First Look & Excerpts From SFX TNG Issue – Frakes on Fighting For Riker/Troi, Moore on ‘Weak’ 1st Season + more

Tomorrow SFX magazine hits the stands with a new issue featuring a celebration of the 25th anniversary of Star Trek: The Next Generation. TrekMovie got an early look and we have some exclusive previews of the magazine, including excerpts of Ron Moore talking about TNG’s shaky start, Brannon Braga on his favorite characters, Jonathan Frakes on fighting for Troi/Riker and more.


SFX Magazine Celebrates 25 years of Star Trek: The Next Generation

Issue 223 of SFX magazine features a huge celebration of Star Trek: The Next Generation’s 25 year journey. It has a special gold-foil cover and 17 pages covering the creation and success of the TV show. There are also rare on-set pictures and with writer/producers Brannon Braga and Ron Moore, Rod Roddenberry, Jonathan Frakes, and more.

Here are some excerpts:

Writer/producer Ron Moore on TNG’s shaky start:

“I was watching the first first season as a fan, and I watched it religiously and recorded every single one. And even I was going, ‘This is kind of weak. It’s not working.’ You could kind of see the show trying to figure out what it was, how close it was gonna be to the original series and how different. They even repeated an episode from the original series when they did ‘The Naked Now’ in the first season. That was a shakedown cruise for the Enterprise for those first couple of years. It was extraordinary that the audience was willing to give it time.”

Brannon Braga on his writing preferences

“I didn’t like writing for Picard. He was hard to do. He had to be so articulate and masterful and knowledgeable, and all the things I don’t feel on a typical day. So he was a challenge. And Patrick Stewart, god bless him, could make anything sound good. Even the most mediocre writing he could bring to life. I liked to focus on the characters that didn’t get a lot of attention, like Riker and Geordi.”

TNG writers talk about working on the show in new issue of SFX magazine

TNG star Jonathan Frakes talked about the fight to keep the Troi/Riker love story going:

I think prior to the pilot we were told there was a huge, deep, important relationship between Troi and Riker. They hinted at it in the pilot where we had fantastic moments where we read each other’s feelings and minds. And then to free us up, I suppose for alien affairs, they swept it under the carpet. Marina and I refused to do that because we thought it was wonderful that we had this relationship and yet we were supposed to be working together and couldn’t be involved.

Writer and story editor Naren Shankar on the technobabble:

“It was probably the worst thing about Next Generation. I still cringe to this day when I see stuff like that. Because it went on and on – ‘Dephase this’ and ‘Decouple that’. But the great thing was that it was internally consistent. The show stayed true to its own principles.”

Mike Okuda talks about designing for TNG in new issue of SFX

SFX Star Trek TNG Issue available Wednesday on newsstands and digitally

There is much more in the latest issue of SFX, which goes on sale May 30th in the UK. It will be on US newstands by mid June. You will be able to order it directly (starting Wednesday) from MyFavouriteMagazines. It will also be available digitally at Zinio, the Apple Newsstand and for Nook Reader.

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TNG had some great moments, and I hope they get the chance for a proper goodbye with a quality project!

God, i loved the show!

That’s the thing about the technobabble. For the longest time I didn’t realize that it was an issue. Because I sort of understood what they were talking about, to some extent. And all of that is because they were consistent with their application of it. I’m not scientific at all so I just went with their explanations of things, sort of the same way I go with it when I read Arthur Clarke or Larry Niven, two authors that feature quite a bit of scientific problem solving (technobabble?) in their work.

I don’t usually buy these sort of magazines anymore, but think I’ll make an exception for this one. Digital edition here I come. :)

3–I never even realized it was technobabble at the time. I just accepted what they were saying, and like you, I had a general idea of what it was they were trying to convey. I always thought that was what separated Star Trek from Star Wars. In Star Wars, no one cares about why something works. In Star Trek, they try to add a certain realism to it.

I always said when Rick Sternbach explains how things work on the ships he helped design, he almost makes it sound like you can build a warp core or a transporter out in the garage.

Totally agree that TNG season 1 was enough to kill mere mortal tv shows. Season 2 was better, but not really great yet. We didn’t get great until seasons 3 and 4, then a smattering thereafter.

“I didn’t like writing for Picard. He was hard to do. He had to be so articulate and masterful and knowledgeable, and all the things I don’t feel on a typical day…”

I like that. So true for most of us.

The First season was ok. At the time it was on first run Tng was the greatest because it was new Star Trek. Then when Eps like Skin of Evil and The Neautral Zone and Conspiriacy came on. That is when I knew that this was going to be someting special.

^1. “All Good Things” was the proper goodbye, I think, and it doesn’t stop being so just because we saw the characters again after that.

#9 — Agreed!! First Contact was great, but did we REALLY need that story? I don’t think so. It didn’t add much or change TNG in any significant way. Worth seeing…best of the TNG films…

The other TNG films were worthless, unnecessary, and frankly…boring!!!

The technobabble only got really bad in the last couple seasons, and in crap episodes like Interface or Force of Nature where there wasn’t a whole lot else going on.

When they actually had a good, worthwhile story to tell, the technobabble was usually kept to a minimum, it felt to me.

Voyager on the other hand, really DID go completely overboard with the stuff.

It’s amazing how much better the show got when they hit season 3. It’s like a switch was thrown.

And, yes, the technobabble! It’s strange how familiar some of it became to me by the end of the show’s run. I feel like I almost know what a tachyon pulse actually is. Well, maybe not. But I know it’s damn consequential.

#1+10: I don’t understand all that negativity surrounding the NextGen movies. Yeah, they are far from perfect and turning Picard from a wise philosopher into an action-hero to fight supervillains with mass destructive weapons might not have been a clever choice…But nonetheless, all four movie had so many beautiful moments.
Right…I definitely prefer the way they fleshed out the TOS movies back in the 80s…but still…
While they may have been a bit too one-dimensional for Star Trek villains, Shinzon and Soran are charismatic baddies (portrayed by absolutely marvellous actors)…

As for Season 1…I think it is one of the best Star Trek seasons yet and the only one that really tried to fulfill the promise of exploring “strange new worlds”!!! I simply love the attempts at creating alien plants by colorful studio sets and stage fog…
I loved Seasons 4+5+6 as well, but lots of episodes in the later years of the show were simply based on mysteries and riddles, that, once solved, take away a lot from the original suspense. Lots of these episodes a not as rewatchable as some Season 1 efforts…

#13: It didn’t get so much better…it just got different. While there are many wonderful episodes in later seasons, they lack a lot of the original sense of wonder due to a multitude of reasons. They got rid of the great Ron Jones scores, replacing those by monotonous sonic wallpapers. They avoided to show alien surfaces in favour of ship-based mysteries, that once unveiled, lose a lot of their original thrill…
Look…”Night Terrors”, “Identity Crisis”, “Future Imperfect”, “Remember Me”, “Conundrum”, “Cause and Effect”, “The Next Phase”, “Timescape” and many more…great episodes the first time round but once you know the answer to the riddle, they are done for. And there were many fillers as well…The seventh season was the worst of all…One relative of the crew after another pops up after another…and so many fillers…I don’t know… I simply prefer the adventurous, out-of-this-world feeling of the first two seasons, when they used to waltz down on alien planets every other week…

Purely FYI: Amazon has now matched WalMart’s lower price for the TNG Blu-ray set (at $78.86).

I pre-ordered to lock it in now…and maybe it’ll go down some more in the interim (and Amazon does lower the price to match if this does happen, even if you’ve already pre-ordered :) ) .


I wonder what would have happened if TNG got cancelled after season 1 or 2? How long would they have put Trek to bed and get it out again? Would Abrams have found Trek and told Paramount he wanted to reboot it in 2009 anyway?

I also didn’t like the 1701-D at first it looked strange with that huge saucer sections but it grew on me.

Hey Anthony,
They will be airing Star Trek 09 this sunday, june 3th over here in Germany! The networks name is Pro7, airing time is 8.15 pm.


I know. I couldn’t make heads or tails of it when I first saw it, and I know soooo many people hate it. But I absolutely love the design. The first Enterprise was a radical departure from typical science fiction ships and the D was a further departure. When they started to do things like the EE it started to look like a drag racer in space. I don’t like that ship one bit.

It’s funny when I see this criticism of Picard being turned into an action hero for the movies. Yes, they did push it too much, but it wasn’t entirely outside his character from the series. See the episode “Starship Mine,” where he essentially becomes John McClane fighting space robbers, because he has no other choice. And there are a few other examples here and there.

Maybe if Riker hadn’t been written as such a worry-wart when it came to his captain’s safety….

TNG was already a huge hit in the States, by the time the BBC began showing it here in Britain. I think it had been on satelite television but on the whole, it wasn’t talked about among my friends at school, until maybe 1990 or 1991. Star Trek was still Kirk and Spock. A couple of episodes like “Q Who” and “Time Squared” made an impact. Season 3 was when it got suddenly noticed and consistantly great, week after week. That was the turning point, where more and more began to turn around, admitting it was as good as, or better than the Original.

God, it feels like TV was less cutthroat in those days. Shows have subsequently come and gone, in the time it took The Next Generation to build up steam. I think that was probably true of DS9 and Voyager too. Certainly Enterprise. Something that defines each version of Star Trek and the characters suddenly click.

I hope whatever the future of Star Trek is, much more of the teething problems are sorted out before it begins. Firm backstories for all the characters and how they should interact. A whole history already mapped out on paper, to mine for episode ideas without ever faltering or having to change or add to the line-up.

I recently started watching TNG season one again. I remember watching it when it first ran and it was just all over the place in terms of quality. Some episodes were totally cool (Where no one has gone before, The Big Goodbye, 11001001, Heart of Glory, Conspiracy etc) but then there were others (Like “Haven”, Justice, Angel One, etc) that just made me cringe. It was such a haphazard season.

The second season, when it started, was so completely different in tone and characterization that it didn’t even seem like the same show anymore (And that was a good thing). In my opinion, I always thought the second season was when TNG started to find its’ legs. Season Three just picked up the reigns from season two and went to town.

There are things I like about the early seasons though that are far superior to the later seasons. Visually and auditorially, the early seasons had a much better atmosphere.

My biggest pet peaves with the later seasons (5-7) were the scripts laced with 60 to 70 percent technobabble, flat camera work and totally boring Jay Chattaway “eee, ahhhh, ooo/” atonal music.

Still love the show, but I think the early seasons had some qualities that were pretty good and should have been kept.


Actually I thought Picard running around the ship like John McClain looked cheesy as hell in Starship Mine, and I was disappointed to see it carried over to the movies as well.

It smacks of nothing more than Patrick Stewart wanting to run around and play the hunky “action hero,” even though it’s the furthest thing from who Picard was.

Throwing a punch or firing a phaser is one thing, but climbing around the rafters like he’s in a Die Hard movie was just taking it too far.

I’m one of the few that actually liked the technobabble and wish they had more of it. I always dug how it mostly made sense. I also got a kick out of being able to tell when the actors had no idea what they were saying. Levar Burton and Wil Wheaton did a pretty good job, but Brent Spiner and the entire Voyager cast were just reading lines, it was so obvious.


Like Kirk, Picard was partly based on Horatio Hornblower—hardly a man of peace. But I liked that it put him in a place where he couldn’t depend on his precious Number One or Data or Worf to do the hard work.

Remember also “The High Ground.” A terrorist appears on the bridge next to Picard. Picard promptly decks him and knocks him to the floor. Like a boss.

24 I agree with this, and the movies never truly caught the genius of the Picard character. They never did a really ‘smart’ movie, though FC is not bad at all.

Why does every single TNG movie end with old people fighting on scaffoling??

@21 Christopher Roberts

I remember going to “Starship Video” (yep that was the name of the shop) in Norwich and hiring out the TNG episode videos. They came out way before it was shown on satellite TV in the UK when it started.

My mate and I would sit down and watch them repeatedly. I think there was 2 or 3 episodes on the cassette. I remember the excitement of waiting days for the next latest release.

Even though they were reasonably dull, they were new and they were expanding the Star Trek universe. It was very exciting at the time.

Cool days

Star Trek: Nemesis has one redeeming quality: it helped launch Tom Hardy into the public eye to become one of today’s huge stars. Everytime I see someone fangirling over Tom Hardy but they hate old Star Trek (old Star Trek meaning before JJ’s time) I point them to Nemesis and then grin Phlox-style as they are shocked that Tom Hardy was in it. LOL It should have had more explanation of how the Romulans got Picards DNA in the first place (presumably from the Yesterday’s Enterprise Tasha Yar) and voila, had I been a writer on that movie, I’d have designed a subplot revealing that Sela was a genetically altered Tasha Yar and NOT her daughter, that was on an undercover mission for Section 31 and somewhere along the way, The Romulans blcoked out her Tasha Yar memories and implanted an alternate life in her mind to make her the Sela we knew. A substitute for Donatra too in Nemesis.

If Shankar thinks the technobabble on TNG was bad, what was Voyager?

I’m probably one of the few Trek fans who actually LIKE the first season. Yes, there are some cringe-worthy episodes like “Code of Honor” and “Justice” or sleep-inducers like “Too Short A Season,” but there are several memorable moments from the series as a whole that are in Season One:

*Picard’s conversation with his mother in “Where No Man Has Gone Before,” set to some incredibly moving music

*Riker’s date with Minuet in “11001001”

*The holodeck characters discover that they’re actually not real in “The Long Goodbye”

*Wesley’s realization that his life-or death decision was a surprise test in “Coming of Age”

*The view of the world through Geordi’s visor in “Heart of Glory”

*Picard and Crusher’s argument over the Prime Directive in “Symbiosis”

*Picard saving Crusher from dying in “The Arsenal of Freedom”

*The exploding body in “Conspiracy”

and the one that’s still powerful to this day…

*Tasha Yar’s goodbye message in “Skin of Evil,” which still makes me choke up

There’s a lot to like about Season One, and it gets a really bad rap. With the exception of “All Good Things…” (which was genius), I could watch most of Season One far more often than any single episode from Season Seven.

Uh, that’s “Where No One Has Gone Before.” Sorry… TOS on the brain.

If you had to pick the worst season of TNG, it’s a battle between Season Two and Season Seven.

“Shades of Gray.” Need I say more?

29… Tom Hardy’s a huge star? “Warrior” flopped (its good though). “This Means War” flopped (it sucked.) Does anyone even remember who he was in “Inception”, the only big hit movie he’s been in?

33… I think Season 2 is better than 1 and about the same as 7. “Shades of Grey” was awful, but Season 1 had “Code of Honor”, “Justice” and “Homesoil” which together outweigh it on the awfulness scale. Season 2 gave us “Q Who?” which is by far the best episode of the first two seasons, IMHO. And best of all, Season 2 gave us no Gates McFadden and her talent-free acting.

Has it really been 25 years?!? Holy cow… :-o

I still remember buying a special Sony ‘gold’ quality T-120 videocassette to record the pilot episode (which I much later burned to a DVD) on the premiere night in September of 1987.

I remember my first impression of ST-TNG being largely disappointment from week-to-week. There was some particularly bad acting (from Marina Sirtis and ironically, from Patrick Stewart; although he later ‘found’ the character in subsequent episodes).

“Encounter at Farpoint” was really shaky as pilot episodes go. Some of the FX looked like Saturday morning kid-vid stuff (very ‘videotape’ looking), the sets were off-putting and cheesy as well (kind of “Buck Rogers” looking most of the time). None of the cast really seemed to have a handle on their characters (except for Brent Spiner’s Data; he was the big favorite of mine from the night I first saw the pilot). Frankly, it wasn’t until season 3 that (for me) the show became real ‘must-see’ viewing.

Sadly, of late I’ve kind of ‘outgrown’ ST-TNG (the new BSG spoiled my palette; plus, I was always more of a TOS and DS9 person, really), but I still have very fond memories of watching TNG in it’s early days (even if the episodes are not really my thing anymore). It was just kind of cool having new ST episodes every week (no matter how dodgy their quality was in those days).

To paraphrase ST movie producer Harve Bennett, those early days of TNG were “the turkey sandwiches in between the Thanksgivings.”


# 35.

Thanks Thorny~

I thought I was the only one who couldn’t stand McFadden’s Dr Crusher. She was badly written and badly acted. Even in First Contact, she ‘loses’ her patient (whom she promised Picard she would ‘keep sedated’). Even Nurse Chapel would’ve made a better CMO, really (as she was a doctor too, in ST-TMP). But McFadden’s Crusher was, along with Troi, an embarrassingly badly written female character. She had a handful of decent episodes much later on, but I never believed her as a competent physician (in part due to the actresses’ ineffectiveness).

For ST-TNG’s season 2, I liked Pulaski much better. Too bad she was never given a fair shake…

I remember when I first saw that photo in Time Magazine, summer of 1987 (note: no Worf), and spent a while trying to figure out who was who.

I concur with #1. TNG deserves a proper sendoff, most of the cast have aged considerably well and could still pull it off. The original cast got a proper sendoff in 1991, which also happened to be in their 25th anniversary.

Wish they had brought Dr. Pulaski back for a few guest eps.
Would have been cool to see her and Dr. Crusher duke it out over something or other. Could have been Pulaski in the one where Worf breaks his back. THAT would have made that a good ep, instead of a so-so one.

And I do think season 2 had several episodes that were both good and proved that better stuff was on the way.

I was in high school when TNG came out. I guess I didn’t really notice how weak some of the earlier episodes were because I was too thrilled that Trek was back on TV. I replayed those first episodes over and over on my VCR. But when season 3 began I noticed a marked difference. Everything was coming together and when we got to the Best of Both Worlds cliffhanger, I was out of my seat shouting at the TV for more.

I didn’t really notice any decline in quality until season 7. That’s when I remember thinking, maybe it’s time to put this series to bed. True, there were weaker episodes before that. I’ll never understand why anyone thinks Time’s Arrow was anything but blah.

But to this day TNG is my favorite of the series. I watched it RELIGIOUSLY. I consider myself a huge Trek fan, but I remember sort of “slogging through” parts of DS9, VOY and ENT. I’ve since change my mind about the later 3 series, especially DS9. I now love them all, but TNG will always be at the top of my list.

The technobabble worked because it WAS internally consistent. After all, we’re watching a storyline about starships moving at multiple times the speed of light. That’s the first part of the suspension of disbelief.

Dr. Pulaski was just the foil that Picard needed. Up until then he was surrounded by yes-men/women who never questioned him when he needed it. I knew that I would love the character when she opted to get right to work when she came on board rather than bow to stuffy protocol. You could see that the captain was miffed and she didn’t care!

Best of all: A whole season without a single doe-eyed utterance of….

“….Ohhh Jean-Luc!”

Part of the reason for “action hero” Picard was Patrick Stewart himself. He liked being more action oriented in Generations and First Contact and wanted more of that. I didn’t necessarily have a problem with that in and of itself, it was just that they seemed to sacrifice some of his characters strengths. We got a glimpse of the old Picard in Nemesis when he is dining with Schinzon and said that nothing would make him prouder than to take his hand in friendship. A little bit of the old, high ideals Picard snuck through there.

As for Season 1, at the time it was showing, I wasn’t really shore about TNG. I was a new Trekkie at the time, about a year. I thought, how can you have Star Trek without Kirk, Spock and McCoy. But something about TNG kept me coming back each week. It seemed they would have a cheesy episode, then a good one. I think “Conspiracy” was when I really thought the show had a chance. I agree with another poster, Season 2 had a different feel to it.

I never likedthe technobabble, and I think it became a serious problem later, especially with voyager where it started to dominate the scripts. It became magic — a tachyon pulse or an adjustment of phase variance could do anything they needed.

Some of the flaws from early TNG — the technobabble deus ex machina and the pointless B-story — became a regular part of Voyager plots.

I watched it all, even when it was weak (although I gave up on TNG after that clip episode that ended season two — I was away at college and didn’t bother to watch it… and then I just happened to catch the first part of Best of Both Worlds on a friday night, and I was hooked).

I do agreetnat it was amazing they were kept alive to find their footing.

Loved TNG, it’s the show that brought me into the Trek universe for good. There was a TNG marathon on prior to the start of Descent, pt. 2 & that was it for me, I never looked back from there. The techobabble was part of the magic of the show for me, gavel it that feel that oh yah, this is the future.

Season 1 was definitely a bit of an experiment.
The cinematography and lighting was very TV-conventional for the period – very flat, 2D staging, overbright TV lights with flat modeling (very Dynasty), some obvious soundstages-as-alien-worlds.

Compare that to later seasons, where it was clear they were using smaller, more mobile cameras / steadicams, doing more location work, and using slightly better film stock – things started to get a bit more cinematic.

I remember Season 1 mostly for its ‘in the future, everyone will wear really shiny metallic fabrics!” / ‘everyone has the same clothes and haircut on our world’ trope, but that carried through all the post-TNG series.

In terms of the writing, it seemed they really hadn’t found Picard’s voice yet. At times he seemed over-stern and cold, other times strangely voluble. And there was that whole dislike of children thing which was never fully explored, and in other settings (the Nexus, for instance) seemingly reversed completely.

Will pick it up, there is an advert of the blu ray set and an interview with the guy doing the features, going to be really detailed in the features and the story will all come together through all seven seasons.

47. “I remember Season 1 mostly for its ‘in the future, everyone will wear really shiny metallic fabrics!” / ‘everyone has the same clothes and haircut on our world’ trope, but that carried through all the post-TNG series.”

God, yeah. I was sad the first time I saw the shiny bedsheets on TNG — it all seemed very Buck Rogers (the 80s Universal show). Same with the tights for off-duty wear. I wanted a little imagination (same with props, furniture and set decoration — what’s super modern/trendy at the time of filming won’t be futuristic in 200 years, or 3 years — which is why I loved those china cups and those Enterprise blankets in Trev VI)

I’m still not a fan of the same haircut/same outfit club. I wonder if someone rationalized that, “heck, businessmen all wear the same stuff?” I still don’t buy that every single person on Romulus and Vulcan would have that same wiggy Caesar cut. Or that elected/appointed officials all wear matching outfits.

49–Part of the sameness might be by design. For instance, Starfleet is still a military organization so some things would naturally be uniform.

As for alien cultures, like the Romulan Empire, they are a totalitarian government and individuality would be frowned upon.

But for the first season or 2, they probably weren’t too creative because they were still finding their feet. All the spinoff’s seemed to take until about season 3 to find their place. It makes me wonder what might have been with Enterprise given a season 5. There was a vast improvement with season 4. Manny Coto gave Enterprise new life, it’s a shame it was cut short.