Friday, September 28, 2012

Star Trek: The Next Generation Celebrates Its 25th Anniversary

If you follow the Star Trek franchise, you may already be aware that today marks the 25th anniversary of the premiere of the first episode of Star Trek: The Next Generation, "Encounter at Farpoint." The odds are, Paramount will be making an even bigger fuss about the 50th anniversary of the entire Star Trek franchise in just four more years, but in the meantime, there are plenty of interviews and retrospectives to be found. Just head on over to StarTrek.com for a sampling.

When The Next Generation first came on the air, it was accompanied by a fairly major push of publicity from Paramount studios, no doubt taking advantage of the success of Star Trek IV: The Voyage Home (arguably the most popular original cast film of the franchise with the general public, with apologies to fans of Star Trek II, which has an undeniably strong base within the Trek fandom) the previous year. The Next Generation actually represents at least the third attempt to bring Star Trek back to television screens after the original series ended, and the second to successfully do so (the first attempt was the Animated series of the 1970s, and the unsuccessful attempt was directly responsible for the existence of Star Trek: The Motion Picture, at the end of that same decade). Paramount Studios, the owner of the franchise after buying out Desilu Productions mid-way through the original series' run, clearly had high hopes for the show.

After what would probably be fair to say was a rocky first season, The Next Generation grew to be insanely popular. It was not only more successful during it's original run than the original series ever was during its own original airing, but the other Trek spin-offs to air in the years since (even the prequel, Star Trek: Enterprise) are really much more Next Generation spin-offs than spin-offs of the original series. While the original series may be the spark that ignited the flame, the Next Generation was the torchbearer, setting the standard that Trek fans since the 1980s have come to expect.

It's actually hard for me to comprehend, even today, that when The Next Generation first aired, even the original series was only about 21 years old, younger than The Next Generation is now. This naturally means that kids of today cannot help but look back at The Next Generation as the kind of hazy "historical relic" that I considered the original series to be. With the series now coming out on Blu-ray, I hope that fans can look back and say that The Next Generation holds up as well as fans of the original series in the 1980s would have said the original series did.

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