Star Trek: The Next Generation
I can’t say exactly when I discovered Star Trek for the first time. It as many years ago to be sure, although “my” series wasn’t The Next Generation but The Original Series from the 60s. This is kinda strange since I wasn’t even born when it aired and I was born and raised in a country where it didn’t air anyway. There might have been some TV time for it in the 70s but I can’t remember it being shown at all. All I remember was that Space 2000 was shown, and I loved it!
Anyway, it was a struggle for me to get all the episodes of The Original Series on VHS. That was the format of those days. But I finally got them all and watched them with great interest. Today, everything is so much easier. With the internet and international online shops, you can just click a few times and you got the entire series on DVD or Blu-Ray for way less money than the VHS tapes costed me. The Struggle nowadays is not to locate and find the series (and being able to afford them) it’s more to find the time to actually watch it.
I’ve actually never watched The Next Generation series in its entirety. I’ve seen the films and some episodes here and there so I am familiar with the crew and so on, but never watched it all. I think I even fooled myself to believe that I only liked TOS (The Original Series) at one point. Now, when I’m finally watching TNG (The Next Generation) episode for episode I must admit that is far from the truth. I still compare The Next Generation with TOS and I found many of the episodes in the first season to be very inspired but what had already been made. Stories that were really told before.
But I guess it’s hard to find new things to problematize. There’s only so much that can happen on a starship och a mission to explore strange new worlds. There are, however, some new elements in the crew. First of all, we have a Klingon on board. Of course, they have developed a different appearance over the years. In the movies, they look kinda like Lieutenant Worf in the picture above. But when they originally appeared they were very different. I like the modern appearance better so that’s one thing that TNG actually does better than TOS.
Other additions to the crew are an empathic counselor – Deanna Troi, played by Mariana Sirtis. On the other hand, there’s no Vulcan among the bridge crew. I, for one, lover Leonard Nimoy’s portrayal of Mr. Spock in TOS. It was wonderful to see his struggle to keep his emotions in place. Counselor Troi and Mr. Spock have one thing in common though, they’re both half-breeds with one parent being human and the other alien. Deanna Troi doesn’t seem to be searching for herself though. I miss Spock, but there is another member of the crew that takes his place quite well. He’s very much like Mr. Spock in some regards but, in fact, the opposite in others.
I am of course talking about Lieutenant Data, Second in command, and an android. The thing they have in common is that neither of them really understands humans and human behavior. They are both without emotions, or so they claim, I personally think Spock suppresses emotions rather than lacks them. He lets his Vulcan half dominate him. Data, on the other hand, wants to become more human, to evolve into something beyond his original programming. He can’t feel emotions but tries to understand them. So they’re the same but different to use an old cliche.
There are other differences too of course. The Landing Party is now called The Away Team and is very rarely led by the captain. Kirk had no problem beaming down himself with the accompany of his first officer Spock and leading scientists. In TNG this is dealt with differently. The Away team is usually led by the first officer Riker while captain Jean-Luc Picard stays on the ship. I guess things change over a hundred years or so.
Anyway. I started watching Star Trek The Next Generation episode by episode now, I’m done with season three. I must admit that I like it very much. Lieutenant Data is a favorite of course and Patrick Stewart is an amazing actor. I love this series, maybe not as much as TOS but I’m getting there. And I know I will get some treats along the way. There are a few revisits from the old cast along the way. So far DeForest Kelley and Mark Lenard have appeared and I know that James Doohan will appear later. And, as this is being a series a few years old by now, there are also actors in minor parts that have become bigger names. It’s always interesting to see that. Oh, and of course Majel Barrett, wife of Gene Roddenberry does a reoccurring role as a Bataziod ambassador. A character far away from Nurse Chapel in TOS. She also does the ship’s computer voice.
The Spirit of Star Trek is certainly there and I love that.