I grew up watching ToS in re-runs, and loved it. I watched TNG from the first episode, and loved it. I was thrilled that Trek was back on TV, since I had been loving all the movies until that day.
I am a NINER 4 LIFE
though. Once I watched DS9 I realized that this was the best TV I was going to ever get to see.
I still love TNG, and Picard, and everyone on it. I never felt any malice towards "weasel" crusher. When I met my wife we got into TNG, watching it in reruns, because she had never seen TRek, and I thought she may find Picard a bad-ass (which he is and she did). She liked TNG a lot, especially data and Picard. She hated Barclay, HATED HIM, and refuses to watch any Barclay-based episodes.
I told her my fave was DS9, and tried to explain why, but it is easier to show. The problem was that DS9 is not in syndication, and was unavailable for us to watch.
Once I found out it was on Netflix streaming we got down to business. It quickly became my wife's fave. It was always my fave.
The best parts of TNG were when we got to see the real people behind the official titles. TNG did not have enough of these moments, but I think it is why people loved when Picard finally joined the crew to play poker.
TNG is about what happens when you gather the best of the best and send them to explore new worlds. Everyone on the enterprise WANTS to be there, asks to be there, works hard to earn the right to be there. It is a ship full of overachievers.
DS9 was about what happens to people when they are forced to deal with horrific situations they had no hand in creating, in a remote, lawless part of their world. DS9 is a place full of outcasts, misfits, fringe-dwellers, and malcontents. These are people that have been ordered or forced to do jobs they would rather not be doing. This was obvious from the first episode. Even the almighty SISKO did not want to be the Emissary. This is a whole lot close to the realities that we all have to deal with in our lives. It also showed that "evil" is a category found in all people, and that the "good" among us are the ones that CHOOSE to do right.
DS9 is the single greatest TV show for me. It explored the true nature of what it is to be human.