I was exposed to Star Trek a lot as a child. It was something my father was into, and being a kid, I wanted to like the same cool stuff as my dad. So I got into wrestling, and The A-Team, and Knight Rider, and this old TV show that seemed to be on Channel 6 a lot called Star Trek. In it, Captain Kirk and Mr. Spock traveled the galaxy, learning about stuff and getting into fights in their giant spaceship. It was cool, and even if it made me a bit of an outcast at school, so what? I still liked it.
And then, in 1987, my dad came home with the VHS tape of Star Trek IV: the Voyage Home, which we’d seen in theaters the previous fall. Attached to the beginning was a trailer for a new version of the show called Star Trek: the Next Generation.
I wasn’t sure how I felt about it, to be honest. Everyone was wearing spandex, and the captain was bald, and there were no Vulcans anywhere — although there was this weird golden-skinned guy who was supposedly an android, whatever that was. The ship was all swoopy and curvy, and it looked nothing like Captain Kirk’s Enterprise. But it was still Star Trek and, on September 28, 1987, my parents and I* took up our usual positions on the couch and tuned into Channel 6 to catch the premiere of Star Trek: the Next Generation.
In a couple of days, you’re going to get my full review of the premiere episode, but I can tell you that my nine-year-old self was pretty impressed. And, as time went on (with the exception of a few big mis-steps in the early years), I only got more and more into the show.
I wasn’t the only one.
While the original Star Trek will always be a huge part of pop culture, I think it’s TNG that truly gets held up as the “best” Trek. My personal favorite series in terms of storytelling and characterization remains Deep Space Nine, but TNG was an important part of my maturation as a human being. I know I’m not alone in this.What’s more, TNG has become just as much a part of cultural parlance as TOS, and those really are the only two Trek shows to pull it off. That’s a huge thing — for any TV show. Not that many pull it off, and most of them are comedies (like Friends, Seinfeld, and Cheers). It really says something not only about the show and the writing but also the kind of people who watch and love Trek that that sort of thing has happened.
So, with all that — and more — in mind, Escape Pod is proud to present 25 Days of TNG, in honor of Star Trek: the Next Generation‘s 25th anniversary. From now through Halloween, 25 articles (including this one) will explore the show: characters, actors, strengths, weaknesses, and more. And we encourage you to participate — comment on the articles, use the forums, and share your TNG experiences with us. Plus, if you happen to be on the twitters, I’ll be using the hashtag #25DaysofTNG to announce articles; if you like one of them, please feel free to use it as well.
And now, in the words of the original bald Starfleet captain…
Space: the final frontier. These are the voyages of the starship Enterprise. Its continuing mission: to explore strange, new worlds; to seek out new life and new civilizations; to boldly go where no one has gone before.
Let’s see what’s out there.
Oh, and one more thing: if you’ve read any of my articles since… oh, let’s say February 2012 or so… you’re well aware of the fact that I’ve become a bit of a Buffy-phile. So as you read #25DaysofTNG, each time you see a Buffy reference, I’m probably going to say something like “drink”**. Feel free to play along at home (as long as you’re of legal drinking age in your city, state, or country). Of course, these articles are all going to be released at 3pm EDT, so perhaps holding off until the evening might be best. I wouldn’t want you to lose your job over my appreciation of two iconic television shows.
And now… engage.
25 Days of TNG posts arrive at 3pm on Sunday, Monday, Wednesday, Friday, and Saturday. The next post will be Friday 9/28.
* My sister might have been there too. I honestly don’t recall. I was nine and she was six, and she’s never been a big fan of the show anyway. It wasn’t a required family event that we all sat down to watch the show.
** Usually in a footnote. Like this one.