The Star Trek franchise has been in the news recently with the newest movie hitting theaters this summer and the recent 50th anniversary of Star Trek: The Original Series. Here is another somewhat lesser known but just as important fact about the franchise – next year, 2017, will be the 30th anniversary of Star Trek The Next Generation (TNG). Say what??!!!
Many people in today’s geek culture grew up watching TNG. As I’ve said before, watching this show was a big part of my life growing up. My week revolved around it. The only time it didn’t was during the O.J. Simpson trial because my dad wanted to watch that instead, so I had a harder time sneaking in my television time.
But that show can’t have started 30 years ago?! Can it?! It can.
Marina Sirtis who portrayed Counselor Deanna Troi on TNG made the revelation at the recent 2016 Star Trek Convention in Las Vegas, and it got me thinking about the show. I’d recently started watching the series from the first episode to the last (thanks, Netflix!) and even though they are somewhat cheesy and the bridge of the Enterprise looks like the inside of a late 1980s station wagon, there is so much quality to the show and the characters. Case in point, the 25th episode of the show, Conspiracy, of which the premise is the Iran-Contra affair.
At the beginning of the show, Captain Walker Keel sends a confidential message to his old friend, Captain Jean Luc Picard. Keel is concerned that something bad is going on in Starfleet and wants to meet with Picard in person. They meet off-site, and Keel tells Picard he thinks there is a conspiracy among the hire ups in Starfleet, as there have been some suspicious deaths of Starfleet officers. In the midst of his investigation into those deaths (with the help of Data and Riker), he takes the Enterprise to Starfleet Command on Earth in San Francisco. While there, he is invited to dine with several of the admirals in question, and realizes they are each possessed by an alien life form when they all start to eat bowls of living larvae. That’s right. They are eating bowls of worms!!
These alien life forms are controlling them and were the cause behind all of the deaths of Starfleet officers of which Keel was suspicious. Picard and Riker are able to subdue the admirals and dispose of the alien life forms without hurting the humans, except for one. Commander Dexter Remmick runs off to another room in the midst of the fight. When Riker and Picard find him, he’s trying to send off a message to another planet. They fire on him and a huge alien parasite comes out of him (think the birth scene in Alien). Both Remmick and the alien perish, but a figurative door is left open for the alien’s race to come back to the show.
I remember a friend of mine was kind of shocked when he saw this episode. He said his dad was horrified and wouldn’t let him watch the show anymore (remember this was before I was a teenager). I mean this episode was controversial and did face some criticism, but it wasn’t that bad. It is a lot darker than the any other Star Trek episode, but it wasn’t as dark as it could have been. It was also a good story that showed some of the eviler elements in the world (remember this was 1987) and how good people tried to stop them and live their lives.
And that is why I love the show so much (that and Riker was so cute with and without his beard). You have characters who are passionate about life and are living that life to the fullest. They don’t try to change anybody, they accept them for who they are and then everyone has a good time.
I think that theme has been really been one of the predominant ones throughout the franchise. I hope it continues in the new show, Star Trek Discovery that will air in 2017.
A side note about the new Star Trek show, why can’t pick up after TNG? Why does it have to be another prequel? Aren’t there enough? I mean the last movie TNG movie, Star Trek Nemesis, said their final journey was beginning. I know that movie can’t be the whole journey. There has to be more. Do Riker and Troi have kids? What are some of the adventures their new ship has? Do Picard and Dr. Crusher end up together? Does Wesley ever surface again? Does Data live forever? (Maybe I should write their continuing journey)?
I just started the second season of TNG, and I’m excited to see what other gems I’ll find. They are going to be endless! Until then 🙂