m always puzzled when I hear it. While the command crew got along pretty well from episode to episode (aside from Pulaski being a bitch to Data in the second season), there were certainly differences and disagreements over whatever the plot of the week was about. (Worf was good for this, especially when the Romulans were involved, and Riker seemed to inherit more of Kirk’s defiance than Picard. Remember him and Jellico?) I can recall one side being proved right over the other plenty of times, too, and usually the one we were supposed to think was right the whole time. And all bets were off when it came to the guest stars, of course. You found a fair share of episodes with Picard vying with the admiral of the week.

    There’s nothing wrong with the series wanting to be more cerebral than TOS, either. I’m of the belief that Star Trek can be more than just one thing. The 1980s were not the 1960s, and everyone was in a more reflective mood. The only ones looking back and trying to recapture a lost decade were the Reagan/Thatcher reactionaries, and Star Trek (to say nothing of Roddenberry) certainly wasn’t going to follow their lead. SF in general was moving in that direction, as well, so they were keeping up with the genre, not denying it. I can understand why a kind of pre-Vietnam confidence might seem preferable to a post-Vietnam contemplation, but it wouldn’t have been intellectually honest, and it probably would have ultimately hurt the show in its own way. So, paraphrasing Picard, if the zeitgeist of the time is to be damned, better it be damned for what it really is. And for the record, I don’t think it’s to be damned; it’s just as valid a viewpoint to take, in and of itself. If you want to argue the execution, well, that was all over the place. But the episodes where they got it right stand the test of time.

    I think the thing that hurts TNG’s memory most is that it had only about 3-4 somewhat strong seasons out of its 7, and that even those had their share ill-remembered filler. TOS, in comparison, had 2 strong seasons and one lame one out of three, with the 2 strong ones usually being the only ones people remember. And DS9 had 5 out of 7, and in a row, too. Sandwich it in between those, and the problems do become that much more noticeable. So, yeah, TNG is an uneven show, and ranks a solid middle out of all the series, but I maintain that when it was on, it was ON.

    I won’t dispute the Riker/Troi thing, though. If not for the books picking up that mostly discarded subplot and running with it, I doubt anyone would remember the relationship at all.

  • Michael P

    As a coda, you can complain about the acting all you like, but don’t try and tell me TOS was any different in that regard. I mean, come on. Hammy acting is practically Star Trek’s calling card. Hell, I thought it was one of the things we all loved about it.

  • Filleremail

    Absolutely! Odo, Garak, Sisko…. all were more nuanced and interesting characters than anything in Trek before or since. The episode that metatextualizes their narrative as a sci-fi story written by a black author in the 50′s will make anyone weep. SO. WELL. DONE!

  • Harlock999

    Unfortunately, Sacal, you’re looking at TOS through a present-day lens.

    Having three seasons under your belt in the 1960s? Hardly a failure.

  • Nemocub

    HO DARE YOU, SIR!

  • http://twitter.com/the_dorkknight The Dork Knight

    I couldn’t disagree with this article more.

  • Crusader K

    Talk about igniting a firestorm. Your list does have validity…now. But in 1987, our socks were blown off by WEEKLY Star Trek! And it looked great then! Looking back it was bland. Even the writers and producers lamented the lack of conflict among the crew which is why the later shows introduced non-Starfleet elements to get around Roddenberry’s “elevated human conciousness” ideal. I wish there had been $$ in the budget for different types of uniforms as in The Motion Picture. As far as Abrams “saving” the franchise…I’ll admit that he brought attention back to the franchise but it really remains to be seen if the “big-explosions-no-story” influence will keep the attention there.

  • Nemocub

    Excuse me, that was suppose to be HOW DARE YOU, SIR! but my outrage got the best of me. Say what you want about Deep Sleep Nine, NO Where-ger, or Enter-poop. But TNG was a fantastic successor to the original…RESPECT! If anything, it was the ones after it that killed the franchise.

    Ok, I’m getting off my soapbox, which is on top of a transport plate. Thank you :)

  • Derrick

    So, in the original cast, it’s “multi-cultural” cast was one Black character and one Japanese character and two generic white guys doing cartoonishly bad “foreign” accents. And while you feel the need to reduce the importance of Levar Burton’s character so that your charge will stick by saying: “spend most of his time keeping the engines running” you elevate Uhura’s character to something beyond the Enterprise’s phone operator.

    Yes, her character was a MAJOR step forward in the way it portrayed black characters in entertainment. She wasn’t comic relief or the maid or a walking, talking stereotype. But in terms of character importance within the narrative of the show as a whole, Burton’s character was far more important.

    And as for your insistence that Star Trek: The Next Generation somehow “ruined” the franchise, I couldn’t disagree more. It actually saved what was then just a series of movies with actors creeping closer and closer to irrelevancy as action heroes simply due to the weight of age, and actually MADE “Star Trek” a viable franchise. J.J. Abrams wouldn’t have had anything TO “save” without “Star Trek: The Next Generation”. And frankly I don’t notice Deep Space Nine, Voyager or Enterprise in reruns 5 time a day on channels OTHER then “SyFy” the way “Next Gen” does.

    In my opinion, while I know that “Deep Space Nine” is VERY popular with a lot of people, it wasn’t really “Star Trek”. It was theater of the cool, where all the ideas and ideals that Gene Roddenberry worked so hard to imbue the Star Trek’s that HE was involved with the creation of were ignored in favor of too much interpersonal drama, a “Black opps” division of Starfleet (Give me a break) and any sense of exploration and discovery replaced with space battles and explosions.

  • LightningBug

    Except that it was amazing. I’m not sure that Graeme McMillan actually likes things.

  • Iris

    I’ve been making these same observations for years. TNG made me turn away from Trek (in addition to your 10 reasons) because as a young woman looking for strong role models, the women of TNG drove me insane. Instead of forward thinking, the women were relegated to caretaker roles (“Counselor” Troi; “Doctor” Crusher — at least she wasn’t a nurse!). The movies tried to give the women stronger roles, but not nearly enough. Thankfully, DS9 redeemed all!

  • Gianluca

    To me, what killed the Star Trek television franchise wasn’t TNG but poor writing in the later series. It seemed like by Voyager and Enterprise, they gave up on creating interesting science fiction stories. “Oh no, the ratings are falling. Should we bring on some guest sci-fi novelists to come up with some great stories? No, let’s write in a Seven of Boobs character and do some sexy storylines.”

  • Person

    There were *no* wires used to fly the original series’ Enterprise; the model was supported upside down through the Engineering section, and shot with an upside-down camera. Get your facts straight before you diss a television classic.

  • Ghost

    He saved the franchise financially speaking. It no doubt will continue in healthier shape, in terms of financials and studio confidence, than it has in a while.

    Unfortunately he saved the franchise by turning it into utter crap.

  • nik

    You lost me half way through. Data’s great. The uniforms were fine. Who cares about uniforms anyway? But I still agree with half of this. IMO, that’s why Babylon 5 was a much better show at the time.

  • Bill Reed

    I’m pretty sure Graeme only likes awesome things, but what do I know?

  • nik

    Really? Destroyed it? The last three Generation movies didn’t didn’t destroy the franchise? The couple series didn’t help destroy the franchise? Yes, Abrams did save it.

  • Sylvia101

    I could not agree more. I loved TNG when I finally got around to watching it years after its airing, but DS9 was what started me loving Star Trek in the first place, and it is the best all all the series.

  • Lewy_hand

    This article is a load of rubbish and what is everyone going on about saying that DS9 is the best Star Trek! Have you all gone mad? DS9 was pretty good, but TNG is by far the best. The last part cracked me up about JR Abrams saving the franchise, what are you talking about? He made the franchise more money, by selling Star Trek to a wider audience, by changing the franchise, which is exactly what TNG did in the 80′s, didn;t it? The guy who wrote this article obviously isn’t a Star Trek fan, if he is then shame on him, also the guy who wrote the comment before this one must be on drugs, he said “Babylon 5 was a much better show,” WHAT?? Everyone knows Babylon 5 is a poor mans DS9! OVER AND OUT

  • Gypsyboy

    Hey! Troi’s plunging necklines were great !

  • Mikebielaski

    Haters gonna hate!

  • Turtletrekker

    I have to totally agree with all of the DS9 love. By far and away the best the franchise ever produced.
    AS for your TNG points, they tend to be understandable ones for the most part, but Q appeared more than the Borg did, and the Duras sisters appeared in just one less than the Borg,so I’d say that

    balance was well maintained. And really, the only TNG Borg episodes that didn’t hit it out of the park were “Descent” 1&2.

    As for J.J. “saving” the franchise? Puh-Leeze. If by “saving” you mean “reducing it to adolescent popcorn-fare without any real substance”, then I’d have to agree with you.

  • http://whitleypedia.blogspot.com Remmick2099

    You think ill of TNG because people only look to its negatives for its legacy and forget its positives.

    http://whitleypedia.blogspot.com/2010/09/st-top-10-redux-why-no-love-for-tng.html

    You’re right about Troi and Riker though. The reason they never got back together was because NO ONE wanted them to.

  • Carolina

    Another rant? Really?

  • Roquefort Raider

    Sheesh! This should have been “what was wrong about TNG’s first two seasons”, because most of your points were corrected later on.

    Alone, certainly not; but I’d bet you’re part of a very small minority.

  • Michael P

    Actually, they got married in the last movie, so I guess someone did.

    See, Nemesis. There’s a case where you can legitimately say TNG killed the franchise. But only at the end, not the beginning.

  • Guest

    I disagree with everything written here, especially the last “point.”

  • Thom Vane

    What pointless negativity.

  • lead sharp

    DS9 was a poor man’s B5 that needed to steal storyline’s and stumble back on itself when it almost fell up it’s own arse.

    TNG was beige. Pure, utter beige.

  • Laidbackpoet

    Sorry but to say Trek was crap till Abrams is absolute rubbish. Yeah the characters were annoying and pretionious but there were some very good individual episodes and spawned the best version of Star Trek in DS9. I also think dealing with uthenasia, terrorism and homosexuality was pretty daring for it’s time. Theres nothng wrong with being cerebral or allogorical, the TOS was at times and most of the best sci fi is, and for me it set it apart from Star Wars(which is much inferior franchise by miles in my opinion exactly for that reason).

  • Shift

    Aside from the show having a dated quality about it (mostly in regards to the first three or four seasons, which happens in ALL franchises, not just this one) I gotta completely disagree with everything about this article.

    Honestly, everything about this article reads like pot-shot trolling done to incite the fans for amusement. Honestly, I’m a casual fan of Star Trek the Next Generation and Star Trek in general, and none of the points in this article feels true or fair.

    For example, how dismissive you are of Geordi being portrayed by a black actor or Whoopi Goldberg who was a reoccurring guest star, both of who were strong and important characters in the series.

    And while TNG didn’t have the equivalent of an the Kirk/Uhura kiss, they had stories that were along the lines, if not as vocal. For example, Doctor Crusher falling inlove with a man, who ended up being a woman. Or Commander Riker having a romantic relationship with a person who was essentially transgender. The only difference between these events and Kirks, is that the series didn’t over-blow it.

    There is probably a lot more example the contradict this article, and I’m sure other people have already pointed them out. But honestly, this seems really unfair.

  • poo

    Troll.

  • Anonymous

    I have probably griped about every one of your points, but I still can’t help but have anything but affection for TNG.

  • Anonymous

    I never liked the show much, always found it boring, and much like people who like Josh Whedon shows, I assume people who enjoy it hate good action. Also as far as JJ Abrams saving Star Trek, the movie was fun, but I’m still confused on why, after traveling so far back in time, Nero was still so angry that he didn’t realize none of his planet had actually died yet? Wouldn’t he just go to his homeworld with his very advanced ship and help them either get revenge or you know.. not die since that was his entire motivation?

  • nailsin

    The first three seasons are crap. After that it’s not too bad. The spin-offs were far worse. DS9 had some good moments but Voyager nearly killed the franchise. As for Enterprise that was just one missed opportunity after another.
    As for Data don’t worry he’s dead.

  • Smarter Than This Guy

    You’re an idiot.

  • Dbeane43

    Star Trek was awful after the middle of season 5 of TNG. Season 6 & 7 were horrible on the whole. And quite literally they used the same damn musical score from season 5 of TNG all the way through season 4 of Enterprise. Take a listen sometime, you’ll see I’m right. But that aside. I stuck it out with Trek through the good and bad (mostly bad).

    DS9 got interesting and then the Dominion War came to an abrupt end. Like every episode of Star Trek, everything got wrapped up neatly in the last 5 minutes, which took away a big chunk of Thunder that storyline had built up. Voyager… leaving that alone. Enterprise was starting to get good until the series finale when Rick Berman made the worst Star Trek episode in franchise history as a middle finger to Trek fans everywhere (the holodeck of TNG Enterprise? Really?) The TNG movies? More wasted potential. Anyone who says Abrahms destroyed Trek needs to take a long hard look at the shape that franchise was in before Reboot Trek came out. From someone who was around when the first episode of TNG aired back in the 80′s I can say Trek hasn’t been this good since the TOS movies (any of which were better than anything in the TNG universe…yes including ST5).

  • Srjuanm

    Answering your question, “wrong”. In fact, your plain wrong through and through.

  • road waffle

    I do agree that TNG had flaws, as well as growing pains, but for me it still stands as the best Trek. The good definitely outweighs the bad in the long run, and the oft-made claim that “everything turns out conveniently OK by the end” is a total myth (watch “Q Who?”, for example). I think all this stuff about “having an ashamed quality to it” is utter rubbish, as a lot of science fiction (both in books and on TV) IS cerebral, both before and since TNG.

    DS9 seems to get most of the acclaim these days, and although I like it, I think that series completely ran out of steam in the last two seasons. The ending felt like a total anti-climax.

  • Shaun

    Can’t say I agree with much of this. And I disagree about JJ Abrams too – Abrams’ Kirk is an absolute jerk and stretches credibility beyond the breaking point. Moreover, the original Trek is offensive on so many levels that I don’t even know where to start. Which is not to say that the original Trek was not good, but if you are going to do this kind of rundown of TNG, then see how many more problems you can spot with Kirk and company (except for Spock, who was always brilliant).

  • Jsilver42

    > The Show Was Clearly A Product Of Its Time

    Oh, please. Yeah, some of the effects look really bad, but most look fine. Besides, complaining about effects that were fine at the time because stuff today looks better is just whiny. And I still think the Enterprise-D design is the coolest of all the major Trek ships we’ve seen.

    > The Show Was Offensively Inoffensive (1)

    This I kinda agree with, but on the other hand, as long as there’s conflict outside the ship’s crew, there isn’t much need for it within.

    > This Here Is An Allegory

    I agree that “message” episodes are mostly bad, but I don’t remember TNG having too many. The main ones I remember are that stupid one about warp engines destroying space, and “The Outcast”, which wasto about accepting people who were different but was extraordinarily hamfisted.

    > The Show Was Offensively Inoffensive (2)

    TOS had one black character who was also female. (Yeoman Rand does not count; she was only in like eight episodes.) TNG had two black characters and two female characters. (Three before Yar kicked the bucket.) Besides, having a Klingon crewmember represents an acceptance of other peoples, and in a way was similar to having Chekov on TOS — Russians being not exactly popular in the States during the 60s. Data also counts as an example of accepting people not like us — what could be more unlike us than a robot?

    > Riker And Troi: Science Fiction’s Most Passionless Unrequited Love

    Okay, I’ll give you this one. I was frankly astonished when Nemesis started with Riker and Troi getting married.

    > Almost Everything About Data

    Fuck that. Data could be annoying sometimes, especially in the first two seasons, but he was still a good character.

    > While I’m At It, The Rest Of The Crew, Too

    Some of the acting was bad, especially early on, but not THAT bad. Stewart, Spiner and Frakes were all pretty good most of the time.

    > The Borg

    They were in like six episodes and one movie. Voyager ruined the Borg, not TNG.

    > Those Uniforms

    The early season uniforms looked kinda bad, but I had no problem with the later ones. And if you’re saying they looked worse than the TOS uniforms…? Well, you’re kinda deluded, then.

    > It Ruined The Franchise All The Way Until JJ Abrams Saved It

    Oh, fuck you. TNG had more good episodes than bad, and DS9 was awesome. Voyager and Enterprise killed the franchise, along with mediocre TNG movies. The Abrams movie was okay, but I’m not sure I like the direction it’s heading.

  • Suit Of Lights

    I don’t know why I ever read this blog.

    I love everything about CBR except for this crap. Graeme is a blowhard moron who goes out of his way to be contrarian at the expense of credibility. He’s either the worst kind of scheming, trollish blogger, stirring the pot to get page views, or he’s just really that stupid. Either way, I won’t make the mistake of visiting this blog again.

  • Subfactiondisent

    !!!!!!!!!GGGGGGRRRRRWWWWWWAAAAAAARRRRRRRRR!!!!!!!!! I SHOULD KILL YOU WHERE YOU STAND, or SIT.

  • Brannon

    I disagree with many of the points he wrote, particularly about Data. Data was a fantastic character, though I feel they “ruined” him with that damned emotion chip. Data, along with Spock, are the two greatest Trek characters for me.

    So what if it was “inoffensive”? I think it was a breath of fresh air that the show gave us a look at a future where humanity grew up and realized that there were bigger threats out there beyond our own petty infighting and trite religious conflicts.

    I will agree with you that the Next Gen movies were all mediocre and can’t compete with the best of the TOS movies like II and IV. I do feel that Next Gen is the greatest trek series, but given it’s lack of angst and more “professional” tone, doesn’t lend itself well to action movies.

    I admit that I only like TOS and Next Gen and never gave DS9 much of a chance. The few episodes I did watch didn’t work for me. Nothing seemed to click. I might give it another chance. To be honest, I didn’t like Next Gen at first (being 10 and a big fan of TOS at the time) but it grew on me till it became my favorite TV show, probably ever.

  • http://atocom.blogspot.com Atomic Kommie Comics

    The first couple of years of TNG were, indeed, rocky. If they had been on one of the big 3 networks, they wouldn’t have made it past the first 13 episodes.
    Season 3 was the overall best of the series, with Season 4 close behind. Season 5-7 episodes, with few exceptions, were Star Drek.
    After “Best of Both Worlds”, the Borg should have been kept offscreen (but constantly-mentioned) until “Star Trek: First Contact”. Instead, they became the “go-to” antagonists when writers ran out of ideas.
    Political correctness, unfortunately, ran rampant. No interpersonal conflicts on a 5-year mission? I got a doctor and first officer who’d disagree with that!

    Follow-up series were not better.
    DS9 was tolerable until it was turned into a space-war series (the ONE thing Roddenberry NEVER wanted to do. Read “Making of Star Trek”)!
    Voyager was a waste of pixels.
    Enterprise was creatively dead in the water until the Reeves-Stevens writing/story editor team started fixing continuity in the final season so it actually linked into the rest of the Trekniverse.

  • TheBoyWonder

    You sure as hell do not sound like a Star Trek fan.

    The whole point is that it gives humanity a more hopeful future to gaze upon.

  • Guest

    This has to be a joke article. There’s no way someone can actually think TNG ruined the franchise when it did exactly the opposite.

  • http://twitter.com/MichaelPaytonMZ Michael Payton

    Amen. Sisko puts it best: it’s easy to be an angel when you live in paradise (TNG-era Earth). Paradise was not only boring, it was snobby about how boring it was. It’s like the elite civilized people back East talking down the people on the western frontiers of the Old West for not “dressing for dinner” and other such civility, when their real concern was just surviving the day.

    TNG may have had less character development than any other modern Trek TV series. Even Rom got character development on DS9 and he was a cartoon character when the show began, for pity’s sake. Geordi? Beverly? Zilch. They were as useless after 7 years as Harry Kim or the Native-American Erik Estrada stand-in was on Voyager. (Whatever the heck his name was.) When the holographic doctor on Voyager has more meaningful moments of characterization than the entire cast of TNG, you should probably stop pretending that TNG is the “Jesus” of sci-fi TV.

  • http://twitter.com/MichaelPaytonMZ Michael Payton

    Chief O’Brien is my all-time favorite Trek character. No lie.

  • Timelord

    TOS was the best Trek ever. DS9 was next best. That last season of Enterprise – those last few episodes – were superb. I rate Enterprise and Voyager as tied for 3rd place. TNG comes in last on my list. I liked it when it was on because it was the only Trek TV we had. It was eclipsed by the Trek that came before and after – including the Trek movies with TOS cast.

    The JJ Abrams Trek reboot was just action-adventure. Didn’t like how the continuity was changed. I wish he had just done a prequel Trek with Captain April or just created a new set of characters.

  • Jim R. in Indiana

    I DO NOT see Abrams as having “…left is o much better than it was….” He ruined it. Having seen TOS, TNG, VYG, DS9, Animated Series and the prior 9 motion pictures, I will never watch another Star Trek Movie.

  • kalorama

    Seriously, what’s the point of this piece? Basically it boils down to someone saying “Now that I’m (presumably) an adult, some stuff I loved as a kid now actually seems kind of silly.”

    Well . . . no shit, Sherlock. Retroactively trashing that stuff for being stupid, however, does nothing to make you seem more adult. Just the opposite, really. It seems like a rather childishly petulant thing to do.

  • Turtletrekker

    You might have something there if B5 hadn’t so often and shamelessly stolen from LotR.

  • Packers!!

    Did you watch Deep space nine and voyager though??
    Quite different, especially DS9

  • Admiral Adama

    Well, there is at least one good thing that came away from TNG; Ron Moore and BSG ;)

  • yesiamaplant

    Constantly cited as one of my favorite episodes of television EVER.

  • JMC

    If I could leap through the internet Graeme McMillan, I would give you the thrashing of your life! The thrashing of your life!!!!

  • CaseyJustice

    Sooooo happy about the nerd rage in here!

    For the record, I can offer no constructive criticism of TNG, as I’ve never made it through a full episode. I wake up hours later, feeling refreshed and energized, as if emerging from a deep coma.

  • Grendel

    You REALLY got nothing better to do with your time, I presume…

  • Hello

    >they weren’t afraid to let the recurring cast (something no other Star Trek show has had) take the wheel for an episode.

    Barkley had episodes in TNG and he was recurring

  • JMC

    Well, if you refrained from masturbating during TNG you might actually get through an episode without dropping off to sleep. I know, I know, hard to do with that dreamy Commander Riker onscreen : )

  • Boozup72

    I agree in all parts of your list, and was saying it at the time it was airing. Glad to see DS9 growing into the respect it deserves in hindsight.

  • Cheese Steak Jimmy

    I’m probably the only person in the universe that thought that the last two seasons of Enterprise were amongst the best Trek I had ever seen [once Manny Coto was on board]. Hated the first two; hate the theme song. TNG was clunky in places, but it was a different time, and when it was on form [The Best of Both Worlds, Measure of a Man, Lower Decks] it was blisteringly good.

  • Axilmar

    You are entirely wrong.

    Regarding the special fx: many of them are quite better than the ones produced by CGI, for the simple reason that CGI cannot yet create those perfectly realistic surfaces. There are too many shiny surfaces in CGI, something that does not exist in real models.

    Regarding the interpersonal conflict: if you want drama, why are you looking for it in a sci-fi show? a sci-fi show is not the place for drama. If you want drama, watch soap operas. I was truly glad that TNG didn’t have the silly interpersonal conflicts of other shows: it gave it the time and space to speak about other more important things.

    Regarding allegories: yes, we liked it, thank you very much. We would like to see more allegories. We don’t like silly adventures without a morality story in it; otherwise, the whole thing becomes like a fairy tale.

    Regarding the show’s politically correctness: despite that you saw the first interracial TV kiss in TOS, you didn’t see anything else in TOS, did you? the crew had only one black member, and only one woman. TNG had two black members, and two women. In TOS, the black actors were non-existent. There were plenty of black actors in TNG, and many asian actors as well. Much more than in TOS.

    Regarding Riker and Troi: It may be amazing to you, but some of us want sci-fi without love stories. If we want to view a love affair, there are plenty of other shows for that. TNG focused on the aspects of exploration (social and physical) and less on romance, and that was a good thing.

    Regarding Data: you say the character did nothing to you. Well, if you don’t have philosophical questions about what it takes to be human, if there is a soul, if man can create man, then you are right, it did nothing for you. But it did a lot for some of us. There were some really good episodes that raised the right questions.

    Regarding the rest of the crew (besides Picard and Data): every show has one or two main characters. There cannot be 7 main characters with equally expanded stories. TNG was Picard’s and Data’s show, more or less, just like TOS was Kirk’s and Spock’s show, just like DS9 was Sisko’s and Kira’s show, and VOY was Janeway’s show.

    Regarding the Borg: the Borg are the most exciting aliens on video. Far more interesting than the Aliens in ‘Alien’, or the Empire in Star Wars, or anything else. There isn’t anything else out there than the Borg.

    Regarding the franchise being saved by JJ Abrams:

    It’s an insult to humanity. It managed to make Star Trek stupid. It’s a non-movie. It’s one of the worst movies I have witnessed in the last 20 years (and boy, I have seen a lot of movies).

    The script was non-existent.

    The acting was wooden.

    The sci-fi was insulting.

    The movie had the intellectuality of a monkey.

    For crying out loud…in the last twenty years, has the dumbing down of the masses been so successful that the monstrosity of JJ Abrams is considered a good movie?

  • Cheesenp64

    You are nuts…..it was a great show…..like Pemoses, I’m not going through the laundry list either….one thing….Michael Dorn…hey exactly what are Klingons supposed to be….they all bellowed….part of their culture…..deal with it….he was not “a merry man”!

  • Joose bawks

    I disagree. I’ve been watching TNG reruns lately and I enjoy them more now than I ever did. The things you say you hate, I don’t even notice.

  • Tricktrek

    Agreed. I think DS9 really raised the bar on what Trek is capable of. If Trek is to make a return trip to the TV screen, I really hope the creator takes that as its inspiration, rather than TNG or the other series.

  • Yanks5179

    It’s true. Don’t you know all white people are the same. Greeks, British, Americans, French. We’re all one white collective, so we cancel out all diversity….

  • Horkology

    And Nichelle Nichols and George Takei were it for the original series. Which was my point.

  • Anonymous

    Yeah, the totally white TNG crew, assuming you look past the Latino woman and two black guys on the bridge crew.

  • http://www.theaterhopper.com Tom Brazelton

    This is a timely post for me because my wife and I are about to embark on a TNG marathon thanks to Netflix. I watched the show religiously in high school. She’s being introduced to it for the first time. It will be a fun piece of nostalgia for me – I haven’t watching most of these shows in a decade. But it will be an original experience for her.

    I’m already aware of TNG’s shortcomings, but found the series fascinating despite them – especially in the later seasons. I’m somewhat concerned that my wife will not be as forgiving of those shortcomings as we watch the series in chronological order…

  • CaseyJustice

    Mmm… Goatee…

  • CutterMike

    Not entirely true… The Enterprise seen out the Commander Lurry’s office window on Space Station K7 in “The Trouble With Tribbles” was IIRC one of the (Aurora…? Revell…?) model kits suspended by wires. It was the only way that they could get one that would be in reasonable scale.

    (And to any pedants out there: It may not have been a warp-speed shot, but if it a spaceship ain’t sitting on a planet, *I* say it’s frickin’ FLYING! ;-) )

  • CaseyJustice

    Sorry, don’t mean to be a hater, but I found it hilarious that in your very well written deconstruction of the above article, you point out all of the things that a show does NOT need to be successful (interpersonal relationships, romance, adventure), and things that TNG are better than (Star Wars, Aliens, TOS, Trek ’09), yet you point out very little that you actually liked about the show. Out of curiosity, what was it that made TNG so great in your opinion?

  • CutterMike

    Hmmm… That didn’t post as a Reply to Person’s “There were *no* wires used to fly the original series’ Enterprise…” post as I intended it to.

    Bummer.

  • CaseyJustice

    As someone who’s never been able to connect with Trek of any sort, feeling it’s a bit pompous, overwrought and boring? Loved the Abrams movie. Many folks are saying that the movie is intellectually worthless, but it’s not a dumb movie, it’s a simple movie. It doesn’t get bogged down with the duller aspects of the franchise (oh boy, BORDER DISPUTES!), opting instead to focus on the components that make an action movie successful: Strong characters, exciting action, high emotion and epic adventure, succeeding admirably on most counts. Most importantly, however, it injected Trek with something the franchise desperately, desperately needed: Fun.

    Maybe that’s the thing about most of the series that I just can’t get behind. It seemed utterly joyless. Certainly there’s some intellectual value to the show (I’ll assume…), but it’s never seemed like something that would be fun to watch. Stern faced people walking down hallways, speaking in monotone voices about emotionless, objective topics? Data seemed like the least robotic guy on that ship!

    Oh, and just for fun, next time you’re talking about TNG with a fan of it, mispronounce Data’s name. You will be immediately corrected, in a tone that seethes with disgust.

  • fan4fan

    OK… I will agree with that.

  • Badgertale

    One of the biggest pitfalls of a science fiction show is, “how does one make an alien LOOK alien?”

    Two of everything, i.e., legs, arms, eyes, ears, etc., just doesn’t work for Star Trek, any longer. Sure, you can make big heads and pointed ears, but that’s not what an alien looks like, at least in my book.

    I agree with the author’s comments on “The Show Was Offensively Inoffensive.” He’s right, no one is that nice, patient…or dumb. Where were the interpersonal relationships and all the hardships, conflict and etcetera?

    A socialist society is among the most boring…but that’s what Roddenberry believed in (partly). If poverty is eliminated and money is abolished (except for gold latinum and credits?) then how does one find one’s purpose?

    STTNG wasn’t “theater” in any sense that STTOS was. We were asked to expand and suspend our belief in TOS…STTNG was just cheesy.

  • http://dailypop.wordpress.com Daily P.O.P.

    I was with you until you praised the terrible JJ Abrams 2009 reboot.

    I don’t care if I’m one voice if dissent in a crowd of praise, that movie is moronic and poorly conceived. It takes the polar opposite course from the first Star Trek series and turns a thought-provoking cerebral science fiction into a meaningless film of wasted opportunities.

  • Brian from Canada

    It’s more than hardly a failure.

    Look back at what ACTUALLY happened with Star Trek: it not only succeeded in getting to air after first being rejected by NBC, but was actually cancelled at the end of second season and brought back for a third because of fan campaign — an unheard of connection in those days.

    NBC only cancelled Star Trek because they’d bounced it around into unwatchable time slots to lower the numbers. They were really worried about the show’s controversial aspects, most notably the interracial kiss between Kirk and Uhura which was a unheard of when the series first aired.

    And there was already fan fiction by the time it went into syndication. That fan fiction was so strong, it was published in books. And let us also not forget that Filmation saw enough of that fan base in 1972 to make the animated series (cancelled due to poor ratings from being bi-weekly at 7.30 am), and NASA a few years later to name its shuttle U.S.S. Enterprise.

    (And note that it’s NASA naming it. Anyone can name a celestial body, but an official government agency naming a ship of the official, national fleet???)

    Paramount saw enough in Star Trek to warrant a second live action series ten years after the first aired, and it was only when their network plans collapsed that they turned to motion pictures. 1979′s The Motion Picture was one of the most expensive movies ever made and turned enough profit to warrant some of the greatest sequels in movie history.

    That is HARDLY a failure.

  • http://dailypop.wordpress.com Daily P.O.P.

    Actually, Abrams, He COULD have saved it, but didn’t. In actuality, he watered it down to the point that it appeals to everyone who never liked Star Trek to begin with. I know that many fans of all Trek have enjoyed the 2009 film and good on them (they’re obviously less critical than I am), but it is so far outside of the concept that it’s pointless. Granted, the previous handful of films are easily forgotten, but Abrams did nothing with the opportunities he had and that’s absurd.

    Star Trek at its best was a ground breaking franchise and at its heart was about exploration of the human condition and there is no message at all in the 2009 film,be it about the human condition or anything else. In my opinion, the reboot is far more of an adventure film hinged on plot contrivances and that just should not happen with a Star Trek movie.

    STTNG was mainly a soap opera version of the Star Trek concept. It worked fine at the time and most everyone watched it, but I agree that it has aged poorly.

  • Brian from Canada

    Gotta disagree with you here.

    Television viewers weren’t treated to many black female characters on television, much less those in a somewhat command role. Writers of the original series were very aware of this, but they did do episodes which made Uhura far more than just a telephone operator — most notably the episode where the crew is charmed, and where Kirk kisses her.

    Plus, it wasn’t just Sulu. Science fiction series didn’t put aliens working with humans, they were always the enemy — and here was Spock. The Reds were our enemies — yet here was Chekhov. It was as if every big issue of the day was saying on Star Trek that it would be resolved eventually, so let’s hope.

    Geordi was more important as a handicapped person than a black man in command, but even then TNG copped out by having him remove the visor in the movies for implants. Yet the rest of the crew did nothing else: what’s special about Troi? Data? Wesley? (Data, as an android, just made it impossible for them to really fail.)

    As for ruining the franchise, I think TNG *did* do just that — but not as the author thinks. I think it painted writers into a box that Voyager could only repeat. And the fans that loved it became a box themselves as the authorities, so that when Enterprise aired, there were complaints about how unrealistic and against the rules of the series it was. Abrams revitalized it as a FILM franchise when television audiences had become sick of it, yet anyone could have done it — all it needed was a story that you could care about.

    As for DS9, it WAS Star Trek. Roddenberry’s vision was complete peace in the Federation by the time of TNG, but as DS9 — and Andromeda, based on HIS ideas — showed, that rosy vision was bound to implode one day. And it wasn’t too much interpersonal drama; the war story was as much external drama as it was interior, to the point that Jake Sisko was almost forgotten as the characters dealt with the crisis of the invasion.

    Where it differed — and this is the biggest point people tend to forget — is that DS9 moved from going to the crisis to the crisis coming at them, and ended up having to mimic another series’ (Babylon-5′s) gimmick of recognizing viewers remember material from episode to episode. TNG solved everything in 50 minutes, Voyager 35 (because the series got nailed for too many commercials!). DS9 took a season to follow it. You call it a “black ops” division, but that was dealt with more in TNG; DS9 used open command structures to deal with a massive threat, and appealed to a lot of fans because it forced an interaction with Klingons and Romulans we had never seen before… an interaction which made Picard’s muddling about with who runs the Klingons pale in comparison.

    And TNG didn’t explore. Seriously: what NEW species did they encounter? What world was that impressive that it is remembered for what it was other than a potential space battle? Because TNG is boilable down to Q and The Borg, with the Cardassians thrown in at the very end. DS9, at least, had the guts to say it was stuck where it was and the exploration was how they all interacted.

    And keep in mind one last thing: DS9 didn’t want to end either. The actors wanted more time in between episodes to do some other work, but they were extremely happy with the series and not rushing to movies like TNG. TNG ended because Spiner and Stewart wanted Seinfeld/Friends numbers and the series was damned without them; and they knew the movies were theirs.

  • Brian from Canada

    WTF? Seriously: WTF?

    Babylon-5 didn’t rip off from LotR. There’s no one great quest to destroy one object. There’s no side quests that draw other characters into it.

    The great evil of The Shadows comes a philosophical debate because they believe the universe evolves through chaos rather than, as the Vorlons did, the introspection. The characters that took part were there because fate had brought them there, and many of them suffered greatly from those events. Babylon-5 was pretty much original in its presentation — and, more importantly, was the first series where aliens actually looked like aliens, not people with piano wire around their head as TNG was doing. The Narn looked different, and B-5 had methane decks where other breathing atmospheres were there too.

    The other thing that makes B-5 excel — far more than DS9, which followed — was the fact that the whole thing was planned out basically from the start, and that by the time the series got to season 3, it was clear that the early steps were having consequences later on. Even passing lines, like Vir’s comment to Mr. Morden in early season 2, came back to effect at the end. NO science fiction series had been presented like that before, and that’s what made it special.

  • Brian from Canada

    Quick questions: when did Crusher have this crush? If you’re thinking of the Trill episode, that ending contradicts what you say because she rejects someone she loves because she’s not a homosexual — something that’s quite clear in the character’s body language.

    And what character did Riker fall for that was transgender? The most important romance for Riker was in season one, when a hologram was created of the ideal woman that he lost and could never quite reprogram.

    TNG did have its issues like TOS, but I think the real difference is that TNG tried very desperately to bury them rather than make them the focus of the story, like Troi’s question of abortion in season 2.

    As for Guinan being important: BULL.SHIT. She was the bartender, nothing more. And whatever was hinted as more put her on the level with Q, which they never did anything about.

  • Brian from Canada

    I think you nailed it on the head with Abrams’ film. One thing that really got me was how much certain members of Abrams’ cast worked to duplicate the original series. Kirk’s walk on to the bridge, for example, the smile on Sulu’s face when the sword rolls out, and McCoy’s difference in eye size some times is all there. They wanted you to know this was classic Trek’s characters, and the sense of adventure that’s there in the best movies and episodes.

    What made TOS special, really, was the way that the crew ALWAYS found a way out. (In Star Trek II, this is attributed to Kirk’s belief there’s always a way, which follows Uhura’s comment in Motion Picture that their chances of survival double when he’s on board.) THAT comes through in Abrams’ picture most — and TNG never ever got capable of mimicking its TV series on film in the same way as TOS was able to.

  • Eddie C

    While I agree with many of the posts here that DS9 was easily the best Trek spinoff (and most underrated), I do feel you are being too harsh on TNG. Granted, many of the episodes may seem kinda blase, but there was more than a handful of very strong, well-written episodes with deep characterization and was part of a fully realized vision that Roddenberry had, almost single-handedly creating a wonderful universe and rich tapestry that was expanded on (except for Enterprise; now, there is what killed the franchise) and was definitely not saved by JJ Abrams.

    I will not bother arguing point-by-point, but suffice to say, the visual effects and look of the show does not seem that dated and I enjoy watching reruns from time to time (okay, not frequently). Voyager actually made the Borg interesting again (itself not a bad show, but like the other spinoffs, got off to a bad start).

    And all JJ Abrams did was make Trek popular again and probably for the first time, a money-maker at the box office, by appealing to the lowest common denominator. An almost non-existent, hole-ridden plot with lots of action, eye candy (the effects), and humor that would fit right at home on a bad sitcom . . . from the 80s. I fear for those that will grow up with the new Abramsverse, having never known the genius of the original Trek and the purity of Roddenberry’s vision, which was honored (and yes, improved upon by Berman) throughout all of the spinoffs (except for maybe Enterprise; okay, in its last season when it was too late).

  • No

    idiot

  • http://pulse.yahoo.com/_Q6IPNXJ4EIZWN4C2625YCK3U7Q Paperback Wizard

    Star Trek: TNG really was about something different than the original series. While TOS was about exploration and random adventures in an increasingly random galaxy, TNG was about the future of humanity. From its inception, from the moment Q set foot on the bridge of the Enterprise-D and began to challenge Picard on the history and destiny of his race, the show was about proving how far we’ve come. Its aim, its goal, was to show that we have evolved as a species beyond our basest desires and impulses.

    Perhaps that had nothing to do with the original, haphazard adventures of the original ship and crew, but I think that, more than being set a century later with a different mix of characters and settings, helped define the “next generation” of Trekkies. Yes, Kirk was an explorer and Picard was a champion; that’s how they were intended. That is not a reason to hate either of them, but a reason to admire them.

    As for what happened with the later series, you can’t blame that on TNG. Deep Space Nine had to find its own way, its own “voice”, as did Voyager and Enterprise. If they failed (which DS9 didn’t but the others did, in my opinion), then that’s no fault of TNG, which accomplished its mission.

  • Oztasha

    The author of this article lacks talent.

    - this comment has been typed on my iPad :)

  • http://pulse.yahoo.com/_SUGJBSDTBBEMS74W6D4HS7KDOE Jason

    The show was NOT terrible. I found it to be far more entertaining than the original Star Trek, as the characters (to me anyway) had much more depth. Just because you thought J.J. Abrams’ reboot was awesome doesn’t give you the right to call TNG crap.

  • Anonymous

    Actually, having three seasons in the 1960s WAS a failure. “Mission: Impossible” debuted the same year as the original “Star Trek” and ran 7 seasons. “Bonanza” debuted in 1959 and ran until 1973 (and was in the Top 5 for NINE consecutive seasons).

    Now, having three seasons in the 1960s was pretty standard for most TV series. What WASN’T standard was being such a low-rated series and having three seasons. Only by that standard can the “hardly a failure” be remotely correct. I’ll note that “Lost in Space” only had 3 seasons but it did better in the overall ratings (averaging in the mid-30s all 3 seasons) than “Trek” did but it never had the same fanatical fanbase.

  • Jeff Frost

    Uh… that’s JOSS Wheadon. If you’re going to attempt a clever insult, you might want to spell the subject’s name correctly. Speaking of your insult, what a jackassy thing to say. Yes, you must be correct, anyone who likes Buffy, Angel, Firefly, or Dollhouse hates action. Geez, go watch some Walker Texas Ranger, and pipe down.

  • CaseyJustice

    Actually, his opinion gives him the right to call it crap. Doesn’t mean that it is crap. Just means that he thinks it is.

  • Seantirkot

    All Picard see’s is haters! You hate on the award winning special effects and never bring up Wil Wheaton is the one storyline from the first season. This alien tells Picard he has to take care of wesly because he has no idea how important he is and then leaves the show to chill on this inconsequential planet he falls in love with. Was that his destiny did Picard say screw it?

  • PianoWizzy

    I am disappoint. I’d point out all the inconsistencies between the points in this post and what TNG was but I wouldn’t want to waste my precious time on such a negative life form as yourself.

  • RMBittner

    I thought the Borg were truly terrifying, at least in their first few appearances. But before you write off the show, just remember: Troi’s plunging necklines and Seven of Nine.

  • odin

    Thank you. Inner light may have been one of the best things to grace the TV screen.

  • http://pulse.yahoo.com/_EOEBK3ISN2SSUUJK4F6XT5DK44 Gary

    I find much of the argument trite and biased. Clearly the author is a nuTrek fan, eager to bash the most financially successful of the Star Trek series incarnations. He asks “surely I’m not alone in thinking it was kind of terrible more often than not, right?” He’s probably not alone, but I’ll bet anything he’s in an extreme minority. And really… Abrams has not “saved the franchise.” It wasn’t dead, just momentarily suspended (as it was in the past between TOS and TNG). He just kicked it along for a few more movies. I seriously doubt we’ll see more than 3 from him.

  • Johnnyfive

    What an idiotic heathen. TNG remains one of the best TV shows ever produced.

  • Guest

    Somebody want to come up with a 10 Things to Hate about Graeme McMillan thread?

    We can start off with:
    1) Always writes incredibly pessimistic, whiny rants of inconsequence.

  • DenebianSlimeDevil

    TNG was half-assed mediocrity 90% of the time and strayed so far off course from what TOS was, that the ONLY thing it had in common was the title. And that was it’s ultimate downfall along with all the lame next-generized spin offs. And YES JJ made Trek FUN again!! Thank GOD! Star Trek…the way it was intended and the way that ignited the entire phenomenon is BACK and fun again, kicking it old school style. ’bout damn time!

  • HortaHumper

    Excellent points, Brian. I tried as hard as I could with every single iteration of post “original” Trek to like them. Every once in a while some write took real risks, something legitimately dramatic happened, and the sterile utopian morally superior TNG/DS9/Vger universe was confounded with No Simple Answers. I can count the number of good episodes (and that’s good on average, not without inherent stupidities) on one hand.
    Compare to Babylon 5, you DS9 fans. Sure, this is flame-bait and a religious war and some of us will go to our graves defending our sacred points of view, but B5 got *so much* right about the classic Space Opera genre that DS9 (a sad and transparent rip-off that only became interesting when it even more blatantly stole B5 ideas and plot) that it really should be regarded as the series that returned something sorely lacking to TV SF: damned good writing. Granted, B5 simply cannot get humor right, but for thought-provoking action and wow-factor, nothing came close until recently.
    And that brings us to Battlestar Galactica (with a passing and reverent nod to Firefly). BSG (obvious not the original pile of dog feces from the late 70;s) is in every way the Anti-Trek. It’s stunning just how thumb-fingered TNG is in virtually every aspect of dramatic story telling that the “Bible” of BSG is based on its howling knee-slapping mistakes and missteps. All those stupid TNG memes are the “what-not-to-do” rules of good SF writing.
    And, please allow me to ceremoniously urinate on the last corner of TNG/DS9/Vger fandom: The original Trek was for the most part written by *actual Science Fiction authors*. That’s right; published, legitimate writers. Yes, there were adaptations of existing short stories (Arena by Fredrick Brown comes to mind) but that was brilliant! Yes, there were some stinker episodes, especially around season 3. But compare the first 10 seconds of these two episodes:

    TOG –
    (There is no one waiting to meet them. Instead, just razed ground and the smoke of a few fires)
    KIRK: Kirk to Enterprise. Red alert.
    SULU [OC]: What is it, Captain?
    KIRK: Cestus Three has been destroyed.
    (They take cover)

    TNG – “Mr. Barclay, that’s the third time you’ve been late this week!”

    …. Yeah, that’s some high drama there.

  • Asa

    lollllllll, you SAY! you saw tng first and grow up with it, but through the entire post (and i think everyone sees that) you have been saying that tng sucks and tos rules(and didnt even mention other trek series), at this point i come to a conclusion – you are another tos fanboy, bashing anything that differs from your beloved old series.

    meanwhile, leave the rational people to enjoy real shows, like tng, ds9 and even voy.

  • Agarra

    Utter stupidity. You should stick to baseball cards my friend.

  • Buzz

    “The Inner Light” was the only episode of any flavor of Trek that made me cry at the end.  Enormously, incredibly good.  The unfortunate thing is, it wasn’t really Star Trek.  DS9 was the stronger and better series but, as Nana Visitor once correctly observed, to Paramount it was the “unloved middle child” of the Trekverse, and so there have been no movies, no spinoffs, no reunions.

    It took time for us to understand that at least two-thirds of the original Twilight Zone was crap, and now it’s time for TNG to face the judgment of history.

  • graemecree

    “TNG is an amazingly therapist-friendly show, refusing to cast blame in almost any direction”

    Ah, but it does.  It’s quick to cast blame at anyone other than the humans.  As the article mentions about aliens:  “the crew of the Starship Enterprise would come along, frown and tell them off like their parents, and everything would be over within an hour.” 

    That’s why the show comes off as oddly bigoted today.  You’ve got your core group of characters involved in a mutual admiration society, and anyone who doesn’t think exactly like they do is just crazy and needs to be set straight.  The show never challenges its viewers thinking, it only tries to affirm the things they thought already, and tell them how good they are for thinking them.  It’s those other people out there who are all wrong.  You see people who’ve taken this message to heart all over fandom.  Very narrow minded, completely unable to think outside the box, and feeling that nothing is debatable; on every issue, there’s one and only one answer that any sane person could accept.  If it’s a genuinely controversial issue, that doesn’t prove to them that it’s debatable, only that there are a lot of crazy people.  Since there are no aliens to look down on in real life, surrogates have to be found.

    Oddly enough, even the superior aliens like the Q need to be set straight.  Nobody ever knows as much as the Humans, which supposedly is why Data is so anxious to be one, even though he seems to be superior in the traits he understands.  If we ever did meet real aliens, I’d be profoundly embarrassed if they saw this show.  That was one of the good things about Spock.  He didn’t follow along puppy-dog like after the Humans, kissing up to them, he told ‘em off.  “You’re not as great as you think you are.”  A message the TNG cast desperately needed to hear.

    The characters are strangely unlikable.  They read Shakespeare, or listen to classical music, not because they seem to genuinely enjoy it, but because they feel it makes them cultured to do so.  (We know this because they tell us so.) 

    I’d cut ‘em a little slack on some of these, though.  I don’t have any problem with the effects.  The uniforms… well, I liked them better than the DS9 uniforms, or the ones that replaced them.  Better than the Enterprise uniforms, and the Motion Picture uniforms.  Not as good as the originals, or the Trek II – VI uniforms, though.

    The Borg were great the first time they were used.  Maybe the first two times.  But they should never have been seen again.  They were introduced as a nightmare monster, a symbol of all the unknown horrors out there.  Something that just kept coming and coming at you and you could never beat it, only get away, if you were lucky.  Every time you saw them (and beat them again and again) they became less nightmarish and more commonplace.

  • Voyager Fan

    Voyager is way and way better then TNG. Just start looking at the acting, then continue by looking at the special effects and quality and when you’re not convinced… Look at seven of nine. But honestly. I’ve been rewatching the first season now and… well it’s just terrible. Episode 19 11001001, That’s just nonsense. They abandon their ship for a collapsing antimatter containment field while in other episodes they’d rather die then to leave that ship. What the hell…

  • Jeremy Clarkson

    Even the Borg wouldn’t assimilate you Graeme McMillan, you’d be a waste of their resources. 

  • trlkly

    Going cerebral is not going beyond science fiction. It’s what science fiction is. That’s what there is to enjoy about it. And how could TNG have ruined Star Trek when it was what Star Trek was for longer than anything else?

    And, seriously, the uniforms ruined the show for you? Why would ANYONE agree with that? That puts everything else in a different light. Everything you talked about can be taken as superficial, so having a point that is only superficial makes those other points look like you meant them superficially.

    And how can you blame TNG for ruining the Borg? They showed up four times, in episodes that established who they were? You’re once again blaiming TNG for the problems in its successors.

    Star Trek: The Next Generation revived Star Trek. It took it in a bold new direction. Sure, trying to copy it with Voyager and Enterprise didn’t work, but that’s not because TNG was a bad show. It’s because copying a show doesn’t work. TNG tried to copy TOS in the first couple of seasons, and it tanked badly.

    And now Abrams is taking it an entirely new way. As you point out, it’s Star Wars, which isn’t even science fiction. Sure, the old show was fun and had character drama, but it was still cerebral. It wasn’t all about the characters, it was about characters and ideas. Hopefully, the sequel will have some ideas again. If not, Star Trek will crash again.

    Because Star Trek didn’t crash last time because it wasn’t fun. It crashed because there were no new ideas.

  • trlkly

    And how does a lack of character make it not science fiction? What makes TNG the “Jesus” of science fiction is that it doesn’t let character get in the way of the intellectual pursuit.

  • trlkly

    If you can see what appear to be wires, it doesn’t matter if the facts say there really weren’t any. The point is, you could see something that made it look fake.

  • trlkly

    So not Greek Marina Sirtis, or British Patrick Stewart? That’s four, to TOS’s two. (Chekhov is what we would consider racist today–a caricature of Russians)

  • trlkly

     Nope. He was ruined in Voyager. He made perfect sense in TNG.

  • Bilbobaggins

    so you’re basically saying every single star trek show after the original series sucked? i don’t think so. i agree, next generation is EXTREMELY overrated, but i love voyager and enterprise. 

  • Dalkri

    How can anybody not like Data? He is the best character in Star Trek period. Data and Picard are the only reason to watch this show, the rest of the cast sucks. DS9 is by far the best ST series there is. The only character in TNG besides Data and Picard I actually like is O’Brien and he is hardly even used. 

  • Dalkri

    Biggest thing to hate about TNG is Tasha Yar. Worst character ever created, and they couldn’t just let her die either. They had to ruin the Romulans with her. 

  • rich

    Have to agree with the author of this article. I’ve just been watching reruns, and I keep thinking to myself, ‘how could I have thought this was so good?’ The acting and scripting are so often really poor.

    By the way, the reason I found this post in the first place is because I had just finished an episode that was really boring and poor. I just googled “star trek next generation bad acting” and followed this link. My search was just a gut reaction to what I had been watching.

    Thanks for the article.

    Rich

  • Mike Chambers

    I have to disagree with nearly everything in this article. I concede a few points. It was SOMETIMES “offensively inoffensive”, but it usually wasn’t THAT bad. Most of those bits I have to blame on Picard. He often tried too hard to be unbiased.

    I also agree with the whole Riker and Troi thing. It never really felt like they were ever very close. It just felt tacked on.

    Other than that stuff, you’re nuts! The uniforms, after season 2, I thought were actually pretty slick looking. Even before that, they weren’t THAT bad, really. The only uniform-related stuff that really made me cringe were the dress unforms they sometimes had on the men at more formal gatherings. That was just… weird.

    TNG was a product of it’s time? Not really, other than the bulkiness of the tricorders and that sort of minor stuff, I think TNG’s sets and effects stood up well to the test of time. There were some poor, dated-looking special effects in season one which somewhat improved in season two. Now season three and later? I honestly think that nearly all of the effects from that point on still look great even now. Yes we can do better in 2013, but there’s nothing cringe-worthy about it. It was all good enough that even now I don’t even have any second thoughts or think “wow that looks like crap” about it.

    About Data, sometimes there was more focus on him than deserved. Like the episode “Data’s Day” (it’s not even a creative title) and the one where he and that one woman in the crew had sort of a relationship. That one was just plain cheezy. It made me cringe. Other than those, no they didn’t focus too much on Data at all.

    The borg? As has been mentioned there were only six borg episodes! The first is one of the best TNG episodes ever. The only borg episode I didn’t care for was the one where Data’s “brother” Lor became a sort of leader of the borg on some distant planet. Come to think of it, every episode about Lor sucked actually so it may not have been the borgs’ fault.

    Last but not least, J.J. Abrams did a good job with the 2009 Trek movie, but do you really believe that TNG “ruined the franchise”?? Man, Next Gen *SAVED* the franchise, FFS! If TNG never came to be, Star Trek would right now be nothing but a small cult classic. TNG is the best thing that ever happened to the Star Trek name, and I’d hazard a guess that at least 80% of all Trek fans became so thanks to TNG.

    Voyager is what killed Star Trek, and then ST: Enterprise raped the rotting corpse. Abrams breathed some life back into it after those two disasters.

  • Mike Chambers

    Yeah, Tasha sucked. I don’t know why they ever brought her back for cameos later in the series. The whole reason she left was because Denise Crosby was being a huge bitch demanding more focus on her boring character than deserved, but didn’t get it. I would have been like “No, GTFO” if she came back later looking for work.

  • Mike Chambers

    Riker and Worf have their moments too. Riker’s weird. Sometimes he’s just a huge asshole for no reason, and other times he’s like the nicest guy alive.

  • Julia

    Oh you are SO SO SO not alone. I just made the mistake of trying to watch an episode again and I was literally gnashing my teeth with annoyance at the whiny, limp politically correct dreck by the end. It was IRRITATING. I never could get into that show even when it was on, and I’m a huge original Trekkie. The first show is still classic and powerful. And yes! DS9 was pretty good, too. Only place where I don’t agree with you is regarding Data. I guess I’m just a Brent Spiner geek, but I found his character funny, frank and quite adorable in a non-cutesy way. At least, let me put it this way: his character had more real development than any other on the whole damn show!

  • Chauncey

    I just watched star trek (tng) first contact again last night, for the first time in about 8 yrs.

    And I must say, it was pretty horrible. Terrible acting from average television actors, truly bad models/ special effects, and ponderous directing.

    When TNG was originally on tv, it seemed pretty compelling. I liked it.
    But since then, television acting has exponentially evolved ( sopranos, breaking bad, etc.) to such a level that practically nobody from that cast ( beyond Patrick Stewart) would be been hired today!

  • Glen Anderson

    DS9, Enterprise, Voyager, Original, and Abrams in order best to worst

  • Bla Bla Bla

    It’s somewhat difficult to take this article serious since one of the first things you say is incorrect.

    Star Trek TNG was shot on 35mm film in 4:3 aspect ratio, not on video.

    Also, this article seems like it was copied from other articles, there’s no feel of a person writing this with an actual opinion of the show.

  • Valda

    “It Ruined The Franchise All The Way Until JJ Abrams Saved It”

    Not sure if serious or trolling.

  • Mike Chambers

    Whoa…. wait, did you really just judge TNG by watching not even a whole episode… in season one? It’s easily the worst season by miles. It’s a different show by season three. I highly recommend you give it another chance.

    A few suggestions for episodes:
    – “Q Who?” (season two)
    – “Tapestry” (season six)

    – “Remember Me” (season four)
    – “All Good Things…” (season seven)

    Please give it another shot. The episode you saw is, basically, garbage.

  • sparrow

    Please: Star Trek’s exploration of the human condition was incredibly superficial and clichéd 99% of the time. Very rarely was any significant statement or exploration made.

    Yes, Abrams did not deal with anything nuanced, but look at the current state of big-name movie franchises—that’s the name of the game. And he did bring in a ton of cash and enthusiasm for the franchise. Think of it like this: Enterprise was utter trash (in my opinion) and before the Abrams films, I had heard nothing about a TV series.

    After this year’s Star Trek film, talks about a TV series have commenced.

    You may not like to admit it, *I* may not like to admit it, but Abrams’s movies may well have saved Star Trek as a franchise. Big money has such power.

  • sparrow

    Before Ezri Dax came aboard, I mostly watched DS9 for O’Brien, Sisko, and Garik. :D

  • sparrow

    Wow, maybe I should check out Enterprise again. As a kid, I was so disgusted with Enterprise that I stopped watching before pretty quickly. It was an utter travesty to me at the time.

    Voyager I enjoyed—mostly because of the Doctor.

  • Eric

    I eat enjoyed the 2009 Star Trek movie. I did not however like TNG when the reruns were airing. I was born in 1986. I was not old enough to understand TNG, and it bored me. I have recently started watching TNG I am now 27 yrs old and I think TNG is fascinating!

    How could you not? Nanobots, the ships food dispensers (3D printing), time travel, cloning, Data having the same rights as a human etc… Sometimes the acting sucked. Especially Levar Burton’s acting skills. Micheal Dorn was great as Worf, Marina Sirtis was great as Deanna ,especially in the episodes with her mother.

    I personally like the characters and the diversity. However the only south Asian was killed off and a lot of minorities and strong women were killed off or forgotten. The episode with the planet that had a matriarchal society was interesting. I don’t fee like TNG is too preachy or wimpy. I like that it shows humanity in a good light. I hate post apocalyptic “BS!

  • Eric

    Please ignore (eat ) in the first sentence. I posted that comment using my cell phone. I also did not proofread it lol.

  • Cameron Vance

    I disagree. I liked the movies, and I enjoyed most of the ST series, despite the corniness of some of the episodes and the corny messages. (Never could get into the TOS, though… absolutely hate the music.)

  • Renée Marrano

    You write as though opinion were fact. Who is this “we” of which you write? Such a style of blogging hardly gives credence to your criticisms of what some people believe (opinion btw) was the best series in Star Trek.

    I watched the original back in the 70′s. Years later, I watched TNG. I personally find TNG to be the best out of all the series. I find it to be far less dated than the original series (which I re-watched recently. I never caught the blatant misogyny in the original series when I was 7 years old, nor later when I was still watching in my teens).

    I found the general lack (though not complete absence) of interpersonal conflict in TNG to be refreshing. You mean we get it right eventually? Excellent! Wasn’t that one of the points Roddenberry wanted to make through Trek?

    “I believe in humanity. We are an incredible species. We’re still just a child creature, we’re still being nasty to each other. And all children
    go through those phases. We’re growing up, we’re moving into adolescence
    now. When we grow up — man, we’re going to be something!”
    ~The man himself

    Allegory: let me guess. The global warming allegory was the straw on the camel’s back? Made you uncomfortable? Rather than dating the show, I find that any allegorical references in TNG are still very relevant to today. That is…if one must delve that deeply into each show rather than just allowing it to be what it is: entertainment. Sometimes damage from sustained warp drive is simply damage from sustained warp drive.

    Do I remember the first interracial kiss on Trek? No, and neither does anyone else because it never happened. The producers and station and the powers that be wouldn’t let it happen. There was no actual kiss. Shatner reminisces about that in one of his books on Trek. I do, however, remember a TNG that dealt with gender identity. Now would that be addressing political incorrectness or allegory? Hmmm…. Oh and btw, how insulting regarding a black man “running the engines.” The chief engineer on any vessel has a very important job. Without him, or her, and regardless of color, this ship wouldn’t go. No ship, no show. Geordi was in nearly every episode, several times being the star of the show. I think you are trying too hard here, honestly.

    Actors: loved them all. The only one I still cringe at is Dr. Crusher, and then only in love scenes. But the cast of TNG, like the cast of the OG, turned their acting quirks into character personality quirks, and I think it worked brilliantly. Think Kirk. Now, when Pine acts as Kirk, he’s not so much impersonating Kirk as he is Shatner. Imagine someone recreating the role of Riker. That hitch to the shoulders, the swagger, the way he’d get in a chair, that smile of his, his intensity…

    And then the Borg were brought back to terrifying life in First Contact. Redeemed.

    I don’t mind the uniforms either. I’m married to a US vet. For ten years, everyday he wore a flight suit. A onesie. It is what it is….and in this case, what it is seems to be realistic.

    It ruined the franchise. There you go again stating opinion as fact.

    DS9: I watched perhaps half the series. I entertain the idea of going back and watching the entire thing, but it’s too dark and gritty for my tastes. When I want dark and gritty, I can hopefully and eventually turn to the new Star Wars films by Abrams.

    Voyager, for me, was a yawn fest.

    Enterprise? Getouttahere…

    Just got done watching TNG from beginning to end for perhaps the 10th time. It’s a once a year thing I get the urge to do. This time, it was my 15 year old who initiated it. I love nearly every episode and I’ll never get bored of it. In my opinion, it embodies everything Trek should: camaraderie, exploration and a brighter future for humanity.

  • Renée Marrano

    I did a point for point rebuttal. But I admire your succinct eloquence. Amen!

  • name

    Star Trek was the first 79 episodes. Everything else is bullshit, with the possible exception of The Voyage Home. The network hated Star Trek and it took them three seasons to get it off the air.

    The difference is clearly exemplified even in the music. Alex Courage’s original theme reeked of the unknown and exploration, i.e., “where no man has gone before”. TNG has a military style march. It represents the idea that “we are all good little soldiers.” No challenge to the establishment here.

  • p3orion

    Mike, I can agree with some of this and disagree with other parts, and consider it all a matter of opinion.

    But when you say say that Denise Crosby was “okay” as an actress, you’re completely out to lunch. Objectively, factually, scientifically measurable to the fifth decimal place, Denise Crosby was one of the worst actresses ever to grace the screen of any Star Trek episode of any series. From her “impassioned defense” of the Federation at Q’s trial in “Encounter at Farpoint,” straight through to her recorded post-death comments (which came about 20 episodes too late), she was absolutely horrendous.

    Her later reprises in “Yesterday’s Enterprise” and occasionally as the Romulan Sela were somewhat more bearable, but only because the quality of the writing had improved a bit, not because her acting abilities had.

    Her early departure from the series was the best thing that happened to it in the first season. If only Wesley Crusher could have pissed off “Tarman” too.

  • Respondent#124847

    “It Ruined The Franchise All The Way Until JJ Abrams Saved It”

    And that’s where you lost all credibility. JJTrek is a travesty of Roddenberry’s vision with a veneer of lensflare. I bet you think Episodes 1-3 are the best of the Star Wars saga as well…

  • BALLSYEAH

    “it ruined the series until JJ abrahms saved it” I think you have that backwards, you should be shot with a phaser for that fucked statement.

  • Dan

    DS9 was where it was at. TNG was a little dull and lifeless although I liked most of the actors, it did have this sterile quality to it. DS9 was superior on every level and, in my opinion, more like TOS in it’s portrayal.

  • Nik

    Agreed! I tried to watch TNG the other day and could not believe how dated it seemed (a therapist on the bridge, really?), how boring the camera work was, how stilted the dialogue was. Then I put on TOS (granted it was an episode of the remastered version), and it was just so much better. TOS didn’t have 80s tech, but they used the camera in low tech ways to help the drama. Sometimes it seemed like the cameraman on TNG set the camera on a tripod and left the room.

  • Nik

    If you skimmed the top 25 best Star Trek episodes across all Star Trek incarnations, you’d have a sampling from each series, even TNG, though I agree it seems dated. But the best of them, Inner Light, Tapestry, a few others, hold up. Even Enterprise had a few good episodes. Overall though, I think TOS (polished up by the remastering) is best. I thought Abrams 2009 movie was great, too, but that the sequel was terrible. The movies are a different animal, as they tend to overemphasize action and simplify plot as compared to the TV shows.

  • dregj

    its like those low rent historians going against everything anyone’s ever said or thought just to get some notoriety

  • Patrick

    Kind of terrible? Certainly not. Inconsistent? Certainly. The problem is that the whole show, both good and bad episodes considered, gets tiring after a while. It’s one of the interesting situations in TV where the more I watch, the less interested I am. And I think it’s because nothing ever happens to the status quo. And I mean nothing. A rank change here and there, some treaty or whatever that never gets mentioned again, but that’s it. It reminds me of a sitcom in the way that events never have lasting repercussions and no matter how far any single episode may stray, everything’s back to normal “next week.”

    I guess we can chalk that up to the climate of TV at the time. Nowadays, we would’ve at least had a few bitter breakups, Picard would wrestle on and off with his trauma from being Locutus, Riker would’ve either taken his own ship or developed a tenuous and strained relationship with the captain, and Data would noticeably evolve (or perhaps not) beyond more than a stray comment about humanity from Picard or Geordi every 13 episodes. Data’s search for humanity starts out novel and slightly endearing, yet almost becomes farce by the end of the show. “Oh that Data and his ‘humanity’” is almost a running gag by the end. Worse still, many of Data and Worf’s more personal storylines could’ve been nearly interchangeable on a fundamental level.

    I’m not an advocate for the kind of interpersonal drama present in something like, say, Melrose Place; I do appreciate some consistency and I do believe in letting characters be happy, but the crew has so little of a life that there’s nothing to be interested in.

    I hate to be the guy cheering for lasers and explosions, but action does drive change, and there’s very little of it in TNG. Many stories start out moderately interesting, approach with an appreciable build up, but then quickly stop short of an engaging conclusion. Sometimes it seems that the stronger the story, the more abrupt the fizzle out. Q and The Borg are/were arguably the most interesting contrivances in the whole series, and yet the writing stops just short of elevating these characters to something mythic.

    In the end, I have my gripes, but I like the show. It’s a good, but not great piece of television. Looking back, I think the key here is to enjoy TNG as it was originally intended: one week at a time. Marathon Netflix or DVD binges don’t do the show justice, perhaps simply because we’re all too familiar with what has just happened and expect some overarching relevance when there is none. But working as standalone episodes with familiar faces once a week, it succeeds much better at entertaining.

    TNG had many opportunities to become not only a different but an altogether better show, though I don’t think the world was ready for *that* sort of show yet.

  • Dan

    Yes that was Also my first Idea But people were complaining not to set it too far. also wanted to set it in the Late 25th Century and have a new Enterprise and crew But people were complaining the new series must take Place ten years after Voyager, I have a Friend who has inside information and keeps saying that the next series after the 50th anniversary Movie in 2016 will be set 10 years after Voyager, In my opinion 10 years is not Enough Time between series I too would set it far Enough that Everything old is new again but I keep on hearing that it would be set Ten years after Voyager, why I ask do they hate the idea of setting it in the 25th century or the late 25th Century and they say well because then the people from Next Gen can’t make Cameos they would be Gone but they fail to realise that that is a good thing in my opinion TNG crew were painful to watch they were so happy and utopian always Smiling and using there words more then there weapons and by the 24th Century inter personal conflict was a thing of the Past in Gene Rodenberry’s mind and that makes for some which makes for some appallingly dull viewing, when all of the regular cast is just one big happy family, getting along except for when one or more of them gets possessed by some alien that, more likely than not, was just looking for understanding all along. TNG is an amazingly therapist-friendly show, refusing to cast blame in almost any direction, which probably would make for a utopian society in which to live, but not one to set a drama in. So why not do a Show set in the 25th Century Mid or Late a new Enterprise a new crew new threats to the Alpha Quaderant new attitude not utopian more Kick ass The Klingons have Abandoned Honor and went back to being Bad Asses stuff like that in the new series the threats would be Everywhere.