When Star Trek: The Next Generation was first shown in the UK, I flatly refused to watch it. I had read some hype and decided it wasn’t for me. It sounded nothing like the original series.
At the time I had a vague notion of not wanting to be unfaithful to the original series. It was crazy really considering, I never actually watched the original series much. All I had to go on were childhood memories, which said it was a good show, and I liked it back then.
The first time I actually watched an episode of TNG was in summer 1993. It was a really bad year for me work wise. The organisation that I work for, was in the middle of reorganising itself and generally playing Russian Roulette with everyone’s life. No one really knew where they stood. Although there were regular briefings, no one could tell you whether or not you would have a job at the end of the year.
It was a depressing time for everyone, not even my garden could take my mind off what was happening. On this particular day, I was feeling really down. I had taken myself off to bed earlier so as not to inflict my misery on anyone else. I didn’t even have the energy to switch channels when the voice announced that Star Trek was coming next on Sky One. I decided that I’d watch it and criticise the hell out of it to take my mind off myself.
The episode was called The Child. I was intrigued from the beginning right up to the end. Deana Troi was pregnant under strange circumstances, yet she wanted to have the child. It seemed like there was nothing you could throw at these people that they couldn’t find a solution to. I thought that Worf was one of the ugliest things I had ever seen. But his voice was kind of, well… sexy to tell the truth. I found Riker very appealing and wondered at his relationship with Troi. I even shed a few tears at the end. I put that down to the fact that I was depressed anyway.
I decided to watch another episode just in case that one was a one-off. I wanted to get a better insight into the Riker/Troi relationship. Several episodes later I realised I was hooked. It wasn’t just the Troi/Riker thing, it was all the interactions with the main crew members. When Sky announced the last episode in the present series, I was devastated. The bright side was that they intended to show the whole series again in September, starting from the beginning. I decided that I’d tape every episode from scratch. In the meantime, they were going to show repeats of TOS. Having admitted that I was definitely partial to Star Trek, I decided to catch up on the Trek Universe by watching The Original Series.
What a bummer. It is so easy to blow your childhood images away with just a touch of adult reality. Captain Kirk is definitely no Jean Luc Picard. He’s so bloody gung-ho. I couldn’t believe I had wanted to keep faith with this series. Not to give up on it completely, I rationalised that back then when TOS was made, the scenery was a bit flimsy, and they didn’t have the special effects that they have now. I went out and brought the movies instead, never having seen one before. Luckily, there was a definite improvement. Kirk was still Kirk, but I accepted him for what he was. I’ll never be a big fan but, I respect TOS because it led the way for better things.
Not every episode of TNG has been brilliant. A few of the storylines have been poor. But on the whole, it has been a brilliant series. I like the way the crew worked together to solve whatever was thrown at them. It was a total contrast to what was happening at work. Tensions were always high and there was so much petty bickering. TNG became my Haven. It saw me through a really rough time and kept me sane. The only problem I had was with people looking at me differently because I like Star Trek. I got comments like “Well, as long as you don’t start wearing the pointy ears”. or “I suppose you’ll be coming to work in your Star Trek pyjamas.” No one thinks you’re weird if you say you watch The Twilight Zone or Outer Limits or even the X Files. People tend to make fun of things they don’t understand. Unless you are a Trekker, I suppose it is hard to understand why Star Trek is so big and has lasted so long. To those people I say, don’t criticise it until you’ve watched it for yourself.
I watch Deep Space Nine and Voyager but, not with the same enthusiasm. DS9 is growing on me. I just hope that Voyager improves.
Unlike my childhood memories of The Original Series, my memories of TNG will always be true. TOS was best watched as a child, and difficult to take seriously as an adult. But this is only my opinion.
Live Long and Prosper.