To finish out the 50th, TrekMovie’s Jared Whitley looks at the franchise’s five decades of history, divided by the classical “Ages of Man” – but with an appropriately Trek twist. Today he looks at the third decade and the unprecedented popularity of TNG.
As the 50th anniversary winds down, we’re looking at the various periods of Trek history, decade by decade. Yesterday, we looked at Trek’s Silver Age that was ruled by the four original series movies. We called it, appropriately, the Transparent Aluminum Age. Today we’re looking at Trek’s third decade.
Bronze Age: 1987 to 1996
The third decade of Star Trek’s existence saw the critical and commercial success of the last four movies leveraged into unparalleled popularity. With “Encounter at Farpoint” dropping in Sept. 1987, the franchise was (forgive my movie trailer cliché) back and bigger than ever.
The trial never ends …
Because the series was released in syndication, The Next Generation circumvented network interference and was afforded greater control to tailor stories to make its fans happy rather than network executives or advertisers (since advertising for syndication was handled at the local level rather than the national). It was a good time to be a fan – especially come 1991.
The 25th anniversary saw the final outing of the TOS crew and a tie-in with Spock guest-starring on TNG. Just a few weeks before, Gene Roddenberry passed away, giving the franchise a big boost in the press. Even in his death, the Great Bird’s timing was perfect.
So much of the success of Star Trek’s Bronze Age is due to Patrick Stewart and the legitimacy he brought the Enterprise’s captaincy. I mean he literally said, “All those years of working for the Royal Shakespeare Company . . . was nothing but a preparation for sitting in the Captain’s chair on the Enterprise.” And he also named TV Guide’s most bodacious man of the year in 1992!
TNG’s popularity translated from the small screen to the large one, while successfully spinning off two more series in Deep Space Nine and Voyager. Honestly if you want to talk about a “Golden Age” of the franchise, it would be this one. Which is why I’ve named it the Latinum Age. This era came to a close with the TNG movie First Contact, which proved to be the TNG crew’s best outing.
- Start: Sept. 1987
- End: Nov. 1996
- Episodes: 340 – 178 (TNG), 108 (DS9), 54 (VOY)
- Movies: 4
Return tomorrow when we enter Trek’s Iron Age!
|Read the rest of the 5 Ages of Trek:|
|The 5 Ages of Trek – Day 1|
|The 5 Ages of Trek – Day 2|
|The 5 Ages of Trek – Day 4|
|The 5 Ages of Trek – Day 5|