It’s amazing to think that it was 30 years ago, TODAY, that Star Trek: The Next Generation premiered its very first episode on Fox (September 28th, 1989).
7 seasons and 176 episodes later (I’m not embarrassed to say that I watched all 176 episodes live, when they first aired) the show remains a true gem! A Saturday night escape that I looked forward to every single week it aired and often ran around the house in utter excitement “overload” when an episode had completed (and don’t even get me started on those cliff hangers! Ahhh!).
While shows like Buffy the Vampire Slayer, Lost, Mr Ed, Moonlighting, He-Man, OZ, and Ducktales were, for different reasons, all deeply important to me, STTNG easily takes the prize and remains the most profoundly influential television show of my life and my career.
I have always been drawn to Gene Roddenberry’s positive and inclusive vision of our future. The idea that we could evolve beyond our differences to accept one another was (and still is) something I believe in. A future where different people (and aliens) worked in unison and without prejudice or hate to explore and evolve! I also loved that these characters were in the pursuit of knowledge, not for power or wealth or God, but for the sake of knowledge itself!
To this day, I still so vividly remember the final scene, of the final episode of the series and tear up when I think about it. I have not watched the episode in probably 20 years but I remember the bridge crew laughing and playing poker, after they had solved the week’s emergency/mystery/challenge.
There is suddenly an alert from the door, interrupting them. Riker yells “enter” and the doors open revealing Captain Picard. Picard has never joined his crew for these off duty moments. For context, this is the point I began to cry, because I knew what was happening… Picard enters and asks if he might join them. He sits down, and is offered the cards by Data so he can deal. There is a moment, camera stays on Picard as he looks around the table, at each person, his friends, his family really, and he says simply “I should have done this a long time ago.”
The card game starts and we as fans were given the most beautiful and eloquent end to a show, ever, in my opinion. A show that over its seven years taught humility, understanding, hope, and that humans, when they work together, can solve any problem.
A show that even in it’s final moments had another lesson to teach, that family is who we choose and that it’s never too late to change your life.
If any of this sounds silly to you, I say to you honestly, I feel sorry for you!
To not feel, what I have felt. The utter joy! The complete happiness! To have allowed my imagination to dream of something different and new. To pretend! To have been so deeply touched by actors and writers and directors who created a world I so happily believed in and cherished, is something that I am not only thankful for, but something that has influenced me on all sorts of levels, personally and professional. I can’t image my life without it….If you don’t know this feeling, you’re missing out.
I celebrate this milestone and say simply, thank you! To Roddenberry and everyone who helped make this show the amazing inspiration it was, and still is!