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20 Years Ago Today…

On Sept 28, 1987 many people turned on their television sets and saw something like this

…Trek was back in the form of Star Trek: The Next Generation.

TNG was a risky gamble that paid off and led to seven seasons, four feature films, two 24th Century spin-off series and countless books, games, products, etc. The endurance of the franchise today is a testament to TNG. If the show had failed, then it is possible that the franchise may too have ended shortly thereafter (remember it was TNG that kept the flame alive after the disappointment of Star Trek V in 1989). TNG also demonstrated that SciFi can work in prime time again and is often cited as ushering in the age of syndicated drama (which mostly died out after the launch of the WB and UPN in the 90s).

Gene Roddenberry (with the help of some old and new friends) was able to go home again and create an entirely new Trek for (literally) a new generation. For many, especially Trekkies under 40 today, it was their first Trek and it is still their favorite. Some forget, but before the premiere many Trekkies  (possibly most) were very wary of this new Trek. It was a new crew in a new era and no Kirk or Spock to be found. Instead of just copying the old show, Roddenberry and his team started from scratch with a whole different approach…and it worked (although it took them a season or two to really get going).


A new Trek crew for a new era

I can still remember the exact moment of sitting down to watch "Encounter at Farpoint" with my college roommate at Berkeley and being so excited that Trek was back and totally new. Still to this day I regularly pop in TNG DVDs and relive the good ol days.   

1987
It has been said that TNG looks a bit dated now, and there is an element of truth to that. However, the series still endures and is still seen in re-runs around the world every day. Just to put TNG into perspective, here are some other things you may have seen on your TV around the time of TNG’s premiere.

 

MORE TNG coverage coming over the next day

Keep coming back to TrekMovie.com some special TNG treats coming up in the next day

for more of our recent TNG coverage and video clips click here.  

NITPICKER’S NOTE: Although Sept. 28th is considered the anniversary date, since the show was in syndication the exact date of the airing of "Encounter at Farpoint" varied from city to city as each local station was given a one week window to air the series.

Special thanks to Greg Mefford for the premiere promo vid

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Awesome! But I didn’t get to see it until that Saturday, October 3rd, at 5pm.

Yep, I grew up with TNG and maybe because of that plus the fact that I only saw TOS much later made TNG the definitive Star Trek for me.

Didn’t TNG spawn three spin-offs? Deep Space Nine, Voyager, Enterprise. Or are you not counting Enterprise because it was a prequel to the Original Series and so didn’t really come after TNG in a manner of speaking.

The mistake people make with TNG when syaing it’s “dated” is to not appreciate that these things go in phases. Things are ‘current’ then they become ‘dated’ and then they become ‘period’. In the early 90s TOS (which I love) looked out of place in the then environment, now it has this lovely sheen which places it irretrievably in ‘period’ (i.e. the 60s). The show hasn’t changed, the way we see things has. TNG is exactly the wrong age right now, it’s not long enough ago to be ‘period’ but it’s not recent enough to look like things made now. It’s still a great show though.

Twenty years, eh? Doesn’t seem it.

Happy Birthday TNG. The show changed my life. :) I am so grateful for 178 episodes and 4 awesome movies, which inspired and moved me.

IMO the best of the shows.

Fortunately for my friends and I we lived in the time of unscrambled, crystal-clear C-Band Satellite transmissions in 1987. Paramount Technical Operations Center (TOC) would broadcast the series to local stations for later syndicated airing but you had to search for the time and satellite location on your own to intercept them. For seven years I would see TNG a few days and up to a whole week before anyone else. We never missed an episode and have the entire series from this feed source on videotape still today.

Many episodes were often fed without commercials, most with limited commercials attached. Several promos for each show and “next week’s” episode accompanied every feed. This situation remained throughout all of DS9 and most of Voyager until the transmissions were ultimately encoded and scrambled. Without them it would have been years before I could have seen these series through a local affiliate or the evolution of both DIRECTV & DISH Network.

I was in college when TNG premiered and my roommates and I were absolutely thrilled that a new Trek was going on the air. We must have had 30 people at our house to watch “Encounter at Farpoint.” It was a huge event for us. Every week, we stopped whatever we were doing when TNG came on and planted ourselves in front of the TV. It was “must-see TV” for us in a big way.

At the time, we couldn’t get enough of TNG, but now, 20 years (!) later, I can’t bring myself to watch most of the first season episodes. They’re really bad, and as Huey Lewis said “Sometimes…sometimes bad is bad.”

TNG found it’s stride, though, and gave us some truly great Trek and some truly great TV. At its height, it was pulling in ratings that rivaled shows on network TV. Ah, the Golden Age of first-run syndication; an all too brief highlight in the history of television.

Thanks for the flashback, Anthony. That was fun!

ahhhh 1987… when you had to WALK to the telly to turn it on!

Happy 20th Birthday TNG!

^^ I grew up with TNG, this is amazing.
Though recently I’ve been more into TOS…Spock might have something to do with that..

Is Star Trek the longest-lasting TV series ever?

re: 10
“Is Star Trek the longest-lasting TV series ever?”

No. Many shows have lasted more than 3 years.

10. Trek is one of the longest and most prolific franchises. Only Doctor Whobeats it in year on TV…I believe and only Bond has more movies.

I grew up with TNG and it is the Trek I best relate to and the Trek that inspired me, I was never athletic so seeing a more cerebral Captain gave me hope that I could make something of myself and it did help bost my self esteem.

So to TNG, its creator, produces and crew and it’s fantastic cast happy 20th Birthday!!!!!!!!

Luca AKA RuFFeD_UP AKA Lukas

TNG FUK YEH!!!!! :) The greatest show ever (apart from 24 :P) ;)

6

wow thats awesome

KevinA - Melbourne Australia

And so the legacy continued…..making sure history will never forget the name ENTERPRISE.

Man 20 years ago? LOL I was only 1! Funnily enough I was just about to start watching TNG through again with my sister (we finished VOY last week)… maybe we should watch EAF tonight? I’m not sure I see why people say TNG is dated… well actually I take that back, I DO see why people say the first two series look dated, pretty much everything about them looks so of its time; the costume, the effects, the filming, the dialouge, the acting (to a degree), everything! I remember thinking those series looked awfully dated when I first saw them 13 years ago. However from season 3 onwards I think TNG has aged very well, suddenly you get to that point and it looks like it was made years later, the filming is better, the scripts, the acting, the effects are smarter and were made with far more ingenuity, they used simpler techniques that looked good and aged well as apposed to just using the latest technology (I watched Evolution a few weeks ago and the effect of the anomoly still looks totally passable). I find it hard to believe that Yesterday’s Enterprise was made only two years after The Arsenal of Freedom, because it looks infinitely better. Being from the UK I think that TNG connected with Brits more than TOS had, TNG is still the most popular series in the UK (although, in all honesty I can’t remember the last time I met a Trek fan in… Read more »

I was about to question the ‘under-40s’ remark, suggesting it should be ‘under-30s,’ when it occurred to me that in the UK, we didn’t see TNG on TV until 1990, where Encounter at Farpoint debuted to mostly negative reviews, stating that it had a ‘tired, mid-eighties feel!’ How things changed!

As someone who only saw TOS regularly until he was 15 (I’m now 32,) I think TNG only became a ‘definitive’ Trek to a section of under-30s over here.

Amazing to see the Farpoint footage. It’s very different in feel from the rest of TNG! There’s a stronger streak of TOS there, blended with elements of TMP. What the hell was with the blokes in Starfleet dresses though?!!!!

Loved seeing the Moonlighting commercial. The first two seasons of that show are still two of my favourites of any show and give me better memories than TNG’s first two seasons (when oh when will Moonlighting come out on UK DVD?)

However Moonlighting went downhill, while TNG went from strength to strength!

Oh well, happy birthday, TNG!

I have vivid memories of watching the premiere when I was 5 years old. I was allowed to watch the entire episode that Monday night. An interesting correlation between Trek and my academic career lay in the premiere years. TNG began when I was in kindergarten. I was beginning high school when season 4 of Voyager aired, introducing 7 of 9 and completely altering the dynamic of the series. VOY ended when I graduated. Enterprise began at the same time I attended my freshman year of college and ended promptly when I graduated. In short, Trek was my companion all through my formative years. Now I have quite an appreciation for the presence and companionship of Trek in my life. I now occupy the void with novels, comics, and of course the DVDs.

I have vivid memories of watching the premiere when I was 5 years old. I was allowed to watch the entire episode that Monday night. An interesting correlation between Trek and my academic career lay in the premiere years. TNG began when I was in kindergarten. I was beginning high school when season 4 of Voyager aired, introducing 7 of 9 and completely altering the dynamic of the series. VOY ended when I graduated. Enterprise began at the same time I attended my freshman year of college and ended promptly when I graduated. In short, Trek was my companion all through my formative years. Now I have quite an appreciation for the presence and companionship of Trek in my life. I now occupy the void with novels, comics, and of course the DVDs.

Oh yes! I also owned a plastic unch box up until second grade that sported the above first season publicity photo. Wish I still owned it though…

WOW. I was 7 years old and watched this with my Dad in Anahiem Hills, CA. I also remember that earthquake in LA in 87. I clearly remember seeing the series premier and thinking the “seperation sequence” was the coolest thing ever. I didnt like Picard much though. What 7 year old likes bald old men? I thought Troi was kind of a wimp. But Geordi was my favorite from my Reading Rainbow days. I bet my sister wondered why I started stealing her hair thingy to wear on my face.

AC

Happy Birthday TNG.

I think the remarks about it being “dated” stem largely because it also tried to be topical. I’m not worried about the visuals. They were first rate at the time, and still look good. The first season especially found us learning 5th grade science explained at length. Some of the science shown (a laser drill on the planet of the oblivious terraformers; Dr. Tsung’s lab) actually looked less advanced than stuff we’d already seen in TOS or the TOS-era films.

On the whole, TNG did it right for its time. At least one-third of the episodes are on my ‘must see’ list whenever they come on. I don’t feel that way about many series.

OH! I also had these totally great PJ’s from JCPenny or Sears. It was just like the ones on the show only the insignia and rank was an applique and was a two peice. I had the “science blue”. I think that was more 1988 though.

I also had most the Galoob figures and the Die Cast enterprise-d. I also wanted the Shuttlecraft, but never found one in the stores. Now I can get it on Ebay for like $10.

#20 “I also owned a plastic unch box”
Wow, I thought I was the only one to have one of those! Most others carried a lunch box!!

^ meant Soong’s lab… oopsie

JimJ (TOS is still #1, though)
Ah, I remember those days well. My friends and I were in college and were huge Star Trek fans. We were so excited, but then we found out about a BALD French Captain? I still remember the newspaper headline, “To BALDLY Go Where No ONE Has Gone Before”. I immediately started having my doubts. Then I read about Bill Ryker (yes, that’s what it said in the publicity I read). Anyway, I thought that William Riker was gonna be a carbon copy of Kirk. It kinda made me mad that he wasn’t gonna be the captain. Data? Sounded like a cheap rip off of Spock to me. A female doctor??? Call me old fashioned, but I couldn’t picture it (even though MY doctor is a female-lol). The doctor’s son, no big deal, he won’t be there for much of anything (I thought). A counselor??? Geez, 1980’s strikes again. All about seeing a psychiatrist about how one “feels.” Add to it her telapathic abilities, the rest of the Spock rip-off! Geordi, a man with unique vision??? Get the banana clip off of that dude from Roots who wants to be the star of the show, I thought. Tasha Yar, security (what was it supposed to be originally for the name, something like Macha Hernandez?)!! Cliche’, cliche’, cliche’ from the 80’s. Big deal! Worf!!! A Kilngon????? What? How? Yet, that character is what intrigued me the most and basically forced me to watch the show to begin with. Then I got to… Read more »

Time ticks on..can’t believe it’s been 20 years.

#6 – My dad had the same thing. We could watch the episodes about a week before. I think it was on a Saturday afternoon. I also remember the promos how they would show the full one followed by shorter ones, each right after another.

Gosh, I began watching this show when I was about 3 years old. Now I’m in my twenties. Time sure does fly.

The music video at the end is funny and catchy today as it was back then. It may have been the begining for the Contemporary circus.
I loved TNG. To me it was apart fron the TOS. It had it’s own magic.

but the most important one: I was born in 1987!

I’m trading in my Halo 3 for Legend of Zelda.

(Yes, by that token the 24th century tech featured in season one — from
apparently rocket-powered starships to the dust-buster phasers — look great.)

I remember it. I was there for the first episode. Now that time has passed I feel the best thing about that clip was the Ernie Anderson voice over. The original show is still it for me.

The first half of the first season largely stunk. It was great to see Trek on TV again, but boy, they needed better writing that first year. We finally started to see glimpses of greatness with the clever “Big Goodbye” (which shouldn’t be faulted for all the copycat Holodeck Run Amok stories that followed) and some genuinely exciting moments in “11001001”. Then came the well-crafted “Coming of Age” in which Wesley was (gasp!) not annoying and its sequel “Conspiracy”, with unusually graphic violence for TV of the time. The Worf standout “Heart of Glory”, a nice time-warp story with a good guest star in “We’ll Always Have Paris” and Tasha’s funeral scene saving the otherwise abysmal “Skin of Evil” rounded out late Season 1. The return of the Romulans (and the hint of the Borg to come) in “Neutral Zone” ended the season on a high note, but the Writer’s Strike of 1988 knocked TNG back a notch or two for the early episodes of Season 2. From there, the show improved nearly constantly until it began its decline in Season 6.

TNG didn’t save Trek. “Wrath of Khan” did that and “Voyage Home” cemented the rebirth. Trek would have recovered from Shatner’s botched Trek V regardless of TNG. But TNG played a big role in raising Trek’s profile, and I thank all who brought it to life.

#26
You liked Troi and I was hot for Tasha. Ever since seeing those abs in Naked Now and witnessing Yar’s “appetites” realized on screen, it was ALL she wrote for me. When she bailed in Skin of Evil, it was a tremendous loss. I’d never get to see that awaited sonic shower scene.

I was, am, and always will be an equal and loyal fan to both shows. They both are greatly entertaining, and when I first saw them, they were appointment TV. After school, I would drop what I was doing and watch TOS as if hypnotized, and then of course, go outside or in my room and re-enact everything I saw. When I was in college, my friends and I would meet at my apartment, or with whichever girlfriend I was living with at the time, and watch TNG. On nights that I had gigs, it was generally understood that I would be arriving late if TNG didn’t finish until 9:00 PM. There was no arguing with me about that, and fortunately I was good enough to be put up with. I would say 90 % of all my Halloweens and of course all conventions have been spent in a Star Trek costume. As a matter of fact Halloween is my favorite holiday because of that very fact. I’ve been TOS command, TNG command, Ferengi, Klingon, and Thrall.
TOS and TNG rule the world. Long live Star Trek.

I was disapointed 20 years ago when it started and i was still disapointed 13 years ago when it ended.

out of 7 years of episodes, only a handful were ever memorable let alone interesting. i.e. yesterdays enterprise,best of both worlds (part 1) and “inner light”.

even after 7 years, knowing each main characters first name, where they come from and so forth,,, i just didn’t care. no interest. no curiousity. no depth was ever created. boring, bland and no excitment.

The one true thing i did learn, or realize from Next Generation
(as well as it’s spin-offs) was,

Just Because it has phasers,communicators,tricorders and transporters, along with saucer shaped spaceships with nacelles.

doesnt always mean it has the star trek feel..

Oh man… I can’t believe the early episodes had men wearing skirts like the women…

Happy birthday, TNG!

I also watched the show over the following weekend, not Monday, though.

I’d been waiting eagerly for the show’s premiere ever since reading David Gerrold’s updates in Starlog. Watched “Encounter at Farpoint” and thought there was potential there, though the space jellyfish holding tentacles at the end had us scoffng. Then during science class on Monday we talked about the show.

It was the start of something big, though I wouldn’t really know that until a few years later.

Happy Birthday to the one of the most beloved Trek incarnations out there!

Live long and prosper, TNG!

I love both series’, but TNG had some marvelous story-arcs. TNG worked best, I think, when it was political versus when it was about exploration. Less technobabble and less Bragga. The story arc of the Klingon Civil War between the Duras and Gowron families. Tony Todd as Worf’s brother sitting with Picard trying to eat cooked meat and patronizing Worf. Picards decision to leave the fight when the Civil War breaks out even though Worf might be killed. The Romulans trying to supply arms to Duras. Tasha Yar’s daughter. This stuff was awesome.

How relevant is ‘Drumhead’ right now in our society? I’d say very.

Roga Danar in ‘The Hunted’?
“Captain, this is a matter of national security.”

“A matter of internal security, the age-old cry of the oppressor.”
– Jean Luc Picard

Powerful Stuff I think.

Star Trek The Next Generation is BRILLIANT I love it I watched a bunch of episodes recently for the anniversary and I hadn’t seen All Good Things… for a long time and it’s a great series finally the best of all the Star Trek series. There’s nothing that can beat the Best of Both World’s cliffhanger when the music rises and Riker says “Fire” it’s simple the BEST.

And,,,,,, The Biggest Let Down And Disapointment Ever ; When Months Later During Best of Both worlds part 2, Picard / Lucutis says
“sleep!!!”.

and for the next 4 years, while watching next generation, thats what i tried not to do . “sleep” ZZZZZZZZZZZZZZZZZZZZZZZZ LOL

Being a big TOS fan from way back (watched the TOS as a kid) I remember all the hype surrounding TNG.

I had my doubts about TNG – especially after reading the Picard was “older” and bald and Riker was a Kirk clone (and maybe related to Kirk – anyone remember reading that?) Then the fact the android Data was based on Questor from the “Questor Tapes” and a Klingon was on part of the crew and on and on…

I didn’t know what to make of it….and honestly when it debuted, I was not impressed, but I stuck with it and I was rewarded for my dedication with some stand out shows down the road.

I think my biggest disappointment early on had to do with the special effects – for a late 80s show produced by a big studio, the video-ey effects were lame and really did not improve until season 3.

It was 20 years ao today, Sgt. Pepper taught the band to play… Yes, TNG in the first couple of seasons looked pretty 1980’s, but hey, c’mon TOS, the set, sideburns, mini-skirts and go-go boots? Looks pretty 60’s to me. And Star Trek TMP, looks quite late 70’s. So each has the LOOK of the era they were made in, but each also has stories that were reflective of that era as well (TOS – “Let That Be Your Last Battlefield” Half’black, half-white and vice-versa. TNG – “Symbiosis” The Nancy Reganesque “Don’t Do Drugs” PSA). Star Trek was meaningful for its time – An Asain guy, a Russian an alien, Black woman, all serving important positions, all being treated equally, in an organization striving for peace… during the height of Vietnam, the Cold War, Free Love and the Civil Rights movement. It wasn’t just essentially the birth of a new kind of television drama (the science fiction space show), it was a message to America. That, as much as anything, was part of its charm. TNG’s concept and storylines are probably a bit more timeless in the fact that the show wasn’t necessarily a reflection of it’s time. However, such shows as “Symbiosis” and “The Outcast” (the whole androgynous race thing… or “Pat’s” as I affectionately call the J’naii) which was a shot back at Evangelicals taking shots at homosexuals coming out of the closet. As for me, I was but a boy of 6 1/2 in September of 1987… Read more »

Dave Thorton….. we understood your opinion with the first salvo. If it let you down so much, why’d you watch it? Gun to your head?

My Favorite is the guy who dose the Voice over for the promo. His voice is halarious!

DAta an ANDROIIIDDD!!!!! a NEW GALAXCY starrrshippp.

Those were the days!

I was 19 when TNG first aired over here in the UK, I came back from the pub pissed as a newt and laughed all the way through it. ‘Look at that idiot with the cornish pasty stuck on his forehead’.

Xai

no salvo was meant. I apologize if i exceeded the comments quota.

i continued watching it , because i kept hoping it would improve and become consistent .

that Next Generation commercial was sweet!

-glenn

45 … Ernie Anderson was the announcer. He was THE voice of ABC for many many years, including the original funniest home videos show with Bob Saget (whoooo will it beeeee). Wonderful delivery, very distinctive and theatrical. Hal Douglas is great too. He does movie trailers and can be seen in the one for Jerry Seinfeld’s doc Comedian. As a former radio jock, voice acting is a special talent that I admire greatly, whether it’s promotional or for animation such as The Simpsons. Note that many Trek cast members have done their share of this work as well for various projects, including Shatner, Nimoy, Stewart etc. I guess it’s that Shakespearean quality that actors with great voices are cast to give the sci fi that added weight and believablilty.

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