Now, I should start by pointing out that I know from a business perspective
it certainly wasn't a bad idea. The buzz around Star Trek in 1994 was huge, and the franchise was (arguably) at it's pop culture zenith. From a dollars and cents point-of-view, shifting the TNG cast to the big screen was a no brainer.
However, with the benefit of hindsight...
I suppose as long as they were profitable (the bottom line) then there was no harm in it. By most accounts Generations
, First Contact
were all achievers. Nemesis
didn't do so well at the box office (so by most measures that one was
a failure), but has probably long since broke even on DVD and rebroadcast deals.
But is it really? Certainly, it took the TOS crew coming back (albeit with different actors in the roles) to revitalise the franchise as a movie series after Nemesis
nearly killed it stone dead. One can't help but wonder if the movies should always
have been about Kirk, Spock, and the rest. Harve Bennett famously had a plan inthe early 1990s to circumvent the aging original cast while still keeping the classic original characters on the big screen, but the time just wasn't right for such beloved characters and institutions to be recast in such a way. We wouldn't blink an eye-lid at it now
, of course, but the potential uproar in fandom at the idea back then was enough to scare Paramount executives away from Bennett's plan.
From the viewpoint of a fan of TNG, we've also got the factor of the TNG series ending on the perfect note, and the four films effectively undoing the good will that All Good Things...
was built on. If TNG had ended with that episode and then disappeared into reruns, I think it'd be more fondly remembered than it is by the general public. We as fans still give it the thumbsup, but there's a perception, rightly or wrongly, that a string of moderate films followed by one that bombed horribly at the box office effectively (and retrospectively) taints TNG forevermore. After those movies, TNG didn't have nearly as much integrity
as it did on tv.
There's another factor, too. Between 1987 and 1991, there were two Star Trek production teams. The Movie Guys (Bennett, Ralph Winter, et al) who supervised movies based around the 23rd century and the original series characters; and The TV Guys (Berman, Piller, et al) who were focused on TNG Trek within the realm of television. Now, it had been proven that Star Trek could co-exist with itself this way, with one team working on movies and another on tv. But in 1994 with the elevation of the TNG cast to the big screen, the two dovetailed. Rick Berman was now chief of 'the Star Trek brand' in general, both movies and on television. One man can not supervised three television productions plus a series of bi-annual movies without spreading himself a little thin, and I think this is exactly what happened. Berman was over-stretched, and the overall quality of Star Trek took a dip as a result. Certainly I am of the belief that one of the reasons the 2009 movie was so strong was because all energies were focused towards it
. There is no television Trek to suckle away from interest in the movies. It's like the early 1980s all over again, when TOS was hugely profitable on movie screens because it was alone and the only ticket in town for fans of Star Trek.
I'm in two minds. I love TNG, I love that cast. I just don't think they were adaptable for the big screen. TNG was cut from a different cloth to TOS, and in order to tell TNG movies they had to essentially sacrifice a great deal of what made tv TNG so unique within and of itself.