Sunday, May 06, 2012

My Generation

At the recent convention in Calgary (Alberta, Canada), the entire cast that began the first year of Star Trek: The Next Generation appeared on a stage together.  It was an extraordinary and for me very moving event, which these videos first posted at Trek Movie allowed me to witness.

At the panel I chaired on "The Soul of Star Trek" at the Star Trek convention in Seattle celebrating the saga's 40th anniversary, Dave Marinaccio (author of All I Really Need to Know I Learned From Watching Star Trek ) argued that the most significant part of the saga was the original Star Trek series, while Jeff Greenwald (author of Future Perfect: How Star Trek Conquered Planet Earth) maintained that because of its global popularity, The Next Generation was the most important.

It was an argument that apparently roiled among Trek fans for the first few years of TNG (as a couple of the actors mentioned in these videos), though I was blissfully unaware of it at the time.  But now that the original series has become so iconic that it's being postmodernized for the second time with a better financed feature than any either the original TOS or TNG ever got, the influence and importance of TNG is perhaps being obscured a bit.

For me, my affections were split between these two series, but I felt more of a bond with TNG.  I watched it every week in its first run, and it was an important part of my life for those 7 years. Though the soul of Star Trek was developed with TOS and expressed for all time in specific episodes and movies, I always felt that in general the soul of Star Trek was more definitely and definitively expressed in TNG--in the stories, in that version of the Enterprise, and in the characters and their relationships.

The actors played a crew that loved each other, and that the actors themselves did and do in fact love each other adds even more depth to the world they created.  These videos show more of what they must be like together--the kind of people they are together--than I've ever seen.  Sometimes we are better people in some ways when we are with certain other people. Parts of ourselves get expressed in unique ways.   That was part of TNG on screen, and perhaps it is true of the cast.  I enjoyed meeting a few of the cast at that Seattle convention, and I cherish this opportunity to be among them in this way.

So for me seeing these videos is a real treat.  I've posted just one--the third of five--because it is maybe most characteristic, and pretty much everyone contributes (with some revelations from Patrick Stewart among others.)  But the whole sequence is a joy, from Doctor Crusher dancing her entrance, to Wil Wheaton confessing his range of feelings about being in and then leaving the show, to--what else?--a surprise visit from Q.  Plus the kiss that Picard/Crusher fans have waited to see.  So follow the link and see the whole set.  And there are other videos from the Calgary Expo, too.



Maurice Mitchell said...

Captain Future, great post. I agree "the soul of Star Trek was more definitely and definitively expressed in TNG." I like to think of TOS as the trial, imperfect, but well-intentioned. A generation grew up on TNG and it had better special effects.

altstartrek said...

Strangely, I grew up watching DS9. TNG was on sometimes, but DS9 got to me first.

I don't think it makes DS9 better than TNG, just first before my eyes. But DS9 seemed to be the first one where there was real continuity between episodes and a lot of the conflicts, like the Bajor-Cardassia relationship, were still up in the air, even after 7 seasons!