"Star Trek: The Next Generation" is arguably a bigger deal now than it was 30 years ago.
Thanks to Netflix, Hulu, and a recent restoration effort for the series' first release on Blu-ray, "Next Gen" has found a way to remain just as popular with audiences as it did when it premiered on Sept. 28, 1987. Who knew then that the show would spawn at least two Captain Picard memes, as well as excessive fan attention over the Picard Maneuver and Riker's unique way of sitting in chairs.
It's hard not to love this show -- even it if it's first and last two seasons are uneven at best -- so we're celebrating its 30th anniversary by raiding the memory banks of the Enterprise-D for some behind-the-scenes trivia. 1. Following thebox office success of "Star Trek IV" in 1986, Paramount decided to bring Trek back to the small screen with a then-revolutionary idea of a first-run syndicated scripted series originally called "Star Trek: The New Adventure" or "A New Beginning."
2. When he was first approached to do the series, creator Gene Roddenberry originally turned Paramount down. Paramount then went to the father-and-son producing team of Sam and Greg Strangis, who were responsible for developing Paramount's short-lived syndicated "War of the Worlds: The TV Series." Their take on a potential "Next Gen" series was, um, bad. According to Roddenberry, "it had a Vulcan captain and a lot of space cadets." It was "Starfleet Academy on a ship," said Greg Strangis.
3. Leonard Nimoy was also among the first people Paramount approached to produce the series. The late actor-director passed.
4. Then-fledglingFOX was considered as a home for the show, as was NBC -- the home to The Original Series. Both networks passed because neither was willing to commit to enough episodes to justify spending what it would take to launch the series proper.
5. An average episode of the first season cost $1.3 million.
6. Seasons One and Two of the series were very rocky, since they were burdened with significant behind-the-scenes turmoil. The writing staff had frequent turnover, thanks in large part to Gene Roddenberry's showrunner style and creative opinions and the over-bearing influence of Roddenbery's then-attorney. The situation was so dire, that, according to producer Herb Wright, Paramount had gone "three months and had not gotten a single call from any agents and outside writers wanting to write for the show."
7. Jonathan Frakes, who played first officer Commander William T. Riker, admitted that he didn't know the original series or Trek well at all before signing on. His wife, Genie Francis, was a bigger fan than he -- she had a poster of William Shatner on her wall when she was kid.
8. Season Five's "The Inner Light," where a probe forces Picard to live out a lifetime on an extinct alien world while he is unconscious for minutes on the Enterprise, had a proposed sequel that never took off. It would have featured the Enterprise encountering another probe from the alien civilization, and it holds three people -- one of which is the wife of the man whose live Picard shared.
9. "Star Trek's" first ever cliffhanger was the Season Three finale, "The Best of Both Worlds, Part I," which featured Captain Picard being assimilated by the Borg.
10. For Season Four, the writers wanted to do another cliffhanger -- "Redemption" -- involving the Klingon Civil War. But Roddenberry initially shot down writer Ronald D. Moore's script. Why? Because, in Roddenberry's mind, Worf was not a major character on the show.
11. One of the series' best episodes, Season Five's "I, Borg," was written by Rene Echevarria in two weeks.
12. "Next Gen" writer and Season Six showrunner Jeri Taylor not only wrote one of the episodes for Season Five's two-parter "Unification," which brought Spock to the 24th Century, she also wrote the Pocket Books adaptation of the two-part event.
13. In Season Six, the writers planned to kill off Riker in the episode "Second Chances" (pictured) and replace him with his transporter accident clone (naturally), Lt. Thomas Riker. This was eventually shot down.
14. A few ideas that never made it to series include: Marrying Counsellor Troi and Riker (which would eventually happen in the 2002 movie, "Star Trek: Nemesis") and Q (John de Lancie) going insane and members of the crew finding themselves unwittingly caught in a reality where the laws of physics were broken by Q's insanity.
15. The writers also planned an abortion episode. According to writer Echevarria, the story would center on an alien member of the Enterprise crew who was a fetus, and their alien species "comes aboard and says, 'This is our fetus and it is time to make it either be born into one of us or abort.'" Showrunner Michael Piller was "concerned that [the show's] sympathies would be with the fetus and the show would come off as being too pro-life."
16. Intern-turned-science consultant-turned-writer Naren Shankar was working on an episode that would have seen Chekov return to Trek. The hour would find Chekov "as a prisoner of war from a planet where he was imprisoned for many years and finally released," according to Shankar. He has come back to serve as an Ambassador to help the Federation open diplomatic relations with the alien race. In reality, Chekov is plotting revenge by sabotaging the negotiations and using the Enterprise to "lay waste to the [alien] capitol" and "screw things up for the Federation because he feels they abandoned him" on that alien world.
17. The series finale, "All Good Things...," originally featured a fourth time period for Picard to move back and forth from: The battle with the Borg from "Best of Both Worlds." That was abandoned in the early drafting process due to cost, time, and narrative logistics.
18. The finale went into pre-production before the series' penultimate episode, due to the massive planning needed to pull off the two-hour event. According to co-writer Ron Moore, it took a "good week to get the story approved."
19. The last day of shooting the show featured Patrick Stewart and de Lancie on a cave set, shooting in the early AM hours, before wrapping on the series to shoot "Star Trek: Generations" a week later.
20. Ron Moore revealed on the commentary for the series finale that he took home the gold ships on the original walls of the Enterprise-D's Observation Lounge after the set was upgraded for Season Five. He had to give the ships back for scenes recreating the original architecture of the lounge during the pre-"Encounter at Farpoint" scenes in the finale.
21. "TNG" was nominated only once for Best Drama at the Emmys for its final season. (It lost to "Picket Fences"). And Patrick Stewart was never nominated for Best Actor.