Binge Watchin' TV Review: Star Trek: The Next Generation
Welcome to Binge Watchin,’ where we take a look at some of the best TV shows available on streaming or disc that have a great catalogue of seasons to jump into and get sucked into the beautiful bliss of binge watching! From crime, action, comedy, drama, animation, etc., we’ll be evaluating an assortment of shows that will hopefully serve as a gateway to your next binge experience.
Series: Star Trek: The Next Generation
Number of Seasons: 7 (178 episodes to date)
What’s the show about?
Set a century after the original 1966 television series, Star Trek: The Next Generation introduces a new crew of the starship Enterprise as they explore the galaxy in the name of the Federation, a group of peaceful planets looking to expand their knowledge in the names of progress. Heading the crew is Captain Jean-Luc Picard, a no-nonsense and experienced leader. Joining him are a wide array of individuals like the dashing Commander Riker, the android Data, the blind engineer Geordi LaForge, the sexy telepath Counselor Troy, Doctor Beverly Crusher and her curious son Wesley, Klingon security officer Worf, and many more. This new Enterprise is home to families and scientists, making it more of a community than just a ship. Over seven seasons, Picard and his crew helped change the face of Starfleet and each other.
Why should I watch it?
Do I really need to tell you? Star Trek is one of the most iconic franchises of all time. If asked for a synopsis, you have a 50/50 shot of summarizing this or STAR WARS. But, where STAR WARS is a fantastical world full of battles and adventure, Star Trek is a Utopian vision for where our world could actually go in three hundred years. Where the original '66 series felt more like a low-rent Western, this second series benefits from (then) state of the art special effects and a much bigger budget. But, instead of turning the series into a action extravanganza, The Next Generation is full of cultural and societal topics in each episode ranging from class warfare to sexual politics and more. It may look somewhat dated in the two decades since it debuted in syndication but Star Trek: The Next Generation's subject matter has never been more topical.
Before it spawned two spin-off series set in the same time period (Deep Space Nine and Voyager) as well as a prequel series (Enterprise), The Next Generation evolved over seven years of storytelling to give us a show that created more involved characters than the first series could over it's run as well as six feature films. The Next Generation gave us the Data, a machine who is more human than many of us. Brent Spiner's performance is classic and he instantly became a fan favorite character. Instead of copying the Kirk/Spock dynamic from the first show, The Next Generation instead gave us Patrick Stewart's Picard who changes from a child-hating leader with no sense of humor to a more engaging and rounded personality. Jonathan Frakes' William Riker benefits from being the Kirk-like lothario which gives the show a great leadership dynamic.
I could go on about the cast and crew who all are worthy of deep analysis. Everyone from Worf to Troi to Geordi and minor characters like Tasha Yar or Ro Laren are all given showcase episodes in which they deliver. Star Trek: The Next Generation may be science fiction, but it is also so much more. People who claim they are not fans of the genre may be very surprised to find themselves invested in the characters and plot-lines in this show more than they would be in other series. Star Trek has always been about more than lasers and aliens but never better than in The Next Generation. Aliens like Q (a brilliant John De Lancie) and the frightening Borg rank amongst some of the best creations in television history.
Season 4 saw the resolution of the Borg cliffhanger that concluded the previous season. Kidnapped by the parasitic race, Picard was transformed into the hybrid being known as Locutus which forced the crew that had come to respect him as a captain and love him as a friend try to rescue him. The rest of the season hinged on Picard's recovery and whether he could fully become the man he used to be. This helped drive the evolution of Patrick Stewart's performance which culminated in the feature film STAR TREK: FIRST CONTACT, one of the best in the entire franchise.
Star Trek is a show that many people assume is not for them because they aren't into genre television. Some feel it is a show with a lot of talking and preaching and not a lot else, but I defy you to watch The Next Generation and not find a lot to relate to. There are mystery episodes, thriller episodes, romances, drama, and a good deal of action. Yes, there is a lot of talking but as the show aired, the dialogue improved dramatically and the show changed from being an update of the original series to a creation all it's own. This is a show that you can pop on any episode as a standalone
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