"Star Trek, The Next Generation
Loved throughout the nation
It's my favourite show...
(I've seen every episode...)"

- Adam Buxton, The Adam & Joe Show.

Star Trek: The Next Generation was a syndicated television series that ran from 1987-1994. It is widely regarded by sci-fi fans and normal people alike to be one of the best TV series ever made. It looked good, all (alright, most) of the characters were well developed and interesting to watch, and there was a continuous stream of ideas that became part of our cultural language (the Borg being a prominent example).

The first couple of series were pretty lame compared to the later ones. However, once the groundwork was done, the producers decided to put some distance between their universe and that of the original Star Trek series. Out of the shadow of its cheap, melodramatic (but popular) predecessor, ST:TNG developed its own identity. It even managed to transfer with some limited success to the big screen, although outside of an episodic structure the show's weaknesses are more apparent.

A spinoff of the original Star Trek series which, despite its short run (1966 to 1968, 79 episodes plus the pilot), garnered an almost fanatical fanbase through the program's syndication. The official website for all things Star Trek, is http://www.startrek.com. (And it's a very pretty website too, but very much a commercial for the series. Shows you what episodes are on and where, that sort of thing. Includes interesting cast-related stuff, like who's starred with who, and where.) See wikipedia's treatment also.

Star Trek: The Next Generation (abbreviated ST:TNG, and pronounced "sting") first aired in September, 1987, and ran until 1994, with 168 episodes in total (and guess what? Here's the Star Trek Episodes node). Four movies have since been borne of the series, Star Trek: Generations, Star Trek: First Contact, and Star Trek: Insurrection, and Star Trek: Nemesis. Although they are not the sorts of movies to win billions of golden globes, they're generally respected and enjoyed, and profitable. And of course, it should be mentioned that TNG spawned two offshoot shows of its own: Star Trek: Deep Space Nine and Star Trek: Voyager. It seems that this particular timeline and continuity rang true with many viewers; Star Trek: Enterprise, a prequel to the 1960s series conceived in 2001, lacked a decent viewership and was cancelled in its fourth season.

This series became the most widely watched television program in the world, and is still widely syndicated on many stations. It was conceived by Gene Roddenberry, the original series creator.

The premise of the show is a very simple one: a starship flies around and gets into adventures, but over the years the Star Trek producers and writers have seen fit to relate stories involving drug use, poverty, racism and all other problems in our society. In all truth, Star Trek's universe is humankind's ultimate ideal: a universe and Earth without war, without poverty. Besides, everyone wants a spaceship. I want a spaceship.

If you've never seen--or, heaven help you, haven't heard of--the show before, where have you been?

The Cast

Patrick Stewart, as Captain Jean-Luc Picard
Jonathan Frakes, as Commander William T. Riker
Brent Spiner, as Lt. Commander Data
Michael Dorn, as Lt. Commander Worf Rozhenko
Marina Sirtis, as Counselor Deanna Troi
Gates McFadden, as Dr. Beverly Crusher
LeVar Burton, as Lt. Commander Geordi Laforge

Wil Wheaton's character, Wesley Crusher, was weak, and was completely phased out by the fifth season. He survived for perhaps two seasons before getting a recurring role.
Denise Crosby played Lt. Tasha Yar, whose character was killed off in the first season (Skin of Evil).Real smart, this one, for quitting the most popular show on TV. Ever.

A Short List of Recurring Character

Star Trek: The Next Generation spawned a few characters which particularly stick out in a Trekkie's (or Trekker's) mind:

Dwight Schulz, as Reginald Barclay

John DeLancie, as Q.

Denise Crosby, as Sela, daughter to Tasha Yar

The aforementioned Wesley Crusher, though I would hardly consider some of his his parts "memorable." A fine actor, certainly, but he was sometimes handed bad stories, in my opinion.

There are many more characters which stand out in a fan's mind, many of which I've probably not included. Even so, we've got to talk races. These are a driving force in Star Trek: The Next Generation. Many of the races stemming from this series went on to Star Trek: Deep Space Nine, and Star Trek: Voyager.

An Incomplete List of the Races
(Note that some races may appear in any of the Star Trek series)

Romulan
Ferengi
Betazoid
Cardassian
Klingon
Vulcan
The Borg
The Q Continuum

Finally, if there is anything (or anyone) that needs to be added, feel free to /msg dev any time you'd like. Or node it up yourself!

Additional Info: The Star Trek Project

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