Star Trek: The Next Generation

Star Trek: The Next GenerationThis is a syndicated series; airdates seen in this guide are the first day of the “week of” broadcast window, and episodes may have aired on different days in your area.

    Season One: 1987-88

  1. Encounter At Farpoint
  2. The Naked Now
  3. Code Of Honor
  4. The Last Outpost
  5. Where No One Has Gone Before
  6. Lonely Among Us
  7. Justice
  8. The Battle
  9. Hide And Q
  10. Haven
  11. The Big Goodbye
  12. Datalore
  13. Angel One
  14. 11001001
  15. Too Short A Season
  16. When The Bough Breaks
  17. Home Soil
  18. Coming Of Age
  19. Heart Of Glory
  20. The Arsenal Of Freedom
  21. Symbiosis
  22. Skin Of Evil
  23. We’ll Always Have Paris
  24. Conspiracy
  25. The Neutral Zone
  26. Season Two: 1988-89

  27. The Child
  28. Where Silence Has Lease
  29. Elementary, Dear Data
  30. The Outrageous Okona
  31. Loud As A Whisper
  32. The Schizoid Man
  33. Unnatural Selection
  34. A Matter Of Honor
  35. The Measure Of A Man
  36. The Dauphin
  37. Contagion
  38. The Royale
  39. Time Squared
  40. The Icarus Factor
  41. Pen Pals
  42. Q Who
  43. Samaritan Snare
  44. Up The Long Ladder
  45. Manhunt
  46. The Emissary
  47. Peak Performance
  48. Shades Of Gray
  49. Season Three: 1989-90

  50. Evolution
  51. The Ensigns Of Command
  52. The Survivors
  53. Who Watches The Watchers?
  54. The Bonding
  55. Booby Trap
  56. The Enemy
  57. The Price
  58. The Vengeance Factor
  59. The Defector
  60. The Hunted
  61. The High Ground
  62. Deja Q
  63. A Matter Of Perspective
  64. Yesterday’s Enterprise
  65. The Offspring
  66. Sins Of The Father
  67. Allegiance
  68. Captain’s Holiday
  69. Tin Man
  70. Hollow Pursuits
  71. The Most Toys
  72. Sarek
  73. Menage à Troi
  74. Transfigurations
  75. The Best Of Both Worlds
  76. Season Four: 1990-91

  77. The Best Of Both Worlds Part II
  78. Family
  79. Brothers
  80. Suddenly Human
  81. Remember Me
  82. Legacy
  83. Reunion
  84. Future Imperfect
  85. Final Mission
  86. The Loss
  87. Data’s Day
  88. The Wounded
  89. Devil’s Due
  90. Clues
  91. First Contact
  92. Galaxy’s Child
  93. Night Terrors
  94. Identity Crisis
  95. The Nth Degree
  96. Qpid
  97. The Drumhead
  98. Half A Life
  99. The Host
  100. The Mind’s Eye
  101. In Theory
  102. Redemption
  103. Season Five: 1991-92

  104. Redemption II
  105. Darmok
  106. Ensign Ro
  107. Silicon Avatar
  108. Disaster
  109. The Game
  110. Unification I
  111. Unification II
  112. A Matter Of Time
  113. New Ground
  114. Hero Worship
  115. Violations
  116. The Masterpiece Society
  117. Conundrum
  118. Power Play
  119. Ethics
  120. The Outcast
  121. Cause And Effect
  122. The First Duty
  123. Cost Of Living
  124. The Perfect Mate
  125. Imaginary Friend
  126. I, Borg
  127. The Next Phase
  128. The Inner Light
  129. Time’s Arrow
  130. Season Six: 1992-93

  131. Time’s Arrow Part II
  132. Realm Of Fear
  133. Man Of The People
  134. Relics
  135. Schisms
  136. True Q
  137. Rascals
  138. A Fistful Of Datas
  139. The Quality Of Life
  140. Chain Of Command Part I
  141. Chain Of Command Part II
  142. Ship In A Bottle
  143. Aquiel
  144. Face Of The Enemy
  145. Tapestry
  146. Birthright Part I
  147. Birthright Part II
  148. Starship Mine
  149. Lessons
  150. The Chase
  151. Frame Of Mind
  152. Suspicions
  153. Rightful Heir
  154. Second Chances
  155. Timescape
  156. Descent
  157. Season Seven: 1993-94

  158. Descent Part II
  159. Liaisons
  160. Interface
  161. Gambit Part I
  162. Gambit Part II
  163. Phantasms
  164. Dark Page
  165. Attached
  166. Force Of Nature
  167. Inheritance
  168. Parallels
  169. The Pegasus
  170. Homeward
  171. Sub Rosa
  172. Lower Decks
  173. Thine Own Self
  174. Masks
  175. Eye Of The Beholder
  176. Genesis
  177. Journey’s End
  178. First Born
  179. Bloodlines
  180. Emergence
  181. Preemptive Strike
  182. All Good Things…
  183. The Movies: 1994-2002

  184. Star Trek: Generations
  185. Star Trek: First Contact
  186. Star Trek: Insurrection
  187. Star Trek: Nemesis

With the smash success of 1986’s Star Trek IV: The Voyage Home, Paramount was suddenly very interested in the future expansion of Gene Roddenberry’s universe, even if it had Gene Roddenberryonly a limited interest in Roddenberry himself having a hand in that expansion. The creator of Star Trek was viewed as something of a liability; the first and most expensive Star Trek movie, Star Trek: The Motion Picture, was regarded in hindsight as an extraordinarily expensive example of excess with Roddenberry at the helm. In actuality, however, the expense legendarily associated with The Motion Picture is actually an example of creative accounting, Hollywood style: that movie began life as an attempted TV revival in the 1970s, which followed on from two failed attempts to get an early ’70s Star Trek movie into production. By charging all of the previous unfulfilled projects against The Motion Picture‘s budget, that movie – despite a huge box office take upon its premiere – magically became a money-loser in Paramount’s books, handily accomplishing two things: it gave the spendthrift studio the ammo it needed to relieve Roddenberry of any real decision-making power in the franchise’s future, and by failing to show a profit, kept pesky residual payouts to its key players down to a dull roar. From Star Trek II onward, Gene Roddenberry was reduced to a creative consultant whose advice could be taken on Star Trek: The Motion Pictureboard completely or ignored at the whim of the producer behind the increasingly successful movie franchise, Harve Bennett.

Late in 1986, however, Paramount decided to challenge Roddenberry’s creative instincts once more. Bennett was already touting a possible “flashback to how young Kirk and Spock first met” story, with newer, younger stars and featuring glorified cameos from William Shatner and Leonard Nimoy, for the inevitable Star Trek V. Already penciled in as that movie’s director thanks to a clause in his contract to star in Trek IV, Shatner objected and made clear that he, Nimoy and the rest of the cast would continue to star in the Star Trek films, despite approaching retirement age. Paramount contacted Roddenberry and challenged him: they wanted new Star Trek on TV, and were fully prepared to use Bennett’s “early days at Starfleet Harve BennettAcademy” idea on the small screen… unless, of course, the creator of the original series could come up with something better.

Roddenberry jumped at the chance. By creating a new TV series, he would be resuming a position where he had actual decision-making power with regard to the Star Trek franchise (although, technically, any future feature films and their producers were still under no obligation to heed Roddenberry’s advice as Star Trek’s permanent creative consultant). Roddenberry had hatched ideas for advancing Star Trek in the 1970s as part of the aborted Star Trek Phase II series, which would’ve been the cornerstone of the never-launched Paramount Network, and they could applied here, but in a vastly different form. The new Star Trek would not deal with Kirk and Spock at any point in their careers; it would advance the Star Trek story by “75 years” (according to an early draft of the series Star Trek: The Motion Picturebible) and might, at most, feature a descendant of an original Enterprise crew member, though eventually even that idea fell by the wayside.

On Paramount’s end of the deal, the new Star Trek was running into a distribution problem. Though the just-launched Fox network, hungry for any programming, let alone a hit, was interested but wanted creative oversight of any series it bought from Paramount. The response from Roddenberry was predictable: he wanted nothing to do with network censorship originating from the Standards & Practices divisions like the one with whom he’d fought so many bruising battles during the original series’ tenure on NBC. As it turned out, Paramount decided to do the unexpected and explore a third option. For years, the original Trek’s 79 episodes had been bringing in a startlingly steady stream of income, despite its age; it was in syndicated reruns that the original series finally broke even and then showed a steady profit. But shown daily in many markets, those 79 episodes only amounted to a 16-week run, which was being repeated over and over again. Paramount opted to create the Star Trek: TNG Logonew Star Trek as a syndicated show that would never run on a specific network, instead offering the first right of refusal to the stations already carrying the ’60s show. Though there were skeptics aplenty in the broadcast industry, in fandom and in the press, most of those stations who already had Star Trek signed on for the new show.

The new series would focus on a future Enterprise, commanded by Captain Julien Picard. (The captain’s French lineage was there from the start, inspired by oceanic explorer extraordinaire Jacques Cousteau.) Commander Bill Ryker would be the first officer and, in a development originally conceived as part of the background of the never-made ’70s revival series’ Commander Decker, Ryker would lead all landing parties, or “away missions,” with Picard NCC-1701-Doverseeing things from the safety of the Enterprise. The chief medical officer would be Doctor Beverly Crusher, who would have her bright daughter Leslie in tow, while the security of the Enterprise would be overseen by Lt. “Macha” Hernandez, a tough-as-nails security officer inspired by Roddenberry’s recent viewing of the 1986 hit movie Aliens and its gun-toting Lt. Vasquez.

Behind the scenes, the faces were much more familiar. Roddenberry lured original series veterans Robert Justman and Eddie Milkis back to produce the new show, with writers D.C. Fontana and David Gerrold aboard to come up with stories and concepts. As with the original series, Roddenberry hoped to make the new show a haven for serious SF writers who wanted their material handled well, in the same way that the original Star Trek had attracted talents like Theodore Star Trek: The Next GenerationSturgeon, George Clayton Johnson and Harlan Ellison. If anything was proving elusive, it was the shape of the future itself: how far would technology have advanced in the 24th century, when in 1986 the standard medium of data storage was a floppy disk strikingly similar in shape and size to the “computer tapes” in use aboard the Enterprise as filmed in 1966? Numerous avenues were considered and abandoned, such as having a transporter pad on the bridge itself (nixed in favor of having a relatively long elevator ride and walk to the transporter, during which conversations could take place between characters), and having the new Enterprise almost completely computer controlled, with the crew only seen to operate manual controls during the most extraordinary situations. Also to be considered was the technology of the original Star Trek: how woud it have evolved in almost a century? The idea of miniaturizing the cell-phone-like communicators of the ’60s series down into something Star Trek: The Next Generationthat would fit within a touch-operated uniform insignia was already on the table. What of phasers and tricorders?

And for that matter, what would the show be called? “The new Star Trek” was becoming a well-worn item in entertainment news columns and the pages of Starlog Magazine (already one of the show’s biggest champions thanks to Starlog’s already-warm relationship to Paramount’s publicity department and Roddenberry in particular). There was even a brief window where the show was simply called Star Trek – it was assumed that the audience would be able to figure out quickly enough which iteration of the show it was seeing. Finally, despite the “75 years” being stretched out to a figure closer to 80 years – obviously more than a single generation – the show was titled Star Trek: The Next Generation. The characters evolved – Julien Picard became Jean-Luc Picard, Bill Ryker became Will Riker, and in the spirit of the thawing Cold War and increased cooperation with the Soviet Union, Macha Hernandez became Natasha Yar. Leslie Crusher underwent a pre-casting sex change and inherited Gene Roddenberry’s real first name, becoming Wesley Crusher. An empathic counselor, Deanna Troi, was added, and a science officer originally envisioned as a female Vulcan possibly related to Spock was nixed in favor of an android, Lt. Data, who seeks a greater understanding of human emotions and foibles – a character that Roddenberry had essentially created in his 1974 TV movie The Questor Tapes, which was intended to be a series pilot in its own right.

Star Trek: The Next GenerationRiker and Troi inherited the slightly-cooled-down relationship originally devised for Decker and Lt. Ilia in the series bible for the aborted ’70s Star Trek revival, while Data inherited some of the character DNA developed for the never-made show’s Vulcan science officer, Xon. A blind crewmember, Geordi La Forge, would pilot the Enterprise, while another allusion to the calming of relations with the Soviet Union was added in the person of another security officer, Lt. Worf – the first Klingon to wear a Starfleet uniform, originally suggested by Bob Justman as a “Klingon marine” who would be a recurring character rather than a regular. The lineage of the Enterprise was both nailed down and left tantalizingly open by designating Picard’s ship as NCC-1701-D: what had happened to the “B” and “C” models of the Enterprise? And since NCC-1701-A had only Star Trek: The Next Generationcome about as a result of the original Enterprise’s destruction, what had become of Kirk’s brand new ship in the interim?

Casting and crewing up were now in full swing. A young graphic designer named Michael Okuda, operating from his home base in Hawaii, had been lobbying to work on the Star Trek movies since Star Trek III, and had gotten to do some background control panel design for the new Enterprise in Trek IV. His striking design work, coupled with his intense desire to find some logic in the ship’s display design (he had railed against Trek III‘s use of Star Trek: The Next Generationrectangular monitors peeking through circular openings in the set, especially when the graphics on those monitors made no sense in a circular format), got him a call to work on the new show full-time. Andrew Probert and Rick Sternback, both veterans of the last Enterprise redesign in Star Trek: The Motion Picture, were on hand to design the Enterprise’s newest descendant. A young executive from Paramount’s longform entertainment division, Rick Berman, was recruited by Roddenberry to help run the show. Younger than Justman (who was already expressing a desire to return to the retirement he had left to help launch TNG) and Milkis (who would be returning to retirement as soon as TNG’s Rick Bermanpilot was completed), Berman would be Roddenberry’s right-hand man, with a keen eye for detail and quality control, taking over Milkis’ role after the filming of the pilot. Overeeing the creative side of the show was producer Herbert J. Wright, a veteran producer of such shows as Rod Serling’s Night Gallery, The Six Million Dollar Man, Hunter and Stingray.

The first two seasons of the show were not easy for the series; and it was probably sheer stubborn determination in Paramount’s senior management, and a fierce desire to see the Star Trek property become a profitable success, that kept TNG from getting cancelled when most other shows, network or syndicated, would have folded under the same pressures and difficulties. Roddenberry and Wright were reportedly less than delicate in handling the writers they worked with. D.C. Fontana, the story editor of the original Star Trek and a respected editor and writer in a storied TV career since then, left the series early on; David Gerrold bailed out as well, the result of Star Trek: The Next Generationdisagreements with Roddenberry over an AIDS-themed script, Blood & Fire. Gerrold and several other writers were also at odds with Roddenberry over unauthorized rewrites and script editing being carried out by Leonard Maizlish, Roddenberry’s attorney. Though there were some impressive episodes in the first two seasons, the evolving continuity of the Star Trek universe led to some inconsistencies. Denise Crosby was dissatisfied with what she saw as a lack of development for her character, Tasha Yar, and asked to be released from her contract; the character was killed off.

Star Trek: The Next GenerationThe first season ended with two mild cliffhangers, though the lack of the words “to be continued” may have led the audience to believe otherwise. The dark, violent episode Conspiracy introduced an alien threat that had gained a foothold within Starfleet Command, trying to erode the fabric of the United Federation of Planets from inside. The story ended with an obvious hint of a rematch that, in seven years of TNG and many years of its descendants, never happened. The season closer, The Neutral Zone, introduced the idea of entire colonies and outposts vanishing without a trace, the first calling card of a powerful new enemy for the Federation. The Romulans also showed their hand, appearing in a massive new Andrew Probert-designed starship. It was Herbert Wright’s intention that the unseen enemy attacking Federation and Romulan colonies would be a relentless insect race with an all-controlling hive mind, Star Trek: The Next Generationto be revealed early in the second season. Toward the end of the season, the show’s producers decided to drop Gates McFadden from the cast as Dr. Crusher, reportedly unhappy with both the actress and the development of the character. Diana Muldaur replaced McFadden for the second season as Dr. Katherine Pulaski, a curmudgeonly doctor cast from the mold of the original series’ Dr. McCoy.

But that unveiling, and any momentum the series had built up, was stalled by a writers’ strike that delayed the start of filming on the secon season until the fall. The summer of 1988 saw TNG and other scripted series languish, with the new fall TV season not kicking off until November; in the absence of traditional prime-time programming, the first “reality” TV shows gained a foothold of their Star Trek: The Next Generationown: Fox’s Cops and America’s Most Wanted became hits during the gap in scripted shows. With the end of the writers’ strike, the opener for the second season of TNG was The Child, a hastily-revised script left over from Roddenberry’s 1970s attempt to relaunch Star Trek on TV.

TNG’s second season was more confident than its first, but wasn’t without problems of its own: certain members of the cast and production team apparently didn’t get along well with Diana Muldaur, and the high turnover among writers and script editors continued as candidates for both jobs found it hard to work with Wright. A promising writer named Melinda Snodgrass, a protege of A Game Of Thrones author George R.R. Martin, brought some stability to the script editor position, but eventually left the frustration of making TNG for a literary career. Later in the second season, Wright finally got to introduce his “hive mind” enemy hinted at in The Neutral Zone, though a budget crunch turned them into the cybernetically-implanted Borg rather than a race of insects.

Michael PillerTired of the grind after the first two seasons, Wright left TNG after headhunting his own replacement, writer Michael Piller. Having served as a journalist, a network Standards & Practices censor and a writer on such series as Simon & Simon, Piller brought a new focus on TNG’s characters to the third season, making it clear to prospective writers of the show that their scripts not only had to be about something, but about someone in show’s regular cast of characters. It was a frequent folly of ’70s and ’80s TV to bring in a guest star as a one-shot character who was more memorable than the rest of the show’s cast; Piller wanted to ensure that the same fate didn’t befall the Enterprise crew. Piller also drew from TNG’s unique-in-Hollywood open script submission policy: any unagented writer, even those who had never written a television script before, could submit a full-length script to Star Ttrek: The Next Generation after signing legal paperwork that protected Paramount from legal action in the event that a similar script went into production. This led to the discovery of writer Ronald D. Moore, who was soon Ronald D. Moorehired as a full-time staff writer for TNG and heavily publicized as the show’s Cinderella story, encouraging thousands of other would-be Star Trek scriptwriters (the author of this essay included) to send in their own stories; having gone from obscurity to a full-time career as a TV writer, Moore later gained nearly universal acclaim as the architect of the Sci-Fi Channel’s renowned 21st century revival of Battlestar Galactica. The third season even brought back Denise Crosby as a one-off Tasha Yar from an alternate timeline, and concluded with the return of Herb Wright’s Borg in a cliffhanger that achieved the impossible: it generated enough word-of-mouth and speculation that TNG was on the edge of breaking into mainstream viewing, despite being a syndicated show that aired on a different day and time in nearly every major city in the country.

The fourth season was unusually stable for TNG, whose early behind-the-scenes history had been so tumultuous. Veteran TV writer Jeri Taylor joined the fold with an early fourth-season script, and a Writers’ Guild trainee named Brannon Braga became a full-time staff Star Trek: The Next Generationwriter after a promising collaboration with Ronald D. Moore early in the season. Season five saw the brief return of Herbert Wright as a co-producer, but the contrast between his style and the stability that Michael Piller had brought to the show’s writing staff was striking. After rallying for the show’s scripts to include more “weird shit” and science fiction concepts, Wright was gone again halfway through the season, finding that the kinder, gentler writing staff at TNG was too kind and gentle for his tastes. An example Wright often cited later was that Worf was truly alien in the first two seasons, whereas the fifth season Worf was “dealing with the problems of a single father.” Season five also saw the appearance of Leonard Nimoy as the 100+ year old Spock in a heavily-promoted guest shot during the all-important November ratings sweep. The story, and Nimoy’s appearance, tied directly into the upcoming movie Star Trek VI: The Undiscovered Country, which revolved around the beginnings of peace with the Klingons as seen in the TNG timeline, and featured a cameo appearance by Michael Dorn as an ancestor of Worf. Another sign of TNG’s position of prime importance in the Star Trek franchise, Trek VI was conciously designed to be the Star Trek: The Next Generationswan song for the original Star Trek cast. This unprecedented mingling of old Trek and new came as a sad footnote to the death of Star Trek creator Gene Roddenberry in October 1991.

It was also around this time that Paramount summoned Rick Berman and Michael Piller to top-secret meetings to ask them to create another series based in the Star Trek universe. The timing of the meeting was no coincidence: with cost-of-living increases for cast and crew, TNG was only going to become more expensive to produce, and Star Trek VI was the end of the road for the original Star Trek cast members. The future of TNG was set in stone: two more seasons would be produced, after which Star Trek: The Next Generationthe cast and characters of Star Trek: The Next Generation would launch themselves again on the big screen; prior to that, another Star Trek spinoff would premiere on TV, carrying the franchise forward on television.

By the time TNG left the air in the spring of 1994, its new descendant, Star Trek: Deep Space Nine, was a runaway success and didn’t have to endure the same chronic teething troubles of early seasons of TNG. TNG itself was frequently praised for being one of the best-written shows on American television, and was even nominated for an Emmy for Best Dramatic Series in 1994 (thought it didn’t win); production began immediately on the first TNG movie, Star Trek: Generations, even as filming was wrapping up on the show’s two-hour series finale, and as soon as the stage lights dimmed for the last time on the sets for the 24th century Enterprise, those sets were demolished to make way for another Star Trek spinoff, Voyager. TNG had a shaky Star Trek: The Next Generationbeginning, with Paramount rolling the dice on reviving a franchise that was widely seen as a TV failure and an unlikely movie success story. When NCC-1701-D made its final flight, however, Star Trek was Paramount’s biggest success story, and a cornerstone of the studio’s next major venture, the United Paramount Network.

But that’s a story to tell later in the 24th century.