Getty Images/ CBS Photo Archive(LOS ANGELES) — Thirty years ago today, Star Trek: The Next Generation — then the first new Trek series since the original Star Trek ended in 1969 — debuted in first-run syndication.
Set 100 years after the start of the original series, ST: TNG featured a new Enterprise and a new, more diverse crew, including an android, a Klingon, a female doctor, a half-alien ship’s counselor, a teenage ensign, and an African American chief engineer who was blind, but who could “see” thanks to advanced technology. Whoopi Goldberg also played the recurring role of Guinan, the ship’s enigmatic bartender.
The crew was led by Patrick Stewart’s Captain Jean-Luc Picard, a Frenchman with an upper-class British accent, whose catchphrase “Make it so!” soon become part of popular culture. The fact that Stewart was bald was somewhat controversial at first, but he soon came to be credited with making bald sexy.
As in the original series, the familiar Vulcans, Klingons and Romulans appeared in ST: TNG, but there were also new species like the greedy Ferengi, the devious Cardassians and, especially, the merciless, cybernetic Borg, whose declaration “Resistance is futile” introduced one of the most fearsome foes in the entire Star Trek universe.
Star Trek: The Next Generation ran for seven seasons and won a Peabody award and 19 Emmys. It was also the first and only syndicated series to receive a Outstanding Drama Series Emmy nomination, for its final season.
TNG‘s massive success paved the way the subsequent trek spinoffs Deep Space Nine, Voyager and Enterprise, though none were as popular, as well as the just-debuted Star Trek: Discovery. The TNG cast also starred in four movies: 1994’s Star Trek Generations, 1996’s Star Trek: First Contact, 1998’s Star Trek: Insurrection, and 2002’s Star Trek: Nemesis. Of these, First Contact is considered one of the best of the 13 total Star Trek movies.
While Stewart went on to star in another popular sci-fi movie franchise — X-Men — the rest of the TNG cast continues to be a popular draw at Star Trek conventions worldwide. A few years ago, LeVar Burton, who played chief engineer Geordi La Forge, told ABC Radio: “It’s wacky. None of us when we started this journey ever imagined that we would be where we are this many years out of production, and the show as popular as it ever was.”
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