"I know all of you have doubts about me, about each other, about the ship. All I can say is that even though we've only been together for a short time, I know that you are the finest crew in the fleet, and I would trust each of you with my life." - Capt. Jean-Luc Picard
Star Trek: The Next Generation was the second live action Star Trek series to appear on television. Though there had been a previous effort to bring Star Trek back to the small screen, it had failed and instead turned into a movie franchise.
From Memory Alpha: Star Trek: The Next Generation moved the universe forward roughly a century past the days of Kirk and Spock. The series depicted a new age in which the Klingons were allies of the Federation, though the Romulans remained adversaries. New threats included the Ferengi (although they were later used more for comic relief), the Cardassians, and the Borg. Where Star Trek: The Original Series (TOS) was clearly made in the 1960s, the first few seasons of The Next Generation show all the markings of a 1980s product, complete with Spandex uniforms.
As with the original Star Trek, TNG was still very much about exploration, 'going where no one has gone before'. Similarly, the show centered around the adventures of the crew of a starship, namely the USS Enterprise (NCC-1701-D). Despite the apparent similarities with the original series, the creators of TNG were adamant about creating a bold, independent vision of the future. The public did not widely accept the show on its own terms until the airing of "The Best of Both Worlds", which marked a shift towards higher drama, serious plot lines, and a less episodic nature. This helped pave the way for Star Trek: Deep Space Nine and its two-year-long Dominion War arc and preceding build-up, as well as the third and fourth seasons of Star Trek: Enterprise. Star Trek: Voyager capitalized on the heightened crew relationships and familial bonds first seen on The Next Generation. DS9, on the other hand, balanced political intrigue, soap-like character development, and series-long plot threads with a rerun-friendly format.
As with the original Star Trek, TNG's special effects utilized miniatures, but due to great advancements in computerized effects and opticals, the show leaped ahead of its predecessor in terms of quality effects. This series marked the greatest surge in Star Trek's mainstream popularity, and paved the way for the three later televised Trek shows.
Four of the Star Trek motion pictures continued the adventures of the TNG cast after the end of the series in 1994. Star Trek Generations served to "pass the torch" from The Original Series cast, who had been the subject of the first six motion pictures, by including crossover appearances from William Shatner, James Doohan, and Walter Koenig; it also featured the destruction of the USS Enterprise-D. Star Trek: First Contact, released two years later, was the first of the motion pictures to solely feature the TNG cast, transferred aboard the new USS Enterprise-E and engaging with one of their deadliest enemies from the television series, the Borg. Star Trek: Insurrection followed in 1998, continuing certain character arcs from the series. In 2002, Star Trek Nemesis brought some of these character arcs and plot threads to a seemingly definite conclusion, although some cast members have since expressed the hope that future movies may yet pick up the story.
Captain Jean-Luc Picard was an experienced officer, diplomat, and leader when he took command of the Galaxy-class U.S.S. Enterprise-D, the Federation's flagship. Captain Picard represented the best the Federation had to offer - honorable, compassionate, and always in search of a diplomatic solution to a problem; yet, he was a more than capable fighter when the situation called for it.
Commander William T. Riker was a career officer when he joined the crew of the Enterprise-D as First Officer. For such a promising young officer, it was unheard of for him to turn down his own command - the Drake - to serve as First Officer for the Enterprise. Feeling he would learn more serving under Captain Picard, he stayed with him for over a decade before finally accepting his own command.
Lieutenant Commander Data is the only Android in Starfleet, having been discovered by Starfleet Officers decades before his assignment to the Enterprise as Science Officer. He was an excellent officer, engineer, and valuable member of the senior staff, but sought only to better understand humanity so he might become more human.
Lieutenant Commander Geordi LaForge started as the Conn Officer on board the Enterprise, but was quickly promoted to Chief Engineer. Born blind, he wore a mechanical VISOR that allowed him to see, but only electromagnetic energy. In spite of this, he was an incredibly intelligent engineer and a well-respected leader.
Commander Beverly Crusher joined her long-time friend Jean-Luc Picard aboard Enterprise as the Chief Medical Officer, along with her son Wesley. Though she enjoyed her post, she was initially conflicted about serving with the man that had been in command of her husband at the time of his death. Eventually, they would put aside the past and become close friends.
Lieutenant Worf was the first Klingon in Starfleet. He had been rescued as a small child by a Starfleet officer, who adopted him when it was realized his entire family had been killed. Worf served with honor and distinction, becoming Chief of Security aboard the Enterprise after the tragic death of Tasha Yar.
Counselor Deanna Troi, a half-Human, half-Betazoid empath, served as the ship's counselor to the more than one thousand (1,000) people aboard the Enterprise-D. Though initially lacking confidence and the knowledge of an officer, Troi later found a way to merge her work as a counselor with her officer's career, becoming a full Commander. She married William Riker shortly before he accepted command of the U.S.S. Titan.
TNG debuted in Second Edition as one of the Federation's sub-affiliations, as a faction that excelled at attempting missions and that went out of their way to help everyone. Since then, TNG has gained valuable assets in almost every set, but particularly in the out-of-print Necessary Evil, Fractured Time, and In a Mirror, Darkly.
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