So, Star Trek: The Next Generation is 20 years old. Man, I feel ancient. I was thirteen years old when I watched the first episode that aired, Encounter at Farpoint. My best friend and I were still renting science fiction and fantasy B-Movies on a weekly basis to satisfy our craving for new and interesting entertainment. Things changed a bit, we found ourselves looking forward to each and every fresh episode. As time went on they started showing a rerun every weeknight and we watched those too. It's one of the few memories I have of tuning in at the same time on the same channel five nights a week.
The Next Generation will always be my favorite Trek, mostly because it hit me just at the right time. Sure, I love the Shatner, the Nimoy, even the Doohan. Sisko, Janeway, and Archer were fantastic characters as well. Having said that, Picard is still my favorite Captain, Riker is still my favorite Number One, and the rest of the cast are still golden in my eyes. I shed a nerdy little tear as the credits rolled on Nemesis, mostly because I was certain that it was going to be the last Generations film.
Moving on, though I do so grudgingly, I'm sure most of you have heard that JJ Abrams, whose work I respect and enjoy, is doing the Star Trek reboot Prequel/Sequel film. I think it'll be brilliant, but more so I think it's quite necessary.
Sadly, the show runners of Trek tried their best to keep the franchise going on television but with Voyager and Enterprise they just took a few wrong turns. By the time they corrected their course (by bringing Manny Coto on board for Enterprise's last season), it was too late and most of the viewers were back to watching reruns of DS-9 and Next Generation instead. Turning to a completely new team was the best thing Paramount could do.
Will it work? Well, who knows. Paramount has already delayed the release of the new Trek film to May of 2009, and the studio developing the Star Trek Online game that was supposed to be available at the time of the film's release (Generations era, by the way), has laid off everyone working on the project and Paramount is looking for another studio to work on it. If you listen to the rumors Paramount is already liscencing the property to another studio, and I hope that's true. I was looking forward to logging onto my character and jumping into an academy runabout for whatever purpose. Even if a new studio is working on it, Star Trek Online may be facing a complete restart after over a full year of development. Pretty dark times in general.
The Trek Cow still goes 'Mooo' for Paramount. They're redeveloping the old 60's television series with new High Definition special effects, cleaning up the live action video and trying to recapture that classic magic for a new generation of viewers. Will it work? Who knows? I know they'll sell a lot of boxed sets, so they'll still make cash on the old stuff. Perhaps there will be renewed interest in syndicating this updated version of the original series? That's where the real money is, syndication. Funny thing, last I checked Generations was almost as well syndicated as the original series. The only reason why there are more screens showing Kirk, Spock and Bones, I imagine, is that it has been translated into more languages.
Having said all that, I'd like to wish everyone who cares about Generations a happy 20th aniverssary. To me that first episode and the seven years that followed on the small screen were magic. I enjoyed the Next Generation movies as well, everyone involved did a fantastic job of bearing the torch through over a decade. Not bad for a crew exploring the galaxy in their pajamas.
Now if Trek keeps on making cash for Paramount, I don't think we'll have to worry about seeing Trek die off. In fact, JJ Abrams and the people he works with bring a fresh eye to the franchise (I hate that word...) and I think we're in for an entirely new Generation of Trek with new movies and maybe even a new television show. I would actually love to see Star Trek back on television. I like what they did there, and the fact that they used the spectacular characters and settings to show us a few things about the world around us.
In any case, I'm excited, I think all science fiction fans should be. There is more Trek coming in one form or another. Money is being spent, great minds are being tapped, and the fans are just starting to line up. I'll be pre-ordering my new Kirk lunch box in May 2009, I already have a spot reserved for it beside my Generations crew bobble head collection.