With the launch of Star Trek: The Next Generation, Gene Roddenberry somehow managed to recapture lightning in a bottle. This new incarnation of Star Trek was an instant hit, and its popularity inspired four films and three spin-off television series.
A must-have for fans, Star Trek: The Next Generation 365 provides a fresh, accessible overview of the entire series, including an authorized guide to all 178 episodes. Featuring classic and rarely seen photography and illustrations, this visual celebration of the voyages of Captain Picard, his crew, and the Enterprise-D offers a loving look back at the Emmy and Hugo Award–winning series.
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About the Author
The Topps Company, Inc., founded in 1938, is best known as a leading producer of baseball cards and other trading cards and stickers. They are also known for Bazooka bubblegum, which was introduced in 1947.
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THE THING THAT WOULDN'T DIE
Star Trek was dead.
NBC had canceled the series in 1969. The sets had been struck. The actors, writers, and producers had moved on to new projects. But a funny thing happened on the way to the television graveyard.
* * *
Kaiser Broadcasting, a small division of industrial giant Henry J. Kaiser Company, put the show into syndication. Scheduling the series in a time slot carefully chosen to attract a youthful audience, Kaiser stations ran the episodes uncut and in order. When they got to episode number 78, the final episode produced, they started all over again. And then they did it again. And again. Viewership began to snowball, the reruns finding the core audience that had evaded Star Trek in its first run. And against all logic — there were no new episodes, after all — the snowball became an avalanche. A kind of Trekker nation took shape, its members participating in Star Trek clubs and sharing their own Star Trek stories. In 1972, the first Star Trek convention, held in New York City, drew more than three thousand enthusiastic attendees. The following year, a second convention doubled that number. Soon Star Trek conventions were taking place all over the country, with Star Trek creator Gene Roddenberry a much sought-after guest of honor.
Something was happening, that was clear.
None of this escaped the attention of Paramount Pictures, the rights holder to the show. But executives at the historic studio, located in the middle of Hollywood on Melrose Avenue, weren't quite sure what to do with this unexpected gift. After all, they weren't the ones who'd originally supported Roddenberry's vision of the future. That was Desilu Productions, a company that had since become an acquisition of Paramount's parent company. Was there a large enough audience to warrant bringing Star Trek to the big screen? Or, perhaps, a second attempt at the small screen? Plans changed from month to month. A movie? Okay! But the studio didn't like any of the submitted scripts. A TV show on a brand-new Paramount network? Okay! That idea got as far as preproduction. Actors were cast, sets were built, and scripts were written for a new series, tentatively called Star Trek: Phase II. But the brand-new network idea didn't pan out and plans for the series went pffffft!
By then it was 1977. Star Wars opened, and it was a mega hit. Cue more rumblings from behind the studio walls. A movie? But all that money had already been spent on the stillborn TV series. ... What if we take the script for the two-hour pilot and turn it into a movie?
Two years later, Star Trek: The Motion Picture debuted on the big screen. It was successful enough to warrant sequel after sequel. Then, in 1986 — the year of Star Trek's twentieth anniversary — the studio again took stock. What if we continue to do the movies and also have another go at television?
This time, the lights were green all the way down Melrose Avenue. ...
00 002 THE WORD IS GIVEN
"Twenty years ago, the genius of one man brought to television a program that has transcended the medium. We are enormously pleased that that man, Gene Roddenberry, is going to do it again."
— Mel Harris, President, Paramount Television Group
By October 1986, plans regarding a new Star Trek television series had proceeded to the point where Paramount felt comfortable spilling the beans at a studio press conference. Stalwart Star Trek fans had been hearing rumors through their own grapevine for quite some time, and they had mixed feelings. They wanted a new show, of course, but they weren't thrilled to hear that it would take place a century after The Original Series and feature a brand-new crew.
For the powers that be at Paramount, it was a logical decision. Weekly television necessitates a grueling pace; why would actors who'd been earning goodly sums to do a Star Trek movie every two years want to return to the lower paycheck and unpredictable hours of series television?
For its part, the press was intrigued by Paramount's announced intention to distribute the show itself, rather than sell it to an established network. Paramount initially had offered the show to the four major players (by this time, Fox, too, had its own network, along with ABC, CBS, and NBC), but the networks had balked at Paramount's conditions: commit to a full season of episodes, a guaranteed time slot (with no preemptions), and an expensive promotional push. So Paramount execs did the math and made a bold decision. They would produce the series themselves and syndicate the new episodes to the same stations that were airing The Original Series. While syndication of reruns was a tried-and-true moneymaker, syndication of a new program was a risky strategy. In the long run, it could pay off handsomely. In the short run, however, if the show was not a hit ... Paramount decided to chance it. As Mel Harris would later explain, "We realized that nobody else was going to care as much about Star Trek as we did."
During this early development period, Gene Roddenberry was gathering a team of talented people to help him put the show — soon to be christened Star Trek: The Next Generation — together. Among them were four who cared very much about Star Trek, and who had, in fact, been closely associated with The Original Series: producers Robert H. Justman and Edward K. Milkis, and writers Dorothy "D.C." Fontana and David Gerrold. All four would make important contributions to the series, but for various reasons, all would depart within The Next Generation's first year of production.
Elsewhere on the Paramount lot in 1986, on a separate career path, was a man whose fate would soon become irrevocably intertwined with Star Trek. His name was Rick Berman.
00 003 BRINGING BERMAN ABOARD
In 1984, Rick Berman left a career in television production (including PBS's Emmy Award–winning Big Blue Marble and HBO's What on Earth) to become a "suit"— that is, a studio executive who supervises the work of producers. As director of current programming for Paramount Television, he was charged with overseeing successful sitcoms such as Cheers and Family Ties. Within a year, he was promoted to executive director of dramatic programming. In 1986, he was bumped up again, this time to vice president of longform (over sixty minutes) and special projects, and it was in that position that he received the phone call. He was to meet with producer Gene Roddenberry the following day.
Berman arrived to find Roddenberry arguing with a group of studio executives about a proposed new series. Berman quietly observed the back and forth and refrained from interjecting his own opinions. As he later noted in his foreword to the book Star Trek: The Next Generation — The Continuing Mission, he was unfamiliar with the subject under discussion and didn't have an opinion. But in the midst of all the shouting, Roddenberry had noticed him. Their eyes met, and Berman, admittedly amused by the scene playing out before him, smiled at Roddenberry.
The smile, apparently, told the producer everything he needed to know about this unknown exec — if nothing else, that Berman wasn't simply sitting in the room agreeing with his fellow suits on principle. In fact, Roddenberry read even more into the expression. He later told Berman that it seemed to say, "Can you believe what assholes these guys are?" Berman, however, holds to his conviction that "it was nothing more than a slightly mischievous smile."
The upshot of that enigmatic smile was life-changing. The day after the meeting, Roddenberry invited Berman to lunch. The producer discussed his past, and Berman discussed his own. Roddenberry was particularly interested in Berman's early stint as a globe-trotting documentary filmmaker, which perhaps mirrored Roddenberry's own love of adventure. Per Berman, the subject of Star Trek never came up — until the next day, when Roddenberry conveyed an invitation for Berman to quit his job with the studio and come work for Star Trek as a producer.
Perhaps Roddenberry had been right about their connection, because Berman took a leap of faith and accepted the offer. He had no idea that he would be responsible for overseeing the entire Star Trek franchise within a few short years.
Here is a relic of sorts: a photo that captures Berman (left) during the brief period in 1986 when he was Paramount Television's "studio guy," responsible for riding herd on special projects. Next to Berman is John Ferraro, then a development executive for Paramount's TV Group, and on the far right, Peter S. Greenberg, vice president of TV development. Today, Ferraro is an independent film producer. Greenberg is currently the travel editor for CBS News, producing travel segments across all CBS broadcast platforms and hosting his own nationally syndicated radio program.
00 004 IN THE BEGINNING — THE SERIES BIBLE
Like the Constitution of the United States, a television series bible is considered a "living, breathing document"— not set in stone but, rather, subject to change via the inclusion of "amendments." And just as the first bible for the original Star Trek series included elements that would change with casting choices and network provisos, so, too, did the initial bible for Star Trek: The Next Generation.
The twenty-three-page document, dated November 26, 1986, covered the show's format, central premise, characters, and technology. Some details would "stick"— like perfectly cooked spaghetti thrown at the wall — while others quickly morphed into aspects more familiar. Frenchman "Julien" Picard maintained his Franco heritage through the transition to "Jean-Luc" Picard, but ultimately spoke with a British accent due to the casting of Patrick Stewart. Deanna Troi, who had telepathic abilities that were the result of her "one-eighth" Betazed heritage (from her father's side of the family), became a more clear-cut half-blood Betazoid with empathic skills, thanks to her Betazoid mom. Security Chief Macha Hernandez, said to be inspired by Vasquez, the plucky Latina character in the film Aliens, was rechristened with a Ukrainian moniker — Natasha "Tasha" Yar — when blonde, blue-eyed Denise Crosby landed the role. And perhaps no character went through as large a physical transition as Leslie Crusher, the petite, winsome fifteen-year-old girl who accompanied her mom, Doctor Beverly Crusher, to the Enterprise. (Mom, by the way, was said to have had "a natural walk more suitable to a striptease queen" than a scientist.) Interestingly, there wasn't a Klingon officer named Worf to describe at this point (which explains why Michael Dorn didn't appear in the earliest group shot, seen here); Gene Roddenberry initially was reluctant to add alien species that had played a significant role in The Original Series. He considered them "retread" characters.
The series was set in the early twenty-fifth century on the Enterprise-G, the eighth starship to bear that name. It later was recalibrated to take place in the twenty-fourth century — just one hundred years after The Original Series — on the Enterprise-D (i.e., the fifth starship to carry that name). Communicators were conceived as "wrist devices" (as previously seen in one of the early Star Trek films), but ultimately became the familiar insignia badges. And one new bit of technology — the "landing envelope" — never happened at all, possibly due to the strain it would have placed on the effects budget and the writing staff (not enough danger!). The device would have placed "a protective power field envelope around a person or landing party, allowing away teams to visit planets with much more hostile environments than was possible in the past."
00 005 IN THE BEGINNING — CASTING
Casting for Star Trek: The Next Generation began in March 1987. By April 13, the list of potential crew members for the Enterprise had been whittled down to a select group. Many of the actors who did not make the final cut clearly were impressive enough to be called back to the Star Trek franchise at a later date. Mitchell Ryan, a contender for Picard, would show up in the series' second season as Will Riker's father, Kyle. Rosalind Chao, reading for the role of Tasha Yar, would pop up during TNG's fourth season as semiregular Keiko Ishikawa O'Brien, bride of Transporter Chief Miles O'Brien; she would accompany him to Star Trek: Deep Space Nine two years later. Tim Russ, later cast as Tuvok on Star Trek: Voyager, was a contender for the role of Geordi La Forge (as were Reggie Jackson and Wesley Snipes, neither of whom made it to Star Trek). And while Eric Menyuk didn't win the coveted role of Data, he did win a consolation prize when he was cast as the Traveler, guesting three times over the course of TNG's seven seasons. At first, Belgian actor Patrick Bauchau (perhaps best known to audiences as Sydney in the television series The Pretender) seemed a favorite to capture the role of Picard, but Robert Justman was relentless in his campaigning for Patrick Stewart, who'd greatly impressed the producer in a Shakespeare seminar at UCLA. Roddenberry agreed that Stewart clearly had talent, but ... "Gene did not like the idea of a bald English guy stepping into the shoes of William Shatner," said Rick Berman in a 2006 interview for the Archive of American Television. "He just didn't match his image of what a captain should be." With Berman adding additional weight to Justman's arguments, Roddenberry finally agreed to let Stewart audition in front of the studio reps who would make the final call — but only if Stewart wore a wig. Stewart complied and was sent over to meet with John Pike, then president of Paramount's network television division. Following the meeting, Berman recalls, Pike's decision was succinct. "He said, 'Go with the English guy, but lose the wig.'"
00 006 CAPTAIN JEAN-LUC PICARD
"CAPTAIN JEAN-LUC PICARD (played by Patrick Stewart): Picard deserves the description 'distinguished.' A born explorer and superbly experienced starship commander, he served on an incredible 22-year voyage as captain of the legendary deep space charting vessel, the U.S.S. Stargazer.
"Born in Paris, France, Picard betrays a Gallic accent only when deep emotions are triggered. Quite often, however, there's a touch of French phrasing in his speech. He is in prime physical condition. Definitely a 'romantic,' he sincerely believes in concepts like honor and duty, although on issues that affect the safety of his crew and starship, he can be completely pragmatic and tough as hell.
"Picard demands absolute authority in his role as starship captain. On the other hand, he has learned that there are many more times at which a leader needs advice, counsel, and even critical comment from his subordinates. He invites this and expects his crew to know when the situation does or does not permit it. Picard's vast experience has left him capable of arranging which one he needs — when he needs it.
"He enjoys the privileges that go with his rank and vessel — also the eccentricities permitted. He knows that a certain amount of selfishness is healthy and necessary to the captain of a starship this vast, engaged in missions of this importance and under so much emotional pressure. He does not hesitate to make his prejudices known to his crew, an example of which is his insistence that he does not like children. ..."
— from the Star Trek: The Next Generation writers'/directors' guide '88–89, second-season revision
00 007 COMMANDER WILLIAM RIKER
"COMMANDER WILLIAM T. RIKER (played by Jonathan Frakes): Number One (whom the U.S. Navy would call the 'Executive Officer') is in his early thirties, considered by Starfleet to be a top quality captain-in-training. His principal responsibilities are:
"1. to constantly provide the Captain with a top condition vessel and crew, and,
"2. to command away missions.
Excerpted from "Star Trek: The Next Generation 365"
Copyright © 2018 Paula M. Block and Terry J. Erdmann.
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