Tuesday, April 10, 2007


by William S. Kowinski

"What will become of you and me
(This is the school in which we learn...)
Besides the photo and the memory?
(...that time is the fire in which we burn.)

(This is the school in which we learn...)
What is the self amid this blaze?
What am I now that I was then
Which I shall suffer and act again…?"

Calmly We Walk Through This April's Day
by Delmore Schwartz

In 1994 Star Trek was at a kind of summit. It was taken there by six mostly successful feature films and by the unprecedented success of Star Trek: The Next Generation, the first cable television series to regularly attract more viewers in major markets than any network series broadcast at the same time. TNG was also a creative success, nominated for a Best Drama Series Emmy in its seventh season, a year of classics like Northern Exposure, Twin Peaks, Picket Fences and NYPD Blue (the winner.)

It was at this point that Star Trek was truly becoming a franchise, or perhaps even more specifically, a corporation, with (for the first time) a single CEO and creative team in charge of Star Trek on television and in feature films. It’s not that Rick Berman didn’t have bosses over him. He was being pressured to turn out a feature film immediately after TNG’s 7th and final season, and its schedule kept getting cut back. He had been told to develop two new Star Trek TV series, not only to replace TNG but to keep two Star Treks on the air simultaneously. But for the first time, there was a single creative group in charge of executing these plans—in charge of making all the Star Trek in the commercial universe.

TNG was being ended as a TV series so that this crew of popular and globally familiar characters could replace the aging original series cast as stars of Star Trek movies. TNG’s successor series, Star Trek: Deep Space Nine, was already in its second year of broadcast. And another series, Star Trek: Voyager was in full development, slated to be the flagship of a new cable network (reviving the Paramount dream of more than a decade before, of a network headed by the return of the original crew in a Star Trek: Phase Two series, aborted weeks before production was to begin in favor of the first Star Trek feature film.)

The theme of the seventh Star Trek film was in its title: Generations. It was the transition from the original series—the TOS generation and Star Trek’s 23rd century, to the TNG generation and the other 24th century crews. On the screen, it was the transition from the TOS actors to the TNG actors, symbolized in a story that featured both Captain Kirk and Captain Picard. But creatively, it was also the transition to the generation that had begun with TNG.

Text continues after photos. Thanks to Trekcore for most of the screen caps.

No comments: